April 5, 2013

For the last few weeks, a few friends and I have been charting the rise of Bitcoin, an online decentralized currency that provides anonymity and a certain degree of security. Many people I know have been skeptical of it, not just from concern as to its financial sense but as to the technical details supporting ‘online cash’.

As priceonomics puts it:

Bitcoin is an elegant solution to a difficult technical problem. But that won’t move millions of people to adopt a new form of money. Bitcoin has three advantages capable of driving its adoption. It decentralizes trust and reduces the control of governments and banks over the money supply; it offers anonymity and freedom from censorship over individuals’ use of their money; and it reduces the fees on online purchases and transfers of money.


I high suggest reading this article as it puts forth in a simple, non technical way, the mechanics behind bitcoin and an analysis of its future viability. Really a must read for anyone interested in technology and society.



Monday/Tuesday – Day 155/156

January 4, 2013

Monday! NYE! My plans for today mostly involved catching up with friends and then seeing what it lead to. First step was to meet Ariel for lunch and then a walk around Times Square. By this point the area was already packed. Security guards and police stood around slowly closing off streets for the purposes of crowd control, allowing only people already in the areas to stay inside.

At some point in the afternoon, the main zone around 42nd street was closed off, just as Ariel and I were trying to get in. In our attempts to subvert the security we bought tickets to see ‘Jack Reacher’ at a theatre inside the closed off zone and were let through.

The movie was terrible. Particularly after reading the book. Recommend against seeing it. However, it was nice to be in the area after and at least get a look at the madness happening.

After that we attempted to meet up with Rigel, Paul M and a friend of Ariel’s (Anna). After much difficulty and around half an hour of walking we managed to find each other on the west side of Times Square. From there we realized we were all starving and started walking aimlessly in search of food. Being reasonably late on NYE, nothing was open and so we ended up tracing circles. After no further progress was made, we decided to head to Paul’s place in Manhattan, around which he knew a number of places to eat. On our way we did see the famous NYE ball that was too be lowered to usher in 2013 and were all shocked at quite how small it was!

Arriving at 86th Street, we decided to go into a diner that Paul knew would be open, where I had a bagel with cream cheese and lox, coupled with a vanilla milkshake. A good NYC speciality. After hanging out there for a while and tipping generously we went to Paul’s apartment to finish off the celebrations with a good bottle of single malt scotch and a visit from Nikki, Rigel’s girlfriend.

The New Year was certainly spent well in such good company and it was one of the most enjoyable I have in memory.

Tuesday, the next day, was something of a recovery day. All my plans fell through due to circumstances outside my control so I ended up staying in most of the day and reading a few more books. Not a bad way to spend the last proper day of my holiday. I was however, eagerly looking forward to resuming my time at Penn where I felt comfortable and more in control of my circumstances. Besides, there were friends I had been missing and of course, rehearsals by the day-load.

Switzerland – Day One

July 19, 2012

Flying Etihad ended up being quite lovely! Great staff and a huge range of entertainment options. As we drew close to landing, I took in the beautiful sight of the alps and Lake Geneva. I was stunned at how physically beautiful the landscape was!

Landing in Geneva was a simple process with passport control taking no more than a few seconds. Their visa on arrival process is very liberal.

On exiting passport control I shaved in the airport and cleaned up a bit, feeling very yucky after flying for so long and, then proceeded to baggage collection.

At this point I started to get a bit disoriented and after collecting my baggage, had a rather long appointment in the ticket office to convert some money, buy a ticket from Geneva to Zurich and, attempt to purchase a 20CHF prepaid SIM card.

Eventually I got to the train and boarded, trying to sort out all my paperwork. I spent a good ten minutes trying to replace the SIM card in my phone which wouldn’t come out and finally when it did so, my phone wouldn’t connect to any network! I needed to call my dear friend Eva to let her when to come pick me up from Zurich HB, the central station where I was heading. In desparation I asked a woman and her daughter in the next row ‘parlez-vous anglaise?’ to which the answer was a resounding no. It was at this point that I became very grateful for high school french and proceeded over the next minute to attempt phrasing my request, which I did so in very broken french.

Over the next then minutes we attempted to call Eva, who’s number I had apparently taken down incorrectly. Finally they realized I was using the wrong dialling code and I got through to her and I sighed in relief.

I sat back down in my seat and ate a piece of dairy milk. Wanting to give my thanks to the two, I offered them some and ended up getting caught up in an hour and a half long conversation during which my french improved immensely.

Two hours later, after much gazing out the window at the countryside, I arrived into Eva’s warm embrace. We then spent the afternoon in Kusnacht, her town, walking along the edges of Lake Zurich. Amazingly I managed to avoid the bulk of jet lag and slept soundly in a comfortable bed at her place surrounded by swiss chocolate.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney