False alarm

Considering the topic of this blog one could assume that I am about to write a post about a Bart Simpson-esque student deciding to pull the fire alarm or set a trash can on fire for a gag, then get caught by police and dragged before a judge to learn that the story dad or grandpa told him about the things he did in his school days are not just considered not funny these days but actually a crime worthy of a hefty fine and/or community service.

Well, I’m not going to tell that story.  Instead this is about the trick-or-treaters who missed out on our house for the hour we took out of this evening to check up on my grandmother.  Things started out normal enough.  She called and the one she wanted to talk to was in the bathroom, so she said to have her call her back.  No problem, and thank– {click}.  Sigh.  My grandmother always hangs up immediately following her last word.  When she’s done, she’s done.  So, when the call is attempted to be returned- no answer.  Okay, maybe she’s in the bathroom this time.  Try again- nope.  And again.  Nada.  Keeps trying, and panic arises.  You see, my grandmother is 86 and I’m told was having some chest pains earlier today.  Okay, time to go over to her apartment to see if she’s all right, still attempting to make contact on the way.  We get over there and she is happily in discussion with a pastor who also sells household goods, I guess for extra income.  She loves the products he sells, or rather sold, as apparently he is quitting that line of business.

So, long story short (everybody now: TOO LATE! 😛 ) what happened is she unplugged the phone she had in her living room because it had too many cords and one of the buttons sticks.  That left her with her bedroom phone, which wouldn’t be a problem since her apartment is pretty small except she had the ringer turned off so she wouldn’t be woken up when asleep.  Doh!  We hooked back up her phone, explaining to her that she could still take calls even if she couldn’t dial any number with a 3 in it, and that I would be happy to get her a new phone ASAP.  No more troubles with not being able to call her I hope.

Okay, we return and only get maybe two more trick-or-treating groups for the rest of the night.  Where have they all gone these last few years, seriously?  Maybe scares like the latest one of tainted chocolate candy from China [don’t worry unless you’re in Canada, says the company]?

If you really want to hear about my jobs these last couple of days, I think I’m going to have to make you wait until tomorrow.  It’s 11 now and I’m tired.  Good night.

Early to rise, not early enough to bed

This has been an early week for me.  I know a friend of mine over here always gets up at 5 or 5:30, and once upon a time I had a job where I had to do that, but these days I am just not used to it and exhaustion leaves its mark on me by the middle of the week.  Such as today.  Fortunately I was able to nap for a little more than an hour so I am good for the moment.

Let’s see, by Sunday night I had no job for Monday so I had to go to bed at around 11 with my phone by me.  Sure enough, I got a wakeup call at about 5:30.  I would be needed in a middle school so I could not go back to sleep, and up I went.  I did have a chance to catch up on my newspaper reading before work.  How was the day?  It was actually quite interesting, thanks for asking.  It was a class where there were students with semi-severe learning disabilities- about as disabled as students can be in this district as they hire out a special education company to handle more severely disabled students unlike the other two districts I work in.  There were two assistants in the room and a student teacher, so I didn’t have so much work to do other than walking around and helping out.  There were three grades represented so it was a little crazy, though not as crazy as last Thursday when I did ELL.  I’m not sure why I didn’t write that one up.  It wasn’t so crazy because of the students, but because of the school play.  That Thursday and Friday they were showing the school play, Around the World in 80 Days (link to random theatre company that performed it) (link to publishing company page).  Between the two tays all three grades had two see it. Let’s see- two days, three grades- how did that work?  Well, they had 8th and 6th grades go on separate days, then split up the 7th grade.  Now how does that work when half the ELL class, comprised of all three grades again, would see the pay one day and the rest the other day?  You see?  Quite a mess, especially when the absent teacher made no note of how she wanted to do it- no mention at all in fact about the play.  Oh, and the play lasted for three periods, not all of which the students were in this room, so no, we couldn’t just say, “We’ll all go today and tomorrow you’ll all have class.”  That would have left some students missing actual classes one day and having no classes the next while their team or grade was at the play they already saw the day before.  It wasn’t easy but we worked it out.

