Intrigued by lawn mowers and bitcoins

A few days ago I borrowed a pressure washer from my neighbor to use it on our patio which over the years has aged and lost its original fresh look. Since I had never used a pressure washer, I had to read and follow the instructions carefully. It is always so with a new process; you have to go slowly, but with experience you start to perform the task without thinking.

For example, when my wife Michelle and I built our house, we had to install seven sliding glass doors. Each carton contained dozens of pieces, and apart from the glass panels and a few bolts and screws, none were familiar to us. Therefore, our first effort, from opening the box to putting the door in place, took over two hours. As we recognized some parts, we finished the second in an hour. The third took even less time. On the seventh, we were experts on what went where and how things fit together. It took about 20 minutes. The downside to our experience is that we will probably never install a sliding glass door again.

MORE FROM CHUCK AVERY: Confessions of a UFO Observer

But I was talking about using a pressure washer. After learning to start the machine and control the pressure, I was starting to enjoy cleaning the deck boards when Michelle came out to watch. I said, “It’s fun. Would you like to try it ? “No,” she replied, “I don’t want to learn how to operate new machines. A few days before, she had become frustrated and angry while trying to start our finicky lawn mower. It has several safety functions, and each one must be set exactly correctly, otherwise it will not start – often not even then. Modern conveniences can be extremely complicated.

What reminded me of the pressure washer and riding mower incident was a story I heard on the news. The advertiser was talking about the large amount of electrical energy some companies are using to mine bitcoin. I had read other stories about this “cryptocurrency” and had a vague idea of ​​what it was. I had followed its rise in value from $ 3,000 to $ 33,000 and quadruple its value in one year, but this reporting troubled me. I’ve always thought bitcoin was an “invented” term for an obscure process practiced by investors who like to gamble with lucrative schemes, not something that could be dug out of the ground.

So, I went to the computer and spent a few hours reading about bitcoin – what it is, how it was created, why it is valuable, etc. I’m still not very clear on this, but at least I know what “bitcoin mining” means. It’s not digging in the ground; it’s about using supercomputers to investigate bitcoin transactions. all over the world. The explanations I read got into complex math using something other than a base 10 numbering system, so I quickly got it wrong. I have enough trouble with ordinary math, and I don’t know why a dollar is worth a dollar. I know that diamonds and gold both have utility value – the former has a hard surface, valuable as benchmarks; the latter, very malleable and a good conductor – but i Always thought they were “valuable” only because we say they are. Obviously, the same goes for dollars and / or bitcoin.

In the 1600s, Francis Bacon, a renowned scholar, said: “I consider all knowledge to be my domain. At that time, a person could learn everything there was to know. Today, the average housewife must know more than Bacon. So I understand Michelle’s attitude.

Better than me, bitcoins.

Email Chuck Avery at [email protected]

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