Slow April

I haven’t really been posting this month, and I can’t even say particularly why. It’s not that I’ve been overwhelmingly busy, although busy I’ve certainly been. It’s more, I think, that when I’ve spent time on the computer, required activities have taken precedence over writing.

I never did write any comments on the conference here, although I have written them up for the wiki at work, so that others could benefit. I may transfer them to my outside wiki, just so I will always have access to them.

And that little italics betrays one of the items that is on my brain nowadays. Work is causing me… concern. To be precise, I’m not concerned about losing my job or anything like that. Rather, the library management are doing things of which I do not approve, and cannot feel comfortable with. If they continue, I can easily see myself leaving there, even though I don’t really want to. The mere thought of job-hunting, moving, and all the assorted upheavals that accompany it, gives me feelings of dread. Plus, I like quite a few of the people I work with, and I’m settled in this area. Besides which, I have fun plans for this house. And furthermore, it is quite likely that any new job I find will take me farther away from family. Not a certainty, by any means, but a real likelihood. So on the whole, I’m not happy about the way things are going.

So what am I doing about this? Personally, I am taking steps, as I have been for quite a while, to make myself an extremely desirable employee in another library. Professional development is not a big thing where I work currently (short-sighted of them), so I have to push it myself. But I do, believe you me.

In relation to my job, I am left uncertain. Should I go ahead and voice my concern and displeasure publicly? I don’t have the professional stature to do it with impunity at this point. Is it fear? or inertia? or confusion about what is best? Not everything they have in mind is bad, though a great deal of it is, but none of it is not being done well, or with consideration for others. Librarianship is a cooperative world, and yet that very concept has been totally ignored in the last week.

I do know that there is a petition going round somewhere, and believe me, I will sign that!

I know I haven’t been explicit here to anyone reading this. That is actually intentional, because if I am explicit, anyone could figure out exactly where I work and what I do. I am generally too cautious on the net to knowingly expose my privacy that way at this point. Plus, the whole issue of whether or not I want to be that public where my workplace is concerned still holds. Maybe one day I’ll feel comfortable it, but not now.

Practicing, or, Intro to projects 14

I don’t really have something I particularly want to talk about today, but since one of my goals has been the practice of writing, I am attempting to implement one of the pieces of advice that professional writers give to aspiring writers — write. Even when you think you don’t have anything in particular to say, sit down and put words on paper.

So, I guess I might as well start on another project description, even though it’s one I don’t particularly feel inspired about. That is, after all, one of the reasons I want to blog.

So, #14, the cable scarf. The goals behind this project are two: 1) learn how to do basic cables, and 2) make myself a better, nicer, longer scarf that is made of wool and equally warm as my previous one. So I bought some Cascade Ecological wool in a creamy, undyed white. I went browsing through one of Alice Starmore’s books with cables in it — the Celtic collection, I think — and found a pattern with a smaller cable pattern that is used in one of the panels of the sweater or on the arm, I forget which. Eventually, I’d like to do the entire sweater, but one thing at a time. I always prefer to start small.

So far, I’ve done a gauge swatch. That took me a while, because I started it, and found following charts that change direction to be frustrating. My first comfortable experience with charts was in the Irish diamond shawl that I’ve already described, and since every other row is purl only, those rows are not shown on the chart, and so the chart is only read from right to left. Having to do it differently on the cable chart is — annoying. For some reason my brain doesn’t want to do it. I also had a problem with reading one of the stitch descriptions. It’s one where one stitch is increased to three. I read it and read it and read it. It wasn’t until I took a rest from it, emailed Wendy of wendyknits.net for a little help in clarification, and took another whack at it that I finally figured it out. After I finally got that stitch clear, I made the swatch and washed it. Since then I haven’t picked it up.

The question, of course, is why not? Something about it, maybe the yarn, maybe the lack of skill in my cables, but something about it doesn’t sing for me. And since we’re hitting spring, I probably won’t touch it again until fall. Hmmm… I’ll have to consider this problem — maybe another yarn? Maybe one of own handspun? Now that has possibilities.

In the meantime, it just hit me — it’s April! Time to pick up the shawl again. I’ve rested from it long enough!

Intro to projects 29

This one gets bumped up because it is simply a new prayer shawl. Since I finished the last one, this one immediately got started. Of course, I had to change something from the previous one.

