Friday, February 14, 2003  


Got no one to give you Valentine's candy today? Make your own.


posted by Erwin | 1:32 AM

Thursday, February 13, 2003  


The pickets did come down before I was even awake. The strike, however, did not end. The pickets came down for bargaining talks, but that accomplished nothing. The talks went no where.

You'd think that would mean this strike is likely to last a long time, however, tonight, I received some info that does not bode well for the TAs. I'm not sure if it's entirely true, so I won't mention it.

The buses were running as normal as of 9:30am which meant I got my haircut without any problems. I did, however, make an unscheduled stop to the Student Health Service today. It all started last night when my ankles got really itchy before I went to bed. I scratched them to much relief, but then I broke out in hives. I think I ate something that my body didn't like.

Anyways, when I woke up, everything was fine. Then on the way back from my haircut, knees got itchy. It took all my willpower not to take my pants off on the bus and just start scratching.

As soon as I got home, I scratched like there was no tomorrow. I swear, I have not derived so much physical pleasure from scratching an itch. Of course, the hives popped up all over my knees, at which point I decided I needed to go to the doctor.

When I got to the clinic, this super-hot blonde was ahead of me in line, and by the time it was my turn to see one of the doctors, my hives had gone away.

She said I had a really mild form of whatever it was and gave me an anti-histamine. One a day she said.

I had a long day. I'm going to bed now... well, not really... lol.


posted by Erwin | 11:31 PM


Today, or I guess I should say yesterday, the last legal impediment to the TA strike was removed. At 6:30am on Thursday morning, the TAs will begin their strike. Why so damn early? Well, two other unions wanted the strike to start before their employees got to work so they wouldn't have to pull them off the jobs. Good to know those people are getting the day off.

The TAs here at SJC are scheduled to meet at 6am, at which point they will make their way to strike headquarters, which is the Lutheran Center. That's located by the old General Admin building. I'd love to show my support, but hey, I'm not a 6am type of guy.

Mediation is scheduled for 9:30am, so there will be at least 3 hours of strike time. I'm sleeping in tomorrow, so theoretically, this could be all over by the time I wake up, but I doubt it.

Lucky me, I have to run an errand off campus tomorrow, which necessitates me taking the bus. The buses though, will in all likelyhood, not be running all the way into the campus. That means I'm looking at a 30 min. hike just to get to the buses now!

I don't expect it to be as crazy as APEC, but I'm sure it'll be interesting tomorrow.

In completely other news, joining in the ranks of,, and, Ryan Allan (or RALLAN for those in the know) has registered... Yeah, he broke away from the first name, last convention, but hey, flyingbox is what he's most famous for.

RALLAN assures us that great things are on the horizon for Flying Box Studios and that the corporate web site will be the definitive source for all things Flying Box, including the much heralded FBS press releases.

Good job Ryan!


posted by Erwin | 2:39 AM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003  


Everything was heading towards labour action as of 7am on Wednesday morning. UBC didn't seem to want to head back to the bargaining table and the TA union and the TAs met tonight to make posters and signs.

I prepared by not reading the pre-lab for my soon-to-be-cancelled-lab on Wednesday. It was coming to a predictable start of a campus strike. Then, at 12:30am, just hours short of the kick-off, I get an e-mail and then the CUPE 2278 web site gets updated. This is what I read:

Notice - A legal impediment due to unforseen complications in Essential Services mediation means there will be no job action Wednesday February 12, 2003. Please be sure to attend the General Membership meeting scheduled for 5pm in the University Chapel.

Apparently, the hospital and firehall essential staff services mediation has raised a legal impediment. So, the TAs can't legally strike until 7am Thursday now.

Like a false start to a race, people are nervously waiting for the real thing to begin. It'll be business as usual on Wednesday. Personally, that means I'll have to go to my lab. Bummer. And I was so hoping to not have to go.

I'm not sure if anyone saw those full page ads in the newspaper taken out by UBC, but they don't exactly represent the truth. UBC is quick to point out that they are bargaining in "good faith". However, there are more than a handful of incidents that demonstrate otherwise. Once, all parties involved agreed to meet, but the UBC negotiator failed to show up. Another time, the UBC negotiator went on holidays. Eager to get things moving, the union requested a second negotiator, but was ignored by UBC. When the negotiator did show up, he once said, "I wouldn't give you the change in my pocket" to the other side.

I know nothing about labour negotiations, but in my mind, this certainly isn't the way bargaining in "good faith" goes.

On a final note, when this strike goes full-scale, I'll be needing to get a resident-pass for myself. This way, I won't be questioned when I need to cross picket lines to get back home.

And so the drama continues...


posted by Erwin | 1:23 AM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003  


Today, the TA union entered into a legal strike position as of approx. 1pm. Since there are currently no scheduled bargaining talks, it's looking like there won't be an eleventh hour reprieve.

