We’ve moved!

In the last three months we:

– Sold our condo.
– Got rid of a metric ton of junk.
– Packed all our belongings.
– Moved to San Francisco.
– Unpacked all our belongings.

We arrived in SF on June 23rd. Our belongings arrived on the 25th, a Friday, around 10:30pm. It was Pride weekend and our apartment is in the Castro, so nobody was sober enough to complain about having a huge 18-wheeler parked on the street for three hours. G started his new preschool, a montessori school, the Monday after we landed. After three frantic weeks of unpacking/buying stuff/shuffling stuff/realizing we STILL have too much stuff I started work as a lab manager at UC Berkeley. A is happily (or screamily, depending on the state of his intestines) spending the days with Kim, as is G now that school is out.

So far we like it. It’s a big adjustment from Cambridge, where grandparents were never more than a few minutes away, and when we were feeling overwhelmed we could just jettison the kids and take a break. Our weekends are ours again – no more shuttling between grandparents and barely spending time at home. Instead we explore the coast and check out farmers’ markets, or just play in the backyard with our landlady’s children. At 14, 12 and 8 they are old enough to play nicely with Gideon, and young enough to be willing to include him in their games. They are expert makers of obstacle courses and players of back yard pickup baseball.

Despite having a one hour commute in each direction, I love my work – it’s all my favorite bits of experimental biology, with some writing and management thrown in, and no pressure to publish or organize my results beyond what I need to keep the lab running smoothly. I never have to give lab meeting again, and I’m okay with that! My schedule is flexible enough that I can get home by 5pm every day, giving me plenty of time to run around the back yard with G and cover A in kisses (he’s such a squishy baby!).

The left coast is growing on me….


(A’s best castro camo)

Security

I work in what is possibly the least secure building on the MIT campus. While the main biology building requires a building-specific card for after hours entry, our building easily accessible without using a card at all – you can either mosey on in through the medical building, or navigate the basements until you get to our stairwell or elevator.

Theft is a constant problem in our building; my wallet and camera were stolen out of my bag one weekend last year. Laptops and wallets routinely go missing if researchers don’t lock them up when they’re in lab over the weekend.

Researchers have complained for years about the state of our building; in all cases we were told it was too expensive to put card readers on all the doors leading into the building – and besides, our new building will be ready in a few years. I even mentioned the lack of security to one of the members of the building’s advisory board, and she trumped me by telling me that when she was a grad student her lab was next to a hospital; for fear of marauding drug addicts she would simply leave a bucket of needles and syringes outside her lab and then lock the door if she had to work late.

However, it appears that the powers that be have finally heard our requests for more security: this week signs reading “Restricted Access: No Trespassing. Authorized Laboratory Personnel Only.” appeared at two of the building’s entrances. I feel safer already.

sharing is caring

Most of my experiments require the use of a communal piece of equipment. One that has an online sign-up sheet where you put your name and a phone number at which you can be reached if someone needs to beg to use a bit of your allotted time.

So imagine my surprise when I went to use this machine on Monday (already 45 minutes late for my time slot), and it was already running someone else’s samples. Someone who decided to live dangerously and not stay in the room OR leave a number at which they could be reached. I seriously considered dumping their samples or at least stopping their run and doing my own…and I admit that I DID screw up one of their samples by lifting the cover off the machine before I noticed it was running (serves them right). In the end I waited for their run to finish and consoled myself by leaving a nasty note along with their samples next to the machine.

So, imagine my FURTHER surprise when I went to use the machine yesterday (already 30 minutes late for my time slot) and there was ANOTHER person on the machine. Who begged (appropriately) for five more minutes. Now, I have no qualms about giving someone five more minutes if I show up smack on the dot for my time slot…sometimes things are slow to run – but what if I’d shown up on time for my appointment? Would she have asked for 30 more minutes? Argh!

So, my belated new year’s resolution is this: always be on time for my appointments on shared equipment. And if you want part of my time I must be paid in cookies and cocoa.