Distractions, distractions…

I have one day left to do my final assignment in User Experience, and I think the timeline has me freezing up, a bit.  Both today and yesterday, I was unable to go in to work; yesterday, because I was physically sick (any time I moved, I wanted to throw up), and today, because I was running a fever (higher than yesterday’s).  Most of today and yesterday has been spent in the bed.

Right now, I feel more capable of doing things without constantly sweating, and my spine is telling me that some time spent vertically would be a good thing.  Staying home, though, didn’t help me find out what I need to for the basis of my assignment…which, inconveniently enough, is based on interviewing people.  (Working with people is likely the most difficult part of both my job, and this program.)

After this next week, though, Summer Session will be over.  That will be a relief.  I think I should just try and do the assignment as best I am able, even knowing that I do not have the time or information to do things the way I am being asked to do them.

Design Thinking is an entire field; it is unreasonable to expect us to execute the assignment perfectly in one week based on material found online, especially when no lecture is given and we have only been introduced to it within that same week.

I do think that I would be better off working in Graphic Design than I would be working in Design Thinking, that is.  That said, it is good to at least be introduced to the latter concept (and to where to learn more if I so desire).

That said, here are the succulent babies I was talking about last time. 😛 Please forgive the color-fill background; I took this photo at a weird angle, then had to rotate the image…did I crop this before rotating it?  Hmm.  Got to remember that for next time…


I’m still unsure as to whether to claim my off days as sickleave…though as it is Summer, and I spend more money during Summer and Winter breaks (excluding clothing) than at any other time…(during Semesters, I don’t have time to work on Art), I’m thinking about it.  Right now I’m wondering if I got sick because I briefly touched the neck/cap of my water bottle with an unclean hand, and then drank from it later.  (I thought my mouth did not touch what my hand touched.  Maybe I was wrong.)

Anyway, that’s past.

One of my coworkers brought in some graphic work the other day, as well:  I’ve got to ask them what kind of markers they used!  From the looks of the color blending, I would think they were Chartpaks, but I’m not deep enough into markers to tell.

I am thinking of getting some new Chartpaks and seeing how they perform now (the ink may not be the same, and mine may be so old as to be drying out — they’re streaking, now, but when they were new I could not make them streak):  I got the idea for a graphic art piece dealing with the story that is in my head and not yet solidified enough on paper (or in bytes) for me to have a formed idea of what it will become.

But I was motivated enough to work on it in charcoal, earlier.  And I hate charcoal.  I haven’t photographed it yet because it’s nowhere near being done, and I really dislike working in black and white, anyway.

It is a given that if I work with the Chartpaks, I will have to do it in a well-ventilated area; I’m thinking the garage, or outside.  I’m not sure if the fumes will be strong enough to ignite via the furnace…if this is an issue, I may be better off sticking with Tombows or other water-based markers, and just making heavy use of a blending marker, or brush and water — I don’t know what the difference is, in water-based markers.  (I wonder if charcoal/pastel blending stumps dipped in water would work, or just turn into mush?)

I also have Copics (alcohol-based), but my co-worker and I have been fairly underwhelmed by the markers, at least.  (I like the fineliners.)  I haven’t yet tried using the blending marker, though.  The Copics I have, streak; though I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of nearly every paper I’ve used (I think translucent marker paper helps, particularly Borden & Riley), or if it’s because I didn’t saturate the paper with solvent (from the blending marker).

I should try blending the Copics first, before going to the Chartpaks, though…the solvent of the latter is definitely something you don’t want to be breathing in for any length of time, or in a confined area; and when open areas have open flame in them…I don’t want to set the house on fire.  I think I could use these, though, in an actual open space — if I taped down the paper I was working on to protect from wind.

At least when I first began to use the Chartpaks, they were formulated with xylene as a solvent, which is carcinogenic; then they reduced the amount of xylene to a level where the markers no longer carried a Caution Label.  Obviously, though…if you can avoid xylene…it’s just one of those things that’s best not to come into contact with on a frequent basis.  I was already used to the smell from using watchmaker’s cement (G-S Hypo Cement, which also uses xylene as a solvent, and which I’d gotten plenty of, on my fingertips:  not good!).

But the Chartpak AD markers (I’m not referring to the Chartpak Spectra AD markers, which I just found tonight) blend and bleed beautifully, or at least they used to.  Like I said:  when my (old formulation) markers were new, I could not make myself get streaks, so what I used them on looked more like animation cels, than anything.

And then, there’s the possibility of using colored pencils and liquefying them with a blending marker or Gamsol, or of using aquarelles.  The negative thing about the latter that I immediately land on, however, is that it’s like using grainy (and sometimes dull) paint.  The aquarelle layers just don’t dissolve all the way, unless you use a really light touch when applying the crayon (I’m thinking Neocolor II) or pencil…which I might try, at least if the only other options are Tombows and Copics.  The exception to this that I can think of are the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle pencils…which liquefy beautifully, with intense colors, but which are also top-of-the-line for watercolor pencils.  (They are priced accordingly.)

Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.  Maybe…I will.  I have some aquarelles I can experiment with, here already.  Maybe I just need to use a light touch.  This — and/or actually using paint or acrylic ink (how could I forget all those FW acrylic inks I have?), seem like better options.

I was probably just wowed by my co-worker’s marker art.  🙂  I forgot that I’ve been building up to this, for a while.  I got out of trying to use markers because it’s so expensive to just increase a dilution level of the same ink, whereas with paint or bottled ink, you just add a little more water.  (It’s been a very long time since I used ground sumi ink.)

I had begun to get into the technique of utilizing transparent watercolor as a ground color for other colored-pencil work, on top of a fineliner drawing; it shouldn’t be hard to lay down initial colors as watercolor (with the option of using acrylic ink, instead), then layer aquarelle and then regular colored pencil over that…though the opacity of those colors is something to pay attention to.  I could wipe out my initial linework, if I’m not careful.  But then I might also be able to wipe out opaque colors on top of linework as well, or redraw them with ink and a brush…(regular colored pencil, being wax- or oil-based, can clog the nibs of fineliners and markers, so I’ve heard).

I’ve also gotten wowed with Derwent Graphik Line Painters, some of which I may have initially ruined in my attempts at use:  I mention them here because they look awesome on top of watercolor, and as they have Japan (hollow) nibs, I have less of an expectation that they will clog.  The problem I’m having is having depressed the nibs too far into the barrels; this means some of them (the ones I tried to use before I knew better), will leak.

I recently found a Strathmore Mixed Media paper (it almost feels like illustration board:  the latter of which I don’t know how to use properly with water-based media, by the way), which I want to try out…and all of this might work well, here.

Yeah, I think it’s time to break out the aquarelle pencils!  After, that is, completing this last assignment…gah…

The gestalt of my interests is as yet unclear.

I’ve actually been learning a lot from Letting Go of the Words, by Ginny Redish.  For one thing, when writing online, it’s best to put the main subject of the writing at the top of the post so that visitors can decide whether they want to read it or not.  😉

I’m not sure how much of the rest of this text will be assigned; what I do know is that I was able to get three assignments out of the way today (the buildup of two weeks of slow work), with none of them late.  I had been concerned about my time management, but thankfully the workload was doable in the time I’ve had over the latter portion of last week, plus today.  Once all the readings and lectures were out of the way, it really wasn’t that bad!

I worked extra hours (for my employer) last week, and even though it was only a half-day extra, I’m really happy that I was able to handle that plus the Summer class.  I had been intimidated by the assigned work, but it’s much less intimidating once I start to do it.  It’s like I no longer have the resources to worry about time, once I start in on homework.

