Monday, December 18, 2006

Moving, New House, and blogger update

I have not written for too long. Much has happened:

we moved
Gas leak
Pipes froze
Chicago meetings
Decided to grow a beard
Argued with old apartment management and stormed out
Mouse under bathtub
Bones in Barn
Christmas is coming

we have not reconnected our internet at home and so we feel cut off from the digital world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fall Fun

The leaves are just about all down now, but before they were Emily and Aleah pushed them and piled them and ran in them. Winter keeps threatening to come and then it backs off. It gets cold enough to snow and then the winds change and then for a few days it is warm and sunny.

Aleah is sick today and threw up last night every hour on the hour. Today I stayed home with her during church. She was so tired that she actually asked to go to bed and immediately fell asleep when I put her down. Right now she is feeling good and asking for "anya, Oh wawo, me, up, Oh daddy, Fidge?" Which translated means I want some candy(anya). If someone moved a chair(wawo) up next to the fridge(Fidge) I could get some candy down."

Tomorrow I am going to the Crop Science Society meetings in Indianapolis. I hope that they will be useful for my work. I was hoping that Leila and they kids will go with me, but now Aleah is sick so they will stay home. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Our new house

As they say in Zaboomafoo, "We are going on an a big adventure and we don't know what's in store!" We are going to buy this farmhouse and a chunk of the farm. It is out in the middle of nowhere, but only 5 minutes from my work. We decided that we might want to try the farm life after we spent all of our Saturdays at Prophetstown state park, a living history farm north of Lafayette. So we are going to try it out for ourselves. The girls have been making a list of animals to get:

cat, to catch the mice, rats, moles, etc.

dog, to chase the cat, etc,

horse - actually may be a possibility, the Nefs, from church, have 11 horses and need somewhere to board a few,

chickens, of course,

goats, we are not so sure,

giraffes, elephants, hippos, all possible zoo animals.

Any suggestions? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sand Dunes in China

I was playing with google earth and found the sand dunes in the desert between China and Mongolia, somewhere north of India. I just couldn't get the picture out of my head. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Aleah trying to play the violin

Aleah is fascinated by the violin, she is just too little right now. That doesn't seem to stop her too much. Posted by Picasa

Emily harvesting corn at Prophetstown

 Posted by Picasa

New House

We made an offer on a house last week. It is a farmhouse ~ 5 miles from my work. We have agonized about where we wanted to live and what kind of house we were looking for. This was worsened by the huge housing market here. There was a big building boom in the 90's and housing prices have been stagnant since then. That means that there are lots of houses for sale, especially older homes that Leila and I liked for reasonable prices. We debated whether we want to be as Leila says "city mice" or "country mice." My work is about 10 miles south of town, so moving closer to work means further from town.

There are some nice little towns in the area. The closest is Romney at ~ 1 mile from work, but four houses were for sale (out of maybe 50 total). Three were on the highway, and one was two bedroom and like 300 sq feet. Linden, Attica, and Crawfordsville are further south, also quite nice. New Richmond is to the west; it is where Hoosiers was filmed. I was dissappointed to find out that the gym in the movie has since been torn down. It is quite picturesque. To the east are Clarks Hill and Stockton. Lots of the houses for sale in these areas were built in the early 1900s. These little towns are quite small with less than 500 people in most. Crawfordsville is larger.

The house we put an offer on is a farmhouse, built around 1920. It has a large pole barn and walnut trees around it. It has an attic bedroom with sloped ceilings and a gabled roof. The kitchen is smallish and needs a new stove and refrigerator. There are wood floors in the bedrooms and under the carpet in the living room. It only has one bath, but it has a nice cellar. The washer dryer hookups are down there as well as a root cellar and the furnace. This is the house that we saw, liked and wanted to see again after we had pre approval from the bank, but then someone else made an offer by then. We thought it was out of the picture till last week when our realtor told us it was available, the financing fell through for the other buyers, but we had to move fast. We made an offer, but we haven't been back to tour the inside. There are many details that we don't have because of that, but we feel good about it. There is room for an orchard and for us to get some animals for Emily to take care of.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The dissertation is finished

I have finally finished all of the details with my dissertation!!!

After my defense, there were a bunch of comments from my professors that I had to incorporate into the final draft. Some were minor, like whether upland cotton was capitalized (But, we spent 20 minutes in my defense arguing about it and then it came up again and again in the last month), but others were major and required new analysis, new figures or tables, and inclusion of a summary chapter. I turned in a pdf copy to the thesis department 3 weeks ago and then they reviewed it and sent me 58 corrections to make. Most were technical details like placement of page numbers on landscape pages or wording of the abstract. But some involved changing the way I referenced tables and figures throughout the entire text. Minor, but tedious since I have 48 tables. I made those changes and then sent it back and they sent back 10 more requested changes. I have made those and now it is done.

I just have to pay my diploma fee and my dissertation review fee and I will be Dr. Gardunia.

Texas A&M is fee crazy. I had to register for one credit this semester that cost 470 dollars. The fees for that one credit upped the bill to over a 1000 dollars. Then, I have to pay a diploma fee, a graduation processing fee, and a dissertation processing fee. And there are no options, unless I didn't want to graduate, but there is probably a fee for that too.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I have been reading Essays in Science by Albert Einstein. That he is a genius is already established, and so I won't go on too much about it. He does a good job explaining his cutting edge physics in ways that at least I think I understand. That is the worst of it. It feels like being blind and listening to an art lover lecture on the brush techniques of the masters. The words he uses are mostly familiar, and the math he mentions seems to call up names I heard in my calculus classes years ago: LaPlace, Fourier, Etc. But, I can't see what he sees. It must be like having another sense to have intuition and perception of the world tied in to mathematics.

It is a joy to read and I recommend it. I read his other essays on Zionism and politics in highschool and he is a persuasive writer, even when he does not talk about his world of physics.

We are doing well here in Indiana. We have not yet decided on a house. We found a place that we wanted, a little farmhouse with a few acres, near my work, but someone else bought it before we put an offer. Then we found another farmhouse with a few acres far from my work, but it is apparently gutted with no electrical or mechanical or drywall? We will see today to see how badly gutted it is. There are a lot of houses for sale and that is part of our problem. There are nice houses in town and there are houses in the country. There are some right near my work, but there hasn't been one that is just right I guess. I will try to put links up to some that we are looking at or some pictures this weekend.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Battleground, Indiana

We went to Prophetstown state park this last weekend. It is the site where Tecumseh had his city and ultimately his defeat by the US army. On the site is a working farm with 1920 equipment, varieties, house, etc. Leila and I love this kind of stuff, but Emily says that "it was a disappointment." I can't see how since the farmer let Emily pet the newborn calves, all of the cats, the sheep, and shell corn. We are going back this weekend for the 1920's county fair. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bolivian jail

The BBC has a photo tour of a large Bolivian jail where the inmates can buy good cells or rent them out. They have food venders and a futbol field. Children live there with their fathers and attend local schools. Such an odd arrangement. It is like a country unto itself. The inmates are expected to manage local affairs and there is apparently an internal government that deals out justice for violence, etc. It used to allow tourists, but apparently the cocaine there is the best in the country and so many visitors came to buy drugs.

It is a surreal story that is hard to believe, except there was a smaller version of this jail in Viacha where we lived. It was small, but venders and people came and went. Prisoners, we were told, were expected to have their own food and medicine. It certainly cuts costs, but it just seems unreal.

Things are good here in Indiana. I will put up some pictures when I get home and write more.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Indiana, Defense, and Popcorn

There is so much to write. These last few weeks have not given me that much time and I have neglected writing here.
  1. Monday, July 24th I practiced my defense presentation
  2. Wednesday, July 26th we closed on the house.
  3. Thursday, July 27 I defended my dissertation.
  4. Friday, July 28th we left Bryan, TX for Aunt Sandra's.
  5. Sunday, July 30th we started driving North and made it as far as Anna, Illinois.
  6. Monday, July 31st, we arrived here in Indiana.
  7. Tuesday, August 1st. I started work
So things have been a bit hectic. I worked on my presentation all weekend and then on Monday I gave it to the lab. Tuesday the movers were supposed to come at 8:00 AM, but did not come until after 11:00. I had promised Stelly and the lab that I would go to lunch with them as a farewell that day and the two movers took forever to finish loading everying, not that I mind that; they seemed to be careful. Leila let me go about 1:00 to go to the end, but noone had ordered, they were waiting for me. I worked on getting everything in order with my seed and office that day and also Monday. I had four boxes of stuff from my offices as well as one box that I wanted to take in the car with lab notebooks, etc. It just felt so unreal that the end was coming.

