here’s what i’m doing with my coffee money this month

I spend a minimum of $45 a week on coffee. Probably substantially more. I just zip through the drive through, tap my credit card on the pay wave machine and away I go. Today I was looking at my credit card statement and it reads like a biography written in coffee transactions. I can tell where I was and what I was doing based on my coffee charges.

There are lots of other things I could be doing with that money.

Like helping a friend fund her cancer treatment by donating to a GoFundMe campaign.

If you can spare even one day’s coffee money, or make a sandwich instead of buying your lunch one day next week, or go without a bottle of wine this weekend, please consider donating. Because fighting cancer is expensive business. Because worrying about money seems kind of trivial when you’re dealing with cancer. And because helping is a way of saying, ‘fuck you, cancer’.

The GoFundMe campaign finishes soon. If you’d like to donate and it’s closed, please let me know by commenting here or emailing me (davis [dot] kate [at] gmail [dot] com).

Blog every day in June: 9/30 (Oops. Apparently I fail at blogging every day in June this year)

buying fabric online

I am often asked where I buy fabric from and I’ve been meaning to put a quick post together listing some of my favourite stores. So here it is!

Just a note to accompany the list: I mostly buy quilting cottons so this list reflects that. I have absolutely no idea where to buy knit fabrics online from Australian stores. I have my eye on a couple of US sources for knits – in particular, Girl Charlee – but their shipping is pricey. I went to order a bunch of knit fabric a while back and when I got to the checkout, the shipping cost more than the fabric.   so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

I’ve bought from some of the stores on this list a few times, others only once or twice. But in all cases, I’ve been happy with the transactions.

Before the list, I have a few tips.

Local or international?

I really like to shop local, but the price difference between buying from an Australian seller and buying from the US is huge. It can cost as much as twice the per yard price to buy a meter of fabric from an Australian store. Of course, you only get a 91.4cm length when you buy a yard, but it’s still a huge difference.

Buy up big when ordering from overseas

I only buy from the US when I want more than a couple of meters. Sometimes I see something I want in a US store but I generally try to bulk out my order with other fabric. Some online fabric stores tell you how many meters or yards you can fit in a standard shipping envelope or package and I use those guides to work out how much I can fit in the package. See, for example, this chart from one of my favourite online stores, Jaq’s Fabrics. The shipping charge is estimated to be the same for 2.5 yards or 9 yards. So really, you’d be *crazy* not to buy 9 yards. (Clearly I have lots of justifications for excessive fabric buying up my sleeve!)

Buying minky or other bulky fabric

If you’re buying something bulky, buy local. The bulky stuff is heavy and… well… bulky. Don’t fill up your precious shipping space with this stuff.

Online or in the flesh?

I much prefer to buy fabric online. I think I might be in the minority. I find that I get overwhelmed in fabric stores and I end up buying stuff that I really don’t have a plan for. (Look, if I’m being completely honest, I should admit I do that online too.) But I like those ‘design wall’ features on fabric sites that let you put fabrics together to see what works. I always feel really rushed in fabric stores too so I just end up grabbing at stuff. My online fabric purchases are generally much more considered.

The list: places I’ve bought from and recommend: US

Fabric.com

Pros:

  • Huge range
  • Frequent sales on quilting cottons
  • Stocks all the big designers
  • Often has stock of popular ranges that have sold out elsewhere
  • You can order swatches (I never have)
  • They have a design wall where you can put a bunch of fabrics to see them side by side

Cons:

  • Call me picky, but I do like my fabric to be carefully folded and that’s not something you get here
  • I really like the idea of supporting small businesses and this is kind of the fabric store version of a department store – it’s big business
  • I’m a fan of seeing sale information in my inbox, but these guys send pretty frequent emails and I could do with a few less
  • Sometimes the range can be a bit overwhelming and I can’t decide what I want… So I buy nothing – or, more likely, I buy everything

Jaq’s Fabrics

This was one of the first places I bough fabric from when I started sewing. I originally bought in the Jaq’s Fabrics Etsy store but there is a separate website, too. When I want to order fabric from the US I generally check to see if I can get it here first.

Pros:

  • Fabric is carefully cut and always pretty well straight
  • Fabric is always neatly folded and nicely packed
  • Emails for new ranges and sales but not an overwhelming number
  • I just feel better about buying from a small business

Cons:

  • Smaller range – I can’t always get what I want here

The list: places I’ve bought from and recommend: Australia

Addicted to Fabric

Addicted to Fabric is a fantastic Canberra fabric store that sells some of their range online. I have only bought from the store, not online, but if they had their whole range online I would definitely be a frequent shopper. If you’re after a particular fabric I think it would be worth giving them a call.

Fat Quarter Sisters

You can never have too many fat quarters, and they’re so cheap! (I realise they’re not actually cheap when you consider the cost per meter… But they’re like $5. Who can resist?) A while back, I was tempted by some very cheap, very cute fat quarters from the Facebook-based store. I bought one or two, which actually turned out to be 17 when the invoice came… Oops! This store is also on Etsy.

