career, LIS, portfolio, psychology, self care, technology

Life without obsessions or compulsions?

I think I’m new to this.

We have moved into Week 9 in my class…not a huge deal, but it reminds me that there are only 5 weeks after this, left in the semester! It’s time to start thinking about next semester.

I’ve also found that it is still possible for me to take a Virtual Internship even though I’ve already graduated: one of the articles I’ve just read (extracurricular) says that as much or more could be learned through internships and practicums, as through classes. I may want to join my Alumni Association to keep access to the job search board, as well…but I’ll get to that, when it’s time.

I have about a month and a half to decide if I want to take a class on XML in the Spring…or hold out and try a private course, again. I’ve located one which looks like it will fit my needs…if it doesn’t, I know a place that gives an XML course every Fall. However: I can take up to 11 more units, there…maybe I want to save them for PHP, JQuery, or Drupal, and go ahead and do XSLT/XQuery, privately. Then I can re-take it in the Fall at the University, if I need to.

Also, I found a book on XML/XSLT/XQuery, which I can use to boost my skills. I haven’t read it yet, but the last book I read of the series (on Linked Data) was very understandable, and the branch of my association which puts them out…has a very good reputation.

Putting that all together: that looks good, actually. So I review over the winter, re-take XSLT/XQuery in Spring, and get the book on XSLT/XQuery for practice, afterward. For now, I can see what I can do about an Internship…and take some lessons on JavaScript. (It probably also wouldn’t hurt to review my Relational Database textbooks.)

After Spring, I can look at PHP, JQuery, and Drupal; though those aren’t skills as much in demand for my targeted positions. XSLT, though, it looks like I’ll have to learn (at some time — if I want to become a Metadata Librarian, which is what Cataloging Librarianship is turning into).

I think the major thing holding me back is frustration at having to use my, “slow mind,” as versus my, “fast mind.” I’m used to things being easy to scan and read — I can skip over information and my mind will close the gap — and Programming…really requires me to slow down and parse things as I come across them. I have to stop and think about what each symbol or nested tag means, that is…and reading in English is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that.

(It is, however, not easy when you’re reading subordinate clause after subordinate clause after subordinate clause…and then you start to think, “what am I looking at?” and you’re looking at an extremely complicated sentence. Maybe I should try and rephrase the lectures, or something.)

Reading in Spanish and Japanese is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that, and I’m not particularly great at either of those two other languages, at this point. However, at least I can decipher parts of the code. Whereas when I see something like //@lang, I have to actively remember what those symbols mean, and put together what they mean, in context with each other. That can be frustrating, when you’re expecting to do better (even though you only saw this code for the first time, six days ago).

It’s not easy, although W3Schools makes it look easy. And I’ve found out that maybe it actually is not best to depend on my instructor explaining things to me. I know how to find information on my own, that is; and some of it is clearer than the lecture.

I really…need to figure out what to do about these internships, though! Like, do I need to sign up for the Internship course, pay the tuition, and then work for free for 14 weeks (in exchange for experience)? You know?

Well, anyway: I can contact my Vocational team about that. I’ll need to get it set up by the end of the year, regardless.

And that means, to get the freakin’ Portfolio back online, before someone asks to see it.

I can do that. I can actually do that, soon. And for now, it’s a finite project.

Alright.

The title of this post relates to the fact that although I have been washing my hands more than normal, I believe my other obsessions are becoming less dominant. Thus, I could write, but I don’t have to write; I could make jewelry, but I don’t have to; I could paint or draw…but don’t have to. I forget the last day I was in a Japanese language lesson, or at which I sewed anything. Aside from these things, I realize that I don’t totally know what to do with myself when I have a lot of free time, and nothing that I’ve zeroed in on to do now, now, now, now.

They’re all parts of me, but they don’t define me.

Having choices is not necessarily the easiest thing, eh?

career, creative writing, libraries, LIS, psychology, writing

Hypergraphia?

Given that my last hard-copy journal entry was titled PPP (Pretty Poor Productivity, which I could easily manipulate into an acronym emphasizing more completely my frustration), it seems surprising that I would come back to the blog instead of doing classwork. Especially as we’re getting set up for another heat wave, to begin tomorrow.

I’ve been intending to get my non-deliverable homework done by the end of the night, as I don’t foresee using the computer in the daylight hours between tomorrow and Monday. I also don’t want to fall behind; it’s disheartening. Tomorrow can be used to catch up on my reading (I only have 20 pages).

Beyond that, though: there’s more to be done, really, than putting one foot in front of the other. Long-term…we’ve just made a decision which may turn out to be momentous in its impact on our lives, though it’s a fall-back position. I won’t get too far into it (in public or at this time, at least), but I wanted to note it.

Right now, I’m feeling distracted. I’ve just gotten through cleaning up a bunch of stuff in the craft area; M is there now, cleaning up her things. I have been…likely distracted since a second round of paints arrived, and then there are the pens I have been talking about, which have been getting attention since maybe Thursday? Then there is the language training thing, which isn’t bad…but if the backup plan goes through, I just might be able to take in-person classes, after COVID is no longer an issue. If that ever happens.

