Friday, October 29, 2021

Painting Pumpkins

One of the projects for last week for the class at the adult transition center was to paint pumpkins. 

We had the Nightmare Before Christmas fan: 

The student that likes purple: 

And Natalie did a paint pour technique: 

But the issue was with this one: 

This was Doris' pumpkin. 

Doris is non-verbal. She uses signs and her iPad to communicate with us. And she remains outside as she does not wear a mask. (I am unsure if she's incapable or if she just won't leave it on.) 

The day before the pumpkin project, she had a meltdown (read: screaming and hitting and throwing things around) after not being allowed into a chair someone else had brought outside for their use. She's adult-sized, so these tantrums can be dangerous to staff and students. 

On pumpkin painting day, she was called over to put her thumb prints on the pumpkin. (I filled in the ghost faces later.) And... She did not like this. At all. 

She reluctantly complied, but once she was released from painting, she started throwing equipment around (treadmills, elliptical machines). 

It was almost lunch time (so the other classes would need to be in the area so the students could eat), and Doris wasn't calming down. We were afraid she was going to hurt someone. So, we had to send her home. 

What we can't figure out, though, is what set her off. I thought it was a cute project. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

All Accounted For

I was informed that it was the Great California ShakeOut day when I arrived at school on Thursday. I immediately flashed to last year's drill. At least this year I actually had an in-person class to conduct it with. 

As I had no wheelchair-bound students in this group, we were all able to get under the desks for the required minute. And then we evacuated to the parking lot, which wasn't too far from the classroom. (Being at a very small school helps.) 

For the first time, I didn't bother to bring out the class roster with me. We are required to take roll to make sure all our students are accounted for. As I had five students to keep track of, I figured I could easily do that in my head. 

We got to our area, and I ran through the class roster. All five students were there. 

That's when the school's secretary came up to me requesting the class roster. 

Um... Every other school does not specifically ask for a roster. At the larger schools, they have us hold up a green card to indicate we have all our kiddos. (Or a red card if we do not.) So, it didn't occur to me to bring it out. 

I mean, I could articulate that every student was there (and list them by name). And ultimately that was accepted. (They didn't tell me that I'd need to turn in a paper.) 

Just when I thought I'd get through a drill unscathed...

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Computer Quest

The assignment was for a week at the adult transition center. I was just there after I finished off the long-term geography/economics assignment, but before that it had been a couple years. (They're on the same campus as the alternative education center, so it hadn't been that long since I'd been at the facility.) 

I'm pretty sure I had met all the students before. I know for sure I'd run into Natalie. 

Natalie has one goal in life: play on the computer. And everything she does is in aims of getting onto that computer. 

The class is set up so that the students get computer time after lunch. Before that they have other tasks. 

Natalie does task boxes. She reads Green Eggs and Ham (her favorite book). She has it memorized, but the instructional assistants (IAs) tell me that she can actually read. But she won't pick up any of the other books. 

While doing these things, she will get out of her seat and drift over to the computers. She'll look longingly at them. And she'll open her computer...

We have to instruct her sharply to go back to her seat. 

A similar thing happens at lunch. She's supposed to be outside, eating. She'll throw away her food and then drift into the classroom. 

I have taken to standing in the doorway to prevent her from entering. She'll attempt to go around. I'll block. And that works, for a time.

But, Natalie will then attempt to enter the other classrooms and use a computer in there. 

She even "borrows" the iPad of a fellow student (who isn't verbal so she uses her iPad to communicate). 

On Friday, another student brought that iPad to us, telling us Natalie had been taking pictures. The IA began deleting those pictures and videos. After about a dozen deletions, she walked away to finish deleting them away from the group. Natalie had taken a lot of pictures. 

It's an ongoing thing. At least, until after lunch. Then Natalie gets to use the computer for the rest of the day (about an hour). 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

In the Comments

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 there was a way to blog comment via an app like Twitter (so we could easily reply, respond, and keep the conversation going)?

Monday, October 25, 2021

Two Down...

…and one to go.

