Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Left Behind

Just as soon as I finished up the ceramics assignment (Mr. P is back at work--yeah, I think it's fast, too), I was back at the continuation high school.

It was a chaotic day as their ASB was building a haunted house in the middle of campus (for a Halloween carnival they were doing--keep in mind, this was last week), and every student wanted to go out and "help". And the counselor was calling out various seniors for some test they had to take.

It is on this day that a staffer from the state assembly was on campus looking for applicants for the young legislators program.

This group was not all that interested. I could tell. I was in their faces to stay quiet and respectful as he spoke. (There are some on that campus that would totally have been into this. Unfortunately, none were in my class at the time.)

At the end of his presentation, he asked if any of them would like an application. I was shocked that five of them raised their hands.

He left, and the class went back to playing Krunker and generally ignoring their assignment. (I had already fought that fight, going up to each of them in turn and urging them to do something.)

The period ended right before lunch. They left at the bell, leaving behind those applications. All of them.

Now, that they weren't interested didn't shock me. What shocked me was that they bothered to get an application, and then they left them behind. Why ask for an application if they weren't going to bother to take it with them?

I suppose they saw the essay requirement on the back and figured it was too hard. Sigh. (I know that many teachers on that campus would have gladly helped them put something together if they had asked. As I would have, if asked.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

To Tell the Truth

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 became a super hero, and your super power was making people tell the truth? 

(Not every week can be original 🤷)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Redid the Witch Hat Headband

A couple weeks back, I showed off my little witch hat headband...

And you agreed that it was a little small. So, this past week I remade it with a larger hat...

I think that came out rather nice. (It's too late to make another before Halloween, so this'll have to do for this year.)

I even got my new camera to cooperate and take some headband-only photos. (I have to do selfies with my phone. If I had gotten the headband done a day earlier, I could have found someone to take pictures of me.)

The one above is the smaller size. The larger size is below...

If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have gotten these done early enough to offer them for sale. Sigh. Maybe next year. Someone, remind me, OK?

But there is plenty of time to remind you of the original iteration of this idea. From last year...

I will make these for sale if anyone is interested. Just let me know.

If there are any knitters out there, you can make your own. You can find the "ingredients" here:
If you happen to make one, I'd love to see it. Just tag me on Instagram, Twitter, or Ravelry. I'm @ZiziRho.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Broken Skulls

As it is October, the assignment for the ceramics classes was to make Calaveras (sugar skulls). They had two weeks.

(They were to make two pinch bowls, score & slip them together creating a hollow sphere, and then sculpt that into a Calavera. I get lesson plans like this all the time--plans that make little to no sense to me. I just read it to them and hope they get it.)

As they turned in their skulls on Friday (leaving them out on a shelf), the students in following periods would stop to gawk. A couple of them tried to touch. I got snippy about those that wanted to touch other students' skulls. I could just see someone accidentally breaking another student's two weeks worth of work.

We got through the entire Friday with all the skulls intact.

Then my assignment got extended one more day. (It's a long story about doctor's notes and school bureaucracy.)

Monday's assignment had them writing about their skulls. They were to describe them using the elements and principles.

Well, of course they'd need to have their skulls in front of them for that. And they'd be careful with their own work, right?

Fifth period. A boy raised his hand. He waved me over. He needed to show me something.

Half his skull was rubble. There were several chunks of what had been the face sitting in the hollow of what had been the back of the head.

What had happened? He wasn't entirely sure. All I could think about was how much work he had put into that thing.

I asked him what Mr. P would have him do in this situation. He said he'd get to remake it. Well, okay then...

At least that was only the second skull that got broken that day. (The first one wasn't a big loss. I attempted to get the boy to put more effort into his skull. He didn't see my point.) And somehow we made it through the rest of the day without another mishap.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Double Drill Day

California holds a state-wide earthquake drill every October. (You know how much I love those drills.) Of course the schools participate.

The drill was scheduled for 10:18 AM, which put it about five minutes into third period (after they adjusted the bell schedule for the day. On a normal day, the students are out of class at "snack" at that time).

Right after getting to school that morning, I found the evacuation folder, so I was good to go. Not looking forward to it, but good to go.

We were about halfway into first period (so, roughly 8:30) when the fire alarm rang. Seriously?

But this is not the school where we ignore those bells, so we had to evacuate. Ugh.

Alas, the students weren't evacuating. They were cleaning up.

The ceramics class has some strict instructions as to cleaning up. They put away their projects into cubby holes. Then they have to wipe down their tables and sweep up underneath. They even dry off the tables after wiping them down.

They were halfway into this process when I realized they weren't leaving. Those bells don't ask us to evacuate unless something has gone wrong, so I urged them, just leave it and go. If it was a minor thing, we'd be back and they'd have time to clean up. If it was something bad, it was best to get out as quickly as possible.

By the time I got them out and we were halfway to the staging area, the bells rang to release us back to class.

They still had twenty or so minutes of class. Did they get back to their projects? Of course not. Nope, they were halfway cleaned up, so they finished and sat. Sigh.

Then we got to do it all again two periods later. But in this case, they didn't start their projects as we knew we'd be evacuating. (They worked after we got back.)

Any other day that first evacuation would have been enough. But at least I got a good walk in that day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Keeping Track

I'm not generally in a class long enough for certain issues.

I remember certain students. In some cases it's due to bad behavior, but not always. It might just be an unusual name that does it. Busola is one of those.

Once I found out I was going to be in this ceramics class for a bit (because the teacher broke his collarbone), I knew I was going to want seating charts. Mr. P does not have seating charts because the students don't really have assigned seats.

Take a look at the picture above. They sit on stools at big tables. Ten to twelve students can fit around a table.

I made seating charts anyway.

It took me most of a day. That second day. I went around to each table, asked each student their name (my preferred method of taking roll), and marked that down on a seating chart. I then recopied the seating chart to make it neat and "pretty".

Yes, it was labor intensive. And yes, it was so worth it.

Because roll then took me about two minutes. I could look over each table and see who was missing.

Of course, the students didn't necessarily stay put. A couple liked to wander. There's one boy who chooses between two tables, depending on the day.

But, I didn't mark anyone absent before stating that I was going to mark them absent. I did this at their table. The rest of the table either confirmed the student was absent, or they pointed out where that kiddo was. (They could have been up getting supplies. They might have been in the restroom.)

However, if I knew the kiddo by name, I didn't call out to confirm absence. And usually I'd spot where those kiddos were. Like Busola.

So, when Busola came at me during week two, angry that I had marked her absent for two days, I could state (with the roll sheet as proof) that I had not. (She sat in one seat when I made the seating chart, but she was about two seats down from there the rest of the time.)

Curious, I called the attendance office. Had I made a mistake?

Nope. It turned out that Busola had been marked absent in the period before the one she had with me. She misread her attendance on whatever app it is that the students use for that.

(And, it turned out that the attendance office is a month behind inputting substitute teachers' roll, anyway. So, it couldn't have been me.)

At least I didn't screw up. But I find it funny that Busola was so certain I had missed her.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lucky Charm

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. 😉

With a local team going to the World Series, my mind turned to all those little rituals people believe bring their favorite teams luck. You know, like wearing your lucky shirt during a game or needing to spin around three times before a pitch or something. Perhaps you have one?

We all know, in our rational brains, that these rituals don't actually help the team. But...

What if that little ritual you do actually does help your team win games? What if the team found out about it (like, right before a championship tournament)?

Monday, October 22, 2018


I was just perusing some older pictures from the blog (while looking for a picture for a future post), and I stumbled across a couple Halloween-y ones. Like this jack-o-lantern... 

(Which I had at the craft boutique last week.)

And, of course, the spider...

As I don't have anything new for this week, I figured these would work for reruns. I'm sure I'll have a moment of finishing everything at some point. It's just not happening this week.

Although, there is one newbie...

(...that I've been "finishing up" for two weeks. No, it does not take two weeks to make one of these, unless one isn't doing much by the way of yarn work.)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Shrinking Middle Schoolers

It's a ceramics class, so while the kiddos are working with their hands, they talk. About all sorts of things.

I don't know how they got on the topic of middle schoolers. (The classes are populated with 11th and 12th graders.) But, I also don't know how they got on the topic of God, of tweezing eyebrows, of Bob Ross, or of when their parents had the sex that produced them. They talk about all sorts of weird things.

