Archive for Personal/Family
As Dad was a member of the armed services, the memory of the Naval officer playing taps and then presenting the American flag to my mother on behalf of the President of the United States will forever remained etched in my soul.
Yes, this is a trading blog. Yet, as stated at the end of the upcoming book, THIS is what is most important.
And “THIS” means God and family first.
P.S. AND THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY … PAST AND PRESENT.
On this fourth of July, I take some time to catch up on all things business & personal including MF Global and current life events.
When we think of the term “holistic”, we typically think of health … and certainly not trading.
Miriam Webster defines “holistic” as follows:
Relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts.
And based on the last two months of “back” hell that I’ve experienced – along with its accompanying journey to neurosurgeons, radiologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, primary care physicians, and … well, you get the picture – and the final SOLUTION (more on that discovery below … which may help many a ton of traders), I’m convinced more than ever of the need for a comprehensive approach to everything in life from health to, yes — trading.
Frankly, I don’t know how the heck June was a profitable trading month as I had to battle through one of the greatest focus challenges of my life – not to mention doctor appointments once or twice a week – but I suppose years of trading tends to toughen one just a bit. But I digress.
OK, first let me explain my back journey of the last two months.
As Jellie Team #8 knows, I’ve essentially been dealing with what has felt like a knife in my upper back for about two months. And the pain got so bad that the first day of Team #8 was deferred by a day as I had to head to the E.R. to deal with excruciating pain and tingling in all four extremities.
And while I won’t bore you with all of the details, suffice it to say that I discovered both the cause and solution in a way that none of the above-mentioned specialists with their years of training and fancy degrees could. And that “way” was often Googling everything I could about every symptom — no matter how minor — that I was experiencing.
Frankly, I must have spent at least a hundred hours searching, researching, and looking under every rock in the virtual world before I stumbled across two sites where the giant proverbial light bulb went on in blinding fashion.
OK, many of you know I’ve had back issues over the years. And much of the maintenance was a regular visit to my chriopractor and — and this is ironically where the problem started – to a massage specialist who beginning in January spent 90 minutes on my back every Friday … in part for stress relief, but moreso to keep that upper back in good shape.
And for the first three months this year, my back was the best it had been in during my entire life. And the massages felt GREAT as each time she’d spend the first 45 minutes kneading my upper back muscles which often included use of her elbow to flatten out the rough spots.
Then in May, all hell broke loose. For out of nowhere and after feeling the best I have in years, I developed a dull pain in the center of my upper back, which within a few weeks that pain escalated to the most excruciating constant knife-like pain I’ve ever felt.
OK, now to a few of the specialist reactions:
The MRI showed typical 50-year aging of the spine in a number of areas (MRIs often read far worse than you really are),but nothing warranted surgery and so the neurosurgeons recommended the typical route of oral steroids (which I refused to take) physical therapy (pain management, massage, rehab) and possibly cortisone shots in the back if things didn’t improve within a few weeks.
My chiropractor recommended continued adjustments, massage, cold laser therapy, a ton of Fish Oil and Vitamin D to combat the inflammation.
My physical therapist performed ultrasound, stim, and massage.
Nothing worked, and if anything, the various treatements made conditions worse.
And nothing made sense. For how could my back go from the best it had been in years to this in only a few weeks?????
I reached out to my Christian friends, business associates, and Emmaus team members for prayer and insight.
Well, if you’ve read this far and figured it out, it took you a lot shorter time than it took me to figure things out.
For in the end, it was all about the massage.
Not only did that wonderful weekly session cause the problem, the recommended subsequent massages by EVERY specialist actually worsened the condition.
For what I discovered is that for people that spend much of their life bending forward, the WORST thing you can do is have your upper back muscles lengthened. And stretching/lengthening back muscles is EXACTLY what massages are intended to do.
Think about it. At my end, I spend hour upon hour in front of a PC trading, teaching, writing, etc., I use my Droid at least 20 times a day which tilts the head down, I stoop a bit to get into my compact BMW 3-Series, etc. etc. And we all know that all of those actions result in weak, stretched back muscles.
Absolutely the worst thing you could do … UNLESS it was far lighter AND accompanied by an equal strengthening program for those same muscles AND a stretching program to stretch/loosen the opposing tight & shrunk chest muscles (the effect caused by the lengthened muscles in the back).
But without those qualifiers, having a deep upper back massage for people like me is like adding gasoline to the bonfire.
Thankfully, through the grace of God I was led to research two highly unusual symptoms that I was experiencing. A fire/burning type sensation, and a tremendous itching sensation between the shoulder blades that I felt during the actual massages, and again during my episodes of constant pain (and it wasn’t a healing type itching feeling!).
And after finding those golden nugget websites (the links are noted in the comments to this post) and later contacting one of the therapists, I learned that those are the precise symptoms for overstretched back muscles that are lacking adequate blood supply!
The solution? Kill the ongoing and rehab massages and work at rebuilding and strengthing those overstretched muscles attached to your spine.
