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life should come with four warnings



March 08, 2010 – Comments (13)

This post doesn't contain a whole lot of investment information, just a thought that came to me as I sat down to ponder investments this evening... 

Sitting down with a glass of icewater and lemon juice mixed, in front of my laptop, with a game of the free Windows chess game on the side to check stock futures, maybe run a screen or two, probably ponder a few of my holdings and if its time to sell them.  Maybe make something for my son to eat in the morning and set it out for him, or in the fridge or whatever.

And this evening, sitting down for this normal routine, it occurs to me that...  that it may be that I've already experienced my best year as an investor, I've already experienced the best buying opportunities, largest returns in such a short time.  Maybe my single most glorious day as an investor will be the day Nova Chemical got bought out.  Maybe the single best and most profitable idea I'll come up with is my bet on insurance companies and BDCs almost exactly a year ago.  

Maybe, and think about this, maybe I already have 51+% of the 10-baggers I'll ever have!  Count 'em:  GNW, BZ, GGP (30 bagger, maybe no other stock I ever buy will be a 30 bagger), ACAS (if you throw in the divi its a 10 bagger from my cheapest shares), MCGC is getting close, ASH is glose, XL is spitting distance,  ODP, CEM, TCK, LVS, calls on MGM, calls on TCK, MNI, ...  several more including HIG and LNC have a shot.  So I have a dozen 10 baggers.  Will I have 20 in my career?  

What if that was it?  The best it'll ever be, the best I'll ever do?  

That's a sad thought in a way.  Its comforting to look to the future and hope that it'll be better, brighter, richer, better ideas, better friends, prettier girlfriends, better pubs.  Onward and upward is how i've always viewed life.  Half my life I've hardly even bothered with the moment, always working on a better moment.  The other half I've sat down and soaked it up a little bit.  But as that life winds along, and I roll out of youth and into my mid 30's, I am starting to wonder if maybe a whole lot of high water marks are behind me, and wondering what ones lie ahead.   For the first 20 years of my life (we may just as well count the beginning of life as the onset of puberty, the stuff before is ... is lived by a different person and doesn't really count). 

I was struck tonight by the thought of...  what if I've already kissed the prettiest girl I'll ever kiss?  What if I've already had the best drunk?  Thrown my best party?  What if I've already met the best friends I'll know?  What if my greatest thrill behind the wheel of a car is behind me?  I'll probably never run from the cops again, as I basically don't break the law significantly anymore, lol.  What if I never have the same kind of ultra-focused 5 day work bender, napping a couple hours at a time, living on caffeine and nicotine, inching towards an answer?  What if my best inventions are in the past?  What if I make a better one, but it isn't as thrilling because I don't need to make it anymore?

And I wished, sitting here, that life came with four simple warnings.  

The first warning would be to let you know that you're basically at the low water mark of your life.  So that you'd know it owuld get better from here.  That would help a great many kids through the trying times of jr hi...

The second would be to let you know that you're coming into the time of your life.  That would prevent millions of college kids from whining and worrying and fretting and stressing over things like "how do I look tonight" when the truth is none of us are going to look as good as we did then again.  It would help us shut up and enjoy it.

The third warning would be to let you know that your stock is about to peak, or has peaked and is about to crash.  A gentle nudge to remind us that we won't be as energetic or faced with as many opportunities as we are now forever.  

And the fourth warning, of course, would be a year before we die so we could walk away from the madhouse of life and just spend the time talking to our kids, or even just watching them and remembering them.  And girlfriends and chums and failures and successes.  Just reflect on it all in that time.  

Life, of course, comes with no such warnings.  So the best we can hope for is just the occasional glimpse at the fact that we are probably in the middle of something special, and the capacity to realize what that is and actually sit back and take it in.  

So, checklist raises his glass of lemon water and offers a toast to Ashland Chemical at $5.xx and no realistic chance of violating its debt covenants.  If I ever see that again may I bask in the glory of the opportunity thats at hand... and not fear the chaos in the markets.

that is all.

13 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 08, 2010 at 1:51 AM, checklist34 (98.60) wrote:

So, in light of this thought that maybe a whole lot of the high water marks of my life are now behind me... 

And to complete the thought that I forgot above, i'm about 20.  about 20 years since puberty, which is when life really begins in earnest.  So i'm 1/3 of the way through it all, but the last 1/3 will without any doubt come with distinctly diminishing opportunities.  I don't know too many guys who, at 60, had the best drunk or threw the best party or kissed the prettiest girl of their life...

