The pink stars are falling in lines

It’s such a stupid line; I just had to write it here.

V5igBdDI5Yk

Too bad I couldn’t find the above with text in English. Found it here.

My favourite series is now Under the Dome. Every night we sit and watch a couple of episodes. The only thing I don’t like about it is that I couldn’t find season 1 in HD. But as soon as we’re done with it, my season 2 download is HD. (It’s important on a larger TV screen.)

So if you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it. Stephen King was my favourite writer for many years, until I stopped reading fiction around twenty years ago. But I think I’m going to have to return to reading fiction again, just to read this book.

I’ve watched many series the last few months, but this is the only one that led me to feel compelled to write something about it.

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Cravings revisited, and my doubts that addiction is a disease

The other night I had a using dream of sorts… I remembered it when I made my breakfast this morning. Not such an interesting dream really – it went like this: I sat down and ate a huge bowl of all-bran flakes.

That’s right… I was dreaming about food. So why am I calling it a using dream? The answer is simple. I was hungry. I craved food, so my subconscious mind presented me with a scenario where I obtained what I wanted. But recognizing that the dream wasn’t real, I woke up and had a decision to make: Should I get out of bed and have something to eat, or should I go back to sleep?

That’s what a craving is. We want something subconsciously. We dream about it; we salivate; we feel that we need it without even knowing this consciously. Cravings are not unique to addiction, but in our often narrow-minded approach to recovery, we like to think that they are.

The truth is, everybody craves all sorts of things, and cravings are normal. Every teen boy who has a wet dream featuring the girl of his dreams desires (Edit: Pun unintentional) is craving; but not every craving is or can be acted on.

So what’s my point? I’m still struggling to accept much of what I have learned about addiction, and whether or not it is a disease. Maybe it is and the difference between addicts and those who are not is that addicts are unable to resist their cravings? But that doesn’t feel right to me. It feels more like a line that was drawn… and is shifted every time I am closer to understanding the truth. Thus as my knowledge about addiction and recovery increases, so does my doubt about it being a disease.

I had great respect for Dr Kevin McCauly, but recently watched his Pleasure Unwoven documentary again, for the first time in four years. I was struck by something I missed when I first watched it… In the section where he speaks figuratively about the addict versus non-addict human brain, using the rocks in Utah as an example, he speaks of people who are not addicts, comparing their brains to resilient rocks that are not easily weathered by water, and addicts’ brains like porous rocks that are easily weathered and reshaped. Then he suggests that being an addict in recovery can be a positive evolutionary trait, because when we recover, we then pass on our recovered genes to our offspring.

Everyone else in the room looked really impressed, but not I. You see, genes don’t work like that. We can teach the wisdom we have gained, or try our very best to do so, but knowledge and life experience gained does not somehow get propagated to our children through our genes. (How could it?) When a medical doctor suggests nonsense like this, I am forced to doubt everything else he says. Now I’m sorry I watched that again.

And come to think of it, the documentary starts with his description of his own history, mentioning how his position as a doctor caused him to be skeptical of addiction being a disease. This is a commonly fallacious argument known as an avowel to prior skepticism. (Please follow that link as it is very interesting.) It’s when somebody tries to convince you of their pseudoscientific or otherwise dubious research, starting their story with “I used to be skeptical but…” which makes them look more credible, and their stories easier to believe. Also, as I’ve written before, I’m not sure of his choice versus disease argument, because his presentation of the “choice argument” looks suspiciously like a straw man. (Straw men are easy to construct by accident. For example, almost any argument I make against theism, using examples from any religion, can be framed as a straw man, simply because there is nothing tangible in existence for me to argue against. A negative is impossible to prove.) The logical fallacies in his arguments don’t mean that everything he says is untrue. After all, the avowel to prior skepticism is a powerful psychological ploy used in his introduction that makes his argument more convincing. It’s an easy mistake to make. But it does cast a reasonable doubt on the validity of his research, in my opinion.

In both places where I have relied upon information about addiction and recovery to be correct, they accepted Dr McCauly’s “research” at face value. If anyone knows of other research regarding addiction and recovery, please feel free to link to it in the comments.

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Stupid Firefox is pissing me off

Every time I navigate to any page that uses flash (on either my home or work computer thanks to Firefox sync) I get this:

Annoying01

So I went to look at my plugins. I get this:

Annoying02

OK, so click the Update Now link…

Annoying03

Right… version 11 to 11.7 have been disabled. I am using the latest (at this point in time) version, and last time I checked, 15 > 11.x. For those who do not understand the > (greater than operator), last time I checked, fifteen was greater than eleven. Maybe Firefox math is different?

