Friday, January 19, 2007

The Life of a Trader

Whew...what a week. The weekend is definitely a welcome reprieve. Technology stocks got hammered this week thanks to a number of companies missing their earnings estimates or providing weak guidance. Even companies with blowout quarters such as Apple saw their stocks get slammed. I'm sure that makes no sense to people unfamiliar with the market...and quite frankly, it often makes little sense to those of us in the trenches every single day. Basically, people had priced in perfection in some of these stocks and you got the "buy the rumor, sell the news" reaction that is often prevalent on Wall Street. The Nasdaq lost 50 points this week and that is a pretty good beating after how it well it has been performing.

I survived the initial selloff on Wednesday and was sitting pretty for the week after a good Tuesday. Then Thursday came along and I apparently couldn't walk between the raindrops anymore and gave the last two day's gains back in a matter of 6 and a half hours. That is frustrating. I don't care how long you have been trading...losing money isn't fun...particularly when you financially need to have a good week. No pressure there. It's an interesting thing when you can work as hard as possible and do everything you know how to do and still lose big. But it's just part of the equation.

The good news is that Friday was much better and I recovered all that was lost. After doing this for several years I know to approach every day with a positive attitude and a belief that I will make money. I may carry a bad day with me for awhile after the market closes but that feeling is gone when I wake up the next day. I know by now that I can and will beat the market...maybe not every day, week or month...but in due time. So, I press on and that persistence, as in so many other areas of life, has a way of paying off.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

United 93

I had ben thinking about seeing this movie for a long time now...ever since it hit theaters I suppose. I had heard it was very well done. It's been on pay-per-view for some time and I keep passing over it when looking for a movie to entertain me. I think a part of me just didn't want to relive that day. I will never forget being in the office and watching on my little TV as the events of that morning unfolded. The utter chaos as horrific reports filtered in across the news wires...some true, some not true...but all terrifying. I had been very blessed to have not known a time of war in my life. Vietnam was winding down as I was born and the Cold War, while quite scary on some level, never really amounted to more than tension and a general feeling of ill will. I knew the world wasn't a utopia but the Midwestern US was pretty darn close as bloodshed was concerned. I don't know that I was permanently changed that day or not. I have always been aware of my own mortality and am generally cognizant that any given day could be my last on this Earth (and yet I still waste time...maybe I don't REALLY get it). But 9/11 certainly did change me for awhile. I remember being glued to the TV for days, weeks even, after it happened. I recall slipping into a depression as my worldview changed. Things weren't as safe as I had once assumed, not even in the tranquil US. Wars weren't always going to be fought on some far off land only found on a globe. They could actually happen on our shores. And the prospect that there will be more is almost a certainty.

So with all that spinning around in my head I decided to finally watch the movie. I felt I owed it to those brave men and women on that flight who spared us further pain and death, both in a real physical sense and in a larger symbolic and psychological sense. Sure enough, I felt that lump in my throat when they showed the initial smoke coming out of the WTC. There were parts that were difficult to watch but I was really watching for the story of the people on United 93. As the movie unfolded, I wondered to myself if I would be that brave in that kind of situation. I suppose I would if I knew my life would be ending anyway. There isn't really anything to further risk at that point if death is imminent. The larger question of having bravery when there is everything to lose remains a murkier question. I also experienced my share of anger as the terrorists took over the plane and wanting to be there with the passengers as they attempted to regain control of the aircraft. I really just wanted to punch them in the head and return some of the pain they had inflicted on innocent civilians. It was a visceral reaction...primal perhaps...but very real. A Christian reaction? Given the circumstances of the plane being used to kill additional people besides those onboard? Sure, I don't think God would quarrel with that. Overall, it was a good movie that I felt did justice to those whose stories needed to be told. Surprisingly enough, I was able to sleep after watching it.

So that's where this Iraq situation started. Out of our grief and need for justice we decided to take it to the terrorists. Afghanistan was an easy target as the Taliban stood out with their training grounds and financing of the terrorists involved. Iraq was a more difficult sell. I'll save the WMD talk for another post but I think the initial idea was a good meet the terrorists over there so we didn't have to do it here. So far that part has worked. You can't fight a war defensively or you will lose. Right France? There is no question things haven't gone well. But what war does? Not many that are worth fighting. Wars are ugly and dynamic and unpredictable. Battles may be lost but that does not mean the war follows the same outcome. I think our country has forgotten that. Too many would rather opt for the road of peace and diplomacy and sparing the lives of the brave souls in our military. We could do that. And that is the war we would lose.