Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sibling rivalry

Saturday morning in our household. F1-3 says she doesn't want to eat her porridge. But the twinkle in her eyes tells me she's just teasing me, to see how far she can push me.

makita: F1-3, do you want another spoonful of porridge?
F1-3: Noooooo!!
makita: Are you sure?
F1-3: Noooooo!! (She means "yes" but "no" is one of her favorite words right now)
makita: Ok, never mind, mama is going to take it away if you don't want it.
(Mama starts to walk away with the bowl of porridge)
F1-3: No mama! Eden!! (Eden means "eat")

Two bites later she rejects the porridge again.
makita: F1-3, are you done?
F1-3: Yeah!!
makita: Ok, well I guess I'll just give it to F1-2 then. I'm sure he would love to have some more.
F1-3: Nooooo!!
And she proceeds to empty the entire bowl without further struggle.

1-0 for makita (thanks to sibling rivalry)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


If you cannot handle whining, this would be a great place to stop reading this post. I had my first PhD committee meeting in over a year, and I've never been more depressed or filled with self-doubt than right now.

Having already failed to finish one PhD program, I would have liked a little more smooth sailing this time. It seems that I simply cannot satisfy any or all of my committee members. My project has both applied and molecular aspects to it, hence I have faculty members from both ends of the spectrum on my committee. The "applied" faculty members think I'm doing way too much molecular work, while the "molecular" committee members think I'm not going into enough molecular depth.

It doesn't help that I had to move over to a slightly different course, because a huge part of the project was simply not working. At least one committee member is really upset about that change. It might have helped if he had been present at the last committee meeting, when I already mentioned the problems I was having with that part. I'm repeating the experiments as we speak, changing some of the strategies, but frankly I'm not optimistic, and it appears that this particular individual wants to me to approach it from several more angles before I move on.

In my point of view, however, my veering off isn't all that far-fetched, and I simply don't seem the points of going it over and over and over again, if I've pretty exhaustively shown the results are negative. In about 2 weeks I'll have the results of my latest efforts, and if they're still negative I would like to say I'm through with that.

It doesn't help matters that my committee is going to start sending over written qualifying exams in the next few weeks. Yuck! Did I say yuck? I meant yuck-a-dee-yuck-a-dee-yuck-yuck-yuck!!! Since I've already been through that torture once, I really am not looking forward to do it again, even if the field is different. I understand I have to, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, and I'm not.

On the bright, there is one, there is always one - and I will bend over backwards to find the bright side of any situation I'm in- is that my professor is really supportive. He's been mad at me a few times, actually recently he was royally pissed at and disappointed in me, but in there he was behind me 100% Thanks boss, you have no idea how much that is appreciated. What a difference from my previous adviser!

He was telling me that one of the other members (who provides part of my funding, and therefore has to stay on the committee) is really pissed at him, and that he expected this person to take it out on me. Lovely, just lovely... But then again, if you don't get along with my adviser, there is something horribly wrong with you. He is one very cool dude. So, I say this other committee member is being unreasonable.

Ok, I feel better for having written this long complaint here. Back to the lab, back to the research. I have to write a 2-page project report and submit it by next week. I'll have to start on that tonight. Wish me luck, I need it. Now let's hope the kids stay healthy.

The source of the image in this post is The National Center for Atmospheric Research & the UCAR Office of Programs, and according to the statement on their website, I, the User, am "granted the right to use this Site for any non-profit, training, research, or educational purpose whatsoever -- and not for any direct or indirect commercial purpose or advantage -- without any fee or cost"

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

I grew up in a tropical third world country. Most of the country is covered in pristine rainforest. Sadly, ever increasing areas are being logged or destroyed by mining. It is sad. For a couple of years I left the capital and moved to the rainforest. It really brought the rainforest to life for me, in ways short visits never had before that time.

In the tropics plants and animals (especially insects) are a normal part of daily life, but the diversity in the rainforest is truly astonishing. On a field trip on day I saw the most amazing caterpillar. That is, I think it was a caterpillar, since it's main body was long and narrow. However, it was unlike any caterpillar I had ever seen before. It had huge colorful ornamentations, spikes sticking out from all over it's body. I must have stood there watching it for the longest time, not wanting to take my eyes off of it. Where is the damn camera when you need it anyway?

Another time a black panther (or jaguar) crossed the dirt road right in front of me. Amazing, the large glistening body, the muscles in his legs as he ran, the sparkle in his eyes. I'll never forget the sight.

Snakes are not uncommon in the capital, but in the rainforest you run across one virtually every day. Since I don't know how to distinguish most of them, I've always kept a polite distance from them. Crocodiles were frequently sunning themselves on the bank of the river where I lived.

And then one day I awoke to the sound of heavy machinery. Across the river trees were falling one by one, and a few weeks later the river bank was barren. It tore at my heartstrings. Isn't there anything anyone can do to stop this?

Many organizations worldwide condemn large scale logging in tropical rainforests. Understandable, but often demands are rather unreasonable. Logging and mining are responsible for a substantial part of the gross domestic product of nations that are struggling to keep their heads above water in the modern world. As developing countries we don't really want to cut down the entire forest, it simply helps to diversify our economies. Often poor countries perpetuate their poverty because their economies are not diversified enough to grow. Dependency on one or two major export products can be devastating if the market for one breaks down. Many people living in rich countries really have no idea what it is like to live as an underdog in an underdeveloped country. It is a constant struggly to prevent yourself from drowning in the maelstrom that is todays world economy.

This post is in memory of my father. He opposed the ban on imports of tropical hardwood from countries with tropical rainforests. He argued that if developed countries no longer import hardwood, it would greatly decrease the value of each tree. There would be no financial incentive for us to keep our rainforest as intact as possible.

The solution, in his opinion, is to encourage developing countries to maintain their rainforests by giving incentives for logging in a responsible manner (which is possible). Ideas he had were incentives for a minimum trunk size before logging, so that the trees had had plenty of opportunity to propagate. An adoption program, which would allow people to adopt trees, or sections of the rainforest in return for sustainable management. He argued that if hardwood has no value for us, we would ultimately have no choice but to cut down the rainforest to allow more lucrative ways to use the forest. The bottom line is, it is all a question of economics.

Responsible programs have been developed and are in use in tropical rainforests all over the world. Poor countries need financial incentives to implement these programs.

In loving memory of EAB (November 1944- June 2007)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

5 gifts

I'm in. I'll send out a gift to the first five bloggers to comment here. It'll be interesting to see if I get actually 5. That'll be a record.

By the end of the calendar year, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.

From ScienceWoman.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

Shorter shopping list

Big step this weekend! It looks like I may not be adding diapers to my shopping list quite as frequently anymore. Saturday morning 5 am, F1-3 woke up and was calling insistently for me, and she kept on saying "baddy." Not knowing what the heck she was talking about, I let her lead me to ...the bathroom. And indeed, after successful use of the bathroom, I put regular underwear on her, and she stayed dry virtually the entire weekend, with a couple of mishaps, more a timing problem than anything else. I did put diapers on her for her naps and at night, but I think the nap diapers are going to disappear soon, since they are often dry afterwards. She went in underwear to daycare today, I'm hoping the success will extend to daycare. Congratulations F1-3, great job!!

P.S. "Baddy" obviously means "potty." How could I not have picked up on that?