Friday, November 29, 2019

_ QU _ _ _

It's a holiday week here. We had the whole week off for Thanksgiving. So the blog is on "summer schedule".

That means that today we have a random quiz. It's so random, in fact, that I hit the "Random Quiz" button on Sporcle. (Okay, so I hit it five times before it gave me a quiz that seemed to fit the blog.

Letter Pattern: _ QU _ _ _ Quiz

All the answers are in the form _ qu _ _ _. I'd give an example, but every word I think of was on the quiz... 

As usual, the answer bar will let you answer in any order you like, so don't worry about doing this in order. You do, however, need to spell it correctly. 

Good luck. Let me know how you did. I missed three.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Scenes from Turkey Day

Last Thursday was the continuation high school's annual Turkey Day. It's the day they serve a turkey dinner lunch brunch to the students and the school district community. I make sure that I have a gig there that day.

(I've written about Turkey Day before: 2008, 2013, 2015. Or just click on the tag "turkey day".)

The day is always rather catawampus. I've worked at the continuation high school long enough to know to go with the flow. Some of the crazy:
  • Period 1: Jordan (no, not that Jordan--there happen to be three of them) came into class with a classroom exchange pass. Only, the pass was to go to PE. (I was in the woodshop.) Apparently I was the preferred sub (PE had a sub, too). I told him to get a pass to woodshop. He left instead. (The office was not pleased he was not where he said he'd be.) 

  • They don't get to use the machinery with a sub, but I allowed painting. Elijah had painted his name plate blue. He went looking for red paint. While the blue was still wet, he painted over it with the red. (Me and another student warned him.) It came out a streaky purple. Which he tried to say was something he liked the look of. Sigh. 

  • I had snack duty, so I didn't get my bathroom break until after the bell. Of course, another teacher darted in front of me. So, I was late getting to third period. I felt bad about this until the teacher next door arrived at the same time. Whew! Not that late, then.
  • Bob arrived with a tardy slip half way into fourth period. He asked me to mark him present for third period. He claimed he had been in the office. When I called the office "to check", I was told he had only just arrived. I mean, nice try at fixing his attendance record, but perhaps actually attending would work better. 

  • We adults didn't get to eat until after school. (We got out at noon that day, so not a hardship.) Another sub didn't want to go. (I mean, I get it. It was hard for me to join in when I was a newbie.) Me and Mr. G (he was the teacher for the class I covered in August last year when he got stuck on jury duty) did convince her to peek in. She was eventually convinced to take a to-go plate.
I guess it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a little drama. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


It's a holiday week. There is no school. So, it's time for the "summer schedule". (Yes, I did work last week. Those posts will go live next week.) Today I'm going to convince you to check out a show you may not have heard about: Evil.

What is the nature of evil? Is it done by bad people? Or does it come from supernatural sources? This is the debate at the center of the show.

Kristen is a forensic psychologist. She used to work as an expert witness. She was recruited by David, a priest-in-training, to help vet various claims submitted to the Catholic Church. The third member of their team is Ben. He's their tech expert, and like Kristen he's also a skeptic.

Each week is a separate story investigating a different claim. They've looked into alleged demon possessions, an alleged miracle, an alleged prophet, and they've attended at least two exorcisms.

Alongside the case of the week, they've got longer arcs, like our villain Leland, who may or may not be an actual demon. He is a very bad man who's actively encouraged others to kill. (This is a dark show, and there are some scary elements. I dislike horror, but I like this show. Proceed cautiously.)

This is not the kind of show that would necessarily be on my radar, but it was created by the same husband and wife team that created The Good Wife (and The Good Fight). On that basis alone I checked it out, and I kept watching as I thought it was pretty good. It has a couple flourishes that'll look familiar to Good fans, but otherwise it's a very different type of show.

So, is evil something done by people? Or, does it have otherworldly origins? The show doesn't take a side. David is a believer. Kristen is not. We see the show through Kristen's eyes mostly, but sometimes what they find are things she can't explain. (Other times the explanation is completely mundane.)

No matter which side you fall on, you'll find your bias confirmed. Although, you will be given something to question.

I really hope this finds an audience. Although, while doing my research for this post, I noticed that Evil was renewed for a second season already. Yay. That might be on the strength of the creators alone. I haven't seen what the ratings are like.

It's on Thursdays on CBS. Because CBS, it's available on their All Access. I haven't seen whether it's OnDemand, but it might be. (Whatever you do, don't start with episode four: "Rose390".)

Had you heard of Evil before? Are you watching? Are you tempted to check it out?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Search

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. 😉

One day I sat down to write a bunch of "what if?" questions to get a bit ahead on the blog. A theme emerged...

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they revealed some of their kind had crash landed here a long, long time ago and they were here to learn what had happened to them? 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Paradigm Shift

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn argued that "progress" only happens when the prevailing theory, the current paradigm, is so beset with anomalies that a new model or theory needs to supplant it.

I finally "finished" my iPad holder:

Well, sort of.

The idea behind it was to make it like one of those foldy ones you can buy. I had gotten most of it done the last time I wrote about it. All that was left was to attach some elastic to hold the iPad in...

...which I finally completed. And it works, sort of...

The problem is, it doesn't hold it well. When I tip this up, the iPad slides downwards, making the elastic at the top superfluous. And when the thing is folded over, the iPad doesn't feel secure inside.

So, I pondered the problem last week. I could sew the elastic tighter. I could replace the elastic with corners of fabric. Perhaps another strip of fabric going across the iPad...

And that's when I realized that this was enough. I was done.

It's like a scientific theory that's had one too many ad hoc hypotheses added on. At some point you've got to trash it and start over with a simpler version.

The case I have for my Nook is nice. It works. I've had no issues with it.

I can do something similar to that for my iPad.

After pondering some more, I think I'm just going to rip out the fabric backing and elastic from what I've already knit. I'll sew up the sides. And voila, I'm done.

It was a nice experiment, but it failed. I learned something very important from it. Trying to make one of those foldy things is not worth the effort.

Friday, November 22, 2019


Seventh grade English. They were reading chapter eleven of The Giver and then answering questions about it.

The answering of the questions went much quicker than it should have. So, the kiddos had some time afterwards.

I sat and watched. They did the usual. And then I heard...

"Go back to Puerto Rico."

I headed for the two boys. I let the one who said it know that was a rude thing to say to his classmate.

"But he told me I needed to go back to picking cotton."

So, both of them were being awful. Yeah, that tracks for seventh graders.

I let them both know that was unacceptable. Because, seriously?

This is what happens when they have too much free time on their hands. It was my fault for not finding something else for them to do once they got finished.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Modern Vandals

English. The continuation high school. They had the day to finish up any work for the soon-to-be-ending block. (Instead of four quarters and two semesters, the continuation high school's year is broken up into eight blocks.)

I ran into the the teacher in the parking lot. (Ms. S had a meeting at the district office.) After a brief rundown of the plans (of which a written copy was left in the classroom), she warned me that she didn't want the students using the Chromebooks (read: the computers).

Why? (I didn't ask; she just explained.) The kiddos have been popping keys off the keyboard...

Because of course they are.

So, instead of watching YouTube or playing Krunker while they had a sub (because while they'd have an actual assignment, most wouldn't actually do it), they were stuck with watching YouTube or playing Krunker on their phones.


Oh, I tried to get them on task. But at a certain point, the argument isn't worth the trouble.

At least this way, if they're going to be defacing devices, it's their own stuff they're mangling.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Integrated math 2. This is the math class that used to be geometry, or sophomore level math. They had their test study guide to work on (which was basically what their test was going to look like, only with different numbers).

Fifth period. Herbert walked in and immediately grabbed a Chromebook. I told him to put it back as they had a different assignment that day.

Tenth grade (fifteen-year-olds) is an interesting time. They're transitioning from a middle school mindset to a more mature outlook. Some groups are further along in this progression than others.

Fifth period had a mix of those who were determined to figure out the material and those whose weren't going to do much at all. This is pretty typical for that age.

I had just been helping a couple students navigate a problem that looked like: 2 + (-2 + 6i) + (3 - 4i) where i is an imaginary number. I looked over at the teacher's desk, and...

Yes, I am shouting. Because that was so beyond...

Students do not sit at the teacher's desk. I mean, some will try at the beginning of the period. Some try at the end. But it's a game they play. In the middle of the period, they sit at their desks.

I generally leave the computer on with my day's temporary password for the attendance program input so I can quickly do the roll at some point during the period. I feel comfortable doing this because the kiddos don't sit at the teacher's desk, and it's generally safe to do so.

So, when I looked up and saw Herbert at the desk...

"Uh, no. Nope. Nope. Nope."

I have to say, he got up pretty fast. And the screen was back to the attendance program.

But then he turned around, sat down again, and said, "I'm the teacher."

