Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Make stops as tight as possible. Avoid the temptation of regret over the sensible, more probable practice of limiting loss.


So I can only trade max 3 stocks in one day, risking $200 per trade. I have the option to trade 1 of the 3 symbols twice in one day. So that means I will do max 4 trades per day risking a total of $800 per day of every trade is wrong (an unlikely event). I will seek a 60% win rate with my avg winner being 1.5x my avg loser. My goal is to avg $300 per day. These rules must stay in place for 20 trading days during which time I will evaluate their effectiveness and make improvements. Any changes/improvements to the above rules can only happen once per month and the reasons for the changes should be documented.


Get bigger sized in the right places, under-sizing your best trades costs you money.


Make stops as tight as possible. Avoid the temptation of regret over the sensible, more probable practice of limiting loss.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Sea

"Man has always been drawn to the sea, but it's an unnatural setting for us, a place of great danger. Tides, currents, waves, wind...each presenting their own hazards none of which can be ignored. The slightest lapse of judgement can be a mistake you might never recover from, but a good sailor doesn't fight against these elements. A good sailor works with them using them to his advantage, while others less fortunate might be forever cast adrift often in several pieces, he always comes home safely."  

Dexter, Season 4, Episode 7 ending.

Replace sea with markets and sailor with trader in Dexter's soliloquy above. "Tides, currents, waves, wind" equate to trend (Tide), counter-trend (Current), and external events (Waves, Wind) beyond our control and predictive ability. Those who enter either domain unaware or unprepared will be torn apart. If your mistakes don't kill you, consider it good luck. Make the same mistake twice and you're dead.

I, like Dexter, live an alternative, at times lonely life. A good speculator, like a good serial killer, never reveals the truth about herself. I've hit every rock, mis-judged or flat out ignored the market's tide, and been submerged beneath the water/losses for longer than I thought I could handle, but I'm still here. If nothing else I'm resilient.

The thing is I can't stop, I'm drawn to the markets. Just as Dexter must kill, I must turn on the PC every morning and trade. Most speculators are like this I'm convinced, but few admit it. Gambling addiction comes to mind, but that's just the term for a bad speculator.

The market has been nearly done with me several times, but spared me for some reason. I have begun to heed it's lessons, and abide by it's rules. Like a good sailor, through experience I now use the market's elements to my advantage.

Markets, like our seas, are vast, complex, and dangerous. We can never truly know what will happen next, but have instruments to help us understand what is likely. If one chooses to go head first into a steady, un-relenting wind they may get away with it once or twice, but eventually their ship will be wrecked.

Sometimes you just have to sit, and wait out the storm. Be relentlessly patient and disciplined and you have a good chance to get where you are going.

Monday, January 18, 2016

An Exit

"Why should I ask the wise men: Whence is my beginning? I am busy with the thought: Where will be my end?"

Muhammad Iqbal 


The past is an interesting place. From whence we came. We are crafted for one thing in our youth, and often end up pursuing something else. This was indeed the case with Robert Pfeffermann. 

Robert was a Chemical Engineering major at Lehigh University in the late 1970's, then received his PhD from M.I.T. in 1983. His passion was research science, and he lived to solve unsolvable problems.

Don Abram's son graduated from M.I.T.'s undergraduate program in 1983, the same year Robert received his PhD in Computer Science. The school's graduation ceremony was all inclusive, both undergraduate students and Doctoral candidates participated in the same ceremony.

Don was head of the largest mortgage trading desk on Wall Street, and was responsible for the detour that Robert's life took. He was an x-Marine Captain who led 100  men into the Battle of Khe Son in 1968, and came out with 95 of them. Don's colleagues and subordinates called him Colonel Bill Kilgore ("Apocalypse Now") behind his back. 

1983 was a bad year for Don, his mortgage desk lost $100 million that year. Trading is a young' man's business, and at 50 he was starting to feel old. "Ambitious young assholes", as he called them, were starting to nibble around the edges of his kingdom and he wasn't sure he'd be able to stop them. Math had arrived on Wall St.

The rest is history, Don and Robert met at Cheers Bar in Boston, and had gone there for the same reason graduate weekend in June, 1983. They both loved the now famous sitcom, "Cheers" with Ted Danson and talked about Cliffy and Norm for an hour when they first met.

Robert laughed uncontrollably at the insanity of Don, and Don quietly picked Robert's math inclined brain. Lou Ranieri had invented Mortgage Backed Securities in 1977, and six years later the mortgage business was booming.

