Sunday, July 25, 2010

new blog:

Wagon wheels! Thank you to some of my favorite musicians for the name idea.

DONE (mostly)

I still can't believe it, but of course I can, that I submitted my dissertation! I was very lucky to find a friend at the Evolution meetings who lives in Vancouver and has a child TM's age. She pointed out a day camp program to me, and TM has been going there for 3hrs/day. That gave me enough time to finish edits on the dissertation.

While wondering what I should do with the rest of my life, I ran into a webpage by a researcher who does green roofs, and I was hooked. Green roofs -- that's my next adventure. I don't know how I'll work it into my life yet, be it a postdoc or consulting or internships or what, but green roofs it is. It's amazing that I don't have to constantly think about my research, and about which hoops I have to jump through next. Do I have all my paperwork in? Okay, I take it back -- there's still paperwork out there. 'Till I get the hot little paper in my hot little hands, there will be a bit of possibility that I'll have to put out some fires. BUT…I'm freeeee!!!

I asked my advisor if I could get him anything, and he said "publish those papers." So yup, of course, I'll finish up those two papers and work hard to get them published. But I have my degree! Thank God, really, 'cause without Him I really don't think it would've worked. I started in Oregon with Q, then Q finished his postdoc and went to business school, then he got an internship in Maryland, so off he went and I stayed in OR. After a year of that, I got pregnant with TM and 3mo before she was due, we packed most of what we owned into a storage unit and drove me across the country. TM and I lived in MD for about year, then Q finished his internships (yes, he got another internship while in MD) and got a job in California. We lived with my parents for awhile, then my aunt said we could stay with her, and we ended up staying there until we'd spend about a year in CA, if I'm remembering right. In CA I always managed to find someone through friends, family, and recommendations from family to help me with TM while I worked. Then the India opportunity came along and we jumped at it, and TM and I were there 2 years. TM had a great school while we were there, giving me time to work work work. Then the Vancouver BC chance came along, and we were excited about that, so off we went, and I kept working away. Spend 2mo with my parents, finishing the dissertation, while TM played with her cousins, yay mom! Then moved to BC, took a couple trips to Portland to defend and go to the Evolution meetings, then found a day camp for Maya, finished the dissertation, and voila! Three countries later, finished! So yes, thank God. I've been working towards this thing ever since I graduated with my BS. 10 years. Done! (mostly)!

I think I'll close this blog now. I may end up doing a postdoc or work in the community or something, but whatever I do, it won't be quite the long haul I had for my PhD. So I'll call my new blog something to do with life in general :). Good-bye "PhD dissertation With Kid", it's been amazing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Evolution 2010

TM and I are at the Evolution meetings in Portland, OR. It's been a long time since I was with such a large group of evolutionary scientists! The talks are quite fun, and the posters are engaging. Since I love the topic of evolution in general, I can be pretty certain of liking something about almost any talk I could see here. Maybe someday if I get involved more in the education side of evolution, I'll make a poster or give a talk on "God and Evolution". Would you believe that there's a convention in the same building at the same time by the Oregon Christian Home Education group? Wonderful! If only we could get the two groups together to make sure we all understood that we don't have anything to argue about. Ah well.

TM went to the childcare facilities at the conference for a few hours this morning, and she loved it. It's wonderful when a conference of professionals helps out people with children. Thanks to my advisor for making sure childcare made it into the program :). TM and I will go to church tomorrow, then hit the meetings with a vengeance on Monday and Tuesday, and head back to Vancouver on Wednesday.

Oh, I forgot to talk about the train ride. It was beautiful, of course, and much easier than the airplane. At least on the train there aren't any seatbelts, and we could get up and walk around if we wanted. I did end up plugging in TM's DVD player, I'm sad to admit, but I was so dead tired. TM had stayed with Q during my last Portland trip, which meant her schedule changed from Mom's schedule (early to bed early to rise) to dad's schedule (late to bed…). She hadn't adjusted to mom's schedule before we had to get up at 5am to catch the train, so she was super tired on the trip, and so was I. Now I think we're back on the same schedule, yay, so it's much better. And we won't have to greet the sunrise to catch the train back, hooray.

