Wednesday, March 31, 2021



When I started this long term subbing assignment, I told the kiddos they could turn in late work. I wasn't sure what the actual class policy was, but considering everything, I figured being too lenient wasn't a bad thing. 

I did tell them that they'd lose points for late work. And then I didn't take points off when I graded and recorded late work. So many who were turning in late work needed the points, and their grades were going from Fs to Ds or Cs. 

So, when Greer asked me if she could turn in late work, I didn't even hesitate when I said yes. 

It was the honors class (read: the kiddos who usually get As). Greer had missed several days and hadn't turned in any work in a week. When she asked in the chat if she could talk to me after class, I wondered if I was in trouble. 

Once everyone else had left the meet, Greer asked about turning in late work. She apologized for not being on top of her schoolwork, and she said it wasn't that she didn't want to do the work. Then she dropped the bomb.

Her family had been evicted from their home, and she had been worried about that.

Um. Yeah. I can see how schoolwork might suddenly be hard to concentrate on.

Suddenly my not docking late work didn't seem like such a bad idea.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Most Important Job

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's a new comic book show on The CW with a very familiar protagonist. Superman and Lois. And that's where I got the idea for this week's "what if?". Because in this iteration, Superman is married and has twin sons who are just starting high school. And that got me wondering... 

What if a good superhero neglected his children to the point that they went bad and became supervillians? 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Fully Attached Sleeves

Last week I was a bit busy, so busy that I didn't do any work on the cardi. (And this week... It's going to be interesting.) 

The plan was to not do a post for today. And then Saturday night I got a bit industrious. I finally fixed this: 

Now the sleeves are fully attached: 

Or, both: 

I don't anticipate getting much done this week, either. We'll see.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pinky And The...

When I started this long-term assignment, I noticed his name. Brain. 

Students' actual names are not used on this blog, except in rare instances. Today is one of those exceptions. This post isn't about the student, just his name. And it's a fairly common name, so he won't be identified by this post.

Brain? Not Brian? 

I mean, I've seen some weird names. I took down the sidebar "Student Name of the Week" last year, but I might reinstate it at some point. (There's still a tab at the top where you can see previous entries.) But for some reason, this one seemed wrong.

I didn't call on him. When he typed his name into the chat, he typed in Brian. 

Some of the teachers have them type their name into the chat as a form of attendance. I don't particularly use it, but I don't want them to get out of the habit for those teachers that require it, so I don't discourage it.

According to the official school stuff, his name is Brain. But mistakes can happen, and it's a simple transposition of two letters. (Those of you who have friends named Brian, be careful. It's really easy to accidentally type in Brain, and spellcheck won't catch it as it is a word.) 

So, I set this aside in my head, and I did my job.

Thursday. End of third period. The class was logging off. 

Sometimes students stick around for a bit to ask a question of me one-on-one. Sometimes they just lag. One boy was about to ask me something when he saw Brain's name on screen.

"Why does Brian's avatar say 'brain'?" 

And that's when I knew for certain that it was a typo.

The boy tried to call out to Brian, but he had already logged off. 

"I'll text him and ask."

At this point, I don't know who has access to fix it. I assume that Brian noticed the issue before this, so it might be something he can't get fixed. But if he hasn't, at least his friend will let him know.

Although, it took his friend long enough to notice.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Moving Away

For the most part, the kiddos don't talk. They leave their cameras off as well as their microphones, so we communicate via the chat. But a few of them to turn on their mics and talk to me.

In period four, that student is Drake. 

I really appreciate Drake. When I have them doing work, he asks questions. I'm sure some of his questions are questions the other students have. And he answers when I pose questions for the class.

On Friday he was early to class. He's usually early, but this time he needed to talk to me.

Drake explained that he had just moved and he was using the WiFi hotspot from his phone to log into the meet. He wasn't going to be able to do the work for class due to the move. (They were going to install the internet the next week, probably.) 

Trying to be helpful, I pointed out that the school has WiFi hotspots for school work that the kiddos can pick up. That's when Drake informed me that he had moved two hours away.

Well, it's not Egypt, nor is it in an undisclosed foreign country for a funeral...

Drake will transfer schools, but at the end of the school year. This distance thing means he can finish off this school year where he's at. And I heard from other teachers that this seems to be a thing lately.

I would have liked to meet Drake in person. Sigh. But I consider that a valid excuse for late work. There are some things that one can't control.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Small Error

About a week into this English long-term, I got an email from one of the school's counselors. The freshmen had done a 100-point essay with the previous sub. A girl had questioned her grade. 

She got an 85. Alas, in the gradebook, it was listed as 0.85.

That's quite the typo. 

It was an easy fix. And her grade jumped from an F to a B or something. (They haven't had many assignments, so it was a majority of her grade.) 

I wasn't sure why she felt the need to go through her counselor, though. Clearly that was input wrong.

Then last week another student contacted me. He had gotten a 10 on something, but it was in the gradebook as 0.10. 

At least this time he went directly to me. And again, it was an easy fix.

So, now I wonder. How many other grades did a decimal get accidentally inserted before the score? 

I'm not terribly tempted to go and look. It would take me a while to go through all the grades in all the periods. They should be checking their grades anyway, right? 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Not an Expert

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 "what if?" generated the same response from many of you. It was something along the lines of, "People wouldn't want me to sing. I can't carry a tune." Hmmm.

There's a similar sentiment in just about any other endeavor you can think of. "Oh, I couldn't do that. I'm terrible at it." Why? 

What if we did more things that we are bad at? What if we did things that we might be bad at but that we enjoy doing?

Monday, March 22, 2021

It's (not quite) Finished!

A very surprising thing happened last week. I bound off the Seven (and a half) Years Cardi...

I tried it on Thursday night, and it felt like it was just about where I wanted it to be. I was just about to finish a pattern repeat, so it seemed like the perfect moment to put a stop to it all. 

But, it's not quite finished. 

All you writers know what happens when you get to the "the end" part of the book. Then it's time to hunker down for the editing and revisions.

What I've got left isn't quite that, but there are still odds and ends to tidy up. I have ends to wind in. The underarms need to be sewn shut... 

And I plan to crochet an edging around the whole thing. 

So, I've got a bit more work before I can call it completely finished. But the main knitting portion of the sweater is complete.

Although... After binding off, I wondered if the collar was too wide. I'm still considering. I figure I want to do a few rows of crochet just to tidy things, and that's probably going to be enough. But maybe...

This is what happens when one creates a sweater as opposed to following a pattern. Decisions get made, and things can change. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 19, 2021

End of Quarter

Last Friday was the last day of the third quarter. 

I flashed back to last year. I do remember exactly what I was doing on the last day of the third quarter. It was a graphic arts class. I've covered this teacher's classes before, so it was a fairly typical day in her class. It was so typical that I didn't even blog about it. 

It was also the last in-person school day we had. 

That whole week had been odd. Morning announcements told us of cancelled events due to the approaching COVID. They got rid of reusable restroom passes and they gave each classroom new disinfectants. 

We were all walking on eggshells. 

I remember leaving school that day. I had three assignments scheduled for the next week. I told the secretary I'd see her Monday. She had just gotten word another nearby district had closed. She wondered if we would see each other on Monday.

She was right.

After I got home I got word. The governor had issued orders that everything, including schools, needed to close. I got an email from the district as well as a phone call from the sub caller. 

It's amazing to think it's been a year. The nerves. The worry. The new normal. 

I think from now on, the end of the third quarter will bring up these memories. Where were you one year ago?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Football Season

It's Sunday. I write all my blog posts over the weekend, and I have for many years. It's simpler that way. 

Before getting to the blog writing, I did a quick perusal of my emails. When I got to my "student" account, I found another email from Khalil. 

