Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-torn September 17, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:43 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The fabric

of my complacency

is torn.

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picket knit #Outlander infinity scarves! September 16, 2014

DSCN1259I have been knitting on the picket line, and have listed five scarves for sale on eBay.  They’re various lengths, widths, and colours, all based on the scarf Claire wears outdoors in episode 103 “The Gathering” of the Outlander TV series.  They each start at an auction price of $29.99, or a Buy-It-Now at $40.

As an added bonus, you can see me modelling the scarves in my belly dancing wig! 🙂  You know you want to see what I look like without white, fuchsia and blue hair, right? <g>

Here is the link to the scarves on my eBay seller’s page

So that ^ link has expired, but I still have some scarves for sale, so if you’re interested in one, drop me a line via either the ABOUT or CONTACT pages and I’ll get back to you.  Eventually I’ll try to upload photos to this page.

For you crafty types who end up on this page because you want to make one, most of mine were knit in garter stitch over 15-25 stitches (depending on whether you want a cowl that doesn’t wrap, or a scarf that does) using 25 mm needles.  To get Claire’s look above pick a chunky yarn of your choice, plus a coordinating worsted weight, use both together to cast on 15-18 (as you like), knit away until you run out of yarn (a meter to 1.5 meters), then whipstitch the ends together.  You can add a twist if you like for a mobius strip, which does lie nicely on the shoulders, I must say.

Very easy! The costuming department was in a real hurry when they commissioned all these scarves, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one on the show that couldn’t have been knit in a day. I chose fancy chunky yarns- nice German boucles or variegated types to go with a solid worsted.  You might prefer all solids like Claire has on.

 

poem- out in the rain September 15, 2014

Usually

I have patience to tolerate

your negative energy.

I can listen to your whining

self-indulgence

without comment.

I can ignore your

ignorance, and gently

try to inform you.

But right now,

my world is a storm

of negativity, raining from

despots, thieves, and liars

who have too much power over my life.

I am holding up a very small umbrella

to hold off the stress.

If you blow that negative air at me,

you will turn my umbrella inside out

and so you’ll excuse me

if I leave you

standing in the rain

by yourself.

 

 

Response to Maclean’s magazine op-ed re: teachers’ strike August 29, 2014

The following is a response written by Tobey Steeves to a Maclean’s magazine article about the BC teacher’s strike.   It was posted on http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/b-c-teachers-strike-readers-respond-to-macleans-editorial/Since I can’t link just to his comment, I’m pasting it here, because it is a very informative explanation for those who don’t understand why BC teachers are striking.

(Reprinted with permission of Tobey Steeves.  Twitter: @symphily)

………………………………………………..

In an unattributed op-ed published on Aug. 12, Maclean’s frames the current bargaining impasse between B.C.’s teachers and the B.C. government as a “perpetual clash over salaries and education funding” (B.C. Uses Shrewd Negotiating Tactic in Teachers’ Strike). Setting a stage for readers, the editorial states that:

Little has changed to smooth things over in the past three years. In April, the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) began an escalating series of job actions. Teachers first refused to supervise students outside of class time, or to communicate with administrators. Rotating strikes followed, closing every school in the province one day per week. Finally, a province-wide walkout in June shuttered all schools two weeks early. Forcing an abrupt end to the school year has long been the ultimate weapon in any teachers’ union arsenal.

Left unaddressed in this framing is the fact that teachers in B.C. are attempting to bargain with a government that broke laws to cut services for kids. B.C.’s Supreme Court has twice ruled that the B.C. Liberals used illegal bargaining tactics to strip contracts with teachers and health care workers. The International Labour Organization has ruled a handful of times against the B.C. Liberals—declaring multiple pieces of legislation illegal under international agreements. In other words, the United Nations agency that looks over labour standards and advocates on behalf of justice for workers and decent work for all has positioned B.C.’s ruling government as flouting international treaties to push its political agenda.

Admittedly, the B.C. Liberals have chosen to appeal their most recent loss at the B.C. Supreme Court, arguing that it would be too expensive for them to implement the Court’s ruling: placing money and profit above laws, and kids’ needs. To fight this appeal, the B.C. Liberals have hired a high-priced “legal superstar,” “an expensive, top-drawer corporate lawyer.” That is, instead of investing funds and resources in serving public education, the B.C. Liberals are investing funds and resources in fighting to uphold (illegal) cuts to services for kids.

Meanwhile, during this round of bargaining, the B.C. Liberals have tabled more concessions for teachers and cuts to services. For instance, there has been a refusal to address the student-to-educator ratio in B.C., currently the worst in Canada. Similarly, there’s been a refusal to address operating grants per student—currently the lowest in Canada. The B.C. Liberals have also denied the impacts of cuts to learning specialists and rejected the need for meaningful intervention to improve classroom composition. In other words, while classrooms across B.C. are getting more complex—more students who don’t speak English at home, more students with special needs, and more poverty—the B.C. Liberals would rather spend money and resources to legitimize further cuts to kids’ access to learning specialists than spend money on providing kids with access to learning specialists.

Also left unmentioned in Maclean’s framing is the fact that before the teachers escalated their job action, teachers struggled to broker an agreement for more than a year before the B.C. Liberals locked them out and cut their pay by 10 per cent. Then, under direction of the Labour Relations Board of B.C., teachers were “directed” to be off-site 45 minutes before and after school, and were “directed” to avoid using any school facilities and to avoid helping students during lunch and breaks.

However, Maclean’s op-ed does mention that the B.C. Liberals plan to pay some parents $40 a day to offset the costs of child care, should the teachers’ strike go unresolved by the start of the 2014-15 school year. Only students under the age of 13 will be eligible, parents will need to register online, and payments won’t go out until October—at the earliest. Limited access to child care and students over the age of 13, apparently, aren’t much of a concern. The program will reportedly cost the government around $12 million a day—to keep schools closed and kids at home. Alternatively, some parents may use the $40 subsidy toward tuition and fees at private schools. In effect, the $40-a-day plan is akin to school vouchers, and is best understood within the context of a privatization agenda and a broader push to attack and diminish public education. (See, for example, “Public Education in British Columbia: The Rise of the Shock Doctrine or Kindling for a Shock-Proof Otherwise?”)

Notwithstanding, Maclean’s op-ed encourages the re-direction of “savings from public sector strikes to taxpayers’ pockets,” and insists that:

The most productive and fruitful negotiations are those in which both parties have equivalent power and face similar risks. Compensating taxpayers for their losses from savings generated by a strike balances out the power in public sector labour talks and gives everyone a reason to settle. That seems like $40 a day well spent.

It takes a special genius to view the current bargaining impasse in B.C. as one in which teachers are inordinately advantaged. And there is no warrant for casting a government that has shown a willingness to let politics trump laws—and kids’ needs—as facing “similar risks” as teachers who have lost thousands of dollars in pay fighting for more equitable access to public education in B.C.

Malcolm X said, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Maclean’s anonymous op-ed ought be seen in this light, and recognized as a push for an anti-democratic policy agenda regarding labour negotiations. From this vantage, it seems like reading unattributed op-eds in Maclean’s may be something other than time well spent.

Tobey Steeves, a concerned citizen and public school teacher in Vancouver

 

poem- middle August 26, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For centuries

you were either rich or poor.

You had lots of power or none.

Until the merchant class

developed.

They educated their children,

and the middle class

evolved.

Now a minuscule percent of the population

holds the majority of the wealth, and the middle class

is crumbling.

The rich fight to grab

more and more wealth,

more and more power.

They fight to destroy

public education

and the health system

with elitist ideas about

who deserves what.

Sharing is better

than hoarding.

Spreading wealth

makes society better for all.

Teach everyone.

Heal everyone.

Crime goes down.

Life improves for everyone.

The feudal system

is futile.

 

poem- Oh Christy July 5, 2014

Oh Christy,

who was the teacher

who provoked you?

Who was the teacher

who shredded your confidence,

made you feel powerless,

alone,

stupid?

.

Who?

.

For surely somewhere,

you sustained a deep hurt

that is still a festering wound,

that causes you to lash out

like an injured dog,

irrationally,

deflecting your pain with today’s power.

Some time ago,

there was a hurt,

that we are paying for.

.

Christy,

A counselor

would be cheaper.

.

.

.

It’s just a theory.  But it would explain a lot.

 

 
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