Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Notes - Jellie Webinar Tonight

Posts will resume on Tuesday.

Also, a reminder that you can reigster for Wednesday's free Webinar with the HotComm folks here, where we'll be going over a few of the indicators the Jellies use in the tank.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Vacation Time Ends

No, I'm not talking about my daughter returning to college or Brett Favre "unretiring" for the third time. I'm instead referencing my heightened sense of motivation and energy level as I gear up for another run ... this time with a few key differences.

So we'll turn to the video today to first welcome new Twitter followers (yet old friends), provide a brief history lesson, discuss "What I did During my Summer Vacation", and most importantly focus on the future for Don & the Jellies.

In addition, as I mention in the video, the HotComm folks that provide our team intraday audio link have asked me to do a free one-hour Webinar this week, which will be held at 5:30pm ET on Wednesday September 2 if you're interested in attending. I'll be reviewing a few of the indicators the Jellies use, and you can access the sign-up link here.

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Notes - 30 Years

No, I'm not talking about the 30-Year Bond or Yield, rather I'll be heading to my old hometown later today to attend my 30th High School Reunion ... thus the early post.

Highlights from yesterday and today in the tank include:

- Needing to immediately shift gears this morning prior to the general U.S. Session open -- due to Intel's supposed "what else is new" increased revenue guidance -- which caused us to forgo the early plan to buy approaches toward 1030 for a retest of overnight highs and replace the plan with short the gap and scalp bounces (since the expected follow-through of yesterday's trend had already occurred). Overall, I thought we adjusted well, but we definitely had to do a quick re-group after the news hit the wires at 9am.

- Recognizing yesterday afternoon's short squeeze was the effect of "stuck" shorts that didn't respect the early morning drop and lame late morning attempted trend follow through who had to scamper for cover. In doing so, I put out a rare "do not short" ban to the team until ES traded to the 1032s. I say rare because all traders trade uniquely, even if sharing the same bias -- which is the Jellie's mission -- yet it was clear based on experience that a squeeze was in the making, despite what I call "sucker" technical signals that feigned weakness on climbs.

- And feeling something "click" inside my head yesterday afternoon as we seemed to get a glimpse of fall market rhythms with strong pace that allowed me to enter longs and add at each tick increment ... in multiple trade sequences as the market moved in very nice rhythm that provided for low-risk additions ... something that's been markedly absent in this one-shot market where most moves are brief, if existent at all. So "buy, buy, buy, sell, sell" was the name of the game yesterday PM which started a cheek-to-cheek market dance that lasted from midday yesterday to noon today and included this morning's textbook DAX 2nd hour morning breakout to new highs. We'll review the DAX sequence in Monday's upcoming Webinar and yes, I was up at 3AM trading Europe as I'm beginning to recommit myself to the discipline and lack of sleep of 2008-Early 2009 as I gear up for the next run. More on that later.

Yet for now, it's off to see buddies I haven't seen for 30 Years. I wonder if any of them trade ... and if they do, I wonder if they're on the other side of my trades.

Depending if I was on my game at the time, that might not be a good thing ... for me or for them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Notes - Poker Night

Poker Night tonight and I'm trying to move from second to first place in this quarter's standings. More later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Touchdown Trade

I'll let the attached chart do the talking tonight. Click to enlarge. We had this trade setup teed up in the tank prior to today's open with the idea to take any early approach toward Friday's significant 1020 support level with strengthening confirmation.

Tank Morning Briefing Excerpts:
09:08:28 {DonM} I'll be taking longs on any approach toward 1020
09:13:58 {DonM} If you get a 3LB turn on a major support/resistance

09:14:12 {DonM} HOLD at least a small position until 3LB says otherwise

The one-minute Tick Divergence (lower price, stronger TICK) and three-line break confirmation (bottom chart) provided the signals, with the market doing the rest to provide a bountiful opportunity for the morning.

You may also find it interesting that we call the Price vs. TICK Divergence "TD" in the tank for shorthand, which is fitting given our ex-NFL player scored a touchdown on the move!

And the swim continues.

P.S. Don's weight loss update: I'm officially down to 190 from 201 today, which is halfway toward my goal of 180 that I haven't been at for twenty years. For those who have asked, I'm on the Medifast program (this is the 3rd week), which is the same one my wife has used to lose 75 pounds. The bars are extremely convenient, while satisfying my chocolate fix! Plus, swimming in the tank seems to be helping ... along with 20 supportive teammates. Look out Jared!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Notes - Jellie Webinar Tonight

Due to tonight's Jellie lecture (4th of 8), normal posts will resume on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Guest Jellie Writer #2

As I mentioned in Friday's video, and as was the case in Wednesday's post, the following was authored by one of the Team of 21 Jellies. Enjoy.

"Teamwork & Simplicity"

The great discovery of the 50’s: “You cannot understand the system by the analysis of its parts.” What does this mean? And, what does it have to do with trading?

The idea here is that you can not and will not know what an engine capability is by analyzing the pistons, the rods, the crankshaft ... you get the idea. I would go as far as saying that you would not know what the car can do until you put it all together and run it. You see, a system is all of the parts together, and the system performance only shows up when they all work as designed. “As designed,” means they all work well together, we can pick the best parts from every car in the world, and with the best parts of all the cars in the world we cannot make the best car in the world. Why? Because the best parts from each car in the world are not designed to “work together,” they are designed to work for a particular car.

So what does this have to do with trading? I think everything. As traders we are always looking for the latest and greatest indicator that will “tell us” what to do “at this moment,” or interpret the news event that will shake the market. Since 99% of all indicators are lagging indicators, they are always late in telling us this and we keep searching; in addition, by the time you interpret the news, the market is gone. Indicators are like the “parts” in a car, none of them can tell you what the car can do for mainly one reason, the car is you and fuel for this car is a price chart.

The essence of the Jellies training is exactly that, “what kind of trader am I and what can I do?” Don Miller’s daily drill has been “feel the market,” “feel the pace,” based on this, “have a bias,” then “sense, trust, and act.” I have known this fact, the discovery of the 50’s, for almost my entire previous career, but it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. It took Don’s 2 weeks of drilling for me to go through this paradigm shift. I integrate all the data, “garbage in-garbage out.” The more I put in my head the slower I perform. This kind of learning only comes through deep immersion, lots of deprogramming and reprogramming going on. It is intense with moments of emotion only felt because there is commitment all around. I told Don at the beginning, I was committed to this effort and told him the story of the chicken and the pig for breakfast, the chicken contributes, the pig is committed.

Enter Don, as transparent a trader I will ever meet – “what you see is what you get”. If he is having a good day or a bad day, we all know it, because he tells us. He is his worst critic; he makes self-observations that are valuable to me as a trader. I learn from these examples and they help me create a baseline for myself. Don drills, what I mean by “drills”, there is lots of repetition and correction, everyday. For example, “have a bias, but make sure to trade what you see, not what you think;” “the ups and downs, manage them, but stay in the game, you have to be present to win;” “the minute the sequence ends, look for the next one, mentally delete old sequences, only look forward.” The team loves it, because we all know where the bottleneck of the system is – US! So, I am the limiting factor to become a self sufficient trader. I can only get better if I am “coachable,” open minded and receptive to new ways of thinking, AND, if I have enough repetition.

Don is a great believer of simplicity. “Give me a price chart and a TICK chart and I can make money.” I love simplicity, but it is very difficult to achieve, you know why? You have to burn all your crutches, and this makes us insecure. In a 1998 Harvard Business Review interview, Jack Welch said: “For a large organization to be effective, it must be simple. For a large organization to be simple, its people must have self-confidence and intellectual self-assurance. Insecure managers create complexity. You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple. The worry that if they are simple, people will think they are simple minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse.” This works for traders as well, just switch the words “large organization” and “Managers” with “trader’ and you have it.

So, as I hit that brick wall yesterday, Don picked me up, shook the dust off and asked me If I was “Okay” – true care by the leader. All the Jellies checked in, “I am not alone.” It allowed me to get past it and think, and through thinking went through a paradigm shift.

What an awesome responsibility, I looked for the keys to the kingdom all over the place, and come to find out, in the trading world, that key is me and my fuel is a price chart. The only way to achieve self-sufficiency is to find the right people to help you; use your intuition about the people you choose and work only with the best.

What an awesome team concept.

Guest Jellie Writer

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Notes - Video Update

Tonight I follow up on our "Guest Jellie" columnist's piece from Wednesday, as well as update everyone on current & future Jellie efforts, and current market rhythms.

btw, for those new to this trek and have no clue what "Jellies" are, here's a link to the educational site that explains the effort.

