Sketch 001

Inside the house, the night is warm. I hadn’t realized that outside of enclosures, the natural color of night is various shades of black. Then, we took a ride out on one of the most illuminated nights of the year.

There weren’t fireworks, but displays of colored lights could be seen everywhere. Amazingly enough — this Christmas night was almost fully clear in the Bay Area. The Transamerica Pyramid’s beacon shone brightly; so bright that I worried about harming my eyes by staring at its oscillating twinkle. Nearly full, the moon glowed behind puffy, high altitude clouds which reminded me of dragon scale. A faint halo ringed the moon.

The City itself lit the skies. Skyscrapers shone green and blue lights up the sides of their walls, glowing like the bases of bubble lights.

What I did not anticipate was being able to make out the crests of the hills, both coming and going, by the border the lights made with the edge of our distance vision.

I wonder how people can live here, I thought. Maybe their family bought a house in 1906 or something, and they just haven’t let go of it.

Flecks of rain spattered the windshield, rolling upward, towards the roof. The myriad of colored lights passing the windows sparkled inside these droplets before they were wiped clean.

My friend, Jenn, still worked tonight. We were on our way to drop Señorita bread off at his bar. It’s a special kind of roll which tastes and feels like a soft doughnut; including the dusting of sugar. They had turned out to be very popular with our guests — when we had guests.

Unfortunately, I had to make the drive, as M had caught some kind of cold in our pre-Christmas shopping. I don’t think it was a big deal in her eyes, but it did mean that our holiday celebration had to be transplanted to a future date.

At this point, I’m getting sick, too. Not too happy about that, but as the member of my family with the most robust immune system currently, I can make it work.

What is worth my time?

This question has been on my mind for the past semester.

Granted, I did pass my final semester, and hence will be graduating — at least, unless something comes up. Without the pressure of grades, I have had the time to actually consider what I want to be and will be doing; right now, it’s my choice.

Can you believe that? I actually have a choice over how I’ll spend my time.

The biggest thing that has come up is the economic question of opportunity cost, or what one gives up to do one thing instead of another. I’ve been particularly thinking about it while watching people talk about books and video games at work. I used to like video games; then I realized they didn’t make my life any better after I had completed them.

In the time they have spent playing, I’ve been sacrificing that play to work on my Master’s. Now I have economic mobility…and although they make more money than I do now, I at least have the potential for an upgraded life.

I’ve also been thinking about this as regards arts and crafts (particularly, knitting and crochet). I like working with color, and I like working with beads, but I know I won’t make any appreciable income off of doing that. If I did it, I would do it for the enjoyment of doing it.

Last night I put together a kit, so that I can work on micro-macrame in my spare time. I mean, I can’t cut everything non-profitable out of my life just out of monetary concerns, or whether I’ll see a fiscal return on applying myself…

I do have a number of goals/things to do, lined up for the next six months. The major issue I’m having at this moment is not knowing where I’m going to be living, next. That, in turn, affects which language would be best to learn.

Those who have been following me from my other blog know that it is a life goal of mine to learn Japanese, although — given my current location — Spanish might be a better choice of a second language. I also took Spanish for six years in Middle and High School, so relearning it would be review.

The thing is, I don’t have nearly as much reason, culturally speaking, to learn Spanish, as I’m a member of Japanese diaspora. As I was growing up, I was curious about a lot of what went into making me the person I was: things that I didn’t know and that no one told me (or possibly, could tell me, as I’m yonsei, or fourth-generation: my oldest living local relative in my life [on my Japanese-American side] was nisei, or already two generations away from Japan).

Learning Japanese language is a potential opening door into the language of my heritage, whereas learning Spanish language is basically an economic or pragmatic move. It seems like it would be relatively easy (compared to Japanese) and also fulfill a requirement that I be able to read, “at least one Western European language,” as a certain job post asked of me.

