Tuesday, October 13, 2009


My name is Natalie, aka magnetbabe. Once upon a time I used to blog here, and at times quite regularly. While I have tried to gradually lower expectations for regular updates, I have become aware that my lack of posting has made some of you worried, frustrated, or even confused. I apologize for that and while I can always try to do better, that doesn’t always mean I will do better. The biggest impediment to my regular updates is that fact that I absolutely cannot blog at work. I don’t think it’s a big secret where I work, or for whom, but it has been made clear to us that social networking via blogger, twitter, facebook, etc. is forbidden on government time. It is not forbidden to have a blog or have a facebook page (though it is strongly encouraged that all privacy settings be enabled) but suspicious traffic to those sites using government computers is monitored. While I totally understand where they are coming from with this (in theory none of us should be blogging at work and taxpayers would be understandably upset to see federal employees spending their days taking facebook quizzes) it does hamper my online activities considerably. I will justify this statement by saying that research in general is laden with downtime. You heat something up, cool something down, let something react, press a button that cycles and entire experiment and all these things involve waiting. This isn’t news to any of us in science which is why internet activity is considered just part of the routine. But as I have learned over the past four and a half weeks, public service does require some sacrifices and from what I have experienced in my short time here, those sacrifices are well worth the rewards of a challenging, meaningful career.

So. Why don’t I just write up a blog post when I get home? Or on the weekend? Welll…. Easier said than done. By evening I am usually exhausted from working and preparing dinner and the last thing I want to do is get back on the computer after hours of reading papers online or staring at data. Plus, how can Deano and I catch up on our days when one of us is glued to the computer? So that leaves the weekend. Have I mentioned that Washingon DC is a totally over stimulating place to live? Free museums, festivals, demonstrations, ceremonies, two baseball teams, and excellent food combine to make my weekends even more tiring than my work weeks. We’ll see how things go in the few weeks. Baseball season is effectively over – if I can’t see a team in person (like the Nats or the O’s) or root for them in good conscience (like the Twins) it might as well be over. And I could just like to say that I was incredibly proud of the Twins winning the division, and then horribly, terrifically embarrassed by their performance against the Yankees. My intramural physics department softball team from USF could have scored more runs than that. And the weather should be cooling down a bit. We only have a few more weekends to do the outdoor things downtown that we really want to do, most notably going on the Monuments by Moonlight trolley tour.

Dean started his new job this week. He is working for a large car insurance company outside of Baltimore. He seems to like it, it is a position that he had held in Tampa for a different company. Even though he complains about the actual duties, he excels at it and of course everyone loves him. I have a feeling he won’t be so adamant about packing our weekend full of activities once he has a few 40 hour week weeks under his belt. But maybe that’s just the cynic in me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty to say. I would like to sit down and write a post about what my actual job is, despite the fact that the description would probably put half of you to sleep. And the ever-present rant on the level of political discourse occurring in our society is always front and center in my mind. I definitely want to post some pictures. Our new “grown up” jobs have given us some financial freedom to replace our couch, loveseat and coffee table with a new set a few weeks ago. I ordered a TV stand this week that I’m very excited about, and Dean’s talking about that big flat screen he’s been dreaming about since Florida. I keep saying once it all comes together, then I’ll send pictures. Embarrassingly, we still have quite a few boxes sitting around.

But I miss you guys. I knew most of you aren’t posting as often as before. Is life just busier or has blogging run its natural course? I hope not. I don’t find tweets or facebook status updates nearly as informative, or frankly, as intimate. But that’s just me. I feel like it’s been 18 months since I’ve had a real routine where I felt comfortable and that I had time for everything I want to do. Even though I miss them dearly I couldn’t ever imagine caring for a colony and doing TNR and fostering on top of what I’m doing now, which makes me a little sad because I had hoped to volunteer. I wanted to join a reading group, but I’ve only read 100 pages since the move. But the upside is that my days are filled with more satisfying business than before and my mental and physical health in general is strong. Anyway, I hope you all don’t give up on me. I’m still around, just more sporadically. For now.