Tuesday, January 26, 2010


"People who set traps for others get caught themselves. People who start landslides get crushed. You have to hate someone to want to hurt him with lies. Insincere talk brings nothing but ruin." - Proverbs 26:27-28

Monday, January 25, 2010

Other Substitutes

As a substitute teacher, it isn't always easy to identify the other substitutes. Perhaps when I walk in a room they will assume I am the teacher who I am covering for, or maybe they will in some other way exude the doubt and confusion inherent with the position. Sometimes I will run into them in the office, signing in in the morning, and once I've worked at a school long enough, I begin to know which teachers belong in which classrooms, and I know a sub the way all the other teachers know me.

A lot of the time, I hate working with other subs, because they have their own way of doing things, I have my own way of doing things, and neither of us are inherently right. It becomes somewhat of a power struggle, with the winner being the person who assumes they sub in that building most.

Sometime last week, I was asked to cover a period in this room I've subbed in a lot before. They said there was only a TA in this room, so they wanted to have a teacher in there as well. I had no problem going there, as I knew this particular TA; he's a really nice guy and the students respect him. Unfortunately, when I arrived, he wasn't there. In his place was some other guy, presumably a sub, sporting a black tie with a pattern of neon splashes. We quickly identified that we were both substitutes, and then discussed briefly the need to fill out a time sheet when covering for a TA. I don't do it. I subbed for a TA once, and never got paid for it. When I called and found out why, they sent me a time sheet, and I just never filled it in. A lot of people owe me $40. I'm just too awkward to bug them for it.

So me and splashy tie, it turns out, are both in the same position in grad school. Apparently, he subbed in this district last year too.

"I just felt so honored when they sent me that letter over the summer asking me to come back," he said. I suppose if it was your first time subbing and this was the only district you're in, then maybe you would take too much compliment from such a form letter. Or maybe he is just quite the character. Either way, every school district you substitute in will send you a letter seeing if you're coming back. It isn't because they think you've done a nice job; it's because it is easier to keep the same subs than to go looking for new ones.

Seriously?! Should I have bragged about the fourteen letters that I received?

Friday I subbed in a school I sub in a lot, and there were a bunch of teachers out. A man of such an age that it seemed he might be actually employed rather then subbing was in the room next to mine, chatting with a teacher I've seen many times before. During my lunch period, I walked over to my door to shut it and shut off the lights. That teacher was walking out of his door too and took the opportunity to walk into my room and chat with me. We spoke of school, and employment (noticing a trend here?) and he shared how he usually works in the high school, but figured he'd give the middle school a shot, just to test it out. He said he had been too lax with his morning classes, and he was going to try to be stricter with the afternoon ones, anticipating the crazy that would surely erupt once kids had had a few subs for all of their classes. "Do you know Chris and Keith?" he asked.

"Um...Chris is a really generic name," I said.

"Oh, you'd know! They're a duo; they're quite something," he said. Then he offered to help me out if I needed it, as he had apparently earned the students' respect, specifically one individual student who liked him.

After lunch, my classes were pretty small. When there are only three students in the room, and the office sends you another sub, it is pretty easy to keep the kids on task. I had a studyhall and sent a few of the kids to the library and then threatened the rest of the class with referrals if they talked. Needless to say, they stayed pretty quiet. The other afternoon classes weren't silent, but their talking was mostly about the assignment at hand, and I kept the door open for the whole afternoon. The other sub's classes were quite loud, as he had predicted, and he stopped in at the end of the day to say how quiet my classes were.

I think people make assumptions about me, perhaps based on my appearance. This guy had never seen me before, as I had never seen him. He doesn't know my relationship with that school, and with the students. He doesn't know my style of classroom management, and from the way he offered assistance, it seemed he thought I couldn't handle it. But look who couldn't handle it in the end!