Wednesday I worked on my presentation and then we went to the title company for closing, which took quite a while since there are 10-20 lbs of paperwork. There are so many fees. We paid 8-9000 dollars in fees and so did the buyers. We were starving. Tuesday night we stayed in the La Salle Hotel in downtown Bryan. It was very nice, but the girls had a horrible time falling asleep.

I wasn't there because I had went home to finish working on the bathroom sinks. We had committed to stopping the drips in the sinks, thinking it would be a simple job. Unfortunately, the inside of the faucets were all rusted out and taking the handles off to replace washers was impossible. The only thing to do was to replace the faucets. I tried replacing pipes and shutoff valves first because the faucets were fused by rust and crustiness to the sink. The plastic deals that held it in place were stuck and even with the tool that the Smiths loaned me I could not get them off. The only thing left to try was drilling holes in the plastic thingamagigs and the faucets with AJ's, our neighbor who had us over to dinner that night, drill. I fixed them both, but as the son of a plumber it was not as easy as it should have been.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent preparing for my presentation. I didn't finish until lunch time on thursday. I prepared three presentations: one overview, one on methods, and one on stuff I didn't have time to talk about in the other. I only used the overview . I will try to atleast get a screenshot of the title page up. The slides looked pretty good, I will toot my own horn about them. My presentation was at 2:00 so I went to lunch with Kelly and then walked to the HEEP center to set up.

Things started out badly when we realized that I had not arranged for a substitute for Dr. Monica Menz, nor had I taken her off of my committee. She and her husband, Dr. Javier Betran, who is also on my committee, moved to France. Dr. Betran was there finishing up his corn harvest, she was not. Dr. Stelly scoured the halls for unoccupied professors. Dr. Dirk Hayes came by to get coffee so he became my new committee member. I started at about 20 after two and finished about 3:15.

Stelly made the audience ask questions. Leila asked about what my results says about the utility of random mating for breeding. That was a tough question that carried over into the next part where the audience leaves and I am left with the committee. Dr. Smith asked about whether upland should be capitalized or not. He also asked about which generations should be used for making assertions about random mating. I had to admit that my choice of generations was not right. The best would be to compare the F2 derived rm families. I think that there should be intensive study of that generation anyway to look at interspecific barriers. My BC1F2 etc were not well suited for that either. Too many other things going on. He also asked about my use of the term hybrid breakdown. This comes from good F1 yields, but disasterously low F2 yields. This to me is breakdown of the hybrid in later generations. To him, hybrid breakdown would be low fertility of the F1 generation. Dr. Betran pointed out that I had analyzed heritability wrongly since I had used the combined set of populations which are genetically different and so confounds heritability calculations. The Parent-Offspring regression also is wrong, since the slope needs to be adjusted by the covariance of the BC1F1 to the BC1F2 and BC1rm1 generation. I was a bit taken back by this since he had helped me set up the analysis, but they are things I can fix. Stelly asked me about day length sensitivity and breeding questions. There were more questions that I don't remember clearly, but at 5:45 it was over and they all shook my hand and gave me hugs. I had passed. It was over.

We went to dinner with Kelly and Bonita at Oxford square and had steak dinner. We spent that night with Bonita and then that afternoon set off for Sandra's. I had some things to take care of at work. I had forgotten to fix the gin and the seed room needed to be cleaned and organized one last time. I also went through the DNA lists, etc. After that I said goodbye and we were on the road.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Emily's Birthday

Emily went for pictures today. She is turning 6 tomorrow. It is dumbfounding that I could be her parent. She is growing so fast.

She has started reading on her own more and more. We were in the car the other day and Leila and I were discussing what to get her for her birthday with important words spelled out loud. Emily in the back seat started spelling things back to us. From now on we are going to have to speak in Spanish or French to discuss things around her since she is learning to read.

