Another question via a search engine: What does methamphetamine do to a relationship?

This one is definitely not a stupid question. Even though I’ve answered it before, I’ll do so again because I can imagine the desperate motivation behind such a question.

The short answer is this: Methamphetamine destroys the relationship.

The longer answer is more complicated than that, and I will probably answer it differently every time, but here’s my best go at it for today…

If meth was always present in the relationship, and I’m assuming a romantic relationship (since the phrasing of the question implied that was all that was being asked about), then there is a good possibility that what you have is not a normal relationship in the first place. It’s not about love; it’s about using together and having sex while you are high. And even if you think it is a normal relationship; even if it is for you (in that you genuinely love and care for your partner just as you would without drugs), it may not be for your partner.

While you might feel normal under the influence of meth; in fact in active addiction for a long time you only feel normal while you are under the influence, you are not normal. Your feelings are not normal; you don’t relate to anybody the way a normal person does, and your moods are very far from normal. Your moods are experienced in extremes: Either you are abnormally euphorically happy, or you are suicidally depressed. Nothing inbetween.

You are also prone to exaggerated reactions to all emotional stimulus, which causes a great deal of arguments over trivial things. You may be suspicious that your partner is cheating, which may or may not be real – there is no way of knowing because meth stimulates you sexually (it makes you both horny), and possibly promiscuous, as well as paranoid.

Let’s say that you are faithful, loyal and true, as well as honest and truly love your partner. Chances are slim to none that’s even possible on meth, but even if it is, the chances that your partner feels the same way are not good.

Even in relationships that weren’t founded while both partners used, you still suffer the consequences of meth in much the same way. You still fight all the time over things that are not really significant, you are prone to cheating on each other, or maybe suspecting each other of cheating when it’s not the case. That and all the other craziness that is part of using meth causes mistrust, and a relationship without trust is doomed. Anyway, being on meth takes your priorities away from what should be important… like working on your relationship, caring for your family, giving a shit about your career… All of those things pale before the only important thing in your life: getting and using drugs. Relationships on meth do not last. They can’t.

Edit: This post was published a little early by accident. It was supposed to be delay-published at 7:30PM, but I accidentally set the time to 7:30AM. I like to delay-publish without proof-reading my posts properly lately; then I can edit them online in my free time for a day or so before they are publically accessible. This one went live errors and all. Oops.

Posted in Advice, Meth, Relationships | Tagged | Leave a comment

Happiness

For the second time in recent days, Megan asked me why I am so happy. I couldn’t answer her because I don’t know why. I just am.

One might be tempted to think that I am happy because I am clean, and that is why I’ve made recovery a success so far this time. But the reality, I think, is that it is the other way around. I’m not happy because I’m clean – I’m clean because I’m happy. Happiness comes from within, and even though I can’t explain why I feel the way I feel, I know it comes from inside. I don’t need to use drugs to fill some void and medicate away my unhappiness. In being happy, there is no feeling that I need anything external to satisfy any missing need, or bring catharsis from a sense of being overwhelmed.

I laugh every time a certain five year old tells me “My daddy drives a BMW”. While I am materialistic and will probably buy myself a better car one day whenever or if ever my financial issues are resolved, it won’t be to satisfy any need to feel prestige, or to validate myself by proving to anybody that I am OK because I drive an expensive, prestigious car. It will be because expensive cars are better quality. However, it would never occur to me to boast to Josh or anybody else about what kind of car I drive, any more than I would consider boasting about what kind of underpants I wear. They’re just objects that serve a functional purpose: One keeps my dick from flopping about in my trousers, and the other gets me from point A to point B. That’s all.

I’ve noticed that besides using drugs or getting obsessive about the prestige in owning expensive materialistic things, there are many other ways people try to make up for their lack of internal happiness. For example, serial dating and the pursuit (but often not the acquisition) of meaningless sex. (Actually I have another post in mind inspired by a great article I read about creepy lonely men who try to annoy women into submission by hitting on them in confined places, such as trains. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing it, as I feel it will be quite funny. The article even mentions one man who wrote a book, where he claimed to have had over 500 dates this way. The bottom line is that I don’t believe him.) Other examples are working obsessively… I’m always wary of workaholics… and fanatic devotion to religion.

My life is still rather chaotic. In the last week of each month, we run out of food, milk, and everything else. I spent my last R200 on petrol and hope I have enough to drive to work for the rest of the week. But despite several things not being OK, I am happy. I have a colleague who has everything going for him, but is depressed. On the surface he has every reason to be happy, but for reasons that I don’t know, he isn’t. I’m more or less the opposite. I have this perpetual happiness despite all obstacles. It’s like an extension to my never-give-up attitude, in that no matter how bad things may seem at any given moment, nothing breaks my happiness and optimism. This is the best I’ve ever been, emotionally.

To summarise, happiness is of paramount importance. When you’re happy, nothing can stop you or bring you down. Nothing can break you. And happiness comes from within. There is nothing external that can make you happy. Recovery, and life itself, is much easier if you are happy.

Posted in My life, Recovery | Tagged | Leave a comment

No time for blog posts lately

Just a quick note to say that I am still here, and have much that I’d like to write about, but haven’t had much time to devote to it lately. I’ll get back to blogging when time permits.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ageing. It sucks.

There’ve been a lot of articles about Rene Zellweger and how shit she looks at 45. Mostly it’s idiots speculating about plastic surgery because they just don’t get that people look different in real life to the way they do in magazines and in the movies. So in a way I agree… she’s looking older. But that’s normal for 45. (And she doesn’t look bad at all.)

Today is my birthday. I’m 43 but I can pass for ten years younger on a good day. (I thank some lucky genes as well as the fact that men often do age better than women.) I can see the difference though, and I can feel the difference, the signs of my mortality. Ageing sucks, but we all get old. We should get over it and not post stupid hateful comments about actors who look their age. Just wait ’til you get there, arseholes…

It isn’t fair to hold somebody to ridiculous standards, such as expecting an actor to look the same forever. They may be immortalized on film, but in life they are just as mortal as you and me. Also, we age in spurts, so somebody who looks quite young in their mid-thirties might look more than ten years older in their mid-forties. That’s just the way it is. I don’t even like Rene Zellweger, but she looks happy and healthy to me. If you want to criticize somebody based on their looks alone, there are some who look far worse. Think Angelina Jolie. (who I do like) But in her case it’s not so much about age, and more about poor diet. She looks like she needs to eat.

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Feeling like an imposter again

Sheesh… I read a few programming blogs, but one of them always ends up making me feel really stupid. Eric Lippert, I hate you! … OK, maybe I don’t, but the guy writes the most beautiful, concise code I have ever seen, and every time I read it, even if it’s the silliest, most simple example, I have to read it again, and again before I understand it. It makes me feel really dumb every time.

I do read quickly, and most of the time, whether I’m reading one of my favourite sceptic’s blogs or about the latest in medicine, I do understand it right away, but something about Mr Lippert’s posts is always just out of my brain’s reach, and that’s ironic because C# development is what I specialize in. I don’t know if this is a case of the imposter syndrome or if I am really just not as intelligent as I should be, but it always intimidates me…

Here’s a link to his latest post that makes me feel dumb. Even his English is better than mine; in terms of both grammar and vocabulary. In a comment to a question today, he stated that the algorithm he presented was “the most pedagogically interesting”. I had to look up “pedagogically”.

So if you too read programming blogs and come away from them feeling more stupid, rather than wiser, you are not alone.

Posted in Non-addiction, Programming | Tagged | Leave a comment

Thank you, Word auto recovery. Gosh, which one shall I use?

Perplexing… My notebook crashed on Friday, and I just returned to this Word document now. Word conveniently saved two versions of the document for me, including the original draft, apparently written some 370 years before I was born, and 51 years before Jan Van Riebeeck sailed to sunny South Africa.

DocRecovery

Anyway, I did some digging (very little), and the significance of the weird date is explained on Raymond Chen’s blog here. It’s a short post, so here it is quoted verbatim:

Public Service Announcement: This weekend marks the start of Daylight Saving Time in most parts of the United States.

The FILETIME structure records time in the form of 100-nanosecond intervals since January 1, 1601. Why was that date chosen?

The Gregorian calendar operates on a 400-year cycle, and 1601 is the first year of the cycle that was active at the time Windows NT was being designed. In other words, it was chosen to make the math come out nicely.

I actually have the email from Dave Cutler confirming this.

In English, what that means is that the date is an uninitialized Win32 FILETIME structure, so the original date was somehow lost, and the Office developers didn’t test for that variable being undefined. (Hey, at least it didn’t crash. And they did correctly convert the date to a local date time for this country.)

So if you see that same confusing date anywhere, now you know…

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Why do we lie?

I continue to find it tiresome that this blog gets so many views by people searching for “meth addict lies”. I found an interesting video yesterday (see below) about the science of lying.

The fact is that we have evolved to lie, just as we have evolved to detect bad liars. And we start early. Who has not noticed a six-month old baby crying without tears? At that age we can’t speak, but have already found how we can gain something that we want through deception and manipulation, so it is an example of lying without actually speaking.

We all lie. Lying is not only normal, it is a vital part of what we are. As we have evolved to be better at detecting bad lies, through creating rules and gods that punish the liars, we have also evolved to be better liars. And we all do it.

But just as we judge ourselves by our motivations, but others by their actions, we look harshly upon others when we know they are lying. Addicts generally tend to tell two kind of lies:

  1. Denial. They deny that they are using drugs, even to people who know that this isn’t true.
  2. Manipulation, such as appeals to your emotions. These are tactics they use to be able to get more drugs, when they have no more money to buy it themselves.

In both cases, those lies get easier to detect as time goes by, simply because it becomes very obvious that somebody is telling a lie when they tell the same lie over and over. This makes addicts bad liars.

At the end of the day, addicts tell no more lies than anybody else, but because they are such bad liars, they’re easy to detect and easy to judge. But don’t be so quick to judge them for it. You should be glad they don’t lie as well as you do, because things would be far worse if they did.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

So much for good fortune

It’s heart-breaking to see a child in pain, especially when she is too young to tell you what hurts; and also unfortunately ear-shattering. Aishah has bronchitis, and even though she went to the doctor on Tuesday and has been on antibiotics since then, in some ways she seems to be getting worse. Although her fever is gone, last night was the second night in a row that she didn’t cry, but rather screamed through the night. The screaming started around 2AM, and I think I managed to get some sleep between 4 and 5AM, then got up because I still planned to take Megan to continue her call-centre training.

However, we decided that Aishah is more important than that job, even though Megan had it already. On the one hand I am sad because this is the only job I could help her obtain, but on the other, I am relieved. It was all the way in Alberton, which due to the traffic, resulted in my driving for over two hours extra every day. All that for a pittance she would earn, that will mostly go to the petrol needed to drive her there. I don’t understand how call centres can pay so little.

Besides the facts that the money earned would be almost nothing after purchasing the extra petrol, it would mean collecting Aishah from crèche very late every day (around 6:30PM), which is unfair to the lady who runs the crèche. And on Wednesdays we would be too late to be able to visit Josh, so this whole idea is a bad one, and we are better off without Megan taking that job. Yet it still disappoints me.

Anyway, when weighing up the pros and cons here, there are simply too many cons. This would have adverse effects on Josh and Aishah, and take up far too much of my time every day, all for very little money that leaves us overall worse off for it.

Posted in My life, Parenting, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged | 2 Comments

Stating the obvious. Practice does not make perfect. Experts are born, not made

Interesting article on slate… To paraphrase, recent studies have cast some doubt on the idea that experts can be “made” via practice, and in fact much of your talent is coded in your genes.

Was there ever any doubt?

Just thinking about one of my own talents: I can reproduce many photos in pencil very closely (especially if I print them in grayscale first because it’s easier to figure out how to tone/shade them), and although practice may improve the likeness or the speed of the drawing process, this is just something I can do. It’s easy. Capturing a colour image on a canvas with oil is even easier. (Actually I suspect that there are many people who can paint and just don’t know it. If you can draw in pencil, you can probably paint too, and should give it a try.)

LionPaintingSmallCropped

This wasn’t something that took practice. My first painting, above, came out pretty well. OK, so it’s not brilliant, but it should make the point… Not everybody can read a book on how to paint, mix paint and so on… and then sit down and get it right first time. (But many probably can, and I suggest you do try it, because it is a fantastic and rewarding hobby. I can’t emphasize how amazing it feels to watch your canvas come to life, and I really want to get back into it again.)

I know plenty of people who can’t draw at all, and who will never be able to draw anything, no matter how much they practice. And likewise I am quite certain that I will never be able to play a musical instrument, or be fluent in any language besides English and a few programming languages.

What’s my point? I made it in the one-line second paragraph. We all have talents which we inherited or were randomly encoded in our genes, but for skills in which we are not talented, we can practice until the cows come home and we will still never be any good. Isn’t this obvious to everybody? I happen to be employed in a job that allows me to indulge one of my talents (C# dev), and wouldn’t have it any other way. (You’ve got to be happy in your job, after all.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Stupid question of the year

I see somebody actually searched for this:

Why do people still do meth?

Why do people smoke cigarettes? Why do people drink coffee? Why do people eat chocolate? Why do people ask such stupid questions?

Why meth in particular? Why not cocaine, or weed? Did you know that weed causes 4 times more tar in the lungs than tobacco, and can lead to permanent clinical psychosis? Why do people use heroin? Or ketamine? Or alcohol? Or… All drugs are bad. But whoever asked the question needn’t worry. You sir, are so fucking stupid, no drugs can do you any harm. In fact, I recommend a really great substance for you called cyanide.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Recovery | Tagged , | 2 Comments

To be a runner again

I couldn’t always run fast. I remember one day when I was eight years old, as we played in the field of Plumstead Preparatory School; we played tag, which we called on-on, but I didn’t really play with the other children; I played in my own imaginary world instead. I can’t remember what the imaginary world was about that day, but I do remember that I couldn’t run very fast, but wanted to. So I stood against a tree and imagined myself running fast. I imagined what it must be like to run so fast that you are almost flying. I breathed slowly with my eyes closed and visualized myself running, my own version of meditation, and psyched myself up to one day be able to run like the wind.

I did that for a few years, and then one day at the age of around eleven, I took part in a school race, and found that I could run the way I’d always imagined. Nobody could catch me, and I loved it. That lasted for a few years. But running for me was never about physical exercise. Never. Even when I got into running again as an adult, this time running distances a little longer than 100m sprints, running transcends the physical.

The physical aspect to it is an unfortunate prerequisite to the running state of mind. Once you get past being able to run more than a few kilometres, it’s not about lifting your legs; it’s not about listening to the sound of your breathing in time with the rhythmic tap-tap of your shoes on the road. It’s about a mental state, a place where you go in your head that is as close to a so-called spiritual experience as one can get (bearing in mind that I don’t believe that any such thing exists).

In a way I’ve been like that child again, naively imagining and fantasizing about being able to run as I used to, while not even trying, until last night. The actual attempt was a grim reminder that to get into that Zen state takes some effort. You can’t transcend the physical when merely lifting your leg is almost impossible after a few hundred meters.

Oh, the muscle-memory was still there, but the muscles are not capable of it for very long, and the layers of fat covering them make it like running through molasses. Even breathing correctly still came naturally, but as my muscles gave in, they cried out for more oxygen that wasn’t available without breathing too fast. That’s a cascading effect – running anything more than a short distance involves balance. You have to maintain a steady pace and sustain it for a long time without it causing much strain, while supplying the muscles with enough oxygen by breathing in a rhythm that’s in tune with the running pace. But when you’re unfit, as I am, there are fewer alveoli in the lungs so each breath doesn’t allow absorbing as much oxygen as the muscle cells need, fewer red blood cells to transport the oxygen to the muscle cells, and fewer mitochondria in the muscle cells to receive the oxygen and convert them into energy to continue running. What this meant for me was that after only one or two kilometres my muscles went into anaerobic respiration mode because they were starved of oxygen, and anaerobic respiration doesn’t work for distance running, only for sprinting. So I had to abandon the run for a brisk walk instead.

But I’ll get there again. Not today. Today my legs are aching, and I know that the real post-exertion pain for me only comes after 48 hours. But I will be a runner again. It’s just going to take a little longer than I thought.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Some more Q&A

I see some search strings that I’ve answered in one way or another before have brought users here again. I might as well answer them again.

Modafinil for ice addiction

Modafinil doesn’t do what you think it does. It is medication for narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder. All it does is keep you alert and awake. You might think that meth does the same thing, but it does not. (See the “no meth no energy” subheading here.) You might think it gives you energy, but instead it puts you in a very dangerous state of mind where you become overly fascinated with simple tasks, and then act on that psychological state ad nauseam. That is what you are really addicted to. What you think of as energy is that fucked up mental state, which leads to the behaviour called tweaking.

Not only will you be sorely disappointed, because modafinil doesn’t give you any high, you will be disappointed because on it, you feel normal, as if you haven’t taken anything at all. You can’t tweak, and it will do nothing for you. You can’t even use it to try to remain awake while detoxing from meth, because amphetamines are much stronger stimulants than modafinil. (This was my original motivation for writing about this before. I had a doctor who prescribed it for me years ago back in Cape Town, and it did nothing.)

can you wean yourself off cath

No, you can’t.

Trying to wean yourself off any drug is a fool’s errand, and a weak excuse used by addicts who don’t really have any intention of quitting.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Recovery, Tweaking | Tagged ,

I’m getting a good feeling again

Lately I’ve been feeling down.

We had several arguments at home, all around the same point of contention between us, namely my mother staying with us. Without getting into the specifics, it was enough to pressure me into venting my frustration with Megan via negative blog posts here (that I subsequently removed).

Also, she has been without a job for a couple of months now, which puts more financial pressure on me, because I’m paying Aishah’s crèche fees as well as all the other expenses, which is a strain but I don’t want to remove her from crèche because she is so happy there.

My boss is the owner of this company as well as the CTO of another, so I tried my luck in asking him to see if he could get her a job there. (That company does debt collection and has a small attorney firm as well as a call centre.) So he helped out by asking the call centre manager for a favour… and that manager called Megan. He was supposed to set up a job interview for her weeks ago already, but he has resigned, so I thought this was a dead end. Thus I felt disappointed. It’s not like I have any contact in HR anywhere to be able to get her a job. That was the one and only string I could pull.

Then today she called me with great news: She must report there for training at 8AM on Wednesday. It seems that she got the job and skipped the interview completely. This is great news. (Actually she should have the job… According to my boss, there is an assessment after training, so she needs to pay attention and make sure she follows whatever they tell her.)

I was also feeling bad lately because I couldn’t afford to buy her a birthday present last month. Then last Thursday I received a call from a company I’d never heard of… to tell me I qualify for a mobile contract and a tablet. It’s only R370 per month, and is a budget 7 inch tablet, but a pretty decent one. It was only supposed to be delivered today, but as luck would have it, we received it last Friday already. (Tested the camera; although it’s only 2 MP, it takes decent enough photos, as shown by the photo of myself yesterday.) Thus I was able to give her a belated birthday present. One that she is really happy with!

Recall also that I’m coming into some money that I forgot was owed to me in the next couple of months, so it feels so much better to receive good news/fortune/luck from multiple sources in a few short days.

I think I will take this to heart in future… When I’m feeling down, rather than responding negatively, I’ll try to respond positively. Giving her this present has indirectly made me really happy too, and the future doesn’t seem so grim anymore. (Too bad I won’t be getting anything special for my own birthday later this month, but never mind… I‘ll buy myself a great late present at the end of the month!)

Posted in Recovery

Finding inspiration

I must admit… I’ve always hated inspirational messages; you know… the ones people post on Facebook and other social media. They’re always generic bullshit like the kind of feel-good nonsense you get in mass-produced birthday cards. But when something is genuine, it’s different. It touches the heart and motivates the mind.

Yesterday I dared share my before running photo, to document my starting point before getting back into shape. And wow… the response to my Facebook share of it alone was enough to inspire me. The truth is, every time I look in the mirror, I feel a little closer to understanding the motivation Robert Smith must’ve felt when he wrote Piggy in the Mirror. I can hear the end of the song playing back in my head right now. Yet I don’t feel self-conscious about it.

After posting that and sharing it on Facebook, I noticed there was another share by somebody else, then another two in the next couple of hours while we visited Josh. Then this morning, I see there were another nine shares altogether. I didn’t expect that. I never thought that my post could inspire anyone. But it works both ways; your response inspires me too. Thank you.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

Ready to get back into shape (Before Photo)

I’m finally ready to get fit again. It’s been a few years since I had any kind of exercise, but here is my starting point for posterity… Weighing in at 92.8kg, on 12th October 2014. What with years of recurring shin splints, and being almost 30kg heavier than when last I ran regularly, I’m going to take it slow this time. If all goes well, I’ll post another photo, the after running shot, to show my progress in a few months. (Oh, and I don’t look too bad in this photo, but of course photos can be a little flattering as they are 2D, and I have avoided posting the one taken from the side.)

IMG_20141012_143802

Posted in My life, Recovery | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Risks that drugs pose for your brain

I’ve always downplayed the affects of drugs on the brain, particularly those related to memory. My reason for this is that while I have observed those affects, I have not experienced them.

That is, I always was scatterbrained. For example, as a twenty-something, when I went to gym, I’d always forget a towel there. (That was more than ten years before I used drugs.) My personal experience is that my memory has improved with age. I don’t know why. I do read more than average (non-fiction these days) and I do work in a field that exercises my brain constantly. After all, software development is challenging. But I have made no effort to improve my memory. It just happened.

So when I have written about drugs and memory loss, I’ve limited it to the temporary affects that drugs had on my own memory. But permanent affects are very real. When I was in rehab, I noticed that almost everybody there suffered with short-term memory loss. Even though they were no longer using drugs, they had trouble remembering little things, for instance there would be people in the evening who couldn’t remember where they’d put their pens or shoes that morning. At that stage I was the only meth addict there, the rest were mostly crack cocaine addicts and alcoholics. But I don’t think the drug of choice is even relevant to this. We all put ourselves through the same risks and I was just lucky to be unaffected by this. I also noticed a drug counselor who I consulted with after rehab, who herself had used crack cocaine for many years, who had the same sort of memory issues. (She was always losing her phone and forgetting small day-to-day things.)

But if you use drugs, memory loss should be the least of your worries, even though short-term memory issues appear to be permanent for some people. What you should worry about is potential psychosis, and possibly drug-induced schizophrenia.

Every addict probably knows someone else who uses drugs, who is a little bit crazy. Maybe you tell yourself that they are simply eccentric. Maybe you know deep down that it was the drugs that made them that way? You might even be afraid of the same happening to you. (I was.) The point is, you do need to realize that the risk of going “mad” permanently, directly because you use drugs, is very real.

People talk of amphetamine psychosis. Sometimes they even seem to romanticize it, like it is cool to go a little crazy from using meth. The simple fact is, so-called amphetamine psychosis, or hearing voices because you are on meth, isn’t really psychosis at all. It’s just hallucinations. But it does give you a warning, a first-hand experience of what it must be like to lose your mind. And drugs can and do trigger schizophrenia. Once that happens, there is no going back because there is no cure.

Back when I was in rehab, there was one man there, who wasn’t even thirty years old, who had lost his mind from using drugs. (He smoked weed.) He would giggle in the shower, talking to someone who wasn’t there, and most of the time he was incoherent. Apparently he had been there before, and been perfectly normal, and sane, just like the rest of us. But after he lost his mind, nobody wanted him. His parents didn’t want him, the people running the rehab didn’t want him, and when he went for psychiatric evaluation, he happened to be coherent and was misdiagnosed with a personality disorder. So nobody wanted him, and nobody really cared what happened to him. This is what you risk when using drugs: You might lose your mind and nobody will care.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Psychosis, Recovery

Some good fortune for a change

Well, actually for a change is not too accurate… Even though I had some pretty bad times in the past, I was always lucky, and I think I always will be. Yesterday I wrote (in a post that I removed for reasons I’m not getting into) that my financial predicament is so bad, unless some money falls out of the sky, I just have to live with it for a while. Now some money is going to fall from the sky, sort of.

It turns out that there was yet another provident fund, from a time I worked for a company that went under, and I was retrenched, in early 2009. At that time my tax returns were several years behind, so SARS denied me the money, and I forgot about it. There were a few of these, and I thought I’d been paid out all of them by now, so this was a pleasant surprise, kind of similar to that feeling when you find a R100 note in an old pair of trousers.

It was a Liberty policy, and since my contact details changed, they couldn’t find me. But earlier this year I started two new Liberty policies, so I guess they found me because of the new details, and my matching ID number. I still have to jump through some little hoops to get the money, that is produce an affidavit to state that I worked for Global Vision IT at the time of the policy (already done), fill in some forms, and send them proof of my banking details.

I also don’t know what the amount is, but anything will be welcome now. My finances are not going too well. My cheque account has a balance of something like negative R22 000 before pay-day, and it only goes into a positive balance for a few days each month (although my available balance is OK for a week or so). Then after I pay the expenses, I have to draw the rest of it out to avoid debit orders taking my petrol money. I also have a credit card sitting at negative R46 000, a balance which remains more or less constant despite my paying it off. Anyway, a bit of extra money will  be a welcome relief right now.

Update: Aaargh… and now I wait. Sent them all the documents and they tell me that all is in order, but the waiting period is 2 to 3 months depending on their workload.

Posted in My life, Recovery | Tagged | 2 Comments

I finally found a good timesheet system

Not that I ever looked for one before, but never mind.

One thing I have never been able to get right is timesheets. Never. This has caused some problems for me at work… Lately I have to submit my timesheets on the 26th of each month. Each entry on the timesheet has the date, starting and ending time, and a calculated time duration. That is, there are multiple tasks for every day. Since I haven’t been keeping it up to date, at the end of last month, it took me three hours to “remember” my time sheet, using my sent email, subversion commits etc… It was a disaster… I’d be like, “I committed these six things on the fourth. But when did I actually work on them?” Never again.

I found a very good time-keeping web app called Toggl. Now I just add tasks, giving each a name, and click a button for them to record. (They are reusable too. If you click the play button on a task from yesterday, it will create an entry for today.) If I forget to stop it at the end of the day when I go home, I just click Stop in the morning, and then modify the start and end time. It also has a CSV export, which gives me almost exactly what I need to create my Excel timesheet, including all the ad hoc queries and other little tasks that I’d forgotten about. I highly recommend it.

Posted in Non-addiction, Work | Tagged

More stupid questions

I looked at the blog stats for interesting search strings, and saw some strange ones:

How to clean the black in the tik lolly, and How to clean a tik lollo (two searches by different people)

Clean it with a hammer.

(For those who don’t know, and since I have more US readers than South African ones now… Tik is South African slang for methamphetamine. Lolly is what we call the glass pipe that we use to smoke it. I’ve no idea what a lolly is called elsewhere.)

Seriously, how can you be so stupid that you can’t figure this out on your own? Try cleaning it with an ear-bud and some Handy Andy. Or you could use pipe cleaners with the same detergent. (You can also use bleach, like Jik – although it’s not included in the 101 uses on that page.) Then rinse it, and dry it with curled up toilet paper, feeding it in and out carefully, or a hairdryer. (Warning: If you are paranoid enough, you might think everybody can hear the hairdryer and knows exactly why you are using it.) Or you could dry it with a lighter, but place it close to the flame so that it evaporates the water without burning the lolly.

If you are feeling really adventurous, you could clean it the way I did (when I was fucked up high) with a darning needle or small precision screwdriver. (Enjoy your trip.) Since you gave me a craving, I hope you fucking break it, loser!

Loss of memory meth

Technically, you don’t lose your memory on meth, but you confuzzle your brain until it struggles to recollect memories. The memories are still there but you can’t access them. They tend to come back at some random time, later (but not when you need them).

Meth facial muscle

Context?

Meth affects your facial muscle in two ways:

  1. They waste away, just like all your other muscles. You are well on your way to looking like a living skeleton.
  2. You are tense, so you contract your muscles for hours at a time, but seldom relax them. This can cause lockjaw, as well as extreme pain on the side of your face, and you may damage your back teeth by grinding them, assuming you still have teeth. (Even in your sleep, on those rare occasions when you do sleep.)

Perpetual motion of addiction

I’m sorry, but I think you are confused. Perpetual motion doesn’t mean what you think it means. Perpetual motion refers to motion that continues perpetually, without an energy source. It’s a scientific impossibility, since achieving it would defy the laws of physics.

You probably mean something else, like the way meth addicts tend to move around continually, or are unable to sit still. That doesn’t apply to all meth addicts. Long-time addicts tend to sit around for hours and hardly move at all. But whatever you mean, it’s a terrible metaphor/pun, and it would be better if you described it some other way.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery, Tweaking | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Shoe!

I have two topics for today, neither of which is related to recovery in any way.

It’s fascinating watching a child learn. Aishah has a new word, as of the last two weeks: Shoe. The first time we heard her say it was one day when collecting her from crèche. On our arrival, she was playing with another child outside, but promptly ignored him when she saw us. She was wearing her sandals that day, sandals with a Velcro strap. Apparently Velcro straps are a bad idea for one-year olds, and she proudly held up one sandal that she had removed, and announced “Shoe”.

It’s her newest word, and her favourite at the moment. She’ll bring us our shoes no matter where we may be in the house, always with the “Shoe” announcement, and will gladly go fetch her shoes when asked to do so. It’s another way for her to let us know she wants to go out, besides grabbing my house keys and scraping them against the front door.

On Saturday we took her to get new sandals, without a Velcro strap this time, and as we approached the shoes aisles in the shop, she could not contain her excitement at the sight of thousands of shoes, shouting out “Shoe!” loud enough for everyone in the store to hear.

She doesn’t have many words yet, and the main ones I can think of right now besides her name, are Mama, Dada, teddy, kitty (which applies to dogs too), dere, poopoo, chair, ball, Allo and Uppa. Uppa also means down sometimes… In context, it means “let me free so I can play”. That is, pick me up from the feeding chair or car seat, or put me down because I don’t want to be held right now.

As of yesterday she has also started kicking a ball. (She has only been throwing it until now.) We were playing with Josh outside, and Aishah had her little ball; so the first time she kicked it I thought it was accidental. Then later she kicked it around in the house, and it was clearly deliberate. It’s amazing how fast she is growing and learning. She’s only just a little over 16 months old. This is where I get my high these days: Watching a child grow, develop and learn. And by playing with her mostly, but also with Josh when I get the chance.

On a related note, to shoes, I finally purchased a pair of running shoes over the weekend. There is a Nike factory Store nearby, and I went there to ask the salesperson for the cheapest entry level running shoe. Found a nice pair for R279. My logic is this: I am so overweight, I will probably destroy whatever running shoes I start with very quickly, so it’s best to start with a cheap pair. I haven’t used them yet, but will start this week. Wish me luck… (and may the pain from my complete lack of fitness not last too long).

Posted in My life, Non-addiction, Parenting, Relationships | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

John Cleese explains the Dunning-Kruger effect

I saw this a while ago, where John Cleese explains the Dunning-Kruger effect, but had lost the URL for it. Thanks to a share on Facebook, I found it again. (Though the original video was a bit longer. If anyone can point it out in a comment, it would be greatly appreciated.)

For those who don’t know, this effect states that those people who are totally incompetent at any skill lack exactly the skill to know how incompetent they are, and rate themselves highly. In practice, it means that whenever anybody tells you that they are very good at something, they are almost certainly mistaken. (Useful if you do job interviews.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Reshaping the voices in your head

The title is a search query string that brought somebody here. I kid you not!

I wrote about this quite recently, but do not recall which post, and it’s worth revisiting in greater depth. During my last relapse, I came up with a technique of coping with voices in my head. That is, since I realized that the voices were coming from my mind anyway, I figured that when they said bad things about me, I could concentrate and change what the voices were saying.

Yes, it is madness. But it was also a surprisingly effective coping technique. I’d be manically tense, and drowning in paranoia, quite unsure if the voices were really in my head or if some of them were real. Actually, I’d always be unsure about some of them.

For me, voices manifested in three ways:

  1. Voices of people I knew, who would be saying terrible things about me. Vile things that I can not repeat. Those voices belonged to people who were perceived “enemies” from my past, but who couldn’t possibly be there, so I’d know immediately that they were not real.
  2. Generic voices of people that I didn’t know at all. Just plain nasty, evil voices saying nasty, evil things. These would tend to repeat the same key phrases and would always appear to emanate from the same distance with the same pitch. Ditto there… I always knew these were not real.
  3. Voices of people I worked with. For example, I’d hear the voice of my boss, in his office about ten meters away, speculating that I had relapsed and was using again, or about something I had done which was evidence that I was using again. These voices, which I only heard in the morning, sounded very real, and I always thought they were real when I heard them. Then I’d be afraid of losing my job. Every time, I’d almost approach the person, and give the whole thing away. (Paranoia can be terribly counter-productive.) Then by the afternoon of the same day, that feeling would wear off, and I’d realize that those voices were also not real, and be relieved that I hadn’t given the game away.

The coping technique, that is to concentrate and make the voices say something different, only worked for cases 1 and 2 above. That is, I’d be standing outside the office, having a cup of coffee, and hear the voices. Then I’d concentrate and make them say something positive, if the were saying something negative, or maybe just make them shout crazy things, nonsensical funny things that nobody would ever shout. And it worked. It worked so well actually, it calmed me down and took the feelings of paranoia away so well, the third type of voice, the one that I would hear in the office, also stopped.

Please don’t do this!

Yes, it worked for me. But how well it “worked” is debatable. (Hopefully not in your head.) Finding a way of coping with the voices served only to allow me to use even more for even longer, and get myself even higher, and crazier on meth. I used and used until I was on the verge of overdose all the time. With meth, the only way to overdose as far as I know is cardiac arrest. I used until I shook all over, until my head was light and my body started burning itself up. I used until I could stand in a parking lot, and watch the stationary parked cars sliding back and forth. I used until I was mentally and physically fucked. Then I used some more.

I’m very lucky. I must have been on the verge of death or madness so many times, but luckily it never happened. Also, trying to “shape” the voices in your head is very obviously not the right way to go. It’s about as wrong as you can go. You never know when hallucinations may give way to permanent psychosis; never know if it’s possible to go from high and paranoid to schizophrenic and permanently that way. (Is that what you want?)

Don’t do what I did. If you have voices in your head from using methamphetamine, get help. Otherwise, you might not be as lucky as I have been.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Evil, Meth, Psychosis, Recovery, Relapse, Tweaking | Tagged ,

On the subjective online experience – Seeing the world through Google-tinted glasses

I wonder how many of us realize that the search results we see when doing a Google search are tailor-made for us. From Wikipedia:

Google Personalized Search is a feature of Google Search. All searches on Google Search are associated with a browser cookie record.[1] Then, when a user performs a search, the search results are not only based on the relevance of each web page to the search term, but also on which websites the user (or someone else using the same browser) visited through previous search results.[1] This provides a more personalized experience that can increase the relevance of the search results for the particular user, but also has some side effects. The feature only takes effect after several searches have been recorded, so that it can be calibrated to the user’s tastes.[2]

I found out about this some time back, when somebody argued that my writing about my son on this blog was a bad thing. He then emailed me a copy-and-paste of his search results, which he claimed came from a search for my son’s name. The results were nothing but vicious ad hominem (a personal attack) with myself as the target, and I could not reproduce those results myself, not even by searching directly for some of the hateful terms its preview screenshot contained. I always suspected that this person’s views were filled with hatred, but seeing this window into his perception of the world was both an unpleasant and unwanted surprise.

I’m still not sure if I regard those personalized searches as a good or a bad thing. It’s convenient to get results that are more relevant to you. For example, if you always view sci-fi or fantasy pages, you’ll be more likely to get results that you like, presuming that is what you always search for. But it also leads to a potentially distorted perception of the world, and without even knowing it, you are pigeon-holed into an increasingly narrow-minded view that is biased by your own previous searches and whatever the Google algorithm decides is interesting on your behalf.

Isn’t it enough that there are online virtual communities that encourage misogyny, paedophilia, racism, and conspiracist thinking… communities that insulate their members from the outside world and an objective or dissenting view? Personalized searches extend the problem even further, allowing the illusion (and potentially the delusion) that everybody sees the world as you do, by distorting the window to the world that it presents to be inline with your existing perception.

In the case of this particular person, it seems that he values ad hominem attacks against others to such an extent that his search results were biased towards those with a similar point of view, with regards to malicious hatred, disrespect and bigotry towards others. Either that or he searched with something like the now discontinued Google Desktop, through his own emails without even realizing it.

And on a somewhat related note…

This also begs the question of how to handle harmful blog comments. These days I have no issue with harmful or hateful comments (although I haven’t received any for a while), because I can quite easily find the flaws in their logic and then point them out, possibly in a comedic, mocking or sarcastic way, but that doesn’t mean that readers won’t take hateful comments seriously, or even recognize them. Sometimes ad hominem is quite cleverly camouflaged and not everybody can see those sorts of comments for what they really are.

Jeff Attwood wrote a somewhat interesting (and opinionated) piece about blog comments recently. I’m not sure if I agree with most of it, especially the bits about a blog “not being a blog without comments”. Only the most popular blogs get hundreds of comments. This one gets hardly any, despite the number of views, which are considerable. Not everybody reads blogs with the intention of Discourse with the writer. (It’s a terrible pun. I’m sorry, but it is relevant that Jeff also wrote that post to plug his forum software.) And for some subjects, most readers will not want to comment, especially if a blog is generally about a taboo subject such as addiction.

Of course I do appreciate the comments made here, and do try to respond to them. (I don’t appreciate the comments on my programming blog. They’re usually just by lazy or stupid developers who would rather ask how to do something than try to do it themselves.) But one case where I do agree with Mr Coding Horror is that comments need to be carefully moderated, so if I get any hateful comments, I’ll be sure to delete them.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , ,

Addict lies

A common search term that brings visitors here, about which I have written several times before, is “meth addict lies”. But while writing a recent post (scroll to the bottom), I remembered a lie of my own that I’d forgotten about. Further, my main points of today are not only relevant to meth addicts, they are relevant to all addicts. Hence the title.

To recap the relevant parts that I’ve written before:

  • Addicts lie and say that they are clean when they have a history of drug abuse. This is natural, in that all of us will try to hide bad things about ourselves that we don’t want others to know. It’s not unique to addicts, except that they commonly try hiding the same secret. (This lie is unnecessary until the drug habit is known. Many addicts don’t need to tell this lie because nobody knows their secret.)
  • Everybody lies. Addicts are no different to anybody else, and lie for the same reasons you do. They just tend to lie about the same subject many times.

What I forgot about is the lies to get the next hit, after the money has run out. This is probably what people really mean when they search for addicts’ lies.

Drug habits are, by the very nature of addiction, expensive, because you can never get enough drugs to satiate your need for them. If you don’t do crime such as theft or fraud to finance your drug habit, then you don’t have many options. Thus all addicts are good manipulators. They need money, and if they aren’t willing to steal it from you, they need you to give it to them willingly. One way to do so is to tell you tall stories which explain how they got into some crazy predicament, and that they need your money. This is what the less intelligent addicts do. That is, they always have a tall story, and are always asking for money.

What I, and I assume most addicts, did is to manipulate people, normally family members, into giving me money for drugs. That is, they use various logically fallacious arguments that fall into the broad category of appeals to emotions. For example: My girlfriend stole money from me; now I have no money left for petrol so I’ll be stranded and can’t get to work. If I don’t go to work, I won’t be able to pay my rent and feed my family. That’s an appeal to pity. It’s a double-whammy of an appeal, because it relies on your pity at my financial predicament, as well as the abuse I am suffering at the hands of my loved one. (It probably needs to be stated a little better to work without you asking “Why don’t you just leave her?” but remember that this is a simplified and contrived example.) I used to use something like that on my mother, so she’d feel sorry for me, and give me money for petrol. Ironically I once ran out of petrol after this, because I really had no petrol money left, and the money she gave was spent on drugs.

When you don’t have anyone left to manipulate, then you try to manipulate the general public. That’s effectively what all beggars are doing, carrying out massive public appeals to pity. This is why I never give money to beggars. We have so many of them here in Johannesburg… They are at almost every traffic light, and most of the time you can even see that they are obviously under the influence of some kind of drug. It’s most probably not the same drug that I used to take, because they’ve crossed a line at some point and can no longer afford whatever their drugs of choice used to be. But they are addicts. It always surprises me that people do give them money. (Don’t! It will only be spent on drugs. Don’t give them food either. I prefer to throw old food into the garbage. I will not sponsor somebody else’s addiction, or do anything to help them survive either, as long as they continue using.)