I generally don't butt into the conversations unless they are factually incorrect or they're talking about something that isn't appropriate for a classroom. But this one...

"They're so small. The middle schoolers are shrinking."

Me: "No, you're just bigger. You were that size once."

"No. I wasn't..." She thought about this. "Are you sure they're not smaller than they used to be?"

Me: "The middle schoolers are the same size as they have been. You've just grown."

She took my word for it. But it kind of blew her mind. She didn't think she'd grown that much, but today's middle schoolers were much smaller than her.

The difference between 11th grade and 7th grade is four years. To them it feels like longer. (Oh, don't even get them started on "little kids". They really have no concept of age.)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bright and Shiny

Wednesday morning. I opened the door to the classroom, flipped on the lights, and startled at how bright it was in the classroom. Whoa!

But I knew immediately what had happened. I looked up. Sure enough, overnight all the lights had been replaced.

My first assignment for this school this school year was a history class. And I noticed the new lights in that room. Instead of the old fluorescent flat panels, these have a column of light down the center. Apparently, these are LEDs, so they're more energy efficient.

Usually, when I enter a classroom, I haven't been in there in a while. So, I wouldn't notice the difference in the lighting. But, because I had been there the day before, I immediately saw it. And whoa, these things are so much brighter than the fluorescent panels.

Now I understand why others have said that getting used to the new lights is an adjustment.

This also answered a question I had had. I wondered how long it took them to install. (Some rooms have them, some rooms don't.) Now I know. Overnight. (The students said that they're upgrading a couple classrooms a night.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

20 More Minutes

I'm still in the same ceramics class from last week. At the moment we're told the teacher is only going to be out two more weeks. We're hopeful, but I won't be at all surprised if this assignment gets extended further.

The sub caller laughed about how I'm getting "the weird ones". To be fair, this is only the second "weird one" after the CAD teacher's jury duty kept getting extended in August. (I suppose she meant that usually these longer assignments are more expected, like a teacher is out for a scheduled surgery or maternity leave.)

What I find funny is that I stumbled into this assignment because I wanted 20 more minutes in bed.

That Wednesday I had nothing scheduled. So, I was happy to receive an early morning wake up call. I had a couple choices as to an assignment (which was much better than the day before when there had been nothing).

I had a choice between two sites. I picked the site with the later start time just because if I'd picked the other site, I would have had to get out of bed as soon as I hung up the phone.

So, I stumbled into this assignment out of sheer laziness. It's a strange sort of luck.

Tuesday, October 16, 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 just discovered that the Halloween costume you've been planning and putting together for weeks is similar to the one your worst enemy (or best friend) is also going to be wearing to that party that you'll both be at?

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Bit of Halloween

Another weekend, another show...

This time it was a small boutique. Luckily we were indoors, for it rained.

While I had my cold last week, I had an itching to make a Halloween headband kind of like my Christmas one. So, once I was feeling better, I got to it.

It was done just in time for the boutique...

It's supposed to be a little witch's hat. Perhaps I should make a bigger one?

Friday, October 12, 2018

He Likes Us

When I talked to the ceramics teacher's wife the day after his accident (where he broke his collar bone), she warned me that his period five was his difficult class.

They got the same intro as the other periods (namely, they were told what had happened to Mr. P and that he'd be out for longer than a couple days). Then we got into the lesson (which was busywork as Mr. P hadn't anticipated being out).

As I do, I strolled around the room. I overheard many interesting conversations.

"And he was just beginning to like us..."

After school, I got a text telling me that Mr. P was awake and wanted to speak to me.

He asked how his classes were. I told him things had gone smoothly, considering. (This was true.)

Then I related what I'd overheard in fifth period.

Mr. P laughed. Apparently, no, he was not warming up to them. But he was amused they thought so.

I felt no need to disabuse them of this notion, though. Perhaps they'll be on their best behavior upon his return.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

That Was Fast

It was one of those mornings. No lesson plans after an early morning wake up call. Luckily, I found one of the teacher's previous sub lesson plans with his phone number on it. Hurrah!

I texted him only to get a call back from his wife. The night before he had gone bicycle riding, and he'd had a bit of an accident. Broken collar bone. She called me because he was asleep.

