I Wonder What The World Will Be Like In 10 Years

>> April 20, 2020

>> Blog Post #61

I wonder what the world will be like in 10 years.

I was talking to someone I know today about potentially partnering as our two respective products would work well together from a user’s standpoint. It was fun to discuss a new partnership as the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on our main product and today’s conversation was a refreshing break from it.

I think I’ve mentioned it in this blog before, I run a bitcoin business, and therefore the use cases we discuss are always fringe to a certain degree as Bitcoin is certainly not a massively adopted product, at least yet. Maybe it will never be and quite honestly that doesn’t bother me at all as I am not necessarily routing for it to be. I am convinced Bitcoin can have a perfectly bright future without mass adoption.

One specific topic that I am very interested in is the frontier between bitcoin and FIAT currencies. I am of the opinion that any business sitting at that frontier is taking a lot of risks as governments can turn on them in a heartbeat and create nightmarish scenarios. I’ll define a nightmarish scenario one in which either all of your cash or all of your time are captured for a period longer than you can withstand as an entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean these businesses currently trying will not succeed, just that it’s not a risk I personally feel like taking. That’s why I do not want to sit at the Bitcoin to FIAT frontier.

For the same reason, as an individual, I think someone who would like to accumulate bitcoin has two good choices he can make. Either he earns bitcoin for his work or he buys them – for FIAT – from an individual, not a crypto exchange. What will that market look like in 10 years? I feel alternatives are starting to emerge that offer bitcoin on and off ramps, but they all seem too centralized yet. As people seem to be focusing on usability through UX and UI, I believe the core tenants of privacy and security first might be taking a backseat. I hope that is just an impression.

People are the layer that I believe will provide the next step of development for Bitcoin. People coming together and putting their separate pieces of code, products, networks together. Advancing Bitcoin together as a community that shares the same intentions and beliefs. I see signs of this happening. People rising up separately because they do not like the current situation and then look around at one another and join forces with people who they recognize themselves in. I guess only time will tell whether I was right or not.

Stack safely.

What should we tell the future generation?

>> April 17, 2020

>> Blog Post #60

These past four weeks have been easy. We are healthy, we can work from home, the kids have been helpful, I’m ok with teaching, the weather has been fabulous, we have a yard, we can go walk in the forest without running into anyone, etc.

No complaining on our side, I feel we have it good and I certainly cringe at the idea some of my friends are stuck in small Parisian apartments.

I think we have all adapted well to the situation, even though we have all done so on our own timeframes. The oldest kid here is just about done with high school. He’s eased his way into confinement really easy. Just stay in bed, chat over the phone and play video games. I heard someone mention he probably worked for a minute or two at some point, but no one knows for sure. He’s reached that age where everything is a drag and the prospect of trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do in the future is a question you face daily even though you don’t want to think about it and clearly do not know how to answer.

It’s been slow, as I don’t want it to be too abrupt, but I’m trying to get him to do a few chores everyday so that he participates in the family life and give him ample time to get bored – just take the power cable for the video games away. This has taken him out of his room quite a bit and he’s been around us more, for a few after dinner laid back chats or just to hang out. We haven’t really gotten to the point where we could start talking about the future without it turning into some kind of boring discussion, but I hope that we can get there in a bit, if this confinement continues. Because I see this time as being a great moment for us to try and help him figure out what he would like for himself. The whole COVID-19 thing is a terrific pause in everyone’s life to try and figure out what you really want more than anything and decide to go get it. I think part of what is really tricky for adolescents is that they feel like they don’t really have a choice or none of them is better than the other, probably because they are left with adult dilemmas. I don’t care what he does as long as he is happy about it. I just need to find a way to help him figure out who he really is so that he feels like he can be himself in his choices moving forward, whether we like it or not.

