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

Mashable asked astronauts if they think aliens exist. Here’s part of the article I found interesting:

“The math isn’t easy. How many stars are in the universe? Well, that depends on the size of the universe. We’re able to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), radiation formed around 400,000 years after the Big Bang. It tells us the observable universe goes back around 14 billion years. But there could be something beyond the CMB, or even other universes contained in a massive ‘multiverse.’”

“Within the constraints of the observable universe, there could be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or septillion) stars, according to astronomer David Kornreich. (He conceded to Space.com that the number could be a gross underestimate.)”

I don’t know if this is a Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) thing or something else, but I just ran across this picture of how my arm reacted to a clear plastic bandage that was on my arm You can read more about it in my Diverticulitis - symptoms, testing, and treatment story if you’re interested.

The thing about this is that it was before I was diagnosed with mast cell disease. If it happened now I’d just think, “Oh well, another weird MCAS reaction,” but back then I had no idea what was going on.

A reaction to a bandage (MCAS, mast cell disease)

After reading this Farnam Street blog post about using a decision journal, I tried to use his PDF but I didn’t like the way it was formatted. So I re-typed his decision journal template and re-created it as a Word document. I thought I’d also share it as HTML here in case anyone wants an easier way to re-created it themselves.

Table of Contents1 - Get the current month as an integer number2 - How to get the current month as an abbreviated string3 - How to get the full month name4 - A note about SimpleDateFormat and Locale5 - Summary

Scala FAQ: How do I get the current month as an integer or as a string in Scala?

Table of Contents1 - Troubleshooting2 - My solution3 - Possible problem: Energy Saver settings4 - Possible problem: Bluetooth settings5 - More information6 - Summary

When I woke up last night it was a little windy outside, so I decided to unplug my MacBook Pro because the power tends to flicker here. When I picked up the MacBook I noticed that it was very warm, even though the lid was closed and it was in sleep mode. This morning I decided to dig into the “Why is my MacBook hot even though the lid is closed and it’s in sleep mode” question.

Every spring I think about moving back to Alaska, and last night I ran across this high resolution map of Talkeetna. For the record, I used to live on I Street in Talkeetna, which isn’t shown on the map.

A map of Talkeetna, Alaska

Rent in Denver, Colorado rose almost as fast as rent in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to this story by the Denver Post. But the good news is that despite rising 47% from 2010 to 2017, rent in Denver is still much lower than San Francisco.

A Facebook post from March 22, 2010, when I was stranded in a small town in Canada named Dease Lake, British Columbia:

How neat, the “Court Circuit” comes to town tonight. Just like the Northern Exposure episode, the court people travel around and temporarily set up court in various towns. They are expected to be here from tonight until Thursday. My chance to meet many police officers! (RCMPs, I wonder?)

Many times when I have dreams of flying — I’m flying, there is no airplane or anything like that — I encounter wires overhead that I feel like I shouldn’t approach. (In the dream I usually assume these are power lines.)

After doing some research this morning, it turns out this is a common phenomenon. One person writes:

“The typical dream goes like this: I am flying; I encounter wires; I try to fly underneath them. Sometimes the dreamer gets caught in the wires; sometimes the wires form an insurmountable barrier. Some dreamers climb the wires; others walk the wires like a tightrope.”

I usually treat them as an insurmountable barrier, though when I have a lot of energy I have tried to work my way through them.

Either way, it’s kinda neat to see that other people encounter the same thing.

~ Notes from March 22, 2013

Once upon a time I came across same killer whales (orcas) in Alaska, off the coast of Seward.

Killer whales in Alaska

When I first moved to Talkeetna, I sat down to sign the lease with my new landlord. The conversation went like this:

Her: So, why are you moving to Alaska ... hunter?

Me: No.

Fisherman?

No.

*pause*

Right-wing nut job?

No.

*pause*

You’re not here to write stories about the town for tv shows, like those Northern Exposure people, are you?

*she starts taking off her sweater*

Um ...

*which I eventually realize is so that she can breast-feed her baby while we’re talking*

... no.

So why are you here?

After having what I call a “fake heart attack” — something that was really Kounis Syndrome, also known as allergic angina — I had an angiogram in May, 2016, at which time an Angio-Seal device was used to help seal the hole that was put in my femoral artery after the angiogram.

As I understand it, this device is used to place a collagen seal around the artery. The collagen is shown in this image, which comes from the link in the previous paragraph:

Angio-Seal diagram shows artery, collagen

Per this Bloomberg article, “Volkswagen AG secured 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in battery supplies to underpin an aggressive push into electric cars in the coming years, ramping up pressure on Tesla as it struggles with production issues for the mainstream Model 3.”

“The world’s largest carmaker will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently ... plans to build as many as 3 million of the cars a year by 2025 is backstopped by deals with suppliers including Samsung. LG, and Contemporary Amperex Technology for batteries in Europe and China.”

“In total ... plans to purchase about 50 billion euros in batteries as part of its electric-car push, which includes three new models in 2018 with dozens more following. Volkswagen’s battery plans compare to Tesla’s $17.5 billion worth of purchase obligations as of last year, including $15.4 billion in deals through 2022, primarily related to buying lithium-ion cells from Panasonic, according to a recent filing.”

This is a good quote about Warren Buffett-style investing:

They like to liken their process to a three-legged stool in terms of the kinds of companies they look for:

  • The first leg of that stool is the business model that produces high free cash flow
  • The second leg is shareholder-oriented management
  • And the third leg is the ability to invest that high free cash flow in areas that will produce attractive rates of return

The quote comes from this Morningstar page. That description is consistent with what you’ll find in books like The Warren Buffett Way and The New Buffettology.

These are the “Five Gatekeepers of Speech,” as found in this tweet by Joan Halifax, where she writes, “I feel to repost this now as a guard against lying becoming a norm in our society”:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it kind?
  3. Is it beneficial?
  4. Is it necessary?
  5. Is it the right time?

I learned about these gatekeepers a long time ago, both through my study of Zen and from my yoga teacher.

I know, it’s a little corny, but instead of writing out a “To-Do List” — which implies hard labor and/or something I force myself to do — these days I write “WIN” on the top of my index cards. WIN stands for, “What’s Important Now”, and I find that this change in wording changes my attitude towards the things that need to be done. Rather than thinking, “Ugh, okay, what do I have to do next,” I now think of these tasks as important to me, my future, and my success.

We don't get much snow in the Boulder area, but up in the mountains near Vail and Aspen, Colorado, they usually get plenty. This was taken at a rest area near Vail.

~ March 21, 2013, on the drive back from Las Vegas

Snow in the mountains near Vail, Colorado

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

~ Buddha (as seen in this Spirit Rock link)

The Dalai Lama offers advice on how to start your mornings:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

I can especially dig the, “today I am fortunate to be alive” part.

This morning Google announced their Google News Initiative, which is a number of things, but has these three objectives:

  • Elevate and strengthen quality journalism  
  • Evolve business models to drive sustainable growth
  • Empower news organizations through technological innovation