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

In case you were worried about Luke falling in The Empire Strikes Back. (From this collection of 66 behind the scenes photos.)

In case you were worried about Luke Skywalker falling

I’ve been listening to the song Guilty by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb lately, and it reminds me that when you first start meditating there can be a lot of guilt associated with attempting to meditate. Various thoughts include:

  • This is dumb
  • This is a waste of time
  • I’m not getting anywhere
  • I should be doing [fill-in-the-blank]

These thoughts can last a long time, until that one day that your meditation finds your groove, all of the “mind noise” goes away, and you think, “I could do this for the rest of my life.”

So today’s thought is one of persistence: If some part of you finds yourself wanting to meditate, there might just be some voice hidden deep in your mind wanting this. So vow to keep working at it until that one day when you find the sweet spot and then think, “I could do this for the rest of my life.”

January 22, 2020: Good news, today is the first day I have been able to sit down without pain since December 23 of last year. For whatever reason it has taken the Angio-Seal in my leg this long to heal. But yesterday and today were the first days I have been almost 100% pain-free while standing, and so far I’ve been able to sit down for a little while, which is a very nice feeling. :)

When I left Alaska in 2011 I didn’t have enough room in my car for all of my books, so these are the ~104 books I left behind.

Books I sold when I left Alaska in 2011

The cabin I lived in, in Talkeetna, Alaska. This time of year — late winter — I always find myself wanting to move back to Alaska.

The cabin I lived in, in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Wednesday Zen:

One time an employee came into my office, closed my door, and said, “How are you so calm? I’m going nuts!” As I would learn, he had some stress from work, but even more from his personal life. I tried to help him slow down, breathe, and talk, but he was frantic and almost impossible to help.

The thing about meditation and stillness of mind is that you can’t just start it one day in the middle of a crisis, like when you feel a sudden twinge of chest pain or you’re laying in a hospital bed with a virus trying to suffocate your heart. By then it’s too late.

“Do not fall in love with people like me. I will take you to museums, and parks, and monuments, and kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.”

~ Caitlyn Siehl

If you want to see a somewhat larger example of Dotty source code than I’ve shown before, I just took a little time to convert a small Scala 2 project over to the new/current Dotty syntax (i.e., the Dotty syntax supported by the Dotty 0.21 release, circa January, 2020).

This is a view of some mountains (whose official name I don’t know) from my apartment in Palmer, Alaska, in January, 2011.

Mountains from my apartment in Palmer, Alaska

Back on January, 20, 2011 I came across this moose statue inside Krazy Moose Subs, Wasilla, Alaska. Seems fitting to go along with my previous moose in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A moose statue inside Krazy Moose Subs, Wasilla, Alaska

The Washington Post has a touching story titled, What schizophrenia does to families.

What schizophrenia does to families

Now this mountain I must climb,
Feels like the world upon my shoulders.

Through the clouds I see love shine,
It keeps me warm as life grows colder.

~ from the song, I Want to Know What Love Is, by Foreigner

I don’t remember where I saw this photo — it may have been the Fireside Books account on Twitter or Facebook — but it shows that they don’t worry about cleaning the snow off the streets too much in the winter in Alaska. This photo was taken about three blocks from my old apartment in Palmer, Alaska. (My apartment was one block down this road in the direction shown, and one or two blocks to the right.)

They don’t clean the snow off the streets in Alaska (much)

If you’re into streaks and records, last night (January 17-18, 2020), was the first time I slept without pain since November 3, 2019 (thanks to the pericarditis and subsequent angiogram). I have no doubt that I snored a good snore. :)

In 2011 I was living in Palmer, Alaska, and I just started to look into renting this small brown building to be a home for my software-consulting business when some family issues came up and I moved back to the Lower-48.

There probably wasn’t enough work in the Palmer/Wasilla area — also known as the Mat-Su Valley — but I loved the area so much I wanted to give it a try.

Little office building in Palmer, Alaska

Back in March, 2010, I drove up to Alaska. This is the office of a little motel in Canada ... at the moment I can’t remember the name of the town, but I could find it again. :)

Cute motel in Canada in the winter

Slid sideways through an icy intersection just in time to see a helicopter lift off from the ground with a sunlit mountain range as its backdrop ... pretty awesome.

(A Facebook post from December 19, 2010, when I lived in Alaska.)

Day 3: Yesterday I had way too much energy, but today’s mood is frustration, agitation, and impatience. Like this meeting tonight, I am not in the mood to be here. The part I hate is that I can’t be comfortable and happy with the people here. We’re all interested in the same thing (finally, people I can relate to!), and they’re all open and supportive. I hate that about myself.

Day 4: Arghh. I have way too much anger (rage!) right now. Everything here is so damn vague and the answers are #!$@ elusive. I just need to get out of this gathering and hit something. What am I really angry at? Where is this coming from?

Day 5: I would have left yesterday if it wasn’t for C stopping me at my car. I don’t know if she knew that she stopped me, but she did. Evening: Long talk with P. She spoke of giving fifteen years to her family, and while she doesn’t regret it, she expressed some remorse at giving up her career. But tonight she was dancing, and said I looked much happier.

Day 6: Last day. Long goodbyes with everyone, including C, I, F, J, N, and more. Asked N about something that happened last night at the rock, and she said I was very fortunate, it’s very rare. Leaving here is hard, it feels like graduating high school, knowing you’ll never see these people again who have been friends through all of this. I’m so grateful that C stopped me from leaving. Lots of tears all around.

(A few notes from a retreat I went on in 2006. I wrote a lot that week, and some of the notes get very personal, and it’s time to shred those, but I thought I’d share a few here.)

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but Sri Argala Stotram by Krishna Das is the prettiest song I’ve heard in a long time, and I didn’t even understand the first two-thirds of it.

Just when Margaret thought Frank was going to say something else ...

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