Seriously? Idiots.

I don’t even like flash, and would prefer to use HTML5 everywhere, as I can do on YouTube, but some sites that I visit still use flash.

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Is apartheid really to blame for our current power blackouts?

I’ve seen a lot of knee-jerk reactions by my white friends on Facebook… to the latest statements by Jacob Zuma. I don’t have a transcript of his speech, so I’m going to have to quote another website here:

“The problem (is) the energy was structured racially to serve a particular race, not the majority,” Zuma told delegates at the Young Communist League’s congress in Cape Town.

He said the ANC had inherited the power utility from the previous regime which had only provided electricity to the white minority.

Twenty years into democracy, 11 million households had access to electricity, double the number in 1994, Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery.

Government was taking action to address the energy situation.

The development of the Medupi and Kusile power stations was being accelerated in order to bring them on to the grid.

“Projects in the region with the potential to produce power in the short term are being assessed and we continue to evaluate options with the intention to maximise all sources of energy including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and renewable energy options, Zuma said.

Many people are plenty pissed off by those flippant comments, and I can understand why, but is he really wrong?

I happen to know that twenty years ago, when I studied electrical engineering, this country’s infrastructure and capability to distribute electrical power was already thirty years behind where it should have been. I know this because one of my lecturers had been an Eskom employee for many years. In fact, twenty years ago he predicted the situation we have today. (Somewhere Mr Borril is saying “I told you so”.)

But I am sure that there was more than one person who knew what was going to happen… Mr Zuma is doing a great job of deflecting the blame, but not fully taking responsibility for the consequences of increasing the electrical power distribution for the last twenty years without addressing the known fact that our limited power stations would not be able to meet the demand.

He is absolutely correct that apartheid is to blame… at least it was to blame twenty years ago. He admits that double the households today have electricity, compared to twenty years ago. Thus it is no accident that the same limited supply is now being used for double the demand. Obviously that couldn’t possibly work, without even taking into consideration the known fact that the power stations were already struggling to meet half the current demand twenty years ago. (Maybe it’s a little-known fact. But I knew it; Eskom management knew it; government surely knew it.)

Excuse me for repeating myself; I’ve closed both of the previous two paragraphs with a statement about the same known fact… Not sure if it creates the intended emphasis or just comes off as annoying redundancy. But my point is this: It is not sensible to double the load while using the same supply, especially if that supply is already strained; then blaming the only logical outcome on the past. It’s a cop-out that insults the intelligence. You don’t need to have studied electrical engineering to know this. Seriously.

So what has been done in the meantime? Very little, I’m afraid. A few years ago, our electricity bills included a subsidy for poor areas, so that previously disadvantaged people would not have to pay for their electricity. That was a good plan, as long as provision was made for the extra demand, but nothing was done to increase the electricity supply. Zuma’s plan is too little too late. (And it’s not even his plan. He’s taking credit for something that is already happening.) Two power stations will not be nearly enough to fix this problem, a problem that should have been addressed some twenty years ago. Guesstimating it takes about twelve years to build one power station – and it surely does take less than twenty so my accuracy or lack thereof is irrelevant – if three were built simultaneously, starting twenty years ago, this situation would not be happening today. Make no mistake – we’d still be in trouble, but we would perhaps not be in the situation that we face now – with infrastructure that is effectively fifty years behind where it should be.

In conclusion, the answer is yes and no. We must never forget how bad the situation used to be: Over 80% of our population was oppressed and were treated as if they were subhuman. Twenty years is not long enough to fix everything that the old regime broke. I don’t believe it’s right for Jacob Zuma to blame everything on the past, taking no responsibility for the twenty years that could have been used to address our lacking power supply. But then again, the government had many other responsibilities. It’s an over-simplification to pin all the blame on the ANC for not fixing the mess that was created by the old regime. It also doesn’t help to cry racism and assume that all he says is untrue. It is not his job alone to fix it; we are all in this sinking ship together. Maybe we should quit complaining and criticizing destructively, and see what we can do to plug the holes. Or maybe it’s time to abandon ship as so many of my friends and relatives have done; I don’t know. But personally, I am still optimistic and hopeful that the situation can improve, and that overall South Africa is a better place than it used to be.

Update: Interestingly I see that according to LinkedIn, the lecturer I mentioned is currently employed as a senior engineer at Eskom. I take this as a good sign… it means that merit is now more important than skin colour. (Actually affirmative action never effected me anyway.) This is a good sign. I hope he doesn’t mind that I paraphrased his words from twenty years ago without permission. Anyway, I am not giving his first name. (And I’ve attempted to contact him. It would be great if I could get more information to validate my anecdotal memory of his words, perhaps including some real information that is current, rather than relying on my possibly flawed memory.)

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A fantastic miracle cure for cancer

I just saw this shared on Facebook.

NigerianBullshit

And if you believe that, then I suggest you try a cure that I personally guarantee will really work… Try any one of the chemical compounds that contains the new miracle cure that kills cancer for real (and some other cells too but don’t worry too much about those)… it needs to have a cyano group; a carbon atom triple bonded to a nitrogen atom: CN. (Sounds harmless enough, right?)

It has a more common name, but never mind that… On the bright side, unlike the bullshit shared on Facebook, my cure is guaranteed to kill the cancer!

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So how does an atheist in recovery find a higher power?

I attended one of the best NA meetings that I have ever experienced earlier this week, where a man shared his story on his tenth year clean. It was both humbling and inspiring to listen to somebody who went through so many terrible things, far worse than my own experiences. One thing that helped him in his darkest hours, such as when he shared three years clean only to go home and find that his wife had relapsed and died on the floor at home while he shared his milestone elsewhere, was his faith in God.

I don’t have that, and I will never have that. But in participating in meetings, the subject is raised often enough that it begs the question: What do I, an atheist, use for my higher power?

One person tells me to use “Good Orderly Direction”. Of course my first thought was: What a stupid, corny mnemonic! (And it is stupid.)

But then I thought about it some more… Mnemonics have worked for me twice before in the past. Many years ago, I learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube by studying the formulas in a book and memorizing them using mnemonics. I still have one that stuck in my head twenty years later: Real Turtles Love To Rest Their Legs, which stands for R T L-1 T-1 R-1 T L-1 (Right, Top, Left anti-clockwise etc.). I never told anybody that mnemonic because it’s so damn stupid, yet I remembered it precisely because it is so stupid.

When I was a child, my father taught me to play snooker, but I struggled to remember the order of the three balls at the bottom end of the table. My father helped me by teaching me the mnemonic: God Before You (Green, Brown, Yellow).

After discussing this with my colleague, I realised that good orderly direction may not be as dumb as I thought. It’s not only a mnemonic in that it spells out God, it also gives a clue as to what God represents: Order, direction, guidance, meaning and so on.

I can never profess to have faith, but rather than fighting with the faithful, I can substitute other things in place of God, things that their faith gives them, even if they don’t know it. I could argue all day about the fact that belief in God is essentially belief in magic, and once one has realized that, one can never believe again, but one can leave out the deity and the personal relationship with what is quite frankly an imaginary friend, and substitute the meaning, the order, and the direction that the religious have, without the delusional nonsense.

Posted in Higher Power, Recovery | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Is this what you’d expect from a world class African city?

The irony in City Power’s decision to use the “world class African city” logo appals me… This is not what I would expect from a city that’s anywhere near “world class”.

I’m not blaming anyone in this post. It just pisses me off that I cannot rely on what I consider a critical service, namely electricity, to be working. And they don’t even stick to the schedule. We had power outages on both days of the past weekend, despite no load shedding in this schedule. Of course it’s complicated by the fact that Eskom produces the power and City Power distributes it here in Johannesburg, and both have load shedding. The static label proclaiming that they are not load shedding pisses me off even further. Also, the web page from the screen shot below has a stupid bug – if you switch between stage one, two and three of the schedule by clicking the relevant buttons, it gets into a messed up state where it adds the same (duplicated) schedule items each day. As a developer who takes pride in my work, that offends me.

Oh, and I have no idea why there are three possible stages of load shedding with no indication which of the three is currently applicable. I can only guess that the static label stating that “City Power Johannesburg is currently not load shedding” is supposed to indicate what stage is currently implemented. But then I’m just guessing…

LoadShedding

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The payoffs and costs of addiction and recovery

Recently someone suggested that I write about this, in the context of trying to understand why I am so dead set against drug use. So this is mostly for me, but I figured it might be useful for others too.

Introduction

The pros of addiction are few and are only temporary, while the cons are many. So I can tell you in advance that when you weigh the pros and the cons against each other, the decision not to use drugs is a no-brainer. Thus before you even read on, you should already know that if you are an addict, the costs of addiction are so much greater than the benefits, the importance of recovery and the need to stay clean should be a foregone conclusion.

I’ll try not to be too specific to meth, but it is the only drug I used regularly. This list is nowhere near complete…

The payoffs of addiction

  • Getting high. High is little more than a feeling of euphoria. This means that if you are sad or depressed, it makes you happy.
  • Instant gratification. When you take a hit, it activates the reward part of the pleasure-reward system in the brain. This is normally only activated after you experience something that makes you feel good, like good sex or a good meal. Taking a drug gets you the end result without you having to do anything. It short-circuits the natural process.
  • You don’t need to sleep for days at a time.
  • You feel alert. Even if you are falling-down drunk, a single hit of meth (or a similar drug) sobers you up instantly.
  • The drug also acts as an aphrodisiac.

Now for the costs. I could write a whole book on that, but I’ll rather keep this to a minimum, starting with direct costs of using the drug, then moving on to indirect costs and finally consequences.

The costs of addiction

Direct side effects

  • Getting low. Most narcotic drugs work similarly. In the case of meth, when it hijacks the pleasure-reward system of the brain, it takes a few days to use up all the dopamine in your system. After that, no more of the drug will make you happy. Instead, you come crashing down and feel depressed. Since drug-induced feelings feel just as real as others, you genuinely believe that you are sad. You cry your little eyes out and might even commit suicide.
  • Withdrawal from normal activities and social interactions. Since the drug gives you instant gratification without your having to do anything, you no longer need to interact with others or do normal activities that lead to pleasure. Slowly over time you withdraw from everything and everyone, and only the drug is important. This happens gradually and to a different degree for everyone who uses, but it does happen.
  • The feeling of being alert and having energy comes at a cost of your being unable to focus properly on any one task at first, and then after years of using, you can only focus on a single task, for days at a time.
  • After being awake for days at a time, you suffer side effects of sleep deprivation, including short-term memory loss. After crashing and using again, you can only perform at your peak for a day or two; after that your work suffers.
  • Eventually you suffer auditory hallucinations, also known as voices in your head. Most people who experience this are not aware of it, at the beginning. Some may never be aware of it. Either way, since the voices seem as real as real voices, even if you know that it is happening, you can’t always tell the difference; hence you start acting like somebody who is psychotic.

Indirect side effects

  • Paranoia. The drug makes you paranoid of everyone, but probably mostly paranoid about your partner, who you think is cheating on you. They may be, because like you, they are horny all the time, even when you are not together.
  • Thanks to your withdrawal and your paranoia, all your relationships break down.
  • You can no longer perform well in your work. Anything that requires you to see the bigger picture or take responsibility for a project on a high level is impossible, because your memory is shot. You’re also confused most of the time.
  • You act erratically at work and at home, and are prone to losing your temper over trivial things. You alienate everybody.
  • All your money is spent on drugs, so paying anything else becomes secondary.
  • Eventually you can no longer tell the difference between reality and the voices in your head. You spend more time at work trying to tell the difference than doing your work.
  • At some point, you use the drug to make you happy, for unhappiness caused by the drug itself. Of course it doesn’t last and the cycle continues.
  • You hate yourself.

Consequences

  • You lose everything. Your house, your car, your job; even your children eventually because you are incapable of taking care of anything or anyone. The only thing you can do is use, and the only thing you care to do is use.
  • Nobody trusts you anymore.

I could go on, but I think the point is made. If you reach that level, there is no choice anymore. Either you get into recovery or you go live and then die on the street. But even that could take a long time.

The costs of recovery

  • Admitting that you fucked it all up and that you can not stop using by yourself.
  • Having to swallow your pride and accept help. This means probably going to rehab and being treated like a child, and having to follow other people’s rules.
  • Some relationships that were destroyed in your addiction can never be repaired. This is extremely difficult to face, and can lead to depression. People judge you by what you have done, not what you are thinking, and sometimes no matter how hard you try or how sincere you are about your recovery, those people will never accept you again.
  • Having to give up people, places and things that are bad for you. This is hardly really a cost. Your so-called friends in addiction aren’t really your friends at all.

There really aren’t many costs to recovery at all. It isn’t always easy, but that’s your own fault.

The payoffs of recovery

There are so many, I really can’t list them all, so I’m only writing a few broad ones.

  • You get to love yourself again.
  • Everything that you lost, you can gain again. But it takes time and patience.
  • You have the capacity to care, to give a fuck about other people.
  • You can have normal, healthy relationships.
  • People respect you, and you respect yourself.
  • You can excel in your work.

Those may not sound important, but they are huge. Having normal relationships and being able to care about other people, even putting them before yourself, is so much better than living a life where your entire purpose is to get and use a chemical substance, one that will ultimately leave you empty and alone.

