Thursday, May 30, 2013


Isagenix update:

Following the Isagenix program continues to be effective. I achieved a new milestone when, according to the National Institutes of Health BMI calculator my BMI is no longer in the 'obese' range but only considered overweight. Tinkering with the values on the BMI calculator, I came to the realization that I'm not really overweight. I'm just under tall. I'd have a normal BMI if I was only 6 inches taller. ;)

I actually passed this milestone last week, but my scale has a tendency to fluctuate from day to day, especially over a holiday weekend, so I waited for 6 confirmations before reporting the news.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cash and Coins
(Bitcoins episode 3)

The image to the left is apparently an actual bitcoin ATM that currently exists in San Diego. If such devices become prolific it may soon be easy for the average person to exchange their cash for bitcoin or vice versa. My first experience with acquiring bitcoin on my own was somewhat more complicated.

Bitcoins are typically bought through a bitcoin exchange. A bitcoin exchange is like a stock exchange. People with bitcoin to sell list their asking price, and people with dollars list the price they are willing to pay. When there is a match on both sides, an exchange is made. I created an account on a U.S. based exchange called Bitfloor. To buy bitcoins I needed to fund my account. There are a variety of ways to get funds into your account, but many of them involve multi-day delays. I was hoping to take advantage of the recent bitcoin price drop and pick up some cheap before the price went back up, so I wanted a more immediate funding solution. I opted to use a service called LocalTill that allows you to deposit cash at any Bank of America location and promises the deposit (minus a service fee) will appear in your Bitfloor account in 30 minutes. It was a little unnerving anonymously depositing cash into an unknown bank account, but by the time I returned from the bank my Bitfloor account was indeed credited with my deposit.

Bitcoin prices were still falling when I decided to place a buy order at about $92, thinking they wouldn't stay under $100 long. My order was filled and I nearly doubled my bitcoin holdings. I could have done better however, as bitcoin prices continued to fall to a low of $50. But within a few days the price bounced back and I was happy with my hasty purchase.

Now that I had a bitcoin exchange account, I started thinking about how I might try buying and selling bitcoin for fun and profit! I'll tell that story in a future post.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


A month ago I decided to once again take action against my ever increasing body weight. Having personally witnessed the successful results some have achieved on the Isagenix system, I elected to give the 30 day plan a try. That consisted of replacing 2 meals a day with an Isagenix meal replacement product combined with 2 days a week of 'cleansing' on which only the Isagenix cleanse product and snacks are consumed. While on the plan adequate water intake is encouraged, and daily doses of Isagenix's Ionix, Accelerator, and Flush products round out the plan. The products are expensive, but probably comparable to other weight loss meal programs like Jenny Craig or Seattle Sutton.

I didn't much care for the taste of the meal replacement drink at first, but grew accustomed to it after a while. The meal replacement bars aren't bad, but the Ionix and Cleanse For Life products can only be described as tolerable. I don't think I've felt as hungry on this program as I have when I've tried restricting calories on my own, but I do still miss late evening snacks.

My results are encouraging. The last time I made a serious weight loss effort, I managed to lose 9 pounds the first month, and 8 pounds the second. After 30 days on the Isagenix program I have released over 18 pounds. I like the term released. I saw it used in another Isagenix success story. Usually if you talk about losing something you are referring to something valuable or useful. "I lost my keys", or "I lost my wallet". You hope to find it and get it back. That's certainly not the case with lost pounds. When you release something you are hoping it will not come back. You release a prisoner or you release a captured animal. It sounds more permanent to release extra pounds.

When I began the Isagenix program I didn't know if I would like it but I said "I can do anything for a month". I don't expect I will stay with the program long term. Eventually I hope to switch over to a more conventional weight management program. But based on my results so far I have decided to give it another month. Look for an update sometime in June.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Please Sir, I Want Some More
(bitcoins episode 2)

In a previous post I said I was thinking about acquiring some additional bitcoin. One way of acquiring bitcoin is through a process metaphorically called mining. Mining means running a computer program that does the work necessary to record bitcoin transactions in an ongoing ledger called the blockchain. As an incentive to do that work, new bitcoins are created and awarded to the one who successfully completes the work and adds a new block to the chain.

The amount of work necessary to add a block is intentionally manipulated by the Bitcoin protocol, such that on average only 6 blocks an hour can be added. If I am the only miner, I will 'solve' 6 blocks an hour and earn all the bitcoin rewards for those blocks. If you decide you'd like some of that booty, you can fire up your own miner. Even though twice as much computer power is now in use, the mining difficulty is automatically adjusted such that only 6 blocks will be found each hour. But the probability is that you will complete 3 and I'll complete 3. That is, until someone else fires up their miner and starts completing some blocks too. It turns out that there are so many miners competing on the bitcoin network that the chances of an individual completing a block are minuscule. Instead, mining pools have been formed where all the pool members contribute some computing power, and share the bitcoin reward proportionately to their contribution.

So I installed a mining program on my computer and joined a mining pool. The pool is a pretty big one so their block finding probability averaged around 1 per hour. However, I was only contributing a small percentage to the pool, so my reward averaged about 0.01 bitcoin per day. The miner runs on the computer's graphics processor which generates quite a bit of heat and consequently causes the cooling fans to run continuously at full speed. The noise was annoying and I had concerns about the continuous heat affecting the life of my graphics card so after about 5 days I decided it wasn't worth it and shut off the miner, earning a little over 52 millys (0.052 BTC). Not exactly increasing my bitcoin holdings at the pace I'd like. Watch for episode 3 to hear about trading cash for bitcoin.

[End of episode 2]

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I recently became interested in bitcoins. Bitcoin is an experimental, decentralized, digital currency. If you have bitcoins you can buy stuff with it. If you don't have any you can trade dollars for it, or you can try prospecting for it. This blog post doesn't intend to explain the how and why of Bitcoin. There are plenty of places on the web to read about it. I'd recommend starting here or here. Rather, I thought I'd share my experiences with it.

I first heard of bitcoins sometime last year, but I didn't give it much thought. Then in March of this year I heard that they were trading for about $40 which was nearly four times what they were worth when I first heard of them. Not even a month later, I learned that they were trading at around $90. This information aroused the interest of the gambler speculator venture capitalist in me. I didn't yet know where to get bitcoins, or how to keep them, but I knew I wanted some.

Fortunately my son is a bit of a bitcoin SME. He has been monitoring them for some time, and is the one who first brought them to my attention. After advising me that Bitcoin was indeed experimental and cautioning me against investing any money that I couldn't afford to lose completely, he agreed to acquire some for me and keep it safe until I learned the ins and outs of bitcoin ownership.

So on April 3rd, I became the owner of 7.78528750 bitcoins. I installed a bitcoin wallet on my computer so I could manage and secure my bitcoins. Bitcoin is like cash in a lot of ways, one of which is that if you don't take care to keep it safe, someone might just take it. I installed the Bitcoin Ticker app on my phone so I could check the value of my bitcoins every day. As I watched the trading price of a bitcoin continue to increase, I started wondering how I could get more. I'll tell you about that in episode 2.

[End of episode 1]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's Alive!

It's been 2 1/2 years since I posted anything here. Maybe I can inject some life, although I can't imagine anyone still checks for updates.