So back to the topic of early starts.  The next day I was scheduled in the district that starts middle school really early.  So, up at 6AM.  I worked as a 7th grade LD teacher.  All the classes were either team taught or resource, so I didn’t do any teaching.  In fact, even the guided reading groups I was supposed to do were vetoed by the other teacher who was concerned about behavior of the students.  She was scheduled to be observed- apparently the administration was impressed at how she teaches her class and set up other teachers to observe what she was doing.  Yeah, If I were her I’d probably be worried too about how the kids would act with a sub when I was trying to lead a group (we were both supposed to do groups).  Resource was just simple reading together and students answering questions about the reading.  Again, I was not alone with the kids as there was an assistant this time.  Better than a homework period I suppose.  Math was like language arts- walk around and keep students focused.

While yesterday I was like an assistant but getting paid as a teacher, today was the opposite.  Like Monday I didn’t have the job set up by the next day, so I set my alarm for 6 so I could get up and look for jobs if I didn’t get called first.  Problem is, my mind was awake before 5:30 and there was no way I could get back to sleep for the half-hour until the alarm would go off.  Up I went again.  I searched for jobs in vain as none showed up this morning.  I got caught up on my reading again while I checked every five minutes.  Ironically, it was a phone call at 6 that gave me the job.  Low paying, but more than a half-day which is probably all I would get otherwise at that point, though I still kept an eye out for a better job in another district up until 6:15, afterwhich I knew I could no longer cancel the first job (two hours before starting time).  Again, no time to go back to bed, so I finished the paper and opened the book I was reading until it was time to eat and finish getting ready.

I was really hoping I was not going to be a one-on-one assistant.  I really dislike those jobs.  I got my wish.  This teacher getting paid as an assistant (seriously, if they are going to give her so much responsibility they should pay her as a teacher (and on that note the subs like me… 😛 )- I have done less as a sub for a regular special ed teacher, and I don’t mean because there was a student teacher either.  All day I was pulling out groups for reading or math, three different grades, taking them to a different room to work with them.  There was supposed to be an intervention group as well after lunch, but I had no plans for that so they cancelled it.  If I were to hazard a guess at why she doesn’t get paid as a teacher, she probably doesn’t do much planning, but I wouldn’t be so sure.  My mother worked as an assistant for a couple years and they gave her some planning as well so I guess districts are allowed to do this.

That brings me to now.  I have two more middle school days.  They are at a close school so I get to sleep in until a late 6:15. Okay, still early.  I will be glad for the extra hour on Sunday.  Next week I will also have a day off as all districts are taking off election day.  All but one are taking the next Tuesday off as well for Veterans Day so I will likely have that day off as well.  Nap days. 🙂

I’m tired.

Maybe tomorrow…

Posted in Other. 4 Comments »

Legend of Zelda video bonanza

On the topic of The Legend of Zelda I brought up a couple of posts ago, here are a few videos I turned up at Youtube/Google Video.  Enjoy!

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Hilarious live action parody.  College video, so has some foul language at a couple of points.

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If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Japanese Legend of Zelda dance.  ‘Nuff said.

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If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Different live action video.  Funny soundtrack too.

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If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Remember I mentioned getting so into the first Zelda that I had a book of maps I drew?  Well, this could have been me if I had a video camera at the time and was more outgoing…

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If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Legend of Zelda the movie!  Wait, what was that release date again?

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If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Two in one- Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda live in concert!  Be warned, this is a two hour video and has the music from these games in the styles of Jazz, Latin, Country and Bluegrass.  Performed September 14th, 2003 at the Nihon Seinenkan Hall in Tokyo, Japan.  I haven’t watched this yet but it looked interesting enough to post here.

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Eww, gross! Cooties!

