My son bought Bitcoin for $30 in 2015. Yesterday it was worth $2100.



Today, when the price of one Bitcoin went up to $19,000, I texted my son:

Love+Medicine Bitcoin

 

What is Bitcoin?

It is the world’s most popular digital currency – a form of cryptocurrency, independent and disconnected from banks or governments. There is no middle-man. There is no tangible money that you can hold in your hand. When a purchase is made with bitcoin, it cannot be tracked.

The great and powerful Satoshi Nakamoto is thought to be the mastermind behind Bitcoin. No one has ever seen him. He may not even exist. He may be an individual or a group. Several candidates have been named as possibly Satoshi, but the mystery remains. Elon Musk was one of them but he denied this in a tweet saying “Not true. A friend sent me part of a BTC but I don’t know where it is”. You can purchase only part of bitcoin because it can be divided out to 8 decimal points. 0.00000001 is the smallest division, the penny in the Bitcoin world, which is called a Satoshi in homage to it’s creator.

Initially bitcoin was used mainly to buy illegal drugs. Silk Road was the first modern deep web market. It was an online market for anything imaginable, from apparel to psychedelic drugs to fake drivers’ licenses. I was horrified the first time I saw it- like Ebay for the underworld. Buyers and sellers were protected through Tor software that allowed for anonymous transactions. It is a complex fabric of programs to conceal the identity of the user. Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in 2013 and its founder is in prison.


The value of bitcoin when it was introduced in 2010 was $0.003. The now famous first real-world transaction was made then by buying two pizzas delivered by Papa John’s for 10,000 BTC. Today, many people are choosing to hang on to it as an investment, rather than use it to purchase things. Bitcoin is on the cusp of going mainstream with the Nasdaq and Chicago Mercantile Exchange planning to allow investors to trade with bitcoin. More and more stores are accepting bitcoin currency. And yes it is possible to buy stuff on Amazon using bitcoin! Bitcoin ATMs are popping up all over the world. A bitcoin ATM is an internet machine that allows exchange of bitcoins and cash. Bitcoin withdrawn is deposited into a virtual wallet, an app, like breadwallet. I just downloaded it on my phone from the app store.

Bitcoin reminds me of the first time I encountered the word “fracking”. I kept hearing about it but had no clue what it was. I made a point of plodding through articles about fracking, not a topic that I would naturally be drawn to. I think we need to know what the rest of the world is talking about even if we are spiritual, old, living out in the country or female. People think it’s a guy thing and I might increase my male readership if I write about bitcoin. Women need to know about it – men might screw it up.

Bitcoin intrigued me from the start. I love all that Mossad-esque spy stuff. What we see on the internet is the tip of the iceberg – there are layers and layers below. Only 96% of the internet can be accessed by Google and other traditional search engines . The surface internet is mind-blowing in itself – then to hear there is more?

Most of us never owned bitcoin or may never even have heard of it. This may just be another dot-com bubble. Warren Buffett, in 2014, called bitcoin a “mirage”, and warned investors to “stay away”. What is certain is that this is not the last you will hear of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Now you will know what it is, thanks to Love+Medicine 😎. You never know what you’ll get here.

My advice to my son is to hold on to his Bitcoin and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted…

Hello darkness, my old friend.

I can appreciate the change of season by the end of summer. I am drawn to the orange, brown, maroon tones of fall fashion. I love to climb up on a chair to retrieve the crockpot that has been stored over the summer. Pumpkin, sweet potato and squash replace the tomatoes, zucchini and corn in the basket in the kitchen. Logs are collected and stacked up by the fireplace. The paddle board and outdoor furniture are tucked safely away from the elements. The outdoor shower pipe is shut off, hopefully in time for the first freeze.

This is the time of year when darkness sets in early, before we arrive home from work. The temperature is cold. The predominant color is gray. The decrease in of hours of natural sunlight is dramatic.

All of these external changes effect us internally. Humans and other animals are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment. This is a good thing, we want to be in tune with nature. We need to recognize the changes and adjust.

What happens to our bodies? There is an increase in melatonin and a decrease in serotonin. The melatonin increase causes us to be more sluggish and less energetic. The decrease in serotonin can result in a depressed mood. Even people who love the winter months may experience a wistful sense of the passage of time, a loss of the ease of walking out the door without preparation. Mild sadness or malaise may set in as the body adjusts.

The shift may also cause a more intense change in mood, referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

The primary symptoms are:
Depression
Problems concentrating
Lack of energy
Increase in sleep
Carbohydrate cravings

It is basically major depression, with a seasonal pattern. If this sounds familiar and has happened more than two years in a row, you may have SAD. For some people it is mild and you know you can “ride it out” until spring. For others, get some help.

Light therapy is medically proven to treat SAD. These light boxes act to mimic natural light. The recommended dosage is 10,000 Lux (the same as sunshine) for 30 minutes in the morning. It is important to get a light that blocks damaging UV light, which is known to cause skin cancer. Tanning beds are not helpful for SAD (or for anything else for that matter).

As with most depression, psychotherapy, particularly Cognitive Behavioral therapy is proven to be helpful.