Khalil is an eleventh grader in my fourth period class. He's on the football team. And his grade is not where it should be to make him eligible to play football. 

Yes, I know it's spring. But CIF shut down school sports in the fall. As COVID cases have fallen, they've allowed a modified spring schedule, including the sports we lost in the fall. The first high school football games were played last weekend. 

He's been saying that he needs to get his grade up. I told him he needs to complete his missing work (of which there is a lot). Yesterday (Saturday), I graded the two things he submitted, so his grade did rise... to about 33%. 

But today, he said that I had not graded his essay assignments. 

I took over this English class the last week of February. Before that, Mr. P had been the sub. The essay assignments had been assigned under him. In January. 

This is a case of "a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part". But while Khalil has been persistent, he hasn't been rude about it. So, I'll grade the assignments (for partial credit due to them being so late). 

I doubt they'll be much help. His grade is so low at this point. But at least he's trying. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

One More Thing

Three Wednesdays ago, I was eating dinner. Pasta with marinara sauce and turkey meatballs. It's a meal I've had many, many times. 

I was on the first meatball. I bit down, and I bit into something hard. I scrambled for whatever it was, and it turned out it was my tooth. 

I had chipped my tooth. 

My tooth. The penny is for a size comparison.

I have never done anything like this before, and I was freaked. But, as these things go, it's sorted. (I waited to post until it was sorted.) 

The first dental appointment I could get (they'd usually be able to squeeze me in, but COVID restrictions) was Monday. Then that Friday I got the notification I was up for my first vaccine shot. 

So, it was dentist Monday morning. Vaccine first shot Tuesday. And then back to the dentist this last Tuesday as that was the first appointment I could make where there was enough time to deal with getting a crown. (My permanent crown will be ready next week.) 

Everything kind of hit at once. Isn't that always the way?

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Living, the Musical

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.

I'm pretty sure I've done this question before, but it popped into my head and won't be denied, so I'm going to do it again...

What if instead of speaking, we all sang when in conversation?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Getting There

Last week kicked my butt. 

I was expecting some of it. But then other things popped up that took more time than I expected. Somehow, I found myself sitting in front of the TV in the evening with no desire to knit. And considering how things were going, I was fine with sitting in front of the TV with nothing to work on. 

But I did manage to model the sweater...

If you look closely at the neckline, you can see the needle is still in. And, of course, that ball of yarn I'm holding on to is still attached. 

But it fits. (It may look tight, but it hasn't been blocked yet.) 

So, no progress last week, but new pictures. We'll see if I get any further this week. (I doubt it.)

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Wrong Test

It is once again testing time. I was a bit nervous as to how things would go, especially since I had been around for the fiasco six months ago. (See yesterday's post for more about that.) But things went surprisingly smoothly. 

Day one went off well. I had a couple issues of students getting stuck on the loading screen of doom, but from the last time, I knew that the solution was to reload the test for them. Annoying, but effective. 

Then Monday night I got an email from the assistant principal who's in charge of the testing. 

So as to not overburden any one department, they had three departments administer the testing. The English teachers administered the language test, the math teachers administered the math test, and the history teachers administered the reading test. But because the ninth graders take geography or health (each is a semester course), the health teachers were also administering the reading test. 

The email from the assistant principal was a forward from one of the health teachers. Mr. C had emailed Ms. A, but as she's on maternity leave, she's not checking her email. But Mr. C brilliantly cc'ed the assistant principal, and he knew to forward it to me. 

Mr. C gave his freshmen the wrong test. He gave them the language test. Oops. 

So, that meant I had to give the students he had already tested the reading test. 

It was only two students, and switching the test was actually pretty simple. I doubt the class really caught that two of them were taking a different test. 

