Archive for June, 2010

This morning, I got up and went to my computer and checked out my list of meetings.  “Oh,” I said, “I have a 9 am meeting this morning.  Guess I’ll dial into it from home.  Man, it sure feels like a Friday today but it’s only Thursday.”

Just then I realized that today is not Thursday, it’s actually Wednesday.

You might be tempted to think that because a week is so busy, that’s what makes it long.  For me, that’s not the case.  It’s actually the opposite.  Slow weeks at work drag on for me.  I dislike them, I like being kept busy such that I have plenty to do from start to finish.  When the day drags, it drags.

Read Full Post »

As a Microsoft employee, I feel that it is my duty to break the habits of my friends, especially girlfriends, when they are using a service that Google has when Microsoft has an equivalent for it and is just as good (I would not get them to switch to Internet Explorer, for example).  I guess it’s not limited to Google, it’s really any service that someone else has.

Case in point – my current girlfriend uses MapQuest.  MapQuest?  “Hey, Carrie,” I said to her (not her real name), “2002 called.  They want their mapping service back.”  I then proceeded to show her Bing Maps and how they are superior to other mapping services, including Google Maps.

Next, I decided to change her homepage from AOL (AOL? What?) to Bing.  This one is particularly relevant because she is really interested in traveling.  The great thing about Bing is that each day it has a different background image, a place from around the world.  If you hold your mouse over various parts of the image it gives you an interesting piece of trivia about that location.  For my girlfriend, this is perfect because she has all sorts of travel books and this page is much more relevant to her than AOL.  It more naturally aligns to her set of interests.

Luckily, she doesn’t have too many other bad habits.  She uses Gmail and Google Talk, but so do I.  I prefer both because they are lightweight applications, although I do have a Hotmail account and have mail sent to it.  It is less reliable than Gmail, though.  Nor does she use Google Chrome.  I installed Firefox onto her computer, Microsoft Security Essentials (I will remove McAfee) and all that I have left to do is get her a copy of Windows 7.  Once that is done the transformation will be complete.

Sometimes it’s good to know someone who works at Microsoft.

Read Full Post »

Today, I experienced yet another loss in trading.  I had a couple of small victories but interrupted that winning streak with yet another couple of big losers.

Yet, I feel alright with this one.  The reason is that I feel like I did everything in my power to trade correctly.  I couldn’t foresee the market’s huge drop today and therefore, taking a loss when something like this happens is acceptable:

  1. I bought a call option in Google last Friday.  Google had traded down six sessions in a row which almost never happens.  I bought a call option betting that it would go up in the near term since even in bear markets, stocks rally sharply.  I bet on a reaction to the upside since Google had done it twice since this correction began.
  2. I missed out on Apple’s collapse today.  I had Apple hand me my posterior in my second last trade in it (I made $40 this past week – hooray!).  But Apple had a good correction and then paused… and my paranoia said “Get out!”  I did but I thought that it might collapse.  But given how long Apple had been able to buck the market trend I couldn’t take the risk.
  3. My general market indicators were not telling me that there were extremes in either direction. The percentage of stocks trading above their 40-day moving average was 40%.  Readings below 20 and above 90 are extreme and are reliable.  40 is ambiguous.  Looking on that and seeing it rally, I would have bet on an up movement, which is why I was long Google.
  4. The Bulkowski Indicator, which I had been using, had been generating a lot of whipsaws.  I decided to ignore it because it wasn’t giving me anything useful and my reliance upon it cost me in Apple and APKT.

Seeing all of this, I think that my analysis was correct.  I couldn’t have foreseen this huge drop today and therefore all I can control is my entries and exits.  Yes, I lost money.  But I followed my plan.

And now the one thing that gives me hope is that the Nasdaq has gapped down, and there is an old saying – All gaps must be filled.  This is true nearly 100% of the time, and Google is still oversold.  I figure I can buy some call options again and recover some of my losses.  I see an opportunity here for a quick snapback.

Read Full Post »

Tactics spilling over

When I travel to various countries, one of my favorite things to do is hit multiple countries in a single trip.  I’ve done that a lot and it allows me to increase my “Passport Quotient” which currently stands at 19.

