Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Year of the Wombat?

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 years had names rather than numbers?

Monday, December 30, 2019

Knitting More Shark Beanies

My Christmas knitting is now in full swing...

No, not next Christmas. This Christmas. Yes, the one that occurred five days ago...

A few years ago I decided that it wasn't worth it to knit things for people if it wasn't something they were going to want. So, I let the family decide what they want. I suppose I should have asked earlier, but I didn't. That's on me.

On the bright side, how fun is it to get Christmas gifts in February?

The youngest nephews (the twins) requested shark hats...

Do you remember the shark hat? I knit it for... Well, let me go into the wayback files...

I'm so glad I have the blog. I forget these things.

I made two. They were for Christmas 2013. Apparently, middle nephew wasn't a fan.

I made one for eldest nephew and one for middle nephew. The twins were only eight months old that Christmas, so I made them something more age appropriate.

When I sent SIL the "what do they want for Christmas?" message, she replied that middle nephew has been wearing his shark hat, and the twins now want their own. So, I dug out the pattern, acquired the yarn, and got started.

I decided I'd finish off the main body knitting first, and then I'd add the embellishments to both at the same time. I have finished the body of one...

Yes, this gray is a bit darker than the yarn I used for the older boys.

...And I've started the body of the second hat...

So, progress is being made...

Middle nephew likes his shark hat so much that he wants a scarf to go with it. Considering how the hat was received, this is very good news.

But, a shark scarf... Yeah, I'm stumped. Because I can knit a scarf in similar yarn so that it'll compliment the hat. Or, I can find a shark scarf? I really, really don't know what to do with that.

That's the danger of asking what they want. I may not have the skills to carry off their requests. (Yeah, I'm a bit stumped as to the other requests, too. There's a reason I started with the shark hats.)

So, wish me luck. I'm not terribly worried about these hats. They'll get done in good time. But if you have a good link to a shark scarf, send them my way. (I'll show the other Christmas requests as I make them.)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Rock and Roll Fantasy

A few boats from the boat parade...

The theme of the Huntington Harbor Boat Parade was "Rock and Roll Fantasy" (click on the images to enlarge)...

Musical notes.

They had an actual band playing on the bow.

Guitars and records.

The Beatles.


Can't do rock & roll without someone impersonating Elvis.

Santa with a guitar.
I really should take video so you can hear all the music playing. And, of course, the people on board calling out to us, "the people on the bridge".

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Almost Missed It

The last two times we went to the Huntington Harbor Boat Parade (2014, 2018), we got there 'round about 5 PM and waited until the boats arrived after 7 PM. So, this year, we were going to be clever and get there after 6 PM.

So, we'd gotten our chairs set up, and I had even taken a test picture...

...when we talked to a passerby. Who told us the boats had been there about an hour previous...

Seriously? The one year we don't go early...

A boat did come by...

But it was clear we had missed the festivities. Doh!

After a quick search online, a map was found of the parade route. The boats had been scheduled to get to our location at 5:15 PM. But...

This area has a lot of channels of water. It'd be best if you take a look at the map...

Huntington Harbour Boat Parade

We were at location number 4. It's nearly at the top of the map. Right next to it is a strip of green. And next to that is location 31, which had the not yet reached time of 7:56 PM.

The strip of green is actually a bridge. The boats didn't go under the bridge but came back around to it. In previous years, they hit that side of the bridge first. But if the map was correct, we had over an hour to kill (just like in previous years).

So, we came later, and we still had to wait. Although, we weren't sure if we had missed it entirely. Since we were already there, we decided to wait.

As the time drew closer, a crowd had gathered on the bridge...

We joined them, and we waited. And waited. It was nearly 8:15 PM when we spied...

We hadn't missed it after all. Whew.

And somehow, I have managed to figure out how to work my phone camera so that I could get pretty decent images, unlike the prior two times. It turns out night photos take 3 seconds, but I could turn that off so the image just captures with no upload time. (I'm not sure what this is called.)

Not all the images came out, because moving boats, but after that first test boat (second picture in this post), more of them came out decently than not.

I'll save most of those pictures for tomorrow, although I posted a few of them yesterday. (So many photos came out I was able to make three posts out of them. Success.)

But I'll close this post with the last boat of the parade. They really went all out with this...

It was really, really tall. And impressive.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Boats

No one's actually around today, right? Right...

So, here are some boats from the Huntington Harbour Boat Parade this year, keeping in the spirit of the holiday. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

My favorite boat every year. Just spectacular.

From this angle you can see the "wings" better.

Olaf and a few Christmas things.