Amazingly, every specialist and my trading coach all suggested massage.
Yet it was precisely the worst thing that could have been done.
As for now, I’m well on my way to a full recovery as the symptoms starting lessening in less than two days after learning all of this.
# # #
Specialists of course have their place in society. Yet far too often there is a complete lack of a comprehensive approach to one’s problem.
Neurosurgeons know about and treat issues requiring surgery.
Chiropractors know about and treat bone structure and nerve compression.
And massage therapists know about and treat … well, yea.
So it’s left to us to play “general contractor” of sorts as we try to piece together the solution to a puzzle where we know our overall bodies and “puzzle picture” best, but where each specialist only has a corner piece.
And so it is as well with trading.
Every market rhythm is unique … as is every trader.
The Turtle traders of yesteryear traded well in a trend environment, but the methods failed miserably during times of false breakouts and choppy markets (thus, the famous “Turtle Soup” pattern).
Other traders I’ve met, including one from Jellie Team #8, speak of methods which are suggested to be used all the time but only work in certain markets (including using probes of prior swing highs or lows as stops in a chop market where 90% of them in such a market will trigger before the expected move … which you see all the time in non-trader led chatrooms under the guise of “loss prevention” … which is really “gain prevention”!!)
Yet as my “back journey” can attest, as well as over a decade of trading the markets profitably, trading — like life — is best approached from a holistic perspective.
And while the Jellie effort isn’t perfect, perhaps one of the reasons for its lasting success, participant feedback, and industry accolades is that it offers far more than a quick four-hour seminar fix, or a single method that only works under the works-twice-a-day broken clock theory.
My father once told me everything in life is good if not taken in excess.
And while he doesn’t have many years life left on this earth, those words should be heeded by every trader — and person — on this planet.
Especially when it comes to learning this business … and massages.
Have a great fourth!!!
And so as I prepare for whatever God has in store for me for my remaining years, whether they be one or 50+, I had to take just one peek backward before turning my eyes forever forward.
In sharing this brief “life replay”, it will hopefully provide further insight as to my convictions that have been chronicled in this 800+ post diary, and why no one will ever be able to take away my joy for life or squelch my voice for continuing to fight for the TRUTH … whether it be in this industry, or in the more important realm of life.
The Early Years (Age 0-19)
- Born in 1961 due solely to the incredible strength of my parents and their faith in God to try again after experiencing a devastating stillbirth.
- Lived with weakened immune system during much of first 20 years
- Accepted Christ as my savior at vacation bible school at the age of 13
… which will forever remain the most important decision I’ll ever make.
- Too many missteps to count, but include:
* Scoring on the wrong basket in a Jr. High School game
… AFTER missing the first shot and shooting again
* Bombing as a soloist in a high school concert due to complete lack of preparation
* Breaking my ankle twice due to not wearing tape or supports and missing our state championship
* Losing my early Christian priority so many times, this post would never end if I counted them all
- Somehow managed to attain Eagle Scout amidst my wandering
The Growing Years (20-35)
- Ridiculed as a college student for not drinking or doing drugs
- Was introduced to the medical science of homeopathy
… which forever altered and strengthened my immune system, yet will always be
incorrectly dissed as quackery by profit-motivated drug companies
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude with offers from all Big 8 Accounting firms
- Placed on a fast track executive development program resulting in ten promotions and six relocations
- Married Debra (my second most important decision) who will always remain the love of my life
- Became father to two daughters for whom I’d give my life in a heartbeat
- Again often losing my early Christian priority many times
The Maturing Years (36-49)
- Got my Executive MBA
- Tired of corporate life and its lack of challenge and turned to trading
- Multiple early missteps & failures
… which would later become the cornerstone of my mission to improve education
- Did I mention losing my Christian priority?
- Almost lost my wife to a massively burst appendix which had gone gangrene
- Almost lost my youngest daughter to Type 1 Diabetes who would later blossom into valedictorian
& accomplished violin soloist
… which would of course become another cornerstone of our mission with the ADA
- Through the grace and strength of God, turned early trading missteps into a multi-year performance
which will always rank among the best in its asset class
- Fathered one of the most unique, intensive, and well-received trading educational programs
ever, while making the terms “Bamboo” & “Jellie” common in the industry
- Experienced a spiritual re-awakening in the last year thanks to …
* My personal Walk to Emmaus
* Work with the Christian Alpha program
* John & Cherie Norquay
* & above all, my Lord Jesus Christ
I could of course go on … but then this would be all about me.
But those who “really get it” know that this blog has NEVER been about me.
For all the documentation of missteps, stumbles, and successes in these hundreds and hundreds of virtual pages have simply been a roadmap for inspiration, and living proof that Christ is alive and doing great things in preparation for His current and evolving kingdom.
If you’ve missed those “between the lines” inferences or are new to this blog, I encourage you to re-read every post.
And so as I turn the page on this blog and in my life, the following song & lyrics come to mind:
May you increase as I decrease.
May you grow as I surrender to your love,
to your peace, to your joy.
