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

Had a fun multi-level Inception-like lucid dream last night. In two dream levels I saw the time was 11:40. When I woke up (for real) and went in the other room and looked at the clock, it was indeed 11:40pm.

In the last level, Uninvited was playing, until I walked around, following the music, found a radio, and turned it off.

May 3, 2103

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

~ Carlos Castaneda

Although I had already moved around quite a bit by then, living in Talkeetna, Alaska ten years ago had a big impact on my current vagabond lifestyle. I used to walk into town and sit on a bench and watch 10-20 tour buses roll in every day with people 70+ years old, and many of them would have canes, walkers, and wheelchairs.

While I felt great that those people were able to see a part of the town, I also knew that they couldn’t see all of the town. For instance, they couldn’t go down by the rivers because it was a bit of a walk, and there was no access for disabled people. Walking by the rivers is one of the great things about being in Talkeetna.

As I sat there I realized that when you get to that age that’s going to be the only way you can travel, and soon after that you won’t be able to travel at all. More recently, when I was pretty sick the last couple of years I became even more aware that the clock was ticking. So I plan to keep wandering around as long as I can.

After watching The Heartbreak Kid on Netflix last night (which I learned was R-rated as I was watching it), I was reminded of the song Rosalita, by Bruce Springsteen. Here’s a great performance of the song from 1988 on YouTube.

I went for a walk this morning to clear my mind. There’s still some snow here.

Rocky Mountains (front range), May 1, 2017

Arthur: If I asked you where the hell we were, would I regret it?

Ford: We’re safe.

Arthur: Oh good.

Ford: We’re in a small galley cabin in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.

Arthur: Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word “safe” that I wasn’t previously aware of.

(From The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.)

I made it eight minutes on the elliptical trainer yesterday. That’s pretty much a record since all of this mast cell disease stuff started becoming a problem in 2011/2012.

#The ComebackContinues

“Cookie dough is the sushi of desserts” ~ Cookie Monster. (As heard on this video.)

Presumably as a result of the MCAS I always feel sick (groggy with flu-like symptoms) when I don’t get enough rest, and I just read this comment from a nurse on the Mastocytosis Society page on Facebook: “Extra fatigue can cause a histamine release.” That seems to confirm what I have been feeling.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has found residual amounts of weed killer in 30% of the foods they tested. The story is here on

Here’s a link to Jeff Bezos’ letter to Amazon shareholders, circa April, 2017. Possibly one of the most important phrases to me personally is his concept of, “Disagree and commit.”

I was driving in western Kentucky around four o’clock on Friday morning, and I was able to get in radio stations from Arkansas, Iowa, Chicago, Cleveland, and Atlanta. That was pretty cool.

I have no statistical proof of it, but my eyes (and sinuses) tell me that a lot of people smoke in Virginia, many more than where I live in Colorado. I had forgotten how much I dislike the smell of cigarette smoke.

Per this tweet, this is what the gas prices look like on Alaska’s north slope on April 10, 2015.

Gas prices on Alaska's north slope

Here’s another photo of the Moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Moonrise over the ocean, Virginia Beach (#2)

If you ever need to copy text (or a text file) from the MacOS Terminal to the Mac clipboard, I can confirm that the macOS pbcopy command works. It reads from STDIN and copies the text to the clipboard, so commands like these work:

$ echo "foo bar baz" | pbcopy

$ cat /etc/passwd | pbcopy

I don’t have a camera to do it justice, but the moonrise is pretty tonight.

Moonrise over the ocean, Virginia Beach

I just counted, and the latest version of my book on functional programming in Scala currently contains 90 short lessons and another 25 appendices. It’s going to grow a little more, but that’s where it is right now. I hope to have a first draft of it publicly available by the end of May.

Update: The first 600 pages of my book, Learning Functional Programming in Scala, are now available as a free PDF download.

I like this description of the proper mindfulness technique: “Not judging what you see, not considering it good or bad, just seeing what you see, with interest and curiosity. Staking out your inner experience, like a wildlife photographer in an exotic location, waiting for the moment to snap.” It comes from the “Base” recording under the “Waiting Around” category of the Buddhify app. (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the speaker.)