Challenging myself to leave the house with just one lens, in this case a 27mm pancake lens.
I switched camera systems in May this year to a mirrorless system, specifically a Fuji XT-20 body with various lenses. Its first big expedition was to New York but soon enough it was time for the much closer to home annual trek around the autumn foliage. The camera body failed around mid-day (had to go in for repairs as it was unable to detect lenses connected to it), very poor timing since Andrew’s niece was born that day, but we had some adventures first.
I remain fascinated by the ludicrous, alien, ornamental pear that is planted in such profusion around here:
But eucalypts can hold their own:
May began with comforting rituals, as it usually does since our wedding anniversary and Mother’s Day are within a week of each other.
Our 10th wedding anniversary was the first time A had ever spent a night away from both of us: I’ve travelled, Andrew’s travelled, but there’d always been one parent or other under the roof. We hustled her with V into my parents’ car at night in Lithgow, all four adults fearing howls and despair, but she smiled like a blissful angel and apparently had a happy weekend, broken only occasionally by solemnly sharing that she was thinking of “my Mummy, Mair-wee”.
Andrew and I spa-ed, walked in the sun, and had a lovely dinner that I’d accidentally booked in Blaxland rather than Blackheath, more than halfway back from the holiday spot to our home. But we’ve always been good at long drives together, and Restaurant Como’s rose and raspberry Eton mess and the audiobook of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway made for a good evening.
The next weekend, another milestone on the slow climb out of young child parenting: we did our usual Mother’s Day walk around Clarkes Point Reserve, where we were married, and the nearby shipyards, and this year A more or less walked it herself. Not before time, I really stagger a far bit carrying her now, especially if she’s recently eaten. Lucky her though; by the time V was her age, I was pregnant again, no carrying at all for him much after his third birthday.
At the end of May, Rob died, just a few days after his birthday and a visit from my father. I flew up to Tamworth on the 27th a few days before his funeral to see parts of my family, and did a lot of food shopping for his wake with my cousin (his daughter), but didn’t stay for the funeral, instead flying to New York on the 28th.
I’ve visited New York twice before, in 2004 and 2012, but both times it was the peak of summer, and the second time I was badly jet lagged, so even though this was a work trip, I felt it was the first time I really had a chance to enjoy the city. I spent almost the entire trip above ground, using the subway only to get to JFK for the trip home, and did a lot of biking.
I’d hoped to circumnavigate Manhattan by bike on the middle weekend I was there, but I wanted to do it on Citibike (so that I could give up and get the subway back to my hotel if the biking was too much) and Citibike doesn’t go north of Central Park. So instead I circumnavigated the Citibike area, a ride of about 35km all up. I had no idea how extensive the parks were in Manhattan; not just Central Park but the East River Park and the Riverside Park also.
My work trip to New York was related to becoming a manager of my team at work, which I had been discussing with my own manager since March, and which took effect in June. My Sydney team partners with another team in New York; we share a pager rotation, and so visiting New York is part of the deal in even being on this team, but especially in managing it. So part of my goal in being there was to start to put down a few roots; to find the odd place I wanted to return to. I didn’t expect I would root myself in a bikeshare scheme though.
Once back in Sydney I had the first of the lifelong rounds of cancer recurrence screening I will need, initially to be six monthly. This first one in June was clear but didn’t involve a radioiodine scan, which will happen at the one year mark since concluding treatment, ie, November. I found out I’ve been somewhat hypothyroid for months and months, the exact opposite of how I’d ideally be dosed in the years immediately following having thyroid cancer. There will always be something.
Otherwise June was a quiet month, which was good for transitioning to my management role, which although effected largely through paperwork rather than interviews, was in practice the third new job I’d had in eighteen months. I’m looking forward, some year or other, to a year where we live and work and study in more or less the same way at the end of the year as we did at the beginning.
Andrew and I were married ten years ago on May 6 2007.
In ten years: two children, one PhD, two house moves, one house purchase, three surgeries, one cancer diagnosis, one life threatening illness, one business, four new jobs, many passport stamps.
