Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 580

I did my regular quarterly re-balancing with my financial adviser today. This is a lot harder than it used to be. I've come to realize than in good markets, it's easy to feel like a financial genius. As they say, a rising tide raises all boats. In uncertain markets, it's equally easy to feel like the entire system is rigged against you. You've got to stay invested though and keep making decisions, because it's impossible to tell exactly when the tide is going to turn again.

Once, when I was in Las Vegas, I played the same nickel slot machine almost all day. Somehow, this gave me a better sense of probability and the random nature of events than almost anything I've done. I learned that if you keep doing anything long enough, you will eventually wind up as a winner. Good fortune is almost inevitably followed by misfortune however. Time passes, and then you win again. This cycle goes on and on until you run out of money. If you have enough money to keep the cycle going, you will probably get more. If you run short before the next big payout, the game is over. This is, in essence, why the rich get richer. They just have a higher chance of ending the game on a high note. It's not how long you play that's important. It's when you choose to quit. As soon as you hit the jackpot, you really should get out of the game.

What does this have to do with investing? Everything, actually. During the boom I noticed that I was doing a whole lot better in the market than I usually did. The normal ups and downs I was used to didn't seem to apply anymore. I wasn't smart enough to realize that this was a jackpot though, and I didn't get out. I lost a lot, but eventually made most of it back. Just before the 2008 crash, I once again started thinking that I was doing a lot better than the law of averages said I should be. The crash caught me by surprise, but it shouldn't have. The signs were everywhere. Hopefully, I've learned my lesson. I'm slowly and methodically building my base again. The next time something unexpectedly good happens, I'm not going to "follow the tape" or let my winnings ride. The next time I meet my target, I'm not going to get greedy. I'm just going to get up and walk away from the table.

It wasn't all about the market today. I made a bunch of website changes with a client who rarely changes anything. It's a good thing these folks don't change things very often. When they do, they like to tell me the changes they want over the phone while I'm making them simultaneously in Dreamweaver. I can't think of a better way to make typos and spelling errors if I tried. It's hard enough getting all the syntax right when I'm just sitting here sipping my morning cup of coffee. Having a conversation while I'm coding isn't something I'm very good at. I always try to please however, even though I suspect that there are still spelling errors in what I did this morning.

You guys who are still wondering what Google+ is all about ought to give it a try. I like it. Google+ is especially useful if you happen to have a Blogger blog. One of the first things I discovered when I set up my account was an editable folder containing every single picture that I had ever posted on my blog. That alone made the whole sign-up process worthwhile.

Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day