Fairly wiped out, today.

Starting ~9:30 AM:

I wish I could say that things were better:  I started off today with a headache and nausea. I’m not sure if this is related to being up last night, actually starting a Bullet Journal layout after midnight…it well may be, but right now I wonder if I should go to work. I haven’t eaten anything except a ginger ale…(well, that’s a drink, but). One of the Librarians had a stomach sickness last time I went in, though, so it’s possible I might have picked something up (even if it wasn’t from them). I also might have food poisoning, or a migraine.

At least I now have an idea of what to write, for one half of my homework. This is in relation to UX efficiency. I would try to implement a button which would ask, “Was this helpful?” on catalog result pages. The problem is trying to gauge the duration of a session and trying to ask this question at the exit point of each session, as well as trying to gauge what a user’s information need actually is, as versus what they search for. It would seem that this information would best be gathered with a survey, and that it isn’t a simple one-click measure, however. I’m not sure how best to implement it.

In brighter news, I have three new babies (tiny baby succulents), though I’m not sure how long they will last (I watered one with my hand after drying it on a paper towel, and so I’m hoping I am not going to get mildew in that pot). I got three little soy sauce dishes from Daiso (the Japanese dollar store), and the pots fit right in there!

I’m trying to give them as much light as I can, meaning that the first light of dawn woke me up, earlier. And I realized just how fragile they are, after bumping one of them and having a leaf snap off! >_<;; (At least, the plant seems healthy…)

Writing resumed at 7:45 PM:

I did take photos of these this morning, but have been too wiped out to optimize them for the web, so as of right now, there are photos…but not ones which are ready to show. At this point, I’m fairly certain that what is going on is food poisoning…I have been having trouble regulating my temperature, alternately sweating and feeling cold, with a slight fever. The good thing is that the nausea has faded. I am not sure why I’m the only one who got sick, unless this has to do with the melon I ate, yesterday…

There are three-to-four books I’ve either read deeply into or have looked through, within the last semester, which show how much I could learn and implement about how I run things with my blog and web presence:

  • The non-designer’s design book:  Design and typographic principles for the visual novice (4th ed.) by Williams, R. (2015)
  • Letting go of the words:  Writing web content that works (2nd ed.) by Redish, J. (2014)
  • Graphic design school:  The principles and practice of graphic design (5th ed.) by Dabner, D., Stewart, S. and Zempol, E. (2014)
  • Don’t make me think, revisited:  A common sense approach to web and mobile usability by Krug, S. (2014)

I’m still kind of tired/wiped out, so I’m hoping it’s OK that I didn’t list the publishers or write this up as a style guide would recommend.

It’s also actually fairly amazing, how much my skill at picking out books online, has advanced. I find myself doing things like checking out review sites, multiple library catalogs, bridging through subject headings, reading samples, and taking criticisms of books which seem interesting, into account; in addition to taking into account the other books purchased by a given book’s audience.

And, I’ve been paying attention to how a book sells itself, what audience it is marketing itself to, and why. That is, I don’t necessarily want a self-help book aiming itself toward the market of people desperate to escape writer’s block, because it likely isn’t going to address what I want addressed, and it may be designed to prey on its audience’s vulnerabilities.

I also have called ahead to brick & mortar bookstores to ask if they have the book I want in stock, which probably saved me about three hours (not to mention wasted gas) earlier this week.

I don’t think I could say that I have much of a Web 2.0 presence right now, but it’s very apparent how I could do small tweaks to increase my SEO, for example (if I wanted to). I’m hoping things will get better next semester, as well; I should be introduced to HTML and CSS, then. I hate stressing about grades, too:  it seems so insignificant…but it isn’t, if I want to stay in the program!

I have realized, though, that part of what I’m being introduced to is called, “Design Thinking,” and it’s the same sort of thing I think I would be dealing with if I got a MBA in Design Strategy elsewhere. Except…it’s in Libraries, which has a different ideological slant to it.  I also just heard about Stanford’s “d school,” as well…which, at least, seems very interesting.

I think I’m going to post this and get back to bed…

Brainstorming this, because I need to work on it:

I’m really tired, but I don’t feel like going to bed or taking medication…and I have work tomorrow.  I have also been bouncing around an idea of a story about someone who believes they’re functionally immortal, but on a dying planet.  (or otherwise, a planet going through one of its near-death experiences/mass extinctions.)

This then calls in tension between the desire for unending life and the idea of not clinging to temporary things (as clinging causes suffering and rebirth — not seen as a good thing).  The former, I’ve read as Daoist; the latter is classically Buddhist.  The former brings conflict and life; the latter brings peace and a lack of life as we know it.

