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…

craft, fabric, libraries, sewing

Sewing? Who the…wha…abt…sorry, I’m tired.

I’ve spent long enough working on masks today, that I think I need a break. Right now I’ve got another batch of batiks and Kona cotton (though the latter is for ties; it may be too insubstantial for filtering) in the hot-water-shrinky-washer, so it’s not a great time for a shower…

I find it amazing, though, how much of sewing is pressing. I hadn’t really thought of it, before. In any case, today was largely spent picking fabrics, laundering them, pressing them, cutting shapes out of them, pressing them again, figuring out how to make pleats in a rational manner, ripping out bad work…and then, sewing. Sewing takes the least energy of all these things! (I found out that creasing the fabric in the center, then along 1/4 lines, makes it much easier to lay out the pleats…ideally, I’m working with a 2″ joint, but it was wider this time, as it was my first try.)

So, right now, I’ve got one mask. That’s one more than I started the day with, and because it is teal, it does look like a hospital mask (which I’m not fond of). But still. It actually catches the moisture from my breath, which is what I think it’s supposed to do. Plus, I now know what I’m doing (and where I might improve on the design, with the limitation that I’m working with a bunch of Fat Quarters, for the most part).

In specific, I’m thinking of overlapping the ties over the pleats at the sides of the mask…which will require longer ties, but I can fit four of them into a Fat Quarter, along with two mask panels. It would take down the bulk at each corner.

Work on the Nepali Blouse has stalled; it was more important to work on the I’m-not-gonna-give-you-Corona-mask. But there’s a lot to sewing that I realize now, I remember. Even threading the bobbin and the machine. It’s a different machine than I’ve ever worked on, though I did once take a Sewing Machine essentials class, so I remembered the direction in which to run the thread…(IIRC, I make a “p” with the thread if the bobbin is drop-down, and a “q” if it’s a side-loaded bobbin…don’t quote me on that, though).

I’ve also restarted reading, as I’ve realized that this is the one big thing I need to be doing, that I’m not doing. Reading, practically, anything. I did just start Radium Girls last night, and got through the 10th chapter…it’s fairly gory. Having…well — painted — myself…I know how cheap camel-hair brushes are, and wonder what the outcome would have been if the radium dial workshops had used brushes that actually would have kept a point…not to mention the lingering question of why specifically, “girls,” were recruited to perform the task of ingesting radioactive pigment with no protection.

Anyhow. I realize there may be a lot of questions as to how to access eBooks, so I had to run through getting access for myself. (It would help to know that, at least!) I still haven’t tried all the platforms, though, and I can’t try all the devices.

Right now…the fabrics are out of the wash, and in the hot-air-shrinky-dryer. Maybe I have it in me to go and sew again? Or maybe I should give it a rest and get some rest, to preserve my health…

Yeah…I’ve been up, for a while. Take meds, brush teeth, wash face, then read more Radium Girls and go to sleep when it gets disturbing enough… ;P

art, career, comics, creative writing, illustration

So scripts are easier to write than prose

…At least, so far. I have three solid pages of comic scripting to lean on in my drawing practice, and I’m very glad that I drafted out the core synopsis — though now I realize how limited it is. I’m wondering if working back and forth between image and text will help develop the story…my intuition says yes.

The major issue I’m having with the script is narration: lots of narration. (I’m very proficient at revealing story and character through monologue.) However, there are other ways to convey the same information. The thing about scripting, though, is that it’s minimalistic; so I didn’t have to craft a bunch of flowery prose for what is basically the next step up from an outline.

Working between image cues and words…I might be able to turn some words into images, or convey what the words convey, visually. What I’m getting at may not be really making a lot of sense right now, but please give me some leeway — it’s 1 AM here.

I’ve decided to keep some violence in this version, even though I’m not a fan of violence. Without it…the story feels like it’s a bit fluffy and seeking goodwill from the majority by downplaying the consequences of being different. With it, however, it’s solidly geared towards an adult audience, though I have at least two characters of complicated gender, now. That stuff didn’t really come into its own here, except within the last 20 years. (I do know, however, at least two seniors of complicated gender.)

I have actually finished reading the book I mentioned before, on getting published: this was The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman. There is a ton of information in this book, though I would say it probably is geared toward an English-speaking U.S. audience (and of that audience, particularly New Yorkers). I haven’t checked out all the leads in it personally, though (for one thing, there are too many to do so in such a short time), so I can’t be sure.