Conclusion

One way to recognize that somebody is an addict is that they always have a story explaining why they need your money. This is especially obvious when they are employed and earn more than enough money to be able to take care of themselves. Another is that they constantly try to manipulate your emotions, also into giving them money. And if somebody who is “in recovery” behaves this way, it is a sure sign that they are not really in recovery. While recovery is difficult and people still struggle with debts from their past, they have usually regained some pride, and should not be asking for money because that would cause them to feel shame. (Like the comment to one of my recent posts, where a recovering addict asked for (cash) “sponsors”. That’s a prime example of somebody who says he’s in recovery, but probably isn’t. It’s a classic appeal to pity: Look how hard I struggled. I overcame my adversity though, so you should feel sorry for me and give me money. Of course I could be wrong about the commenter, and if so I am sorry, but I am very skeptical about anybody in recovery who asks for money. And I’m even more skeptical when people ask for money via spam comments on others’ blogs.)

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery, Relapse | Tagged , , ,

More stupid questions

I see there have been some more odd searches that brought people here. I have addressed some of them before, but there’s no reason not to address them again.

What to do if employee is a recovering addict?

Nothing. There is no difference between a recovering addict and anybody else. What an odd question.

If they are not really in recovery, that is a different matter altogether, but the idea that somebody who used to have a problem with addiction is going to be any less effective or productive in their job than anybody else is just wrong. Drugs don’t affect the part of the brain that’s used to do the job anyway. You’ve probably had and may already have employees who are using addicts and you don’t even know it, so you need to get over your pointless prejudice.

How to get high like meth?

With meth.

There is no legal substance that will give you the same high. You might feel like it gives you energy but it really doesn’t. (See the “No meth no energy” subheading in my previous post on this subject.) The energy you think you get from meth isn’t energy at all. It’s a state of mind that you can guarantee no legal drug will ever allow.

Methamphetamine and domestic violence

See the “Does speed make you violent?” subheading here. Since it makes everybody on it overreact to all emotional stimulus all the time, it frequently leads to domestic violence.

That gets compounded by the fact that it induces sexual stimulation, which may cause infidelity, and even without the infidelity, meth users may become paranoid and incorrectly accuse each other of cheating. Also, when a couple use meth together, don’t assume that the male is the violent one. Either one of them could be, and they’re probably both equally to blame. (Police are often indifferent to meth addicts and their petty squabbles, if they know that the people are meth addicts, because they argue and fight all the time. It’s one of those little details of the meth experience that you forget, because in the life of active addiction, we only remember the good things, like gamblers who only remember their wins.)

Whenever anyone tells you that their partner uses but they don’t, you must assume that they are lying and that they might be trying to manipulate you, via an appeal to sympathy, into giving them money, so that they and their partner can use. This applies to all narcotic drugs, not just meth. Such drugs are bad news all around.

The above paragraph may not seem relevant to domestic violence, but it could be in a way you don’t expect… Depending on the context, someone may try to manipulate you into giving them money, and that manipulation could involve stories of abuse. So while domestic violence is real among meth addicts, it doesn’t mean that somebody telling you a story about abuse (when they are a user) has any truth in it. (They just want some cash to get their next hit.) The bottom line is that meth addicts choose their own fate. Don’t pity them and try to help them if they are still using; but if they really want to get out of their situation and into recovery, then help them by all means. (Drive them to rehab. Don’t give them cash for a “bus ticket”.)

Confession: I always considered myself to be an honest person. Even in active addiction, I told myself I was still honest and wasn’t really doing any harm because I didn’t steal from anybody, but I did manipulate people, and the appeal to pity/sympathy was my most common technique, which worked especially well on my mother, even though she earned less that 1/5 of my salary, and mine was always spent on meth in the first week of the month. It’s not something I’m proud of.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Tweaking | Tagged , ,

Things that I don’t understand: Date rape

This post is probably a bad idea. I’m probably really naive when it comes to this subject, but for reasons I do not know I woke up this morning thinking about it, so it feels natural to me to have a go at writing about it, even though it has nothing to do with recovery.

Actually I don’t understand rape in general, but my feelings on it are quite simple: It’s despicable, wrong and evil. I don’t think legal system’s punishments are harsh enough. In fact, I’d say that the correct punishment should be like that dispensed at the end of the movie, I spit on Your Grave (2010 version – I haven’t watched the original). The victim rises to take revenge on her rapists, and the ringleader gets bound and gagged, and then raped up the anus with a shotgun. The “ejaculation” of the shotgun is a “happy ending” for her; not so happy for him.

But as much as do not understand rape in general, I understand date rape even less. Why rape your own date? If she likes you enough to date you in the first place, it shouldn’t be necessary. The objective for a date isn’t supposed to be sex anyway… I suppose it can be, and when you date people you never know what you’ll get in that you never know what their motivation for dating may be. But it can frequently result in sex anyway, if a date goes well.

That is, if the date goes really well, you both have a good time, and there is a powerful mutual attraction, sex on the first date isn’t out of the question. It happened to me several times in the past (back when I used to date), and it wasn’t the case that either myself or the date were promiscuous, or bad people, or low class… It just worked out that way, but I never went into a date with the expectation of sex.

And even if a date doesn’t end in sex, so what? If you are at least able to get women to date you, the law of averages states that sooner or later, you will find a match that suits you.

So let’s say that you are one of those men who date girls just to get sex… You’ll still ending up dating girls who just want company, or who are looking for friendship, or relationships, or whatever… It shouldn’t really matter. The fact is, if you come across as smart, interesting, witty, funny, good company, and an all-round good guy, plus there is a mutual attraction, you should easily be able to get sex anyway. So why rape? I don’t get it.

It’s something that truly mystifies me. We are all the same in some respects, despite whatever nonsense we may tend to believe about the differences between males and females. We all want to be loved; we all want to be respected and to exercise our own judgement and make our own choices. And we all love to have sex. When we date, sex is always a possibility, even if we are not looking for a relationship. So if the other person doesn’t want it, why force them? Why take their sex against their will when there are so many others who are willing? It makes no sense at all.

I truly believe that punishments for rape are not harsh enough. People who rape should not be locked up. They shouldn’t even be castrated. They need to be killed.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Intelligent != Rational

I just read a great article on skeptic.com that explains why smart people are not always rational. It’s well worth reading… I’ve worked with many intelligent, qualified people who I’ve always regarded as idiots. Having a master’s degree does not necessarily mean that a person isn’t an imbecile. Now I have some idea why.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Crapzilla

Although I never really wanted to see it, after the cashier at the video store recommended Godzilla the other day, I finally got around to hiring it. Unfortunately I could not stomach watching that tripe to the end, though I tried to continue watching after deciding I disliked it, in order to get enough to criticize it on, but the movie was just too bad to watch to completion.

The movie is a series of implausibilities from start to finish. Granted it’s a movie about monsters, so whatever story they spin around the monster concept is much like dialog in a porn movie… it doesn’t matter. However, if you’re going to go so far as to contrive some sort of plot with the pretence of plausibility, it should at least make some sense.

There are so many bad points to this movie, I lost count, so I’ll list some of the worst of them.

  • The monsters are from millions of years ago, when the world was more radioactive (Was it really?), so therefore they eat radioactive stuff, like nuclear bombs… So, let me get this straight… they eat inorganic matter? And turn this into organic matter, energy etc. Gosh, the must come from the land of magic!
  • The insect-like bat things, which are rendered to look really stupid, by the way, with their jet black exoskeletons and glowing red CGI eyes (with no details in the eyes otherwise, so they look badly done), have developed their own weapon, an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), which of course is devastating when used against mankind. So they evolved this weapon why? To give each other elctromagnetic stomach ache? Seriously, why would they evolve this millions of years ago when there was no man and no electricity?
  • Of course man knows that these monsters feed of radioactivity, and then try to fight them with nuclear weapons. That would be like trying to douse fire with petroleum. Or fending off an infestation of mice by throwing cheese at them.
  • The movie is a collection of moments of cheesy coincidence from start to that point where I gave up on it. I’m not going to bother mentioning them, but there are so many cheesy, corny coincidences, stereotypes and clichés, in the plot, the sequence of events, the characterization, everything. Sure, they do tie the plot details together, but that’s not enough to make the movie even half decent.
  • I gave up at 1 hour 29 minutes into it, the moment when the protagonist super-soldier bomb expert guy is about to embark on his mission to save the world… You know, one of those near hopeless situations where you know that despite the odds, he’s going to come out alive and well to be reunited with his wife and child.

I suppose it could have been worse… At least they didn’t fight the monsters with giant fucking robots.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Friday grab-bag

On my fascination with the lunatic fringe

I don’t know why I became so obsessed with conspiracy theories a couple of years ago. It all started with a link on Raymond Chen’s blog, which was one of his “mid-link clearance” posts, which led me to an article about conspiracy theories. That led to my interest in finding out what was up with the many videos about the end of the world and Nibiru recommended on my YouTube home page, and why the people commenting on those videos seemed to know so much about things I’d never heard of. (Initially I thought that there must be some truth in it since so many people were passionate about it. My initial thoughts were very wrong.)

Once I understood the Nibiru End days Cataclysm™ conspiracy theory, I became appalled that people could believe in such obvious nonsense, and that led to my interest in all things “fringe”… Fringe history, fringe religions, and so on… There are a lot of crazy people out there who believe in a lot of crazy shit, and there are also many people who make money from others’ crazy beliefs.

Yet I still don’t know why I became so obsessed with it, and for reasons unknown to me, my fascination obsession has finally subsided. I no longer feel compelled to read Jason Colavito’s brilliant debunking of all things fringe. It’s just not interesting anymore.

One thing I do find interesting though, is that even after the world didn’t end when it was supposed to, believers of that particular conspiracy theory didn’t stop believing straight away… they continued to post their videos saying that this rogue planet was still there, you just can’t see it behind the sun, or you can only see it from the arctic and the US government or NASA or whoever the evil elite conspirers are manage to hide that from everybody, etc. Eventually those people must have simply moved onto some other conspiracy – they also don’t stop believing in conspiracies. So it still fascinates me, but I’m no longer obsessive enough about it to go find out what conspiracies those nutcases believe in now. (But if you are that way inclined… i.e. dishonest and willing to take advantage of the strange beliefs of others, there is much money that can be made. Think Erich von Daniken, David Childress, Scott Wolter, or David Icke.)

Happy birthday to Megan

Megan turns 25 today. Wow… I can remember when I was so young, and I was so different to her. At that age, I still had my long hair, and was working for system engineers, writing technical documents. It was about 4 years before I became a programmer, and about 8 years before I touched methamphetamine. Also, I was a virgin. (An idiot virgin, who often had girls throwing themselves at me, yet I always turned them down. I don’t know what was wrong with me.) Anyway, happy birthday Megan!

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

Some odd questions

It’s time once again for me to look to the blog stats, and respond to two odd search strings that I’ve seen for the first time.

Formication after quitting meth

For those who have never used meth, or coke, and don’t know about formication, also known as meth bugs or coke bugs… it is defined as the false sensation of flesh-crawling bugs.

That is, when you’re super-duper high, as the toxins leave every orifice of your body, including your pores as sweat, the sweat evaporates, which causes dry skin and a resulting itch. Meth users always stand out in a crowd because they’re the ones scratching and picking here, there and everywhere. As if that’s not enough, you also get a weird feeling that bugs are crawling over your skin. I don’t know what the explanation of it is; I once felt a sensation that appeared to run up and down my leg along the vein, and thought that somehow I was feeling the blood flowing through my vein.

Anyway, the point is, you only get formication when you are very very high, not in recovery. Ever.

If you asked the question because you quit meth but still have that feeling… Maybe you have ants in your pants?

If you asked the question because somebody you know has quit meth, and they are complaining about flesh-crawling bugs, then I must inform you that they didn’t really quit meth. Or maybe they quit meth and started using coke instead?

No meth no energy

I’m going to assume that you just stopped using meth, a day or two ago.

Meth doesn’t give you energy. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, so it keeps you feeling awake and alert long after you should have got some sleep, and by long I mean days after. But because it keeps you from sleeping for so long, you become dependent on it. That is, you are suffering from severe sleep deprivation, and nothing in this world will keep you awake for the first few days after quitting meth, except for more meth, or maybe some cocaine or crack-cocaine. Actually the dependence is so severe, you probably can’t function normally without using.

This goes away completely after a few days. All you need to do is get some sleep. However, you are probably also confusing energy with something else: When high on meth, you become abnormally fascinated with all sorts of things that then keep you occupied for hours at a time. You tweak on them and to everyone else, you are a zombie. This is not energy, this is tweaking.

That is, you are not only addicted to meth, you are psychologically addicted to that weird state of mind caused by the meth high – you are addicted to the behaviour of tweaking. If you really want to be clean, you have to accept that you must never have that feeling again, because meth is the only thing that will make you feel like that. What you think is energy is not energy at all – it’s just a side effect of the meth high.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery | Tagged ,

Recovery is a personal journey

In my last two posts about recovery, here and here, I devoted several paragraphs to my belief that the normal, or accepted approach, being the 12 steps and meetings, do not work for me. But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that working the program doesn’t work, especially if anyone might be tempted to use that as an excuse to be lazy in their recovery. Instead, my purpose was to emphasize how difficult recovery can be, especially for anybody who is a critical thinker, a natural sceptic, and who doesn’t have a faith-based belief.