She is having a party tomorrow with her friends from school. Since we cook together often, Emily has started making up her own recipes. Often they have sprinkles as a major ingredient. She asked to make one of her recipes instead of a birthday cake for her party. We figured, why not? So Emily is making Jello with marshmellows and whip cream. I think it has sprinkles on the top and they are going to have pink cookies that Emily picked out from the store.

Happy Birthday!!!

Emily Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Brian's Brain

I had another "seizure-like episode" two weeks ago and so my doctor ordered a bunch of tests. The prognosis is not in, but I did get a copy of the MRI results to look through. I wish I knew what I was looking for. I can tell which is my brain, but what is normal? The ones on the right have a dye that they injected in my arm, the ones on the left do not. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gypsies by Robert Charles Wilson

This is a little known science fiction book from the 1980's, that I bought when I was in highschool at my favorite store, Redux - Used Junk. It was wedged between a comic book-sci fi store and someplace that bought used jeans on Broadway, near Garfield school, in Boise, ID. I used to stop in there and talk to the owners on my way home from school and if I had any money I bought a paperback for a dollar or two. I was was drawn in by the eclectic shop and its bohemian owners that made their living as waiters to pay the bills while running the store in between trips to South America in their VW bus.

Whenever I read Gypsies, I think of their store. When I see the characters in my head, I see the owners: the beautiful, but aging hippies. It is the tale of a family that has the ability to step between alternate realities. The spectrum of possibilities being infinite they are limited by their imaginations to the worlds they can find and explore. But, they have not really explored or even used their talents. The family consists of three children Karen the oldest and the responsible one, Laura the ex hippy, and Tim the rebellious angry youngest brother, now grownup. Their parents were killed gruesomely and they were raised by adoptive parents. Their adoptive father, Willis, saw their skills as evil and beat them violently whenever he caught them "making doors" or "windows." This because inevitably afterwards they would be pursued by "the grey man" that had murdered their parents. Willis wordlessly would move them to a new location, beat them all soundly, and it would all begin again.

The story begins with Karen's divorce and realization that her son Michael has their talent, and is pursued by the Grey Man. She runs to her sister, Laura, and together the three attempt to find out the truth about their family and their talents. In the process they have to confront Willis, their brother, Tim, the Gray Man, and even travel to Novus Ordu, an alternative America where magic is real, and their parents were created as part of a mystical military industrial complex.

What makes this one of my favorite books, is that the bulk of the story is about the family, about the consequences of what happened before they want to remember. The need to understand feelings and memories suppressed since childhood because of unravelling adult life is also very real, and grounds the fantastical premise of the book. The characters are mundane, normal, but that is a great strength in a genre where too often all the men are ruggedly handsome, miraculously resourceful, and the women beautiful, busty, but shallow and unimportant. It makes the incredible situations believable.

I also love the descriptions of the worlds, that feel real enough that they could be out there, if only we knew how to get there.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

New job in Indiana

Pictures of Ag Alumni, my new job. I am trying to get the video shots from my camera to load. I don't think that they did here, but it is worth the try. We went to visit this last week and are excited to go. Leila liked the area; the schools seem good and the neighborhoods are nice.

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 11, 2006

We are selling our house.

We just got our house on the market, after my friend Jim decided not to buy our house. Here is a link to the realtor's site with a virtual tour of our house.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Evolutionary humanism

I was listening to NPR yesterday while I was driving. The show was New Dimensions, which is a New Agey show. They had on two self-professed evolutionary humanists. They discussed evolution and the meaning it gave to their lives. They kept using religious terms to discuss the role of evolution. At one point the woman said:

'I was thinking about why people should do good, or be moral, in a world without God, and I realized that evolution had the answer. The story of the creation of the world and our evolution had sacred meaning and that our responsibility was to ritualize it so that people can internalize it. '

How evolution can give them this meaning, I don't understand. I am a plant breeder, officially so when I get my doctorate this summer. Plant breeding is basically applied evolutionary principles and genetics to improve crop yield, disease resistance, etc. Evolution is not the same as artificial selection in that it is not purposeful. As described by Darwin and later evolutionists, there is not a direction to natural selection. It just is. There is no drive in nature to create us, as described by evolution. There is no meaning in our evolution; the biology does not attempt to discover that, nor the motivation. There is no morality in evolution. The changes in gene frequency due to selection or population dynamics hold no clues to how I should treat my brother or wife or children. They just describe the flux in the natural world.

