The Changing Face of Addiction

Having studied the subject of addiction during my psychology courses quite a number of years ago, I am beginning to wonder nowadays whether or not the incidence of addiction is on the increase with the ongoing technological advances with which we all seem to be faced?

In the past, when one mentioned the word “addiction”, thoughts went automatically to alcohol abuse, over-eating, the use of recreational drugs, gambling and even exercise. These days the goal posts have moved, and we see people who cannot function if their mobile phones are not in their hands or positioned on their desks right in front of them. First thing in the morning the phone is grabbed whilst eyes are still bleary from sleep – “what messages have arrived during the night, who has posted some exciting information on Facebook whilst I have been asleep, what earth shattering news have I woken up to read? I need to scroll down and update myself before brushing my teeth, having a cup of coffee, and generally facing the day.”

One of the biggest catastrophies in modern day society, is often the theft or breakage of one’s mobile phone. Heaven help us all if we lose reams and reams of totally inconsequential information, not to mention photos from every person with whom we have had any dealings at all, be they good friends, family members, or just passing acquaintances. How are we ever going to survive without this personal encyclopaedia of trivia? Archiving the information in “The Cloud” can be one’s life saver when this happens, I believe (never having had to travel that road, thank heavens). So, if one is techno-savvy, there is always light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The trend amongst many of the so-called millennials is to exercise to extreme, and to spend as much time as possible at gyms, pounding the pavements, or swimming the oceans or taking part in triathlons of one kind or another. The health stores are benefitting all the way to the bank, due to all the supplements, vitamins, and health foods which go hand in hand with all this obsession with beautiful bodies. This kind of life also can be lumped together with other forms of addiction, one would think. There is the obsession with attempting to prevent the ageing process with cosmetic surgery not to mention purchasing the most expensive cosmetics which promise eternal youth.

I have realised over the past few weeks, since the beginning of December in actual fact, that as business slowed down, so there was more time to engage in mindless, time-wasting activities, and the mobile phone was the partner in crime. So easy to download casino games, mental exercise apps, you name it, you can download it. Once you have learnt the basics as to how to play the game, then voila, you are soon hauled in, hook, line and sinker! It takes a very strong will to actually limit yourself to a certain time of the day for playing, or even a certain amount of games before you close the app., and get on with the serious matters of the day. One does not need to be a neurosurgeon to realise that something is happening in one’s brain when these apps are downloaded. It doesn’t take long to become addicted – or is that just me? The solution seems to be to uninstall these apps and get on with a normal day?

face id smartphone parasite, woman and Internet addiction

I would really like to know just what does happen within the brain’s wiring system which allows us to so easily become an addict of one kind or another. Are we born as potential addictive personality types, depending upon our specific DNA? Or is it all a matter of a certain chemical reaction taking place due to a particular occurrence that results in our suddenly being able to waste valuable time, or mess with our healthy bodies because of having acquired a specific craving which conflicts with our previous behaviour? All I can say is that it must be very trying for those individuals whose job it is to assist in breaking these destructive behavioural patterns with which addicts of any kind are afflicted,  as well as for anyone seriously trying to move on, addiction-free.

If it is an addiction linked to one’s physical health, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc., then it is probably more difficult to handle than one which just messes with one’s brain, e.g. the mobile phone, or the computer, and is more detrimental to one’s quality of life. However, seeing people unable to interact with one another without the perpetual glancing at phone screens to check for messages, then how detrimental are any addictions when it comes to personal relationships and the future of the human race per se?

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the
narcotic
be Alcohol or Morphine or Idealism”
– Carl Jung (Psychologist)

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Birth Announcement – Futuristic

It is with great pleasure that my wife and I are letting you all know that our beautiful new baby has arrived. The birth was eco-friendly, albeit two weeks later than we had expected, as no drugs were involved, and the child came into the world in an inflatable paddling pool made of bamboo which we put outside on the front lawn.  The water we used to fill the pool came from the many litres which we had harvested in recycled plastic buckets during the very heavy rainfalls of the past few weeks. There were a few leaves and some other bits and pieces floating in the water, but then babies need to build up their resistance as soon as possible, I believe. Melody, my tough as nails wife, recovered instantly and, after we had cut the baby’s chord, and wrapped it in a yellow blanket, got out of the paddling pool, showered, and made dinner. She is amazing to say the very least.