Posted in Addiction, Advice, Craving, Despair, Meth, Psychosis, Recovery, Relapse, Relationships, Suicidal, Tweaking | Tagged

On appreciating what we have

Gratitude is not one of strengths. Lately when not focused on my family, those who are important to me, or my work, I’ve spent my time thinking about money and about the struggle to get through every month. I take what I have and what I have achieved for granted. Because of that (and other reasons I’m not going into today), last night I attended my first NA meeting in several months. (I resisted the temptation to introduce myself as an ungrateful recovering addict. I’m almost proud.)

The thing is, it’s not like I feel that I need meetings. Far from it actually. I can’t explain why things are so different now, but this time my recovery has been very different to my first attempt. That first time, although I made it to nine months clean, and although I said I was determined to stay clean, all I really wanted to do was use again. In the end it was too easy for someone to talk me into using. But this time around, only the first two weeks were like that. After those first two weeks, I can honestly say that I have never even considered using again, and I know I never will. Even the using dreams stopped months ago (when I last wrote about one).

Why it’s so different mystifies me… because I need to understand why I feel this way now, and why I didn’t feel this way before. (Understanding will hopefully prepare me to deal with my feelings if they should change in future.) Somebody suggested I write about the payoffs and costs of both addiction and recovery, and I may do that for my next post. But the main thing I got out of that meeting was inspiration from others, and appreciation for what I have.

One man shared the usual nonsense, the militant approach to recovery where following the program is the only way to stay clean, explaining how he failed before when he didn’t take it seriously. He didn’t even realize, and I will never tell him, that his thinking is fallacious. He’s falling for the No true Scotsman fallacy, where every time anybody fails at recovery, you can just say that the person was “not truly in recovery”. (Redefine what it means to be truly in recovery every time. With this logic, you can say that nobody has ever failed by following the program, because they weren’t following the program properly.) As I looked around the room of between thirty and forty people, I recognized only two faces from the last time I attended that particular meeting some four years ago. One of those two people is approaching ten years clean (and chairs the meeting), and the other is three and a half years clean. But what about all the others from four years ago?

When I see others, some who have tried and failed many times, and some who have made a great success of recovery, it inspires me. Seeing how few of us really make it helps me appreciate what I have, and what I have achieved. But beware any who think that working the program is either enough or is the only thing you need do, to stay on the straight and narrow. You are only fooling yourselves. There are many who don’t make it despite “working the program” and it is a foolish risk to believe otherwise.

I’m not knocking NA because it does seem to work for many, but such a narrow-minded approach to recovery is not for me. I’m incorporating it into my recovery again from now on, but it will never be the most important part, and recovery will never be the primary focus of my life. It is useful in that I need to continue to grow and learn in recovery, as I do in life and in my work, but all growth cannot come from within. Learning from others, whether it is examples set and the lessons shared by other recovering addicts, or the insights into my life by a therapist, is a way of ensuring that my growth continues.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

In addition to my previous post

The mocking tone was probably unnecessary, but that’s the way I am, especially when I am clean. Push me into a corner, and I’ll retaliate. Whereas in active addiction, I’d probably have let it slide.

The point is, I am sincere in that I want to remove references to the person in question from this blog, or remove entire posts where necessary if his name or anything personal about him or his family makes up the main body of the entry. But removing them is not so easy… this blog has 863 entries now, and any references to him may be months apart, spread out over four years. They’re not easy to find. Searching by his name leads to many false positives because the WordPress search results yield all words that start with his name. So a list of URLs would be greatly appreciated.

I also don’t like to read my old posts, since some of them for a time were written during my relapse. I really don’t want to know what shit I wrote. I can still write reasonably well while using – sometimes – but tend to forget to write about whatever I planned (because the plans in my head that are normally perfectly clear and detailed such that I can plan a post for days in advance without writing a word, get all jumbled up when in active use) and instead switch topics several times while leaving sections incomplete and omitting the main points completely. I liken writing on meth to telling a joke and forgetting the punch line… or maybe more like telling the punch line but forgetting the joke. Strangely this didn’t happen with technical writing. I wrote some of my best technical works while I was extremely high. But the blog entries here were a fucking disaster.

Posted in Recovery

To whom it may concern: I’m really not interested in playing your psycho games

After I asked very nicely for the email harassment to stop, I received another one today, demanding that I remove all references to him from my blog. I will try my best, but do feel it is unreasonable. I mean, you want me to look for vague implied references going back years, even though most of my readers are not even in this country and don’t give a flying fuck who you are?

