Posts in the “personal” category

Santa Fe, New Mexico sidewalk (faux painting)

Just like my Jenny Lane Cottage painting, this is another small version of a “faux painting” I recently created from a photo. This one is of a sidewalk in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The complexity of this image was in removing several modern aspects from the original photo, including signs that were on those green columns, and cars that were in the street. Everything after that is what has become fairly standard work with Gimp for me, including making it look like an oil painting, and signficantly modifying and enhancing the colors.

2016 voter angst

This image makes me think of the angst of many American voters in this election. They’re angry at “politics as usual,” so they think, “I’m angry, let’s just blow it up.” But it also makes me think of the young people, and the future.

We do not see things as they are

“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

We don’t see things like a computer sensor sees them. We see everything through our own rose-colored glasses.

What pericarditis feels like: Chest pain, signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

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WARNING: Chest pain is a serious life or death matter. If you’re experiencing chest pain right now, don’t waste any time reading this article — get yourself to a hospital.

Initial signs and symptoms of my pericarditis

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, I had just finished lunch, looked at the clock, and saw that I could fit in about an hour of work before the Denver Broncos game started. Despite Denver’s 2-6 record, I was looking forward to see how Broncos’ quarterback Brandon Allen would do in his first career start following Joe Flacco’s neck injury.

A minute later I had severe chest pain. It wasn’t in the middle of my chest, but it was on the left side of the left chest/breast area. To the best of my memory, I went from feeling perfectly fine to having severe pain in a matter of moments.

“But I know you”

Some time ago I was at a party, and there was a woman there that I didn’t know, but I felt like I knew her. It was a strange feeling, kind of like deja vu, but it had nothing to do with this party, just the feeling that I knew this woman. Maybe I had seen somewhere before, but I couldn’t place it.

When that thought first came to me I was talking to some other people, so I shrugged it off for the time being. It was relatively early and I figured we’d meet soon enough. A little while later a trash can became full, so I took the bag out of the can and walked it to a garbage can outside by the detached garage. After I put the bag in the can outside I turned around, only to be startled to see the woman standing there.

“How do I know you,” she asked.

New alvinalexander.com front page (coming soon)

In a couple of weeks the architecture behind this blog will change significantly. I just started working on the new approach today, and this is what the “front page” of this website currently looks like in my development environment. It needs a little work, lol.

A “sophisticated” Norman Door door lock

I still get a chuckle out of things that are designed poorly. In the example shown in the image, when you turn the top handle to lock this door, nothing visible happens. You hear a little sound, but when you look at the crack in the door there is no bolt; nothing moves. The feeling is disconcerting, because you have no idea if this door — a bathroom door in a hospital — is locked. The situation is so bad that the people at the hospital made this little sign to assure you that the door is locked.

This is a case where technology helps to create a problem. Some engineer or designer figured out how to make a lock without any visible moving parts, but they didn’t take the human factor into account with their design.

Wondering why some people are in dreams and others are not

I had a dream last year where I was in a hospital bed, and two friends were standing by the bed crying. One was to my right, the other was at the end of the bed. The dream made me wonder several things, including “Why were there people there, and where were the other people I know?”

People go through tremendous personal stress when life doesn’t jive with their mental model (ego)

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.

Hate-y bits (a lucid dream story)

In the “lucid dream holodeck” this morning, I was hanging out with a group of peeps when a tornado suddenly appeared. Everyone started running for cover, and I grabbed a dog and started running for a basement when I looked back at it and thought, “This isn’t a tornado, it’s just an insane amount of energy.”

Holding the dog under my right arm, I stood my ground. When I did this, the energy stopped moving like a tornado, and — skipping over the whole “Transformers” thing — it eventually took on a female human form.

Further skipping past our introductions ... I eventually suggested that she talk to some other people in the dreamspace, but she said no, I had less “hate-y bits” than the other people. (Language differences often make for interesting translations.)

Another dream where I am running on all fours

Had another dream this morning that I was running on all fours. Rather than ask myself, “Why in the world am I doing this?”, I now just accept that I’m a dog (or a cat, or some other animal) in the dream. That helps me go along with whatever is happening in the dream, rather than fight it and wake up.

(Notes from a dream on June 28, 2016)

March, 2020: I want to add that when I have dreams like this, when we’re resting it may seem like the dog and I are the same being in the dream. That is, we look out through the eyes, hear through the ears, etc. But when the dog hears an unusual sound, or sees a squirrel, cat, or another dog, the dog and I suddenly don’t have the same thoughts; the dog is in control of the body and “I” am just a passenger going along for the ride. That’s when I have the thought, “Why am I doing this?”, because the dog (or its instincts) are in control.

Running on all fours in a dream

Wow, how embarrassing. It has taken me *years* to realize that when I run on all fours in a dream that I’m actually a dog (or maybe some other four-legged animal).

I finally realized it this morning when I was running like that and came up to a group of human friends, and one said something like, “Hey, look over there, it’s your new friend.”

When I looked in the direction he was pointing I saw a group of people who didn’t look familiar, and a black dog. Just then the dog came running at me. When it got to me it started licking and biting me and I thought, “This dog is crazy, why doesn’t someone get it off of me,” when everything suddenly made sense.