And it did end up being true; I did not have time to work on art at any time this weekend.  However, I now have a bunch of days coming up where I’ll either have, “free time,” or I’ll be earning money.  There will be a new round of classwork, but I think I can handle it.  I think this was the only week we had, where we had three things due on the same night.

One of the things I’m learning is that a lot of grad school seems to be about pointing me toward resources to explore on my own.  Given this:  would it be more appropriate to try to learn, say, HTML, C++, Java, Linux, etc., than to try to learn Japanese?  Especially as, if I get the correct skillset, I can actually make an assured positive impact in the American library and information sectors?

Japanese would be great in a service job catering to a lot of nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) or issei (first-generation Japanese Americans), such as working as a Public Librarian in Hawaii.  Java would be great in a technical job, such as making sure the library website and app actually works, but not necessarily speaking face-to-face with someone whose first language is not English (unless I’m writing the website copy).

The bizarre thing (or maybe not so much) is that my desire to learn Japanese is paired with my desire to make art.  I feel like they influence each other.  Learning how to correctly write, causes me to pay attention to things like proportion, space, and line.  I guess I’m really talking about typography and calligraphy here, aren’t I?

But in any case — I really want to learn Japanese, but I also don’t want to leave my art practice; and I also have earning money, and a Master’s program, to attend to.  And the latter, I want to gear towards Web Design and/or Production, and to do that I’ll need Design skills…and some technical skills which I can’t bet on being taught in my program.

There’s some kind of cohesion that all these things have, but I don’t feel able to put my finger on it, right now.  It’s all about Art and Design, isn’t it?  Only the Design is technically-oriented.  (And, well, it’s also about knowledge-sharing and information availability:  the latter two enabled by technology and literacy.)

I wonder if there is some way that I can find space for all of this.  They do all seem to go together.  Maybe in the future I can look back on this and maybe see the gestalt?  But right now it’s 2:15 AM, and maybe this is why I’m having a tough time thinking.

Exercise log: July 2, 2017

The parts of my workout that I can recall today looked like this:

  • Exercycle:  1.2 miles in under 10 min., ~7.7 MPH avg. speed; 10 MPH top speed
    (compare lethargic day at 5-6 MPH avg. speed, and 8 MPH top speed)
  • Push-ups:  15 straight!  (Women’s version)

I would write down something for abs, too, but unfortunately it’s hard to keep track of how many crunches (etc.) I am doing.  With those, I’m basically just trying to correctly do as many abdomen exercises as I can think of, to reach all my muscle groups.  Counting is extra.  😉

And…my belly is really getting pulled in.  I’m still kind of thick there, but the distension is going away!

And I was only 161 lbs. when I weighed myself today!  (this is down from a high of ~165+, though I have been mostly hovering around 162, in the pre-breakfast weight check.)

Today, also, I started lunges, though I was doing them incorrectly (angled back foot).  I know how to do them correctly, now, though (both feet pointing straight ahead, and lowering myself on the ball of the foot, where it comes to the back one).

I still wish to go out walking and running, more.  Working on the exercycle doesn’t seem to strengthen the muscles used in walking (or stair climbing, for that matter), and I could stand some sunshine.

Exercise, today, was a break from homework.  I did get everything successfully accomplished.  (Three assignments!  And they all have good effort!)  Unfortunately, this did mean some upper back stress — I probably shouldn’t even be sitting at my computer terminal now — but I was able to dissipate this somewhat with exercise and stretching.  Of most concern is sitting improperly, and keeping my mouse hand extended for too long.

I’m not as experienced with upper-body exercises, though I know that yoga stretches (cat-cow, downward dog, child pose) do really help with the tension around my spine, and in my shoulders.

I used an excess of caffeine today, so I’m not certain I’ll be going to bed anytime soon.

I ended up drinking about two pots of tea (different kinds of green tea), both of which were the first brewing (meaning a full dose of what caffeine they had:  green tea is relatively mild in this regard), and I had a little chocolate earlier, too.  (Normally, I would have eaten chocolate chips so I could get a little buzz and not mind doing the homework so much; but I went with tea, this time.)

I was working on three assignments under a deadline, and did not have the option of going back to sleep in the meantime; so I figured it was OK to splurge a little.

And, I haven’t had a nosebleed yet.  This is good!  (?! — caffeine excess can sometimes cause me to get a nosebleed from heightened blood pressure, even though my blood pressure is normally low.)

Anything else I want to write, I should probably organize into a different post.  🙂

I suppose I can take time out to write.

Hi all,

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading, recently, for my Summer class.  On top of this, I worked extra hours this week.  I just finished the last two lectures tonight, and appear to be all caught up on my reading.  Now the work begins.

In class, we’ve been reading a book called Letting Go of the Words:  Writing Web Content that Works (Second Edition), by Janice (Ginny) Redish.  This is with an eye to building functional and useful (library) websites.  Because of this, and because I didn’t wholly realize that the site at which you’re reading this now is likely a “destination site,” I had been thinking that massive reorganization was necessary for this blog.  (Library websites are usually not “destination sites;” they’re usually redirecting sites.)

It seems that yes, some reorganization needs to happen so that readers aren’t continually faced with textwalls.  However, I need to take stock of what is here and what is most used (and ideally get some reader feedback), before I do it.

What I had been doing, instead of posting here, was experimenting with the Pages function on WordPress.  (And, right:  I’ve also changed the Theme.)  I’ve been thinking of keeping a (relatively) static front page with links back to (periodically revised and added) material which may go unused when the front page is just an infinitely-scrolling list of chronologically-organized text.

It may just be clear, however, that doing that kind of work to this blog may, 1) inhibit its functionality as a recording place for me (rewriting things written three years ago may destroy their relevance), and, 2) not be feasible, in terms of content.

In terms of the initial goal and approach of this blog (as a place to record my thoughts so that I could formulate a career direction), and the newer goals I can see emerging (now that I have a career direction), it might be more worth it to keep this place as a place to record my thoughts, and set up a different space with the goal of actually serving my readers.

(I wonder if blogs’ reasons for existence have shifted, over the past 20 years?)

Anyhow, I have a number of things due in what is, in practicality, the next 24 hours, so I’ll try and cut this short so that I can get enough rest to be functional tomorrow.

And ah — right!  I wanted to record this somewhere I could remember it.  This is off-topic for this post (though on-topic for the blog), but M said something to me the other day.  She didn’t mean for me to stop painting, but rather for me to get a job which could support me in order to enable my creativity.  This was likely in response to, “I’d like to go to the art store; I have some things in mind, but I won’t be able to even use them before Monday, because I won’t have time.”  Apparently, people have been saying that I should be making art because I could be making money at it… 🙂 …always a nice thing to hear!

Yes, something happened.

One good thing:  I restarted reading What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon.  This…helps.  Having options outside of working in a library is a good thing, even though I get the sense that this is a political issue with some.  That is, I get the sense that some would feel “betrayed” if I decided to take a different path.  But the Library world is weird like that.

For me, though, the “outsourcing” of library work to other specialized groups, means that I can work for some other specialized group, as versus working directly for, say, a Public Library:  the work in which, I’m not sure is a recipe for happiness, for me.

Also, the track I’m on (Digital Services), includes most of the path of Web Design/Info Architecture plus more.  All of the core courses are covered, and some of the “Recommended” courses in the Web Design path that aren’t in the Digital Services path, aren’t even given.  So it’s a good bet, if I do want to go into Web Design, to hold steady.  (I doubt that Design will be as Computer-Science-centric as Web Development…)

I will, though, have to educate myself on the aesthetic dimensions:  a lot of my work so far has dealt with usability, coding, and organization.  Which are all fine…but as someone who is into Art, too, I might want to look into visual elements of Design.

And — ha!  I have some books on Design that I haven’t read, on my bookshelf right now.

