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

As I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Seward this afternoon, a dog walked in the back door and just stood there, looking at everyone. Owner tells me he was looking for a good poker game. ;)

~ photo from Seward, Alaska, February 25, 2011

A dog walks into a coffee shop

After working until one o’clock this morning, I had barely woken up at 9:30am when someone kept knocking insistently on my front door. I was dressed in old blue sweat pants with dried streaks of clay on them, an orange beach shirt, slippers, haven’t shaved in two or three days, hair with bed head, green under the eyes because that’s what they look like when I wake up (thanks to the MCAS), but I answered the door.

A woman I know was standing there. “Okay, that outfit is pretty ridiculous,” she said. “But I was thinking, we should go out some time.”

I didn’t answer because I wasn’t awake and was barely processing what she said and I don’t really go out. Then she said, “I have to go to work now, but maybe we can talk about this later?”


I’m still not awake, but she wears high heel shoes a lot, so she always makes me think of this Eagles song.

In the “lucid dream holodeck” this morning, I was hanging out with a group of peeps when a tornado suddenly appeared. Everyone started running for cover, and I grabbed a dog and started running for a basement when I looked back at it and thought, “This isn’t a tornado, it’s just an insane amount of energy.”

Holding the dog under my right arm, I stood my ground. When I did this, the energy stopped moving like a tornado, and — skipping over the whole “Transformers” thing — it eventually took on a female human form.

Further skipping past our introductions ... I eventually suggested that she talk to some other people in the dreamspace, but she said no, I had less “hate-y bits” than the other people. (Language differences often make for interesting translations.)

ARK Invest has a good article, “Why has Waymo taken so long to commercialize autonomous taxis?,” in which they write about System Identified Failures and Unexpected Failures.

One interesting note from the article that has nothing to do with Waymo: “Some stretches of road are trickier and some intersections more difficult to navigate than others. In Los Angeles, for example, roughly a quarter of pedestrian collisions take place at only 1% of its intersections.”

Google has some good resources on Progressive Web Apps (PWA), including this Your First Progressive Web App tutorial.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

FYI: The price of the “Hello, Scala” Kindle ebook will be going up to $9.99 on March 1, 2018.

Sadly it had to come because of yet another senseless tragedy, but I’m glad to see students and teachers standing up to the NRA and NRA-bought politicians. This image shows a brilliant tweet from a teacher.

Teacher doesn't want guns, could use dry erase markers

It can be harder to ice skate in Alaska than you might expect. This is the ice in the Turnagain Arm area, which is south of Anchorage, on the way to Alyeska, Seward, and Homer. (There are some very nice places to ice skate, but this isn’t one of them.)

Rough ice skating in Alaska

“Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations of the consciousness.”

~ Patanjali (via Iyengar)

From a story about a woman who has a more severe form of the illness/disease I have:

“Johanna Watkins, 30, is allergic to almost everything and everyone, including her husband Scott, 29. She’s been diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare and progressive immunological condition.”

“She has a list of 15 foods she can eat and that’s it. Even those foods make her feel ill, it’s just that they don’t kill her. She’s eaten the same two meals for two years.”

(The image is from the story.)

Rare disease makes woman allergic to everything, including her husband

“He who lives to see two or three generations is like a man who sits some time in the conjurer’s booth at a fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only once, and when they are no longer a novelty and cease to deceive, their effect is gone.”

~ A quote from Arthur Schopenhauer,
read by Steve Jobs,
as found in the book, How Google Works

Due to a potential security issue I’ve disabled new comments on this website. Hopefully they’ll be re-enabled next week.

In terms of being a nice person, Steve Jobs may have been the worst Buddhist in the history of the world, but he captures the Zen/Buddhist essence in this quote:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Photo from, words from Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs - remembering that i will be dead soon

“Oh, my goodness. You know sometimes I think that God gave you such a big heart that he just left no room for plain sense.”

~ a favorite quote from a favorite tv show

“Go out there and have huge dreams, then show up to work the next morning and relentlessly incrementally achieve them.”

~ from the book, How Google Works

Way back in 2013 — before my first fake heart attack followed by learning that I had thyroid cancer — I thought I was about to go “back to work”, and I decided to try to write another visual demo of Akka Actors before I went back to work. I gave myself 10 hours to write something, and at first I decided to just create some bubbles that would move about randomly on screen. But I got that working so fast that I decided to do something else.

Eventually I came up with the idea of a little “kill the bubbles” game, which turned into a “kill the characters” game. This video shows how it works:

I just found some notes from when I first began working with Scala, and I was working with the yield keyword in for loops. If you haven't worked with something like yield before, it will be helpful to know how it works. Here's a statement of how the yield keyword works in for loops, based on the documentation in the book, Programming in Scala:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought,
the shame,
the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ The Guest House, by Rumi

My personal motivational speaker. I disccovered him on a trip to Los Alamos. (Sadly, the bookstore in Los Alamos where I found him is no longer in business.)

Albert Einstein doll

I went to the library and asked for a book on Pavlov’s dog and Schrodinger’s cat. The librarian said it rang a bell but she didn’t know if it was there or not.