It's not a SoCal Christmas without lit up palm trees.

A few Christmas friends.

This is like that house with all the blow up things on the front lawn.

I imagine this is what Santa's sleigh looks like at the end of the night.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Move Christmas?

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. 😉

There is a sign that gets posted around this time of year that makes me a little crazy. I keep it to myself, and I won't be complaining about it here, but it's what brings this question to my mind:

What if historians/scholars were able to pinpoint the actual date of Jesus' birth? What if that day was in May? Or June? Or March?

Monday, December 23, 2019

With a Twist in It

Last week, I showed how badly the colors were lining up in the moebius scarf I was crocheting.

Since then, I've frogged this and completed the second try...

How did I get this done so fast? Bulky weight yarn on a 10 mm (N) hook. It's amazing how quickly that works up (especially compared to the infinity scarves that I was working on for a year).

Once I realized that the star stitch wasn't lining up as I'd like and that it was pulling the fabric in so much, I switched over to the shell stitch. The shell stitch did none of those things, although I'm not 100% pleased with how the colors lined up.

It's hard to tell from these pictures, but it is a moebius, meaning it has one side and one edge. That's accomplished by putting a twist in it...

I'm thinking I like this so much, I might have to make a couple for my Etsy shop. In January, most likely.

As for the pooling...

I'm not sure if I like that big swath of blue at the bottom. One side of me likes that sections have one color or another in majority. The other side wishes each round was a different color. Sigh.

But it is warm. And I do mostly like it. Besides, it's finished in time for Christmas. Hooray!

Friday, December 20, 2019


Tenth grade world history. As with every other class I covered the week before finals, they were working on the study guide for their final.

It was passing period before fifth period. Ellie darted into the room, looking anxious.

As Ellie's friends arrived, I gleaned the reason for her distress. (Students rarely tell the sub what's going on. I have to figure it out for myself.) Someone had stolen Ellie's shoes from PE, and she was at that point walking around in only her socks.

(Why she wasn't wearing her PE shoes was never discussed.)

She was understandably distracted. (I guess they were Vans in a navy blue. I think that's what I overheard.)

When she asked to go back to the locker room to look for her shoes again, of course I let her. When her friend "needed to use the restroom" as the same time, I allowed it. When they returned together, I was not surprised. I was also not surprised Ellie did not find her shoes. (Still, why not wear her PE shoes...?)

While Ellie was gone, the attendance office called. That's where parents can drop things off for their students. Ellie darted back out when I told her.

Alas, Ellie was not happy with the shoes that had been left for her. She got on her phone and told whoever she was calling that she had half an hour until lunch, and "people can't see me like this..."

She was wearing a Spongebob Squarepants T-shirt and gray legging shorts. I'm not sure how her shoes improved the outfit.

Shortly thereafter, Ellie asked to go back to the attendance office. Again, I allowed it. (I'm not an ogre.)

Ellie returned to class wearing Nike slides. These shoes replaced the white slides that someone else had given her to wear. I didn't see all that much difference between the two (although, the Nike slides were black). And she looked way more relaxed.

Only then did she ask what the day's assignment was. (It was posted on the board. I had announced it.) She had less than ten minutes of class to do anything.

I get why she was upset, but I don't think I would have taken up the whole class period on the shoes. But then again, I am an adult.

Ellie was so displeased with the white slides that I found them left by her desk after she left...

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Compliment

Eighth grade science. Sixth period. Finals were the following week, so they were working on a study guide for it.

I had been warned about sixth period...

I was seated at the teacher's desk, checking something on the computer (probably roll). I glanced up to see Teejay sneaking to the back of the room. He was tall, especially for an eighth grader, so he had ducked down so his head was at the level of the rest of the seated class. Still, I clocked the movement.

Teejay saw my attention.

"Man... I can't get away with anything. You keep catching me."

As he went back to his desk, I had to suppress a smile. That was such a sweet thing for him to say. It warms this sub's heart.

Later, I was standing near Teejay. (I was doing one of my circuits around the room.) A girl had asked about a question on her study guide.

I don't remember the question or my exact answer. I had been doing a lot of "check your notes". I repeated to several of them that everything on their study guide should look familiar. The study guide was review. Their teacher already taught everything on it throughout the semester.

"You sound just like my mom."

She explained that her mother said similar to her about her tests. Apparently, her grades needed improving, and her mother pointed out that she wasn't being tested on material she hadn't seen.

Another compliment? These kiddos are turning my head.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Who's the Bully?

"Virgil hit me."

"Virgil's bullying me."

