Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two more chapters to go

It’s early Sunday morning and I’m not supposed to work today. But that’s really hard when I didn’t work yesterday. I admit that I had a few hours of potential work time, but I used them to clean the house, organize TM’s toys, and read some of HP Order of the Phoenix again. So now I’m wishing I had written something. Oh well.

The writing was going well until I decided the chapter was simply boring. Then I wanted to include some phenotypic data. But…after much analyses, it appears that the phenotypic data will stand very well on its own. So now it’s back to genotypic data on its own. I think I’ll build it around bottlenecks, admixture, and dispersal patterns. I forget what the last incarnation was, but hopefully I can hit it again hard tomorrow. It gets frustrating when it takes so long to write a paper! I don’t want this one to take so long. I remember one of my MS advisors could write a paper in a weekend. Well, she has a lot more practice than I do, I guess. Still, it’s frustrating. I just want to finish this dumb thing!

TM grabbed the stove burner a couple weeks ago… her thumb was one big blister and she cried for about 8hrs straight, despite the constant ice bath. Now you can’t even tell it was there! Kids sure heal fast.

I’m waiting to hear back from reviewers about my last manuscript. Fingers are crossed. I really don’t want to do major revisions again, but with my luck, that’s what it’ll be. No, no, positive thinking! It’ll be fine! Sometimes I’m a bit of a depressionist.

The last two nights I gave up putting TM to sleep and just went to sleep myself. I don’t know when she finally went to bed…but now she has a cough and is complaining of being sick, which probably means she’s sick. Do I brave the Bangalore traffic today for church? Do I just go for the first hour? What are the chances she’ll throw up in church? I guess I’ll have to wait ‘till she gets up to know. At least she’s still sleeping (6:40am), ‘cause she certainly needs it, especially if she’s sick. Not the best time for me to give up on getting her in bed, but I thought it was better to give up than to let my blood pressure keep rising, which is what happens…Hey, she probably got to sleep at the same time she would’ve if I were fighting with her the whole time, yesno?

We’re having some people over for dinner today. I hope we have enough food for them. And I hope they don’t expect wine or anything, ‘cause that’s probably a let-down for most people when they come here (we don’t ever have any). And the coffee/tea is a problem for most people, too, since we don’t know how to make it, though I keep a stock for my mother-in-law when she comes to visit. Ouch. Well, we’ll figure it out.

The house is a mess, of course, which is what happens after a day of being at home with a 3-yr old. But today’s Sunday and it’s our cleaning lady’s day off, so hopefully Q will step in and help out. If not, hey, I don’t mind having people see the house in its natural state. No major skin off my back. I hope.

I tried running SAS and after about 20 minutes, gave up. I’m used to SPSS, and SAS is rather different. Luckily, my advisor picked up the pieces and ran the analyses for me. Yay! He’s great. It was his fault that now, I’m considering writing 2 pprs instead of 1. But I stink at writing, and it takes me forever, so I’m not really happy about that. Oh well. What can ya do.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Manuscript drama, TM's hair, Mormon friends leaving

I haven’t updated in SO long!

Summarizing my paper timeline: in Nov 2008, I submitted to Molecular Ecology. In Feb 2009 they told me they didn’t want to see it again, thank you very much. I spend the next 4 months playing with TM during summer school and occasionally working on rewriting the paper, while also working on analyses for my current paper. TM’s been in school since June 1st, and I finally got another draft finished. It really looked like it should still go to Molecular Ecology, so after talking to my committee and advisor, I begged the editor to reconsider our manuscript. The editor said okay! So I just resubmitted the whole shebang again. It’s quite a bit different than the original, so I don’t mind calling it a new manuscript. Here’s hoping!

There are problems with me graduating – they want me to sign up for a credit every single term, which is impossible, and I haven’t done it. I don’t think it was a requirement before. And it seems I never turned in my form for my prospectus defense. And I didn’t take any 603 credits, only 601 (they’re the same in practice, but not on paper). My amazing advisor is trying to fix it. It would be SO sad not to finish after ALLLLLLLL this work!!! And it’s not just physical work, it’s the mental constantly-thinking-of-school that wears you down! What analysis to do next, what writing needs to be done, etc etc etc. I sure hope he can pull enough strings to get me finished.

After looking and looking and looking at the data I have left, I think it should go into 2 more papers. I thought I could squish them into one, but it won’t work. So I’ll just do the genetic analyses right now, get it written up ASAP (Dec would be a good target), then write up the outcrossing/ greenhouse experiment as another paper. Sigh. My advisor wants me to defend in June. I could do that. I was hoping for December, but I can go with what he says, that’s not a problem. He’s one of those people who’s generally right, anyway.

I need to update my website, too – it’s been years and years since I did that. Sigh. How embarrassing. I don’t like it when people’s websites are out of date, and here I am, doing the same thing!

TM’s hair was long enough to go into nice cute ponytails, but she asked me to cut it off and I acquiesced. It gets so hot in the sun, and she sweats so easily, and she’s always pulling out her ponytails, that I figured she might as well go short-haired like the other girls in her class. She sure looks cute with short hair!

