Monday, May 21, 2018

Thirteen Tentacles

I'm at it again. I'm making more jellyfish.

It's kind of a long story. It starts with me being a bad aunt. It ends with me having oodles of time last week. (Two words: student teacher.)

Anyway, I've made four bodies, and now it's time to make tentacles. I've made thirteen already...

Which is a good start. There are eight tentacles per jellyfish. I'm making four jellyfish. 8 x 4 = 32.

32 - 13 = 19.

Nineteen more tentacles to go...

Deep sigh. Why did I start this again? Oh, right. I've missed all my nephews' birthdays. Bad aunt.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Keeping Them Straight

I don't often cover Spanish classes as I didn't take Spanish in school, so I was rather grateful that the class had a test. Well, actually, they had two tests.

The first test was to be taken on the computer. The second test was written.

For the first test, I distributed the Chromebooks. They logged into the textbook's website and did that exam. Then I had them return the Chromebooks before I'd give them the paper for the second test.

If you take a look at the classroom setup above, you'll notice that some of those desks are right next to one another. Because of this, the teacher had two different written tests, an A test and a B test. It was my job to make sure that students sitting next to each other got different tests.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, students finished their computerized test at different rates. As they returned the Chromebooks, I had to determine which written test to give them. I decided that desks on the left of the pair would get the A test and desks on the right would get the B test. I just had to keep track of where they came from.

Yeah, well... About half the class I watched get up. The other half I had to ask where they were seated. And with how the room was situated, you know I did screw up. At least I only messed up once. Which put three boys in a row with A tests...

Ah well.

I was bound and determined to figure out a way to not screw up again with the next class.

Then it hit me. The students weren't assigned specific computers (in some classes they are, but not in this case). All I had to do was give students who'd get the A test the odd numbered computers and give students who'd get the B test the even numbered computers. It's not like they'd notice...

And it worked. For every student who I hadn't seen where their seat was, all I had to do was ask what number computer they had.

Sometimes the solution is simple. Sort of.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

And Again

It was a roving day. That is, instead of being told I'd cover for a specific teacher, I was told I'd be "roving". So, I'd be covering two or more different teachers throughout the course of the day.

When I arrived, the secretary offered to switch me to a different assignment. Because guess who the first teacher I'd be covering for was?

But, as luck would have it, the school was on a block schedule, so third period wasn't even meeting. (That's the class that stole my clock and threw the stink bomb.) I'd only have to cover all of second period and half of fourth. Well, they weren't too bad...

And they weren't. They had an essay to write. And for the most part they did.

Well, except for that minor altercation between two boys. It wasn't a fight, exactly. More of a tussle that ended a moment after it began.

The next day I was back at the same school. I was covering for a completely different teacher. All day. And that class... Well, this is the only mention I'm going to make of them. They did their work. They gave me no problems.

This teacher had sixth period off. It is fairly normal for the office to ask me to cover a different class on that prep period, so I wasn't shocked to get called for that. But guess who I was asked to cover?

I mean, what are the odds? There are about 130 teachers at the school. Surely someone else needed coverage sixth period.

But sixth period was the best behaved class of the day. (I know, shocker.) So, I wasn't worried. And everything did go smoothly.

Now, fingers crossed. The goal is to avoid the class for the rest of the school year. Do you think I can do it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Future's Enemy

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. 😉

Let's posit a scenario. (This idea comes from the Timeless episode from last week.) Someone just tried to kill you. They failed. And while looking for answers, you stumbled across the crazy-sounding truth...

What if your would-be killler was a time traveller from the future sent back in time to get rid of you?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Harvest Porcupine Infinity Scarf

I was gifted a skein of yarn. I decided I'd make myself an infinity scarf with it.

I looked through my stitch dictionaries to find a stitch pattern to use. I decided to go with one called the Porcupine Stitch.

I made a test swatch. I figured out about how long I'd want the scarf to be. I did the usual calculations to figure out how many stitches to cast on. And then I began.

I've already blogged about this and how I made a bunch of mistakes at the beginning...

The yarn is fingering weight (read: pretty fine), so the progress was slow. A month later...

And that was about a month before now.

Because I only had the one skein, how wide the scarf actually became was somewhat out of my control (because I was knitting it long-ways). I'm terrible at estimating sizes. I hoped for rather than expected everything to work out in the end.

The other component of this knit was when to end it. The stitch pattern repeats every nine rows, and I wanted to end on a row that mirrored the beginning of the scarf. But, I only had the one skein, so I had to end it before I ran out of yarn.

Last Saturday (the 5th) I thought that was it. But as I approached the row I'd need to bind off, that ball of yarn looked like it had another repeat in it. So, I continued on.

Then this past Friday (the 11th) I approached the predetermined bind off row again. I looked at the remaining yarn and wondered...

Well, there was one way I could determine with certainty. I could weigh it.

(This is an old knitting trick. If you've knitted one mitten and you're not sure if you have enough yarn for a second, weigh the mitten, then weigh the loose yarn. If the yarn weighs more than the mitten, you're good to go.

As this isn't mittens, I needed to do a few more calculations. Weigh the project (minus the needles). Determine how many pattern repeats had been completed. Divide weight by pattern repeats. If that number was smaller than the weight of the remaining yarn, I'd be good to go.)

I got out my scale, and... The batteries were dead. And I had no AAA batteries in the house.

Okay, eyeballing it...

I got to the bind off row again...

Remaining yarn ball between blue brackets--hard to see otherwise.
And I decided not to risk it. It was finally time to bind off. That was Saturday night...

I finished the thing sometime after midnight.

I haven't blocked it. I kind of like the texture.

And I don't want to flatten it out. Who knows? I may decide to block it later. (I'm not going to be wearing it any time soon. We're going into warm weather season.)

So, did I have another pattern repeat's worth of yarn? I'll let you decide. Here's how much yarn I had left over when I cut the yarn after finishing the bind off row...

I think the size turned out just fine...

And now I'm again in between knitting projects. Deep sigh.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Facebook is for Old People

Eighth grade English. They are starting their Diary of Anne Frank unit, and as an intro, they had an article to read.

I was drawing the discussion out a bit. I didn't want to give them too long to work on the questions they had that went along with the reading. Students, especially middle schoolers, have a tendency to rush through questions just so they can have "free time" at the end of the period (read: time to go insane and make my job harder).

I mentioned that the Anne Frank Center was on Twitter (@AnneFrankCenter), and considering that they'd be studying not only the diary but the surrounding history and such, they might be worth a follow.

As soon as I said it, I realized the 13/14-year-olds might not be into Twitter. But the first group assured me that Twitter was still lit.

The next class, however, informed me that Twitter was for old people.

To the third group, I prefaced my remarks with, "I know Twitter is for old people..." They wanted to know who thought that. Facebook, they said, is for old people. Twitter, they said, is OK. It's great for memes.

As for the last group, they seemed to be divided. They agreed Facebook is for old people, but Twitter could be OK.

Which just goes to show that they don't even have a consensus as to whether or not Twitter is cool. Mostly, they stick to Snapchat, I think. At least, they will until the next big thing comes along.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Them Again

After the last time, I swore never again. Never again lasted two weeks.

Although the deck was stacked against me. The teacher requested me. And there were no alternative assignments for the day.

Friday. That eighth grade English class. You remember the one. First, they stole my clock (and got offended by my accusation). Then they threw a stink bomb.

I kinda thought the teacher wouldn't want me back after all that.

Now, actually, the rest of the day had been pretty much OK. Believe it or not, the kiddos worked silently. Eighth graders. It was just that persnickety third period...

I braced for them. I set up all the materials so I wouldn't have to turn my back on them. And then...

They were fine. I mean, we had the usual I-can't-get-a-word-in-edgewise discussions while reading an article together in class. But they did do the assignment. And they didn't figuratively blow up the classroom. They weren't even the worst class of the day.

A win. Sort of. Hooray?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Test Ready

Integrated math 2. (Read: geometry or 10th grade math.) It was test day and we were on block schedule. They had an hour of review followed by an hour for the test.

During the testing hour, a boy called me over. He had a question about one of the test questions...

This was not the exact test question, but it is a good example of what the test question was like.
"How do you find that angle?"

Me: "Uh huh. Yeah. That's what the question is asking."

"But how do you do it?"

During the review hour, they had a test review packet to complete. They were given 10 minutes to work on a page, then the teacher (it was a co-teaching situation, so I took the support role) demonstrated the questions via the projector. And there was more than one example of this type of problem on the review.

How had the boy missed it? Well...

During that first hour, I ended up stationed at his table. I was trying (unsuccessfully) to get them to put away a phone. They wouldn't. They wanted to watch a baseball game. "We know the material. We're ready for the test. We all have As and Bs in this class."

Apparently they weren't as ready as they thought they were.

And I took a certain amount of satisfaction from the fact that the boy was going to miss that question. Does that make me a bad person?

(In case you're wondering, it's a sine/cosine/tangent question. Take the ratio of two sides, look up that decimal on a table that they had, and voila. If you want more details, I'll explain in the comments.)

Tuesday, May 8, 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. 😉

What if you discovered you had a mild allergy to one of your favorite foods (like a persistent cough or a small rash developed after you ate it)?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Knitting Hedgehogs, a Stink Bomb, and a Wild Goose Chase

#AtoZChallenge reflections logo 2018

I've been doing the A to Z Challenge since 2013. It's a fun little blogging game for April. How can I make my usual blog post fit the letter of the day?

As for completing the challenge, I normally write five blog posts a week. Blogging all month isn't the challenge. Doing the blog hop and keeping up with comments--that's the challenge.

