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

“You have to let go when you leave the physical plane. When I was guiding psychedelic trips, people would bad-trip because they couldn’t let go as their consciousness expanded and they faced eternity. You have to let go of your individuality, your name, your history, your friends, your cat, your body. That letting go is meeting the infinite. A conscious being holds on nowhere.”

Hey, waitress, pour me another cup of coffee,
Pop it down, jack me up, shoot me out, flyin’ down the highway,
Lookin’ for the mornin’ ...

~ Drivin’ My Life Away, Eddie Rabbitt

One thing about being named Alvin Alexander is that I’ve been called Al, Alvin, Alex, and Alexander by various people lately. I don’t mind any of them, but I laugh at Alex because I used that as a fake name when I traveled to Alaska in 2007 and 2010. (I was also known as Ken in Alaska.)

One thing about specifically being named Alvin is that when people are happy with me they call me Al, and when they’re unhappy they tend to yell, “Alvin!” I don’t know if that’s just a chipmunk thing or if everyone with a multi-syllable first name goes through it, but I’ve noticed that as well.

Famed programmer Joe Armstrong passed away this weekend. He created the Erlang programming language, based on the actor model, and without using Google, I’m pretty darned sure that Erlang had an impact on Akka, the very cool actor library for Scala. Here’s an article Mr. Armstrong wrote some years ago, titled, Why OO Sucks (OO as in OOP).

Because functional programming is like algebra, there are no null values or exceptions. But of course you can still have exceptions when you try to access servers that are down or files that are missing, so what can you do? This lesson demonstrates the techniques of functional error handling in Scala.

“We should think and feel over and over: ‘May the suffering that this being and many others are experiencing cease, along with its causes. I will do everything I can to free them from this pain.’”

That’s from this tweet by Tulku Thondup.

I have to be honest, I can’t feel this for my loud downstairs neighbor here at the Terracina apartments. The only nice thing I can currently pray for is for him to move. I’m trying to work on that, but when someone plays their music so loud that your floor vibrates and your kitchen range rattles, it’s hard to think about his suffering and pain. (Just being honest about how I feel today.)

April 20, 2015: In sad news, the Motherlode Lodge burned down in Hatcher Pass, Alaska. I used to drive past it 5-10 times each summer, and I always thought that if I had enough money I would have liked to re-open it, and I even discussed that possibility with several people. A little story and video is here on adn.com.

Motherlode Lodge burns down in Hatcher Pass, Alaska

My favorite garbage dumpster in Seward, Alaska. "Look for moose".

I just started watching A Little Bit of Heaven, and of course the correct answer for Wish #3 is that you want to feel love.

I edited Chapter 6 of my new book whilst listening to Moon Baby by Godsmack. I’m not sure I can be held responsible for whatever ended up in that chapter. :)

I’m pleased to announce that my book, Functional Programming, Simplified, is now available in three formats:

PDF Format
$25 on Gumroad.com
(sale price)

PDF version of Functional Programming, Simplified

Paperback Book
$39.99 on Amazon
 

Print version of Functional Programming, Simplified

Kindle eBook
$29.99 on Amazon
 

Kindle version of Functional Programming, Simplified

A couple of things happened recently that make me feel like a piece of meat in the organ grinder of life. First, I was in talks with a publisher about publishing a book with them, and their contract began, “You grant to Us ... the exclusive right to ... sell and otherwise commercially exploit your Work.” I thought, “Well, I guess that’s what work is about, organizations exploiting your work for their commercial profit,” but their writing felt dirty and sleazy, like it was totally controlled by a scumbag lawyer or CEO.

Next, I live in the Terracina apartments in Broomfield, Colorado, and they were recently bought by a new company. With the old company everything here felt like a family, but when the new company bought the place they fired the previous staff, and with most of the new staff it feels like I’m just a number. When I walk in the office the reception feels like, “Number 232 ... you always complain that your kitchen range is vibrating because your downstair’s music is so loud, what do you want? We’re trying to make a lot of money here and you’re a troublemaker.” Twice the office manager has barely looked away from her computer monitor while talking to me.