Have a pleasant evening, and look for another unsolicited Jellie-penned post over the weekend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Notes - Poker Night

I'll post a week ending video after Friday's session.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Guest Jellie Writer

I awoke this morning to find this unsolicited offer from one of the Jellies to pen a journal post for today. Here it is, completely unedited.

“No Country For Old Men”

I enjoyed the Coen brother’s critically acclaimed movie “No Country for Old Men” for its realistic depiction of human life and experience. If you are familiar with the Coens, they are not known for warm and fuzzy happy endings. They like to present to you in various forms what we go to the movies to forget…that life is hard. Toward the end of this twisted crime drama sheriff Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones) visits a former colleague’s isolated home on a plain somewhere in Texas. After greeting each other and forcing a couple of pleasantries, the colleague looks up from his wheelchair and says “this country’s hard on people”.

Trading is hard. This is part of the appeal, part of the joy at reaching a milestone, and part of the challenge. Like the first line in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey which simply states “Life is Difficult”. Covey goes on to say that the sooner we recognize and accept this, the sooner we are able to deal with things much more effectively. This is true for trading as well. After 12 days in the Jellie Tank I can tell you that there are no magic set-ups, no Don Miller secrets that have not been revealed in the blog, and no easy profits (though, there have been profits!). However, 21 people signed up for this effort and 21 people remain. We could have left during the first week and gotten most of our money back. Nobody did.

This is a testament to Don Miller and a testament to my brothers in the tank. I’ll just go ahead and say it and he might edit it out, but these last few weeks have been hard on Don. First let me say that I personally trade 2-4 ES contracts at a time and do 5-10 trades in a day. That’s anywhere from 10-40 contracts per day. Don traded 550 contracts yesterday which was a light day for him. He’s done this everyday with 21 of us questioning him about entries, telling him what we are thinking, and doing stupid things that he has to correct. This is all in addition to the Webinar preparations, questions at night from the Jellies, and blog updates. At dinner last night, my wife said to me “how does he trade that much and deal with everybody at the same time?”. I told her I didn’t know.

I think a lot of the Jellies wonder what Don will do after these 8 weeks. Deep down, we all hope he continues to keep the trading room open and even possibly trades with us “for the rest of our lives” as he says on a recent blog video. I have my own opinion which I’ll keep to myself for now (hint hint: it doesn’t include trader education). I accidentally came across a blog discussion on a Google search last night where a guy was saying that Don was a “sell-out” for doing trader education. I chuckled to myself thinking how foolish people can be. 21 guys could have gotten most of their money back after a week and nobody did. That’s my only response to any questions about Don’s integrity or the quality of his efforts.

“No Country for Old Men” ends with Sheriff Bell and his wife at the breakfast table on his first day of retirement. He recounts a dream he had the night before and there has been much discussion on what this final scene meant (see clip below). I think Bell is just tired, he doesn’t want to go into those “dark woods” up ahead that he speaks of in the dream which are surely symbolic of the escalating violence he has witnessed in his formerly quiet town. He’s “20 years older than his father ever was” and he’s tired. Hence the title of the movie.

Don’s young by most yardsticks, but maybe “old” in trading years. He’s certainly and admittedly tired from his miraculous journey in 2008. Trading’s hard on people. But in the end, as much as he loves his wife I just don’t see Don Miller ever having that “first day of retirement morning breakfast” with his wife.

Make of that what you will.

Guest Jellie Writer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Blog Break

For the first time in over a year, I'm taking a short break from blogging, but expect to be back at it midweek. Consider it a well-deserved diary break!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Notes - Full Day

Look for posts to resume on Tuesday as today was a full day with the Jellies and Webinar.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Bon Appetit

I continue to find it amazing how movies imitate life (and Trading!) and vice versa, and those that have followed this trek over the last year know the list of imitations is long.

Think about it. For just within the last few weeks we've seen how The Answer Man, The Truman Show, and Evan Almighty have provided analogy after analogy to this person's life and trading journey. btw, last year's City Slickers post remains one of my favorites.

And just when I thought it was safe to go to the movies to get my mind completely away from trading, blogs, and Jellies, along comes Julie and Julia which my wife and I attended last night.

If you're not familiar with the plot (click on poster to access movie site & trailer), Amy Adams plays the role of Julie, a driven young married woman known for not finishing things who chose to undertake a self-imposed journey to end all journeys by recreating Julia Child's 536 recipes in 365 days, while openly sharing every success & stumble with those who chose to follow via her personal blog.


Double Wow.

