Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog Archive LIII
The One Year Anniversary of Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag's Blog

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Sketchbook - James Dean Smith

Don't know much about Boris, I'm afraid. I know the satirical comic book featuring this friendly-looking bear was first published by Dark Horse. I know that Boris is far more likely to dress up as Rambo or the Punisher than Aquaman. And I know Boris slaughtered a bunch of funny animals, including apparently Usagi, in one of his books. But beyond that, not much. Feel free to enlighten me, if you wish.

by James Dean Smith
9 February 2003
(permission to post given 14 September 2003 in person)

Boris joined my sketchbook at the first ever Emerald City Comicon, but I've seen JDS around the local Seattle ComiCard Convention also. At some point I may have to look into Boris some more, just to find out what kind of Aqua-critter he'd really make...

To see all the sketches I have permission to post so far, check out my Sketchbook Page. If you have any contact information for any of the other artists I'm trying to contact, please e-mail me. Click for a random Aquaman sketch.

by Tegan at 9:43 PM Seattle time

Rapid Reviews - 22 October 2003 - Part II

The Years of Rice And Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

Ten books set in different eras make up this history of an alternate world in which the Black Death killed off virtually everyone in Europe in the fourteenth century, instead of the third that died in our reality.

While it's an amazing journey, it's best taken book by book, then digested a bit before moving on. I had never read anything by Robinson before, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into. I never expected this. While it's got elements of science fiction/fantasy, it's really a long exploration of religion and sociology set in the framework of a what-if story. It's a good read, and worth taking a look at. 4 starfish

Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes

Like the Robinson book, this book focuses on a world in which Europe is not a power, and in fact is decimated by disease (though that isn't the only reason for the reversal in this story). The book follows the life of Aidan O'Dere, taken as a slave from his Ireland home and sold into slavery in the New World, Bilalistan.

I first heard about this book from Heather Alexander, who wrote some music to go along with the tale (which you can hear samples of on her page, or buy in CD form). I wanted to read the book from that day, but it wasn't until recently that a copy fell into my hands. Now that I've finished it, I've got to get my hands on the sequel, Zulu Heart. This is a good book that will make you think twice about the history of slavery, something we all should do anyway. Keeping in mind the real history of the world while reading this brought home a lot of aspects of history I'd never thought about before. Another one worth reading. 4 starfish

"He learned, among other things, that teaching was the most rigorous form of learning. He learned to learn more from his students than they did from him; like so many other things, it was the reverse of what it seemed to be, and colleges existed to bring together groups of young people to teach some chosen few of their elders the things that they knew about life, that the old teachers had been in danger of forgetting." -from The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

by Tegan at 2:17 PM Seattle time

Friday, October 24, 2003

Rapid Reviews - 22 October 2003 - Part I

Smallville: Slumber [3-04]: Clark's dreams are... not as intense as you would expect, unless that interruption really interrupted the good bits. Anyway, long dream sequence that became increasingly obvious as a dream sequence, followed by some good touches. But neat special effects do not a story make. This one could've been better. 3 1/2 starfish

Justice League: Maid of Honor: Wonder Woman goes clubbing. Fun. This one had some high points (I think the best bit was when I recognized what a mass driver was before hubby-trivia-genuis did), but overall left me a little flat. It was ok, but not outstanding. 3 1/2 starfish

Archard's Agents: Pugilistic Pete: Ok, that was a pretty funny way to finish the story. Nothing special here, but it was fun. Overall. 3 1/2 starfish

Wildguard #2: And here I was voting for Aqua-Chica... *sigh* Maybe I'll start voting for Toughlon. This is a fun one. I keep thinking it's been five or six issues, so much has been crammed into these first two. I like it. 4 starfish

Still to review: Birds of Prey, Avengers/JLA, Cinnamon, Amazing Spider-Man, and Outsiders.

by Tegan at 6:37 PM Seattle time


I guess I'd better blog now, in case today's massive solar flare turns off the power.