I've said all this before (in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017). If you want to read that again, I'd suggest 2016's reflections post. It's definitely my favorite title. So, rather that rehash the same ol', I'm just going to hit a few highlights:
For the hop portion of the challenge, I was #510 on the master list. As in previous years, I started visiting at the blog just after mine (#511), and continued until I was able to comment on five other blogs. (I "hopped" about five days a week.) 

By the end of the challenge, I had made it to #26 on the master list. Yep, I managed to get to the end of the list and start over. This has been a dream of mine since 2013... 

A (very small) sampling of the blogs I visited: 

I like doing the blog hop to find new-to-me bloggers. That's the whole point, isn't it? So, that makes this year more of a success than last year. But I am glad that April only happens once a year.

Friday, May 4, 2018


It was Friday at the continuation high school. Computer aided drafting. They had an assignment.

But it was Friday, 2nd period complained. They didn't do work on Fridays...

Apparently, they played games on Fridays. (Which I don't believe. But at a certain point, all I'm going to end up doing is arguing with them. So, I can spend the period arguing with them getting no work done. Or I can spend the period watching them get no work done. Some days the aggravation isn't worth it. I just make a note of it and let their teacher deal with them upon his return.)

Of course, they had to play the game of the moment, Fortnite.

My job puts me in the position of hearing what the most popular stuff of the moment is. Right now, it's a game. Everybody is playing it. I hear about the game at least once a day, but most of the time more. That includes days where the kiddos are actually on task.

So, if you have a teenager around you, slip the name into conversation. I bet they're playing. If not, they've heard of it.

As I'd given up on arguing that they should work. I was just listening in to the conversation...

They were taking offense at a fellow player's screen name. Toesucker*** (I can't remember what the number after it was). They were wigged out by the name.

"Who does that? Why would you even want to touch someone's foot...?"

I wisely kept my mouth shut. Ah, the innocence of youth.

If only they spent their time doing their work.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Lei'd, Part 2

I mentioned the passing out of the leis yesterday. For 3rd period, I got a bunch of them. So, once I had started the class on their assignment and taken roll, I went about distributing them.

The first student to get one was Tyson.

I've had Tyson in class several times. He has not made the blog before as he's not a troublemaker. He's one of the students in the middle--he generally does what he needs to do.

I checked the seating chart to find out where he was. As I approached, I called out his name. He verified that he was Tyson. I reached out to hand him the certificate...

"That's not mine."

Uh oh. Did I have the wrong student? I thought it was Tyson. I turned the certificate towards him, showing his name, to make sure it was the right Tyson. (Not that there was another Tyson in class, but sometimes I misread names and students let me know that the student listed is over there.)

"Are you Tyson?"

"Yeah, but..."

And that's when I got it. So...

"This is yours. Congratulations."

I had three more red leis, two yellow leis, and one multicolored lei to pass out. Then I sat down and got into my class mode.

Tyson's certificate and lei sat at the edge of his desk. He wasn't touching them.

Tyson wasn't expecting a lei. His GPA was 3.0. (It said so on his certificate.) This may have been the first time he'd hit that threshold. Well, it's likely. His surprise at receiving a lei tells me this. It had not occurred to him that he'd made the honor roll.

He did take the certificate and lei with him when he left class. I didn't see him put the lei on. I assume he was adjusting to this new concept.

So, congrats, Tyson. You earned it. You deserve it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


The honor roll certificates for the third quarter of the school year were distributed last Monday. Plus, the students received leis to celebrate their accomplishment. (The leis had fabric flowers, so the school could afford to buy them in bulk.)

Students who earned a GPA of 3.0-3.5 got a red lei. GPAs of 3.5-4.0 got a yellow lei. And those students who earned a GPA above 4.0 got a multicolored lei.

4th period. Honors integrated math 3. This is the math class directly before math analysis in the sequence (also known as precalculus). And the honors students are likely going to complete the sequence.

As they walked in, I noted that most of them sported multicolored leis. Not surprising, really. These are the overachievers.

I overheard a conversation they had. One girl hadn't gotten her lei until 3rd period. So, when her friends got theirs in 2nd, they ribbed her for it. How come she wasn't getting a lei? Was she hiding her red lei?

I pointed out that getting a red lei was also an accomplishment. There were plenty of kiddos who didn't get a lei at all.

She didn't see it that way. (And she knew what her GPA was as report cards went out a couple weeks ago.) Nor did the kiddos in her social circle.

Grade snobbery is alive and well. I rarely get to see it, but it's there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Killer Mind

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.😉

Birgit's response to last week's question prompted this week's...

What if you gained the memories of a serial killer? 

There are various sci-fi ways this could happen, such as uploading them to your brain via a computer of some sort. I'm not going to specify the how.

However, you are aware that these are not your memories, and you yourself are not altered in any way. These memories are in addition to what you have already experienced.

Assuming you did not have a choice in gaining these memories (happened via accident) or you voluntarily received them for some purpose (like as a psychiatrist studying behavior), what do you think you'd do with them? Do you think they would turn you into a killer? Might you take the lessons of the killer and use them for your own purposes?