We took none of those things with us for our anniversary weekend in the mountains:
April was a bit of a mess, from my point of view. V’s vacation care bookings always need to be done many weeks in advance, using the worst app on the entire Internet; among other things, Excursion 1 and Excursion 2 are the same booking each day but mean different things each day, so you need to sit there with a cheat sheet to book it. It also books out within hours. It wasn’t something I had time for during oncall training at work, so we ended up with a very patchy set of vacation care bookings for the Easter holidays and both Andrew and I had to pick out a bunch of days to take off work to supplement V’s vacation care.
Since I’ve switched jobs a couple of times in the last few years, I’ve had weeks off at a time (in fact, months between the Ada Initiative and Stripe). Andrew on the other hand hadn’t taken a holiday in years that didn’t involve a load of packing and driving the kids somewhere, so he took a few weeks off and spent several days alone with a cryptic crossword.
It was a month of birthdays. For Sarah’s birthday we zipped up to the mountains on the 8th for lunch with Mum’s entire family after one of V’s soccer games and drove back down the same night.
My birthday fell on Good Friday, which happens not infrequently (also in 1995 and 2006, in contrast my birthday was last on Easter Sunday in 1974 and won’t be again until 2047, happy 66th birthday to me). It’s always a little strange to celebrate on Good Friday; I’m just Catholic enough to feel the dissonance. I also feel the dissonance of the children needing me to celebrate my birthday, which usually involves me having to make my own cake. We spent our Easter weekend at home, thank goodness. It took me a long time to realise as an adult that visiting family isn’t a mandatory use of long weekends.
Sam’s 30th birthday was that month too, and he had a small family party on ANZAC Day, a nice afternoon but also with a strange edge as a gathering of people who were mostly seeing each other in Tamworth caring for Rob, rather than in Sydney.
Otherwise, on the last Friday of Andrew’s time off, we realised our long-held dream of going to Wet n Wild together without kids. By the time we did it I was dreading it; we went in late March with the kids and I took V a second time on one of my days off with him and I went just wanting to check the box with Andrew. But we had a lot of fun, even though he tipped me forward off the raft at the end of T5, and I refused to go on the Bombora, the last of the high adrenaline rides to go. Always leave something to aspire to.
My uncle, Robin Gardiner, died two weeks ago. He was my father’s younger brother, he leaves his wife, Cassie, and my three cousins, Jock, George, and Avril.
There’s a little about his professional life on the Australian Property Institute’s website and as a member of the large and close Gardiner family, he is very much missed.
I was humbled to be able to spend a little time with Rob late last year as he pursued treatment for the brain cancer he ended up dying from. Each step was difficult and painful, and the news was always always bad. He was unexpectedly leaving a good life, and teenage children. The Rob I saw during that time was always patient and accepting, always in the moment, and always generous and kind, particularly as I concluded my own (very different) cancer treatment not long after his diagnosis.
There are many right ways to live and die, but I want to honour the way Rob lived the last year of his life in particular, with strength and love, patience and courage. Goodbye Rob.
Donations in Rob’s memory can be made to AngelFlight.
How fortunate I’ve been, to not have had a weekend job in basically my whole life. I worked night fill in my teens, which is a weeknights thing, I tutored university to get through undergrad, and while the jobs I had between undergrad and ending the Ada Initiative were all varying degrees of soft money, they were all weekday jobs, aside from the travel. And even work travel involves weekends where I can lie in a hotel room eating sashimi and trying not to be too sick from jetlag. (Protein, fat, and sheer misery: the bitter diet of the jetsetting class.)
February was the last month without working weekends for a while to come. But they were still parenting weekends, with V having both athletics and swimming on Saturdays. We made a one night trip to see my parents before the end of summer, which was worth it, but the eight hours of driving in two days hurt. Last days in the pool, lots of threatening clouds and not a lot of rain.