That book, however, led me to What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, & Business of Book Editing, edited by Peter Ginna, which looks like it will be pretty interesting. It is basically an anthology in which the writers are Editors, and gives a window into what being an Editor could be like (with the caveat that these roles are wildly varied). I’m not far into it, yet.

Now that I mention that…I think I’ll read some more before sleeping, and plan on doing some illustration work for tomorrow. Working intensively with text really makes me want to break out of it some way, and it could be the thing to spur me on to getting back to my artwork…

Business, career, comics, LIS

Expansion and direction: reading, writing, and editing

Over the last several days, I’ve been reading a lot. Surprisingly much. Because of this, I haven’t been really in a mental state to write. There’s a difference between being in an absorptive state and a creative or responsive state, for me.

Since getting a handle on a cluster of related skills to reinforce (and these in relation to reading, writing, language, and books), I’ve been researching a number of different ways to make ends meet, if it turns out that Librarianship isn’t something I want to — or healthily can — do full time.

In part because I have an Undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I have experience which would prepare me for work as an Editor in the Publishing sector. I also have direct experience in writing as an art form (though yes, the majority of this is prose), which would help me publish as a writer in my own right.

The rest of my qualifications rest on what caused me to get the Creative Writing (CW) degree, in the first place — which existed long before I obtained the BA. It goes back to having been an AP English student (which allowed me to skip my basic English class in undergrad, as I had taken the AP test and gotten college credit), and prior to then, having had my aptitude for sensitive description noted by my 5th-grade teacher (which I remembered before I became a CW major).

If I worked in Editing, and/or Librarianship, and/or as a Writer, I could cobble together the means for a livelihood (as I’ve heard is normal for creative types) — even if two out of the three of those (Editing and Writing) were freelance. Librarianship could give me, essentially, a source of steady income and health/vision/dental benefits. Not to mention that Library skills make one good at research; and reading widely, plus knowledge of commercial markets and brand positioning, help with all of these.

Also: getting an MFA would likely open some doors for me in both Publishing and Teaching. Do I want to do it? Certainly so, if money (and time) were not an object.

I haven’t put all of this together, yet, but I’m a bit concerned I may forget about what I’ve been doing over the last several days, if I don’t record it, somewhere.

As an aside, I did find this article from LitHub on how to choose a medium for one’s story. Unfortunately, the amount of material on how to actually tell which medium to start out with, prior to having started, is sparse. And…essentially, difficult to gauge, without experience. As well — the author of the LitHub article wrote scripts for comics; I don’t know if he illustrated them (though his bio says that he at least had been a cartoonist).

I’ve just looked back at what I wrote as a bare-bones introduction to my script, and it really isn’t a big deal to convert it to what would likely read as paranormal fiction. (I must admit, though: I still need to do research on what distinguishes “literature” from “genre fiction.”) I mean, what I wrote isn’t a lot: it’s condensed and not meant to be fleshed out, at this point.

What I did realize, though, last night — was the fact that I could run tangential or side-stories as comics, and the main body of work as prose. I’ve seen some Young Adult (YA) material, existent both as graphic novels and as prose, work like this (though possibly not precisely like what I’m thinking of).

What I’m thinking of, specifically, is the Full Metal Panic! series. Of course, FMP!, as I first heard of it in the U.S., was known for making constant insider Japanese pop-culture references which I doubt would have translated well. Nor have I gone to the effort to read any of the novels. I just know they exist.

There are a couple of other YA series which I know also exist in comic + prose formats. One is Warriors; the other is Maximum Ride. It seems there should be another James Patterson novel + manga series I’m thinking of; is it Daniel X? Hmm. Possibly.

Anyhow…I know I want to get into comics, but I am also thinking that I should aim for a project that’s small and able to be accomplished with limited skills — at least, at first. It’s been a really long time since I’ve made comics, though as a kid I drew my stories out obsessively. (This was before they became long and complex enough to merit MS Word documents.) I do still have copies of this work: on floppy disk! (I also still remember what it was like to try and edit a novel-length document for consistency.)

Like I’ll find a computer that can read 3.5″ floppies and old Word files. Gah.

Anyway, it likely wasn’t even that good, considering I was probably around 17 years old when I wrote it. Not to rag on young people (I know Eragon was written by a teen) — but I wasn’t that good.

