Friday, August 30, 2013

South of Here

The last period of the day is always a bit...strange. I'm not sure what it is.

"Where are you from? You sound 'country'."

I have no idea what sounding "country" means. I think I conveyed that more by the expression on my face than by my response. So, they tried to explain.

"Did you grow up in the South?"

That made me laugh. I grew up about 15 miles from the city where the school is located. Most of those miles are east, but since the city is southeast of where we were, I had a good comeback.

"I did grow up south of here."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bizarre Conspiracy Theory

As I was plotting my blogs for this week, I ran across an article on Mental Floss: "11 Creative Film Interpretations You Probably Hadn't Considered". As I chuckled, an interesting thought occurred.

What sort of weird interpretations could be gleaned from your work? 

So, not so much a "what if?" this week as a WTF.

But what I really want to know: what is the strangest interpretation you've ever come up with for a book, TV show, or movie? Or song?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dragon's Loyalty Award

Looks like I've been given another blog award...

Thank you, Crystal Collier. I think. Although, love the dragon pic. Love dragons.

Anyway, the rules for these things tend to be similar. In this case:
  1. Display the Award Certificate on your website. 
  2. Link to whoever presented your award. 
  3. State 7 things about yourself. 
  4. Present the award to 7 deserving bloggers. 
  5. Notify nominees.
Okay, so 1 & 2 done...

Finding seven things is always an interesting challenge. Did I post these before? What's going to come out of my brain today? Well, let's find out, shall we?
  1. Have you seen the new pic I put up of me? I finally got around to updating my photo, but I'm not all that happy with it. But the day was hot, so it'll have to do for now. Maybe it'll be an impetus to take more pics when the weather turns cooler.
  2. Okay, so pointing out the new pic isn't really something about myself, except it is me. That is, the me people see. I'm not fond of having my picture taken. That's why I avoid updating them. But I suppose that's true of most people.
  3. I meant to take a new pic right after I got my hair cut, as that's when my hair looks the best, but I put this off for so long. Just as I put off my haircuts. Seriously, I've been known to go six months or longer.
  4. This is due to my inability to get on the phone to make an appointment. It's a failing of mine. It can take me months. For anything. Just to get on the phone to make the appointment. (Once the appointment is made, however, I show up no problem.)
  5. So, if you're expecting a phone call from me... Yeah. I'm much better via email.
  6. I don't know what it is. I can hesitate before writing an email, but I'm much more likely to write and send that email than I am to pick up the phone and call.
  7. I have multiple email addresses. Each for different specific tasks. And I check each of them daily.
See. I had no idea I was going there when I started out talking about my new pic. Strange where these things always seem to take me.

So, in the comments, I'd love to hear one random thing about you. (Consider yourself awarded, too.)  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What the Girls Said

The continuation high school has a school newspaper. (They have a yearbook and they hold a prom, too.) Occasionally, I get to sub the class as I did last week.

Some days they are working on articles for the school paper. But when they're kind of between issues, they get current event type assignments. This time, they had to write up a report on an article that the teacher provided.

The article was on recycling bins that could take data from smart phones to generate targeted ads to passersby. Well, that is, these data sniffing recycling bins had been disabled. (I can't get a good link to the article they were using, but the link provided gives you the gist of the story.)

It was a writing assignment, analyzing the article and picking out the pertinent information. I got the usual questions about what they needed to write. And then a girl in the back of the room had a different comment. She felt the recycling bins were wrong--they were an invasion of a person's privacy.

Then a girl two seats over disagreed. She felt that data gathering wasn't a big deal. She'd rather have people looking in an effort to keep us safe from the crazies out there. Her argument was that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide, so why should you care if people are gathering digital information on you?

In circumstances like these, I like to keep my personal views out of it and let the students debate their own viewpoints. It turned into a good discussion, with both girls making valid points. A couple other students added their thoughts, and while they should have been writing, I figured that the discussion was a good educational use of their time.

Interestingly enough, a couple boys in class got very uncomfortable with the conversation. I wasn't sure why as the girls weren't rude, only offering differing viewpoints. The girls explained to the boys that they were allowed to have a discussion, and if that sort of discussion made the boys uncomfortable, they might have issues with their future wives.