As I mentioned earlier, I am looking at taking a trip to Central America this upcoming year.  What’s nice is that my current girlfriend is also really big into traveling as well.  She has been to 14 countries, not as much as me but still pretty good.  Now, my big plan is to hit up multiple countries on this one.  At first she wasn’t too convinced about my plan as we’re looking at scheduling this together – after all, if we both want to travel every where, we may as well do it together.  Of course, there’s a big risk that we won’t even be together in a few months time.  My back up plan for that is cancellation insurance.

Anyhow, I suggested that we do Belize and rather than Costa Rica, we do Guatemala instead.  She was up for that because we could drive there instead of fly there (or take a bus).  I then suggested that we also do Honduras since it borders Guatemala.  She was not quite up for that.  She didn’t quite understand that we could do it fairly quickly and with limited amount of travel time.  I kept working at it, kept suggesting it (using my mentalist techniques – I kid you not) and eventually she came around!  She went out and bought a travel book on Honduras!

I mentally did my victory dance, it now looks like we will do three countries!  At this point, I shall now push my luck and see if we can get in four.  But shh!  Don’t spill the beans on my plan!

Read Full Post »

This seems to happen every year.  Somehow, some way, I am losing weight without actually doing anything.  I recently stepped on the scale and I noticed that I was down about 5 pounds from the last time I weighed myself while going to the gym.  Granted, I was wearing slightly less clothing this time, but not enough to account for the differential.

I haven’t been doing anything differently.  It’s true that I have not been eating as much in recent times but that’s not enough to explain it, I don’t think.  I haven’t been doing any excessive exercising, I’ve just been losing weight.  I weigh less than I did (or maybe about the same) 9 years ago in 2001.  Maybe my lack of body fat explains why I am always so cold.

I wouldn’t say that my eating habits are poor.  I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Although, I have been known to skip meals on occasion when I am not hungry.  For example, on Sunday, I had a late lunch – left over pizza – and a bagle (breakfast bagle) for breakfast.  Not sure what I had for supper but it wasn’t a lot.  That’s not atypical for me, but it’s not a normal Sunday either.

My current girlfriend says I should eat more.  I retort that she’s just trying to fatten me up so she can eat me (after luring me into her gingerbread house).

Read Full Post »

What’s on your list?

This evening, I was reading a post on The Kirk Report, a stock market service that I subscribe to.  Charles Kirk is a professional trader who is taking in candidates for a mentorship program.  He interviewed a lot of candidates, and in the end, he asked a pivotal ie-breaker question to break the deadlock as there were a lot of good candidates. 

So, what was the question? Very simple – what is currently on your bucket list of things to do before you die? If you ever really want to know who you are dealing with in an interview or social setting, that question works better than anything else. It is amazing what people say is on their list and a terrific way to really get to know what another person values.

I had to stop and think to myself.  What’s on my list of things to do before I die?  What sorts of things am I valuing?  What sorts of things do you value?  Here are some of mine, in no particular order:

  1. Travel to a few more places – I have a list of about 20 or 30 places I’d like to visit.  But I want to narrow it down to five, once again in no particular order: Bhutan, Kenya (or possibly Morocco), Thailand, Antarctica, and Austria.  Why those places?  There are stories behind all of them, but they are places I would like to hit up.
  2. The sappy one – establish a relationship with someone important to me.  Now before you all say “awww…” I have always felt that I could be happy as a single person or in a relationship with someone else.  But yet, as I get older, I reflect on how I have traveled to various – with friends, alone, with co-workers, and with girlfriends.  Out of all of them, and this may be the recency effect speaking, my favorites would have to be the times I have traveled with girlfriends.  I like having that close rapport with someone. 

    For many years, I focused on interests like trading, magic, anti-spam and the sorts.  And I don’t regret the way I have ordered things.  But going forward, I believe that now is the time to prioritize the establishment of a relationship now that I have a firm grounding in the other things.  Note that this point is quite linked to (1).

  3. Become a full time trader for at least one year.  I just can’t seem to get away from this.  Trading is in my blood.
  4. Get a TV special performing mentalism.  This has been my goal for years and I have never really gotten very close to achieving it.  It will forever remain on that list of things to do until I can finally cross it off my list.

I’m sure I could think of more things if I really tried, but these are 4 important ones to me.  Again, they are not in order of importance.  But I think that it is a good list.

