Posted by Wes Baumann
We had 28 members in attendance at this week’s meeting.  There were two guests:  Felicia O’ Malley brought her husband, John; and Liz Taylor brought her colleague, Larry Dickman.  Additionally, Mary Bak, our district’s assistant governor was in attendance.
Patti Van Cleave who was filling in for President Tom Nash announced that Erik Birkenstein was celebrating his 8th club anniversary while Carl Yudell was celebrating his 3rd.  She then presented the ballot for next year’s officers and board.  It was noted that at this time we do not have any candidates for President-Elect (2019-20) and President Nominee (2020-21).  Past-Presidents Erik Birkenstein and ArLynn Presser both spoke about the privilege and fun of serving the club in this capacity.  Past-President Wes Baumann asked all the other past-presidents to stand for which he would donate one Happy Buck for each.  Eleven stood up, and two of them had served two terms so Wes put in $13.  Please give serious thought to serving your club.
Heidi Sibert reminded the club that our annual Kids Against Hunger project would take place on Saturday, March 17th at the gym in the Community House.  We will be packing 100,000 meals for children in need of decent nutrition.  Heidi said they are looking to have 100% participation among the membership.  The entire project requires about 400 persons spread over the three 90-minutes sessions.  We also have to raise approximately $30,000 to pay for the food and shipping.  Joe Nash has organized an evening at Little Ricky’s to raise funds for the KAH project.  There will be a 6-piece band preforming, dancing, a Rotarian guest bartender, silent auction and a raffle.  This program will take place on March 8 from 7:30 to 10:00 pm.  The Club really appreciates Little Ricky’s support for KAH.
Rich Lalley announced that he expects the Club’s request for a Rotary grant to support the Breadfruit trees in Haiti.  This means we will have to raise funds to assist with this grant.   Rich said that the gentleman who is the head of the organization who will benefit from the grant would be joining our club in the near future.
Felicia O’Malley introduced the day’s speaker, Jeff Shepard, who was speaking on the bitcoin phenomena.  Jeff serves as a wealth advisor at Eastgate Capital Advisors, which is located on Green Bay Road in Winnetka.  His task was to explain what Bitcoins are.   Jeff took out a dollar bill and said in reality it had no value but that it represented value because it was backed by the faith of the U.S. government and some gold bullion in Fort Knox.  Most foreign currencies work in a familiar fashion. 
Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency, a type of currency that does not exist in a physical form.  It was developed by Satoshi Nakamoto in late 2008 and released as an open software code in January of 2009.  Shortly there after Nakamoto disappeared and no one knows his identity or if the name was a pseudonym for a group.  It is the first decentralized digital currency as the system works without a central bank or a single administrator.  Basically it is a person-to-person electronic transfer of currency.  There are several other lesser-known cryptocurrencies such as, Etherum and Litecoin, among 800, many of which are scams.   Bitcoin represents at least 35% of all cryptoassets.  To date, the system has never been hacked, which is a valuable asset to Bitcoin. 
Every transaction is recorded and stored as part of a ‘block chain.’  A block chain is the record of every transaction that has taken place in the history of Bitcoin.  Blocks contain approximately 10 minutes of records and they are linked together in chronological order.  Bitcoin is dealing in crptocash, thus transactions are not reversible as they are with credit cards.  Since credit card companies will eat the cost of fraud it makes them more costly.  The reviews on cryptocurrency are mixed:  Warren Buffet advises clients to ‘stay away’ while Paul Krugman says that Bitcoin is evil.  However, those who got into Bitcoin on the ground floor made a lot more than a ‘bit’ of money on their investment.  As The Economist magazine says...“Anyone clever or lucky enough to have bought $1,000 of Bitcoins in July 2010, when the price stood at $0.05, would now have a stash worth $46 million.”