Saturday, January 15, 2022

Metaverse Blockchain Cryptocurrency Decentralization an outsiders opinion


The new year may be bringing some bit of sanity to the hype around blockchain, crypto, NFTs and decentralization. Over the past few weeks I have begun to see articles that actually pay attention to the limitations and concerns with the current state of the technologies.
What I am waiting to see are serious articles about key concepts claimed to be new but aren't, and have been dealt with realistically since the late 70's but seem to be ignored, or at least glossed over today.
There is a lot of maturity needed in the space as well as tamping down of the hype and definitions of terms such as Web 3.0 and what it "has" to be and "will include".

For the active and more knowledgeable who live these spaces a couple of statements from an outsider:

Metaverse - It doesn't exist, at least not as proclaimed in the media and articles. Virtual worlds have been around for decades, visit them, review them, look at the pros and cons, the technical hurdles. A single worldwide, standardized built on decentralized, anonymous free for all Metaverse won't exist in your lifetime. The technical, political, social, economical, logistical issues cannot be wished away. We will see corporate startups because they have the funds to invest, we will see the elite/rich pooling money creating little standalone Verses, then will come Verses that adhere to some agreed upon standards by committees created to manage these standards. Verses will connect and assets will be transferable, exchangeable, but a single worldwide agreed upon, efficient living Metaverse, maybe only in my youngest grandchilds lifetime.

Blockchain - Folks it isn't new, 1991 and it had nothing to do with virtual currency. It is a digital ledger that cannot be changed. Basically an unalterable list entry with a hash and a link to a digitized object with a matching hash. The use case was real, but technology limitations and costs would see most solutions going with databases and linked file systems.

Security - Any multi node solution, especially an anonymous decentralized environment has exponentially greater security issues which become impossible to foresee. With layering to help efficiency you introduce additional risks, additional trust points. This has been true since the beginning of computing and will continue to be true as complexity increases.

Cryptocurrencies - Money has always been heading toward virtualization. We have had it since I was a kid in bank to bank transactions. Any crytpo system will become obsolete rapidly. Any system that gains traction will gain large criminal elements if it is anonymous. As value grows and criminality grows so will governmental oversight. The idealist will say "we will avoid or ignore it", the pragmatic will say, "this is a fact of existence and we will have to work with governments", the rest will go rogue.

Decentralization - As defined today by the faithful it is the solution to all the problems that plague the world. This definition is a feel good misdirection that helps no one except the emotional elite in the space pretending to be the protector of the downtrodden. Stop with the zealotry and look at the real technical and logistical issues. Businesses have used centralized, distributed and decentralized solutions for 50 or more years. Folks your solution has to run on networks, hardware, software none of which are free. Anonymous users with PC's don't build nationwide or worldwide networks. Referring back to security. You can't rely on cryptography as your be all security. Decentralization is inefficient, costly in so many ways. There are use cases but don't force the use cases to fit an idealistic vision of what the future "has" to be.

NFT's - Folks you must admit publicly that an NFT is a row in a blockchain list that has some data and a hash. The actual object, physical, virtual, does not and cannot reside on the blockchain unless it is a tiny small (in bytes) item. Immediately this creates a large number of issues, security, trust, updating and long term management issues. Backup copies of the item must be maintained if it has any value. In the past 40+ years this has come to be known as Content Management systems. On paper it is easy, in real life it is difficult. In a fully decentralized environment the errors, issues, linkages, synchronization and protection becomes a nightmare. Take the time to study this 40 years of valuable history. You will run into the same concerns. A good place to start might be the digitization of healthcare data. Review studies, management, costs, how you locate objects and ensure secure tracking of the physical object. Do you want your healthcare data on thousands of encrypted anonymous servers all over the world???

We are in a time of rapid transition, many things are changing, people, technology, capabilities. If you love this space stop reading the hype articles, patting yourself on the back and saying "yeah". Push back on these articles, respond to the authors and demand real answers to real concerns. Grow beyond the speculators who have million/billions to invest and lose.

As I close this out I will repeat, I see some movement in the direction of sanity, but I believe it is because people are noticing the hacks, the thefts, the inefficiencies. Maybe these issues are required for growth. An infant doesn't become a toddler without some falling down pain.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

End of 2019 and the Holidays

It is almost 2020. 
Completed prepping the house for listing.  Thank you Kim and Howard!  You both have been magnificent with your time and help.
Most items are stored away.  5900 square feet of almost empty space.  WOW.
Now that leaves have finished falling I will need to spread fresh pinestraw in the islands to complete the yard look.
The holidays were not as bad as last year.  I knew there would be times and there were, where things just got to me but nothing like 2018.  Joan has been gone now 18 months.
Slowly memories of her bring more smiles than sadness.  Sometimes surprise as I think back to the fact that she put up with me for nearly 40 years.
This year with Austin and Cameryns assistance I made the banana pudding and yes in the Green Bowl.  The Green Bowl that was my grandmothers, then my mothers, then mine.  This Christmas I gave it to my daughter who values it greatly.  My son gets his mothers high chair from when she was a baby.
Much of my home through the downsizing I can see (especially Christmas decorations) at their homes.  I can see parts of my life with Joan in them.
The plan for this house is the same as my last post.  It is listed, I will remain here until I sell it.  Then I will borrow a bedroom from my son while I seek my next house.
Life is different, not a change I wanted or expected.  It is something to which I must adapt.

My goal this year is to put a full time focus on my chosen career.  Which way it will take me is unknown.  Joan and I talked many times about what we wanted for each other when one of us passed.  I have checked many of the things off the list, the longer terms things are in how I will adapt, what she wanted for me.  I know when it is my turn I will see her again, her and all those who went before me.  The thread is there, it will always be connected.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Last Few Months

Again, I prove I am no blogger.  I can't post for months at a time. 
The last few months I have been continuing and accelerating the downsizing.
Two thirds of my kitchen have been given away, donated, spread among family.  Entertainment Center, Pool Table, Piano, Pinball Machine all gone.  Some I made a nice profit.  A 5 year old has the Piano and I hope my mom is happy and that Valerie is as well.  The new family who has it will tune it, use it and teach their kids how to play.  The entertainment center was being picked up by a father who was giving it to his daughter in her new home and he was keeping the TV as his quit working a few days earlier.  The pool table landed at a store in Macon and the Pinball in Iowa with a new collector.
Since Valerie and her portion of the clan have moved out, I am now the only occupant of the house.  5800 square feet, 3 floors, an entire apartment just for me.  Of course the logical part of me is pushing along.  I have been prepping the house, continuing getting rid of stuff, and will be listing the home for sale soon.  Brian and Katherine have graciously offered to let me have a bedroom in their house while I figure what is next.  This helps immensely as I can take my time to sell, don't have to worry about finding another place immediately.   Kraig and Lisa want me to come down and visit and I think I will.  My belongings with the exception of day to day items will be in a storage building until I need them again.
My emotions are getting more level, the painful bouts of missing Joan, getting angry, damning things is growing further apart.  I can smile more about our shared memories.  We all went to Tybee last week during the grandkids break and scattered Joans ashes into the ocean.  She loved Tybee and planned decades worth of vacations there for us, for the kids, their friends, the grandkids and their friends.  Rae, Scott and Brad all attended which made it extra special.  I still worry about Scott, hopefully he is handling things as well as he leads me to believe.
My real estate career has obviously taken a back seat.  I handle whatever clients come my way, but I am not actively seeking more until I get moved.  Thankfully Howard and Kim have been helping me with a lot of house prep.  Makes it easier.  If all goes well I should have the house listed this month, not the prime time of the year but I don't wish to wait until February.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Sunday - The Longest Day

