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

“To be perfectly honest with you, I really feel that I have average physical ability, but when I get my psych and my self-hypnosis going, I can compete with anybody in anything.”

~ Al Hrabosky

Back in the day it was fun to watch “Mad” Al Hrabosky pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would psyche himself up behind the mound and appear to get very angry, and indeed, he ended up in at least one brawl. Here’s a TWIB Note video of him pitching and talking, and here’s him talking years later about what he was doing behind the mound.

Mad Al Hrabosky pitching

I don’t remember the original source of this image, but I like it: “I need to find more people who will sit and talk about the universe and souls and consciousness with me for hours.”

When I saw this again today I was reminded of the time I ended up in Vail, Colorado, talking to a younger version of myself.

I need to find people who will talk about the universe and souls

This is a series of Facebook posts from an adventurous day in Alaska, December 31, 2010:

1) Hmm, more bad weather today. Adding “tire chains” to the grocery list, and I’m out the door. Driving to Seward to celebrate the new year!

2) Famous Alaska saying: “There’s old pilots, and there’s bold pilots, but there ain’t no old and bold pilots.” Meaning I’m stopping in Anchorage tonight. (More soon.)

3) So ... I was trying to get to Seward tonight, but got stuck in a steep, icy parking lot in Wasilla for a while. I finally decided to drive-slide the car to the edge of the parking lot where there was a small strip of frozen dirt and grass that went up the side of the hill. I got the tires on the right side of the car on that strip, built up as much speed as I could, and finally got my car up the hill. It took more than an hour to get out of there. After that I tried even harder to find tire chains but could not, so I decided to stop in Anchorage. They started the fireworks at 5pm (because of the whole darkness thing), and various shows went on all night, which was a really cool way to spend the evening.

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”

~ Zig Ziglar (and many others)

The greatest source of happiness is ...

“No dreams come without a bill. The reality of making something happen is just a ton of hard work.”

~ Peter Gabriel

In a dream this morning a bunch of people came into my apartment uninvited. All but one of them were maintenance people, and they immediately started renovating my apartment. I argued with them that a little notice would have been nice.

While that was going on, I saw that the other person was a Tibetan monk. While the maintenance people started drilling and cutting in various locations, the monk walked around breaking all of my things. He’d pick up a glass and let it drop to the floor and break, or work harder to break other things. I ran over to him and asked, “Why are you breaking all of my things?”

He didn’t reply, but broke some DVDs in his hands. For some reason this made me more lucid in the dream, so I stepped on some of the DVDs he had dropped to the floor so I could crunch them more. “I get it,” I said, “it’s the whole ‘impermanence’ thing, right?” Then I thought of something and said, “Stay right here for a moment. Break something if you need to, but I’ll be right back.”

It’s super-early in the process, but the Second Edition of the Scala Cookbook is slowly coming to life. I’m currently updating all of the content for Scala 2.13, and when the book is finished it will be updated for Scala 3.

This morning (January 28, 2020) the folks at O’Reilly released the first two chapters of the new, updated book on the O’Reilly Learning Platform. If you have an O’Reilly account you can start reading the new chapters here. If not, you can view the catalog page here.

Scala Cookbook, 2nd Edition shared this advice that Michael Jackson gave to a young Kobe Bryant back in 1998.

Michael Jackson's advice to Kobe Bryant

“Ayya Khema said that being in the third jhāna is like sitting in the mouth of a well — you are a little bit isolated from the world around you. To enter the fourth jhāna, drop down the well to the bottom.”

From the book, Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas.

Table of Contents1 - Using `then` with if/else2 - Using `end if` with if/else3 - Closing a function with `end`4 - Discussion5 - Participate/contribute!6 - Attribution

As a brief note today, here’s an example of the Scala 3 “Dotty” if/then/else-if/else syntax, as used in a function:

def compare(a: Int, b: Int): Int =
    if a < b
    else if a == b
Back to top

Using `then` with if/else

You can also use the then keyword after your if expressions, if you prefer:

While many people will remember January 26, 2020, as the day Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident, I’ll also remember it as the first day I was able to sit down in five weeks following the Angiogram procedure. I still couldn’t sit long, maybe ninety minutes total before the pain kicked in, but that alone was nice.

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

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

Training polar bears

Thanks to the angiogram, I haven’t been able to sit down for over a month. These days when I work, I either (a) read things while laying flat on my back in bed, or write while I’m standing up at this makeshift workspace in my apartment.

My “standing up” workspace

If you like dream stories, here you go ... this one is from January 25, 2019.

A dream sequence started this morning with me trying to follow some other people in a vehicle. I wasn’t lucid at this point, and all I remember is that we were trying to go somewhere for dinner. The people I was following had gotten way ahead of me so I decided that I needed to go very fast, and when I punched the accelerator things started to get weird.

There was a major “whoosh” of something ... time, space, whatever, so I decided I better come to a stop. When I did I looked around, and saw that I was in an area that was full of modern restaurants, one even looked a little like a Dunkin’ Donuts. But the problem was, the names of the restaurants weren’t in English. I had no idea what the language was, but it looked like something I had never seen before. Only half awake and 100% lost, for some reason it seemed like a good idea to hit the accelerator.

Once again there was a major whoosh of timespace/spacetime, and I thought I better stop and try to figure out where I was. The first thing I noticed was that my vehicle had transformed, and was now like a shuttle that you’d see on Star Trek, mostly metallic, with a lot of gauges to look at inside, and large, rectangular glass windows so I could see outside. When I looked outside all I saw was a large open range, with a few hills or very small mountains in the distance to the right. It reminded me of rural New Mexico, but it was dark outside so I couldn’t see any more details.

Dateline January 25, 2011, Palmer, Alaska: “Recent deaths here: Hitting a moose; Avoiding hitting a moose; Snowmobile (snowmachine) into telephone pole; Exposure walking home from school; Neighbor shoots neighbor. It's been a busy two days.”

The top five regrets of the dying:

1) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
2) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
3) I wish I had let myself be happier
4) I wish I had the courage to express my true self
5) I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams instead of what others expected of me

I had to get away from it for a while, so I forgot how good the book Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas is. I tend to be more interested in the science behind mindfulness and meditation (as opposed to specific religions and their rituals), and as a result, from my own practice I can confirm the last sentence in this paragraph from that book. (See the attached image.)

Depending on the day, and especially the time of day, the first 5-10 minutes of any meditation session are the hardest for me, because it takes a while to get my mind to settle down. Since I learned this practice, I do settle down more quickly.

Gratitude helps shut down distractions during meditation

As you progress in your meditation practice, the use of mantra(s) is a powerful way to stay focused all day.

I recall reading that Ram Dass said that even when he is speaking or listening to others, that in the background his mantra is always running in his head: “Ram ... Ram ... Ram.”

In the excellent book, Practicing the Jhanas, I throughout your day that you constantly remember to bring your attention back to the Anapana spot, a spot just under your nose.

A short chapter on "metaphor", from the terrific book, Zen Master Raven.

There will be auditions again tonight. ;)

Metaphor, from Zen Master Raven