September 1986, New York City

"I'm not doing it Don, I mean, why does the position have to be so large?". After 3 years of 24/7 Don and Merrill Lynch, Robert was tired. "Lately all you keep telling me is bigger, bigger, bigger! Is Kelly not sucking your dick on Sunday nights anymore?" Everyone on the trading desk looked up in awe at Robert after he questioned Don so carelessly. Nobody could do that, but Robert had made Don very rich in a short period of time.

Don used to brag to the trading desk about how his wife would blow him every Sunday night on the white shag rug in his entertainment room. He would emphasize the part where he sat on the base of the fireplace with his Scotch while she "stood" on all fours blowing him on the shag rug. Don claimed the rug was made from real Polar Bear fur, and talked about his wife like she was a whore. Robert thought it was hilarious.

It didn't matter, Don loved Robert and Robert loved Don. "Robert, you are the smartest Jew I know, but you'd be working on a cure for ball-lice at some large Pharmaceutical company in fucking New Jersey if it wasn't for me". Robert couldn't necessarily argue with that, and quietly responded "O.K. big Don, but you're the stupidest fucking Irishman I ever met". 

Before Robert could say another word, he heard a now louder Don walking towards him. Don's temper heated up quickly when people hesitated on his orders. "So Jew boy, call your cunt of a customer over at MetLife and FUCKING TELL THE BITCH WE WANT TO BUY MORE OF WHATEVER THEY OWN".  Don's voice was now booming beyond the Mortgage desk. He smacked Robert in the back of his head as he walked by his turret, and Robert knew it was time to get to work.

Robert built the models that told everyone in real time what was cheap and what was over-valued across the entire mortgage market. He was surrounded buy Bloomberg terminals and computers with open spreadsheets that were updated in real time. A former classmate from MIT who was now at Bell Labs in New Jersey consulted with him about the math, assumptions, and coding behind the models.

Among other things, his models measured liquidity, which had been deteriorating for weeks. The world was heating up at the time, oil was crashing, and Saddam Hussein kept lobbing missiles into Iran. The markets were jittery. He had spoken to Don just last week about how liquidity was starting to dry up, but you never knew if Don was listening when you spoke. 

As Robert was scanning his spreadsheets, without looking up, he shouted facetiously across the desk, "Hey Don, you keepin' an eye on those liquidity measures," Robert's tone was now louder and exaggerated, and he and Don were starting one of their know famous across the desk shouting matches.

The first lesson Don taught him was about liquidity. Whenever somebody regurgitated some theory on the economy or markets Don would respond, "fuck earnings, interest rates, asset values, and all the other bullshit. Liquidity and the Fed are all that matters". So Robert built a liquidity model, and Don never looked at it.

"Don's crazy, this is so fucking stupid," Robert murmured 3 times beneath his breadth, "He's gonna' fuck all of us". An assistant trader overheard him, stared into space for a moment, and then spoke hesitantly. "Will this effect our bonus Robert"? Robert turned red, and then unloaded. "Are you fucking kidding me? Don't be such a pussy and do your job"? When Robert used off-color, trading desk lingo the pitch of his voice went up. "Pick up the phone and buy as many IOs as you can. Now!".

Interest Only Strips ("IOs") were the coupon component of a bond that had been "stripped" away from the original bond. "And don't fuck around dude. Call 3 banks and get offers on 1/3 of everything you need, buy it all simultaneously, and don't fucking tell any of them you are buying elsewhere". The IOs were a hedge and would protect them if the market sold off, which was Robert's first priority. 

His second priority was to ensure that "NOBODY outside the firm knew how big their inventory was getting. While yelling at the junior trader, Robert sent a Bloomberg private message to their senior trader. "If anybody finds out about this, and I mean anyone in this firm besides us, I will fire the douche bag responsible for the leak. You know what can happen." Robert believed nature was responsible for weather hurricanes, and financial hurricanes were caused by humans.

Now Robert was addressing everyone. "If Z scores across any of our negatively-convex positions deteriorate, make sure you tell me. When durations start to shrink too fast and you have mis-matched cash flows across the curve, just buy on the run treasurys immediately". He was referring to US treasury notes.

Don finally spoke. "I'm glad i'm not smart enough to understand what the fuck you just said Robert. Did you buy any fucking bonds yet, or are you just giving math lessons to the interns?" 

Robert never fucked around, and Don knew it. He just liked to bust Robert's balls and hear himself talk. Without looking up Robert responded, "we did about $2 billion Don, is that enough tough guy? When they fire us I'll be sure to tell them whose idea this was." "Fantastic", Don responded with his big, happy, obnoxious smile. 

Late October, Westchester Country Club

The following Saturday Don showed up at Westchester Country Club for a round of golf. It was a gorgeous fall day and the course was in perfect condition. He had invited Robert primarily because he liked to tell stories on the trading desk about how bad Robert was at golf.

Don met Robert in the club locker room before their round of golf. Robert felt like a Jew in Palestine at Westchester Country Club, and was edgy from the time he got out of the car. The plaid rug, mahogany lockers, and smell of talcum powder just added to his discomfort. It smells like Nazis in here, he thought to himself.

Don, we are up $100 million on this trade, why don't we take some off the table?" Don looked up in quasi-disgust, which Robert knew would be followed by verbal humiliation.

"Why don't we go to the stream room after golf and you can blow me Robert. Taking any of that trade off now would be like spending the night talking to the hooker you just hired. Now let's go play golf Herman Barron". 

"Who the fuck is Herman Barron Don?" Don looked up, proud of his sport's knowledge, "he was the first Jew to win a PGA title numb-nuts. You should know more about the sports side of your heritage, Henry Kissinger wasn't the only famous Jew". Robert silently wished Don knew more about the bond market and less about sports and pussy.

An hour later they tee'd off  with the Smith brothers, Tad and Lawson, who were close associates with the Bush family of Texas. Many oil men, most notably George Bush Sr., held memberships at the club. It offered them a nice respite from the Texas summer heat, and enabled them to meet with their financiers from Wall Street.

Most of the Texas members had single digit handicaps, and Tad and Lawson were both scratch golfers. When they arrived at the first tee, and Robert realized who they were playing with he looked at Don and mouthed "you mother-fucker." The men shook hands, and Don suggested Robert tee off first.

Just as soon as Robert gets his tee in the ground and stance set, Don looks at Tad and in his most exaggerated Irish, New York accent blurts out, "tell Robert how $100 million isn't that much money. He's a bundle of nerves on the trading desk because we made a few bucks. And tell him how oil is gonna' stabilize and go back up, because he's worried about that too."

Robert was pissed-off now, in addition to his first tee jitters he had to prepare for a lecture from some oil nut-job who played golf 365 days a year. He braced himself for a half-assed line of Texas bullshit, as Tad seemed more interested in adjusting his golf glove.

"Don't you worry Robert," Tad spoke without looking at Robert, "Saddam's in our pocket and we've been accumulating oil for months," he offered. "We play with George every so often, and he's given us his word that things would settle down in the Middle East." 

Robert felt a surge of guilt flow from his head to his toes. He often wondered if he was wasting his intellect and education, and it was crap like this that made him feel certain that he did. My ancestors are spinning in their graves, he thought to himself, as I stand here in the middle of WASP kingdom.

Robert proceeded to tee-off, shaking with anger at this point, and missed the ball on his first swing. Don started laughing like a Hyena, bent over clutching his belly. Tad and Lawson let out a small chuckle, and were visibly regretting the foursome already. Don lived for uncomfortable situations.

At this point an audience had formed, some to witness Don's antics and others to watch Tad and Lawson hit 300 yard drives. Don had developed a consistent, respectable game over the years and hit a nice fade right down the middle of the fairway, out about 240 yards. Robert hit a worm-burner that barely reached the fairway. The Lawson's went to their balls which had flown well beyond Don, and Don walked with Robert to his ball.

"You are a fucking Irish, degenerate asshole Don. I had to sit there and listen to some cock-eyed lecture on markets from those Texas fuck-tards. Jesus, no wonder the world is fucked-up with idiots like that running it." Don was still laughing from Robert's whiff. 

"REE-LAXXXXX DUDE, Jesus, I was just having some fun with you. Don't be so uptight Robert, it's bad for trading and sex. Oh wait you haven't had sex." Don knew Robert hadn't been laid in months. His ribbing never ended.

Tad and Lawson took off after 9 holes, saying they had to get home to the wives. Don called them on it. "Don't lie to me Lawson, just tell the goddamn truth if you want to leave." He had a couple of drinks during the first nine holes and had snorted a little cocaine for good measure, and now wanted to argue with two guys from Texas. 

"Awww heck Don, don't be angry, the girl's been sayin' we spend too much time on the course is all." Don turned red and started marching toward Tad, he had a thing about people lying to him. "I hope oil goes to fucking zero you fucking hicks." At this point Robert just stood there, holding the top of his forehead with his right hand.

Don grabbed Robert by the shoulder blade and almost lifted him off the ground. "Let's go finish what we started Robert, like real men do," and they both proceed to the 10th tee. Tad and Lawson walked back to the clubhouse like scolded children. Truth be told, most people at the club were scared of Don and wanted him kicked out.

"Like real men Don? What are we in Vietnam now, Jesus Christ are you that out of your mind?" Robert often worried to himself that he had sacrificed a career in science to work for a sociopath. "And what's with the cocaine, when did you pick that up? Really great to know Don that I work for a fucking drug-addict."

"Robert, you mention Vietnam again and I'll disembowel you with my wedge. Furthermore, what I do outside of work is none of your fucking business you liberal cunt. You wanna' run the trading desk dickhead? Now let's go play the back nine, LIKE REAL MEN!" Don was shouting at this point, hoping somebody from the pro shop would come out and challenge him.

Robert was sufficiently motivated at this point, which was Don's original intent. This is what Don did best, and the skill was probably born somewhere in the Jungles of Vietnam where motivation was required to survive.

Robert placed the tee in the 10th tee-box, stood up to the ball foregoing a practice swing, and hit a laser beam of a drive right down the middle of the fairway, about 250 yards. Don watched the ball, from the moment it left Robert's club until it laid to rest right in the middle of the fairway on one of Westchester's toughest holes.

Don's anger turned to joy, and at this point he was beaming like a proud father. "You fuckin' Jew I knew you could do it. I LOVE YOU!!!" Robert went on to shoot a 45 on the back nine, an all time 9 hole best for him.

"I'm recommending you for membership Robert". They were now sitting at the bar in the clubhouse having a drink.  "Yeah right Don I know they are dying to wave in a bunch of new Jewish members." Don responded with his eyes laser focused on Roberts, "I'll get you in dude, fuck these people." That was the thing with Don, behind all the verbal bigotry was a guy who rooted for the minority.

Don had settled down at this point, and began to give Robert his serious talk look. He chugged the last of his scotch while Robert quietly braced for whatever was coming next.

"Look dude, you're the smartest person I've ever met in my life but you don't know shit about the grey area of trading." The tension peeled off Robert a bit, as he realized they were finally going to talk markets.

"You know what traders mostly are Robert?" Robert looked up smiling and said, "no Don I don't, so please tell me." Don shot him a shut the fuck up look, spun around in his bar stool towards Robert, and grabbed his left shoulder with his right hand.

"They are mostly fucking wrong Robert. Dead wrong. I've watched for a decade now all the smart fucks like yourself trying to figure out the markets. There's no such thing man, nobody ever figures out the markets. But you know what I figured out Robert? I learned to identify the exact moment in a given trade where and why I am wrong."

Robert had perked up at this point, listening intently to Don. "If you had walked into that locker room this morning and told me we were down $100 million on this trade, I would have cancelled golf with those two idiots and started to discuss how to get out of the trade. That's it, it would be over in a week and I would move on. I wouldn't cry, bitch, or question anything about the trade. And I sure as fuck wouldn't doubt why I did the trade in the first place because I know about the graveyard that's home to all the traders who doubted themselves."

Don ordered another drink for both of them, and asked the bartender for dinner menus. "The second thing traders mostly do Robert, is fuck themselves out of their payday when they are right. Which is exactly what you suggested doing this morning you idiot. Don't fucking do that to yourself, you are better than that. Victories are rare in life and rarer in trading. Leave it alone, let it grow, and do whatever you have to do not to take a profit until the market SCREAMS at you to do so."

"That's it man", Don had started looking at the menu already. "And I sure as fuck will NEVER cut a good trade off, because that leads to a more dangerous place than doubt. Regret will eat you alive Robert, day by day, as you watch the trade you cut off go to the moon. You might as well quit the day you do it, because your trading career is over."

Robert was dumbfounded at this point. Two hours ago he thought Don was the biggest moron to walk the planet, now he was finally comprehending the wisdom of Don. He was in awe.

"You think I built models in Vietnam? I made a plan, executed it, and learned from my mistakes." Robert started smiling, conceding defeat, and simply said, "please Don no more Vietnam stories, let's eat. I get it."

Late December 1986, Firm Christmas Party at Tavern on the Green

Don was beaming, floating through the restaurant, finding all his enemies and doubters at the firm. They were all hiding from him because at this point everyone knew what he had accomplished that year. 