That is, my point that people who fail despite working the program, who are then accused of not “truly being in recovery”, being an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy, only applies if you are making some effort to stay clean. If you do nothing at all, then you really don’t have any reason to be surprised that you don’t make it.

What angered me at the start of my recovery was the aloof attitude of many other recovering addicts and therapists, and their emphasis that the 12 steps is the only way. This is flat-out wrong. Not only is it not the only way to approach recovery, it is a very narrow-minded approach, and one that does not work for everybody. If you’re one of those it can’t work for, and you’ll know if you are… Just one example – If you cringe at the thought of religion and yet are told that it is the only way for you to go, then you know that you need to find some other way to stay clean.

However you approach recovery is up to you, and as long as it works for you, that’s what matters. My criticism of religion is not intended to offend anyone who believes, but rather to warn those like me who do not believe, because that placebo will never work for you, and you probably need to dig a little deeper (excuse the cliché) to find something that can work for you. Nobody can tell you what that something(s) is/are. That’s for you to define.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, My life, Recovery | Tagged | 2 Comments

Nonsense

Steve Novella wrote a great article about the various flavours of nonsense. Of course I like it, as he sees religion very much the same way I do, but expresses it so much more eloquently. Here’s a quote:

Religious / Paranormal Beliefs

Religious and paranormal beliefs often revolve around the notion that there is a spiritual or mysterious dimension to reality and often involve the notion of transcendence. This is an assumed worldview – philosophical supernaturalism, if you will. From this perspective the dividing lines between mainstream religions, New Age spiritualism, Eastern mysticism, cults, and pop supernaturalism are superficial. These subtypes are largely culturally and historically determined. Intellectually, however, the cognitive processes are the same.

The supernatural world view advocates the use of intuition, revelation, and “other ways of knowing” over science and reason. This often takes the form of a centuries-old turf war between science and religion, although sometimes there is an effort to accommodate the two. Individually people simply compartmentalize their beliefs, and culturally may keep them in separate “magisteria.”

Paranormal beliefs are generally supported and reinforced by basic cognitive biases, such as confirmation bias, flaws in perception and memory, and pattern-seeking behavior. Often the surrender of will to a charismatic guru or religious leader is involved.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A dream come true; an invitation to join the Illuminati. Hooray!

I don’t normally share comment spam, but this one is too funny to ignore. At the very least it deserves to be copied and pasted here (minus the email address, Facebook page or contact numbers of course) and shared for comic relief, before I empty the blog’s spam queue.

Congratulations! You’ve Been Invited to Join the Illuminati! Fame we speak, riches is ours, power belongs to us. join the great Illuminati to achieve all your goals in life. never let this opportunity pass you by. if you desire to be famous then join the ILLUMINATI today and see the difference. for more info contact redacted@gmail.com or visit us on our Facebook address at REDACTED REDACTED. you can call our hotline on +REDACTED or +REDACTED for more information.

I don’t know if this is one of those internet hoaxes, designed for the conspiracy mongers who yearn to be members of the elite conspirers they think are out there, or if it’s some sort of scam, though judging by the poor capitalization and bad grammar (which I’m told is better at targeting the fools who like to part with their money) it’s probably a scam. Nothing like scam spam for a laugh.

Posted in Funny, Non-addiction | Tagged

So how do I stay clean?

I realize that my last post could be construed as being negative, but that was not the intention. The intention was to state that recovery is difficult, and that if you go into it naively, as I did, expecting some sort of scientifically-inspired formula, something based in rational thinking and not faith, you might be sorely disappointed, and find that you have very little in the way of a life-line, that is it doesn’t provide anything substantial to hold onto – to motivate you to stay clean.

In fact the comments to that post are a perfect example of one of the points I wanted to make. A religious person, with good intentions, tried to help me by explaining what God is. Their explanation highlighted the difference between myself and someone who has faith. There is no meeting in the middle. You might be tempted to say that neither of us will budge, but that’s not quite true. Their opinion is based on the assumption that God exists, and that they must not question it. Even though the God of the bible only “created” the world, and actually didn’t know about the rest of the universe. Why didn’t He know? Because when mankind created that God thousands of years ago, they didn’t know about the universe. If a real “God” had contacted man, and inspired the writing of the bible, don’t you think he would have told them a little more, like “I created this, and many other worlds”? No, the God that has been handed down to us for thousands of years is entirely our own creation. All the data that is required to deduce that this God isn’t real is right there, in the bible, but rather than see it for what it is, some religious people will go as far as interpreting that data literally, and denying science and reality, despite all sorts of evidence. (They call themselves Young Earth Creationists.)

Getting back to the difference between myself and the kind-hearted, well meaning theist who commented a couple of days ago, the conclusion that neither of us will meet in the middle of our contradictory beliefs, is one that is mistaken. My (lack of) belief is based on evidence. There is no evidence that God exists. His/hers is based on faith. Unlike the opposing opinion, mine has changed several times over the years. My argument against theism improves with time as I grow intellectually, while the opposing argument remains static: You must have faith. But as rational and logical as my argument is, it’s unlikely that any true believer will ever see the sense in it.

I have no real interest in arguing over faith issues with anybody, but my problem is that the accepted way, the assumed correct way of doing recovery, involves having some sort of faith-based belief. Not only does the accepted approach to recovery not work for me, I am also judged harshly for not following it. This is a catch-22 situation. If I actually rely on the nonsense of the 12-step program and the “fellowship” of NA, which is nothing more than a false sense of fellowship with people who merely made the same mistakes as myself (for totally different reasons), I will most probably fail. But by not attending meetings and not working the nonsensical 12 steps, I risk being judged as not being “serious” about recovery or accused of “not truly being in recovery”. (As mentioned in my last post, this is a fine example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.) It’s more than a little annoying, but is not my subject for today.

Most other people I have met in meetings (NA meetings, in recovery) have some sort of faith-based belief. And most therapists I’ve met have similar beliefs, which means that some major parts of their therapy will never work on me. These posts are intended for those like me, who will probably never have such beliefs, and for whom the 12-step plan and God placebo will never work. A major reason for my writing these two related posts is the reaction I had in a meeting a few months ago when I spoke up against theism in the NA. The only other atheist in the room became quite emotional about it because I had hit a nerve and expressed something that she had been afraid to say.

So how do you stay clean without some sort of faith-based belief? What it comes down to is: How do I motivate myself to stay clean without a belief in magic?

Ultimately, I don’t know why I am still clean. I can write what my approach has been, but note that somehow, somewhere along the way my attitude changed and my recovery got easier. At some point, and I can’t even say when or why or how it happened, it was like something clicked for me (excuse the cliché), and everything changed. Until that happened, recovery was hell, getting through even one day clean was a near impossibility because I used to crave all the time, and I thought I’d never make it.

Step One

As you may realize, I never got past step one of the twelve steps, so I can’t write anything about the twelve steps besides that. But my step one was a little different to most…

I didn’t only admit that I was powerless over my addiction and that my life had become unmanageable. That’s not enough. I also had to admit something that I have preferred not to write here, because my objective originally was to write this blog both for addicts and non-addicts alike. The fact is, nobody who is not an addict will ever understand this one: I admitted to myself that I would always love to use; in fact I would prefer to continue using, despite all consequences, no matter how severe they may be. That is, while I was in active addiction, I not only did not want to stop, I would continually choose to use no matter what, and I loved it.

I’m not sure if I believe that addiction is a disease of the brain, and if it is, I think it’s a little different to what the current research suggests. The fact is, I did have a choice. I chose to use, and without finding a way to change my routine, I would continually choose to do so, regardless of consequences. That is, I wanted to use. This directly contradicts what somebody like Dr Kevil McCauley says, which is that choice goes out the window because of cravings. I say that when we crave, we give in and make that choice to use not because the craving prevents making a choice, but because we want to use.

This left me with an apparently simple decision to make: I had to choose not to use, despite the fact that I wanted to. (Note the past tense. It is important.) That is, one day when I was as high as could be, I decided that it had to end. I decided that despite the fact that I wanted to continue using, I must choose not to do so. I had to take the rest of the meth that I had, and flush it down the toilet, and take all my drug-using paraphernalia, which at that point consisted of a 12-volt light bulb, a cut off stem of a plastic pen, and some insulation tape, and throw it far away. Then I had to go through all my drawers, and my cupboards, and look for all the little plastic packets that contained minute amounts of meth that I’d saved for “emergencies”, and throw those far away too. The only thing I didn’t do was delete the one remaining dealer contact number off my mobile phone. Instead, I set that number to be barred, so I could never receive a call from him again. And if he called from a different number, which he did, I ended the call as soon as I recognized his voice.

Having done that, I had to make the same choice again, hundreds of times that day. That is, choose not to use, even though I wanted to. I had to sacrifice what I wanted for the greater good, for what everybody that I cared about wanted. Firstly for Josh, even though he didn’t know about the choice I made, because it was what he would choose for me if he could, and choosing to use would mean choosing to lose him forever. And I had to tell myself that every time, which was more difficult than I have words to explain, because I wanted to use one more time so very much. Then for my mother, for my brother, for all the people I worked with in the past, and for all the people I would be able to work with in future as long as I remained clean.

The following day, I had to make that same choice all over again. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s just one little choice, after all. But it’s not simple. It’s hell, but I had to do it… Choose over and over again, not to use, even though I still wanted to. Then I slept for most of a few days, which gave me some short relief from making the choice. This carried on for about two weeks, and then quite suddenly, it got easier. I found I was enjoying being clean, enjoying the fact that I wasn’t always confused.

I did go to some meetings, but not many, and found that spending time with Josh, which I couldn’t do before, was so much more beneficial than listening to a bunch of people whose only connection to me was that they had made the same mistakes. I craved frequently though, and found one thing interesting about the cravings: When I craved, I remembered how good it felt to use. I remembered every little detail about the ritual of using, throwing the meth into the bulb, lighting the lighter, watching it melt into a liquid and the bulb filling with smoke. I remembered the taste, and the incredible sensation it gave me as I drew it into my lungs, as well as the instant pleasure of the meth high. I remembered how much I loved feeling that, and how I loved to tweak in that state. I did not immediately remember all the bad things that happened after the first hit. I had to force myself to remember the bad things.

Actually I seldom get those kinds of cravings anymore, unless I force myself to get them. Being something of a masochist, I do force myself to feel them. (I kid you. That’s not the reason.) One guaranteed way of getting a craving of note was to describe using. I’m having one right now. I can taste it; I can feel it. But those cravings are easy to deal with: Just go down that road (but only in your head) and realize the awful consequences of that one hit. For me, it would be to go right back into that state of wanting to use and not wanting to stop. I force myself to crave by thinking about the act of using, just to make sure I also force myself to remember the consequences. Making the choice now is almost effortless, in that the craving doesn’t even last half a second before my mind has already decided to choose not to use. I force myself to go through this just in case I ever find myself in a situation that is jeopardous to my recovery; for example, being in the presence of people who are using, or being confronted by a dealer who has a “present” for me.

But getting back to the start of my recovery after my relapse: I can not describe how incredibly difficult it was at first. I truly have no idea how I got through the first few weeks. And it remained difficult, albeit less difficult, for some time. It was only after Megan returned that staying clean suddenly became easy. Ironic, because when we stayed together in the past, it was she who dragged me back to active addiction after my first nine months clean. But this time around, she, and her daughter, are my anchors. Especially Aishah – somehow seeing that beautiful little girl every day, and knowing that she has me, clean and sober, which Josh didn’t have at the same age, is the most motivation I have ever had to remain this way.

The longer I am clean, the easier it is to stay this way, but I have one more trick up my sleeve… A little psychological self-deception to help myself stay clean, based on the NA concept of just for today

Just for the next twenty years

I’ve always said I don’t like the idea of “just for today”. I mean, what’s a day?

  • 24 hours
  • 1440 minutes
  • 86 400 seconds
  • 86 400 000 milliseconds

I could go on, but the point is, a day is just the duration of the planet’s spin on its axis. It’s a random number, as far as I’m concerned – one that has nothing to do with my recovery. In truth, if you have been in active addiction for several years, as I was, then even one day clean is a fantastic achievement, one to be proud of. However, in a successful recovery, one day is very little. Once you have some clean time, one day means absolutely nothing; one month means no more; one year means very little if you have to remain clean for long enough to be reunited with a child who was removed from you because you were an unfit parent; two years may be enough for reunification but it doesn’t mean that you will remain a fit parent for as long as your child deserves; five years sounds like plenty but is still less than the time I spent using. Hell, even ten years isn’t enough! Relapsing after ten years might not only ruin your child’s life at a time when their schooling will suffer – it might also expose them to drugs at just the right stage for them to become an addict themselves. That would defeat the entire purpose of my recovery, which is not for me, but for everybody else I love, as well as for everybody I let down, and everybody I will never let down that way again.

Now I know I’m missing the point of just for today… It’s really a way of staying focused on the here and now, and doing what you need to remain clean for now. Then tomorrow you say just for today again.

With that in mind, I say fuck “just for today”, and I tell myself “just for the next twenty years”. It’s the same principle, but if I’m going to pick a random number and insist on remaining clean for that random number interval, I’d rather pick a bigger number.

Why twenty years? Well, twenty years from now Josh will be 26, and Aishah 21 years old. They’ll both be adults, who have been taught that they may have inherited a personality that has a high probability of becoming an addict, if ever they use drugs. Also, it’s a hell of a big number for me now, big enough for me to tell myself I have not made a success of recovery yet, because my minimum milestone is still a long way away.

And if I ever get there? That’s the trick… just like “just for today”, I will continue to say it. Just for the next twenty years. Chances are, I won’t live that long. My father died at 57 years old, and last year his youngest brother died at the same age. I’ll be 43 next month, and while I hope to live until a good old age, I don’t expect it.

Posted in Meth, My life, Recovery, Relapse, Tweaking | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The God Placebo, pitfall for an atheist in recovery, and other fallacies

This post has no answers; only questions. It is an attempt to lay out the pitfalls for an atheist, or any critically-minded person, in recovery. Recovery is difficult enough, but if you have more than average intelligence and are an atheist or a person who has good critical thinking skills, it can be even more difficult.

I think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person (although I have my doubts at times), and this has been reinforced by enough people frequently enough that it’s likely correct (or so I hope). I’m also a logical person, with good common sense, able to think critically, and one who never takes anything at face value. I’ve always been this way, and it has served me well through the years. But there was a time when it made life difficult. That time was the start of my recovery from addiction.

I first started in recovery, at the end of 2009 to the  beginning of 2010, in a Christian-based rehab, one that despite my issues with, I highly recommend – Careline, in Hillcrest, Natal, South Africa. (I see they’ve revamped their website. Those photos make it look great; after all it is located in a beautiful, scenic area. But I confess it felt like a cage to me.) I learned a lot of good things there, advice I take to heart even today; information about how drugs work, about what exactly they do to the brain, and most of what I know about avoiding people, places and things that I identify with my drug of choice. (They didn’t teach me what to do when those people, places and things can not be avoided though – I had to figure that one out for myself.)

But there are major issues with the accepted approach to recovery. Two of the three that I’m writing about today overlap, but each is in itself broad and deeply entrenched into the recovery “culture”:

  1. Theism (Belief in a theistic god.)
  2. The 12-step plan (A plan that many follow religiously, though there is no evidence either that it really works, other than the anecdotal, or that it has any basis in fact.)
  3. Fallacious beliefs in the approach to recovery

Theism

The way I see it, depending on which side of the fence you’re standing on, God is either:

  1. The single-most popular placebo in existence.
  2. The most tempting straw man (to burn) in existence.

That is, there is no evidence for a god, but plenty of people believe in one. No matter how rationally, logically or reasonably I argue with them, the fact is they have a belief in an unfalsifiable god, one that exists outside the bounds of science and reason and is thus not subject to the laws of physics, and they will never change their minds. The only people I can convince are other atheists (who do not need to be convinced) and maybe people who already have their doubts (as I did before I let go of my indoctrinated beliefs). Religiously indoctrinated people will always reinterpret my reasoning in terms of their preconceived beliefs, where they start out with the assumption that god exists.

Unlike other placebos, theists don’t even have to take water or sugar pills, or anything else. For a theist, the belief itself is the placebo. There is one aspect to this that I find really funny: Since the placebo doesn’t involve anything that can be purchased, theism should always be free, so it should also be the cheapest placebo. Yet it isn’t! There are many scammers who con gullible believers out of their money, in return for the salvation and eternal life or forgiveness they think they will receive.

As for the straw man… You can’t prove a negative, and since there is no evidence of God, anyone who tries to argue against theism by way of an example, any example at all, has to contrive something to argue against. For example, Richard Dawkins described the behaviour of theists in The God Delusion, calling out specific beliefs and behaviours, which he then analysed. (I still haven’t read it, so I’m assuming he did something similar to what he did in the documentary.) Whatever examples are used, it doesn’t matter, every one of them can always be called a straw man. So arguing against theism is impossible. (But that doesn’t stop us from trying.)

But faith is more than just that promise of salvation – it gives you something to believe in, and perhaps a personal relationship with your imaginary god that brings comfort throughout life. As such, recovering addicts and others who are desperate to correct their mistakes in life can find great solace in their religion, even though their god isn’t real. I have no problem with those people, and would prefer to leave them be, living their happy-clappy delusion somewhere far away from me, but in recovery I am forced to deal with such people.

In recovery, and especially in the beginning at rehab, I was forced to listen to them talking nonsense about their placebo that can never work for me. (A placebo can only appear to work if you believe.) I was forced to listen to people talk to me about a higher power, and how finding it solved all their troubles. Of course I acknowledge that there are people and things outside myself that are greater than I, but I do not believe for one moment that there is any guiding force, or creator, or karma, or anything of the sort in the universe.

Recovery without the god placebo is quite different. Either way, you are alone, but the difference is that as an atheist, you know it. This meant that I had to find my own way; that much of what I was taught was useless to me. No doubt, the life of a happy idiot who simply accepts Jesus without asking questions, is a much easier life. Ignorance is bliss, but it is not for me.

The 12-step plan

They tell me I don’t need to believe in God to follow the 12-step plan. That, of course, assumes that I will come around and accept a god anyway.

These are the 12 steps I mean:

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Please, somebody tell me how the above can ever work without a belief in God?

  1. That one’s alright. Yes, my life became unmanageable, and alone, I was powerless over it. Thankfully other people, not imaginary beings, were able to help me. Unfortunately most of those people believe in the make-believe.
  2. This one is only possible if I can apply something other than God. I’m told I can use anything, like science. But it’s a stretch that makes no sense at all. I don’t believe there is any guiding force in the universe. There is only chaos.
  3. So which is it? Shall I turn my life over to nothing or chaos? That’s where it was in active addiction. I am in control now, not any drug dealer who takes advantage of me, not any employer who thinks he can bully me into unreasonable work without compensation, and certainly not any magic man up in the sky. Me!
  4. That one’s not a problem.
  5. Sure, I can admit to myself and others, and have done so many times over. But I don’t have the luxury of a god placebo to believe in.
  6. You must be fucking joking.
  7. I am not humble. I am proud, and strong, and as cool as asking an imaginary friend to remove shortcomings might be, I’m smart enough to know that it won’t achieve anything. Will the imaginary friend reciprocate? I don’t think so.
  8. There is only one person who I care to make amends with. That is my son. Nobody else matters and for the small things I did wrong, I do not care for forgiveness. What’s done is done.
  9. I am doing my best to be the best father that I can be. That also involves giving my son advice to help guide him to being able to think for himself. I will never tell him that there is no god, but he already knows that I do not believe in one, and I will do all I can to guide him to learn to be a good critical thinker.
  10. That is part of life, as far as I am concerned. Learning and growing in my career, intellectually, and morally, is part of what makes living worthwhile (besides seeing my son grow up). I am always happy to learn when I am wrong.
  11. Refer to number 6.
  12. Does it count as a spiritual awakening, to realize that there is no such thing as a spirit?

Regarding step twelve, maybe in a way I am trying to bring my lessons in recovery to other addicts, especially if they are atheists. Recovery is more difficult without a god placebo, but I hope that like myself, you can find something real, something tangible to rely on, not flimsy faith in an imaginary being that will never be there for you when the chips are down.

Other fallacies

The problem for me is, I ask “What is the correct approach to recovery?”, but I have not found a satisfactory answer. That is, it seems to be normal to follow the 12 steps. But what evidence is there that it works? I mean, how can placing my faith in a god that does not exist possibly work?

I understand that it can work if you do believe, or at least, it can appear to work, but even then, I’m not too sure. When I attended NA meetings, I noticed that even people who followed the program rigorously would slip up and relapse. And the answer to why that was the case would always be the same:

  • You weren’t following the program properly. Or…
  • You weren’t serious enough about recovery. Or…
  • You weren’t truly in recovery.

Can you see where this is going? It’s a fallacy called No true Scotsman. That is, redefine what it means to truly be in recovery, every time someone fails. It’s not only the people who look down on others who have relapsed that think this way, it’s also people who have come back into recovery after a relapse, who then say things like “I didn’t take recovery seriously enough the first time”. They are not even aware of the fallacious way they reason, but in doing so, one could say that nobody who is truly in recovery ever fails, because you can simply reject anyone who fails by saying that they didn’t try hard enough. That way, the anecdotal evidence that the 12-step plan works seems that much more compelling. I call bullshit.

It’s not just that fallacy. People who run rehabs like to talk about the “latest research on addiction” indicates…

What latest research? There are not many scientists working on this, to my knowledge.

There is one famous doctor, Dr Kevin McCauley… I watched a DVD of his at rehab, and while I learned a great deal about addiction and how it works, and I’m sure he has done great work, he lost me when he explained his theories on why addiction is a disease. Yes, he made a lot of sense, but then he digressed into arguing against the “addiction as a choice model”, with which he disagrees to a great extent. But there was something more going on there, in that argument. He argues against a straw man. He tells us addicts what we want to hear, that we aren’t bad, and that we had no choice, that we could not stop ourselves. He tells us what we want to hear, because this is obviously what he wants to hear, because he is a recovering addict himself. (i.e. His research/theory is biased, and he is not aware of his own bias.) I don’t know if his research really follows the scientific method, or if his papers are published and peer-reviewed, but I do know that there are many doctors who have epiphanies, and come up with all sorts of nice-to-believe theories, that have not a grain of truth in them. Thus I am very dubious of this man’s research.

To conclude this section, I don’t believe the standard approach to recovery is anything more than a rather flimsy placebo, and I don’t necessarily believe the latest research on addiction is very useful. As I stated upfront, I don’t have answers – only questions.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, My life, Recovery | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

I didn’t know you can “delay-post” blogs

But found it out here.

I’ve been experimenting with writing drafts instead of writing and publishing immediately, which is useful when I can’t write in office hours. But I didn’t know that WordPress allows you to publish your blogs at a future date. (And I still have no idea how to do so from the WordPress web editor itself.) But if you use Windows Live Writer, as I do, it’s simple… There’s a dropdown combo box labelled Set post date, in the top-right corner, just below the ribbon. I tried it with my most recent post, set it to publish at 5PM at the end of the day (so that I could see when it published, just before going home), and sure enough, the post only became visible at 5PM. I’ll use it again for this one…

delaypublish

Posted in Recovery

Some bits and pieces, and answers to questions posed by desperate internet searches

Today’s post is a mixed bag, containing one topic regarding my own recovery, and answers to questions posed by desperate internet searches that found their way here.

Another using dream

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t often crave meth anymore; I do occasionally – but those cravings are few and far between, as well as easy to deal with. The type of craving that I experience more often is a “using dream”. I haven’t discussed this with other recovering addicts, so I don’t know how common this type of dream is, but in my typical using dream, I don’t dream about getting drugs, or even using drugs; instead, I dream that I have already used.

That is, in the dream I’m convinced that I used a few days before. I don’t actually remember using and I’m confused, but am convinced that it did happen. (The confusion makes it all the more convincing, because in active addiction, confusion is part of everyday life.) Then I feel the guilt that I would feel if I had really used. These dreams are more than a little discomforting, because they not only force me to feel guilt for wrongdoing that isn’t real, they also force me to engage a part of my mind that I prefer not to face. That is, having become convinced that I did use, my first instinct is not to go back to NA meetings, or to call somebody, or to go to rehab. My first instinct is to be deceitful and hide what I have done, with my objective being to avoid the consequences thereof.

I wake from those dreams with a strange mixture of relief and guilt:

  1. Relief that it wasn’t real. I didn’t actually use and the feelings of guilt in the dream were feelings regarding an imaginary wrongdoing.
  2. Guilt that my first instinct was to be deceitful and hide my wrongdoing in the dream.

What worries me is my reaction when I believe that I have used. (Even if the using was imaginary, since it was a dream. That’s not the point.) That’s exactly how I reacted when I did relapse. The problem is, because I tried to hide it instead of seeking help, I turned what could have been a six month phase of active addiction into one that lasted nearly eighteen months. I kept telling myself “I’ll quit tomorrow”, but tomorrow never comes.

That doesn’t bode well for me, in that it predicts dire consequences if ever I relapse again. Of course I’m absolutely certain that will never happen, and this is yet another reason to make sure of that. I can’t consciously control what my subconscious mind thinks, but I can learn from it, I hope.

Also, it appears that I don’t always follow my own advice. But the bottom line is, don’t do what I would do… If you are using, get help. Trying to stop on your own is unwise, and probably won’t work out. It somehow worked out for me (eventually) but you must assume that it will not work out for you.

Does speed make you violent?

Indirectly… yes, it can.

It affects your emotional state, obviously, since a high is nothing more than drug-induced feelings of euphoria. It stands to reason that if it affects some emotions, it might also affect others. Meth is also a central nervous system stimulant, and it causes you to overreact emotionally to things that you might otherwise not react to at all. You probably aren’t aware of the changes to your own emotions, because drug-induced emotions alter the chemistry in your brain, bringing about emotions in much the same way that they normally happen, so drug-induced emotions feel just as normal as any others. But if you use with other people, you will notice how they constantly overreact to everything. Groups of meth users are always noticeably tense, tend to argue over trivial matters, and are prone to sudden loud emotional outbursts. Meth puts you in a state very similar to fight-or-flight response mode – it’s like an adrenalin rush that lasts for hours.  (Trust me, everybody on meth is emotionally unstable.)

So yes, meth makes you emotionally unstable. It causes you to overreact to all kinds of things, and those emotional overreactions can include anger, which can lead to aggression and violence.

If you’re a user who read this, realize that it’s true, but still think it doesn’t apply to you, then I have bad news. You are not in control; the drug is controlling you. It is impossible to control yourself on meth, simply because there is no way to tell the difference between your genuine feelings and those induced by the drug. This knowledge alone should be enough for you to get the help that you need.

Meth psychosis demons/Meth reptilians

These were two unrelated searches from two different individuals, but I’m grouping them because such crazy beliefs are too similar to address individually.

I know there are people like David Icke who say that reptilians are amongst us, and I don’t know if he believes his own words or not, but anybody who truly believes that reptilian aliens are amongst us must be out of their mind. Reptilian + Meth = Madness. You need help.

Regarding psychosis demons, I could not have come up with a better oxymoron myself. Psychotic people are delusional, and one would assume that if you know (or think that you) are psychotic, you should at least know that demons are not real. But to search for psychosis demons implies that you know you’re delusional, but think that the demons are real anyway. Yup… that sounds like meth-induced madness. You need help too.

Posted in Meth, My life, Recovery, Relapse, Tweaking | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Are misogyny (and other forms of prejudice) the downfall of atheism?

I read an interesting article the other day regarding misogyny in atheism, or at least in the sceptical movement. At least it was interesting at face value. Unfortunately I’ve lost the URL, but I did notice that other articles have been published since then, climbing on that bandwagon.

The original article dealt with an unfortunate incident where one of the most popular speakers in the US sceptical movement took advantage of a woman, and went into a great deal of detail. The article also implied, both in its title and via innuendo throughout, that this behaviour in the “highest echelons of atheism” (clarification: that’s not a quote from the article – those are my words to paraphrase and mock the article), as well as the dismissal of it by other prominent atheists, could spell the death of the “movement”.

But what struck me as odd was that it made some hasty generalizations, and also conflated a few things.

Firstly, the man took advantage of a woman, which is not nice. I’d advise female friends who might be exposed to such a man to be careful. However, what it came down to, simply from reading her side of the story, was that she was drunk, and had consensual sex with him. Being drunk lowers your inhibitions, then you might do something you regret. But to then try to duck responsibility for your poor choices afterwards is senseless (though it appears to fool many people). That would be like me saying that I wasn’t responsible for all those stupid things I did in the years that I used methamphetamine. Because I was high. Or because I was drunk. That’s the gist of her argument (although her argument goes a little further than only denying responsibility – it tries to blame somebody else, and in so doing, hides the real “because I was drunk” implicit argument because it is not stated).

That is, it is a poor argument to deny responsibility for any actions committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; it is doubly poor to then blame somebody else who took advantage of you while you were inebriated. If that argument were valid, then most criminals would not have been prosecuted (because they were also not responsible for their actions). I’m aware that there is a fine line between this argument and the blaming of victims for their own circumstances, but I do not believe that this even applies here: Nobody cried rape; She was not forced. She consented; then regretted it. Too late. If I were that man, I would have taken her to court for slander, and maybe libel. (Of course I would never take advantage of such a woman, but that’s not the point.)

So what we have here, is a man who took advantage of a drunk woman. That happens all the time, and it has nothing to do with his or her beliefs. It has nothing to do with misogyny either, because misogyny is the hatred of women. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that he is a sexist. So maybe he’s a jerk. But to connect his behaviour to his beliefs is akin to correlating them to the colour of his car. I don’t see any articles about the terrible things done by men who drive red cars…

Next, that article gave the impression that atheism and scepticism are the same thing. They are not. Many sceptics are atheists, but not all. One does not have to either believe or disbelieve in a theistic god to be able to think critically about other things. Many sceptics are religious.

Of course that article paved the way for others to see some relationship between atheism and misogyny, or at least bigotry (prejudice) in general. I take great offence to that. As a white South African, who grew up in the old apartheid system, I’ve seen a lot of prejudice. As a person who happened to be born “white”, I also had to contend with some people who had the mind-set that all whites are racist, and that somehow we owe them something just because we are white. I also experienced first-hand, in my torturous year of national service, how racist religious people can be. They preached their own version of Christianity, using bible versus to justify racism and things like the old “Group Areas Act”.

Actually, I’ve read a great deal about racism the last few months, mainly due to my (now waning) fascination with “fringe” beliefs and culture. It seems that racists, who unfortunately usually are white, tend to believe in a lost white race, a race which they somehow find “proof” for via stubbornly narrow-minded interpretation of mythology and religion. Racists tend to be very religious indeed, and always use their religious beliefs to justify their racism.

But prejudice is not exclusive to Christianity…Islam is a religion that has prejudice against women built into it, but of course to the true believer, that prejudice is justified and really means something else, or so they tell themselves. No, there is far more prejudice inside religion than there will ever be outside of it. It is stupid to judge all atheists by the alleged behaviour of one man.

And regarding the question posed by my title (related to scepticism, as it should have been asked), I think the answer is “No!”. It’s great that there is a sceptical movement nowadays; it’s great that it’s becoming more popular to question the nonsense that is now everywhere… My own mother believes that taking Vitamin C will help prevent her getting a cold, and even once gave herbal tablets of some sort called “Rescue Remedy” to calm down the family cat, who was unduly stressed. I can’t watch TV without seeing adverts that promote substances that can not possibly work; I can’t put the TV on on a Sunday without seeing an annoying program called “Healing Quest” that sells nonsense about spiritual healing, acupuncture, Reiki, homeopathy and goodness knows what else. We live in a time when scepticism is more needed that ever, but it will always be needed, and there can never be too many sceptics.

Religion, I fear, is here to stay. There’s nothing in it, and I do not believe that even if there is a god, anything any person has ever said or written or done, has anything to do with that potential god. But we as a society are as far from reason as we will ever be.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

I hate deployments… (work-related)

There’s something about deploying software and configuration changes that I just dread. It’s like same kind of paranoid fear that something will go wrong – something bad will happen and I will then panic. Invariably things don’t go wrong, but that doesn’t take the fear away.

So here I sit at work on a Saturday afternoon. One of our applications is a Windows application used by companies that do imports/exports. So the application is responsible for all the EDI files that are sent to/from SARS. (i.e. Customs) The gateway will only be switched at 2PM, and my part of it is simply to change the clients’ configuration on the server. Our “support guy” will then deploy the new EXE and test it, so the programming changes are all done and dusted – this should be a relatively simple affair and the only thing that can go wrong, in theory, is on the SARS side. And I got here nearly two hours early to make sure I was ready and that nothing will go wrong in my part of this. I didn’t even need to do this at work, as everything is remote, but I’m here because I wanted no distractions.

I wonder, are we (software devs) all so paranoid when it comes to deployments? I’m now ready to do what’s needed, but there is still more than an hour to go.

Posted in Non-addiction, Programming, Work | Tagged

Mid-week ramblings

OK, so it’s not mid-week anymore, but it was when I started writing this. The reference to today in the second topic actually refers to Wednesday, but it makes little difference I suppose…

I can’t write about what is really on my mind (in much depth), because it will probably upset some people, and I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with that again. I’ll write some of it anyway, but not in any depth, just because I feel it is useful to share the negative side of relationships in recovery and others may identify. (We are all alone in our problems, but our problems are often not unique, and identifying may help you feel a little better, or less alone.)

On my messed up and complicated relationships

The reason for my recent writing “bad” things about Megan, and subsequently removing them after some of her family members were upset and called her, was the pressure from her to get rid of my mother. There has been a lot of tension at home, with them both staying there, and she insists that she can’t live with my mother.

This is difficult because I can’t (and won’t) just throw her out, and do feel that Megan is being unfair. What I’d prefer to do is get a bigger place, like a house with a “granny flat”, and then at least she (my mother) doesn’t have to be in our faces. But I can’t afford that right now.

My mother is difficult, and can be aggressive and unpleasant, banging cupboards and doors, and so on, but I understand why she is that way; she feels threatened and really has nowhere to go. Both of them then get into silly arguments, with both being unnecessarily  aggressive to each other, which only makes things worse.

What all this comes down to is a great deal of pressure and idle threats to me, and an expectation that I should be looking for an old age home during the day. Megan doesn’t seem to understand how much work I do or how busy I am. I can write early in the morning before my colleagues get to work, but all the places I would need to call are not open yet, and I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking. Also, I’ll only agree if my mother can get into a place close by, but a decent place where she has her own cottage and garden, etc. Those sorts of places are probably very expensive and have waiting lists with a few years duration.

Update: Things have improved again since I wrote this a couple of days ago, but probably just temporarily. Megan is now not talking to my mother, and mother dearest hasn’t noticed yet, so all is well, but only on the surface. Every so often, the tension builds up, and then the arguments flare again. It can be something silly… Megan has a habit of misplacing things, then becoming suspicious of my mother, and saying things that imply, usually accidentally, that my mother was responsible for those things getting lost. Then they both get aggressive, Megan says something stupid, and my mother brings up something from the past, like “You stole money from my purse”, which was years ago. I do understand that she is a different person now, and isn’t capable of stealing from anybody, but I also see my mother’s point of view. Megan gets offended because my mother “holds a grudge” and didn’t forgive her. She seems to think that she is somehow entitled to forgiveness, but I don’t believe that anybody is. In any case, that’s just my mother’s way of arguing: bringing up things from years ago and using them against you.

I’m not sure what to do exactly, because I believe that both of them are wrong. It does affect me though, and sometimes leads to my having an unnecessary amount of stress both at home and at work. I need my space too, and have to relax somewhere. I wish they could both be happy with their lot; they each have a roof over their head, which isn’t perfect but it’s the best I can do right now, especially when neither of them are contributing financially.

There’s a lot I’m not saying, but the above is the gist of it…

A lost opportunity for sarcasm

At the beginning of this year, I had two new year’s resolutions.

  1. Start running again.
  2. Try to be less sarcastic.

I haven’t made any progress with either of them. (But, hey! I have a lot of stress in my life… Eating and being sarcastic to others are my two primary sources of stress relief.)

But this morning, I did almost have a great opportunity to use one of my favourite sarcastic lines… As I drove to work, at one traffic light which was still green for me, but with congested traffic, my going forward cut off a person driving in the other direction, who was turning. I had right of way, and she had to wait for me, plus I knew that on that particular road the traffic would flow in about another 30 seconds, but for those 30 seconds, her car mine were side by side. I expected her to hoot her hooter at me while she was adjacent to me, with our windows almost touching.

For Americans, “hoot your hooter” is probably stated as “honk your horn”. (I’m clarifying this because this blog has a large number of regular readers in the US.) I like hoot your hooter more than the other term, because it sounds sillier, that is more absurd, and easier to dismiss. But I digress… The point is, if the angry woman had only hooted at me while she was adjacent to me, she would have given me an opportunity to relieve some of my stress by using one of my favourite lines of sarcasm on her.

Too bad the opportunity was lost. I’ve only ever had a chance to use it once, and it goes something like this… Open the window, smile at the angry person, and say something like:

Hi there! Gosh, where did you learn to hoot like that? It’s really impressive. You know, if they gave out prizes to people who hooted really well, you would be a winner. Congratulations!

Yeah, it’s silly, I know, but try that line on somebody who’s really angry and see how they react… It’s really funny, because the person is already angry, and expects you to be embarrassed/apologetic by whatever you did that made them angry, so to have their anger dismissed as well as be mocked with some ironic sarcasm (Irony because it’s an insult disguised as a compliment), they get even more angry. Sarcasm can be a wonderful way to relieve stress, especially these days when most people only have the guts to be sarcastic to anonymous strangers on the internet. To see the look on somebody’s face is so much more fun!

Posted in My life, Recovery, Relationships | Tagged

The unpredictable is only possible in new abstract beauty

I hate pseudoscience almost as much as I hate New Age nonsense, so it stands to reason that Deepak Chopra, who mixes them together in a pot of scientifical jargon, and made his fortune because a sucker is born every minute, is not my favourite person. But I do love anyone who mocks him, and was chuffed to discover this Deepak Chopra quote generator. The title is, of course, one of the generated quotes. (My only complaint is that it isn’t throwing the word quantum into every sentence.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

A dumb moment

I’m too busy to write anything substantial today, or to continue with my draft from yesterday, but thought I’d share this moment of realization…

When did keyboards get a Calc key? I never noticed it before and for years have been launching the Windows calculator by hitting Winkey+R, then typing Calc and pressing Enter. So all I had to do was hit the Calc key. But I’ve never seen it before.

I have a Dell notebook here, and a Dell PC at home, but I really have no idea if that key is present on my PC too. If it is, I’ve never noticed it. Funny how easy it is to miss stuff right in front of you.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

No, I do not suffer from kidney disease

But thanks you for your wonderful comment. (And I really do mean that literally; that isn’t a typo – my arse thanks you for your comment.)

Seriously, if I did have kidney disease that required dialysis, I would not be looking at my own blog for adverts in the comments, selling me whatever fantastic magic schmagic dohickey anti-kidney-disease snake oil you are trying to sell. I hope you die a slow and painful death.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Post-weekend ramblings

I have a couple of unrelated topics for today, mostly because of a weekend where my mind wandered quite a bit.

Dr Who

I’ve been lacking a good series to watch for a while now. I don’t have satellite TV, and the local channels here tend to ruin every series they show, by breaking each show into segments of around two minutes of the show followed by five minutes of adverts. They make every series unwatchable.

For some time now, I’ve been stumbling upon references to Dr Who everywhere, even on the occasional programming blog. I didn’t have much of an idea what the series was about, but decided to download season one, which I take is a reboot, from 2005. Now I’m hooked… This past weekend was a Dr Who weekend for me, and there are still another ten seasons to go. To anyone else who hasn’t watched it yet, is looking for a good series to get into, and prefers British humour, I highly recommend it.

Drug Tests and faint lines

I think of myself as quite clever, but every so often I learn that something I thought, some idea I had, is wrong. It’s always humbling. This one is quite funny.

When I first started in recovery, I noticed that my drug test, though it tested negative (which includes two lines for a negative result) had very faint lines. The person who did the test explained that the lines were faint because I wasn’t clean for long.

I believed him, but have had reason to question this the last few years. That is, the lines are always faint. Last night, the multi-test featured a test for weed also, and those lines came out faint, even though the last time I smoked weed was several years ago. And then it dawned on me… How could I be so dumb? Even if you test someone who has never used any drugs, the lines will be faint.

Urine drug tests do not show you if you are only just clean, and they can not measure some magic level of your sobriety. They can only measure whether or not a substance tested for is within their range of tolerance to be detected. So a negative result is a negative result, no matter how bold or faint the lines are.

What’s going on here is a clever psychological trick by the person who does the test. Once you have been tested, and the result is negative, your guard is down. The suggestion that faint lines indicate a limited time sober is simply meant for the person being tested to admit when last they used. For example, if you test negative, but admit that you used last week, since an admission of guilt is even better than a positive test result, it means that you are still in active addiction, and further you are trying to conceal it. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but it is a very clever trick, and one that I will use if ever I have to test anybody. (Not that I ever will need to. I detest tests almost as much as I detest the fact that so many recovering addicts end up working in recovery… in rehabs or whatever. I view the prospect of working with addicts in recovery as almost as bad as the prospect of selling drugs in active addiction. I’m glad I still have my life and my career.)

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stupid Questions

If you are a familiar reader, you no doubt already know that from time to time, I like to respond to search query strings that brought people here, because they are interesting or funny. This is one of those posts again.

Recovery from stupidity?

You can’t recover from stupidity. It’s permanent. Actually I intended starting this with sarcasm, writing that it’s admirable that you recognize your stupidity, but that there is no hope, and suggest that you consider a career in politics or marketing… However, the truth is that if you think you are stupid, you are almost certainly not stupid and have nothing to worry about.

According to the Dunning-Kruger effect, people who are truly incompetent in any skill will never know that they are incompetent, because the skills that they lack are also exactly the skills that they would require in order to know that they are incompetent. In other words, stupid people don’t know that they are stupid; to be able to understand that they are stupid would require them not to be stupid in the first place.

It is more likely that you suffer from the Imposter syndrome. That is, you are not stupid – you’re probably quite clever, but you doubt yourself. This is a good thing, because we go through life learning all the way. Anybody who rates themselves very highly in any skill should be regarded with great scepticism, because they may well be an idiot who is too stupid to know that they’re stupid.

An example where the Dunning-Kruger effect comes into play is job interviews. (Here I must write about software developers because that’s the industry I work in.) You can’t judge job candidates by the way they rate themselves, especially when you know about this effect, because in practice, it translates to the unfortunate situation where incompetents always rate themselves very highly, while good candidates tend to rate themselves more conservatively.

The next two paragraphs are not very relevant to you… Sorry.

In the end, the only way to know for sure if someone is worth hiring is to test them, starting by testing them for the minimum requirements to be able to do the job, and then further testing them with incrementally more complex tasks to assess the level of their skill. A great example of testing a programmer for minimum competency is the fizzbuzz problem. The test goes something like this: Write a program that outputs all the numbers from 1 to 100, but if a number is divisible by 3, output fizz, if a number is divisible by 5, output buzz, and if a number is divisible by both 3 and 5, output fizzbuzz.

The problem tests whether a programmer can solve a trivial problem, and should be solved in less than 2 minutes. It relies on the fact that every programmer, even the most junior, should know that their language of choice has a modulus operator. That is, divide two numbers and return the remainder. To test if any number is divisible exactly by any other number, the modulus must equal zero. (e.g. 5 mod 5 = 0; 5 mod 3 = 2) So the answer is to write a simple loop, with a couple of conditions in it that use the modulus operator. Anyone who can’t do that is obviously unqualified for even the most trivial programming task; anyone who over-engineers the solution with something “enterprizy” is probably a bad hire too because they lack basic logic skills, and anyone who overcomplicates it to show how clever they are is most likely the type of idiot to rule out as well, because they think they are more clever than they really are.

The point is, you are probably not stupid at all. Most likely you are one of the following:

  1. Suffering from imposter syndrome
  2. Depressed

Are some people unable to tweak on meth?

To the original person who asked the question, and spelled it as “are some pee unable to tweak on meth”, I say… Not you, because if you think it’s OK to abbreviate people to pee, either you are tweaking on meth, or there is something else wrong with you.

Seriously, that’s as stupid a question as any can be. One way of reading it implies that you would actually want to tweak on meth. I suspect though, that you do use and think it doesn’t affect you. In reality, if you use it, you will tweak. There is no doubt about that. The problem is, you don’t know that you are tweaking. Most users do not understand the psychological affect meth has on them, which translates to some very obvious behaviour changes that are apparent to anybody who observes them. If you use meth, you do tweak, no matter how normal you might think you are. (To the rest of us, you are a fucking zombie… an annoying zombie who neglects his or her responsibilities and is often too loud by overreacting to everything.)

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Meth, Recovery | Tagged

Another pet hate: Drivers who edge forward while the traffic light is red

Just a quick one this morning before I start my work…

This is one of those symptoms of bad drivers that always annoys me… Actually I’ll write about two of them since the prat I observed this morning was guilty of both.

  1. People who edge forward when they are in front at a traffic light, before the light is green.
  2. People who drive through red lights without stopping or even slowing down, because they think the light is not important.

Basically I hate people who drive like prats, because sooner or later they will get themselves or others killed. Not so bad if they kill themselves, because we surely need less prats in the world, but their being a danger to others is the problem.

This morning, I was in front of the right lane, with a much faster car, driven by a prat, in front of the left lane. Just across the road, the left lane narrowed and merged into the right lane, giving me right of way. The prat edged forward constantly before the light changed, and I stood still all that time, then as usual, out-accelerated the idiot on pull-off and passed him anyway.

Then he got aggressive, and when I stopped at the next light a couple of hundred meters away, he went flying past without stopping, of even slowing down. This light is outside a school, and although it looks like a pedestrian crossing, most drivers obey the red light. There might be schoolchildren around, and there is a concealed entrance to the road coming out of the school, so not even slowing down is surely criminal.

The thing is, you never need to edge forward in front of a traffic light. Never. Even if it’s a steep incline and you’re too lazy to use your hand-brake, if you’re a competent driver, you should be able to use your clutch and accelerator to remain stationary. Some of these prats end up halfway across the road before the light changes. I used to ask myself, “Why do I always out-accelerate these people, even if they have faster cars and start off ahead of me?”, but I know the answer to that question: They are prats.

A better driver than myself, with a faster car, would indeed start faster than me every time, without any effort, but all of these morons who are so busy edging forward, end up pulling off more slowly anyway, so why edge forward at all?

If you are one of those people, please do the rest of us a favour and find a way of killing yourself without endangering anybody else. Thank you.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

This is why you shouldn’t pick up girls in clubs. A video that creeps me out.

I don’t even know how exactly I stumbled onto this, but it creeps the hell out of me. To honour its misleading and clickbaity title, I figured I’d share it with an equally misleading post title…

No, really – I find it deeply disturbing somehow. The title of “male to female transformation” implies to me the illusion of an average male being transformed to look female, but the guy isn’t exactly the height of masculinity to begin with. I mean, he’s quite pretty for a boy.

I’m quite certain the same makeup techniques being applied to somebody like me, for instance, would be… How shall I put it… less impressive? I have one feminine quality – unusually long eyelashes for a man, which the kids notice if I remove my specs and swim in the pool in summer. They’re so long, they touch my specs and leave marks that drive me nuts. But other than that, I have a voice like Darth Vader, only lower (and quite dull), as well as masculine features and a permanent shadow that no amount of makeup will ever be able to hide. (In other words, I’m pretty average for a male.) Shit… Why go to so much trouble to be a girl, and have to do it over and over again? Just get a sex change for fuck’s sake. (And I do mean that literally.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

Paint the sky green, because I have a meeting tomorrow and the sky needs to be green. You have half an hour.

This post’s title was a toss-up between the simpler “My patience is running low” and the one I used, which refers to a sarcastic retort I did not make to my boss at 16:30 PM. (Because it’s sarcasm, it isn’t meant to be taken literally.) Painting the sky green would be impossible, and his demand wasn’t impossible, just unreasonable in the timeframe he expects.

Unlike my colleague, who is prone to losing his temper and shouting, too often for his own good (in that he stresses himself out), I show anger a little differently. Actually I don’t show it at all straight away. Anyone who knows me well, knows that when I am really angry, I get really really quiet. It’s not a good thing, because in a work context, it can and has led to people who thought that they could take advantage of me.

I’m still not sure what to do about this. It isn’t the first time I’ve had something demanded of me, towards the end of the day, which would be impossible to finish on time without working at night. I can not and will not be bullied into unreasonable work pressure. Yesterday what I did say was “You don’t pay me to work at night”, which I don’t think was really appropriate, because that implies that this is about money, which it isn’t. I did send him a polite email now, explaining that the program I came up with to solve the problem is running, but will take a while, and that I believe his demand on me was unreasonable.

I hate being in these situations… I like my job, and do actually give a fuck about this company, but do not appreciate anybody who takes advantage of me.

(I’m breaking my own new rules here now… by writing this at work… although I am doing so while waiting for my program to finish running, so I can send him the results.)

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

The “faces of meth” don’t mean what you think they mean

I’ve written about this before, but it is a subject I never grow tired of.

The faces of meth

I was reminded of this again a couple of days ago, when browsing a site quite unrelated to meth addiction, and read some hateful comments somebody wrote regarding a photo of a stranger. What do you think the various “faces of meth” online achieve? I know what they’re supposed to do – deter you from using meth – but that isn’t what they actually do. They most likely do one of:

  1. Provoke you to say something like “How sad!” or “What a waste!” while not actually giving a damn.
  2. Indifference. (They provoke no feeling at all.)
  3. They provide an opportunity for comic relief. That is, you laugh at the plight of other people, and make hateful comments without even thinking about the fact that those are people who have problems. Worse yet, you might take the information supplied for the before and after images at face value, and conclude that this is what people who use meth for those number of years really look like, but conclude that it only applies to meth, not alcohol or other drugs.

Number three above is the most common case, as far as I’ve seen. This is a great example of the fact that evil lies in the heart of man, because there is no better way to describe that kind of condescension and malice for others, than evil. Whenever I see the reactions to such photos online, it makes me feel quite ill. But it doesn’t even matter, because whichever of the three ways you may react, you still miss the point.

The truth is, normal addicts, people who use drugs like meth every day for many years, don’t look anything like those mug shots most of the time. The ones you see are not only abnormally bad photos of the worst possible cases, they aren’t even true. When you see the before photo of a cute young girl, and then several photos of her through the years, there is no reason to believe that she hadn’t already been using for three or four years, when the before photo was taken.

All those sorts of photos do is insulate you from the truth. They prevent you from recognizing real addicts when they are right in front of you, and they also prevent you from seeing when people really have problems. They might allow you to think that other drugs are safe, so you can ignore your cocaine habit or your alcohol abuse because… “I’m OK. I don’t look like those people on meth.” Newsflash: Nobody looks like those people on meth, not even people who are on meth.

But you probably came here looking for faces of meth photos, thanks to my tagging of this post. So here you go:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         mugshot

The above are two photos of myself, before and after recovery.

The one on the left is me with Josh, from around 2008. The one on the right is me earlier today, on 01 September 2014. It’s also not a great photo, because this notebook doesn’t have the world’s best camera. But it’s good enough to make the point. (And I think I look damn good for one month shy of 43 years old.)

Posted in Addiction, Meth, Recovery | Tagged

Work should not intrude on one’s personal life. Should it?

This is a tough one for me. I work in a small company now, and as one of only two developers, I’m expected to be on “standby” for one of our web sites over weekends. I agreed to this thinking it was temporary. It’s a small site using node.js, so this is server-side JavaScript, something that’s completely new to me.

Most of the errors are not our fault… This is still quite an immature framework, and much of the errors are caused by limitations or bugs in the frameworks we use. The latest example is one where we get an error describing too many open files, even though our code doesn’t touch the file system at all. The error makes the site unusable for all the users, which is quite a problem, because the site is used for bank account validations in stores of a particular industry where one company has the monopoly, and we are in their stores nationwide. That means 1000 users nationwide, and more on the way as the site is sold to more companies. And the success/usage of this company’s software is in a major growth phase right now. But that growth could come to an abrupt end if the site were unusable for any significant duration of time.

Yesterday, the error happened while I was away from home… I went to the shop to buy drug tests because we had Josh over for lunch and the afternoon. Unfortunately, I took longer than expected because the shopping centre where I usually buy the tests (Dischem – Norwood Mall) was out of stock. This meant I had to drive to Greenstone Mall instead, then struggle for nearly half an hour to get a parking, only to spend far more than usual on a test that is more expensive. Meanwhile Abby dropped Josh off and didn’t wait for me, so we weren’t tested anyway. As much as I hate the weekly testing because it is far too frequent, when I go out of my way to purchase tests, I expect them to be used. Anyway, it’s not her fault, and we will be tested in the week.

The point of this ramble is, while I was shopping for tests, the server gave the error. Fortunately I got to it after only 30 minutes down time, so it could have been worse.

The issue for  me is, I don’t get to see Josh every day, so my time with him, and my time with my family in general actually, is very important to me. To me, the point of work is to facilitate looking after my family. Family is important. Work is just a necessity, although I do happen to love some parts and some types of development (c# programming mostly). But when work intrudes on my precious personal time and especially my time with Josh, it undermines its purpose, and becomes a burden. I do not appreciate work bleeding into my personal time.

Simultaneously, I do care about the company I work for, and the products we have developed. I take pride in my work, and I want to see this company, which is still a small start-up, succeed; not only because it’s in my interest financially. So I do not know how to handle this, and where to draw the line. I do know that if my boss ever asks me again, why I did not respond to a WhatsApp message at 10PM on a Sunday night, I may not be able to hold back my sarcasm.

Posted in Work | Tagged ,