Etched onto Stone Tablets

One of the oddities of books on trading is how emphatically the authors tend to state their case. As a group, they are rarely satisfied to simply make observations and offer insights. No, axioms are where its at in the world of trading literature.

Which is why I highly recommend one begin reading such literature with any or all of the Market Wizards series by Jack Schwager. Schwager gets some fantastic interviews with many of the world’s best traders (across numerous financial instruments). It makes for interesting reading, but it is also very eye opening. These guys all disagree on what axioms govern the markets! Trader A uses Technique A and thinks anyone who uses Technique B is a bit daft, while Trader B uses Technique B quite successfully but heaps scorn on those who think Technique A is anything but a fool’s errand. And on and on.

My own approach to the market breaks at least 18 rules that govern the universe, according to this or that expert. Which is not to say these folks aren’t experts. Many of them probably are. It just seems many of them believe their trading rules got etched onto stone tablets somewhere along the way.

Our “New” Kitchen Table!

For quite some time now, we have used a metal folding table covered in a plastic tablecloth for our kitchen breakfast table. The chairs we have sat on are back from my college days, purchased at Montgomery Ward for a few dollars apiece. Given we have carpet in our dining area, and four small children, it has seemed prudent to eat in the room with flooring, which is more easily sanitized after each meal! So, we’ve taken most all our meals for the past two years around our humble folding table.

While we really would have liked to find a different table/chairs for our family meals, we had delayed making a purchase because of our assumption we would soon be in a different home with an unknown-sized breakfast nook. So we hated to spend money if in a few months we would have to find something different based on size constraints. But ultimately, the current table and chairs were becoming less useable. Those poor old chairs have been wobbling for a long time (one even broke several months back) so every time Jay sat down to eat he wondered if this would be the time his chair gave out underneath him, or worse yet, under one of the children! And the table, while fairly stable, has cost me many a gash and bruise on my knees (I sat at the end, which isn’t really designed for knees and legs to fit properly).

So, a couple weeks ago I hit upon a solution to our table situation. We’d looked at tons of new dining sets, never finding something we liked enough to spend a wad of money on. But we live in Dallas, home to an amazing amount of furniture stores, and people who love to shop in them. People who are downsizing, upsizing, leaving town, whatever, and selling off perfectly good pieces of furniture for ridiculously low prices. So, with a modest budget in mind, I began perusing the classifieds. And after following many many leads, I stumbled upon a set that fit my qualifications: 6 chairs, table large enough for six people but no larger, good quality, sturdy enough to stand up to our household, and (yes, also very important!) beautiful, at least to me. Here it is!

Kitchen table and chairs
The chairs actually had a bit of an overdone, very shiny finish on them when I purchased them – a bit too much for our tastes, so using very fine sandpaper, I got most of that off, leaving a warm wood finish that was much softer-looking and pleasing to our eyes. I love them. The table is not one I would have thought to pick were I buying new, but it is really beautiful with the chairs, and the set looks just wonderful all set up in our kitchen. Given my elation over finding something I liked so much for such a great price, imagine how fun it was to find this online, and note how closely it resembles my table, down to the similar number and pattern of turns on each leg! And the chairs around it are my favorite Pottery Barn chair as well – feel free to notice the resemblance to my classified ad chairs!

I am thankful for the dear friend who on the spur of the moment, agreed to go along with me to look at, help carry and move, and deliver the new set to our home. Bless you! When I returned home yesterday afternoon from our prior-to-school-starting-up 2nd grade girls’ ice cream party with Abigail, my sweet husband had carried in, and set up the table in the kitchen to surprise me. We enjoyed our first meal last night around our “new” table, and could not be more pleased and thankful for this wonderful addition to our home. We look forward to sharing many family moments here in the years to come.

Losing my marbles

My efforts in developing trading systems stemmed from a chance encounter with an entry on the Jonsson’s blog. I was fascinated by Van Tharp’s claims and began reading quite voraciously on the topic toward the end of 2003 and was soon trading mechanical systems.

I had no idea at the time, but I had basically signed up to be schooled, and class was in session for a couple years…

Reader Participation Needed!! (please!)

We are a family of readers. Jay’s family are all avid readers, and there is even a published writer among them. As a young child I was read to constantly, and encouraged to read on my own, which I did. Jay and I have continued to love reading as adults, and now that we are parents, we enjoy sharing this love for books with our own children. We began reading to each of our children shortly after they were born, and haven’t stopped. The kids have all enjoyed family reading, and in time, we took the step of teaching them phonics so they could enjoy books on their own as well. Our older two took to it quite naturally, and both learned to read at home with me before they entered kindergarden.

