The Best Way To Celebrate On New Year’s Eve

Get ready to un-subscribe to my blog.  Have you finger on the “unfollow” button on Twitter. Because what I am about to say will probably equate me in some of your minds with the most evil people in history.  People like Hitler, Stalin, and Kardashian.

But all I ask is the you keep an open, intellectually honest mind, and remember that I saved a litter of baby kittens from a house fire when I was eight.

I am suggesting that you try cigar smoking, because I think you will find it a very pleasurable, relaxing endeavor, that will provide you an occasional stress free “oasis” from this hectic world.

HEALTH CONCERNS

Yes, I hear what you are saying, “how can you recommend something so evil and dangerous?”  Well to all you “health Über Alles” types out there, let me clarify what I mean.

For context, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life and only learned to enjoy cigar smoking in the last few years.  I will never try to argue that hot smoke can be good for your body, but I will give you some facts that differentiate cigar smoking from cigarette smoking and which put it on the same level health wise (if not better), than other more politically correct habits.

A cigarette contains tobacco, like a cigar, but it also contains about fifteen different chemicals and additives.  It’s wrapper is made of paper, which is treated with chemicals to prolong burn time.  When lit, these chemicals produce various toxins and carcinogens which are inhaled into the lungs.  Most cigarette smokers will chain smoke, sometimes putting away a pack or more a day.

A cigar by contrast is 100% tobacco.  The filler, the binder, and the wrapper are all made of natural tobacco leaves, completely untreated by chemicals.  The smoke from a cigar is only inhaled into the mouth, not the lungs.  And most cigar smokers only occasionally smoke, usually for special occasions or events.

In terms of health, this puts a huge distinction between that of the average daily smoker, and the occasional cigar smoker.

In fact, you would be hard pressed to show that even smoking 2 to 4 cigars a month is as dangerous to ones health as regularly drinking alcohol, eating fast food, or having desert with your meals.

It’s all just politically correct perception. Remember that the next time you barbecue or grill something or eat in a restaurant where they do the same. Take a look at those grill marks on your food.  Remember that they are charred meat and fat, basically a pure carcinogen, that you are putting in your body.

PLEASURE PRINCIPAL

With the adverse health effects of occasionally smoking being minimal, the pleasure effects can be tremendous.

As a non-cigar smoker, you have to understand that smoking a cigar is a ritual.  It begins by walking into a humidor at your local cigar shop to find the right size and strength cigar to fit your tastes.  There are literally dozen of brands to choose from, from countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, some of which have been in business for a hundred years or more.

Once chosen, you will have to carve out 30 minutes to an hour in which to enjoy your cigar.   There is an art to cutting and lighting it, and each person will acquire their own way of holding and smoking a cigar.

More importantly, that time that you carve out to smoke will be some of the most relaxing of your day.  When you are in the midst of the “ritual” and the smoking, the stress and worries of the world seem to melt away, even if for only a short time.

With the biggest killer (especially of men) out there being stress, I submit that the nominally adverse health effects an occasional cigar smoke brings are more than compensated for by the tremendous health benefits that the hour of “oasis time” will bring.

When coupled with a special occasion, or a group of friends, cigar smoking becomes a social event, one which will only add to your memories.

GREAT CIGAR SMOKERS

Let’s not forget that American Indians, those organically and shamanically pure indigenous casino owners basically invented the cigar.  My inner spirit animal says that is good.

But you don’t have to go that far back to find the good company you will be in if you decide to try a cigar.  Here are some famous people who enjoyed (or enjoy) cigar smoking

  • Groucho Marx
  • Mark Twain
  • Winston Churchill
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Bill Clinton
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Michael Jordan
  • Jack Nicholson
  • John F. Kennedy

…and the list goes on  More Famous Cigar Smokers

….and you can see even more pictures of those whom have graced the cover of Cigar Aficionado here.

Lastly, I will leave you with this famous exchange by then President John F. Kennedy and his chief of staff Pierre Salinger (as told by Salinger), that shows how much JFK valued a good cigar.