And yes, I do suppose it’s possible that I’m a bit depressed. It’s kind of hard, not to be.

I mean, it’s kind of like, “Where am I going with my life?” I know I have strong English skill and Art skill…and some Computer-oriented skill. But I’ve spent the last 10 years figuring out what I don’t want to do, following a career path that I knew nothing about when I chose it, because of a Vocational program which — other than helping finance my schooling and giving coaching for how to apply for jobs — really may not have been all that great?…

It was good to get me into my first job. That doesn’t mean much, though, except that now I have a track record and people who know me.

The major issue for me, if this fall-back position goes through, is going to be figuring out what to do for money. Especially considering that there may not be many non-service-oriented jobs in the area. Now that I’ve mentioned that, you may realize what I’m talking about…

…and it may be more worth it for me to do some reading on psychology and anger management, and try and adapt to the world, instead of being upset when people fail to live up to my expectations (which, with the general public, is a regular-enough occurrence).

If nothing were to change, I’d be seriously considering writing and art as venues within which, to sell my labor. I suppose I can still do that. It’s just that — and this is something I’ve been dealing with for a long time — working creatively feels like a waste of my intellect.

I think I’ve gone over that in my private journal, though. It could well hold for any job, though: that working as one little cog in a machine is simpler and a waste of my talent, when I could be working on my own projects.

So maybe I really should look at being self-employed.

I’ve been having a recurring series of dreams about going back into Undergraduate training and into the Hard Sciences like I thought I would as a teenager. I just feel like I could be helping to cure diseases or something, and instead, I’ve been dealing with random hostile **** being a front-line service worker.

But — as I have been learning with XML/XPath/XSLT — if I know from the outset that I don’t like the classes, what makes me think that I’ll like the work that the classes are training me to do? What makes me think, “it gets better?” Being “cool” doesn’t get very far when I seriously have to deal with work that I dislike (and Computer Programming, I’ve found, I dislike).

The most obvious opening, for me, is becoming an author or writer or Lecturer or Professor at the University level…that’s possible, and it’s even…interesting. But that’s going back into Academia. Do I really want to do that?

When the alternative is service work or computer work, the answer is yes; when the answer is art work or writing…there’s actually a complication which occurs.

Seriously, though: do I really want to put in another 2-4 years of work to gain an MA or PhD?

(If the question is if I would do that for an MFA, the answer is an emphatic, “yes”; but then I have to pick a field. Creative Writing, or Drawing and Painting?)

And then there is the possibility of studying Japanese Language and Literature, which…I would seriously, like to do. At least, from here, I think I would like to do it.

And if I’m doing that, I might as well work in a University Library and get free tuition. Getting an additional Master’s would clear me to work in the position of an Academic Librarian, pretty much anywhere. Would I really like to do that, though (especially given that Academic Librarianship also involves teaching at the University level)?

That is — am I actually OK with going through the process of gaining tenure, or traveling around until I can do so?

But that sounds sweet, guys. That really sounds, sweet.

Like hella effin’ sweet. I’d learn to read and write in Japanese, and my reading can enhance my writing, and I’d get to help the University kids, and live in University towns for the rest of my life.

I might also be able to focus on comparative literature; at least, after that’s over. Though Comparative Literature has never really been my goal, I’ve read into at least one book (Articulations of Difference: Gender Studies and Writing in French), which was what originally whet my appetite for non-English writing.

I can’t believe it. I found a bright spot! Through writing! I love writing! :D

There are also accelerated courses at the place I’m looking at, which sounds so good! And I could get to teach at the University level, about something I’m actually interested in!

At the beginning of this post, I typed “Hypergraphia” as the title. That’s basically due to the fact that I’m just pretty obsessed with writing, as I can tell from yesterday. “Hypergraphia” is a psychological term for the compulsive desire to write. I’m pretty sure it’s what was getting me through my Creative Writing training, when I felt like writing was one of the only constants in my life. It’s also likely what I was going through, as a teen.

Of course, though: if I had a mental condition which was causing me to write compulsively, and then that condition is treated and no longer rules me…the question is, what do I do with my life, then?

Learn another language? ;) Read a whole lot? Journal? Get back to writing for its benefits without letting it drive me into the ground?

I’m feeling so much better. I’m going to end this, here…

career, LIS, psychology, self care, technology

Fatigue.

It’s only been within the last 48 hours (last night) that I’ve recalled the fact that in my youth, I turned to writing because it calmed me. It stabilized me. I’ve recalled that out of realizing that I’m falling behind in my studies while I’m spending hours writing, although seriously, I only need to concentrate on my one University class, and no(ne of the) others.

In the abstract, in the ideal, I want to put my best effort forth for my XML class so that I don’t waste the money I invested. However…given the last week, no — given the last three weeks — I can see my priorities shifting. I was going to say, “I can see my mental state deteriorating,” but I’m not sure that’s true (entirely). It’s likely more or less normal to be disturbed at this time, with heat waves and fires and smoke and lockdown and politics and COVID-19 (although I think our own continued lockdown re: COVID-19 is voluntary).

