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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:43 pm 
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My first journal turned into a long discussion about financial market efficiency, so I decided to start a new journal. As I've gotten older, I've tried to increasingly avoid "political discussions". I call them political discussions because my aversion started with politics and because politics, in particular democracy, is an example of "failure by construction"/"best of the worst"-case because the aim is to get everyone to agree on the same personal solutions to a problem despite different neurochemistry, experience, insight, etc. When a person's argument is mainly based on individual neurochemistry (e.g. "I'm competent and responsible, so I think everybody should be free" or "I'm extroverted so I think we should have mandatory small-talk sessions and networking parties"), it may look like a productive discussion but it really isn't because it should move to the meta-level. And it rarely does...


Ultimately, I find it easier just to learn what to do to compensate for the disagreeable idiosyncratic policies various people have made up. If ERE has taught me anything, it's that solving the world's problems (something which I few people suggested that I work on instead of finance) hasn't got anything to do with a lack of education or technology. It's simply that people don't want a solution, because they don't comprehend/see/acknowledge a problem. E.g. "I know in theory that smoking causes cancer, but I'm still young and I'll just stop before I get cancer."


I learned that one can't reason with people whose position wasn't reached by reason. And one can't educate people who refuse to be instructed. And so on. In retrospect one can find quotes/writings to that effect dating back to the Romans. One of these days, In need to read the classics to avoid making stupid mistakes ...


Anyway ... this was just an observation, not a starting point for a discussion of humanity. It was just to say that I'm gravitating more and more towards Harry Brown's "How I found freedom in an unfree world."


That said, writing ERE/doing politics in general is/wasn't entirely futile [in terms of fixing the world]. I've made many more good friends than I would have if I had kept my mouth shut.




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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:56 pm 
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On a more mundane level, work is going great. Trading, that is, developing strategies, is an intellectual adventure of theories and explanations. I would say the diversity of thinking exceeds physics and it may truly be "the last liberal art". Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon stage ...


I've found that using "vine to vine"-strategy in terms of "career(for lack of a better word)-planning" is very useful. The idea is that you have a main work and then you have a hobby with the goal of replacing the main work with the hobby. In 2006, it was physics and investing respectively. Then it became physics and ERE. Then it became ERE and sailing/shinkendo. That step was a mistake because it is hard to turn sailing or martial arts into more than a hobby (you'd have to be really high level, many dans, in martial arts to be able to spend all day productively on it ... there are maybe only a few in a given country who do that).


In that regard I was supremely lucky to be able to turn my past hobby into full time work after writing the blog had turned into a drag of tech-support and dealing with assclowns on reddit and similar sites.


I'm not making that mistake (of picking an impossible hobby) again. I'm now focusing on woodworking. I've found that I need some goal in order to actually motivate myself. In particular, I'm motivated by the end result and not as much the act of making 76 saw cuts in 4 pieces of wood. My hobby-goal is then to actually sell a piece of furniture I've made. That's far in the future. The first step is to populate our apartment exclusively with furniture I've made. Next step is to make gifts. Then maybe at that point I'll be good enough that, if my current full time occupation doesn't work out, I'll be able to swing to another vine of artisan furniture.


Yeah, planning 5-10 years ahead seems to help a lot ... we pretty much are were we are today because of the decisions we made 5-10 years ago, so I need to make some good decisions for my future self now.




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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:38 pm
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Seems you are doing some recursive learning from past projections and failures (for lack of a better word).


Nassim Taleb would be proud.


I'm in a similar process: in 2009 I quit a high-paying job without another "vine" to go to and ended up wallowing in anomie from there before jumping back into the rat-race. This time around, I'm trying to think back to those decisions and tease out what I did and didn't do that I could have to put myself in a better situation that time (and this time around). We'll see where it gets to; and what I have to learn from this test.




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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:18 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:31 am
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I like the vine analogy. I did something similar with writing, which I'm trying to swing into. I think this kind of career trajectory fits Gen X/Y for two reasons: 1. We have shorter attention spans thanks to growing up with television, video games, etc. 2. We came to adulthood at a time when lifetime employment and loyalty in the marketplace went extinct.




