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…

career, LIS, psychology, self care, writing

Learning to die

No, I haven’t yet read Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton (2015). I don’t know how much it applies here, but…it may apply.

Just to let you know, I’m really pushing myself to get back on here and write. I have been keeping an offline journal, for myself…it’s just a bit harder to scan than this blog, though. As regards re-learning a cursive hand, I’ve decided to stop trying to force myself, as it isn’t as legible as my printing. It pretty much looks worse, too…which kind of evades the point.

Things are still kind of tense with me. Since my last class ended, I’ve had nothing that I’ve really been forced to do. I have two more classes which are about to start up, which at least will give me weekly projects to complete…on top of going back over my Portfolio, which it’s obvious (to me) I don’t want to do, but may be key in gaining future employment. Especially if I’m going for a technical position.

Right now I’m at a juncture between Web Development and Metadata or Cataloging Librarianship…the latter two being focused on the organization of information, the former meaning ability to communicate with a computer so it does what I want it to do (which is display information in a readable [and just maybe, hopefully, pleasant] manner*).

*”That’s for the UX people to figure out!” you say.

I should get back to the book, Careers in Writing, by Blythe Camenson. Because…right now, I’m actually thinking about writing for money. I think I’m in too deep with the content angle of Librarianship (after all, I have an Art and an English degree) to switch over totally to being a Web Developer.

Web Development as a career has the possibility of taking over the rest of my life. While it would be good money (if I were competent, which is not guaranteed, with an Art and an English degree), there are things I want to do besides help other people publish online. I might not have enough time for myself if I go for Web Development; it requires constantly staying on top of new technology. I’m pretty sure I’d get fried.

Right now, I’m angled toward Cataloging…and I’ll see where I stand, in a bit. I’m set up to take a class on Statistics, which will help as a foundation for text- or data-mining. Text- and data-mining help in determining the “aboutness” of a digital, text-based document. I’m also in a Subject Classification course, which will help me efficiently determine the subjects of texts in a more cognitive way.

That’s…barring any calamity which may happen between now and August. I took my in-person Spanish test about a week and a half ago (and didn’t pass: not even close; they must have been desperate; it’s like, “just tell me if I need to be at the level where I use this every day, so I can tell whether or not to even entertain this”), and so…I have until Thursday to have to still be on alert to anyone (including myself) becoming sick. (It’s now Monday morning, here.) M had mentioned an irritated throat on Sunday night, which…is not great, but there’s nothing I can really do about it; and the best she can do is rest.

What is scary is that COVID-19 can apparently infect and kill, very quickly (there was one victim in the news who was infected and died within 3 days — which I consider to be on the level of Ebola). At the time I was asked to take the Spanish test, I was unaware that there was a concurrent spike in new viral transmissions in our county. That fact wasn’t available until the hospitals started to fill up.

I am very concerned about hospitals having to make decisions about who gets treatment and who doesn’t, based upon pre-existing conditions…which could easily stray into eugenics, if it is not already eugenics. Especially, now. I doubt that they’re separating out the cases who got the disease by being personally and voluntarily irresponsible from people who were staying at home and doing their best.

Anyhow.

The thing to do, in this case, is likely to prepare myself to be independent as quickly as possible. That means…I should be driven to help cook, at the least. At the moment, I still don’t have the facility to drive, which matters in my area. Those are the two major life functions that I haven’t had to engage. Well, and there’s a third: paying bills. And doing taxes.

If everything turns out fine, that’s great: but if it doesn’t, I might be a little better prepared than otherwise. Maybe it would help me relax a bit (as versus panic)?

The problem I’m facing is a lack of information…and that information (whether or not we are all still safe) will only be revealed with time. And past that point in time, it’s uncertain again. (In actuality, the situation may be constantly uncertain.) My major blessing in this case, should it come, would only be that it would not be my direct fault that my mother became ill — this time.

But yeah…I wasn’t really briefed on the situation before we went out, either; and I have a feeling my parents were both shielding me from the information because they know that I have issues with germ phobia in the first place. I don’t really want to tell them that I didn’t even want to take the test. But we know the level at which I have to function now, in a bilingual environment…and I’m not at it.

I’m honestly not even sure now that I’d be at the level of functioning I’d need to be, as a Spanish-language Cataloger. Which is good to know. (Seriously, I look at some of the subject headings we use in English, and I don’t know what they all mean.) If I want an Academic Library job, though, proficiency in Spanish is likely the easiest route to solidify that “second language” requirement.