Sometimes when I talk to other subs, I learn things that I need to know, such as the fact that long term or building sub positions don't come with such benefits as health insurance, or perhaps that you can collect unemployment during the summer. Sometimes another sub will have just the right words to soften my heart about something.

So I guess other subs can be OK, if their advice is warranted and given with respect. They can be OK if they aren't wasting my time trying to convince me to buy their drink supplements. Other subs are best interacted with outside of a class we're responsible for.

I always draw the back of people.

If you draw strangers, I'll bet you do the same.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Milk / Timing

Just now I drove to the Farmers' Market. I go pretty much every week, if nothing else, to get milk. As I drove, I listened to WAMC. When I parked my car, a story came on about a Hudson Valley dairy farmer. I thought I'd sit and listen.

I couldn't find the audio, but this site had it text-based:
A dairy farmer in this Columbia County town shot and killed 51 cows in a barn on his property and then committed suicide, state police said on Friday.

Troopers responding to a 911 call about 1 p.m. Thursday found the dead cows and the body of Dean E. Pearson, 59, inside a barn on the farmer’s property at 121 Weed Mine Road, police said.

They said Pearson appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Troopers were called to the farm after a visitor found a note on the barn door that said not to come in and to notify police.

Police said their investigation revealed Pearson had been despondent about recent personal issues.

Local farmers buried the cows outside the barn on Friday.

An autopsy on Pearson was to be performed Friday at Albany Medical Center.

The timing was eerie. The topic is really sad. Some of the comments on this post are really cruel, but someone left a really articulate defense of that farmer. I'd encourage you to go read it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

No help at all.

Yesterday I subbed for an art teacher in an urban district. This is not particularly distinct from my typical gig. The only thing was that I had never worked in this school before. And I've only really said this once before (well, only about one school), but I doubt I will again.

The kids were pretty out of contol, and while I'd be tempted to say that these were bad kids, I know they are not. Whenever another teacher stepped in the room, the class would instantly fall quiet. It is these sort of situations that really drive me nuts, because as I try to get the class to quite down, the 'good kids' come up to me, one by one, pat me on the arm and tell me something that I might try to do which gets them to settle down. "You could push that talk button over there to get someone to come to the room;" five minutes into my first class? Riiiight. "You could...you could say they won't have Fun Friday." "You could clap your hands." It becomes as much of a task to get the "helpful" ones to sit down and be quiet as the chatty disruptive kids. During my second to last class, a room of first graders (who were filled with the typical contaigious-need to go to the bathroom and "I can't do it"s and the gamut of issues little kids typically have) a little girl came in, probably about 3rd or 4th grade. She told me she was the art helper, and as much as I wanted to just send her on her way, I figured she might be of some use shushing the first graders, so I let her stay.

The unfortunate thing about substitute teaching is that many kids rely heavily on routine, and if the teacher has not indicated something on the sub plans, it will not be part of the routine. All day the kids had been asking for these little slips of paper (a lot of elementary schools are doing this lately - a 'caught being good' reward system in which the papers can be traded in for school store items or perhaps can be placed in a drawing for a bigger prize). I don't award these things when students ask for them, and I especially don't award these things when I haven't been able to stop yelling. This little girl, my art helper, starts insisting that we hand out these little peices of paper. My first instinct is to fight her on it, and then I just let her go. As that class leaves, I inform the teacher of who was good, who was terribly misbehaved (they're going to lose recess for an entire week) and who had a million crisises (uncontrollable itching followed by crying because she can't draw a square concluded with a papercut which might as well have been the loss of a digit from the way she whined). I thank the little girl in a manner in which I hoped would imply, "thank you...your work here is done" but she told me that the regular teacher usually lets her stay for two classes, and she wanted to stay. So I said she could, and immediately regretted my decision as the next class of fifth graders came in. She, as kids had earlier, suggested I call someone to come in and yell at the kids (right at the beginning of class). As I explained about how they were supposed to draw things and why, she started pointing to the teacher sample on the board (as if I needed any more to encourage the kids to say "that doesn't look like that one!!") and just generally mimicked me, which some people might find cute, but I really didn't appreciate it. As the students got to work, she decided to continue her role as task master, and went around yelling at the other kids in the class. Kids who are bigger than her. Kids who are older than her.

