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

From 2015-17 I spent most of my time in hospitals and in bed, and went unconscious seven times. Today I can bench 210 (all the weight on the machine), work the elliptical thirty minutes, and practice yoga every night. Never give up.

Happy Rare Disease Day!

(If you’d like to donate to people working to cure my disease, please visit The Mastocytosis Society website.)

This is a view of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado on February 27, 2013. The top photo is from the previous day, when a storm rolled in in the morning. The bottom view is from the following morning when the skies were perfectly clear.

Rocky Mountains in February: Snowstorm, then clear

I keep thinking about this lately, so I thought I’d post a list of my favorite tv series that lasted only one season. In no particular order they are:

“People inspire you, or drain you. Pick them wisely.”

~ Hans F. Hansen (image from positivelifetips.com)

People inspire you, or drain you. Pick them wisely.

“So much complexity in software comes from trying to make one thing do two things.”

~ a good quote from Ryan Singer (as seen on @CodeWisdom)

One woman can make you fly like an eagle, another can give you the strength of a lion, but only one in the Cycle Of Life can fill your heart with wonder and the wisdom that you have known a singular joy.

~ Twin Peaks

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

~ Patanjali (via Iyengar)

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

The person who was Employee #2 at Pinterest (and then left) wrote a good article titled, Reflecting On My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company.

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own.

~ from Chasing Cars by Sarah Bettens (originally by Snow Patrol)

We walked the narrow path,
Beneath the smoking skies.
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
Between darkness and light.
Do we have faith
In what we believe?
The truest test is when we cannot,
When we cannot see.

~ Lyrics from a pretty (but sad) song named It Can’t Rain All The Time, by Jane Siberry, which I first heard in the movie, The Crow.

This is a very small version of a “painting” I’ve been working on. It’s from a photo I took when I was staying at the Jenny Lane Cottage(s) in Homer, Alaska. I started with the photo, and have been working on it in Gimp until I finally came up with this image, which hopefully looks a little bit like an oil painting. I’ll be including the full size “painting” in a new app that I’m working on.

While converting a photo to a painting in Gimp is usually fairly easy, it took a lot of work to make sure the bench in this photo/painting came out the way I wanted it to. Even just a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to create this the way it is. (For that matter I couldn’t have made the mountains in the background look the way they look only two weeks ago.)

Jenny Lane cottage painting, Homer, Alaska

One thing that’s changed for me in the last year is that I’ve become a little less interested in what spiritual leaders have to say, and more interested in what spiritual laymen have to say. Don’t get me wrong, leaders are great in many ways, but they don’t have bills to pay, and don’t have spouses or children. I’m far more interested in what a spiritual person has to say when they’re in the midst of struggling to pay their bills, and they have jobs, spouses, children, and neighbors.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw a headline about Charlie Munger giving advice on how to be happy. I’ve read a lot of Charlie Munger quotes and he seems like a very nice person, but he’s been a billionaire for decades, and that skews your thinking. Based on my own experience, when you have a lot of money and you don’t have to worry about your health, paying your bills, noisy neighbors, or family problems, life is easy, so your advice is tainted. These days I’ll take “advice on happiness” from someone who is truly happy while living in the midst of the muck. In retrospect, this feeling is one thing that drew me to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning when I was still a teenager.

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 forbes.com, words from Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs - remembering that i will be dead soon

There was a Drupal 8 module security update today for the Metatag module, and for some reason I couldn’t get Composer commands like these to work:

composer update drupal/metatag --with-dependencies
composer require 'drupal/metatag:^1.8'
composer require 'drupal/metatag:~1.8'

Paraphrasing someone tonight: “I worked on cool projects X, Y, Z with cool new technologies A, B, and C. They all failed. Nobody used them. The only app customers still use was written in lowly old PHP. And the customers love it.”

I took that as, if you build the wrong application, no cool new tech will save it.

A funny thing about writing books, or at least writing books with O’Reilly in 2013, is that I never received a final copy of the Scala Cookbook in PDF format. Fortunately I have the original Word docs, which is what they used at the time, so I carry those around on my laptop.

When training an adult polar bear, it’s important to let their cub eat on your leg. #protip

(I don’t remember the original source of this photo.)

Training polar bears

I’ve used Jenkins before, but hadn’t used it in a while, so when I got it running with Scala, SBT, ScalaTest, and Git, I made some notes about how to configure it. You can get Jenkins going with Docker, but I just got Jenkins running by starting its WAR file like this:

java -jar jenkins.war

Jenkins with Scala, SBT, ScalaTest, and Git

My notes on getting everything up and running are a little cryptic, but if you have a little experience with Jenkins I hope they’ll make sense. Here they are:

Today (February 19th) is an anniversary of sorts for me. After knowing “something” was wrong for a long time — I used to tell doctors it felt like I had been poisoned or was experiencing the symptoms of anaphylaxis or sepsis — I went unconscious for the first time on this date in 2014.

While that in many ways was a horrible event — if I had fallen to the right instead of the left when I blacked out I probably would have cracked my head on the bathtub and died right then — in the end it was necessary for doctors (and I) to take things more seriously, which resulted in seeing a total of 26 doctors to learn that I have MCAS, a rare but treatable non-contagious blood disease (something I was born with).