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

Here’s another photo from my drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay.

The drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay (photo #1)

“While his brain was probed by the fMRI, Mingyur (a Buddhist monk) followed the instruction to engage compassion. Once again the minds of everyone watching in the control room felt as though they had stopped. The reason: Mingyur’s brain circuitry for empathy rose to an activity level 700 to 800 times greater than it had been in the rest period just before.”

“Such an extreme increase befuddles science; the intensity with which those states were activated in Mingyur’s brain far exceeds any that had ever been seen in ‘normal’ people. The closest resemblance is for epileptic seizures, but those episodes last brief seconds, not for a full minute. And besides, brains are controlled by seizures, in contrast to Mingyur’s display of intentionally controlling his brain activity.”

~ from a story about brainwave tests of a monk in 2002

This is a photo from the drive I once took from Fairbanks, Alaska all the way up to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay.

The drive from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

One of my nieces got me this “Straight Outta Cookies” Cookie Monster t-shirt for Christmas one year. For a guy like me who once got paid in cookies to build a website, it’s a great gift. :)

Straight Outta Cookies - Cookie Monster t-shirt

“Today I will live in the moment ... unless it’s unpleasant, in which case I’ll eat a cookie.”

~ Cookie Monster

[From time to time I write little stories that have nothing to do with programming or technology; this is one of those stories. So, if you’re only here for the technology stuff, you’ll want to skip this one.]

I’m standing in the kitchen of a friend’s house at a Christmas party, making myself a drink while talking to a friend named Angie. This was nothing unusual; she and I were always talking about something. We became friends during our last year in high school, and we’ve been talking every since.

In retrospect it’s obvious that I have feelings for her, but I guess you could say that I didn’t appreciate her back then. After high school my ambition took me away to college, and then to a series of jobs in different states. By the time I decided to move back home, she was married and had two young children.

While we talked all the time, this kitchen conversation was unusual. I don’t remember how it started, but Angie did ask me about something I rarely talk about: my parents getting divorced in high school.

Acting lessons, by Steven Seagal. :)

Steven Seagal

“Don’t worry, it’s just marketers collecting our personal data so they can create more relevant advertising for us.”

~ from @marketoonist

Don't worry, it's just marketers collecting our personal data

In one of my ongoing dream series I’m a young man who works at a restaurant at night. Two nights ago I was working there when a female co-worker told me she bought a Christmas gift for me, and wanted to see if we could do a gift exchange. I hadn’t gotten her anything yet, so I said something like, “I, I ... I can’t do it right now because <insert excuse here>. How about tomorrow?”

After work I went out to buy something for her. “Think, think,” I said to myself, probing my dream memory, “what would be a nice gift?” Then I remembered that a few weeks ago she told me about something she always wanted when she was younger, so I went out and found that item, and wrapped it up.

Last night we exchanged gifts during a break at work. She opened hers first, and when she saw it she began to cry. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “now you’ve gone and made her cry. This might not be good.” But then she said it was beautiful and thoughtful, and said her gift to me was nothing compared to it.

Tonight I think I’m going to call in sick to work, or maybe just stay up all night and binge-watch Stranger Things.

~ December 13, 2017

I forgot all about this, but at some point I posted large photos of my 2007 drive from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. As you can see in those photos, it’s dirt roads all the way.

Photos from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay

“Gonna have that song stuck in my head”

~ from the Tundra Comics 2019 calendar

Gonna have that song stuck in my head

“They say dreams are the windows of the soul. Take a peek and you can see the inner workings, the nuts and bolts.”

A “Northern Exposure” coffee mug, with a Tundra Comics design.

Northern Exposure coffee mug (Tundra Comics design)

“Sometimes the mind ... for reasons we don’t fully understand, just goes to the store for a quart of milk.”

(Or for ‘december,’ in my case.)

“I don’t know what this is, or why this is Amy, but I’m tumbling for you in a big way. You know what I mean? I’m plummeting off the edge of the Earth ...”

~ from the Northern Exposure “Pi” episode.

A wee bit of cause and effect:

I may never have lived in Alaska
if I didn’t first go there on vacation.

I may have never gone to Alaska on vacation
if Colorado wasn’t on fire in 2002.

I may not have thought to go to Alaska in 2002
if I hadn’t discovered Northern Exposure ~1996.

I may never have discovered Northern Exposure
if I didn’t quit a job I didn’t like in 1995.

I may never have discovered Northern Exposure if a tv channel
that doesn’t exist today hadn’t aired it back then.

This keeps going back in time until I was born (or before then),
but that’s the basic idea.

I don’t always get sick, but when I do ... it’s nice to find other people who are going through what I’ve been going through, and they still have a sense of humor about it. If you have a Pinterest account, this “My Mastocytosis” page is great.

I don't always get sick, but when I do ...

I think I originally saw this “kindness changes the brain” quote in a pschologytoday.com article titled The Positive Psychology of Kindness.

Kindness changes the brain