And if you think they respected her authority, you haven't hung around kids much. Not only did they freak out about her telling them what to do (even if I said that I had asked her to do so --- a little fib to support her), they threw things at her and one boy even asked her if she was pregnant (admittedly, she has a potbelly, but nearly half of all little girls do. Plus, I have a potbelly and I'm not pregnant...nor do I ever appreciate that question). Soon, I was fielding more complaints from her about the abuse she was suffering from the older kids than I was from any of the students in the room about the abuse they've suffered from each other. She asked for a piece of paper, so she could try the assignment also. "Great," I thought, "maybe this will keep her busy and out of their (and my) hair." Within 5 minutes she had finished the assignment and hung it up on the board. Several minutes later she was complaining that kids were picking on her. "Why'd you hang your work up?" I asked. "You allow people to share their opinions with you when you put yourself out there, and their opinions aren't always nice."

Sometimes those opinions are downright cruel. Sometimes those opinions are riddled with typos.

After this class left, one little girl stayed around. It almost seemed like she was putting up the chairs for me, except that they were already up, and she was just sort of flipping them over, and back over again. I needed to vent about what just happened, so I explained to her about the little art helper and why I thought her classmates hadn't respected that little girl's, ehem, authority. This girl, the one flipping the chairs, started telling me about her brother in the middle school. I'm sure I've met him. She told me all about how he beat someone up, punched him until his eye was almost falling out. He beat this kid up because that kid had hit his girlfriend. I guess I understand. "Well, I certainly wouldn't mess with *you*!" I told this little girl teasingly, "your brother would totally beat me up!"

"Nah, I'd do it myself," she responded. She then proceeded to tell me about the fights that she had been in. This bright-eyed little girl with french braided pigtails and a warm smile. My goodness. "I grew up in the Bronx." You did? I mean, you're like....what, nine? You grew up there?

I tried to explain to her why fighting is a really bad idea in school, and on the street you've gotta do what you've gotta do.

But then I remembered that you still have to answer to an authority figure on the street, and told her to avoid doing that because she doesn't want to be put in custody, or in jail when she's old enough. "My mom has been in jail three times."

Sometimes it's really sad when you find the answer to your questions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things I didn't realize were real.

Beth says there is a whole dorm at RPI dedicated to this. Do you realize how close I am to trying this out?

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I, like many of you, am a digital packrat. I never really delete anything. I still have the hurtful song lyrics that a certain someone e-mailed me 5 years ago. Beyond what is on my computer, I don't delete any of my accounts on the internet. I'm sure that my geocities stuff is gone, and I wonder about my AOL-hosted guinea pig websites. I know that my MySpace is still there, however much I neglect it. Today I discovered that my DeviantArt account is still in existence (I had tried to sign in a few months ago when I remembered about it, and I took the error message to mean they had deleted me -- not so!)

And then there is LiveJournal. No one really uses LiveJournal anymore... I mean, no one but Corinne. A lot of my friends deleted their LJ accounts, but I never did, because, like I said, I'm a digital packrat.

Today I wanted to post something that I didn't want to share with the world at large. So, if you knew me in 2005 and you never deleted your LJ, I encourage you to try to remember your user name and password and log on. With all this glorious grown up public blogger stuff, I forgot that I sometimes appreciate privacy.

(This is mostly for you GoogleReader lurkers who I bet still have your LJ accounts)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Screen Printing: DEMYSTIFIED!

"You screen print? Like....T-shirts and stuff?"

People are always confused when I tell them I screen print. They can't quite wrap their heads around the process.

