Good News and Scary News:I have been busy trying to finish a few things before heading out to Ecuador again. A paper that I submitted to Conservation Biology needed to be revised, some of the data had to be re-analysed and I spent the best part of two weeks getting my head around the new analysis and re-incorporating all the suggestions the reviewers had made. I also had to make sure that I managed to get a letter of inquiry ready for a grant we want to submit to the MacArthur Foundation. So things have been a bit stressy.
My aunt sent me an email today, telling me about a young scientist doing research on howler monkeys, who was mistakenly shot and killed in Ecuador. This is the article that appeared in yesterdays edition of the International Herald Tribune, which is slightly unnerving. Apart from the fact that this is a great tragedy, I am not sure what to think. It's not anywhere near where we work but people in rural areas have guns, that's a given. I guess my health and safety tip for anyone working in the field is to make sure we tell people who we are and what we are doing. One benefit of doing the social science as well as the biology part is that our research is inherently linked with people and we make sure that we always get consent from the people we interview and who's land we will be on. I guess these stories make sure that you are extra carefull.
On the brighter side, the doctor gave me the all clear on my back. I started getting sharp pains in back while in Ecuador a few months ago. I just thought that it was strain of lifting heavy equipment, particularly things like gas tanks which I reckon can be about 35 - 45 kg when full. They continued over christmas and when Nathan was diagnosed with the flesh eating disease leishmaniasis I though it more prudent to get it checked out. Misty (my partner, who is a medical doctor) agreed. I got a set of x-rays done and a scintigraphy, which is when they inject you with radio-active dye and then photograph your skeleton to look for abnormal bone activity. Anyway, both the x-ray and the scintigraphy came back ok, which was a relief and the doctor said that the pain was probably muscular.