And octopus #3 is already started. (As of this writing, I am up to the first tentacle.) 

Hopefully I'll have good progress to report next week.

Friday, October 22, 2021

I Love Math

Back in April when I was doing that long term eighth grade English class, I had a co-teacher. On Friday, I subbed for her. 

I did get a chance to work with Ms. R for the first class of the day. For the last class of the day, I worked with a seventh grade math teacher. The lesson for the day was multiplying and dividing positive and negative numbers. 

Ms. M (and all the math teachers at the school, really) are great. I wish my math classes had been taught like this. It's very interactive and hands on. 

After having gone over the essentials and having given them some time to practice, Ms. M showed a little video to drive the lesson home. It's amazing what's on YouTube.

To the tune of "I Love Rock and Roll": 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Energy Boost

Special ed chemistry. They were to look up current news events in science and write a summary about an article they read. 

Warning: this post is NSFW. Proceed with caution. 

First period. As Thomas walked in, he announced his presence. "Who are you?" he asked me. When I explained, he replied, "Ms. Y didn't tell us she was having a sub today."

The rest of the class disagreed. Ms. Y had warned them of her absence. That's when Tom admitted that he hadn't been at school the previous day as he hadn't wanted to get out of bed. He wasn't feeling much better on this day as he had forgotten to take his meds. And he had an energy drink which he warned was going to make things much worse. 


While the rest of the class worked quietly, Tom loudly made comments about stuff that had nothing to do with anything. For the most part, the rest of the class did not respond. Apparently they are used to Tom's antics. 

Thomas started almost immediately. While I explained the assignment to the class (something they had done a few times before, so I didn't have to do too much explaining), Tom told the girl seated near him about his energy drink. 

It boosted his energy with caffeine, but he felt it needed something more. Semen. Specifically, his semen. (I wish I was making this up, but that's the word he used.) When I jumped in at that point, Tom pointed out how he felt his power should lend him energy, or something like that. And not only him, but he felt the energy drink should use that in their formulation for everyone. 

Later in the period, Tom explained that he liked to say rude things because he liked making people angry. He liked to get people to react to him. He also said he had no empathy, which I suppose is why making people angry was fun to him. 

If he was trying to get a reaction, he failed. Mostly, the rest of the class ignored him. (They heard him, but they did not react or even respond.) 

He made political statements. He talked about the Satanic church. He called people, especially his classmates, stupid. Many things he called out for being racist (none of which were, actually). 

Funnily enough, I didn't disagree with many of his statements. The only thing I had a real issue with was his calling for murders. Well, that and the tone of his outbursts. 

If I had had an aide with me that period, she would have removed him from the class early on. As it was, I kept a list of what he talked about, and I left it for his teacher. I imagine there was a meeting with administration after all of this. 

(Oh, he kept his mask on the entire period without my having to remind him to pull it back up. If he had really wanted to get a rise out of me, all he would have had to do is refuse to wear his mask.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Crochet Egg Lip Balm Holder Video Instructions

In August, I posted a video of me making my lip balm holder. I had been wanting to do the same for the egg-shaped lip balm holders.

So, last week when I got a surprise day off, I figured it was time. 

I'm still figuring out this whole video thing out. This shows the steps to make the thing. (Pattern is written out here if you're interested.) 

While I would really love to have someone who knows how to do the whole video editing thing (and filming thing) help me out, as long as I'm doing it myself, it's going to be a bit before these get any better. Practice, right? 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

For Writers

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 I created a virtual writing group (that met via Zoom or such)? 

(It's an idea I've been toying with.)

Monday, October 18, 2021

Missing an Eye

I'm rather pleased with my octopus progress this week. 

The tentacles and suckers have been attached. 

This is almost done. 

I would have been completely done by now, but on Friday I got derailed. 

Back on hat #1, I had a genius idea. All three hats would need a pair of eyes, so I figured I could make all six eyes at the same time. That way, when it came time to attach the eyes, I wouldn't have to stop to make the eyes first.

Friday night, I pulled out my remaining eyes (the first two having gone on hat #1), and I found I had three. 

I knew I should still have four. 

Now, I had enough eyes to complete this blue hat. But I should have another eye someplace. 

So, rather than attaching the eyes, I spent my time looking for eye #4. 

I did not find it. 

I tore everything apart. I have no idea where it could have gone. It's not with my projects. It hasn't fallen behind anything. It must have fallen into something, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what it could be.

Deep sigh. 

There's nothing for it. I'm going to have to remake that last eye.

But first, I can finish this hat. I should have it finished by next week.

(The pattern for it is here: Octopus Hat.) 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Burning Up

Guess who spent another Friday in another sixth grade class? 

The lesson of the day was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. (Yeah, for sixth graders. Yeah, I know.) 

As an introduction, I was to ask them for instances where people had to make difficult choices. I wrote their responses on the board. (I did this three times as the classes swap out, kind of like they'll do in middle school.) I got some standard answers, and I had to give a couple examples to get things going. 

The third group, after giving me several pretty standard answers, came up with "leave someone behind in a fire". 

Well, that qualifies. 

Then we were to discuss if they'd ever faced a choice like this, what choice they made, what effects the other choice might have had, and what advice they'd have for people facing hard choices. 

So, I picked a couple choices from the list to discuss, choices like "moving" or "doing your homework". (The second group came up with that one. The class vehemently protested that this was a choice. Having met many kiddos who don't do homework, I assured them that it was, in fact, a choice. We also discussed consequences.) 

I couldn't resist. I decided we had to go down the "leave someone behind in a fire" rabbit hole. 

They hadn't actually experienced that. (Whew!) But we talked about why someone might be forced to leave someone behind. 

Somehow, that turned into them saying if the other person was someone they didn't like, it wouldn't be a hard choice. 

I told them that they were wrong. I said that if they were in such a life-and-death situation, if it was them and their worst enemy, they'd save that enemy. They wouldn't leave that person to die in that fire. 

They didn't believe me. They said no, they'd have no trouble leaving that person behind. 

I'm not so sure. But rather than get into a shouting match, I moved on to the next part of the lesson (reading the poem). It was going long, anyway. 

Sometimes I wonder about me, though. I could have picked a way less controversial item from the list they generated to discuss. Ah well. 

So, do you think I'm wrong? Would you save a person you disliked from a fire? 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Subbing with a Sub

For period four, the lesson plan read: "I have a student teacher. He will take care of everything." 

Yeah, I know.

I've known Mr. D for a few years now. He's one of the subs I'm on friendly terms with. We talk. 

He decided to go back and get his credential. (I know the whys and wherefores of this because as I said, we talk.) He started in 2019. 

I ran into him on the second day of school. He told me he was student teaching this semester, and one of his master teachers was Ms. A (from my long-term gig in February/March)

So, when I got the assignment, I knew I'd be running into Mr. D. 

I've worked with student teachers before. Working with a friend is different.

There was no hesitation. He asked me to take roll and deal with restroom passes so he could focus on reading with the class. (Eleventh grade English. They were reading The Crucible.) So, I took roll and dealt with restroom passes. I didn't feel weird about reminding him about Poe Day as he asked me to remind him to tell the class about Poe Day. (It's a thing all the English classes do on October 8th.) 

It was kind of fun. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Day Off?

Since getting back on the day-to-day subbing train, I've been getting my assignments a day or two in advance via email. The sub caller sends me an email asking if I'm available for such-and-such assignment, and I accept. 

Last Monday, I had not received an email by the time it was usually sent. So, I called to see if there was anything. The sub caller informed me that there was nothing as of yet, but that would change. Probably. 

I began to dream of a day off. 

I mean, I have weekends off. And there was Labor Day. But usually I don't work every school day. Even in busier years, by now I would have had at least one day (usually more) of non work on a school day. 

But this year? I've worked every school day since the week before school started. (The continuation high school starts early, and I worked that week there.) And, of course, July

What would I do with a day off? What would I do with an unexpected day off? I started to plan. There were things that need my attention. I could sleep in. It might just be lovely.

