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

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.

I’m only about fifty pages into the book, How Google Works, but I can already say that if you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, it’s a valuable read. At first I thought the authors were patting themselves on the back a lot (which admittedly they deserve), but as I continued reading they clearly say things like “We’re not that smart,” “We screwed up,” and “Learning from our mistakes, this is why we created Alphabet.”

Some of their ideas, such as building businesses around their smartest people and greatest assets are things that I did in the past, but couldn’t articulate. Maybe it had to do with being in Kentucky at the time, but I always thought of it as “Get out of the way and let the thoroughbreds run.”

The Verge has two stories about Google, Android, and hardware. First, Google sold 3.9 million phones in 2017, increasing their market share from 1.8 to 2.8%. Second, they have a good interview with Rick Osterloh about Google’s hardware plans.

I wrote the Scala Cookbook for programmers looking for solutions to common Scala problems, and then wrote Functional Programming, Simplified for programmers looking for a simple way to learn functional programming. A few months ago I decided to finish my Scala trilogy and write a book for programmers who don’t know Scala and want a quick introduction to it. With that, Hello, Scala was born:

Hello, Scala

The book Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street is one of the most highly recommended books by Warren Buffett. He told Bill Gates about it in 1991, and Mr. Gates calls it “the best business book he’s ever read.”

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m tired of politicians saying after yet another shooting that they’ll pray for the victims and their families. Those words are hollow, and the United States needs gun reform. This tweet by Neil deGrasse Tyson echoes my feelings about politicians hollow words.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Power of prayer isn't stopping the bullets

I’m told that this is a famous poster for designers that I just applied a lot of whiteout to. (The missing words seem to have been inspired by Samuel L. Jackson.) I like “Believe in yourself” and “Trust your gut.”

Design poster

Every March I feel like moving back to Talkeetna, Alaska, and this year the feeling has started early. This is a photo of Denali from the rivers in Talkeetna. If I remember correctly, Denali is 90 miles away in this photo. (Denali is kind of a big deal.)

Denali, from the rivers in Talkeetna

In this photo I’m taking a photo of other people taking photos of Denali from the top of the hill in Talkeetna, Alaska. Having lived in Talkeetna, I was fortunate to see Denali many times, but for other people it was rare. The top of Denali can usually only be seen once every eight days, on average.

The road on the right leads into town, and you can’t really see Denali until you come to this point, so it was common to see people suddenly stop on the road, and then turn into this parking area.

(Click on the photo to see a much larger image of Denali.)

The view of Denali from the hill in Talkeetna, Alaska

“If we think we want to get joy for ourselves, we realize that it’s very shortsighted, short-lived. Joy is the reward, really, of seeking to give joy to others. When you show compassion, when you show caring, when you show love to others, do things for others, in a wonderful way you have a deep joy that you can get in no other way.”

“You can’t buy it with money. You can be the richest person on Earth, but if you care only about yourself, I can bet my bottom dollar you will not be happy and joyful. But when you are caring, compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of others than about your own, wonderfully, wonderfully, you suddenly feel a warm glow in your heart, because you have, in fact, wiped the tears from the eyes of another.”

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in The Book of Joy

“The same cosmic forces that mold galaxies, stars, and atoms also mold each moment of self and world. The inner self and outer self are born in the cleft between expansion and contraction. By giving yourself to those forces, you become those forces, and through that you experience a kind of immortality — you live in the breath and pulse of every animal, in the polarization of electrons and protons, in the interplay of the thermal expansion and self-gravity that molds stars, in the interplay of dark matter that holds galaxies together and dark energy that stretches space apart.”

~ Part of a quote from The Science of Enlightenment, How Meditation Works, by Shinzen Young

“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of consciousness. The still mind is by definition, pure.”

“Is this the end? Are we there yet? No. There remains the ego, the self, the known self, the impersonator of the Soul. He is the last actor to leave the stage. He lingers even for the very final hand clap of applause. What forces him off the stage? Silence, and retention of the breath.”

~ From the book, Light on Life, by B.K.S. Iyengar

A strange thing about being me is that many people I’ve never met think they know me. It happened with almost everyone at the Buddhist Geeks conferences — “Do I know you?” Last week it happened at Whole Foods, where a cashier talked to me like we were old friends, asking if I ever got to do so and so. I had to tell him that wasn’t me.

Due to my most recent illness I haven’t eaten at a restaurant since before October 10, 2017, but yesterday I went to a burger place to try a small burger and see if I could eat it. Right away the cashier said, “Hi! How have you been? Hey, did you cut your hair?” I guess I just have one of those faces.

“Nothing has been done. It doesn't seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day in schools. It doesn't matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It's not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country to actually do anything. That's demoralizing.”

“But we can do something about it. We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people's lives, not just bow down to the NRA because they've financed their campaign for them. Hopefully we'll find enough people, first of all to vote, get people in, but hopefully we'll find enough people to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not building some stupid wall for millions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety, but actually protecting us from what truly is dangerous, which is maniacs with semi-automatic weapons just slaughtering our children. It's disgusting.”

~ Steve Kerr

“Vigorous writing is concise.” ~ William Strunk

“Succinctness is power.” ~ Paul Graham

Those quotes remind me of writing in general, and writing expressive code in Scala specifically.

In this video from one of the childrens’ phones inside the school in Florida you can hear the rifle being fired, and hear the young children scream. This insanity has to stop, the United States needs gun reform in a major way. It used to be a shock when there was one shooting in America; there have now been 18 shootings in the U.S. in the first 45 days of 2018. At this pace there will be 146 school shootings this year. Dear NRA and Republican-led congress and White House, how many children have to die before you’ll do something?

Everyone tells me that the cardiologist I see is the best heart doctor in Boulder, Colorado, so on Thursday we were talking and I was telling him that it looks like I have mast cell activation disease, and said, “So that fake heart attack I had last May may have been allergic angina, you know, Kounis Syndrome. If we had known about MCAS at that time I might not have needed that angiogram, yada yada yada.” Then he said, “Wait, what was the name of that disease?”

At first I was upset that he didn’t know what this was, but then I realized how rare mast cell disease is. Statistically there are only 26 other people in Colorado with this disease, and if I was still in Alaska there would only be three or four of us. (This is the same doctor who knew what a Pheochromocytoma is, and told me to get to the Mayo Clinic.)

The good news is that I was able to give him all of the information I have on mast cell disease and Kounis Syndrome, so hopefully in the future he can try giving patients who present unusually some Benadryl and see if that helps. (I started to write, “Give them Benadryl instead of an angiogram,” but the stress test showed a possible dead spot in my heart, so I was getting that angiogram one way or another.)

(This image comes from the book, Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease.)

Allergic angina (Kounis Syndrome) in mast cell disease patients