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…

culture

Restarted Japanese language study.

Yes, that’s right. I finally got around to attempting to read in Spanish, again, when I realized that the cultural content of what I’m reading differs between languages. Without getting too personal as to what I read and why I decided to stray from Spanish and get back to Japanese…well, let’s say that Japanese is, culturally speaking, less foreign to me. I have more personal use for it.

Plus, there’s the whole race + gender thing (which makes reading in a colonial language emotionally hazardous to me). And the religion thing. One of the things I appreciated about Japanese at the beginning is that it allows one to claim their own gender, as versus having it simply projected onto one by others. Of course, that doesn’t say anything about what happens to openly non-cisgender, non-heteronormative people in Japan. Do I want to get into studying that? Or do I already know?

The basic reason for learning Spanish, for me, is that I’ve sunk a lot of time into it, already, and I may need a Western European language if I want to be a mainstream Academic Librarian (as versus an East Asian Studies Librarian). But hey, who said marginalized was worse, right?

Ehhh…

In any case…I’m getting back into it. I’ve realized that learning Japanese is like learning any other non-mainstream language. Like if I was from any other small Asian country, and wanted to learn the language of my family and heritage…which most of the rest of the U.S. doesn’t care about.

I blew through a couple of course segments last night, and feel set to continue on this way (maybe setting a time for study), especially now that I know I have decided to forgo Spanish. Also — I’ve actually gotten into new vocabulary now (as versus review), and counters aren’t as bad as I thought.

“Counters”…they’re bits of words that modify the pronunciation of what is being counted. They’re prolific in Japanese, and the major reason I backed off, a while ago.

Well, besides kanji.

I can just say — I’m glad I didn’t throw out all my textbooks. Though I have no idea where my Japanese-English dictionary went…

art, technology

Solving technical difficulties

I had almost forgotten about those text-only posts about the drawing inks and watercolors! Well…let’s see. I do work over the weekend, but midweek I might have time for playing with this, some more. The drawback to posting (color) scans is that I have to use a machine with which I’m not highly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that I trained on Photoshop, but don’t want to pay $20/month to have permission to use it. I think I mentioned somewhere a while ago (maybe on a defunct blog) that I had been using PS Elements — until some update made it suddenly stop working. Was that intentional? I don’t know. But it didn’t make Adobe look good.

Of course, this is part of a long argument propounded by former Photoshop users. There are other solutions, but they take retraining, and their UX is often not as intuitive. Then there’s the fact that Adobe has probably made strides to make sure they get into the classrooms.

I do have half a mind to hook up my drawing tablet again. I took it off for my own reasons, but it reminds me that there are alternatives to Adobe. Not necessarily all open-source…not that open-source is bad, but I wonder what else is out there.

Having worked with watercolor paints recently made me realize something: one of my earlier instructors who was a Digital Illustrator, was right in that he said that digital art was made to emulate physical media, but it wasn’t a replacement for it. I haven’t been through all the art programs out there, but I wonder if anyone has replicated the blossoming of color that happens with good watercolor paint, in wet-in-wet painting. I bet someone has (it’s probably on a Mac, though).

Of course, if I’m photo-editing, I can probably do that better on the computer than in the darkroom (particularly because I don’t know how to process film, and the thought of developing photos has always put me a little on edge).

There is the possibility of getting a Mac tablet and Apple Pencil…but it’s seriously a lot of money. I mean, I’d have to work out a plan and timetable to save up for the thing, and I don’t even know if I’d like it. I guess that’s why there are Apple Stores.

Of course…if I’m going to do that, I could save up for a Mac first, and if I don’t like how the Apple Pencil works upon trying it out, I can apply the savings to a Cintiq. The price has gone down since I last checked.

(Really, Haru? You’re really entertaining this?)

Then there’s this stuff about scanning or photography.

This is kind of too much to think about, right now. I have, however, located a couple of models which would work…the question is…is it that important to me.

That depends on how much time I actually spend making artwork. It hasn’t been much, recently. If, however, I spent as much time painting as I did writing — trying to work on it every day, you know — that…that would be great.

And yes, I do need to give myself permission to make my life not all about my career. Though there is the possibility, I found yesterday…of helping to run the art displays at one or more libraries, which would give me valuable experience if I wanted to work in or run a gallery (and thus get back into the visual art world). It wouldn’t pay — it’s a volunteer position. But still…that’s really interesting, you know?

There is more I have to say about…languages. I realized the other night that while I may have been taught the basic mechanics of Spanish language, no one ever really encouraged me to do any recreational reading in Spanish, or to use the language outside the classroom. That (and the missionary angle of most of my teachers) has very obviously impacted my regard for it.

Also — I’ve realized that if I learn Spanish instead of Japanese — this would give me much more time to work on my Art. (I’ve also realized that the evangelical pamphlet that someone donated the other day, was likely written to be easy to read. I found a book by Neil Gaiman in the Spanish Children’s section the other day, which I couldn’t well read. I could read it well enough to know that it was likely disturbing.) ;)

Relearning Spanish also doesn’t mean that I won’t ever learn Japanese.

Anyway…it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got an early morning, tomorrow. More has happened…but I should get some rest.

art media, organization, painting

Seeking myself out

Today was spent eliminating excess — and organizing remaining — art materials. I also finally made it into the office to view and organize the altar area; this led to looking over the bookshelves and attempting to see what parts of those shelves I used, and what I didn’t. Like, things I would read, as versus things that were taking up space. Did I know I had so many craft books? (No. No, I did not.)

I’m still not sure what to do about the books I’ve made extensive notes within. Do I just keep them for the rest of my life?

There are a lot of books I want to read, that I just haven’t. I haven’t had time to, or I haven’t included the memory of them in the floor plan in my head. :) I also have almost a full shelf of books for studying nihongo, to read.

My big fear is that I’m going to end up talking like Siri because of learning mostly from books. There is a pitch/intonation thing going on in Japanese language which it doesn’t seem people think is very relevant; basically you learn it by listening and mimicking. One of my undergrad textbooks tried to demarcate intonation with symbols…but that wasn’t easy to decipher.

My fear is that I’m going to have to travel to the City to take classes so that I can learn the correct way to speak. That’s at least 45 minutes away, several days a week. But, I should remember, there is also the option of a Japanese Cultural Center. No, I didn’t intend to rhyme.

I know I keep going back and forth between Japanese and Spanish. Basically, Spanish would be a lot easier for me because I took four years of it as a youth. It would also be more useful, where I currently live. But there are significant and personal cultural reasons for me to learn Japanese, despite functionality being much more distant than facility in Spanish. It’s kind of like questioning whether to do the easy and useful thing which I have personal (post-colonial) psychological barriers to; as versus the hard thing that connects me with a deeper understanding of my cultural heritage, which I’ve wanted to do since I was a child.

Today I was cleaning out my art stuff. We’re basically getting rid of what we no longer use. I’ve marked most of my pastels for the Center for Re-Use, though I kept some of the collection…the ones that didn’t seem too dried out, and which I knew were relatively safe. These are Conté, Carré, and Prismacolor NuPastels where it comes to the hard pastels; and Rembrandt soft pastels, plus a couple of open-stock Blick soft pastels.

When I say, “dried-out,” I mean that I’ve had a pastel stop being able to draw, incise the paper instead, and literally shatter like a plate on being dropped, before. It’s likely because the pastel I’m thinking of (a Rembrandt, which I consider a less-risky company, though some may differ; there are issues of potential contamination of carbon black, and the ever-present Titanium White scare) is kaolin-based; kaolin is a form of clay. It would explain why those pastels were so incredibly soft when I got them (touching them would make them draw on you), and why they eventually stopped working. I did find today, though, that if they’ve been stored inside a plastic bag, they’re less likely to die.

There are also some charcoals and General’s White Charcoal in my “Dusties” kit (they make dust), though I’m still paranoid about not knowing what “General’s White Charcoal” is made of. I don’t think it’s charcoal. So far as I know, it’s a trade secret. It doesn’t help the paranoia to know that Flake White (lead-based) is still in use as a pigment in oil painting. So far as I know, though, Flake White would be a warmer shade of white than is the White Charcoal.

I also let that Blue Pumpkin nib which I used to test black inks (and a white ink), the other day, soak in pen cleaning solution. I wasn’t prepared to see all the stuff that came off of it! (I put it in one of the little clear polystyrene vials I got for bead storage.) But I do know now that the white India Ink I have (Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay) is basically the most suitable thing in my present arsenal where it comes to white highlights or corrections over marker.

Beyond that, it’s the most useful thing I have to draw in white, with high detail, on a dark surface (I used Strathmore Artagain black paper). I just haven’t tried it on translucent marker paper yet. The paper or board used as a surface for those potential marker (or ink) drawings, will likely limit my options.

