Friday, September 30, 2005

Serenity Now

"Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers." -- Herbert Hoover

daughter_1stfish, originally uploaded by TaylorTree.

Figured this picture was most appropriate for this week's Serenity Now since my daughter's birthday is this weekend.

This pic was taken while catching her first fish, a little largemouth bass. She actually caught two fish that day. The other one was a crappie. Okay, enough bragging. :)

Have a good weekend!


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reversion to the Mean

Interesting post from Michael Covel titled Reversion to the Mean. Thanks to Ugly Chart for the FatKat link which triggered a search for James Simmons (Renaissance Technologies) which then guided me to Michael Covel's post. Funny where someone's post will take you. :)

Back to Covel's post. This talk of the next landing likely to be average in regard to pilots garners the question...will your next trade likely be average? Is there some dependency out there to explore in your trading system's position sizing methods? By following the Martingale method, am I rewarding my perfect landings (increasing size of next position) and ridiculing my bad landings (decreasing size of next position)? Oh, ideas to test...

Side Note
We were without power today and this hundred degree weather was a killer. I'm writing to you with a big smile on my face because just after FEMA came around my neighborhood bullhorning that they have no idea when power would be restored...the power was restored! Yeah! Having electricity never felt so good. Even if it's only for a short-time until the next rolling black-out.

Wanted to share a memory I have of my mom that might prove insightful. My mom lived through a lot...but I think the top two things that really put the fear in her were the hurricanes and gas crunch of the late 70's/early 80's. Know what I remember? She never allowed her car's gas tank to get below half a tank. Never. She would keep that sucker topped off every opportunity she got. Kinda like my grandpa after farming through the Great Depression...never kept money in the bank. I wonder, has a whole generation of people passed through these 25 years not understanding what a precious and valuable thing commodities can end up being? Only to experience it first hand over these past few months?

Know what my wife's worry is now? Someone stealing gas out of her car. Not stealing her car...but her gas! Remember when it used to be a big thing to have a lock on your gas cap? To be honest, I grew up never understanding why you'd need a lock on your gas cap. Now, I do. Another story for you...

While waiting in Houston evacuation traffic...everyone was running on gas fumes. The longer it took, the more gas it ate up. One woman was in her car staring off into space, frustrated with the hours she had spent in this traffic, only to witness someone beside her car syphoning off her gas. While she was driving it mind you. She immediately got out, yelled at the guy, and he ran away...cut short of his objective...but with a little more gas than he had before.

Have these past 20 something years been a perfect landing in commodities?

Are we headed for a Reversion to the Mean? Something I speculated back in March in my Canary in a Coal Mine post?

Finally, please keep all the people who still do not have electricity due to Hurricane Rita in your thoughts and prayers. We are having heat records blown out of the sky this week (100+ degree days), no breeze, nothing. And thoughts and prayers for all the men and women of the utility companies who are working around the clock to get power restored.

Later Trades,


Update: Wanted to clarify a bit on the term Martingale. When I referred to Martingale in the above post, I was referring to a specific type of Martingale commonly known as Anti-Martingale. Where you increase bet-size based on winning and decrease bet-size based on losing. The conventional Martingale often referenced in the BlackJack world back in the day increases bet-size on losing.

A few links to explore on Martingale...
Position Sizing by Michael R. Bryant
The Truth About Betting Systems
Betting Systems and the House Edge
Exposing the Gambler's Fallacy

A few links to explore on the Law of Averages and Gambler's Fallacy...
Law of Large Numbers and Gambler's Fallacy
The Law of Large Numbers

Monday, September 26, 2005

Serenity Now

pre_rita_calmbeforestorm, originally uploaded by TaylorTree.

Testing the flickr service out. I think I'll try to post a picture each week titled Serenity Now (possibly on Fridays). Just trying to figure out the easiest way to do this.


Lake Livingston Dam Update

I'm powering down for the night but wanted to post a few links to information on the Lake Livingston Dam release currently in progress. First here are the links: Engineers rushing to inspect dam damage, Residents May Have to Leave Because of Worries about Dam, Emergency release of water begins from Livingston Dam.

Note, I checked on the lake levels tonight and it is true...the lake is dropping fast. So, be careful out there...especially if you live in the Liberty County area. When water is released from the dam...the Liberty area will not actually see the full impact until 5 days later. And speaking of Liberty...apparently all power is still down in that area as well as Dayton.

And to my regular readers...please be patient with my current posts. I promise I'll get back to writing about trading and systems very soon. Just feel an obligation to get the word out especially since most of the hurricane coverage is centered around the bigger cities such as Houston and Beaumont.

Take care,


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Livingston / Onalaska Hurricane Status

I'm getting quite a few emails concerning people who hunkered down in the Livingston / Onlaska area during hurricane Rita's attack. They're in the same boat as much of this area: telephone lines down, cell towers down, no power, no gas. These people are very worried because they have not heard anything from the people who stayed in this area since the storm hit. With the news of the Lake Livingston Dam evacuation...I'm sure their fears have only increased.

So, please, if you know anything or you're from the Livingston / Onalaska area...leave a comment on this post giving information on the status of this area. My power keeps coming up and by leaving a comment it will be there for all to see who's desperately looking for information on their loved ones. Plus, it will email me and when I can check...I can email those people looking for answers to let them know the status of things.

Again, if you're in the area please let us know...what's the damage like?, where they're any tornadoes that hit?, what cities/towns/areas are being evacuated due to the release of the Trinity River waters from the Lake Livingston Dam. Where are they locating the evacuees from this area? Any numbers to call to get this kind of information? Any information will be greatly appreciated.

Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers.


Hurricane Rita - Post-Update

The good news is we're okay. But, it was rough. The winds started picking up over 40mph sometime around 2:00am Saturday morning and by 4:00am they were at least 75mph with some gusts well over 100mph. Several points in my area have reported wind gusts as high as 117mph. What really sucks (there is no better word for it) is our largest, prettiest tree collapsed. Literally split into two. Here's a picture of the damage.

I want to thank everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We really felt it because the winds were literally howling and miraculously the trees held up to them...actually providing a buffer between us and the winds. We drove around the neighborhood today and most homes are without power but nobody had any serious damage. So, thanks again for the prayers and wishes.

Speaking of fallen trees...really only one other home had tree damage similar to ours.

Now the concern has turned to the Lake Livingston Dam. Read coverage here and here. Apparently the high winds have caused stress on the dam and they need to release water out of the lake in order to assess the damage. We just found out about this a few hours ago and they have ordered a flood evacuation from all the areas surrounding the Trinity River which includes us. But, thankfully, we should be okay since we're north of the Dam. The people who will encounter the released waters will be south of the dam. In fact, everyone north of the dam should see their lake water levels reducing. Here's a pic of that process:

But, just to be safe I'm going to check on the progress of the dam release in my area every hour on the hour. So, please, keep the people south of Lake Livingston Dam in your thoughts and prayers...they're going to need them.

Interesting Tidbits from Hurricane Rita

JLP from AllThingsFinancial shares his evacuation story through the Corrigan/Livingston area that I reported problems on in a prior post. Take note...his story is very similar to several I have heard that had to evacuate through that area. I'm glad JLP and his family made it through.

I was interviewed by SkyNews UK about 5:00am Saturday morning. One of the producers found my blog and they wanted to hear my story on hunkering down in the storm. It just so happened that they called just as the storm was really coming through...winds were at least 70mph...a transformer blew about 20 feet from my house...and it was 5:00am in the morning! In fact, the power went out during this first phone call with them. Needless to say, I was a bit excited. My wife and I keep laughing over and over at one of the comments I made during the live TV interview. They asked me if I was well-stocked for the storm, able to make it through a few days to a few weeks without power. My answer was, "I hope it's not that long...but we're well stocked...I have a garage filled with buckets full of water in case we need to flush." I'm laughing right now as I type that. Where did that come from? Funny the things you say when under stress and being interviewed. Well, at least I gave the nice people over in the UK something to laugh about during this stressful time. One last thing, everyone I talked to at SkyNews was incredibly nice, understanding, and sincere. Good people.

In addition to the falling tree there was a fire just a block in front of my house. It started from the electrical lines getting hit by the trees and got big enough that I could start to smell it. I was frantically throwing on work boots in order to get over there and help but almost as soon as it started it sputtered out. Thank goodness for that.

Here's some links to pictures of the evacuations through Huntsville that are simply incredible. This is what I was witnessing in my Grapes of Wrath post.

A couple of news sites made note of my hurricane coverage.
Netscape News with CNN listed it as an Editors' Web Picks on What People are Saying.

