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

A Rocky Mountain sunset, near Boulder, Colorado, November 24, 2016.

A Rocky Mountain sunset, near Boulder, Colorado

Here’s another photo of the Moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Moonrise over the ocean, Virginia Beach (#2)

Mama always told me not to look into the eye’s of the Sun ... sunrise in Virginia Beach, April, 2017.

Sunrise in Virginia Beach, April, 2017

“Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, ‘You are your own master,’ you can change what happens by taking action.”

~ the Dalai Lama, on this Facebook page

If the Houston Astros want to do the right thing, they should just tell opposing batters what pitch is coming. For every at-bat during the season. If they can win the World Series that way, more power to them.

I can’t remember the name of the motel where I saw this, but this is a photo of a painting of sled dogs that I came across in Healy, Alaska, just north of Denali. (I remember the motel because I used to work with a nice guy named Carson, and a guy that could have easily passed as his twin brother worked there.)

Sled dog painting in Healy, Alaska

If you want to create multiple Scala Futures and merge their results together to get a result in a for comprehension, the correct approach is to (a) first create the futures, (b) merge their results in a for comprehension, then (c) extract the result using onComplete or a similar technique.

I originally wrote a long introduction to this article about how to work with the Scala Option, but I decided to keep that introduction for a future second article in this series. For this article I’ll just say:

  • idiomatic Scala code involves never using null values
  • because you never use nulls, it’s important for you to become an expert at using Option, Some, and None
  • initially you may want to use match expressions to handle Option values
  • as you become more proficient with Scala and Options, you’ll find that match expressions tend to be verbose
  • becoming proficient with higher-order functions (HOFs) like map, filter, fold, and many others are the cure for that verbosity

“You are destined to be together forever.”

“You are destined to be together forever”

It seems like sometimes dreams exist to teach us things. Last night there was a very long dream sequence in which a deceased relative was a raging alcoholic. At one point I had to help him off the floor, and when I touched him I instantly saw what he had seen, and felt what he was feeling. It was like 100% empathy for that person. I immediately felt, “Wow, if I had been through these things I might be in the same shape myself,” so rather than feeling pity for him I felt empathy. I got him up into a chair and said, “Talk to me.” He tried to brush me off, but when I told him what I had seen and felt he began weeping and I hugged him for a while.

The one good thing about the chest pain due to pericarditis is that I’ve never meditated as hard and consistently as I am right now.

The one good thing about chest pain

And to all a good night ... a photo of a sunset over the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, October 4, 2012.

And to all a good night (a Rocky Mountain sunset)

In honor of Rare Disease Day (February 28th), here’s  a story about a woman who has a more severe form of the illness/disease I have. A few quotes:

“Johanna Watkins, 30, is allergic to almost everything and everyone, including her husband Scott, 29. She’s been diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare and progressive immunological condition.”

“She has a list of 15 foods she can eat and that’s it. Even those foods make her feel ill, it’s just that they don’t kill her. She’s eaten the same two meals for two years.”

Update: In 2016 Johanna wrote this article, What I’ve learned being isolated and allergic to everything.

(The image is from the story.)

Rare disease makes woman allergic to everything, including her husband

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 seen in Boulder, Colorado. :)

Wish you were here

Every year about this time — late winter, early spring — I have to fight the urge to move back to Alaska. If you ever happen to drive up there you might come across this “North to Alaska” sign.

North to Alaska sign

Here's a brief message for married people stuck in lousy marriages. One thing I learned about marriage is that it’s about teamwork, and if one partner isn’t part of that team — or doesn’t appreciate the other person — it’s no marriage at all, it’s just two people sharing bank accounts and living quarters. I strongly believe that a marriage partner should be someone who builds you up, not one who tears you down.

(I was reminded of that when I saw this image on Facebook today.)

Better off being single

If you like cold weather, this photo was taken at the airport I used to live next to in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Five weeks ago.

Talkeetna airport snow, November, 2015

When you hear mindfulness people say something like, “Life is like a dream,” one thing they mean is that more than 99.99% of the stuff going on in our minds are thoughts about the past and the future. (Past happiness or regrets, and future hopes and concerns.) Because the only thing that’s real in the present moment is what’s actually happening in *only this moment*, anything that’s outside of this moment is in a strict sense no longer real.

Along this line of thinking I like Eckhart Tolle’s two quotes, “The present moment is all you ever have” — you know that to be true for sure if you’ve ever lost consciousness, not knowing if you’d ever open your eyes again — and my favorite of his:

“The whole essence of Zen
consists in walking along
the razor’s edge of Now.”

This is a view of the sunrise in the side view mirror from October, 2018, when I was somewhere in Missouri, driving back to Colorado. On the morning of this trip I really got into listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and was so intent on it that I nearly ran out of gas.

Sunrise in the side view mirror (2018)