It is a specials time for me this week.  Yes, I did mean to spell it that way.  Monday I subbed for art in an elementary school and today I did music in middle school.  This day was one of those times where I did the same lesson for all classes.  Yes, that means all grades from 1st to 4th did the exact same thing.  Why would they all do the same thing?  Well, apparently Metra is sponsoring a safety poster contest and have done so for the last couple of years.  Kids from kindergarten through high school make posters that have to deal with safety around trains.  Each grade competes in their own contest so a 1st grader, for example, doesn’t have to go up against a middle schooler.  Some of the posters from last year are really good.  Too good in some cases I think.  Check out this poster for example:

Kindergarten

This looks like a fine 2nd or 3rd grade entry, but kindergarten?  Hmm…  The previous year’s kindergarten winner looks a bit more age-appropriate.  So the kids got the details and started working on ideas for their posters, due in a short four months.  Anyway, check out all the previous winners at:

2007-2008 Winners
2006-2007 Winners

Today as I wrote above I did music.  This was a most enjoyable experience for me because I got to show videos for movie musicals.  6th grade got to see one of my favorites, Oliver! Well, the start of it.  Having been in Oliver! I was really able to get into it with the kids and talk a little about it and my own experience.  8th grade was next and they continued watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  That’s right, the old one which in my opinion has the better Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder.  No offense to Johnny Depp’s acting, but that interpretation of the character just didn’t work at all for me.  Not much to say about this.  They were engaged 8th graders, and that’s what was important. 😀  A couple in the second class asked if I could skip the songs.  Let’s see now, the class is music and he wanted me to skip the music.  I think you can guess what my answer was as we continued to listen to “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” 😈

Moving to 7th grade (last classes of the day and relevant to the topic title) we got to see the start of Singin’ in the Rain.  I’ve never seen this before believe it or not.  It is now on the reserve shelf at the library waiting for me to pick it so I can finish it since I saw only the first 35 minutes of it, twice.  If you’ve seen this movie then you know there are some kissing scenes in it, several of them.  I couldn’t believe it when one of the seventh grade classes had some boys going “ewww” during these scenes.  I heard “cooties” as well, but to be fair this was probably a joke reaction to the ewws.  I would expect this from 4th graders, but I would have supposed the sex education the kids get in public schools would have desensitized them to things like kissing.  I guess not.  I guess I learn something every day. 🙂

Check this Oliver Twist picture out (click image for larger version)- funny! 😀

Oliver Twist
Mike R. Baker

Legend of Zelda

Okay, I’m shifting gears for a post.  I really have nothing exciting to report for the last couple of days.  The second 6th-grade day went much like the first, though my perception of it was better because I really enjoyed working with the kids.  5th and 6th are probably my favorite age group to work with, though sometimes with a class that is a real problem I might let that get in the way and no longer enjoy it.  Friday was an ELL primary day.  It was a resource class so I worked with groups an hour at a time.  All we did was play board games.  Educational board games, but still.

So, why not talk about probably my favorite game series of all time?  I believe 1986 or 1987 was the year that the first Legend of Zelda was released here in the US.  When I received this game (gift I think) I was impressed with both the gold-colored cartridge and the fact that it actually saved games, no need to enter a long password to continue a game.  Never mind that later I would find out the consequence of this battery-backed save system was the game periodically being erased, something that couldn’t happen with a password system, though incorrectly writing down one could generate the same frustration.  I played and played this game, making my own book of maps which I still have somewhere.  When the quest was finished it really wasn’t because now there was another quest to play and map.

Legend of ZeldaAdventure of Link

About a year later a new game game out- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.  Though very different than the first, I still played this game a lot though I don’t remember mapping it like I mapped the first.  There is an interesting story to this one.  The US wasn’t the first to get a release of this game.  I was able to get an imported copy of it for a little over $100 at Gamer’s Paradise.  This was apparently a European release, or at least it had a multilanguage manual indicative of European releases.  The funny part of this story is that our admin here may have provided Gamer’s Paradise with the very copy I purchased, according to him!  I hadn’t even met him at this time but now of course we are close friends.

The third and fourth games in the series, for the SNES and Gameboy I had to wait to play as I didn’t own the systems.  I think C lent me his SNES to play that Zelda game, but the Gameboy one would have to wait for emulation on the computer before I would play that one, the color version of course.  Similarly, I would play the two Oracle games this way as well.  I never did try linking the two games with the emulator to get the bonus content that owners of both games would get after completing both.

