Meet Stuart Ballard, Eccentric Builder, Health Junkie, and Reluctant Technologist
Like many Revelers, Stuart was drawn to Revelry for the work-life alliance flexibility but stayed for the quality code. He currently travels full-time, taking advantage of the ability to explore new parts of the country while working full-time solving problems and staying challenged. Join me in getting to know a little more about Stuart.
Meet Stuart Ballard
Originally from the Midwest, Stuart went to high school and college in Madison, WI. He started his career with an apprenticeship in biotechnology at the young age of 15. However, instead of biotechnology, he ended up majoring in Computer Science. Right after college, Stuart moved to Seattle to work for Amazon. Soon after, he decided to take a break from tech to “diversify” and worked some odd jobs including producing a dinner theater, managing an apple orchard, building a UPS conveyor system, teaching an after-school science program, and running a gutter company.
Eventually, Stuart’s travels and jobs brought him to New Orleans, where he gave working in tech another chance at a local startup. Thankfully, Stuart enjoys writing code and solving problems, so he found Revelry and came onboard a few months ago.
Stuart is, in his own words, “unique, obscure, and brilliant.” After a few days of working on a large project with Stuart, I found this to be entirely accurate. Within his first week at Revelry, Stuart was inserting himself into projects and contributing to products. Not many people can hit the ground running that fast, but at Revelry, we call our shots, earn and dispense trust, and revel in our victories.
Why do you do what you do?
I love to solve problems, including problems that haven’t been identified yet. Even in my social life, I tend to be the party planner for my friends. I tend to notice or think of things that others may not have, and then go ahead and fix it before others even notice. This is what drives my interest in technology: so I can solve problems people don’t want to think about or don’t know they have yet. I work in software now because these technologies have incredible power to shape the world, and not understanding them would be a liability to my freedom and capability in life.
What stood out about Revelry that drove your decision to join the company?
It was a line from Jonathan Walters’s blog post:
One can learn a lot about clean code by reading Hemingway or the KJV. Such texts make frequent use of parataxis, in which clauses or phrases are placed alongside one another, yet absent words indicating coordination or subordination.
Software engineers are not known for acknowledging literary standards of beauty. Jonathan explains that clean code isn’t about being terse or verbose, it’s eloquent. It’s about using descriptions when needed but holding back when not needed.
I have always had an aptitude for writing, even back when I was starting out in biochemistry. My mentor complimented my writing and urged me to pursue a career in a scientific field where writing skills are highly valued. As opposed to computer science, where, she bemused, “eloquence is sadly lacking.” I always kept this in mind and did find that standards for clarity in communication were almost absent in engineering disciplines. Revelry promised to be the exception, and, so far, has delivered.
What is your programming language of choice?
The one I’m using this week. I’ve learned many languages over the years, but I do not have a favorite. I choose the language that does what I want it to do easily.
Which of your daily work tools is your favorite?
My keyboard. It’s matte black with no key markings, bilaterally symmetrical, fully programmable, and has mechanical keyswitches. I plan to build and program a mechanical split keyboard mounted on wrist braces, so I can type in the air.
What’s your favorite lesser-known tech to geek out about?
I might have to go with qRT-PCR, or “quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction,” a technique I’ve used to measure relative abundance of messenger RNA to test gene expression. Sensitive to concentrations as low as one message per µL! That’s something like 0.00000000000000000001 molarity! (estimate! I haven’t performed that process in like 12 years since I worked in biochemistry)
You hosted a juicing workshop at the office recently, tell me how you got into health and wellness?
For “Juice Fest 2019” at the Revelry office, I brought in my masticating juicer and tons of fresh veggies. I see juicing as just one technique in my overall health and diet approach. I fast, make herbal extracts, and eat ants and butter daily. The closest label I can think of is “keto”, but I don’t like to be confined to a diet. I’ve learned to check in with my body and be able to assess what it needs, beyond a craving or hunger pang.
We’re glad to have you aboard, Stuart! No matter where you happen to be.