Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 in 13 Posts

It's the last day of the year. And it's a Thursday. So, why not a retrospective of my year via a Thursday 13? Sounds like a plan. 

So, 13 blog posts from this year. I wouldn't call them the best. It's more of a snapshot of each month during this very strange year. 

1. January 10th: Another Fall Day

Wherein I tell you all about another fall I had, this one in front of a class of 7th graders. 

2. January 22nd: Powerless

Miscreants stole the battery out of my car while I was parked at school. The nerve.

3. February 27th: Dancing Fool

He said he had a headache. And then he was dancing in class. Dancing!

4. March 12th: The Screamers

A reminder of some of the horrors that I don't miss in working from home. Boys screaming in class, as if in a porno.

5. April 9th: Hello, Neighbor

Now fully into lockdown, I encountered Minions during a walk nearby.

6. May 13th: The Long Wait

Cinco de Mayo fell on Taco Tuesday, so we had to get Mexican food for dinner. Obviously. It was so obvious, everyone did the same.

7. June 1st: Stash Shark

Because I have to do a project post for this year, and this one feels like it should be it.

8. July 2nd: Modern Problems

The problem with homemade masks is threads getting in your nose while out shopping. 

9. August 26th: Teaching to an Empty Room

Because school started, but here in California it started virtually. 

10. September 23rd: Offline

Having WiFi issues during distance learning is a bad thing. 

11. October 22nd: A Very Different Evacuation

Every year we do the Great California ShakeOut. We did it this year without students. 

12. November 11th: Disruptions

It turns out kiddos can disrupt online class. It took the continuation high school to figure it out.

13. December 7th: Laws of Gravity 3000

Where I hit post #3000. I couldn't not celebrate that, now could I? 

I think this is a pretty good mix for the year. Could I add more posts? Definitely. But keeping it to the 13 was a great exercise in whittling it down.

How was your 2020? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Walking Tour

Is it too late for Christmas stuff? It's too late for Christmas stuff, isn't it. Well, I'm going to do it anyway. 

Last Thursday I posted a bunch of pictures from some walking around I did. Christmas lights. After I'd set the post, I ran across this video on YouTube. The same night that I walked a place called Naples Island, this YouTuber by the handle of Wind Walk Travel Videos also walked Naples Island, and took a video.

I've looked. We didn't cross paths, so I'm not in the video. But as some of the places they walked were places I'd been that night, it was possible. 

This person has a bunch of videos on their channel. Las Vegas. New York. But the ones that caught my eye are local to me, like this one of Naples Island in Long Beach, CA. (Long Beach has several neighborhoods.) 


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Looking Forward

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 ever noticed that at the end of a year, we always seem to talk about what a crap year it was? I mean, 2020 was completely terrible, what with a freaking pandemic and all. But we said terrible things about 2019. And 2018. And on and on and on. 

What if 2021 is a totally amazing year? What if at the end of it, we're amazed by what a wonderful time we all had?

Monday, December 28, 2020

Entrelac Scarf Progress, Part 10

It's not done yet. . .

The last measurement I made, it was about 90 inches (229 cm). Which is 6 inches (15 cm) off goal. 

I'm not going to promise a finish by next week. Unless I'm 100% sure something will get done, I don't make that promise. Because I have no idea how much knitting I'll get done next week. And there's a bit of yarn chicken happening, so I might have to go out and get another skein. 

In case you're curious as to actual size, I took a selfie wearing the thing on Thursday. . . 

I got a couple more rows of blocks done after that. 

Oh, and by the way, take a look at what my brother got me for Christmas...

I'm including it today because it's a yarn bowl. With a Doctor Who theme. (Made by EarnestLand on Etsy.) 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Quizmas or Kennection #448

I'm going to do something a bit different today. For those of you who partake in Christmas, a Christmas quiz: 

Merry Quizmas

And for those of you who don't, a Kennection: 

Kennection #448

Or do them both. Or neither 😞

The "quizmas" quiz is one I've posted before. Click on each character. They're from movies, mythology, TV, and anything Christmas related. As long as you're in the ballpark, it'll give you a correct answer. So, if you remember the name of the movie but not the character, it'll count it correct. Or, if you remember the actor's name, you still get it. 

I do have a list of the answers. I'll provide them if you wish. 

The Kennection is like the others I've been doing lately. I knew three of the answers. . . Well, I knew one easily. Two of them I had to let Google jog my memory. (I couldn't spell one properly, and the other I needed a clarification on.) And two I straight up cheated on. Yup, I did. 

All you have to do is type in an answer. If it's right, it'll take it. If it doesn't take your answer, it's wrong, try again. 

Then you need to figure out what they all have in common. It took me a bit. I sat there looking at them for a while. Then I realized that they all share something, and that's the only hint I'll give you. 

If you celebrate, Merry Christmas. If not, I hope you had a wonderful Friday.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Lights 13

As I have mentioned before, my roommate Luisa and I take walks. With Christmas approaching, we decided to take a couple of our walks near to sunset so we could enjoy the lit up houses. 

One of those walks was nearby. The other required a short drive. I took pictures.

So, today for Thursday 13 (I learned about this meme via Barefoot Susie) I thought I'd share some of those photos with you. In no particular order: 


Yes, these are palm trees. 


The tree on the left side does this great light show.


The Minions are back. (Remember them from the spring? The homeowners had put them away for a while, but now they're back.) 

I got a shot of them in daylight, too.

Yes, taken during the day. Another decorated palm.

Because it isn't Christmas without. . . unicorns?

The reindeer is wearing a mask. Can you see it?

Here, let me give you a closer look (and in daylight).

It's like a magical lit-up fairy walkway.

Just a few lights. Subtle, really.

If you've got a tall palm, might as well flaunt it.

They really went all out. This display also had music. 

This is just below the above image. Those bushes were in these boot thingies.

Nice and lit up.

This palm has red lights.

Several houses along the canals. 

And I still have more pictures, but this'll do. It hasn't been too cold, so walking along in the early evening (5-6ish) has been rather pleasant. I hope you've found nice lights where you are.

And remember. . . 

It's all fun and games until someone roasts your chestnuts.
It's all fun and games until someone roasts your chestnuts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020


When was the last time you washed your car?

Sorry to admit, I'm terrible about doing that. So, when my roommate mentioned a place nearby where you run it through a tunnel where all the work is done, I was sold. (I usually do it myself, hence the reason why it hasn't happened lately.)  

Upon my return home, I discovered a little something missing from my car...

That big gap is where the front license plate should go. Sigh. 

(Hey, at least my battery was intact.) 

It was only then that I recalled that my front license plate had kind of been hanging on by a thread for a while. One of the screws had snapped some time ago, and I have no idea how to get a screw with no head out. Now I have two. 

So, I can totally see how the action from an automatic car wash might make the license plate go flying.

Well, it's not like I'm really going out too much, anyway.

(I called the car wash up once I discovered the plate missing. They found it. I retrieved it. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to get it reattached to the car.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Claus Family

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.

So, this week's question is an actual story idea I had years ago. One of these days I might actually write that story: 

What if Santa Claus was real and his descendants (because he is long dead) continue his work to this day, but very much behind the scenes?

Monday, December 21, 2020

Entrelac Scarf Progress, Part 9

In the back of my mind, I had kind of hoped that today I'd be able to show you a finished scarf. Alas, I got slammed last week and barely finished two more rows of blocks. 

If I stretch it a bit, it measures 80 inches (203 cm). But if I let it go to its natural inclination, it's 72 inches (183 cm). 

Which means I'm getting close to finishing, but not quite close enough. 

It'll get there. And now that school's off for winter break, I'll have a bit more time. It's funny how much time work takes out of your day, even when you're working from home.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Teacher's Pet

Yesterday I blogged about screaming siblings in the background while students were reading over a Google Meet. That was not the only distraction some of them had. 

It was the beginning of class, and I greeted Adrian when he joined the meet. (As I do.) He turned on his mic to reply, only to have a barking dog in the background. 

He apologized to me and tried to shush the dog. 

But I was having a similar situation. . . 

I was alone in the house, so Buttercup (the landlady's dog) joined me. And she's a barker. (She looks so innocent and quiet there. But get someone outside, like the gardeners that day, and you can't get her to stop barking.) 

While Adrian's dog was barking, so was Buttercup. 


I had to kick her out for a bit, but when she calmed, I allowed her back. For a while. 

The distractions of working from home (and teaching from home). 