Pros:

  • Fast invoicing
  • Fast shipping
  • Neat cuts
  • Nice (but small) range
  • Small business, Australian

Cons:

  • Fat quarters only

Fabric Pixie

Pros:

  • Good customer service – I needed fabric in a hurry and they got it to me in under two days
  • They have stock of some ranges that are getting to be hard to get
  • Very neat cuts
  • They currently have some good sale prices on some fabrics
  • Small business, Australian, and (for me) local

Cons:

  • Limited range

Blog every day in June 7/30

on needing to know and information experience

I have this obsessive need to understand the things I fear. When I’m worried about or scared of something, I go looking for information. I find as much as I can and I take it all in and I digest it and I see the thing from all the angles. Then it’s not a mystery. There isn’t any chance I’m going to stumble on something unexpected and terrible because I’ve seen under and around and over the thing. If there’s something terrible there, it won’t sneak up on me because I will have found it before it’s had a chance to find me.

As an information experience researcher, I’m interested in understanding how people experience information in their everyday lives. It’s kind of interesting to inspect my own practices in the way I would inspect those of a participant in a research study. If I was naming this thing that I do, I would probably call it something like ‘coping by knowing’.

It’s a control thing really. Knowing what the possibilities are gives me some sense of control in situations in which I really have none. Knowing is almost as good as controlling.

I know other people whose modus operandi is to put blinkers on, but blinkers seem to me to be the worst possible way to deal with my fear or worry. What makes some people choose blinkers? What drives others, like me, to visit Dr Google and trawl Wikipedia?

I wonder whether I do it because I’m a librarian and an information researcher, or whether my grandfather started it by encouraging me to research *everything*, or whether I Google everything simply because I have the web in my hand all the time. Or whether ‘needing to know’ is just how I am.

Blog every day in June 6/30

contribute to a list of must-follow LIS, GLAM, ed tech etc tweeters

I’m taking advantage of #blogjune to make a self serving work post ;-)

Every year, I share Twitter lists with my Library and Information Studies students. I teach a unit in which students are encouraged to begin developing their own personal learning networks. These Twitter lists help them get started with building a network on Twitter.

Help me compile lists of LIS, GLAM, IM, records, archives, ed tech, digital humanities, research support and data management tweeters. Add your suggestions to this Google Doc, and then I’ll set them up as Twitter lists that others can follow.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Blog every day in June 5/30

on pride and wonder and greed

Today, Mr 5 received a student of the week award, which means school assembly was a family affair.

I’m super proud of him because he got his award for “being a trustworthy friend and classmate who always takes care of others”. He is a gentle, kind soul (except when reenacting Star Wars scenes!), a great brother, and an awesome little person.

He was so proud of himself. He stood up straight and pushed his chest out and held his certificate up in front of him. He looked like he was about to burst with pride.

Ms 5 was super proud of her brother too. When we got to school, she ran up to her best friend and said, “My brother is student of the week!”

As I watched them go through the routine of assembly, I couldn’t help thinking about how much of their lives will be spent at school, and consequently, how much of their lives we aren’t privy to. They know all these things that we had no idea they knew. They know the national anthem! They have all these rituals and routines that we don’t know about. They are learning so much, so quickly, and we only hear about a fraction of the things they learn. There is this big chunk of their lives that is enacted at a distance from us.

And I’m greedy. I want to know about all of it. I want to *see* all of it. Even though I’m proud of their independence and their growing confidence. Even though they get to share these experiences with each other. Even though they are at a great school, with wonderful teachers. Even though they are so proud to come home and show us what they have learned.

I just want to be there with them. To watch them learn. To see their wonder.

I’m greedy, and I want to see *all* the things.

Blog everyday in June: 4/30

there’s no words

I love how the phrases we use become the language of our kids, and how our habits rub off on them too. My littlest love likes to tell us, “There’s no words for how much I love you,” an expression she learned from her nanny. We are big on saying I love you.

I’ve lost my voice. It’s been MIA since Sunday night. I’m grateful it didn’t happen til the end of the day on which I had my very last teaching commitment for the semester. But my phone has been running hot all week with enquiries from prospective students and I feel ridiculous whispering at them. And I don’t really have much whisper in me either. It’s quite hard to communicate that I can’t talk, so the first minute of the conversation is very odd.

Today I looked at my thesis for the first time in five months. My schedule gives me six days to finish this chapter. Today a sixth of the time I budgeted for this chapter disappeared with no words to show for it.

I didn’t post yesterday, not for lack of ideas. I was going to write a post about risk. I had some words down already but I couldn’t find the new ones I needed to stitch it into some kind of coherent story. It felt like it was going to take a lot of effort to drag the words out of my brain and I didn’t feel like I had the energy to do it.

And I’m not sure I’ve got enough words in me to write a blog post every day this month.

Sometimes, there just aren’t words.

Blog everyday in June: 3/30

was dawson’s creek this cringeworthy the first time round?

