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…

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Update (after a while)…kind of long ^_^;;

Really?  I finished my work early???

(How…)

By Friday night/early Saturday morning, I had finished my classwork.  The weather forecast had put our temperature into the high 90º F’s for Saturday and Sunday daytime temperatures, and I know from experience that my computer doesn’t like being on, when it’s that hot.  I scheduled some offline time, then, even though I didn’t know what I would do with it.

Right now it’s a bit more comfortable, but still warm.

Because I finished my work early, I basically had 1.5 days free.  Yesterday, especially, I had a hard time deciding what to do, with no demands on my time.  Although my memory of what I did for most of the daytime is hazy (I can guess that I slept), I do remember that I finished the kana workbook associated with the Kluemper text, last night.

Japanese reading and writing…

I’ve also realized why it was difficult for me to get back to facing katakana:  I have a hard time writing a good 15 out of 46 of the katakana syllabary, because it’s hard for me to remember what they look like.  (Comparatively, I have a hard time recollecting 2 out of 46 hiragana:  “se” and “nu”.  Though hiragana “nu” [I would write katakana “NU” in capitals; katakana are used for emphasis like ALL CAPS or italics] does remind me of a Japanese dog [like a Shiba Inu or Akita] with a curly tail [“inu” = dog].)

I do have the Japanese for Busy People Kana Workbook, however, and I can work through this in order to build vocabulary and word recognition.  Writing is included here, too, though sentence structure isn’t emphasized in the workbook — meant, as with the Kluemper text, to be completed possibly before one starts in reading kana in the first book (though there are two versions of this text:  one in romaji [Roman letters; i.e. English letters], and one in kana).

I opted for the latter because romaji are misleading where it comes to pronunciation, and basically almost useless if one wants to read in Japanese.  They’re a stepping stone, but lack much of the obvious grammar, etymology and sentence structure conventions associated with kana (syllabary) combined with kanji (imported Chinese character) use.

It will at least give me more words to practice with — even though the Japanese for Busy People series does seem as though it should be titled Japanese for Business People (a reason I picked up the Kluemper and Hasegawa texts in Honolulu [both published by Tuttle], when I had the option.  [The Kluemper texts are meant to be used as high school AP Japanese textbooks; the Hasegawa texts are meant to be used as first-year University Japanese textbooks, or for self-study]).  But that’s just me.

If you’re in the area of San Francisco, though, Kinokuniya Books at Japan Center has a very wide selection of Japanese-learning texts; much broader than the Barnes & Noble in Honolulu (which I am told is one of the few bookstores on Oahu).  The major disadvantage at Kinokuniya is that the books are just generally sold wrapped in cellophane — meaning that you will very likely get a very clean book, but there may not be a display copy available for you to read, in order for you to see if you actually want it.  (Sometimes people buy the display copies.)

I’ve never asked to see if I could open the packages, and don’t really know if there is a protocol in place that says when it is OK or permissible to do so.

If you’re in the South SF Bay Area, I think there is also a Kinokuniya in San Jose’s Japantown, but I’ve never been there, so I…really don’t know much about it!

Anyhow…I did finish the kana sheets last night, though I am finding that very often I have to make a conscious decision to do something other than go to bed.  This was not an exception.

Wanting to restart painting

I also want to start on a painting — I just am not entirely sure what size canvas to use, which I know isn’t the greatest reason not to have started yet.  🙂  But I’m thinking of going back to the 30″x30″ canvas, even though I know I don’t yet know what I’m doing.  Or I feel like that, anyway.  The thing to do would be just to push myself to start it, even if I’m uncertain or feel unprepared.

The first step, if I were being careful, would be to prime the 12″x12″ canvas with a mixture of gesso and Phthalo Blue.  Then I would go in with white pastel and try and make a loose drawing of the photo I gained from so long ago at the State Fair — which will be much easier on the gigantic canvas than on the small one.

My major hangup is that most of the main colors which I want to use — violets, roses and blues (with yellow highlights — maybe something like an Expanded Complementary palette) — are largely transparent colors (except when mixed with more opaque colors like Titanium White), so I might trip myself up if I do something wrong which I then can’t cover.  Which, in turn, is the reason to start on the small canvas, first.

