Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wrong Lunch

The day had gone pretty well. The math classes were well-behaved. I got the same question over and over. This happens sometimes. I make a note of it so the teacher knows.

Third period ended. I stood at the door waiting for fourth period to arrive. And waited. And waited.

Wait a minute!

For some reason, I thought I had B lunch. Turned out I had A lunch. Which meant that while I was waiting at the door, I was missing the first few minutes of my lunch.


Usually which lunch I have is obvious, but on this day... Ah well...

(I only get a half hour for lunch, but I ended up with enough time. And since it was an easy day, it wasn't like I was needing a full half hour of quiet anyway.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Right the Wrong

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Undoubtedly you've seen some iteration of the person-goes-back-in-time-to-right-a wrong story. Sometimes, they try to eliminate some evil person from the past before that person can do the very bad thing. So, let's play with that idea...

What if someone has come to our time from the future with the mission of "neutralizing" you?

Monday, September 28, 2015

For a Jolly Rancher

Earth science. The teacher had left me the PowerPoint for the new chapter, and the class was filling in their notes. They were a bit talkative, but it wasn't nearly as bad as some classes with a similar lesson plan.

A girl in the front row called me over. She whispered that she was having a female problem...

Which happens from time to time. I was expecting her to request a pass to the health office or the restroom. Either of which I would have granted. But that's not what she wanted. Turns out, the thing she needed for her "issue" was a Jolly Rancher.

Um, right...

Food (or candy) wasn't allowed in class, and I said so. I didn't see how one Jolly Rancher would alleviate her "female problems". She claimed that Ms. D let her have one before...

At this point the candy was out of its wrapper, and I didn't feel like arguing the issue. I made a note of it in my sub note.

The next day I was at the same school, and I popped in to say hi to the teacher. (We talk from time to time. She's a knitter, too.)

Ms. D was not happy about the candy incident. She busted the girl. Got on her case for lying to the sub.

I don't know why they pull these things. I guess they don't think I'll mention them? (Perhaps that's why I don't get such issues from students who have had me sub in their classes before. They know that I will say something.)

Friday, September 25, 2015


Photography class. Yes, they still have them. They still take pictures on film. And develop and print that film.

Because they had a sub, they had book work. (Liability issues.)

They're still doing prelim work before they really get to shooting pictures. The book work was review of exposure. (The teacher said she was planning on giving them a pop quiz the next week.)

The class was working really well. Some conversations, but on task. Some needed the whole period for the 30 questions. Some finished quickly...

"What am I going to do for the next half hour?"

I went to give her the 2nd just-in-case worksheet on aperture...

(The quickest way for a class to go out of control is for them to have nothing to do. Teachers fend off against this disaster by giving them long assignments. Or, they have that "extra" assignment for those who finish quickly.)

"I finished. I shouldn't get punished..."

But she wasn't being punished. She was probably going to get a bit of extra credit if anything. But that's not the way she saw it.

I explained that this was the stuff she needed to know so she could learn to take better pictures. She informed me that her pictures were pretty good already. (I rather doubt this.)

Ah well. I should know better than to try to explain anything to a teenager.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Debate

7th period math. They were just getting started on their computers when I noticed they weren't on their assigned computers. I informed them that they were to be in assigned seats.

"Why can't I sit here? All the computers are the same."

True. But teachers assign seats so students will work. Some students can't be trusted to sit next to friends. This is not what I said, however.

"You have assigned seats in this class. You need to be in your assigned seats."

"But Mr. F isn't here."

"This is still his class, so we'll abide by his rules."

And still he argued the point. I'm not sure why. I don't think I was wavering in my resolve. But I guess I seem like I'm open to debate. So, at this point I shut it down.

He reluctantly said he'd move. Said he had to shut down the computer...

Which is an old stalling tactic. Student says he's doing what was asked of him, but it's going to take a minute. I go deal with something else to give him time to comply. Five minutes later, he's still there, now entrenched, and the battle starts again. "You're serious? But you left. I'm doing well, so please let me be..."  

The phone rang. Guess who they were calling for. He was being picked up at the main office and was going home for the day.

Saved by the call.

I got off the phone and told him he was leaving. His first reaction was to argue--he thought I was sending him out of class.

After he left, I went to shut down his computer. Had he even begun to log off? Nope. He was logging on, not off.

