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.