Friday, November 30, 2018

Not a Word

"That hurted me."

Tenth grade English. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving break. They had a project having to do with Macbeth, and so they were talking and working.

If I had a dollar for every time a student used the word "hurted", I would not need to sub. Normally, I don't say anything about it. There are many of them who are English language learners, and I don't feel the need to correct every one of their grammar errors.

However, this didn't start with me. Another student pointed out that "hurted" isn't a word.

The boy who had said it said of course it was.

Um, no. No, it's not proper usage. And now it was time for me to jump in and point that out.

Oh no. He apparently knows English usage better than I do. He informed me that it was correct.

We went back and forth. I told him to go ahead and look it up. He got out his phone. He found this entry from Wiktionary...

And somehow he seemed to think this proved his point. I asked him what century we were in. He got it right on the second try. I pointed out the "archaic" part.

Still, he would not be dissuaded.

Okay, fine. You can't convince someone who won't be persuaded by proof. So, I walked away.

I did, however, make a point of telling the teacher all about this at the end of the day. (She was on campus, so she returned to the room after school.) I mean, it's an English class, after all. Teaching proper usage is part of her job.

She knew exactly who I was talking about. And I have a feeling "hurted" is going to be on the agenda upon their return from Thanksgiving break. If only I could be a fly on the wall on that day...

(If you want a good laugh, look up "hurted" on Urban Dictionary. Apparently this issue is more widespread than I thought.)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Not Math

I was covering an English class that day. Two periods of tenth grade and three periods of twelfth grade. At some point during second period I got a call. Could I cover a third period? I never say no to that.

I was told what room. I vaguely knew the place. I was pretty sure the teacher taught math. I may have subbed for her in the past. Although, I haven't covered her class this year.

When I arrived, the teacher was in the room. Apparently she was on campus all day at meetings, but she had forgotten something that third period was going to need for class, so she was hurriedly getting that ready.

Because no one told me what class it was, I asked the question, wondering if she taught algebra or geometry. "What class is this?"


I was not expecting that answer.

It was the Friday before Thanksgiving break. Their assignment was to write ten sentences about their plans for the week. I explained the assignment. Then my usual follow up was not going to work, so instead I told the truth.

"Normally now I'd say, 'If you need any help, let me know, I can help.' But unfortunately, I can't help you with this."

They laughed.

I roamed the class. One girl was stumped. She informed me that she was doing nothing over Thanksgiving break.

"So, do you plan on sleeping all day? Watching TV? Playing video games? Those are things..."

Apparently I was wrong. I could help. Of course, she was on her own for the translation.

(The teacher does teach math. And Mandarin. She teaches three periods of math and two periods of Mandarin. I just happened to luck out. Judging by the teacher's accent, I assume that she is an immigrant from China.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Girl Assembly

The assembly was called "No Girl Left Behind", and it was scheduled for third and fourth periods. I took roll, and the girls all left.

Leaving me with four boys.

Well, it was AP English...

Fourth period was considerably larger. (Third period had 13 students enrolled. Fourth period's total was more like 34.) I had just over a dozen boys.

They were not happy to be missing out on the assembly.

"They're having a rave."

Apparently, the girls were posting to social media, and the boys were following along.

"They're having a concert."

The classroom was steps from the gym, and we could hear it when things got loud, but it wasn't loud at that moment. I said something about the presenters needing to get the girls interested, so it probably wasn't all fun and games.

"I don't know why girls need an assembly anyway. Girls already have full equality."

I'll just let that comment sit there. I didn't at the time. He would not be dissuaded. But he and I have had political conversations in the past. He clings to certain beliefs.

The girls returned half way into fourth period. And their review was that the assembly wasn't all that. Too much marketing happening, they said. The singer was too full of herself. The actors were promoting their stuff too much.

Still, the boys didn't like missing out. The girls didn't like missing class. So, success. No one was happy.

(They're teens. There's always going to be that attitude. If the girls got something out of the assembly, they're probably going to keep it to themselves.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Money for Nothing

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 an enemy (or at least someone who's not a friend) gave you five million dollars, no strings attached? 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Some Christmas Knitting

Christmas is less than a month away, and I'm plugging away on a couple scarves. That were gifts for last Christmas.

Ah well...

It's been a while since I posted a picture of this scarf. I'm slowly making progress...

And here's a close up where you can see the detail a bit better...

I finally started on the purple skein last week. I had to rip it out and start over (naturally). I got most of the work done on Thanksgiving. (What? You don't bring your knitting with you for family get togethers?)

And both the purple and the teal came out on camera! Woo-hoo!

With last week off, I managed to get a few new listings done. I'll leave you with those. (Click on the pictures to go to the listings on Etsy.)

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Mermaid Tail Lip Balm Holder in Blue and Green Variegated

Neon Yellow EOS Lip Balm Holder Cozy

Keyfob Lip Balm Cozy in Navy Blue

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Pom Pom Dangle Drop Red Lightweight Firework Puff Ball Earrings

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Final Word

Since school is on a break, I thought I'd take a break from subbing stories. So, a bit of a musical quiz for you...

Can you pick the final word in these song titles?

4 minutes. 40 songs. 

The first time I tried this, I got 30 right. As I wrote the post and redid, I got 32. Still, music is not my strong suit. You're likely to do better.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

God Friended Me

The schools have the week off, so I'll return with last week's subbing stories next week. Today, it's another edition of "Under the Radar TV Shows". That is, a TV show that isn't getting a lot of attention.

This time, I'm here to tell you about God Friended Me.

If you're like me, you probably rolled your eyes when you saw this in the fall lineup. The title? The premise? Really?

In case you didn't hear about it, the show is about a Millennial who gets a friend request from God on Facebook. (A Millennial on Facebook? Already, my suspension of disbelief is strained.) And then he's given friend suggestions. These friend suggestions turn out to be people who need help...

But here's the thing. It's really well done. It's on Sunday nights (on CBS), and it's a very nice show. I mean nice in a good way.

Miles (the Millennial) is an atheist and son of a minister. He has a podcast called The Millennial Prophet where he rails against religion. And he's dubious about the whole God thing. He resists the friending and the helping until he kind of gets into it.

In fact, Miles recruited his friend to hack into the God account and figure out who's behind it. Finding this person or people is proving to be way harder than they expected.

It's a nice show with the whole helping people thing, but the stories aren't as straightforward as you'd expect. It's a very retro premise, but they don't conclude the stories in that retro way. A woman comes to New York to find "the love of her life", but it turns out that the guy is gay. It's still a nice reunion between two old friends. (They'd met at a summer camp when they were kids.)

If you're not watching, you should give it a try. Just one episode. Right now, it's nice to have a nice show. It's a great balance to some of the other darker shows out there. (Because if you want dark, I could tell you all about YOU...)

And let me know if you're watching it, too. I hope I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Different Kind of Tourist

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 meeting time travelers was an ordinary occurrence? 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Christmas Tree Ornaments and Mermaid Lip Balm Holders

I got all the knitted and beaded ornaments listed, at least I got the ones listed that I have pictures for. (They're here if you're interested.) I'll just add the ones not listed to the pile of stuff I still need to photograph.

If you recall, a while ago I made a mermaid tail lip balm holder in teal blue. Only, I couldn't get the color to come out right in the photograph...

It turns out that the fixes I used to get purple to work also helped with the teal. Now I get pictures that look like this...

Which is such a better representation of the actual color. I was happy enough with it that I got it listed, too.

I also managed to make and list mermaid tail lip balm holders for the EOS lip balms...

I just like the way it looks when upside down. But hanging from a lanyard, it looks like this...

I'll be listing more of these as the week progresses. You can find all these lip balm holders here.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Planning a Tattoo

"I'm about to get my tattoo. I'm going to get my mom's name."

I usually don't engage the students on the topic of tattoos. But this statement was directed at the student teacher, and he was more than happy to question why the student would need his mother's name on his arm.

"Do you think you're going to forget it?" the student teacher asked.

The student explained it was his mom, the most important woman in his life, the woman who gave him life, and so he should honor her.

"But she's going to be so mad."

That's when it came out that his mother wasn't keen on the idea of her teen son getting a tattoo.

The student teacher then questioned the boy on his age. Wasn't he 17? Yeah, he was getting the tattoo for his 17th birthday.

Then how was he getting permission to get the tattoo?

Turns out, his father was giving him his official permission. (A signature is required somewhere, I'm sure.)

"So... For your first tattoo, you're going to get the name of the person who does not want you to get a tattoo?"

It's nice to have another adult in the room, especially when he says the things I'm thinking.

Ah, teens.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Lost Buyout Slip

It was another Thursday at the continuation high school. Buyout day.

(That's the day that, if they get all their teachers' permission, they can skip school on Friday.)