One boy claimed he'd marry a mute girl. (I pointed out that she'd probably use sign language.) Another claimed he'd never marry.

The girls eventually finished their discussion and got back to work. One of the boys asked me what significance the article had. I pointed to the two girls. "What they said."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Quiet Resistance

"Stop. She's going to write us up."

"I don't care."

Okay, that got my attention. Quiet classroom, which is why I heard the exchange. The teacher insisted that they needed to work silently, so I was enforcing that. I knew it was time to go over and investigate.

The student who didn't care had a blank paper and attitude rolling off him. The boy hadn't been loud or blatantly defiant, so I walked up to him and asked him if he needed help with the assignment. Of course not, but eventually, he made a pretense of doing some work.

For the most part the class was silent as instructed. But this boy and his neighbor couldn't just sit quietly. Eventually, they resumed a whispered conversation. Again, I made it clear I was watching them.

The boy looked at me. Waiting.

"Are you bored?" I asked.

Noncommittal response.

"Will you take the roll sheet to the office for me?"

Several students in his immediate vicinity asked him if he was in trouble. Was I kicking him out? I mean, I suppose I could have, but that just seemed like overkill to me. I thought getting him out of the room for a bit might help his attitude.

It didn't.

But, he didn't do anything (except continue a whispered conversation) that I felt the need to "punish" him for. He even managed to finish the assignment. He noticed my attention on him, however.

"Why do you keep looking at me?"

"Because you keep looking at me," I replied.

It was true. If he hadn't been looking up, he wouldn't have noticed my attention.

Ah well. Since the room was mostly silent, I consider that period a win.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Missing the Point

It was Friday at the continuation high school. They had the usual assignment--finish any unfinished work from the week. Ms. M. gave me a list of students who had work to complete. They had been reading The Crucible, and they had a packet of questions that were due.

I read the list of non-turned-in-ers to period one.

"Oh no! I turned it in!"

It took only a cursory glance through his folder for Michael to locate the packet. He immediately turned it in. A bit later, I got to glance over his assignment.
Directions: Write in complete sentences that reflect the questions.
2. What is the setting of The Crucible?
     Salem, MA in 1692
3. Why does Parris question his niece about her job with the Proctors?
     Parris wants to know why his niece was fred*.
The teacher had written "correct and return" in red at the top of the paper. She also circled "complete sentences" and "reflect the questions". So, while his answers were technically correct, they weren't put into the correct format.

Once I saw the problem, I pointed it out. "You might want to fix this."

"I don't need to."

He seemed to think Ms. M. would accept the assignment as is. After she returned it to him, telling him to fix it.

Um, okay...

*Note: "fred" is copied directly from Michael's paper. I looked for an "i" somewhere in there, but no. I'm pretty sure he meant fired, though.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Enforced Empathy?

Of course, now I can't remember where I saw this. I don't think I was actually watching TV. I must have been in the kitchen, cooking, while the Science Channel was on in the background.

The topic was the brain, I think, and mention of oxytocin came up. Something about the possibility that it was an empathy chemical. And while I didn't take away much more than that, it got me thinking (and luckily, I remembered to write this down so that I'd remember to post it).

What if there was a chemical/drug that could make someone more empathetic? How would that be used? How could that be used? Could it be used like a weapon, taking away certain "killer" instincts?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I've been wracking my brains to come up with a good subbing story for today. It seems like I've now covered all the good stories from my pre-blogging days. Probably not, but for now I'm coming up empty.  

So, that means it's time for a repost Tuesday. This one, originally posted on July 25, 2009, is kind of apropos. Last week, my 7th period roll sheet showed seven names. Not a one of them showed up. (It was a buyout Friday, and six of the seven had bought out, so actually, I only had one absence. But when one student is all that's expected...)

Yesterday just after I finished writing the last entry, the assistant principal stuck her head in the classroom. It was 5th period, my prep, so the room was empty of all but me. The AP was taking a head count of students on campus.

Things had been pretty light in the afternoons. The school was like a ghost town. Empty. Quiet. Sure, a few students were there, but not very many.

"No one came to class, or is this his prep?" the AP asked.

I told her it was a prep period. Because of course I would have students in the periods that had classes. Right?

The next period was 6th. There were three on the roll sheet. Two had shown up on Thursday. One of the boys explained that he had been the only student in class all week. The second boy was there for the first time (but then he went to see his counselor and did not return to class--probably because he switched classes). So I expected that the first boy would be back.

The bell rang. I opened the door. I waited. And waited. The bell rang to begin class. And the room was still empty.

Now, this sort of thing has happened to me before, but it's always a shock. Suddenly I had an hour to myself.

I kept looking up, hoping that the boy was just late. He never showed.

I realized that the AP had jinxed me. If she hadn't said anything about a no show class...

Then I had two show up for 7th period. One transferred out. Well, at least the "class" was well-behaved. One student usually works and keeps to himself. Especially if he's still showing up to his afternoon classes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Not Fixing Mistakes

There is something kind of fun about ripping out a project. I have to block out thoughts about how long it took to make those stitches and turn the whole thing into kind of a Zen exercise. Impermanence, kind of like those sand gardens.

Once I'd fully ripped out the Yaddo Cardigan and the yarn was wound into balls, I felt a pang of regret. I so wanted a lightweight cardigan, something that could take me from fall to spring.

Which meant that I needed to find a pattern that wasn't going to make me crazy while knitting or crocheting it.

I went on a pattern search. But nothing hit me in the right way. It was too heavy. Too easy. The wrong shape. I wasn't finding my Goldilocks pattern, so I set the search aside. And that's when it hit me.

I could design my own.

There's this pattern stitch that I found in a stitch dictionary a long time ago that I've been itching to try. But no project has been right for it. Until now.

But, before I can knit a sweater, I have to figure out a bunch of things. And before I can do that math, I need to make a gauge swatch. So, I cast on a bunch of stitches and began knitting.

I think I was on row two when I realized that I used the wrong decrease stitch. Normally, I'd rip back to that point and fix it. But I had an epiphany. This was a practice swatch. I had no reason to fix any mistake.

Scary, but freeing.

Because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, at least with my knitting. I know a myriad of ways to go back to fix my mistakes. I've been known to rip out half a project when something has gone terribly wrong.

But there's no reason to fix a practice swatch. None. No one's going to see it. I'm never going to wear it. Why spend the time fixing a mistake in an object that doesn't need to be perfect?

Then two rows later I made some indeterminate error, and my stitch count was off. I ripped back before I realized what I was doing. Never did find the mistake, but I did manage to get the stitch count right, and I continued on.

So, the swatch is a mess, but I'm making fewer mistakes now. And soon, I'll have a pretty good idea of how to work this into a sweater.

What do you think? Can you see all the mistakes?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Shoot! No Score

The continuation high school on a Friday is an interesting thing. There are fewer students, but those that remain tend to mentally take the day off.

At snack, some of the students like to shoot baskets. The teacher I was covering kept the basketballs, so when a couple students asked if they could take the basketballs out, I let them. I noticed how empty the campus looked, but then I remembered that it was a Friday, and I wasn't too concerned.

The bell rang, and it was time to start third period. I did my usual introduction, took roll, and made sure the students knew what they were supposed to do (basically, it was catch up day so that they could finish any work they hadn't finished all week).

I took my seat and watched them. Then I heard it. The sound of a basketball being dribbled.

Oh shoot! I forgot to get those basketballs back!

The student, presumably on his way to the bathroom, put the basketball down and continued back to his class. Then the custodian walked by, saw the basketball, and returned it to the classroom.

I thanked him profusely. I should have remembered to get the ball back.

But, two had gone out, and I only had one back.

Sure enough, another dribble sound from outside attracted my attention closer to the end of the period.

I sent a student out to retrieve the other ball. (Getting students to go out and do errands for me--like running the roll sheet up to the office--is ridiculously easy.)

Whew! Now I don't have to admit to the teacher that I lost his basketballs.

I guess the students aren't the only ones who mentally take the day off.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Neutralize the Big Evil?

Have you seen the TV show Continuum? It's about a cop from the future who ended up in our time, and while she's here, she's chasing some criminals who came back in time with her. 