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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:31 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:49 am
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I have often thought about the vine type of lifestyle, and it's pretty interesting to think about how it's been applied here.


I'd love to read a bit about you documenting how you progress with woodwork. :)




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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Great to hear again from you Jacob!

Swinging trough the vines, learning from the swings ánd the stills inbetween is a wonderfull way of life.

For my part I learn from the comtemplating you do about your new Job, as you intend and see it as a white hat job, not of an abuser of the tradingsystem.

That you use your wide intellectual skills in a new environment, which gives you inspiration but also new knowledge about the world around us.

And then your asthonishing remark about woodworking.


You are going between abstract (astro/physics) to hands-on (development and pratictising ERE) to abstract (Quant-trading) to hands-on: woodworking.


As ERE is a way to become free of the pressure of earning a living, how to live a fullfilling life is the next step, and your in the middle of it.


Can that be the subject of a new (writing/researching/blogging) project of you?




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:36 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am
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Thanks for sharing your process Jacob. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about swinging between many vines at once.




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:01 am 

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I've learned to never argue with someone who's livelihood depends on their position (i.e. market efficiency with traders).


JK! I'm glad you've found the next vine. When's the next mandatory networking party?




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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:03 am 
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@riparian - One of the things I had to come to terms with there (the previous 3 years) was that by doing many things at once (sailing, swordsmanship, woodworking, blogging, writing a book, investing, getting a ham radio license, fixing bikes, building the garden), I usually had a "present feeling" of not having "done much lately". This was because if one does, say 5, things, everything progresses at 20% speed. Actually, because one doesn't have the same downtime as one does in a 100% occupation where one is efficient enough to get the stuff done in half the time and thus spends the other half doing nothing, using several vines means that after some time, looking back, one will have accomplished a lot... or lived a lot ... the subjective time will feel long looking backwards over a few years even as it feels short and nonproductive from week to week.


I think I feel happiest doing just 1 or 2 things as long as I can do them 100% of the time. I think as soon as I become efficient and begin to have downtime/waiting, things become a drag and it's time to do something else.




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:41 am 
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http://earlyretirementextreme.com/update-1-from-the-windy-city.html




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:43 am 

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Uh, nevermind.




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:20 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:57 pm
Posts: 25

Really interesting - keep the updates coming!

I wonder how long time you will last in the job before it gets too boring for you. I think I read somewhere that your attention span for new things lasts 5-10 years(?). Hopefully, your next endeavour will as profitable as the current one.


Did you apply for the job or did they contact you?




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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:42 pm 
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There are several ERE readers working in "high-finance". At one point I think I made some comments about Wall Street would work better (this was around the CDO crisis) if only they'd hire more physicists to check their risk in some of the blog comments. One of them said their company might have an opening if I was interested. I said I was.


Note that way back in time, around 2007 I tried getting into quant work in the traditional way, e.g. read/memorize Hull, Baxter&Rennie, C++, ... with the aim of ending up at JP Morgan or some such... and had gotten so far as to have a recruiter and a couple of phone interviews (working my way up the hiring process). Then Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns happened; massive lay-offs; everything dried up, and I pretty much figured I had missed the train for this business cycle. Point being, I wasn't completely unprepared for this move---just didn't expect it.


As I recently learned, as financial markets have continued to develop, it's now possible to do what I do without even working for a company. Other companies exist which provide infrastructure and massive amounts of real time data. Think of them as a more comprehensive/advanced version of Interactive Brokers.


One of the problems with the "standard setup" of yahoo/google/msn finance + some random retail broker has always been in pulling down massive amounts of data and turning that into orders (that don't cost $10). Everything is designed for people to slowly click their way through. Wetware over hardware. However, this has now changed.