He had a wise-crack for all of them, which he of course relayed to them five inches in front of their faces. Before he moved onto his next holiday victim, he would say "Happy Hanukkah Brother!" Classic Don.

They had spent the last 2 weeks unwinding their mortgage trade, which netted $500 million for the firm. They were the most profitable desk on the Street that year. Ten percent went to Don, and who he paid next on the desk was up to him.

In his final act of the evening, he walked over to Robert and said "Let's get out of here dude, I hate these fucking people." Robert was having a math debate with someone from risk management. Don barked at both of them, "You guys are real party animals, huh?" The risk management guy let out a nervous laugh, while Don grabbed Robert and they exited the restaurant.

As they walked out onto Central Park West, Don turned to Robert and said he was quitting. "Oh and your fired Robert. You are better than all this, smarter than all these people." Don was pointing back at the restaurant. "You are free Robert to do whatever you want in your life. Go do what you originally set out to do."

For some reason, Robert started to get teary eyed and finally said "Don, I have to earn a living, I don't know if I can ever go back to research science at this point. I wouldn't even know where to start. Not to mention which I have bills to pay, my student loans are massive Don." Don started to laugh a bit at this point.

"You'll figure it out Robert. All this shit we do will be over sooner than you think. You will get bored my friend, this is monkey business for you. All the talent-less douche bags in that restaurant will eventually kill the golden goose because they are the greediest mother-fuckers I have ever met. Trust me dude, they will ruin it and it will be over."

Robert was spiraling lower at this point, confusion had overtaken his emotion. "Ah, I mean, can I get a loan Don? I might need a year or two to figure things out, but I promise I'll pay you back." Don quickly responded, "I'm not giving you a loan Robert, because I KNOW you will be fine."

"FUCK YOU DON! Maybe you are the greedy one. You are all taken care of, and I'm just beginning my career that apparently just ended. Jesus, my family was right, I should have never started this nonsense." 

Don started to walk uptown, away from Robert. He stopped about twenty yards from Robert, turned back, and said "Call me in the morning." Robert yelled back, "FOR WHAT DON, SO YOU CAN GIVE ME CAREER ADVICE!!!" Don hesitated for a moment, looked up and said, "I just want to make sure the check clears."

At this point Robert was an emotional puddle, so he looked back up after his anger abated, and responded, "what check Don?"

Don let his shoulders down, smiled broadly, and said "the one for $19 million that I had the firm write to you dumb-dumb." Robert looked like he just had received a right hook from a prize fighter, blinking multiple times, staring at Don in disbelief. 

Before Robert could say a word, Don quipped "Oh, I made $20 million, I hope you are O.K. with that." Don turned back around, and started walking uptown again. Robert sat down on a Central Park Bench and stayed their for another hour, trying hard to comprehend the amount of money he had just made. Eventually it all sunk in, and Robert became excited as he contemplated his second chance at what he truly loved in life. Science.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Who Knows

I love the markets, but respect them more. They teach me. Human beings are a colossal mess when it comes to uncertainty, and truly do have an uncanny knack for losing money. It is not our job to guess the direction of a market or stock, our job is to capitalize on trends while skewing odds in our favor. Plan don't predict.

Martin Feldstein was on Bloomberg TV this morning waxing poetic about Madrasas of all things. Among other distinctions, he was on the Board of AIG Financial Products unit. Uggh, I feel his pain. The markets can be cruel. I admire his resiliency as an older gentleman, still at it. Money corrupts us, surely he would have easily understood the downside at AIG if he objectively studied what was going on.

I'm no different, last night I was angry at the markets, this morning I am fired up and seeing a lot of opportunities. Pump your brakes kid. I don't trust either emotion, as being angry at the markets is like getting angry about when the sun rises and sets. It's good to be motivated, but caution is warranted if you find yourself jumping out of your skin.

Be in the flow of the moment, as Mark Douglas used to more eloquently say. A couple of one offs below.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Seven Five ... My Review

My Uncle from the Italian side of our family was NYPD, and my Cousin on the Irish side is an ex-convict. They were both complicated characters who did some good things and also did some bad things. I love them both, and as a kid I mostly saw their good sides. There were moments, however, when their bad sides came out. 

If I've learned nothing else at 46 years of age, it's that life is much more complicated and messy than we give it credit for. We all struggle with the duality of human nature, and we live in a society that haphazardly attempts to label certain people "good" and other's as "bad". This is a fool's errand ofcourse, as we all have done some wonderful things as well as some things we're not so proud of.

I thought some of the reviews I read on "The Seven Five", most notably from the New York Times, were unfair in their suggestion that the documentary lacked a moral compass and that Mr. Dowd was not remorseful. I disagree, he has suffered immensely for his actions and if you listen to him on the Joe Rogan podcast, I think you will find him a man who is trying to do good after a life that was riddled with bad. We can learn a lot from him given his time as a corrupt police officer, and his 12+ years spent in Federal prison.

While watching "The Seven Five", the quote that kept playing through my head was "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". All large crimes seem to start from some simple misdeed, and that certainly was the case here. Mr. Dowd, his partner Kenny Eurell, and other officers in the documentary did not set out to become criminals. The dire circumstances that existed in East New York at the time, the testosterone of 20 something year old cops running around with unchecked power, and low salaries all played a role in their demise. None of us can say we are not influenced by money, particularly those of us who don't have much of it.

For me the documentary evoked compassion, as it's hard to watch my fellow humans create a train wreck. The suffering was immense on all sides, primarily the innocent bystanders within the drug ravaged communities of New York, as the crack epidemic ripped through New York City during the 1980s. As Mr. Dowd suggests on the Joe Rogan Podcast, "crack turned normal people into criminals".

The pain of all involved in "The Seven Five" is palpable throughout, particularly when one of their own is shot and killed by a faction of a gang the officers had been protecting. I had the sense that this was the beginning of the end for all of them, as the death of a fellow officer by the hands of criminals they technically protected, was just too much to handle for any of them. They all are visibly upset by this officer's death in the documentary, something they will obviously be haunted by for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the story was the complex and rock solid partnership between Michael Dowd and his partner Kenny Eurell. They were best friends, and trust was never an issue until the end. Mr Eurell was put into an impossible situation that I would not wish on my worst enemy. The two do not speak to this day.

"The Seven Five" is a highly relevant period piece (1980s NYC) that can help us better understand the complex role police officers play in crime riddled areas. It is naive to think that we will send young, impressionable men and women into drug and gun laden war zones after a few months at the academy and expect them to "clean the place up". The modern day American "ghetto" is a problem whose solution spans far beyond officers on the ground. It is my sincere hope that all involved in this tragic story have been able to find peace in their lives.

The documentary can be rented at Amazon here The Seven Five

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Obsession and Boogie Men

My son is 6, he doesn't want to leave our side lately.  Don't get me wrong, he's a fun kid who cares about 1 thing...entertaining himself.  But, at school they are teaching them what to do in the case of an emergency (i.e. school intruders/shooting).  That did it for him, he finally realized the world is dangerous.  

I grew up with my head under a desk with the specter of a Soviet Nuclear Missile landing in my living room.  He now fears armed men in black outfits breaking into his school.  My villain was far off, across oceans, on foreign soil.  His lurks around the corner, just outside the schoolyard.  

The cold war ended, the Soviets were a paper tiger of sorts.  We all got tired of MAD and our Super Power cock fight that went on for 45 years.  Gun ownership by household continues to decline in America.  My son's generation will accelerate that phenomena.  Heck, they are the ones being targeted and adults are having trouble doing much about it.  All generations tire of threats, real or perceived, and eventually take action.

Obsession is never a good thing, but it's what we do.  In the United States we obsess about love, sex, drugs, politics, accomplishment, and stocks.  Steve Martin once observed being obsessed with someone in a relationship, and how it was, in a way, very unhealthy to think about 1 person 24/7. But we all do it.  Like love, if you are obsessed with trading you will probably lose everything.

I walked past a rock this morning, and just kept walking.  But then I stopped, walked backwards, and picked up the rock.  I remembered my son's rock collection, and this one looked particularly interesting.  So here it is next to my oranges, on my wooden kitchen table.  The wood is real too, my wife designed the table and had it hand made in Indonesia.

I walked another half mile to my house, juggling the rock in my right hand.  I observed it, felt it, and wondered about it.  I thought, my God this feels better than a new Iphone.  It was like touching a naked woman after being alone on a deserted island for a year.  Life can be ascetic here in the land of milk and honey.  The Smart Phones are perfect, the lawns are perfect, and the houses are perfect.

That rock was nothing.  Imperfect, stranded, left alone on a busy road.  Yet it will outlast the lawns, the houses, and the Iphones.  Guarantee it.