Друк

The name we have chosen for the new arrival is Green Cherub. We will let the child decide as to whether they would prefer to grow up either male or female or transgender, so we will be dressing it (not using a gender at all until the child has decided) in gender neutral clothes and colours until the time that we know whether we have a daughter or a son. We are sure you will understand, after all we are living in modern, non-stereotypical times and we feel very strongly about saving our planet. As new parents we hope to be able to do our best in assisting in reducing the carbon footprint.

Melody plans on breastfeeding the new arrival until it is time for nursery school – probably about 4 years from now. We both believe in having as much input as possible in the early years with very little outside interaction with people who have no regard for things that we hold dear such as veganism or serious recycling. Once the child is old enough to mix with other children, we will choose a nursery school with great care. If needs be, Melody is considering starting her own school so that she can hand pick the kind of children with whom our child will mix. There is still plenty of time for us to make final decisions on the child’s education but, one thing is certain, this child will be taught Mandarin along with English as soon as it is starting to talk. One has to be objective and look at the future and how China seems to be encroaching in every area of life.

If you would like to send a gift for the new baby, it would be really appreciated if you would consider making a donation to Green Peace in lieu of baby gifts. We will not be using any manufactured perfumed baby products as well as nappies of any kind. The disposables are creating havoc in landfills and then the old-style terry towelling ones need chemicals to keep them spotlessly clean. Therefore, we have decided to go au naturelle and just mop up as nature takes its course.

I can hear Melody calling me to come and help bath the new arrival, so I hope that you will be happy for us and understand if we seem to be hibernating for the next few years. We do not use social media as a means of keeping in touch, so it will be very occasionally that you have any updates on what is happening in this neck of the woods, but if you are nearby, please do not hesitate to call in to see us. We will always be on hand to offer you a healthy drink or a homemade rusk.

Kind regards

Harry, Melody, and Green Cherub

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Assuming – can make an ass of you and me!

In the fast- paced world in which we live, it is so easy to miss important cues when dealing with other people. We also often tend to overlook a situation where another person is having a hard time because it might just be too uncomfortable for us to acknowledge their need. Assuming that the front which someone projects to the world at large is a true reflection of their life is a common mistake which we all make at one time or another.  Sometimes all that it takes to really learn about someone is to listen attentively to them, not to constantly interrupt, and to show that you are interested. It isn’t always possible to do anything physical to help improve matters, but one can offer comfort in many ways. A statement which I read recently really struck home. “You will be remembered, not for what you did, but how you made people feel”. If we could all follow this advice, the world could be a much less challenging place in which to live.

“Assumptions are made, and most assumptions are wrong!
– Albert Einstein

Nothing is more satisfying than having someone tell you that, just because you gave up some of your valuable time to listen to them, and perhaps offered some worthwhile advice, they feel so much better after having spoken to you.  You never know just how much showing that you care about another person, can affect their future. We all need recognition and it isn’t always forthcoming. Regardless of the kind of family to which we belong, we are often unconsciously competing with other family members for feelings of self-worth, and emotional reward. Where young people are concerned, this situation commonly flows over into the school environment and, later in life, the workplace as well. In fact, in modern society at least, competing has become a way of life and the frightening fact is that it seems to start almost from the cradle with over zealous parents comparing their offspring with those of their friends and relatives. Social media has the rather negative ability to exacerbate the entire situation.

To take oneself out of the equation in our interaction with others, is something which does not come naturally to most of us. After all, who doesn’t love to hear the sound of their own voice? This in itself can be a problem when we are dealing with other people. Everyone wants to be heard, but I don’t believe that many of us really like the kind of person who has verbal diarrhoea and always tries to dominate the conversation. We need to remember the old adage that we were born with two ears and only one mouth, therefore we should be listening twice as much as talking. Not always easy to remember, but certainly worth a try! You can only truly listen to what is being said if you learn to force yourself to stop preparing your own contribution to the conversation whilst the other person is still speaking.

Several years of Lifeline counselling, using the Carl Rogers method, cemented for me the importance of allowing the person needing help to formulate their own way of moving forward. This is a non- invasive form of counselling whereby the counsellor does not direct the form of action which the person being counselled should take. It is a safe method which allows people to take control of how they will try to change their own set of circumstances. Just by their feelings and concerns being fed back to them by the counsellor, a person is often able to see their way forward.

In our day to day interactions with other people, it may be very enlightening to take the time to ask them a little about themselves. Very often those people who seem to be fully in control of every area of their lives, are the ones who are actually battling with inner demons and feelings of inadequacy. We have the proverbial hats which we wear in various situations and, after all, we are all members of the human race (there are always those who somehow don’t seem to fit into that category, but let’s leave them alone for now!)and we share doubts and fears which plague us all from time to time.

