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

When I edit my own text, I make comments like those shown in the images. A few of my own:

  • Doesn’t feel like you know what you’re talking about
  • Nice start — dig deeper
  • Just say what you mean
  • You lost me
  • Feels fake — write from the heart (or, write to your muse)
  • Passive!

When I write books I try to complete a chapter, then get away from it for at least a month, then come back and edit it like this.

The images here are from the excellent movie, Finding Forrester.

On editing writing

As someone who has made baked goods the olde-fashioned way more than once, I like this “Whip it good” image.

(And if you’re not aware, that phrase comes from Devo’s “Whip It” song. And while I’m in the neighborhood, Dazz Band’s Let It Whip is also a fun song.)

Whip It Good hand mixer

Thought of the evening: People go through tremendous personal stress (distress!) when the way their life is turning out doesn’t jive with the mental model of who they think they are (i.e., the “little ego”).

As just one example, my father always talked about opening up a hot dog restaurant. “Hot dog joints” were a big thing in northern Illinois, and they still are. He was a social person who ran projects, and I thought that was a great idea for him.

But he had a mental model that he was an engineer, so even after he was laid off from an engineering job he didn’t like, he kept trying to pursue engineering jobs rather than his dream. He never could break through that, “I was trained as an engineer so I’m supposed to be an engineer” mental model. As a result he became angry, and his life didn’t end well as a result.

In my own case, for many years all I wanted was to be a professional baseball player, and it took several injuries and many years before I finally had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Sadly, those were lost years in many ways, and all because I couldn’t let go of the old mental model I had of who I thought I was supposed to be. And because I couldn’t let go of the old model, I couldn’t see the new opportunities that were staring me in the face.

But finally I reached a breaking point. Everything literally came to a head and I said, “F*** this. This is not how I want to spend my life.” To this day I remember that moment.

Some time later I would look back and think, “OMG, why did I waste all those years?” But I understand, even when everyone around you can clearly see what needs to happen, when it’s happening to you — when you’re in the middle of it — it’s a big, ugly, emotional mess. Something is trying to crack your cosmic egg, and when anything tries to destroy the little ego you’ve spent all your life building up ... well, it’s insanely stressful. You’ve spent XX years building up this mental model of who you are, and now something is trying to destroy that model. (A model which I should add exists only in your brain.)

All I can say is that in my case I found a new way to live, and indeed, many of the happiest years of my life.

I used to live next to a big, open field in Broomfield, Colorado, and used to enjoy listening to the coyotes at night. Eventually they got their own sign.

Coyotes in Colorado

I had a little problem with my grippers this morning and breakfast ended up sunny side down.

Breakfast sunny side down

When you get started with functional programming (FP) a common question you’ll have is, “What is an effect in functional programming?” You’ll hear advanced FPers use the words effects and effectful, but it can be hard to find a definition of what these terms mean.

This page contains a list of my favorite “mindfulness reminder” quotes. In particular these are short, concise quotes that I think work well with my “Just Be” mobile app.

Just Be is currently an app for Android users. If you haven’t seen it before, this is what the reminders/notifications look like when you receive them on an Android phone or tablet:

[This is a chapter from a currently-unpublished book I’m writing on meditation and mindfulness.]

As a spiritual being, one possible way to think of life here on Earth is as a “game” that serves as a training ground for the soul. It’s a game like other games, so it has many levels, and they get harder and harder as you progress. So in this case, the better you become at the game of spirituality — the Soul Game — the harder the levels become.

To help set some rules for the game, let’s say that it has fifty levels. The first time you play the game you’re born here on Earth in Level 1. Hopefully you score some points and move up, so maybe by the time it’s “game over” for your first lifetime, you’ve passed Level 9 and you’re playing on Level 10. Maybe you get a brief break in between lifetimes, but the next time you’re born you start right where you left off, at Level 10.

This brings me to a very important rule: Once you start playing the Soul Game, you’re strapped in for eternity. (That was clearly mentioned on page 52 of the End User License Agreement.) Once you’re in the game there are only two ways out:

Most of my life is work, meditation, yoga, and doctors’ visits, so I have to confess, it’s fun every once in a while to watch a show like Hart of Dixie. I’ve only seen the first two seasons, but it has a lot of funny moments in it.

Guilty pleasure: Hart of Dixie

Yesterday’s regex - Was I drunk, or a genius? From Geek & Poke’s cartoons.

Yesterday's regex - Was I drunk, or a genius?

While looking for something else this morning, I ran across this old photo. I never could grow a full beard.

Alvin Alexander, the college years

I bought a fig at the grocery store today. They’re about the size of a Hershey’s Kiss. The checkout person just looked at me. “One fig? You want to buy one fig?”

“Yes, just one. I want to see what they taste like.”

She put the fig in the bag without weighing it. “I’m pretty sure I can give you one fig without charging you for it,” she said.

A Boulder, Colorado sunset (over the Rocky Mountains), October 18, 2012.

A Boulder, Colorado sunset (over the Rocky Mountains)

Had my first nightmare in many years, and woke up crying. I had just been told that one of my favorite people on Earth had died, and I was being told over the phone how it happened.

The short story is that there had been a bad storm, and trees and power lines were down. Two friends were driving on Bardstown Road, and they were side-swiped by a yellow car that presumably kept going (as a hit-and-run). Nobody was hurt at that point, but the two people got out of the vehicle to inspect the damage to their car, and that’s when the death occurred.

I don’t know how it happened, because in my dream I was starting to lose the phone connection, but I assume they were hit after they got out of the vehicle.

Another cross-country move, another bean bag chair left with Goodwill.

~ September 1, 2011

Back in 2009 I went on a yoga retreat in Sayulita, Mexico, and thanks to a glitch in the scheduling, I stayed in this muy expensivo honeymoon suite on the top of the mountain.

Yoga retreat in Sayulita, Mexico

A young girl working in a doctor’s office was kind enough to refer to me as an “old guy” a few days ago. Yesterday I watched the first Firefly episode and laughed when I saw Shepherd Book referred to as “grandpa” several times. (“I never married,” he muttered in reply to Kaylee.)

~ March 27, 2014

Oooh, grandpa

While the Super Bowl was a disaster (from a Denver, Colorado, perspective), I’ll try to remember February 2, 2014, as the day I watched Love Actually. Still a favorite quote:

“Okay, dad. Let’s do it. Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love.”

Let’s go get the ---- kicked out of us by love