Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Check Me Out

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 heard of the Human Library? It's where you "check out" people instead of books. Interesting concept. Which leads me to...

What if you were the "book" in a human library? What would you talk about?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Where the Magic Happens

Last week at the day job took a lot out of me. So, when I got home, I didn't do much more than eat dinner, turn on the TV, and tune out. I didn't touch the octopus hat.

But then things changed over the weekend, and I was able to get a bit done Saturday night. (I'm writing this on Sunday.)

Last week, I had finished the main portion of the hat: 

Saturday night, I started connecting the outer tentacles to the inner suckers. It is done in such a way that the resulting "legs" curl: 

One and a half done. Six and a half more to go.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Missing the Obvious

Thursday afternoon. I was in the process of setting my seating charts for my Friday classes. 

I had let them sit where they wanted to as I was getting up to speed on what was going on with the classes. But, at a certain point, I want to assign seats. While some kiddos can sit next to their friends and concentrate on class when I need them to, mostly, they don't. Especially at that age. 

Because beginning of the school year, students have been added and dropped from all the classes, so as I was finalizing the chart, I wanted to make sure that no student who I was adding to the chart had been dropped. I opened up the attendance software just to make sure my printed list and the current list were the same. 

And that's when I saw the 8. 

Up until that moment, I thought I had all ninth grade classes. But no. I had one eighth grade class. 


I mean, suddenly the class made sense. I couldn't figure out why the kiddos were so much... more... than the other groups. 

I had to think back. I had been doing the same stuff with them as with the ninth graders. As it was first week stuff (getting to know them stuff), it wasn't too big of a blunder. But still. 

You'd think they'd have noticed or something. Apparently not. Or, they just didn't want to tell me. 

At least I hadn't passed out books or started them on any of the actual curriculum yet. I caught my error in time.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


Tuesday, after school. Ms. D and I looked at the classroom, and we both agreed that we did not like the way the students' seats were situated. 

(The English class is co-taught for three periods. Fun fact: last year when I covered a vacant position, Ms. D was the teacher they hired. Now I get to work with her.) 

Well, we were the ones running the class now, so why not rearrange the desks? 

It didn't take us a half hour to move things around so that we could move around the room better. (We moved things into the configuration at the top of this post.) 

Wednesday. It was the fifth day of school. School hasn't even been in session for a full week. But you should have seen the kiddos when the walked in to find the room completely reconfigured. 

I mean, if we'd been in session for a month or more, I could see it. But five days? The room isn't even decorated yet. Of course things are going to change. 

The kiddos claimed they didn't like how we reconfigured things. Ah well. They'll get used to it. (Or we'll rearrange things again, just to throw them off ;)

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Grumble Grumble

In last Friday's post I wrote: 

Things should settle in a week or two. The first couple weeks are always a bit like this. At least I haven't been stuck with a vacant class yet. I kind of want to avoid that this year if I can.

 I spoke too loudly...

When I had a gig for the first day of school, I figured I was safe. Then I deliberately accepted an assignment on the second day of school for a class that had a teacher attached. And when I called that Friday for an assignment this past Monday, I took the class that was technically vacant, but they had hired a teacher who was due to start on Tuesday. 

I was safe. I thought... 

On Monday as I checked out, I was informed that the teacher they hired was for a different English class. Not the one I was covering. The class I was due to cover for just Monday and Tuesday was vacant, and was going to be vacant for a bit. 

(They were supposedly conducting interviews that day. As of this writing, they have not hired someone.)

I mean... Really? Crap! 

Now, I could have just walked away. I could have. Perhaps I should. But, it's like I ended up there for a reason. Maybe? 

So, fine. I called the sub caller to say that I would remain in the vacant English class until they hire someone (or until my 30 days are up). 

Just when I thought I was out, I got pulled back in.


Tuesday, August 24, 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.

What if the one thing you were trying to avoid ended up figuratively falling into your lap?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Four More Suckers

Last week... Well, let's just say I spoke too loudly in Friday's post, and last week was a bit much. I got home from work and had no energy to do much on the octopus hat. 

I went from this (last Monday's post): 

To this: 

The "suckers" are done. Now it's just a matter of attaching them to the "tentacles". This is something I hope to have time for this week, but who knows? 

I hope you all had a great weekend.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Hit the Ground Running

My week-long assignment at the continuation high school evaporated Thursday evening. As I left the school that afternoon, the secretary informed me that Mr. G's jury was in deliberations. So, when I got an email later saying that he would return to work on Friday, I was not surprised. 

Later that night, I got an email from the sub caller saying they needed me elsewhere Friday. Friday the 13th. The second day of school. 

I was sent to the school I did my long-terms at last school year (so three to five months ago) and told that they would place me where they needed me. 

So... Things are kind of a mess right now. They have a bunch of new teachers, and there are still a few vacant positions. And subs aren't around. 

As I was checking in, the secretary got a call from the district office pulling two subs that were scheduled to be there that day. 

I was given the graphic arts class for the day. I'm familiar with the class. Fun fact: on Friday, March 13th (2020), the last school day before everything shut down, this is the class I covered. 

Luckily, the school was doing an orientation-type thing for the first two days of school, so lesson plans weren't an issue. Getting access to the day's script and getting the technology to work so I could present the lesson was. 

Gee, it's like I never left. 

So, we're back to full in-person school. Everyone is required to wear masks. And, for the most part, the kiddos have been. 

I did manage to get what I needed for the day. We muddled through. (Alas, the air conditioning in the classroom wasn't working, so it was a hot and sweaty day for me.) 

Things should settle in a week or two. The first couple weeks are always a bit like this. At least I haven't been stuck with a vacant class yet. I kind of want to avoid that this year if I can.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Keeping Busy

Some classes require more of me than others. 

Last week I was covering the CAD (computer aided drafting) class. (The teacher was on jury duty. It was déjà vu all over again.) 

The kiddos work independently. There are YouTube videos that show how to complete the assignments, and the kiddos are supposed to follow along and then duplicate them in the actual software. This may sound simple, but the software is not, and it's easy to get lost or make an error and not be sure why something's not working as the video describes. 

In practice, this means I sit back while they work. And besides taking roll at the beginning of the period and passing out wipes at the end (Covid protocols have them wiping down their desk areas at the end of each period), there's not much for me to do other than "supervise". 

This can be boring (especially when they're mostly behaving). So, on Wednesday I decided to bring something to work on. The octopus hat

I figured I'd have a couple hours to get some of those tentacles done. 

Crochet (or knitting) is a great take-along project at school. It keeps me alert. I can pay better attention to the kiddos while I have my physical white noise. Seriously, I notice that I have more energy at the end of a day when I had something to do with my hands as opposed to just watching a class do its work. 

Second period arrived. I noticed that one of the students wasn't getting a whole lot done. He admitted that he was stuck. So, we spent a while going through the video, trying to figure out where he went wrong. 

This is one of those instances where their teacher could probably pinpoint the issue quickly. Alas, I can only watch the video along side the student and see if I can figure out what he's not copying exactly. I was able to figure out the issue on Monday, but this time I was flummoxed. 

Then, in third period, a different student, who hadn't actually been attending school, couldn't get his files to load. I ran through my usual fixes (restarting the computer, having the student use a different classroom computer), but they didn't work. In the end, I had to contact the tech guy to take a look at things. 

The tech guy worked half of that period and half of the next to get the issue solved. (The next day the student could continue working.) 

How much crocheting did I get done that day? Not a whole lot. Because, of course, the day I brought something to keep me busy, the students kept me busy instead. 

I mean, that is my job after all. So, it wasn't a bad thing. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021


On Wednesdays, the continuation high school has a thing called "advisory". Back in the day, it was when the "advisors" (read: the teachers) would pass out an itemized list of what credits the students had and what credits they needed. 

The "status reports" do still get passed out, but only about once a month. (If the students are curious as to how many credits they have on any given day, most of the staff can pull that up for them.) 

So, nowadays, the weekly advisory "period" (of about 20 minutes) gets filled with other sorts of activities. This past week, it was an ASB activity. (ASB is the student government.) They were playing Around the World for prizes (tickets to a local miniature golf course). 

While those that participated (a small percentage of the student body) played, a couple students in ASB manned the sound system. They had music playing. 

At the beginning, I wasn't too shocked at the choice of song. Nor was I that surprised that one of the students pulled out a microphone and began singing along. Then their friend joined, and the two of them duetted. As the rest of the students were either playing the game or ignoring the proceedings, it wasn't like they were really performing for anyone.

Then the song changed...

And I was rather surprised by their choices. Choices that they continued to sing along with. 

While they were singing, the ASB advisor came over and tried to get a picture of them. That's when they got bashful. (The advisor did get his picture, though.) 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tiny Aliens

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

What if we finally met intelligent life from another world (aliens), except they were tiny compared to us (like the size of a butterfly)? 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Keeping on Them Suckers

I'm still working on the octopus hat (pattern can be seen here). 

Last week I didn't make too much progress on it...

I added two of the bright green "suckers"...

Four more to go. Then they get attached to the outside "tentacles" in such a way that makes them curl, and then it's on to the eyes. 

I'm getting there. Slowly. At least I've got a couple months or so before I need to have them finished.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Declined the Call

Friday morning. I had just gotten my car back the previous afternoon, and I was looking forward to a day where I could go out and get some errands done. Although, at this moment I was fast asleep...

The phone rang. 

There is only one person who calls me at 7 AM. And while I had told her that I was car-less, I hadn't yet informed her that I had my car back. So, I was not expecting a call. 

I went to pick up the phone... and I accidentally hit "decline call". 


I immediately called her back. 

There is one school open. The continuation high school. Seeing as how Fridays are the short days, I figured I might as well work. I mean, I had my car. I could get there.

So, yeah, my summer is officially over. Sigh. I guess I got three weeks? Maybe four. 

(The official first day of school was yesterday. And I already got a week's assignment for the week you're reading this. So, I'm back to it.)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Last Week 13

Last week was a different sort of week for me. What better way to recap it than to do it as a Thursday 13

1. Since my car was in the shop, I figured on a pretty quiet week. My only outings on Monday and Tuesday were to take a not-quite-two-mile walk in the evenings. 

2. Then on Wednesday, I went to the Orange County Fair. I went with my father, so he drove. (They're limiting tickets, and tickets have to be bought online ahead of time.)

3. Due to no car and OC Fair tickets, I had to turn down an opportunity to work on Wednesday. I informed the sub caller about my lack of car. There was one school open, the continuation high school, so while I wasn't expecting to get much in the way of work, I knew it was possible.

4. The fair had fewer exhibits than normal, but two caught my eye. First, in the quilting area: 

Plague masks. Brilliant choice considering the times.

Then, in the crochet area: 

I'm just terribly impressed with this snail. Judging by the ribbons, I wasn't the only one.

4. Then on Thursday, I managed to get a ride to go grocery shopping. I wore a new hip bag/purse that I had purchased at the fair. Alas, as soon as I took it off, one of the clasps broke. 

I contacted the seller who put me in touch with the company behind the bags. They're sending me a replacement clasp.

5. Also upon returning home from grocery shopping, I found a message from the shop about my car. It was done? 

When I talked to them the prior Tuesday, they informed me that the part I needed was going to take seven to ten days to get to them. I was given an estimate of middle of August to get it back. 

But, they told me the part arrived that morning and they finished the install that day. 

6. So, I got my car back earlier than expected. Whew! Expensive (car is a 1993 model), but at least now it starts. (That was the issue. I couldn't get it to start. It's been an intermittent problem for a while now. Once it starts it's fine.) 

7. Since I got the car back in the later afternoon, I figured I'd update the sub caller as to my mobility the next day. 

8. Friday morning. 7:15 AM. Phone rings... (More about this in Friday's post.)

9. Oh, and while this is all going on, the sink in my bathroom started to drip on Sunday. Landlady tried to fix. No dice. The person she called to fix could come out and look at it on Saturday.

10. Of course, the problem ended up not being an easy fix. So, he couldn't finish fixing the sink Saturday. Said he'd be back Sunday. Then he cancelled Sunday... 

11. My summer vacation is officially over today. Today is the first day of school for all the schools in the district. (Read: the traditional high schools and the middle schools. And the elementary schools, but I avoid those.) 

12. As of the writing of this post, I was scheduled to work today. I was actually scheduled to work all week (at the continuation high school which started their year three weeks ago). This means I get to type this sentence in next year's end of year stats post: "I worked the first day of school..."

13. I did, in fact, type that sentence in last year's end of year stats post. Along with "...and I worked the last day of school." We'll see if I get a last day of school for this school year as well.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Crochet Lip Balm Holder Video Instructions

I made a video. 

I had been toying with the idea of doing a how-to on the crocheted lip balm holders

It took me a while to get all the components I needed and then to find the time to film it. Then I got busy working in July, so I didn't have the mental bandwidth to figure out how assemble the clips into a full video. (It wasn't hard once I sat down to do it.)

It's a beginner attempt at a video, but it shows all the steps to making the lip balm holder: 

The written instructions are here if you want to have a go at it. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A Workday Companion

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 could always have your pet with you at work? (I do mean at work, not working from home, which they'd be at with you every day anyway.)

Monday, August 9, 2021

Mystery Project Reveal

The mystery project finally looks like something: 

...although, it's not quite how the finished product is going to look. 

What is it going to be? An octopus hat. 

I have four nephews. One of the twins asked me for an octopus. While looking up patterns, I ran across this hat. And I just had to make it.

After texting my brother and sister-in-law, I learned that the other twin and middle nephew were all octopus mad. So, all three are getting octopus hats for Christmas. If I finish them in time. Which, at this rate, I should.

(Will eldest nephew want one? Probably not. He's in high school now, so this is probably too kiddish for him.)

While researching this pattern, I found that there's a video that goes through the instructions. After viewing it, I knew there was nothing I wasn't familiar with, so I felt comfortable purchasing the pattern. 

So far, so good. I'm in the process of making the suckers. Then the tentacles get attached to the suckers. Finally, there are eyes. We'll see how far I get on this this coming week.

Friday, August 6, 2021


Yorik has been consistently late, especially for the last week. This is notable as while the school starts at 8:30 AM, we'll wait a few minutes to make sure everyone arrives. We've been starting at 8:40, 8:45, 8:50. So, Yorik has been later than that. 

On Tuesday he was clearly altered. 

Yorik was giggly and distracted. He would ask me a question and then talk over me when I attempted to answer. He'd put his head on his desk. He'd go from one thought to the next, and trying to keep him on task was a losing proposition. 

Yorik was high.

Although, Mr. T wasn't so sure. He said he'd seen Yorik like this in the past. And when his mother was called, she said that he had had a waffle for breakfast. (Yorik is diabetic.) 

Then, on Friday, Yorik showed up to school in a similar state. 

As his grade was in the 20% range, I decided to do some of Yorik's assignments with him. 

Have you ever attempted to get a high person to focus on schoolwork? It was not fun. It was a constant battle to refocus him along with his humming and talking over me while I tried to guide him to answers.

(And trying to get him to keep his mask on... High and masks do not mix.)