The biggest step I could take towards any of these goals is to keep on writing and reading. If I can find an inlet into the Publishing world, it would get me in there sooner, and without incurring an extra $22,000 in debt that I would have to expect, should I go for the MFA.

The fact is, though: I have chosen library work as a primary career option, which at least theoretically should enable me to be exposed to the works I need to be reading. If, that is, I can tell which they are. That in itself is not necessarily easy; Reader’s Advisory is something else I wasn’t really taught about in Library School. As well, the organization of fiction in most libraries, leaves something to be desired. I do have sources to look at, though, which should be able to help me navigate that.

I should also note that I may not want to go for an MFA to get into the Editing or Publishing businesses, without first having had some experience in the field (which may negate the need for extra formal training, or show me if I really don’t want the job[s]). I made that mistake with Librarianship: getting the degree before the practical experience, so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the degree.

I am also, however, in a position where I may in the relatively near future, be able to run Creative Writing groups (giving me Teaching experience), or network with co-workers and find people who are already established Editors. If I network, I might be able to find someone to take me on as an Assistant Editor, which is basically an apprenticeship position from which I could step up to being an Editor at a Publishing House (or online; and/or freelance).

So…yes. I need to be writing, reading, and looking at jobs in Publishing.

That’s clear to me, now.

And it’s probably faster and more efficient, to network. But I feel like I have to get my knowledge together, first…like understanding the difference between a Copy Editor and a Developmental Editor; fiscal and other pressures on the Publishing industry; knowing just how much reading an Editor needs to do. Things of that nature…

career, creative writing, creativity, work, writing

Records, Distractability, and Commitment

I’ve rediscovered one of the major reasons I have continued to write. If I don’t, I have a tendency to forget what has happened. Days blend into each other; I lose my sense of self; I lose continuity.

It was only through writing responses to others in my field that I realized the fact that I can use my Creative Writing degree to run Creative Writing groups, should I become a full-fledged Librarian. At the time of my realization, I also found that there could be a purpose for getting an MFA in Creative Writing: It would teach me how to teach Creative Writing, or at least give me the experience so that I could do so, better.

Of course, though: writing is just one of the multitude of activities I could be pursuing in my off-hours. It’s something that I do already, and something it could be said that I need to do. Along with this goes the need to be reading, which is also something that…well, you know, greatly helps if you’re a Librarian.

This has got me thinking back on the graphic novel project that I had been musing over…and have started to write out. It’s possible that I could work this out in a literature format (which would ease demands over certain things like only involving what I am confident in being able to draw), but I still have no expectations over being able to make money with it.

Traditional publishing is not an easy thing to break into, as an author. But if I’m employed in a library, am well-read, research my Publishing Houses before targeting them, keep up my writing practice, and have an BA in Creative Writing…all of those things should increase my chances of acceptance.

There is the question, I’m asking myself right now, as to whether my medium has to be that thing I need to do, like I need to breathe or eat. In that case, writing is it. I basically can’t avoid writing, and expect to hold who I am, together.

Then there are the other things.

There’s study and continuous learning related to my primary career, which is — for now — Adult Services Librarianship (or aiming for that, at least). In addition to reading broadly, there are competencies that can best be approached by study. Then there is second language acquisition…which, at least, keeps things fresh.

My barrier to Spanish language acquisition is lower by miles than my barrier to Japanese language acquisition. As I have a lot of other things I want to be doing, and I’ve realized some of the skewed viewpoint I got in my Middle and High School language classes, I’ve decided to give Spanish a shot. Even though it is basically fraught with political, social, and religious land mines for me.

However, if I want to study the legacy of colonialism on Central and South America (and the Philippines), it’s a good language to have. Not to say that colonialism only hit there, but looking at postcolonialism in, say, Africa, is likely going to be more difficult for me (unless I learn other Western European languages). It’s a start.

Then there is the problem of what can’t be communicated through words. I’m not a good enough poet at this point to be able to verbally elicit what I mean through methods other than prose. As a youth, I didn’t have the vocabulary to really say (audibly) what I needed to say. Of course, I can study poetry now — maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I know where to find it — the issue is dealing with the idea that I’m participating in frippery while the world is going down the toilet.

That, however, forgets the power of words and the inspiration they can elicit. I might be able to inspire many people to help — and they might do more work than I would able to do, if I directly applied myself. So, I suppose, I shouldn’t think of reading, or writing, as purely recreational or useless (even if it is fiction or poetry).

