My Relative BitCoin Conundrum

Bitcoin Logo

Bitcoin Logo

For the first time, I have started messing around with BitCoin.  I say “messing around” because my investment in it is pretty small at this point: I own a total of 4.237222btc.  Of course, the moment that I did buy in (even if it was a minimal buy in) the value relative to the USD went down.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a horrible down-turn.  Only about $2USD.  I fully expect to recover that value some day.  And honestly, it wasn’t a purchase that I made purely for trading purposes.  Nor is it immediately for purchasing anything.

No, in fact, it was my first dalliance into the BitCoin market just so I could gain experience with it beyond the fraction of a btc that had been sitting in my person wallet for a couple of months now from contributions (thank you Ryno and Salty).  So far, I would say it has been an okay experience, although I really need to get verified with my exchange of choice so I can do some more with it (like moving the coins to my personal wallet).

The fact is, I am looking to start a project fairly soon, and I am considering making it a BitCoin based project.  But herein lies several parts of the conundrums.  First, I wanted to use BitCoin to get away from banking overhead.  This isn’t just from the standpoint of service charges, but more from a procedural standpoint.  It’s a lot less encumbering to use BitCoin purely from a mathematical standpoint than it is to use other currencies that have additional fees and things that have to be calculated and handled during a transaction.

Plus, I want to do something that is a bit unique.  I want a way to automate some parts of the transaction process that haven’t been done before (to the best of my knowledge), and BitCoin’s purely algorithmic nature fits this need nicely.  (I’m un-willing to diverge the details at this point, but let’s just say that it will make some things a little more difficult on one side, but a lot better on the other side.  So I’m looking at the positives as outweighing the negatives.  I will add, when I develop the code needed for this functionality, I won’t be keeping it locked up.  I fully believe in making code available for many, many reasons.)

So, I have a motive for buying into BitCoin at this point.

The conundrum that I have encountered is this: I want to run this project purely on BitCoin.  This means that I would do everything in BitCoin, from buying services I need to setup and maintain the project, to setting up a virtual storefront. And that’s where the conundrum comes in.

I plan to have vendors providing services or products, which I want to be BitCoin based.  However, the volatility of BitCoin pricing makes it a bit more complicated.  As I noted, I took a $2USD hit immediately after purchasing some BitCoins.  That kind of fluctuation I don’t believe would be an issue for most vendors.  However, some of the really wild swings that we’ve seen in the market (such as the spikes we saw back in April-May), might be cause for concern.  Such market swings could make it really difficult for vendors to reliably value their goods.

The obvious solution would be to pin the pricing of the goods to another currency. And, I have seen stores that do adjust their pricing automatically to match market trading (a really nice feature of those stores, IMO).  However, that is precisely what I want to avoid.  When I say I want this to be BitCoin based, I want it to be purely BitCoin based, and not treat BitCoin as a store of value relative to another currency.

That being the case, my thought is that I would allow the vendors to control the pricing of their products or services.  However, I don’t want to have vendors running into the system all the time to adjust their pricing because of small $1 or $2USD swings in the market. At which point I start thinking that maybe there needs to be some constraints on price adjustments.  Like only allowing a price to be adjusted if the market has shifted X percent since the price was last set.  But, that brings me back to the idea that vendors would be pinning the value of their wares to a currency other than BitCoin.

Another method would be to say that the prices can be adjusted, but only a certain number of times, over a certain period.  (For example, four adjustments over a month, or basically once a week).  But that, I suspect might alienate vendors if there are large market swings that they are unable to adjust for.

The third option would be to do a hybrid of the two ideas above.  Allow X number of adjustments, but allow for additional adjustment based on large market swings.  This would be the most flexible for the vendor, but it would also be the most complicated and difficult to understand. (And really suffers from that currency “pinning” issue I have a serious dislike for.)

A fourth option I just thought of.  Allow for adjustments all the time, and then generating a report that would allow the vendor to see what the current value of their goods or services is in another currency.  Try to use the report to discourage adjusting prices unless there is a major market swing.

I really don’t know which option to go with. But, at this point, it’s kind of putting the cart before the horse since I am still in the planning stages.  This is just one of those finer details that my mind has been obsessed with for a while now.