Tuesday morning, of course I woke a good hour before the sub caller would call. Tried to go back to sleep. Thought about what I might do with a day off. 

An hour later, the phone rang...

(Eleventh grade U.S. history class. They worked quietly all day.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A Paradox?

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 could test the various time travel paradox hypotheses? 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Some Actual Progress

Last week: 

This week: 

I'm feeling a bit more like I made some progress this past week. Last week I tracked the progress of the first octopus hat. For week 3, I was behind.

But this is now week 4. As you can see, I have finished all the suckers. And I just started attaching the tentacles to the suckers. For the first hat, I got to this point in week 6. 

Finally, progress.

I should probably go and buy the yarn for hat #3. Optimistic? Yeah. But I think it's finally warranted.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Disputed Tech Deck

I may have mentioned once or twice that there's a bit of a sub shortage at the moment. So, when I didn't have an assignment for Friday (on Thursday), I called the sub caller to see what was up. She told me it was going to be another day of her scrambling to cover as many classes as she could, and that I'd have to cover an elementary class. 


Because elementary schools don't have teachers with prep time who can cover classes, they have to get covered by subs first. The subbing situation has gotten so bad that they don't have enough bodies to just get those classes covered some days.

But, she wasn't pulling me at the last minute (when I was starting a long term assignment someplace), so I resigned myself to doing what needed to be done. And she gave me sixth grade, so not too much of a difference from seventh grade.

How short were they subs this day? A class across from mine was also out a teacher, and the only person they could get to sub that class was the school's principal. 

All in all, it was a pretty mellow day. The kiddos had tests all day. I was covering the English portion (but the math and science classes had tests, too). The sixth graders rotated through the classes. 

When the second group came in, one boy immediately caught my attention. He couldn't sit still, had to go back to his homeroom to retrieve the book (the test was open book), and then returned without the book. He pretended to stutter, and then he proceeded to speak without that stutter for the rest of the time. 

While he was out of the room, I asked another student his name. Cannon. 

Cannon returned from a restroom break. As he was walking to his desk, he threw his Tech Deck at another student. 

A Tech Deck is a miniature skateboard made to be scooted about using one's fingers. It's pictured above with a pencil for size comparison. They've been around since the time I worked at the evil toy store (now defunct). That's over 20 years ago now.

I asked the student to hand the Tech Deck to me. I placed it on the teacher's desk. 

Cannon came up to me to ask for something, only he spotted the Tech Deck. 

"That's mine."

Yup. I was aware. 

"Can I have it back?" 

He was not happy with my answer. When he asked why, I asked him why he had thrown it at his classmate. 

But he hadn't thrown it at anyone, he protested. It had just fallen out of his pocket. 

Yeah, it fell out so violently that it bounced off a desk and made a clatter. 

I didn't get into the argument over whether or not he had thrown it. I informed Cannon he could have the toy back... from his teacher upon her return on Monday. 

I like to employ this trick over disputed property. If the kiddos want to get into an argument with me over what was or was not done, they can take it up with an adult who is more familiar with them. And they can explain why there's a toy on the teacher's desk when the toy shouldn't have been at school (or at least out of the backpack) in the first place. 

Cannon tried to get the Tech Deck back from me a couple more times. He did not succeed.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Choose a Movie

It's been a couple years since I was last at the adult transition center. After finishing up the long term geography/economics class, it was my next assignment.

There were a lot of familiar faces. I had had them in classes at the high school where the severe special ed classes are held. The only difference is that we were masked.

After lunch, they were to watch a movie off of either Netflix or Disney Plus. In cases like this, I prefer to let someone else choose the movie. I don't have a preference, and I don't want to push them to watch something they might hate. I called for a choice, and the students just stared at me. 

Finally, Jake approached. He liked Wish Dragon

Yay! We had a winner. No one else said anything, so I put it on.

And only then was when Andrew piped up. It took a few tries, but I finally understood that he was saying "Disney Plus". 

Um, he had said nothing when I was calling for a choice. And we had started the movie, so we might as well continue it.

