Wednesday, January 23, 2008

moving, data progress, and evolution vs creations

My husband has found us an apartment! Actually, a townhome. We can get a townhome in Jakkur (N Bangalore) for the same price as our apt in Maryland. 2400 sq feet, even! Amazing. As soon as I give the final okay (I want to know if there’s a playground nearby), we’ll have a future address! I’m thrilled! Then I can ship our stuff over there. It’ll take about 2mo to get there, yikes. So we’ll be living out of a suitcase for 2mo? Sigh. Better to do that here, though, where we are living in someone else’s house, then to try to do it over there, with nothing.

On the data side of life, my former undergraduate’s data is finally cleaned up, I hope. I ran some STRUCTURE analyses on it and it looks really really cool! Populations that are near each other are often quite different, which is interesting. It looks like various source populations can give rise to a new population, whose resulting genetic structure is strongly influenced by the founders, probably until enough other seeds come along to influence the genetic makeup. Very exciting! Now we’ll just be running analyses, putting tables together, and stuff like that. I may actually make my deadline on this paper!

Speaking of deadlines, I’m meeting with my committee in 2wks. I think I’ll have a nice story to tell for the above stuff, but for the overall Oregon data, well, that’s another story. It’s a mess. I won’t even talk about it, ‘cause it’ll depress me.

I took about 2.5 hrs away from work time this morning to pack up various things that are cluttering our small room here in my aunt and uncle’s house. I took them to our storage unit an hour away, in San Bernardino. I hated to use work time for that, but I really can’t take TM with me. Sigh. And my Aunt was getting distressed at the clutter in our room. And I wanted to take pictures for the moving people. Excuses, excuses. At least we have a little more room here! And maybe less of a fire hazard.

On the way to the storage unit, my mom called me, frustrated about various political problems. Eventually we got on the topic of evolution. I’d like to vent a little if I can, though she and I already vented together…

Just because you might have an explanation for a miracle doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. I mean, if you’re praying for help because you have no food in the house, and your neighbor stops by with dinner, do you then figure that your prayer went unanswered, and that God doesn’t exist? I hope not (unless you really don’t want to believe in God in the first place, which is fine with me).

If you find out that the sun only appears to rise in the east and set in the west, but that the earth is actually rotating, does that make it less miraculous?

If you find out that a flint and steel make sparks because of a specific chemical reaction that is reproducible, is it less of a miracle?

With the people thing again – let’s say you’re really really depressed. You get down on your knees and say, Heavenly Father, I can’t take it anymore. My life stinks, and I absolutely hate myself. Please help me! Then you get a phone call from a loving friend who lifts you up. Just because you know what happened doesn’t mean it wasn’t an answer to prayer.

Now, I’m not saying that evolution as we understand it is perfect. That’s ridiculous. Science is inherently a field of discovery, invention, and learning. Just like our understanding of biology, of chemistry, of sociology, or art is always changing, our understanding of creation is also changing. That’s okay. Our personalities change, too. So do our understandings of faith and hope, as we grow or regress in various aspects of our lives. Life is about change and adapting to change and always striving to learn and be better people. But just because our understanding of things is not perfect, there’s no need to say that the premise of our understanding is completely false. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were.

And though even the word evolution seems to be associated with pure evil incarnate to many of my friends, I’d like to suggest that it’s merely an attempt to explain what we see in the world, and not threatening to God in any way, shape or form. God really doesn’t mind if we try to explain things that He does. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t, anyway. I hope he doesn’t abhor learning and growth. That wouldn’t make much sense to me.

And so far as I understand things, He works through natural laws Himself, doesn’t He? So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to try to be more like Him by understanding everything we can about what He has given us.

And by the way, religion is NOT science. I love the various creation stories in the Bible. But they are not science. They corroborate and support science, or rather, science corroborates and supports them, but they are religious texts, not scientific arguments. Religious texts, so far as I understand, are made to try to communicate to people spiritual ideas. They take real events (though some would argue with me on that one) and attempt to portray the spiritual importance of those events.

If the creation story in the Bible is to be taught in schools, it should be taught in religion classes, as it is an attempt to explain the miracle of creation to anyone who reads the book. It’s kind of like a CD of the Messiah – what a beautiful piece of work! Anyone can listen to it and appreciate it. That is the final product. But if you want to scientifically analyze it, you’ll find wavelengths, chords, overtones, and all kinds of things… you could do all kinds of analyses with the numbers you could generate from that one work of music alone. But the analyses and the science behind them are NOT the music.

The creation story and evolution are two sides of the same coin. There is no inherent conflict. Who decided there was? Whoever it was, they did a good job. All they had to do was stand up on their soapbox and say “Evolutionists Say There Is No God They Are Evil” and voila, evolution is evil. Now, that’s power for you. It’s also a lie. I believe very strongly in God, and I don’t think that trying to figure out how things happen will diminish my faith. That would be sad, now, wouldn’t it?