I meant to visit some friends while I was here, but I'm just not on the ball, and I fear that none of that will happen. I'll just have to send apologies galore and hope people forgive me for staying downtown. If I had a car, I wouldn't have any excuse at all, would I?

Now I'd better get back to researching Life After My PhD. I'm looking for what to do next, and the meetings are a good place to get ideas. I already met a lady who's doing a long-distance postdoc from home, and she lives near me and has a kid TM's age! Of course we met at the childcare place. She had some great tips to help me get settled in Vancouver, hooray! Anyway, more next time...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moving to Vancouver, BC

On Saturday, TM and I go up to Vancouver, BC! We’ve been staying with my parents in Newberry Springs, CA for the last 2.5 months. It’s been nice being at home, but it’ll also be nice to have our own space again. Not that we don’t have our own space here… Mom and Dad let TM and me stay in the trailer. It’s lovely having our own little space here. But there’s no shower or toilet, and only one bed. At night when I get up and simply have to use the toilet, I just use a bucket and clean it out in the garage bathroom in the morning. It’s okay, but less than ideal. And I miss my books! And TM misses her ocean bed, that Grandma painted for her. We won’t get our furniture for another week after TM and I move to Vancouver, but that’s okay. We’ll probably stay with Q for a couple days in the apartment his work is letting him use, but after that I think TM and I (and the cat) will vagabond in the furniture-less basement apartment for awhile.

The apartment is great – it’s a small, basement apartment, probably around 900sqft. How are we going to fit all our stuff from our 1700sqft Bangalore apartment? We won’t. We’re renting a storage unit. And the apartment is super-expensive, about 3x what the India apartment was. Welcome back to the West ha ha ha. But I’m looking forward to it. We’re near the north shore of Vancouver, only a couple of blocks from the ocean, and a quick bus ride from UBC or the aquarium or the science museum, with shopping just around the corner. Woo hoo!

So far as the dissertation is concerned – it’s coming along nicely. There are about 30 sentences in the first chapter that still need references, but they’re in books that I don’t have access to down here. As soon as I get to Vancouver, I’m heading to the UBC library to hunt those books down. Hopefully I can get a library card and check them out long enough to get those refs. Otherwise, I’ll beg Q to watch TM for a little while, and I’ll take my laptop to the library. The last chapter is the only one that hasn’t been published, so it’s still going through review with various people. Today my lab is reading it, and hopefully they’ll have some good comments. Thanks to my older sister, writing this chapter was easier in some ways than the previous chapters – she strongly suggested outlining it before writing it. I word-vomited for about 15 pages, then outlined it, then rewrote it, and it’s hanging together pretty well, I’m glad to say! I hope to have a draft for my committee by the first week of June. So exciting!

The Mojave Desert is wonderful. Mom and I go out to see the flowers now and then, and we’ve seen the most beautiful plants! We found indigo bush, one of my all-time favorites, and my eyes are finally learning to distinguish among burr-sage and saltbush. There’s been brown-eyed primroses, 5-spots, desert lily, some adorable little oh what’s the name… why can I think of the names when I’m not outside and not when I’m on the computer? Sigh. Out with the book. Let’s see. Cleomella obtusifolia, Amsinckia tessellata, Garaea canescens, Encelia farinosa & E. frutescens, Datura wrightii, Eriogonum’s galore, Plantago things, Oenothera’s, Dithyrea californica, Heliotropium curassavicum, Pectocarya’s, Cryptantha’s, Monoptilon bellidiforme or bellioides (this one was wonderful!!), chicory, desert marigold, a vine milkweed, a shrub that had green sticky bell-like flowers that I have no idea what it is… Oh my, it’s been SO much fun!!! Oh, the pincushions, and Mojave Aster and desert poppy, and OH a little parasitic Pholisma!!! Amazing!! Looked like a purple-flowered mushroom! Chia, Phacelia’s, lupins… Anyway, yes, it’s been awesome.

