Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

“Goddamnit!”

Every so often a woman in a lucid dream this morning yelled out like that, so after the fourth or fifth time I had to ask her about it. “Why do you keep saying that?,” I asked.

“Gets your attention, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“There you have it.”

“There I have what?”

Ten years ago I moved to Talkeetna, Alaska, and just a few days after I moved into my cabin, a huge fire that was larger than the city of Louisville, Kentucky started to the west of Talkeetna. I took this photo at the top of the hill that overlooks the area.

Huge fire in Alaska (June, 2007)

Meanwhile, in Alaska ... a moose at a McDonald’s. (Image from this pinterest page.)

A moose at a McDonald's in Alaska

Back in 2013 I was staying in a hotel in New Mexico, put a coffee cup next to the tv, started pouring cream, and static electricity pulled the cream into the tv. Cool.

Coffee, cream, and static electricity

Thought of the day: Some people are hard to love. I’m sure there are more categories than this, but the people I’m thinking of today are either mean, negative, self-pitying, or in other cases, they just don’t give you anything to love.

An important part of this thought for me is that none of this has to do with what a person looks like, it’s all about their attitude.

“Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence.”

~ Edsger Dijkstra

If you want to copy the current macOS Terminal path to the clipboard, you can do it with this simple command:

$ pwd | pbcopy

pwd prints the path to STDOUT, and pbcopy reads that and copies it to the macOS clipboard. Once the path is on the clipboard you can paste it into your other applications.

Of course you can also create an alias, like this:

alias path="pwd | pbcopy"

I was hoping to release the next version of my book on Scala and functional programming as a free PDF download tonight, but I ran into a couple of problems that I want to fix before I release it, and I’m too tired to do that tonight. I hope to release it tomorrow (Monday), and it should include over 600 pages, with 54 chapters and two appendices.

More of my Scala/FP book, coming soon

A software tool created by the NSA to hack into Microsoft Windows systems has been turned into a ransomware worm that has infected and disabled hundreds of thousands of unpatched Windows’ systems. Read more at bbc.com if you’re interested.

As a quick “note to self,” to get the Share Buttons module by AddToAny working in Drupal 8, I followed these steps:

- install the AddToAny module
- configure permissions so i could work with it
    - admin/people/permissions
- configure AddToAny as desired
    - admin/config/services/addtoany
- create a block, add it to a region (such as Content)
    - i actually created a block, then modified
      my theme to show AddToAny between the Contents and
      the Comments

The key to getting AddToAny was knowing to go to admin/structure/block and then selecting “Place Block” to create an AddToAny block. Not knowing that I had to do that slowed me down for quite a while.

Notes from September 24, 2016:

Doctor: I’d like to collect a bone marrow sample ...

*Al runs out of the hospital in a hospital gown, screaming like a little girl*


(later, after they caught me)

Doctor: The next time you break out in a rash, hives, or blisters, I want you to have those biopsied.

Me: Is there going to be any part of our relationship that doesn’t involve a lot of pain on my part?

Doc: Yes, pee in this cup, and we’ll look at it under a fluorescent light to see if you have the same disease that King George III had.

Me: The crazy one?

Doc: Yes.

Me: Cool.

To show how far my diet has come, on May 13, 2013 I wrote this on Facebook: “Huh, the doctor was right. They do have vegetables at my grocery store.”

These days (May, 2017), 80-90% of my diet is organic vegetables.

1-800-Flowers should be renamed to 1-800-NO-Flowers, because an order I placed on the Tuesday before Mother’s Day — which I paid extra to have delivered on Friday — won’t be delivered until after Mother’s Day. Either they or FedEx screwed up the delivery, and now FedEx won’t deliver the order until next week, so with 36 hours left before Mother’s Day, 1-800-NO-Flowers-For-You! won’t do anything to correct the problem.

Back in 2013, I attempted to grow a bonsai tree. It died almost immediately. I’d like to blame it on the high altitude here in Colorado, but I’m pretty sure it was me. Some day I’ll try again.

Bonsai tree

There’s a scene in the movie, The Family Man, where Nicolas Cage is sitting in a chair and trying to stay awake, because he knows that when he falls asleep his “glimpse” will be over.

The moments just before passing out are like that. Assuming that you’re not panicking, you’re vibrantly aware of everything around you — colors, smells, etc., because you don’t know if you’re just passing out or this is Game Over.

The end of a lucid dream can also be like that. You can be in the dream, know that you’re dreaming, and then know that you’re starting to wake up. You don’t want to leave, but you don’t have a choice, so you pay great attention to the environment because you know that you may never see it again.

To the best of my knowledge, all of those are also the correct mental state for Zen and mindfulness meditation. As Shunryu Suzuki says, “The true practice of meditation is to sit as if you are drinking water when you are thirsty.”

(Namaste)

I don't consider myself an Apple fanboy — for instance, I think whoever is designing Apple software these days is making things overly complicated (with OS X 10.7 through 10.12) — but I am a Jonathan Ive hardware design fanboy. I have a great respect for the industrial design work he and his team do. It’s safe to say that if I were in college these days I’d be studying industrial design instead of the aerospace engineering degree I got way back when.

This article contains a collection of quotes on design from Apple designer Jonathan Ive (or “Jony Ive,” as Steve Jobs called him). (Note: He prefers to refer to himself as a “builder” or “maker” as opposed to a designer.)

For those who don’t know of him, Jonathan Ive is credited with designing almost every Apple product since 1997. Given that very long string of success, I became interested in what Mr. Ive has to say, and to that end, here’s a collection of Jonathan Ive design interview quotes I’ve gathered over the last few years.

A visual image of the mathematical concept of “sets” using southern colloquialisms.

(I found this image on Twitter, but since I didn’t “like” it at the time I can’t find who created it, but I’ll link to them if/when I ever find the page again.)

Set theory explained with southern colloquialisms

This is a photo from May 10, 2011. The long bike-riding path in Palmer, Alaska was  one of my favorite things about living there. As you can see, it’s a nice, big path, separated from the road.

Bike path in Palmer, Alaska

Wow, that’s a scary coincidence. (Image from this tweet.)

People fired by Trump