I personally always went for the middle road when making decisions regarding studies and the start of my career. It was a strategy picked consciously, in order to always keep a maximum of possibilities available to me. It wasn’t bad as I was successful with it if you judge by status or accomplishments or money etc. But definitely nothing shattering. However, I don’t think that’s how you should judge this, or at least that’s not how I do anymore. I think this strategy was actually the only strategy that kept me from being myself 100% at every decision and at this stage in my life, I have decided to change that. Now maybe this is wrong, but I believe that it is probably better to try to become who you really want to become even though it may be hard and you therefore should take that risk as early as possible, when life is easier – no kids, no mortgage, no boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.….

I’ll try to pass that message along.

Where Do I Start?

>> April 15, 2020

>> Blog Post #58

So let’s say I really do build a citadel like I said I’m dreaming of recently, where do I start?

I guess there are two main elements.

1/ convincing my better half – tough one right there

2/ figuring out a game plan for something as big as a life choice…. – yikes

Ok, so tall order….

I’ll probably have to start with the game plan first. To try and figure out whether this is attainable, achievable, by me. I’ve heard and read several times already that you should start small and grow from there, at least as far is permaculture is concerned, as that has been one of the first topics I have dived into. The comment probably carries a lot of wisdom as it has been expressed by people who have tried and seem very humble in their approach to things. It might therefore be wise to heed that advice and remember it. Especially because I have a natural tendency to go too far too quickly.

So how do you make a plan?

  • You need land
  • You need to gather resources
  • You need to use these resources as efficiently as possible
  • You need to progressively tend towards more autonomy while understanding that it takes several years to build
  • You need learn new skills
  • You need help along the way
  • You need to survive the hardships as there will be hard times – that again seems to be a common comment of people who are willing to share some feedback on their personal experience.

I will probably split my studies along the lines of:

  • Land – choosing the best possible land to establish a citadel
  • Design – learning how to build a system, that is an ecosystem where things and animals (including us) live off of each other
  • Food – how to grow food, how to keep food, how to transform food
  • Shelter – learn how to build a house. Isn’t it kind of crazy that 99.9% of people do not know how to do this anymore?
  • Energy / Resources – Water, heat, electricity obviously, but also all the resources you can accumulate freely and transform into something useful for crops or animals. There is a ton of stuff to do there and this recycling, DIYing aspect is one of the most interesting to me.
  • Security – physical security, financial security, health considerations, risks, redundancies, etc. This is probably an understated theme but another one that I am very curious about
  • Network, social – finally this theme. You cannot do everything yourself, obviously. I will need help and support, and this is only possible with the help of others, to build, criticize, support, buy, sell, dream, joke, … Whatever it is people do. You need people.

This all sounds so crazy.

I must say though, that someone offered his help to me yesterday. I am 100% sure he doesn’t know just how crazy I am, but I do also believe, he was serious in at least considering there was some hard work to be done and I know he’s got the mind of a builder, just like me. Never know… 🙂

I Want To Build A Citadel

>> April 13, 2020

>> Blog Post #57

This is the crazy obsessive idea that I can’t get off my mind these days. I think it’s the project that I’m looking for. Something all encompassing, durable, a mix of a lifelong goal and a trajectory at the same time.

What is the citadel? The citadel is a physical space where you can exercise your liberty to its fullest. To do so, you need to be independent enough from the rest of the world around you. Independent from spying eyes as well as from material ties such as energy bills.

The citadel is a system, where all elements and components of the citadel have to work together efficiently as a whole. The system is designed to last and must evolve constantly in support of that objective. The goal is to constantly improve the citadel so that it can be transmitted to others down the road and that its value will have appreciated with time.

But a certain level of independence and autonomy do not mean that this is a solitary project or that there is no communication with others. Quite the contrary. I am convinced that a growing number of people are feeling the same urge to build for themselves in a way that is respectful to others but uncompromising with regards to their own personal freedom and well-being. These people can be friends, partners, customers, suppliers and the citadel has to be designed to be able to benefit from all these networks and relationships.

Finally, the citadel is both old and modern. It is respectful of history and wisdom while also having a strong appetite for science and the benefits of modernity. It is built to enjoy life at its fullest with all the best ideas of the past, today and the future.