I suppose I can be thankful for being as functional as I am, right now. At least I can still write, and I can still make art. Though yesterday, I was working on my assignments for my University class (not XML)…and it’s very clear that I’m experiencing fatigue, and it’s impacting both my motivation to work, and my ability to focus. This class is dry…and I’m wondering if a life of desiccation is what I want. (Apologies to my Professor.)

Late last night, I was able to get some studying done…though it is, honestly, seeming unimportant right now. I’m still 10 pages away (at least) from the end of my lecture, which isn’t…great, but I’ve gotten through the first 14, so that’s something. The thing is…the XML course series is about coding, but it’s on a different level from my Web Design (HTML5/CSS3) course. It takes work to understand what the code means, particularly for me, with XPath (which is a foundational skill for XSLT). XSLT is helpful in crosswalking data from one metadata schema to another, or for converting an XML document into another form of output (like HTML). This will inevitably come up, if I become a Metadata Librarian. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Nor does it mean I could have predicted it.

In practicality, I have an assignment due today, but am struggling with feeling overwhelmed. This may be due in part to the fact that I haven’t finished the reading for this week (and am also otherwise behind, in the series). And, well, the crazy weather. And the craziness in general. Let’s not forget that I’ve barely been out of the house in the last seven months, and we still can’t open the windows because of smoke.

I also see that it’s been a week since I’ve last drawn, I still haven’t gotten back to Middlesex, I’m stalling on my Japanese language lessons, and though I’ve got the seeds of three watercolor paintings in me right now (all with a little bit, to a modicum of work already done), they need some more planning and/or experimenting.

The logical thing to do is to get back to those last 10 pages of the lecture, and then at least try the assignment. However, I know I don’t want to.

If I’m going to read something to get my mind off of things, however: I might as well try reading that, first, and seeing if it helps anything. The fact is that I planned on signing up for these courses in large part so that I wouldn’t have the free time and energy to ruminate about lockdown. I’ve completed four of them already. I am likely OK.

I have been told that if I do get to work on my Art instead of my XML class, that will be acceptable, so long as I do the Art. It’s not…the worst idea…

career, LIS, organization, personal, planning

Languages

I made the realization the other night that all three of the courses I’m in have more or less to do with language acquisition. “Three,” I say, even though one of them is free — for now. XML is obviously a markup language (related to HTML); Japanese language is also obviously a language. In addition, I’m finding myself becoming “conversant” in the terms and ideas surrounding Subject indexing in an LIS environment. (I didn’t even know what the term, “Indexing,” referred to, prior.)

The course I’m in now in regard to indexing — that is, assigning Subject metadata — is one I needed to take when I was in Grad School, but didn’t. I was too focused on getting in and getting out before anything could happen to upend my life. I don’t think anybody expected this in 2020, but it could be — personally speaking — worse. Much worse. (There’s still time yet, you say. There’s always time, yet…until there isn’t. So I should value my time.)

If I hadn’t started my training in 2012, I would have had four extra years to play around with as regarded my schooling. However, as I entered the program early and then Withdrew, only to come back four years later…there could have been some complications with my Financial Aid. Retaking three core courses (as I would have been required to do) would have been nothing, but continued funding in the form of grants and student loans…no one told me what might happen, with that. And, of course, it would have been nice to have had an Advisor who could have told me (though I may have gone over that, before).

On top of it, my core course in Management was one of the most stressful I’ve ever taken; it was, largely, the reason I Withdrew. Several years later, I realized that I shouldn’t let one bad experience (even if it was a semester long) put me off of a gainful career. It’s the same thing that happened with Beginning Cataloging, which was also a terrible experience (along with trying to broach the problem in that class to a colleague at work, which was traumatic). I should note that it wouldn’t have been so terrible, had the instructors made efforts at cultural inclusivity, and had they had less pride invested in their ways; but they were unaware. The person I talked to at work, whom I had considered a mentor (though I don’t think they knew), didn’t care about my perspective.

For that matter, I was unaware for the most part that I was effectively an ethnic minority with ethnic-minority ideas in their classes, and that I was an ethnic minority at work (and that I was talking to people who may have been culturally White — appearances don’t infer the presence or lack of race-related hostility and bias [I’ve learned the hard way]), or I might have been able to account for my discomfort. But I’ve stated in the backlog of these posts that nowhere have I felt like an ethnic minority moreso than at University. That is to say, nowhere else have I felt so “othered” and alienated and excluded and not-understood, than at University.

But apparently, that’s what a person goes through for relative social mobility? Even if I expect discrimination and hostility and being passed over after graduation?

In any case…languages.

I’m almost done with my last reading for this week in Vocabulary Design, which is what I had been seeking (and did not find) within my Subject Analysis course (that is, how are subjects determined for any given information source?). Right now I’m trying to figure out if I actually do need any other courses from this source, aside from RDA — which, in turn, I might be better off taking someplace where my grade point average (and hence my privileges at University) won’t be impacted. (This is given that I didn’t do my best in Beginning Cataloging, which is a prerequisite.) At least…until I know what I’m doing with the material from Beginning Cataloging.