Read Full Post »

Sunday afternoon, or possibly evening, I was having a brief nap on my comfy, comfy couch.  However, I was kind of on my slide, with my neck in an awkward position.  Later on that evening, I started to feel a pain in my neck. You know what I am talking about, it’s when you get that crick in your neck and you feel it when you turn it.

I hoped it would go away the next day but it didn’t.  In fact, my neck felt much, much worse.  I could somewhat rotate my head by turning partway to the left, but only about a quarter turn to the right without discomfort.  I could tilt my head about 1/4 turn to the left (ie, putting my ear towards my shoulder) but only about 1/8 of a turn to the right.  Going right really, really hurt.  This made driving quite difficult.  Even swallowing water was painful as my throat muscles would “catch” my neck muscle where the pain was, irritating it.  Today, 3 days later, it’s feeling better although I still can’t quite tilt my head to the right.

The weird thing is that if I press my fingers against the side of my neck and massage where I feel the pain, it doesn’t hurt very much.  The pain is neutral.  It’s only “inside” of my muscles where I feel the pain, and hence, a massage is pretty much useless.  That’s kind of annoying, too.

Read Full Post »

Over the past few months, I have taken a number of trips.  These are both big ones and small mini-trips, which still count:

  1. Switzerland/Italy
  2. Winnipeg
  3. Vancouver
  4. San Francisco
  5. Kelowna, BC
  6. Vancouver, again
  7. New Orleans
  8. Victoria, BC (this weekend)

That’s a lot.  I didn’t realize how much I had gotten out.  This September/October, I shall be doing a trip to Vancouver again.  However, my plans to go to London, Spain and Morocco didn’t come to fruition.  So that’s out.  However, that doesn’t mean I can’t go anywhere.  I like to go some place I haven’t been before, and Spain and Morocco would have counted.  But if not there, then where?

My current line of thinking is possibly New Caledonia, or possibly Central America.  I haven’t done either of those two places, and the southern hemisphere is apparently a place I get to every 4 years.  We’ll see.

Read Full Post »

This evening, for the past 45 minutes or so, I have been reviewing my trades.  I have been trying to narrow down my mistakes.  To do this, I divided up my trades into the following categories, looking for patterns:

  • Average length of time the short term trend was in place when I made the trade
  • Number of days after I purchased that the trend reversed
  • The result (Gain/Loss)
  • The type of trade – Fade (trading against the short term trend in anticipation of a reversal) or Trend (continuation of a short term trend)

Looking at everything this way, using Excel, using my limited 13 trades (7 winners, 6 losers) I have some interesting stats:

  • For a winning trade, the existing trend is shorter – an average of 2.1 days vs 2.8 days for losing trades
  • For a winning trade, the average reversal period after I purchase is 3.2 days vs 3.8 days for losing trades.

Combining these two, it doesn’t help me.  Trends are shorter for my winning trades than they are for my losing trades, although it does suggest that I get in as close to a reversal point as possible.  The optimal time period for me to stay in is between 3-4 days.

This doesn’t help me all that much.  I decided to look at it by type of trade (Fading vs Trending):

  • For winning trades, when I Fade the average existing trend period is very short (1.5 days).  For trending trades, it is double (3 days).  This means that if I intend to fade, the reversal period has to be very close.  For a trending trade, I can take my time a bit more.
  • Losses is where it gets interesting.  My losing Fades look pretty similar to my winning Fades.  However, my losing Trends have an existing pre-trend of 4.67 days. 

Going by this, I can create a rough guide: If I am going to trade in direction of the trend, I must get in by the third day.  The holding period doesn’t matter as much, but when the reversal eventually comes, it comes hard and erases gains incredibly quickly.  The optimal holding period after purchase is 2-4 days.

Doing this explains explains my two biggest current losers – Apple and APKT.  Apple was profitable for two days and then reversed.  APKT was never profitable but I did wait too long to get in.  I bought it and then it promptly reversed.  But in both cases, the trends were in place for 5 days (Apple) or 6 days (APKT).

The only one that could not have been avoided is my trade in Intuitive Surgical (ISRG).  I faded it 1 day into the (counter) trend and then it promptly reversed on me two days later.  There’s no way I could have foreseen a reversal that narrow.  That one I can live with.  The others… less so.

