Wednesday, May 31, 2017

It Won't Hurt Anything...

Fifth period economics. Seniors. It was after lunch on a warm day.

Class started. I closed the door and switched on the air conditioner. But it wasn't clicking on quickly enough for Nathan. He got up and went to adjust the temperature.


Sure enough, he had moved it down to 66°F, touching nothing else.

"No need to freak out. It won't hurt anything..."

And I growled. Internally.

A couple years ago, Ms. P told me of her a/c issues. It was one of those days where I saw the teacher before she left for her training or whatever. It's been a saga. She'd figured out how to make sure the a/c kept working, but eventually it did die. It has since been fixed, sort of.

The air conditioner warning remains in her lesson plan:

Having been in class when the a/c died by 5th period, I know she's not being an alarmist. So, I made sure to set the thermostat to 73°F (just to be safe), and I turned it off during passing periods when the door would be open.

Which is why Nathan's offhand comment irritated me so.

"Um, yes, actually, it might blow out the a/c," and I explained to Nathan why his thoughtless a/c adjustment could be really bad. "You don't want to lose the a/c before June, do you?"

Half of me wanted to let him blow out the a/c just to spite him. But it would have hurt Ms. P and the rest of the really nice students. And who knows when I'd end up covering that class again?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Taking Sides

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 ;)

Imagine that you're out someplace. Maybe shopping. Maybe in a park. Or just taking a stroll someplace. It's a nice day, and everyone is peacefully going about their own business...

What if while you were minding your own business, you witnessed someone chasing another person? Neither are obviously police or some sort of official good or bad guy, so you don't immediately know what the situation is. Do you help the chasee get away? Or do you help the chaser catch their quarry?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Chaos

It was Friday at the middle school. On Thursday, I had run into the teacher and mentioned that I was his sub for Friday. He told me he was chaperoning a field trip (to Raging Waters--end of year reward for the well-behaved), and he'd see me in the morning. So, when I arrived to his room to find no lesson plans, I wasn't worried.

The warning bell rang. I was still alone. So, I opened the door to let the kiddos (7th graders) in. I stood at the door, looking for the teacher... 

"Oooh, get it away..."

"Get what away?" 

"It's a spider." 

"That's not a spider..." 

It wasn't a spider. It was a cockroach. And it was on the floor next to a girl. To her credit, she wasn't freaking out. The rest of the class, however... 

Since it was an "advanced" class, the kiddos problem solved, and as a team managed to do something about the insect. Loudly. This is why I didn't hear the phone ringing, although someone helpfully told me that it was. 

The teacher was on the phone. He was on his way, but he wasn't going to get to class before the bell, so he wanted to let me know what first period was doing. 

Somehow I managed to get the class' attention, and I told them to get their computers. (Naturally, they had a Google Classroom assignment.) A couple more students then walked in. It was then I realized that the bell hadn't rung yet. Oops. 

I was curious, so I asked how many of the students were going on the field trip. (They were leaving after first period.) 60-70% of the class. No wonder they were wound up. But still, they logged into their Google accounts and got to work. Eventually. 

It took some time, but the chatter gradually subsided. Slowly, the room crept towards silence. And at about the moment they achieved it, the teacher walked in. 

Way to make me look good, kiddos. 

(I did admit to Mr. F that the silence was a recent thing. The students told him all about the excitement.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rolling Starbursts

It was fifth period science at the continuation high school. The day had started off pretty good, but at this point, the students weren't all that into the doing of work of it all. Three of them put their heads together as one of them pulled out some Starbursts.

I caught snippets of the discussion. Something about "striped sides". It sounded like they were going to treat them as dice. Um, okay...

I pulled out my daily note. I started writing.

"Are you writing down that we're rolling Starbursts?" one of the boys asked.

Well, no. Actually at that moment I was finishing up my notes for period four. But I wasn't going to tell them that.

"Of course," I replied.

I made a mental note to myself. "Rolling Starbursts." Brilliant description. I went back to writing my period four notes.

The idea that I was writing it down upset them? Before I pulled out the note, when I was telling them to get to work, they informed me they would after their game. Their game that they play all the time. So, if they play it all the time, why would their teacher be upset?

The boy wouldn't let it go. "But, you're going to get us into trouble. He'll drop us from the class. Why you gonna play us like that?"

