Wednesday, 28 October 2015

But then it turns out I screw up badly when sober as well

This New Year I will have been off the sauce (alcohol) for three years.
It's been, as these things always are, quite a journey, and as I contemplated the three year marker it sent me into a contemplative mood.
What, if anything, have I learned?
What, if anything, do any of us learn? Whether going through the recovery path or not?
So here today I set out to fail to answer all and any of those questions, as no one really can.
So first thing is I remember reading once some intelligent thinker on the human condition pointing out that 'you can't know someone else as well as you know yourself, and none of us know ourselves very well'.
I mention that because I can't answer for anyone else here.
There are some elements of the recovery path that are common to all, and there are many that are individual to you.
Much like waves, to bring in a surfing analogy.
At a given break every wave is the same, yet each wave is individually different as only a chaos theory system can be.
Apart from surfing and waves being an analogy for the complexities of the human brain system, it allows me to bring in a picture to head the blog of a wonder wave in Mentawai.This island chain off Indonesia is considered the Disneyland of surfing, the waves are that good, and I think you can see that here in the picture.
Anyway, back to recovery.
As I look back down the gun barrel of my personal history, I see a frankly chaotic life liberally bespattered with bad decisions and screw-ups, all my own fault.
For the longest time I tried to blame things that went wrong in my life on someone else, most commonly the boss at wherever I was working at the time.
Australian as that is, to blame the boss for everything, it is clearly not the case in actuality.
Close upon the heels of that would be blaming my parents, which while richly deserved, clearly can't answer to the sheer volumetric analysis of the times I screwed up.
All my errors were of my own making, and I don't know if this is blaming someone else' by extension, but if it wasn't someone else's fault, then I invariably put the blame down to alcohol, and being drunk when I did my latest civic atrocity.
However,and here 200 words in we get to the nub of this, now that I have been sober two and three quarter years, I discover I am screwing up just as badly and as often, and now I can no longer blame alcohol for it.

Love Gone Wrong

I am single now, at the age of fifty, and here again I have only myself to blame.
I fell in love at least twice in my life.
Once the woman in question left me, reported numerously here in the blog by me. She was the woman from California who went off with another man. So broken up was I by this that I nearly could not stop drinking long enough to come home to Sydney from California.
Indeed but for some superb self-control for four hours one Sunday in San Francisco, I would still be living there today, broke and on the streets no doubt.
But the other time love found me ranks as - even for me - the biggest mistake of my life.
It was the mid-nineties in bohemian Newtown in  Sydney when I met her, her name was Susan, and this name is relevant believe me.
I had not long finished teachers' college at Sydney Uni and there I formed a terrific relationship with an Art teacher student named Siobhan.
However not long into our relationship the travel bug caught me again and I headed to the United Kingdom for some more travel.
NB: here again we see the colossal nature of my screwing up, I dumped a fantastic girl whom I was having a fantastic relationship with in fantastic sun-drenched Sydney, to go to depressing England and no one. Good job Lachlan you moron.
Anyway, upon my return from the UK, I became friends with Siobhan and we formed a new friend relationship.
One of the few mature things I ever did in my life.
So one week Siobhan and I were speaking on the phone and she said she was going to a party in Darlinghurst on Saturday night held by one of her friends from art college, Georgia.
I was doing nothing, and so accepted her invite to go.
There I mingled with the very arty crown, and we had a good time.
Toward the end of the evening I struck up a conversation with an attractive woman named Susan.
She was really nice, intelligent sharp but my initial thoughts were she wasn't really my type as she had a tattoo on her left breast of Da Vinci's perfectly proportioned man.
If sounds weird, it was, and is.
It was some thought of throwback to my hopelessly white bread middle class upbringing, in which my parents taught me that only the working class and other undesirables had tattoos.
However thankfully I was able to overcome the voices of my parents screaming in my head, and I got Susan's phone number.
This was in the days before mobile phones were at saturation levels and people still wrote things down with a pen on a piece of paper.
However when it came time for all of us to be thrown out into the night by the publican, neither Susan or I could lay hands on a pen.
So she ferreted in her bag and found some lipstick, then wrote her name and number on a pub coaster in lippy.
[Sidebar: I should add, putting her name on there was quite important as later on in that era, when my drinking was really out of control, I would quite often find a hastily scrawled phone number in the pocket of my jeans on a Sunday morning. This would lead me to stand catatonically in my bedroom in the Sunday morning sun while I tried frantically to piece the night before together and in vain try to remember where and how I had got this phone number].
So Susan wrote her number down in lipstick a precursor for the quirkily brilliant relationship we then enjoyed.
I rang her a few days later and we went out the next Friday, things went well, and we began a relationship.
We went to the movies, we went to the pub, we played pool, we went to parties. It was great.
But then the axe fell.
After about a month I realised I was falling in love/already in love with this woman.
What's more, I could see she was falling in love with me.
And so I broke up with her like the coward I was/am.
Looked at it dispassionately no one, including me, can understand what led me to this decision.
I loved her, she loved me, the relationship was great, what's the problem?
However of course it was that old black magic of my parents appalling upbringing of me.
Having deemed me unlovable, forever and incontrovertibly, I had accepted this fully, and it now began to colour all my life choices.
In this case, my logic(?) went like this. I am unlovable (thanks mom and dad), she loves me, therefore she, Susan, must be up to something underhanded.
So I cut and ran.
Stephanie Dowrick in her great book Intimacy and Solitude made what I thought was a very good point when she said: "Men almost always leave a relationship to go to another one, rarely to men leave a relationship to go nowhere."
I agree with that in general, and once more this lunacy of breaking up with a great woman who loved me, to go nowhere, shows how bizarre my behaviour was.
So then I moved into a kind of netherworld in which my drinking already at binge levels from Thursday to Sunday, took on the more sinister overtones of full-blown alcoholism.
I had proved my parents right that I was unlovable by sabotaging all the good relationships I ever had, and thus was now doomed to walk the Earth alone and drunk like a kind of alcoholic Ancient Mariner.
About six months after this break up I began to realise my mistake and tried to call Susan and see if things could be salvaged at this late date.
However when I rang the number which I read from the coaster still stuck to my wall, written in lipstick, I learned that Susan and her flatmates,Dan and Tina had moved out, and the number was no longer connected.
So then I thought well I'll look her up on directory inquiries.
Again for those of the younger set, if any, once upon a time if you didn't know someone's phone number you could ring the phone company and ask for the number. (just another little historical vignette there).
Anyway, I went to do that, and suddenly it hit me that after our month long brilliant, passionate and intense relationship, I didn't know Susan's last name.
Some have said to that when I tell them, Mariner-like, of this relationship: "Well you can't have really loved her if you never knew her last name".
However I counter that by saying well what's in a name anyway?
This point was made in the pretty bad really, but had lots of nakedness movie of the eigties Summer Lovers.
Which I bring in here as a reference, but also to get another picture on board to break up the thousands of words of pictureless text.
The darker haired woman goes to leave the three person relationship, and the guy, naturally enough, asks her not to.
She says: "you think you know me?"
He replies; "yes."
And she says: "What's my last name?"
Which he doesn't know.
Anyway, Susan was gone from my life forever know, and I never knew her last name.
Final note on the darkness that surrounded this end of my dreams of happiness came some years later.
After I had moved to Byron (2006) I decided to make one last effort to contact Susan again.
So I put an ad in the paper in the personal section.
And I'm sure you can guess what I wrote: "Desperately Seeking Susan".
In the text, not knowing Susan's last name, I put in what I knew about here then, 'Susan you used to live with Dan and Tink (Tina's nickname), breaking up with you was the worst decision I ever made, please call Lachlan' and added my phone number.
No response of course, but in the end, as stated, there is no one to blame but myself.
The past is indeed another country, we did things differently there.
So coming back forward to the present day, I don't drink any more or smoke pot in the same copious quantities I did back then, yet the mistakes still come think and fast.
Clearly none of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes.
I'd like to think in the end though that even if I'm still screwing up at least it's not to the levels it was in the drinking days.
My friend Phil (Philby by nickname) worked for a bank and said to me one day; "I'm a disgrace to the bank really, I have no savings but plenty of stories".
I'm much the same, in the course of a long and chaotic life I am now fifty with no savings, broke and (largely) alone but with a vast bank of stories.
However the friends I do have now are at least long term as I've forged those friendships while sober.
This does make a difference I can assure you.
And thus perhaps what I have learned after all of that is that the way to have relationships that last is to not just cut and run the moment one single tiny thing goes wrong.
So maybe after all that I have learned something after all.
Famous Victorian beauty Lola Montez famously said: "I want to live before I die."
And that is the best advice of all.
Don't live your life, as I have done, by constantly regretting mistakes made in the past.
But also be aware that Lola Montez died of syphilis, and so bring a modicum of caution to your living as well.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The heat IS on

When I was a testosterone fuelled teenager, first getting into fangled music that my parents had
banned me from listening to, I really liked a song by Glen Frey, of The Eagles fame, The Heat is On.
Some song of the streets of LA, released in 1984, and like most younger folk, I didn't pay too much attention to the lyrics.