I'm so glad I didn't have to continue to fight that battle. I would have won, but it was nice not to have to put in the effort.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

One Song

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Just a strange little thought...

What if the universe was built on music?  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spider in Purple

No decision on the eye front. Thanks for all your suggestions. I like the rhinestone bead idea. Now I just have to figure out where to acquire some rhinestone beads.

(Since some of you have expressed a like of googly eyes, I may have to try that as well. There's no reason why I can't make several all with different types of eyes.)

This past week I made a spider in purple...

It was a request. I like how it turned out.

I delivered the spider to its recipient. (Yes, I am taking orders for these things.) That's when my 2-year-old twin nephews saw it.

When does one teach a 2-year-old the word "spider"? Because they knew what it was. And what to call it. And they wanted to get their hands on it.

Which would have been fine, except the legs have wires in them. To keep them positioned. And I'm not too sure that they would be safe for 2-year-olds.

For the next hour, I kept hearing the word "spider" followed by crying. *facepalm*

So, now I have two more to make. (Can't just bring the twins just one.) And no idea how to deal with the legs.

Well, at least the eye question is settled for them. No eyes. (I've seen what they've done with other things I've made for them. The eyes would be pulled off in no time.)

Friday, September 18, 2015


"It feels so fresh in here."

It had been a swelteringly hot week. 100°+ temps a couple days. It was forecasted to only be in the 90s on Friday, but I still had the air conditioning on as soon as I got there.

I knew I wasn't going to get many complaints about the a/c, and I didn't. But instead of coming into the room and commenting on how cool it was, I got the above comment. A few times. And not only on this day. It seems that "fresh" is the new "cool" or something.

Ah well. Hopefully this week things will cool off a bit.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fear the Wasp

High school math class. The district has done away with algebra and now has the students take a course called "integrated math". Which is basically algebra with elements of geometry both taught at the same time. I think. Same topics, different label. Anyway...

The kiddos had a worksheet. These worksheets are all the same. The title is some riddle. They have to work a bunch of problems (this time having to deal with domain, range, and functions). Then they "solve" the riddle with a really, really bad pun. I mean, these puns are awful.

So, I was dealing with the usual squirreliness amplified by it being a really hot day outside. (Over 100°. But the air conditioner worked like a dream.) They were keeping it down to a dull roar, with only one group of boys doing little to nothing.

"It's going to get me. It can't get me. I'm allergic."

The "it" in question was a wasp. And it was flying along the ceiling, landing on the hanging lights.

The room had a very high ceiling. A normal ceiling is up like ten feet. These ceilings were easily twelve feet up. So, the wasp was very, very far away. Practically out of our time zone.

But the boys weren't having it. They watched the wasp. Way above their heads.

I explained that the wasp had no interest in getting close to any of us. It was a lone wasp, carried in by the cool room, I imagine. I promised the boys I wouldn't let it get them.

They didn't believe me.

In the end, I was right. It didn't get any nearer to them than being on the ceiling above their heads. But still, they didn't get a whole lot of math done.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Sudden Goodbye

Tuesday ended up being my last day in the middle school math class.

I found out that it was my last day 2nd period.

It was a strange interim position. One teacher left. They found a replacement very quickly. (This is all a long story, but suffice it to say that it is a happy story for all concerned.) Because everything was up in the air, we didn't tell the kiddos exactly what was going on.

That would have been chaos. 8th graders aren't too happy with uncertainty. So, rather than freak them out about it all, I didn't tell them much.

And on my last day, I didn't say anything. I conducted class as normal. When they asked about tomorrow (do we have homework tonight? when will you pass out our syllabus?), I answered as truthfully as I could. And continued with the lesson.

Then, after I had them clean up and we had two minutes left of class, I dropped the bomb. This was goodbye. (But not a permanent goodbye as I'm at the school all the time and am likely to see them in their other classes all year long.)

I expected cheers. (A few of them did not like me much.) So, it was nice when they didn't. But many of them were happy to see me go.

Well, for now. They'll be seeing me soon, I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alien Life

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Did you watch this past season of Extant? Season 2 was so much better than season 1. Anyway, today's question was inspired by the show...

What if the extraterrestrial aliens have already arrived and are presently living among us?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Spider Eyes

A couple weeks ago I showed off the spider I had crocheted...

