What if (things had gone differently)? Math and Design:

I know I was told to stop blogging late at night, but it’s hard when you feel like you didn’t wake up too long ago. I did finally accomplish that shower, though, and I have taken medication already; so I should have a limited amount of time between now and the point where I can’t think in words, anymore.

Right now, I’m wondering how my proficiencies might have been different if I had continued within the Graphic Arts program, as versus the (Fine) Arts program, in community college. I am aware that the Master’s program I’m in now features various Design possibilities, but this is high-level stuff, and not all of it is related to Graphic Design.

For example: Instructional Design, Database Design, Web Design, Interface Design, Interaction Design, Design Thinking…

That’s much broader than I think they would have taught me at the place where I first started looking into Graphic Arts. There were three things that discouraged me from following through with it:

  • A comment from a teacher stating she thought I, “could do more,” than being a Graphic Designer. (I believe she meant Fine Arts or something along that line; by the time I was in her class, I already had a BA in Creative Writing.)
  • My then-dislike of dealing with people; I was told that what people ask you to do is generally not what they actually want done, and it would be my job to find out what they actually needed (much like the premise of a Reference Interview, but I wouldn’t know that until later).
  • The fact that I was told I would either need an apprenticeship or a graduate degree in order to be successful as a Graphic Designer.

And then, there was this bit:

  • Being harangued off of a (supposed) Graphic Design email list for not using my legal name.

At the time, I was not thinking about graduate degrees at all. My prior undergraduate experience (in Creative Writing) had been so stressful — mostly due to the fact that I had a disability that I was only beginning to realize the scope of, and treat — that I didn’t want to deal with the stress of assignments, grades, and tests, again.

Of course, though, work was a scarier prospect, especially as I knew I was starting out from a (theoretically) compromised position. (I have a bunch of intersecting minority statuses that together, well, they work out in the form of my being underemployed, now. Statistically, it’s not surprising.)

I did end up going back to school, but that was to community college. Initially it was to a bunch of art and computer-related classes. Then I got into a Vocational program because I wanted to be employed. I started the Master’s program in Library and Information Science, got culture-shocked, and withdrew for three years (it’s also likely that my symptoms flared because of the stress, now that I think about it).

During that time, I completed an Art degree from the aforementioned community college district, and made decent headway into a General Business certificate (which I decided to pull out of, after Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing caused me to wonder if my business model was actually viable, and what I was actually selling, if I was selling jewelry. At the time, I hadn’t done the introspection on the latter, and as for whether the jeweling angle was viable…it might have been, for someone who didn’t need health insurance, and was working in metal).

With support and about ten years down the line, I did go back to the Master’s program. I’m hoping to graduate this December. This is expressly for my own financial independence, leading to my physical independence. But I am finding that I like the, “Information Science,” portion of this, more than I expected. At this point, I’m wondering whether I will want or need further skills, and if so, in what?

Web Design? Information Science? Computer Science?

When I was younger, I did well in Math until doing well in Math contributed to making me a target of harassment and group exclusion. Because my experience was so horrible (it was: I would literally dissociate staring at my homework), I really didn’t want to take Math again in undergrad work (this is why I didn’t major in a Hard Science). I have dealt with Math four times since high school:

  • In Statistics (completed)
  • In Accounting (dropped)
  • In Calculus (dropped)
  • In Database Design and Implementation (in process)

…And I’m wondering whether to go back, in order to further work with computers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only dropped Accounting because I got seriously ill during the class (I’m pretty sure it was the flu, and that I was not only sick but contagious) and did not feel I could catch up. I dropped Calculus because I had no idea if I was doing things right (and was too shy to engage the instructor for help during Office Hours).

It doesn’t help that I’ve been used to having so much Math homework that it was impossible to complete and check it all, within a night’s timeframe; so for a number of years when I was in Math, I just didn’t check my calculations. I’m also not certain I remember how to, anymore. (In addition, the utility of what we were being taught was never divulged; and I learned to play before working because the work would never end, otherwise. Not a great program.)

At this point I can see the usefulness of taking a gamble with one’s GPA in order to actually learn new things. But it feels easier to play it safe than to risk a poor grade. Of course, though, risking a poor grade also means that I might surprise myself with a spectacular performance, and I’d learn something I didn’t think I could.

I do suppose it depends on what I really want to do (or who I really want to be or become). Or what blocks I want or need to burst through.

