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2019 – If You Know the Way Broadly

December 31st, 2019

“If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything.”

― Miyamoto Musashi

For the past decade I’ve undertaking this exercise of recapping my favorite things in this particular end of the year blog post. I’m pretty sure nobody reads it and honestly that’s fine. The reason I do this is completely selfish. It forces, or more accurately, gives me the opportunity to really sit down and write the things I’ve been thinking all year long, that I usually don’t think are important enough to take time out of the day to put aside and capture. At the end of the year, when I finally do sit down and write, I realize just how important it is.

2019 is the end of a decade, which to some people means that this particular end of the year has greater currency. As I’ve become a walking cliche in my old age, I disagree. It’s just another year, just another day.

My career has been the source of existential angst for me ever since 2017 when we found out my wife was pregnant and my son was born. I looked at the people around me, what they valued, how they raised their kids and it forced me to look at what kind of father I want to be. Having a corporate 9-5 job that requires commuting 3 hours/day does not coincide with that vision. I fully intend to be more available for my son and to be around to teach him and be a significant participant in his life.

Why is that important? For me, 2019 has been an old school Catholic school nun who joyfully used severity to teach me the lessons I needed to learn this year. I almost blew it up, everything that I said I held valuable. Almost lost it all due to arrogance and selfishness. But, as that brutal nun would also preach, God (Satan, Ullr, diety de grace) has mercy, or a plan. I don’t really know why I’ve been so lucky/blessed but at my advance age here, it’s making me really feel like this bullshit 9-5 existence that has been served up to us as “normal” is complete bullshit and that I need to forge my own path.

If I fail, at least I tasted freedom. Knowing me, that taste will be enough to keep me from ever going back.

Bitcoin

Reading last year’s recap, I included that the price of Bitcoin was $3600 as I wrote. Well, as I write this now, Bitcoin is around $7200, which if my math is correct, is double. If I hadn’t checked the price of Bitcoin since 12/31/18, I would be super-psyched. Wow, it’s back, it doubled over the year!

The problem is, I’ve checked the price over 10,000 times (about 30x per day, not even joking) and have seen it go to around $13k this past summer (right around my birthday!!). That said, it’s about half of where it was there, or 4x where it was at it’s low in December 2018. There might be some sort of golden ratio or fibonacci sequence in there as to why or how, but I’m not advanced enough in TA or pattern recognition to find it.

Is Bitcoin dead or a viagraed up rager? I still believe the latter. As someone who passed the CFA this year (well, intro CFA certification), I have some additional knowledge that has assisted in my tea leaf reading. One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned in 2019 is that most people and practically all politicians and media are completely full of shit. During the Libra hearing before congress, you got to witness some of the most blatant arrogant and pathetic grandstanding I’ve ever seen. I loathe Facebook and would never want to live in a world where a company like Facebook controlled our money, but even I felt bad for David Marcus dealing with those bought-and-sold leeches in congress.

I believe in Bitcoin and will continue to believe until the governments and banks of the world become honest and completely transparent in their actions…so pretty much until the end of time.

AWARDS

Mix of the Year

Boris Brejcha – Cercle

There’s a part around 39:30 where the track switches to an extended intro to his song “Faded Gravity” and the beat is a perfect injection of adrenaline. Yes, he has used this set-up in all of this mixes over the past 3 years, but there’s a reason why…it’s perfect! I’ve listened to this mix writing, coding, designing, running, working out and every single time I hear that part, it pumps me up to be better at what I’m doing. I’m actually listening to it right now and needed to write this so I could accurately describe it.

Album of the Year

Chemical Brothers – No Geography

In our current streaming, Spotify playlist world is the album dead? People who are way smarter than me have tried to answer this question, probably even writing phD thesis on the topic, so I’ll let those folks handle it. I know my listening habits have changed a bit over the past few years. Mostly due to lack of time, so I’ve leaned on experts and tastemakers that I trust to curate music for me, so I don’t have to do so much searching. Also, (here we go) becoming a parent my coolness has plummeted and a big part of that for me has been limiting the amount of new music I’ve been able to discover.

The two places that I use for my music discovery are KEXP and BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. Pretty different that’s for sure, but if you know me and the music I like, that meaty union area of the venn diagram where these two converge is my sweet spot. This year’s band falls right into said sweet spot. There you go, my old man answer – The Chemical Brothers.

They’ve found a way to keep themselves evolving a relevant for almost 25 years now. This album is no different. Songs like “Free Yourself” and “Gravity Drops” both sound a bit like old school Chemical Brothers while still feeling new and fresh. The only song I don’t dig is the last one is “Catch Me I’m Falling.” It’s ok, but I could do without it, not that anyone is really asking.

Song of the Year

Tame Impala – It Might Be Time

2019 was supposed to be the year we got a new Tame Impala album. This has been delayed until Valentine’s Day 2020 (awwwww), but we have heard a few singles. Hearing the first few notes of “It Might Be Time” I knew it was a Tame Impala track and that I was going to love it. Then I started really listening closely to the lyrics. It was as if this song was written for me at this exact time.

It might be time to face it
It ain’t as fun as it used to be, no
You’re goin’ under
You ain’t as young as you used to be
It might be time to face it
You ain’t as cool as you used to be, no
You won’t recover
You ain’t as young as you used to be
It might be time to face it

Yeah, exactly. I used to be upset about losing my coolness, which is what usually happens (and should) when you become a parent. All of the things that seemed super important and valuable when you’re young and single like boozing it up, getting shit-faced, sleeping until noon, getting brunch hungover at 2:00pm, knowing the coolest indie film house that holds 12 people, fashion, etc. All that crap is just masteurbatory filler until you become a parent. Coolness isn’t the currency that I need to measure myself by anymore, it’s usefulness, particularly to my son.

(Jesus, Brian, it’s just an indie-pop song, settle down with finding the meaning of life in it).

Book of the Year

Bitcoin Billionaires – Ben Mezrich

Bitcoin Billionaires - Ben Mezrich

As I mentioned earlier, I hate Facebook. The author of this book was also the author of “The Social Network” about Mark Zuckerberg, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and the founding of Facebook at Harvard. I didn’t read the book, but watched the overly dramatized film by Aaron Sorkin. I recall after watching it thinking that Winklevoss twins were entitled assholes and was happy the “underdog” won.

Sometimes we need to time to pass to give true perspective to situations and this situation is one of those. Interestingly enough, that’s the exact reason why the author felt compelled to write this book.

In this book, Mezrich starts out with he mediation between the Winklevoss twins and Zuckerberg. If you’re on the fence about how you feel about Zuckerberg and Facebook, this book will do a compelling job pushing you into the “Fuck Facebook and Zuckerberg” camp (as it should…you’re willingly giving them all your data and personal information for free, you goddamn sheep).

I’ve read and listened to podcasts with Charlie Shrem and knew a little bit about how he and BitInstant helped get the Winklevoss’ into Bitcoin, but to hear the whole story and also read about the Winklevoss’ family and upbringing you realize they are a product of hard work and dediction, not luck. It’s easy for people to look at tall, good looking men of Harvard and instantly form an unfair opinion and assume they were just handed everything they have. This book shows the stuggles they endured, the hard work they put in and the calculated risks they took in becoming successful.

Perhaps I’m the wrong person to give an objective opinion on this book, because as you’ve already read, I’m a huge proponent of Bitcoin and financial freedom. That said, I don’t love what the Winklevoss’ and Gemini are trying to do, but I view it as a necessary step to validation of Bitcoin as a legitimate investment and having them on “our” side will be important.

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