My Mormon friends are leaving! Sigh! There was one other Mormon family in our complex (WOW), and they’re moving back to the US. Such a nice family! The mom is half Panjabi and the dad is from Belgium. The 3 kids are 10+, and they’re the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I don’t often really miss people when they leave or when I leave, since I do it all the time, but I think I’ll actually miss them. Aside from the fact that they’ve been giving TM and me rides to church every Sunday, I actually like them LOL. The dad is a plant geneticist, and the mom did her MS with my same advisor at BYU! She also did a summer at Yellowstone, just like me (only she was playing clarinet in a chamber group), and does editing work sometimes. Such fun people!

I’m trying to fix my back, getting daily (!) massages. It costs me 250NRP for ½ hr, which is about $5/day at the current exchange rate (thank you, Mac widgets). I think my back’s getting better, but it would get better faster if I didn’t have so much sitting on the floor. Oh well. My masseuse also helps me with my Hindi, which is great! I try to practice with my English-speaking friends, but I think they tire of having to puzzle out what I’m saying in Hindi when we can speak quite well enough in English. Oh well, perseverance! I’d love to be able to speak nice Hindi.

Q works constantly. When he’s in town, we get to see him maybe 20min/day. His mom complains that she never sees him. Well, join the club! At least he enjoys his job, for the first time ever! Hooray! But oh, our taxes. We’re late, we’ll be paying penalties, I have to find out what the max amt was in our India bank accounts (not easy)… oh well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

MS rejection, feelings of imbecility, ubiquitous lead contamination

TM and I survived our trip to the US. Yay! We did quite well, really. Altogether, we went on 8 planes and took off or landed 20 times. Thank goodness TM’s older than she was. We went to CA and stayed with my parents for a week or so, then went to Oregon to see the professors on my committee, then back to CA, then home again. It was wonderful being home, I have to admit. But TM and I missed Q, and we missed the food here in India, of course. But we didn’t miss the traffic, the pollution… Anyway, it was a great trip. My committee members were all very supportive of me and how I’m doing on my PhD. Because I had TM with me and no-one to watch her while I hobnobbed, I simply set up lunch appointments with my profs, one each day. It worked quite well, really. We saw friends, experienced again the lovely Portland weather… and I tried to get TM to the Oregon Zoo, which I’d never been to before, but it was really really cold and by the time we’d seen the polar bears, TM was close to completely miserable, and we had to make a dash for the car. We consoled ourselves by going to a McDonald’s that had a play structure thing, where TM had a thrilling time.

That’s a short update, but what I really wanted to talk about happened when we came back. I’d picked up some lead testing kits in the US and brought them back with me (in addition to lots of other things that have been hard for me to find over here). After I recovered a little from the jet lag, and from the cold we’d caught in Oregon that persisted through the journey back to India, I tested the water coming from our water purifier. It was definitely positive for lead and pesticides. I was absolutely furious, ‘cause I had bought this purifier specifically because it claimed to remove lead. I’m still mad about it. I really need to contact those people. As soon as I could, I switched to bottled water. Though I only brought one lead test for water with me, I have some water tests for the aquarium that look at hardness and pH and stuff like that. The “purified” water is just about the same as our tap water. The bottled water has all the signatures of distilled water – very soft and acidic. So until Mom sends me more tests, we’re hoping it’s fine. Our poor fish – the tap water was up to pH 8.5 sometimes! No wonder they kept dying.
I also got some lead tests for surfaces, like paint and plastics. I tested TM’s play tea set, and yes, it was full of lead. Sigh. I let her play with it ‘cause she isn’t drinking out of it and isn’t eating it or chewing on it. But it’s sad.

I’m working on revising a manuscript that got rejected (yes, that one), and today, after realizing that I have to do a bunch of looking at isolation by distance tests in nonequilibrium systems like mine, I decided to take a break. What to do, I asked myself? Oh, hey, I’ll test for more lead. I got out the steel bowls that we eat out of, and… well, you guessed it, lead. Probably lots. Oh my. Heavy sigh.

It doesn’t take much to make me depressed sometimes. I got home from the US, was jetlagged and sick, then find out that our water has lead and pesticides and who knows what else. Then my mother-in-law, who was helping Q survive without me, accused my cook of stealing various and sundry containers. That made me frustrated at the cultural differences between how I grew up and how lots of people here grow up. Then I find lead in TM’s toys. Then today I find lead in our eating containers. How frustrating! We drink out of steel cups, too, and as they look exactly the same as our eating containers, I’m guessing they’re full of lead as well. Oh frustration.