But, apparently, Andrew was used to getting his own way in things. 

He made noises. Grunted. Did things to disrupt the movie.

The instructional aides weren't having it. They informed Andrew that he wasn't going to disrupt the movie for the rest of the class. They threatened to call his mom. He had to go and sit outside a couple times. 

Ah yes, I remember this sort of behavior. I'm back in the subbing trenches. 

Alas, we did not finish the movie (we didn't have enough time). But as it was on Netflix, I finished it up that night. Cute movie.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Population 2

There are no stupid questions. Well...

Monday was my last day in the geography class as Mrs. O was returning Tuesday. The PowerPoint topic for the day was population. 

Fifth period was the difficult class, and Monday they were worse than normal. So, there was lots of me pausing and waiting for them to settle so I could go over the information. 

We were talking about the world population and how it is increasing, and we were talking about where in the world the population was decreasing and how that wasn't a great thing. That's when Alden piped up. 

"What if there were only two people left in the world and they were brother and sister?" 

At which point, other students chimed in with, "That's a stupid question," and "There's no such thing as a stupid question". 

I mean... Really, questions are good. I don't mind explaining some things when questions come up. But fourteen-year-olds and that question. Nope. Not happening. Especially not on a day where we had more content than time.

At the end of the period I told them it was my last day. And they acted disappointed. I kind of shook my head at that, because the prior class period, they were asking when I was leaving and they straight up told me they didn't like me and would be glad when I was gone. 

Kids. This is one strange gig sometimes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Friendly Business

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 went into business with your best friend and the business failed?

Monday, October 4, 2021

Not Quite the Progress

Octopus hat #2 seems to be working up a bit quicker than octopus hat #1. At least, I think so.

Since I tracked my progress on the blog, I can actually compare. 

On July 26th, I had barely begun. The next week, on August 2nd, I had the back portion and the hat itself done, but I hadn't yet explained what I was doing. 

I revealed the project on August 9th, and it appears that the tentacles and a couple suckers were done. I'd only got a couple more suckers done by August 16th. I finished all the suckers by August 23rd

I just started attaching the tentacles and suckers on August 30th. By September 6th that was finished. And the eyes were attached (and the whole thing finished) by September 13th

I started hat #2 by September 20th. And now I'm not feeling so confident, because this would be week 3 of hat progress, and I'm just about where I was on August 9th with hat #1 (week 3). 

I've only barely started one sucker: 

Which means I need to get on this a bit quicker, or I'm going to be running up on my deadline. 

That means my goal for this week is to complete all the suckers and get them attached to the tentacles. I already made the eyes (I made three sets of eyes at the same time), so that should make the finishing go a bit faster. 

Fingers crossed. I'd like to get hat #3 started this month. It's doable, but only if I get more done this week. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 1, 2021


Friday. Fourth period economics. We were discussing shifts in the demand curve.

That I passed my high school economics class is a minor miracle. To this day, I'm convinced my econ teacher gifted me that C. So, covering this class has been just as much an education for me. Luckily, Mrs. O has supplied me with all of the lecture slides and assignments, so the kiddos haven't been at a disadvantage. 

We spent a couple days on the topic. They had a chance to practice, and on this Friday, they were going to have a quiz (right after doing a practice worksheet that looked almost exactly like the quiz). So, I was spending some time going over more examples so that they'd be ready for that quiz. 

The question that popped up on the PowerPoint was about peaches and nectarines... 

And the song "Peaches" popped into my head. 

Not for the first time. This was the third time I'd been through this example, so the song had been on a loop in my head for two days. 

Do you think that earworms act like viruses? Do they want to infect as many people as possible? 

In fourth period, I broke. I mentioned the song.

So, of course, now they were curious. 

The song is older than they are. (They were born around 2004.) I was pretty sure they weren't familiar with it. 

I warned them not to look it up. It would get stuck in their heads. But, I don't think my warnings were heeded. 

At least now I'm not humming it alone.

I would recommend (if you are not familiar with the tune) to not click on the video below. You've been warned.