Read Full Post »


I am really, really beginning to hate seeing that little rolling dot sequence that I see in various Silverlight loading applications on the web:


Read Full Post »

I’m getting extremely frustrated with my trading recently, especially today.  It’s making so disgusted that I am thinking of stopping it altogether, I am so frustrated with myself.

I’ve been trying really hard to dig myself out of my hole that I dug for myself with my recent two bad trades.  As of yesterday, I had put on two new positions, and one of them had erased 80% of my one bad trade, and the other bad one had erased 2/3 of its loss all on its own.  That was as of yesterday.  I was thinking to myself “The market has really gone down a lot, I should close.”  But I didn’t.  I held on because I figured I still had a bit of a gain to go.

And now today, the market has rallied big time and all of those gains have been erased and losses extended.  A position that was up $1170 (in a week, 90%) is now down $90.  That’s a reversal of over $1200 in one day.  One day!  And I knew I should have gotten out, but I didn’t.

This has happened to me a lot.  My short term trading paranoid strategy was working for me, yet for some reason I deviated from it.  And I refuse to learn my lesson.  Why do I do this again?

Read Full Post »

I’m currently in New Orleans and the outside temperate is 90° F (32° C).  And yet, I find that I have to wear long pants and a jacket almost everywhere I am.

Why, you ask?

Because I am indoors nearly all of the time.  I’m in the New Orleans Convention Center and I find that I can wear a short sleeve shirt for about 1-2 hours.  But because the air conditioning is so high, I get cold and have to put on a jacket.  Even wearing the jacket I still get cold.  Afterwards, after the conference is over, I can walk around outside in sandals and a lighter pair of pants, but because I am with co-workers we often go to restaurants and inside, the air conditioning is blasting.  In there, I last maybe 20 minutes and then I have to put my jacket on because it is so cold in there. 

I am the only one who has to do this.  Everyone else is in short sleeve shirts, and a few others are in shorts.  To be certain, I am wearing sandals but my upper torso gets really cold after a short period of time.  I guess I just don’t have the necessary natural insulation to keep myself warm in those types of environments.

Read Full Post »

I’m here in New Orleans on a business trip with co-workers, and Sunday night myself and a co-worker were wandering around downtown and found our way to Bourbon St – a cross between Las Vegas and Mos Eisley.  After that place, we wandered on back to my hotel, kept going and went to the Harrah’s casino.  I remarked I wanted to take a look inside, see if there was anything good going on.  There wasn’t, there wasn’t even anyone playing poker, and so we left.  I saw what I wanted.

The next evening, myself and even more co-workers were at a restaurant.  Most of the people there now know that I perform magic/mentalism, but not everyone.  Of the ones who do, they are impressed with my skills because the effects that I have performed are incredibly powerful and flawlessly executed, either with mentalism or sleight of hand.  Anyway, we were chatting and my co-worker who was with me said “Oh, let me tell you a story.  Yesterday the two of us, me and Terry, walked into the casino.  The staff came up to him and asked him to leave.  They didn’t want him fleecing them out of their profits.”

Everyone chuckled, and a few believed the story for a half second.  Yet not everyone did.  Did the casino really kick me out?  Probably not was the general consensus, except for one person.  He’s a young kid, only 24, and he actually believed the story.  “Wait a minute,” he asked me, “why did the casino ask you to leave?  What did you do?”

My co-worker jumped in.  “Terry is a magician.  He could take the casino for millions!”  Millions, of course, is an exaggeration, but that was said to underscore the point that if I applied myself I could make a lot of money by doing sleight-of-hand or other sundry subterfuge and making a good chunk of money off of the casino unfairly (unfair to them, that is).

“Really?” asked my co-worker.  “What’s the full story?  What did you do?”

Now, at this point, I am in a quandary.  The secret to a good performance/magician is sacrifice.  I learned this in The Prestige and in the book Strong Magic.  I try to make sure that my magician’s personality is the same as my real life personality.  You need to be consistent in your persona.  This is especially true if you are amateur and perform for mostly friends.  If you deviate from it then you are not believable the way you might as a stage performer where the public only knows you on stage.  For myself, I use a lot of psychology in my act and openly attribute my skills to it, and in real life I am constantly talking about psychology as well.  I have merged both personas and so one is an extension of the other. 