And it is certainly a process-heavy medium. This video is for all'a them.

Share this via Twitter?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everyone loves a collab drawing project.

If you've ever participated in a game of exquisite corpse, you'll know how much fun collaborative drawing can be.

SharkEyeJones has begun a project to incorporate collaborative drawing with all the different social-media websites he uses. I just yesterday realized what was going on and decided to participate. You totally can too.

Start here: http://dailybooth.com/SharkeyeJones/2380852
Be sure to look at all the comments each day, because they inform the next drawing. He only started this at the beginning of the new year, so if you're reading this not long after I post it, you won't have much catching up to do.

On twitter, he started asking for words:

ok, time for a test, friends. this might not be exactly what you think it is. anyone like to supply me with a noun?
5:23 PM Jan 7th from web

(to which I replied: @sharkeyejones tripod
5:27 PM Jan 7th from web in reply to sharkeyejones)

ok. let's try a place now. who's got a place in mind?
5:41 PM Jan 7th from web

(to which I replied: @sharkeyejones Lon Gisland
5:54 PM Jan 7th from web in reply to sharkeyejones)

animal? my selection process is random by the way. in case you were wondering. animal now?
5:58 PM Jan 7th from web

just three of these left. if you're feeling generous hit me with an adverb
6:18 PM Jan 7th from web

(to which I replied: @sharkeyejones are you playing madlibs?
6:19 PM Jan 7th from web in reply to sharkeyejones)

@ChateauOfADoubt sort of.
6:54 PM Jan 7th from web in reply to ChateauOfADoubt

am i wearing out my welcome? it's for a video. you like videos, right? can i get an adjective?
7:08 PM Jan 7th from web

So the video is sort of a prequel to the DailyBooth drawing thing, and it gets even more interactive than the twitter thing:

Needless to say, you need to comment on the video on YouTube.

I've started participating on DailyBooth also. You can check out my comments @ChateauOfADoubt. But you knew that.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Youth In Revolt: Review

In which Emily talks Youth In Revolt, comparing the book to the movie.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bacon Day Q & A

You know, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The WBC is ridiculous.

You know how I feel about the Westboro Baptist Church.

They apparently hate Lady GaGa to the point where they've parodied her song.

When I did an internet search for pictures of them for this video response thing I did, I found this gem:

See that guy with the black and white sign? I love him.

EDIT: So does BuzzFeed.

On Love, Hate, and Subbing.

So I've been thinking about writing an angry post about this school I've been subbing in. I was going to even tell you which school until I heard that one substitute who had been working in the district for more than 20 years was fired because of her troubles with the students (The kids hate her...they call her Mrs. A**licker). Monday I subbed in this school and I had one period of hall duty. Generally, you can tell where you are supposed to be for your hall duties because there will be a chair in the general location of where you were told to go. On Monday, however, there was no such chair. I looked all around, and then just assumed where I should probably be, and leaned against a wall, reading my book. Hall duty is pretty easy, except when there are kids running around, and you try to clotheshanger them, and no one offers any help when you tell them that such and such a girl has just been wandering around all period. Wait, what is my purpose standing here in the hall? What am I doing? Wasting time? Alright. Being an inexpensive security camera? This is probably closest to it. One teacher walked by and stopped to address the fact that I was standing. "Oh, crap," she said, "I forgot that we aren't allowed to sit anymore. I wouldn't have worn these boots!" During lunch, I started talking to another teacher about how maybe it's best that we aren't allowed to sit, it forces us to be more fit or something (see: my new year's resolution). He agreed and told me that he generally just walks around anyway, "patrolling." At this point another teacher came in and joined the conversation. She basically said that it was a ridiculous thing, that one of the principals had declared that there would be no chairs in the hallway and had them removed. This principal merely told everyone that they weren't allowed to sit anymore, without issuing a written memo. This other teacher told me to just grab a chair from a nearby classroom, that it isn't a fair burden (another duty one might have is a Study Hall, in which you are allowed to sit), that the union is fighting it.