I had a simple request for the students. I would sign their buyouts if they did some work. I wasn't even asking for them to finish the assignment. I just wanted to see progress.

Many of them watched videos or played games all period. So, while it was a low bar, it was one that many students didn't pass.

Fifth period. They spent all week working up to an essay on refugees. (They read articles on Monday, answered questions on Tuesday, and spent Wednesday creating a tree map with all the details they'd need. This school especially scaffolds things like writing assignments so the kiddos could write well academically if only they'd put in the effort.)

I did my usual of walking around and trying to convince students to do something. Anything.

I did find some students working. A few had questions. But the majority of the class wasn't doing much productive.

At the end of the period, I took my stack of buyout slips (I had maybe five) and went up to each student. What had they done?

Those that had given me buyouts had done something. They showed me. I signed.

Then I went to Julio. What had he done?

I knew he hadn't done much. I had spent several trips to his desk pushing him to do something.

He was surprised I had his buyout. He had been looking for it; he thought he'd lost it. So, because he lost it, he hadn't done any work. But since I had it, couldn't I sign it?

Yeah... no. Nope. Uh uh. I had said work = signed buyout.

Sigh. They need that carrot, apparently. If only he had remembered that he had given his buyout to me, I might have seen some work. Ah well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Losing Their Phones

"I didn't charge it last night, because I'd rather have it dead if I have to give it up."

Second period. It was Tuesday, Election Day, but that's not what had all the students in a dither. It was the day they were going to give up their cell phones.

And they weren't happy about it.

Psychology. It's an elective class. And for a week each semester (it's a semester-long course), the teacher has them turn in their cell phones. I'm not sure what the rationale is, but I'm sure you'll agree that it's a very good idea.

They had plenty of warning. A letter goes home to the parents. And that night their homework assignment was to write two paragraphs detailing how not having their phones made them feel.

I don't usually get to witness these things. But, Mr. T had a student teacher, and the student teacher was entrusted with collecting the phones. The students put their names on their phones via sticky notes, and the student teacher locked the phones away (out of the view of the students, so they have no idea where the phones were stored).

"My girlfriend is going to think I'm cheating on her."

I questioned why the boy hadn't alerted the girlfriend to his imminent loss of phone. She goes to a different school, so they'll have no way of talking for a week. I'd have thought someone would want to let people know they'd be without phone in that case.

Other students wondered how they'd wake up in time for school. They use their phones for an alarm clock. Again, that's something I would have thought they'd plan for. But what do I know?

They whined the whole period. They were going to miss their music. (One girl planned on finding her old iPod. She wondered what music she had loaded on it.) They constantly asked the time. (There was a clock on the wall.)

The student teacher pulled out his phone just to mess with them.

By the time you read this, they'll have gotten their phones back, the week complete. I hope they learned something from this. Too bad I won't be there to find out.

But before we get all "these kids today" on them, it was Election Day. And, it turned out that two of them had voted before school. Considering that only a handful of students are currently 18, I was impressed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Different Immigration Problem

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 we had immigrants coming from alien planets?

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Purple Problem

I've been whining quite a lot about my new camera. First it was the lighting. Then it was getting things in focus. Finally, it was the purple problem.

It's kind of an issue when colors, like purple, don't show up and look like they look in person. This is especially troublesome for items I'm selling in my Etsy shop.

I had been flummoxed as to what to do. In desperation, I did a random Google search. I got no good answers, but the various blog posts and articles I found jarred something loose in my head. I could sit down and experiment, couldn't I? So, that's what I did last week.

I made an EOS lip balm holder with a mermaid tail in a variegated yarn that had purple and my other problem color, teal blue, in it. If I could get that to look pretty close to true to life, my problem was solved.

At first, the colors came out looking like mud...

Looks blue, doesn't it? That's the problem. Yes, there is blue, but there's also purple and teal. It's a beautiful yarn. Great colors. But they don't show up here.

And this is an improvement over where I started. For lighting, I fashioned a homemade lightbox. The focus issue eventually solved itself. I have no idea what I was doing wrong before, but now things just focus for me.

For the purple problem, I went into the camera's settings. Things like DRO, ISO, focus, and metering didn't have an impact on color detection. What did end up making a difference were the white balance and the exposure compensation.

Those were white balances that don't work. But...

You can kind of see the purple in those. Why are they so dark? Because someone *ahem* had the exposure compensation dialed down into the negatives. Which in retrospect is stupid, but at the time, I didn't quite know what it meant.

