Friday, August 30, 2019

Picture Day

Friday was picture day.

I've never before experienced picture day. The English teachers usually aren't out for it, I suppose. I can't imagine why...

I vaguely knew we had to go to the cafeteria. I thought I knew the way. As I had first period line up outside, I saw another English teacher leading her class. I told my kiddos to follow them. Turned out, I would have totally gone to the wrong side of the building if that other teacher hadn't been there.

Then she clued me in that I had to pick up cards to distribute to the kiddos. (The teachers are so helpful. They really are.) These cards had bar codes on them that the photographers scanned. That gave the computer enough info so the students' ID cards could be printed out immediately.

After that, I became an old pro fast. By sixth period I knew the drill. I instructed the two kiddos that didn't have cards (the card system was great, but these things are never perfect) to bring their schedules as the photographer just needed their student ID numbers. (The 8th graders know theirs, but the 7th graders have had these ID numbers for a total of seven days at this point.)

When it turned out the girls' schedules didn't have their ID numbers on them (deep sigh), I knew where to send them.

It was sixth period when the system went off the rails. They were short a couple photographers, so it took us all period to get through that line. Yikes.

During that time, one of the boys was in tears. Uh oh. Was he being bullied?

Then I got the full story. He had touched a fellow student on his shoulder. That boy didn't like being touched. He reacted. And the first boy got upset. But the two of them had worked it out, so they were friendly again.

Whew. (7th grade drama.)

But the one that is the real reason for this story...

I warned the kiddos a couple times during the week that picture day was on Friday. So, several of them had their order forms for their school pictures ready. Alaina was unsure if her mother had paid online or not. She asked if she could call her mom. As we weren't in class (the cafeteria was on the other side of campus), I told her to go ahead. She popped back into the room to grab her cell phone, and then we headed out.

When we got to the cafeteria (Alaina's mom said she had submitted her credit card info to where it needed to go), Alaina realized she had left the bar code card in the classroom. Deep sigh.

Well, no, she couldn't go back and get it. I had locked the classroom before we left. I had the kiddos leave their backpacks in there.

Alaina, of course, didn't know her student ID number. And I suppose I got busy and didn't think to send her to the office to have someone look it up.

By the time we finally left the cafeteria, Alaina was in tears. She thought she wasn't going to get her picture taken.

But I knew differently. Once we got to the classroom, I told her to grab her bar code card and go back. Considering the lines behind us, I knew she'd still have time. It's not like they were checking who belonged to which class. And we weren't doing anything in class that she couldn't miss.

It wasn't the first time that day that a student had to go back after we had finished in the cafeteria.

Crisis averted. Alaina and the other two girls retrieved their stuff from the classroom a good ten minutes after school had ended.

Considering that line, I'm surprised it didn't take them longer.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Bad Timing

I'm slowly getting up to speed in this middle school English class. During the first full week (the first week of school was just Thursday and Friday), one of the major things I worked on was establishing some sort of routine.

I don't have a lot of resources. There weren't many supplies left in the room from last year. (I've been slowly acquiring things. I learned who the keeper of the dry erase markers and paper clips is. So, I've gotten a few necessary supplies thus far.)

The one thing the room did have is a working projector. And the teacher in there from last year left behind his laptop. Well, it's the school's laptop, but he didn't return it, so I commandeered it.

But the laptop was buggy. There was some antiviral software that needed to be renewed, and getting logged in was a trial. I got help from the technology person, and things seemed to be working.

The first couple days the computer asked for a restart a few times. I suppose since the computer was in a drawer all summer it needed updates. But by the first full week I thought I had the issues sorted. I could use the thing.

I've been creating slides for each class. The stuff I need the kiddos to see, like examples and notes, are easier to project.

The kiddos had a writing assignment. I had a slide with an example of what they were to do, and I had it projected while they worked. Then I got busy doing something else.

One of the kiddos got my attention. The computer was doing a restart, and it was way too late for me to make it stop. But it was the middle of the period, and middle schoolers need examples in front of them while they work.

What to do?

Luckily, I had been using a student Chromebook as well. On the first day, I needed to project the school-wide slide show, so an assistant principal got me the cable I needed to connect it. But once I got the laptop working, I switched to using that.

But in that moment, I needed something.