The movie's analogies to this trader's 2008 journey -- which seemed to surface every five minutes -- were downright scary. The self-imposed "crazy" target, the naysayers, the prior unfinished business, the supportive spouse, the driven soul, the mental exhaustion, the getting back up after being knocked down, the highs, the lows, the final success, the growing list of followers via word of mouth, the unintended height of public exposure ... and that's just Julie. Then there's Julia, who had a deep passion for cooking, and after mastering her own craft amidst her own early doubters, wound her way to the top of her field before ultimately being driven to devote her life to educating others (while still cooking of course!).

I could go on for paragraphs, if not pages. It was scary with a capital "S".

Yet perhaps the most important similarity for followers of this journey is that neither Julie, Julia, nor Don wanted to be put on a pedestal. There's only one deserving of that, and He was born 2,009 years ago. Nope. For just as I've always said that in the end this diary isn't about me ... it's about you, such was also the case with both Julie and Julia.

Three lives, two separated by time, and one separated by industry (although you know me, I could write about trading vs. cooking analogies until the virtual ink runs out). Yet in all three cases, the true story was about dedicating oneself to a purpose, having the conviction to stay with it despite those that questioned ability, motives, etc., and having the fortitude to "finish the job".

Stating the ridiculously obvious, life is about overcoming obstacles and doubters ... with doubter #1 often being our inner self. Yet perhaps more importantly, it's also about finishing the job.

I've always believed those of us that have been blessed with life on this planet and are still kicking owe it to others to "pass the torch" by sharing their stories. For remember the words of last year's final "Night to Dance" post:

Tonight, we all dance. In part for the joy of personal victory, but for all, the survival of 2008 and the possibilities of 2009. And at midnight tonight, I'll drink a toast to all who have joined me on this year's journey .... and to all who made it through the year, even if kicking and screaming or temporarily wounded. You made it. And you're a year smarter. Don Miller 12-31-08

No, the journeys of Julie, Julia, and Don aren't about them. Not at all. For their chronicles are simply examples and recipes to follow. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.)

Rather, it's about you.

Now go finish the job!!

Bon Appetit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Notes - Getting Healthy

A personal note to end the week describing some key changes in my life which I expect will carry over into my trading.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday Notes - Poker Night

Late game tonight. Posts will resume on Friday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Tortoise or Hare?

6:30pm As trading is often a game of the Quick (Winners) and the Dead (Losers), one would think if one sat out the three ten(ish) point monster runs today ... not to mention the overnight temporary break of 990 ... that the day would at best be a scratch.

Yet time and time again continues to prove that disciplined trading is much a Tortoise game (no pun intended to Mr. Dennis et al) as it is a Hare game. Or perhaps more appropriately said, Trading is indeed a Jellie game.

Those that have been following the Jellie concept from its inception know that one if the reasons I chose the name of such a creature was because Jellies go with the flow. They have to in order to survive. Sit out a monster run in cash? No problem ... stay focused, adjust to the conditions, and wait for (and act on) the higher probability pullback or extension divergence triggers as discussed in detail in Webinar Sessions 1 & 2. And such was today's daily Jellie meal as a few traders -- including this one -- banked solid days simply by reacting to the current after the initial tsunami had occured.

Sure, the home runs are nice. Yet I'll take "Higher-Probability Short-Term Moves for $100" Alex. For those tend to show up every day.

And as far as the late day drop? Well, suffice it to say I about went hoarse screaming:

15:41:24 {DonM} "Beware of late day fades"

... as the sucker Wile E. Coyote "looks like a simple pullback move" eight-point cliff drop was playing out and our technical triggers told us longs were out of the question.

For sometimes it's best to simply avoid treacherous waters.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Notes - Watering the Roots

9:45PM I thought long and hard about tonight's post in light of current efforts in the tank. And while all of my 447 posts in this diary have been from the heart, this one may be as much from the depths of the soul as any of them.

You see, prior to ten days ago, the 21 traders comprising "Team Jellie" were on their own, traveling their own unique and individual journeys. Some were struggling, with several in search of a subtle push to right the ship, while others wanted a shove and 2x4. And even the team's "General Manager" -- yup that's me -- had hit a well-chronicled extended complacency & focus "wall" after a highly publicized 18-month run for the records. Frankly, we all needed each other -- even during a time where none of us knew each other.

The idea of course all along was to establish and grow a team that would ultimately be far stronger united than divided, and the timing was set with the intent of laying a strong foundation during August's typical light volume chopfest, so the team would be in full gear for the traditionally strong fall.

