I Have But NO @#$% To Give For This Meeting…

A quick sketch, about today.

Also, a quick post.

I was really, really trying to stay super positive. Monday didn’t go that well, in terms of Adult Issues, and at the end of it, there was discussion of a Staff Meeting today. That Staff Meeting would be so that the staff members could be sure to turn in their “School Experience Survey” which is an annual assessment of student, parent, and teacher views of the way that things are going at the site.

The thing is…it is due at the end of the week, and the Edu-Lords first decided to care about getting it done on Monday. That’s never all that great an idea, honestly. The staff are basically being told that they can do it on their conference period, or they have to stay after school, and provide proof that it was done already.

Let’s be real, True Believers. I did mine at the same time as I had my homeroom do theirs…which was during homeroom YESTERDAY.

It is pretty important though that this kind of “dropped the ball” play was being done for the School Experience Survey. Most of my students are perceiving a lack of efficiency on campus, and less supervision, and I myself was somewhat more negative in my responses than I have been in a while. The idea of a last minute push to appraise how things are run just seems to invite criticism of last minute pushes, you know?

Cap is expressing my sum total to thought on the subject, in her irreverent pose and general disrespect. Thanks for that, Cap.


And Now…Lockjaw!

She loves that big weird dog.

On the way home from work on Thursday, I stopped by Toys ‘R Us, because I was mildly bummed and wanted to enter the weekend on a positive note. The week had been pretty crazy and on some levels pretty discouraging, so I was hoping to find some kind of cool Pony stuff for my desk. That didn’t happen, and I looked around at the various areas that I like…DC Comics stuff, Star Wars stuff, and lastly, the Marvel stuff.

I’m amazed that I almost missed the huge 12″ Funko plush Lockjaw. He is pretty @#$%ing big. He’s got a big drooly plush tongue, his strange mustache looking face…full on bulldog posture, and most importantly, a tuning fork on his head. In a word, he was kind of perfect, and super adorable.

Obviously, I brought him to the front to check out, and Lockjaw is now part of the Fortress of Togetherness. He’s pretty great. I took him with me on outings on Sunday, to breakfast and the comic book store. All told, I’m pretty happy with acquiring Lockjaw as a coping strategy. Obviously, that’s what today’s art is about.

I’m trying hard to stay positive moving into this week. It’s the last week before Thanksgiving break, which means that the semester is really almost over. It’s also one of the tougher times of year both personally and academically for me, so I could use the positive world view. Cap hugging her big drooly Inhuman dog friend seemed like a pretty good call.

Do your best to stay positive yourselves, True Believers. it’s a pretty tough world out there.

She’ll Fight Any ‘Bot, Any Time, Anywhere.

She has strong feelings about conflict resolution between Cybertronians.

Starting off the weekend post…I have been working off some frustration playing “Transformers: Forged to Fight” on my tablet. It’s a pretty cool game that I’ve mentioned once before, basically a “Street Fighter” or “Mortal Combat” with giant robots. The basic premise is that a whole mess of the Cybertronians have been hijacked to a desolate planet from multiple dimensions to fight, for reasons that are as yet unclear in the “plot.” I do like that there is an attempt at a story…but let’s not over sell the plot here.

Heck…Generation One Transformers was pretty thin on plot, when you get down to it. And that’s the Franchise Maker right there.

The multiple dimensions aspect lets them pull from Generation One Animated (read as “the only ‘bots I use), Beast Wars (which at least doesn’t offend), and the Micheal Bey Movie Continuity. Those Bey Bots are impossible to NOT acquire, because you periodically spin a wheel at the Space Bridge top beam in new ‘bots. However, you can use any ‘bot as raw materials to improve other ‘bots, so the Bey ‘bots are basically just a faction I spend a lot of time whaling on.

Which is deeply satisfying.

Artistically…I should have made that generic Transformer a Bey ‘bot, but really…I couldn’t do it. First of all…the designs are too busy for me to figure out at all. Secondly…I just really didn’t want to draw a Bey ‘bot. That guy with the sword through his hand, about to have a tuning fork shoved into his metallic cranium…he has Bey elements, but not all that many. He’s a compromise, for the sake of my sanity.

The inks, before the final process. The entire panel is intentionally angled about 2 percent off.

I delayed drawing this, because I wasn’t sure if Cap should be wearing her Jacket uniform, or this black number that she wears when I’m generally not feeling too hot these days. For a while I waffled on maybe drawing a DIFFERENT uniform entirely for the image, something more related to the Transformers franchise. I stuck with this because it’s a challenge to draw (really) and it’s also from the 80’s like the Transformers themselves.

Let’s take a minute to discuss that random @#$ sword she clearly stapled the ‘bot’s hand to the ground with. Cybertronians are made of Metal, and so is their planet, Cybertron. Like, reasonably tough metal, since these guys frequently hit each other with girders, lasers, and armor piercing rounds. What kind of bad @#$, superscience metal does that clearly disposable sword need to be made of, in order to both go through that guy’s whole hand, and then stick into the planet’s surface?

I mean…I get that Cap can shove something that hard…she can easily lift a mountain. The idea that the sword didn’t break, bend, or otherwise crumple up, and did its job while subjected to those kinds of forces…it almost makes me think that IT needs a backstory. If only like…a store Cap goes to get stuff that won’t just be destroyed when she does something rough with it.

Clearly, she doesn’t get tuning forks from there, because she seems to get new ones all the time.

Partially, I drew this because Friday’s art (thanks for all the praise, Gentle Readers) suggested that someone was going to get whooped with a Tuning Fork, and there was nothing resolving that. It felt like there needed to be some kind of action sequence with a tuning fork, and since computer aided tests, mark reporting, and report card generation had been a bane of mine this week…it stood to reason that a giant robot could be looking for an @#$ kicking.

I liked Friday’s art so much, that I wanted to do a color treatment of a portion of it, to turn into some sweet Adequacy Gear for myself. If you like making creative stuff, I can’t say enough good about Cafe Press and Zazzle. The two web sites will let you make t-shirts, or in my case an assortment of little items like keychains and watches. If all goes well, the treatment below will be my new wristwatch (square faced, natch)!

You call that “mixed media,” True Believers.

It probably says something not too great that I decided to make new Adequacy Gear featuring Cap in the Black Uniform from this year, but the art came out well and really, really seemed like something I should do something cool with.

It’s really, really hard to get the idea of the proportions for giant characters. Giant robots, sure…if the robots turn into things that are familiar. Like Bumblebee…he turns into a VW Bug. So really…she shouldn’t be that much bigger than a person. Optimus Prime, though…he’s an 18 wheeler. So…how big should his head be, right? You can work it backward from the size of his chest, which has to be able to hold two adult humans comfortably, but it’s kind of a chore.

That guy in today’s art, though…he just presents the problem of being generically giant. He’s a completely random ‘bot…I guess he might be a Decepticon…or he might not. Current thought on the Transformers mythos has plenty of not Autobot/Decepticon Transformers, from sort of a Cybertonian Diaspora in response to the destructive Civil War. He could be just a ‘bot that looked at her wrong, or did something crummy that was unrelated to the whole Autobot/Decepticon conflict.

That’s going to be a topic for another day, actually. The more I play these games, the less “heroic” and “good” the Autobots really seem. Sure…they aren’t as BAD as the Decepticons, but that’s a pretty low standard.

She Definitely Gives a Fork.

This took a while.

The grades were completed, and my lessons happened on Thursday, despite all of the shenanigans from administration. Apparently, around half the teachers didn’t make the deadline, possibly because they had absolutely no clue that it existed. Administration made many announcements about how the grades could get done (during the day), but by the end of the day, whenever I ran a report card search through MISIS, I was one of the few teachers that had submitted grades.

Ironically, one of the counselors made their deadline, and showed up to my classroom in order to explain the Naviance system to my Seniors during homeroom. This would be fantastic for them…if most of them weren’t already fully halfway through their application process. It’s a system that is much more useful to Juniors, or perhaps my Seniors at the beginning of the school year. As it was, I was actually shocked to see a counselor show up on time for such a presentation, so that went as well as one could expect.

The art, of course, has to do with actually reigning victorious over the whole report card grade deadline. It was a pretty big challenge, because many of my students felt like the exact Last Minute was the time to submit overdue work, or ask for some sort of review of their grade in the system. Even with that, and the metaphorical plank of the last piece of art, it wasn’t too much of a chore…just frustrating.

Artistically, there’s a lot going on here. Han frozen in carbonite still is pretty much a representation of teachers not getting their stuff done. Get it? Their frozen. I have a Mandalorian Warrior on my desk at work, although that guy seems like he might be trying to draw a bead on Cap. I’m assuming that Applejack tossed her the big ol’d tuning fork, for some @#$ whoopin’, and C-3P0 also adorns my desk at school. I spent a lot of time at my desk, working on grades.

I did the pencils for the background as a separate piece, and then scanned it, merging the two pieces at a different contrast rate, to make sure that the foreground still “popped.” I’m okay with how it came out…it’s pretty much the sort of “cosmic chaos” in a Kirbyesque sense that I was after.

Thankfully, all that is done for now.

A Short Walkway…

Things seem to have escalated quickly for Cap…

On the way into work from the parking lot on Tuesday, things rapidly moved forward. I knew that I had to give the SBAC Interim Assessment on short notice. That wasn’t interesting or new information. In walking with a small group of teachers, we began to debate a pretty simple point. when were the fifteen week report cards due?

There was a camp that said the end of next week. there was a camp that in turn said that the date was Thursday…which eagle eyed readers will note is tomorrow. Still a third camp had no idea. The debate raged without solution for the entire walk to the main office.