I've never been one for active boycotts. I generally feel that a passive boycott is better because you then don't draw attention to the thing you are boycotting. And with a passive boycott you don't have to do any of those "announcements" that you later may have to withdraw because you find out you were wrong. However, I think I can safely announce my latest boycott. Based on my recent experiences with the EFF, and after learning that they get massive amounts of funding from the Walton Family Foundation, owners of Wal Mart and Sam's Club, I figured I would boycott anything Wal Mart does. That's not hard. I think I've only ever been in a Wal Mart once in my entire life, and I've never set foot in Sam's Club. Indeed, my whole boycott is a bit of a joke because of that. But after this strike, I'm paying a little more attention to things like this. See, Wal Mart and the EFF are educating the people who hate them, one at a time.

by Tegan at 11:51 AM Seattle time

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Night Thoughts

Just a note to let you know, yet again, how happy I am that hubby-Eric is teaching, and finally able to blog about teaching instead of striking. It was a horrible bit of timing that led to him being a first-hand blogger of the longest teacher strike in Washington State history when he wanted to be blogging about his first year of full-time teaching in a new school district, but I hope some folks will get something out of reading those notes.

Just another note, one of hubby-Eric's blogrolled bloggers has an article about school boards that caught my eye. I guess after the hell the Marysville School Board has put us through the last two month, reading that "School Boards should be abolished" because they are "worse than a dinosaur, they are more like an education sinkhole" kind of felt right.

by Tegan at 9:29 PM Seattle time

Writer's Block

I was going to write two long entries today, one about the continuing situation in Marysville now that the teachers have gone back (oh, and there's a lot to tell) and another about my latest comic book aquisitions, but my head hurt so bad when I got home that I crashed in a dark room so I wouldn't feel it. Maybe more later today, maybe not, but I haven't written either entry I intended to. Bummer.

by Tegan at 5:37 PM Seattle time

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Whoa, in all the excitement of Eric going back to work and stuff, I nearly forgot that today marks one full year of blogging for me! That's right, this blog has now been active every single day for a whole year! Howzabout them apples?

by Tegan at 4:59 PM Seattle time

Radio Requests

Hubby-Eric sent an e-mail to Kent and Allen, the morning radio personalities on Star 101.5 in Seattle. He requested a particular song be played between 6:45 and 7:15 am this morning. He also wrote a letter explaining the whole situation (how he finally got a full-time teaching job only to go on a 49 day strike).

Call me the lazy wife, I didn't want to get up to record it. So I set up my computer with the radio going into it and set up a timer to record the whole 30 minutes. It worked, and I've been listening to the program this morning.

They read my husband's letter on air (of course they couldn't pronounce his last name, so the referred to him as "Mr. G", which is the name many students call him) and played his song. Then promptly the weather gal made fun of the choice of song, since it was "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba... if you listen to the main chorus, it makes perfect sense for a teacher fight song, but if you listen to the rest of the lyrics... heh. Another teacher called in to say it is a great song for teachers: "I get knocked down, but I get up again, they're never gonna keep me down." That pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

by Tegan at 9:24 AM Seattle time

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Aquaman Thoughts

I really need to update my Aquaman page. I've been delaying for some reason I can't explain. But it's a good two months behind now. The latest solicitations are up for DC, including the newest Aquaman cover. Liked the cover, despite the artist. Speaking of generally poor artists, here's my first sharable effort to draw my main (fictional) man.

by Tegan at 6:08 PM Seattle time

Is It Over? No, Not Even Close

So, the Marysville Teachers Strike is officially over, but the underlying causes are still there, and the teachers still do NOT have a contract. The administration is still corrupt, the school board are still just puppets of the EFF, and the superintendent is still not qualified.

It's time now for the parents of Marysville to step up and fix the problem. The teachers have literally turned over the fight into the hands of the parents. The teachers could have continued the strike, but the administration was too stupid to understand what was being lost and too determined to make the teachers take the blame. A PR battle wasn't going to get school started sooner, and it has become increasingly obvious that the administration itself doesn't care about the kids, only that they win in the power struggle. The teachers DO care about the kids, and the first time they were allowed a voice since the strike started, they SHOWED that they care, by voting to go back.

But it's not over. The teachers face reprisals by going back without a contract. The administration is going to believe they've won. Some kids have been convinced that this was the teachers fault, and they are going to treat the teachers with even less respect. What faces this school district is an uphill battle of epic proportions.