That meaning, to me, can only be described with religion. I am also Mormon and believe in the same time in a religious creation that was purposeful. I still believe in the scientific principles of evolution. At the same time, I detest scientific creationism because it's basic message is that spirituality and creation are scientifically as valid as evolution; that they are equal. This weakens the science because it must fit assumptions of Genesis. This weakens religion because then it can be disproved as easily as Lamarkian inheritance.

My problem with scientific creationism is that it implies that the things we don't understand are "God" and the things we do aren't. I like that there are things like the dinosaurs that aren't explained in the two chapters in Genesis. I like complicated world where given time and isolation new species can evolve. I don't understand how human evolution fits with the Adam and Eve, but I can't deny that the fossil evidence exists and is pretty good. To me these things give the world a beauty and I want to understand them. It does not take away from spirituality nor does it replace it. But at the same time it is a testimony to me that so many things do fit with the Genesis creation story.

Aleah, trying to do a gymnastics routine from her highchair, not her favorite place to be.  Posted by Picasa

One our few bluebonnets that grew this year. We keep meaning to take a family picture in the bluebonnets, and then we procrastinate and they are gone. So here is our bluebonnet picture for the year.  Posted by Picasa

Emily all grown up Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Help with SAS

When I run the analysis to calculate repeatability, I used the code:

PROC GLM data = work.gma_must_yield;
class gen env rep;
model seedcotton = gen env rep(env) gen*env/ solution;
random gen env rep(env) gen*env;

This gives me a table at the end of
The GLM Procedure
Source Type III Expected Mean Square
gen Var(Error) + 80.225 Var(gen*env) + 240.67 Var(gen)
env Var(Error) + 47.117 Var(gen*env) + 126.58 Var(rep(env)) + 471.17 Var(env)

rep(env) Var(Error) + 249.89 Var(rep(env))
gen*env Var(Error) + 84.48 Var(gen*env)

If I understand correctly, the numbers preceding Var(comp) are the constants and solving for each V can be done my subtracting the correct MS, dividing by constant. Why are these constants outputted by SAS not equal to those predicted by multiplying the degrees of freedom not associated with Var(comp)?

I also tried using code:
PROC VARCOMP data = work.gma_must_yield method = reml;
class gen env rep;
model seedcotton = gen env rep(env) gen*env;


PROC MIXED data = work.gma_must_yield method = type2 cl;
class gen env rep;
model seedcotton = ;
random gen env rep(env) gen*env;

VARCOMP with reml, ml, type1, type 2 all give different estimates. REML and ML are the highest. Type 1 and Type2 are very similar and contain negative values. These match those I calculate by hand with the constants given with PROC GLM pretty close. Mixed analysis gives the same, as long as the methods are the same. What is PROC GLM using to calculate the constants? Why are they different for gen and env? Should I just ignore them and use results from PROC VARCOMP?

Why can't it all be simple?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nesting time

I am sitting at my computer procrastinating writing my dissertation. The birds outside the window seem to hold my attention better then analyzing my cotton plant heights and yields for genetic effects.

There is an annual vine that seems to attract chickadees, sparrows, cardinals, grackles and mockingbirds. It has no fruit yet or flowers, but plenty of dead twigs from last years growth. They all take turns hopping up and down the main stems and tugging at the last year's growth until they can pull a branch free. Then triumphantly they take off. I assume that they are making nests.

It is that time of year. Even here, for me. We are getting the house ready to sell. Leila has cleaned out the flower beds. We've washed the cabinets in the kitchen, painted the living room, painted Emily's room and the office, put up crown molding, repaired the damaged drywall in the closet, and still there is a growing list of things to do.