There’s also the point that writing is hard; emotionally speaking. Especially so, where it comes to writing about things one has experienced which are so damaging and idiotic, one may wonder why they take up any space in consciousness at all. I am generally not one to write farces, but I can see their use. Black humor may come into play, in the future. I’ve never considered it a weapon in my arsenal…but times may call for it.

Aside from this…I am so easily distracted. There are tons of things I want to do that I just don’t find time to do, because I’m too busy making up more things to do.

For example, I picked up a set of templates for English Paper Piecing (EPP), recently…whereupon I then designed a different pattern, even nicer than I had envisioned. So right now, I have three different designs for quilts, going on in my head. I should likely do something with that: one is based on EPP, one I drew on graph paper, and the third, I generated from paper-folding.

Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t think I know what I’m doing.

Well, maybe some part of my brain, knows what it’s doing. The color aspect of this…is likely why I continue to be drawn. That, and the similarity of quilts to mandalas. There’s also the geometry thing; I suppose I can’t forget the geometry thing. Math and color? Is that where my brain needs to be to unwind?

I also suppose that there really isn’t any reason why I can’t, or shouldn’t, use watercolor to help design these things. So much of it has to do with color placement and interactions. I mean, a quilt top is basically not much more than a pieced-together sheet, if it’s all the same color…

I’ve also realized that a lot of the books I find, I can use maybe 10-12 pages out of 60. Those 10-12 are really valuable, though. I may have to start keeping files (or more of a file) of the parts of books I can use…

All that to say…I’m formulating ideas about what’s necessary in my life, and what isn’t. It should help me divide my time and energy, so that I can get it all done.

I just hate to have Art take a back seat to language. The fact is, though: I try to write on a regular basis (hopefully, daily). I’m much less committed, with Art. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, for me…it’s just a surprising thing.

I’m going to save analysis of this entry for another day…

art media, paper crafts, self care

Books and reading. Ecology, health, and…origami?

The last two days have been relatively chill. I had another two hours of driving instruction today, which went much better than the previous session. What has helped, as well, is reading. I’m not sure why, but it does calm me down a bit.

Right now I’m reading What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, to get another angle on the Flint, Michigan issue from 2014 (aside from The Poisoned City, which was my introduction to literature on water quality and attendant government corruption in the U.S.). I started it today, and I’m about 1/5 of the way through.

I’m also in the middle of a book called Amity and Prosperity, by Eliza Griswold, which is about fracking in the Appalachians and the plight of residents who had sold their mineral rights, and subsequently lost their clean groundwater and clean air along with their property value, which made it so they didn’t have the resources to leave.

All of these books reveal how the EPA has recently not done its job. Ostensibly — I haven’t heard or read an official announcement — I would think part of that job would be to protect public health. If one were to believe the books and the people the books are about and written by, there’s a lot of evidence that it isn’t doing that. What is it (or has it been) doing? Apparently, trying to cover up what it isn’t (or hasn’t been) doing.

On a lighter note, I’ve also begun reading Origami Design Secrets by Robert Lang, which is basically about how origami is an expression of mathematics as well as design. It’s a relatively huge book (basically a textbook and also a workbook), which I would think could be used in Math classes.

Before I began this entry, I pulled a bunch of the old — really old, really cheap — origami papers I have, and brought them with me to the bed. I’ll have to use the lap desk if I fold them in bed, but it may allow me the comfort of being at least partially warm.

The books I was reading prior (Collapse, by Jared Diamond; and The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert), I’ve basically stopped. I can’t really say why except that I can’t really do anything about us being in the middle of a mass extinction, and by myself, I can’t do much if this country or world decides to self-annihilate.

It may be more worth it to focus on the way out of the problem as versus bemoaning the existence of the problem in the first place, or focusing on possible metaphysical hell scenarios that come with the combination of spirituality plus guilt. It’s easier to just admit we don’t know what happens after death, than it is to fabricate a nightmare about what will happen if we don’t do things right. And in this, there is a difference between what science and data tell us is possible, and stories our imaginations have wrought…which often cannot happen in reality because they violate the rules of logic, or presuppose factors that don’t exist.

On possible solutions, there is a book that caught my eye called Drawdown, by Paul Hawken, which is about ways to help pull carbon dioxide out of the ecosystem in order to reverse global warming. I haven’t read it yet, but it has reminded me that with the pace of change in technology; and with funding, invention, research, and quick action; things may not be as hopeless as they seem.