Everyone arrived, we were all there for the long haul.  By the way Joan was breathing we knew it wouldn't be long.  Praying the morphine was doing its job the nurse found me and pulled me aside.  She looked at me and said, I can give her another morphine injection on top of the drip, just to be sure she doesn't suffer during these last hours.
Her words said pain management, her look said, it will help her stop fighting, it will ease her transition.  The word traitor again flashed in my mind.  The emotions, a deep breath, there was no coming back from this massive of a failure in her body.  Anything that could be done to help her move on, not be stuck in a failing body should be done.  My needs were not important, hers were.  I told the nurse to please do it.
Shortly after the injection her fighting had slowed.  Joans body was done, she needed release, needed the freedom to move on.  Over the next half hour things were fairly quiet, at least that is what I remember.  A friend Joan had met at a local restaurant came in, apparently she was heading to church and felt the need to stop.  She only stayed a moment, she could tell Joan was in her last minutes.  Howard came in and paused, Joan took about two more breaths and it was over.  She was gone.

The next several minutes were a mess, emotions from everywhere, everyone.  Crying, hugging.  The nurse came in, I could hear alarms at the nurses station.  They had a job to do, they had to verify her passing and call time of death.  Her phone went off, she responded, "No, do not bring the cart."  Then a bit of a pause and louder, "NO!  Do NOT bring the cart, she has a DNR."  Another pause, "Her husband is here."  She then apologized, I told her it was ok.  They called time and people were going out into the hallway.  There was no reason left to be in the room.

We contacted the funeral home, I waited and Grandma Pam waited with me.  I needed someone there and she was the most level headed, the most experienced.  The funeral home arrived, I gave them instructions.  The nurse came back in and mentioned to me that Joan was an organ donor.  That just about set me off, I could not picture anyone cutting on her.  I knew it was her body and she was no longer there but I could not bear the thought of anyone cutting on her.  She was very good, I give her credit, I wish I had written down her name.  The nurse understood, gave me space and asked me to stop by the desk before leaving.   Once the funeral home had taken her, Pam and I gathered whatever things were left.  The nurse and I talked, I told her to give the group wanting to talk with me my number.  She warned me there would be lots of questions if I agreed and that I needed to be patient.
I thanked her, already my mind was saying, Joan wanted to be a donor, Joan wanted others to benefit from anything she no longer needed.  Again what I wanted, what I felt I needed was not important.  It was about what she wanted.  I kept reminding myself of that one thing.
Pam drove me home, I think I was still in a daze, but my logical part was running and I needed to do whatever Joan wanted me to do.  And that my friends gave me a very long list.  She was specific about so many things, things she wanted to happen should she go first, things I was to do, things I was to do with her things.  And by God, I am damn good with lists!

Once home, everyone was there, everyone but Joan.  My phone rang, it was the donation center for body parts.  I went to our bedroom, I could not yet call it my bedroom.  I was on the phone for nearly an hour.  Yes there were very detailed questions, a great sales pitch, I gave in, not because of the sales pitch, but because I knew what Joan wanted and the lady was patient with me.  I required one thing of them, and that was communications.  They must call me when they picked her up from the funeral home, when they arrived at their surgical center, when she left the surgical center and when they arrived at the funeral home again.  I also required the funeral home to call me and validate she was there.  Not that I expected her to be lost in transit, but I wanted accountability and my doubts covered.  By the way they did everything I asked of them.

The rest of the day was pretty much a blank to me.  I know I insisted on my brother and his wife having my bedroom.  I slept on the couch.  I didn't really want to be in our bed anyway.  That was going to take a few days at least.

As a closing to Sunday, I feel compelled to add.  Howard who had come in just seconds before Joan passed, told me something months later, and Howard I hope you don't mind that I'm telling this.
When he walked into the room, he felt like he was talking to Joan or she was talking to him.  He was telling her that she needed to relax, it was time to go.  She was concerned about us, about everyone there.  He told her they will adapt and our concern was for her.  She seemed a bit confused but I think he said she understood what was going on.  Then his vision expanded, what he saw was amazing and gave me great comfort.  He said, Keith, you don't understand, or I don't think I can explain, she was here, with her body, with us, worried about us, but at the same time, she was already with her Father and some people he had never seen.  She here and she was there at the same time.  The part of her that was there was already clear, understood and happy, the part of her that was her just needed to let go.  He again told her we would all be fine, it would take time, but we would make it and she needed to let go.  His vision ended.  I don't know if I got it all correct, the way he told me but this is what I have in my memory, my interpretation.