The worst of them is replacing 4 tiles in the kitchen. They had bubbled up and in a feverish fit I tore them up, fearing water damage or an invasion of tile eating ants. Instead we found nothing. This was supposed to be easily fixed with matching tiles saved in the attic, but now I can't find them. Apparently we have unique tile. It is almond colored, smooth, and THIRTEEN inches x THIRTEEN inches. Who ever heard of 13 x 13" tile? We found matching 12" tile, but no luck on 13" tile. So if anyone has 13" uniformly almond color, no texture, no pattern, just smooth, tile please have pity on me. Send them to me!! I beg you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The crew and I. That sounds like the title of a musical.  Posted by Picasa

Measuring the plants and taking notes. The biggest difference between the experiments here and there is that in Mexico there were no day length issues. The F1 yielded well. The BC1F1 did very well, but the G. mustelinum parent did not have any bolls yet. Apparently it has not only day length sensitivity but also a juvenile period. Not to mention that it grows slow. But, some of the random mated material did great. Posted by Picasa

Dawn in Mexico with my plants and I.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't tell my children

I have to confess something. As I lay awake listening to my youngest cry at 12:30 AM a few nights ago, I realized something. Crying works. It gets you what you want. I don't think that it would work for me, but for my children certainly. I have little to no resistance to it. It tugs at me. When I here that cry there is a compulsion to do whatever possible to make it better, to make it stop.

Aleah has not been sleeping through the night. She wakes up two or even three times, cries, gets fed, and then goes back to sleep. We have tried inconsistently to grit our teeth and try to get her to fall back to sleep by herself, but by 2:00 AM I am too tired to be tough. I just want to go back to sleep.

We have continually told Emily that tempertantrums are not the way to get what she wants, but that is not true. Of course it is the way. It isn't a good way, but sometimes the desired result is acheived. Crying and tempertantrums, most of the time work. The other thing she does that works is go boneless. She just collapses into an amoebal state. It helps to get out of practicing her violin.

Monday, March 13, 2006

One last picture from Emily. There are about 8 closeups of plastic cows.  Posted by Picasa

Another of Emily's photos. Actually pretty good pictures.  Posted by Picasa

Emily has found where the camera was hidden away and took a series of pictures of her toys and my shoes. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Job decision and skin disease

I am going to be a popcorn breeder after graduation! Leila and I really agonized over the decision, well I have at least. Leila has felt good about this from the beginning. I have been unsure, mostly because the potentiality of the Bayer position was so good, but it just didn't look like it was coming to pass.

So last Thursday I called Ag Alumni and accepted the offer. Within the hour, my face and neck were burning and red. My eyes had been itching earlier, but now I looked like I had a sunburn across my face. Then in a few hours it had spread to my chest, arms, legs, feet, hands, etc with a burning itch like poison ivy complete with tiny blisters. I went home early and went to bed. The next day it was worse and I went to the doctor. He told me it was an allergy and probably not rubella, unless I had been exposed in the last 72 hours, and gave me antihistimines which made me very tired and ferociously grumpy.

My logical conclusion to this was that I was allergic to my new job and I had made the wrong choice. I stewed and worried, while trying not to scratch, for three days. Then, I decided, while lying in bed that I would turn back down the job, but I still needed to hurry and start to write. Deadlines are here and I have been anxious about writing my dissertation for a long time and it has been building like pressure inside of a geyser. At that moment, as I lay in bed thinking about what I needed to finish my proposal and get started on my first chapter, The rash spread like fire ants across my body and I could feel the blisters swell. The itching was tremendous.

So from that fun experiment, I decided that I had better get up and start writing. So I got out of bed, plastered myself with calamine lotion and headed for the computer. The closer I got to the computer, the worse the itching. By the time I sat down at the computer my hands and fingers were so swollen that I could barely type and couldn't concentrate. I gave up and went back to bed.

So either I am allergic to my new job or to writing my dissertation. It could also be the Cashew fruit I ate for dinner the previous night. I use to eat it in Nicaragua, mostly in Villa Venezuela, where I did break out in a nasty skin rash also come to think of it. OK, so I am either allergic to cashew fruit, popcorn breeding, or finishing my PhD. Let's hope it is cashew fruit since I can cut that out of my life with little pain or sacrifice.

I guess it all could be a psychosomatic anxiety attack. Some people hyperventilate, some people get dizzy, I break out in leparous rashes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Emily with her violin. We don't have a clear practice program yet. Needless to say we need to work on it.  Posted by Picasa

So you have a Ph.D now what?