Huh? I always leave notes. I always write these sorts of things down. They know me. This shouldn't come as a shock.

He continued to argue. He told me that I should delete the mention from the note. He asked me exactly what I had written. (As I hadn't written it down yet, I hedged.) When I wouldn't, he said he was so upset he wasn't going to do any work. (Not that he had been doing work. But now, somehow, him not doing work was my fault.)

He went back to his game. I went back to my note. I finished up period four and wrote down what the boys were doing. What the boys were still doing.

The protester returned to argue with me a couple more times, between rounds of the game, I imagine.

The end of the period arrived. Had he finished his game and done any work? Of course not. The boys finished by "disposing" of their playing pieces. (Read: they ate the candy.)

If they would only put that sort of effort into their schoolwork, they would graduate in no time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I saw his name on the seating chart. Nah. Has it really been two years...?

I was covering a chemistry class, which means sophomores and juniors. But Oscar was just in the 8th grade, wasn't he?

Apparently not. I checked the class roster. He's in the 10th grade now.

Oscar... I vividly recall his 6th period math class from 8th grade. He was one of the challenging ones. He wouldn't sit still. He wouldn't do his work. He was a perpetual motion machine. I remember bellowing his name repeatedly to little effect.

(I went looking in my archives to see if I had written about him before. I hadn't.)

I was dreading seeing him again.

He arrived along with 1st period, and...

He sat in his assigned seat with no prompting. He did his work. If his name hadn't jarred unpleasant memories, I probably wouldn't have noticed him.

The assignment was of the due-at-the-end-of-the-period variety. Guess who came in at lunch to finish it?

When I say that some of them grow out of the crazy, I mean it. Case in point. Oscar grew up and mellowed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


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 ;)

So, let's suppose that someone has perfected artificial intelligence. The promise/threat of so much near future sci fi has been fully realized. Now what do we do with it...?

What if we sent probes equipped with artificial intelligence to Mars (and beyond)? How do you think they'd react? Would they help our exploration of our solar system? Or would they behave like petulant teens...?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jellyfish No. 20

Last week I did my jellyfish inventory and showed my current jellyfish in progress...

I finally got it completed Thursday night. Not that I had all that much to do. It was just one of those weeks where I'd get home and would be so out of it that I didn't have the energy to do that final bit of detail work--the face.

(The pattern gives great detail in where the eyes should go. Unfortunately, getting the smile right and in the center between the eyes is always a bit of a challenge.)

So, now it's finally finished...

And I posted a short video to Instagram (because I like to see it move)...

A post shared by Liz A. (@zizirho) on

Friday, May 19, 2017

Complete 5-Letter Words

I found this quiz on my Facebook feed via Mental Floss. You're given a five-letter word with one letter missing. Only one letter will complete the word, and each letter of the alphabet can only be used once.

But beware. You only have 1:30 minutes to complete...

Complete the 5-Letter Words 

It took me three tries to get to 100%. The first time I got 73%. I missed one, and I ran out of time. The second time I got up to 80%, again missing one and running out of time. It goes quickly. 

Try it. Some of the words are obvious. Some are a bit more tricky. Good luck.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pointless Lie

When students leave their "home" schools and transfer to the continuation high school, they first take a class called orientation. It lasts about a month, and it covers how the continuation high school works. It's also an opportunity for them to earn other credits in various subjects. (They get sent to the continuation high school because they've failed several classes, so they do need these credits.)

As I've covered orientation many times, I'm familiar with the routine. So, when I noticed Kendrick was off task, I gently prodded him about getting to work.

"I only need five credits."

Yeah, orientation is worth five credits. But they can earn more if they put the work in. (They can earn less if they do nothing.) I explained...

"No, I only need five credits."

I was confused. There's no way the continuation high school would take a transfer from a student who was only five credits short. There's a waiting list for entrance. Besides, five credits can be made up in summer school or credit recovery which is offered before and after school at the high schools.

"I'm not new. I've been going here for years."

And only then did I catch on. He was lying to me.

I get lied to all the time. Blatantly, sometimes. About all sorts of things. But this lie caught me completely unawares.

I guess it was because it wasn't even a plausible lie.