However a short time later I began work for Greenpeace in Canada, and one of our bimonthly magazines, was headlined 'The Heat is On'.
I read the cover story with interest, and it was the first scientific examination that I ever read of the phenomenon we now call global warming.
As I read saucer-eyed of the threat facing our very existence as humans with a viable biosphere on this planet, Glen's song lyrics came back to me, and as I put down the magazine, I remember thinking then, 'well you got that right Glen, the heat is indeed on'.
Now that magazine come out in 1989, and I mention that because one thing that never fails to fire my rockets these days is that we are still having to argue about it.
Global warming is real, it exists.
Only the weak, the greedy, the foolish and the ignorant are still trying to push the climate denialism wheelbarrow.
I find it immensely frustrating that there are still fucking idiots on this Earth trying to claim global warming does not exist.
I find it difficult to get my head around their thought processes, such as they are.
I think at first the climate denialists were hoping that if they held out long enough that suddenly the 97% of scientists who held consensus that global warming was real would suddenly announce that 'Oh sorry, we made a mistake, global warming isn't real, the Ga-billions of tonnes of coal we are burning is having no affect whatsoever on the planet's climate'.
However as the years went by, the weak the foolish and the ignorant slowly had to understand that the scientists weren't wrong, and in fact, quite the reverse, every year that went by only added more fuel to the global-warming-is-real fire [pun intended].
So then I believe the weak, the foolish and the ignorant had a change of tactic.
Instead of holding out for the day when the scientists would be shown to be wrong, they underwent a private conversion, and began....., well not believing in it, but understanding that some millions of others believed in it.
Thus they decided to try things anew, instead of waiting for a reversal in thought, they instead began, or rather continued, frantic delaying tactics, using climate criminal organisations like the IPA, fuelled by the Koch Brothers in the US particularly.
Now they would use the delaying tactic to frantically sell every last atom of carbon they could before the taps got turned off.
Clearly the Australian federal government are a big part of this, arch-lovers of coal as they are.
Plus all the minerals councils of course, and various bodies and individuals across the world, all involved with the promotion of climate denialism to make money.
The problem with that is that to achieve this farcical attempt to keep mining coal and gas up to the end, you have to have an ignorant populace.
And these days, clearly, the populace is anything but that.
With thanks to great organisations like, for instance, the Climate Council, here in Australia, we are anything but ill-informed.
So the heat IS on, and it's up to Australians to finally start closing coal mines and gas fields.
If you wish to keep coal mines open, then you are wilfully admitting you are weak, foolish, and/or ignorant, not to mention greedy.
So who's first for the chop?
In the field of coal, Whitehaven are most likely, this is the organisation that with malice aforethought set out to destroy Leard Forest in the far north-west of NSW.
To say this was/is an act of the most appalling barbarism barely hints at the scale.
Leard Forest is/was the last remaining White Box Gum Grassy Woodland in good order on this Earth.
Soon it will be gone, and then we will be left with the appalling realisation that we let Paul Flynn, CEO of Whitehaven, and his evil empire make an eco-system extinct to mine coal for five years then go broke.
I find it difficult to even write of this heart ache without the tears prickling the backs of the eyes.
Such destruction for no reason.
Anyway Whitehaven are carrying a billion dollars in debt, and their market cap is less than than 952 million, and so they are unlikely to last.
Furthermore, the production costs of thermal coal in Australia are now down at US$57, while the coal price is at US$62, so they are making US$5(A$7) per tonne.
As Maules Creek is rated a ten million tonne a year operation this mean they are making US$50 million a year, and so at this rate it will take Whitehaven 20 years to even clear their debt, and of course by that time Leard Forest will be long gone.
Destroyed utterly and forever.
As I've written elsewhere in social media, it is just so wrong that we have have to rely on companies going broke to have the environment protected.
As for the world of gas, we are a little closer there to a couple of other evil companies, Santos and Origin, having the receivers walk in their front doors.
Santos particularly are down to the wire all right.
Santos are carrying a debt load of $9 billion, and have a market cap of $4.5 billion.
So buckling under a debt load, they then began selling their LNG gas from their GLNG plant in Gladstone Queensland into a depressed market with low prices and tepid to limp demand.
Santos will struggle to clear their debt in this environment and may end up selling this Gladstone plant.
Origin face a very similar problem, starting export form their gas plant with limp demand. They are in a similar financial position as Santos however, carrying $12 billion in debt with a market cap of $6.8 billion.
So once again we hope for both Santos and Origin to go bankrupt.
Bankruptcy for both these companies would be a good thing for Australia, all Australians.
Here for instance is just some of the pollution being released by Santos from their Gladstone plant.
Additionally, the destruction of the Bowen  Basin and the Darling Downs is ongoing and endemic, so two of the big three CSG companies in Queensland going bankrupt is a good thing for Australia, make no bones about that.
It's a long and tiring fight with no end in sight anywhere soon.
The federal government, now under Malcolm Turnbull, love coal and gas as much as the previous one of that utter fucking shit bag Tony Abbott.
The Queensland state government of Anna Palaszczuk is fully in love with coal and gas, and are in reality little better than Lawrence Springbourg.
The NSW government of Mike Baird are so bad I run out of descriptors trying to describe the depths of their depravity.
Having said all that, I still feel we, the good gang, are gonna win.
Coal is clearly finished, and the climate denialists can try all they like, but the market has already spoken, and the smart money is getting out.
This is probably best exemplified by Peabody Energy.
Mostly when you come to the end of days for an industry, it is the biggest companies that survive longest.
So with coal, if that is indeed the case, then they are finished as the biggest of all, Peabody, has lost 90-98% of its value over the last five years.
What went wrong?
Well basically the price of thermal coal tanked in a carbon sensitive world, and so Peabody, and all the other coal holes going around, began shedding shareholders, and eventually they are down to where they are now.
One short step from having the receivers called.
If Peabody goes, that is the end for US coal.
This was best exemplified I feel in the movie Other People's Money with Danny DeVito and Bridget Fonda. (also a thin excuse to bring in a new kind of picture).

In the movie Danny plays a liquidator. He goes around finding companies with a healthy balance sheet and then strips them of their tangiable saleable assets, sells those, and makes a shedload of money.
The plot centres upon a company from New England, Maine I believe, called New England Wire and Cable (NEWaC).
Larry sees they have no debt and moves in to strip the company.
Bridget, the niece of the CEO, played by Gregory Peck, is a lawyer in New York, and she begins working to attempt to stop the takeover by Danny Devito.
Okay, so it comes to the pinnacle of tension on the movie, with the annual general meeting of New England Wire and Cable.
Gregory Peck gets up and gives his speech, mentioning all the people who will be put out of work If NEWaC is bought by Larry and stripped of its assets.
He talks of how it's a family business and how its been the heart of the town for seventy years.
As he sits down, you the viewer, are completely on his side, and totally wish for the shareholders to vote against the sale of the company to the nasty boy Danny DeVito.
Danny DeVito gets up to make his speech and he then makes this telling point.
Says Larry the Liquidator that it is not him that is going to kill NEWaC, but fibre optics. While they make wire and cable, no one uses their product anymore. Then he adds this biter:
"You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead."
And so it goes with Peabody, and all the coal companies, they are the buggy whip manufacturers of the new age.
And soon they will all be gone, and the best thing you can do if you are an investor is make sure that you are not the last shareholder out the door.
As for gas, the gas companies have a newer product, but are likewise already finished, and that's largely due to the dramatically, nay drastic reduction in the cost of renewables.
You can read more here in this article.
However the salient points are that gas attempted to position itself as the transition fuel, away from coal via gas.
"We are cleaner" said gas.
India's PM Narendra Modi opens a solar farm.
Incorrect, sadly for gas.
They are no cleaner, and as a Facebook friend David Paull pointed out: "Gas as a transition fuel is the biggest con ever".
It certainly is a con, and the peak gas hole body in Australia, APPEA, have attempted to exploit this fallacious view unmercifully.
However the problem is that now the ponzi scheme that CSG-to-LNG is is being exposed, and as mentioned above Santos and Origin, as two examples, are going to the wall.
It is also becoming clear that gas is only acceptable as a transition, cleaner fuel, if they are no alternatives.
Well now there are.
Renewables have come down in price, and they are 100% cleaner than gas and coal.
This is relevant because the last bastion of coal, on Earth, is Asia, particularly China, and then India.
While they have been planning more coal fired power stations, I am now of the opinion that they will never be built.
The reason being that the price of renewables is now homing in on coal - currently the cheapest form of electricity generation - and soon the governments of China and India, will realise that rather than build a new coal power station, they might as well build a new renewable power station.
A BLEVE - boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion.
One of the less attractive aspects of gas as a fuel.
This is already underway, and with the ongoing price of renewable dropping, we will see more and more renewable built with sanskrit and cantonese writing on the side.
So gas is already history, its dangerous to transport, releases huge amounts of CO2, and is already no longer viable as a transition fuel as renewable power has caught up with it on price.
So there you have it, if you still support coal and/or gas, you are weak, ignorant and foolish.
I can only hope you wake up to yourself before life on this planet becomes unvaible.
As Glen Frey told us 2000 words ago.
The heat IS on.