I say, “quick action,” because I’ve also been reading With Speed and Violence, by Fred Pearce, which is about the way climate change over much of Earth’s history has not been slow and gradual, but sudden and at times extreme. The reason it seems to us like it would be slow and gradual, is basically that humans haven’t been around long enough to witness (or witness and remember, at least) the changes — barring issues like the Mt. Tambora eruption (if it can be called that, more than an explosion) of 1815, which caused the “Year Without Summer.” There is a book about this that I know of (I believe it was the one by Klingaman and Klingaman). The person who told me about it didn’t have anything good to say. :)

As for how I learned about Tambora…that may have been from Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond — the same person who wrote Collapse. I can’t be sure about that, though, due to the fact that I read Guns, Germs, and Steel in undergrad, and that was around two decades ago. (I honestly don’t even know if we still have the book.)

Presently, there are issues like changing ocean currents, melting polar ice, and changing weather patterns, which could wreak havoc if they were to happen suddenly, unexpectedly, and before we could adapt. The major issue, as I see it, is famine. When that’s on a global scale, it gets really scary. When there’s a shortage of natural resources, what tends to happen is war.

I learned from a separate source that melting permafrost could release now-frozen methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If this occurred…it could be really bad, depending on how much is released. The major decisive factor is whether we reach the point where global warming leads to more greenhouse gas release, which leads to more warming and more release, etc. As a runaway cycle, it could mean the end of life here as we know it: and we shouldn’t treat this planet as disposable, like we’re going to find another one…which is what it looks like the Space program is seeking.

We don’t want a repeat of what happened to Venus, which has a thick atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide, extremely high atmospheric pressure, sulfuric acid rain, and surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead. (I know there are extremophile microbes which give me hope that some life might be able to adapt and survive, but the ones I’m thinking of live in volcanic vents, and I don’t know that those get to the +850° F surface temperatures that exist on Venus.)

While Venus may at one time have been able to support life, the chances of that now appear slim.

It’s one thing for I, myself, to die. It’s another thing to take most of the world out with me. Of course, there’s not all that much I can do as one person, but there are some things. Actually talking about it to forward the conversation, may be one thing…as well as educating myself so that I can act, when needed.

And, of course, taking care of myself, so that I don’t self-destruct before I can be of any use.

Although it does feel a little funny to get back to origami after having left off of it as a child…I know for a fact that I can connect it to both quilting and the creation of mandalas. I don’t know quite why, though. I’m hoping that the huge book I got will shed some light on the underlying order.

Plus, it’s just great to see a textbook on paper-folding. :)

I also, though, tonight got the urge to paint, again. That’s, generally speaking, a freer process than consciously utilizing or being constrained by mathematics or language. I don’t have a project lined up, except maybe testing out those Prussian Blue and Viridian paints from separate lines (so that I can donate the tubes I’m not going to use).

And yes, I do have mixed feelings about even this. Given that this post has been about water quality and ecology, I am sure the painters in my audience know what I’m talking about. The way paints are still made, though, it would be…very difficult to insist on using a totally non-toxic palette. When I go there, what first present themselves are inferior pigments, of the like of Prangs. Even there, though; what is harmless to humans is not necessarily harmless to everything else.

I haven’t worked it out, yet. I haven’t worked out whether it is even possible — at all — to live without harming another being. Though, it might be possible to live without harming another being, intentionally…that is, never intending to harm another.

And then we get to the ants and roaches and things of that sort…and we get to never intending to inflict suffering upon another, as versus never intending to harm. Or we question what, “harm,” means.

I’m sure I could get into some more mental gymnastics, here, but this is the major reason I’m not Buddhist.

No. Really.

politics, self care

Kinda angry at myself. Or, maybe, in general.

Today was the first day in a week, that I had a break. Like, a serious, “it’s okay to sleep in,” break. I could have practiced driving, but no. Too much stress. I see my instructor again in two days, one of which, I’m working all day. My next chance to practice driving will be the morning on the same day I see him.

On top of that, I’ve got a running series of nightmares which pop up when I oversleep…and I slept, pretty much all day. Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether to stay up further into the early morning, or get back to bed, so I can wake up and go to work tomorrow being able to say that I’ve adequately taken care of myself.