Today is the last day before winter break. For the next two weeks I'll be on the "summer schedule" and I'll save my subbing stories from this past week for when we return to class, just after the new year. 

If you're taking a blogging break, enjoy your end-of-year festivities. For those of you just plugging along, I'll see you around the blogosphere. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Background Noise

For the last two and a half weeks before the end of the calendar year, I am covering a social studies class, special ed. Their assignments have been to continue reading through their textbook and outlining/answering questions. 

Their teacher sent me links to online versions of their textbooks, so we could read together in class. They read a paragraph or two. Then "we discuss", which basically means I ask questions and clarify things that weren't necessarily clear in the text. (Or, in the case of their 15 year old government book, are out of date.) 

Mathias volunteered to read. (I was calling on students, but I rarely turn down volunteers.) He turned on his mic, and. . . 

As Mathias started to read, his little brother screamed in the background. (At least, I assume brother. The age of the child made it hard to determine, and he/she is pre-words. Just screams.) Mathias tried to shush him, but sometimes babies scream. And this baby wasn't going to be calmed. Especially while Mathias couldn't focus on him while trying to talk to me. 

He apologized, while I assured him that wasn't necessary. Some things are just beyond one's control. 

Theo's younger brother was a bit older than Mathias'. But he was yelping in the background, too. It sounded like it had something to do with school. 

It's amazing what you can sort of tune out. I focused on the students. With things how they are, they can't help when their younger siblings are loud. 

But it's not all loud younger siblings. 

Imani volunteered to read. She had no screaming siblings in the background. As she read, though, when she'd mispronounce a word (this is frequent and normal), a male voice quietly corrected her. Brother, father, uncle, or other friend? No idea. 

It's nice to know that some of them do have some help at home.

These are strange times.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Honor System

Two weeks ago Wednesday I started covering a special ed. social studies class. The teacher was going to be out for the rest of the calendar year, starting from Tuesday. But on Tuesday, I was already covering the band class. 

So, they got a different sub to cover the class that Tuesday. (I don't know why that other sub wasn't given the gig for the next couple weeks. I'm just grateful that I got the work.) 

When I went to take roll for the first class of the day, I noticed the big red note: "Attendance not submitted". This note pops up all the time because the time in the attendance software for the classes isn't the time they're actually meeting. But in this case, the note was letting me know that attendance hadn't been submitted for the previous day. 


One of the main functions of a substitute teacher is to take attendance. Sure, we're supposed to teach the lesson plan and make sure the kiddos don't get up to no good (very easy to do virtually), but attendance can't be forgotten. 

I could, of course, just ignore this. I wasn't there on the Tuesday, so I didn't know who had been there. Not my problem. 

But I hate red notes in attendance. 

The virtual schedule has each class meeting on alternate days. So, on Thursday I did the only thing I could do. I asked the classes for honesty. I asked them if they had been "in class" on Tuesday. 

The students were seniors. Yes, they could lie. But I rather thought they wouldn't. And didn't. 

I haven't heard any complaints about students being marked absent that were present since then. So, I think I'm safe. (And I could go in and fix that if necessary.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A Rogue Intelligence

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 neXt? It's about a rogue artificial intelligence that was created by some computer genius, only it's at war with that creator and the FBI because they want to shut it down. Of course they want to shut it down, because it's been trying to kill them.

But while watching a recent episode, I began to wonder. . . 

What if a rogue artificial intelligence developed empathy? What if that AI ended up being benevolent? 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Entrelac Scarf Progress, Part 8

Currently, it measures 74 inches (188 cm) long. Approximately. 

(It's difficult to get an exact measurement because of the way the top blocks are staggered, plus my tape measure only goes up to 54 inches. And do I stretch it or let it rest? But as this isn't a fitted garment, approximate measures are acceptable.) 

Sister-in-law requested that the scarf be 8 feet (2.4 m) long. So, I've got about 2 feet (60 cm) to go. 

I haven't shown you the back yet. There is a "right" and "wrong" side to this stitch pattern (or "public" and "not public" sides). 

So, it's getting there. Slowly. 

(I think I found my next project. I need The Exasperation Hat in my life. But fair warning: don't click that link if you are offended by a certain swear word that starts with F. (Yes, that one.) But I will finish this scarf first.)

Friday, December 11, 2020

"I Know You"

The kiddos don't all log in at once. A couple log in early. Then there's a mass of log ins. And then it tapers off to the last few. It's very much a bell curve type of situation. 

