Friday, January 29, 2021

Still Life

Last week I covered a photography class. They were to read this article and then photograph the items that the article listed. Then they were to watch a video on symbolism, likely to help them arrange their still life images. In case you want to take a look at the video: 

So, why am I telling you all this? Because embedded in the Google Classroom for the class was a link I'd like to save. For me. And the easiest way to do it is to put it someplace I'll find it again. 

Apparently, they've been taking pictures using their phones. When school is in person, they can check out cameras to use. At home, that's harder. (They only have a set number of cameras, so when at school, they work in teams.)

And the link I want to save is for converting HEIC (the format that iPhones now use) to JPEG (the format I need if I want to use the images anywhere else, like this blog). I had been using them via Google Photos. I'm not sure which is easier, but I like having the choice. 

There. Now I can find that link again, even though I did bookmark it. (I never look at my bookmarks. I forget they're there.)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Silent Third

Last week I covered a photography class. They were to read an article on still life and respond to it before taking still life pictures. The teacher had set up a kind of comment page (on something called Padlet) for them to list three things they learned as well as comment on fellow students' lists. 

(Since they can't have a discussion due to the distance thing, this is the next best way to have students communicate with each other.) 

Everything went well first period. At the end of third period, I checked the Padlet page only to find that none of the students had made their comments. Before I dismissed the class, I reminded them that they needed to create posts so that their peers could comment. 

Fifth period. Since things went sideways third, I made sure to start with telling period five about the commenting thing. 

A few minutes later, a student alerted me to a problem. 

For the students to add their comment to the page, they needed to "add a comment" using a plus sign button. The students in period five told me they didn't have that button. 

Upon further investigation, I discovered that the same issue happened to period three. In fact, only one class, period one, had the button to add a comment. 

Deep sigh. 

I won't go into the mess that ensued when I attempted to contact their teacher to let her know. (I'm still rather irked over the incident.) Suffice it to say that the issue never did get fixed. 

But period three... *shakes head* Not a one of them piped up to let me know that there was a problem. 

Usually, there's someone who will chime in with "there's a problem here". At which point I can troubleshoot, or at the very least, let their teacher know that they couldn't complete something due to a technical issue.

Of course, there are some classes that are just quiet. They keep their heads down and don't comment on anything. 

I suppose period three was one of those. If we were in person, they'd probably be the "best" class of the day only to later discover that not a one of them had done any work. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Missing Third

Last Tuesday morning I was called to cover a photography class. As we're doing things virtually, that means I roll out of bed and then log in.

The school sends me an invitation to join the Google Classroom classes. I logged into the four classes and perused the lesson plan.

Four classes? I should have five.

I verified that the teacher did, in fact, have a full schedule. (Some teachers don't.) I then emailed the school to let them know I was missing a class. 

I started first period.

The class I was missing was immediately after first period. (We're on a block schedule, so we go periods 1-3-5 one day and periods 2-4-6 the next.) But the staff is busy, so I wasn't concerned right away. I got first period going with instructions and attendance and such. 

Halfway into the period, I still had no response. Time for a follow up email. 

I got a response that time. The secretary's email said she was having technical difficulties, and did I get the invitation that time? 

Technical difficulties? You don't say...

If I didn't have technical difficulty posts, this blog would have been blank for weeks. 

Luckily the invitation went through, and I was good to go in time for the class. 

Of course, that wasn't the only technical difficulty I had this week, but that's another post.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Impending Doom

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.

Last week's question wasn't read in the way I intended it. That's not really a problem. I want questions to be interpreted differently by different people. But last week everyone got bogged down in the how rather than the what, so this week I'm going to try the question again. Hopefully this time the focus will be where I had hoped it would be.

What if you learned that something terrible was coming (either coming for you or coming your way)? (The how you learn this is unimportant. Only, the source of this knowledge is trustworthy, so this impending doom is coming.)

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Bit of a Surprise

Remember last week how I went and picked up an old project?

When I started the thing, back in 2013, the intent was to knit myself a lightweight cardigan. Instead of finding a sweater pattern, I found a stitch pattern I liked, and I decided to wing it. I know roughly how a sweater is constructed. I've knit sweaters in the past. 

I swatched. I found my gauge. I figured how many stitches I'd need to cast on to make it sized for me. And then I cast on. 

I figured it'd be a couple months, and then I'd have to figure out how I was going to attach sleeves. 

Seven years pass... 

So, a couple weeks ago, I found myself between knitting projects. And I remembered the cardigan. I figured I could knit a few rows on the thing until something else catches my interest. 

Only, a funny thing happened on Tuesday or Wednesday. I looked at how long the thing was, and I wondered. I pulled out a t-shirt for comparison, and yep, I'm just about there. It's almost long enough to need to figure out the sleeve portion of the project. 

Suddenly my sweater is looking like it might get finished. 

I haven't bound off for sleeves yet, but I'm close enough that it was time to do some calculations. I actually have a sleeve plan. Barring any weird distractions, I should be ready to get the sleeves started this coming week.

The picture of the thing doesn't look much different than last week. I completed about half a pattern repeat.

But, in an experimental mood, I tried filming myself knitting. (I'm planning to film some videos of me making stuff. Figuring it all out is turning out to be more complicated than I expected. So, baby steps.) 

Remember a couple months ago when I tried to post the videos I had made of my lip balm holders? It seems that the only solution to getting videos to upload and embed is to upload them to YouTube. I guess this means I started a YouTube channel.

Well, hopefully it works...

There is no sound. I'm knitting one pattern repeat on row three of the pattern. It's slow. I'm a more confident knitter, really, but dealing with having the camera set up slowed me down. 

It was a first attempt. I'll figure out how to set it all up eventually.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Fully Asleep

Friday. Special ed math. More of them had their cameras on than is usual for me. Some of the kiddos were bouncy. One boy had his father walking around in the background. And a couple of them had one-on-one aides with them. 

Cannon logged in. I noted that his camera was on its side, so while Cannon's head was oriented up and down, it was obvious he was lying down. 

And. . . His eyes were closed? Yeah, his eyes were closed.

After a bit of time passed, Cannon placed something over his camera. And I heard nothing from him all period. 

Ahem. If you were to tell me that some students slept through class, I would not be surprised. I'm sure some of them are. But they make sure their cameras are turned off. 

Because, seriously? If you're going to sleep in class, the least you can do is not make it obvious. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021


A lot of this distance learning thing consists of me staring at a computer screen with boxes of avatars and student names. When the students have their cameras off, all I see is their avatar. 

I leave my camera on, but I have an avatar of my own:

So, I find ways to entertain myself. One of the things I planned to do last week was come up with some questions for my "what if?' posts on Tuesdays. 

But I really should know better. . .

Friday. I had a special ed math class. And they had a review assignment. 

More of them actually had their cameras on. And they responded when I greeted them. 

I explained the assignment. I offered my assistance if they got stuck. Then I had them get to work. 

And they took me up on my offer of assistance. 

It was nice. I actually got to do some teaching. I ended up going over the same thing over and over. It's a bit of a challenge to explain things through a computer screen, but I do have a few tools at my disposal. 

I was actually busy. 

I answered questions right up until the end of the period. One class was dealing with inequalities while the other two were working on fractions, decimals, and percents. These are challenging for all students, so it wasn't a shock that they needed help.

I really should know better. Never make plans to work on something else during class time. Those are the days when I don't have the time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

In the Wrong Room

The last time I covered Ms. L's class was early November. The continuation high school isn't doing distance like the other schools. Rather than adding me into the Google Classroom as a teacher, they just gave me the link for the meet. And the last time I covered Ms. L's class, that worked just fine. 

Tuesday morning. I got the lesson plans. I logged into the meet. And I waited.

And waited. 

I knew something was wrong pretty quickly. While the kiddos don't all show up on time, someone is there on time. If only one. And usually someone is a touch early. 

But five minutes into class and I had no one? Nope, that's a mistake. 

I went through about ten minutes of panic which included calling the school (which didn't help). But then I noticed that the teacher had given me the student codes. . .

Google Classroom is set up so that someone can be designated a "student" or a "teacher". Teachers can add assignments and grade things. Students can only see what's been input and complete assignments. 

But what I needed was the meet link, which everyone can see. So, I figured why not? I can sign up as a student. 

Once I had done that, I found the messages from the students, wondering if class was happening. 

I had missed about half of first period (the class periods at the continuation high school are a half hour), but knowing the issue, I made sure to log into class via the Google Classroom for the rest of the day.

Teachers have a tendency to reuse their lesson plans, only modifying the specific stuff the class is doing that day. Clearly, Ms. L didn't realize that the meet links change. I let her know about the issue.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fear the Future

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 a reading done by a psychic (one you trust, one you know who's been accurate in the past), and their prediction for you was something terrible happening to you?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Old Projects

Last week I blogged about making a color choice for the Exasperation Hat (and you all gave me some good color suggestions. Thank you). 

Turns out, I wasn't feeling the hat. Instead of pulling out the black (or the olive green) and starting the beanie, I pulled out an old project. 

I started this back in *checks Ravelry* October of 2013. Which means I've had it on the needles longer than my six-year afghan. [I'd show pictures of the afghan or link to a blog post, but it predates the blog, and it's kind of buried in the closet at the moment, so getting it out for a picture would be awkward (read: not in the mood to bother today).] 

Ultimately, it's going to be a sweater. A cardigan. It's been a bit of a challenge. I had issues with the gauge swatch. Four years later, I again had issues with the pattern. And then there's the issue of me setting the thing down for a year or more at a time when I work on other projects. 

It's a complicated stitch pattern (that took me years to finally get the hang of--yet, I still make mistakes). It's also a very long repeat. Plus, each row is *goes and counts* 342 stitches long.

So, perhaps you won't be surprised to learn that I've only worked eight rows this week. It grows, but slowly.

Will I finish it this time? Not likely. Will I finish it ever? I intend to. 

The other thing I did this past week was to cut out some more fabric for masks. Because I'm getting bored with the ones I have. (Not that I go anywhere. Well, I do go to the store.) And they're kind of fun to make. 

Adding the knitting along the sides for the ear elastics is the fun part of it. I'll get to that. Eventually.

And I'll eventually get to the Exasperation Beanie. Probably.

How many masks do you own? 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Top 100 Toys of All Time

For this week's random quiz, I thought we'd take a trip back to childhood. 

Top 100 Toys of All Time

How many have you played with? I remember 36 of them. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Nope, That's Not Done

Last Thursday I was called to cover a class I was very familiar with. It was the class I co-taught in September until they hired a special ed teacher to take over

So, jumping in was easy. 

Freshman English. The kiddos were working on a vision board with goals for this new year. (They do a lot of planning and goal setting things in freshman English. It's perfect for kiddos starting high school.) Their goals needed to be SMART goals, and while the vision board (done via Google Slides) was mostly finished, the kiddos hadn't quite hit all the specific requirements, so Ms. W was pointing those out so they'd get full points for the assignment. 

Because they were mostly finished, Ms. W gave them a reflection assignment to also complete. 

Period three. Class had barely started. Ms. W was explaining what mistakes she was seeing in the project. 

Cassius typed into chat that he was finished with the assignment. 

Rather than reiterate that maybe perhaps he should check to make sure he hadn't made any of the mistakes that Ms. W was seeing, I responded (via the chat) that there was a reflection assignment to do.

Ms. W moved on to explaining what she needed them to do in the reflection assignment. She had barely finished when Cassius said he had finished that. 

I went in and checked. He had answered the first two questions very well. Then there was a page break, and no more answers to questions. Sigh. 

So, I told Cassius that he had to finish page two. 

My job was to check over the reflection assignment, and when that was complete I could dismiss the students. So, via the chat, they'd say they were done, and I'd check. 

I had dismissed a couple students when Cassius asked if he could go. I double checked his assignment. He hadn't added anything. So, I repeated that he needed to complete the second page. 

I continued checking the assignments. I dismissed a couple more students. 

Cassius popped up again. He finally found page two, and he had done it. 

Alas, there were still issues he needed to fix. I added comments so he'd know, and then I told him to check the assignment. 

But, Cassius had already left the meet. I guess he thought it was done or something. Sigh. 

After class, Ms. W said she wasn't surprised. Cassius had a tendency to half-ass assignments. He'd get distracted, walk away from the computer, or such. 

Not surprising, really. At that age, it is kinda typical. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Weird Kid

The first day back from winter break, I was called to cover middle school choir. Because of course. 

The lesson plan had them looking up traditional/folk songs sung in a different language (hopefully one that they were also familiar with, but not everyone was bilingual). 

That I got lots of questions was not surprising. Middle schoolers always have lots of questions. But add in something that they are totally unfamiliar with, and they were lost. But that's good for me. It meant I had something to do rather than look at a computer screen with all their cameras turned off. 

But that's not what I want to talk about today. 

Every class has one. The weird kid. They're more prominent in middle school classes (as by high school, they learn to hide it better). 

Seth logged in early. His first question was about who I was. I explained that I was just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, daily substitute teacher. I said it that was because of the way Seth asked about me. He wanted to know if I was their new teacher. 