Warning: This post is particularly profound. Read with caution.

I love TV. In a big way. I binge watch series after series. I also love Netflix because it supports my TV watching habit.

I am currently re-watching Dawson’s Creek. I grew up with Pacey, Andie, Dawson,  Jen, Joey and Jack. My teenage angst happened in parallel with theirs… Although my angst was decidedly less angsty than theirs, which was probably part of the appeal – my mini dramas looked very small compared to those of the Capeside crew.  

I have been busting to re-watch Dawson’s for ages, but now that I am watching it, I’m thinking back to my first viewing and asking myself whether it was this lame the first time around.

Dawson is just not likable at all. All the characters are over-acted and Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek are particularly cringeworthy together.

People just don’t talk like that.

I’m not even sure I can keep watching it, partly because I’m sitting here asking myself whether I took my angsting cues from the show (god I hope not), and partly because it’s destroying my memories.

Surely, *surely* it couldn’t have been this bad the first time around?

The one enduring memory I have that hasn’t been shattered by this second viewing is my memory of Pacey, who I love as much now as I did 15ish years ago. I’m just not sure Pacey is enough to redeem the whole show.

PS. How much would Dawson love Netflix?

Blog everyday in June: 2/30

what a difference a year makes

Or not.

It’s June, which means I’ll be blogging every day for the next 30 days. I’ve been doing this every year (with varying levels of success!) for the last five years. Con kicked this off in 2010 and five years later there is a huge list of library types from Australia and New Zealand joining in the fun.

As I kick off my month of blogging, I can’t help reflecting on where I was at the last time I took up the #blogjune challenge.

This time last year, I was writing my very first post on this blog and gearing up for a sabbatical during which I would write my PhD thesis. Or more accurately, a sabbatical during which I would finish my data collection, code all my interview transcripts, develop a theory and write my thesis. I’m nothing if not ambitious.

I didn’t quite make it, but I got close.

In January, I went back to work. With a vengeance. I took over as course coordinator of the masters program I teach into. I also took up a fellowship on a university-wide teaching and learning transformation initiative. And I won’t bore you with all the details, but man, has it been a crazy five months.

So crazy, in fact, that I haven’t touched my dissertation since the first week in January, which really is a bummer because I was hoping to have my final seminar early this year. I was pretty devastated about my timeline slipping out so spectacularly, but it was unavoidable.

So 12 months on from #blogjune 2013 and I’m in much the same position as I was last year: psyching myself up to switch into dissertation writing mode. But this time, sans sabbatical.

I have a pretty grueling timeline that will see me have my final seminar towards the end of November and submit my thesis for examination in early December. And I am utterly determined to stick to it.

So here I am. Standing in roughly the same place I was in 12 months ago. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day. But this time I’ve got 40,000 ish words under my belt and a timeline that will put this PhD baby to bed before Christmas.

Now I just need to make myself start.

Blog everyday in June: 1/30

let’s hear it for the mothers, the grandmothers, the daughters and the aunties

In my 20s, I blithely dismissed the idea that having a career as a woman is tough. Ditto the idea that our prospects are impacted by our gender. I worked in libraries. All around me, I saw women in leadership positions. Glass ceiling? What glass ceiling?

But then I grew up, stepped up the ladder a couple of rungs, stepped out of libraries, and saw past my blinkers. And I realised just how bloody hard it is.

That’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing it because I think as a society we pay lip service to the idea of recognising non-traditional families. And this International Women’s Day, I’ve got something to say about it.

Mothers face a particular set of challenges as participants in the workforce. Whether they work because they want to or work because they have to or a bit of both, there is at least some recognition that it’s not easy for women to balance motherhood and work. There are still big, impenetrable barriers that stop women who are mothers from participating in the workforce in the same way, and with the same sort of career progression, as men. But there is at least some basic level of recognition that as mothers, women have responsibilities outside the office.

Is it enough? Absolutely not. It is not even close to being enough.

Organisations aren’t family-friendly – at least, I don’t know of one that really, truly is. But in many cases, they are a bit friendlier if your family is a traditional family than they are if it’s not.

What about the women with aging parents? Do workplaces support them? What about the grandmothers that are on call to pick up sick grandchildren at school? Do they drop a day’s pay to fulfill their responsibilities as primary carers?

Because this is how *real* families work.

It’s not mum, dad and two kids. Sometimes it’s mum and two kids. Or mum, grandma and two kids. Maybe it’s two mums and a kid. Or something entirely different.

Families aren’t always cared for by one mother. There are other women in the mix too. And it’s not only children that women care for. I see this everywhere.

And what I also see is how hard it is for these non-mothers to fulfill their family commitments, because in our workplaces, the provisions for caring for families are built around the idea that familial care and familial duties are about a mother caring for her children (‘hers’ in law).

That’s not always how it works in the real world.

So when we talk about how hard it is for women in corporate Australia, in academia, in any work context, let’s not forget that we’re not all mothers, but many of us have other family responsibilities to negotiate, too.