So that was Monday.

Tuesday I'm in this school again, but in for a different teacher. My Hall Duty is right outside the classroom I'm subbing in, and I pulled a chair out and sat in it. The hall monitor stood next to me, chatting. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of the principals (the one that had not sent out a written memo) looking at me from the second floor interior window (this school is full of bad architectural decisions). With walkie-talkie to mouth, this principal walkied the security guard next to me and demanded for the removal of the chair. You know, the one I was sitting on.

It was about this time that another teacher (whose duty was also that period in that location ...overkill) came by and told me all about the fired sub, and the principal who is not a force to be reckoned with. Good thing I didn't have to learn *that* the hard way.

Ok, so today is Wednesday, and I was supposed to sub in this school again today. And if the fact that 1. blogger is blocked at this school, 2. this school gets out after 3 and 3. I'm typing this at 2pm isn't any indication of what happened, let me spell it out.

Today I woke up at 11.
I drew a deep breath and picked up my phone.
1800 GOOG411.
****** ******* School, ********, NY.

The secretary that I talk to all the time answers, and I quickly explain that I don't know what happened, and I am so sorry, and if they still want me to come in .... yadda yadda.

She was surprisingly nice about it. She said they were surprised, because they know me and know I'm dependable. She said they had it covered from within. She said she was just jealous that I had only then woken up. She asked if I was available Thursday and Friday.


I both love and hate that school.

Goog411 is totally worth not paying whatever it costs to dial normal 411.

I need to get more sleep. I try to do too much, and too much never includes sleeping.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Watch The Guild.

I don't even play MMORPGs, and I still really enjoyed this.

Here, to get you started:

Seasons 1 and 2 are available on YouTube, Season 3 is available on http://www.watchtheguild.com


Friday, January 1, 2010

Twenty Ten yadda yadda

Everyone is doing all of their looking back, looking forward stuff. It is now 2010, so I guess I'll do some of the same.

2009 has its good moments. That month-long road trip I took? Pretty sweet. Getting Chickens? Check. Discovering the community side to YouTube and gaining 100+ subscribers? That was cool. Keeping in touch? More or less. With Hands? Yea, I put in a lot of work with that.

2009, failures: 50 Book challenge. Granted, I only picked that up in say...August or September, but still. If I had finished Twilight and this other book, I would totally have made it. And...being a fatty. I gained some pudge which isn't pretty:

Alan Lastufka is taking serious measure with his own fitness, breaking out spreadsheets to keep himself accountable. I'm considering asking him for some...but I a) don't have a scale and b) haven't seen a huge correlation between how much I weigh and how chubby I look (I feel like you're going to call me a liar for this...but I'm being very serious).

I really need to start jogging more. It has been so frakking cold and last year when I tried to run at the indoor track at HVCC there was a huge issue with it. I guess I'll have to try harder this winter, and take better advantage of the warmer days. I should also get a head start on the 50 Book Challenge and maybe actually accomplish it this year. I would really like to start getting up earlier than I need to so I can exercise in the morning....maybe a little Rodney Yi abs yoga. More walking whilst hanging out. I actually got a little start on that tonight; I requested that my friend Erica take a walk with me.

Craig Benzine is making promises for 100,000 subscribers:

Which he totally deserves. He is endlessly hilarious, and if you have a YouTube account, you should subscribe to him. (Scratch that...even if you don't you should MAKE a YouTube account so that you CAN subscribe to him!) Yellow button.

I'll just be happy if I can do 1/100th of that by the end of the year. Not that that is a resolution.

And of course, I'm excited for VidCon, and graduating grad school, and taking a summer course at the Center for Cartoon Studies. I'm also really nervous about this last semester of grad school, so I'm not going to make any big resolutions...or plans or promises for this semester at all.

I turn 25 in 25 days.