And this was the problem.  On the one hand, I could say to my co-worker “That didn’t actually happen, he’s making it up.”  However, that would be terrible showmanship.  I would be destroying the illusion of prestige as a magician.  I couldn’t do that, it would be going against everything I had learned about being a good performer.  On the other hand, I wasn’t sure I wanted to straight out lie to him.  Instead, I equivocated.  “I went into the casino, I did a few things, and then I left.”

“That’s pretty open, I do that too,” he said.

“Heh,” I said, “true enough.”  I told him to come see my presentation on Wednesday where some of his questions would be answered.  I figured I would neither confirm nor deny the story and that would be good enough.  It’s all I care to reveal, that’s for sure.

Read Full Post »

The market rally appears to have run out steam and I think that there is some opportunity.  I hope that the market moves down because maybe this time it’s different.  I don’t really know what I am doing but I like the thrill of the ride.  My options positions are kind of illiquid so let’s see how that works out.

Read Full Post »

Here’s an idea for a mentalist effect I have been working on.  It combines some elements of my own interests.

What I have here is a little journal containing entries on the pages for 365 days of the year.  Here’s January 1, January 2, January 3, and so forth.  Of course, each day follows the next.  And like you all know, I like to travel.  I started looking at a globe, then switched to Bing Maps, and started picking random locations.  London, England.  The kingdom of Bhutan.  Rome, Italy.  Cucamonga, California.  Each of these places is associated with a particular day of the year yet nobody here knows what date corresponds to what place.  Each date has a different place next to it in my journal.

You there, buddy, could you stand up?  Please think of a date.  Don’t say it out loud, keep it to yourself.  Now change it.  And change it again.  One more time.  Name your date out loud.

November 13, you say?  The choice was completely fair.  Here, take my journal and look up the place corresponding to November 13.  While you are doing that, what I have here is an envelope with a location written inside of it.  What’s the place corresponding to November 13?  Ah, it is Auckland, New Zealand.  What’s the date on November 12?  And the 14th?  They are both different, aren’t they?  Okay, good.  Now, would you go ahead and take this envelope, tear it open and remove what’s inside.

Read it out loud to the rest of everyone in the audience here.

<Auckland, New Zealand>

That’s the general structure of the effect.  Now I need to figure out a way to achieve it.

Read Full Post »

I have recently been experiencing some success with options trading.  My initial success started to ease my paranoia and I had some good trades and a couple of bad ones.  But the good was outweighing the bad by a long shot.

That was before my latest two trades.  I am now underwater in two options positions by a large amount.  Worse yet, one was up $500 and now is down $800, a $1300 swing in a week (a week!).  The other one is down even more; it caught me completely off-guard because I bet that it would go down like the rest of the market and is hasn’t.  It’s gone straight up and each day it goes up costs me just a bit more money.

So now what?  Do I cut my losses and move on?  The reason I didn’t close my first position early is because I bought a longer term option.  My thinking was that it would correct a bit and then come back down.  Well, it has corrected (ie, gone up) a lot and caught me off-guard.  The market was oversold, which I knew, but I didn’t expect this stock to snap back as well as it has.  The other one has similarly taken off and not corrected at all though I do think it can still come down.

I am kind of in a dilemma.  I know that stocks don’t go up forever, they eventually come down.  The problem is that I need them to do that in the next 3 weeks – not a lot of time.  It’s possible, but in the meantime I will be sweating it out.

My other option (no pun intended) is to keep those ones open because I do not think they can keep going up and start digging myself out with more trades that play to my style.  I’ve discovered that I am good at banking quick profits, a 1-3 day trade that makes 15-50% in that period of time. That seems to be my specialty.  While I often surrender bigger gains by not holding on, I feel good about those quick in-and-out positions.  So, my key is to look for another market turning and execute some new trades.

I am not feeling great about this market.  I think that it will go up a bit more and then come back down and hopefully drag my other two positions down with it.  If I can’t make any money on them, I’d like to at least lessen the loss.  What’s frustrating is that both of those positions went up when I need them to go down, and my other position I needed to go up and instead it went down.  In other words, all three positions moved against me even though they needed to move in different directions.

The saga continues.  But trading is still way more fun that real estate.  Tax benefits aren’t as good, though.

Read Full Post »