However, I will write about any threats or stress that you cause me, in the context of your relationship with my son, in your capacity as his foster father. I wasn’t going to write about this, but you have brought this on yourself.

This nonsense started weeks ago when we were informed by Josh’s foster mother that his foster father, who is not even staying at the house, has insisted that I can not visit Josh there any longer, since I am a threat to his children. This is in breach of an agreement that we made with social services, where all parties agreed that we can visit Josh there twice a week. (We have been visiting him there for several months.) The threat, it turns out, was based on a cryptic reference where I criticized the foster father on this blog. Essentially I called him insecure and pretentious, but nobody besides himself would have recognized the reference. Apparently he also sent the social worker a defamatory email, claiming that I am using drugs. (Based on what?)

None of his behaviour makes any sense. What happens when Josh is back with us? All he is doing is causing unnecessary stress for us, and more importantly, for Josh. None of this is in my son’s best interests, so I will write about it. His actions betray his belief that we are not clean and that we will never have Josh back with us. Frankly, I don’t care what he believes, but as soon as he shares his beliefs with others that affect us, even if they are implied and hidden behind his verbose and lunatic email rants, I have to care.

All this comes after, months ago he demanded to be removed as foster father, then changed his mind, and now this bizarre behaviour. It is childish and annoying, as well as a terrible example for my son.

I have removed the latest reference to you, sir, so please feel free to let me know which other posts you think refer to you, so that I can remove them more easily. (I have gone back to November 2013 and found no references to your name, so please enlighten me.) I have no interest in writing anything about your personal life, and no interest in having any relationship with you either.

Also, I do not see how it harms your privacy to write about the unfortunate fact that you exist. Yes, Josh has a foster father, much like I used to have a dog. It is not rude to the dog to write that she once existed. Likewise, to mention that my son has a foster father is not in any way an invasion of privacy of that foster father. It may not be nice to write cryptic criticism of you that nobody else could ever recognize, but it isn’t harassment or an invasion of your privacy either. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. I will be more than happy to remove any and all references to your name. With fucking pleasure… It’s not like I tagged those posts with your name.

Posted in My life, Recovery

The psychology of begging (What a cheek!)

At 6PM last Thursday we took our youngest child for her 18th month vaccinations, at the Dischem located in Norwood Mall shopping centre (because free government clinics do not offer all the optional vaccinations). Upon our exit from the centre, we were met by a beggar conman using a technique I had not seen before.

This man’s con is apparently to convince his marks that he is not really a conman, by asking for money even though he holds some bank notes in his other hand. He held about R70, and asked the people exiting the centre before us for more money, and when they refused he tried the same story on us. (“I am short just R14 for some sob story…”) I told him that I “can’t help you”… but remarked to Megan, loudly enough for everyone else around to overhear, that he was “a fuckin addict who has money, but not enough for his drug of choice”. (He moved away quickly and quietly in search of friendlier marks, confirming my hunch.)

It surprises me that anyone can be so arrogant and stupid to beg for money, while unashamedly showing that they do have money – just insufficient for their drugs. What the fuck?

Here’s how the psychology of begging works:

  1. The beggar relies on an appeal to emotion, primarily an appeal to your pity, so that you can give him or her your money. (This is a type of logical fallacy, also known as a bad argument.)
  2. Secondary to the appeal to pity, clever beggars rely on your guilt. i.e. You’re supposed to think – I have so much, and this needy person doesn’t – therefore he/she needs money more than I do.

But that doesn’t work when the beggar already has a handful of money. It’s hard to pity somebody when they obviously aren’t needy. Clearly he didn’t want food and wasn’t begging out of hunger, since he was waving around enough money to buy a small meal.

I’ve said it before and now I’ll reiterate… Please do not give cash to beggars! The reason they hang around at shopping centres and other such places where people are carrying money is that they want to manipulate you into giving them your money so that they can buy drugs. It’s your money that you worked for. Do not part with it in this way. Make no exceptions. If you want to help the needy, give to charity, not beggar addicts who want to con you out of your money.

It sickens me that people can get away with such tactics, and manipulate others into financially supporting their drug habits. Yet it is clear that such tactics work; otherwise the conman we met wouldn’t be using them. Such people do not deserve help or advice about rehabilitation. They deserve time in prison.

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

Say hello to my awesome new TV

I haven’t taken a photo yet… The weather has been dull and the light not conducive to a good photo (and honestly I’m more interested in watching the TV anyway). So maybe I’ll update this post with a photo next week. But here’s a link to the TV I bought, at what appears to be a subsidiary of the same company I bought it from (at wholesale price).

Wow, the difference between the old 51cm CRT TV and the 55 inch LED TV is amazing. It took a couple of days to get used to the size, and I don’t yet have a player to play anything 3D, plus I have some more important expenses in the next few months than that… but it’s so much better than what I had. I’m now glad I waited this long before getting a decent TV.

I have watched many such TVs at friends and acquaintances places, but it’s not the same when it’s not your own. Also, one of my pet hates is, when sitting and watching something at somebody else’s house and they didn’t bother to set the aspect ratio correctly. (That drives me nuts.) This one saves the selected aspect ratio per input setting, so whenever I play a DVD it recalls the movie aspect ratio setting, and when I switch to watching our crappy local TV channels, they display correctly at 4:3. Why other people don’t bother to set the aspect ratio, and settle for watching pictures with vertically shortened (or lengthened) people, is beyond me.

And this may not seem like a big deal to others, but little (or maybe not so little) luxuries like this were things I couldn’t afford a couple of years ago. When you’re using drugs, at least for all addicts I know of, every cent goes towards obtaining drugs. Most addicts sell their own stuff, and maybe other’s stuff too; they don’t purchase expensive luxuries for themselves.

No time for more writing now though… I have movies to watch.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

Today’s test results

FYI, for those who seem to want to think that I am using drugs… Here’s my drug test from this morning.

Actually, this should really go without saying, if you take the hint from my previous (and next) post. How many people using crystal meth do you think go out and buy themselves a brand new 55” TV?

004

Posted in Recovery | Tagged | 2 Comments

Saying goodbye to the old TV

The new one is only being delivered tomorrow, so I won’t say anything about it yet, other than its size is larger in inches than this old one is in centimeters…

WP_20141120_001

They don’t even sell these CRT TVs in the shops here anymore, and I’ve had this one since I came out of rehab in 2010. It served me well I suppose, and there are more responsible ways to spend money, but replacing this was a long time coming. Goodbye and good riddance!

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

To whom it may concern: Please stop the harassing emails

I have made it quite clear that I will not be charging anyone with defamation. Now stop your harassing emails. I am no longer replying to them, and I do not want them. Hence the announcement here.

I was very happy that you didn’t have my work email address for several months, because it meant I didn’t have to receive your obsessive, irrational and unsolicited emails. They cause emotional distress and waste my time at work. If you do not cease, action may be taken, but not by myself. My employer is concerned that your harassment is costing him money, and will not stand for that.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged | 2 Comments

Be careful

I just received some distressing news that somebody has emailed our social worker claiming that I am using drugs, based on the “evidence” that I have some marks on my face.

According to this site, defamation of character is defined as:

Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.

Not that I have to explain myself, but the only drug I am using now is a course of antibiotics for a skin infection. It will take two to three months to clear, and has three repeats. (To this person I say, you know the doctor who prescribed the medication, who practices from Dunvegan Ave, Edenvale. You can call them if you want.) I believe that the infection is a recurring one that has lasted for several years, and has never cleared up despite (and maybe because of) the application of cortisone creams. Since this person saw these same marks on my face a year ago, and knew very well that I was not using drugs, I must conclude that these statements have been made deliberately despite the knowledge that they are untrue, in an intentional attempt to smear my name.

Update: I know that the person who sent this did it at somebody else’s request. But still, this is uncalled for. I will not do anything about it if you stop your nonsense now.

Also, I wrote this before sending you the email. I have not referred to either of you, “either directly or implied” as someone so delicately put it, but see no reason to cancel this post’s scheduled publish. By the way, “protected disclosure” does not allow for speculation, or as in your case, outright fabrication. I have a good case. And please stop the email harassment. I won’t be the one to take action against you there.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

On anger management, sarcasm and a related anecdote

Today was my first day back at work after being off for three days due to a sinus infection. I never knew sinusitis could be so bad… I had a constant headache from Sunday past, to yesterday, I couldn’t concentrate at all and felt nausea as I’d never felt it before.

Being stuck at home for a few days left me with plenty time to think though, and one of the things I thought about was anger management. The last time I wrote about it, I expressed my “plan” on how to deal with anger, which is always to express it immediately, rather than letting it build up. However, I now feel that my plan was more than a little naive. It assumes that the anger felt is justified and is a natural, normal response to some situation or external action that provokes an emotional response. But what if the anger isn’t justified? What if the anger felt is out of proportion? Then reacting and expressing it is clearly not the right way to go, but when you feel anger, even if it is an overreaction, it feels the same and you don’t know that it isn’t normal.