But what’s the worst that can happen?  I dislike it so much that I gesso over the canvas and use it for something else?  I waste time that I could be using to sleep?  😛

I’ve also got to be aware so that I don’t block the drains with acrylic paint (easy to avoid, with disposable palette sheets), and avoid getting the paint on my hands…and getting pastel dust on the floor.  Maybe I should just use vine charcoal, instead.  That sounds workable…I have become a bit wary of pastels, particularly since that Titanium Dioxide scare a few years back (with free nanoparticles leading to concern over carcinogenicity…nothing of the sort with vine or willow charcoal).

But if I use the tiny canvas, I can see if this works, first, before using the big one!

I just don’t want to get sick of it in the small version and then never go on to the big one…

If what I can predict will happen, happens, though:  I’ll probably have ideas on where to take Version 2 that won’t be apparent until after I’ve gone through the process of completing Version 1.

And I do really want to paint, again.  I want to make something colorful and pretty.  🙂  And I can’t do that if I’m too intimidated to approach my easel (I did get an easel, a while back:  it was the only thing my Studio Art classes had, that I didn’t have.  Well, besides company, and a mentor).

And work on…Bullet Journaling?

I also have my little dotted notebook here (it’s from a company called Kyokuto)…and it’s weird? but I don’t want to stick to any rigid format for its use.  I’ve been looking over the Bullet Journal website, and…I’m thinking that it really isn’t like me to follow directions to get to a predetermined endpoint.  Maybe I can use the principles behind the Bullet Journal system, but really…heavily tweak it, so it turns out being something that’s mine.

And I really wish I knew how many pages were even in this notebook:  I don’t.  But it is really elegant, and I want to use it.  My problem, I think, is planning and attempting to look ahead at what I’ll have to do (when I don’t fully know, yet).

I also…think maybe I’m throwing out the baby with the bathwater on this one, and — looking at a past post — maybe I do have some idea of what has to be done.  Maybe I just forgot, because I didn’t look at my notes from before.  🙂  (Why do I blog, again?)  I think that something like a Bullet Journal could seriously help me organize my time when Fall Semester starts, and I’m carrying nine units, again — in addition to possibly having a new job.

I found it a little odd that my creativity would be circling back around to language (particularly writing), stories, and books, but I guess I am planning on being a Librarian, so…maybe I’m just overlooking the obvious?  😛  Learning to write in Japanese language is one of those things that ranges into calligraphy (or would, in an extreme case — right now it’s just “learning to make things look correct”).

Fiction progress

Writing in English…has stalled a bit, but it’s interesting to see what my mind does when it’s let loose like that.  🙂  It actually isn’t stressful for me, anymore!  It can be fun, because I actually have complete control over the situation (relatively speaking) — which I did not sense, before — and I can make things as serious or light as I want.  I’m very, very new to “light” writing!

But it’s nice to know that I don’t have to dive into my history of trauma every time I try and create a narrative.  I think my main character is helping with this, as well — I’ve started the narrative about 2/3 of the way through the story, and added a couple of extra layers which are helping things along, I think.

It’s also really nice to not absolutely know where the story is going to go, or all the facts that are associated with it — it leaves things open for experimentation and adjustment.

Heh — I think I’ve written enough (?!?!) — and…I see it’s now after midnight.  Well, that was a good 3-4 hours spent here (?!?!) …but not wasted.  I feel a lot better now that I’ve logged what’s happening — writing nearly always helps me get my thoughts together.  I’ve also noticed that a lot of people I follow have been quiet, recently, so here’s to adding one more leaflet to the Reader pile!  😉

Thoughts on re-entering fiction practice

Today has not been too eventful.  I opened up my tablet tonight to find a couple of small deposits of story ideas from late last year.  Also — I picked up lamination supplies (for bookmarks — this will enable me to use paints and at the same time protect the bookmark users from exposure to those paints) and a clipboard which should work for half-sheets of paper.

I have a binder for half sheets (5.5″x 8.5″), which I was forward-thinking enough to fill with graph paper:  this means that it is super-easy in which to practice Japanese writing.  (Please excuse my attempt to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.)  What I wasn’t aware of was the fact that the ring mechanism would produce a lump under my writing area.  The clipboard should help with this — in addition to helping me plan a Bullet Journal layout.

I haven’t been brash enough to start planning the latter in my actual nice imported dotted-grid journal.  It will likely take a while for me to plan out what I actually want in there, and utilizing throwaway sheets to plan the layout is probably going to be more useful than not.

The good thing is that I already have multicolored fineliners and bullet-point felt markers, in addition to my Tombows.  How long the color in that ink will last is another question (though I do have Staedtler and Stabilo pens), but…the colors should help in organization.  I’ve got several things to think about, now, all of which demand time:

  • exercise
  • schoolwork
  • art/self-care
  • work
  • blogging

And, somewhere on the back burner:

  • nihongo study
  • healthy food preparation
  • driving practice
  • job research
  • organizing the Bullet Journal 😉

Over the last week, I’ve realized that I really do need to keep up my (English) writing habit either here, or somewhere else.  Because I’ve been reading nihongo (Japanese language) and not writing so much in English, just very recently, I’ve been experiencing the phenomenon of having a thought and not being sure how to express that thought in words.  This was something that only had recently happened to me in trying to translate my thoughts into nihongo — only now, both of the languages are being impacted.

In particular, Japanese and English syntax (word order) are nowhere near the same…so I’ve been trying to write in English and the words are coming out in an order that doesn’t make sense.  I’ve found that trying to get the content of my thoughts out in notes (not sentences) helps, here.  I think that not being stuck with a linear format (as I am, relatively, on a keyboard) also helps.

And…it’s kind of odd, but I’ve been feeling a draw back towards working in Creative Writing.  I know this thought comes up from time to time, and I also know that doing art spurs on doing the writing.  Loosening my own restrictions on my creativity is probably the only way things are going to get done, as “Little Squares” is teaching me.  I now have a vision of where to take that painting next, but it took a good two days to figure it out.  (Normally, when I’m working something like that, I can visualize where to put the next mark…when this got hazy or unknown, I stopped.)

And…I am having some good thoughts on where to take my current pet fiction project.  As usual, it’s a psychological story…and it’s turning into a paranormal/science fiction one as well.  I haven’t really learned too much about sci-fi, beyond being certain that this is soft sci-fi (focusing on the characters) and not hard sci-fi (focusing on technology).  I just wish they had given “Age of Science Fiction” when I was in undergrad work…I did do some research on it on my own, back then:  apparently Frankenstein was likely the earliest science-fiction story.  At least, in English.

There is the “worldbuilding” thing in relation to science fiction and fantasy which I learned about when I was younger, but really, that was a relative turnoff:  I wanted to write a story, not construct a world.  I just don’t want to get into issues with the fictional government, military (and how do you do that when there are aliens, eh?), or get into an X-Men-type place where genocide is unavoidable because of the unchanging quality of the surrounding culture (which seems to be stuck in the 1950’s).

Although if I did something like Ghost In The Shell where Section 9 was essentially independent and the government quixotic, corrupt and unreliable, it probably wouldn’t be too bad.  (Sorry about the GITS reference, for those who haven’t seen any of its iterations.  The recent live-action movie was just one example of the retelling of this, and to my mind, not anywhere near the best.)  Then there was Neon Genesis Evangelion, which also dealt with military, but ultimately wasn’t about the workings of the government — or about the aliens (which were, at least in the anime, never really explained).  Then there was Avatar, which was pretty much about the military-industrial complex; something I want to avoid.

I’m not sure at this point whether to work this entirely in prose, in prose with illustrations, or in a graphic format — though I’m thinking that the story itself will tell me this, eventually.  I do have some unread Gaiman here from the library, which would probably help widen my range of psychological possibilities.  (For someone who likes to write, I don’t read many stories.)

Anyhow…I wish I had written down more notes last year, but I think I’ve got enough to work with — especially if I look through my image archives.  I started writing this entry thinking that if I were to work on fiction at all, I’d need to warm up, seeing how difficult it has been for me to get my words out in English, in recent days.  Right now…I’m thinking that it may be worth it to use my tablet to write this stuff and just periodically back it up.

And, right, get that Bullet Journal started!