A couple episodes ago, the show hit upon one of those tropes that all time travel shows must at some point deal with--what to do about the big evil from the past. Because anyone who has a passing acquaintance with The Twilight Zone knows that just going and killing the big evil won't work out the way you expect. 

Which brings me to this week's question: 

What if you ended up back in the past and you met up with some awful monster who you knew was going to do horrible things in his/her future? How could you neutralize that threat without making it happen anyway? Or would it be better to let their future/our past play out the way it did in the original history? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Throwing the Book at Me

It was June. I was a newbie sub. The math class hadn't had a teacher all year. There was some labor/disability dispute (I never found out the details, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the whole thing). So, the class had had a succession of subs all year.

I have no idea what number sub I was. I tried to do something with them. But the class had gone wild, and I was out of my league. I lasted three days. (Two days more that I should have, I think.)

First period had taken to throwing books.

Knowing what I know now, I might have had a chance with that class. But at the time, I was just trying to hold on for dear life.

On day one, I discovered the book throwing issue. I removed the books from the students' possession. But they still managed to find them. And so it was, on day three, I was doing something or other when a book came sailing across the room and hit me in the arm.

Before that the class had been wild. Loud. Suddenly, silence descended upon the room.

I have no idea who threw the book. At that moment, no one saw a thing. That the book hadn't been aimed at me was small comfort.

I will let you imagine my reaction.

That was my last day in that class. I felt sorry for them. They obviously hadn't learned anything all year. They were caught in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare. But I was so way over my head that my remaining wouldn't have helped the situation one little bit.

Such classes are a thing of the past. I know of one other class who ended up in that situation the next school year, but it's been years since I heard of a class that was without a stable teacher for longer than a maternity leave.

Whenever a class behaves badly, they ask if they're the worst class I've ever covered. The answer is always no. Until I get another book thrown at me, no class will ever compare to this one.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Quit

UFO: A knitting abbreviation for unfinished object.  

In all the years I've been knitting (and crocheting), I finish every project I start. Some may take a while, like the afghan that took me six years to finish. And some come out so awful that I stash them away, never to be worn or seen again. But I finish them.

(Well, not everything. The first sweater I ever tried to knit I gave up on, primarily because I misread the pattern, and it went sideways quickly. I ripped the thing out and reused the yarn. I still have the pattern, and someday I might try to knit it again. Although, that was the '80s, so the pattern is a bit dated now.)  

I started the Yaddo Cardigan back in April. I had some issues with it. A couple times I had to rip out rows because I skipped a stitch, but those were my errors, so they didn't bother me too much. I was thrilled to get the main body done and get started on the right front.  

But that's where things went all wrong.  

I read the pattern. I tried to do what the pattern said, but on some rows, what the pattern said I should do did not correspond with the stitches I had in front of me on my project. I ripped out and redid, but I couldn't get pattern and reality to coincide. So, I fudged things. 

I finished the right front, sort of. It wasn't completely right, but it was sort of there, and I could live with it. 

I set the thing aside for a bit, because I knew I was going to have to spend some time concentrating when I went to work on the back. Last week I finally had the mental space to sit down and do it. And that's where it went all wrong.  

It's rather hard to see, but the back isn't in the exact middle of the sweater. It's off to the side a bit. 

Realizing that this wasn't going to work, I went back and recounted everything. My stitch counts were right. Which meant that I needed to go back and recalculate to make the pattern work.  

That's when I decided that I was done with this. Sure, I could do the math to make things work. But it just wasn't worth it anymore.  

I ripped the whole thing out last Sunday. It took about two hours. 

I will use the yarn for something else. I don't know what yet. It's nice yarn. But this cardigan will never be. Sigh. 

Ever given up on something you'd worked on for a long time? Did you regret it? 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Down to Sawdust

Laguna Beach, CA is a bit of an artist enclave. Every summer, there are all sorts of art festivals. My favorite one happens to be the Sawdust Festival. I've been going almost every summer since the '80s.

I ran into the woman who made this frog ring...

I recognized her booth because she still sells this little guy. Isn't he cute?

All sorts of great artists have booths selling their wares. There's some wonderful water photography. And of course paintings of coastal scenes. Especially Laguna Beach. And some more Laguna Beach photography.

I'm especially fond of fiber arts (naturally) and am drawn to the booths that sell purses and such. But some jewelry artists catch my eye.

These wooden goblets caught my eye. And I do love some sculptural stuff. But nephew loved watching the glass blower. And there's plenty of glasswork to see as well.

Sorry about link soup, but I'm wary of posting pics that aren't mine (the frog ring is mine, and I took that photo). This is only a small selection of what was there. If you're in the area, you really should check it out.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Different Many Worlds Theory

Have you heard the Many Worlds Theory? The one where every decision you make (every decision you've ever made) splits off the universe. So, if you decide to have a bagel for breakfast with your coffee instead of your usual plain coffee, there's another universe where you just had the coffee.

It's a hard concept to get one's head around. This sort of explains the idea.

I've never been fond of this idea. But it's the jump off point for today's question:

What if, instead of separate universes "breaking off" at every decision point, every possible decision you could have made is being played out in this universe, just amongst different people? That is, you could find out what would have happened if you made a different choice if you could find the person who made that other choice.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Denied an Early Release

Occasionally, I get a teacher whose prep period is the last period of the day. Since I don't have to prep, as long as the school doesn't need me for another class, I get to go home early.

But last week, a small wrench got thrown into those plans.

Because the continuation high school is the way it is, last Wednesday was the day that the students all got their registration packets. But because the administration didn't want the students losing the paperwork, they had us hand it out to them at the end of their day.

(These are students who don't bring pencil or paper to school. Carrying paperwork around all day? Many will lose it.)

And because of they way they do things, that meant that I had the packets for two students. Which meant that I had to wait around for an hour so that I would still be at school for the last five minutes of the day.


(Yes, this is a very minor quibble. Which should tell you how smooth my day went that the only funny story I have to relate is of me having to wait around for an hour to pass out two packets of paperwork.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lazy Roll

The continuation high school is back in session. And not all the classes are crazy small

Last week, I covered the US History class. First period had 24 students enrolled. Something like 17 showed up.  

This isn't entirely a ditch thing. The continuation high school's year overlaps with the end of summer school, so many of the students who haven't been coming to class have been attending that. They can't be in two places at once.  

Still, it was kind of a shock to get four students in a class where 14 were enrolled. 

I looked at the group. I looked at the roll sheet. 

I hate calling out roll. With no seating chart, calling roll is the most efficient way to get the roll taken. Except in this case. 

So, instead, with clipboard and roster in hand, I walked up to each student.  

"What's your name?"  

Because I really hate stumbling over names. And most of them weren't there to correct me, anyway.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Look Both Ways

It was just after 7 AM the morning I subbed, and I was headed to school. I was just a block away from my house when a small white dog darted in front of my car.

The dog was too close. I hit the brake, but I knew that I didn't have enough space to stop. I cringed at the moment that the dog should have hit, but because of the size of the dog and the front of my car I couldn't see it happen.

Then, from about where my right front tire was, the dog rolled away from my car, bouncing off the tire of the parked car next to me (the reason I couldn't swerve to avoid the dog). He bounced up, regained his feet, and ran back the way he came.

That's when another little dog (more chihuahua like) ran from the direction the white dog had come. Dog 2 was chasing white dog. Dog 2 took off following white dog, and both safely made the yard across the street.

However, I was still shaking.

The dogs' owner called for my attention then. She had seen some of that happen, but not all, for she asked if I had hit the dog. I confirmed that I had. But she didn't see white dog take off, so I pointed out where white dog was now running around.

Perhaps I had slowed my car down enough so that white dog was not injured. He certainly seemed to be still in play after the incident.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dream Reality

I've got all sorts of strange and disturbing ideas bubbling about in my thoughts. Too bad most of them are ill formed and only semi coherent. My head's in a weird place.

(The other morning I awoke with one phrase going through my mind: "The Twelve Days of Halloween". I'm kind of afraid to remember the dream that went along with that one.)

So, let me see if I can come up with an understandable what if...

What if the dream state is an alternate reality?