I suppose he saw a sub, thought he could play it off like he was about to graduate, and figured he'd con me into letting him do nothing. Ah, how little he realizes how badly he misjudged the situation...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Panicked Sub

Before I headed out to the classroom, I asked the secretary if the teacher had emailed her lesson plans. Some days I know that the teacher called out that morning. Like, when I get the call pretty late...

Nope, there were no emailed lesson plans. So, fingers crossed, I headed for the classroom.

(This teacher has been out quite a bit this year, and on a previous occasion I had encountered no lesson plans, so that's why I was cautious.)

And, sure enough, there were no lesson plans.

I looked everywhere first. Then, I called the secretary back. Nope, nothing since I was just there. Not that I really expected anything, but I had to try.

The secretary gave me the number for the department chair as she might know something. I figured it couldn't hurt, so I called her. The department chair said she'd contact the teacher to see what the teacher wanted her classes to do. So I waited...

Then class started.

Seniors. English. AP. I wasn't really worried about them. They'd taken their AP test recently, so I was totally down with them having a free day. (I was more worried about the 11th graders coming in the class after them.) But, it turns out I worried for nothing.

The first girl to walk in was looking at her phone. Her teacher had texted the entire class. (They have things like Remind 101 so the teacher can communicate with them.) With their assignment for the day.


(Although, just a simple email to me, the sub, saying, "I texted them their assignment for the day," would have been nice...)

The department chair got back to me towards the end of the following period. (The teacher had just gotten back to her.) With the information that their assignment for the day was on the computers.

Uh huh. Great.

Perhaps I shouldn't have panicked. But, I have been in situations in which I had no lesson plans with classes that went a little wild while I was trying to find something for them to do. So, yeah.

I'm glad it all worked out. It turned out to be a very easy day. After the fright right after I got there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Crazy

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 ;)

Suppose that someone close to you (a sibling, a good friend, a significant other...) has just been committed to the hospital for mental problems. "They" say it's because they're saying crazy things. You go to visit your friend (or sibling or...), and their "ravings" don't sound so unsound to you...

What if you believed your friend was locked up not for being crazy but for knowing too much of something? (That something can be something sci fi, like the aliens are coming, to something mundane, like the leader of the family is stealing millions.) What would you do?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jellyfish Inventory

The other day (okay, it was more like a couple months ago), someone made a comment about how many jellyfish I'd made. And I realized that I had no idea what that number was. The vast majority of them have gone to other homes upon my finishing them.

But I had kept records. Could I track down the number? (And, the thought occurred, it might be a good idea to keep a list of them from now on.) So, since I really have nothing interesting to talk about today...

The initial idea came from someone at that farmers market I do from time to time. She showed me some images, and from there I was able to track down the pattern (via One Dog Woof). (This came out just about a year ago. Wow.)

And then I made my first jellyfish...

Shortly thereafter, I made two others...

And then the one that went to Betty...

The lady who bought the first one requested one in purple for herself. Then four others for her granddaughters...

I made three for others at the farmers market, two for Christmas presents, and one for someone family adjacent, none of which I remembered to get pictures of. Then MJ ordered one...

And finally, just a couple weeks ago, the one from my "neighbor" at the last farmers market I did...

That's 17. I've neglected to mention that after Christmas I got bored and made another one in orange. (The purple one in this image is from the second image. I can't recall when I made that middle blue one.)

And that's 19.

Wow. 19.

Anyway, the whole reason that this even came up was because of Anna. She's seeking donations for a Support the Troops Auction for the USO of North Carolina, and I offered to make something. She suggested a jellyfish, and I had the brilliant idea that it should be red, white, and blue.

It's not quite finished yet...

While I was working on this one, I started to wonder, again, how many of these things I'd made. And so, I decided to count them up. This one makes 20.

Oh, by the way, I also started another yellow one. Just because I had the yarn and I was bored one night. It's barely started, but it'll bring my total to 21.

I have this image in my head of my farmers market booth with a line of jellyfish. So, there are going to be more. Eventually. Probably.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Non-Break

The schools are on block schedule for state testing. Two-hour periods. Which, depending on the lesson plan, can make for a very long period.

(Only specific teachers are testing on any given day. They're not absent on those days. I'm covering classes that are business as usual, albeit with very long classes.)

Health class. Freshmen. The teacher left them a huge packet on safety to complete. (Stuff like what to do in a natural disaster or if an accident were to happen in the home.)

I was braced for the worst. Freshmen. For two hours. Of what amounted to busywork. And it was the same teacher that I covered a few times in the fall semester. (I posted about those days here, here, and here.)

But then I remembered that health is a semester course (meaning that as we're now in the spring semester, all the kiddos I had issues with are no longer in the class). Except that Ms. E left me a few names of students to keep an eye on. And guess who was on the list? Kevin. Naturally.

Kevin was as happy to see me as I was to see him. (I was gratified to see his reaction to seeing me. He was so not pleased. I guess I make him do work, or something.)

Class started, and something surprising happened. The room stayed silent...

Oh sure, Kevin did no work. As did another boy on the other side of the room who I'd also been warned about. But they did no work silently. While the rest of the class busily scribbled away.

I wished for my knitting. Or a magazine. I was expecting to be dealing with issues, and there were none.

Ms. E had recommended that the class get a break at some point. With this group I think I would have offered on my own. They probably needed one. So, at an hour in, I told the class they could get up and stretch or move around.

They looked at me like I was crazy. And continued to work.

Well, not Kevin and the other boy. They took a break. (From not doing work. *shakes head*)

At the end of the two hours, two students had finished, while the vast majority had only a couple pages of work left. Well, except for Kevin. He still had seven pages to go.

Some weeks are easier than others. This week was pretty easy.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blood Drive Fail

"Ms. S said you'd give blood if you were at the continuation high school on Tuesday..."

It was odd to get a call to work the next day at 5 PM. It was even odder to be called to cover the teacher who was running the blood drive. But then again, of course she couldn't be in class and run the blood drive...

I've subbed for Ms. S quite a lot recently. She told me about the blood drive a month ago. I did say I would volunteer, but it was likely that I wouldn't be on campus that day. Turns out I was wrong.

I did remember the promise. And it was a day of work. So, I took it.

The reason I've never given blood before doesn't have to do with a fear of needles or the sight of blood making me faint. I've just had really bad luck when it comes to having blood drawn. For example, the last time I had to have blood drawn for tests, it took them eight tries to find a vein.

Eight. Tries.

Yes, I got stuck eight times. I felt a bit like a pincushion at the end of the day.

So, I wasn't sure what was going to happen at the blood drive. I promised myself that I'd let them try twice.

I got through all the intake paperwork. I went to lie down. And the nurse went looking for a vein...

Turns out I needn't have worried about getting stuck twice. After two blood drive workers failed to find a vein, they let me go.

At least I tried. (This is what I keep telling myself. It isn't making me feel any better about it, though.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Godzilla on a Beanie

I finished middle nephew's birthday present...

Erm... Two days after his birthday...

Ah well. (The story behind this choice is here.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen the shots of the beanie in progress...

Godzilla all knitted in. But the rest of the beanie still needed to be finished.
Some duplicate stitch for the odd bits that would have been tricky to knit in.
Everything finished.
And I have come to the end of another project. Time to consult the list to figure out what to work on next.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Bad Bargain

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 save your significant other is to make a horrible deal with the villain? 

Monday, May 8, 2017

This Year's A to Z Challenge

Ah yes, it's that time again. The Challenge is over, and we all get a chance to reflect on the past month.

So, this year was a big fat fail for me. Oh sure, I posted something every day of the challenge. I hit all the letters. But I did not visit one single solitary new blog. Not a one. And that's a fail.

I did visit anyone who visited me first. (Except for one commenter whose blog I could not find. I searched and searched her Google + profile, but to no avail.) And I visited all the blogs I usually visit. That was about all I could manage.

There was something nice about no Linky List. I felt less guilty about falling down on the visiting other blogs job. And maybe I'll go back and visit all the blogs that I didn't visit in April. (Let me keep my illusions. I pretty much know I'm lying to myself, but there's a part of me that believes this lie at this moment.)

So, why did I fail to visit other blogs? Because I went and started a second blog for the Challenge. And that first week was a bit of a scramble to get it up and running. Luckily, Talking It Out had a few of us working on it, so those posts all went up, too.

(Pro tip: Never start a new blog for the A to Z Challenge at the end of March.)

The having to post two blogs to the A to Z Challenge Blog as well as on social media was tricky. I'm not at my computer every day. My blogs go live in the morning. I'm usually at work in the morning (and if I'm not at work, I'm sleeping). So, the links may have gotten posted late in the day. (In a couple cases, I posted the links a couple hours before the blogs went live because it would have been more than a day before I'd've been able to post them otherwise.)

