I’m back. And I feel like I owe some explanation for my absence – particularly to those who regularly read Northstate Science. So I’ll try to do some explaining below the fold, hopefully without making it sound too much like an online diary. If you’re interested, please read on….if not, then I’ll just say “Welcome” and hope you enjoy my musings….
My supervisor announced her retirement last fall and, for better or worse (and in all honesty at this moment, I’m not sure which!!) I was asked to take her place. I’m always up to a new challenge, but her energy was phenomenal and trying to stay abreast of the projects she had going was like trying to race a thoroughbred on foot. Basically I spent most of November and December getting involved in her projects so I would at least be able to muddle through come January, when she would officially retire. This didn’t leave time for much else, and by the end of Thanksgiving, I wasn’t up for spending a evening reading through “Google Alerts” or perusing my usual blog line-up. Long story, short: I was just too bloody occupied.
But there was another issue. My new job (it’s a temporary detail at the moment) entails much more public contact and I had to weigh the effects of the strife I can cause in the local community with the need to work with members of the community to achieve partnerships and engage in cooperative ventures. The government work wasn’t the problem (as I say in the “About” section – I won’t normally discuss Forest Service issues and certainly none that are not already made public). The potential problem was trying to establish relationships with folks who might hold significantly different opinions than my own – could the blog be used against me in the new position?
I actually consulted some fellow bloggers on the issue. One of the suggestions was to blog anonymously. First, it was a bit late for that (and I didn’t want to start with a new blog name); second, I just don’t feel right posting anonymously. In the end, after much contemplation, I decided that, like the vast majority of people I come across, I can distinguish between the appropriate context for voicing one’s opinion and the context for limiting discussion to the business at hand. It’s really the old “don’t discuss religion or politics at Thanksgiving” bit…
At the same time, several things were driving me to come back to blogging. One, I was getting really tense. I have written on several occasions that blogging for me is partially therapeutic – without the writing I found myself being annoyed at a number of issues…but with no real release. Two, I found out I was actually missed. Maybe it’s my self-deprecating nature, but I really didn’t think too many people would notice. Turns out I was wrong, particularly at the local level here in Lassen County. It took a while, but around December a number of people emailed or stopped my on the street and asked why I wasn’t writing. Apparently, my review of Eric Cline’s book was particularly missed by several individuals who were using it to argue with their fundamentalist colleagues back at their respective offices (I’ll be posting the continued chapter by chapter review in the coming days). I was also really gratified to see a number of blogs looking forward to the comeback. Finally, but certainly not the least reason, I just really, really missed blogging. I missed the literary sparring, discussions and debates. I missed interacting with Duane, Afarensis, Martin, James, Kambiz, Alun, Tim, Carl, Coturnix and a host of other folks.
So, why the switch to WordPress? It really wasn’t that Blogger was bad, and yes, I’ve found some quirks with WordPress as a number of folks have warned me, but all-in-all I seem to be able to format some looks I couldn’t seem to get with Blogger. The “read below the fold” is the big thing – despite some coaching from Carl, I could never get it to work with Blogger. I could also never figure out how to change the banner at the top (the new one, by the way, is a picture I took of zebras in Nairobi National Park in Kenya). Granted, I never did really learn the art of HTML codes, so it’s not all Blogger’s fault. Plus I had been thinking of moving to WordPress for some time anyway.
And why the comeback on Feb 6? It’s my Blogosversary! Today starts my third year of blogging. Although I didn’t quite reach my goal of doubling the number of posts last year (almost, but not quite) I thought it was a pretty good year. I know I have some catching up to do now, after the hiatus, but I think I can get on track.
Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to come back.