And no, I don’t know if it’s good or bad that when I read in Spanish, I immediately start to translate into English. It’s a very different dynamic than with Japanese language.

If we can make it through this…if I can look back on this from the future and see a learning opportunity and not a harbinger, my parents have told me that I don’t have to worry about getting another job immediately. It’s safer to hang back until we either have a treatment or a vaccine.

The thing is, right now, I don’t know how long any of us will be able to survive (especially given the fact that this virus likes to mutate). But I don’t predict the future well, which has always been a blessing — given that I tend to neuroses. I stopped writing fiction because I knew I tended to get carried off with my own stories, have I told you all that?

It might actually be time for me to write down my own, “wisdom,” so much as it may be. Just codify it. Whatever form it takes, just get it out. Then decide what to do with it, later. Decide if it’s true, later. Or leave it to others…like my sister, who told me that I have my own story and it deserves to be told…

Business, career, jewelry, libraries, psychology, self care, work

Relax, kid. You have options.

I remember now, something I learned in Library School: you don’t have to do the most difficult thing possible for you to do, just because it’s difficult. Challenging myself constantly may not be the easiest route forward, in life. Yes, I’m talking about COVID-19 and myself working in a public service position based on gathering and sharing, with chronic OCD and a germ phobia. All that has to happen is for someone to cough on me. That’s all that has to happen.

If I were living alone, this may not be such a big issue: but I’m living with two parents over the age of 65, which puts them at high risk. Given that I still need them to support me (I still can’t drive)…that’s not great. Also given that my sibling is an ocean away and that my nearby family is not known for their mental stability (it’s hereditary, except I’m taking care of my dysfunction instead of denying it)…also, not great.

Right now…I’m at a relatively unique place: a juncture at which I’ve never before been. I’ve got job experience, extensive training, schooling. My debt is taken care of, due to family. I’m still with a program designed to help people like myself (I am legally disabled — though I didn’t realize my OCD alone would grant me protections). I question now, however, how much that program has been or will be able to help me further (aside from assistance with learning to drive…or obtaining a job which is not public service).

I know for a fact that they weren’t aware of the reality of working within a Public Library system when they recommended I try it, for example. I had run-ins with two creeps early on (one of whom was a known stalker), which I was entirely unprepared for. But that’s normal, for a Public frikkin’ Library.

Essentially…I have a lot of freedom, right now. God knows how long that will last, but right now I have the ability to pretty much do what I want. Over the last few weeks of the quarantine, I’ve started to get back to what comforts me: making things. It takes my mind off of the stress. I really don’t know everything about how it works; I just know it does. Today I received an order of cords in the mail…kind of makes me want to cry, but not in a bad way. It’s nice to have the money for these things.

I still need to re-register for a seller’s permit (which will enable me to pay tax at point of sale of finished items instead of at point of purchase of materials)…but I can see an extended market for face coverings right now, as well as for jewelry (although I am very aware that jewelry is not a life necessity: it’s a luxury, and people may not have much money for luxuries in the near future). The key thing here…is that if I get (or maintain) a relatively stable part-time job in order to finance the making, I could bloom that income.

Right now, I know what I have saved, and I know a bit about what I could earn. The question is whether I could emotionally tolerate the work: I’d rather work with objects or data, not people…but the position I’m in now is almost entirely composed of working with people. Then there is the fact that working with data most likely means working with numbers (at least if I’m dealing with Big Data)…not my favorite thing to do. That leaves, objects…from which, I’m learning a surprising amount. (Not least, I’m recalling my Geometry — which was one of my favorite topics when it came to Math.)

As well…the surge in physical productivity I experienced recently…that only happened once I tried to commit myself to language as an art form. Then I realized that I didn’t want to do it. There are reasons for this…prime among them is the fact that language in many ways could be said to attempt (and repeatedly fail) to encase reality. I know about this personally.

It’s much easier to exist outside of the confines of language, for me. Working with other languages highlights the biases of English…however, both Spanish and Japanese (the two non-English languages I’ve been most closely acquainted with) have their own strong biases (gender in the first case, hierarchy in the second), and I’d expect the trend of cultural quirks to continue across the myriad of world languages I don’t know about.

Working with images…or literally with fabric or glass, it isn’t the same thing. Color reaches people on a much more basic level than words do. As for why or how, I’m still not certain — or perhaps the part of my mind that can think and type in words, can’t comprehend what the rest of it, knows. (I wouldn’t be surprised.) But there’s way more to me, than just language; and I’m wishing to explore that, at this point.

This reminds me of a game I heard of recently…I’m not sure whether or not it’s Gris, but there are no words spoken in the game…which has really fantastic implications for the way it is received globally and cross-culturally. This is the same reason I was initially into MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) encoding — everyone had to learn it, it wasn’t language-specific; but right now, as I’ve heard, it’s one of the oldest legacy technologies and is set to be replaced by Linked Data…

Gah, now I’m getting technical and not knowing how to describe this. But Linked Data also works across different languages and vocabularies.

That does give me more of a sense of peace, than not. On that point, I wonder if I should be a member of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions). Even if I only had the opportunity to work in New Zealand or Australia or Singapore, those could be good options.

I think that with the Library work…I’m going to aim to become a Cataloger. It will keep me working with items (as versus people), and maybe it will be easier for me. If I can’t find a job within a Library system itself, I can work for a company that provides pre-cataloged items to libraries. If not that, hey — it isn’t like item description, organization, and retrieval is any less of a problem, anywhere else.

And I do have some coding skills…

Maybe I should invest in that. I could help with website development for bead shops desiring a Web presence, for example…

art, libraries, organization, self care

Priorities, Version 2

This is written in continuation of a prior post from November 1 about current priorities as regards my time and resources.

I’m thinking it may be of use to identify where current evidence suggests my priorities lie, prior to describing where I wish my priorities lay; and a map of how to get from one state, to the other.

  1. Work
  2. Writing
  3. Reading (in English)
  4. Organization
  5. Watercolors
  6. Rest

There are three possibilities I can see coming up which may compete for resources:

  • Driving lessons and practice
  • Ceramics classes/studio time (to start in Spring)
  • Silversmithing classes/studio time (to start in Summer)

I don’t see work reducing in priority too much, but learning to drive will likely cut into that. It’s a skill I need to know which is way overdue. Writing also will likely not reduce too much in priority. I’d like to read more. My focus on organization will likely slow down as things…you know, get organized. I’ve wanted to work on watercolors, more; I’ve also found someone giving free watercolor classes. And rest, well…that will come up as I get exposed to pathogens.

I haven’t been engaging Japanese language study pretty much at all, recently, which makes practice in writing…well…practicing writing wrong. Though I did today, out of nowhere, recall the kanji for “hand”: 手

There is also study for essentially Professional Development which I left off on, and should get back to: particularly, in Reader’s Advisory, Virtual Reference, and Online Searching. After that is done, it would help to start looking at materials for how to conduct Library programs.

I’m thinking the priority schedule will start to look something like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving lessons and practice
  3. Reader’s Advisory study
  4. Writing (Art experiences, sexuality + gender)
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. Watercolor

I still want to add in Ceramics. I believe this will take time away from work, as my work schedule is likely to be more flexible than the Lab schedule. As the Spring quarter starts, my priorities may look more like this:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Watercolor

…and that’s mostly because I find I write more meaningfully when I don’t push myself to write. Watercolor may actually fall away if I’m also dealing with Ceramics.

You’ll notice “studying Japanese language” is missing. I’m just not sure where to put it:

  1. Work
  2. Driving practice
  3. Writing
  4. Ceramics
  5. Reading (in English)
  6. nihongo wo benkyou suru (studying Japanese language)
  7. Watercolor

I still feel kinda torn about the Spanish thing.

The other day, someone dropped off a pamphlet in Spanish that I could read well enough to know that it was an evangelical text. While I was happy to be able to decipher this (four years of programming was not wasted), the fact is, my being able to read an evangelical text is not a personal benefit.

Before I read Adolfo Best-Maugard’s A Method for Creative Design (originally composed in Spanish), which in turn was recommended by a teacher of mine (I’m pretty sure I know how she identifies, but I don’t know that I can write the term on wordpress.com — those of you who know what I’m talking about, know), there was nothing I was motivated to read in Spanish language. (I did, however, find an interesting Reference book on Latin American Literature in a nearby library, which piqued my interest.) I suppose that this would be a disappointment to my middle school and high school Spanish teachers, but the fact is that no one exposed us to books in Spanish, other than our textbooks. If my memory’s correct, we might have even read Pablo Neruda in English class, not Spanish — though that sounds too ridiculous to be accurate. I hope it’s not accurate.

