Blog: Finding the End of the String

Finding the End of the String
Finding the End of the String
Date: 2019-Jan-12 18:43:18 EST

Today I finally wrapped up some low-grade detective work - some months ago I first heard of a programme called Gangstas to Growers, based out of Atlanta. The idea being that they offer agriculture-centric opportunities to people after they leave prison in an effort to fight recidivism. I believe this is a great thing, but the first few times I went to look for a way to offer them financial support, I wasn't able to find a place to do that or even contact info. So I eventually forgot about it. Late last week, when looking at an upcoming talk where I work, I was reminded of G2G and spent some more time digging, this time focusing on the name of the founder. And with enough poking around I finally found a contact address and dropped them an email. Today I got a response and was able to offer support. Finally. Although this was more difficult than it should've been.

Next week a coworker and I are heading to Janelia in Virginia to learn more about some of the tools we're using. I've tried to make our collaboration non-draining to them by being a good coding citizen ; I've been doing a series of diffs to add type-annotation to some of their python projects. It's a bit challenging in some ways because I don't know Django and they also use some language features I'm not familiar with, but in LINK I'm discovering that maybe I should have been using them all along. Function decorators are pretty cool, and the way it's used in this codebase is to extract boring and repetitive permissions-checking from dispatch functions; the wrap-up is pretty elegant. There is a cost though, in that you no longer can tell at a glance what parameters a function uses. Probably worth it, although it's good to step forward in ways that recognise this pain. Feels like a weaker version of closures. The trip should be interesting; I've heard Janelia described as a sibling institution to where I work, and it'll be good to meet in person with some people we've collaborated with for the time I've been here.

From a number of recent internal talks, I've come to revise my earlier impression of redundancy in codon encoding, in that I've come to appreciate that the chemical-structural encoding of base pairs itself can be significant to gene expression (from "will this ever actually make the protein" to "in what cell lines will this see expression"). That dimension was entirely absent from my earlier understanding, and makes me appreciate that genetic engineering is going to be more challenging than I anticipated. There may be some ways to get around that (in that rather than doing direct low-level encoding, we may treat sequences as a compile target with extensive compiler layers between). Happy to have this chance to revise my mental models.

Idea that Cortez should hold back and learn from seniors in legislature - interesting. Not sure if I agree. On surface it seems good, but when people elect a representative it's not the same thing as joining a business. Yes, there is wisdom to be learned and excess passion to be replaced with prudence, but this is highly informal and unlike employment where these relationships are implicit and intended. When I vote for someone new to office I'm not asking them to be timid.

Still very enthused at the 2018 highlights book I made from my Google Photos; I know plenty of other photo services offer this exact thing, and it's the kind of thing that's a win for everyone. I'm likely to go back through photos from prior years and have highlights books made for each of those too.

Been thinking again about how I'd design a home if I got the chance. In the more distant past I've dreamed of converting an observatory, with a raised middle section and four separate lower sections for different areas of life. Given that I'll likely never have such a home, maybe I'll do a more realistic design this time. Partly because living in NYC means perpetual dissatisfaction with living arrangements.