It was two against one. The two had been out of their seats, loudly complaining, and just generally not letting me get class started.

The one, Virgil, had been in his seat, quiet, and not bothering anybody.

Hmmm... Who's the bully?

Mateo wouldn't sit still. He needed to blow his nose several times. Then he needed hand sanitizer. Journalism students brought school newspapers, and Mateo said it was his job to pass them out. (School papers are left in a pile for students to pick up if they want one.)

I caught Myles angling his Chromebook (computer) Virgil's way. When I went to see what was on his screen, it had suddenly become the study guide that he was supposed to be working on. ("No, there was nothing else on my screen.")

Um, who's the bully?

In my defense, I was busy with the rest of the class as well as trying to contain Mateo and Myles. But I was not defending Virgil as I should. When Virgil asked to go to the office, I knew he wanted to inform the assistant principal. I wrote him the pass.

And when the assistant principal called, I let him know that Virgil's story was likely accurate.

It was after class that a girl approached me to let me know what I hadn't seen. Mateo had been pointing at Virgil and calling his name. Both boys had been taunting Virgil. Virgil swatted the finger (as I totally would have done in the same situation). That's what the boys termed "hitting". (Accurate, but completely mischaracterizing the interaction.)

So, yeah, Mateo and Myles were the bullies. And of course they accused their target of the acts they were guilty of.

Eighth graders...

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Warning

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 came to warn us of an intergalactic war that we are soon to be in the middle of? 

You will be relieved to know that this is the last of the extra terrestrial questions, at least for the moment. Next week we'll go back to my usual random "what if?" topics.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Color Pooling

The Christmas request was for a warm infinity scarf. I bought a nice variegated yarn. I chose a crochet stitch pattern, and I began.

By the second round, I realized that it wasn't going to work...

The stitch pattern is nice. It'll be really warm. But the colors in the yarn just aren't lining up right.

When one uses a variegated yarn and the colors stack, it's called pooling. These colors aren't pooling in a way I like.

I suppose I could alter the length of it until the colors pool well, but that's going to take more effort than I care to put in at this point in time.

Time to frog this and start over.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Carry On

"What team would you like to play for?"

It was a middle school graphic arts class. As I came up behind the two boys, I saw all sorts of soccer images (via Google Images) on his screen.

I gently reminded them that they should be on task...

"But this is. I'm going to put his picture on a player card."

The assignment was "student choice Photoshop". My only caveat was that the project needed to be school appropriate.

So... yeah... That was actually all on task.

Right. "Carry on," I told them.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Passing a Note in Class

I had been warned about sixth period...

Sixth period is the last class of the day, and they're a different breed. There's something about that group. They're either the worst class of the day, or they're a bit odd.

Seventh grade world history. They were studying Japan. They had a quick PowerPoint followed by taking notes out of their textbooks.

The other classes had worked quietly. Not them. But, they were working, so it could have been so much worse.

Before all this, as they were arriving, I noticed that someone from the previous class had left behind a pencil pouch. Before I could retrieve it, another student picked it up. (Later I found out they'd put it in the class' lost & found. Middle school students are constantly leaving things behind.)

Then a girl started "sharing" sticky notes. Did these sticky notes come out of that pencil pouch? (No, they didn't.) Why do the kiddos need sticky notes? This is the sort of thing that can go sideways, so I kept an eye on that while I got class started.

And then I heard rumblings about someone passing a note...

Students passing notes in class hasn't been an issue for years. Nowadays, they just text.

I informed the class of my passing notes response. A passed note gets photographed and posted to Instagram. (Well, it wasn't Instagram before--I just posted them here on the blog, like here and here--but with Instagram, it's a better threat.)

So, I went through the PowerPoint, and I got them started on their notes. I had taken roll, and I was settling in, when I noticed the kiddos distracted by something.

"Just pass it."

"What is it?"

"I want to see it."

And now it's a distraction. And now it's mine.

They readily gave up the note. Here it is...

Sigh. I can't really object to the note. (Usually they're juicier.) But it did cause a classroom distraction...

It makes sense that sixth period would pass something like this.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Breakup

Student leadership/government is usually a chaotic class. It's one of those days that I try to roll with it.

Third period. Treyvon strolled in a good ten minutes into the period. He was not enrolled in that class. Normally, I'd shoo the kiddos out, but this was the kind of class the kiddos hang out in when their normal class is doing nothing or they've finished their work.

Treyvon told a group about his recent breakup.

He explained that he had too much going on. He's a junior (eleventh grade/sixteen years old), so that tracks. And it sounded like he initiated the breakup, so he wasn't terribly upset. Not terribly.

