Sep 022017
 

Currently, the rage is “speculative investment” [i.e. gambling] in bitcoins. Mining them, buying/selling them. The “price” has been extremely volatile. In the last year or so it has risen ~800%, once again still compared to the USD.

Had you only got in at the right time…..! And now the mad stampede of the woolly masses gains momentum.

The value of bitcoin? Perhaps as a replacement to cold hard cash or Kruger Rands in the bilge as we sail south? The fundamental problem remains however. You can mine them [getting harder and harder to do], you can hide them [only if you don’t use them]. But, in the current world, there is still an interface in and out into the financial currencies we all need to buy food, fuel, fund daily life. And it’s this interface that governments will watch and tax. And watch very closely they will. And ultimately, even inside the Bitcoin system, your bitcoins and you transactions are, ultimately with a little computing effort it seems, traceable back to you.

The fact that the Bitcoin system takes away central financial control from the ruling elite is a very, very appealing lure to any with even a hint of anarchistic or libetarian thought. But then again, will it really? How likely is it that those with vast financial resources, those that rule the world, have not seen this and are also employing armies of vastly intelligent programmers to further their own agendas?

And then there’s also way, way too much emphasis placed on how transactions are “totally secure” because of the distributed Blockchain. There’s the argument that they are like gold, limited and finite and not inflationary like dollars that can be printed at will. Really? If they are divisable into smaller and smaller units, at will and ad-infinitum? I call BS on that.

Someone, somewhere, is waiting in the shadows, ready to turn on some code and transfer some wealth. You wait and see.

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….here’s an interesting extract from an article from Startupboy.com…..

Silicon Valley knows a platform when it sees it, and is aflame with Bitcoin. Teams of brilliant young programmers, entranced by the opportunity, are working on Exchanges (Payward, Buttercoin, Vaurum), Futures Markets (ICBIT), Hardware Wallets (BitCoinCard, Trezor, etc), Payment Processors (bitpay.com), Banks, Escrow companies, Vaults, Mobile Wallets, Remittance Networks (bitinstant.com), Local Trading networks (localbitcoins.com), and more.

Looming over them is how governments view Bitcoin and the entrenched financial powers it threatens. The last few decades have seen a move towards a cashless society, where every transaction is tracked, reported, and controlled. Bitcoin takes powers from the central actors and returns it to merchants and consumers, savers and borrowers. Bitcoin brings back some pseudonymity in the transactions, and can be irrevocably traded like cash. And finally, it points a way towards a single currency – it is a bug, not a feature, that we have multiple global currencies with exchangers and transaction fees in between.

Governments have been cracking down on the bitcoin exchanges, making it harder to obtain and slowing its development. Strict and expensive Money Transmitter regulations, designed to slow terrorist and child porn financing, threaten the next great technological revolution – never mind that terrorists can use cash just fine, the means of terror are cheap, and that they account for an infinitesimal fraction of global commerce. Regulators in the US and UK would be wise to proceed with a light touch, lest they push the development of Bitcoin and its entrepreneurs to places like Canada, Finland, and the Sino-sphere.

The United States has benefited enormously from being home to the majority of global companies driving the Internet revolution. The country that is the home to the Internet of Money could one day end up as the guardian of the new Reserve Currency and the Global Money Supply.

Feb 182017
 

I sometimes wonder whether everyone in the financial independence blog-o-sphere are not doing a Donald Crowhurst on us all?

Knowing human nature there are sure to be a large percentage of copy-cats blowing their own horns and exaggerating their own importance and achievement.

Even if they are all actually, truly FI, many seem to have adopted a classic flock-like follow-the-leader approach. Just the way they refer to themselves online -> names like Mr Freedom with Mrs Freedom and Junior Freedom tagging along. On the one hand I guess one always wants a little bit of anonymity, but sometimes I honestly feel there is no differentiation or uniqueness at all.

I don’t want to be another of them. Always remember the Wooly Masses Creed: Be on your guard! The flock WILL swallow you up and consume you.