Once I dialed up the exposure compensation, suddenly things were looking up...

(I put away my lightbox at this point thinking I was done for the night. But then I wanted to take just a few more shots.)

And now that I had settings that worked, I could take some time (on a different day) and get some pictures that actually kind of look like the actual colors.

I did a little sweetening with photo editing, but this gets so much closer than I had gotten before. (The colors are a little deeper in person.) In fact, I'm happy enough with it that I finally listed this lip balm holder in my Etsy shop. (Click on the link to find the listing.)

Now, fingers crossed, hopefully this doesn't throw other colors into confusion. It's looking pretty good so far.

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Shoving Match

It's been a while since I had one of these.

Eighth grade science. Friday. Third period.

About a third of the class had left for a field trip. That middle school has been doing some reward things for kiddos who maintain a certain GPA and have no discipline issues. So, basically, the "good kids" had gone.

For those who were left, I told them what their assignment was, and they got to work.

We had been in class for a bit. I had finished taking roll. They were working, albeit loudly.

Then, Jeremy got up for something. As he passed Samuel's desk, he knocked everything off of it.

Eighth graders are clumsy. They're knocking things over all the time. I highly doubt Jeremy meant any malice.

But Samuel was seeing red. He jumped out of his seat and went at Jeremy. And the two were suddenly in a tussle. Arms outstretched, it almost looked like Samuel wanted to strangle Jeremy. They shoved each other back and forth.

Of course, when something like this happens, there's stuff between me and the combatants. Not that I really wanted to get in the middle of it anyway. I made a futile attempt to get them to stop. Some other students intervened to pull them apart. And while I hoped it would end on its own, I knew what I had to do.

It was time to call security.

Since I call security so rarely, I had to look up what number to dial. I got the voicemail of the first person I tried. (Security isn't really at their extension, so I really need to call someone who has a walkie-talkie to notify them.)

And this is where the altercation ended. Both boys were back in their seats.

However, that was a fight, and I have a zero tolerance policy regarding fights in class. If I let them stay after that, I've lost the rest of the class.

I dialed the phone again.

Jeremy approached. He begged me to not call security. It was all over. And no one had thrown any punches.

This was true, but I have a zero tolerance policy because of experience. (I don't mean horseplay or mock fighting. I mean actual anger in the altercation.) If I let them stay, an already difficult class would get so much worse.

So, I dialed again, and this time I got through. Both boys sat in their seats, saying nothing.

Security came and removed them from class.

Only later did I learn this was her difficult group. So, I totally made the right call.

Now, perhaps I'm good for another several years until another one of these happens on my watch.

Samuel stopped by after class looking for candy he had left in the room. He told me that Jeremy had accidentally knocked the stuff off his desk. I wasn't surprised. Maybe next time Samuel will ask for an apology rather than losing his cool.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

I'll Be Back

It was one of those days that I don't normally write about. Tenth grade English. They were reading and annotating a story. And the classes worked silently, as requested.

(Yes, I do have many days where the kiddos work. They make for boring blog posts.)

It was the beginning of third period. The attendance office called. They asked for a student to be sent up as he was leaving.

This is another so-common-I-don't-mention-it thing. You should see the looks on the faces of the kiddos when that phone rings. They get this "Is it for me?" look. Hoping. In actuality, most of the time the kiddo in question is expecting the call.

As it was in this case. The kiddo in question was ready to leave.

"Make sure to take the story with you," I told him.

"Oh, I'll be back," he replied.

Um, the attendance office said he was leaving. He was being checked out by a parent.

I considered the timing. Third period is 58 minutes long.

I insisted that he take the story with him so he could do it for homework. I have no idea if he did or not as I got busy with other things, like getting the class started.

Third period was the class I had been warned about. "Rowdy" was the term used. But they settled after a fashion, and they worked for the period.

Less than ten minutes before the end of the period, the boy returned.

Okay, he was right.

But, I was right, too. He couldn't possibly do a period's worth of work in less than ten minutes. He didn't even try.

So, it was homework for him.

But, what got him checked out of school for less than an hour? That's a new one for me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Wrong Episode

It was Halloween. So, the teacher left them a video. An episode of The Twilight Zone.

(It was "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". Here's the link. Unfortunately, it's mirror flipped, so all the words are opposite.)

Then, because students will ignore videos, they had a "quiz" after. It wasn't so much a quiz as just something to verify that they hadn't been on their phones. Ms. S said that they could work together on it.

Of course, some of them were on their phones. They didn't even attempt the "quiz". In fact, they were surprised by it when I passed it out. I don't know why. I announced it as I intro'ed the video.

Ah well.

Sixth period. They were awful. A group of boys was just loud. And obnoxious.

The loudest and most obnoxious of the group then complained that he had missed some of the first ten minutes (because he had been talking and such). He pulled out his phone, searched his Netflix, and found that the series was available.

Um, it was being projected on a big screen at the front of the room. But somehow, this wasn't the quality that he liked. He'd rather watch it on his phone.

As long as he watched it...

The episode was over. I passed out the questions (which were multiple choice and obvious). The boy was still watching on his phone. I looked over his shoulder.

I'm sure you won't be shocked if I tell you he wasn't watching "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". However, he was watching The Twilight Zone. Yes, the black & white original series.

He was watching the "Living Doll" episode. You know, talking Tina.

I mean, great selection. I applaud the choice. But later. You know, after he'd completed the questions for the episode that was assigned...

Sigh. Let's just say that Ms. S wasn't shocked when that boy's name came up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Open Vote

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. 😉

It's election day here in the U.S. Midterms. As I was driving to school one morning, this question popped into my head, and I figured it would be perfect for today...

What if your ballot wasn't secret?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Improving Pictures?

I've been playing with my new camera again. I've almost got the lighting thing figured out. At least, I've got something that kind of works for the moment, until I go and buy some professional photographic lights. (Which will happen once it's in the budget.)

I got some decent pictures of the newest mini backpack...

And a view of the back...

Then there's another mermaid tail lip balm holder, this one in salmon...

But I still can't get a good photo of anything purple (I won't subject you to what I got) or teal...

That picture should have a bit more green in it. Sigh.

Ah well. I have plenty to take pictures of.

And since it is now November, it's time to pull out the knitted Christmas tree ornaments again. These two are listed in my Etsy shop (just click on the pictures and they'll take you right there)...

 Orange Knitted Christmas Tree Ornament

 White Knitted and Beaded Christmas Tree Ornament

Maybe this week I'll actually do some knitting. Or crocheting. (Don't hold your breath...)

Friday, November 2, 2018


We made it to Friday. So, here's a quiz...

Rhymes with Truck

This one is pretty simple. Just put in all the words that rhyme with truck. Well, not that one. That one is "considered offensive". 

Find the other twenty words that rhyme with truck. You don't have to type them in any order. The quiz will alphabetize them for you. You have three minutes.

(I got 19/20 my first go. Then when I was writing up this post, I got 18/20. I forgot one. I wonder which one that was.)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Too Much Effort

Thursday at the continuation high school means it's buyout day. A student can get Friday off if:
  1. The student has had no absences or tardies all week.
  2. The student has permission from their parents.
  3. The student has permission from all their teachers. 
Ideally, teachers only give permission to buyout if the student is caught up with all their assignments for the week. (This is not always the case, depending on the teacher. Some teachers will sign buyouts for everyone.) 

I was covering English for Ms. S. She had some... things... to do. (She told me. Multiple times. Something about meeting with students and checking graduation progress. But I had a hard time keeping it in my head. I'll blame the migraine I was getting over.) 

Anyway, the upshot was that she was on campus all day. And she was signing their buyouts.

There was only one hitch. They had to have completed the work for the week. 

Now, this was not an unreasonable request. And their work wasn't all that much, really. She'd been teaching them various writing things, and this week was all about writing an article summary. 

She gave them an article. She gave them a template with sentence frames. They read the article together. She modeled how to find details from the article to use in the summary. If they put those in the sentence frames, they had a very easy article summary completed. 

On Thursday they were to find their own article and repeat the process. 

I explained to the classes that to buy out, they had to have completed both article summaries. 

Sixth period walked in. Only one boy had a buyout to be signed. I explained the lesson. 

After making sure the students had all the papers they needed, I found myself next to that boy. He had barely anything completed on the first summary. But, getting both done in a period was doable. I pointed out that he needed to do the work to get his buyout signed. 

The boy ripped up his buyout. 

He wasn't going to even try? 

I mean, by sixth period, he had had five other teachers approve him skipping school Friday. He couldn't be bothered to at least make an attempt at doing the week's work? 

Nope. He ripped up his buyout and did nothing that period.

Deep sigh. If they won't at least make the effort. 

(Several students did get their buyouts signed. Because, it wasn't unreasonable, the work she was asking them to do.)