The Guardian Unlimited quoted several of my comments on the evacuation and hunkering down for little Rita.

That's it for now. Time to check on those lake levels.


Friday, September 23, 2005

The winds and rains have arrived...

Well, the weather has turned. The winds and rains are I'm signing off. Unplugging all the electronics and sitting tight.

Take care and I'll see you on the other side.

Later Trades,


Pre Rita

Well, looks like this hurricane is moving more east of us and might not be as bad as previously believed. That's the good news for us. Bad for Louisiana.

Also, there's hundreds of people stuck in Corrigan for hours (14+). The friend I was referring to in my previous post who's waiting on his family is still waiting. They left Port Arthur early yesterday and they've been stuck in the Corrigan area all day, all night, and now all of today. Nobody has any gas and they're really going through the ringer.

Another update. Apparently there are 20 to 25 tankers of gas heading from Fort Hood to the Huntsville/Riverside/Trinity area to deliver gas. That's the good news for all of us. But, that doesn't help those Corrigan people. Someone needs to get them gas and fast.

Well, I promised some pics and here are a couple of the lake taken approximately 1:00pm central standard time.

Calm waters

Another pic where you can view the water level in relation to the pier.

I'll post a follow-up to these pictures post Rita.

Wind right now just picked up pretty good. This could get interesting. I'll be disconnecting shortly after the market closes (3:00pm central standard time) and moving my PC to a safer location. Here's a view outside my home office.

As you can see...plenty of trees which should act as a buffer from the wind. Let's hope they can stand up to this wind.

Might be my last post for the day. I've got some more rat-killing to do in order to be ready for this hurricane. And family to take care of.

Take care,


Rita and the Lake Area

You'd never imagine a hurricane was coming sometime today. The skies are clear, just a slight breeze, and finally the heat from yesterday has dissipated a bit.

I've gotten a few emails on the area I live and blog about. So, I've included a picture of the lake and surrounding areas in relation to the Gulf Coast and little Rita.

As you can see, we should be okay. It's far enough away from the coast that we hopefully will be able to avoid much of the damage little Rita is sure to cause. The concerning factor is which side of the hurricane will we be? If to the west...the winds and possible tornadoes spinoffs should be somewhat limited. If on the dirty side (east of hurricane)...then we'll be in for some very strong winds (75mph+) and the worst part...tornadoes. When hurricane Carla came through years ago...the dirty side spunoff over 100 tornadoes. Pretty scary if you ask me.

Please keep the people evacuating Houston/Beaumont area in your thoughts and prayers. There are many families still stuck in their cars. Two friends of mine are still waiting on family to get to their houses. Those families started driving early yesterday morning. It's a real helpless feeling when you're only an hour away from your destination and you're out of gas, water, food, and your stuck in a traffic for hours on end. Worst part about it is it's very difficult to bring anything to them even if you could get your hands on some gas...which is almost impossible.

Finally, take a look over at Bill Cara's site. He has covered Rita and its economic impact very well. Take a look at all the oil rigs that are likely to be hit from Rita this time around. I cannot imagine the damage this will cause.

Source: Rigzone via Bill Cara

As I'm finishing up this can hear and feel the winds are growing stronger. Take a look at the recent satellite image of Rita and you can see it's coming. I'll post some pics later.

Take care,


Hurricane Rita

Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes. -- The Grapes of Wrath

The mass exodus from Houston and Beaumont areas are causing all kinds of problems. Gas raids in particular. In my area today there were only 2 gas stations with gas and those stations looked like a Super WalMart parking lot. And you gotta realize...I'm talking small small towns. The type of towns where you blink and you miss em'. These towns haven't ever seen these type of crowds in their entire history. You're talking about a standard deviation breakout on the town populations.

And you definitely get a Grapes of Wrath sense while driving the roads. Families carrying their house in their cars & trucks. Not just one car but a caravan of cars traversing the highways. Moms following Dads, Aunts, Uncles, etc. All their belongings crammed into their trucks, uhauls, horse trailers, and cars. Kinda scary. Keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers.

Experiencing all this takes me back to my childhood days when we lived some miles north of Galveston off I-45. I cannot remember the name of the hurricane that hit...just remember my dad was gone (offshore oil drilling) and my mom and I were left to face the storm alone. That was back in the day when you were told to open up all the doors and windows in your home to allow the winds to pass through your house. Mom threw me into the bathtub and took my mattress and covered us with it. Yes, empty bathtub, mattress, all the doors and windows open...hurricane hits. Sounded like a freight train when it came through. I wanted to look so bad but mom just about smothered me trying to keep me safe.

The only other memory I have of that event was what it felt like to be in the eye of the hurricane. I can still remember the smell of the air...clean...distinctive. Of course, the sky was clear. Got a sense of awe for sure. That's about all I remember. I do think my dad was finally able to get back home and had to swim from I-45 to our neck of the woods to get home. Yes, I did say swim. Not sure, but think he just left his car on the side of the road. Funny the things you remember.

Other interesting things...I live a block or two from a lake. This community consists of lake homes (wood siding, pier&beam). About half are residents and the other half weekenders. Today when I drove home I took a look at who was home...almost every weekend home had at least 10 to 15 cars/trucks at the house. I guess, some have escaped up here. But, the reports on the news say this area will still get up to 100 mph winds from little Rita. So, say a prayer for these folks as well...and that includes me & my family.

Yes, we're hunkering down and going to tough it out. I spent the afternoon battening down the hatches, backing up my computer equipment, securing the boat, and smoking some briscuit for the storm ahead. Yes, every good Texan knows you gotta do some grilling during hurricane time. And a Corona or two to keep your sanity or lack thereof.

I'll try to post some pics of pre-Rita and post-Rita for ya. And keep you updated on the progress in hurricane central. In the mean time, you can check out another blog covering the hurricane.

Last but not least check out the FundAlarm site. Take note of the experiment they're doing with a market-timing newsletter. I think it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Later Trades,


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Quote of the Week

I find the The Kirk Report's quote today very appropriate:
"What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens." - Benjamin Disraeli


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hope, Prayers, and Position Sizing

This Rita stuff looks pretty bad. From the looks of it...the path of the hurricane will come blowing right through my locale. I have several family and friends vacating the area just an hour south of me. We're told that everything should be okay here especially considering we're the first place you're able to stop when evacuating Houston/Galveston.

So, my wife picked up some essentials at the store today in case we stay. Speaking of stores and is clear people are panicking. There are stories of people fighting over the last can of tuna and bottled water. As of now, all batteries, candles, water, and many other supplies are gone from the stores. My wife commented that she has never had so many people look in her shopping cart before. Seeing what she was they need that...this...etc. A bit of the sky is falling feeling seems to be happening. But, like I said, this Rita looks pretty bad. Last hurricane that blew through this way was Alicia and it was "only" a category 3.

We've decided to wait til' late Thursday night/early Friday morning to decide whether we stay or go. I figure by that time, the path will be a sure thing and hopefully the streets will be a little less congested up north of here. Of course, we'll follow the path less travelled. So, stay tuned. If we stay, I'll keep you posted on what kind of winds/rains we see up here. If not, I'll report what kind of damage happened when we return. Keep everyone down here on the Gulf Coast in your thoughts and prayers. Also, here's a couple of blogs (1, 2) from the Houston Chronicle that fills in some of the Rita details.

Before I get out of dodge, I wanted to leave you with a great little pdf on position sizing from Breakout Futures. I'm currently trying out the Adaptrade product, Market System Analyzer. They provide a free lite-version download to the product where you can load up to 15 trades to experiment with. The full version allows unlimited number of trades to analyze. I'll let you know my thoughts on this product once I test it a little more. Also, here's some great articles from Dr. Bryant covering Position Sizing to Monte Carlo Analysis to Trade Dependency to Equity Curve Trading. Read here. You can sign up for Dr. Bryant's free newsletters here as well as peruse the archives. Enjoy!

Later Trades,


Tuesday, September 20, 2005's BlogFest!

Never heard of Bob Parsons before today. Came across his blog via's neat little Daily Picks feature. Usually, I just give the sites listed a quick glance. And proceeded to do the same with Bob Parsons site. But, his words caught my eye. And they should catch yours as well. Some wonderful stories of how to make it in this world...starting from scratch and propspering in your chosen endeavors. Something all of us traders should read, learn, and do.

Start with this great post, Parson's rules for survival. This post briefly discusses his background but more importantly the rules that have become the foundation for his success. My favorites?
1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."
Parson dives deeper in this post and makes the claim, "I would have accomplished nothing had I not stepped outside my comfort zone." How many of you are unhappy with what you've got and afraid to risk what you've got to get something better?