I have a colleague who has some serious anger management issues. Oddly, I can see what provokes him, and I can empathise with the anger he feels, although I don’t feel it myself. But I can not say anything much to him that will help him. It made me think: What I wrote about anger management before was irresponsible and flat out wrong. It applied only to myself. If your anger is unjustified, expressing it in any way other than simply conveying and acknowledging that you have a problem with it will surely lead to disaster. Anyway, I’m glad that I don’t have a problem with anger, now that I’ve seen what happens when someone does.

Anyway, all this thinking about anger led me to remember something from many years ago. My memory is hazy on this one and I’m not sure whether or not I told anybody about it before, but I do think it’s quite funny, and the experience taught me something about anger, as well as a way to threaten someone without actually being threatening…

I was about nineteen years old, and was traveling somewhere on the train, in Cape Town. Opposite me was an annoying skinny fellow with a very big mouth. He was sitting between two friends, and telling them all about his girlfriend, who had left him for another guy. I soon picked up that the guy he was complaining about was a relative, his name was Andreas, and his ex was someone I knew well. He complained bitterly about how cocky my relative was and how he wanted to beat him up. I don’t remember the words he used, except that he was rude, loud and annoying. Very annoying because I had a headache and all I wanted was some peace and quiet. As he carried on his annoying threats and fantasies and what he wanted to do to my relative, expressing his stupid jealous anger, my own anger began to rise, and my headache grew gradually worse. Also, by an amazing coincidence, what he didn’t know was that his target was my relative. I wasn’t so good at controlling my temper then, and as I sat there, I felt myself fantasizing about grabbing him by the throat and telling him exactly what I would do to him if he should succeed in his threats against my relative (although I was quite certain he was incapable of carrying out his threats).

Eventually (is probably the wrong word… This happened quickly but it felt like a long time to me) I could take it no more. I told him who I was and that he was making threats against my relative, but rather than threatening him, I chose to use some well placed sarcasm in front of his friends. I told him that my relative annoyed me too, and that if ever he wished to carry out his violent threats, I would help him. But I put it in such a way that he looked stupid, weak and pathetic. i.e. I humiliated him in front of his friends, implying that he would need a great deal of help with such a task, but with my eyes and my clenched fists I told him a different story, making threats of violence quite unnecessary. That was the end of his annoying little tirade… he didn’t utter another word for the rest of the train ride. And that was the day that I learned, you can sometimes express anger with a few well placed words, so much more effectively than any physical violence. It is possible, and feels pretty good, to threaten somebody while saying the opposite of what you really mean. Irony and sarcasm work well together. (Of course my usage of it has improved a little since then.)

In conclusion, my anecdote has little to do with anger management. Maybe my memory of it is selective and my sarcasm wasn’t as effective as I remember. Reacting to anger may not always be prudent, but using wit and sarcasm rather than physical violence is something that has always worked for me.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged , ,

Another one

Does Grandpa Headache Powder contain codeine?

I know that the question landed you here because I’ve written about my headaches before.

The real question is, how fucking difficult is it to read the ingredients on the packet? It states quite clearly that they are Aspirin and Paracetamol, neither of which is codeine.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged

Dark times ahead

It’s a sad state of affairs when my awful pun of the title is both literally and figuratively true, making it not such a bad pun after all.

It’s even sadder when our latest power outages are due to the country’s failing infrastructure in our coal burning power stations. I’m almost afraid to ask what happens when it gets worse than this.

The power went off shortly after I got home last night, and although it was restored briefly during the night, it was off again when I woke up this morning. Yesterday I’d been looking forward to getting home the whole day, so that I could carry on installing all my applications on my home computer, after I had to “refresh” Windows 8 (on top of 8.1) because everything in 8.1 was corrupt (due to badly timed previous power outages). It had taken the whole weekend to finish upgrading to 8.1 again. Of course that still isn’t done, and we had to sit in the dark last night.

But I fear this is just the beginning of the dark times. Our government is a joke… All they do is cover up for our corrupt president, so there is no time to do anything about the country’s failing infrastructure. Don’t get me wrong – there is no conspiracy here – just some crooks and a vast majority of stupid, incompetent people who cling to the past, believing that the ANC, who freed them from oppression, still cares about them. Meanwhile international investors are running away faster than the idiots realize.

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

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

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

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

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.

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged

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

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…

Posted in Non-addiction | Tagged ,

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 ,