I did just remember that there are a couple of places online where I can brush up on my Math skills. Plus, I work in the Library field: we have resources. If I want to enter a program on Information Science alone, I can see that I would need to work on this before taking a graduate entry exam. But what would I do with those skills? I can see being a Full-Stack Developer or something, but…

Hmm. I haven’t thought about it…


Assessing where I am, and looking forward:


I have made it through Wednesday and today! (I didn’t expect that.) It was especially difficult to get myself out of bed, today, because I knew I had to update an Entity-Relation diagram and had no idea how I would do it. (E-R diagrams are used to plan database architecture.)

I ended up resting for a bit (even though I felt guilty as I did so) and then evolving a plan for how to tackle this…and, unexpectedly, it worked out!

I’m not sure if I should write down how I did it here, or if that will be too arcane for everyone else who reads this blog…(I can write it down in my notes, before I forget). But for one thing: giant paper helps. Color-coding also helps, and 3″x5″ cards help! I also think that because the diagram forces one to think abstractly, it’s likely a good thing that I’m the one doing it.

There’s also the point that I’m not entirely certain how my brain works. I mean, apparently, it knew how to go through the process. I just needed to be open to it.

Back to essentials, though: I seriously need to wash my hair, and I seriously need to exercise. I also seriously need to clean up my office! There is so much paper trash in here. And my bedroom…needs to be dusted, so I can get back to using my desk.

Luckily, I don’t have to go back to work for two more weeks, unless I choose to, so I have some extra time that I can use to either study or take care of myself (including cleaning up weeks of entropy). I’m hoping to get ahead in my schoolwork, but I’m not betting on it.

A few days ago, I did see my prescribing doctor. I’m thinking that I’ll stay on the same medication I’ve been on. My doctor suggested bupropion (Wellbutrin) to lower my appetite, but every time I start a new medication, I have to adjust to my mind working differently.

I’m already on one medication to counteract the side effects of another medication (drowsiness); the bupropion would be to counteract another side effect, which is the tendency to eat constantly.

As far as I’m aware, I could go on treating side effects of medications that treat side effects forever and end up on way more drugs than are necessary. It’s possible that all I need to do is drink water first, when I find myself hovering around the refrigerator.

Anyhow. I know that the next three days will be a bit tight where it comes to academics, or at least, I’ll have things to do. It would be great to get some exercise in, in the early morning. Today, it was basically storming (which has been rare, this season), so I didn’t go out. Not to mention that what I had to work on, was a group project, and so I couldn’t let it slide.

And I also did finally see that most of my professors have their email addresses on their “Home” pages, not under “Contact”. I’m not sure if that does mean I’m supposed to contact them about accommodations? Hmm.

Well, that train of thought just died.

I suppose that I could also get back to reading. I have one class (Instructional Design) which I may have to do a lot of research for, depending on whether my proposal goes through or not. The way the project is set up, I have to have an Information Literacy basis…and I’m not too familiar with that (which might be surprising, as I’m in a Library & Information Science program).

Also…I’m not sure whether I really want to do MySQL this Summer, or hold off on that and use Web tutorials to learn MySQL, while taking Cybersecurity and Intro to Programming. My fear is that 5 units in Summer Session is going to be way too much, like I could barely handle 10 units this semester, while I had them (my 1-unit class ended yesterday).

Last night I was thinking of just doing Programming and Cybersecurity, and doing MySQL on my own…which still sounds like the balanced route. If I can commit to it.

The weird thing, though, is that I’m not too bad at database design; and I didn’t expect that to be the case. Though my professor did say that Entity-Relation diagramming was something of an “art”…

(sounds like me)

…I did end up using my art supplies to mark out rough drafts of my diagram. It would have been tougher without the materials.

Man, there are so many books I want to read…(I’m looking at my bookshelf, now)…particularly the Japanese language and Graphic Design ones. It’s funny that right now when I look at pages of my Japanese language writing in my photos, I can’t really distinguish them from my English language writing, unless I’m writing vertically. (It all merges into “text.”)

But it is such a big power-boost to be able to write in kanji.

Yes, it would be nice to clean up in here so I have the space to do whatever I want. (I briefly pondered practicing my sewing, today, but just didn’t do it.)

I could also get back on assembling my e-Portfolio, which has had to take a back seat for the past few weeks. The major issue there, is where to host it, and where will it be secure?

But that could be a fun project (especially if I code the pages myself)!