Seeking an answer, I led the group to a Vice Principal, where i posed the question. “When, good sir, are the grades due…in two days, or next week?” Sadly, the first VP did not know, and he joined our party in search of truth. Quickly, we came upon a second VP, and then a third, and to both, we posed the riddle.

The third VP said, with all of the gravitas of his position: “They are due Thursday.”

To which I replied, “Then maybe you should make a PA announcement, because no one @#$%ing knows. @#$%!”

We have a million meetings about nothing, five to ten minutes a week are spent on meaningless “shout outs”, and no one things to remind the staff that they might have to generate a report card in the next week. That’s just irresponsibly disorganized. Thankfully, I grade often and constantly, so i really only have an error checking and data transfer to do in order to make the grades happen. With the day being a standardized test day, that came together quickly enough, but I feel pretty badly for less organized or experienced teachers.

Heck…I feel badly for me! It’s generated a decent amount of stress. Even though I know I’m okay, and can generate the grades easily…just like Cap can fly (and is nigh invulnerable) so that whole plank thing can’t REALLY be a threat. No one likes to have a proverbial (or literal) plank to walk, with almost no options…it sucks.

Especially in this case, where the leadership could have been more organized, and prevented any stress at all. It’s really bothersome to have a sort of phony “friendly environment” at the front end, while making mistakes by disorganization that cause stress at the back end. Don’t tell me to make sure I manage my “self care” when you can’t do the simplest and most basic business of running the place, Edu-Bro. Furthermore…if I’m supposed to be organized, maybe you should lead by example.

At this point, my report card is about 80 percent finished. I left one class open, hoping that they will submit a large number of overdue assignments late, so that I can give them the best possible grades. Stressful, but only because I care.

About the art…it was a pretty quick pair of sketches. I’ve noticed that this year, Cap wears her black outfit when she is in some serious @#$%ing trouble…it seems like that’s what that set of clothes is for.

I’ve laid out my clothes for the day, and they are all black.

My ScanTron, My Nemesis!

The Standardized Test is back! And just as evil as ever…!

Today (Tuesday) I have the privilege of administering the SBAC interim Assessment Block Listening Exam to all of my students. It’s a test that doesn’t really mean anything, or add up to anything, but is supposed to provide a useful data point for the school with respect to where the students’ achievement levels stand. It does provide an empirical data point, but honestly, we are doing one of the least useful of the IAB Blocks.

Since they are Interim Assessment tests, there are other choices, like Reading Comprehension or Compositional Skills that can be chosen, which give a much more useful data point. I felt like that could use a bit of clarification, hence that little bit of explanation about the test.

Procedurally, it makes a day where I’m not all that useful to the entire educational process. I have to hand out the student log ins, I have to start an operational testing session for them to sign into, and I have to be present for the exam. They plug into the headphones that connect to the Chrome books, and take the test. I watch, and kind of monitor the situation.

The test itself (SBAC) has already been dumped by a number of states, and doesn’t really measure the things that it was set up to measure. Student results on this are viewable only on a “back end” which no students and even few teachers will ever see. All in all, it feels a whole lot like throwing away a day that could be used for essay writing and editing.

I don’t get to make those calls, though. The Edu-Lords give me a date to give the test, and I pretty much have to give it.

Obviously, that’s what the art is all about…and Applejack doesn’t seem too happy about it.

Thunder On The Highway!

A typical morning on the 10 Freeway Eastbound.

Sometimes I feel like there isn’t enough action in the strip. Other days, I sit down and draw something like this, which disabuses me of that silly notion. You can’t have all action, all the time…just like you shouldn’t commute for too long at any one time on the Los Angeles Freeway system.

For the past week, when I get in my car to drive in the morning, it has been pretty much dark outside. This is a good thing, since the bulk of my commute is usually driving directly into the rising sun, which pretty much means that no driver can see at all. My sunglasses are like welder’s goggles, and it just doesn’t help very much. Having the dark has been great, since all the cars have lights, and I’m not blinded by the sun.

This morning, though, I’ll be driving into the sun again, thanks to Daylight Savings Time. @#$% you, Ben Franklin.

In the past few weeks, my commute has been fraught with unexpected adventure. A death on the freeway, literally right in front of me, a police traffic stop turned into an arrest (also right in front of me) and a fire at the Farmer John’s plant a mile away from my school, which emergency vehicles arrived at while I was at the intersection. Honestly, I could do without the morning adventure.

There’s an old saying, “getting there is half the fun.” I challenge anyone who stands by this old chestnut to begin commuting in Los Angeles, and see how well it holds up.

About the art…what’s that Science Wolf Man’s beef with the pretty girl in the convertible? Beat’s me. It makes about as much sense as anything else that happens on my commute. Cap seems pretty mad about the whole thing, what with trying to land on that car and help, and getting smacked in the face for it.

Pretty much how I feel when I get to work, after stopping to assist at any of the various crises that happen en route to the office. No wonder my homeroom thinks I’m grouchy.