A Link to the PastLink's Awakening

In 2000 two programmers would make waves in the emulation world, fielding the wrath of Nintendo with their release of an emulator for a system that was still selling in stores- the Nintendo 64.  It required a 3DFX card and didn’t play many games, but one of the games it was made to play was none other than Ocarina of Time- the first Zelda in 3D.  Nintendo did an excellent job updating this game for 3D which was unlike many older games updated to a first-person 3D perspective and I soon found myself buying a 3D card for my computer to play this game.  Why didn’t I just spend my money on the N64 system and Zelda?  I don’t know- I guess I am more computer-centric and it must have been cheaper.  When the next title came out, Majora’s Mask, and it didn’t play well with emulators, C came to the rescue again and lent me his N64 this time so I could play this.  Different than the first N64 title, but still quite fun.

Ocarina of TimeMajora's Mask

Over the last several years my need to play games, including Zelda, has been waning.  I did eventually obtain a Gamecube with Windwaker and eventually Twilight Princess (which I stopped about halfway through over a year and a half ago and haven’t picked up since), but I haven’t played games like the Four Swords adventures, the Minish Cap, or the Phantom Hourglass to name a few.  One of these days I may pick up a used DS, but considering how much I actually play games these days my money is probably better spent on other things.

Want to play Zelda-style games for free?  I’m not talking about emulation here, and certainly not about theft :o.  I’m talking about a program that can make and play games in the style of the original Legend of Zelda.  While the games are in the style of the original NES game, the graphics and sound on the adventures many people make are more in the line of later systems.  Some even use custom graphics to make non-Zelda games.  Zelda Classic can be had for Window, Linux, and OSX.  You can get Zelda Classic and quest files (the custom quests) at:

Zelda Classic main site (http://www.zeldaclassic.com/) (You can also get the main program for Windows here)

PureZC (http://www.purezc.com/)

Both sites have forums too, for discussion of Zelda Classic and quests for it.  If you want Zelda Classic for Linux, OSX, or just recent builds for Windows (only recent builds work correctly with Vista) you have to get it at http://www.shardstorm.com/. You will have to scroll down to find the latest Linux or OSX builds as the most recent are for Windows only.

Well, I hope you don’t mind my post on retrogaming.  I’ll get back to subbing news when I have something interesting to post.  Until then.

Welcome to Starbucks, may I take your order?

Starbucks

Massage the teacher = bad.  Just remember that, m’kay?  In reference to a previous post we learned that while paper passer, messenger, and librarian are good jobs for teachers to give their students, massaging the teacher doesn’t quite fly.  However, apparently not all service jobs are a problem.  From the title I think you can guess what unusual job I ran across today.  Coffee.  That is, making and serving coffee to several teachers in the school.  That’s right, this teacher is training her students up for the type of job they can only hope to achieve should the economy not pick back up.  Another 733 points today- sigh.  There’s more to this story though.  Apparently today was something like clothes mismatch day.  Some students traded a shoe to have mismatched shoes.  One boy had a sandal on one foot, a gym shoe on the other.  Other students turned shirts inside out or wore them backwards.  It was quite funny to see hoodies with the hood in front, like they were made for people who get carsick… 😮

So one student was wearing an apron.  A forest green apron.  I walked up to him in the morning and joked with him, “could I have a grande latte, please?”  I had noticed the coffee job by this time by the way, so it wasn’t coincidence much like I would like to say it was.  There were two girls assigned to this.  As a non-coffee drinker I don’t have much experience making coffee and I guess they didn’t either as we tried to set the older-type coffee maker up.  Guess who did know what he was doing and came over to help?  Mr. forest green apron of course.  That was the coincidence and what I found funny.  I left it to him and the girls and started with the lesson.

Let me tell you that this had to have been the noisiest group I ever worked with.  Sixth grade and social.  This sort of group should have been in a middle school still trying to learn the new system back at the bottom of the food-chain.  Some people disagree and say that sixth graders in elementary school is better for them.  I was in a sixth grade middle school class myself, so I guess it’s just what I’m used to.  When I first got there today I found out they had a sub yesterday.  I read some of the notes she left about their behavior.  Great…  It could have been worse though.  There is bad behavior and annoying behavior, and chatty behavior falls into the latter category.  The ELL class I mentioned several posts ago would be the bad behavior, as would some of the BD classes I have subbed for.  Talking I didn’t mind so much, except when I or someone I have called on is trying to talk of course.  They turned out to be good kids, just chatty.

And I will be with this class again tomorrow (a two-day assignment, yay!), so more on this in another post.