So. Two days left. Tomorrow Dad does the laundry, then I’ll pack up TM and my stuff, and Sat morn we’ll be off to the airport. Three suitcases and a cat and 2 carryons… I’m curious to see how we’ll manage all this, and how we’ll pack everything back into the suitcases… and we don’t have good winter clothes, so I hope we don’t absolutely freeze to death… heh heh.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Moving Back to North America

My committee members have agreed on a date for a dissertation defense! At least, it looks that way at the moment. It may well change, since it’s for the end of June, which is a long way away. But how exciting! A dissertation defense date! Scary. I’m guessing that I’m halfway through my last chapter, what with the amount of rewriting I usually have to do. Not bad, eh? And I found an online bookstore that gives educational pricing of software, so I was able to buy the bibliography software that I really really really need.

Yesterday I sent off the Introduction of my latest manuscript to my sister and to a couple friends for editing. It’s time to call in the troops to help me finish this insanity. Hooray! As for what to do when I’m done, I think I’ll talk to some profs at UBC about possible projects, postdoc or other something. Hopefully I’ll find something I can do part-time that’s fun. First priority, though, is getting the dissertation finalized, which will take some time after the defense, I imagine. And taking care of TM – we have to find a school and all that. Then there’s another paper from some of our ex-postdoc’s data that needs to be written. So I probably have enough work to last me for another year or so before I start getting really antsy. And then there’s a really old dataset from my BS that could be written up…

TM and I are ensconced in the Mojave desert, in my parents’ old trailer, where they lived while they were building their desert house. The heating works, thank goodness, and the water pump also works, hooray. It also has lights, and a stove and microwave if I wanted, which I don’t, since we eat in the house. It’s great to have a quiet place to work in the morning while waiting for TM to wake up, and to retire to in the evening when it’s TM’s bedtime. And spring in the desert is fun – the plants are starting to wake up. Of course the little tufty grass, whatever it is, has already come up, and I hate it, since I assume it’s not native and it looks like a fire hazard (I could be wrong). I look forward to seeing more natives peeping up soon.

Kit is doing well. It took him about a week to start eating regularly, and 2wks to start eating normally. Part of the trouble was finding a cat litter he liked. Now he happily guards the trailer during the day, when we’re at the house, and he alternately sleeps and jumps on our pillows during the night.

The movers are in India, packing up our apt. Q and his mom are managing that horrifying mess, and aren’t I simply thrilled that I’m not there! Yes indeed. I’m thrilled. Since TM’s twin cousin comes over every day (same age), they both play and keep each other occupied while I wrestle with data and writing. If I didn’t have TM’s cousin, I don’t know what I’d do. Actually, yes I do, I would be playing with and entertaining a 4-yr old all day instead of working half of that time. Thank heaven for many blessings.

Oh – I forgot – my little AT&T GoPhone won’t call India. Lucky me. I feel really bad for not keeping in touch with my friends over there! I’m going to make an extra effort to try to set up skype so I can at least call them (no video, long latency times with our internet connection here). If I weren’t so busy with work and TM and family, I’d really miss them a lot.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

moving to Canada via LA

March 3, 2010, and it’s time to really start packing. I’m taking TM and KitKat to LA to stay with my folks while Q packs and moves our stuff from Bangalore to Canada. Of course we have packers, thank goodness, he doesn’t actually have to pack. But it’ll be a lot easier without little people around. It’ll be fun to stay with the folks for awhile. Hopefully only a few weeks, ‘cause TM and I will really be missing Q. It’s gonna be really cold for KitKat… I hope he does okay. He’ll just have to snuggle, I guess. Not really a snuggle-able cat, actually kinda prickly, but hey.

We had to get all kinds of papers for KitKat – thank goodness the movers handled most of it. Bought a kennel that’s big enough to include a little box with some cat litter, and we’ll just check him in as baggage on our flights. Going through Singapore. Got the last load of laundry done yesterday…today I’ll pack. TM’s still going to school, ‘cause what else would she do while Mommy’s slightly insane? Fingers are crossed for an easy trip. I signed TM up for child’s meals, and hopefully she likes them. But I asked for no dairy… we’ll see how that goes. If she gets some sausages, she’ll probably be thrilled.

No dairy – I mentioned that in my last email… no dairy and no soy for TM. She hasn’t needed medication for asthma since I stopped. It’s been 6 weeks – next week will make a record for time-without-bronchodilators! I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but it seems promising. It’s wonderful to have a kid who isn’t sick one out of four weeks. It may be closely related to reflux... on that assumption, I tried her with feta cheese and cream cheese, and she doesn’t complain of stomach ache. Usually if she eats cheese or milk (like in our neighbor’s lasagna the other day), she soon complains of a stomach ache. The lasagna was wonderful, by the way. Anyway, cream cheese (ridiculously expensive here) and feta cheese (also ridiculous) don’t seem to affect her. Nice. Still, she doesn’t get enough calcium in her diet, and I keep forgetting to give her tums. So I’m looking forward to living in the land of almond milk and rice milk and calcium-supplemented orange juice (which of course if it’s reflux, she can’t drink much, but some seems okay).

As for work, ha ha ha, one of my committee memebers pointed out that FST is very closely related to diversity, and it’s confounding my results. So now I’m calculating a new similarity-type index, that’s not so confounded by diversity. The problem is, though the authors have a web interface, they won’t batch-produce a population pairwise comparison matrix. So I’ve been plugging in 2 pops at a time. I have about 300 comparisons to do, and it’s taking a loooong time. Been getting up around 5-6am and doing some work prior to the moving madness that happens in daytime.

Speaking of moving madness again, oh yeesh, I promised my neighbor to show her basic sewing. Yikes. We need to make a bag and a simple cape. Oh dear. Hopefully we can get that done today! But I have to go to the doctor, too… oh bother. Well, I’ll hope.

Oh – I taught a Young Women’s lesson on Sunday, and it was really funny. We were supposed to be discussing being peacemakers, and getting a discussion going in that class can be a little difficult. So I put down the manual and said that we were going to learn how to punch. Heh heh heh. So I spent some time showing them a good punch and having some of them practice, and also showed them a single hand hold from jiu-jitsu. So much fun. Ha ha ha. During a peacemaker class. Ha ha ha. Oops. Well, I told them that if they really understood how they were hurting someone, they wouldn’t do it. Because people are basically compassionate. At least, that was my premise. Heh.

I think I’ll go get some of those analyses done before TM gets up. Or maybe I’ll start some bread in the breadmaker.

Friday, January 15, 2010

paper published!

After years and years of work and rewrites, finally I got a manuscript pushed through the scientific community's referee system! Molecular Ecology is the journal. Hooray! One more paper to go. It's SO much work, my goodness. But we're trying to get my chapters published first, and into the dissertation second...a good goal, but very difficult for me.

Other updates -- TM's still often sick, so I'm trying the 'get-rid-of-dairy' idea. We'll see if it helps. Sigh. She's had coughing attacks and puking the last 4 nights, so I'm low on sleep and rather depressed. But she's sleeping in this morning (so far) so I have high hopes for a productive morning. I did some job searching but didn't do more than try to update my profile at the BYU alumni website. Oh well.

There was an awesome solar eclipse yesterday! Maximum coverage was 84%. Absolutely awesome.

Hopefully will have more updates later. There's another move pending in our future -- more details as it solidifies. Same company (Q's job), different country.