It’s all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I’d never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn’t what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.
― Madeleine L'Engle,
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Epistemology, Ontology, and Spinning a Yarn

New year, new experiments, ahoy! 

Phix's Curiosity: what sparks my interest

Watch this space to see what's sparked my interest this week.  A random grab bag of delights!

We're onboarding some new folks at work.  In the course of discussions, some of the things that we got to discussing was how people scan content and the various ways people's brains process incoming information.  Why icons/colors/etc can lend meaning and when they contribute to information overload.  How do we convey meaning through words and help people more easily interpret what's important?  This is kind of endlessly fascinating to me. 

So we talked through how sometimes people use bolded text to draw the eye to the concept words like I'll do in this paragraph.  We also talked about how part of the reason icons work so well is that you don't spend time sounding out the word as you're getting to the conceptual meaning being conveyed and so it bypasses the language center of the brain and goes straight to the meaning center (wheeeee! semiotics in practice!). 

We also talked through what levels of detail people want - often execs just want the one line summary, while other people can be extremely detail oriented. How do you create content that helps the people who want the action item/takeaway and then they're done *and* the people who want all the gory detail of the content in the same document?  And further, how do you deal with subjective stylistic/editorial differences while enabling reuse of information across multiple documents? 

So, if you ever wondered what my day job was like... there's a tiny bit of it!  That's probably enough epistemology for now!

Medusa's Garden

When you need everyone and everything around you to stop

This one will be short this time - part of self care is knowing where and when to draw boundaries.  Here's the thing, and I've said this before, as have others - self care doesn't happen in isolation.  If there's no community that is available to you, that supports your absence, self care is significantly more complicated.  The ability to withdraw from regular life for rest and relaxation is a tremendous privilege.  How does your community support you in finding space to rest and recover?

Ariadne's Yarn: playing with threads

What I'm up to with fiber and possibly how mythology and stories all tie together.

I've been bitten by the spinning bug again.  Not that I'm not ever interested, but I definitely have years where I spin more than others.  This year, so far, feels like a year with lots of fiber potential.  And more spinning means more knitting and more weaving. I hope! :)  

To that end, I'm trying something new - I'm following along with the Instagram #spin15aday2018challenge - which is to say spin (at least) 15 minutes a day, every day in 2018.  So far so good!  From yoga and other things I know that often it's prioritizing the first 10 minutes that's the hardest part and once you have settled into a ten minute commitment, it's easy to keep going.  Getting over the inertia mountain is 95% of the battle!

Andean braceletSo far this year, I've finished on the tahkli spindle the 0.8 ounce of neon green merino that was bought for one or the other of the girls many years ago & I was "being good because it was theirs to spin and not mine, even if they weren't getting to it." I was experimenting with the tahkli last summer to see if I could get a different and more consistent spin than I'd been able to figure out so far with it and that was the wool that was lying around and I looked at one of them preparing to head off to college, and the other preparing to head into high school and decided... whelp, they had their chance! I'm gong to take care of this and if they want more, we'll cross that bridge when we get there! 

I've also made a good dent in the 17 ounces of merino-silk blend having spun about half of the roving at this point. All the pretty green things! Where the girls' merino was a really bright solid green, this one ranges from really dark forest greens to mossy greens, to almost silvery white of undyed silk.  I like spinning this type of roving from the fold to get variegated colors, rather than trying make the color consistently blended - I feel like it doesn't show off the colors as well and they always feel sort of muddy when all of the colors just get muddled together. 

In other fiber news, I was looking at my stash of white, undyed wool and I think I'm going to throw it on the loom and make a wrap with it, so hopefully next newsletter, I'll have an update on that.  We'll see if I manage to get it warped tomorrow night and dress the loom on Saturday or Monday, I guess!  I have three different batches of white wool, so it will take some planning to do.  One batch of it is either a cotswold or blue-faced leicester or... something. My cousin bought it for me from a friend.  The bag said one thing, she said another because her friend doesn't raise cotswold and now I can't remember and... y'know - it's lovely wool, it'll be delightful.  One is entirely a mystery wool.  And then the third is white merino.  

All the fiber work I do is basically a gigantic experiment.  I do it for the joy in process and try not to focus overly much on outcome. Not that I don't frog knitting or unweave and reweave and whatnot, but "it's the journey not the destination."  So - we'll see how it goes!

Mythic Librarian: the art of arranging a life 

Thoughts on ontology and ways to organize a life.

Ontology - the branch of philosophy that looks at entities, if they exist, and what their relationship to other entities are.  Because apparently I am turning into the philosopher-king. 

JK - I've always been like this!

How do you arrange a life so that you are in right relation with the things around you?  Librarians spend a lot of time identifying and organizing things.  You wouldn't know it looking at my coffee table or my tea and spice drawers, BUT.  One must leave a little chaos in one's life. Moderation in all things including moderation and all.  

A really significant part of organization (and this is where I feel like there's a solid contingent of my profession who misses this point) is prioritization.  A record in the Library of Congress catalog has around 1000 fields worth of potential information about any given thing that could be documented.  Of these, only about 9 are used on most everything (title, author, subject, year of publication, publisher, and a few others), and then there is a very very long tail.  When people go to organize their lives in relation to the entities in their lives, it's sort of the same way - everyone has slightly different priorities but there is an endless set of ways in which to organize all the things and a really long tail. And tale. ;) 

My coffee table is my workspace, a document of what things are in action or need action.  From my bullet journal that sits perched overlooking it, to the papers I need to file, destroy, mail, or schedule, to books I'm reading, electronic devices, various office supplies, and candles for when I stop moving and just need to sit in silence and gaze while I listen to the sound of my own breath.

What is important to me is close to me - or at least a representative.  The loom is closer to me than the spinning wheel, but the spindle is right behind my head, representatively.  This is what is jokingly known in the library world as proximity filing (i.e., most important closest).  It is also a little bit horizontal filing (in that there are things stacked on top of other things, categorized, of course).  The books under my coffee table are vertically oriented, as Maude intended.  

Physical space is but one of many ways that one organizes a life.  The stories we tell are also a way that we organize a life.  What stories and meanings we assign to the entities also establishes them in relationship with us.  

How we organize our time is another.  And while you will be receiving this at 10am (unless I mess up again and send it out at 10pm!), it is currently a bit past 1am as I'm writing this. I must shift on to the next part of this day!

With love, and structure, and organization, and curiosity - may Ariadne's ball of yarn guide you through the labyrinth safely until next time!


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