I hardly even know where to begin this post. I’ve certainly been thinking about it a long time, but I don’t think I can do the subject matter justice. Perhaps I’m overestimating its importance, but it matters a lot to me: today marks, to the day, the 10th anniversary of the Slope of Hope.
A little over thirty years ago, I made my first trip to Palo Alto. I lived in a little town called Moraga in the East Bay, and some friends of my girlfriend (now my wife) were going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had never seen the movie (and if you know Rocky Horror, you know that you don’t really just sit there and watch it), and I had never been to Palo Alto. So, one night during a senior year in high school, off we went.
The place where they showed the movie was the Varsity theatre, a venerable cinema on University Avenue which had been there for decades. I had a great night, and I was practically rolling with laughter in the aisles from the movie. It was a very positive introduction to the town that would later become my home.
Friday was a very interesting trading day for me, and I thought I’d share my memories of it since I think it is instructive about both risk and emotional management.
As most of you would probably guess, I came into the day completely short. But I wasn’t just short: I was Herve Villechaize short. So short I could jump off a nickel. You get the idea.
In spite of the fact that Monday registered the highest closing price in the 13 billion year history of the universe for many indexes, including the now-Apple-laden Dow 30 Industrial Average, I’m a dauntless bear, and I spent the week shorting, shorting, and then shorting some more.
Before I go further, I should explain a couple of elements of my trading that are important to this story. First off, since I’m a constant-as-the-Northern-Star permabear, I judge my own performance inversely. If the market is down, I certainly want to be up. And if the market is up, I know I have to tolerate being down.
There are a couple of publications I have read on a daily basis for many years, and with each passing day, they both annoy me more: one of them is ZH, and the other is, as I like to say, from “our friends in Gainesville.”
Regarding the latter, I don’t know why I bother. Back during the financial crisis, which I think was about four or five hundred years ago, I was convinced that Elliott Wave truly was the key to the universe. How shall I put this? I, umm, don’t think so anymore. I’d go so far as to say that, in my opinion, Elliott Wave offers not only zero predictive value but can be so profoundly misleading as to be harmful. Yet I still read the stuff, although with rapidly diminishing interest.
So I found myself waking up last night and habitually reached for my iPad to catch up on emails and check my systems. Of course I wound up peeking at my blog as well and then for some reason decided to head over here to the Slope to see what you bears were up to these days. I have to concede that I don’t visit here often as I truly have my hands full with running my own blog, maintaining various automated systems, coding and bug fixing, attending customer support duties – and then there of course are my own trading activities. Not a weekend goes by where I do not spend a minimum of five hours working on various projects behind the scenes or am preparing for the week to come.
That doesn’t leave much time for virtual socializing as I barely manage to catch up with the comment stream over here at the lair. But I always had a soft spot for you Slopers as I used to be one way back in the early days. And for some reason that sentiment appears to be mutual as much to my surprise Tim actually mentioned me in the very post I was reading. And yes in case you wonder, it was a positive plug – deservedly so or not.
Like most non-insane people, there are some things I like about myself and some things I don’t. Over the nearly ten years I’ve been writing this blog, I have tried to be candid (within reason) about my shortcomings and personal frustrations, but there’s one thing in particular which I don’t like that has been very much on my mind: my aversion to learning new things.
A love of learning is a crucial part of growth. It’s not like I enjoy ignorance – far from it – I immerse myself in news and information 365 days a year, and I consider myself deep into the 99th percentile in terms of being informed. This is different from learning something new, however. By the latter I mean such an undertaking as learning a new language, acquiring a new skill or, most relevant here, learning a new approach to trading.
If for some reason you were to join me in my car, going about my daily errands around Palo Alto, we would in all likelihood pass the intersection of Alma and Charleston, and you might ask me who this guard was at the railroad tracks and why he was there: