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

*Magneto flapping his wrist frantically, trying to shake loose a fork stuck to his hand*

This article on How to get out of a (mast cell disease) reaction cycle has good information on H1 and H2 antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, and more.

(I already knew that the max dosage for Zyrtec for people like me is four pills a day, and on that page Lisa Klimas shares information on Benadryl, Zantac, Pepcid, and more.)

Traveling always reminds me of this song: Please Come to Boston, by Dave Loggins:

I lived in Palmer, Alaska for too short a period of time, and on my daily walks I would often go past this statue of Balto in the downtown area. Someone was kind enough to put a hat on him to keep him warm.

Balto, Palmer, Alaska

I saw this quote by Naval Ravikant:

“The fundamental delusion - there is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.”

and it reminded me of this quote by Zen Master Yasutani Roshi:

“The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.”

A couple that lives near me has been having problems, and yesterday the husband asked if he and I could talk privately. After we found a quiet place he said, “My wife isn’t the woman I married ... I don’t like this new version of her, and I don’t know what to do.”

(Sorry, there’s no moral to this story, only that.)

Health (and other things) permitting, I hope to have a first draft of my book on Scala and functional programming (now titled, Learning Functional Programming in Scala) completed by the end of May.

It may only be in an alpha or beta state by then, but I’m debating about making it available as an Amazon ebook for a low cost at that time. I’ll be going back to work almost immediately after that, so if I don’t release it now, it may be another year before I can really finish it.

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

In retrospect it’s humbling to see that doctors spent about half a million dollars over the last 5-7 years to figure out my illness. If more doctors knew about mast cell disease the total cost could have probably been 1/10th of that.

This makes me look forward to the day when doctors have better software, and are willing to use it. (Every time I watch an episode of House I think, “Use a computer!”)

Dr. Foreman: The kid was just taking his calculus exam when all of a sudden he got nauseous and disoriented.

Dr. House: That’s the way calculus presents.

I hesitate to say something because this is usually where I get cancer, a rare disease, or a body part has to be removed, but I did a yogic handstand tonight, for the first time since things started to go south in 2011.

(Photo is of Stephen Amell from The Arrow.)


What happens at the motor home stays at the motor home. (I don’t think I want to know what happens in the motor home.)

Sign in a store window, Palmer, Alaska.

What happens at the motor home stays at the motor home

“And so I wake in the morning
And I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”

I may have done that once or twice in the mountains of Alaska. :)

(P!nk also does a nice cover of this song.)

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.