Yarn: Handpaint Originals by Brown Sheep (70% mohair, 30% wool)
Color: HP70 Forest Floor

This is a lovely variegated yarn with greens predominant, but lots of other shades included. When I first started the shawl, I cast on fewer than I had on the previous one — I had concluded quite a while ago that that one was too big across. But I had a slight panic attack after a couple of rows — it felt weirdly itchy. This struck me as strange, since it’s mostly mohair. So I decided to backtrack and do a quick test swatch. I’m still not sure what happened, but after a nice square and a quick wash, the itchiness eased and the softness came through. I definitely think that I need wash this once it is done, otherwise it might not be as welcome.

I’ve also decided to make a change in the pattern itself. The variegation looks nice in garter stitch, but it also looks nice in stockinette, so I’m going to do some random stretches of stockinette here and there throughout the sweater. It’ll be hard to control the urge to be symmetrical, though.

the rest of the projects to come
14. cable scarf
15. quilt for Mom
16. potholders
17. jewelbox quilt
18. preemie sleeper for charity/friends; also need to make a hat — made one sleeper, more to come (just hope the baby gets to wear it!)
19. bags
20. yellow dress (muslin first! since the batik dress showed that the sizing is not perfect) — have cut the muslin
21. winter dresses
22. spinning for sweater — doing other spinning in the meantime
23. Celtic blackwork pattern
24. wristwarmers with leftover yarn from springtime hat(I need to tell you about that one too.) — shawl idea didn’t work out, but still using the same stitch pattern
25. possibilities for leftovers
26. purplish brown cardigan w/very special yarn
27. Lochinver sweater
28. new baby sweater
29. prayer shawl #2

Conference reflections

I like going to conferences occasionally. They stimulate my brain, inform me about things that are new in my professional world, get me excited about the possibilities again — but they surely do distract me from the everyday work. This month has been frustrating at work, because it is supposed to be a time when we put aside some of the distractions of meetings, etc., and focus on producing a high volume of work. Unfortunately, what with a class, a conference, and other, everyday distractions, I have barely been keeping my head above water. This week back after the conference helped me to get my feet back under me, but not enough to feel I’ve truly done the job of catching up, at least as much as I am able.

But then, I have once again been realizing that I am at least a little over-committed. I do this to myself every once in a while, and I realize I’ve said yes to at least one too many things. They are things I want to do, some things I need to do, but not things I can get done properly and well within the time frame I have allotted. I have to say no more often. It’s a lesson I have to teach myself over and over again (although I’m better than I used to be).

And it is that feeling that reminds me that all the excited feelings of a conference are temporary. The true worth of a conference is when I come back with a truly useful new idea, AND have the time to implement it. Since I am frequently robbing Peter to pay Paul in the work I get done, that is not often a strong possibility unless I rob from Mary too.

So what ideas am I going to try to implement? The wiki definitely. In linkage with that, I recently discovered squidoo.com, which should make a nice way to share useful links between myself and my teammates.

Other than that, I will try to talk up some really good things that I saw there. If I can get some of these things looked at by other individuals, then maybe something good would happen. I really liked the presentation that showed what the NCSU people have been doing to their catalog search interface. Go check it out — they are truly making the data work harder with requiring the user to know any more than they already do. And that’s exciting!

Ironically, the presentation on NSCU followed one by Roy Tennant that annoyed me. It’s not really that I think that what he says is so wrong, though I think that there are wrong parts. (Or at least there used to be. This one was better than previous ones by him.) It’s more that what he says and how he says it seems to devalue what I do (cataloging) and the books I love. In his eagerness to embrace the bold new world of many other sources, he ignores the continuing relevance of books to the life of many. And the fact that cataloging is not applicable solely to books, but also to everything else. When you see a citation of a journal article, that is cataloging too. When you search a database of links with social tagging, that is cataloging too. Filing is a form of cataloging. When you go on to google and search for the right page to answer your question, then the implementation of their pagerank system is cataloging too!

Cataloging at its heart is the organization of information into a functional file that can be searched by one or a multitude of access points and then link the user to the resource(s) that best answer his need. While I perfectly accept that catalogs are far from perfect, there is a degree of arrogance in saying that what we did before was bad, which is the implication of many who are overwhelmed with the wonderfulness of google. What we had before wasn’t bad — although it was frequently short-sighted — but rather it was wonderful given the resources we had to expend. What we need to do now is take what has already been built, add to it, and make both the old data and the new data work harder to answer the needs of today.

I have actually wandered far afield from Mr. Tennant’s presentation in my discussion here. I sometimes get a sense — and I don’t know if it is true or a totally misreading on my part — that many people think that cataloging could really be done by computers far better than by people. If I am right in that perception, then all I have to say is — anyone who thinks that is fooling themselves. Until you have a true AI, no computer can completely replace a human being when it come to organizing information. All that a computer can do is, somewhat, make the organizing easier. But the GIGO rule still applies.