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

I was going through old photos recently and found this “Bleeding Heart” drawing that I made on a Buddha Board back in February, 2015. FWIW, Buddha Boards seem to make good Christmas gifts. I got this one as a Christmas gift in 2014.

Bleeding heart (on a Buddha Board)

Some time ago I was at a party, and there was a woman there that I didn’t know, but I felt like I knew her. It was a strange feeling, kind of like deja vu, but it had nothing to do with this party, just the feeling that I knew this woman. Maybe I had seen somewhere before, but I couldn’t place it.

When that thought first came to me I was talking to some other people, so I shrugged it off for the time being. It was relatively early and I figured we’d meet soon enough. A little while later a trash can became full, so I took the bag out of the can and walked it to a garbage can outside by the detached garage. After I put the bag in the can outside I turned around, only to be startled to see the woman standing there.

“How do I know you,” she asked.

I just read this quote by J.K. Rowling, and it’s quite good: “Believe me, neither @RGalbraith nor I walk around thinking we’re fab. We just shoot for ‘writing better than yesterday’”.

(Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym she used for some of her other novels.)

Just days after two domestic terror attacks, here are two quotes I saw today:

Donald Trump: “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame...”

Dalai Lama: “Violence derives from anger and anger clouds our ability to think straight and properly assess what is happening. Anger in turn is related to fear and anxiety. What we need to learn is how to cultivate the positive emotions that counter destructive emotions like anger and fear. Compassion, for example, brings self-confidence and the ability to act transparently. It strengthens trust which is the ground for friendship.”

I just read a short chapter in the book Effective Java, and realized I was doing something pretty dumb in my own code by always creating my own custom exceptions instead of using other exceptions already intended to be reused in the Java API.

Here’s the view of Denali from Talkeetna, Alaska, courtesy of Sheldon Air Service in Talkeetna.

The view in Talkeetna this morning

As I was reading a blog post titled, What Makes Us Red Hat, I came across the article summary shown in the image where Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer refers to Linux as a cancer. Note that his description of open source license agreements is about as honest as today’s politicians.

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer: Linux is a cancer

The best stories of the weekend are IBM buying Red Hat, and a dog that pretends to be a stray to get food outside a McDonald’s. Oh, and the Red Sox beat the Dodgers to win the World Series last night.

I started reading the book Walking Each Other Home by Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush a few nights ago, and if you like Ram Dass, you’ll like this book. This is an image from early in the book about a “pretty fierce journey.”

Ram Dass - Pretty fierce journey

A new Kindle version of my book, Hello, Scala, is now available. This update includes new chapters, new content within chapters, and small corrections to the previous version.

“I view spiritual practice as the freeing of awareness from identification with anything.”

~ Ram Dass (from this page on his website)

Some day I might write a book called, Random Conversations with Strangers While Aimlessly Wandering Around, and it will include stories like this:

Many years ago I walked into a favorite bakery in Alaska. Nobody was there, no customers or employees, so I took a few minutes to look over the cookies and donuts to decide what I wanted.

Finally a young woman came out of the back room. I knew from previous donut/cookie runs that she was born in Ohio, moved here about five years ago, was nineteen years old, and would be twenty in a few months. As she brought out a tray of something new, she said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”

I replied it was no problem, it gave me a chance to think about what I wanted. We chatted for another minute or two and then she looked around and said, “Can I be honest with you?”

Apparently I can’t sleep tonight so I’ll tell one of those stories.

A couple of weeks ago I’m enjoying the darkness of some quiet sleep, just kind of meditating in the darkness with nothing going on in my brain. Then as I’m laying there an image of a toilet in a closet appears. It’s a small closet that feels cramped, and the toilet/commode is sitting sideways in it. My brain isn’t in “just observe and report” mode – it starts thinking too much – so right away I crank my virtual head from one side to the other like a little puppy, trying to figure out this perplexing image, and wondering how you’re supposed to go to the bathroom with this toilet sitting sideways in this small closet. So my brain tries to grok that for a while, but it can’t figure out why the heck the toilet is the way it is.

Back in the day, high school was boring for me, and probably even before my parents were separated I decided to take as many days off from school as I could. A few days ago when I was rearranging my furniture I ran across my high school yearbook, where I found several inscriptions like this one, alluding to the fact that I wasn’t there very often, but I made class interesting when I was there. ;)

Had a little problem getting to school

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I had read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seemed like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. But over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

“Only open your mouth if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.”

~ Zen quote

It’s important to remember that even when successful people say things, they’re often just opinions, not facts. Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz once told Jeff Bezos of Amazon, “You have no physical presence. That is going to hold you back.” The reality was that not having a physical presence at that time is what propelled Amazon forward.

Microsoft has a nice interview with FP researcher and Haskell co-creator Simon Peyton Jones.

Simon Peyton Jones interview

When I first started learning Zen I didn’t understand the quote shown in this image, and I truly was a carpet to walk on. Then I woke up and thought, “You need to run your business. You need to find the middle way between accepting ‘just this’ and what you need to do to be successful at work.”

It would have been helpful if I had seen this quote then, but the book, Making Zen Your Own, wasn’t available then.

Zen: Accepting 'just this'

When we enter the empty meditation hall we experience a tangible awareness of peace. The uncluttered space, accentuated by the orderliness of the simple cushions, seems quietly alive, a reflection of inherent beauty. We find a feeling of safety and sanctuary.

However, in Zen practice, true sanctuary is not isolated from everyday life. True sanctuary includes everything, shutting out nothing, because it has no doors and no walls. Finding true sanctuary means expressing who we really are.

~~~~~

Tozan and his disciple Sozan were the founders of the Soto Zen school in China. When it came time for Sozan to leave his teacher, he want to say goodbye.

Tozan asked him, “Where are you going?”

“To an unchanging place,” Sozan answered.

“Is there really any going to that place?”

“The going itself is unchanged.”

In this story Sozan is saying that the activity is the place of unchanging. He is pointing to continuous effort, uninterrupted practice, as the “place” of sanctuary.