Caffeine Detox

June 25, 2013

It is that time again when I realized that my daily caffeine intake isn’t done for mere pleasure but out of a need to stave off the ever lurking headache. I started to notice mild headaches in the afternoon that can be immediately alleviated by a nice cappuccino and I had to admit to myself that my body is now reliant on caffeine and will threaten me with headaches unless I give in.

This has happened before in mid 2012  in which missing a day of coffee rendered me almost incapacitated. At that time I decided to detox from caffeine which I did for over 6 months before deciding to partake of the daily ritual again. I missed both the flavor and the routine of it.

And so here I am again deciding that it’s time for another caffeine detox. After mentioning it on Twitter, aside from the responses of my being crazy, several from the infosec community have decided to join me. I’m putting this post together to explain the rules of which I am going to follow and as a guide to whomever else cares to join.

The caffeine detox will begin on Monday July 1, 2013 and I’ve not put an end date. I’ll know when I’m done but let’s say as a measuring stick..once the headaches are gone, the extreme sleepiness has abated, and basically I feel no different off caffeine, then detox is complete. Based on last year’s experience, I’d say 4 weeks should do it. (Took me 2 weeks for the withdrawal symptoms to subside last time). Yeah, yeah, just in time for Vegas. Personally, I’m going to keep going until AT LEAST after Vegas and play it by ear from there.

So here are the rules I’ll be following:

  1. Going Cold Turkey!
  2. No beverages that contain caffeine no matter how insignificant (i.e. coffee, tea, decaf, soda, etc). Nothing but water.
  3. If I ate chocolate, I’d stop ingesting that as well

That’s basically it. Yes, it’s going to suck. But having done it before, it is my way of exerting control and not being a slave to that wonderful substance…caffeine.

See you on the other side.

With the advent of Security BSides and its explosive growth with mini cons cropping up all over the US, and soon the world, many people see the “movement” as innovative and revitalizing local infosec.  For me, however, BSides meant personal growth and a commitment to what I now see as my place in the information security community.

In November I was one of the coordinators for a local Security BSides event (BSidesDFW).  I’d been to my first BSides (BSidesSF) in 2010 and fell in love with it. I immediately wished that a BSides event would come to Dallas; however the closest one scheduled was in Austin, TX which I was unable to attend.  On a whim, Joseph Sokoly (@sokoly) piped up that he would consider a BSides in Dallas which I immediately encouraged and positioned myself as one of the coordinators.  As soon as we committed ourselves I was immediately filled with dread and apprehension.  I lost sleep for several days and wanted to back out, but once you tell Jack Daniels & Mike Dahn you are going to do something, you better do it.

Now most would think that my apprehension would stem from concern that the event would be a flop but that was the furthest thing from my mind….what I was afraid of, was having to talk to people.  Most notably, my fear was centered on having to find sponsors.  Growing up, I had a fear of talking to people…ordering from a waiter, asking someone for directions, making appointments over the phone, etc.  What was I afraid of? I was afraid of being told, “No”.  It was the idea of being rejected that made me hesitant.   So imagine what I was going through thinking that I now had to first find, then ask organizations to freely hand over money to an event which is still in its infancy.  I WANTED OUT and normally, I would have bailed.

Instead of bailing I decided I was going to “delegate” sponsorship type duties to the other two coordinators.  Problem solved as I could work on the behind the scenes logistical aspects while they went out and found the sponsors. Unfortunately, most of the logistics could not be decided upon unless one knew how much money we had in our coffers.  Since this is a volunteer based crew we all had our lives to live and the other coordinators were not always able to get the answers I needed as quickly as I needed them.  At this point I needed to make a decision….do I keep delegating just because I was afraid to be told no by sponsors or do I let the others do it potentially impacting our timeline and affecting the event?  It’s at that moment that I had to put the needs of the event and what it represented ahead of my irrational fears…and I did.  And you know what?  I was GOOD at it.  Once the first sponsor agreed to sponsor BSidesDFW there was no stopping me.  I realized that putting on the event become my way of giving back to all those that have helped me either through advice given, critique provided, and acceptance into the fold.  An infosec version of pay it forward.  Stepping up also helped crystallize a decision I was waffling on which was to re-establish the NAISG Dallas chapter.  Again, I was afraid of having to find a venue and find sponsors.

It is now over a month after, what I thought was a successful BSidesDFW, I’m the president of the NAISG Dallas chapter, and I am a happier me.  Even though I love my new job, I finally feel as if I’ve found my place in the infosec food chain.  As I said in a tweet, “I don’t know everything. I don’t even know half. But I know that I like connecting those that do.”