Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Super Accessory

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 ;)

Last week in a government class (full of seniors), I noticed a girl... Nah, I thought. Then I took a closer look. Yup. She was wearing a cape with a Batman logo on the back.

A. Cape.

To. School.

She's at least 17 (if not 18 already).

My next thought was...

What if we all wore capes, as in, capes were a normal, everyday accessory?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just Dance Party

After a day covering a completely different class, I was asked to cover a 6th period in the "functional academy". These are the really special ed. classes.

It was the last day of the week (Thursday, but they had Friday off) and the last period of the day. This is the time when the classes relax.

So, I was not shocked to walk in to find them all riveted to a movie. I sat down, got comfortable, and enjoyed the end along with them. But that only took half the period. Then it was time for them to dance.

There is this video game called Just Dance. And apparently, people have posted gameplay videos to YouTube. I was given the task of putting various videos up for them to dance along to. (The aides explained what I needed to search out.)

I found the videos. They stood up and attempted to dance along with the moves demonstrated on screen. It took me a bit to figure out how to search and such, and once I did, they called out requests. Their final request of the day: "YMCA"...

(If you want to play along, fast forward to about 30 seconds where the gameplay starts.)

Some classes are easier than others.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

300 Words

I was covering for a special ed. teacher, co-teaching several periods. 4th period I was in an 8th grade English class. The regular ed. teacher was there, and she ran the lesson as normal.

One of the things they're really stressing now is reading articles deeply and analyzing them. They had read an article on a previous day about violence in movies, and this day they were to answer some deeper level thinking questions about it.

The teacher had a whole slew of instructions. She had written them out on the board, and she spent a good ten minutes going over what she expected. There were five questions and then there was a focus question that she wanted answered in a specific format using at least 300 words.

She released them to their work, and I roamed the classroom, looking for those that needed my help. (As there was a co-teacher in there, it meant that a good portion of them were special ed. and would need a little extra assistance.) Things were going pretty smoothly.

Then I spotted a boy trying to solve his Rubik's cube. (These things are popular right now. Again.) Um, no. He had questions to answer. I glanced at his paper. His focus question had three lines of writing. That's nowhere near 300 words.

I told him to put the puzzle away. He did. He then got out his reading book...

Um, no. No, he wasn't done. I pointed out that the focus question wasn't complete. He didn't believe me.

I walked up to the board. I pointed to the words "300 words" written there. I pointed out all the myriad instructions.

"Oh, I have to do all that..."

He was not pleased.

Seriously, they just don't listen. And not just not to me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Old Age Debate

It was one of those days when the kiddos had work, and I could just sit back and watch them work. One boy decided to sit next to me to converse.

He touched on various topics. I contributed when called upon. Then he came up with the oddest idea.

"I don't want to live to be old and sick. I'd like to die before I reach 55."

They have some odd ideas about age. I commented that 55 isn't old, and there's still so much to do once reaching that age. But he wasn't having it. He figured that's when he'd be too sick to enjoy the rest of his life.

This went back and forth for a bit. Then another boy passed by.

Boy 1: "What age would you like to live to?"

Boy 2: "80."

At which point, a couple other students chimed in with more reasonable ages. So, it was just him.

Ah, the naivete of youth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

God School

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 this world is the training ground for future universe creators?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kitty Ears

I have hit the part of the year where I have no outstanding projects, so I'm working through my backlog of odd ideas...

A few years ago, I bought some plastic headbands with foam. (Click on the link to see what I'm talking about. This is not where I bought them, though. They have since been discontinued from that retailer.) I ordered them because I hadn't quite made the minimum threshold for free shipping I thought I could come up with a knitted cover for them.

A few years later...

You know those cat ear headbands? I kinda wanted to try my hand at making something similar. So, I thought and I plotted and I knit. I even braved Kitchener stitch. And...

...I finally got a working model. (In orange, natch.)

OK. Curiosity sated.

And for me, I'm posting the pattern I used so that I won't lose it later.

Knit Headband Cover

  • Caron Simply Soft Yarn (this project doesn't use all that much yarn--use whatever scrap yarn you've got)
  • Plastic Headband with Foam--1 1/2 inch
  • Size 7 needles
  • Scrap Yarn
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Pipe Cleaners
18 sts and 26 rows/4 inches in stockinette stitch

Using a provisional cast on (I used the crochet chain method) cast on 66 stitches
Work 10 rows in stockinette stitch (knit right side, purl wrong side)
Unravel the provisional cast on and place live stitches on needle
(Note: instead of using needles, I placed all live stitches--from both ends--on scrap yarn.)
Graft first row to last row around the headband using Kitchener stitch
Sew ends shut, then wind in ends

Ears are made using one pipe cleaner in matching color. Cut in half. Fold each piece in half. Bend the ends at a little under half an inch. Place them evenly on the headband, sticking the pipe cleaners through the knit stitches.

If you attempt this, I would love to see how yours turns out. I'm on Twitter, Instagram, and Ravelry as @ZiziRho.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Choosing the Late

Friday. It was almost 5th period. 10th grade world history.

It had been an easy day thus far. The classes had worked silently without my having to ask. As the class filtered in, one of the boys started yelling towards someone outside the room.

"Where is he going?"

When I asked the obvious question, the boy pointed out who he was yelling to. I spotted him. He was walking away from the classroom. The first boy explained that the boy outside was supposed to be in their class.

Half an hour into class, the boy showed up. He had a pass from the tardy sweep. (Long time readers of this blog may remember me mentioning tardy sweep on previous occasions.)

This year, that school has revamped the tardy sweep policy. Instead of students being kept out of class all period, they now get sent back to class with a tardy sweep pass. They still get dinged for the tardy, and the more tardies they rack up, the harsher the punishment. (Three tardies and they get Saturday School.)

So, the boy, who totally would have been on time to class, decided to walk in the other direction, get the tardy, and get sent back to class... Why?

I don't get the logic sometimes.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Early Dismissal?

I have a couple classroom pet peeves. One of my big ones is students trying to slip out of class a minute or so early.

Occasionally students may legitimately need to leave early. Special ed students whose bus leaves early. A student on crutches. A student who goes to take medicine. Students on athletic teams who have games. In all of those cases, the students ask permission and all is well.

7th period at the continuation high school. Environmental science. They had a packet of work that most ignored. Five minutes before the end of class (and the day), they all lined up at the door. And I saw a girl slip out...

I called her back. A couple times. Eventually, she heard me and turned around.

"It's almost time to go."

True, but it wasn't time yet. She needed to come back to the classroom.

She was halfway across campus. (It's a small campus.) She argued that she was almost out the gate. I told her that school wasn't out yet, and she needed to return for no matter how long it was.

She took two steps toward me when the bell rang...

In anticipation of the end of the day I had shut down the computer. This was how I logged into the attendance system. There is a screen that has all the students' pictures...

I didn't know her name. This is rather common with subs, especially in classes with no seating chart. The rest of the class "helpfully" didn't call out to her as I called out to her, so I couldn't glean her name that way. I'm pretty sure that's what she was counting on.

What she didn't get, though, was how much that stunt pissed me off. And it turns out I can access the attendance program via my phone. Finding her name was very easy after that.

It then took me a few minutes to write down her name, pack up my stuff, and check out from the office. On my way to my car, who do I see hanging out in the parking lot? Because she had to leave class early to hang out just outside the school?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Visiting Cricket

Insects and spiders don't freak me out. (They may gross me out, though.) This can be useful in the classroom.

I finally made it back to the continuation high school. It's been a while. This day I was covering an English class. They were supposed to be reading and analyzing a current event article. And some of them were.

The boy hadn't been doing much, but he had finally settled down. Just when I thought all was well, he jumped out of his seat and ran halfway across the room.

"Crickets creep me out."

The rest of the class found this amusing.

"Do you move that fast when the cops show up?"

"If you had stepped on it, it would no longer be an issue."

The boy's response (to the second comment): "I can't kill it. Crickets are lucky." (He didn't respond to the first comment.)

This is the point where I got involved. I did my usual when there are critters in the classroom (or spiders in my shower--so long as I saw it before I turned on the water). I found a clear container (the teacher had a plastic cup with markers and highlighters in it) and put it over the cricket. (It was a big cricket. I'll give the boy that.)

The boy then jumped in. I guess he felt his manhood had been questioned. He started to scoot it out the door. But I called a stop to that as the only reason I had left the cricket under the cup was to go and find a folder to put underneath. Once I had that in hand, I took the whole thing outside, and the cricket was dumped in the bushes a few steps outside the classroom.

The class concurred that crickets were lucky. That one sure was. It lived past its encounter with the scary high school class.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ghostly Visitation

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 places we go in our dreams we actually travel to, but while we're there, we're ghosts?

Monday, February 13, 2017

For Pretty, Part 2

Five months.

Remember this? (If not, click on the picture and it'll take you to the relevant blog post.)

Water bottle cover from For Pretty
It was a lacy thing I knit to cover my water bottle because... Yeah, no good reason. I just wanted a little knit thing over my water bottle.

But, I generally carry two water bottles with me to work, so I needed a second one. When I finished this one in September, the last line of the blog post with this picture said: "I bought the yarn for my second attempt. We'll see how long it takes me to get to it."

I cast on a couple weeks ago. I finished it last Monday...

I'm rather pleased with it. This lace pattern was much easier than the other, and I think the lavender lets the stitches show up so much more nicely.

And now I have two...

(I kind of want to make a third. Not that I need a third. And this yarn doesn't come in orange, which is a disappointment. But I'm still thinking about it.)

Have you ever worked on a project that didn't serve a practical purpose? Should I make a third of these?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rainy Day Games

Friday. 6th period. The tennis team.

They were supposed to have practice, but it had been wet all day (not raining hard enough to need an umbrella, but constant enough that everything was soaked), so I wasn't shocked when they all descended upon the teacher's classroom (as opposed to the tennis courts).

"Let's play Never Have I Ever."

These sorts of days, when I'm covering a sport and we're hanging out, they pretty much can do whatever. I do object to things like prank calls. But card games, on their phones, eating, just sitting around and talking, or doing homework are all fair game.

So, one group in the middle of the room played Never Have I Ever. (If you checked out the link and read the rules, they used the "fingers variation".) And they played dirty...

"Never have I ever been black and over 6 feet tall..." targeted the one boy in the group that fit that description.

"Never have I ever been to mass..." targeted the Catholics in the group.

For the most part, they kept it tame. Nothing I objected to, anyway. (I get on them to keep the language appropriate and topics appropriate for school.) And that's all I ask, really. At least in situations like this.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Algebra 2. It had been a peaceful day. The prior classes had been working nearly silently (without being asked). But 5th period wasn't doing that silence stuff. Nah, they had stuff to talk about.

It wasn't a test, so I didn't really care if they were talking. I just kinda hoped it would be on task talking...

Nah. A girl seated nearly in front of me spent the whole period talking about how she didn't have a boyfriend, had never had a boyfriend, but kind of wanted one.

I gently nudged her with hints that perhaps she might want to, I don't know, do the math. But the students around her weren't helping. They were buying into the conversation.

Except for one boy. I could tell he was bored by the whole thing.


Seriously, that was the exact look on his face. Mine too, probably.

I mean, the conversation wasn't even good enough for me to take notes on to use here. But that's how it goes sometimes...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Calling the Teacher

Sometimes the teacher I'm covering will leave a phone number that I can contact them at "just in case". When I started subbing, the very thought of actually using that number


But with cellphones and text messaging... I still won't call. Unless...

AP English. Seniors. They were starting Frankenstein. The assignment was to answer five preliminary questions using approved websites for research. Only, the handout had blank spots where the websites were supposed to go.

Could I figure it out? I could Google the topics. And I had a vague idea of where she was going with her questions...

Nah. I texted her.

I could probably get close to the websites she wanted, but there was a lot of room for error. And when I alerted her to the omission, she posted the websites in their Google Classroom. Because they were working online, and links are easier anyway.

Yeah, school has gotten hi-tech.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Widower

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 ;)

The other day, The Bachelor was on in the other room. No, I wasn't watching it. Not really my kind of show. But hearing some of their antics, I had a strange thought...

What if they had a bachelor-type show, but for the older set? Much older. Would anyone want to watch a dating show for sexagenarians? Or septuagenarians? What sort of show would that be?

Monday, February 6, 2017

In Between Days

A funny thing happened a little over a week ago. I finished all my knit/crochet projects. It happens.

So, at the moment, I'm picking up a couple projects I meant to do for me. But I'm kind of at a loss as to what to knit next. Anyone want one of those pink protest hats

I don't even have pictures. I'm in the process of making another one of these... 

...in purple this time, and with a different stitch pattern. (That's a 20 oz water bottle, by the way.) 

And perhaps another jellyfish... 

A video posted by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

That one is spoken for, but I was thinking of making more for my booth.

And I'm in the process of frogging

...because throwing it out just seems like a waste of yarn.

What are you working on now? Are you looking for something to do, too?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Watching Netflix

It was afternoon at the continuation high school. The afternoon classes are different than the morning classes. The morning students are a bit more focused.

The class was working on computers at their own pace through the lessons. Everything they need was pretty much on the programs, so my job was just to monitor. And unblock various lessons as they would become blocked.

(It's one of the weird components of this particular program. If the student goes back to redo a lesson they've not passed, it blocks them out. Sometimes.)

I've covered this class numerous times. Enough times that the teacher had shown me how to unblock things so the students could keep working in her absence.

I walked the room. One boy was on Netflix watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. (It was a Big Bang Theory kind of day.) You know, instead of doing his work.

I told him to get to work. He told me he was blocked. He then said he knew I couldn't unblock him, so rather than saying something, he found a way to entertain himself.

Yeah, he could have asked. Because, I could, and did, unblock him.

I returned a bit later. What was he doing? Still watching the episode. Because he was getting "caught up".

Okay, so once, I'll let slide. But after I fixed the problem? Yeah, that's now something his teacher will hear about.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


It's been a while since I was last at the continuation high school. So, it was nice to go back.

First period, the class was media art. They were working on animations.

Class hadn't yet started. Most had found their seats and were logging onto their computers. One boy, though, was pulling a chair in a circle around him. I questioned him.

"I have to find a good chair."

Another student explained: "He's our Sheldon".

Okay, I can see wanting a chair without a bum wheel. And considering that he found the chair he was testing to be adequate (and worked the rest of the period), I let the whole thing pass without further comment.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Not Her

Monday saw me back at the school where I had covered Ms. D's class for fourteen days. 7th grade English. Upon perusing the roll sheets before the day began, I discovered with a jolt that I recognized several names.

A couple of them were good memories. A few others, not so much. Ah well.

One of the "not so much" boys arrived. He saw me. He commented (not to me, but I overheard)...

"Not her. We just got rid of her."

Yeah, I wasn't happy to see him, either.

But, the period went smoothly. They had a project to complete. They were in groups, and they were going to present later in the week.

And see the Chromebooks in the photo at the top? Yeah, computers... Nothing like computers to keep them mellow.