Many clinicians recommend antidepressants in addition to light therapy. I do, only if light therapy alone is not helpful. Medication therapy can start in November and stop in April, if this depression is clearly seasonal. Bupropion is often prescribed for SAD because it counteracts the weight gain and hyper-somnia commonly seen in SAD and has fewer sexual side effects. Consult your personal physician to decide whether medication may be right for you.

There is a known association between Vitamin D deficiency and depression. The current recommendation for adults who do not have regular year round sun exposure should take from 600-800 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Older adults who are confined indoors and other high risk individuals may require larger dosages.

A healthy diet high in Omega 3 has shown to improve mood and a sense of well-being. I do notice I eat much less fish in winter and may need to supplement the Omega 3.

Get outside when the sun is shining! Go for a walk, cross country skiing or ice skating. “Being in it” has helped me – from the warmth of the house it looks nasty out, once I’m outside I never regret it. It might still be nasty but I’m not letting it stop me! Lake Michigan is amazing in winter. As in summer, it is different every day, every hour.

Remember there is no such thing as bad weather- only bad gear! Invest in the right stuff for layering and there is no excuse.

Becoming a snowbird is an option for some – heading south, even for a long weekend, can recharge the system.

For those of us here, embrace the change. Accept that this is a time for turning inwards, for introspection and for quieting the body. I’m actually exploring the option of becoming a morning person (😱). Unheard of! Going to sleep at 8 when it feels like midnight might work for me. It’s good to change it up.

I straddle my time between two very cold Wisconsin cities, Milwaukee and Madison. Maintaining hygge in both homes and in my car is my goal.

My winter regimen is to walk, write, knit, ice skate, make soap, eat curry and soup, take lavender baths, and drink hot toddies and port.

How do you cope with the winter?

Yes, Look Back

In this society, looking back is considered very uncool. We are encouraged to be in the present. The past is seen as an obstacle to moving forward. Reminiscence is considered a nostalgic waste of time.We should be looking ahead at the next new path.

I believe most of us are not looking back enough.

How much do you know about your family history? Maybe you know where your parents were born but what about your grandparents? Your aunts and uncles? Can you picture their family life?

I am going to tell you about an incredible experience. I’m going to talk about a pilgrimage, for lack of a stronger term. This word denotes a journey to a sacred place. Actually it can be a simple exploration of one’s lineage. My brother Steve, sister Rita, and I set out on a true pilgrimage to my dad’s birthplace. Steve, an extremely knowledgable historian/Holocaust researcher prepared the groundwork for us. He had fastidiously mapped out our father’s town to the point of fairly accurately locating his exact house. He outlined the path the family took to the concentration camp. My cousin Richard came along as our guide. His presence was invaluable for his multilingualism, personal experience and high entertainment value.

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What Happens in Vegas Does NOT Stay in Vegas

 

Today I reflect on what happened yesterday in Las Vegas. Nothing else seems relevant. 

What was he thinking? The police say he had no apparent motive.

Was the music too loud? 

Was it because he lost a lot of money gambling? 

Was he hearing voices telling him to shoot himself, meaning that he was psychotic?

As a psychiatrist, there is no way I can figure him out at this point. But what I can do is try to grapple with this tragedy myself.

Do we care about this just because it’s down home American country music fans in our beloved Las Vegas, the epicenter of fun and reckless abandon? Or is it because it breaks the record as our largest mass shooting? 

No. It enrages us because it is no longer an aberration. It has become the norm.

The causes will be investigated, new measures for security to prevent this in the future, blah blah blah. I will leave that for the experts, politicians and the press.

We immediately want to blame someone – ISIS, his mother, his psychiatrist, the gun shop, the hotel security. But that is pointless.

We are all capable of acts of aggression. We need to be aware of that in ourselves. Depression is aggression turned inwards. Should this guy just have been depressed and saved a lot of lives?

When there was a mass shooting of 35 people in Australia in 1996, a massive gun reform action was taken within weeks of the tragedy. There have been less suicides and no mass shootings since. America will never do this – guns are ingrained in our society. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators are male, with their archetypal phallic symbol in hand. The Washington Post reports that agents have not determined if the shooter added mechanical components to a semiautomatic rifle to make it fully automatic…he could have attached a crank that simulates automatic fire, which depresses the trigger faster than the finger and can be purchased online for about $40.

It’s all intellectualization. The fact is that innocent people died. Hundreds are injured, which could mean a lost eye or limb. Thousands will be tragically affected by witnessing what they did last night. Counseling must be started now – immediate psychiatric care has been shown to be crucial in abating symptoms of PTSD. 

While I can write off the shooter as “crazy”, the truth is that mentally ill are more often victims of violence than perpetrators. We will spend months trying to analyze what was going on in his head. 

As a country we should and must grieve for the victims and for us all. The government would like us to stop there. But if too much time passes, people will forget. Nothing will change. I feel there was an undercurrent in the message to the public to respect the deceased and keep quiet. If laws can have an effect on this epidemic of mass shootings, we must do whatever it takes. We must look at a system that works. Let’s ask Australia for advice. 

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