Monday, August 23, 2021

The summer of 2021, wrapped

 In the Year of Our Lord two thousand and twenty one, a great summer was had!

As move in day looms at the end of this week, I think it's a good time for me to reminisce about how this summer turned out.

Part One: late June, early July

Summer started a day early for me. I skipped out on the last day of school to play Minecraft. Two days later, I unceremoniously graduated from high school. By its brick and mortar walls, I felt no shame when I picked up my diploma early in order to avoid commencement. When I decided to graduate this year, my plan was to slide out without making noise, and that's exactly what I did. I don't regret it one bit.

This time was kind of a lull in the summer. I gamed a lot, listened to podcasts, read a Murakami book (Kafka On the Shore!), and went to New Hampshire when the weather was very icky.

I also got very sick with norovirus and vommited my brains out! It was a dreadful experience. Protip: if you are ever meeting little kids (I did when I traveled up to New Hampshire), know if they have recently been sick!! It's a good measure to prevent a weekend of absolute death.

Part Two: Mid July

At this point of the summer, I immersed myself in work, sorta. In late June, I started a continuation of my work at the lab I volunteered at the summer before. This summer, I took a more computational role-- instead of reading papers and putting data together to form a narrative, I worked on how to more efficiently generate that data. I translated old Matlab code that took forever to run in the MathWorks IDE into shiny new Python that blitzes through in a Google Colab notebook.

I also read a lot about longevity, including Jose Ricon's Longevity FAQ as well as his post on epigenetic reprogramming. I found his summary of the field to be really excellent and understandable enough for a layman like me to understand. He gives a good overview of current drugs that have life-extension abilities and how they work (long story short: usually by making cells think they are starving to more efficiently conserve energy).

The Minecraft saga also continued hehe. I can never escape Skywars.

Part Two: late July

I started visiting the lab in person for the first time. Commuting to NYC is kind of a hassle, but I think it was worth it. I finally got to hang out with my mentor and see actual *science* experiments happen live! Lab mice are very cute in person; much better than the grainy video quality I was used to seeing of them.

DeepMind also released AlphaFold to the whole world at this point of the summer. It's truly an amazing feat-- one that nobody expected to happen for years to come-- but it looks like Christmas came early! I started writing a blogpost explainer on it, but I was quickly outmatched by people much smarter than me giving their 2 cents on it, so I kind of abandoned that idea.

Something fun I did at this point of the summer was to go down a list of the top 21st century movies to date (I used the BBC's list) and just watch them all. I watched The Florida Project, The Grand Budapest Hotel, In The Mood For Love, There Will Be Blood, Moonlight, The End of the Road, and Lost In Translation. All of them were great movies! Each of them was very different from one another, and good in their own unique ways. I think I liked Moonlight the best; it was a really thought provoking and heartbreaking bildungsroman, one that dealt with unrequited feelings and solitude. Runner ups include The Florida Project (with an amazing role played by Willem Dafoe, a seriously underrated actor IMO) and In The Mood For Love with its beautiful cinematography.

I also had my first interaction with someone I met from the internet! It went pretty well, I think. A friend and I met up with them in NYC to eat some overpriced Italian food and meander around Central Park. They were kind of what I expected a smart internet person to be like: a bit awkward, very very bright, and a great amount of stories and knowledge to share. I will definitely meet up with more internet people in the future!

Part Three: August

August has been my favorite month so far this summer. I've met up with hometown friends a lot, went on a spontaneous Wikipedia editing spree, and done a lot of coding!! To start, I became lazy enough with my lab work that I automated a copy-and-pasting spreadsheet task that usually took weeks to complete into an hour's long worth of effort. 

Meeting up with old HS friends was interesting. They are mostly the same, fortunately! Covid didn't change everything besides their heights. 

I also finished up my lab work in a satisfying way. Over the summer, there were ups and downs of productivity in the lab, but I think I've played a good part in helping speed things up so the lab can do more sciencing :)

Last but not least, in late August, I started working on an app with my best friend. It's been a blast so far-- starting off struggling with learning completely new programming frameworks (React Native, Firebase, etc) to having an MVP all in a week has been a really rewarding experience. This is where I am now. It's a shame though that I will have to scale back working on it because of college :/

Epilogue

This has been a really cool summer! Yes, most of it was spent at home, but that's A-OK with me. I'm a bit of a homebody after all. Here's to a great second half of the year!!