Wow…a lot of them, actually.

I also came up with the idea of interactive textbooks, but did a little research, and Pearson already has started working on this.  (Maybe I can work for Pearson?)  In addition, there seems to be a lot of work on this as regards Apple (another possibility), on mobile and tablet devices.  The interlacing here of technology, creating teaching programs, writing the textbook, and gamifying is interesting.  For the first time we have the option of making our “textbooks” into interactive multimedia computer programs…that might be able to be either downloaded or carried on a MicroSD card, or similar.

I doubt I would have come up with the idea, if it were not for my Nintendo DS…yes, probably a bit outdated by this time, but The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom Hourglass was the first time a game ever asked me to write an answer to a puzzle (I’m wondering if it used anything related to “Least Squares” in sensing what my answer was)…would it be that different, say, if you were watching a language-learning video or reading a passage of text and could practice writing in the textbook?  With scores or something to show you how well you did, and without using up physical space with blank paper on which to write?  And what about voice recording and recognition?

What else has been happening…I’ve been slowly getting my reading for User Experience done, though I’m not certain if I’ll have to work on anything due this weekend (I’ve kind of been having a tough time for the last several days, and haven’t even checked the message boards).  I know I have one thing due in one more week, but it shouldn’t be hard.  Though I will have to drag myself back over there and see what’s due.

Anyway.  I just think that I’m not a very social person.  But I’m being graded on my engagement, so there’s that.  Whatever.

Oh, right:  the art and craft storage area has again been rearranged.  There’s…a lot more room, now…

And I think that it’s best to ignore my sibling’s insistence that I write a story before attempting the artwork for it.  The time I came closest to actually having a story and a graphic novel, that story developed out of my drawings.  And I’m going to have **** drawings if I wait until after I’ve written a story before I try to draw anything.

That makes sense, right?

I should get some rest…

Anticipation: one more thing to go…then, 2 weeks of (relative) freedom.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to do one of my readings earlier today, or tonight; what I was able to do, was get a lot more readings lined up so that I possibly do not have to do the one I printed out, the other day.  I’m looking at 10-12 papers to read, at about 12 pages each.  It’s not hard; it just requires focus and commitment.

I have been wanting to get these out of the way as soon as possible.  Because of that, I didn’t maintain a social commitment tonight, opting instead to stay home — where I had the possibility of working on my last assignment.  Unfortunately, reruns of Futurama are more entertaining than my readings!


Anyhow, I’ll try and get as much done tomorrow and the day after, as I can; even though I know that may only be six articles, total.  But basically, what I have to do is scan and/or read the articles and provide a 100-200 word commentary on each.  I’m going to try and get this done before Saturday, though I’m not sure how realistic a goal that is, at this point.  (It probably depends on what I choose to read and how deeply I choose to read it — scanning first is probably the best idea I’ve had.  Other than, that is, reading the introduction and conclusion of the paper, and first and last sentences of every paragraph, prior to scanning.  I may not have a clear idea of what these things are about, because I gathered them so quickly.)

I should probably also put the files on a flash drive and transfer them to my secondary computer so that I won’t have to worry about not having anything to read, if I get stuck somewhere after the funeral on Saturday — my little tablet lasts about 4-6 hours on a charge.  And I can take with me, the notebook I intended to use for Cataloging and then mostly didn’t — it will work for notations on the readings, which should help summarize them later.  It will probably be simpler than trying to compose notes in a word-processing program.

As for artwork…I drew a border for my relative’s funeral program.  It was nice to be able to do something with my hands, again, though it wasn’t under the best circumstances.  Right now, though, I’m anticipating that program being thrown out by near relatives (different from nuclear family) because of others’ desire for control.  What is positive is that I formed the page I worked on in Photoshop (I did what I thought I had to do and composed the front page as one flattened image, and so the cover is not editable unless it’s totally scrapped, or someone knows how to work with digital images, besides myself.  (Not betting on it.)