Howard was given a great gift, something I would have loved to been a part of.  Joan has always cared for Howard and I am not jealous that he saw her, that he was given that experience.  I am happy he shared it with me.  I will keep the picture in my mind forever.  It answered my question about when her spirit left and yes she was there while we talked to her, held her hand and prayed.  That she after that last breath let go and all of her is now with God, with those who went before and when it is my turn I will see her again.  We will catch up, be happy and I will find out what my next task or purpose will be. 

Joan is now timeless and eternal.  Why God took her first I won't know until it is my time.  I am sure things will be clear at that point.  Until then, I have things to do, tasks to accomplish.  I have worked through the bulk of the list she left me.  There are personal things to work out, things she wanted for me and made me promise.  I will accomplish those things over time, maybe not in any way we expected, but they will be accomplished.

We were married, 38 years, 4 months and 1 day.  She passed on my fathers birthday.  I know he loved her and accepted her early in our dating.  If you count our dating months, Joan and I were together from a bit over 39 years.  Nearly four decades.   God brought her to me, he took her away.  I thank him for every moment we had, the good, the bad, it is all a part of life.  We made it to the end of our vows.  I was supposed to go first, it was expected, it was how I planned.  God obviously had other plans.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Saturday June 23rd

Joans mom and brother arrived, so did my brother and his wife.  Various friends came in and out, extended family showed and did what they could to comfort and say their goodbyes.
By the evening it was my brother, son and myself staying the night.  I did get some sleep while they keep watch, talked, held Joans hand.
The nurses were good, they kept up with the morphine, there was nothing else to do.  One nurse came in late that night and commented she was very surprised after seeing the scan of the hemorrhage that she was alive.
That got my attention as I had not seen the scan.  I asked if we could see it and she took us to the nurses station.  The shadowing was massive.  I asked about size and stuck that in memory.  Basically it covered her entire right hemisphere.
Weeks later I would do some personal morbid research on these things and found that a bleed half that size was considered large, fatal in 2 to 48 hours by 97% of those who had them.  So the hospital using words like massive was not a word lightly chosen.  They meant massive. They meant no recovery.
The night went, I was resigned to the eventual outcome which I expected either that night or Sunday morning.  The best I could hope for was Joans comfort until her body could not sustain itself.
Questions in my mind, was she still in there, was she trying to communicate with us?  Did she know the decision I had made?  Did she hate me for it?  I was following our stated procedure for such events, but that didn't make it any easier.
Was she in pain but could not show it?
The bigger question, when Joan had the bleed, did she leave her body at that time and all I was watching was an empty shell or was she in there?  Had she left sometime between Friday and Sunday, would she be there until last breath? 
I have always believed in last breath, but I found myself hoping she had moved on in the restaurant Friday night and wasn't trapped in this dying body, wasn't experiencing any pain or suffering at all.
Sunday morning was arriving, the sun was coming up.  People would be arriving.  My son and brother needed sleep but they weren't leaving either.  We all knew what was coming.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Friday Night

Things got quiet as everyone left.  Joan was breathing slowly, her right hand the only thing she could move and that was very slight.  I held it, talked to her, cried, prayed, offered myself in her place.  I guess in similar situations all spouses would do that.  We all know God doesn't work that way, those kinds of swaps don't happen.  Does that make it hollow?
I left her side only once for a bathroom break, made sure the nurse was there and got back as quickly as I could.  I walked around the bed, the room, nervous energy, I can't remember order, just a blur of the night.
Everything I could picture that I should apologize for went through my head, everything I ever did or thought I did wrong flashed.
Later in the night my mind played every possible way how this could have been prevented.  What if we had pursued a sleep study to help with her sleeping issues, what if she had lost weight and taken her blood pressure and cholesterol meds religiously, how could I have made her do those things or convinced her they were needed. 
Would she still be here?

Later came the regrets for all the vacations we never took, opting for the rational approach to spending money.  Then the house we had just purchased, we always wanted a rocking chair front porch, it had it, and two rocking chairs.  We always wanted a screened in back porch, it had that too.
A kitchen she liked even if she did want it updated.  A yard we could work together on and manage.
Basement apartment with its own kitchen.  Close enough to her mother to go over every day, close enough to our son to visit as well.

Then the joke we always made came to haunt me.  We got married on Feb 23rd, I started with IBM on March 3rd.  We always kidded if I lost my job I would lose her, if I lost her I would lose my job.  I had left IBM 22 months earlier.  Yeah it's not like that makes the events linked but out of 38+ years, 22 months is nothing, it felt like our joke came home to bite us.

Here is where things get out of order as the morning arrived.  I think Joans oldest brother arrived.  Afterwards my son arrived.  It may be out of order but that is what I remember.  They convinced me to go lay on the couch for a while.  They also needed time to be near her, talk with her, say things to let her know we were there.  Sometime later my daughter arrived, she hates hospitals and this wasn't helping things.  She would stroke Joans hair, talk with her.
It was now Saturday mid-morning.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Traitor

I asked my children, "You've heard your mother and I talk about a situation like this?"  They both replied, their statements were clearly, mama wouldn't want to be like this, not having a life.  I am sure the words were varied and it was most likely unfair to put them on the spot, but I was about to make a life ending choice for their mother, my wife.  Bear in mind my children are adults, my daughter with her own nearly adult children.  I am sure the comments were as hard for them as it was for me.  Joan and I had discussed this, discussed this, joked about it, talked about various options many times.  It always ended with, if I can't have a productive active life I don't want one.  We would also make comments about the costs of such long term life support when the chances of recovery were slim to none and neither of us wanted money spent that way. 
Never, under any circumstances did I expect to find myself in this position.  I always expected she would be making this decision about me.  Statistically, logically, everything said I would die first.  My plan was to die while traveling on business, accidental death, traveling death, the bonuses to insurances, card payouts, airline death benefits, rental car payouts would have left her more than comfortable no matter how long she lived.  That was the plan.  I guess God had another.

I gave the doctor my decision.  The word burned, it was visible in my mind, it hurt.  Logically I know it was the right decision, emotionally it will never be.  All our planning, all of our discussions still didn't help make it feel right.  Maybe those conversation aided me, I don't know.  Spiritually it still feels right.  I cannot imagine my unresponsive body slowly dying with my soul attached, not being able to move on.  Picture being inside a room with no windows, doors, you want out but you can't leave, not until that last breath and the people who put you here only meant the best for you.  In our desire to keep her, we would have imprisoned her until the machines could not keep her body alive.

Next came phone calls, family and some friends. Joans mother and her baby brother arrived, her younger brother was in Washington state and was getting a plane.  My brother and his wife were packed and in a car heading up from Florida.  I can't remember over the next 39 hours who arrived, when, how long they stayed but many came.  Joans mother was hurt, angry, she sat at Joans side with her rosary.  She commented that she held me responsible because her daughter was perfectly fine when she gave her to me 38+ years ago.  There was nothing to say but "I'm sorry."  Later I heard her stating God had a lot to answer for.

I am not sure what I said, to who, the next couple of hours were a blur.  The hospital staff was amazing.  The nurses main concern was getting Joan settled for the night in a room and on a morphine drip to ensure minimal to no pain.  At some point Val and Cory brought in the grand kids.  I could see how hard this was on them.  I asked them if they wanted to talk to Nana, hold her hand and say their goodbyes she wasn't leaving this hospital, it would be their last chance to see her and talk to her.  Austin walked over and what I remember is he commented through tears that Nana would never know his children or they her.  After a while Joan's mom had to go home so Scott and she left for the night.  I told my kids they might want to go home get sleep because it was going to be a long weekend.  They were concerned about me being alone with Joan, but that is what I wanted.  Friday night was going to be my night to make as much peace as I could with her.