The thing is, I’m not into Western Europe. In addition, with the way international relations are being trashed right now, I can’t say I would look forward to visiting any Spanish-speaking countries in the near future (I hear it was bad enough, before). There are also some reservations I have over both 1) being obviously of African descent in a postcolonial setting, and 2) being gender-nonbinary in a setting where everything is gendered.

Of course, being of African descent in Japan might not be so great, either; although I would expect a bit more leeway where it came to existing with my gender identity there.

However, becoming a Metadata Librarian might require that I read some, “Western European language,” depending on where I work. Or, that could be an outlier related to the particular biases of the University I was perusing. Postcolonialism and everything.

I find that, at this point, French might actually work better, for me (I can actually imagine going to Quebec or Tahiti or the Caribbean [or the French Quarter]; I have been exposed to Gender Studies in French; and I know the French were better at race relations); I just have no experience in it.

French language might also help counter the tendency I’ve gotten from Japanese in which I tend to read things in terms of discrete syllables. Hence, I read, “inorite?” as, “ee no ree tay,” not, “I know, right?” Still. I mean, I still look at it and I know what it’s supposed to say, but it doesn’t work out that way in my mind.

There is also the art tangent. I keep wanting to do it, and I keep feeling like it’s a waste of time. But I suppose it’s really rather like playing an instrument: you can’t expect to stop doing it for a couple of years and then re-enter and immediately regain all your skills.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do, on that front, though I’m thinking that the first step into re-entry is the hardest. Because of my MLIS program, I haven’t had the time (or energy) to keep up a study of art. What I have had time to do, and have been forced to do, is read. I’ve been doing a lot of reading. And I’m not certain whether I’ll ever get back to being a writer.

Well, I mean, a professional writer, although, “amateur,” probably best described me when I graduated with my BA in Creative Writing. I have found, however, that a lot of people move on from their undergraduate degrees, in their later life. Particularly, if their undergraduate degree is in something that isn’t profitable. Like…Creative Writing.

Someone wrote a book called, “Pivot,” which I just recalled. Actually, there are two books called, “Pivot,” which I just discovered…and I can get both of them through the library. Hmm.

I still want to get back to my study of Japanese language, though (which will be of use in Hawaii if I ever have to move there). And I still want to work with beads and cords. I also still want to get back to reading.

I don’t know about the art — which I can say because this is not my art blog!

Capacity for work

I read two e-books in one night, the night of Tuesday the 27th / morning of Wednesday the 28th. Were they worth purchasing?

Yesterday (the 28th of November), I woke late — having stayed up until 2:30 AM the night before — and had to go get an eye exam. I couldn’t write this post last night, because I was blind to anything within reading distance. However, something very strange had happened, the night before:

I read two e-books, excepting their indexes, between the time I had gotten off of work at 2 PM, and the time I went to bed at 2:30 AM.

How did this happen? I’m not entirely sure. What I can say is that I kept plugging through, because I was afraid that if I stopped, I’d never get back to either one of them.

From research I’ve had to do within Collection Development, it seems that there are a number of e-readers still popular within the U.S. In no particular order, these are the NOOK, Kindle, Kobo, iPad/iPhone, and Android readers.

What I can say from my experience — as I had basically been browsing Amazon since I got home — is that I’m starting to be capable of reading so much, that it doesn’t make sense to buy everything. Browsing on a Kindle is very much like having a bookstore in a tablet; but the quality of those books, varies.

The first book I finished, Black Belt Librarian, by Warren Graham, is 104 pages long, including the Index. (I had seen this book before in the break room of a library at which I used to work, and so had been apprised of its applicability.) The second book I finished, What They Don’t Teach You in Library School, by Elizabeth Doucett, was 161 pages, including the Index.

The thing is, to get the exact page numbers, I’d have to go back and do some research. But just in the ballpark, I read somewhat less than 265 pages — let’s say 252.