High school ceramics. The majority of the students are juniors and seniors.

I asked Mrs. P how much I could tell the kiddos. She said I could inform them of the situation.

So, third period, I started class with the story. (I didn't get a chance to talk to Mrs. P until second period.) You'll be glad to know that when I related "broken collar bone", the majority of the class winced. (It's rather scary when classes cheer injury, but I've seen it happen.)

We got on with the lesson (Mrs. P was also helpful in helping me locate lesson plans). Class ended. Then it was passing period to fourth period.

Three or four students had arrived. One boy at the back of the class spoke to a classmate. "Accident. Broken collar bone."

My thought: "Man, that was fast."

You'd think we'd need a period before students came in knowing the story, but no. I guess we can blame it on cell phones. I'm sure someone texted someone and it got back to this kid.

I confirmed his story at the beginning of class. And every period after, there was at least one student who had heard. In sixth period, the girl was incredulous. She read her text. She looked at me. She shook her head relating what she'd read. I confirmed.

At least they know the real story. Those false rumors can quickly get out of control.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sticky Fingers

Eighth grade math. The assignment: a shut up sheet. (Same teacher as the link. Although, I don't think the kiddos have learned the term yet.)

The lesson plan warned that the students should not be out of their seats. They were not to go anywhere near the front of the room. And for the most part the classes remained seated and on task.

But, they needed a lot of help. The kiddos were having issues with rounding, of all things.

Fourth period. There was this one kid. His desk "magically" slid forward. And his stuff wasn't where he left it, supposedly.

At one of the pauses, when none of the kiddos needed me at the moment, I happened to glance at the teacher's podium, and I found one of my supplies was missing. My eraser.

Before assuming one of the kiddos was a klepto (but these are eighth graders, so I was pretty sure it was theft), I took a look around the podium (that they weren't supposed to get near) to make sure it hadn't fallen somehow.

Luckily, it was mid way through the period. It wasn't too late. And as this sort of thing has happened before, I know how to get my stuff back.

I asked for it.

Now, no one admitted that they took it. And I didn't accuse anyone. I just announced to the class that I wanted my eraser back, and whoever took it needed to return it. I didn't even resort to threats. (Although, I totally would have called security if it had come to it.)

Another student needed help. Before I got back up front, someone "found" my eraser on the floor next to the podium. Imagine that.

Eraser returned. I was good. I said no more of it.

Well, not to the class. To the teacher... Yeah, that went in the note. I may have also pointed out who I suspected was the culprit. Because the teacher totally needs to know he has a klepto in his class.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Contingency Plans

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. 😉

Emergencies happen. It's part of the reason I have a job. And that was kind of driven home for me this last week. Which is what gives us today's question...

What if you were in an accident tonight? (I'm going to specify that while you were hurt, you'll eventually fully recover. However, you won't be going anywhere tomorrow.) What would happen to all of your responsibilities tomorrow? (Will they be covered? Will someone be scrambling? Will you have some stress trying to get things taken care of?)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Slow Week

Not much to report on the knitting/crochet front. I mean, I have projects...

My WIPs live in a box. The above picture shows the box.

I even made some progress on a crocheted mask...

That may not look like much progress, but as it had been sitting for a couple weeks, I consider that a huge improvement.

And then the cold hit...


Resting now. I hope you all have a clear (not stuffy) head this Monday.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Wait

Called to cover an extra period after lunch, I figured I'd get a jump start on what they'd be doing by getting there a bit early. I called for someone to come and open the room for me.

I got to the classroom a good three minutes before the end of lunch. I waited. Then the bell rang.

Ah well. It wasn't like three minutes was going to make that much of a difference.

As the students arrived (eighth graders), they waited along with me. A few asked why we were waiting. I told them we needed someone to unlock the door.

The passing period ended with no security in sight. Um...

(I should mention that eighth graders do not wait patiently. They wait loudly. And now all the other classes were in session.)

I called again. "I'm still waiting for someone to come and unlock this door."

Apparently, someone had forgotten to make the walkie-talkie call...

Since I had no desk to thump my head on, I'll call this a headwall.

(Security spends their time on campus, observing. Transporting. And such. So, to get into contact with them, one needs to contact them via walkie-talkie. This is easy enough to do as the front office staff has a walkie-talkie or two. Ideally, they grab the walkie-talkie right after someone calls them. Not this time, though.)

Security did arrive shortly after this. Well, two different people arrived. Then there was the whole different issue of getting the kiddos to settle down and get to work, but that's a different story altogether.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

For Show

Government class. They were working on an outline of the U.S. Constitution. (It was actually a great way to make them go through it carefully.)

Certain teachers are fairly strict about things like cell phones and eating in class. Ms. M is one of those. She even has it posted in her class rules:

Note Rule #5
So, when I caught students in fourth period eating in class, I asked them to put the food away. They argued that Ms. M was okay with them eating in class.

Really? That's not what it says in her posted rules.

"Oh, that? That's just for show. Because it's a school rule. She doesn't mean it."

Uh huh. Sure. Let's see how Ms. M reacts to that little tidbit. They really should know by now I write down things like that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Not Today

It's district writing assessment time. Oh joy...

During the prep/lunch period (at the continuation high school, one prep period is considered lunch), the counselor came in to deliver three writing assessments for students in the next period. She pointed out one, mentioned the boy by name, and said he really needed to work on this in class. Okay, then.

The next period arrived. I passed out the writing assessments. The boy had turned on his computer and had Krunker going. (This is the game of the moment at that school.) I realized he was the one the counselor had told me about. (I'm slow with names, but at a certain point I realize who is who.) I handed him his assessment.

"I'm not doing this today."

Me: "Ms. D said you need to write this."

"No, I talked to Ms. D. She said I don't have to do this today as I'm leaving at 1:55. I'll do it tomorrow."

Me: "That's about a half hour away. You have plenty of time to start."

And around it went. He wasn't having any of it. He was going to play his game.

Of course, on my way out, I ran into Ms. D. I told her all about what the boy had not done in class. (The principal was there, too.) She confirmed that she had told him to start writing the essay. Apparently, he doesn't realize I talk to people at the school.

Deep sigh. There's a whole lot of apathy and not doing any work going on at the continuation high school right now. We'll see if they get any more motivated the closer they get to their projected graduation date.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Radical Change

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 on Turner Classic Movies I caught a bit of Watermelon Man. After reading the premise, I thought, what a great what if. So, here it is...

What if you woke up one day to find that you were a different race?

Monday, October 1, 2018

The New Camera

I bought a new camera a couple weeks ago. I'm still not convinced I really needed it.

My old camera was a Christmas present several years ago. I've had it for at least twelve years. Maybe fourteen. So, yeah, it can be argued that since the technology was clearly outdated, it was time to upgrade. But it did the job still.

I mean, the old camera had some issues. There was a lag between the time I'd press the shutter button and the image was captured. But I mostly take product photos now, so that wasn't a big deal.

And, the camera required AA batteries. Batteries that it went through quickly. I was lucky if a set of two batteries lasted through two photo sessions. So, I could get roughly 200 pictures out of a set (and that's a high estimate as to how many pictures I'd take in two photo sessions).

Still, these were known issues and I was dealing with them.

A couple years ago (okay, maybe five), the camera no longer held onto the date and time. So, every time I was ready to take pictures, I had to set the date and time. No biggie, really. And if I had to change the batteries mid-photo shoot (the camera ate batteries, so having to change batteries mid-shoot was common), I'd have to reset the date and time.

Again, I got used to that. At least I didn't have to remember to fix the time when Daylight Saving Time started or ended.

Then, about two years ago, the LCD screen stopped showing images. That is, when I take a picture, it would flash briefly on the LCD screen so I could make sure the image captured. But no longer. When that first happened, I thought the image wasn't being stored on the SD card. But it turned out it was.

So, the camera had some issues that I had learned to deal with. I still got fairly decent images. It still worked.

The new camera has a rechargeable battery (yay!) and its SD card holds over 10,000 images (as opposed to my old camera's 515). The new SD card even fits into my laptop. (No more dragging out the cable to connect the camera to the computer.)

But I'm still not convinced that I really needed a new camera. (Especially as I struggle to learn how to operate the new camera and I fight with the focus--getting images to come out in focus isn't working as easily as I would like.) Someone, please, talk me off this ledge.