Bury Me Far from My Uniform

Won’t you bury me far from my uniform
So God might remember my face
I know God will remember my face
Merciful God please remember my face

– Joe Pug in “Bury Me Far”

Click here for the song.

This song illustrates the thoughts of a man who died in battle. His last request is to be buried far from his uniform.  The concern he has is that God won’t remember his face because of his past and the atrocities he committed.

Now, I have never been in battle and I wrestle with a lot ideas of what to think about war and armies, but I still appreciate the sacrifice that was given by those that have been called upon, my grandfather being one of them.  But these lyrics reach so much deeper than what is just said or heard.

Don’t you wish, when you die to be buried far from your past, far from all the wrong-doings and hurtful things that you’ve done?  I know I do.  I know God will remember my face, the Merciful God will remember my face.

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Drop All of Your Preconceived Ideas of … everything?

Ok, I am not saying that Bear or Bull markets don’t exist or that they don’t have a distinct look to them.  I am saying this, “IT DOESN’T MATTER.”

I have been a self-proclaimed “bear” since, at least, January this year and from about 1.3100 on the E/U.  What’s funny about this is we spent the majority of 2011 above the 1.40 mark.  All I can do is laugh.  Another example is I have initiated 237 short trades and only 23 long trades this year.  How am I not broke you ask?

Simple. Bears make money in Bull markets and Bulls make money in Bear markets.  This is one of the reasons I don’t listen to market commentators or take trading advice from other traders or the recommendations of OANDA or live my life according to a set of rules established my others.  A lot of people would have you believe that you have to be a Bear in a Bear market or a Bull in a Bull market, otherwise, you’ll get caught with your pants down as well as your account balance.

I guess what I am trying to say is this, it’s not the fact that you correctly “read” the trend or deciphered the chart so well that the side you picked was the right one. (When you stop caring if you are right, you’ll know you are on the right track.) The fact of the matter is this, if you get in at the right time and out at the righter time while not letting the market keep any of your money, it doesn’t matter what direction the last 1,500 bars were moving.

I started out as a very “by the books,” money management, risk/reward ratio nut job. I would argue that technical analysis was the only true was to make a dime in this industry, those fundies could go jump off a bridge for all I cared. Then I started listening to what was going on in the world from sources OTHER than traders and news anchors.  I slowly started shifting to a hybrid-method, adapting micro and macro economics into my trade plan.  I would beat the dead horse of having to have a stop-loss and take-profit in place with a 1:3 risk/reward ratio…then I would lose 2% of my account every trade.  I listened to everyone when they said a Martingale approach is suicide.  I listened to people when they said “trade with the trend, it’s the only way to make money.”  I lost money hand over fist for a year and a half.  I couldn’t give it away fast enough.

I gave up trading. I started observing. I really don’t know how to explain it.  A blogging buddy (@andrewunknown) just started a new blog about minimalism trading and he has a much better way with words so I’ll let him describe the theory of it.

Sometimes it is better to do something then nothing.  In other words, stop over-analyzing the situation and make a decision.  Stick with that decision until you see a reason it isn’t valid any more.

What I am trying to say is this, (and I have been beating a dead horse) don’t listen to anyone when it comes to your trading.  Trade what you see based on a system that you have developed.  And if you do start to take any advice at all, take this guys advice first.

Best Startup Business Advice I have Heard in a While

I always read a few positive articles in the morning, regardless of what my day holds.  It reminds me that there are other successful people out there that started where I did.  I refuse to read any “regular” news anymore, talk about depressing.  This quote is from Forbes’s Christopher Steiner.  He is talking with Hamdi Ulukaya from Chobani Greek Yogurt about his rise from $0 to $700 million in four years. The full article is here.

CS: There are parallels and advice that’s valid to anybody growing a business, yogurt, tech or otherwise.  What are your main tenets to starting and growing something successfully?

Ulukaya: There are five main things I focus on:

No. 1:  Keep your product simple.  Know what you do and do it better than anybody.

No. 2:  Invest in your core.  For us, that’s our yogurt plant.  We have the biggest best plant in the U.S., maybe in the world.  We’ve invested $220 million in taking that plant from a capacity of 50,000 cases to 1.4 million.  It’s the backbone of what we do and we treat it that way.

No. 3:  When you market your business, know that can fool almost nobody anymore.  There is too much information available to anybody who wants it.  Be real.  People can tell—or easily find out—when you’re not.

No. 4:  Focus on profit.  I run my business like a mom and pop store.  Cash is everything.  Without it you can’t increase production and it’s hard to be innovative.

No. 5:  Lead as an example.  If you make yogurt, go to the plant.  Work with your people; if you want people to work on Sunday, be there next to them.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @bgin2end

The Art (and Joy) of Preparation.

Everyone needs to slow down.  Do it right now.  Think of this very breath you are taking and remember this exact moment.  Slow down your thinking, your reading, your breathing.

Feels good doesn’t it?  Refreshing is the word that  comes to mind.

Lately I have been realizing that life is being lived way to fast.  That large chunks of time are going missing from my memory (for good or bad I am not sure yet!)

Doesn’t it alway feel like we are hurrying up just to get to the end product? How can we make this faster? Compromising quality? I have made a conscious decision to savor the preparation of things.

Meals – taking the time to select the right ingredients, properly preparing them and letting them cook how they need to be cooked to get all of their flavors out.

Cocktails – learning the art of crafting a single drink, appreciating the nuances of the flavors that are involved.

Shaving – finding the right tools, real shaving cream and methods of doing it the way my grandfather did.

Getting ready – No longer rushing around in the morning putting on whatever I want. Instead carefully selecting my outfit and noticing each piece as it is put on.

Eating dinner – just looking at the meal and really appreciating it and feeling blessed to have it in front of me.  Tasting each bite and how it differed from the last one. Admiration to the cook that constructed it (usually my wife.)

When did we go wrong? I look at the past (not mine, but the worlds) and can’t help but think of the simpler, innocent and easier way of life.  I know, it was hard then too, but below is a list of things that I feel like we are missing today.

1. Getting dressed (up) for dinner, every dinner
2. Opening the door for your female significant other
3. Learning from the “old-timers”
4. Enjoying the outdoors
5. Fixing up your own house and car
6. Eating dinner as a family
7. Appreciating close family
8. Manners (from old to young)
9. Waiting for something to pay off (no more instant gratification)
10. Neighbors being friends
11. Martini’s and Manhattan’s
12. Dinner parties
13. Vinyl records
14. Pre-political correctness
15. Reverence of a higher power (God)

The list could go on and on.  I have been told I was born in the wrong decade, but I think I’ll just combine the best of all the decades and live my life as such.

What influences do you wish you could bring back?

Thank You for the Unsolicited Advice OANDA.

This made me laugh.

I download the reports from OANDA for every month and quarter of my trading.  It is a really nice feature and details all of the $$’s and %’s in one easy to read format.  At the end of the PDF, I noticed something new.  A “Personalized Trading Feedback” letter.  I thought, “Great! Maybe they have something insightful to say!”  I was wrong.  Read the letter below…

Trading without Stop Loss/Trailing Stop

Your open positions do not have associated stop-loss limits. Failing to include stop-loss limits leaves unattended positions vulnerable to exchange rate fluctuations. For example, your trade #xxxxxxx58 (long xxxxxxx units of EUR/JPY) was open for over 4 days without stop-loss or trailing-stop limits and was eventually closed at a loss of 268 pips.

Using stop-loss limits enables you to limit losses to a tolerable amount by setting the maximum you are prepared to lose on a given trade. Trailing-stop orders allow trades to continue to gain in value when the market price moves in a favorable direction, but automatically closes the trade if the market price suddenly moves in an unfavorable direction by a specified distance.

When setting a stop level keep in mind that you should consider the volatility of the market otherwise your stop-loss order may trigger too early on short-term market swings. You can read more about trailing-stop orders at (link)

Adding to a Losing Position

In several instances you opened new trades in a pair in which you already had a losing open position. For example, on Apr 5, 2011 22:16 EDT you executed trade #xxxxxxx63 (short xxxxxxx units of EUR/USD) at 1.425910 while you already had an open EUR/USD short position of xxxxxxx units with an average unrealized loss of 191 pips per unit. The new trade you opened was later closed with a loss of 210 pips.

The practice of adding to a losing position (also known as averaging down) is controversial as this risks available margin. Even though the market may eventually turn around and the open position becomes profitable, this ties up capital and could lead to a margin call.

On the other hand, adding to a winning position (also known as averaging up) is a popular strategy because it ensures net worth of the position is rising as new trades are opened and market continues the momentum to move in trader’s favor. Of course traders must monitor the market continuously and close open positions before a trend reversal leads to an unacceptable loss.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for trading with OANDA.

Kind Regards, fxTrade Team

Don’t get me wrong; I love OANDA, however recently they have been difficult to work with via their customer service.   I didn’t know they were in the business of teaching traders or recommending strategies.

This year alone I have already put my account up 20% (click for verification) in the EUR/USD using the strategies they are telling me not to use.  I am not a conspiracy theorist but I do find it interesting that (in other reports) they advise the use of take profits and stop losses in your trading…hmmmm.  Makes you think.

Here is what I do that they don’t like.

  • I double my position if I am down over 100 pips (not arbitrarily, but at the next S or R area)
  • If my trade is in the negative, but not more than 100 pips down, I only add to my position what my last trade was.
  • If my trade is in the positive, @ +100 pips, I add half of my position.
  • I NEVER use defined stop losses or take profits. I use %’s and feeling to determine when to get out of a trade regardless of profit or loss.
  • I don’t let anyone tell me how to trade. I do it and I learn from it, good or bad.

The New Rebellion. The Story of Mine.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

Every generation has one, some have multiple. My own individual rebellion has undergone several face-lifts, but the core idea and identity has remained.

Remember those times sitting at the lunch table in elementary and middle school with every one laughing about a tv show or movie that they watched the night before.  Of course you didn’t see it, but in an effort to be part of the crowd, you lie and laugh along. Then there is that one kid that calls you out and asks, “What happened next?” Remember that feeling of anxiety?

When I entered high school as the second youngest (thus shortest and highest voice) male, I was scared to death.  My years before, in middle school, were plagued with ridicule and nothing short of the kind of bullying that would make national headlines today.   I had nothing to my name in terms of teenage currency, e.g., popularity, athletics, friends, band or chorus, academics or honors, even the chess club didn’t want me (yes James, you were cooler than me.) At the same time, I was tired of trying to fit in.  Worn out.  Sick of lying to myself, pretending to be someone who I wasn’t.  Let me rephrase, I didn’t know who I was, but I was pretending to know.

What made me different?  What made it so hard to find a place in the social ladder, in the world as I knew it? I didn’t figure it out for a while, but I realized I hated being like everyone else.  To the point where I would intentionally sabotage my chances of fitting in. How?  I would sew my own pants with different color fabrics.  I would wear suspenders, but not over my shoulders.  I NEVER wore closed toe shoes and usually donned a pair of rubber flip-flops. I listened to music that no one liked, they couldn’t even pretend to like it if they wanted to.  Later I realized that I had become, in a natural and organic way, counter-culture.

As high school came to a close, the culture started to change.  People found out that my 4 years of not giving a shit about what they thought helped me to develop  my own personality.  So much so, the senior class voted me as “Best Personality.”  I attribute this to the fact that every one else was hell-bent on copying personalities to fit in that they never (and may not even now) knew who they were.  I faltered here.  I took advantage and used my new-found popularity to live the life I had always watched from the outside.  I dated my high school crush, ditched my old friends on our senior class trip and sat at the cool table at prom.  Imagine this, a guy that sews his own pants with different color fabrics, wearing extra-small t-shirts from goodwill, and dyed hair (Red one week, Blue the next, then black and maybe blond) hanging out with the cool kids. I sold out.

Learning from this after graduation, I rejected the norms in every way possible. I never took my SAT’s. I didn’t go to a typical 4 year college, I went to a 2 year art school.  I didn’t drive a used Honda, I drove a Saab (so ugly they are beautiful) and I totaled about 5 of them.  I didn’t party like my classmates, I was straight edge.

But I didn’t know what I stood for yet.  I didn’t have a purpose, an outlet or a reason for rejecting everything that everyone else did.  So I started searching for one.  I tried politics, that was awful, talk about having to fit into a mold.  I tried a job, this was a better effort, at least I could afford my gas.  I tried rejecting my own counter culture mentality.  This lead me to going back to school. Which caused me to spend my money and lose my job.  I was in the same place I was when I was a freshman in high school. Having nothing, confused as ever and facing a frightening world.

What did I do?  I stepped out. I moved away from home for the first time in my life.  Far away (12.5 hours.) I left my family and friends and found myself.  When you don’t have something filling every single space in your life, good or bad, it forces you to look at what is really there.  During this time, I developed my career, I found my wife, learned some things and actually was able to pin point my rebellion.

I define who I am by several different factors. I am always looking to smile.  I think everyone deserves 1000×10 to the 10th degree chances at life.  Love and compassion always wins. I want to help as many people as I can, even at the expense of myself and my resources.  I don’t really care what you think of me, but I care what you value.  I want to live a full life in every sense of the phrase; wealth (not at the expense of others,) happiness (possibly the most important,) and health.  I rebel every single day against every and anything that threatens my way of life.  I will never again try to fit into a mold or be defined by those around me.  My rebellion isn’t a single solid theme, it is a morphing idea that can shift with the changing culture and mounting pressures on living a normal life.

I am “counter-anything” that wants to put me in a box.

Still here.

Still alive.  I moved (again.) Started a new job. Got a new puppy (almost a full-time job.) Remodeling our entire house. Way to close to launching a new business. Busy, just like the rest of you.

In case you are wondering, I am still VERY bearish on the Eur/Usd.  For many different reasons.  In fact, even more-so since my several posts in the recent past where I was selling.

FYI – The Philadelphia Union are in first place in the Eastern Conference…GO UUUUUNNIIIOOOOON… #doop

Keep it real. Keep it profitable. Keep it fun.