Thursday, February 1, 2007

1 Down, 11 To Go

Very glad that January is over. Cold, depressing and cold. I'm emptying hair spray bottles outside every day trying to encourage global warming but the near-term results have been disappointing. Thanks Al. Nobel Peace Prize candidate? Gimme a break. Isn't this guy part of the team that did nothing while various regimes built up their nuclear weapon capabilities? Right.

I set more specific quantitative goals for my trading this year. So far it seems to be working. Up 10.1% in the first month versus 2% on the Nasdaq. It was a challenging month in many respects so I am happy with the end result. February is starting just as challenging.

One of the things I like about trading is the immediate feedback. You generally know right away if you are right or wrong and that is the way I like it. The other good thing is that results are directly correlated over time with the amount of work you put in. You might not experience the correlation right away but sweat equity is real.

New Office episode tonight. Good times.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Just got back from seeing this that I've wanted to see since it hit theaters. I'm not really an opening weekend kinda guy though so this seemed like good timing.

It was good as I expected it to be. True stories of people overcoming incredible obstacles to grab hold of their dream are always worth learning. Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a man who has found himself at financial insolvency with a 5-year old son to care for. Toward the beginning of the movie his son is dribbling a basketball and taking the occasional shot and Chris tells him not to get his hopes up too high because he was never really any good at basketball and he probably passed down his average sports genes to his son. This promptly causes an angry and frustrated response in which the boy begins packing up his basketball. The father recognizes his mistake and tells his son, "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something...not even me. If you have a dream...protect it. People that can't do something themselves are the ones who will tell you that you can't do it either."

OK, I'm paraphrasing toward the end there but you get the point. The human spirit was not meant to be limited or diminished for the very simple reason that it comes from God. This film comes at that from a natural, not spiritual, viewpoint but the conclusion is the same. In the words of the late Jim Valvano, "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Why? Because they have given up on their dreams. They have tried and failed and decided that was enough. Maybe life handed them some bad circumstances and they can't even see a path that will let them try again. Or maybe the biggest tragedy of all...they never tried in the first place.

The Constitution says that all Americans should have the right to pursue happiness. The film made the point that Jefferson wasn't saying that happiness is a right, just the pursuit of it. I never really thought about that before. There are heroes in this and women who continue to pursue excellence when the world has long given up on them and told them they have no chance. As incredible as those individuals and their respective stories are it was the opposite thought that has clung to me since the end of the movie. How awful it is for someone to be given every opportunity in the world and still fail...either naturally or spiritually...or perhaps both. Not because of bad breaks but because they did it to themselves through bad decisions, laziness or a sense of entitlement. That thought has been with me for a long time and I hope one day it won't be anymore.