Yeah, not so great a price to pay for being comfortable and lazing about.

I have, however…taken care of some things, where it comes to library materials. (I also thought I had like 17 things overdue…which turned out to be a dream, as well.) I’ve found that I’m fairly superficially interested in politics. I check the books out or buy them, and then don’t read them. There are topical ones (like How Democracies Die, by Levitsky and Ziblatt), and then ones which are so far out of date by now that their warnings for the future have already passed their relevance (like The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, by Fareed Zakaria, which was published in 2004. His future is either now, or we have passed it already, from what little of the book I’ve read).

In short, the state of the U.S. just seems to be that we have major issues (and have had them, going back to the inception of the country). We can’t be considered whatever we considered ourselves to be in a directly Post-WWII era, when Europe was rebuilding and the relatively physically unscathed U.S. was thereby able to position itself as a leading industrial, military, and economic power on the world stage.

Yeah, and I don’t know if the rest of the world cared about that…but. There is the issue of what happened to European “possessions” both before and after WWII. I’m not sure of the timeline in regard to postcolonialism (whether most countries liberated themselves before, during, or after the 1914-to-1945 period), but I would think the legacy of colonialism impacted most of Africa, South America, and Australia, at the least. That only leaves Asia and North America. I do know that the U.S. was interfering in politics in Central and South America, which at least inflamed the conditions currently causing people to flee.

It would be interesting to research. Having a working knowledge of Spanish would also help. (You see what I did there.) I’ll hold off on the suggestion that I get an advanced degree in World History for later…

We’re not on the level of being a leader at this time, and that’s due to multiple factors (not all of which I know, but some of which are getting worse). The main danger is the possibility of dropping into an autocratic dictatorship led by an elected populist leader. Whatever got us to the point of enough people being willing to elect that person, however, is something we need to be looking at.

What it says, though, is that we actually are not better than anyone else.

Democracy in the U.S. is and always has been an experiment. As well, I think that voters in the U.S. have felt both that, “popular = right,” or that the masses will always rationally choose what’s actually best; and that what happens in the rest of the world can never happen here.

I don’t know if there’s a magic shield we’ve all imagined around us, but present conditions are a wake-up call. The point is that what has happened in the rest of the world can happen here; that we are people like those in the rest of the world are people. Just because the little girl crying from losing a leg (and also her brother) is brown, that doesn’t mean she’s not a person.

Bad stuff happens. If it’s happened before, it can happen again, and being “Americans” doesn’t mean we’re, “better than that.” This is where I feel really unacknowledged. I found out that I couldn’t label myself as a Progressive, because I know not everything is going to become better. What we are now is not necessarily better than what we were before. Conditions are different, but that doesn’t mean things won’t turn around and get worse again. There is a future to come: and when the people of that time look back at us (assuming they shall exist), what will they see?

libraries, work

Getting used to work

Man. I went out to a branch early this morning in order to take a shift as a Library Clerk. I didn’t totally realize until I got there that it was an Opening position, and that I didn’t know what Clerks did prior to opening. Or, at least, I hadn’t done it before, myself. Oops.

I have filled Clerk positions (basically Circulation), but not the Opening or Closing variants of that. (My actual position is Library Assistant, but I have the ability to sub in a couple of other categories.)

About two hours in, I get summoned to a different branch. That means I have to call someone to get me and shuttle me to that other branch. I agree because I’m starting to know the people at the branch where I’m needed, we’re overstaffed where I’m at, and I realize I wasn’t mentally prepared for a Clerk job plus two back-to-back Storytimes flooding the library with patrons.

Not that I dislike Storytimes; they’re just a bit chaotic. The setting itself was unfamiliar to me; I’ve only served at that branch one or two times, before. Plus, I don’t really know the patrons that well.

So…it isn’t really a secret that I, probably like many others, have been getting a little frustrated with the unpredictability with which being a Substitute is disposed. I’ve been trying to manage it by picking my time slots and work sites early, but then that gets upset when there are surprise critical staff shortages elsewhere in the system, and I get called to fill them and have no way to get there other than calling someone else.

I don’t really blame the people who have to reassign me, but I’m learning how to respond and set myself up so that they understand that I need a day off, when I need a day off. Even when I don’t have important plans. The issue I had been having is being called on (often woken up) every day I hadn’t agreed to work, and being asked to come in to work that day. You can imagine, it’s kind of frustrating. That’s not to mention being woken up at 7 AM, five out of every seven days in November, because I didn’t change the default setting for robo-calls from the system.