All signs point towards Wednesday being the day it all starts. During dinner tonight, I had a chance to speak to a few of my fellow SJC residents. Most of them have signed up for picket duty. They don't know where exactly they'll be picketing. Their assignments will be handed out when they show up.

The interesting thing is that students can choose to honour the picket lines, if and when they go up. As long as you inform your Dean that you'll be honouring the lines, the University can't test or assess you on the material you miss because of the strike. So let's say that the pickets are up outside your classroom. If you don't want to cross the picket lines, that's your choice. Unfortunately, they also say you'll have to make up for the material when the strike is over.

However, if the strike forces you to miss two weeks of class and then the strike ends, any exams immediately afterwards can't have any material from those two weeks. The gray area is that you'll need to make up for it somehow and how much time they'll give you is up in the air.

I linked to CUPE's web site last time, so if you want to see management's side of things, here is UBC's negotiation site.

In completely different news, I have ventured into new underwear territory. Many, many years ago, when I was a little boy, I made a promise I would never ever wear white Jockey briefs. I'd always hear people say that they wouldn't get a white car or a white furniture. Why? Because dirt and stains show up so easily on white cars and furniture. It occurred to me that was crazy that men, and women I guess, would wear white underwear right next to places on your body where... well, you know... you might be making stains of various nature.

I told my Mom, who bought my underwear back then, who still does to a certain extent, never to pick out the white briefs. Good old Mom got all sorts of colours, but she never did get white.

Well, over the summer, my Dad was at the Bay or something, and there was a sale. He got me a three-pack of briefs: black, gray, and... white. When I opened the pack, I was thought two outta three ain't bad. I was going to use the white one as a cleaning cloth for my collection of antique muskets, but for some reason I threw it in the laundry. Mom did the laundry and the whitey-tighties got placed in my underwear drawer.

I never did wear them at my parents' house, but they got moved with me to SJC. Fast forward to tonight. I take a shower. I am completely out of underwear. It's too late to do laundry. I want to change my ginch. There is one pair left however... the white ones.

Well, rather than go around with day-olds around my loins, I slip on the stain catchers. Click here for a visual representation of my current plight.

I'm doing laundry tomorrow night, and I'm hoping to hell I haven't made any art on the canvas by that time.


posted by Erwin | 12:19 AM

Sunday, February 09, 2003  


I'm not sure if everyone has read this in the news, but there is strike action is imminent at UBC. The teaching assistants have voted to strike and picket lines may go up as early as this week.

The main points of contention between the TAs and the University are: wage parity and tuition increases. UBC TAs are among the lowest paid in Canada. UBC has also increased the tuition of grad students, but not their wages. The TAs say this amounts to a wage cut.

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty specifics of the strike action, you can visit the website for CUPE Local 2278, which represents the TAs.

The effect of this strike remains to be seen. It could serve to be a minor disruption, or it could shut down the campus entirely. It wouldn't be that bad for a while if the TAs stopped working. Marking wouldn't be done and definitely lots of labs would not be run. The profs however, would still teach for the most part (if they didn't honour the picket line). The question in all of this is how will the other unionized workers on campus react?

I have no doubt Local 2278 has been in touch with the other unions. Solidarity seems to be a quality most unions have. One of my profs explained that most likely other unions will honour the picket line. How does that manifest itself? I haven't been here during a strike, but this is was my prof said. Buses will only run to Alma. That's a 20 - 30 minute walk to campus proper, and what ever is left to get to your building. This will hit the students the hardest. Picket lines might be setup at the major roads into campus. In years past, people on the picket line walked really slowly across the crosswalks, going in pairs in opposite directions. Cars have no option other than stopping. Legally, the strikers can't block traffic indefinitely, but this slows traffic down.

On the actual campus, I believe that no more construction work will done, and this goes for Plant Ops as well. The residences might be hit hard. Food for them has been deemed an essential service, so the first-years will be fed. Their cleaning staff, however, will not be deemed essential. This means that in Vanier and Totem Park, their washrooms will not be cleaned. From personal experience, I can tell you that after just one weekend of not being cleaned these washrooms were a war zone. I cannot imagine what they'd be like after a week.

I imagine a few UBC Food Services outlets will be closed too. Thankfully, the Village isn't union run, so people will be able to get food there. I guess we will see how many unionized workers are employed at UBC, just by their absence.

So, will you see me out there with a sign, warming my hands next to an empty oil drum fire? Unfortunately, no. I was kinda standing behind the door when they were handing out TA positions in the summer. Most of my fellow residents here at SJC are TAs however. They've all signed up for picket duty and will receive strike pay for doing so. In rare cases, some TAs will actually make more money from this strike than if they just did their TA work.

This week will be a very interesting one on campus. And into the unknown we go...

P.S. Enetation, my commenting service is currently down. From what I see in their forums, their entire user base can't get into their comments. Yikes. I'll keep you updated.

UPDATE: Comments are back up! I think...


posted by Erwin | 11:51 AM
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