Immediately I knew he was the weird kid. He sounded younger than middle school age. There was a bit of whine to his voice. And he had lots of questions. 

While I might tell you that he's weird, to him and the rest of the class, I act like nothing is different. Because he may be weird, but that's not a bad thing. 

All period I was fielding questions from the whole class as to whether this song or that song was one they could use. (They wanted to choose "Happy Birthday" but in Spanish.) 

Seth "raised his hand". (In Google Meet and via an extension, the students can indicate that their hands are raised.) I called on him. 

"My hand's not raised," Seth informed me.

Sure enough, the indicator that shows a raised hand was not on.

Another student chimed in. "He does that a lot." 

The indicator beeps when the hand is "raised". It also beeps when the student turns it off. So, when my computer kept beeping, I noted that Seth was raising his hand and putting it down. Repeatedly.

So, I went back to what I was doing. I did not call on Seth again.

"I do have a question," Seth piped in a bit later. "Why do you keep turning your head?" 

What I had been doing was marking the roll on my second computer. (Yes, I have two computers going most days. It's easier that way.) And I do this most days. But no one had ever questioned me on it before. Leave it to the weird kid to notice. 

I told him what I was doing. It wasn't a secret.

Ah, the joys of middle school (virtually). 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Fictional World

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 the stories we write actually create other worlds? What if our world was created by a storyteller in another universe?

Monday, January 11, 2021


Last week I finished the entrelac scarf that I'd been working on since October. And now. . .

I found this pattern for a beanie that I thought looked cute. I won't post a picture due to copyright concerns and the fact that it has a certain F-word scrawled all over it. 

A day or two after I finished the scarf, I dug through my yarn stash and pulled out all the yarn I had that was the right weight for the beanie. I printed out the pattern. I sat down and worked a gauge swatch. 

And I haven't done a thing with it since.

I ran into two issues. The first: I really hate stranded knitting. But, I can duplicate stitch the word when I'm finished knitting the hat. It might even work better that way. 

However, issue number two is what's flummoxed me since then. 

What color do I use? 

I'm probably never going to wear it. I might gift it to someone. I might sell it. And I have way too many choices when it comes to color combinations. 

I mean, a black hat with the neon yellow would really stand out. But the tealish blue might be nice. The color in the middle is an olive green. Or red...

I'm overthinking, so I thought I'd pose it to you all. What color should I knit the hat in? What color should I then pair with it to duplicate stitch the F-word? Do I go high contrast, or do I keep the colors close, so the word doesn't stand out? 

I really don't know here. I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Not Entirely Wrong

For the class I was covering before the break, economics was sixth period. Which meant that it was the last final I gave. 

Mr. B emailed me their final. I uploaded it to their Google Classroom. Mr. B also sent me the answer key, so I was able to grade it. 

"Identify the income group that will receive the most benefit under a flat tax." 

I remembered actually reading this in their textbook with them. (The final was only over the last two sections they had covered; it wasn't a comprehensive final.) And the test was open book/open note, so they didn't actually have to remember the answer. 

Mathias had a rough time with the question. Now, I'm not supposed to "help" with tests, but sometimes they just need a hint. 

The correct answer was: individuals with high incomes. 

Mathias, however, was thinking that the answer needed to be more complicated than it was. He, in fact, said he tended to overthink things.

So, I told Mathias (and, by extension, everyone else in the class, as virtual learning doesn't really have a whisper-to-one-kiddo mode) that the answer was an income group. I gave three examples of income groups (high, medium, low). Mathias was still kind of hesitant, but I really couldn't give him more.

After class I got to do the grading. The way that Google sets up the tests for grading makes things really simple. I can grade all the students' responses to one question at a time. So, when I got to this question, I got to see what everyone answered as a group. 

Most of them got it correct. The wording was different. Some said "the wealthy" or such. Close enough. Some chose the wrong income brackets. Of course those were wrong. 

But the best answer? "The IRS." 

I mean, they weren't wrong. But sadly, I had to mark it incorrect. 

I consoled myself with adding a comment to that answer. "LOL." I appreciate comedy when I find it in the wild.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Making Up a Final

The week before winter break, I gave finals to the class I covered for the majority of December. 

Finals week is one week students try not to miss. So, I was rather surprised that Miguel didn't show up to virtual class. 

There was one student, Lazarus, who I saw maybe once in the two-and-a-half weeks I covered the class. (Mr. B told me that his attendance had been an issue, and discussions had happened with his family.) 