For such will be my mission going forward in this blog, the TAD efforts, my educational programs, our charitable causes, my PivotPoint role, and life in general.
Interestingly, as I write this amidst the recent and not-so-recent scars of life, I find myself stronger than I’ve ever been at any stage – or age — in my life.
As for the end of the story??
Well, I know its outcome far better than a monster MATD trading opening.
For the final score was, is, and will always be: Jesus 1 Satan 0.
And that’s the only trade on this life with 100% probability.
You can take that to the bank.
Wednesday 6:10AM ET: The video access issue has been fixed! Sorry about that.
A while back (June 2010), you may recall we did a virtual office tour video.
Here’s an update with some recent changes, including the 65″ plasma that provides I suppose what could be described as the “ultimate market perspective”.
As I note in the brief video, you can rest assured that I still believe all one needs is an 11″ Sony Vaio screen, two charts, and an order entry platform!
As mentioned in recent posts, it’s the second toy I’ve bought in six years and a semi-reward for more than a decade of trading, 50 years of life (OK, call it an early birthday present), and getting daughter #1 through college.
So for those who have been screaming at me to do something for myself, this will hopefully suffice for another decade!
I’d hate to think where I’d be if I went it alone.
As for all of the trading trials, tribulations, heartaches, and accomplishments I’ve experienced through the years, here’s the main reason I’m still standing.
She’s my source of continual strength, support, faith, forgiveness, and encouragement.
I call her my secret weapon.
Happy 25th Anniversary Debra.
On Tuesday, the summer trading season will officially end as the blog and incoming Jellies begin their fall trek in earnest. Until then, enjoy the weekend.
We certainly will.
Rather it refers to Matriculation Day at Tufts University.
Tufts is one of the few colleges or universities that have formal matriculation ceremonies, which was where we were today on a hill in Medford, MA overlooking Boston in pre-hurricane 95 degree heat.
Wikipedia describes Matriculation as: “… to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings. The most common meaning, however, refers to the formal process of entering a university, or of becoming eligible to enter by acquiring the meeting prerequisites.
I’d never been to such a ceremony before, and so I learned a great deal observing and listening – especially to the President’s address to the incoming students and their families.
Those who’ve known me over the years know how I feel about education, as I come from a long line of teachers and school administrators, and was personally groomed early and often in my corporate career long before I began running companies & divisions, or testifying before congressional bodies.
Such is no doubt why I’ve pursued trading education with such an unending passion throughout the last decade, providing multiple options from the free blog to the more formal extended training programs, while never being satisfied and continually looking to innovate and improve.
And while real world experience will of course remain one of the top “instructors”, one simply can’t put a price tag on the value of that foundation which will provide support for decades to come … although at a four-year cost of half a million for two kids, they surely try!
Today’s events and the President’s speech further solidified how very powerful such a foundation can be, while at the same time marking several significant milestones in our family’s life.
On the family front, and as I’m typing this from a hotel outside Boston - and prepping for the “on the road” version of MATD tomorrow … at a Holiday Inn Express which will hopefully make for a good commercial tomorrow - Debra & I have officially begun our empty nest years as we left our youngest daughter Chelsea in the very good hands of the Tufts community.
As many of you can attest, it’s a major transition for parent and child when the youngest goes off to college.
In our case, and given the medical events of the last seven years, today has even more special meaning. Just as an example, how many freshmen have on their list of move-in priorities to make sure the fridge works and gets up to cooling temp quickly so the life-sustaining insulin can be stored.
Much … although clearly not all … of our work as parents has been completed.
And like every other parent on the planet, we weren’t perfect, made lots of mistakes, and did the best we could knowing full well that no instruction manual existed.
Hmm … do I see mega-trading themes there? Darn right.
Yet somehow, and clearly with the grace of God, our kids survived, and are now beginning a march of their own as they prepare to contribute to society.
Here are few take-aways – and funny moments – from the President’s speech:
- Don’t pre-judge. That engineering “geek” may turn out to be the world’s best orchestra player.
- Nothing … repeat, NOTHING good ever came out of being drunk.
- Try to live your life as you stated on your incoming applications and essays.
- Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable explaining to your parents.
- The incoming class includes both a Harry Potter and a Hannah from Montana.
- In addition to Chelsea, the class includes 69 other valedictorians.
- As in life, stretch yourself by pursing classes, interests, and friendships outside of your comfort zone.
- Tufts alumni include the founder of eBay and CEOs of J.P. Morgan Chase, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Piper Jaffray, & the Milwaukee Brewers.
And so today, it wasn’t about trading. Or was it?
Today provided the setup of the lifetime for thousands of students, while tomorrow’s MATD provides a more immediate setup and reward for traders.
And yes, I was aware of the market’s movement every step of today thanks to the good ol’ Sony Vaio. Being on a college campus near Boston also provided for stellar Sprint PCS speed.
Today was Matriculation Day at Tufts, while Tuesday will be our version of “M.D.” for the incoming Jellies.
Sad to say though, the incoming Jellie class will not include a Harry Potter.