So, back to my current investment in BitCoin.  It’s definitely not going away anytime soon.  I may start making more active use of BitCoin for making purchases through something like BitCoin Store or one of the other sites (I’ve seen several decent looking retailers). And, there is also the upcoming holidays, so I might use something like Gyft for some holiday presents.

The things I won’t be doing: gambling or going to the Silk Road.  Even though gambling is possible, it’s still illegal here in the United States.  And,  I don’t have any need for a place like Silk Road.  So, with my project idea rolling around in my mind, I don’t need any attention that could be negative.

One way or another, I am trying to become more active in the BitCoin market.  I think it has a lot to offer, as obviously thousands of others thing.  I’ll be investing more soon.

Switching to eCigs / Vaping: Cigarette Withdrawl

By Stefan-Xp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Full Ashtray

In 5 Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms Blamed on Vaping the author lists the five most frequent cigarette withdrawal symptoms.  This article is well written (although the explanation about abdominal pain could be a bit better), and worth a read.  Another good article is in the Ashtray blog: Five Quit Smoking Side Effects: The Essential Guide for New Vapers and Quitters.

Most of the symptoms between the two articles line up pretty well, except for the abdominal pain and the mouth ulcers.  I think the headaches and fainting are the same: they have to do with the oxygen level your brain is receiving.

I have a comment on the mouth ulcers though: I had heard this can come about due to an allergic reaction to something in some eCigs / eJuices.  If this happens to you, I would suggest trying a different eCig or eJuice.

There is an additional comment to be made about these articles.  Sometimes people mistake these withdrawal symptoms as meaning that eCigs / Vaping is something they can’t make the switch to completely.  That is, they think they need to continue smoking for a while to ween themselves off cigarettes.

This shouldn’t be true in most cases.  From personal experience, and talking to others, most people were able to stop smoking cigarettes cold-turkey once they have a good vaping setup. If you find yourself still craving something when you’ve started using eCigarettes or a vaping device, there are a couple of things that might be happening.

(1) You might have the wrong level of nicotine.  eCigs and vaping juice offer a wide variety of nicotine levels: 0mg, 6mg, 12mg, 18mg and 24mg are the most common levels although sometimes you will find minor variants like 11mg.  You want to make certain the amount of nicotine in your eCig / juice matches up with the nicotine level in your favorite cigarettes.  Most Ultra-light cigarettes would be 6mg.  Most Light cigarettes would be 6mg or 12mg, most Mediums are around 12mg, full flavored cigarettes are typically 18mg – 24mg.  Note: some places may offer higher concentrations of nicotine.  I don’t recommend using them.  Typically anything above 24mg is getting into the danger level.  Remember, nicotine is a poison and at higher concentrations can be much worse for you – even going as far as causing a heart attack.

(2) There may be something else in cigarettes that are causing your withdrawal symptoms.  Lord knows with the revelations of all the things that the cigarette companies have done when processing tobacco I don’t think we know everything that was or is in them, nor will we ever know for certain.  The fact is, though, that eventually you will need to deal with the symptoms if you want to stop smoking.  Unfortunately the only thing to do is go at it cold-turkey since the likelihood of finding a better way to handle it isn’t likely.

Now, in this case, you might try weening yourself off cigarettes.  However, in my completely non-expert, non-scientific opinion I wouldn’t.  Eventually you will have to deal with the affects of the withdrawal, so it is best to face it head on and get it over with.

Finally, for what it’s worth, I would recommend making the switch to Vaping / eCigs over a long weekend, or holiday break.  I think I mentioned that I originally switched to eCigs over a President’s Day weekend.  One of the reasons I chose to try eCigs that weekend was that it was a three-day weekend for us, so I knew I’d have an extra day and could find out the side effects, if there were any.  I’d recommend that approach to anyone trying this – especially a weekend they don’t have any special plans.

And that’s all I have to say for now…but surely I’ll think of something else to write about another time.