...and roughly half of you said he needed eyes while the other half said to leave as is. So, I've been contemplating how I could do eyes. I went to the craft store and found googly eyes, but I didn't think they'd work. Someone suggested painting eyes on...

This is step one. The paint is glow in the dark, which I thought would give it the right sort of look, but I don't think I like how this turned out. Perhaps I need to put some black over it, which will sort of look eye-y against the black body of the spider.

I did a little research, and most spider critters that are made for Halloween decor tend not to have visible eyes.

So, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do. In the meantime, I'm still cranking out the critters...

And the paint thing gave me an idea about the jack-o-lantern...

Better. I need to work on getting the paint smoother (and figure out if I really want to use puffy paint for it).

What do you think? Eyes on the spiders? Any ideas for how to get eyes on the spiders? I really could use all of your input on this one.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Half the Lights

On Friday, I decided to do something a little different. I only turned on half the lights.

It was something I had noticed earlier but hadn't done anything about. The classroom has a projector, and most of the lessons utilized this piece of technology. The students could see just fine, but I figured if it was a little darker, it would be easier to see what was projected on the screen.

Most of the classrooms have two light switches. Each switch controls about half the lights, but not front and back or side to side. The lights each switch controls are staggered. So, I made sure to leave the switch off for the light that was nearest the projector.

And I waited for someone to notice.

The co-teacher came in shortly thereafter, but she said nothing. No one in period 1 noticed (or at least said anything). Or period 2. Or any of the classes. By the end of the day, I had forgotten I'd done it.

Then in 6th period I had a technical problem...

The class was being difficult, as usual, so I switched things up. But I screwed something up. (Which I discovered later--after they left--how to fix. The "esc" key. SMH) So, I went "old school" and started writing the problems on the whiteboard. But it was kind of hard to see, so I went and turned on the other set of lights.

"We only had half the lights on?" someone asked.

No one noticed. I didn't point it out, so they just assumed that the light level was normal. Interesting.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


The class I covered all last week is a middle school math class. One period of 7th graders, four periods of 8th graders. (Luckily, I have a co-teacher at the beginning of the day who's doing all the heavy lifting, which means I'm not coming up with lesson plans on the fly. Ms. V is a total rockstar who's keeping me on track and sane through this.)

Period 6 is... challenging...

Abraham is a standout in a difficult class. That is, he likes to stand up when he should be seated. He likes to shout out when he shouldn't. And he probably has a bit of ADD with all the squirming around he does.

By Thursday I figured it was time to tweak the seats to try to get the immature boys as far away from each other as possible.

I decided to seat Abraham in the front center. All the better to keep an eye on him.

On one side, I put a sweet girl who's been nice and kind and working diligently. On the other side I put the girl who requested a front seat (so she can see the board better). Behind him, I put a quiet boy who seems to be comfortable with the class.

Yeah, I decided to surround Abraham with students least likely to react to him.

Unfortunately, it didn't help. He was still squirming around. Still shouting out answers. Still out of his seat when he shouldn't be. But at least his neighbors aren't enjoying the show.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sydney is the New Brittany

School restarted last Monday. And I was working. All that week. Long story, and I'm not going to bore you with it. Suffice it to say that the new subbing stories start now in earnest.

I have a rule against using actual student names, but I'm breaking it today. Not to talk about a specific student, though. To talk about a naming trend.

Dear new parents of 2002, why did you all name your girls Sydney? Was it the Olympics? Was it Alias? What?

Because, seriously, I have two Sydneys in two different classes. And another Sydney or two sprinkled in the others. And they're not all spelled "Sydney". There's Sidney, Sydni, and a couple other spellings I forget. But since they sound the same... I even have two Sydneys with the same last initial in one period. (Who I stupidly sat next to each other...)

As times change, so do names. That name used to be Brittany. A couple years back I was shocked to find three Abigails in one class. (Although, I think those are the only three Abigails at that school.)

Of course, the big girl's name is Jasmine. I encounter at least one a day still. That name has staying power. I've seen it spelled a myriad of ways. Jasmine. Jazmin. Jasmyn. Etc.

Ah well. At least now I have a good general name for an 8th grade girl that won't single anyone out. Since there appear to be a lot of them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Right Thing

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What if the only way to do the "right thing" completely blew your life to smithereens (figuratively speaking)?

(Yes, I'm being deliberately vague. What "right thing" and "blowing up your life" mean are open to your interpretation.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

What to Knit?

At the moment, I'm in the awful position of not knowing what to knit next. The problem isn't a myriad of projects that I can't choose from. Nope. I'm out of ideas.

This is a bad, bad thing. I've gotten to the point where I can't sit still and watch TV. My hands have to be doing something. That's why I made the hat...

And I still have a few spiders on order...

I should build up my stock of lip balm holders...

But I need something else. (Okay, those are crochet--all but the hat--which might be a big part of the problem.)

So, I came here to ask for help. What should I knit next? (Or crochet. What should I make next?) I'm desperate for ideas. Is there anything that you'd like to see me add to my shop?

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Chip Story

It was the end of a long, hot day in the special ed resource room at the continuation high school. (It was hot outside, but the air conditioning was working perfectly inside.) We had two students, one working on her math assignment while the other was working on his history assignment.

The instructional aide (IA) had chips. Doritos, to be precise. She got a big bag because the store was out of the individual sized bags, so she was sharing.

The kiddos managed to scare up a plate, and they were sharing the chips nicely. Until the girl finished her math assignment and went back to class. She grabbed the plate of chips and took them with her.

The boy jumped up and followed.

And I followed the boy to bring him back. He did not have permission to leave.

When I caught up with him, he had retrieved the plate of chips. And he scarfed them all down as quickly as he could. While I stood in front of him and watched him do it.

Then we went back into the room.

The boy wailed. The girl had eaten all the chips. The IA had to give him some more.

I, of course, told the IA exactly what the boy had done with the chips not 30 seconds prior.

I mean, seriously? He thought I wasn't going to say anything? Geez!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Missed the Roll Call

12 grade English. 1st period. The bell rang. Students milled around retrieving their materials. While the room was in transition, I called roll.

Once they were settled, I went into my opening remarks. I told them what was due. I gave them the list of all the assignments that needed to be completed by the end of the week.

As I went through what I had to tell them, a student walked in. Then another. A bit of time after that, another. Tardy, but at least they made it. I noticed their arrival, but I didn't stop my instructions to the class as a whole.

Once I no longer needed their attention and released them to their independent work, I asked for who had walked in late. So I could make sure to mark them "present" on the roll. (Well, they'd be marked "tardy", but that's better than being marked "absent".) Two piped up right away and gave me their names. But where was the third?

I identified him pretty quickly. (He had been absent the previous day, so he did not have the assignment I'd passed out.) I asked him if he'd been late. He told me that he had been on time.

Funny. I had him marked absent on my roll sheet. (And if I hadn't questioned him, he would have been entered into the online roll as absent.)

I don't know if he actually thought he'd convince me he was on time and I'd mark him as such. Perhaps he just needs to believe that walking into a room where class has already started is "on time". Whatever.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We Interrupt This Intro...

12th grade English. 2nd period. They had a vocabulary assignment based on The Crucible. The main point of my instructions had to do with the kinds of sentences they were to write--ones that demonstrated an understanding of the meaning of the words.

"Good morning, my name is..."

And that's when I was interrupted by the sound of a large jackhammer. So, I waited. When the noise stopped, I continued.

"...Original means it's your sentence. You know Ms. M will read..."

And another racket with the jackhammer. Again, I waited it out.

Amazingly, I only got interrupted twice. I guess that's because my intros tend to be short. (I figured trying to talk over the racket was pointless.) Because the noise happened sporadically all period.

At the time I thought it was just the guy on the roof. But no. Turns out they also started tearing up the street that day. (And the back of the classroom is mere feet from the street.)

It's a miracle I didn't get a headache.

The other miracle: the class worked silently the whole time. Not that they could actually hear each other over the construction noise. Or, it could have been because they all had their earbuds in and were listening to music. (Please don't judge me on this. I find that they work better independently if they can listen to music while they work.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Spy

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

What if the spy you sent in to infiltrate the "enemy" turned and is now working for them? Or, what if you manage to turn the spy sent in to infiltrate your "organization"? (The quotes are for a non-specific enemy and organization, so feel free to interpret those as you see fit.)