Sitting where I am on the FI-road it’s sometimes quite hard to read all these “wonderful” tales of ‘very successful’ FI’ers who all happily retired from the rat race in their early 30’s and are now all living happily ever after with absolutely no cares in the world.

I don’t doubt that there are many of them out there . I also don’t doubt that it is possible for most (or most) people to achieve regardless of where they live; but lets be honest – America is not South Africa.

Here in Mr Big’s neck of the woods we don’t have the same social safety nets available to the citizens of finely tuned, working 1st world economies (despite all their own numerous challenges and failings). No useful medical aid, no social security, no strong USD, no “move to a cheaper country” if the money runs out. Nope. Over here we really are on our own.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing my hands up in despair and conceding It can never work for me here on the dark continent. All I’m saying is that this is not the USA or Europe . This is Africa and it’s a whole lot different out here.

That said, this is not Zimbabwe yet, so for now it is a free market economy, with some kind of democracy and pretty decent personal freedom. Much of what is suggested by the FI world can be taken on board and made to work here in a similar fashion. (But there does appear to be an opportunity for a South African MMM )

One of the most difficult things for me at present is the knowledge that I didn’t start this FI path much, much sooner. Sure, I’ve always saved, courtesy of my frugal-by-necessity parents, but now that I’m really close to severing these golden handcuffs I’m realising I could already have been free, had I only saved more!

Coupled to this are commitments we have made to C & B. Commitments to pay for their studies even if it means borrowing). I’ve had debt my whole life and while I have a job at least I can deal with it better than they are able. Their prospects of a standard corporate role (especially B) are almost non-existent. Starting out with a quarter of a million in student debt is not something I wish for them. (Perhaps this is our legacy to them?)

So yes, I bitch, I moan, I want out sooner rather than later, but I also want to honour these commitments. We’re fortunate that we can honour them without going upside down on our loans. We have the ability to sell up & settle and that’s more than can be said of many in this modern world.

So for a little while longer we need to remain in this ratty race, running along on the sidelines and under the radar. It’s another four years. We’ve made it this far, we can make it to the finish!

Feb 182017
 

What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

– Sterling Hayden, Wanderer

Nov 092016
 

My weekend has been filled with reading, research and dreaming….about a South Atlantic circuit.

Leaving early December – Cape Town – Luderitz – Walvis – St Helena. Then on to Fernando de Norha, Recife and south down the Brazilian coast. A summer season in the islands of Bahia de Ilha Grande sounds grand and then further south to the Rio del Plata estuary, either Uruguay or Argentina, to refit the boat in preparation for the return voyage back home passing by Tristan on the way. It’s an ambitious plan, one that can be accomplished in 4-5 months but one that is probably more relaxed and enjoyable being done over 2 seasons at least.

A plan worth working towards!

I can’t help thinking I’m getting a little ahead of myself here though.

Let’s just take this one step at a time. Baby steps. For now, to find the time for a circumnavigation of Robben Island, to hang out on the anchor in House Bay – these will be challenge enough.

Jul 032016
 

It’s tempting to forever procrastinate and postpone using the excuse of not being prepared, of not being ready. Often this pretty much boils down to “I haven’t the required kit yet so I must first spend and prepare some more before I can go“. I suppose some folks don’t struggle with this but I certainly find myself having similar thoughts and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this regard.

Take a look at this picture:

Fully kitted landy

The Fully-Kitted Expedition Landy

Now imagine pulling up next to them in the paradise-campsite and hauling out your flimsy 2-man tent while they set-up camp, barely breaking a sweat and sipping ice-cold beers while watching you trying to find the right end of the right tent pole? Their solar-powered fridge delivers up an endless supply of liquid refreshment and their roll-out camp kitchen makes your attempts to cook, eat and clean out of a single-burner, single pot setup feel a little spartan and backward.

Perhaps then we start to narrow down the crux of the problem – our desire to never be uncomfortable, to have all the conveniences of modern life the instant we desire them. We forget that the people in the photo above travel and live out of their mobile Landy-home 365/24/7. They have no home other than this and so it makes sense to rig it as efficiently and as comfortably as possible. The problem arises when some cubicle-hell-slave sees this and, without considering all the sacrifices these folks have made to live their dream, instantly desires to live the life he perceives from the photograph. It sounds cool to have an expedition vehicle, to travel off the beaten track, to watch the sun set over the dusty, isolated western horizon with all the comforts of home and we think to ourselves “If they can have it then I can to. I work so hard in cubicle-hell I damn well deserve to!

And so, Mr Want-It-Now goes into spend mode, maxing out the bank loans to buy and fit out a similar vehicle [even though it will in all probability spend 99% of it’s time on the tarmac doing the daily office commute]. No expense is spared to replicate or even improve on the ultimate adventure vehicle and in turn, long, dark hours are spent servicing the debt all in a vain attempt to replicate this perceived life over the annual 2-week escape period.

I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without all the visual stimulation and marketing that this modern world has subjected us to. Us moderns, we are sorely tempted every time we see another man’s possessions. To be honest, I think this has been part of mankind throughout history, this incessant desire to have more than you need, to be “better” than your neighbour. Perhaps man’s progress as a species would not be what it is if there wasn’t this inherent drive for better, for more? On the other hand, it is exactly this drive that has the planet in crisis, terminally ill with over-consumption and rampant consumerism! On the whole I don’t believe man has found the right balance.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we cannot go now, that we need to plan and prepare [spend?] a little more before we’re ready. We just need this additional widget, this added little bit of training, a few more dollars before we’re ready to set out. It’s very, very easy to never be ready, to always remain an armchair traveler and a dreamer.

While it may be nice to have all the kit on the Expedition Landy, there is no reason why you can’t go with your 2-man tent, a portable single-burner camping stove and the desire to be outdoors. You may not be as comfortable or as efficient as Landy-Guy but the wilderness and the sunset out there is the same one that Landy-Guy spent a lot more than you to see.

Keep preparing to live or just live despite your constraints. Your choice.

May 132016
 

Markus spent some time speaking with an old colleague, one who had spent his career making the climb to the executive suite. Eventually the talk turned to the current management, he of restructuring euphemisms and cost cutting. “A godless man” sighed the old colleague, shrugging his shoulders with tension and totally forgetting his very own godless climb to the top.

Apr 152016
 

Adventure bikes. Once again my brain under the misconception that I don’t “adventure” out because I dont have an “adventure” bike in the stable.

The life one observes out there sometimes seems a lot like that, especially true of me sometimes, but it’s totally bogus. The reason we don’t venture out is because it’s a little bit hard, a little bit uncomfortable. Having some cool (read very expensive) new toys may well propagate an ”adventure” or two in the short term, but once the honeymoon period is over all that normally remains is remorse, bills and clutter.

The ZR7 is not ideal. But then I truly believe all bikes are a compromise, a little like sailboats. There is absolutely no reason I couldn’t do the CT run on the Kawa. No reason at all other than I fear the uncomfortable numbness!

This is a recurring thought pattern in my life, this justifying. Fortunately I’m at a stage where I finally realise the folly of this this pattern. It’s not the adventure bike I’m after but rather the adventure itself. And even then, sometimes I fear it’s not even the adventure that I’m after but rather just on escape from this miserably monotonous daily corporate grind.

The plan just can’t happen soon enough at this stage!

Aug 172015
 

We humans spend our lives striving for things. We pour ourselves into the quest for more freedom, more autonomy and control, more happiness, more connection with friends family and humanity. We strive to bring the world under our influence and control. We read self-development books and blogs. We take business and soft skills training. The list goes on. And it all seems to be mostly in pursuit of a better image. A better LinkedIn profile, more connections, more ‘friends’, so that we can advance our careers and improve our worldly measures of success – our business titles/status and our level of consumer spending. And we really believe all this BS?

