Who Do I Think I Am?

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This year will be the 8th year I’ve been writing this blog. I never imagined when I started writing what would become Slope of Hope in 2005 that I would have this many readers and that the blog would be such a big part of my life, but I have been feeling the urge to tell people just who you are dealing with, since this blog is still very much a personal expression.

You are going to find a lot of dichotomy and contradiction in this post, because that’s what I’m like. I spend half my days wishing someone would sneak up behind me and shoot me in the head, and the other half of my days feeling just OK. I'm never really happy – – – it’s been years since I’ve been anything close to that – – – but at part of my life I can spend not wishing to be wiped away.

The darkness of my mindset is pervasive; I have written countless private notes to myself to try to sort out my feelings; one snippet reads like this:

• No good deed goes unpunished. So hang on to everything you’ve got. Giving always backfires.

• Most of “success” is dumb luck – being in the right place at the right time. Lots of good, smart people don’t get shit, and lots of mindless, stupid people make fortunes.

• The way you live and what you get aren’t correlated. Evil, obnoxious people can get all they want, and decent, hard-working people can live with deprivation.

• The human desire to consume useless shit is almost insatiable, since most people are devoid of any real soul or understanding.

I sound like a barrel of laughs, don’t I? But I have to be honest with you. I can feel very bitter at times, and if nothing else, I owe my readers some honesty.

But why I am delving into this? Well, I am impressed with those who have really opened themselves up on their own blogs. We’re all human, with human foibles, and it’s nice to see someone actually drop pretense and be honest in a world that is glutted with deceit and façade. My bearish nature emanates partly from a hunger for the truth, and we live in a world largely devoid of truth.

0101-timIt would be easy for me to paint a picture of a happy, successful individual, and I would not have to lie to do so. There are many good things about me and my life that would make any mother proud. But the fact is that the few good things I’ve been able to achieve or be represents only a part of who I am, and only a part of my self-perception, and I want to bare some of the ugliness here. Not all of it – – why make myself appear fully wretched? – – but enough to constitute a genuine act of sharing.

Forgive the fact that almost every paragraph that follows starts with “I”, but this is, after all, about me; also forgive the fact that this may read just like a tennis match (A, then B, then A, then B…….), but I’m simply trying to offer some dichotomies. Here we go:

I am a successful entrepreneur. I started Prophet.net in July 1992 and built it into the #1 technical analysis web site in the world, according to both Barron’s and Forbes. Without a single dollar of venture capital, I created a successful, profitable, multi-million dollar business. I created great products, good-paying jobs, and a team of people who are friends to this day, even though the company was sold long ago. I also sold the company for many millions of dollars, which allowed me to live in a beautiful house and enjoy a lifestyle of my own choosing.

At the same time, I am a business failure. I have been involved in computers since 1979 and have been online since 1981. I wrote an entire book about how interconnected computers would change the world in 1982 (the first of over twenty books I would author), when I was only 16, which in retrospect makes me a visionary, but I was unable to parlay that vision into anything at all. Tens of thousands of completely ordinary workers have made as much or more money than I ever made simply by being in a startup or successful high-tech company. So, in my eyes, I have completely missed the boat.

I am a good family man. I have provided my family a very good life, with a gorgeous house, a great environment, excellent schools, plenty of luxuries, and – much more important – an extraordinary amount of my own time and attention. I have crafted my life such that I am available to my family virtually non-stop, and the total number of nights I’ve been away in the past decade could probably be counted on two hands.

I could also be a much better father. I let external issues – the market, usually – affect my disposition, and my family shouldn’t have to suffer simply because the market is up. I am too absorbed in my work sometimes, and I’ve spoiled plenty of vacations by requiring myself to be in front of a computer during market hours instead of with my family, which is where I belong.

I am very open-minded. I am a strong supporter of personal rights and liberty. I think gay marriage should be given the same rights as straight marriage, and I say this proudly as a Christian since I think ol’ J.C. would back me up. I think the purpose of government should be quite limited, and I am a big believer in the creativity and industry of the human race.

Simultaneously, I am a bigot. I am not immune to racism (although I consider it quite mild), and the fact that the Federal Reserve and TBTF banks seem pervasively dominated by a certain group makes me puzzle a bit more than I think most people would bother. My heart isn’t pure, although sometimes I wish it was more so.

My visual abilities are remarkable. I have only encountered a few people that can read charts like I can. I am able to see patterns and similarities in charts quite readily, and I’m pretty sure I was simply born with this gift.

At the same time, I am a hopeless permabear. Being bearish during my lifetime has done me far more harm than good, and my charting abilities have been insufficient at counteracting the negative results of being so bearish. My bearishness has also made me an easy target for detractors which, for a sensitive fellow like me, isn’t a good combination.

I am a successful blogger. Slope of Hope’s community is radically more active than blogs many times larger, and this little corner of the Internet has made plenty of “best-of” lists in spite of its relatively small size.

At the same time, this blog is still just that – – relatively small. I have seen newer blogs make a much bigger splash, perhaps because their owners have been more clever or steadfast in promoting theirs. I also wish I was able to generate more content for my blog, even though the sheer number of posts I’ve written – – far over 10,000 – – is, I think, a good effort.

I am really smart. I’ve got the IQ tests and scores to prove it. You’d probably be surprised.

I’m also an idiot. Other people seem to solve problems and puzzles way faster than I can. You can be in the 99th percentile, but there are still 60,000,000 people smarter than you are. I find myself comparing myself to all of them, and I feel like a moron.

I am a financial success. I have no short-term debt. I live in a house far grander than I imagined I could ever afford. I have a very large cash cushion.

I am also a financial flop. I worry about money every day. I know I should have many millions of dollars more than I do, if I had only done a few things differently. I should be set for life, but I’m not

I am grateful for my gifts. I have written long lists of things for which I am grateful, and I read them regularly to remind me to be in a spirit of thanksgiving. I thank God for all the good blessings in my life.

I am also a self-pitying twerp who thinks the world owes him everything.

You are here, perhaps, to see some good chart setups and get an idea or two. You also may be here for the community. But understand the person behind Slope of Hope is a partly-broken man. I am consumed with self-loathing and turmoil for much of the time, and I have little right to be unhappy, but I am.

Still, you are here, as I am, and your presence here helps keep me going. Allow me to close with some words I privately wrote to myself not long ago; they are probably the closest thing to anything I’ve ever told myself which is the least bit wise:

If nothing else, I need inner peace. And I will be unable to achieve inner peace if I keep wanting balance, fairness, and justice in my life. And all these things are directly tied to the ego, since I want to see balance from my own egocentric point of view. Ironically, if I selfishly want inner peace, I need to selflessly let go out demanding the universe serve up balance in life.

Serve without expectation. Labor without reward. Love without reciprocation. If you think that makes you a sucker, then OK, you’re a sucker. But making yourself miserable with wanting fairness in a world where fairness doesn’t exist is much worse.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that – – – I close with what I tell God on a regular basis, and I tell you the same – – I am sorry for who I am, and for what I have become, and I hope you can forgive me.