Fourth period began, and shortly thereafter Treyvon returned. I questioned his presence (again!), and he explained his math teacher was "chill". (I've met the man. I even wrote about him here. It's an apt description.)

Again, he was all about his breakup. But, this period I heard some new details. He felt she was getting too serious. She was talking about weddings and having children. Treyvon felt those discussions were way too soon. (Remember, they're sixteen.)

Catherine pointed out that girls like to think of their weddings and that she had planned hers when she was eight.

But it turned out that there was something Treyvon was actually upset about. His ex had his jacket and he wanted it back.

(It's been cold here in southern California.)

That was the main complaint for two periods: how could he get his jacket back?

Catherine mentioned that at her last breakup, some of her ex's stuff got burned...

I mentioned that perhaps he should have retrieved the jacket before breaking up.

This is probably a good learning opportunity for him. Next time he'll know.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Searching for the Others

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...

This is a fine tuning of the first week's question of the series that emerged in the comments:

What if extra terrestrials were to reveal themselves to us tomorrow? What if they had just arrived, had, in fact, just figured out interstellar travel? What if they were as flummoxed by our other "alien sightings" as we were?

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Run Around

This is the sort of thing I'd expect to happen while Mercury was in retrograde...

"Is John Smith there?"

The quickest way to find out is to call the name. John turned around.

The caller explained. He was the teacher in room B2, Mr. S. (I've subbed for him before. It's a computer class.) He had gotten a pass that should have come to me in room 302. (How B2 and 302 look alike...?) Rather than getting someone to bring it to me (I was on the opposite side of campus), he gave me the info.

So, I sent John to the attendance office to see someone who's name I didn't catch. (It didn't sound familiar, so I didn't retain it.) I explained the situation to John and hoped for the best.

A few minutes later, I got a call from the main office...

So, yeah, not enough information.

I explained that I didn't have the pass, so the secretary had to call Mr. S.

John returned shortly thereafter with an envelope in hand. So, he found who he needed. Eventually.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Ceiling Darts

Take one staple. Unbend the corners so it's as straight as you can make it. Fold a sticky note into a triangle thingie. (Here's a helpful tutorial.) Place the staple at the sticky tip of the triangle...

It's an ingenious device. Alas, its only purpose is goofing off in class...

Eighth grade English. They were doing a one-pager book project. Basically, it's a poster about the book they read.

But eighth graders...

Fourth period. They came in, climbed up on the desks, and retrieved the ceiling darts (a quick internet search yielded that term) that were stuck in the ceiling.

I only noticed these at the end of third period when one boy pointed them out to another. (Period three worked quietly all period, so they had been in the ceiling since before.)

I was glad to have the darts removed, but I kind of knew what would come next.

The boy tossed the dart at the ceiling...  and it bounced off.

To get them to stick takes a bit of skill. Throw them too hard and they bounce off. Too soft, and there's not enough force for them to attach. There should be a bit of spin on it, but if it hits the ceiling at the wrong angle, it won't stick.

It's the sort of activity that only goes unnoticed when the class is already difficult. Because the sound of the darts hitting the ceiling is kind of distinctive. (Although, if they go in, it might not be too loud.)

I know to shut this sort of thing down quick.

After the first one didn't stick, I retrieved the dark and tossed it in the trash.

As luck would have it (although, probably not luck), that boy had an appointment to do his work elsewhere that day. The teacher had several students going out, probably because they'd given previous subs issues. With him gone, I'd hoped the game was over.

Unfortunately, I had to throw out three more darts (and one of those twice) before the game was truly over.

Then they got to work? Nope. They still avoided the assignment, but at least they did it without throwing things at the ceiling.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Feeling's Mutual

Some classes are way too happy to see me.

Ninth grade English. They were to read a story and write some questions about it.

It was passing period. I stood at the front of the room, so the students could see me as they walked in. And when they spotted me, they celebrated. Loudly.

There were cheers. There was jumping up and down. They even said it.

"Yay, a sub. I'm so glad to see you..."

The others already in the room tried to get this boy's attention. I even pointed. But he remained oblivious.

"...Can you stay forever? You can take over the class..."

And on and on he went, until he finally saw his teacher standing in the back of the room.

Ms. T had an IEP meeting to go to. I had just come in. (I was only there for that one period.) She planned to start class and then leave for the meeting.

As others came in, the other students tried to clue them in that Ms. T was there. Most got the hint. But not that one boy.

Once he'd sat down, Ms. T let him know that the feeling was mutual. (She told me it was her worst class. There have been issues.)