I’m trying not to get into politics or religion, at the moment. Though español brings up issues with both, really strongly, and really negatively, for me. In a lot of ways.

If I were only going to use it within the U.S., that would be one thing…but I would expect relations with Latin America to be on the rocks right now.

The problematic parallel to rigidly gendered nouns in Spanish language is the hierarchy inherent to Japanese language. The way one person addresses another, or refers to oneself in context with that other, is dependent on the hierarchical relation between them. Though, I’ve mostly encountered respectful people when I have engaged with people in Japanese-American society. (Kids and teens, when I was the same age, don’t count.)

I guess if I want to see if it’s worth it to learn Spanish, I could reach out and start reading some kids’ materials, or something…I’ve heard that it isn’t best to try and learn multiple languages at the same time.

Just…I don’t want to have wasted those four years! And I’m so close!

It’s also more practical…

craft, personal

Things to do that I almost forgot: Japanese language study, and coding.

I really didn’t do anything creative today, but I made the experience of living in this house a little more pleasant, at least for myself. I’m hoping to leave some notes here for the future, as to what I can do in the daytime which will be constructive, other than beading, hanging out on social media, and reading. When I get to a certain point where my focus has narrowed to an extreme, it becomes difficult to think of different things to do, or to change focus.

I did take some time out to clean my office and bedroom. I had forgotten how good it felt to have clean carpet underfoot! Wrapping up my hair was a good thing, because I did end up getting very dusty. I may have to wash my hair tomorrow, despite it; my scalp feels a little itchy, still. I might also have to wash my blankets; the drawback of not making the bed every day is that dust and germs can accumulate, there.

I was also able to let in some fresh air, which was much nicer than expected. The windows have been shut as it’s been so cold outside, but the coolness was nice today, because I was working so hard, the sun was out, and it was in the low 60°s F outside.

The little Umbrella plant still hasn’t been repotted, though it got some direct sun, today. :) (I’m not sure that’s a good thing.) I also have everything I need for it, so it’s just a matter of when I’m okay with getting soil and gravel on the table and floor. :)

After I had gotten a considerable amount of work done, I was able to return to the aspect of my life which is at least nominally work-related…that is, the books in my office. I have a good number of Japanese language learning books which I just haven’t gone back to (maybe because I keep getting discouraged from having to pull away from my studies?). I want to get back to learning this, particularly as it’s a transferable skill that I might need.

As well…hmm. I need to at least be reviewing my coding, if not learning new aspects of it. I did see today that I do have somewhere where I can load and run databases. I’m just not at all sure that I’m up to the task (meaning that I probably am, and that I know enough to have trepidation towards it).

Yes, it is weird that those are two language-related skills…

Anyhow…I’m not entirely certain what to do about my yarn projects. I have one which has been in my bedroom for months, although it’s still not finished (I saw the specter of running out of yarn, and got nervous), and I haven’t really worked on it since I brought it in. Then, I had started to work on teaching myself to knit (with wool), but at this point…I know it’s very expensive in terms of time, and I don’t know that it’s worth it.

If I did work with yarn and knitting…I have a strong desire to work one or more lace shawls or wraps and eventually gain the skill to incorporate beads into them. Cowls are also good; the thing is that if I end up in a warmer climate…they may not be anything I can use.

I have decided to keep a book (Knit and Crochet with Beads by Lily Chin, 2004) which shows different ways to integrate beads into knitting and crochet…because I don’t know when I’ll run across another like it. It’s actually quite a useful book, if you’re into that sort of thing…I just don’t know if, in the near future, I will have the luxury of enough free time to deal with something like this.

But maybe repetitive fine motor movements will be enough to soothe my anxiety…I believe I have memorized the pattern for the blanket in mid-process, sitting here next to me.

I just realized that embroidery and sewing seem to have slipped my mind altogether, but I should try not to forget them.

There’s more stuff going on, but it would be in my best interest not to get into it right now. I will say that it may be useful to do some reading on Informational Interviewing, or possibly in that introductory book I’ve been interested in and never read, because I didn’t foresee a career in the work of which it spoke. However…at this point I know I’m not socially inept; I could teach crochet or beading or knitting, if I knew what I was doing, and teaching helps bring people together…