The eCig (Vaping) vs Analog (Tobacco) Cigarettes Experiment

I mentioned a few days ago that I tried an experiment recently regarding eCigs / Vaping versus tobacco (analog) cigarettes. Now, please realize this was a totally non-scientific experiment.  I will say it again: this was a totally non-scientific experiment.  If anything, I just wanted to satisfy my curiosity about something, and I had the opportunity while I was on vacation.

Here’s a quick word about the setup: when I went on vacation, I booked a smoking room at a hotel.  Why?  Because, I wasn’t certain what the policies / ordinances regarding the Vaping were in the city where I was staying, and I didn’t want to have to go outside to Vape, if possible.  (And, as far as I have determined, there are no ordinances regarding vaping yet in that particular city.  I was able to Vape in stores, restaurants, etc. without anyone telling me that I couldn’t.)

So, since I had a smoking room at the hotel, I decided to try analog cigarettes again.  But, in a limited way: I only smoked in the evenings in the hotel room, at a lower rate than I used to smoke (I used to smoke a pack a day, this pack took me over 3 days to smoke).

Now, also for this experiment, I didn’t go to the exact cigarettes I used to smoke.  Why?  Well, since I have started Vaping, I have actually cut my nicotine level in half.  I used to smoke full-flavored cigarettes, which had somewhere around 18-24mg of nicotine.  My current fluid(s) have 11-12mg of nicotine.

NAS Light

NAS Light

Now, before I made the switch to vaping, I was smoking about a pack a day of Natural American Spirit organic cigarettes.  The medium / strong variety were my regulars.  So this time I went with the lights to match the nicotine level.

Now, as I mentioned above: I only smoked in the hotel room in the evenings.  I didn’t want to have any of my friends thinking that I was smoking again, so I would only smoke when I wasn’t around them, and was certain I could take a shower before going out to meet up with them during the day.  During the day I vaped exclusively. (And, to satisfy curiosity: my regular vape is MadVapes Mad4, 11mg nicotine in a ProTank on a SiD.)

Also, from being a pack a day smoker, I reduced my level of smoking: it took me over three evenings to finish the pack.  I was typically in my hotel room for 4-5 hours a night, smoking about 6 cigarettes an evening.  So a little more than one cigarette an hour.  Given that I used to smoke at least a pack a day (ie, 20+ cigarettes in 15-16 hours), the rates weren’t all that much different.  Except that I wasn’t doing it constantly like I used to.

So, the result was this: on the fourth day I was having difficulty breathing, had a hacking cough a bit, and my lungs were sore.  Yes, that one pack was all it took for all my old smoking problems to come back…  And it was something that I wasn’t happy about at all. And, if that wasn’t bad enough: it took me two days to completely recover from the negative effects of one pack of cigarettes.

Another consequence of my experiment: I realized that all the clothing that I had worn reaked of cigarette smoke.  I typically put all my “dirty” clothes in their own drawer when I went to bed at night.  On the second night, I noticed that the smoke smell had permeated all the clothing in the “dirty” clothes drawer.

It only got worse with the clothes…  I laid them out next to an open window at night, hoping to air some of them out so I could re-wear them later in the trip.  But that wasn’t to be the case, even after sitting for 12 hours or so, they still had the smoke smell to them.  I actually considered using the hotel washing machine to clean them, but decided against it.  Instead, when I came home from my trip, I put all the clothes into the washing machine immediately.  I didn’t even un-pack the clean clothes first.  The whole travel bag went straight into the laundry room, was sorted and washed.

Okay, so as I said, this was hardly a scientific experiment.  But it did prove to me that I never want to go back to analog cigarettes.  In fact, I used to smoke the occasional analog cigarette when I was out with friends.  No more.  I don’t even want to think about possibly having the side affects of an analog cigarette again…  And while I wouldn’t smoke a whole pack with friends at the bar, I don’t want to expose myself to the temptation of smoking again.

 

I will have another vaping experiment coming up soon: I’m going to try some different liquids in my SiD that I haven’t vaped in over a year.  It’s kind of an important experiment for me for  two reasons (a) I’ve not tried the fluid in any devices I’ve used since before I switched to an eGO style device, and (b) the company that makes this fluid does something that I’ve not seen any other fluid doing — which I will talk about when I write-up the results of my experiment.