Long Overdue Update

Enough weeks have finally passed that have pushed me over the edge to write a blog post.  I’m either mentally attempting to blog regularly, or I’m on a hiatus, and the past few months I just haven’t had the motivation for it.  I’ve started and stopped this post several times, with less to say as the quarantine has dragged on.  If you somehow are still tuned in after my long spells of no output, thank you.  


I’m currently back in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with my flight taking me back from Colombia coincidentally the day that the lockdowns started.  I’m not even sure if it’s possible to fly back from Colombia now.  The day I was leaving they banned all tourists from entering, and it finally dawned on me that things were getting serious.  I’m in quarantine now like everyone else in the world, so you understand the mixture of fun (it feels like being a kid on summer break), boredom, and the occasional fear of the unknown.   


I don’t have anything new/unique to say about the whole situation, and I don’t think most people care to hear more about it than they already know.  I survived the crash in the markets, although it was quite scary.  Bitcoin crashed over 50% in one day, and I didn’t have my models properly trained for trading in those conditions, as I didn’t think moves like that would happen anymore.  It was a learning lesson, but I feel more robust and confident for the future now.  As I acquire more years in my trading career one old-school lesson keeps getting further imprinted in me: avoid catastrophic losses, even if it means you miss out on the extra money the 95% of times that things turn out ok.  


I was looking forward to giving a trip report of my month in Medellin, Colombia, but unfortunately it feels irrelevant for the time being.  Overall though it exceeded my expectations as a place to live (pre-quarantine), and I was actually sad to leave, which never happens to me.  If I was forced to leave the United States I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather live, especially if it was year-round.  Perfect weather, great selection of healthy food/gyms/coffee, cheap, upscale architecture, and warm people.  There’s virtually no English spoken, but for me that gives it extra charm.  I was taking Spanish classes as if it was my part-time job, and I learned more Spanish in those 4 weeks than I’ve learned in 2 years of living in a “Spanglish” speaking place.  


Here in Puerto Rico I’m just trying to make progress (not backslide too much) where I can with my health/work/general life.  It’s difficult not being able to compartmentalize the spaces that I do things at.  I have no problem showing up to the gym and working out hard, but without that specific space for that, I’m barely squeezing out 15-20 minute workouts 3 times a week.  It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t realistic for me to be uber-productive/get in the best shape of my life while locked down.  It was a nice fantasy at least.  I’m satisfied though now that I’m at least doing “something”.


I’ve read a lot and watched a fair amount of films/TV since I’ve last blogged.  For trading I re-read the classic “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” for the first time in 15+ years.  I think I read it when I was in college at some point, and it was quite a different experience now after having some experience being a “stock operator” myself.  It’s crazy how not only has market behavior and trading psychology not changed, but even the unsavory tactics of hucksters from 100 years ago are still in practice today!  In the last part of the book he talks about the different schemes he’d seen/been a part of, mostly for insiders to manipulate stock upwards so they can cash out themselves.  I wonder how many people used this as a playbook in crypto in 2017/18 to offload all of the various coins on the next sucker?  The old stories were also very entertaining outside of being educational, and made me feel fortunate that even though the current trading landscape is extremely complex, it’s a lot fairer than back in the days when you were at the mercy of a long procession of people robbing you blind starting with the phone call to your broker down to the guys in the trading pits.


For mind-blowing entertainment, I finished the second book of “The Three Body Problem” trilogy, “The Dark Forest”, and am plugging away at the third book.  I took years in between reading the first and second books, as I found it impossible to remember/differentiate the different characters, especially with Chinese names.  Once I gave up on that, and just treated each sequence as essentially random people involved in a complex game theory/physics/technological scenario with aliens, it was much more enjoyable.  Sometimes the writing feels bad (mostly only in the first book), and other times it’s stunning.  There are amazing philosophical debates, and I had put the book down a few times intimidated by the author’s knowledge/imagination.  


TV wise my girlfriend and I alternate between “Mad Men” and “Schitt’s Creek” in the evening on Netflix.  I’d resisted “Mad Men” for years, mostly because I find period pieces boring, and even was a bit hesitant after the pilot, but it grew on me, and I’ve been liking it.  The only downside is they drink non-stop on the show, and when you’re sitting at home in quarantine with a cabinet of booze, it does make you itch to pour a glass of something.


“Schitt’s Creek” has been surprisingly enjoyable too.  I’d been recommended it from a few different sources, and with 20-minute episodes it was easy to try a few out.  It’s a great combination of humor, style, and heart-warming.  Definitely nice to relax with before going to bed.  


With that I’m going to publish this, as if I don’t do that now, it could be another month!  Hope you are all safe and well, and leaving you with a Puerto Rico pic from my walk yesterday.


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