I am approaching the end of my Ph. D. and am looking for jobs. The good news is there are jobs. The bad news is I am not sure which I want. The sad thing is that I have been in school for almost 10 years and I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

There are really four kinds of positions available to someone with a Ph.D.:

1. Work for the government. For me that means USDA, usually in a plant geneticist or plant breeding position. Once and a while there is a germplasm curator position. More and more of these positions are molecular biologist positions. I think the reasoning is that molecular markers allow dissection of traits, etc. etc. but the long and short of it is that they publish more.

I don't think that I want to be a molecular geneticist, otherwise I think USDA positions are great because of steady research funds, job security, and good pay. I want to be actively involved in research, and I am not sure that I can sustainably work with markers. Currently, there is a Sudden Oak Death position in California and probably some postdoc positions.

2. Be a Professor. Teaching 1-3 classes a semester, advising graduate students, being on committees, writing grant proposals, publishing papers, trying to get tenure. Will the fun never end?

Life after tenure seems pretty good and pay ranges from 60,000 - 90,000 . Working with students is rewarding and there is a lot of lattitude for research and time. I have applied for three or four positions, including one here at A&M in cotton breeding. Too many professors seem to find better things to do than work at the bench or in the field.

3. Private industry. Make good money, see the world, sell your soul. Trade secrets and the bottom line make publishing in journals and presenting at conferences a very low priority. The good thing is that they also focus research into economically viable, and I guess that could mean important areas.

Seed companies are the main source of employment options for me such as in cotton: Bayer, DeltaPine, Phytogen, Monsanto, and a number of small companies. Outside cotton, the big players are Dupont which owns Pioneer, Seminis, DeRuiter, and many more depending on crop.
I have a job offer from Ag alumni seed, a small seed company in Indiana. They are looking for a popcorn breeder. There is also a possibility of a job with Bayer Crop Sciences as an experimental breeder. It is an interesting position because they seem to want someone that can pull together molecular as well as field data and start to integrate information that is coming out of genomics and mapping. They want to start interviewing candidates next couple of weeks and I would find out in the next month. I think that I would have a decent chance at it, but the popcorn company would like an answer before I would hear from Bayer.

The beauty of a private company is that there are no grants to apply for, no tenure to earn, no classes to teach and no graduate students to advise. The negative is that profitability drives promotion and retention. I have not worked in that environment and it is intimidating to jump in.

What to do? What would you choose? Is McDonalds hiring?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Timeline to graduation

There is so much to do between now and graduation. I feel like I have procrastinated so much. I am running markers right now in Dr. Menz's lab along with Stella and Nilesh. Things are working I just am frustrated with the politics of it all. That is all I dare say here, but if you want all the juicy details email me and I will give them all to you. I just wish we could all get along.

I got a JOB OFFER from Ag Alumni Seed!!!! They are a small popcorn breeding company owned by the alumni association of Purdue. They licence all of the wheat, soybean, and corn lines released by the Purdue breeders as well as their own popcorn lines. Their biggest competitors are ConAgra, a behemoth of a company, and Weaver, a local company. They are in Indiana, just outside of Lafayette, about an hour from Indianapolis. They are offering not bad pay with pretty good benefits. The town is nice, the company is small with good people working there. I feel like I could learn a lot from Max Robbins, the breeder. I think I could feel at home there. The negatives are that it is far from a temple about two and a half hours to Chicago, IL. It also doesn't involve teaching or will pay as much as some jobs, ie Bayer.

Well, back to work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Emily wants to be a veterinarian, because it is an important job because she is helping animals. She informs me that my job, in cotton breeding and genetics, is a GOOD job, but not IMPORTANT, because I don't help animals or people.  Posted by Picasa

Christmas lights from the Christmas tree. Looks like electric fire Posted by Picasa

Leila helped her sister with her senior project of sewing bags for the breast cancer center. Posted by Picasa

Disaster for gingerbread land. Leila made a gingerbread house for Christmas. The Royal icing was stronger than cement though and we had to use a sledgehammer to break in.  Posted by Picasa