I’m getting to the point where I’m realizing that not all reading is as difficult as what I had to do in my Master’s program. I’m also getting to the point of realizing that I don’t have to buy everything I sincerely want to read.

Those of you who know me from the past incarnation of this site will know that even though I work in a library, it’s tough for me to deal with the books. Actually, it isn’t the books, so much; new books are great; it’s all the grime that gets on the books, because they’re physically handled by so many people. This acts as a deterrent to my actually reading them, unfortunately.

However, this isn’t an issue with e-books!

But also, with e-books…sometimes these things are available through using library services. For instance, the second book I read (Doucett), I was able to find in my University library, and it was free to read online (whereas I would have been charged $31, if I downloaded it).

There are two ways I have of searching for this book. The first is to look the title up in WorldCat.org, which is a federated search engine. This means that it searches multiple libraries all over the world for your item. If you enter your location, WorldCat will tell you where the closest libraries are which carry your item — if that library is a WorldCat member.

As a bonus, WorldCat (and Amazon) also linked me to reviews on Goodreads, which let me know more information about the information resource (book, in this case) that I was looking at. This, and having access to book reviews via online databases (reviews are typically accessible by searching the book title), has been a world of help in winnowing down what I actually wanted to buy (out of the eight or so books which it looked like I wanted to buy).

As it turns out, the nearest holdings were fairly close, but I don’t have direct access to those libraries, as they’re University-affiliated (and not with a University I attended).

The second way of searching for this book is what bore fruit. I went to my nearest public library’s homepage and searched their federated search system, known as “LINK+”. LINK+ is a system which spans California and Nevada member libraries. Most states in the U.S. have similar federated search systems, but they go by different names.

LINK+ told me that the item was available through a specific Web resource, called “ProQuest Ebook Central”. Because I’m in the Library Science program, I realized I might have access to this from my University’s library. I found the database (“ProQuest,” the aggregator name, was omitted from its title), found the item, and was able to basically read it cover-to-cover within about three to four hours.

It wasn’t as pretty as the Amazon version (actually, the font was pretty terrible), and of course it’s temporary; but it worked, I saved about $31 for the second half of the night’s reading, and now I know the content of that book.

Of course, the initial reason for me to even find it was to see if I actually wanted to pay the $31; I’ve taken up the habit of looking through libraries prior to actual purchases, in order to see the actual contents of the books I’m browsing. This is because of repeated episodes of getting books which were not what I expected or hoped for.

Amazon enables some sample reading from most of its eBooks, but it’s painfully limited — and, as I’ve found, the samples are hidden behind the link to buy the book, now, instead of prominently displayed (as they used to be).

Right now I’ve got a couple of new clips lined up, as well. If they go through, it will save me a good amount of money, which I may apply to a specific textbook in the $70 range, for a class I never took. (I have a couple more lined up which won’t be ready for 3-4 months…but I’ll delay on ordering those. I’ll probably forget about them, otherwise.)

Go libraries, eh?

I did purchase Black Belt Librarian (by Graham) right off, before I realized that if I bought everything I wanted to read off of Amazon, I very quickly wouldn’t have any income left. I am glad I bought it, and am waiting to see how it meshes with Robert Bacal’s book on a similar topic (Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook, 3rd ed.). I am wondering how I’ll remember I have it, however, without it having a presence on my shelf; which seems to be the perennial problem with eBooks.

Graham’s content is much more about handling times one has to say “no” to people in the library, than it is about fighting. In that context, it’s helped a lot toward giving me knowledge of what I’ll have to eventually face, if I do become a Public Librarian. (In my position, I’m shielded from a lot of that, but won’t be if I become a Library Assistant, or Librarian; and there has been very little training for me on this point.)

Doucett, however…that was more like an overview of what a job as a Librarian would entail, and making sure the reader found a job they could deal with. I’m not sure it’s worth the $31, which is something a reader on Amazon said, as well.

Am I going to have to start writing book reviews, just so I can remember this stuff?