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

The postal code in Stewart, British Columbia, is “VOT 1WO,” which the locals tell me stands for Very Old Town, One Way Out.

Very Old Town, One Way Out

“The activity of consciousness, contrary to expectation, conceals the real nature of existence and represents it in a distorted way.”

~ Zen Training

The sign pretty much says it all: Cheap beer, lousy food. This sign is from a restaurant in Seward, Alaska.

Cheap beer and lousy food (a restaurant in Seward, Alaska)

Here are two good quotes from this interview with Novak Djokovic (and a surprise appearance from Andre Agassi):

“I think the No. 1 requirement is constant desire and open-mindedness to master and improve and evolve yourself in every aspect. I know Roger has been talking about it, and it’s something I feel most top athletes of all sports agree on. Stagnation is regression.”

Djokovic says it helps to have a clear purpose, even if it is a different purpose. “I had to find my reason,” Agassi says. “It’s so important to have that reason.”

Years ago, a friend on posted this on Google+. Is it true? That I don’t know. I'm not a doctor, I’m an aerospace engineer and computer scientist. ;)

One thing I can tell you is that when my thyroid was failing with Hashimoto’s, I did some crazy things, even ending up in Haines, Alaska on a whim. And I can also tell you that taking L-tyrosine really helped later during the thyroid failure process.

Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, adrenaline and our moods

“On one occasion of my own practice, nearing deep samadhi, I happened to notice that the stage of my mind was quietly turning and a new scene was appearing. In this new scene no wandering thought popped up its head; there was absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon.”

~ Zen Training

“To be perfectly honest with you, I really feel that I have average physical ability, but when I get my psych and my self-hypnosis going, I can compete with anybody in anything.”

~ Al Hrabosky

Back in the day it was fun to watch “Mad” Al Hrabosky pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would psyche himself up behind the mound and appear to get very angry, and indeed, he ended up in at least one brawl. Here’s a TWIB Note video of him pitching and talking, and here’s him talking years later about what he was doing behind the mound.

Mad Al Hrabosky pitching

I don’t remember the original source of this image, but I like it: “I need to find more people who will sit and talk about the universe and souls and consciousness with me for hours.”

When I saw this again today I was reminded of the time I ended up in Vail, Colorado, talking to a younger version of myself.

I need to find people who will talk about the universe and souls

This is a series of Facebook posts from an adventurous day in Alaska, December 31, 2010:

1) Hmm, more bad weather today. Adding “tire chains” to the grocery list, and I’m out the door. Driving to Seward to celebrate the new year!

2) Famous Alaska saying: “There’s old pilots, and there’s bold pilots, but there ain’t no old and bold pilots.” Meaning I’m stopping in Anchorage tonight. (More soon.)

3) So ... I was trying to get to Seward tonight, but got stuck in a steep, icy parking lot in Wasilla for a while. I finally decided to drive-slide the car to the edge of the parking lot where there was a small strip of frozen dirt and grass that went up the side of the hill. I got the tires on the right side of the car on that strip, built up as much speed as I could, and finally got my car up the hill. It took more than an hour to get out of there. After that I tried even harder to find tire chains but could not, so I decided to stop in Anchorage. They started the fireworks at 5pm (because of the whole darkness thing), and various shows went on all night, which was a really cool way to spend the evening.

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”

~ Zig Ziglar (and many others)

The greatest source of happiness is ...

“No dreams come without a bill. The reality of making something happen is just a ton of hard work.”

~ Peter Gabriel

In a dream this morning a bunch of people came into my apartment uninvited. All but one of them were maintenance people, and they immediately started renovating my apartment. I argued with them that a little notice would have been nice.

While that was going on, I saw that the other person was a Tibetan monk. While the maintenance people started drilling and cutting in various locations, the monk walked around breaking all of my things. He’d pick up a glass and let it drop to the floor and break, or work harder to break other things. I ran over to him and asked, “Why are you breaking all of my things?”

He didn’t reply, but broke some DVDs in his hands. For some reason this made me more lucid in the dream, so I stepped on some of the DVDs he had dropped to the floor so I could crunch them more. “I get it,” I said, “it’s the whole ‘impermanence’ thing, right?” Then I thought of something and said, “Stay right here for a moment. Break something if you need to, but I’ll be right back.”

It’s super-early in the process, but the Second Edition of the Scala Cookbook is slowly coming to life. I’m currently updating all of the content for Scala 2.13, and when the book is finished it will be updated for Scala 3.

This morning (January 28, 2020) the folks at O’Reilly released the first two chapters of the new, updated book on the O’Reilly Learning Platform. If you have an O’Reilly account you can start reading the new chapters here. If not, you can view the catalog page here.

Scala Cookbook, 2nd Edition shared this advice that Michael Jackson gave to a young Kobe Bryant back in 1998.

Michael Jackson's advice to Kobe Bryant

“Ayya Khema said that being in the third jhāna is like sitting in the mouth of a well — you are a little bit isolated from the world around you. To enter the fourth jhāna, drop down the well to the bottom.”

From the book, Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas.

Table of Contents1 - Using `then` with if/else2 - Using `end if` with if/else3 - Closing a function with `end`4 - Discussion5 - Participate/contribute!6 - Attribution

As a brief note today, here’s an example of the Scala 3 “Dotty” if/then/else-if/else syntax, as used in a function:

def compare(a: Int, b: Int): Int =
    if a < b
    else if a == b
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Using `then` with if/else

You can also use the then keyword after your if expressions, if you prefer:

While many people will remember January 26, 2020, as the day Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident, I’ll also remember it as the first day I was able to sit down in five weeks following the Angiogram procedure. I still couldn’t sit long, maybe ninety minutes total before the pain kicked in, but that alone was nice.

When training an adult polar bear, it’s important to let their cub eat on your leg.

(I don’t remember the original source of this photo.)

Training polar bears

Thanks to the angiogram, I haven’t been able to sit down for over a month. These days when I work, I either (a) read things while laying flat on my back in bed, or write while I’m standing up at this makeshift workspace in my apartment.

My “standing up” workspace