Instead of taking an hour to restart as it had the prior week, the laptop finished its restart in a couple minutes. I switched the projector back to the laptop.

Only to have it decide it needed to restart. Again.

Somehow, the kiddos didn't seem to notice that second restart. They kept working. Miraculously.

Silly technology. It creates as many problems as it solves.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Red Ink

It was the first full week of school. I am covering a "vacant class" until they are able to bring in a teacher for the rest of the year. I have three periods of seventh grade English and two periods of eighth grade English.

Because of this, I got to do something I've never gotten to do before. I got to go over the syllabus with the students.

The next day, the eighth graders had a writing assignment. (The seventh graders did too, but they are way more cooperative than the eighth graders. Good for me, bad for the blog.) They were to write a letter of introduction. It's their first writing assignment of the year.

Every day I've tried to have a list of what they'll need for the day written on the board for them. (Some days I'm able to, others not so much.) On this day I had that list up. They needed a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.

I explained the assignment. They got to writing.

Only about half way through the period, one boy said he was finished. That's when I noticed he had written his letter in red ink.

The previous day, while going through the syllabus, I made sure to spend some time explaining how if they were going to use ink, it had to be black or dark blue ink only.

The boy, who has already distinguished himself as one of the challenging students in a difficult class, explained that I did not specify the pen couldn't be red.

Um, I thought that was implied. It was in the syllabus. I spent a couple minutes going over their supply list.

At this point, the girl seated next to him (also trouble, but for different reasons) got on his case. Why would he have a red pen anyway? She said she was going to start calling him Red Ink from now on.

As he still had half the period, I told him he could recopy the letter in the proper color of ink. He did, but not until he had grumbled about it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Can't Get Rid of Me That Easy

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. 😉

Have you seen the show Flip or Flop?

What if you had to work with your ex?

Monday, August 26, 2019

I Has a Ceiling!

Oh my! What a week I've had.

You may have noticed that I wasn't around much last week. I got slammed. With everything. And next week doesn't look to be too much better. Apologies in advance. Things should settle in another week or two, but until then, I'm just trying to keep my feet under me.

First things first. I went from this... this... this... this...

...last week. They started on Tuesday and finished on Saturday. And so, now it's finally done. Whew.

(You may remember this all started in January.)

But, as all of this is right above my bed, I spent most of last week displaced in one way or another. The first night I slept on the couch in the living room. The rest of the week I could sleep in my bed, but I had to strip it first thing in the morning and remake it when I got home from work, so the contractor could flip it up towards the wall and out of the way during the day.

All the while, half of my bedroom was in the living room and out of the way. Including my TV. Sigh.

At least I was out of the house while they were working on the ceiling. You may remember I mentioned that vacant English class I was covering all week. Yeah, that kept me from experiencing the full effect of having workmen in the house. I'd leave in the morning and return in the evening to visible progress.

While working has been great, it is tiring. I'd get home with barely enough energy to get that bed remade. And then it was time for my homework. Lesson planning. (If I had the energy to look for a gif, it would be one of someone cheering with no enthusiasm whatsoever.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to have the work. And the other teachers have been way supportive in sharing their lesson plans with me. But that doesn't mean I can totally rely on them. They give me the plan, but I have to figure out how to execute it. I have to teach the class. And I have to figure out how I'm going to set up other things, like the classroom, and how to keep up with papers and grading until I hand this class over to someone more permanent.

I've been scrambling with seating charts, classroom control, and getting the basic supplies. The staff has been so helpful. I managed to locate books. I learned to make copies. I got the kiddos their syllabus to start the year off right. I even have a computer and working projector, so I can make slides at home and use them in class.

What I'm saying is, it's been a lot--way more than I'm accustomed to. I'll have posts for this week, but again, I'm going to be very lax in my visiting. I'll get there. But it's going to be late. I hope you understand.

I promise, no more whining this week. I do have a couple good stories to share.

Friday, August 23, 2019


Yesterday I whined about getting stuck with a vacant class. But this wasn't my first rodeo. Even when the sub caller told me it wasn't a vacant class, I prepped for the day as if it was. And that saved my butt.

Because while there was a school-wide activity prepped for the first day, there wasn't one for the second.

I decided to have the kiddos interview each other.

It was a simple activity. I prepped ten questions for them to ask each other. Then I gave them a sentence frame to insert their partner's answers into. Finally, everyone got a chance to read their sentence frames out loud.

The seventh graders did very well. The most popular wish was to ask for more wishes. I was surprised how many students considered Alfredo their favorite food. One student told how his partner had gone to Ohio over the summer. The partner clarified that he had actually gone to Idaho.

The eighth graders...

Yeah. Um. They finished interviewing each other. That was cool.

However, we did not have time for them to read their interview answers. Because, um, yeah, it took that long to get through the interviews.

Did I mention last year how horrible the seventh graders were? I may not have. But let me just say, um, yep, horrible. And this year they're eighth graders.

On the bright side, that means we'll probably go through half as many lessons. And hopefully, the honeymoon period will last until they get a teacher in to cover the class for the rest of the year.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Vacant Class

When I write next year's end of year post, I get to write this sentence: I did cover the first day of school (and this time, it definitely does count).

The thing about the first day of school is, teachers tend to not miss it. There are very few events that would pull a teacher out of class on that very important day. (One year a teacher took her daughter to start college. Another teacher missed because she was on maternity leave. Those are the only events I can think of.)

This means, when one is covering the first day of school, one is generally covering a vacant class.

Vacant means there is no teacher assigned. No lesson plans. Nothing set up. Thrown in on the first day with no support...

So, when I got the call the day before the first day of school, I asked. "Is this a vacant class?" I was told it wasn't.

Okay, so technically it wasn't. In actuality...

The official teacher is on a leave of absence. His replacement (long term sub) couldn't start until Monday. So, I had all the joys of a vacant class. Whee!

On the bright side, the school was doing a thing for all students in all classes on the first day, so I had a lesson to teach.

And, work on the first day. This is good. Things don't usually pick up for a couple weeks into the school year. Unless one is covering a vacant class...

(Although, I did see teachers already submitting requests for time off. For the second week. So, it has started.)

(Oh, and spoiler alert: the replacement long term sub flaked. Guess who is covering this class for the next two weeks? Well, at least the summer blogging schedule is now at an end 😎)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How Not to Talk Me Out of It

The other day as I was clearing out some old papers, I found some blog posts that I'd never posted. I wrote them down with the intent of putting them on the blog, but then... I suppose something more interesting happened that week. That's my only guess.

"But if I get another referral, I'll be kicked out of school."

He should have thought of that when he refused to step outside and stay outside when I told him to.

"If I get another referral, I'm going to be sent to my dad in Texas. I don't want to live with my dad. He drinks."

And yet, when I asked him to stop talking so I could go over the day's assignment, he couldn't manage it.

"I can't get another referral. Could you make this a warning?"

And what were those three other instructions? The "stop talking"? The "step outside"? The "go back where I told you to go"? And what about continuing ot talk after I said he'd get a referral for disobeying me? No contrition until the paperwork came out.

I pulled out the form. He snatched it off the desk and walked away with it. Luckily, I had a second form.

Then he started random attacks. Something about a restroom pass. How I "wasn't being fair" and was "going to get reported" for something or other.

Yeah, I know this one. He's trying to make me feel bad or worried or something. The big secret is, I hate writing referrals. I hate this sort of confrontation, this sort of drama.

I already am second guessing myself. Was I clear enough? Am I being unreasonable?

This sort of behavior? It reinforces that I'm doing the right thing. And I'll be so much happier when he's out of class.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Shooting Star

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 had unlimited wishes?

(I had the kiddos ask each other what one wish they'd make, and most wished for unlimited wishes. So, why not?)

Monday, August 19, 2019

It's Been Put Together

The windmill bag was moving along a lot quicker than I anticipated. Right after taking the pictures I used in last weeks blog post, I started on the assembly.

Stitching together the bottom went quickly. Before I knew it, I was stitching up the sides.

I thought about what sort of border I wanted for the top. I started one round, and then decided that that was enough.

I threw it in the wash. I was doing laundry, and I'd get to the straps/handles soon enough.

And then school started. *insert screeching brake noise here*

So, yeah, I expected to have a finished bag to post today. It's mostly finished, as you can see. The straps/handles won't take terribly long. But I just have a whole lot less time at the moment to work on them.

The bag turned out bigger than I expected. Here's a view of the inside...