Minor problems. It was so nice to have a testing go on with only minor problems.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Needing Extra Time

I just got started on this long-term assignment for an English teacher who is out on maternity leave. We did a week starting reading novels (Of Mice and Men for the ninth graders, The Great Gatsby for the eleventh graders.) During the week I got information about upcoming testing. 


Yeah, so, does anyone remember back in September when I was covering that vacant special ed position and how we had this testing to do? No? Let's just say there were several technical issues that made this a mess, and you can click on these links for the posts where I mentioned them. And I really didn't delve into the full crazy that was that testing. 

Turns out it was time to re-administer this test as it's been six months. The idea is to measure how much the students have grown since then. 

Deep sigh. 

On the bright side, I had gone through that trial by fire, so I understood how to administer the test. And I'd been fully trained


We had no major issues. The whole thing went fairly smoothly. No major hiccups. 

I mean, I had various issues, but they were minor and easily dealt with. 


One of the things the school did was to give us testing blocks of two hours and fifteen minutes to administer the tests. This ended up being sufficient for almost everyone to finish the test in one sitting. (So we only had to log them in once, and we didn't have to try to remember who still had a test to finish and who was just sitting in class, waiting.) 

But, it wasn't sufficient for everyone. 

The school day has an "office hour" for students to meet with teachers for whatever reason. I warned the kiddos that non-finishers were going to need to show up for the office hour. 

Wednesday. It was the end of the long block, and I had two students who hadn't finished (out of 30, so that's excellent). One boy was more than half way through the test, but he had been working slowly. 

I asked him if he'd be around for the office hour. This is when he informed me that he had lost his glasses, one of his contact lenses had dried out overnight, so he had been doing the test that entire time one-eyed. It slowed him down. 


The test is untimed, so he needed no reason to need more time. Nor did I demand an explanation. As a glasses/contact lenses wearer, I understood his pain completely. 

Ultimately, it did not take him long to finish in that office hour. I assume he found his glasses or hydrated the contact. I didn't ask. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Long Wait

I got my first vaccine shot! 

And it's a story. We did testing last week (it was the same testing we did in September), and surprisingly, things went pretty smoothly. So, I'm going to skip a subbing story today and tell you the saga of my first COVID-19 vaccine shot.

I think it was late January when Long Beach launched a vaccine list. I signed up just as soon as I got notification. It wasn't my tier yet, but we were informed that we'd get notification when it was our turn. 

The first week I got an email saying, "Not yet". Same thing the second week. Then crickets for the next couple weeks after that, which was fine as I didn't need emails telling me it wasn't my turn. 

Then word was out that educators were the next to go. 

I do not work for the school district in Long Beach. And the initial vaccination efforts were for the employees of the school district and the university. When I signed up on the website, I clearly marked that while I lived in Long Beach, I did not work in Long Beach. 

It was Friday night when I saw the email. "IMPORTANT: Make an appointment for your first COVID-19 vaccine dose." I was shaking as I filled out the form and made the appointment for Tuesday. 

Then Sunday I got an email: "IMPORTANT: If you are not eligible to receive vaccine at this time, please cancel your appointment." 


So, I had a bit of a freak out. While I do not work in Long Beach, we were told that we could still get vaccinated if we were a city resident. And educators are up. But this email came two hours after another "make an appointment" email, so I chose to believe it was a follow up to that email, and I ignored the cancel request.

Then later that day I got two more "make your appointment" emails with appointments pretty much all week. I figured there was some mix up someplace, but it didn't impact me. 

Tuesday. The convention center is clear across town for me, so I set out early. Turns out, not quite enough if I wanted to be "on time". Sigh. 

I know roughly how to get to the convention center. As I pulled onto the street, I saw a line of cars going in the opposite direction. A line that long, it had to be the place. So, I followed it back all the way around the block (in downtown Long Beach, where the touristy stuff is, so long blocks), made a U-turn, and got in line behind the last car. This was about an hour before my scheduled appointment. 

I thought I was way early. By the time I snaked around to where they were checking IDs, I was ten minutes out from my appointment. 

