Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas is almost here!!!

It’s almost Christmas! I absolutely love this holiday! I have two Christmas music tapes (yes, tapes) that I put on in the morning sometimes. So much fun! I’ve been away from home so often that I usually wonder whether Christmas will actually feel like Christmas. For some reason, having a daughter makes all the difference. Especially having a daughter who can talk and laugh and make funny little toddler jokes and who loves Christmas trees as much as I do. Here in India we’re away from the commercialization of it, which is lovely, since I get to think about Jesus and what role he plays in my life (or should play) a little more easily.

Whenever I post something, I have to include a work update because I always have this invisible advisor professor looking over my shoulder who I have to … appease. Right now he’s telling me that writing a blog update is NOT cleaning data, but that maybe he’ll let it pass this time. But I’ll just mention – I’m going through some outcrossing data where the postdoc in our lab pretty much did the whole thing. I collected the families (seeds), but he grew them up (randomly) and collected leaves (randomly) and isolated DNA (in randomized 96-well plates) and ran the samples on ABI. It’s such a good idea to randomize your samples! I didn’t do that for my Oregon-wide stuff, and I wish I had. That way if one plate is contaminated or if there’s a problem with a run, it’s a little easier to find. I think.

One thing I didn’t emphasize when I was in the lab was the importance of every sample and every analysis run of that sample having a unique and descriptive name. (!!!) Learn from my mistakes, oh all ye people, and give all analyses of your samples unique and descriptive names. (!!!)

I think that I’ll have enough data to put together a migration paper about false brome that includes outcrossing, which could potentially capture rare pollen migration rates. Maybe. That’s probably going to far, but we can always hope. My most polymorphic locus had trouble in these datasets, which is a bummer, but I think I have enough data to put something together. But I have to make sure to go through all the data (some 12000 lines of data) and make sure the ‘rare alleles’ are really rare and not some run anomaly, as some have turned out to be. I sure hope my committee isn’t too antagonistic when I defend. It’d be sad to go through all this and not get my degree. I’ll stop by Oregon when I go home in Feb/Mar and go around to talk to them all. Hopefully they’ll not be antagonistic. Crossed fingers. I’m definitely a non-traditional student at this point.

Back to non-data things; I love Christmas! We erected our tiny Walmart tree in our living room, and it’s adorable. I’m getting quite used to having a small, fake tree – it has its advantages ☺. Our nativity scene is a beautiful sculpture made for me by my little sister, of Joseph with his arm around Mary who is cradling Jesus. We have a very small carved elephant looking on, and an amethyst tree providing some distant shade for the group.

It’s still hard for me to imagine having a childhood where religion didn’t mean that people thought their neighbors were going to hell, or that they thought you were going to hell, or else thought that you were a real lunatic. Okay, so I didn’t really know my neighbors, so I’m exaggerating. At any rate, religion in India generally means something a lot less…drastic. Probably because Hinduism fundamentally is a conglomerate of a bunch of naturalistic traditions, and is a lot more blatantly accepting of other religions than Christianity traditionally is.

Q (my husband) had trouble in Mormon Land, since for the first time in his life, he was labeled as unspiritual, simply because he wasn’t Mormon. That affected his view of things for a while, I’d say, but I think he’s reverting back to his pre-Utah state of really not worrying about what other people are doing. He’s so focused on his own spiritual studies that he really doesn’t have time to worry about the state of other people or what they think of him. He’s such a lovely fellow.

OH, How Could I Forget! I have a piano! A digital Korg sp-350, I think. It’s lovely! It’s not a keyboard at all, so the extras are minimal, but its piano sound is passable and its polyphony is alright and the action is wonderful. I did max out the polyphony playing some Debussy trills, but I’m okay with that. It’s SO nice to be able to play piano again! I didn’t realize how much I depended on it to sooth my ruffled feathers when I was angry, or to console me when I was sad. Piano is the one honest communicator, for me. It’s the one place where I can express an emotion as sincerely as I possibly can. Talking to people I’m always self-conscious or nervous. Playing piano I feel like I can completely bare my soul. It’s SO therapeutic!!!!!

Okay, the Professor is starting to send meaningful glances to the clock. I’d better get some work done.