Now I know very well that a citadel cannot be built in a day. I will have to conduct a ton of research, plan, choose a strategy, find partners, people who might want to contribute and enjoy the journey.

Rediscovering Low Tech

>> April 10, 2020

>> Blog Post #56

Being confined for a few weeks – and a little cash strapped lately – has been a boon.

I’ve recently cut down a lot on spending. Partly because a lot of stores are closed, partly because deliveries are taking for ages and partly because, I should just spend less.

But I’ve also been incredibly active and have jumped headfirst into my new gardening project.

This has led me to be very creative in recycling things and finding raw material that would have just been garbage before.

The kids were playing with water balloons since it was so hot yesterday afternoon. Guess what the straws used to fill the balloons are good for?

It works even better than I would have imagined!

The manual labor aspect has also given me a ton of free time to think and listen to even more music than I usually do, putting my brain to rest. I think that relaxed state of mind has helped me be “in the moment” more, be more present in what I was doing.

As a result of all of this, I’ve rediscovered through experience some very basic rules of physics but was surprised at just how much fun it was too find logic in things I was doing.

Let me give you an example.

I found these mushroom trays by a garbage behind an organic food store close by.

I grabbed all three of them as cheap ways of ordering stuff in the greenhouse I built in the yard last week. I had half a dozen shelves, but nothing to store all of my stuff so I just took them, thinking once I get better organized, I’ll just dump those trays. But I actually found another use for them after digging out a couple trees in the yard. I needed to try and take the weeds and moss out of the dirt I had moved around while uprooting those trees. The tray could be used as a cheap sieve.

Just load up the tray with the dirt and shake it above some other recipient to collect the earth you want to keep. Nice and easy.

But what was actually surprising yet obviously logical was the following.

By shaking the tray, the fine earth would fall in the below basin. However, larger lumps of dry earth would stay at the surface as they were too big to fall through the mesh-like plastic pattern. However, that part still did separate easily from the moss and weeds I was trying to get rid of as it fell to the bottom of the tray after the shake, while the weeds found their way to the top during the process. That’s gravity for you.

Green on top, brown at the bottom. Easy, and cheap.

It feels great to take a lot of satisfaction out of these very meaningless things. It means you are enjoying yourself greatly! I hope you are too.

Last thing, I said just how much time I have on my hands to listen to music these days. I am having a big older stuff revival and the name of the album I listen to the most these days is extremely appropriate: Dirt by Alice in Chains. That Album is as good as it got during the 90s. An absolute classic and SOOO heavy. Love it.

How Long Will This Last?

>> April 8, 2020

>> Blog Post #55

We’ve now been confined for three weeks. I don’t feel as confined as others as I still go out once in a while to shop for food and take a walk in the forest frequently – a little less than my usual 6 days a week, but still almost every other day. I also have a yard that I can sit in and garden and enjoy the warm sunny days we’ve had.

And obviously, we’re healthy, so no complaining on my part whatsoever.

I’ve talked to some of my friends over the phone recently and everyone’s story is basically the same: it’s not that bad, we’re adapting, sometimes we lose it with our kids because they drive us nuts, but all in all it’s fine.

But what I find interesting is the few comments that seem to be fairly common amongst most people. They are:

  • taking the time to reflect on their lives
  • taking the time they have now, to do things they had always wanted to do but never started – I have one friend who’s currently tearing down his car to learn mechanics!!! Insane
  • finding new efficiencies in how they work, day to day – less meetings, less calls, asynchronous teamwork, etc.

So, the question goes further than what possibly crossed your mind when reading the title of this post.

When is the confinement going to end is one thing? But something potentially much deeper is at play. A lot of people seem to be questioning their way of living and seem to be happy to try things differently, probably forming habits along the way. How long are these going to last? Will they be durable? Will they be more beneficial than the old ones? Should we actually hope that we have more time confined to push this exercise, this test to its limits? Are there any limits to how we can adapt?

I for one am just getting started, and I have ways to go.

Stay safe!

Being Grateful For Tomorrow

>> April 7, 2020

>> Blog Post #54

I did a ton today. And yet what I wanted to do and was planned for this day, just never happened. I didn’t have time, no matter how hard I tried, other stuff just came getting in the way.

It was the type of day where you know there are only a couple of hours left until tomorrow and you wonder if you should just get to it, now that everyone else has disappeared or just take it easy, recognize that sometimes it’s better just to pace yourself and accept that there is a tomorrow.

As I was sitting down somewhere private, the thought just occurred to me. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Be thankful there is nothing serious going on and you will just get it done tomorrow. You want to do it. If you did not do it today, it wasn’t for lack of envy. Not everything can be achieved through pure will. Sometimes other things interfere.

Knock it out of the parc tomorrow.

Be thankful for what you have. Not everyone is as fortunate. Anything that is within man’s reach, you can set your eyes on and do it.

Some Freedom Quotes

>> April 6, 2020

>> Blog Post #53

In these times of forced confinement for many, due to the decisions taken by numerous governments around the globe in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few quotes about Liberty.

These quotes are the ones you find at the beginning of the Adventures of Jonathan Gullible by Ken Schooland. (Link to his website). As I am about to read this to my children as I indicated last week, I thought it might actually be worth it to just ponder these great quotes for a second. Isn’t this what it’s all about anyways?

“Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not on the equal freedom of others.”

Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)

“In most of history, societies have not been free. It’s a very rare society that is free. The default condition of human societies is tyranny.”

Michael Dvorak (born 1933)

“The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873)

Making Pizzas – After (session 1)

>> April 2, 2020

>> Blog Post #52

This is a perfect example of what getting sidetracked is like. I wrote the 1st part of this post back on January 24th, thinking the follow up would come within a couple days. Here it is, 2 months later…. That January evening, as I was planning on having the pizza discussion for dinner, I got an important call just before dinner and the discussion with the kids just never happened.

This time, I put my kids to bed after having read to them “Nobody know how to make a Pizza” and discussed it a little bit before kissing them good night. Here are just a few comments about the discussion

I don’t know how other children react to the story, but when I asked them beforehand if they knew how to make a pizza, they all said yes. What was interesting, is that I asked them separately, so they wouldn’t influence each other. Their answer was as expected, they just gave me the recipe, how to mix the various finished ingredients together: dough, tomato sauce, cheese and toppings. I proceeded to ask them if they knew how to make the dough. They said yes, you have to take some flour. Instead of asking them if they knew what else you needed to make dough, I asked them if they knew how to make flour. I believe I did this unconsciously as I wouldn’t have been able to actually know if they were right or wrong had they given me a longer list of ingredients for the dough as I am incapable of making dough myself. Now that I think of it as I am writing, I must make the effort to remember this tomorrow and tell them, just to show them how even parents don’t know everything (just in case they were wondering, which they probably aren’t).

Did they know how to make flour? Yes, they did! Or actually, they didn’t respond that way, they were unanimous in reframing my question and answering with – and I must say the complacent tone was pretty funny – “well you just go to the store and buy it”.

Anyways, we read through the story and they pretty much got the point that there is more to a dish or even a specific ingredient than meets the eye. The story will be helpful in that I will be able later on, to refer back to it and say, “see just like in the pizza story, try to see behind what seems so common”.

But that was it. No economics, no human action, none of that. That didn’t come spontaneously and maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Maybe they’ll ask questions later, or I will try to introduce the discussion again, but the first read was literal and all about pizza.

Originally, I had planned on teaching them some of these basic economic principles by reading The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible to them. I have met the author, Ken Schooland and like the approach a lot. But I opted for a simpler story by going with the pizza first. Maybe it was too literal and too childish after all.

I’ll obviously compare and write about it in the future. Now if anyone has experience with these books or others, please send me ideas or comments below or by email. I’m very much interested in what people have to say about teaching economic principles to children.