3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."
Read further into this rule here. I really love this rule. I cannot tell you the number of times I have almost given up only to dig deeper and realize success was just around the corner. Or as my mom used to say when I was about to give up on something as a kid..."Climb that Mountain! You're almost to the top. Don't give up now."

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves. Parson explains further in this post.

14. Solve your own problems. You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."
Wish I understood this 10 years ago when I began my school of hard-knocks in the trading world.

The above articles and quotes are included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( and is Copyright 2005 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

Some true words of inspiration for us none other than the founder of Wow, who woulda thunk it? :)

Later Trades,


Monday, September 19, 2005

Larry Connors Link Fest

Larry Connors needs no introduction. The CEO and Co-founder of And the co-author of the ever popular Raschke book, Street Smarts. I noticed Connors has setup a blog here. He mentioned he wrote a Connors Weekly Battle Plan that I have clearly missed in my Internet readings for the past 3 years. Luckily, the articles are still available here. So, check em' out while you can...

Connors performs an interesting test on buy and hold, buying everyday on the open and selling on the close (no overnight risk), and buying everyday on the close and selling on the next morning's open (only overnight risk). The results? Never forget we get paid by taking risk...not by avoiding it. Read here.

The Month-End Effect. I've tested this system idea before. I believe the recent tests are aimed towards the small-cap & micro-cap market. Basically buying at the end of the month and selling at the beginning to capture the big boys in action. Theory is that hedge funds now report their performance numbers every month instead of every quarter. Connors gives a good breakdown of his tests on this idea here.

Excellent piece on NOT buying breakouts. I have to admit, several of my long-term system setups are breakouts to new highs. Buying breakouts does work...but don't be afraid to explore the dark side...buying breakdowns. Read Part I and Part II. Also read the follow-ups here, here, and here.

Interesting little edges shared. Fans of the consecutive closing highs will enjoy this little tidbit. Read here and scroll to bottom where it discusses Finding the Best Opportunities In a Declining Market.

Great post on what happens when you buy what the general public believes. Believers in the 200 dma may want to read a bit of this article. Also gives away an interesting system idea. Read here.

Fantastic interview with the great Nelson Freeburg. Nelson challenges the view that money management is the vital ingredient to success. Entry and Exit are the key. And I tend to agree. Read Part I and Part II.

This piece is for the discretionary traders out there. Insight into how buying panics are created and the possible ways to take advantage of them. Read here.

Later Trades,


Saturday, September 17, 2005

ADD and Jay-Z

I came across this forum on Traders having ADD tonight and thought I'd share. Take note of acrary's post on keeping a small notebook with you in order to record the multitude of ideas popping through your head (I do this). Also pay attention to his NLP technique to clear the mind before the trading day. I use a variation of this method each and every day. My variation is instead of one blank sheet of paper...I use several. Ha! One look at my desk and you'll see scratch paper everywhere. All wonderfully organized by my dyslexic brain. :)

Keeping focused has always been one of the main problems in my life with ADD. I'm sure you can tell that from the wide ranging topics my blog has covered. :) One of my top coping mechanisms is music. After writing down all the things I'd like to accomplish for the day...I start up my music shuffle and get on with my rat-killin'. My song of choice to start the day? Oh yeah, there's nothing like starting the day with Jay-Z's U Don't Know...

Open the market up...$1 million, $2 million, $3 million, $4...18 months, $80 million more.

Later Trades,


Friday, September 16, 2005

Larry Williams Interview and Templeton Insight

First check out Maoxian's Wise Words from John Templeton here. Oh yeah, I was truly scared when putting on the QQQQ option trade back in April. But, you can't beat an average profit of over 200% from that one trade. To be honest, made my year. Templeton's words ring true, "The art of successful investment is counterintuitive."

Next take a gander at RealWorldTrading's recent interview of Larry Williams (father of the Michelle Williams) Interesting tidbits from the interview?
Larry's daughter, Michelle, won the World Cup trading championship at age 16 following one of his systems turning a $10,000 account into $110,000. Aye-chewowa.

Larry disses Gann charts, Fibonacci, and TA concepts but has seen a relationship between stock prices and the new moon cycle (astro-finance).

I like his thoughts on the 50 lowest priced stocks, seasonality of the different sectors, and trading with the insiders.

