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

I enjoy Phil Plait’s writing style in this “Bad Astronomy” article, A 3 billion solar mass black hole rockets out of a galaxy at 8 million kilometers per hour. Yes, seriously. He clearly enjoys what he’s writing about.

Bonnie Eisenman perfectly captures the target market for my upcoming book on Scala and Functional Programming. How big that market is ... I don’t know ... I’m just trying to write a good book to explain functional programming in Scala in simple terms, and this is who I’m writing it for.

The target market for my book on Scala and Functional Programming

There’s a guy on a local radio station (104.3 The Fan) named Darren McKee (who guys by the name “D-Mac”), and he constantly uses a phrase that drives me crazy:

“To be honest with you ...”

As I wrote in my book, A Survival Guide for New Consultants, you should never use that phrase.

Why? Because using it for some sentences implies that you aren’t being honest with every other sentence that comes out of your mouth.

“Why am I always sick?” That’s a question I used to ask myself a lot.

Other people asked it as well: “Why are you always sick?”

I remember one time when I was in the same room as my wife while she was on the phone. She was taking to her sister, who was talking about her husband (my brother-in-law), and their conversation went on for quite some time. Afterwards I said, “Wow, I hope you guys don’t talk about me all the time like that.” My wife said, “No, we just always say that you seem to get sick a lot.”

I’m amazed/saddened by people who are so afraid of making a mistake that they come up with a million different reasons as excuses to justify why something can’t be done. They always say, “I would do XYZ, but ...”

All I can think to say to them is, “Quit thinking and just do it.” Or, as Cher said in Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!”

Really, what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? You’re going to die? Well, I have news for you, no matter what you do, you’re going to die anyway. (I’ve gone unconscious seven times over the last couple of years, and believe me, at that point there’s nothing you can do about it.)

When I was very sick in 2015-2016, I used to tell my doctors it felt like I had been “drugged.” When I could see that they couldn’t understand or believe that, I’d tell them that it felt the way you feel after surgery, groggy and woozy.

For the most of this year I’ve been eating very well, but yesterday I went to see a movie (Logan) and had some popcorn. Shortly after eating the popcorn I started to feel sick, and today I feel like I’ve been drugged.

This — as I have learned — is life with mast cell activation disease, known as MCAD or MCAS.

The Native American woman I met last week had an aneurysm and brain surgery last year. (She showed me the scar, and she’s fine now.) Before the aneurysm was discovered, she went to a shaman who’s well-known among Natives here. He lit something, made some smoke, did whatever else he does, then looked at her, put his finger on her forehead and said, “You are blocked here.”

Unfortunately she assumed he was referring to a mental blockage, and thought, “No, I’m an open person, he’s wrong.” Shortly after this, doctors discovered the aneurysm right where he pointed.

“So you’re a glass half-empty kind of guy?”

“Depends what’s in the glass.”

“If you care about someone you have to let them be the person they are, not the person you want them to be. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

(From an episode of “Death in Paradise.”)

One of the crazy things about having super-realistic lucid dreams goes like this:

Three times this morning I woke up, had a couple of cookies, made some coffee, and started doing things, only to realize each time that I was still asleep.

(The good news is that I had a lot of cookies, with no calories.)

Table of Contents1 - Summary2 - New Linode Server3 - Update Everything4 - Ubuntu Firewall5 - Add a New User6 - Disabling Root Login7 - Limit Login Attempts8 - Install Nginx9 - Adjust Firewall10 - Nginx Configuration11 - NOT what I used: Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.0412 - (1) Create a cert (openssl)13 - (2) Create a strong Diffie-Hellman group14 - (3) Configure Nginx to Use SSL15 - Adjust the Nginx Configuration to Use SSL16 - (Alternative Configuration) Allow Both HTTP and HTTPS Traffic17 - Adjust the Firewall18 - Enable the Changes in Nginx19 - Test in Browser20 - Nginx "default_server"21 - Can change to a permanent redirect (301)22 - More Security: Preventing Information Disclosure23 - More Security: Fail2Ban24 - Restricting Access by IP Address25 - See also

Without any introduction or discussion, here are the notes I made while learning how to get HTTPS working with Nginx. These are just for me, but if something helps you, cool.

Wesley Reisz also shared this image with the text, “Artist’s secret toolbox for creating art ... transformations.” The slide is from Brian Kane.

Artists secret toolbox for creating art ... transformations

Wesley Reisz shared this nice image titled, “The Rationale for Optional” (in Java). Optional in Java is similar to Option in Scala.

The rationale for Optional (in Java)

I was surprised to find out yesterday that you can change your Amazon email address without having to verify the change from your old email account. You only have to verify the new email address. That seems like a flaw.

I sit here on the stairs,
'cause I’d rather be alone.
If I can’t have you right now,
I’ll wait dear.

A. Rose, Patience

bbc.com has a good story on How to super-size your memory using techniques like a memory palace.

How to increase your memory

ExtremeTech.com has this story about newly restored nuclear test footage. From the article, “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is in the process of restoring those films, and they’ve uploaded the first batch to YouTube.”

From this story on sciencemag.org:

“NASA’s Curiosity rover usually keeps its instruments firmly focused on Mars’s ground, zapping grit with its laser or drilling cores in bedrock. But every few days, the SUV-sized robot, like any good dreamer, shifts its sights upward to the clouds. Well into its fifth year, the rover has now shot more than 500 movies of the clouds above it, including the first ground-based view of martian clouds shaped by gravity waves ...”

(See the story for more information, and some animations which unfortunately just keep endlessly repeating.)

When I first moved to Talkeetna, I sat down to sign the lease with my new landlord. The conversation went like this:

Her: So, why are you moving to Alaska ... hunter?

Me: No.

Fisherman?

No.

*pause*

Right-wing nut job?

No.

*pause*

You’re not here to write stories about the town for tv shows, like those Northern Exposure people, are you?

*she starts taking off her shirt, which I eventually realize is so that she can breast-feed her baby*

Um ... no.

Why are you here?

A little personal enlightenment (from March 22, 2014):

Since I started passing out a few weeks ago, I’ve had conversations with doctors, nurses, friends, and even a shaman caregiver about life, death, quality of life, goals, and desires. I had a hard time answering some of those questions, and yesterday I realized why that was:

If you’re truly living in the present moment, those questions don’t make any sense! You can’t think about life, death, the past, or the future if you’re absorbed in the present moment.

When eating, just eat. When planning for the future, live fully in that moment of planning for the future. And when writing text like this, just write. That’s all.