I intend to keep fighting and keep blogging about it until either the district is healed by a new school board and intelligent parents willing to fight for their kids education, or until my husband leaves the district for someplace that actually cares about education. Whichever comes first. After the pain and suffering the people in this district have caused me over the last 50 days, and the immense support others in the district have shown, I have no preference. I hope my intention to keep fighting to save the district is enough of an indication.

by Tegan at 9:07 AM Seattle time

Monday, October 20, 2003

Marysville Teacher Strike

This morning a judge ordered the striking teachers back to the classrooms. This evening I have been waiting to blog until I heard what the teachers voted to do about the order. The initial reports coming from the vote indicate that the teachers have decided to obey the court order and return to class. However, before the vote, the teachers spent four hours talking.

I don't know what this means. Until I hear from my hubby, I won't have any idea.

Update: My husband has blogged about the vote.

by Tegan at 10:49 PM Seattle time

Random Thoughts

This week, Dilbert has a mystery artist every day. I realized who the first artist was as I clicked on the answer, something about the way the characters stood made me say the name right before I saw it.

Here's a funny Libertarian Party press release about Rush Limbaugh. I think I pretty much agree with the view, if not the way it is stated. via Mark Evanier

Grotesque Anatomy is working on the comics canon, and I find the thoughts quite interesting based on my experiences in Doctor Who fandom, in which "canon" is practically a swear word. If I pull out of my rage and depression long enough, I'll try to actually write up some thoughts on the subject.

The Modulator found this blog entry by Ken MacLeod that I agree with completely. Yeah, I'm coming late to this whole electronic voting thing, but I still find it very hard to believe anyone with a brain let this happen.

The Pulse reports that CrossGen is republishing the pages that Robin Riggs inked already, but they still have not paid him for them (nor has he signed over the rights to CrossGen yet). Also, missing from CrossGen's January solicits are El Cazador (!?) and Crossovers. Hmmm.

by Tegan at 4:20 PM Seattle time

Oh Happy Day

To Lisa,

Happy Birthday little Sis. Too bad we didn't scan that picture Janette found of you, I could have posted it. Heh heh.


by Tegan at 8:48 AM Seattle time

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Final (somewhat striking) Thoughts for the Night

Oh, yeah. I got another letter in the Times, this one about the Marysville Teachers strike. It was printed Saturday.

Calpundit talks about unions. My sister is currently a grocery store worker, part of the same union that is striking in California. I find the situation very disturbing after the last 48 days. She finds the fact that the local union's contract is up in May disturbing.

While lots of people are promoting the EFF, I've been fighting the EFF during the teacher's strike.

Speaking of the first EFF, they are fighting for the rights on-line of the people who are trying to stop the use of non-audited voting machines. Apparently, the company that makes the machines keeps shutting down sites that have proof that suggests the company's actions were illegal, and that vote fraud may have occurred in some elections.

I still think anyone who allows a voting machine that doesn't leave a paper trail, physical proof of a vote that can be recounted by hand, is stupid and should not be allowed to be in any position of authority.

by Tegan at 9:55 PM Seattle time

The Utter/Heck Report

So, the special team that Governor Locke sent in to investigate the Marysville situation has issued their first report. The report blames both sides, but I notice a little emphasis on the district side of things. Here are some juicy excerpts with my unprofessional opinions.

Report of the Governor’s Special Masters on the Marysville School District Strike
By Justice Bob Utter (ret.) and Denny Heck

Yes, their names are Utter Heck.

...simply put, teaching is a very hard thing to do. At the outset, we sincerely thank you who are willing to undertake this task so urgent to all of us.

They start out the report by giving their teacher creds, including the fact that both of them are married to former teachers. They also emphasize that teaching today is different than just a generation ago.

We are confident that our recommendations are balanced and affordable within existing District resources and are viable if the parties truly wish to resolve this dispute.

I notice that key word "if" in there. Is there some reason these guys think the parties don't want to settle?

There is plenty of blame to go around. Both sides have committed errors that have materially contributed to this circumstance.

This is an example of being blunt. However, I noticed later on that most of the recommendations they make for solving the problem are exactly what the teachers want. Have they uncovered something that the union is doing that the teachers don't know about, or are they just trying to let the district save face?