Okay, I’m not really done, but what can I do. That’s how I feel. I wish we could all just get along. And by the way, if you happen to not believe in God at all, I’m fine with that, too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Artist's Hour, with puke

India is getting closer and closer. I’ve sent off my application for a visa, and this week I also sent off TM’s application for a PIO card (Person of Indian Origin card, so she won’t need a visa for about 5 years). I still need to find an apartment.

Yesterday I took some time for an Artist’s Hour, as my Aunt calls it. She says that if I don’t get creativity time, I’ll struggle interminably through my PhD. So yesterday I went to visit one of My husband’s friends who has a huge house and a huge yard to go with it. He wants to change it over to natives, and is doing a wonderful job, but is intimidated by the size of his lot. I told him that the first thing we need to do it map out his property and get a paper design going. So I’m going to the library sometime this week to find out how to get a plot map. I also need to figure out how to map out the huge oaks he has on his property. Then we’ll draw the ideal plan to our hearts’ content. Wheee!

It was a lot of fun, and I feel rejuvenated, except that TM puked all over his nice wood floor and her own clothes to boot. I can’t wait to hear what the gastroenterologist says. She puked again last night, poor kid. I never thought I could be so immune to puke. It’s getting quite interesting, actually.

I got comments back from my coauthors on our methods paper. Hopefully we’ll get it sent out again this week to the publishers. And this week I also have to run STRUCTURE (genetic analysis program) on my former undergraduate’s data. Gotta get her stuff moving.

Oh, did I tell you? I sold the Toyota Matrix! I went from $8200 to $7500 just to get it sold, but it’s gone! Now we can pay off the Hyundai Elantra and start buying a car in India. My husband will be pleased.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Prepping for move to India

The holidays have gone, and my husband just left to go back to India. His job is so time-consuming that we didn’t get much of his time while he was here. Still, it was wonderful to be able to say, “Keep an ear out for TM in case she wakes up while I run to the post office.” Single parenting is hard. And now it’s back to single parenting again. But at least I get to sleep in a bed! I’ve been sleeping half on TM’s twin bed, half on three filing boxes sandwiched between her bed and the full bed my husband used while he was here. Now it’s mine, all mine! Sleep, here we come!

My methods paper has been provisionally accepted, hooray! We just have to make various changes, and we’re in. And the former undergraduate’s data is coming along well – I’ve almost finished going through it with a fine tooth comb. After I re-run all the analyses, I’ll be able to re-write the results and discussion sections of her honor’s thesis, and send it off for publication! I simply have to get that done before going to India.

The grant agency for the grant that funded my research asked us to present at the next ESA meeting… so we will. Of course, I plan on being in India, but I’m optimistic. Heh heh heh. That’s a long shot… I mean, who will watch TM while I’m gone? Her grandma? Maybe. I really don’t know. That’ll take some faith and prayers to pull off. And now I have to get as much data analysis done before Feb 7th that I can, since I’m planning on dashing up to Oregon for a couple days to have a committee meeting with my dissertation committee. Yoikes, as my sister would say.

Meanwhile, there’s the stress of moving to India. My brain is having real trouble wrapping itself around everything we have to do. I need to sell both our cars, but I’m not on the title for one of them, so I have to try to put myself on the title. I got my husband to sign a form before he left this time, so hopefully it’ll be enough to change the title, and hopefully it’ll happen fast enough for me to sell it without too much loss before we go. And taxes? What happens when you sell cars? Frustrating that we have to pay taxes when we already paid taxes on the money we spent to buy them in the first place. Oh well.

So. Sell cars. Get visas. I just sent off TM’s visa application, and it’ll take about a month if all goes well, ‘cause I applied for a PIO card that will let her come and go without a visa since her dad’s Indian. My own visa should, hopefully, be coming back any day now.

Need to find a house in India. Looking for something in North Bangalore, near the new airport, since my husband travels a lot. That puts me in the LDS church 2nd branch in Bangalore. Maybe they can help us find a house in the area, who knows. We also need to ship all our stuff to India. Where? When? It’ll take about 2 months to ship, and I’d like to be able to move into a house of our own as soon as possible.

Cars. Visas. House. Shipping. Oh, immunizations! TM and I have to get typhoid immunizations and whatever else they recommend. Sigh. And I don’t have a doctor in this area yet, and it’d probably take a month to get in to see a new doctor, and do I have a month? I don’t know. This is what happens when you move every single year. Besides the fact that I tend to put off going to the doctor.

Cars. Visas. House. Shipping. Immunizations. I think that’s it. Of course, then there’s getting set up in India once we get there – how long will it take to get high speed internet? To find a good daycare (play school)? Oh, those muscles in my right shoulder blade are scrunching together, tying knots in each other… I must find a way to relax.

My aunt has been going to AA meetings for maybe 20 years now, and has a lot of good advice about giving problems to God. I’m trying to do that, by letting Him take care of all the things that I really don’t have control over. But as you can tell, it’s kinda hard sometimes. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it…?

So I’ll just keep trucking along. I’ll get that paper out and go to India and try to find enough help that I can come back in August for the meetings, and be a productive PhD student. It’ll work out, with any luck. Si Dios Quiere, as I heard so often in Spain while on my mission.

Ttfn (Ta Ta For Now)