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

If you like ThinkGeek, they’re having an “up to 75% clearance sale” right now (December 27, 2017).


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.

Apple is getting sued — and rightfully so — for intentionally slowing down iPhones with older batteries. The ironic things are a) if they let people easily change the batteries, or b) made this a software setting, people would be happy with them. Their own pride (ego) created this problem. shared this advice that Michael Jackson gave to a young Kobe Bryant back in 1998.

Michael Jackson's advice to Kobe Bryant

Following a few other articles I’ve read recently about the “AI chip market,” techcrunch has an article, The AI chip startup explosion is already here.

“Courage doesn’t always roar.” I just found this image in a folder on one of my computers. I don’t remember where I took this photo, but I think I took it at a small restaurant in Boulder or Louisville, Colorado. The text comes from Mary Anne Radmacher.

Courage doesn’t always roar

“Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

~ Steve Jobs

A well-said “Merry Christmas and Happy Monday” greeting by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Merry Christmas and Happy Monday

It’s going to be a white Christmas here in the Boulder/Broomfield, Colorado area, ho ho ho.

It’s going to be a White Christmas

From the back cover of, Two Zen Classics: The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) and The Blue Cliff Records (Hekiganroku):

“Katsuki Sekida (1893–1987) was by profession a high school teacher of English until his retirement in 1945. Zen, nevertheless, was his lifelong preoccupation.”

Similarly, my work these days involves computer programming, and my preoccupation is Zen and meditation. Unless you’re willing to go live in a monastery, we all have to work to pay the bills, but that doesn’t mean we can’t practice.

“How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? How can we learn to focus our attention on one thing?”

“The answer is that we cannot do it with our brain alone; the brain cannot control its thoughts by itself. The power to control the activity of our mind comes from the body, and it depends critically on posture and breathing.”

~ From the book, Zen Training, by Katsuki Sekida

Introduction: After a long hiatus, during the last week I finally got back into a consistent meditation routine. As usual, this helps me remember my dreams better, and to also have lucid dreams. Last night that combined with something else I had thought about casually recently: Wouldn’t it be nice to be young again, and if I was young again, what would I do differently?

Just added a few more lessons to “Hello, Scala” including tuples, Scala + Swing, and a complete little OOP example. Also started a Github repo for it.

If you ever wanted to use Scala with Java Swing classes (like JFrame, JTextArea, JScrollPane, etc.), the process is pretty seamless. Here’s an example of a simple Scala/Swing application where I show a text area in a JFrame:

When elephants see a human, their brain lights up in the same way a human’s brain lights up when they see a puppy.

If Functional Programming, Simplified seems large, a) I intentionally wrote it in a simple, leisurely style, and b) it’s a lot easier than reading hundreds of blog posts and all of those books on the right (although a few of those books are really good).

If Functional Programming, Simplified seems large ...

Brock Osweiler on the Denver Broncos quarterback situation, circa December, 2017: “There’s a lot of things that take place in this business that you can’t control,” Osweiler said. “And I think the sooner you learn that, the better mindset you’ll have toward situations like this. So I support whatever the front office decides, the coaches decide. I’m just here to work hard and play quarterback when my number is called.”

As a brief note about the Linux/Unix sed command, today I learned how to append multiple lines of text to an HTML (or XML) file on macOS. The short answer is that I created a sed commands file named changes.sed with these contents:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi