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!