Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Notes - Back to Work

6:00pm First, some thoughts on today's performance. Whether it was too much food in New York, a sore back, or just my too-typical Monday doldrums, I had major trouble getting the engine started, and as a result my energy level on a scale of 1-10 today was a minus 3 (hence the red on today's scorecard to the left).

And speaking of the scorecard (which as a reminder remains an experiment), I actually had a tough time grading my size management, as on the one hand, I kept things appropriately light in the morning given the low energy level and as I was providing some long liquidity on the early drop on TICK extremes and divergences to get a feel for the market's pace, yet didn't step it up nearly enough in shorting the 2:30pm abysmal attempt at a rally. So I settled on yellow although I have reasons to shade it both green for the morning and red in the afternoon.

And while I'd like a mulligan on that afternoon climb toward resistance, I suppose I should accept the day which may be best summed up by the offsetting "focus" grade (red) and "avoiding trouble" grade (dark green) ... for they could have easily both been red. Been there, done that.

As is said, know thyself ... and for whatever reason, thyself wasn't particularly sharp-minded today.

Now to respond to a few questions and discussions I had while in New York.

One person comically asked me how that "increasing size" goal was working out for me. Yup ... I'm having a tough time making the move, and fog-brained days like today don't exactly provide the best environment to do so. Remember the classic Airplane quote: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines" ?? The plan is still there ... I just need to get off the pot.

Another person (two actually) suggested that I have too long of a leash with comments that address the same topic over and over again which lessens the focus on relevant dialogue and current issues. And after thinking about it, I think they may be right. So while I continue to encourage open debate and dialogue in the spirit of strengthening each other, and can probably count on one hand the ones violating the FAQ which I couldn't post, I'll try to do a better job there. And yes, I'm very much aware of when people are creatively abusing the privilege or otherwise crossing the line ... you cross, you lose the privilege to post. Time and energy are both finite quantities in this life.

And speaking of the blog FAQ, here's the re-post of the link to the left as a reminder to all:

What It Is:
- First and foremost, a personal historical journal (diary) and motivational tool;
- A therapeutic forum for me to share my thoughts and opinions or otherwise vent (usually to myself);
- A forum for interested onlookers to participate in the dialogue by submitting comments (see Comments guidelines below).

What It Isn't:
- A commercial site, including a platform for referencing, advertising, or selling services;
- A "Gee, Look How Swell Don Miller Is" site (there's not enough space on the Internet to list my weaknesses);
- A site that in any way suggests anyone to engage in trading or other activities I may pursue;
- A site recommending any particular trading method or style.

Comments Guidelines:
I encourage all to submit comments in the spirit of strengthening each other and engaging in other constructive dialogue, and will publish all comments -- including those that share opposing views -- under the following guidelines:
- Submitters must be registered. The blog "switch" for posting of anonymous comments is off;
- Comments with links (or link requests) to commercial or subscription sites won't be posted;
- Unprofessional, disparaging, or threatening comments won't be posted.

Bottom line is it's a personal journal currently open to interested "onlookers". Those looking for something else are always welcome to "change the channel".

One recent post who asked to remain private "opined" (gotta love Bill O'Reilly) that I may have subconsciously crossed the line at times to blog "coaching", a comment that he/she meant with all sincerity. That one got me thinking -- a lot -- and I don't have a good response for it other than to continually reinforce that we're all wired differently and there are many ways to "paint the canvas". Kevin Garnett gets mentally prepped for a game by screaming at the top of his lungs, while others meditate.

So that's pretty much it. I remain more than willing to share what this soon-to-be 48-year old brain may be thinking about, but don't have any magic potion to sell.

If you're new to this diary, welcome. If you're skeptical of hidden agendas, history in this industry has certainly given you that right.

I just try to get up every day and see if I can make it through without stepping all over myself. That's pretty much my definition of a successful day.

Have a pleasant evening.


Severino said...

Hello Don,

Funny thing when you get in your forties, the mind thinks-
I use to like that group, or that show might be fun. To find when you actually get there saying, can we sit down now, and what was I thinking. Not saying that was the case for you, but I sure know it has been for me.

Todd Harrison from Minyanville mentioned today that he has heard from two reliable sources that the, traders are bad tax, is pretty much DOA. To hopefully conclude this for now, is that the vibe you got?

I sure would like another swing at that 2:30 rally attempt into the 20 period on the 15 minute as well as S1 and Fridays low on no volume fat pitch.

