I’ve been interested in Bitcoin for a few years now and started investing in small quantities a couple of years back. Literally every time there’s a big price rise I start getting the fear that it’s a bubble and am tempted to sell out. Then there’s the other part of me that wonders if this is like my first experience of the internet in 1997, and whether it will continue to grow in that manner. The internet is really quite difficult to avoid now in the UK.
Fiat currency is inflationary i.e. as much as is needed (and probably more…) will be created by your government and it’s subsidiaries (the banks in the UK), which means that if you save in fiat, a fixed amount will likely become worth less over time due to the effects of inflation. Now Bitcoin is a different fish; only 21 million can ever be created, which effectively means it is deflationary. Buying a deflationary asset with an inflationary one will automatically mean that the deflationary one will go up in price, when measured in the inflationary one. It’s just maths.
The problem with this is that humans do the valuing, and they are quite emotional. Hence bubbles happen. They don’t only happen because of emotion though, they can occur as a result of legislation or politics or numerous other things. Compare the current UK housing bubble caused by cheap debt and lax rules on buy-to-let.
Much as I want to believe Bitcoin is the new saviour, I don’t feel it is, hence I’m keeping a close on eye on things and taking profits as and when I see fit. Whilst the meme says HODL, I’m trying to take a bigger picture view on the off-chance that the forthcoming cryptopia™ doesn’t happen. The fact that Bitcoin is deflationary suggests to me that it won’t perform as a currency, even with Lightning Network in place. For example, I tried to make a Bitcoin transfer earlier and suggested transfer fees were thirty quid. For future reference, a can of decent lager is around a quid in the shops in the UK. Fuck that I thought. Bitcoin may function as a digital version of gold, but there will an alternative currency that wins out as the day-to-day use one.
So what would I look for? Almost instant (5 seconds?), increased every year in proportion to the global population by some measure that is difficult to game [difficult one] and insanely cheap to send (free?)
I’m not really up on everything out there, so this may already exist (tell me!), but
Now most of you will have hopefully heard of the Space Pen. It’s not the pen itself that is special here, but the refill. The Space Pen refill is sealed against atmospheric pressure and pressurised with nitrogen gas so the ink will still keep flowing even if it used underwater or upside down. There’s a joke [I assume!] that NASA spent a million pounds developing the Space Pen in an attempt to find something that would write in space, and the Russians used pencils… Many years back I purchased a retractable Space Pen in black anodised aluminium, and even though it lived at the bottom of my work bag it still looks in remarkably good condition to this day. I never used it much though as I wasn’t keen on losing it. Also, it was a little slippery to use with dirty hands so not ideal in a work environment. No photo as it’s a an old work bag somewhere… A couple of years back I bought a Pilot Down Force pen in yellow, as it was advertised as having a pressurised refill, made of ABS to resist destruction by construction worker types, and was cheap to boot. I was confused by the fact the refills were no different to some of the other Pilot pen refills, so was sceptical about the pressurised claim. I like the Down Force as it suits my job use, being indestructible and write-anywhere. It is however, somewhat ugly, and I am not confident of the clip strength. I’ve not had a problem with it, but there’s always that nagging doubt. It did write quite nicely however. I recently discovered another little pressurised pen called the Tombow Airpress. Reading further, it turns out this does not take pressurised refills either, but Tombow actually bother to fill in the blanks with the crucial info. When you click the pen out to write, it pressurises the normal refill! Absolute genius! Had to get myself one of these.So this amazing idea, why has nobody else thought of it? Turns out, this is exactly what the Down Force does too, they just don’t bother to advertise the fact.
So, the Airpress. Nice in the hand, writes well too and actually feels more sturdy overall (when you take the clip into consideration) than the Pilot. It’s small size encourages me to carry it more, and use it more. Never really did that with the Pilot Down Force, but this one has spent nearly a week on me at all times. This is very unusual for me, but I am carrying and using it. Was only £3.59 from eBay so if I lose it I will be buying another immediately.
I remember when I was a child of about 6 or 7 years old, seeing the coolest car EVER when someone’s mum picked them up from school. Beautiful shape, convertible and pop-up headlights (no jokes about the mother…) For years this memory was lost until a few years ago my thoughts turned to the fact that a second car would be incredibly useful to my girlfriend (now wife) and me. Looking around at all kinds of cars, some from a practical point of view, some for fantasy reasons, I spotted THAT car again. Turns out it was a Mazda MX-5, and there had been a couple of updates since I noticed my first. Still just as attractive to me nearly 30 years later, I read lots about it but dismissed it as impractical and likely too expensive. Other cars, even old bangers, were also expensive. Insurance for someone with no no-claims discount built up was extraordinary, even in their mid 30s. I just couldn’t decide. It was it this point my wife suggested I just get the MX-5 as that was what I really wanted, so I researched the price of insurance. I was ecstatic to find that on classic car insurance it would be about a THIRD of the price of that on your bog standard runabout. The hunt was on.
Less than a week later I found one in the spec I was looking for, checked it out, and I proceeded to buy my first car at the age of 32. For three years this was our fun car. It only seated us and was just amazing fun to drive. I was so proud of it and it signified something special between us. I don’t think it’s coincidence we ended up married!
Towards the end of this three year period it needed more maintenance and we were using it far less. Part of the reason was I had discovered motorbikes (there will surely be a post about bikes at some point!) The cost to benefit was getting too great but we thought we needed two cars. Two cars. And a motorbike. When we live by a railway station. I was so sad, but I didn’t want to resent what it was costing me. It had to go.
After a couple of false starts I managed to sell it to the first buyer for a price I was happy with. The chap seemed as enthusiastic about it as I was, so I was pleased it was going to a good home. I’ve since seen it being used in the good weather and they still look pleased!
The upshot is I had a great experience owning it but realising when to let it go was a valuable experience, and I have now cut out a drain on my income that can be going towards my savings.
As I stopped being bothered with the gym a couple of years back I’ve steadily been getting more unfit and what my wife loves to call my ‘foodbag’ (h/t The Simpsons) has been growing. For a number of irritating reasons, I’m not currently using my motorbike so I’ve been catching the train to work with relative regularity. At £3.70 return a day this soon adds up – if I did this every working day that would be nearly £800 a year! To alleviate both these problems I had considered getting a pushbike but this would require either an initial outlay that would make my wallet cringe, or signing up to 18 months of wage deductions if I purchased it through the Cycle-To-Work Scheme that my employer runs.
I’d looked at how far it might be to walk and how long that might take; Google Maps said an hour. Considering I need to leave the house at about 8am to catch the train, I wouldn’t actually have to get up any earlier to arrive at work on time if I walked. I’d put it off time and time again as the thought of that much exercise before a whole day’s work (then the same to get home) filled me with anticipation of aching, exhaustion and general displeasure.
I don’t sleep well and today was no exception as I woke up an hour and a half before my alarm, but for some reason I had the urge to try the walk in this morning. Leaving the house at just before 8am, I started striding away in my normal manner. Within 200m or so, I slowed down as I realised I had plenty of time!
It was a sensually enjoyable experience: I smelt the flowers as I walked past people’s gardens, I had time to look at what was going on and unfortunately, I felt the spray of light rain on my skin. But it was only light rain and I have arrived at work as dry as I would have done if using the train. The journey takes me past several local parks so it’s not particularly grim visually either. I did feel slightly smug as I walked past people waiting at bus stops; one in particular had a man wearing actual hiking boots, waiting to catch the bus less than a mile into town!
There are some who argue that I’m wasting these two hours a day by walking but it’s a much more enjoyable experience than wasting that time sat in railway station with other commuters. It also allowed some time for reflection which I feel I’m sorely lacking recently. I’m not tired or aching from walking and in truth, I really enjoyed it. Whether I still feel the same once I get home remains to be seen…
Or for now! It’s all well and good having plans for the future but they will always stay in the future if you never start them. I know everyone’s busy but there’s ALWAYS a few minutes spare somewhere. Rather than wishing you can do something and enjoying the idea, just do it. The reality will likely be much better, or you can move onto your next exciting idea.
So, in an effort to motivate myself, I’m going to list things here that I want to have done before I die. Having the list to look back at regularly will hopefully give me a little push towards doing some of these things. This list will be updated when it needs to be!
- Retire early. Multiple ways of going about this, but at the moment I’m trying to invest a reasonable chunk of my income into the stock market. It’s something I’m interested in so this is currently being worked towards. There will likely be a post to expand on this at some point.
- Learn a musical instrument. My wife bought me a guitar for Christmas so this has started, albeit slowly.
- Become fluent in another language. Spanish is currently top of the list, though anything that I might find useful will do. Others that might are Chinese, Arabic and Welsh.
- Make and release a film. (Or movie to those not speaking British English.) My wife has an idea for a film, and I’d like to make this happen for her. Other possibilities of personal creative outlet are: release a single that charts and write a book that sells.
- Go hang-gliding. Looks exhilarating.
- Build something out of bricks. Anything from a barbecue, to a wall, to a garage/mancave. I also want to build my own fireplace in our lounge that actually works well and looks good.
- Learn to code. (added 3 Nov 2016) I’ve always wanted to be able to write software and have made half-hearted attempts in the past. I think this would be enjoyable, and another potential income source.