We had been told to bring proof of appointment, proof of residency, and proof of employment. I was paranoid. I brought a couple other papers besides my driver's license and employee ID. But the guy who checked me in found those to be sufficient, and in dry erase marker her wrote on my windshield that I was good to go. (He told me he was writing what vaccine I was getting and that it was my first shot.) 

Alas, the car in front of me, the car that I'd been following for nearly an hour, was turned away and had to pull out of the line. Several cars were turned away at that point just as I was getting checked in.

Then another twenty minutes in line through the convention center parking lot. 

My appointment was for 3:56 PM. I got into line at nearly 3 PM. I got my shot at around 4:15 PM. 

We were directed to an observation spot for fifteen minutes so they could check for adverse reactions. During this time, I made my second shot appointment on my phone. 

And then I headed home. 

I had no immediate reactions. The next day my arm was sore. Really sore. The day after that, though, it was hardly sore at all. But that's a small price to pay. 

A local newspaper did a video story on the mass vaccination site when it opened. In case you'd like a visual of where this was... 

Have you gotten vaccinated yet? I hope if not you're up soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Reasonable Lie?

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 COVID vaccine. It's in short supply. My over-75-year-old landlady gets her second shot today. While getting her first shot, she saw several younger people in line and wondered how they were eligible. (She wondered how to get Luisa and me in for ours.) They told her they were essential workers, but no one was checking, so if we were to lie...

What if the only way you could get the COVID vaccine was to lie about your eligibility? (And, for the sake of argument, I'm going to specify that you wouldn't be caught.) 

I'm not advocating lying, by the way. And I don't need to. See tomorrow's post for more about that.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Nope, Not Done Yet

Last week was a bit much. In good ways and bad. 

Sometimes weeks are like that. 

Lately, I haven't been doing much knitting besides the lacy cardigan that has now been renamed the Seven (and a half) Years Cardi. (Ravelry asks for some sort of name for each project. That is what I've renamed this one as.) And for the last few weeks, I've been slowly working the yoke. 

On a good week the progress isn't obvious. Last week was not a good knitting week. A couple nights I stared at the TV with absolutely no energy to knit. 

I toyed with the idea of just skipping posting today, but then I realized that even if there's not much progress, this is still a record of whatever progress I have made. So, here's what the sweater looks like now... 

It's getting closer. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Bugs Bunny Broke My Computer

The ninth graders are reading Of Mice and Men

I'm doing a long-term assignment for an English teacher on maternity leave.

Since all of the English teachers are doing the same thing at the same time, I checked with Ms. W to make sure that the next day we were going on to chapter 3. Alas, her class was behind. So, rather than get ahead of the group, I took a day to "discuss" what we had just read in chapters 1 and 2. 

I prepared. I went through the chapters and found some discussion questions and created a slide presentation to help move things along.

I was ready.

Thursday morning, first period. 

To break up the discussion a bit, I thought it would be fun to show a short video that references the book. And I found the cartoon I had vaguely remembered. 

I intro'd the video by saying that Of Mice and Men is well-known in pop culture. Then I hit play...

We got to the point where Daffy was going to find a real rabbit for the abominable snowman when the buffering wheel of doom appeared on my screen.


While I attempted to get the video to play again, I asked the kiddos what allusions they caught. They caught the obvious ones, so I was pleased. With them. With my computer, not so much.

(I have two computers going, one with the meet and the other I use to project stuff for the class. It's simpler.) 

I did everything I could think of. I did a hard shut down of the computer. Twice. A restart. I attempted to load things, but it just wasn't going to let anything play. 

After a few minutes of this, I had the kiddos work on the questions for the chapter that were due. And then I spent the entire period trying to get the stuff to work again.

No dice.

Deep sigh.

Well, at least they had time to get their questions done.

Friday morning, I had second period. Also ninth grade. 

I loaded everything. Crossed my fingers...