So, while there were a couple absences, the only one that surprised me was Miguel. 

After logging off for the day, I got an email from Miguel. He apologized for missing the final. The email was about four minutes old, so I replied quickly, hoping to get a chance to talk to him. He logged into the class meet so we could discuss. 

Miguel said that he had had a personal emergency. When I inquired further, he told me that his dogs had run away, and while he had been able to locate one (who was barking in the background), the other was still MIA. 

Now, I'm of two minds about this. I can see how a student might not be able to concentrate on a final. But, it was a final. 

I asked Miguel if he could make it up right then, and he said yes. 

But then, a couple hours later, I got an email from the assistant principal at the school saying Miguel didn't make up the final then because he had an IEP meeting. 

Which. . . I mean, seriously? I asked him if he could do the final then. He said yes. If he had just told me no. . .  

(I wasn't remaining "in class" with him for the make up as I had other things I had to do. So, if then was a bad time, I would have understood.)

So, for two days I'm watching my email, waiting on Miguel to return his final. Then, the last day of class, I found it in Google Classroom, already graded. (He emailed it to Mr. B instead of me. Sigh.)

Ah well. It got done.

(As for Lazarus, he also got an excuse for missing class for his final from the assistant principal. He never did make up his final.) 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Final

The last week before winter break was finals. The last week of the semester. 

I started covering the special ed social studies class two weeks prior. That first day I received a copy of the finals schedule. As soon as I saw it, I uploaded it to the classes' Google Classrooms. Over the next two days, I made sure to tell each class where they could find the schedule. 

For the whole following week, I made mention of the finals schedule at least once a period. One day I even presented it to each class to make sure they looked at it. On their last day of the week, I made special mention of what day their finals were on, as some of them would be meeting on the "wrong" day. 

(The schedule is staggered. Periods 1, 3, and 5 meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Periods 2, 4, and 6 meet on Wednesdays and Fridays. All classes meet on Mondays. So, while it wouldn't be weird for periods 1 and 2 to go to class on Monday, it is odd for period 4 to meet on a Tuesday.) 

So, they should have it, right? 

On Sunday as I was going through my email (mostly to clear out the clutter), I ran across a student comment: "I was at a funeral. i missed other classes today  2 wonder how can i complete my final"

This was in response to the teacher's posting of what would be covered in their final. 

Um. . . I. . . 

I just. . . 

What I actually did was to reply to the student's comment. Calmly. "Your final is on Wednesday. You haven't missed it." 

Privately, well, you can see what I'm doing privately. Shaking my head. Wondering. 

They don't listen. I mean, I knew this, but still. I can't say I didn't go over it with them and explain.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


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.

In the story, a major mentor in the protagonist's life has died. And they left behind a series of letters for the protagonist. These are letters that are meant to invoke happy thoughts, like the mentor is still a part of their life. 

But. . . What if those letters completely missed the mark? Such as: They talk about how wonderful the graduation will be, only the protagonist graduated in 2020. Or: They talk about how wonderful they will look in their wedding dress, only he's trans.

(I happened past this particular trope on some made-for-TV movie, and I was feeling a bit contrary.)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Entrelac Scarf Progress, Final

Yup, final. (I have a theme going this week. Funny. It wasn't planned. It just happened that way.)

I finished it Tuesday night.

It's supposed to be 8 feet (2.4 m) long. 

How long is it? I don't know. When the scarf folded in half measured 48 inches (122 cm), roughly, I did the row of ending triangles. And I've refused to measure it again since.

(My sewing measuring tape is only about 54 inches long. I do have a hardware tape measure, but I'm not getting it out.)

At this point it's close enough, and that's good enough for me. I'm done.

It's needs a wash, and then it goes in the mail. And I get to move on to another project. 

In case you haven't been following along, I've been updating my progress weekly since I started this on October 10th:

  1. In the Cards
  2. Entrelac Scarf Progress
  3. Part 2
  4. Part 3
  5. Part 4
  6. Part 5
  7. Part 6
  8. Part 7
  9. Laws of Gravity 3000
  10. Part 8
  11. Part 9
  12. Part 10
Finish any large projects recently? 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Quizzes About a New Year

As it's New Year's Day, I thought it appropriate to try out some New Year's quizzes. I found two. Both of which I did horribly on. First. . .

The Ultimate New Year's Quiz

And then. . . 

New Year Trivia Quiz

I got 50% on the first and 50% on the second. I guess I should have studied 😉