I have a couple of avenues to investigate, right now. My major issue is that my existing text (Cataloging and Classification, 4th ed., by Chan and Salaba) is …dense. And thick. And intimidating. It’s kind of hard to take in, honestly, given that it’s basically an instruction manual/reference source, and not an instructional text.

Not to mention that things have changed — a lot — since 2016, when it was published.

I have just realized that, for one thing, I can and should go over my saved “lectures” from Beginning Cataloging. I can also obtain texts which present the material in a way I can more easily understand. As a last resort (?) I can either subscribe to OCLC’s professional cataloging tool, using which, I can work out the problems in my old “lectures” (at least in the non-Dewey sections); or I can use the freely available information from the LOC. It seems like the latter should precede the former, however.

At least that’s recorded, now. I can flesh it out more later, as I get deeper into the work.

I haven’t been certain as to whether I want to set aside time (as in a work schedule) to get all of this stuff done. I still need to edit my Portfolio (to prepare for the day when I will apply for a job), as well as pay attention to both Vocabulary Design and the XML series. Japanese language also falls in there, though at this point, that is more of a welcome respite from technical material, and doesn’t really need to get done on any schedule.

Then there are the readings I’ve wanted to do — to finish Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian, and to read through Essential Classification. On top of that is reviewing my saved Beginning Cataloging lectures, to see if they make any more sense this time. Right now, I have 54 pages before the end of Rethinking Information Work, which maybe I should just finish. There are also some books which I found through the bibliographies in the latter, which might be interesting. Ah, and Elementary Japanese: Volume One, I’ve begun to work through. (It does boost my mood when I can understand what I read and hear.)

Other than that, I can’t think of much that actually needs to be done, aside from daily things — chores, hygiene, cooking, sleeping. (Let’s not forget, sleeping. I can forget sleeping, okay, let’s not forget sleeping.) ;P

For the past two weeks, my schedule has been off-kilter due to the heat and fires, which made it impractical to establish any sort of routine. Maybe now, I can begin to form some kind of order out of my time…

LIS, self care

Another day done; another night, begun

Today has been all about cleaning. The rooms I’m responsible for look much more habitable, now. :) What I still have left to do is bathing, so I don’t get dust into my sheets when I actually do go to bed. Whenever that is. (I didn’t get to sleep until 4 AM last night.) The most trying part of this is washing my hair…which is, itself, a complex issue, not likely relevant to this blog. Let’s just say I don’t want to do it.

I told my folks about what had been going on with burning in my esophagus when I breathed, and they were quick to point out that it was likely heartburn. That, in turn, could be caused by eating at night. Which could result from staying up so late.

Heartburn has been such a rare visitor to me, that I didn’t know what it was…or, I did have it, and haven’t known it. Knowing what it is, helps ease fears about COVID. (Throat irritation while breathing can cause coughing, and it’s difficult to distinguish between burning in the windpipe and burning in the esophagus.)

The flip side of that is that I’ve been sleeping with my head elevated for the past several days in order to keep acid out of my throat. It works, but it’s just a bit uncomfortable.

Anyhow…yes, I am kind of proud of myself for organizing this stuff. It was pretty messy in my bedroom. I also now have space to study in the old office — I moved a couple of huge pads of paper off of the tiny desk in there, so now I have a work surface. Or, at least, something to put a keyboard on.

I’m also kind of proud of myself for finishing my Statistics work, and being able to prioritize taking care of myself and the house, over homework. (It is an achievement.) That being said, I now have about half a week to get in my work for both Project Management and XML, which both have crazy high numbers of things to do. However…Project Management is pretty low on my list of priorities, right now. Ironically.

I did get back into a University class for this Fall, so that’s all set up. I believe I have about a week until that starts up, and I’ll be focusing on XML and that class, primarily.

Actually, I’ve been reading in G. Kim Dority’s Rethinking Information Work, and I can see that a lot of the classes which I think might be fun, are actually unnecessary if I go into Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship. Which…it is like a puzzle, really, trying to figure out what goes where.

I know I’m going to stay on the XML track for a couple of months, but after that, I’m not entirely sure I need to be studying Linked Data (more)…it just might be engaging, though. And it could help me get a (paying) job.

It does help to have priorities, doesn’t it? In any case, after the next couple of months, I should be able to see how much using XML actually satisfies me.

Aside from this, I really want to get back to my beadwork and my sewing. Having extended time for that (and my own reading) might happen in a couple of months, if I don’t move ahead with Linked Data training. Along with that comes the possibility of actually making some money, as versus just spending it. The hard part is, I know that the money I’ll be making off of that will be minimal…but it will be something.

Whether it will still be “something” after I subtract my expenses, has yet to be seen, but I’m working as a hobbyist and not as a business, at this point.

Ah, wow. Today has actually been satisfying. I think I’ll go take that shower, now…

beading, career, craft, design, jewelry design, LIS, psychology

Almost…another all-nighter.

Apparently, I’m learning the differences between work, career, hobby, and personal time. I received a small shipment today which included flat aluminum wire for the face coverings I had been trying (without the proper materials, I found) to redesign. I also successfully held off on ordering more quilting fabric until the urge to buy had passed.

The latter…took some skill. I told myself that I could think about ordering it, after I finished my final work in Statistics. That successfully got me through Week 5 of work, last night, and a scan-through of Week 6’s lecture. Unfortunately, last night — after turning in Week 5’s homework — I got less than four hours of sleep. I had napped for a while the day before, and then I drank half a bottle of iced tea. Neither of those things helped. I believe I did try to make it to bed at a reasonable time, as well…so there was a lot of waiting, which turned into reading. (I knew getting back on the computer would make it worse [artificial blue light at nighttime tends to upset circadian rhythms], though it isn’t like constantly checking my phone, helped.)

Apparently I slept for less than four hours, if I combine the time at which I didn’t think I was asleep, and after reading three chapters in Rethinking Information Work (by which time, the sun was up). That book should help me figure out what classes (out of all the ones I’m curious about taking) I might actually need to take, based on at least past job profiles. The version I’m reading was published in 2016, and with the way Information Services are evolving…it’s likely not up to date anymore. Seriously.

Not only has there been a second economic downturn (as there apparently was around the time of the book’s second edition [though a quick web search turns up 2007-2009 as the “Great Recession”, which sounds accurate]), but Information work is closely tied to technology; and technology has been known to change at an accelerating rate. At least in Libraries, it’s also tied to the well-being of the funding body, whether that’s some form of government, private industry, or the education sector. As we well can see.

Anyhow. So I got more beads, today. This is what I mean by the difference between work, career, personal, and hobby time. Today was hobby time. I have a hard time trusting my mind to do intellectual work accurately when I’ve been awake all night, which is why I didn’t do my Statistics practice or homework, early this morning. (It’s not due for another week.)

I’ve actually started using a planner to work out how much time I’m awake, and what I’m doing while I’m awake. It’s notable that I have more time than I thought I did, largely because I tend to get, “in the zone,” while writing, and can easily spend two hours on a shorter blog post (like this). Then I don’t know where the time went, and can get anxious about my time commitments.

If I look at it, though; the issue isn’t so much that I have too little time, but that I’ve been on top of things so much that I haven’t given myself time to schedule refreshing periods (other than sleep). Or, I’m resting during the day and up at night. So I just feel like I’m working a lot, when I am basically doing things I don’t have to for my classes; my daylight hours are limited; and I’m spending time trying to get to sleep, and writing blog posts and journal entries.

What is odd — that I began to write about but then lost to brain fog a moment ago — is that I don’t even feel particularly tired, right now. Of course, I likely am tired…this being why my thinking is hazy; but I don’t feel too tired.

I should, of course, get to bed. Right now it’s about 9:30 PM, and I started this post an hour and a half ago. And I still haven’t gotten around to writing about the beads.

I seriously need to be doing some beadwork. I have what I need, right now: or if not everything, at least a really good start. (It’s been relatively rare for me to have everything I need already; going out to get parts for a particular color scheme just isn’t in the cards right now, though…but I’m somewhat in love with the colors in Delicas, at the moment.)

I just need to devote some time to design. Not even to production work; just to play and see what I can come up with. That is how I’ve found my own patterns (though remembering how I got to a specific point, or replicating my work, isn’t always easy).

Really, I am very relieved that I do understand Week 6 of Statistics pretty much just by reading about it. This is the final week for that…then I’ll be able to focus on the other 2-3 classes I’ll be in. (It helps to prioritize them, but I already went over this in my regular journal; I doubt the literal order will be of much use to those, here.)

And yeah, after I complete Week 6, then I can consider buying more fabric. :) What more do I need, though? Violets, yellows. Not…too bad…

career, LIS, technology

XML excitement :P

I’m writing this now because I’m determined to get to bed before 10 PM local time. I’ve been staying up way too late (even if I was doing homework), and I know I need to keep my immunity up. There is basically no excuse for me, not to do so. There is nothing more important right now, that is, than not getting sick. (I’ve been having slight irritation in my esophagus for the past two days, and I know it’s likely from not getting enough regular sleep.)

Over the past five days…a number of things have happened. For one thing, I’ve started to get into my XML (eXtensible Markup Language) training, which is actually really fun — kind of like a video game, except I’m learning. I know it’s just the first week, but I’m considering getting deeper into this than I had planned.

My main issue is choosing between training paths, where those paths diverge: the first being Digital Humanities and the electronic publishing industry (or the Publishing industry in general, which appears to be becoming decentralized); the second being Linked Data and metadata specialization. The second path — well — I already know that I’m interested in it. The thing is that I’m interested in Digital Humanities, as well.

The tracks just lead along different life paths…speaking of which, I did get back into Rethinking Information Work (I stopped waiting to transcribe my self-assessment), and just got my copy of Jump Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. My fear is that I’ll be moving forward along a path so quickly that I don’t know where it’s leading.

However, not moving forward because I don’t know where I’m going is a repeat of those nine years I spent as a Shelver, where I was trying to figure out where I was going, without actually having the experience to be able to tell what I wanted, and why. Then I moved forward and discovered a bit about what it was like to work as a paraprofessional in Public Services in a Public Library…which was likely not a great fit for me, and I don’t know if it ever will be. (Sometimes students are warned away from Technical tracks in Library School; it would have been of use to me if someone warned me away from Social tracks.)

Linked Data, anyhow, is very forward-looking and oriented towards information organization (and the integration of Library work with the rest of the world of Information), while Digital Humanities seems to have more to do with coding, and getting things produced, visible, and online. (I also should not neglect to say that my Metadata Professor [who was excellent] didn’t hold one of the classes I’ve been considering from that track, in high regard.)

The spread of high technology, however, should it become ubiquitous and inexpensive (it is not yet so in my country)…it makes me question the future of paper books. I may have mentioned this here before; I know I wrote about it, but I don’t recall where (by that I mean, if it is in hard copy or digital or cloud storage).

I see the future of information dissemination and sharing moving in the direction of video, animation, digital interaction in the form of socialization and gamification, inclusive of music and art, and possibly still text…but I think text is going to be at least a bridge and transitional stage.

After all, text at least can be, if not often is, the basis of videos and animation — in the form of scriptwriting. There’s also storyboarding, but if you don’t have notations about the story, it’s probably going to be harder to envision it to make the storyboards (though not necessarily; my own writing grew out of comic work where I was drawing the images first without thinking about the story, and the story basically emerged from what I had drawn, or was in the process of drawing).

That is, a lot of these media are story or narrative (or lecture), with something else added on top. Now, whether that something else needs to be added, or takes relative advantage of its format: that is a different question!

The major issue is that most people, at least where I am at, do not read above a 6th-grade level. This means that when we’re publishing our thoughts in text, that just de facto is going to be read by a limited segment of the population (at least, should we write above a sixth-grade level, which I’ve done for as long as I can remember).

This means a couple of things, one of which is obvious: it is a very important skill to be able to understand complex concepts and explain them clearly and accurately in simple language (although that’s basically the main concept of teaching). The other thing is that if we don’t do this, it seems to enforce a gap between the educated and everyone else (and then, “everyone else,” or a faction of that group, gets resentful — and you have a situation like the present one in the U.S., or in at least one other place in the world I can think of in the 20th century).

Of course, at times concepts just can’t be explained engagingly in simple language. I’m thinking of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. That was engaging, but I couldn’t take more than three or four pages of it at once, and ended up not reading most of it. I mean, it is possible to be simultaneously incredibly interesting and boring, even though you know it’s pretty much the direct teaching of one of the most brilliant people of our time. (And, yes, he did after that, publish A Briefer History of Time, the title of which…was kind of funny, because you know right there that he was referencing losing readers with the prior book.)

I’ve had the experience of trying to read notes on “crosswalking” data (for example, Bibliographic data) from one system to another, for example, and it was so dense and filled with so many external references and systems that I haven’t yet worked with (but which are now obsolete), that I couldn’t understand it. I would link it, but I doubt anyone here would understand it (or perhaps, care), either. The major issue is trying to make the language of the standards so general, so as to fit as many situations as possible, that the reader of those standards can struggle to grasp what is actually being referred to (especially if they aren’t immersed in the usage of the concepts on a daily basis).

Anyhow — XML is…it’s really simple, though it can be difficult to get one’s head around, at first. And I am just in the first week of class, so I likely shouldn’t be jumping the gun where it comes to being excited about it…but I can understand it, to an extent, right now. I have had some HTML/CSS training (which is related but different), so that helps. I just find XML and Linked Data to be comparatively brilliant solutions to creating widely-understood coding. I can also merge my knowledge of Cataloging in here…which is almost the first time I’ve really flexed those skills outside of my Cataloging classes.

(I should note to myself that I need to collect at least shortcuts to all the different places I have Cataloging/Metadata-relevant materials stored on my machine, if not just reorganizing the hard drive.)

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to learn everything at once, which is mostly a relief. (I can learn some things at a later date, that is.) My major issue is overloading my COVID-19 free time with too many classes…

Business, career, culture, LIS, writing

Writing as an outlet? as a profession?

I began this post late last night, then found myself wandering off-topic — into stationery, of all things. As I had, the prior morning, woken up at 3:30 AM and stayed up past dawn, and it was by that time around midnight — and I was actually tired, I decided to give it a rest. Or give myself a rest, that is.

I’ve been meaning to tell you all that my instructor let me know that Statistics won’t help much with data-mining. Well. :) My instructor also let me know that I had accidentally overlooked 2/3 of the assignment I turned in on Sunday…so I still have some work to do. Luckily, the class isn’t over for a couple more weeks, and all the due dates are, “soft.” The major thing I’m dealing with is how to account for multiple variables — that is, which variables to use at what time to get what information; and how to label data points.

As well — I’ve been questioning just how important it is for me to keep myself in at least 1-2 classes per month through the end of the year (though I should note that I’ll be in Vocabulary Design, likely until December). It is possible, that is, to learn via reading and study (and writing), as versus being in a class. What I won’t necessarily get are exercises and quizzes and due dates (or Certificates).

However…I’ve saved a bunch of material from my first Cataloging course (the one I didn’t do too well in), and I could easily review…at least, the part that has to do with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Classification (LCC). A lot of the material for that is available online — and I should review it. Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), though — the tools for that are available only for a fee. I could do it, but it would just be practice; I’ve already taken a refresher course on that with the American Library Association (ALA).

There’s also the alternate option of getting onto LibraryThing…which uses an old version of DDC which is out of copyright (LibraryThing calls it the Melvil Decimal System, or MDS). I believe the DDC is currently copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). DDC is used by Public Libraries and some smaller Academic Libraries, in the U.S. Most large University Libraries, from my experience, use LCC: their collections are simply too huge for the limited number of divisions in DDC.

Yesterday morning, I started working through Rethinking Information Work by G. Kim Dority, and started the “Career Journal” she recommends. So far, I’d recommend the book to Information Professionals who are looking at job options (I know I’m not the only one laid off — or facing the possibility), just for the number and diversity of resources listed at the end of each Chapter, and in the Appendixes. (I’m on Chapter 2, and still have to transcribe my self-assessment.)

One of the resources recommended by Dority in an annotated bibliography is The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Hoffman helped begin LinkedIn, the social-networking site. I’m still amazed at how many people don’t know about it. I was forced to sign up in 2012 when I began my Library Science program, but I knew of it before then.

Then again, back then, the Internet was almost my primary social medium.

I wouldn’t rank The Start-Up of You too highly, at this point (I’m beginning Chapter 3). So far, there has been a lot of talk about successful capitalists (I assume they’re capitalists) and how we can learn from them; and pushing of LinkedIn. I’ve been around a bit too long to really…take that seriously. I mean, the conflict of interest is very apparent (as my own bias, here, also likely is).

However, it does bring up the idea that my perspective, thoughts, and intelligence are likely my largest assets…when it comes to differentiating myself from, “my competition.” And research, if I’m looking at Writing as a field, is largely reading. Reading comprehension and writing are two things I do relatively well. Not perfectly, yet; but in comparison to many, I think well (even if I am, now, relatively hesitant to divulge where I disagree).

That is basically my largest, “competitive advantage.”

The thing is…it’s very apparent right now that the world doesn’t need another person to agree to everything and say it’s all fine, when it isn’t. That’s an abdication of responsibility. The kids in Flint, MI, don’t stop being poisoned by lead in their drinking water because someone says, “it’s fine.” Radium poisoning from occupational exposure doesn’t stop happening because someone says, “it’s fine.” Coronavirus deaths don’t stop racking up because someone says, “it’s fine.”

I think we can see a pattern, here. We don’t need to be told that things aren’t as bad as they are — we need reality to be addressed. Not someone’s faith-based fantasy. There is a distinction to be made between fantasy and reality, although the lines seem to recently have become blurred. Or, maybe in the U.S., to some people at least, they’ve always been blurred.

And yeah, that is the first time in a long time that I’ve actually written something like that. But things can only go so far before people start speaking up about them.

And no, I do not represent my community of practice in saying any of this. This is all me.

I’ve realized that I never really did a review of Toxic Archipelago. Brett Walker, at the beginning of the book, says that it goes to a really dark place. It’s really not as dark as Kate Moore’s Radium Girls, however: I believe Walker likely tried to protect the reader from the harshness of the realities of the situations described in the book.

For example, describing kidnapped Korean labor working in Japanese coal mines during WWII as, “forced labor.” I guess that sounds nicer than, “slavery,” even though Koreans still face discrimination in Japan today, and were the subjects of cultural imperialism (at least during the time of the 1910-1945 Japanese Occupation), which is not so different from what I know. (I also outright know that there is a lot I don’t know.)

But then, one could make the same case about modern U.S. prison labor: how things went from outright slavery to Jim Crow and then to the school-to-prison pipeline. To not delve into those other two topics (cultural imperialism and discrimination), right now.

That’s a really deep rabbit hole to get into, though, and I’m not as fully informed as I would like to be on it should I comment (further, at least), so I’ll stay away from it, for now. Though, the topics of Korea-Japan relations, and cultural imperialism (in and by various countries), and the U.S. prison system, all look like topics rife for research.

While it’s cathartic to be able to actually write these things, I’m aware that communicating anything in the realm of opinion inheres risk. (Communicating things in the realm of fact probably also inheres risk, these days.) However, if my value is in my viewpoint and my ability to articulate why my view is what it is; that’s also something to be aware of.

I have actually started a project journal, as well. Right now I’m not limiting it to either fiction or nonfiction, though I believe it will likely begin as a mixture and become more fictionalized as time goes on. If my past attempts say anything about this, it will definitely become more complex…which causes me to wonder if I should actually make an outline, or let things wander where they may…

career, creativity, LIS, philosophy, work, writing

Changing tack?

What I’m wanting to write about, at this point, is the process initiated when one realizes that the self-concept they had as a younger person no longer fits as well as it used to. This is particularly difficult when that self-concept has become ingrained in one’s identity, and when one never expected it to change or morph into something else.

In particular…I know I’ve built the groundwork for creating things, but I might be better served in my own life and identity by not primarily judging or gauging myself as, “a creative.” That isn’t necessarily…fully true, though; the creativity and curiosity may just be finding a different method of revelation.

However: it is the case that it’s seriously a significant shift to get back into making physical art. As well, the stories I told myself as a 17- to 20-year-old to explain my situation, are not necessarily the wisest things to refer back to in order to explain the rest of my life, no matter how “creative” they were. Maybe it works when the average life expectancy is 36 (or 25)…not so much in modern times.

I mentioned this to M and D, recently, and they said it was a sign of growth. That interpretation helps, as versus interpreting it as a sign of failure. I’ve just realized that accumulating arts and crafts supplies doesn’t mean much when I don’t use them. And if I don’t use them, that’s just wasted money (and space) spent in trying to prop up an identity which no longer fits. In Buddhism, I believe this is known as clinging (upadana?), which is a cause of unnecessary duhkha, or, “suffering,” interpreted loosely.

At this point, in regular life, I suppose I can say that I’m in at least four classes, though I only paid for two of them. When all the work from those two classes was completed, last week, I decided to give myself Sunday off: I had been putting classwork as first priority since the past Monday.

I don’t precisely remember what I did on Sunday, but somewhere in there, I was able to get some reading done in Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan. I’m pretty sure that happened early Monday morning (today’s Tuesday, right?). Like, until about 3 AM, Monday morning. (I got through Chapter 3, setting myself up for Chapter 4, where itai-itai byou [lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease”; a.k.a. cadmium poisoning] is introduced…which is the major topic of interest which got me started on Bad Water, which then led me back to Toxic Archipelago as a book to read, prior.)

After I finish Bad Water, assuming it can hold my attention, I can move on to Radiation Brain Moms & Citizen Scientists. All three of these books are based upon ecological disasters in the Japanese archipelago (the last in relation to the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi disaster), though I think Bad Water is more of a political analysis of culture after the ecological disasters in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras. So far, Toxic Archipelago has heavy (albeit at times, forced) Buddhist themes, which I hadn’t expected.

My sleep hygiene hasn’t been the best, recently: I’ve been getting up for breakfast, then going back to bed and sleeping until late afternoon, and staying up very late. (You know it’s bad when it’s 12:45 AM, and you’re thinking about what else you can do.)

So…I’ve really got a lot of reading I can do. Aside from these three books, I have Rethinking Information Work, 2nd ed., which may help me if I want to enter a field in private industry, rather than working in an Academic or Public Library system; and Essential Classification, 2nd ed., which will help me if I become a Cataloger or Metadata Librarian. Both of the latter books, however, are really technical. Right now, though: I’m aiming for Cataloger and/or Metadata positions in Academic libraries.

One of my courses is entirely self-paced, and that’s a Spanish course which M purchased for me. I’m still in the first lesson, because other things (paid classes which I’m taking in tandem with a cohort of students) took priority late last week. I’m still torn as to whether I should be learning Spanish or Japanese languages…my interest is largely within the latter realm, but I might need a second “Western European language” to work in at least the Academic Libraries I’ve been looking at. I’m just (much!) closer to facility in Spanish than I am in Japanese; M says that the requirement for Spanish is likely because a lot of the patrons around here speak and read the language.

Basically, right now, I have a lot of time. My folks are telling me that I should have time during the next year to year-and-a-half to redetermine what I want to do with my life. I’m actually thinking about becoming an academic researcher…though a lot of this is being addicted to content, and specific, deep content, at that. I’m pretty much amazed that Toxic Archipelago seems to only be in nearby Academic (not Public) Library collections…

There is, that is, the possibility of becoming a Subject Specialist in some topic related to the Pacific Rim. Right now, the majority of my knowledge centers around the West Coast, Hawaii, and Japan. Through Hawaii, there’s connection to other areas in Polynesia, and to Japan…is that what I want, though? Do I want to center my studies on Asian American experience and culture? Or do I want to learn Japanese language and be able to more deeply appreciate other areas which are written of in Japanese?

Or, you know, learn a different language (Native Hawaiian)? Or focus on other English-speaking areas in the Pacific Rim, like Australia and New Zealand?

One of the things I’m realizing is that it’s going to be really difficult, given the speed of technological change and the potential rate of global sea level rise (particularly looking at the accelerating melt-rate of Greenland’s ice sheet)…to be able to predict what will be stable decisions, as regards the future.

So…I’m not quite sure what to do, except do what I love, now. Especially as, at this point, no one can really tell what the future’s going to hold. The major issue for me is that the majority of my life so far has been preparation for the future, not living for the present. It’s kind of hard to get out of that, though being reminded of one’s own mortality…you know. It will kind of force one’s hand.

At the moment, my engagement is taken up with study, and it isn’t bad study. I am, for example, learning how to wrangle quantitative data (which I didn’t really get in my Library Science program), and I’m learning more about Subject Access. I know, however, that the latter will require far more effort than just this class; I’ve been through six others, so far, only two of which were within my LIS program.

So basically, right now…I believe I’m undergoing a sort of transformation from artist to scholar…particularly as the vast majority of material I read is nonfiction. As for what I can do with this…

Writing?