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

I meditated last night until I started falling asleep. I kept trying to fight through the sleepiness, but it was to no avail.

I got up, went to bed, and almost immediately had one of those “You’re not Al, you’re somebody else” dream or dream-like experiences (like when Captain Picard went unconscious on the bridge and lived another life). After a long period of time I woke up in a bed with tears streaming down my cheeks because of what had just happened. (A friend died in my arms.) I sat up, looked around, but couldn’t figure out who or where I was. With my body/brain/mind rejecting the situation, I barfed into the trash can by the bedside. I was glad someone put that there.

After somewhere between thirty and ninety seconds I remembered who/where I am. With my body shaking as usual after one of these experiences, and not wanting to go back to sleep, I bundled up and went for a long, cold, after-midnight November walk. The clear sky was beautiful, and I was glad to be alive, even if I felt like crap. I made a note to myself that I need to take midnight walks more often, I appreciate the solitude.

~ November 12, 2015

Zen Wisdom: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

When I saw this just now it reminded me of the quote, “In enlightenment, death has no relevance to one's state of being.”

This is cool, though I don’t know why people are always picking on Pluto. (It may also need an asterisk stating that Saturn needs to be at an angle like that.)

All the planets fit between the Earth and Moon

In the ancient Sanskrit language, the word “dakini” can be interpreted as a female embodiment of enlightenment, an outstanding female practitioner in yoga and meditation.

In Tibet, the word for dakini is “khadroma,” and it literally means “female sky-traveler.”

Driving back from Golden, Colorado I was listening to Lady Cab Driver by the artist formerly known as Prince, and wondering if these days he would have called it Lady Uber Driver.

And here’s a gratuitous photo of some cattle on the right and wrong side of the fence, a big field, and some mountains.

Drive back from Golden, Colorado (and Lady Cab Driver)

A nice man who works at the local Walmart shared this story this morning while I was checking out:

“You know, I’ve been married 54 years.”

[long pause. you can tell he’s thinking about something.]

“One time, a long time ago, I was sitting on the couch, watching tv, and I could feel her staring at me. I mean I could just feel it. So I turned and looked at her and said, ‘What?’”

“She said, ‘You know what.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ She just got up and walked away.”

“You know, to this day I still have no idea what I did.”

[long pause]

“I think sometimes in a relationship you just have to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ even if you don’t know exactly what you did or didn’t do.”

I haven’t had time to watch it yet, but here’s Martin Odersky’s Devoxx talk that’s titled, Plain Functional Programming.

An “I Voted” sticker in the Koyukon-Athabaskan (native Alaskan) language. (I don’t know the original source of this image.)

Alaskan I Voted sticker

For the last few years, Intel CPUs have included a copy of the MINIX operating system way down in “Ring -3,” which apparently has support for networking and a web server. ZDnet has one of the more detailed stories about "MINIX Inside.”

From November 7, 2016: On the eve of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, I thought I’d share these memories of the worst things that were said about Presidential candidates in years gone by:

1976: Jimmy Carter had a brother named Billy who apparently really liked beer.

1980: Ronald Reagan made some bad movies, and was the first President to have been divorced.

1988: Gary Hart was a front-runner until it was found out that he was having an affair with Donna Rice. Within a week he quit the race.

1988: Joe Biden plagiarized a speech, and quickly withdrew from the race.

1992: Bill Clinton was rumored to have had affairs, and he was the first major candidate to admit to smoking marijuana (though he apparently didn’t inhale).

1996: Bob Dole seemed really grumpy.

2000: George Bush was the first presidential candidate where I can remember thinking, “Um, he doesn’t seem very smart. Shouldn’t there be an IQ test for this position?”

(I would later come to think that there should be an “Enlightenment Test,” where Presidents have to think about “100 years from now” as much as they think about today.)

2008: John Edwards: affair, dropped out

I’m sure there’s more than that, but that’s all I can remember at the moment.

I’ve found this to be a good metaphor for practicing mindfulness 24 hours a day.

The actual practice is that whenever your mind wanders you gently bring your attention back to your breath. An important point is that just as you wouldn’t get angry at the spoon, you also don’t get angry at yourself for becoming less mindful; you just return your focus to your breathing.

(Sorry I don’t remember which book I saw this in at the moment.)

Mindfulness metaphor

“I’ve seen a lot of my friends lose their passion and end up in a rut, afraid to take a chance. ‘Night Moves’ is about romantic passion, but ‘Ship of Fools’ is about passion for life. Maybe a guy’s working a job he doesn’t like, and he sees an ad about the Alaska pipeline or something that excites him. But there are problems. His family says it’s too cold in Alaska or whatever. So he passes it up and just keeps on with something he hates.”

~ From Bob Seger, about his song, Ship of Fools

I was working on my bucket list last night while I was sleeping, and at one point I thought it would be fun to play tennis again. I recalled the last few times where I played tennis, and it was in a park, closely surrounded by tall evergreens. The first time I went there I had to wait for some other people to finish up, so after that I would go a little later and there was never a wait.

It was only when I woke up and tried to remember how to get to the park that I remembered that I haven’t had a tennis racquet in almost ten years, and I realized that those courts don’t exist on this planet.

~ November 2, 2016

Stopped off to do a little bowling on the way to the grocery yesterday. I’m rolling the ball about 21-23 mph. Next to me, a little old man with an oxygen tank strapped onto his back is rolling maybe 10 mph, but with a really nice hook. He’d throw a few balls, then rest for a while, then throw a few more. We had some good conversations, but the best was about enjoying whatever time we have left.

~ November 2, 2013

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

~ A quote from a 1974 Richard Feynman commencement address at Caltech entitled Cargo Cult Science.

“If it wasn’t for the problem of how to sequence input-output actions correctly, monads probably wouldn’t have appeared in Haskell. But once it was appreciated what they could do, all kinds of other uses quickly followed.”

~ Thinking Functionally with Haskell, Richard Bird

Programmers can celebrate Christmas on Halloween:

31 oct = 25 dec

(3*8 + 1) == (2*10 + 5)

Way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s the U.S. economy wasn’t doing very well, and Dr. W. Edwards Deming wrote about his 14 Points for Management as a way to improve the economy. (The image shown comes from that link at

Deming's 14 Points for Management

As I mentioned a few months ago, I made a small, one-time donation to The Guardian. I don’t read it regularly, but I find that other sources lead me to their articles from time to time, so I wanted to give them a little money. This morning I read that 300,000 other people have given The Guardian a one-time donation as well.