March was the brief interregnum between hauling everyone down to King George Oval for athletics on Saturday morning and hauling everyone down to Callan Park Oval for soccer on Saturday morning. Just swimming lessons on Saturdays, luxury. We had Sam and Hannah over for dinner in one of our rare and always nice uses of our outdoor furniture, and we went around to Mark and Tim’s so that V could turn up his nose at all their child-friendly food, but I also kicked off my weekend work for the first time. Rather gently so; I did a secondary oncall, for which I need to be half an hour away from starting work at all times, not primary oncall (five minutes from beginning work). It wasn’t until April that a real trial by oncall fire kicked in at work. Perhaps gentle March is what I should aim to return to sometime soon.
My quest to be a paid book reviewer remains stalled for two reasons: first, I’ve never once asked anyone for money to do a book review, and second, this book review comes to you express, hot out of the oven, fresh from the year two thousand and fourteen.
Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought: Why women need wives, and men need lives is titled and marketed on the old “women need wives” joke, ie, an adult in their home to make meals and soothe fevers and type manuscripts for free.
Crabb is also a well-known Australian political journalist — the ABC’s chief online political writer — who is best-known for hosting a cooking with politicians TV show, and probably next best known for her comic writing style, eg:
Right then. The parliamentary consideration of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has concluded. The nation has experienced the special thrill of watching its elected representatives fight like ferrets in a bag over a legislative clause even John Howard couldn’t get excited about, and can now dully register the fact that all this fuss has produced exactly zero changes to the clause in question.
Annabel Crabb, There is nothing free about Mark Latham’s speech, April 1 2017.
One or the other of the title’s reliance on the hackneyed complaint about women needing wives, or Crabb’s journalist persona, caused a lot of people I know to write off this book unread. The marketing runs with this too:
Written in Annabel Crabb’s inimitable style, it’s full of candid and funny stories from the author’s work in and around politics and the media, historical nuggets about the role of ‘The Wife’ in Australia, and intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia.
Penguin Books Australia
I suggest you don’t write it off, at least not for those reasons. It’s quite a serious book, and Penguin has buried the lede:
intriguing research about the attitudes that pulse beneath the surface of egalitarian Australia. The research is central to the book: Crabb did a lot of one-on-one work with demographers to extract answers to questions that no one had answers to about gender, work, money, and career progressions in Australia. Some of the findings the book contains are in fact new findings prompted by Crabb’s questioning of demographic collaborators (who are acknowledged by name, although not as co-authors).
I found two discussions especially interesting: the way in which Australia makes part-time work fairly readily available to women with young children and the many limits of that as a solution to pay and career progression disparities between men and women; and the evidence suggesting that, contrary to the widespread perception that men are hailed as heroes by men and women alike for participating in the care of their young children, they are actually discriminated against by their workplaces when they do so.
After that Crabb’s writing style is just an added bonus to keep you going through the book. If you’re going to read a demographic exploration of gender and labour in Australia in the 2010s, it’s certainly a nice bonus that it happens to be written by Annabel Crabb of all people. Instead, the major caution I would give is that it’s very middle-class in both point of view and content, without much discussion of that limitation; and is largely focussed on women partnered with men. Assuming that the work lives of middle-class women partnered with men in Australia is of interest to you, recommended.
In January 2017, as people considered the implications of the server move to Russia, I saw a number of people hesitant to delete their accounts as they were hoping to overwrite their data on Livejournal before deleting, by, eg, replacing their entries with Shakespeare’s plays, or with random nonsense, so that Livejournal didn’t have the entry any more. This won’t work and you might as well just delete your Livejournal account.
Here’s a loose analogy for the way that data on a site like Livejournal may be stored:
There’s a journalling website. It stores its entries on vast reams of paper in a giant library and new entries are scribed onto paper and filed.
The “overwrite with nonsense” strategy assumes that any journal entry you make is at a fixed location on a fixed bit of paper for all time. When you update the entry, the scribe goes to the existing bits of paper and writes on top of them. While this is technically possible with hard drives and similar, in a way that it isn’t with literal paper, here’s what more likely actually happens:
You update the entry, replacing it a Shakespearean play. The new version is written on entirely random empty paper (maybe blank, maybe where someone else’s deleted entry once was), and an index in a different part of the library is also updated. It used to say that your entry of January 7 was on floor 6, shelf 216, and now it says that your entry of January 7 was on floor 12, shelf 16.