But, I did like being able to give a bit of a tease as to what each post was about. I found in prior years I would end up visiting blogs that I had nothing to say anything about.

It was an interesting year. Well, I guess that's one way of talking about 2017 as a whole. Now, back to blogging as normal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Freshman Time Management

9th grade English. They had a writing assignment. They had started it the previous day, and it was due by the end of the period.

This made for an easy day for me. They picked up their computers. Logged on. And worked silently.

Until 4th period.

Kevin and I met in a math class. It was one of those math classes I haven't written about, because I basically spent those days trying to stay awake. The good classes. But Kevin... He wasn't so good.

He wasn't awful. He just engaged in the usual avoiding of the work. I'd pass by his desk. He wouldn't have done any work. I'd ask. He'd say he understood the assignment and that he'd get it done. But by the end of the period there was no work on his paper. And there had been way too much laughter going with him and his group.

So, when I noticed him doing nothing except for flirting with the girl seated behind him (and playing with his spinner), I reminded him that his essay was due. He should get cracking.

Kevin informed me that he was almost done. He'd get it completely finished, no problem. Just... later...

Right. Sure.

The class was mostly silent, so I got busy trying to stay awake. Although, I watched Kevin. Doing nothing. Not getting that last little bit done.

Towards the end of the period I was drawn back over to Kevin's vicinity for something not Kevin related. I mentioned to another student that there were only ten minutes left in the period...

If I didn't know any better, I'd've said Kevin looked freaked. But I know he wasn't. He couldn't have been. He had it all under control, right?

There was something gratifying about knowing that there was no way Kevin was going to be able to make that assignment up. (I made sure to mention how he did a whole lot of nothing in the note.)

Why they just don't start the assignment at the beginning of the period and goof off after they finish is beyond me.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Better Topic

"I think I want to kill myself."

It was 7th period at the continuation high school, and there were four students in class. Jason had been talking to the girl next to him all period. He's a nice enough kid--he was in dark purple lipstick and had complained earlier that his foundation hadn't been applied quite right that day.

Considering the context of the statement (it was more of an "I'm so bored; I'm annoyed with the world" conversation), I wasn't actually concerned he'd do himself harm. (If this was that sort of incident, I would not be blogging about it.) But still, I wasn't going to let that just pass. I let him know that I report such things.

I thought he should probably go back to his previous topic.


This was not the first time I'd had him in class where this was the topic of the day. I had heard of this particular philosophy before, and what Jason described lined up with that.

In case you're unaware, this brand of Satanism is more of an anti-church stance. It's about atheism and using reason rather than blindly following a leader. (In case you're interested, here are some links: Official Church of Satan website; Church of Satan Wikipedia page; 10 Ways the Church of Satan Might Surprise You.)

The Satanism discussion was a fairly innocuous, actually. It was about the "church's" beliefs. So, I sat back and listened. (If it had been something inappropriate, like about sex or drugs or illegal activity, I would have jumped in.)

I think one of the reasons I do fairly well at the continuation high school is that I don't shock easily.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Last Monday was the first time I noticed them. I can't say I'd never seen them before for sure, but Monday was the day it kind of exploded.

What are they? Spinners.

Since last Monday, I have seen at least one on at least one student every school day. I think this qualifies as a fad. Because now it seems they're everywhere.

As your in-the-trenches observer of teen culture, I felt it my duty to report the new trend. They aren't irritating like water bottle tossing or Charlie, Charlie. They aren't messy like slime or gummy bear goo. As far as fads go, I'm kind of okay with this one at the moment.

But you know at some point they will be banned. Because, teens and fads go too far. Somehow. Someway.

The spinners make no sound, so they don't disturb a silent class. (And I've seen them in silent classes.) They're kind of a physical white noise (which I can get behind as knitting serves that purpose for me). I kind of want one.

It's hard to see what they are from static images, so here's a video (skip ahead to where they start playing with them):

Has anyone else seen these? Now that you know about them, do you want one? (I'm genuinely curious.)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

That Special Day

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 ;)

Middle nephew's birthday is Thursday. Star Wars Day. Which got me thinking...

What if you could designate your birthday as some "special" holiday? What would you pick?