I am not sure I would be able to work this into my previous story:  if I did, the character in question would be about the fifth main character (I have traditionally had characters I can shorthand as psychic, lover, demented, parental, all interacting:  yes, I can make them more complex; at the time I first conceived them, though, I was a teen)…but I guess that keeps things…interesting?  I’d like to keep at least two of these characters female, meaning the one who feels immortal (in a mortal world) would likely be such, in addition to the main (though the latter is complicated…though now that I look at this, there are only two clearly male characters here).

Also, I keep having flashes of concern about worldwide famine, which ties into the story I’m thinking about, but which I don’t want to write about in a serious manner (talk about scary and depressing).  On top of this, I’m dealing with multiple generations…though what I mean by that is hard to explain.

What I have found is that I’ve entered the story about 2/3 of the way in, as I thought of it at the time.  But I don’t know how I’ll resolve it…in fact, I don’t know what the central conflict is, yet, to resolve (or maybe I knew at one time, and forgot).  Making peace with death?  Growing tough in order to survive?  Growing together in order to survive?  Dealing with mental illness?  Accepting non-quotidian brain functioning?  Maybe I should just write and see what shows up.

The famine kicks in at a very late (potential) point in the game, and at this point I don’t know if I’m dealing with echoes of past lives, or telepathic beings, or if any of the psychic phenomena are key to solving any of this (more than key to ending and surviving it).

They aren’t “ghosts;” at least in a Western sense, I know what ghosts are, and they aren’t the same things as spirits; rather, they’re interdimensional echoes caused by powerful trauma.  Thus, when you hear coughing at the ruins in Pompeii, it’s possible you’re actually hearing the psychic (traumatic) imprint of coughing reaching you from the past, in the moment in which it happened.  It just has to cross (I need a new word for this) the time barrier, not time and space.

If we’re looking at remnants of the workings of past lives in present entities, such as beings who appear to be outside spirits but are actually personifications of who “you” used to be (given that we don’t remain the same between lives), that’s different.  And if we’re dealing with beings who reside on Earth (apparently) but who only give evidence of their existence in the thoughts of those whose minds function in an abnormal manner, that’s something else.

I should really get to reading some of my material on Daoism, here — I’m sure it would help, though I know I can only learn so much from books.  At one time I was directed toward an elder teaching ba gua about 30 minutes’ drive away (a Chinese internal martial art); I have not met her yet, and to be honest, I’m kind of scared to.  I don’t even know if she’s still alive.

I did find another author who caught my attention the other day at work:  Kenzaburo Oe.

It has been an extremely long time since I have read any fiction (which makes it hard to translate this out into fiction), but one of this author’s books literally found its way into my hand recently…and I have wanted to read more material from Japanese authors, aside from Yukio Mishima (I believe I have read at least one or more of his works, but I can’t recall which — or if what I read was poetry or prose; it had to have been a lifetime ago), and Haruki Murakami (who I just don’t jive with).

Why Japanese?  It’s the East Asian culture I have most familiarity with; not a nationalistic thing.  I figure it’s as good a place as anywhere to gain some solid footing, and then from that place, branch out.  Although I’m fairly certain my main character is not Japanese.  It’s just been so long since I’ve read any good fiction, that I need to start with something I can grasp and which has some semblance of cultural relevance or utility for me on a larger scale.

And…I’m being told to get to bed…

Difficulty switching modes…

After a day or so of fully working for as long as I have been awake, it’s kind of difficult to shift back into a mental space where I have options, and time.

Today was mostly spent asleep; yesterday…I can’t remember much because I was that exhausted, and M wouldn’t let me fall asleep during the day.  Accordingly, I lay down at 7:30 last night and slept nearly all the way through to 11:30 this morning.  I guess I was TIRED.  Then I got up, ate, fell asleep at about 1:30 PM, and slept again until 5 PM.

To my credit, I did get work done on the Japanese language acquisition — although it’s frustrating to have to re-learn kana (Japanese syllabary) again.  I have most of the hiragana memorized to the point where it’s easily recognizable and retrieved, although I still may mis-write if I move too fast; katakana is another story.

When I was first taking Japanese-language classes, katakana were mostly ignored; we were told to learn this set of kana on our own.  Due to both this and the relative rarity of their use (when compared with hiragana and kanji), there are a number of katakana that I don’t easily remember.  Today, after having finished the hiragana handbook, I started in on katakana and realized that this was going to be much harder for me, than the former.

I’m thinking I’m experiencing a bit of caffeine withdrawal as well, because I’m really irritated at this, right now.  I’m also tired, again.

Also, though, I was able to sit through what I had to for this week in UX (User Experience) and finish reading the incredibly light reading assigned for this week (four pages).  Which is kind of irrational, when compared with all the work I had to do over the weekend, and the fact that I just had to read two books over two weeks.