But the contents of floor 6, shelf 216 are likely not overwritten for some time. Perhaps they’re marked as available to be overwritten, to be reused whenever it seems sensible, but you won’t know when that is. On the other hand, perhaps they are deliberately marked in the index as “an old version of the January 7 entry” for the sake of users having an edit history, or to have an audit trail, or because a lawsuit demands it, or because a government demands it. This may or may not be visible to you.
Even if floor 6, shelf 216 is marked available to be overwritten, it may not be actively erased, and if it isn’t actively erased, it’s available to be searched by a sufficiently determined or empowered person. (And searching unindexed digital storage is a lot faster and cheaper than searching paper, so not one thousandth as determined or empowered as you need to be to search a library full of unindexed paper.)
And even if floor 6, shelf 216 is no longer marked as “an old version of the entry of January 7”, on any moderately well-run website, floor 6, shelf 216 was never the only copy of your entry anyway. What if there was an accident with fire or water or whiteout? There are backups of your entry, probably at least two in the same library and at least one in a different library. These backups are usually moments in time, ie, the state of the entire journalling website as of New Years. The state of the entire journalling website as of New Years the previous year.
These backups are almost certainly never wiped of entries that are simply edited, and without adding a system that searches back through backups and selectively deletes backups of deleted accounts, they most likely contain the complete contents of deleted accounts as well.
So what you’ve ended up with is a situation where floor 12, shelf 16 contains a Shakespearean play, floor 6, shelf 216 likely contains your original entry, and there are several backups around that almost certainly contain your original entry and are designed in such a way as to be found and restored relatively quickly. This is not a much more secure situation than before you replaced the entry with a Shakespearean play; probably not worth the work you did.
All that said, it’s important to know that there are trade-offs in adding secure, permanent deletion. People quite often edit or delete their data accidentally, or temporarily — for example it is quite common to disable social media accounts temporarily to enforce a social media break — and it’s also common to be hacked and have your data deleted by the hacker. Enthusiastic data scubbing will actively harm you in all these cases. On top of that, storage systems fail (in my analogy, the library burns down, except hard drives fail more often than paper does), and backups are especially important then. And any system that goes back in time and edit backups has risks; what if it has a bug (all software has bugs) and deletes things it shouldn’t? System design to balance securely deleting data that users want to permanently delete with rarely or never deleting data they expect to keep is not easy.
So Livejournal or another site has your personal data, what should you do? I suggest that when you no longer use an online service, or you no longer trust in its management, that you take a personal backup of the data if possible and if you want it, and then delete your account.
You cannot usefully take any additional steps like overwriting your account with nonsense to ensure that actual data scrubbing took place and you should assume that it wasn’t scrubbed unless you can find some written guarantee otherwise. However, over time, backups will get selectively pruned, outages will happen, the business may eventually fail and your data will most likely become slowly less available and complete. That’s the best you can do.
For online services you actively use and where you do trust the management enough to keep your account, ask for written descriptions of their data scrubbing practices to be developed for deleted data and deleted accounts, including deletion from backups and handling of disused hard drives.
Tim Chevalier, PSA: Switching to Dreamwidth? (January 2017).
Disclosure: I am an employee of Google. This post does not describe Google’s data deletion practices, in which I’m not an expert in any case; it’s a general description of easy, sometimes harmful, defaults that systems designers could fall into. For Google-specific information, you can view privacy.google.com and Google Infrastructure Security Design Overview.
Don’t trust Livejournal? Delete your account. by Mary Gardiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
In 2011, I co-founded the Ada Initiative, a charitable organisation promoting and supporting women in open technology and culture. Between 2011 and 2014, we ran five fundraising drives, four successfully. This article is the conclusion of a series sharing what I learned in the hope that new women in technology groups and other activist groups can skip to advanced level fundraising much sooner and spend the least time and the most joy on fundraising that they possibly can.