Are we there yet? Of course not. But there are glimpses. Today was a good example where some traders -- one in particular -- continue to take the lead in terms of maximizing results from the daily market menu, while others -- including this trader -- were slightly off their game.

And today, I may have benefited the most as I vented to the group about my recent personal challenges with motivation, complacency, and performance. I mean, I laid it all out there in a way that I haven't been able to do while swimming solo, aside from rambling in this diary via the pen and camera which only works so far. Frankly, I needed to vent and vent hard. And it felt good.

And while we need more time to truly move as one, there's zero doubt in my mind that by the end of these eight weeks, we'll have established one of the premier trading teams in the industry. Jellies take notice -- failure is not an option! Simply put, the talent and energy level are there, and I won't settle for anything short of across-the-board success.

And while I won't mention the "Bamb--" word, I can sense some distinct rumbling under our feet right now. The difference is that unlike 2008, this time I sense there will be more than a single shoot, and with much larger trunks.

They say clumps of trees can withstand the most violent of storms, and thus survive to reach the highest levels.

For now, we're continuing to invest in fertilizer and irrigation while believing in the unseen.

Hand me the watering can.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Notes - Night Off

10:00pm As it's been a long day in the tank, followed by conducting this evening's Webinar, I'll let the weekend posts suffice for now and will be back at the blog on Tuesday.

Have a pleasant evening.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Weekend Trader - "The Non-Answer Man"

While I wasn't going to do a post today, my wife and I just finished watching The Answer Man this morning, which was a wonderful story about a man named Arlen Faber who the world believed had all the answers as the result of his books and so-called "discussions with God".

And while I won't ruin the ending for those who haven't yet seen the movie, suffice it to say that it was a great reinforcement that none of us have divine answers.

Instead, we have our own questions and experience a lifetime of trying to find answers through living, stumbling, experimenting, making mistakes, adapting, overcoming failures, and succeeding. And based on this person's still-in-progress 48 year old journey, I've found it's a cycle that often repeats throughout our lives. And the lessons the Jellies and Webinar onlookers are learning simply reflect that. No magic eight balls ... rather lessons learned through the constantly shifting cycle of life.

About a month ago, I made reference to the fact that I'm no Willy Wonka, and that there's no such thing as an "Everlasting Gobstopper" ... especially in trading. I'm also no Arlen Faber ... at least the Arlen in the first half of the movie. So if you're looking for all the answers, you'll have to turn elsewhere.

Some think the recent few years of publicized market successes may have "changed" me ... whatever that means. Yet frankly, for me it's only led to more questions and a continued thirst to explore new doors and hallways, a small part of which includes education, with a larger part simply reflecting a continued search for more clues as to the real "answers" that I guess we're supposed to slowly uncover as this great gift of life continues.

Why I was tremendously blessed in 2008-09 may always remain a mystery.

Perhaps what I do with it is the real test.

And please bear with me as I'm still working on that answer.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

P.S. Another relevant and timely post from Dr. Brett ... this one on the lack of effective trading "incubators".

And yes, I've finally joined the ranks of those Twittering, while tiring late Friday and opting for the video over the virtual pen.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Twitter "Uncle"

OK, after some longstanding reluctance as noted at times in these virtual pages, I've been prodded enough to join the ranks of those "tweeting". And like all of my endeavors, I'm going to try to use and amplify it in a no-nonsense productive way to supplement the blog, and perhaps even save some time at this end in the process.

My only concern is I haven't quite decided how I'll use it -- OK, more than a minor detail -- although I'll likely begin using it to communicate with the Jellies and Webinar onlookers ... plus of course anyone else choosing to follow, so hop on board if you dare.

However it evolves, one rule I'll have as long as I have a breath is that I won't let it interfere or detract from my trading, or from the current swim in the tank. Other than that, I'll figure it out along the way, so bear with me as I stretch my wings. And yes, recent tweets will begin appearing in the left hand margin shortly.

Other than that, I'll let Friday's video stand for my current thoughts, as I'm head down this weekend preparing for Monday's second Webinar. My continued thanks to all participating, and I look forward to writing the American Diabetes Association a healthy check when we conclude the effort.