The District has aggressively sought to transition to the state salary schedule and to regain control of “TRI days” (time, responsibility and incentive pay). Given all considerations, the District has been too ambitious in its efforts in this regard and as a result, has notably contributed to prolonging the duration of the strike. In other words, the current salary schedule and TRI configuration did not happen overnight; it is difficult at best to change them significantly overnight.

That's what the teachers have been saying for the last 48 days. Glad somebody else noticed.

RECOMMENDATION: The parties have locked into their respective positions; but this is not an “either-or” choice.

This is in regard to the salary schedule, and I think the guys got this one wrong. The district is determined to go to the state salary schedule within three years. The union refuses. Their recommendation itself does not condone going to the state salary schedule, thus this IS an "either-or" choice, and they recommend "NO". Which is what the union and the teachers have said all along. Here's the rest of this recommendation:

The parties can and should negotiate a new single consolidated salary schedule that meets as many of the stated interests of both sides as possible. The District has defined these interests, in part, as: making it easier to comply with state requirements and paying less senior teachers more closely to the amount they generate from the state given their years of experience and education. The Local has defined its interests, in part, as: protecting senior teachers from any reductions (real or nominal) and support for a locally developed schedule that reflects unique concerns. These interests are not mutually exclusive.

Except they are when one side insists on "going to the state salary schedule" without any real bargaining in between. This is the single biggest issue in this strike, and they seem to have missed the point. The union refuses to be forced onto the state salary schedule, the district insists on it. They are mutually exclusive. Period.

The recommendations about TRI pay make no sense at all to me. Basically it sounds like they are telling the district to stop messing with the TRI, pay it as in previous contracts, and if they want more district directed days then pay the teachers for it. Here's the bit in question:

The District currently provides the equivalent of 10 additional “TRI days” for teachers.

RECOMMENDATION: The parties should negotiate an additional day or more of District-directed activity at the base rate of pay (versus the current “premium” rate for “TRI days”.) This would be in addition to the current 10 days. The parties should also pursue other means to create available time for professional development activities within the parameters offered by state law.

The last bit is health care and other compensation:

RECOMMENDATION: Given our recommendations above, and given the strained finances of the District, we believe that overall compensation increases can and should be negotiated for all employees that are in an amount that is less than last proposed by the Local – in whatever combination of pay and health care benefit increases. We do not recommend a specific amount since the overall package is interrelated.

In other words, they recommend a compromise. That's the thing that bargaining is supposed to result in, but since the district hasn't done any bargaining, there have been no compromises. Strange how that works (or doesn't work, as the case may be).

Tomorrow, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese will issue her ruling in this matter. If Judge Krese grants injunctive relief and orders teachers back to work, we strenuously urge them to return to the classroom and simultaneously continue bargaining.

The teachers will not return to the classroom without a contract. This is a stupid thing to put into the report.

But if success continues to elude the parties, there is another option which is tried and true in the history of labor relations throughout the nation and Washington State and that is BINDING INTEREST ARBITRATION.

YES!!!!!! It's about time someone brought this up! It should have been used after the strike went on one week! Why hasn't this been used yet? I keep hearing that the district refuses it, but why?

This thing has gone on 47 days too long. And tomorrow morning I get to learn if my husband is going to be declared a criminal for standing up for the rights of teachers. This whole thing is stupid. It was stupid from the start, and stupid when it continued. Marysville has given us nothing but pain since September 1st. I just want this nightmare to end.

by Tegan at 8:08 PM Seattle time

Fruitlessly Searching

Blogs change the way search engines work. Until people started doing daily updates on general topic blogs, it was fairly easy to find information about a subject by doing a simple keyword search. You usually found a site about that keyword. Now, though, there are a ton of blogs out there that are updated frequently, and have no specific topic. So if you do a keyword search now, you are as likely to find an almost unrelated post on a blog as you are a website based on what you are looking for. Even worse, if the blog has a small retention time, the chances are good that the post with the keyword won't even be around on the main page by the time you search for it.

I keep noticing the strangest searches on my sitemeter log. Other bloggers have noticed it too. You almost need a way to filter out blogs when searching, now, so you don't get the random nothingness.

by Tegan at 8:33 AM Seattle time