I also have Daler-Rowney Pro (Process) White, but that stuff is so thick (basically a paste) that it needs to be stirred and diluted before use. I’m thinking maybe that was intentional (as regards monetary value and compact packaging), but I wasn’t expecting it not to work out of the package with either a dip pen or a brush. Of course, maybe I should just treat it as a watercolor paint, scoop some out to work with, and then work water into it with a paintbrush. That seems to be the most logical next option, if I’m trying to test all my white inks and paints for opacity (other than known Zinc White, because I know Zinc isn’t opaque).

That, in turn, is happening because I’ve realized that white acrylic ink markers lack precision and opacity where it comes to being used as correcting pens. I still haven’t tried the needle-tip Posca that I’ve seen, but…well, markers. They aren’t as versatile as paints or inks used with brushes or dip nibs; at least, not without blending.

I’ve also found that a size 0 round paintbrush isn’t that small. At least, sometimes. But my 2/0 (two sizes below 0) is freakishly small. No, I don’t know if paintbrush sizes are standardized.

Anyhow…I’m still not certain what’s happening with the acrylic colors. I could paint in acrylic; it’s just that I’m not driven to do so, relatively. The fact also remains that I don’t have a wide variety of brushes to use with acrylics (a lot of long, narrow flats, some fans, and some filberts, plus the gesso brushes)…though I do like hog-bristle better than most of the synthetics I’ve used (some of which I outright hate — I mean, they squeak and chatter across the surface).

The problem in my case is that I don’t like using stiff (or blunt) brushes…and stiff brushes are needed to stand up to heavy-body paints. Most of our acrylics are heavy-body, whereas I’m known for using even heavy-body acrylics so that they appear to be transparent watercolors. I guess that should tell me something.

The question for me is whether or not getting a wider variety of brushes would help me transition back to canvas and acrylics. I’m leaning towards, “no.” At the same time, M and I have accumulated a lot of acrylic paint over the years. On top of that, I have no way of knowing which of those tubes are structurally sound, without trying to open them and potentially having a chemical spill on my hands — literally. (Liquitex tube paints, in particular, I know to have lids and necks that will sometimes fail. Like the cap unit will peel away from the rest of the tube. Then again, I have no idea how old those tubes were, individually.) That means that I have no idea how much usable paint I actually have.

If there were anything which could draw me back to painting in acrylics, it would probably be the chance to work with opaque colors, in large scale, and to work out an underdrawing and underpainting before ever beginning — and to edit, in-process. There’s also the chance to save a canvas by just gessoing over the whole thing if I don’t like what I have.

But I can work with opaque colors by using gouache; I can use large brushes (and large papers) in watercolor. The rest of it seems particular to working with canvas or panel, gesso, charcoal/pastel, easel, and acrylic glazing medium. I know the process.

I guess that — like learning Spanish language (I had a choice of Spanish or French; I would rather have had a choice between Japanese, Cantonese, or Mandarin, the latter two of which, I could actually use) — is another one of the things that I did because I had to, not because I particularly had a great desire to. It was a learning experience.

The thing that really bothered me when I was taking painting classes was the fact that the act of painting would basically grind down my hog-bristle brushes. I’m thinking this was from the marble dust in the gesso, or from painting on rough plywood panel. It’s something I haven’t experienced with any other type of paint — though granted, I’ve only worked with water-based paints, not oils.

I was told to save the good brushes for oils, because oils don’t do the same thing. The wear on the brushes could also have been from the fact that I was using student-grade gesso. I don’t think I’ve ever used professional-level gesso. I’ve seen it. I just don’t think I’ve ever bought any — with the possible exception of once purchasing Golden. Not sure.

The other thing about getting rid of a lot of this stuff…a lot of it is about prioritization and considering who I actually am, and what I actually want. Not in an abstract way, and maybe not even in a way that compromises anything to the vicissitudes of present reality…though I’m getting abstract.

What I mean is that I’m fairly certain I know what I want. I also know where wanting those things gets inconvenient. From age, I know that I’m unlikely to stop wanting what it is that I want, just because it’s inconvenient; rather, I’ll likely end up halfway chasing those inconvenient things for years on end (like buying book after book on learning Japanese, as a symbol to myself, and not reading them), while I waste time and energy and brain space paying lip service to what the world tells me I should want, instead.

So I should just do what I want, and be who I am. That’s the fastest route to attainment.

Right?