But anyway.  I did have the option of working with watercolors, today, but I just really didn’t feel up to it.  One of the new colors (Cobalt Turquoise Light) I have, is one I intended to get about two weeks ago, but someone had put a regular Cobalt Turquoise in its slot (they aren’t the same color!), and I neglected to check the label before purchasing it.

Now I have the Light shade, but my toxin anxiety is acting up, and I’m hesitant to use it.  (It was likely stimulated by finding a beautiful yellow paint which was made with an antimony-containing component, on my last trip to the art store — this is W&N Naples Yellow Deep, PBr24.  On looking up antimony toxicity, I can see that I had a bigger shock than maybe this warranted, but still…)

The other new color is Phthalo Green:  Yellow Shade, which I have wanted to compare to Phthalo Green:  Blue Shade (I’m hoping to get warmer greens), but for some reason, I think I did not want to waste (or “waste”) watercolor paper on this.  Which isn’t a really good excuse, because I have enough watercolor paper, and have discovered that the paper I’m using isn’t really all that great, anyway.  And I can’t learn if I don’t practice.

So I have been practicing kanji and kana, and I think the reason for this is that it’s easier for me to switch back into a studying mode than an art mode, when I’ve been locked in “studying mode” for a while.  Art…is much less structured.

And speaking of structure, I have to work tomorrow, so I should see if I can fall asleep, again…

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!

Sleep hygiene chaos, plus essential knowledge gained

I finished What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon, last night…at about 3 AM.  I may want to go back and reread sections of it, and I know that I will want to look back into the books referenced, in Appendix D.

Did I mention this took place at 3 AM?

My sleep schedule is all messed up:  I lay down at 8:30 PM, fell asleep after 9 PM, then woke (2:15 AM), took medication; lay back down, got up (3 AM), ate a little, fell back to sleep (4:30 AM), woke for breakfast (11:30 AM), went back to sleep (12:30 PM), woke about 4 PM.  This is why I don’t like trying to change my sleeping schedule!

I know I need to be going to bed earlier, but I have constant experience with lethargy, unless I have slept for 14-16 hours.  In today’s case it could have been because I didn’t take my (sedating) medication until 2:15 in the morning, though.  And yesterday it could have been because I didn’t take medication until 1 AM.

Hmm.  Now that I’m looking at my records, my medication time has been shifting later and later (I’m supposed to take it at 9 PM, which is why I know I fell asleep after 9, last night:  the medication alarm went off; and I turned it off and fell asleep without taking it).  I can try and do something about that, and hope (?) that it makes it easier to get up in the morning…and that it won’t just contribute to oversleeping.

I mean, obviously I was tired, if I lay down at 8:30 PM, right?

Anyhow…I learned in What’s the Alternative? that, at least as of the time the book was published (2008), it would not be expected that one could learn essential tech skills in order to open up technology-based career paths, just from classes in LIS.  Because of that…if I want to work in Web Design after getting out, I’ll have to teach myself programming.  Either this, or I could re-enter Computer Information Systems training after graduation; I’m just not entirely certain how I’ll fit that in, timewise.  And that’s largely because I don’t know what kind of job I will have at that time.

I’ve compared the Graphic Arts and CIS curricula; CIS is actually closer to what I need.  And I’ve actually compared the two systems teaching this which are nearest me…I can do this.  I might be able to do this by cutting some courses out of my future Master’s program and taking Community College courses in CIS, in person, but that doesn’t seem like the best option.

Alright:  I’ve just sent off an email about this.  I should probably try and get ready for bed, as I did just take medication, and I don’t have anything to do except homework.  (I suppose that’s a good thing, as I have three assignments due in a week.)  The hard part will be actually contacting and setting up meeting times for the assignment I was given last week…though I guess that in a pinch, I can have family test what I need tested…

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…

Re-entering Japanese language study…Writing? Libraries?

Today has been surprising in a number of ways.  I started in on work in Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al, along with the workbook:  this led into an impromptu nihongo (Japanese language) lesson with a native-Japanese-speaking family friend (listening and speaking, plus reading).  (She saw that I was working in this textbook and got excited.)

It’s kind of something to be asked to explain things in one’s own life, in a language of which you just started renewing study, and in which your last class was 15 years ago!

That…is a long time, isn’t it?

I think I remember that I gave myself the goal of becoming a fiction writer when I graduated with my BA in 2005.  But at the time I had just begun a medication which …apparently somewhat drastically, changed the way my brain worked.  Because of this, I thought that I would not be able to write (fiction) professionally.

Relative to what I had known before, I felt inhibited, but this may have been just the effect of my prefrontal cortex (Executive function) gaining more control…which would have relatively “inhibited” me.  That’s kind of what the prefrontal cortex is known for…

I came to the decision to stop fiction writing through thinking that I had been upsetting my own life (self-sabotaging) to gain experience to write about.  I also found my life surprisingly peaceful after graduation (I didn’t have a job at the time), and did not want to introduce conflict where there was none, for the sake of …what, writing a story?

At the same time, I had been having fears that I was splitting my mind apart in order to handle …in effect, acting, as up to three characters at once (I don’t think I could have handled four or more at that time).

Twelve years later, I know a lot more about myself and about how the mind works, generally, than I did, then.  I’ve also been through a lot, even if a lot of that life was acted out virtually.  I’m not sure if medication changes have helped with this, but I’m certain it didn’t hurt.

What’s happening now is that I’ve realized that perhaps I can write fiction again — if I let myself do it.  I’ve been keeping a fairly tight clamp on it, for multiple reasons (see above).  But it may — now — be possible for me to write without taking it too seriously.

And by “too seriously,” I mean, “as reality.”  I have historically had a problem separating, “fantasy,” and “reality,” to the point that I’ve wanted to invent new terms to refer to the living world and the mental world.  After all, the mental world is not “unreal” to the person experiencing it — it’s just not objectively existent (except as electrical patterns in the brain, which bothersomely enough, simulate reality).

In the extreme this ranges into hallucination, though I have a tendency to have more inhabited a space in between living in dreams (asleep) and never fully waking up (derealization), occasionally moving into what has been called “illusion” (receiving sensory input but cognizing it in a distorted manner:  like running water in the sink and hearing repeated high-pitched beeps) and hallucination (in my case, literally smelling things that weren’t there — which I’ve been told is an uncommon form).

On top of this, though, is…the sense that I’m just picking up on more of reality than most people do.  I’m relatively comfortable with this explanation, now.

These two states have coexisted ever since I was in my early teenage years; I’m currently in my mid-thirties.  I’ve just about had it with second-guessing my own intuition (which is what has been happening for about the last 20 years) because it doesn’t fit someone else’s abstract (and narrow) model of “reality.”

What I’ve learned is that what happens in one’s private mind is real enough, although I also think we have more control over this — and more power as to what happens in our own minds — than we think we do.

It’s also very easy for my brain to freak itself out while trying to explain things it cannot, and coming up with the single most dramatic explanation it can think of, while disregarding the equal validity of multiple scenarios, and also the fact that none of them are proven.

In any case, I began this post wondering if I should — seriously — decide to dip a toe back into fiction writing.  Every writing class that I’ve been in has mentioned…bad first drafts (though they universally used a more colorful adjective for “bad” which I’m not sure I’m allowed to say on WordPress!).  They don’t have to be novels — short stories or flash fiction might be more graspable at this point — and maybe I might begin them here and then edit them for a time before posting them up.  (I do have enough conflict and experience in my life, now, to have a working base:  which was not as apparent to me when I was in my 20’s.)

Something about getting back into learning Japanese language has sparked this.  I’ve wanted to be able to read Japanese for a very long time, and it’s somewhat…gratifying that I still recognize most kana, even if I don’t remember the stroke order for all of them.

What I most want to do which is within my grasp, is learn to read Japanese.  However, I have heard mention of the idea of attending Japanese classes with family…which would give me at least one convenient practice partner, where it comes to speaking and listening.

I’m gaining strength in this from realizing that many creative people have interests that span different media; so there is, in effect, no reason why I can’t be into drawing and painting and writing.  (Or drawing, painting, writing, and music!…though I’m much more of a consumer of music than a musician, myself [I play a little guitar, but not consistently enough to sustain the toughness of my fret hand].)

And there is no reason why being a Librarian would negate any of this.  It may, actually, help; at least, so long as it doesn’t take up all of my time.  In the field, I may be grappling with these cultural transmissions more than doing the abstract work of learning organizational systems…

I do wonder, though, if getting back into reading and writing (fiction and nonfiction) is something that will help propel me forward in a career in Libraries; as versus doing Art.  The family friend I was speaking with, tonight…was encouraging me not to let go of my dreams (one of which was learning nihongo; I’ve wanted to do so ever since I was in Middle School).  This, in turn, and in combination with the degree I’m seeking (MLIS), would prepare me somewhat to work in Hawaii as a Librarian.  From there, it’s just a relatively short jump to get to Japan…(and it’s kind of shocking, the number of Japanese in Hawaii!)

…but is my dream to be a great novelist, or to change the world in the way I can, or to make art?

…it would be nice to be a writer.  And to do the Art for myself and to keep myself engaged and healthy.

I think so, yeah.  The Art is for me — to sustain me.  The Writing is the reason I’m alive.  The Librarianship is to serve a social good while earning a living.  And the nihongo is one step toward broadening my world.

That sounds really, really, good.  🙂