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

I’m pretty new to learning that I probably have Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) — also known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) — and as I am learning more about it, I have been wondering, what is the difference between MCAS/MCAD and histamine intolerance? Here’s what I know so far.

Matt Cassel, talking about New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in this article:

My rookie year, I got crushed in the back by a corner blitz against the Giants. We’re playing them the next year in the last preseason game. He asks me, “OK, Cassel, what front do they like to bring the corner blitz from?” I had looked it up the night before, anticipating it. I said, “Coach, it’s an over.” And he goes, “Brady?” Well, you know immediately when he goes to the next guy: “Oh, no. Oh, no.” And Brady says, “An under.”

Then Bill goes, “Brady’s right. I don’t want to have to send your mother another note that says, ‘Dear Mrs. Cassel, we regret to inform you that your son got killed being a dumbass.’”

“It’s going well. It’s a difficult case, though, to give a man back his heart.”

~ A quote from the movie Michael

“Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

~ Steve Jobs


Every so often a woman in a 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?”

TIL that Season 8, Episode 1 of “House” is about mast cell disease. I found that tidbit in a great little book titled, My Crazy Life: A Humorous Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Disorders.

A Humorous Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Disorders

This song is called Production to Perfection, also by Chance’s End.

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.”

~ Vincent van Gogh

“What is done in love is done well.”

That’s a quote from Vincent van Gogh. I always think you can tell when someone loves to do something, such as love in designing things and writing beautiful code. Conversely, you can always tell when something feels rushed.

Wow, the first available appointment for the leading doctor on this disease is in February ... 2018.

NURSE (on the phone): Is Wednesday the 14th good for you?

ME: Well, that’s Valentine’s Day, I like to keep that open. Do you have something available on the 15th?

NURSE: I completely understand. Let’s find something on the 15th...

A very large, muscular guy walks into the fitness center. He looks at the big-screen television, which is currently playing a commercial, and then looks at me. “You watchin’ this?,” he asks forcefully.

As he turned to look at me, the show I was watching came back on. I catch my breath, point at the tv, and say, “The Princess Bride.”

He turns and looks back at the tv for a few moments. “Cool,” he says, and begins to lift some weights.

While Zen people are notorious for saying things like, “Sit there and meditate” — without telling you how to meditate — a book called Practicing The Jhanas is the best book I know on the topic of meditation. It not only walks you through how to meditate, it also gets into the different levels of meditation, and what you can expect at each level.

(If you’re only interested in Zen, the book Zen Training is the best Zen meditation book I know.)

“Though it does taste like pond scum, Spirulina has some great health-boosting qualities.”

Here’s a video showing how Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to take people to Mars:

ExtremeTech has a few more details.

We were playing at our camp when my older brother — who was standing on higher ground than I — saw something in the distance. He stood upright, then perfectly still. After a few moments he turned to me in a look of panic I had never seen before, pointed in a direction opposite from where he was looking, and screamed, “Run! Run!” I was startled at his behavior but I knew that something was very wrong, so I ran. And I ran.

I ran as fast as I could, weaving through the brush and constantly changing my course as I was chased by a white man on a dark horse. I thought I might be close to safety when I darted through some bushes, but I ran right into a creek that was too wide to jump across. As I paused for a moment to decide how to continue, the white man shot me in the back.

In intense pain and sudden shock, I stumbled forward into the creek, bent over with one hand in the creek. As I attempted to stand up and regain my balance, I was shot in the back again. This time my body flew forward towards the opposite side of the creek. I tried to control my fall but could not, and my torso slammed against the land. The right side of my face was pressed against the ground, my eyes still open. My right arm was trapped under my body, my left arm was somewhere down my left side. My legs lay in the creek’s water.

“Tell them I was a writer.” ~ Pieter Hintjens

Tell them I was a writer

“Mast cell disorders are neoplastic disorders, which means the mast cells multiply continuously over the patient’s lifetime. As with cancer cells, mast cells do not die, disappear, or cease to function, on their own.”

When I began reading the book, Never Bet Against Occam, I told my doctors that it was like reading my biography. At the very least it read like the biography of my last few years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses, trying to find out why I kept getting very sick and passing out, and why my lab results were jumping around like a rabbit, first showing signs of one illness and then another.

I just noticed that another reviewer wrote, “The book was like a romance novel that I could not put down!” I won’t call it a romance novel, but I know that once I started reading it, I didn’t put it down either. I was smiling at the stories I related to, and also wondered, “Why don’t my doctors know about mastocytosis and mast cell activation disease?”

For more information, here’s a link to Never Bet Against Occam on

Never Bet Against Occam - Mast cell activation disease

Last night was a rough night, and it made me think of the Joe Walsh song, Help Me Thru The Night. This morning when I was looking for that song I came across a song called, Help Me Make It Through The Night.

This version is performed by Willie Nelson, but it was originally written and performed by Kris Kristofferson. If Willie Nelson isn’t your cup of tea, here’s a link to a Norah Jones version of Help Me Make It Through The Night.

“Some people aren’t meant to stay in your life. But that doesn't mean they can’t stay with you.”