It’s all an illusionary deck of cards, a house of straw on sand foundations. All these things we strive are ultimately always out of our reach ands never achievable.

We don’t control our world and never will. As Seth Godin says ‘The only things we really control are our thoughts and our actions’ and the rest is all but an attempt to influence life to be the way we wish.

Freedom is also a nebulous concept. While some are freer than others, there is never true and unrestricted freedom in this world. There are alweays limits, constraints and boundaries no matter who you are who what you earn and spend. Social limits, physical limits, environmental limits and the big boogeyman we all face – time limits.

We strive for happiness ultimately in everything we do, every action we take. Our downfall though is a terminal short-sightedness, an addiction to instant gratification over long term reward. And so we dull our pain in alcohol, drugs, power, spending and more spending and wonder why things never get any better.

It certainly seems the more we strive, the more we crave these things, the less likely we are to actually achieving them.

None of these are likely to be ours if we focus on trying to bend the world to our will. Our circle of influence ultimately remains only ‘the tiny kingdom in our heads’. We can grow our influence but ultimately all that is ours are our thoughts and our actions.

All of these desires could be ours if we would but only understand the ‘illusion of control’.

Aug 102015
 

Someone lying, bleeding and broken on the floor. That’s an emergency.
An out-of-control brush fire threatening the house and the occupants. That’s an emergency.

It’s important to remember that most emergencies are actually not emergencies at all. The whatsapp notification on your smartphone, an eMail arriving in your inbox, a telephone ringing and demanding you drop everything to answer. None of these are emergencies. In all cases the party on the other side of the interruption has ways of leaving a message, knowing you’ll see it and return the call at a convenient time [if it’s important or relevant].

Oh yes, and the plant is standing and we’re loosing five-hundred-gazillion-million a second…..in my world that’s also not an emergency !

It pays to sit back and watch how ‘said emergency’ evolves a little before responding. That pause between stimulus and response often has the perceived emergency dissipate into just another task that needs doing during the normal course of life or business.

If you want to introduce more Tranquility into your life I’d recommend trying it.

Aug 062015
 

We humans spend our lives striving for things.

We pour ourselves into the quest for more freedom, more autonomy, more happiness, more connection with friends family and humanity. We strive to bring the world under our influence and control. We immerse ourselves in self-development books and blogs. We take business and soft skills training. And on and on and on it goes.

It all seems to be mostly in pursuit of a better image. A better LinkedIn profile, more connections, more FB-‘friends’, so that we can advance our careers and improve our worldly measures of success – our business titles/status, our facade of ‘living the good life’ and our level of consumer spending.

And we really believe and buy into all this BS!

It’s all an illusionary deck of cards, a house of straw on sand foundations. All these things we strive for are ultimately always out of our reach and never achievable.

We don’t control our world and never will. As Seth Godin says ‘The only things we really control are our thoughts and our actions’ and the rest is all but an attempt to influence life to be the way we wish. A recipe for disappointment.

Freedom is also a nebulous concept. While some are freer than others, there is never true and unrestricted freedom in this world. There are always limits, constraints and boundaries no matter who you are or what you earn and spend. Social limits, physical limits, environmental limits and the big boogeyman we all face – time limits.

We strive for happiness ultimately in everything we do, every action we take. Our downfall though is a terminal short-sightedness, an addictive prioritisation of instant gratification to the detriment of long term reward. And so we dull our pain in alcohol, drugs, power, spending and more spending and wonder why things never get any better.

It certainly seems the more we strive, the more we crave these things, the less likely we are to actually achieving them.

None of these are likely to be ours if we focus on trying to bend the world to our will. Our circle of influence ultimately remains only ‘the tiny kingdom in our heads’. We can grow our influence but ultimately all that is ours are our thoughts and our actions.

All of these desires could be ours if we would but only understand the ‘illusion of control’.