At least they’re offering to pay me, right?

So after lunch (which I took in the car), I get to work and print out a form so I can get compensated for my travel. It is, in comparison to where I just came from, very quiet. Towards the end I start dealing with boredom, and looking up authors I know about from PBS. If I read the books, I can review the books, and that counts as work, right? It’s not like I’m reading at the desk, I’m just collecting the things so I won’t have to go and look the things up again after I’m off.

Am I getting too comfortable?

I know that the people there must be very fatigued; there has been some kind of (biological) virus circulating. It has affected at least two sites I’ve been to. They actually really did need me at the second site, but it was freakin’ quiet towards the end of my shift. Like, “stare at the computer screen,” quiet. Like, “do some library-related research,” quiet.

I’m concerned that I’m putting too much effort into my book reviews. I’m actually reading the books. Like we all expect Librarians to do; just like we have expected everyone working in a Library to be a Librarian (before we work there, ourselves). But there’s no way for any one person to have encyclopedic knowledge; or perhaps, if they do, that should really be recognized, because it’s a rarity.

Someone notified me about the, “Reader’s Bill of Rights,” which I looked up and appreciated, especially for, “the right to not finish.” I kind of wish I had done that with my last book, so I wouldn’t have wasted my precious moments of life bound to a book that wasn’t what it was advertised to be.

The good point, though, is that now I know to pay attention to Dewey classification, as well as topicality. I don’t expect you to know what I mean by that, because I don’t have the specific meaning of that specific (and complex) Dewey number. But there’s a difference in focus between a book on water quality that is in the 300s (which I know best for the social sciences), as versus the 600s (which is known for medicine). The drawback to using an electronic copy, in our present system, is that the Dewey number is not in the item record. A person has to bridge back to the paper copy to find it.

Anyhow, it’s over. I don’t have to read it again. And I can go through all my other library books to see which ones I’ll actually want to read (next). I have found some interesting stuff…not all of it apocalyptic.

libraries

Reading ’til I get sick

So…let’s see. I want to get back to my art. I haven’t drawn much within the last few days, which is kind of surprising, after all that worry about getting Copics in colors. What I have been doing is reading. A lot.

Right now I’m in the middle of several books, though the anchor is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. While I was reading that, I got curious about exactly what made the Flint River acidic (was it natural, or human-caused?), so I found a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan — The Poisoned City, by Anna Clark. I also have begun reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.

There are a bunch of other things that have popped up as curiosities as a result of reading Collapse, The Sixth Extinction, Conversations on Writing, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc. For example, I have here a book titled Bad Water by Robert Stolz about an ecological crisis in Japan between 1870 and 1950.

I haven’t looked for Bad Water in libraries, due to the fact that I already own a copy (I believe I found it in a Japanese bookstore, and not in Honolulu)…but the main issue explored was the phenomenon of acid mine drainage, and what happened to the people downriver of a mine when dissolved heavy metals from that drainage contaminated the water they cooked, fished in, grew their crops in, drank, and bathed with. To the best of my knowledge, this is where the term itai itai (“it hurts, it hurts”) originated, as a name for a syndrome that causes decalcification of the bones to the point that they crumble under the weight of the body.

But I haven’t read all the way through the book, yet. It just seemed to fit with — particularly — Collapse, as a human-generated phenomenon that caused an ecological collapse which ended up impacting (and killing) people. Diamond calls it, “ecocide.”

Then there is the entire “fracking” controversy…which I don’t feel ready enough to speak about at this point, but essentially fracking (or “hydraulic fracturing”) is a way to remove natural gas from underground which can make the groundwater toxic. Whether this should even be allowed, is a politically charged conversation in the U.S. On one hand, it reduces dependence on foreign oil reserves. On the other, it can destroy supplies of freshwater.

It does remind me of cyanide heap leaching, which is a way of extracting gold from low-grade ore which causes massive destruction of the environment. The cleanup of this is so expensive that it’s often abandoned and left up to the Federal government. I learned about this in one of my Metals (Jeweling) classes, and it basically (on top of low pay rates, relatively high hazard levels, and necessitation of certain levels of bodily function [e.g. fine motor skills, clear vision]) made me not want to be a Jeweler.

On a different note, I’ve also begun reading Le Guin’s fiction. I have with me The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, though I haven’t started the latter. Le Guin, in Conversations on Writing, at least implies, if not outright states, that Virginia Woolf was a large influence on her (from the number of times Woolf is mentioned). This has gotten me curious about giving Woolf’s Orlando a second chance (whereas its opening scene was enough to disgust me, as a younger and more sensitive person). I also have a copy of Middlesex. All three — Orlando, Left Hand of Darkness, and Middlesex — feature gender-shifting. It’s possible that I could use these as the beginning of a reading list.

I’m also reading about Reader’s Advisory service, which is something that library schools tend not to address. That, in turn, is why I’ve begun reading fiction again…I need to know this stuff! I wasn’t doing constant recreational reading during my time as a Library Aide, so I have some catching up to do.

What’s interesting is that the first chapter of Left Hand of Darkness is what has stuck in my mind, the most (out of everything I’ve read recently). It probably has to do with the fact that reading fiction takes co-imagining of the situation described by the text, for the text to actually function.

So…yesterday (Wednesday) I was home and asleep for most of the time, after having stayed up late on Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning), reading. Particularly…I felt towards the end of Tuesday night that I was starting to get sick with something (coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing), so I stayed home on Wednesday, and slept in, today (Thursday).

Yeah — I really need to regulate my sleep, better.

libraries, work

Passing training!

I’m writing in, not because I’m feeling it, but because some significant stuff has happened, and I think I “should” record it. Yesterday was my first day of work as an official Library Assistant. I completed my training on Halloween, and have to cover a set number of Sunday shifts before the end of the year. It just happened that my two options were both places that I had never even visited, before, so…finding my way around was a bit difficult.

I’ve also been reading, but haven’t yet set up a schedule for Japanese language study — reading and writing, and then speech. Right now I’m on The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and Collapse by Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs, & Steel), which are remarkably similar so far. The first is about extinction as it focuses on species, while the second is about extinction as it focuses on human societies.

As for Ursula Le Guin’s On Writing, I did finish it, and that kinda snarky quip I remembered (that if people didn’t want to be written about as doing bad things, then maybe they should be better people), wasn’t her. I think a lot of the value of that book, since I haven’t to recollection read any of Le Guin’s stories (other than The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and possibly some other shorter works — searching “le guin bibliography” did bring up a page with at least many of her works), was the tracing of her influences. It’s good to read who writers read, sometimes, especially if you like them (or think you might; or they’re in your world, somehow, as someone influential).

I still remember that someone recommended Stephen King’s On Writing, which…I read a small portion of in a bookstore, and very quickly determined that I didn’t want to read any more of it. From what I saw, he has a very “masculine” view of the world, which I don’t really need to expose myself to.

But then, I never really read anything of his, either; I just know that he’s a prolific writer who bases a lot of his work on dreams. And has had his stuff made into movies and TV series…though from what I’ve seen, I’m not really a fan. I think he was recommended to me because I do have to deal with a lot of dreamscape-type stuff in my own work…but I’m still getting out of a masculinist framework of Hemingway’s sort. I also have my own toxic masculinity to deal with; I don’t want to reinforce it.

There are just some books like that, where they’ve been recommended, and I flip through them and can quickly see that the “energy” of the book is just way too intense for me to tolerate. When that’s not grounded in anything real or of consequence (like an author whose name I shall not mention who obviously recalls for me, descriptions of Oppositional Defiant Disorder), it just puts me off. Same thing happens when something routine (like minority characters being understandable as human) is seen as extraordinary due to the time period or prejudice of the author or narrator. I can accept the latter, but some discoveries are so basic to me that I…really lose interest.

It goes back to the fact that there is no one universal, “good book,” that everyone will like. Although reader’s advisory questions often start off with, “I’m looking for a good book, what do you think is a good book,” not, “I’m looking for a book that I will like.” The latter obviously brings in the reader’s subjectivity, and that’s not always easy to navigate, especially when it becomes thoroughly obvious that the Adviser and and the Reader are such different people, that connection (let alone understanding) is difficult. What I would like is not necessarily what you would like. We both need to understand what you’re looking for before we embark on looking for it…

At least I’m reading again, and I can kind of get a sense of a book by flipping around in it, or reading excerpts in addition to reviews. I can also do some studying in my off time, though I know people told me not to worry about that…but also that I was encouraged when I showed that I did actually do my own work to fill my own knowledge gaps…