That is one thing I like about the market is that there is always a new game tomorrow.

Post it note for tomorrow. Even a fat pitch can be fouled off if the proper focus is not there.

Play ball,


Don Miller said...

Yes, Sev ... the vibe was definitely that unless gvt wants ALL the liquidity and capital to leave this country, it should be DOA.

Then again, gvt has done some pretty stupid things in the past, so let's hope they don't go for some sort of record on this one.


E said...


Be true to yourself.

This may be one of your most intriguing posts ever. Blogging and engaging in the creative web "interaction" is tremendously satisfying for many of us.

The challenge for you is that you are "always on stage", adding more stress to someone who is in an aready "stressful" business.

You have nothing to prove, in my opinion.

Your trading needs should come first, as you are a trader, and an exceptional one.

Everything else should be a distant second.

Just remembering Jack Palance talking to Billy Crystal.


Unknown said...

Hello Don,

It's funny, cause as the day went on I kept thinking "I'm so stupid/lazy and I'm sure Don is cleaning up today- What's wrong with me?"

And you gave the perfect answer:
When were not into it cause our head is in the clouds:

"forget about it" as Al Pacino said in Donnie Brasco!

You make me feel "ok" Don -thanks...

Steve said...

In your opinion how many adds to a trade do you think is optimum, you spoke earlier about 5 odd, at what stage does it become counter productive to the position.


Don Miller said...

pk -

I think that's one of the myths of trading, that large "net" market move days is where most traders make their keep.

And while trend/swing traders HAVE to ride the occasional trend day to offset losses during the more typical chop, to me a day is a day is a day ... no mater whether the market moves net zero or net 250.

As many market makers will tell you, they often make very little on the lower probability strong trend days as the ability to "get back in" after exiting a sequence at high-probability wholesale prices can often be tough.


Don Miller said...

E -

Thanks ... yet keep in mind doing this blog has never been stressful ... ever. As I said when I began the experiment last year, if it EVER began hindering my trading I'd cut off the experiment (which it remains) in a heartbeat, and I believe it's helped my trading as I've mentioned from time to time.

As I said in the final '08 post, even those who initially questioned my motives or otherwise challenge me from time to time only serve to strengthen my resolve and performance :-).

Yet in terms of pressure, I have zero external pressure to perform ... ZERO ... something I learned some 25 years ago when I was first exposed to public speaking and writing, and was then reintroduced to it over the last decade, including when I made the decision to open the diary to interested onlookers.

Rather the pressure to perform instead always comes from within in the form of an intense personal competitiveness, which will always be far more intense than anything that could come from elsewhere.

The only "proving" I'll ever have to do in life is to myself, and that will always be the case.

And such reflects much of the premise behind the 2008 personal journey, which proved to me once and for all that for me, performance will always simply be a matter of desire.

Stay well.


Don Miller said...

Steve -

I don't think I have a good answer. For me it depends on what the market is doing, including its "pace", and whether I'm simply providing liquidity or engaging in speculative trades with greater potential.

If I'm providing liquidity, the # of scales are typically lower as it tends to be more of an in/out sequence ... at least when my game face is on.


Unknown said...

Hello Don,

I'm on the newer side of trading and found your blog via the interview you did on Trader Interviews (iTunes).

Regarding your post dated Friday, Feb. 27th you mention a strategy you used... "most of the entries reflecting wholesale fades into some extreme panic buying and selling (some of my favorite sequences), with extreme TICKs being helpful during the regular session to help time entries when they coincided with price spikes."

Could you explain this in more detail for me (especially the panic buying/selling portion)? I'm not sure if this forum was meant for education but thought I'd ask.

Thank you in advance.


Don Miller said...

Hi Jeff -

[I'm posting my response on both the Monday and Friday posts since you typed the ? on Friday but posted it on Monday's.]

Essentially, I look for wholesale entry price opportunities, which could reflect anything from trend and range break pullbacks to situations where the market is extended sufficiently enough such that there's a high probability of a snapback toward the mean.

In the latter cases, one of the tools I use is TICK extremes -- if the background trading environment is condusive to its use -- to help time the entries.

I'd of course prefer to trade with the current market flow, yet much of my keep is made taking the other side of extreme emotion under the right circumstances, and such was often the case during last fall's panic attacks where emotion was clear in the charts.

No problem with the ?s It's not an education forum ... I just simply babble about what works for me. Every trader is different though.

Hope that helps and welcome to the blog.