Part of the beauty of many children is many different personalities, character bents, talents, tastes, preferences, etc. Nicolas, our third, is not exactly quite as enamored with reading, or even being read to, for that matter. My attempts at helping him get through Teach Your Child to Read in One Hundred Easy Lessons (the book I used with my oldest two, and one which I heartily recommend) was short-lived. Like “we didn’t get more than two paragraphs into the first lesson” short-lived. As far as reading together, sure, we do it, but it’s not his first choice.

No, Nicolas has a new love, and it is not books. The question I get from him these days is not, “Will you read me a story?” but “When can I play my computer game?” Seriously. I have even taught him the word “addict”. Because he is one. At the tender age of just-turned-four. He would sit at the computer and play “games” (educational, learning games, mind you, but computer games all the same!) all day long, if I allowed it. I don’t even know if he would stop to eat, he is so entranced by the glow of the pretty screen and the colorful, moving objects!

Despite this ardent love for the beautiful computer, I have found in the past week that Nicolas does enjoy some books. A few choice titles. But they seem to all have a humorous bent to them. His current favorite is Click, Clack, Moo. He will actually request that I read him this funny book. So, while I certainly do not want to teach my child that all good books are hilariously funny, I figure that perhaps it would help him at least for now if I could choose stories which are written with a fun and entertaining theme.

Ok, dear readers, here is where you come in. I would love it if you would each take a moment to suggest some funny books that you read or have read to a special preschooler in your life. Or that you have heard about and think would be great to share with a preschooler. We have a fairly extensive collection of children’s books and I have access to a wonderful city library system, so I know I can get my hands on most titles you would suggest.

I appreciate any help you can give in the quest to broaden Nicolas’ love for the written word! I will look forward to hearing your wonderful suggestions. And I’ll be sure to keep you posted about his progress! Thank you all, in advance!

It does mention Jesus

Tonight during devotions we had the kids start to learn a new hymn, so after working through it a bit we wanted to let them finish out on a song they knew…

Jay: Nicolas, do you want to choose a song that we can sing?

Nicolas: Ummmm, Sunday Bloody Sunday?

Peachy Cobbler

Given how much I love to cook, you might think I would post more recipes than I do. But I haven’t made the time. In an effort to begin to remedy this, I wanted to share a recipe I used to make a wonderful, EASY peach cobbler for our dessert this evening. It is a Southern Living recipe, from the June, 1997 issue.

(Oh, by way of wandering aside – if you’re wondering whether you ought to keep those old magazine issues, let me help you remove some of the clutter from your house. You can access virtually every article, recipe, etc they’ve published in their magazine for the last several years on their website.)

This particular recipe calls for fresh peaches. I used some frozen peaches that I had sliced and frozen last summer (gulp!) after our peach-picking fieldtrip. Before freezing, I sprinkled them with Fruit Fresh, and it did prevent browning, etc. They worked perfectly in the recipe. One other change I made was to add the cinnamon, as well as some nutmeg to the boiling peach mixture before pouring it over the batter in the pan.


Easy Peach Cobbler

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

Yield: 10 servings

Note: we ate ours warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! Yum!


Today, as I left for work, Josiah, our 10 month old, said goodbye to me. He’s been waving for several weeks, but this morning I had the joy of hearing him say, “Buh-buhhhhh”.

Mad cows

One of the funniest trades I ever made was really prior to my effort to learn to be a trader. I had investigated trading methodologies just enough to be dangerous (to myself), had pored over the books of numerous companies, and finally settled on Wilsons The Leather Company as a good, safe investment. I bought a small stake in the company, and approximately 24 hour laters the hysteria in Europe over mad cow disease began. Interestingly, they burned the carcasses of the slaughtered animals, which apparently caused a spike in the cost of leather goods to the manufacturers, and Wilsons tanked.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this experience may well have been extremely important in my developing a philosophy of trading. In the years since, I have always been biased toward trades that minimize the impact of sudden, surprising news.


I had my first crack at trading stocks sometime around 1981 or 1982, which would put me around 5th grade. My father was going to buy some Johns Manville stock, and I had recently come into some small amount of money, and so he offered to let me piggyback his order.

From the corporate history, we find the following entry:


  • Manville Corporation files for Chapter 11.
  • Manville and certain of its subsidiaries file (individually) for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Okay, that one didn’t turn out so well. However, if you look at their current front page, they have this to say: “Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a leading manufacturer…” There’s almost no greater accolade than getting bought by Warren Buffet, so I guess it turned out well for the company in the long run.

Here’s the interesting thing. I don’t remember having any regret over the transaction. There were risks, I lost, life went on.

WordPress up and running

I think I’ve got the site now fully functional using WordPress. To put the new comment spam capabilities I’ve added with WordPress through their paces, I’ve turned on comments on all the posts in the archive… we’re about to find out how well Akismet works.

If there is a post or two in the archive to which you’ve always wanted to add your two cents, now is your chance.