Oh, and he knew where the key could be found, so he kept trying to get me to open that so he could see it. When I ignored him, he pressed harder. Even when I told him I wasn't going to do it, he persisted. 

We did not get very much work done. Unsurprisingly. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Comeback

Second period English. Tenth grade (although the boys in the class are officially in twelfth grade). It's summer session, so they're making up credits they're missing. 

It was day seventeen of the eighteen-day summer session. We had been reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and doing assignments that went along with the reading. I had been doing a daily edit activity where I give them two sentences with errors that we'd correct together. And they had a daily writing assignment (three to five sentences on a topic I provided). 

They had work. They had largely ignored it.

So, on day seventeen I gave them a peek at their grades. I had done this a couple times before, but it wasn't making an impact. But on this day, their forty-ish percents finally made an impression on them. On day seventeen, both Vincent and Brandon got to work. 

They were missing several of their daily journal topics. They completed them. Various online assignments got done. And I barely kept up with the grading as one after another after another assignment was turned in.

By the end of the period, Vincent was in C territory, and Brandon had just gotten into the Ds. Brandon even did some work that evening, and by Friday he had pulled his grade up to a C. 

I'll take it. (I did tell them at the beginning that I accepted all late work.) I had been worried that I would be giving out only Fs, and I did not want to do that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fight the System

Wednesday. Fourth period. It was just Brandon and me. 

As Brandon had finished the book on Nat Turner and no new book was forthcoming, I decided the only way to get him to do his work was to do it with him.

Halfway through the period, Ronan stormed in. 

I mentioned Ronan a lot last school year. He's still on campus, but he doesn't need English credits (he's current on them). 

Ronan was in PE. The campus is small, so PE was right outside the door. But Ronan had a project going, and Brandon needed to do his part. 

If you recall from week one, the students weren't allowed to get their phones back for the walking field trip. The principal had them write paragraphs with reasons as to why they should be allowed to have them for weeks two and three. 

As they explained it to me, Ronan and Brandon had plotted about getting their phones for lunchtime. They were going to write paragraphs about why they should be allowed to have them, and every student on campus had to contribute. But Brandon hadn't written his.

I gave Brandon paper. Ronan found a pencil. And we stopped working on Brandon's assignment so Brandon could complete his paragraph. 

I could have fought this, but I chose not to. Might as well let them have their fun. 

Are they going to get their phones at lunch? I highly doubt it. It would be too much trouble to distribute them just to get them back a half hour later. 

But that they were being proactive and trying to fight the system was something I could get behind. And writing is definitely good practice.

Brandon only took about five minutes to write his paragraph, and then we got back to the assignment at hand. 

Ronan went to talk to the principal, but she was busy in meetings all day, so he didn't really get a chance to plead his case. (The principal had mentioned her wall-to-wall meeting day to us adults first thing in the morning, so I wasn't surprised that Ronan only could drop off the paragraphs for her.)

As of Friday, they had no answer, only a "she'll look into it". That'll be a discussion for when the official school year begins, I imagine.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Genie

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've been giving the kiddos a journal topic a day (to keep them writing), and the other day I used the prompt: What would you do if you could do anything? (I found it online somewhere.) But that got me thinking...

What if you had the power to give someone whatever they wanted? Would you? (The only limit here is that you have no control over what it is they wish for, so if you disagree with their desire...)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Not Quite There Yet

Last week was a bit challenging for me. My car trouble ended up being a major repair, and it's going to take the garage seven to ten days to get the part it needs.

So, I didn't get very far on the project I showed last week. 


Only got as far as this...

Which doesn't give you a very good idea of what the finished item will look like. And I don't think this will help...

(That's kind of how it'll be worn when complete.)

The next bits that get added will make it look like something. And since the school summer session is over, I won't be as tired at night when I generally do my crocheting (or knitting). Maybe I'll get more work done?

I do still have subbing stories on Wednesday through Friday. The blog is always a week behind.