An interesting read

Again, not something I’d normally necessarily share here, but since I’m still on my Facebook ban…

One of my Facebook friends and a better writer than I, a fellow atheist and a man who has a masters degree in theology and a doctorate in the sociology of religion, as well as a bunch of other qualifications, has written a great piece about a fallen “star” – a religious apologist and evangelist who recently died. (Ravi Zacharias) I find the fallen star metaphor (which I stole from his article) quite fitting actually… because stars in religious texts have so much meaning ascribed to them, meaning which turns out to be baseless. The article treats him with respect and almost reverence… though I must apologize as I have no such sentiments for anybody who wastes his life devoted to a delusion.

Please go ahead and give it a read. I find it quite fascinating, mostly for the history.

I’ve been too busy to write here lately

In case anyone has wondered about the lack of posts, it’s because I am busy at work, but saying that is perhaps not enough… I don’t divulge who I work for here so this will be a little vague.

Some of the software I write is used by a large customer base to collect payments, a type of transaction that tracks for a specified number of days, but those types of payments are being phased out in this country, to be replaced by a different, more secure type that uses a different kind of authentication.

I’m responsible for a large part of this software, mostly around the batch upload and processing of the contracts for these payments, as well as the sending of batches to the financial institution, and the processing of the various responses from them. We’re entering a short window now where the one type of payment will soon no longer be allowed in this country, and it so happens I am also responsible for most of the code related to the migration of the old type of payment to the new one.

Tensions are high – we have customers with millions of payments to migrate, and a brand new system that’s quite different to the old one, but has been plagued with problems, such as the financial institution changing their specifications without telling us after our system is already live, and their test environment being quite unstable. Due to the lack of test data and unstable testing environment, some parts of the code base are executing in production without ever having been tested. Things have gone wrong and things might still go wrong. So being responsible for a large part of such a system doesn’t give me much time for anything else, even outside of office hours.

So when I say I’m busy, I’m busy… I’d rather not be. I’d prefer to have time and energy to write here, but lately that’s difficult.

Book Ideas?

This week, another person told me I should write a book. This was in light of my blogging and as an idea for something to make money. I wish it were that easy.

The first time someone suggested I write a book was in 2009. It was this fellow named Brian, in rehab. He wanted to be my publisher. He seemed to think I could write a book about my life and recovery from meth addiction. “Too soon?”, I thought. I was right.

Sadly, the only other memory I have of Brian, and this is the one that lingers, is of him covered from head to toe in butter. Literally. Covered. I was working in the kitchen, and following instructions from the resident expert on how to soften butter. I can’t remember exactly what that involved, other than adding something to it and stirring in a large metal container. Unfortunately I was carrying the container from one counter to another in the kitchen, with actual butter fingers, when Brian walked by at the moment it slipped from my hands. He was truly a sight to behold, because when that container hit the floor, the butter exploded upwards right at him, covering him. Had it been possible to aim at him, I don’t think I could have been that accurate. Later he even showed me the butter he’d somehow missed behind his ears, after his shower.

Anyway, I don’t think I can count on buttercup Brian as my publisher. His idea seemed good at the time, but I don’t really want to write yet another book about recovery, unless I can say something unique from my perspective that I feel is helpful to others. Also, my life is boring. No, really, it’s not that interesting. I spend most of my time at work, writing c# code and solving programming problems that while interesting to me, would bore the shit out of most people. Not everybody gets excited about, for example, writing a generic reusable method that uses serialization and deserialization to relay XML or JSON Http POST requests from one WCF service to another. See? I bored you already, but this stuff is exciting to me.

I write this blog for fun. It’s not about money so there isn’t any pressure. Also, I write it mostly in autopilot these days. Much like when I’m in the zone programming and think about the application, with the actual code and all the classes and objects that seem to write themselves, it usually feels like the blog writes itself. I sit down with an idea and just write. There’s no need to stick to any particular topic because I write whatever happens to be on my mind. Blogging is easy.

It would not be so to write a book. Books need continuity. Ideas must flow from start to finish, growing into chapters that build on one another and complement one another, all while maintaining the interest of the reader. I don’t know about everybody but I hold books to a higher standard than blogs or other articles. If I lose interest on page two, or page ten, or even page two hundred, I put the book down and never pick it up again. I am not confident that I can write well enough for my own standards as a reader, and that’s the bottom line. Maybe I should write about self doubt?

But it would be nice to write a book. Something to cross off my bucket list if I had one and didn’t hate that term. Would my dry and sometimes subtle wit, as from the previous sentence, even work in book form? I certainly wouldn’t be able to pepper my prose with the word ‘fuck’, as is my wont here. A pity.

But what to write about? Recovery? Atheism? What? Fuck knows. All I know is that if I write a book, it has to be something I’m proud of, something I believe in, something that drives me to exclaim to everybody I know and some that I don’t, “This is my book!”. I don’t feel ready yet. Maybe I’ll never be.

What would you like me to write about?

Commenter James suggested on the About page comments that while I might know more about meth, I am holding back. He might have a point.

I write about whatever is on my mind, and lately, the subject of meth and addiction just isn’t there. It’s not like I’ve forgotten, but those memories aren’t fresh any more. The reality of living with addiction every day is something I have to concentrate to remember. In some ways, it seems unreal now. I suppose that is to be expected, because in just under three months time, I’ll hit my five years clean milestone.

The last couple of times I wrote about meth and addiction were inspired by my looking through the search strings that brought readers here. Of course many of them will thus relate to already written posts, such as… that post about meth voices and how they start which will never go away, and the comment section there has taken on a life of its own. But sometimes the search strings do ask interesting questions that trigger memories for me.

So, if there is anything about meth and addiction, or living with addiction, that you’d like to know, feel free to suggest it in the comments, and I’ll try my best address whatever it might be.

Actually I’m going through something of a writer’s block at the moment too… I have this draft that’s been hanging around since last week, that just doesn’t feel finished. Not about meth or addiction or even skepticism, but about race… A friend asked on a popular local atheists group if other (black people because she is black) prefer being called a person of colour, or black, and she hates being called a POC. So I thought I’d tackle the issue of race. Race, racism, class distinctions which are often still attached to race, and white privilege are complex issues here in South Africa, and I’m unhappy with the post as written. Don’t know if I’ll ever publish it. But regardless, feel free to suggest what you’d like to read from me and I’ll try to get it done.

A plug for a fellow I met a few years ago

A few years ago when I attended rehab, one of the most interesting and intelligent people I met there was a journalist, who at the time intended to write a book about his own fall from grace and recovery. I’d since lost track of him, but found him on Facebook again a few days ago. I see he has published his book and is doing well. His book is named Dystopia and is available at all major bookstores, on Amazon etc. Or you can start out by reading his blog