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

From time to time, usually in the winter months, but not always, I like to write little stories of fiction. “Flash fiction,” I’m told they are called.

Here’s a short list of stories I’ve posted here recently:

(Back in 2015 & 2016 when I was especially sick with the mast cell disease — before anyone knew what mast cell disease was — I wrote the following incomplete, fictional story titled, “The Girl Next Door.” I’ll finish it if/when I can.)

“Here we are, come in,” I say to my two police escorts as I open the door and welcome them in. “Home, sweet home.”

Before they even get past the front door the young, hyperactive cop blurts out, “Okay, where is she?”

Huh, not much warm and fuzzy “welcome to my humble abode” time, I think to myself. “That’s where it gets a little tricky,” I say.

“What do you mean? Is she here, or isn’t she? If you lied about her, you’re going to be in for a world of hurt.”

“I didn’t lie, she is here,” I said, “uh ... just not in the way you think.”

“Do tell,” said the older policeman as he fingered some books on my bookshelf, looking around, studying everything. Those were the first words he said since we left the police station.

I paused. This is the part where nobody ever believes me, so I’ve found that it’s generally best not to talk about this at all. But when two policemen have you in handcuffs, my decision is more like, do I tell them fast — just blurt it out, or do I find some way to tell them about it slowly? I decide to try to explain it.

“Okay, here’s the deal,” I say, searching for my next words. I walk over to my dining room window and point with my cuffed hands. “Technically, she’s right over there.”

The young, hyper cop comes over and looks out the window. He sees that I’m pointing at a walkway between two buildings. He quickly turns and looks at me. “What kind of game are you playing?,” he asks, seemingly about ready to punch or strangle me.

“No game, sir. This is the thing: Have you ever read about parallel universes?”

“What the ...”

Wow, how embarrassing. It has taken me *years* to realize that when I run on all fours in a dream that I’m actually a dog (or maybe some other four-legged animal).

I finally realized it this morning when I was running like that and came up to a group of human friends, and one said something like, “Hey, look over there, it’s your new friend.”

When I looked in the direction he was pointing I saw a group of people who didn’t look familiar, and a black dog. Just then the dog came running at me. When it got to me it started licking and biting me and I thought, “This dog is crazy, why doesn’t someone get it off of me,” when everything suddenly made sense.

This is olde-tyme movie week at the Alexander household in Colorado (a tiny apartment, actually). Here are two images from the end of Flashdance, which I first saw at a theatre in Barrington, Illinois in 1983.

Flashdance image 1

Flashdance image 2

If you need a Flutter file logger, I just came up with the following approach, which seems to work well. First, a little background and a few caveats.

“The brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in asanas.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar

The brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in asanas

“True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness. Yoga is about how the Will can free us from the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses. This is how asana serves us.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Surprise of the day: If you do the math, you’ll find that “baby” (Jennifer Grey) was 27 years old when the movie Dirty Dancing was released (probably 26 during filming).

Jennifer Grey was 27 years old when the movie Dirty Dancing was released

If you’re feeling charitable, my niece is running a Make-A-Wish fundraiser.

As a brief “note to self,” when you need to get access to Flutter widget events that you normally can’t access, override the widget to access lifecycle-related events like initState() and dispose() so you can access them. For example, this image (that comes from this URL) shows how to gain access to those lifecycle methods for a Flutter Drawer. You can do this with any component/widget — and you can also make the code more generic by passing in child widgets — and you can also mix in WidgetsBindingObserver and then use didChangeAppLifecycleState to gain access to more events.

Flutter: Override widgets/components to get access to events

As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t see an image these days without wanting to do something with it in the Gimp. This is a Gimp “sketch” of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars movie #7. It would probably be better in plain black and white with a little less realism, but I have to get to work now. ;)

A Luke Skywalker sketch with Gimp

Some interesting comments from former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in this article:

“We’re in a hell of a mess in every direction,” Volcker told the Times. “Respect for government, respect for the Supreme Court, respect for the president, it’s all gone. Even respect for the Federal Reserve. And it’s really bad. At least the military still has all the respect. But I don’t know, how can you run a democracy when nobody believes in the leadership of the country?”

Table of Contents1 - Significant indentation syntax with traits and classes2 - match expressions3 - for loops and if/else (and `do` and `then`)4 - try/catch syntax5 - A couple of braces not removed6 - More Dotty/Scala 3 changes

With the Dotty compiler you can convert Scala 2 code to the new Scala 3 syntax, and with the Dotty 0.20.0-RC1 release on November 4, 2019, I thought I’d see how some of the conversions work. Almost all of the changes shown below have to do with the elimination of curly braces and the use of “significant indentation” syntax, but in one example I also show the then and do keywords.

Just a few months before he died, a nice man who worked at the local Walmart shared this story this morning while I was checking out:

“You know, I’ve been married 54 years.”

[long pause. you can tell he’s thinking about something.]

“One time, a long time ago, I was sitting on the couch, watching tv, and I could feel her staring at me. I mean I could just feel it. So I turned and looked at her and said, ‘What?’”

“She said, ‘You know what.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ She just got up and walked away.”

“You know, to this day I still have no idea what I did.”

[long pause]

“I think sometimes in a relationship you just have to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ even if you don’t know exactly what you did or didn’t do.”

In the ancient Sanskrit language, the word “dakini” can be interpreted as a female embodiment of enlightenment, an outstanding female practitioner in yoga and meditation.

In Tibet, the word for dakini is “khadroma,” and it literally means “female sky-traveler.”

This is a good espn.com article about John Elway. This is my favorite quote regarding programming and running a business: “He based his approach to scouting on Jack’s golden rule: ‘Look for heart first.’”

While driving back from Golden, Colorado on November 10, 2016, I happened to be listening to Lady Cab Driver by the artist formerly known as Prince, and wondered if these days he would have called it Lady Uber Driver. I thought it was interesting how society in the present moment has an effect on music and writing.

And here’s a gratuitous photo of some cattle on the right and wrong side of the fence near Golden, a big field, and some mountains.

Drive back from Golden, Colorado (and Lady Cab Driver)

Whenever I have a bad allergic reaction to something, I’m glad that my throat doesn’t close. It did that one time in Alaska before anyone knew anything about mast cell disease, and I was fortunate to survive that one. It’s a strange feeling to feel your neck/throat rapidly swelling and closing around your trachea. (I always keep at least one bottle of liquid Benadryl around for times like this.)

Table of Contents1 - Initial signs and symptoms of my pericarditis2 - At the hospital emergency department3 - In the cardiac wing4 - Pericarditis diagnosis5 - Pericarditis treatment6 - Pericarditis hospital discharge information7 - Pericarditis recovery8 - More on the pericarditis symptoms9 - More on the pericarditis treatment

WARNING: Chest pain is a serious life or death matter. If you’re experiencing chest pain right now, don’t waste any time reading this article — get yourself to a hospital.

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Initial signs and symptoms of my pericarditis

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, I had just finished lunch, looked at the clock, and saw that I could fit in about an hour of work before the Denver Broncos game started. Despite Denver’s 2-6 record, I was looking forward to see how Broncos’ quarterback Brandon Allen would do in his first career start following Joe Flacco’s neck injury.

A minute later I had severe chest pain. It wasn’t in the middle of my chest, but it was on the left side of the left chest/breast area. To the best of my memory, I went from feeling perfectly fine to having severe pain in a matter of moments.