And it all worked perfectly. 


At least my preparations were used for something. Yay?

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Old People's Tech

I'm covering an English class long-term for a teacher who is out on maternity leave. The eleventh graders are reading The Great Gatsby

On Tuesday/Wednesday, it was time to start chapter 1. But, I did not have a copy of the book. I asked the other teachers, and they did not have a PDF for the book to use for the classes. 

(The students can check out a physical copy of the book from the campus library, but that means they have to go to the campus, and as we're doing the distance learning thing, most aren't getting down to campus to do that. Mostly, the teachers are putting copies of the materials needed online.) 

This was when it occurred to me I had heard that The Great Gatsby had entered the public domain in January. I wondered if it was up on Project Gutenberg

If you have not heard of Project Gutenberg, it's...

...a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, as well as to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library.

(That's via Wikipedia.)

It was. So, I downloaded a copy and uploaded that and the links to the students' Google Classroom.

On Thursday/Friday I explained where the copy of the book came from. Just so they'd know. 

I uploaded three things: the PDF, the html version, and a link to Gatsby's page. The reason for the third is because from that page, one can download an EPUB or Kindle version of the text that can be sideloaded to any ereader.

As I explained the third link, I asked the class if any of them had an ereader. Crickets. I explained what an ereader was. 

I got a few nos. Then one student chimed in with, "My grandma has one of those." 

Gee. Thanks for sharing. 

And here, I thought the kiddos liked ereaders. Consider me educated. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A Random Comment

Last week I took over an English class for a teacher who is out on maternity leave. I don't have to figure out lesson plans on my own as all the English classes in each grade are doing the same thing together. This makes lesson planning really easy. 

The eleventh graders are getting ready to read The Great Gatsby. The prior sub (who had done his 30 days so could continue no longer--our subbing credential won't allow us to work any longer than 30 days in one class) had started some of the prelim stuff, and as of Monday they were still getting ready to read the book.

Monday's assignment was to watch a video on the Roaring '20s: 

Because distance learning and the way kiddos watch videos, I naturally assigned "notes" to go along with the video. And because I detest the listing of facts (which the students half-ass anyway), I decided to create some questions for them.

I made the questions pretty general. They were like, name something that was new in the '20s, name something that started in the '20s that we still have today, etc. I came up with four rather general questions. 

But I decided that I wanted the assignment to be worth five points, so I needed another question.

That's when the influence of too many years of blogging kicked in. I realized what the fifth question had to be.

I had them write a random comment. 

Most did well with that. Some tried to be cerebral and told me a fact from the video. Some said they liked or did not like the video. Some said something they found to be interesting.

And some didn't answer that question at all. And... I...

I mean, that was the easiest question of all. A gimme point. They wrote something, they got the point.

Yet, of the 10% of students who did not get the full credit for the assignment, it was because of that question. 

(And, seriously? Before we started the video, I went over the questions, and I told them number five was a write anything question.)

I may have to assign random comments more frequently. Just because I'm contrary like that.

Tuesday, March 2, 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.

Today's question comes out of a weird train of thought I had the other day. I won't go into the whole thing, but I started musing on people who change their name for various reasons. I'm talking about people who for whatever reason feel their name doesn't fit them. Or trans people who switch their name to fit their gender. Or people who pick a more Americanized version of their name to go by. And it got me thinking. . .

What if we were required to use a name that was given to us by someone else? I won't specify who that someone else is, only that if you chose to change your name, you couldn't pick what name you change it to yourself.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Slow Week

This week's sweater progress doesn't look much different than last week's progress: 

I had hoped to try it on for you, but when I did try it on, when I took it off again, I dropped a few stitches, and it took me a good half hour to set them to rights again. Rather than tempt fate, I figured I could try it on when there are fewer stitches at the top.

Will I have it finished by next week? No. I can say that for sure. But it's closer. 

Got anything exciting planned this week?