Tweet tweet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Notes - Jellie Week #1 Recap

7:00pm I'm tired tonight, so let's go right to the video.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday Notes - 20/20 Hindsight

6:00pm I'm often asked about the participant characteristics I considered when assembling the current Jellie team. In addition to maturity and general professionalism which I've discussed previously, I'd have to say that the other greatest attribute was the ability to provide a unique skill or perspective that would compliment that of other Jellies, and which would help increase the probability that the team would indeed be stronger than its individual parts.

To illustrate, here's a glimpse of former (or current supplemental) Jellie occupations:

Software Developer
Real Estate Broker
Info Systems Executive
Sports Broadcaster & Former NFL Quarterback
Professional Tennis Player
Aerospace Manager
Telecom Executive
Grain Trader
Floor Trader
Prop Shop Owner & Instructor
Small Business Retailer

Most, if not all of the Jellies have been successful in other parts of their lives ... some incredibly successful on a very public stage. And it's been fun during this "inauguration" week to see the participants begin to transition skills that served them very well in their past into this competitive endeavor of trading. And I'm finding as the team gets to know each other better and open up (not a problem for this team), the varied individual strengths are indeed being transferred to both the team and to other members.

While it's still early, it's been particularly fascinating to watch the evolution of our two athletes ... who would be the first to admit they're in the process of "unlearning" bad habits. Yet I'm finding such "reprogramming" has already begun to take root (long-term Bamboo analogy quite possible) as one of them has already had some of the better selected and managed trades of the team.

It's also been satisfying to see the power of locking such a mature group in the tank and simply focusing on the tasks at hand. No hype. No CNBC. No kiddie Internet complainers. No disgruntled "on-the-edge" traders. Just pure focus and an incredibly positive energy level. No doubt there's a reason these people have been successful elsewhere.

And as I see the various light bulbs go off, I only have two questions ...

Why the heck didn't I think of doing this of this sooner, and why did I even question for a single moment if this was the right thing to do.

Yet I suppose hindsight is indeed 20-20.

If only the road ahead was always as clear as the rearview mirror.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday Notes - Doing The Dance

8:45pm It's been a while -- about seven years -- since I last donned the headset during the trading day to essentially assume the role of air traffic controller for traders, while continuing to trade myself. So you can probably imagine that this week has been a bit of an adjustment for me in assuming the role of player-coach, especially as my first priority was to make sure the Jellies were comfortable in their new surroundings. My personal comfort was secondary.

Yet today -- on day three -- was the day that everything came together for me personally as I was in as good a trading rhythm as I've been in a long time, and ended the day feeling like a huge multi-month burden had finally been lifted. Said another way, I felt I shook the 200 pound monkey off my back as I danced cheek-to-cheek with the market similar to most of '08 and early '09.

From last night's close and textbook teeing up of the likely overnight and morning trade off Tuesday's late-day supports, to the early recognition of extreme weakness after the initial post-U.S. open test (did you catch that VIX spike?), to shorting the first downdraft retracement, to taking the afternoon break of consolidation north ... the day-long dance never stopped.

So like jumping into a new pool, the water has taken some getting used to. Yet now, the water has warmed to a point where it frankly feels more uncomfortable being outside of the tank than inside.

It feels natural.

It feels as it's supposed to be.

And perhaps for the first time since May, I've felt a release and an inner voice that's saying, "This is where you're supposed to be. You can finally relax now and go back to doing the dance. Just don't make it a solo."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Notes - A Holistic Approach

9:00pm Eight Weeks. 40 trading days.

That's the current commitment of the 21 Jellies. A long time.

Or is it?

To put it in proper perspective, eight weeks is 1% of a 15-year Trading career, 0.5% of a 30-year Career, or 0.2% of a 85 year life span.

It's really a blink of the eye.

Perhaps the reason January's Svithjod Rock journal entry was selected for the inside cover of this year's New York Trader Expo was the perspective it provided an industry where instant gratification and results run rampant. Too rampant.

Yet to fully understand why I've taken this novel approach to education -- which again includes me swimming with the team -- it's important to understand another critical part of my life.

For I've long believed in holistic medicine ... homeopathy specifically. It saved my life when I was younger, has proven its worth to me time and time again over both my young and adult years, and I'll go to my grave knowing that it's one of the best natural methods to restore body rhythms that are of of sync.

I've studied and practiced homeopathy for over thirty years and know its power. I also know that outward symptoms that "modern" medicine tries to treat are often merely the body's way of trying to restore its balance ... albeit unsuccessfully. Restore the body rhythms and the symptoms disappear. Treat the symptoms and it simply covers up the real problem, often making the overall condition worse and producing other more serious symptoms.