My grades are looking relatively good, considering.  I’m looking at a C+ in Cataloging (I PASSED!!!) and A’s or A-‘s in my other two classes.

Also…on Monday or later, I’m hoping to take a trip to the smaller art supply store near me (at least), to pick up some materials for linoleum block printing…which may make working through the grief, worth it.  I found my carving tools, and I was mistaken:  there are no burrs on my knives.  At least, not on the straight ones, or the large oval gouge.  This is good!  I will be able to see if I need to sharpen them, once I start cutting.

(Some of my spiral patterns, or the mon I designed, would make a good first project.)

One thing I’m unsure of, though, is how to make a method of image registration, so that I’m lining things up on my paper the way I want to — a relative necessity in duochrome (two-color) printing or above.  I’m not sure how to do this, yet, though April Vollmer’s Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop seems to briefly go over how this is/was done in Japanese woodblock printing.  I suppose I can see if I can adapt that to linocuts…though Japanese-style printing uses different basic materials than Western-style printing.  Still, though:  I only have four more days to get through in which I’ll have to deal with this last semester…I can make it.

Two weeks after that, my User Experience class starts up.  I took it in part because I wanted to do all the reading (as bizarre as that sounds).

I can also try and do some reading in library books, the two printmaking books I have, or my future textbooks, if I’m at a loss as to what to do.

And ah — right!  I wanted to get back on with learning Japanese language!  That should be fun!

Lest I forget, as well:  I need to back up my files to my Portfolio.  And maybe get a cloud storage account, or something.  I have what I can download, downloaded, and backed up; I need to work online for this other part, though — and I will not have a long time to do so.

I’ve been offered more hours, but really I’m not sure I want to take them — especially because I’m uncertain as to how much of a time commitment UX will be…and it’s rare to get two weeks off with minimal work.

Anyhow, I should likely get going.

I also want to get bocha, but I am not certain where that desire is coming from…I already have another kukicha; two others, in fact.  It’s just that drinking a twig infusion sounds rather earthy, I guess…

Maybe I can make a trip to the tea store in my two weeks off of school…

Almost completely done.

I completed what work I had to do, last night — amazingly enough.  Though I wanted to post this last night, I ended up going to sleep at about 2 AM, having spent about 12 hours total at my workstation that day.  Accordingly, my upper back and shoulders weren’t up to more sitting at this terminal.  D has said that he’s not sure how I do it (he can’t sit for long in my chair), but he’s much leaner than I am.

I did learn a couple of things:  one, before turning in a quiz, be sure to carefully reread the question and make sure you’re answering all parts of it.  I got some points off on my cataloging quiz unnecessarily because I neglected to see that I was being asked to do something that I’d never been asked to do, before.

The second thing had to do with my oral presentation:  I ended up repeating myself a number of times because of the structure of the paper, which I transferred over to the structure of the presentation (although I have heard that repetition isn’t bad, in an oral presentation).  I also learned that if I freeze up, it’s best to stop recording as soon as I find it happening, catch myself, and then restart.

I went over the time limit by about four minutes, even though I found myself talking quickly and quietly (something I’m known for, and have been trying not to do — and didn’t do, the first two times).

Otherwise, there has been a lot of family drama, to understate the obvious.  I don’t know how much I want to get into it, here…but that — and being afraid to start the Annotated Bibliography — is something that kept me in bed for a while, today.  I did get up earlier, but then I lay back down and stayed there until a little less than an hour ago.

In any case, all that’s before me now is the Annotated Bibliography, backing up my assignments to my portfolio, and possibly watching one lecture I didn’t watch because I ran out of time.  And, ah, right — transferring over some notes into a notebook (I used the giant pad of paper and a Sharpie, which is going to destroy what adjoins it if I just cut and paste it).  Otherwise…I’m pretty much done.

Kinda hard to know what to do in this situation, eh?  I can work on the funeral program, though…