Saturday, November 28, 2020

Genetically speaking, who are you?

Hello? Anyone home? Or are you all out shopping in the great worship of a ritual orgy of consumerism? No, my readers are better than that. Aren't they? Aren't you? No, I haven't bought anything for Black Friday sales. I confess to being a bit tempted by the new Macbook Air laptops with the fast new chip, but the old one works perfectly well for what I use it for. Pity the battery was dying, but $177 fixed that, and puts off spending more than $1000 for perhaps another 7 years. 

I must admit to being pleased by the entire Apple store visit. I had a late afternoon appointment. One of their people directs you to stand in the right line. There are several lines for various kinds of visits. A few minutes later someone comes and gets you, and you have their undivided attention. A few minutes of diagnostics and checking for parts, and we were away to the races. I was told 3 to 5 days, which struck me as reasonable, and it turns out it was ready the next morning. They even cleaned it, (and it was filthy), which I'm not surprised by, but I'm pleased it happened.

Next computer related purchase is likely to be when they roll out the speedy new chip to the iMac line. I'll replace my Lightroom computer (which was bought November 2016) and use it as the email and Linda's browsing computer, and the 2008 vintage iMac will be retired. Or maybe I'll use it to display photos like I'd planned for the Cube but haven't been able to make that work the way I want, not like I've had the time to play with it.

A Brief History of Everyone who ever Lived, by Adam Rutherford.

I only finished this last night, too late to start writing the blog so you could read it fresh first thing in the morning. Turns out it was one of those nights where I was thinking too much to go to sleep, but not focussed enough to actually write anything in my head, and not awake enough to actually get up and read or write while communing with Celina.

My work day had finished on a high note, so I was surfing on that a little. I'd done a deep dive into the data, trying to figure out why work order counts didn't add up. I'd known that a work order could be attached to an asset (which belongs to a location) as well as directly to a location. This makes sense, as it's entirely possible for work to be done on a location as a whole, or to a particular asset. Filling in both fields is a bit weird from a database integrity perspective, but there's lots weird about this data.

I was working on a particular area (say it's locnum 1, and it has 3 children, locnum 2, 3, and 4) and I wanted all the assets at those areas, and all the work orders regardless of it belonging to one of those locations, or one of the assets at those locations. This is a straightforward query, albeit one where you need to be careful about your joins and query terms.

Except my totals weren't aligned. After a bunch of digging and querying I found an example of a work order on a particular asset in the area that I was concerned about, AND with a location of an entirely different area. I found wonum 1234 had assetnum 2345 (so far so good) but the work order locnum was 5 while the related assetnum location was 2. Oops. Check joins by doing queries to just one table and looking at specific results. Yup. More pre-migration data scrubbing.

Which, I probably don't need to remind you, is a good thing. I get paid by the hour to find such problems, figure out how to fix them, and in this particular transitional database, actually do the updates to fix them. It's gonna be fun even if I am swearing at Excel along the way. (Yes, I see most of you out there rolling your eyes.) At this point I don't know if this is explained by some edge case I haven't run into yet, or if someone goofed when doing the data entry.

This is all oil and gas data in a complicated database to keep track of work done to assets, and lots of other stuff too. Lots of times I think of data in chains. One location has 3 children location, which together have several hundred assets of various kinds, (some of which I care about a lot more than others), and several thousand work orders, and all sorts of associated data that is all related to each other in very specific ways. Break or corrupt the relationship chain somewhere, and some of the data goes astray.

In our own infinitely more complicated way, we ourselves are chains of data. The same basic building blocks, but at a genetic level we are a unique chain of data. Not just here and now, but unique within all the humans who have ever lived, or ever will live. 

All of us, unique. Think about that. Even identical twins have some subtle differences. At first when scientists were unravelling the genetic code, they thought it would be simple. This gene controls this, that other gene together with another one controls that. Except that nothing involving people is simple. The more they look, the more complicated it gets. 

The book points at the complexity and gives some examples, but you don't need to be a genetic scientist to understand it. I found it quite readable, and even humorous in some places. There is a faint flavour of Godel, Escher, and Bach, in that the writing itself is sometimes an example of the topic he's discussing. 

Along the way he addresses some of the misunderstandings (being polite) about genetics and the implications of the research discoveries. They make some people more than a bit uncomfortable. Fact based discussion of who our ancestors are, where and when they came from, and what 'race' means, upset a lot of what some people tell themselves to feel good about themselves and their perceived place in the world. 

All in all, excellent reading. I got it out of the library, but had it seen it in the book store I might well have bought it.

This last week disappeared in a blur, and I'm not entirely sure why. I don't feel particularly rushed about anything. I usually get up, have coffee, a work meeting and deal with any urgent requests or anything that needs doing while I'm thinking about it, shower and breakfast and clean up after, do some work, go for a walk and eat lunch, usually some more work, and suddenly it's wine o'clock. Read or browse the web, and bedtime. Zoom. No time to blog, and not even much time to get out for photo walks, though I'm looking forward to more photo studio work this weekend. Or once Linda is finished the holiday decorations she's working on, get photos of them.

Here's Fish Creek from a couple weeks ago. Not the most successful shot in the world. I should have taken two steps forward and composed out that branch in the upper left. Shooting into the sun is always tricky but I liked the play of light on water and the clouds.

It looks like with Alberta getting hit with many more COVID cases I will be out and about perhaps less than what I have been over the summer. My community association is struggling with planned events, both our and tenant's. A recent one was an AA meeting. Turns out that as a self-help group it's not restricted as such, but the new restrictions on indoor social events seem to affect it, as do the attendance limits. In the end they cancelled out of concern for their attendees, and as I gather, it was more a social meeting than a formal self help meeting.

Let's just say these government guidelines aren't what you'd call clear, and there's all sorts of idiots trying to find or create loopholes. It seems like Kenney is pandering to his base in a lot of this, rather than going by what the data says. Deaths, ICU bed occupancy, and cases overall are up, up, up. I hope we all get through it.

Of the Day


1 comment:

  1. Love the Fish Creek photo especially. The light and clouds are great. Easy enough to edit that blanch out if you want to, I think.


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