You typically need a Series7 for regulatory issues. I think if I hadn't gotten this job, I would have started my own show instead.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:51 am 

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Actually, where I live, it is definitely not unheard of for physicists to work at banks. Apparently, they are in high demand because of their tool box: Analytical skills, "problem crunching", experience with large data sets, programming knowledge and math as a tool rather than a theoretical thing (I'm looking at you, mathematicians).


It seems a bit weird that business schools don't cater to these needs, instead requiring an influx of people from a completely different field.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:46 am 
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The problem with starting your own show is then you would also have to do the extrovert side and sell. I just feel despicable when I sell. Makes me feel like I'm ruining humanity.




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:49 am 
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That's the good thing about trading (on the buy-side). No politics. You just send your order to the broker and they'll handle it for you.


In some ways I find building trading models extremely gratifying. Suppose I have some theory/observation about the market. Now I can write a post or even an article, but seeing this is investing, people are going to treat it religiously and simply disagree if it conflicts with their paradigm or dogma. Then we can argue back and forth in a futile manner because of the lack of mutual understanding.


Alternatively, I can simply trade the idea. If I'm right, I make money. If I'm not, I lose. Simple as that. No need to argue. Trial by fire over trial by arguing.


It's probably what I should have done with ERE. Simply do it. Don't try to convince anyone. Just give the concrete details without any philosophical interpretation.


Actually, I still occasionally write a blog post ... then I look at it for a bit, and then decide, nah, I'm not going to hit publish. Why suffer the aggravation? I think I've gotten a bit hypersensitive over the past year when it comes to blogging. What's the saying ... a burnt child dreads the fire.




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:59 am 

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Jacob: I'm sure I speak for a large number of people when I say we want to see more blog posts from you.




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:40 am 
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Put new blog posts on the forum for now. Start a new thread separate from this one. "Stick" it up at the top. I'd keep it "closed" and only reopen it when you want to add another post. We can start regular threads to discuss the posts instead of clogging up the blog post thread. Use your journal for more personal thoughts.


BTW, I like the new tag line on the blog. Do you have a history of the different tag lines you've used? They are an interesting peek at your thoughts about ERE at any given time.




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:50 am 
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@jacob

When you said "show" I assumed you meant managing other people's money as a hedge fund. Thus, I assumed you would have to sell people on putting their money in the fund. You probably meant you were just going to use your own money.


Blog posts: I for one, enjoyed your philosophical posts more than the how-to posts. Not that I didn't like the how-to, but the majority of it I can figure out on my own...not that I don't like help.


I don't blame you on being hypersensitive. The "believers" in whatever the issue is can't be reasoned with.


You could always not allow any comments on the blog posts, as I think the the forum is enough for everyone.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:25 am 
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There never was much of an issue with local (this domain) comments. The problem is comments on other sites like reddit, bogleheads, yahoo, various finance forums, and a couple of blogs. Apparently some individuals have no problem using slander to further their arguments.


The problem is that anything I write still attracts attention. This then gets posted on various other sites (like above) and then certain people start posting crap comments again.


I have no desire to manage the PR operation that would be required to deal with these people, so I think it's better just not to write anything or at least very much that anyone would be tempted to link to.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:58 am 
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Hmmm, why the edit?


I hope you'll still write even if you're not comfortable sharing it. You have a unique voice and I'd hate to see it lost. You know my thoughts on the writer v. blogger thing--no need to rehash it.


(edited:reference removed)




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:26 am 

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I really miss your posts. I think you have a unique perspective that causes me to deeply contemplate my preconceived notions.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:09 am 
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I think the "writing" format, that is, writing books is better suited when it comes to controversial topics than blogging. The personal/family costs of blogging about controversial topics is high because the blogging format and the internet makes it easy to create a mob mentality.


Here's a fun/relevant link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:36 pm 
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You don't have to write with a specific format in mind (like books or blogs). Just write. Maybe the appropriate format hasn't been invented yet. If you need a reason to write, look at it as potential material for your future biography. [Ok, I'm done. Consider this my semi-annual poke in the ribs to keep writing :)]




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:35 am 

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Your blog posts are one of my favorite parts of the internet. It's a shame the trolls discourage you from posting.




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