Both situations remind me of the Bon Seger song, Feel Like a Number.

[This is a chapter from an unpublished book on meditation and mindfulness.]

As a spiritual being, one possible way to think of life here on Earth is as a “game” that serves as a training ground for the soul. It’s a game like other games, so it has many levels, and they get harder and harder as you progress. So in this case, the better you become at the game of spirituality — the Soul Game — the harder the levels become.

To help set some rules for the game, let’s say that it has fifty levels. The first time you play the game you’re born here on Earth in Level 1. Hopefully you score some points and move up, so maybe by the time it’s “game over” for your first lifetime, you’ve passed Level 9 and you’re playing on Level 10. Maybe you get a brief break in between lifetimes, but the next time you’re born you start right where you left off, at Level 10.

This brings me to a very important rule: Once you start playing the Soul Game, you’re strapped in for eternity. (That was clearly mentioned on page 52 of the End User License Agreement.) Once you’re in the game there are only two ways out:

A cool thing about the Unix/Linux grep command is that you can show lines before and after a pattern match with the -B and -A options. As an example, I just used this combination of find and grep to search for all Scala files under the current directory that contain the string null. This command prints five lines before and after each null line in each file:

$ find . -type f -name "*.scala" -exec grep -B5 -A5 null {} \;

That’s good stuff, but it prints a really long list of lines, and I can’t tell the output of one file from another. To fix this, I put the following code in a file named helper.sh, and made it executable:

As seen in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2017.

My Indian name is 'Runs With Beer'

I woke up at 4:30am on Friday with the idea for a story that I’ve currently titled, The Soul Game, which I hope to release next week. Lucid dreams being what they are, I came up with the first draft while I was sleeping, and then put it down on paper after I woke up. Working on that story leads me to write the following today:

Sometimes in life you meet another person, and as you get to know them you find that they’re incredibly awesome, but ... they’re also married. This has happened a couple of times in my life, to differing degrees. I always find that I don’t want to do anything to interfere with that person’s marriage, but part of me wants to say, “In case you didn’t know it, I think you’re pretty awesome, one of a kind.”

As a practical matter saying things like that tends to create problems, so I haven’t said it to anyone in a long time. (The last time I said it to anyone we ended up making out in a parking lot.) Instead, I hope that other people know that I think they’re awesome because I choose to spend my time with them. In this way the sad part is that things go unsaid, but I hope the other person knows what I think because I laugh and enjoy myself when I’m with them, and we have great conversations.

All of which today makes me think of the Gloria Estefan song, Words Get In The Way, and the Olivia Newton-John song, I Honestly Love You.

The Human Route, by Zen Master Seung Sahn, on a card from the people at DharmaCrafts.com.

The Human Route

“I just want something beautiful, Mo.”

“We all want something beautiful, Willie.”

[Dateline: The evening of May 5, 2007, On The Border restaurant, Louisville, Kentucky, after several pitchers of margaritas and beer, and three days before I would leave for Alaska.]

Brother-in-Law: Seriously man, I want to thank you.

Me: For what?

Brother-in-Law: You inspired me to start my business.

Me: That’s great, how did I do that? (Now I’m all geared up to hear a motivational story of how I inspired him.)

Brother-in-Law: I figured if you can start a business, anyone can.

In one of the stranger things to happen in dreamland, I’ve had several dreams with my brother-in-law in them in the last few weeks. He passed away last summer, and each time he appears, he’s a translucent white color, and as I observe him, he keeps helping people within the dreams. Last night a man passed away in a bed, and then my brother-in-law appeared and picked the man up and carried him away.

Though I have lucid dreams all the time, these are particularly unusual because I haven’t had a translucent person in a dream since I was less than eight years old. Back then we lived in Chicago and right after I’d go to bed, a translucent man would come out of the closet and try to play with my toys, in particular a large model Boeing 727 aircraft. (Which is probably more than you want to know about my dreams, lol.)