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

“Learn to say, ‘I hope that works out for you’, rather than trying to ‘fix’ or change people.”

~ from Maryam Hasnaa, image by tinybuddha.com

(I see a lot of people who bring stress on themselves by trying to control friends, relatives, and partners. Unless you’re someone’s boss in a place of work, you should ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to try to control other people?”)

I hope that works out for you

This image shows the symptoms of mast cell disease. I’ve had every one of those (except for that gynecological ones). For years I just assumed that everyone went through this. The image comes from The Mastocytosis Society website.

Update: I noticed that they missed a few things, including unusual/allergic reactions to medications and insect bites.

Symptoms of mast cell disease (image)

Once upon a time I came across same killer whales (orcas) in Alaska, off the coast of Seward.

Killer whales in Alaska

It looks like this statue in Santa Fe is saying, “Woo-hoo, it’s a new year.”

Happy New Year, 2020 (Santa Fe statue)

Legend has it that Bodhidharma sat facing a wall for nine years. I’m going to sit facing my faux fireplace on my new cushion (known as a zabuton, which was a Christmas gift this year).

New meditation cushion (zabuton)

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

~ possibly from Lao Tzu

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. Over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

When we enter the empty meditation hall we experience a tangible awareness of peace. The uncluttered space, accentuated by the orderliness of the simple cushions, seems quietly alive, a reflection of inherent beauty. We find a feeling of safety and sanctuary.

However, in Zen practice, true sanctuary is not isolated from everyday life. True sanctuary includes everything, shutting out nothing, because it has no doors and no walls. Finding true sanctuary means expressing who we really are.

~~~~~

Tozan and his disciple Sozan were the founders of the Soto Zen school in China. When it came time for Sozan to leave his teacher, he want to say goodbye.

Tozan asked him, “Where are you going?”

“To an unchanging place,” Sozan answered.

“Is there really any going to that place?”

“The going itself is unchanged.”

In this story Sozan is saying that the activity is the place of unchanging. He is pointing to continuous effort, uninterrupted practice, as the “place” of sanctuary.

Here’s a very touching story on colorado.edu titled, Xenna the service dog helps Navy vet do laboratory research.

Xenna the service dog

“She didn’t want to die in the hospital,” Arlene said. “I promised her, ‘You’re not going to die in the hospital. You’re not going to die in here.’”

~ from this story on uchealth.org

All the times
That I’ve cried
All that’s wasted
It’s all inside

And I feel all this pain
Stuffed it down

It’s back again

And I lie
Here in bed
All alone

I can’t mend

~ From the song Outside, by Staind

A quote from the first episode of the tv series, The Dead Zone:

“Don’t you hate talking to sick people? You never know what to say. Just try and be cheerful, I guess, right?”

During one of my hospital stays in 2015, a nurse who was nearly named Amanda stopped in several times to talk to me, both when she was checking my vitals, and a couple of times on her breaks. We talked about life, death, and things in between; deep, honest conversations.

“Don’t you hate talking to sick people?”

The song “Sara” by Fleetwood Mac — sung by Stevie Nicks — is one of my highest-rated songs in my iTunes collection, and is apparently about a baby that was conceived by Ms. Nicks and Don Henley of The Eagles. You can read more about it at lifenews.com.

The meaning of the song “Sara,” by Stevie Nicks

For many years, Denali was “officially” named for a U.S. President who never visited Alaska. Fortunately that was finally corrected in 2015.

Denali, Alaska

As a note to self, I had the worst migraine headache I’ve ever had on December 17, 2019. I threw up twice during the event, and fortunately I finally started to feel better after the second time.

On a drive back to Colorado in 2017 I listened to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In the book, The Lady Chablis talked about how much the estrogen shots affected her, mentally and physically — her thoughts, such as who she was attracted to, and her physical attributes.

I’ve often thought about how our thoughts and behavior are affected by our hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.). That’s one reason I like meditation: The farther you get away from the physical body and chemically-influenced brain, the more you can figure out who you are.

Brief conversation with a Starbucks barista in whatever town I was just in:

“A grande coffee, please.”

“Room for cream?”

“Yes, an inch please.”

“An inch?”

“I won’t be offended if it’s more than that. I won’t drink it all.”

“Okay. Anything else?”

“I haven’t had caffeine in several months, so that should be more than enough.”

“Did you know that some people get sleepy when they have caffeine? I thought that was interesting.”

“Indeed.”

She leans in and whispers, “Don’t tell anyone, but honestly, I only like to drink coffee on the weekends, and then have deep conversations with friends.”

I lean in and quietly reply, “I like your style.”

~ December 18, 2018

When I fell asleep last night I had Amazon Prime Video running on my tablet. Then when I woke up at some time during the night, there was a squirrel talking in a kitchen, and then I saw that he was talking to Robert Downey, Jr. Turns out it was this fun Alexa/Doolittle ad, supporting Toys For Tots.

(And on the Dolittle front, this Dolittle “Auditions” video provides even more fun.)

I was working on some new code for my functional programming in Scala book today. At one point I thought everything looked okay, so I decided to generate some Scaladoc to see what certain things looked like. Admittedly I’m a bit tired today, but when I saw that Scaladoc I thought, “Good grief, Al, what sort of ugly API have you created?”

For some reason, seeing the Scaladoc helped me easily see the errors of my way. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be promoting a “Scaladoc-driven API design” process, but seeing the Scaladoc generated from my code sure helped today.

~ a note from August 30, 2017

A Scaladoc-driven design process