Well, everyone have a great weekend. Tomorrow is Father-Daughter day for yours truly. A day filled with getting doughnuts, watching movies, working in the garage, eating popcorn, and just chillin' like a villain. Or as my daughter puts it, "Chill like a Vill."

Later Trades,


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

TraderMike's Survey Results

Check out TraderMike's Survey Results. Interesting stuff. What I found most interesting is he liked two of the comments I made on the survey:
Don't care anything about watchlists and stock ideas. I care about the process of being a trader, methods and mechanics used, and styles followed and observed. Any content focused on those guidelines I would enjoy reading.

More background on how you became a trader, what enabled you to trade for a living, and how easy/hard it is to trade for a living. Trials and tribulations, my friend, trials and tribulations.

Kinda cool that he found my comments interesting. Guess we have more in common than the name. :)

Speaking of surveys...I'm too lazy to put together a great survey like TraderMike's. But, if you have any ideas...something you'd like to see...other topics you're interested in...please leave a comment or drop an email (

System Update
I'm in the process of researching another system idea. This one's a bit of a departure from my normal system development. It involves more of a fundamental approach than technical. And truth be told, the gathering of data for testing the idea will be challenging. But, as they say, the harder you work the luckier you get.

Later Trades,


Thursday, September 08, 2005

A little Humor

A coworker sent this site to me today. Thought I'd share it with ya'll considering the recent rant about Catching Fish. See lures & jigs here.

Later Trades,


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Catching Fish

I received a rather funny comment last night from my post, "New Broker and Atlanta."

Here's the comment:
Do you realize that using an Ameritrade company that you're doing nothing more then emailing your orders in and they're pooled against other client orders? Amazing the lack of knowledge.

I guess the anonymous fellow didn't like my recent choice in brokers. Ha! And don't you just love the final stab, "Amazing the lack of knowledge." Since the pooling of client orders are just one of the many reasons why I've always liked Ameritrade as a broker. As I've mentioned in several of my posts...I don't require direct access and the like to trade my systems. Like Livermore who grew up and prospered in the bucket shops...I've learned to trade in the Ameritrade-type environment. I'm comfortable there and all my systems are geared to that environment. When I step away from that environment...many of my advantages are gone. And perhaps like Livermore's return to the bucket shops to rebuild his grubstake...I've always returned to the Ameritrade's of the world.

Could I do better with learning direct access? Changing my style and systems up? Perhaps this article by Scott Barrie will better address the question. Read Wonderful Fishing here.

My favorite quotes in the article?
I took my trusty fly rod, my brother used a spinning rod and a spoon as did my son. However, my daughter Katherine (aka "Kallie Pally") was set up with her little $5/Barbie fishing rod (a pink push button caster with pictures of Barbie on it, reminiscent of an old Zebco), a bobber and a worm... really to include her and keep her busy while the boys fished. Well, after about 20 minutes of getting nothing - in one of my favorite childhood holes - her bobber went under water, while the boys had not even gotten a strike. She reeled in a beautiful 13" brown trout, and taught the rest of us to fish. She taught us a lesson... not the tackle but the tactics (bait) which makes fish bite.

The lessons learned fishing in a river or on the world's bourses are similar, but the one I walked away with this time is that the tackle and equipment is not that important as long as one can find the right bait and present it where the fish are.

Perhaps I'll explain a bit more as to the type of fish I'm trying to catch in regards to trading. I'm not looking to throw myself into the pit where people are smarter, faster, and frankly more talented than I am. And more importantly, have more money and better resources at their disposal than me. My goal is to avoid those crowded stomping grounds. I'm constantly in search of the places the big boys and girls can't get to. That's why I trade low volume stocks which are often times low priced stocks. I only trade the Nasdaq stocks because of the type of orders I enter. Then I develop & trade strategies that take advantage of the conditions present in these types of stocks. After many years of trading this way you begin to see all the different things an Ameritrade type of environment will present and you learn and adapt. You also discover new strategies to take advantage of this limited environment.

So, if I liked Ameritrade so much why did I switch to a direct access broker? The reason? A new system and the need for less than $5 commissions to trade it. With my Ameritrade commissions above the $5 mark and with a failure of them to come down to reach that area...I was forced to switch. I didn't know about Izone at the time and the only places I could find that would reduce my commissions were direct access brokers like IB and MB Trading. But, at a least half of my orders would be filled at the same cost Ameritrade was charging in commissions. I was hoping some would be charged below Ameritrade due to the share price and quantity bought/sold.