Below is a possible timeline for a fundraising drive, emphasising quick launch rather than the kind of preparation you will need to do as your organisation grows. Many large organisations will have longer timelines and probably have dedicated staff planning the next fundraiser as the previous one winds up, but this timeline is designed to be do-able for an organisation aiming for their first fundraiser, which won’t have the ability to go for many months without funds while putting together the perfect fundraiser.
Two to three months before launch: form your core fundraising team or committee and begin meeting at least weekly. Make a budget for your funding needs if you haven’t already. Choose your organisation’s name and get your website and social media set up. Decide to pursue individual fundraising, Search for and engage a fundraising consultant, accountant, or lawyer, if needed. Establish bookkeeping if you haven’t already.
One month before launch: decide on your fundraising platform. If you have existing donors or major supporters, have a consultant or other outsider conduct a few exploratory interviews with them. Are they happy with you? If you have existing work or projects, find any that have outcomes or major milestones that can be released during the drive. Develop a timeline for releasing them and tying them into your drive. Order thank you gifts.
Two weeks before launch: contact potential major donors and ask them to pledge a specific sum of money, or to act as a matching donor. Track the pledges that they commit to, and review your fundraising goal in light of the pledges. Test your fundraising platform beginning to end with real payment methods. Based on your pledge results and your ability to take donations, have an explicit “abort/delay campaign?” discussion with your decisionmakers.
One week before launch: soft launch your donation page if possible (crowdfunding software may not allow it). Ask key volunteers or staff to test donations for you with, eg, international credit cards and similar. (Important: do refund their test donations!) Do a test package and shipment of thank you gifts. Continue reviewing whether you should abort or delay.
Hours before launch: soft launch your banner, counter, and any explicit “we’re having a fundraising drive!” text you’re placing on your website. Make any donations you have direct control over (eg, you or your board are making them!). Email your pledged donors and let them know the campaign has kicked off with “help us off to a great start!” information.
Launch: announce your fundraising campaign in blog posts, tweets, to your email lists.
Throughout the campaign: As each donation comes in, send a brief thank you email, which will normally be a form letter although for donations from your personal friends or the very largest donations you will want to write something personal. Ask each donor why they donated and track their answers. Reshare people’s endorsements and calls to donate selectively, and like/favourite the remainder.
Ship thank you gifts at least weekly, if possible, so that early donors can share them while the drive is still running.
Every Tuesday during the drive: (and more often if you can) release some news or updates (“we signed a lease on a community space!”), an interview with a donor, a limited time thank you gift, or a matching campaign. Explicitly call for donations in any news items.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday during the drive: (and more often if you can) update your social media with information about how you’re doing, where to donate, and how to share information.
Three days before close (Monday): launch your largest matching campaign if any.
Last three days of campaign: Promote your matching campaign, and stay in touch with the matching donor. Assign fundraising team members to be paying attention to the fundraiser all day, if possible, and updating social media three times a day during your major donation periods.
Close: send out “we did it!” blog posts, emails and tweets and then stop your publicity promptly. Send thank you cards and emails to the largest donors and everyone who volunteered for the drive. Ship your last thank you gift batch. While you’re no longer actively soliciting donations, do not turn off the ability to accept donations and keep an eye on social media for people wondering if they can still donate; be sure to tell them “yes”.
Since you’re small, you almost certainly are seriously risking burnout and need a break now. Take it, but remember to check in with your donors after no more than 2 months and ideally sooner with your first news about what you’ve done with their donations.
Next time: once you’ve had your needed break, review what worked and didn’t work about your fundraising drive. If you’re going to rely on donations long-term, figure out when your next drive will be, at least approximately, and begin planning for it now.
Thanks to Lana Baldwin, Selena Deckelmann, Kellie Brownell, and Katina Bishop for their valuble advice to the Ada Initiative between 2011 and 2015. Thanks to the Ada Initiative’s board of directors, advisory board, matching donors, and other volunteer fundraisers during this time, as well as our 1400+ individual donors.
Finally, thanks to my co-founder and the Ada Initiative’s Executive Director, Valerie Aurora, who did the lion’s share of the work and worry on each fundraising drive we did.
Your first fundraiser: a timeline by Mary Gardiner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.