Saturday, April 21, 2018


Saturday afternoon. My father and I were on our weekly walk. I usually like to go someplace scenic, so this day we were out at the Back Bay in Newport Beach. (Here's another link, not Wikipedia.)

"There's Saddleback," my father said. (And another non-Wikipedia link.)

I thought, "Saddleback starts with S..."

Newport Beach Back Bay with Saddleback Mountain in the far background
Not a great shot, but it was a clear day. Click on the image to make it bigger. Saddleback Mountain is the thing in the distance.

Have you been on any nice walks lately? Where are some of the better places to hike around where you live?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Room Swap

The school day is six periods long. Most teachers have students for five of those. For their sixth period, most teachers use the time for planning and preparing.

We subs don't usually need that preparation time. (It's a nice break in the day, however.) So, when the school needs coverage, the subs are the first ones the office calls.

(There are various reasons why. Sometimes the teachers have a meeting for that one period. Sometimes the teachers need to leave early. And sometimes there aren't enough subs to cover all the absent teachers, so some teachers get "sub soup", that is they get a different sub each period.)

Frequently, I'll get to my "extra" period to find a student (or two or three...) who I had in the class I'm covering all day. This has happened frequently enough that I've come to expect it. And when a student points out that they just had me last period, I give them an evil laugh. "You can't escape me!"

Last Friday, however, I got a new version of this.

Second period the office called. My prep on this day was fifth period. Could I cover another class fifth? (The answer is always yes. I get paid extra for doing this, so the only downside is losing some lazy time.)

I wrote down the room number so I wouldn't forget and went on with the period.

I was covering a special ed class. There was an instructional aide with me. She wondered who had called. (Mostly the calls are for students to go elsewhere.)

I told her. And she replied that that was her fifth period, too. (Full time aides are sent to other classes on the teacher's prep.)

The aide was able to tell me what the lesson plans were going to be. (They were working on a research paper.) She even knew why the teacher was going to be out. I don't usually get a preview of my extra period assignment. I usually have to wing it once I get there. So, this was nice.

Too bad we had to go to another classroom. If only they could have sent the students to us ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you have a coworker that seems to go with you everywhere? Do you like your coworkers?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Quite the Handful

When I called ahead for subbing assignments, I was offered this middle school special ed math class for two days. After the time I had with sixth period, you'd probably think I'd turn it down. (There were other teachers out, so I did have options.)

But the instructional aide, Ms. S, said the rest of the day wasn't so bad, and I knew Ms. S was there the whole day. How bad could it be?

Ms. S and I arrived at the same time on Thursday morning. She clued me in to how things needed to proceed. She'd run things. She knew the kiddos. She knew the routine. I'd just have to follow her lead.

But... Oh, by the way... Ms. S had to leave early that day. You know, right before sixth period.

First through fourth periods went pretty well. They were working on solving inequalities and then graphing those answers. We had to take it slow as they were having difficulty. But that was to be expected. That's how things go in a special ed class.

I got to watch what Ms. S did all day. My job was to replicate that for sixth period. I've done that sort of thing before.

Sixth period arrived. And they were pretty much as I remembered them. (Samuel still won't sit. Ashley still won't focus. Edward had been moved, so he and Ashley didn't have issues.)

I attempted to get through the lesson. And I kind of did. It took longer than the other periods. There were all sorts of distractions (*ahem* Samuel. Ashley. *ahem*). But for the most part they let me teach. (Classes don't always. I appreciate it when I am allowed to get them through the lesson.)

So, a win. Sort of.

I was told they were the brightest group of the day. The were also the largest. Put them in sixth period, and that's why they were the most difficult.

Do you remember what classes you had at the end of the day? Were you burned out by then, or did you have a class in play mode?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I was covering this middle school special ed math class for two days. The lovely thing about special ed classes is that they have instructional aides (IA) who are generally very helpful. On these days Ms. S was teaching the class.

Ms. S was going over something with the students when I noticed Ricardo. He had his head down on his desk. I went over to him and politely requested that he sit up and do what Ms. S was asking of the students.

Ricardo ignored me, not budging from his position. He could have been sound asleep for all the movement he made.

Again, I tried to get his attention. But Ms. S shook her head. Let him be.

A bit later, Ms. S explained the situation.

Ricardo was not well pleased to be in this math class. He had previously been in sixth period...

(I covered this sixth period once. It did not go well.)

...but because sixth period was such a handful, the teacher had managed to get a student transferred into a different period.

Ricardo had been rebelling previously. He had only just gotten to almost acceptance, Ms. S explained. But having his head on his desk was much better than what he could have been doing.

There's a reason I usually let sleeping dogs lie...

Did you ever fall asleep in class? Would you have liked to be transferred out of a wild class?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What if every fictional world ever devised actually exists someplace?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nearly Finished?

Remember this scarf?

That was as of March 5th. Today, it's still going...

The yarn ball is smaller. The scarf is bigger. But it still feels like I'm so far from finishing.

This is what happens when one knits a fingering weight on size 3 needles. (Read: very thin yarn and very small needles.)

Although, to be fair, it's not the only thing I've been working on. I pulled out a Bullseye Beanie for B (and because I needed to restock--for the record: that beanie is finished) and I spent a week knitting a hedgehog for H (also finished).

Still, it seems like this scarf isn't going anywhere. But, I weighed the yarn, and I've got about two more pattern repeats before I'm out. I can get that finished this week. Maybe? Which makes me nearly finished. Right?

Then I've got two more scarves of a similar design to go...

Then again, maybe I'll set this aside and find something to knit that goes along with T.

Do you have any ongoing projects nearing completion? Have you pushed anything to the side to complete the A to Z Challenge?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mud Hen

I am told this is a mud hen or an American coot. A flock (or whatever you call a group of these) appeared a few months ago. They've been relatively unobtrusive neighbors.

Do you have a lot of different birds in your neck of the woods?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Friday, April 13, 2018

Listening Skills

Eighth grade science. They were to watch a video on genetics and answer questions on a handout. (Here's the video if you're interested.)

Showing videos is one of the basic skills any sub needs. I know all the tricks from "press play" to how to set up the computer to hook up to the projector so everyone can watch. I've even figured out how to troubleshoot most of the audio problems that might crop up.

But this day we were doing things very differently.

Each student was assigned an in-class Chromebook. (This is a laptop computer with limited memory but easy connection to the school's wi-fi network.) They were to retrieve their computer, search for the video, and then watch it on their computer on their own.

This is actually kind of a great way to do a video. If they miss something, they can back it up. They listen to it on headphones, so they're locked into their own little world. And I don't have to watch the thing (especially over and over and over again), although I heard bits of it, kind of like a group singing in the round...

The students got their computers. I passed out the questions. I walked around to make sure they all found the correct video. Just as I settled in while they were working, a student raised his hand.

"Can I listen to music?"


I get this question a lot. And the answer is usually yes. When they're doing independent work, it helps some of them focus.

But they were watching a video. With narration. And people explaining things to the camera. They were supposed to listen to it so they could answer the questions.

I was so taken aback by the question that I sputterd a bit. The boy helpfully offered that his teacher sometimes lets them.

I asked how he could listen to music and watch the video. He didn't understand my question.

Flummoxed, I figured trying to explain why the music was a bad idea was just going to go over his head. So, instead I gave him a straight no.

Unless he has some mad listening skills and can listen to music and a video at the same time...

Nah. I'm clearly putting more thought into this than he did.

Did you know Bill Nye did other shows besides his Science Guy stuff? Can you listen to music and watch a show at the same time (and understand both)? Do you listen to music to help you focus?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Klepto Kid

Eighth grade U.S. history. The advanced class. So, that meant no "issues" right?


Fifth period walked in. I gave my usual intro, looking back to the board to point out where I had posted my name for their reference. That's when I noticed the projector was on.

I was not using the projector.

So, a kiddo decided it would be funny to turn the projector on. *big shrug* I went to grab the remote to turn the projector off...

The remote was missing.

(It seems like this year's eighth graders might be a bunch of kleptos.)

I asked nicely for the remote to be returned. They questioned if I was sure the remote had been taken rather than, say, I had misplaced it.

Ahem. I hadn't been using it. It was sitting, minding its own business, on the front table. They sure know how to shift blame...

So, it came time for me to demand the return of school property. (At least this time they weren't offended by my accusations.)

Naturally, no one fessed up. So, it was time to explain what was going to happen if I did not get the remote back. (This explanation comes from experience. It ends with an assistant principal coming to class to search everyone's belongings.)

Less than five minutes later, a student "found" the remote on the floor behind his desk.

Remote returned. All was well.

The culprit? Likely the boy that "found" it.

But honestly, I don't care. If the teacher wants to chase that down, I left her all the particulars, including how that boy had been near the remote at the time it went missing.

My lesson: keep a better eye on random stuff as the kiddos have been walking away with it. Especially eighth graders.

What is something you lose frequently? Do you manage to find it?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Just a Phone Call

You know what it's like to listen to someone on a phone call? They talk. Then they pause. Then they talk again. You know you're hearing half the conversation. There are cadences to the speech. You can hear a different timbre to their voice.

You don't need to see the phone. You just kind of know by listening.

"I'm not on my phone. I'm talking to him."

Leah indicated her neighbor. This boy hadn't said a word. While Leah was clearly holding half a conversation with somebody.

I wasn't in the mood to argue. As I walked away, Leah said, "I told her I was working..." She related to her friend on the phone what had just interrupted their conversation.

It must be a generational thing. More than once I have tried to explain that they should not hold conversations on their phones in class. They always look at me like I'm being totally unreasonable.

Where's the weirdest place you've ever taken a phone call? What is something that other generations don't get about yours?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What if our lives here are a training for a celestial promotion?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Monday, April 9, 2018


While planning posts for this week, I hit a snag. What knit project did I have that I could make work for H? Nothing came to mind.

Then I had the thought. Hedgehog.

This has been a project that's been on my mind for a while. But I never had any good reason to drop everything and knit one. Until now.

It's quick enough that I finished it in less than a week...

I used the pattern from the Purl Soho blog. There are quite a few different patterns out there, but this one grabbed my attention. It was easy to follow.

I used an eyelash yarn for the body, giving it that furry look. The pattern that originally got my attention did this, but that pattern could only be purchased in a booklet. Not a PDF. Which I would have had to order and wait for. Which would have been fine if I hadn't decided to do this with a week to get it done in.

Yeah, I really planned this post out ๐Ÿ˜‰

I think I need to redo the face, though.

You can barely see the eyes under the ears. I'll think about it.

It turned out to be easier to knit than I planned. I may have to make these available for sale. (I have to check and see what the pattern writer said, though. Sometimes they ask not to use their patterns to make finished products for sale.)

Did you finish any blog posts just under the wire? Did you ever change your plans at the last minute?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Goose Chase

Some geese live nearby.

I was out walking a dog. (Not my dog. Long story.) Buttercup (the dog) had a run-in with the geese last year. (She barked at them and chased them. They fought back. She now avoids them.) A goose was in our path, so Buttercup turned tail and went the other way.

As we went the long way round, it occurred to me that goose starts with G. (Obvious, I know.) I had just spent three days trying to figure out what I would photograph for today's post.

I dropped off Buttercup and grabbed my phone. But, of course, the goose was no longer in the path. I kind of had to chase it to get these shots. However, G is now done...

Have you had to "chase down" any letters?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Friday, April 6, 2018

Forgot Something

As I was planning out this week...

It was a weird day at the middle school. I had a "roving" assignment. I was only covering periods 1-3 for Mr. R, so I had arrived before 1st period, and he was telling me what his classes were doing. His phone rang...

After writing the student a pass and putting it on his empty desk, Mr. R went back to telling me what I needed to know. He left for his meeting before the students started arriving.

A student approached me. He had found his pass. But where was he to go?

I looked over the pass. Everything was filled out except for the destination. And I hadn't thought to ask Mr. R when he got the call.

Oh well. I knew whoever wanted the student would eventually call back. I told the student to wait.

Less that two minutes after the bell, we got a call. Sure enough, they were calling for the student. (They needed him in the discipline office.) I sent him on his way...

Then, a few minutes after that, a student brought in a call slip from the office. It was a pass for the student.

I guess they really, really needed to talk to him in the discipline office.

(The student returned to class. He didn't look stressed. So, whatever was up, it wasn't too terrible for him.)

As I was planning out this week, I was jotting down posts when I had free time in class. I had had time to jot down the title for this post before getting called away to deal with other things. When I got some time the next day to start sketching out this post, for the life of me I couldn't remember what the title referred to.

I wracked my brains. I went through each and every class I covered for the whole week. It wasn't coming to me. I gave up and scratched out the title from my list.

Upon arriving home, I went through my pictures to get them ready for my posts. And in the picture for this post was that pink pass. And it all came back to me. Whew.

What was the last thing your forgot that drove you crazy trying to remember? Did you eventually remember? Did any of your post titles inadvertently come true in a bizarre way?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Earvin Strikes Again

As luck would have it, I was back in the math class at the continuation high school exactly a week after my last run in with Earvin...

(I've known Earvin for a while. Last week he pestered me until he managed to find a way to get excused from class. Check out the links for the full story.)

As soon as he arrived in class, he started working the excuses. Could he...?

I cut him off. I explained that I had gotten into trouble with the counselor last week for allowing him to leave class. (This was an exaggeration. While the counselor had talked to me, it was more of a heads up about Earvin's penchant for avoiding math than "trouble". But Earvin would more easily understand if I termed it "trouble".)

So, Earvin found a seat...

Alas, it wasn't his assigned seat.

(This teacher is pretty strict about lots of things, including students sitting in their assigned seats. They all know this, but they still grumble when I call them on it.)

The instructional aide requested that Earvin sit in his assigned seat. He argued that he wasn't bothering anybody in the seat he had chosen to sit. (He sat next to this girl...)

So, back and forth we went. He wanted to know why he had to sit in his assigned seat when he wasn't bothering anybody. (I wasn't about to get the girl into it. If he was bothering her, she wasn't saying.) I said we needed to follow his teacher's rules.

He said the teacher sometimes let him sit a couple seats away from his assigned seat. I said that would be fine. He countered with if that was fine, why couldn't he sit next to the girl, then?

We reached a stalemate. So, he asked to use the restroom. Someone was out of class, so he had to wait. Then he found the coup de grรขce... Could he see the nurse?

I pretty much let anyone who asks go to the health office. They could be lying. But I don't know that for sure. So, of course, I let him go.

And so, Earvin managed to get out of math class without doing any work. Again.

Earvin: 2. Me: 0.

Although, I did record the whole thing for Mr. F to deal with upon his return.

What was your best excuse to get out of math class (or doing your math homework)? Or were you weird like me and actually liked math?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Doubled Name

A little over a decade ago, we had a glut of Jose Lopezes at one school. I'm not sure how many there were, but on multiple occasions I would have two of them in the same class.

(They were differentiated by their middle initial, unless they didn't have one. Then they would need their student ID numbers. It was confusing during roll call, but somehow we managed the rest of the time.)

I haven't noticed this issue in a while.

Last Monday. Second period. Eighth grade U.S. history.

I had a lovely little seating chart with which to take attendance.

Kaitlyn Hernandez's seat was empty. I marked her absent. I continued going through the seating chart and matching empty seats to names. And... Kaitlyn Hernandez was absent. Again. Different seat.

It took me a bit to catch it. First I assumed that Kaitlyn had been moved and one seat just needed to be fixed. But no. There were two Kaitlyn Hernandezes listed on the class roster. They had different student ID numbers. One did have a middle initial.

Just imagine... Having someone else in your same class with your same name...

I mean, I was not the only Elizabeth in my class. But at least my last name was always unique. To not even have that...

Since one of the Kaitlyns was absent (the other did arrive later with a pass), and the assignment did not require me to call on students, I did not see how this worked in practice. But it begs the question. How does this work for them? Do they share other classes? Do they like each other?

And the big one... They're in eighth grade. They have more than four years together when one includes high school. How do they navigate the next four years?

Hopefully there isn't a third Kaitlyn Hernandez hiding somewhere...

Did you have others in your school with your same first name? Did you get along with them?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What if scientists started cloning the long dead? What if you discovered you were a product of this research? 

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Monday, April 2, 2018

Building a Bullseye Beanie

A funny thing happened in the middle of March. Over the course of two weeks, I sold two complete Bullseye Beanies and the pattern for one.

Time to restock... 

It starts at the top with the "bullseye" section.

Then comes the next stripe out.

At the blue stripe, the beanie starts to take shape.

And that's as far as I've gotten. I have a few more rounds to complete the blue before I switch to black. Then comes the white to finish it all off.

Bullseye Beanie, complete

I'm making the child size. I still have the regular size in stock. (The above picture is from before.)

As for my other projects, my scarf is coming along slowly. I have a pretty good idea what I want to make that'll fit H. Hopefully I'll get it finished in time... 

Do you have any projects in progress? Have you ever tried archery?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Alphabet Filing Cabinet

It's April. You know what that means...

So, yeah, saw this in class last week. That's one way to decorate. ๐Ÿ™‚

The plan for today is to get some of these alphabet posts written. I have planned some of them out. If all goes well, by the time I go to bed tonight, I should be done with all my posts through M (excluding H). Wish me luck. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are you ahead on your A to Z posts (if you're doing the challenge)? What letter are you up to?

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...

Friday, March 30, 2018

Too Fast

Friday. Middle school. Fundamentals of engineering.

Their assignment was to sketch out an alphabet that looked roughly like this:

I projected the alphabet on a screen at the front of the room. But I could only get two to three rows on screen at the same time, so periodically I'd have to scroll.

About half the class was diligently working. The other half of the class was playing. (This is typical in middle school electives. This is typical in middle school required subjects, too.)

At about the middle of the room, there were two girls who were all about the games. They started off by finishing off their lunch. (The diligent workers confirmed that they weren't allowed to eat in class.) Then they were gossiping, checking out their phones, chatting with the others in class, and pretty much doing things that were not on task.

But they remained in their seats, so while I kept an eye on them, I didn't do much more than periodically remind them that they had an assignment.

As the workers finished up the first row of letters (after like 20 minutes), I moved the screen up...

"Hey, wait. I wasn't done yet."

One of the girls wanted me to move the letters back. She had only finished the "A". She told me I was moving too fast.

Hmmm... So, scroll back so the goofing off girl can get caught up. Or keep things moving forward for all the students that were making progress. Difficult decision...

When I wouldn't move the letters back, the girl asked if she could go to the library to print out a copy of what she needed.

(The letters were on the teacher's website. Those who had phones could access the example that way. The teacher didn't trust them with Chromebooks when she wasn't in the room. After seeing the classes, I completely understand why.)

She returned without the hard copy. The library was "too crowded" and she couldn't get access. Her friend then decided to try... And also returned without a hard copy.

Now, they could have worked ahead. So what if they missed A-D? They could still continue with the other letters on the screen instead of wasting their time...

Oh, what am I saying? It was all about wasting their time.

I went ahead and signed up for the A to Z Challenge starting April 1st. (I'm #514 on the sign up list as I write this.) Not that anything is really going to change. You'll just notice how each day goes one further in the alphabet.

And... Happy birthday, Chris. (Feel free to wish my little brother a happy birthday :)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Avoiding Class

Math class at the continuation high school. Earvin was in period three.

Class had barely started when Earvin asked to go and talk to the counselor.

I called, but I got her voicemail. I knew she was on campus, but if her voicemail was picking up, that meant she was busy. And I wasn't going to send a student to her office if she was occupied with something else. So, I told Earvin no.

That should have been the end of it. But this is Earvin we're talking about.

He wanted to talk to someone "in the office". I knew the principal was off campus. No other administrators were around. Only the secretaries and clerks were there. But Earvin insisted, so I called to ask if he could go.


Earvin was on a mission. He wanted out of class. So, now he needed to go "work" in another class. Could he go to another room?

Okay, fine. Which class?

I called the teacher. He didn't want Earvin either. (I don't blame him. I wouldn't take him if he wasn't enrolled in my class.)

So, we're done, right? Earvin realized he was stuck and got to work, right? No, of course not. Earvin picked another teacher to try.

"Is he driving you crazy?"

Well, yeah, but that's normal. I can take it for a period. I didn't say this, however. I don't remember what I said. But this teacher said yes.

I did state that Earvin could remain with me. Earvin overheard and protested...

So, in the end Earvin got out of math class and went to PE instead. It calmed the room way down. (There was this girl chasing him, and he was running away...)

But I ran into the counselor later. She told me that Earvin has been "getting out of" math quite frequently lately. He doesn't seem to get on with the teacher. However, he's getting close to finishing, and math is one of the few subjects he needs to finish, so he needs to stay in class.

(Turns out that not having the counselor answer the phone worked in his favor, for she would have said that he shouldn't go anywhere.)