After real-world testing the system I quickly began to see that #1 the system's performance depended more on the commission costs than my backtests showed, and #2 the majority of my commissions were pretty close to the Ameritrade cost level. So, I was forced to decide...shut the system down or find cheaper commissions. Luckily I found Izone and after trading with them for three weeks I'm happy to report my system is back to profitability.

Here's my equity curve showcasing the effects commissions and trading environment can have on a system:

As you can see, once I switched...profitability returned. Not because the market improved or better fills. But, because commission costs were reduced significantly.

Again, this is not a diss on MB Trading. I was treated very well by MB Trading and I strongly believe they're one of the good guys in this industry. Perhaps one day I shall return to direct access and if I do I would choose MB Trading again. But, for now I'm content with my current fishing equipment. As the article I linked to above mentions...the tools aren't as important as catching fish. And I'm catching plenty of fish...despite the amazing lack of knowledge. Ha!

Later Trades,


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Broker and Atlanta...

I've switched brokers again about 3 weeks ago. MB Trading was great but the per share pricing was beginning to hurt the performance of the new system I'm trading. So, had to act fast and switch to a broker that was #1 cheap and #2 priced commissions based on trade not shares. I chose Izone. They're an arm of Ameritrade and their trading interface is one and the same. That's a good thing since I'm very familiar with the interface and thus no learning curve to overcome.

So far so good. They integrate very well with QuoteTracker software. Fills have been very good. Overall, I'm pleased. And have to add that QuoteTracker is really the driving force behind making everything I'm doing work.

I'll continue to monitor Izone's performance and let you know of the good and bad.

Update on my day job projects. The majority of them are complete, in production, and being used like there's no tomorrow. So far so good. The real test will be this Friday when they run final payroll. Cross your fingers.

I've also discovered an EDI conference I'll need to attend in Atlanta this coming October. Should be a fun trip. Have some family in the area so plan to learn a lot and do some visiting. After all the hard work I've put in and more importantly number of hours...I think I'll extend my stay and make a vacation out it. If anyone has any good recommendations for places to stay & vist in and around Atlanta...please let me know. Last time I've been in the area was back in my AT&T days when I did a brief teaching stint at the Alpharetta location. I saw very little daylight since I ended up taking the graveyard shift in training the job operators. Hopefully, on this trip, I'll have a little more time to see and do.

By next week, I should get back to the normal grind again and start writing better more content-filled articles.

Until then...


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sad Times

Today was a rough day as a father. My city is one of the cities accepting the Louisiana flood victims. In addition to donating money...I'm hearing and seeing many children in need of toys, coloring books, crayons, dolls, cars/trucks, and school supplies that they lost in the flood. These children are really in bad shape...taken out of their homes, nothing to do, faced with attending new schools with none of the comforts of home.

So, I figured this would be a great opportunity to get my daughter to help out by giving up some of her toys, books, crayons, and paper to these children in need. Needless to say her reaction to hearing about the children losing their homes and belongings and the subsequent abundant giving up of her favorite toys broke my heart. Something I thought would take up just a short amount of time ended up being an all night event. I actually had to stop her from giving away everything. Then spent the rest of the night explaining who took their toys away and who took their homes away. She didn't want to go to bed because she was worried about these children. I wasn't prepared for this.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what questions the parents who lost their homes and possessions to Katrina are having to answer to their kids this week. My heart goes out to them.

Please do what you can for the flood victims. And please, please do what you can for the communities supporting them. Many of the communities across Texas are taking in way more than they can handle. This will effect schools and teachers which are already maxed, budget-constrained hospitals, and small churches hosting them. Money is always good but get creative with your help. Often everything goes to the food, clothes, water area. But, there are kids that will need lunchboxes, backpacks, and other school supplies that will begin starting a new school from kindergarten up to college. Think also of the teacher's needs...teaching and supporting more kids. Some of these schools already don't have enough money for textbooks, computers, etc. The list goes on and on.

Realize most of the people are staying in large stadium-like places, sleeping in cots, with little to no privacy. While it's better than nothing...local hotels would surely be better. In fact, I'm amazed at the random acts of kindness going around where the local people are buying a few day's hotel stay for the people they meet. Doesn't sound like much...but think about it...after what they've been through...wouldn't you want a nice warm shower and soft pillow to lay your head? In privacy? Even if it's just for a night or two.

Take care,