So the next step is to take TM to the doctor and get her tested for lead. I’m going to call up her doc’s office and see whether or not they test for lead, and if they do, whether they have to take bottles of blood or if they can just do a pinprick. If it involves drawing blood from a vein, it’ll be a hard sell to get TM to go. But sometimes I wonder if her behavior isn’t affected by low levels of lead. Who’s to know. It could well be that a little lead won’t hurt ha ha but I don’t like it. OK, I just called her doc, and the guy who answered the phone (who may not have really understood my question) said they don't test for lead in children. I'll call the hospital now...Well, they do lead tests...but have to take the blood from a vein. I've already told TM that she might have to get
a blood test, and she was adamantly opposed. In the strongest terms. What to do.

So at the moment I’m depressed. I’m feeling stupid that there are so many loose ends in the paper that got rejected so badly, and I just realized today that the people who reviewed my paper were probably the people I suggested, which means that people I know or people my advisor knows didn’t like it. One person was sympathetic and helpful, and suggested I rewrite and resubmit, but the other 2 reviewers hated it. Sigh. I think I know who that reviewer was, sigh. Maybe I’ll downplay the isolation by distance results… I’ll have to figure out what my assignment tests are doing, though, so far as nonequilibrium genetics are concerned…

I’m also depressed that lead is so ubiquitous here…that there are so so so many problems here in India, and I need to finish my degree so I can think about doing something about such problems. Oh heavy sigh. I think I’ll sit down with Kitty Cat and read some detective novels. Escape!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Everything But

This sure has been an eventful month. Or period of several weeks or whatever you want to call it. TM was on vacation for 2wks during Christmas, so I got absolutely no work done. Q pulled off a Christmas letter in record time – though I’d already written a draft, I let him completely re-write it ‘cause he said he’d been thinking about what to write almost all year. It certainly has been an amazingly eventful year for him (and us). It’s wild to look back and see what’s changed. I feel as if I haven’t progressed much, since all I ever do is work on my degree.

Speaking of which… I’m still working on it. I haven’t heard back from Molecular Ecology about my latest paper, which is a good thing, I think. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m drudging through more data and finding more and more problems. But I must keep drudging.

Kit is Kute. He’s our new cat. Because we knew we couldn’t handle a dog, but I wanted something, and we thought it’d be really good for TM, we got a kitten. He’s an India Street Cat :D orange shorthair tabby. From friends of friends. Amazingly athletic, springing here and there, long and lithe. And Q has allergies, we think. So no bedroom-sleeping for Kit. Kit is short for Kitty Cat, the name TM gave him. He’s now 3mo old, and sleeping on the modem while I type. How he’ll manage with me being gone for 2wks sometime, I don’t know, but being a cat he’ll probably do fine. I just worry.

Two days ago I spilled the fish tank. I was trying to rearrange the living room so we’d have more room for kata or throwing practice or something like that, and as I pushed the bookshelf that the fishtank was on, the whole thing toppled like a couple dominos. Crash bang. That wasn’t a very fun Saturday. But I was happy that I saved most of the fish, and then Q wanted a new tank, which we picked up (with a stand this time) for $30. Cheap, eh? Yup.

I fired the cleaning lady and the driver. Now we have new ones that are more expensive but hopefully more reliable. That was tough. One doesn’t like to fire people. But what can we do? We didn’t like them. Sigh. And I feel funny talking about maids and drivers and things like that, but this is India, you know, and that’s just the way things are over here. One has maids and drivers. What to do.

TM has a nasty scratch on her cheeck (maybe 1.5cm x 1mm) from oopseedaisying into a bookshelf corner. I had to sit down and cry for 1.5 hrs after I got her to nap that day ‘cause I felt like such an awful mom. I’m glad I had Kit to hold while I cried. But it gave me an awful headache afterwards.

Oh – for Christmas dinner we had the chairman of Q’s office over, and his wife! Wow. Luckily Q’s mom gave us the china that she doesn’t use anymore, just in time for us to be able to lay a table. Not a complete table, but it was better (by leaps and bounds) than what we could’ve done before. Q cooked, which was lovely (I love his food) and I made a squash soup that really turned out well, after Q did the spices. He’s so good at that.

I need to get to the US. I’d LOVE to go NOW because I MISS shopping. But it’s so so so cold there right now that it’s not a good idea. So we’ll wait. We had a hard time deciding whether I’d leave TM here or take her with me, but we finally decided that I’d take her with me. That allows me to take time to see family, while if I went without her I’d simply have to run to Oregon and back without having time to visit. That’d be a bummer.

My advisor says that I shouldn’t worry about a timeline for my PhD – just keep trucking on it. Well, I still hope I can get it done this year. But I’ve been saying that for the last 3 years……..

The hinge on my laptop is broken. I hope it can stick it out ‘till I’m done with my degree – it has irreplaceable (for me) programs on it. Q’s new macbook laptop died, and I think he’s going to replace it with a PC. He never uses mac stuff anyway. I think macs are probably best for art, while for data management you’re pretty much stuck with a PC.

Ouch there goes my thumb again, getting stuck. It’s a sign. Time to sign off. I have so many things I wanted to do – send off my visa application, get TM a school bag, something else that has washed off my hand, and get a lid for the fish tank, but oh well that’s the way it goes. TM has a birthday party and that comes first.