Monday, July 18, 2011

A silver lining

We have been visiting with family in the Philadelphia area. What should have been a fun time has been colored with tension and anxiety. First, there is the issue of what to do with my 95-year-old father.

He is highly independent, living on his own, cooking for himself, and competently driving a car. He and his buddies (all younger than him) occasionally drive to Cape May - a Victorian beach town. Also, he volunteers twice a week to work at the senior lunch, collecting the $1.50 cost of the meal, and making sure that the books are balanced. He even helps deliver food to the eighty-year olds with walkers.

Ten years ago, we built an addition to our home for my father. He refused to move in. I don't blame him. He has friends and activities to keep him busy. He participates in all sorts of events at the Ukrainian church and the Ukrainian Center. Pullman, on the other hand, has zero Ukrainians for him to befriend. Though we are there for him, work is a large part of our days, so he would be bored to death most of the time. In Philly, he is an active part of his microcommunity participating in his ethnic culture that he cherishes.

My father is concerned that his driver's license will not be renewed, rendering his present lifestyle impossible. We are also concerned that as he ages, he will become less independent. Our agonizing decision comes down to a choice between him continuing to live alone with the chance that he may injure himself, but otherwise a happy life; or, moving him to Pullman, and dooming him to certain misery. In my mind, both choices are far from ideal.

The other day, my father fell as a result of a dizzy spell. He was bruised but otherwise seemed unharmed. However, it was painful for him to walk, and his nurse (who visits him occasionally at home for blood tests), recommended that he get an X-ray to rule out a fractured hip. Fortunately, we had made plans to have lunch with good friends from Yardley. After lunch, John - an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife Camille - a physical therapist, checked my father's injuries and ordered X-rays as a precaution. The local hospital quickly determined that he had not sustained serious injury.

This whole process reminded us of my father's situation and the painful decisions ahead. Unfortunately, every option other than the status quo is unacceptable to him: No to senior living homes, no to roommates, no to moving to Pullman, etc. For now, we are making arrangements to simplify his daily routine, but some day, we will need to bring him to Pullman, kicking and screaming.

We have been driving extensively to get between my fathers place, and the various in-laws. As a result, I have been feeling depressed and anxious about not having time to work, not to mention my motion sickness. Yesterday afternoon, after arriving at my sister-in-law's vacation home in Delaware, I finally sat down at my computer to work, only to come down with a debilitating migraine headache that put me out of commission for the rest of the evening.

This morning, I awoke feeling physically well, but mentally exhausted with thoughts of the piles of work that has accumulated. As I was working, I got two pieces of good news:

First, I was notified that my NSF proposal on sum rules has been recommended for funding. However, there are several questions that I first need to address before approval. This will be my first priority, so my other work will need to wait.

While reading through the email from NSF, I got notification that a third paper on Nathan's work on photo mechanical liquid crystal elastomers was accepted. An excerpt of comments from each reviewer follows.


The manuscript provides an in-depth model and related discussion on the deformation mechanism of azo containing liquid crystal elastomer upon a light trigger. The authors incorporated in the model heat effects as related to absorption and diffusion during and after exposure in the absorption band of the azo compound. To my opinion this was the first time that it was described so extensively rather than mentioning that heat effects might also play role next to the photo-isomerization reaction. For this reason it is my opinion that the paper should be published in the Journal of the Optical Society of America...


In the manuscript “Modeling the mechanisms of the photomechanical response of a nematic liquid crystal elastomer”, authors have done the modeling to explain the plausible mechanisms involved in photomechanical response of nematic liquid crystal elastomer. In the previous report: N. J. Dawson et al., J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 28, 1916 (2011), authors have reported the experimental determination of mechanisms of photomechanical effects in a nematic liquid crystal elastomer in a particular device geometry. More interestingly, in the present report the models have been initially proposed and then used to compare with experimental results and to evaluate related material parameters. Undoubtedly, the theoretical modeling, comparison with experimental results and related explanations are up to the mark. Moreover, the report does not only demonstrate the fundamental mechanisms but also provide the platform for design of optical devices based on photomechanical effect and hence seems to be greatly useful for liquid crystal community as well as other related fields.

On the basis of the originality and novelty of the work presented in this report, I feel that it would be really of worth to keep this article in JOSA B. Therefore, I recommend it for the publication in JOSA B.

While life throws all sorts of crap our way, I take great comfort in the fact that I will be able to continue my work in sum rules, and how they elucidate the nature of light matter interactions. Future work in this area, while remaining on the esoteric side, is converging on ideas that will impact practical applications. These thoughts temporarily allow me to escape form my wories.

Gotta pack and run...

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