Yet homeopathy has had its critics over the years. Pharmaceutical companies claim the remedies are placebos, since the remedies themselves have very little "substance" (long story why they're purposely teeny). No surprise of course as widespread acknowledgement of the science would render the Mercks of the world powerless and unprofitable. Another challenge is that the science and practice of homeopathy takes time. Time to select the right remedy, and time for the body to take its "cue" and find its path to restoring health. And sometimes, the physical symptoms initially get worse (a good sign actually) as the body begins to "kick itself into gear".

Certainly not a great approach for a world -- and especially the U.S.A. -- that wants quick fixes to make the outward symptoms disappear ... and fast. Interestingly enough, homeopathy has been very standard practice in some non-U.S. countries for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of microwaves and drive-thru fast food restaurants. Think about that for a minute: Fast food and drive-thru? What's that ... faster food?? How about faster death??? We want quick and cheap fixes. It's a sad statement about humanity.

When I chose to launch the Jellie effort, many asked "Why so long?" On the other hand, I personally thought ... "Why so short?". Yet eight weeks seemed to balance the need to experience multiple market rhythms and seasons -- as well as multiple trader states of mind -- with our worldly need to accelerate the learning -- or curative -- process.

There are many solid educational efforts out there, led by quality instructors (hopefully, those who actually trade or traded of course) such as Raschke, Steenbarger, et al, and they're to be commended for giving back to the industry. Yet one challenge we all face is that teaching in a single day or weekend often results in what I call the "seminar" effect where participants get pumped up, only to return to trading reality on Monday where things often "aren't quite as they appeared".

Yes, these next eight weeks will be over before we know it. A blink of the eye.

Yet consider it my attempt to try to attack this business from a holistic perspective.

Without asprins and drive-thrus.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Notes - A Team Comes Together

9:00pm As I've been working through the last few weeks of final Jellie preparation, I was admittedly wondering how quickly the Jellies would ... well, "gel" (sorry, couldn't resist) together in terms of adapting to their new environment. For while I was confident the group would eventually get acclimated to the new surroundings, I wasn't sure how long it would take, as everyone -- including myself -- would essentially be making a transition from living and working in a single fishbowl to a conducting business in a larger tank.

Yet last night and today reflected as comfortable of a transition as I've ever experienced as twenty-one traders (plus a host of onlookers last night) completed their efforts over the last two days in a way that felt like we've been swimming together for a long time.

And while I'm a bit hoarse tonight after helping the team find its "sea legs" and align with the "current" of the day (primarily a continual bullish bias on retracements, with several 1-minute continuation triggers and TICK pop exit signals to guide along the way), it quickly became clear that one of the key project objectives of developing long-term trader self-sufficiency was already coming into focus as even some of the newer traders were spotting and narrating to TICK divergences before the first day was even complete.

Yea, I know it probably sounds too good to be true and it was admittedly only one day. Yet as they say, truth can often be stranger than fiction.

And so for now, I'm simply going with the flow.

For that's what Jellies do.

And for those who have asked, yes last night's 2+ Hour Webinar was recorded -- as all sessions will be -- and is now available for replay or downloading, along with handouts (42 slides) for those interested in benefiting from following the effort. A reminder that 15% of Webinar proceeds will go to the American Diabetes Association, and my personal thanks to all those choosing to particiate thus far. Based on the feedback from last night's cornerstone session, I'm glad all found the material helpful and worthwhile. (Click on Slide to right for Session Contents.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Weekend Trader - Making the Climb

For the first time in over a year, I'm pretty much remaining silent over the weekend and am simply focused on preparing for this evening's entry into the Jellie tank ... or using yesterday's analogy, Truman's final walk through that doorway.

Friday's post continues to reflect all of my current sentiments, with the accompanying video compilation doing a better job visualizing the last few years of my life than I could ever write: The battles with the market and myself, the calm after the raging storm and incredible sense of survival and gratification, followed by the sudden questioning of "Is this all there is?", before finding that stairway to an even better, albeit uncertain world.

And all the way being followed by a growing number of onlookers, including a few "Christofs" who tried to "rock the boat" into destruction, with the vast majority relating to a similar battle in their own lives and cheering me on to ultimately find that doorway.

I've watched that clip several times now, and find it an incredible parallel to life. And not just mine ... but humanity in general.

See you on the other side of that doorway.