Shortly after I entered the White House in 1961, a series of dramatic events occurred. In April 1961, the United States went through the disastrous error of the Bay of Pigs, in which Cuban exiles with the help of the U. S. government tried to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Several months later, the president called me into his office in the early evening.

“Pierre, I need some help,” he said solemnly.

“I’ll be glad to do anything I can, Mr. President,” I replied.

“I need a lot of cigars.”

“How many, Mr. President?”

“About 1,000 Petit Upmanns.”

I shuddered a bit, although I kept my reaction to myself. “And, when do you need them, Mr. President?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

I walked out of the office wondering if I would succeed. But since I was now a solid Cuban cigar smoker, I knew a lot of stores, and I worked on the problem late into the evening.

The next morning, I walked into my White House office at about 8 a.m., and the direct line from the president’s office was already ringing. He asked me to come in immediately.

“How did you do, Pierre?” he asked, as I walked through the door.

“Very well,” I answered. In fact, I’d gotten 1,200 cigars. Kennedy smiled, and opened up his desk. He took out a long paper which he immediately signed. It was the decree banning all Cuban products from the United States. Cuban cigars were now illegal in our country.

So tonight take my advice and ring in the New Year with some good friends, some goods drinks, and a fine cigar.

Don’t Be A Bald Trader

I may have a lot of shortcomings, but if you ask my friends and family about me, one thing they will say is that I don’t complain.  And the truth is, what do I have to complain about anyway?

I am lucky enough to have been born into a demographic that is the most privileged in all of history; upper middle-class American males.  In addition, I belong to the ethnic group that is the least discriminated against in today’s world.

My background is a mixture of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.  So basically anything that is white, dorky, and can’t dance.

I am also tall, thin, devastatingly handsome, and extremely humble, so all-in-all I’ve got nothing to complain about.

But just this once, I am going to complain.  I am going to complain about my Male Pattern Baldness.

When you are a young man and you start to see more hair going down the drain every day it can really freak you out.  I mean let’s face the facts, men want to be attractive for women and the guy with the full head of hair always has the advantage (I’m looking in your direction The_Analyst).

Today I am at peace with it since I am married (no need to look good anymore) and have more important things to worry about than my hair (read: kids).

Now it only annoys me from a logic standpoint. See, I have photos of my dad at his 40th birthday bending over and laughing, where I can see the very top of his head, and it is just a mass of thick hair.  No scalp in sight and not an inch of recess on his hairline, so technically I should still have all my hair.

Right now a mass of folliclly challenged men are yelling at their screens…

“….baldness comes from your mother’s side…YOUR MOTHER’S SIDE….OH THE HUMANITY..!!!”

Think again Lex Luthor, because when my grandfather on my mom’s side died at seventy-seven, he still had a full head of hair.

Sure I’m rocking the suit, but not the horseshoe hairline.

Fortunately I live in a time when this issue could be solved by a simple surgery that would leave me with a head of hair like I had in high school (or so the Bosley Institute infomercial has led me to believe).

The only problem is that I have a hard time throwing away five or ten grand on something I consider pretty narcissistic.  I am sure I would look pretty good but it would then be very hard to walk past a homeless woman and her kids no matter how much hair I had.

So if I ever win the lottery, first I will give a big chunk to charity and then immediately go get hair transplant and penis reduction surgery so that my look is finally balanced out.

But back when I was in the depths of my hair depression I began to acquire what is known as The Missing Tile Syndrome, something I first read about in Dennis Prager’s excellent book, “Happiness Is A Serious Problem”.

The Missing Tile Syndrome is based upon the concept that if you go into a room and look up at a ceiling that has a missing tile, that is what your eyes are immediately drawn to.  It doesn’t matter how nice and lined up the other tiles are, we instinctively focus on the one that is missing.  Sometimes we even obsess about it, wondering “why haven’t they replaced that tile” since we know “everybody must notice it”.

In life this syndrome manifests itself in the form of us focusing on everything that we are lacking.  If we are short, we focus on people’s height.  If we are fat, we focus on thin people. If poor, we focus on money.  The ultimate extension of this is the saying “when a bald man walks into a room the first thing he sees is hair”.

And believe me, I have been right in that same spot.

My best friend is a mixture of Italian and American-Indian and has so much hair it can only be described as “obscene”.

At his father’s 60th birthday party I stood over his dad as he sat at a table blowing out the candles on his cake, and searched in vain for any sight of scalp showing on the top of his head.  Screw the party, I wanted to know why he still had every strand of hair he was born with and mine was falling out.  Bastard..!!!!!

In trading the syndrome makes you focus on how others can trade successfully in ways you can’t.

I fall victim to this all the time as I watch the trading action on StockTwits.

I watch PeterLBrandt use daily and weekly charts to stay with long-term trades.

I obsess over how jfahmy and TodayTrader use their discipline to step aside as others chew their accounts up in this bi-polar market, waiting to trade only when the odds are in their favor.

I covet the skill with which gtotoy surgically extracts profits from the markets day after day.

I marvel at how mb_willoughby and kunal00 can identify small caps stocks that consistently go BOOM!

I envy the ability of upsidetrader to identify intermediate market turns and exploit the shit out of them.

They all have masses of long flowing hair and I want to have that hair on MY head.

But alas I am bald.  I can’t trade the way they do, and it is folly to try.

Screw Fabio and his lovely, long, flaxen hair that is in no way homoerotic.

Instead of agonizing over those missing tiles in my trading ceiling I have to focus on the tiles I do have.  I have to continue to develop my trading strengths and minimize my weaknesses. I have to remind myself that being a consistently profitable trader can be achieved in many different ways, and that focusing on the way that works best for you is all that matters.

And for perspective I have to remember that for every time I see somebody with a full head of hair and wish it was mine, there is a short guy who wished he had my height, or an unemployed guy who wished he had my job, or a terminally ill person who wished they had my health, or………..

Break Time During The Holiday Markets

Ben Affleck being a likeable-asshole in Boiler Room.

Using The i-Trade Philosophy

A number of years ago, when blogging about trading was almost non-existent, I happened to come across a site that fundamentally altered my idea of what trading was and what it could be.

It was the site of the now famous mystery man from the east: Maoxian

This is where I first was exposed to his “Trading For Dummies” series.  In this series “The Chairman” would analyse a trade using a set of six questions.

Although I had already been trading for a long time at that point, I was still working under the assumption that “more is better”, trying to cram as many studies and indicators as I could into my trading screen.

The beauty and simplicity of Maoxian’s style hit me like a ton of bricks and fundamentally altered how I looked at trading going forward.

One of the biggest stories this last year was the passing of Steve Jobs and there were countless articles, blog posts, and books about his life and his drive to make Apple one of the most iconic brands of all-time.

The key theme that Jobs championed was simplicity.  A minimalist concept that didn’t lessen the power of Apple’s products,  but actually made them more powerful and user-friendly.

I believe this simplification concept should be a part of every traders philosophy and traders like Sean McLaughlin have even quantified and expanded on this idea on his aptly named blog site: The Minimalist Trader.

As arbitrary as the start of a new year may seem, this lull in the markets is a great time to review and streamline your trading style. Removing the extraneous and unneeded clutter from your trading analysis and style will give you a clearer vision and help to make your trading more profitable in 2012.

The Socio-Economic Impact Of Revising The Barr-Fenton Industrial Treaty

JUST KIDDING – Merry Christmas And Happy Hanukkah

Arbitraging Angry Bird Dolls In Vegas

The mind of a trader never stops.

I often find myself superimposing trading concepts onto everyday life.  Recently after attending the Trader’s Expo in Vegas I had some free time, and I thought I might get a souvenir for my kids.

While browsing the shops in the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood, I came across an authentic Angry Birds doll, which was selling for the outrageously tourist-adjusted price of $20 bucks.

Immediately I recognized a pricing imbalance in the model.  I knew the same doll sold at Target for only $6 bucks.

Hmmmmm…..If I buy 1000 dolls from Target, then sell them on the Strip for $9.95 each………….

Suffice to say I felt my time would be better spent getting drunk at the craps table, but it was tempting.  And my kids?  Well they were both very excited to each get a pack of “authentic” Las Vegas chewing gum.