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Interpreting genetic testing

Several years ago I participated in a study where my DNA was sequenced, and while I ended up not getting the sequence data [1] I did get a file of 23andme-style SNP variant calls. I loaded it into Promethease, and excluded mutations with magnitude below 2 ("looks interesting enough to be worth reading"). I saw 139 mutations marked as "bad," 41 as "good," and 26 as "not set."

Initially I interpreted this to mean that I should be more pessimistic about my health than I was before getting the report, since more of the mutations are bad (2x risk of something) than good (0.5x risk of something else). To figure out how your beliefs should change, though, you need to know how many bad vs good mutations people typically have. For example, if someone might normally have 200 bad mutations and 10 good ones then my report is good news, but if instead normal is 100 bad mutations and 70 good ones then my report is bad news.

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Taking a Safety Report

(This is written with the contra dance community in mind, but is reasonably general.)

Let's say you're an organizer or on a safety committee, and someone comes to you with a problem. How should you handle it?

The first thing is to figure out urgency: is someone actively causing harm right now? Like, is it "that dancer over there in the red shirt just twisted my arm" or more "can we talk about my abusive ex"? It's generally pretty clear which sort of report someone's giving, but it's worth asking if you're unclear.

I'm only going to cover the second category here, because there are a lot of subtle aspects and its easy to screw up. (I certainly have made mistakes here.)

When someone comes to you with a serious problem, listening well is the most important thing. Be there for them, let them tell you what they're comfortable telling you. Even if there's something they want, they are doing you a favor by letting you know about a problem in your community. Be receptive, and let the conversation run on their terms. If you make this at all hard for reporters people will just silently not let you know about things.

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Not losing things

I almost never lose things, especially important things like my keys, laptop, or ear warmers. Here's an attempt to write up the system I use, in case it's useful to others.

The #1 rule for this sytem is that things should have exactly one home. Examples:

  • ear warmers: coat left inside pocket
  • mittens: coat pockets
  • hat, neck warmer: coat liner pockets
  • laptop: backpack
  • phone, handkerchief: left front pocket
  • keys, wallet: right front pocket
  • work badge: right back pocket

As much as possible, if I take something out I immediately put it back where I got it. My keys should only ever be either actively in use, or in the specific pocket they go in. When I change pants, I move everything over from my previous pants.

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Acoustic Footboard

After years of playing around with electronic footboards, I'm thinking of going back to an acoustic one. Even though my most recent electronic one is more expressive in a lot of ways, and a big improvement over what I was doing before, it still doesn't feel as much like an instrument as I'd like it to. So I decided to try out making something simple:

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Bathroom Plans

Here's what our second floor currently looks like:

If you look in the lower right hand corner, you can see that you have to walk through the room labeled "bedroom #1" to get to the room labeled "enclosed porch". It would be a lot more flexible to have these as fully independent rooms, so we're planning to take part of the bathroom for a hall:

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Snowpants

Growing up, snowpants were for playing in snow. If we were going out to play and there was snow on the ground, we wore them, otherwise we just wore the same pants we had on indoors. This winter with our kids, though, we've started giving them snowpants any time it's cold. So much better! Instead of them getting cold quickly, we just came back in from 1.5hr playing outside.

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