Just knowing that someone cares and is interested in you can be a life saver when things are going pear shaped, and there seems to be no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.  Yes, we all know that things  change over time but, in the here and now, to have someone who bothers enough to lend an ear to your concerns may make all the difference and enable you to carry on despite the struggles with which you are faced.  A late friend of mine who offered counselling for many years used to say, over and over again, “There are no throw away people”. We should bear this in mind when we are dealing with one another and be there when needed if we possibly can. By not assuming that what we see on the outside is the same as on the inside where our fellow beings are concerned, we may be able to make a positive contribution to their lives in ways of which we may never be aware.

“Your assumptions are your window on the world.
Scrub them off
every once in a while or the light won’t come in.”
– Isaac Asimov 

Korean Style Gochujang Steak

Gochujang paste is a paste made from ground chili and fermented soybeans used in Korean cuisine. You will find this at most Asian supermarkets. The addition of Gochujang paste in this recipe adds a good amount of spicy heat to the dish. You can read more about Gochujang paste here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gochujang

Ingredients

  • 750g beef schnitzel/rump thinly sliced
  • 2 brown onions sliced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 Tblsp gochujang paste
  • 1 1/2 Tblsp oyster sauce
  • 300-400ml cream
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt pepper

Method

  • Season steak strips
  • Get pan/wok smoking hot, add oil and stir fry beef in batches until browned- remove
  • Add 1 Tblsp olive oil and good knob of butter
  • Gently fry the onions until soft and golden
  • Add the crushed garlic and gently fry for a minute
  • Add the oyster sauce and gochujang pasted and stir through the onions
  • Add cream and simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes until sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Add the steak back to the sauce, heat through for about a minute and serve.

Serve with sticky rice or pasta

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Caramel Sticky Buns

These buns are fantastic accompanied by an espresso.

Ingredients

  • 310 ml buttermilk
  • 55 g sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 640 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 170 g unsalted butter, softened

Caramel

  • 165 g lightly packed brown sugar
  • 55 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 60 ml light corn syrup
  • 30 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Filling

  • 105 g lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Buttermilk, for brushing

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, eggs and buttermilk mixture in a stand mixer using the dough hook or in a bowl using a wooden spoon, until a dough begins to form.
  3. Add the softened butter.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. It will be soft and slightly sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, humid place for 1 hour.

Caramel

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients with a whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour into a buttered 33 x 23 cm glass baking dish. Set aside.

Filling

  1. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. On a generously floured surface, roll out the dough into a 50 x 35 cm rectangle. Brush with the melted butter and cover with the brown sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a log 50 cm long. Cut into 12 slices.
  3. Place the dough slices onto the caramel. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, humid place for 1 hour.
  4. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Brush the buns with buttermilk. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  6. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Place a large serving platter over the baking dish. Turn out the sticky buns onto the platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

A Numbers Game

Every time we open a magazine or a newspaper or hear an announcement regarding a celebrity or even a criminal, we always seem to search to discover their age. What is it about one’s age that creates such fascination?  Does it mean that one can be too old or too young to do whatever it is that makes the deed or occasion noteworthy? The first question we ask one another is, “how old was she/he”? This is even more relevant when the person involved has either had an illness, or worse still, died.

This fixation with age must be something which is linked to a first world mentality perhaps? No-one seems to worry about the age of, for example, The Dalai Lama. His face emanates kindness and caring but it is also creased with signs of age. I have never heard anyone say that he may be past his prime, or a bit too old for the job! With medical advancement it is now a fact of life that, where people have access to good nutrition and health care, they are living much longer than in the past. This is posing huge problems due to the drain on a country’s medical system as well as impacting negatively on job opportunities for younger people. If you have to carry on working due to a shortage of money then you most certainly would not choose to retire at 60 or 65. Not all companies make it mandatory to stop working once these milestones are reached.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the pattern of having one person leave the company and a younger one being employed in their place no longer applies.

I have just heard a discussion on local radio where people were talking about having changed their career direction in mid- life and qualified in a field which until then had been something of a pipe dream. One man had graduated as a medical doctor at the age of 51 after having previously spent years in the corporate world. In this case one would assume that age might be to his advantage. If you have the need to see a doctor and he is middle-aged you would hardly even consider the fact that he may have very little practical experience. His age should work in his favour as I can’t imagine that there would be a banner on the practice wall announcing, “Our newly qualified Dr. so and so (age 51) has joined our practice. Welcome!”