So, overall, I'm pleased. (I didn't really block the thing, that's why the pictures appear lumpy. I'm not going to bother blocking it as it's just for me, and I'm content with the lumpy.) There are a few things I'd do differently, and I may try them on a second attempt at the bag. But not at the moment.

I'm going to be a bit scarce this week. Because everything has to happen at once. 

First, the money from the court case finally came through, and the contractor who's going to replace my ceiling is coming this week. So, I'm going to be moving out of my room so he can do that. 

And, at the same time, school started. I am covering a vacant class for the first couple weeks, so while I'm displaced, I'll be busy all day at school, and at night I'll be playing catch up with lesson planning and such. 

So, I'll be around. I'll get to blog visiting eventually, but it may be later rather than sooner. The dust should settle by the end of the week. Hopefully. We'll see. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 16, 2019

General Knowledge Quiz

This week's quiz is more general...

Answer These 30 General Knowledge Questions

The three minute time limit is really short, but the questions are fully visible before you hit "play", so for those of you who hate the time limit, you have as much time to peruse as you need. And you can answer them in any order. 

I managed 28/30, which isn't too bad. Let me know how you do in the comments.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Fine Print

The other day as I was clearing out some old papers, I found some blog posts that I'd never posted. I wrote them down with the intent of putting them on the blog, but then... I suppose something more interesting happened that week. That's my only guess.

I heard the distinctive clatter, rhythmic and regular. I didn't have to see it to know what it was.

"Could you please put the Tech Deck away?"

Ten minutes later, I heard it again. I went to confiscate.

"You told me to put it away. I did. You didn't say how long to put it away for."

Semantics. Really?

"Besides, you said 'can' and 'please'. So it was more of a request..."

So, because I was polite and didn't bark it out, he was going to continue playing with his toy? Deep sigh.

I clarified my position on toys in the classroom, especially when there was actual work to complete. I "offered" to keep the toy so he wouldn't be tempted to pull it out again.

Freshmen. *shakes head*

(I do tend towards polite in the classroom. I find "please" and "thank you" as good ways to show students respect.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

False Memories

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. 😉

Have you heard of the Mandela Effect? It's when you mistakenly recall events or experiences that have not occurred. (Definition via this website.)

What if the Mandela Effect is us actually remembering an alternate timeline? 

And I'm not the first one to think of this...

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Mistakes

I finished all the panels for my windmill bag:

After seeing the inspiration picture again (for last week's post), I decided they needed an edging. That's done too (as you can see from the photo).

Now all that's left is the assembly.

Unlike how I usually am with my projects, I let a few errors slide through. I could have fixed them, but I decided no one would notice (not really), and as this is just a rough draft (so to speak) of this project, finished was better than perfect.

But, I will point out the errors.

1. Half way through this panel, I changed how I did the increase stitches. If you look closely, the bottom looks different than the top:

It was the first panel I made. I could have ripped it out and started over. If I had done that, I don't think I would have continued.

2. After I finished that first panel, I raided my yarn stash for other colors to use. As I finished the second panel, I decided to stick to only four different color yarns. But I did not have enough yarn to finish two more panels. I went to buy another skein of the navy blue and light green:

Navy blue was easy. Alas, I got the wrong light green. It's close, but it's not quite the same. Oops. (Although, the store did not have the right color light green, so this was really the best I could do.)

3. On the last panel I made, on the last couple of pattern repeats, I made a knitting error:

And rather than going back and fixing it (which I normally would totally do), I figured no one would really be able to see it, and I wanted to finish the thing. This is probably the only time I'll ever say I wanted something finished more than I wanted it right.

Now it's just a matter of sewing the panels together:

I think I'll probably edge the top a bit, and then add handles. I'm not sure. I'll keep plugging along, and it should be finished sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Complete the Bad Dad Jokes

Feeling like you need a good groan? I've got some bad dad jokes for you...

Complete the Bad Dad Jokes

Don't worry, the punch lines are given. You just have to pick the correct one from the list. You can skip setups using the "prev" and "next". And sorry, it is timed. But you have six minutes. Take a minute to read through the possible responses, and you'll still have plenty of time. 

I did manage a perfect score, but I skipped the first three or four, and I took my time. 

Good luck.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Not my First Rodeo

The other day as I was clearing out some old papers, I found some blog posts that I'd never posted. I wrote them down with the intent of putting them on the blog, but then... I suppose something more interesting happened that week. That's my only guess. 

I remember being very annoyed with this boy. But somehow the act of writing this out dispelled much of my anger. I can't tell you when this happened, but it was at least two years ago. 

"Remember me? I was in the first class you ever subbed."

Me: "Really? You were in the 11th grade history class at [different high school] in [different city which is two hours away]?"

"No, I was in the first class you subbed here."

I made some joke about how he'd been in high school an awfully long time.

I've been subbing a while. At least since before he was in school. The first class I ever subbed at his school... There are teachers teaching at his school that were students in classes I covered.

(Truth is, I don't remember my first class at his school. I'll have to check my records. But those students? They're in their 30s now.

I do remember a student from my first year subbing. He was a basketball star. Everyone said he'd go to the NBA. He did. Not a superstar, though. Although, a student from a couple years later made it to the World Series. You would know his name.)

How he figured that the first time he encountered me was the first time I'd ever subbed... I have no idea how kiddos get these notions.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


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 didn't get assigned a name until age 13 (or 16, or 21, or...)?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Progress of a Sort

Back in April, I posted this picture...

...and I promised to explain when I had more of it finished.

Surprisingly, I've been making quite a bit of progress on it lately. (I thank my little Arctic Air cooler. It keeps me cool enough so that my hands don't sweat which normally at this time of year curtails most of my knitting projects.) I have almost finished three panels...

I'm making a windmill bag.

I saw this image on Instagram almost a year ago. And I was entranced. I could do that. All I needed was four long rectangles.

I started it in November. I got as far as you see in the first picture. I set it aside to work on Christmas and whatever else, not picking it up again until about two weeks ago. And since then, I've finished what you see above. (Well, by the time you read this, three panels will be done, and I will have started on the fourth.)

It's coming along. I may finish this sooner rather than later.

I also got some more pictures of the blue walking purse...

These are more so the scale of it is apparent...


A close up...

What do you think? Do these images give a good idea of the scale?

I was going to model them, but getting someone to photograph me wearing it wasn't working out. And I couldn't find a model. (It'd be easier for me to take the pictures as I know how I want them to look.) So, this was the next best thing.

It's amazing how long it's taking me to do anything with my projects lately. I'll blame the heat.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Pirate Movies Quiz

For this week's random quiz, I went to Sporcle and clicked on "random quiz". And it gave me a pirate movie quiz.

Well, okay, then...

Missing Pirate Movie Words Quiz

It gives you a movie with one word missing. You click on the missing word from the supplied list. Do take note that there are "prev" and "next" buttons. Feel free to skip around. 

I managed a 92% (22/24). Considering I'm not big on pirates, I find that pretty good. Let me know how you did in the comments.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fair Fun

Last week I went to the Orange County Fair...

There was lots of crazy food. Burgers with Krispy Kreme donuts as buns. Bacon covered pickles. Deep fried whatever. You know, the usual. As for me, I decided I just wanted a huge hot dog...

I'm boring that way.

We started off in the craft area. I've been contemplating making a shawl. I found some inspiration...

And someone really knows how to felt...

The first time I walked right by this frog purse. I only noticed it on my second pass...

We also perused the jewelry makers, the wood workers, and the visual arts. There were some talented artists and photographers judging by the works displayed.

Eventually we made it outside. (It wasn't the hottest day of the week that we went. It was probably the second hottest, however.)

I felt sorry for this pig...

She just kinda looks miserable. The sign behind her said she was due on July 30th (less than a week from when we went), so she's very pregnant. And it was hot. But by now she should be feeling a whole lot lighter.

Then we hit collections. Someone had taken selfies with a bunch of sports heroes. As I'm not a sports aficionado, none of the faces were familiar to me. Although I did like the autographs from the Star Wars stars.

In the same building were the plant displays. This one made me think of Pam...

Do you have any old shoes hanging around...?

And then we were on our way out...

I lucked out and didn't get sunburned. That's what happens when I remember the sunscreen. Yay!

When does your local area have a county fair? (LA County's fair is in September. [I live in LA County but I'm near the border with Orange County. OC's fair is closer.] We always hear about it because the commercials are brilliant.)