I just kept calmly repeating "nope" until he returned to his seat.

Why couldn't he be a normal teen and just sneak the game on his phone? I mean, that's what the rest of them were doing.

Yesterday I had a student in class (English) who had been in this class (last week). Apparently their teacher wasn't too keen on this either. Herbert was suspended from her class for three days.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ancient Aliens

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. 😉

One day I sat down to write a bunch of "what if?" questions to get a bit ahead on the blog. A theme emerged...

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they revealed they'd been here in ancient history, had gone away for a couple (few?) thousand years, and had just come back? 

Monday, November 18, 2019

One Whole Year

It's finished.

Last week I told you how I added a lifeline just to make sure I had enough yarn to complete another pattern repeat. Turns out, I probably could have done another one beyond that.

I thought about it, but I figured I had been working on it long enough. It was time to finish the thing off.

I figure it's wide enough.

According to its Ravelry page, I started working on it on November 11, 2018. I finished it November 11, 2019.

Yup, it took me a whole year to finish.

Well, I wasn't only working on it. I've had other projects going, too.

(Since the question came up... I finished eight pattern repeats. Each pattern repeat contains eight rows. I cast on 480 stitches. So, that's a grand total of 30,720 stitches.)

Yeah, I'm done. And happy to be so.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Just a Few More Minutes

Integrated math 1 (what used to be algebra) for eighth graders. (They expect them to take this class in ninth grade, so these are the advanced math kiddos.) They were solving systems of equations.

After I got class started, I noticed a bunch of yellow passes on their desks. That's when I remembered something that had happened on Wednesday, the last time I had been on this campus.

A stack of yellow passes had been delivered during second period. The co-teacher was the one to receive them, so she passed them out. One of the recipients happened to be absent, so I had a chance to look at it.

They were perfect attendance awards. As a reward, the kiddos were to be released ten minutes early from second period on Friday.

So, there would be a few dismissed early from the group in front of me. I was glad I had seen the pass on Wednesday or I would have been completely blindsided.

At the appointed time, I dismissed the pass holders.

"I need a couple more minutes."

Nine of the pass holders left. But the tenth was still working on the assignment.

It was one of those assignments where whatever they hadn't completed in class became homework. So there was no penalty for not finishing. The students could just go.

But the boy wanted to finish before he left.

This is unusual. Most of the time, when an assignment can be completed for homework, I struggle to keep them on task. They'd rather play in class and "do it for homework".

The early dismissal was a reward. I'm not going to "enforce" a reward.

The boy spent about five more minutes working quickly. Then he packed up and left.

See, some of them do truly care about their work. Not all of them are slackers. (It's just that the slackers make much better stories.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Bad Combination

Sometimes students fight. But more of the time, students mock fight. That is, they go at each other as if they were going to hit each other, but they pull punches and they're laughing about it.

Stopping a mock fight is usually simple. I tell them to cut it out.

With Jordan and Daniel, it wasn't that simple.

Monday at the continuation high school, I was covering the social studies class. They were supposed to be reading Martin Luther King, Jr's Letter from Birmingham Jail. Mostly they were playing Krunker.

Fifth period. Even though Jordan and Daniel sat a distance apart, they found excuses to get up and "attack" the other. Or, they both got up and pounced on each other.

So, I kept having to intervene. It was annoying, but it didn't escalate any further.

Tuesday at the continuation high school I covered an English class. Guess what pair was in third period together.

And it happened again. They played at fighting. I told them to cut it out.

Then something unexpected happened. I was asked to cover the social studies teacher's class fifth period as she had an IEP meeting to attend.

Deep sigh. I knew that meant Jordan and Daniel again.

Alas, this time it escalated. The boys sat next to each other. And while I stood over them, Daniel "punched" Jordan in the kidney.

Daniel felt my kicking him out of class was unfair as Jordan had "slapped" him in the face in the second that I had turned away. I wanted them separated, so sending them both to the same room would have defeated the purpose.

Because the social studies teacher was on campus, I wanted to let her know what had happened. It turned out she has the exact same problem with them. She doesn't let them sit together because of it.

Thursday at the continuation high school I covered the computer class. Guess which pair was in fourth period.

So, seriously? These two kiddos have all their classes together? No wonder they spend all day playing.

Jordan and I got into it when I wouldn't let him sit next to Daniel. (I learned that lesson.) At least they didn't attempt to punch each other again.

After that class, I happened to run into the counselor. I asked her nicely if she could possibly in the future maybe make sure those two boys did not have any more classes together. Because, seriously, it was ridiculous.

I wasn't the only one complaining.

Perhaps they might find other outlets for that energy, like, perhaps doing their schoolwork, if only they didn't have each other to feed off of every day (and in every class!). Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Not Quite Right

Seventh grade English. They were reading The Hobbit.

The day's assignment was for them to finish reading chapter eight and answer comprehension questions.

I explained the assignment to first period.

"But we listen to the book..."

Sigh. Of course they do.

The great thing about listening to literature is that they get to hear words they're not familiar with. Many are struggling readers. They might not even try without the help.

But leaving a sub the audio is tricky.

It used to be that there'd be a CD, and I'd play that on a boombox. Nowadays, all of the classrooms have installed speakers that one connects a computer to. The audio is a digital file.

The teacher can leave that all for a sub, but that means leaving their laptops and/or their login information. Sometimes it's really not worth the trouble.

So, knowing all this, I informed the class they were going to be doing things differently that day. And it's not a bad thing to have them change things up once in a while.

However, middle schoolers hate change.

Before I had a chance to give my "you can read it to yourselves today" speech, my co-teacher spoke up.

It was one of those lovely co-caught classes where a number of the students are special ed, so there's a general ed teacher as well as a special ed teacher working together. Both teachers were out, so we two subs were supervising the class. This is a very good thing as many times those classes can be more challenging behavior-wise, especially when there's a sub (or two).

The co-teacher said he could try to find the book on YouTube. I figured, why not?

After dealing with some technical issues, he did manage to find it. He got it all connected and going...

"But that's not what we've been listening to. He's not doing the voices..."


Seventh graders... We just can't win.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hidden Among Us

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. 😉

One day I sat down to write a bunch of "what if?" questions to get a bit ahead on the blog. A theme emerged...

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they revealed they'd been living among us for thousands of years? (In other words, the opposite of last week's question.)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Dropping a Lifeline

I started this scarf one year ago today. Aannndddd... I'm just about finished. I think.

It's almost wide enough. Although, what is wide enough? It's probably okay right now...

But I could do another pattern repeat. Maybe. Possibly.

Does it look like I have enough yarn for another pattern repeat?

If I had been thinking and planning ahead, I would have weighed the yarn before and after a pattern repeat. Then I could determine if I have enough yarn left.

But no. I didn't. So, I'm eyeballing this, and I'm notoriously bad at that.

I'm going to go for it. I might make it.

But, I'm hedging my bets. I've dropped a lifeline.

What's a lifeline? It's a strand of yarn strung through all the stitches of one round. So, if it turns out I don't have enough yarn to complete the pattern repeat, I can frog it back to the lifeline and bind off.

I may have enough yarn, though. In that case, all I have to do is pull the lifeline out.

Wish me luck. By the time you read this, I might already know if I made it. The next time you see this scarf, it will be finished one way or the other.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Grading Me?

It was Friday. Twelfth grade English. The school is starting a study hall period, and this was the day all the teachers were to explain the concept via PowerPoint to the students.

This is new to me, too. We did not have study hall when I was in school. I have heard of it, but I've never experienced it first hand.

Of course, I was informed about all of this when I checked in that morning.

My job is pretty much winging things with no prep whatsoever, so I wasn't too concerned. I had access to the PowerPoint slides. I know how to work the in class projector and computer. 

Yes, reading the slides to the students is dreadfully dull, but what else could I do?

So, the class came in, the slides were loaded, and the projector worked. I even had a group that sat quietly while I droned on. Success!

I was about five minutes into it when the door opened. In walked an assistant principal and a counselor.

Administrators walk in from time to time. They may be doing a dress code check or they may be looking to talk to a student for some reason. But this time they just stood in the doorway and watched.

Eeek. I didn't know I was getting graded.

I tried to up my game, but I was doing the presentation cold. And the slides were pretty detailed. There was nothing for me to add to make things more interesting.

The administrators were there for a couple minutes before they left. That's when I breathed a sigh of relief.

It is likely that they were making sure everything was working. But in my mind, I felt as if they were watching and judging. And I was sorely lacking.

We always judge ourselves way more harshly than the world sees us.

The administrators said nothing to me. So, I'm sure it was fine. It must have been fine, right?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Dancing AP

Some days are just strange.

It was Thursday. Halloween. I ended up covering Spanish. (The teacher had taken the Spanish club to Olvera Street for Day of the Dead celebrations.)

Fifth period was an AP (advanced placement) class. The lesson plans had them "joining" their class on the CollegeBoard website (which, of course, hit some technical glitches) and then going outside to practice their song.

Luckily, the smell of wildfires wasn't as bad as it had been earlier in the day. And the winds had died down somewhat.

When I saw "practice their song", I assumed they'd be singing. But when I finally joined them outside, I discovered it was a dance they were doing.

A couple students got stuck "joining" the class. First, most of them had to create an account, and they had the usual issues with the log in then not working. You'd think kids that age would know all the tricks, but they had the same issues we all do with these things.

This dance? They were really bad at it.

Apparently, they were to perform it the next day. So, they badly needed the rehearsal. Things did not go so well.

They were not in sync with each other. A third were at any given time not doing what the others were doing. And until someone started calling out the steps, most kinda stumbled through the whole thing.

Deep sigh. At least they were aware of how not ready they were.

What dance were they doing? I bet most of you are familiar with it...

And in this video? They're way more in sync than period 5 ever got. (The first minute and a half is what they did. At the two minute mark, they switch into the fast version. Period 5 attempted the fast version. Train. Wreck.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Change of Plans

"Oh good. You're here."

This was a rather strange greeting from the secretary, especially as I was pretty early.

She explained that I was listed as there for a half day in the afternoon for a teacher who had no idea she was out. But before I had a chance to freak out, the secretary said she had another gig for me.

A biology teacher had called in sick that morning.

Considering that my job is filling in for absent teachers, you'd think that I covered classes for sick teachers all the time. Not really. But it does happen occasionally.

Since Mr. E had called out that morning, he left no lesson plans in the classroom. Nor had he emailed them. Luckily, I know who his wife is. Her classroom is directly across from his.

Alas, he had not sent lesson plans in with her either. But after a couple phone calls, I was set for the day.

I kind of hate bothering a teacher when he isn't feeling well and could really use the rest. But, I walk into these classes cold. I have no idea what they're doing. And I'd like to not have it be a wasted day for them.

Luckily, the students were finishing up lab work and such, so it was a pretty easy day, once I knew what to instruct them to do.

Tuesday, November 5, 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. 😉

One day I sat down to write a bunch of "what if?" questions to get a bit ahead on the blog. A theme emerged...

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they revealed that they had just arrived to our world? (That is, all the previous sightings of UFOs and Area 51 and such were proven to be hoaxes--or at least not done by them.)

Monday, November 4, 2019

An Old Crocheted Friend

Last week I got a special request via my Etsy shop for a water bottle carrier. Remember my water bottle carrier? I wouldn't be surprised if you don't as I haven't talked about it here in years.

She asked for orange (so I was stoked), and it turned out like this...

It's been so long since I made one that I had to look up the pattern. I could not find it in my notebooks anywhere. Luckily, I had posted it to the blog. It may still be the top post over in the sidebar under "Popular Posts". It's been in the top position for ages now.

I have a couple of these of my own that I pull out for special occasions. Most of the time I keep my water bottle in my bag, but if I don't want to carry my bag... So, it is a useful thing.

And it doesn't take too long to finish one up. Unlike infinity scarves that I've been working on for ages...

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Hall Pass

Seventh grade history. They had bookwork.

It was second period. A student grabbed a huge trophy and headed for the door...


"That's our hall pass," another student informed me.

The thing was massive...

I've covered this teacher's classes before. There used to be something way more reasonable. I recall a shoe.

"Someone lost the last pass, so now this is what we use," the student continued the explanation.

Um, okay then...

Once I was up to speed, I found the whole thing rather funny. And totally in the wheelhouse for this teacher. In fact, the trophy says it's a hall pass...

Mr. F's Hall Pass

(The sticky note was my addition as I don't reveal real names on the blog.)

So, for the rest of the day, when a student asked to use the restroom, they wrestled this unwieldy thing out the door (the closed door, which is hard to open while lugging this), and then returned in a similar manner. The thing is taller than most of the kiddos!

There is a certain genius to this. They can't go gallivanting around campus with this behemoth in tow. And it's not like it's going to get misplaced.

I may have to tell other teachers this idea.

Generally, when kiddos ask to leave class, we write them a pass on a specific official pass paper. Some teachers have created reusable options so they don't have to continually write them. They are generally small enough to be easily carried. (Some teachers have a sense of humor about it. One teacher has a toilet seat. Another has them carry a toilet brush.) This trophy was unusual enough to merit a blog mention.