“You have to embrace getting older. Life is precious
and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realise
each day is a gift.
” – Meryl Streep. (American Actress)

People tend to panic about getting older and perhaps losing their youthful looks, but when one has had friends who died in their mid-thirties or early forties of cancer, then it really is a case of every day of good health being a gift which needs to be savoured. This epidemic of trying to stay as young at 50 as one was in one’s early twenties is crazy. One only has to look at current pictures of 1970’s Hollywood stars to see that sometimes it might be best to let nature take its course instead of searching for eternal youth. With botox, lip and cheek fillers some of these have-beens now look like cartoon characters. There are actors such as Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, to name just a few, although showing signs of age still manage to remain dignified and believable. Life moves on, and whilst it’s great to make the best of ourselves, there are limits me thinks?

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We need to be careful that, by focusing too much on our age, we limit our potential. There are martial arts clubs as well as dance studios which cater for beginners of all ages. However, I would imagine that, for example, taking up either of these exercise regimes would have their limitations. Bruce Lee, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn began early in life to pursue their chosen field of expertise. Somehow, it would seem to be far-fetched to imagine that a forty-something person would be able to reach particularly great heights in either of the above disciplines. I could be wrong and I hope that I am.

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There are many instances where top surgeons, artists and business people for example are still achieving amazing results well into their latter years. As long as one has good health and is not showing signs of slowing down, then the many years of experience are obviously an incredible advantage. Mentoring younger people can be an extremely valuable way in which one’s abundance of knowledge and experience will be passed on to the next generation. After all, what is the use of knowledge if it is not shared? Many valuable discoveries have probably died along with their discoverers due to selfishness and an ego-centred attitude and an aversion to sharing their findings.

The Rolling Stones, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and not forgetting the Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan are just a few of many musicians who have not allowed getting older to hamper them in any way. In fact, like a good wine, they just appear to keep on getting better as the years go by. One only has to take note of the age of the people packing the stadiums when they perform at their live concerts to realise that age, when it comes to music and entertainment is totally irrelevant. Many of the concert goers are at least 30 or even 40 years younger than their idols.

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Another angle where age seems to rear its ugly head is in a situation when a woman marries or becomes involved with a much younger man. Somehow it seems to be far more acceptable for a woman to be in a relationship with a man much older than herself as opposed to her finding a young stud! The latter is seen as a case of cradle snatching and often looked down upon by friends and relatives. However, I have read findings over the years that women tend to reach their sexual maturity around the age of 40 whereas men peak at 20, so wouldn’t it make sense to marry someone who’s sexual age tallies with one’s own? However, it has also become a fact over the years that 18 is no longer viewed as the start of adulthood, as it was in the past. Now, it seems that one has to reach the ripe old age of 25 to qualify for adult status in many cases. There are clubs and restaurants who limit the clientele to those of a more adult age – obviously due to potential hooliganistic behaviour from the younger generation. Therefore, one’s social life could be seriously curtailed if the new husband is still viewed by society at large as a juvenile, despite the fun and games in the bedroom!

It used to be frowned upon to ask a woman how old she was, but this certainly no longer seems to be the case in many Western societies, by all accounts. Anyway, having to reveal your ID number in South Africa, there is no running away from the fact. As long as the person to whom you give the required information has a working knowledge of arithmetic, they will very quickly work out how old you are. What bigger complement can there be than the recipient of the information turning to you and saying that they would never have thought you were that age!  What is the point of lying anyway, after all life is for living, and each day counts. So, while age is relevant and we are all obsessed with finding out how old everyone we come in contact with is, it really is a privilege to, hopefully, make old bones!

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease
to  stand like curious children before the Great 
Mystery into
which we were born.”
– Albert Einstein (German – born theoretical physicist)

Roast Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg ripe tomatoes halved
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and quartered
  • I large onion cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tblsp dried oregano
  • 1 Lt vegetable stock
  • 2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Heat oven to 160 degC.
  • Combine the tomatoes, onion, peppers, and garlic in a roasting pan.
  • Add oregano, balsamic vinegar, a good splash of olive oil and sugar and mix altogether using your hands.
  • Roast in the oven for about 30 – 45 minutes until the tomatoes are breaking down and releasing their juices. Its Ok if some of the skin blackens as this adds a slightly smoky flavour.
  • Transfer ingredients to a medium sized pot and add the tomato paste and enough stock to cover all ingredients.
  • Gently simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Transfer ingredients to a blender and blend ingredient into a smooth, thickish liquid.
  • Strain through a sieve back into the pot, adjust seasoning in need, and keep warm.
  • Serve with croutons and fresh basil.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris