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

Introduction: After reading the following text in the book, The Science of Enlightenment, I decided to try meditating outside in sweatpants and a hoodie in the freezing cold in the evenings. It’s now my favorite form of meditation because you either do it right, or suffer the consequences.

~~~

Several months later, as winter approached and it was getting cold and uncomfortable, the Abbot told me that if I wanted to be trained in traditional Shingon practice he would allow it — but I would have to do with the old-fashioned way. I would have to do a solo retreat for one hundred days in winter, most of the time with no source of heat, in complete silence other than occasional instruction from him, and with no meal after noon.

My training began on December 22, the day of the winter solstice. The Abbot had warned me that part of the old-fashioned way involved certain ascetic practices derived not from Buddhism, but from the shamanic tradition of Shinto, Japan’s pre-Buddhist tribal religion. One of the most common methods that tribal cultures use to obtain visions of gods or spirits is through prolonged exposure to extreme hot or cold. In India, Hindus have the five fires practice; in North America, Native Americans have the sweat lodge and the sun dance. These involve heat. The traditional Shinto shamanic practice goes in the other direction. It involves cold — squatting under freezing waterfalls in winter, standing in cold springs, dousing your body with ice water, and so forth.

An investing company just sent me a very long email filled with hundreds of words and a dozen or more shiny pictures to show how successful they are. Not once did they mention what their return on investment (ROI) was for their investors — which is the only thing that matters.

As an investor, the only thing that matters to you is ROI after taxes; keep your eye on that ball, not the shiny pictures or fancy words.

I’m reminded of the time right before an interview for a contracting position that a tech recruiter called and told me, “Don’t appear to be too smart. Pretend that you can’t answer some of his questions if you have to. He won’t hire people he thinks are smarter than he is.” I answered every question he asked because if that’s the way he was, I didn’t want to work there.

As a manager or business owner — any kind of leader — always hire people that are smarter than you in one or more ways.

I’m still in that time period where the doctor said, “The biopsy of the tissue from your surgery shows that you have cancer, but I don’t think they’re right,” so we’re waiting on the results of a DNA test.

*waiting*

*taps fingers on desk*

La la la la ...

“For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

In this video Martin Odersky shares an analogy of using a stapler when you need a stapler (not a power tool). He highly recommends reading Li Haoyi’s article, Principle of Least Power.

Principle of Least Power (Scala)

I have a 19" monitor on the counter between my kitchen and living room, and it’s powered by a Raspberry Pi. I use the Linux Phosphor screen saver to show a scrolling “news and stock ticker” on the display, which I’ve programmed to show news from several different sources (Atom and Rss feeds, along with other news and data sources). An old version of the display looks like this:

My Raspberry Pi news ticker display

Today I added a new “Word of the day” feature to the display, and as with all of the other code, I wrote a Scala shell script to generate the output.

Being an older person, I find young people interesting. One night when I was in the hospital last week I was supposed to be asleep, but couldn’t sleep, and I heard a nurse’s assistant who is still in college say, “If I had a bat, I’d rage on this wall.” That’s definitely not a phrase an older person would use.

As I wrote in Functional Programming, Simplified, functional programming can lead to happiness (and sanity). The quotes in this slide from Rúnar Bjarnason’s FP talk expand on what I wrote in my book. They keys are that pure functions are very simple, and you don’t have to constantly worry about the mutable state in your application.

Functional programming leads to happiness

“I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye — that was the trouble — I wanted to kiss you good night — and there’s a lot of difference.”

After my surgery last week I went to see the doctor on Wednesday, and to my surprise he handed me a piece of paper that says that the biopsy on the body stuff he removed shows that I have cancer. But then he quickly added that he thinks it’s a mistake. He did two surgeries that day, me and another person, and he said that he knew going in that the other person had cancer, but the lab test results show that I have cancer and the other person did not test positive. So he hopes the results got reversed somehow.

To get to the truthiness of the matter they took a DNA sample from me and they’re going to compare that to the cancerous material that’s still in the lab. (I didn’t think to ask how long they keep that stuff laying around.) He said it could take ten days before they know the result. I think they’ve made movies about this, but I don’t think I’ll be racking up any huge credit card bills or anything like that. ;)

The local parks people have created the best outdoor ice skating arena I’ve ever seen here on Wasilla Lake, night lights and all.

Started the drive back to Colorado at 5:50am EST Tuesday in Kentucky. Waited out the morning’s nasty snowstorm with some old-timers and truckers at a McD’s in Georgetown, Indiana.

Got tired of waiting, so when the snow let up a little I got back in the car. Maneuvered through snow-and-ice induced wrecks between Corydon and Evansville. Wanted to kiss the ground when it finally got dry after 11am. Drove through the sunset in Kansas, then followed the truckers, the Moon, and stars across the rest of Kansas and Colorado, arrived home at 12:20am MST Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing if the mountains are white whenever I wake up.

After the operation in July I just got back to a 160 pound bench press and practicing yoga every night. After operation #8 tomorrow I won’t be able to exercise for six weeks. You just gotta keep coming back, keep fighting.

(I share the full quote from the movie Rocky Balboa at this link.)

Just gotta keep fighting

If you ever wondered about winter in Alaska, sunrise in Talkeetna starts at 10:07am today (December 5th) and sets at 3:37pm. Talkeetna is actually very low in Alaska, latitude-wise. Meanwhile in Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow), the Sun neither rises nor sets today.

Just another Talkeetna sunrise

I’ll be having Surgery #8 on Thursday, so I won’t be adding any updates to this site until sometime next week. But y’all have fun out there. Namaste. :)

(I also disabled comments on the website until I return.)

Namaste

Tonight (December 2, 2018) I’m releasing my latest book, Kotlin Quick Reference.

Kotlin Quick Reference

Somewhere around a year ago I started working on a Kotlin programming book, but then I had to get away from it to work on other things. When I got back to it recently I looked around and felt like the world didn’t need another “Introduction to Kotlin” book — there are a couple of good ones out there, including Kotlin in Action, and the kotlinlang.org documentation is excellent — so I decided to ditch the project completely.

Dog wants a second opinion after the doctor says he should be neutered (funny). From Tundra Comics.