The first ones to log in frequently do say hello when I greet them. And, last week I got a few who recognized me and let me know. 

For the band class Monday and Tuesday, the drum major for the brass section said it first. "I know you." Of course, that worked both ways. I remembered him as well. 

And so, on Wednesday and Thursday as I started a new class (that I'm going to be covering until winter break), I got a few more. "I know you." 

Well, they are juniors and seniors. I recognize quite a few names. Hopefully that'll bode well. We'll see.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Newly at Home Scramble

It's not like I haven't worked from home during these interesting times. I had that gig in July that ran through the first couple weeks of school

I was a bit disappointed when I learned that day-to-day subbing had to happen on campus. It was so nice to roll out of bed and log in for the day without having to get dressed and get in the car and travel. But I understood the district's perspective. They weren't sure how things were going to work, and if we were on campus, they could supervise us better. 

And those first few weeks were different. There was the back and forth with making sure we got logged in to the teachers' Google Classrooms. Lesson plans initially were printed out for us. Eventually, the front offices figured out that they could just forward all the info we needed via email. In fact, a couple days one of the secretaries did all of that from her home

So, I had this. It'd be easy. 

Uh huh. Famous last words. 

I logged in, only to discover that I'd never enabled the attendance extension on my home computer (because I only learned about it during the co-teaching and didn't need it at home). And then something wouldn't work on that computer, so I hurriedly had to switch computers just as class was starting. And, of course, the second computer didn't have the attendance extension either, so as class was starting, I had to try to get that loaded. 


Of course all of this was happening during the band class with 59 students, so I kept getting booted from the meet. (At least the drum major was running things, so they didn't lose instruction time.) 

Ah well. At least now I have everything enabled that I need. I hope. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Cold, Part 2

Monday after Thanksgiving break, I was called in to cover band (again). 

After a week off and chilly temps, I came to school prepared. I actually wore, well, not a jacket per se, but what I consider a jacket for chilly days. 

As expected, the classroom temperature read as 58°F (14°C). While it wasn't supposed to be all that chilly (our forecast was for 75°F (24°C)), I still figured it was cold enough to turn on the heat. 

Which, of course, didn't work. (The space heaters strewn across the room should have been my first hint.) 

So, I huddled in my "jacket" with the space heater blasting at my back. 

As the day wore on, it got warmer outside. Not inside, though. Man, those rooms really hold temperatures well. I even propped open the door to the outside, and it barely made a dent. By the end of the day, it was 65°F (18°C) in the classroom. 

I probably shouldn't have worn sandals. Sigh. 

As it was a two-day assignment, I would have done better the next day. Only, in the middle of the day I got an email from the sub caller. We day-to-day subs are now working from home until further notice. 

I wasn't surprised. COVID numbers are climbing fast. Now that we've been doing the distance thing for a few months, we subs know the drill. And the school can email us the info we need to do the job.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Overcoming Your Demons

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements.

The other day I was watching The Story of God on Netflix, and as often happens, my mind wandered. I had this thought: 

What if demons aren't actually evil? What if they've just been viciously slandered (libeled?) for centuries?

Monday, December 7, 2020

Laws of Gravity 3000

According to the counter in the top left-hand corner of the Blogger page, this is post number 3000. I'm glad I was kind of paying attention, or else I might have missed it. I mean, I missed number 2000, I'm pretty sure. 

My first post here was September 14, 2007. Appropriately enough, I titled it "Newbie". And in it I explain that this is my second blog. My first blog, kept on MySpace, has since gone poof. I deleted it years ago, but not before backing up all the posts. (Some were reposted here, mostly during the summer months. Everything of "importance" eventually made the transition.) 

I just. . . How does one start something and keep it going? I guess I'm just that kind of person. I start something, and then I keep it going. 

In case you were wondering, not much has changed over the years. Early on, I was writing about my subbing experiences, much like I do now. I even explained the title of my blog in those first couple weeks. (Although, that's also included in the "About Me" tab above.) 

So, I'll keep on keeping on. As I do. This week I'll again have a "what if?" on Tuesday. Even in our pandemic, closed schools time, I continue to work, so there are subbing stories for Wednesday through Friday. 

And I'm still working on the entrelac scarf. I made a little bit of progress last week: 

How are you doing? What number blog post are you currently on?

Friday, December 4, 2020

Background Noise

Last week was Thanksgiving break, so this is from the week before last.

Chemistry. I was on day four of a four-day assignment. They had a review assignment (finals are coming!), so I had spent four days in silence. 

This distance learning thing can be very, very quiet. Teachers tend to leave independent work when there's a sub, and they still do. Virtually, that means the cameras and mics are off. I can check to see what got turned in, but I don't actually see them at work. 

Fourth period. I did my intro. I then turned off my mic and started taking roll.

As they log in, their cameras and mics might flash on for a moment before they turn them off. But Brian's mic remained on. 

Once I was done, I heard from Brian's mic various background noises. A dog. A sibling, maybe, making a passing remark. Keys on keyboard tapping. Then music started playing. (It sounded like The Beatles, but it was not a song I am familiar with.) 

Then Brian started singing along. 

I was torn. I totally could have muted him. It's a simple click. I could have told him his mic was on. 

But, I rather liked hearing him. I know some people work better with music in the background (not me, I need silence), so I'm a teacher who allowed them to put in their earbuds on independent work days in the before. To me, it sounded like Brian was doing what he was supposed to. It felt normal. 

This didn't last long. 

After a minute of me not doing anything, Brian's classmates chimed in. Two turned on their mics to let Brian know he was not on silent. 

Brian thanked them, and he went on mute. 

I was sad to hear him go. But the others needed the quiet. I'm sure his music clashed with theirs.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Two Truths and a Lie

Last week was Thanksgiving break, so there was no school. This is from the week prior.

English language development. They had an activity. 

The teacher had posted a game. They were to come up with two truths and one lie. Then they were to try to guess their classmates' lies. 

It was fun for me as I could see the whole interaction. When it was time, I called on each student to reveal their lie. 

And in each instance, at least one if not two or three of their classmates guessed the lie. 

Although, maybe not guessed.

One student's lie was that he liked orange. Another said his shoe size was 10. A third said she had a good memory. 

The students pretty much got those lies. In a class like ELD, they've been together a couple years. They probably didn't have to struggle too hard to figure out the lie. 

But the activity worked really well virtually. It would not have worked nearly as well in person. And it was the perfect assignment to be done by a sub.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Still Attending Class

Last week was Thanksgiving break. We had no school. This happened two weeks ago, the week before the break...

Because of distance learning, the district has revamped roll taking. One big change: teachers can input and access attendance notes. 

Before, only the attendance clerks could amend the attendance to note that a kiddo cut class or the kiddo had a doctor's appointment. And we teachers couldn't see that note.

Now, a little dialog bubble appears next to a student's name indicating something's up. 

I've had students tell me they had to leave class early for appointments. So, I input that info into the attendance myself. 

Eleventh grade English. I noticed the dialog bubble on Myra's name. It said, "out of town for funeral". So, I was surprised to see Myra in class. 

The English class was co-taught. The other teacher had given them a question to answer. They were to type into chat how they were feeling and why. Like, "I am happy because we got a new puppy". 

The answers were lots of tireds, a few happies, and some other random feelings. 

Myra: "I am tired because it is 1:40 AM here." 

I don't know where Myra went for the funeral, but it was clearly out of the country. (We're on the west coast. It was 9:40 AM. In New York, it would would have been 12:40 PM.) 

I'm not sure if I'm impressed Myra still attended class or if I'm horrified. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Dish Best Served Cold

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 set out to get revenge on someone for a great harm that befell you or your family? Then, what if it turned out that that person was not to blame?

Monday, November 30, 2020

Entrelac Scarf Progress, Part 7

I made a bit more progress on the scarf this week: 

At this point it's big enough to wear. But my sister-in-law wants it 8ft long, so I've still got a ways to go. Right now it's somewhere between 5ft and 6ft long. 

But I took a pause to knit something for my landlady. 

At one time I had these in my shop, but they were kind of a dud. The pattern does fairly okay. Lately, I've noticed that soft phone/tablet holders are popping up at various shopping sites. So, I figure it's time to promote mine again. 

(The original "rough draft" version appeared on this blog in 2013. The improved version is available on Etsy and Ravelry.) 

Next week I have a milestone post. I have no idea how I want to commemorate it.