Overoptimising and crypto

not your keys, not your coins

Hello 👋 and welcome to another issue of this newsletter. To the new subscribers, it’s nice to have you here.

If you find this newsletter beneficial in any way, please share.

Share


How are you doing? How was your week?

Leave a comment

This week has been packed and empty at the same time. In other news, I lost and recovered my notion workspace. I was so stressed that I had a migraine. But we’ve moved past that now.

I listened to many pod episodes and read a lot on crypto, blockchain, Ethereum and bitcoin.

So today comes with an entire meal course.

So starting with the crypto, blockchain reads.

Almost all the articles I read have a variation of the word “confusing”, “tricky”, or something in the line of “I started reading about X, but all the articles were complex and confusing, so I am writing to simplify ….”1

Well, this is neither this nor that. I am writing about what I’ve learned to know how well I understood what I learnt and how good I can explain.2

Crypto Wallet vs address

The address is like the numbers of your bank account. However, instead of numbers, crypto addresses are a combination of random letters and number characters. This combination is called a key. The address is always a pair—a public and private key. Your key is cryptographically generated, which makes it unique, unguessable and unforgeable.

The public key is exactly like your bank account that you tell people to send money to directly. The private key is like the password/pin you use to confirm transactions.

As explained on bitcoin stack exchange:

“An address represents a hash of a public key of an asymmetric key pair.¹ The owner of the key pair can use the private key to sign transactions or messages (for example in order to prove ownership). Only by using the correct private key, a valid signature may be created, which then anyone can verify as valid by using the associated address (which, again, represents the public key).”

Your wallet is simply a wallet. Similar to how you keep your credit/debit cards. A wallet holds your address(es). While this isn’t a good analogy, but it’s a start.

A wallet is more of a key ring—a holder of addressees.

As explained on bitcoin stack exchange:

 “A wallet is an abstract construct, which contains the set of public and private key pairs randomly generated for the user. In a deterministic wallet, the keys are derived from a passphrase (a specific seed, master key or password) instead of a random seed. Essentially, it corresponds to a keyring in the cryptographic sense.”

The wallet can be in your browser, on your computer, or on a physical device.

Security has been one aspect all articles I read discussed. Emphasis has been made on security because losing your private keys or your secret phase means sorry; your coins are gone.

“Not your keys, not your coins”.

Because of this, people go to extreme ends in trying to secure their private keys and secret phrases. Security in the digital world, in general, is discussed in this episode.

And crypto security is explicitly discussed here.

DOPAMINE FAST

Humans are wired to look for novelty. It gives us that dopamine hit, and we feel good. However, there is enough novelty in the present world, and dopamine has been weaponised to keep us coming back to specific activities. This makes our sensories overstimulated.

To recalibrate our sensories, we need to remove ourselves from the sources of these stimuli for at least 30 days. This is usually done offline, with no emails, no internet, and other rules you deem fit for yourself.

An example is chocolates, as described in another podcast by Dr Anna Lembke, an expert on addiction at Stanford.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates both pleasure and pain. Imagine eating a piece of chocolate cake... You will experience great joy eating it, but you don't realise that a gnawing pain in the background makes you want more. Craving for another dopamine hit. Just one more bite. One more slice.

Now, this is where it gets interesting, this pain pushes us to take another, then another and the pain keeps increasing. This is why you need a larger dose than the precious dose to feel that dopamine hit. The higher you go, the higher you need, but you receive even lesser satisfaction.

Addiction is like drinking saltwater because you are thirsty. You become thirstier. 

Eat a piece of chocolate cake once a month, and it will be insanely pleasurable with only the faintest craving pain. Eat cake once a week, and it will be pretty tasty, but cravings might start popping into your head every once in a while. Eat cake once a day, and you will start experiencing a daily craving pain.

A reminder that your brain expects the cake, and you need to get it. Eating it will still be satisfying, but it will become less and less enjoyable day after day. Eat cake multiple times a day, and you will experience extreme cravings, but eating it will only reduce the craving/pain, and you’ll have to eat more and more each time to feel satisfied. You won’t even enjoy the cake, but you will eat it to reduce the pain. True addiction.

The pod episode was based on this thread.

OVEROPTIMISING vs ENJOYING YOUR LIFE

Constantly optimising, I believe, makes one miserable. There are things one should draw the lines. You can’t be the best/expert on everything. Choose your battles and go all in. And choose your battles wisely.

Continuous seeking of hacks and techniques leads to an endless path of optimisation. This comes from an underlying feeling of lack and doubt. In most cases, you already know optimisation. They are simple. Simple, not easy. Eat well, exercise, sleep well and have healthy relationships. While these are easier said than done, they are always basics that we can do and within our control.

However, we want complex answers. We want an app to measure this and that. A routine that we must follow to the tee and not allow for spontaneity.

Routines are good, fixed and followed routines help develop consistency. However, it shouldn’t be so set that an unplanned event or a delay throws the routine into shock. A routine should not have you rushing from a diner date to the office. It should allow you to be present for your date without looking at the time every minute.

You want to chill and enjoy your date with additional time to spare in case things get interesting. You never can tell.

SOME DESSERTS

There's a feeling of an need of always doing something with your hands, with your legs, with your mouth, with just constantly doing, doing, doing. If you walk into a room and you see somebody just staring at the wall, and there's a blank wall, and there's no digital device in their hand, and they're just standing there. You're going to get the person committed. You're really going to be like, what is this person doing? But, so much of human life is what's happening in your brain.

If you don't take time sometimes to peruse those contents, you're probably sitting on a lot of stuff. Out of that boredom might come something that's interesting, that somebody else hasn't noticed. I think that's an important thing for people to be able to do.

Do not let society determine your defaults. You figure out your own defaults, never let society tell you your defaults. That'll screw you. Your life will be fundamentally worse off if you let society dictate your defaults for you. In some areas it's fine. You have to pick your fights.

With this, I end this issue today. I hope you enjoyed reading. Let me know in the comments, or reply directly to this mail. See you next Sunday.

1

Not saying this is good. This is me being a troll

2

It so happens that after writing this, I think I don’t know enough. So I am off to read some more.