Hmm. I’d just have to keep them securely backed up…that actually does sound fun. And productive. I wonder if I should have a cloud backup, too, just in case…

Yes, I made it!

A lot of hard work, starting at 7:30 this morning, and…I’m done with everything due tonight (with about two hours to spare), except for a reading with statistics I don’t understand. Luckily, I don’t think I’m expected to — at least, not now.

Right now I’m sitting here in a fleece throw blanket. The blanket allows me to sit on the couch and read instead of laying in bed and reading (which will apparently inevitably lead to me falling asleep). Or, as I’m doing now, sit at the computer and actually have some semblance of warmth.

What’s next is a paper on an interview and a discussion topic, due Wednesday; so I have about 2.5 days to work on this. After that, I’ll need to wrap up my advocacy class: I have about 8 days to do so.

After that, I should have more time to get into my readings, including the back reading for my database class. And…then I have about two weeks forced vacation (they’re updating some stuff at my library). It will likely be horrific when I get back, but I hope to be caught up (or ahead) with my schoolwork.

I’m still unsure as to what I should take during Summer and Fall semesters. Ultimately, the big choice is between a MySQL class and an Academic Libraries class, but I’ve also been thinking about Marketing (which could become a big part of my job, if I work in a Public Library). I had been putting off Marketing because I’ve already taken an Intro to Marketing course, at a different college.

…but, I just checked, and it’s a moot point: Marketing won’t be given again, before my graduation. It wasn’t given this semester, either. Hmm…

Regardless, I’ve been told not to worry about these decisions until I’ve stabilized.

And I also did, on a quick search, find a SQL tutorial; it’s just not specifically, MySQL. I’ve seen that MariaDB has replaced MySQL in some places, online.

I think maybe I’ve just gotta remember that I want to work online…not on the front lines. Even though databases are hard (they are!), at least at first.

It could be cool to be a tech-oriented librarian publishing cool resources online, though, no? (I have the urge to take 5 units during Summer, but don’t know if I’d be shooting myself in the foot [like I did with taking 10 units this semester]. It’s possible, though, just to take the Programming and Cybersecurity courses, and only deal with a couple of units.)

I’ve also got to remember that no matter how awesome Reference Librarians are, that doesn’t mean I in particular would have the temperament for it, and I might be better in a database/web design/web development role. That actually is where I had been pointing, until, “database design and implementation,” got real. With maths!

And actually, that’s where I’ve been pointing for years. I shouldn’t forget that.


I just looked over at my bookcase…I have some unread Graphic Design texts that I really do want to get to, including one from Builders Booksource…my sibling took me there, once: it’s a bookstore for architecture and design. I mention it by name because I don’t want to forget the name — like I just did — and have to look it up by location.

Also, there’s that whole Barnes & Noble layoff thing. I just looked at the TechCrunch article and got sick of seeing all the junk loading in my tray along with the desired information (I left because it’s anxiety-producing, even with high security), but…yeah, it doesn’t look good for B&N. The bright side of being a specialist bookstore is that you probably have regular clientele who might prefer to sponsor local business, rather than Amazon.

I don’t remember having mentioned this, but Oakland actually has a hidden but thriving art and design scene. Having Builder’s Booksource nearby is probably a great community resource…and they’ll only stay there as long as the money comes in.

Of course, I’m probably going to be busy for a while. I think I’m only on my fourth week of classes.

And maybe one of these days I’ll try and dip back into the maths. (I just like calling it, “maths.”) There are places around where I could build and/or rebuild my skill…

Stressing, a bit, but I know why:

We decided today that I’m going to try and just stop the Prozac. I’ve been on 1/3 of a normal dose for about a month, 1/2 dose prior to that…and my belly has appreciably gone down with each reduction.

Right now I’m mostly concerned about school starting, again. And that’s largely because I’m in a four-week, 1-unit class that I’m probably about to hate (it’s on politics)…but I have to take it to fulfill a graduation requirement. Avoiding working on the reading for that, early, has pretty much killed this last week of Winter Break.

It could also be a touch of the Prozac not protecting me as adequately from depression. My sleep schedule has been messed up since I went down to 1/3 of a dose, and that — plus work stress, plus procrastination — is likely why I’m feeling so down.

There’s that, and realizing that I don’t really have to become a (Public) Librarian…and that I’m not really getting compensated enough at my job for everything I’m doing.

I think if a potential employer asked me why I was exiting the Library field, my answer would be, “ideology.” But I’ve got to deal with the ideology if I want to finish this last year.

I’m also in a MySQL course, which looks interesting but difficult. Then there is a class on reference interviews (useful for employability…I’ll leave it at that), and a class on teaching (not looking forward to that, but also useful for employability).

Summer should be interesting, and Fall (my last semester, depending) will likely be a bit stressful, but I should have fulfilled all of my requirements, by then.

I think it would be different if work wasn’t being a pain and if I weren’t being undercompensated and pushed into work that a Clerk should be doing. But I guess that’s what you get when you have the option to only go in for 11 hours a week. It would probably also be different if I had the option to just go straight for an Information Science degree and not worry about the ALA graduation requirements.

On top of that…there should be some celebrations coming up, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll have the energy. The good thing is that by the end of February, I should be back down to only having to deal with 9 units (which was hard enough last semester! — though, again, that was due to one single class).

I suppose, also, I don’t have to work myself to the bone like I did last semester (and I shouldn’t be looking forward to a semester of no play…I just hate to end the creativity trip right when I start being able to do it well again). I ended up getting all three grades in the A range in Fall 2017, which should adequately balance out that C- I got in Beginning Cataloging in Spring 2017.

Then there’s the **** portfolio and making sure ALL of it is backed up (more than once)…and rebuilding the portfolio because I didn’t know what I was doing the last time…

Hey, I guess on the bright side, maybe I’ll have the time and opportunity to take a second Programming class in Fall…

Finally getting back to watercolors; also, toying with Digital Imaging again.


So I finally cleared all the sewing stuff off the craft table and started on my lightfastness chart. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about this: I have space for 60 swatches, and at least 35 or so transparent watercolors to test. I have far fewer colors in gouache, though still a substantial collection.

This is kind of sad because the gouache doesn’t get used very often: it’s not the easiest medium to work with. Not that I don’t want to use it, I just haven’t taught myself what I can do with it yet. (I already know a bit of what I can’t do with it!) It seems to require an approach I haven’t been thoroughly exposed to. Besides this…is the fact that it doesn’t seem to be an entirely popular (or understood) painting medium.

There is, however, the possibility of searching for a bit of this information…sometimes I forget that there is information readily available if i know where to look (and that I can look).

I have only had time to get through the first three or so cool (as versus warm) reds, so far as swatching goes, with the transparent watercolors. What I can say is that Alizarin Crimson, although I loved it before, doesn’t look all that great next to Permanent Rose, the latter of which is just a gorgeous violet-leaning pinkish red which blossoms much more easily, wet-in-wet. In comparison, Alizarin is brownish; though I don’t know if this is from degradation in the tube, or if it was always like this.

I’m not entirely certain how much of the differences will be apparent on photographic upload, though. The last time I tried this with blues, the camera (or my monitor?) couldn’t distinguish the subtle chromatic differences that I could see in real-life. There is, for instance, a notable difference between the character of Phthalo Blue and that of Prussian Blue (Prussian appears more muted and redder to me), and a large difference between Cobalt Blue and Phthalo (Phthalo is greener and more intense), but I don’t think that’s easily distinguishable, from the image below:

swatches of blue watercolors

I’m not sure if the problem lies in inadequate lighting, in the encoding of the data itself (e.g. camera lighting presets), in the inadequacy of my monitor, in the limitations of my present skills with image-editing software, or in the fact that computers just can’t display all the colors humans can see (the last of which, I know is currently true, regardless of any of the others).

If I couldn’t see the differences on my screen, I don’t know how well they would transmit to any of your screens (which are virtually guaranteed to be set up differently). There is the possibility of playing around with photographic enhancements, but I’m not realistically sure of the feasibility of that — my monitor hasn’t been properly calibrated to display images in as close to true-color as possible, and I’ve long since forgotten how to do it (if I ever did). It’s been a decade since my last Graphic Arts class, that is.

In any case, it’s a much simpler task for a computer to work with colors it innately understands. I’ve been toying around with a couple of programs which work with touch-screen capability, as regards writing notes, drawing, and digitally painting…which has been fun! Reading the End User License Agreements has not been fun, but toying around with this stuff, is. It took me a bit of time to realize that apps are there to be used and aren’t necessarily out to exploit me (in a harmful way, at least).

It’s just kind of interesting to think that I could take my tablet, take photos of the world around me, and draw from those photos on the same machine — and see what I’m doing as I’m doing it. A short time ago (say, when the Cintiq was the go-to option for a tablet where you could actually see what you were working on as you were drawing it — for however many thousands of dollars, I forget) this would have been prohibitively expensive. With the development of hardware and software to support it, though…working digitally has more of an appeal for me (especially as it would be unwise to take toxic paints, good brushes, etc. in to work, as I’ve mentioned before).

A couple of big advantages to digital art are that it’s portable and clean. I also trust that my colors will come out closer to what I intend if I code the color in hexadecimal, as versus creating something the computer doesn’t know how to interpret.

I think that most of all, I need to give myself permission to just experiment and play around — and try some approaches I haven’t, so far.

I think I can relax a bit, now. Just a little.

I feel like I should write something, but at the same time, what is there to say? Yet. I’ve completed two of three Finals, and the third Final already has hours of work put into it, from earlier in the semester. I’ve got some minor tweaks to do, but mostly things are looking good, there (unless I change something and everything breaks).

I’m talking about my Web Design Final; oddly enough, it looks like the majority of my work for this one will be painting—!! Which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. But I keep feeling like…there’s something else I should be doing on the computer. It probably comes from sitting here too long, and losing touch with reality.

Kinda…kinda half kidding, kinda not…

As I was setting up a page on my website…I realized (again) that most of the work which I’ve done (on paper) and liked, has relied on transparent watercolors, not gouache. So now I’m wondering again if gouache is the optimal medium for a website on color dynamics.

Gouache is really great for building clear, pure, strong color…but to use it and not have things come out looking chunky and blocky requires skill…that I don’t have at the moment?

In any case, I can rework the color wheel from 2007…it’s still readable, it hasn’t faded badly at all; but I was totally lacking in mixing skill at that time (this was towards the beginning of the class). What I mean by that is that I jumped from prismatic colors to chromatic greys with mostly no muted colors, in-between.

I can forgive myself for that because…well, it was a decade ago, and I hadn’t yet taken a real painting class. But when you’re youth and bold, and you don’t know how much you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s nothing to stop you from forging ahead.

Maybe as I got older, I got more cautious. (But if I illustrate that point, I’ll go off on a martial arts tangent which will require explaining…)

In any case, I can do the color wheel. The major issue is that it’s probably the hardest way to effectively mix paint, that is possible. It also uses up a lot of paint. But it may/will be a good exercise, I think. And paint is there to be used, you know? Not to sit there until it becomes dried cakes inside your tubes.

Yes, that…sounds like a plan, at least! I’ve just got to figure out whether I’ll be tweaking the image later in Photoshop, or whether I should just go buy some tinted acetate…

…yeah, I’m being cryptic again. Apologies…

I’m just thinking it will be easier to mask out irregular parts of an image before importing it to the computer, rather than dealing with odd-shaped selections in Photoshop (unless I just used circles to highlight the colors I’m talking about). Hmm.

Well, anyway. I’ve got a project for tomorrow!

Career Pathways: Web Design, Development, Production look interesting.

I’m not going to be able to stay here for long (getting sick, need rest), but I wanted to note something down before heading to bed: it looks like the goal I had before, of becoming a Web Designer first and then transitioning into a Web Developer, is not a bad option!

A while back I had a friend advise me not to take on a career as a programmer, though they didn’t tell me why. (I still don’t know why, and if I would care; I should ask them.) I ran as search as to why this might be the case…and I need to do some more research, but the main issue that I care about — besides technology constantly updating, meaning that things break routinely — is that programmers are seen by employers as interchangeable. And often, it’s cheaper for a company to outsource this labor.

So I don’t have to go whole-hog and become a software developer. Web Design is more in line both with my skills, and with what I’m being taught. Having Development skills, in addition, would give me a leg up. A page I found at SkillCrush is particularly encouraging. The only thing I will be really missing, on graduation, is training in Typography. I do know a place where I can take that class, though…or I could research and learn it on my own.

Of course, I’m planning to go into a job as a Librarian right after graduation, and build my tech skills on the side; I don’t expect to get the MLIS and then be — ready? to head right into a Design job. (I also wonder if a Design job would mean taking a pay/benefits cut, relative to being a Librarian.)

And then there is the possibility of becoming a Web Producer, which is like being a Content Editor…also very interesting, and a possible extra option.

Well, my eyes are burning and my nose is starting to, as well. I also heard that some others were sick at the office, so maybe I should just let this be, for now, and get some rest…