So in a way, there isn't a whole lot of time left at all.  The Fly, from, says that life ends at 47.5.  And he cusses alot and insults other people, so he must be smart (joke). 

What if all of this was the best that I could do?  

Maybe I, or maybe all, should resolve to find one, or a few, more high water marks before the tides of time wash me into the past.

ok, really, that is all.

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#2) On March 08, 2010 at 3:59 AM, Tastylunch (28.63) wrote:


That is some depressing stuff.

I guess the way think about it is like this 

To use baseball as an analogy

Who would you rather be?

Brady Anderson who had one fantastic year of 50 homeruns?

Or Hank Aaron who had compiled decades of solid performace but never once hit 50 in a season?

So yeah maybe you had your best investing year ever. Big Deal, just be glad you hit a fat pitch out of the park.

but life is a marathon not a sprint. It isn't about how fast you can go in one year but how far you can go before it's over.

You might score most of your runs in the 5th inning, but the game still is fun and drama until the last out is played in the 9th.

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#3) On March 08, 2010 at 8:43 AM, russiangambit (28.74) wrote:

Well, I watched "2012" over the weekend.  Depressing. Too many people who cannto be saved, too many unsavory choices, too many things that could've been done better.

On one hand,  it is a relief it is just a stupid movie, on the other hand it rings true in terms of how many people are out there who we cannot save from their own stupidity, from wasting their lives aimlessly and needlessly. It is not much better than watching them die. Too many people around me spend their whole lives in pursuit of material stuff, money, wealth and prestige, the position of a top dog and never stop to actually enjoy the life . This is especially so in the US with the 2 weeks vacation, the focus is always on money, how much you have, who you are. Then they get old and realize that money cannot buy happiiness or health . It can sometimes buy better healthcare and thus extend the life, but that is about it. Don't get me wrong, life without money is miserable, but it seems like for most people there cannot be enough money, they can't enjoy what they already have.

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#4) On March 08, 2010 at 9:34 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.92) wrote:

And now the days are short; I'm in the Autumn of my years; and I think of my life as vintage wine from fine older kegs. 

- Frank Sinatra, "It Was a Very Good Year"


When I was 17, I was poor, awkward, shy, angsty, and had no future.  I lived in a redneck town surrounded by dumb hicks that I longed to escape from every minute.  Most of my friends were drug addicts and alcoholics whose lives were slowly deteriorating. Life has gradually improved every year since that.

If you ask me, life gets better with age.

There's nothing quite like experience. If you gave me a choice between 35 and 18, I'd take 35; unless of course, I could take 18 with the experience and knowledge of the 35 year old version of me.  That would be the best of both worlds; but alas, that's not possible.  I still have a few years till 35, but I'm hoping that my life continues to improve with age.  

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#5) On March 08, 2010 at 11:13 AM, EnigmaDude (59.08) wrote:

Life gets better when you help others get more out of their lives. You have helped me to be a better investor.  Keep doing that and things can only get better!

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#6) On March 08, 2010 at 12:20 PM, lemoneater (57.42) wrote:

Checklist, King Solomon reached some similar conclusions in Ecclesiastes. It is wise to reflect on your life. This life is preparation for the next which gives it more meaning than it otherwise would have. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in our hearts.



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#7) On March 08, 2010 at 1:25 PM, Tastylunch (28.63) wrote:


>-Don't get me wrong, life without money is miserable, but it seems like for most people there cannot be enough money, they can't enjoy what they already have.

very true

in my view lack of money can cause profound unhappiness, but paradoxically having enough money doesn't bring any lasting happiness.

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#8) On March 08, 2010 at 4:36 PM, anchak (99.90) wrote:

Strangely your thought remind of a story I read by an indian author long time back.

It was about 2 friends - senior and junior partners in a business - who were addicted to playing a game of chance ( dice based - hence luck!). They figured out somehow - that whenever before an important decision - business wise - they played - whenever the senior guy won - it turned out in their favor ( Its a story!).

So at a critical juncture in their life - when they are about to either go bankrupt - based on a litigation case - they play on the day of the verdict. well you guessed it - the junior guy won - and they won the case! The story ends with the senior guy longing for that empty space in his heart - where he knows - a long standing and dependable friend he had - just left him!

Purely philosophical - but you get the point. Who knows? Statistically sure you could say that - but Buffets been proving people wrong for such a long period of time - of course I think the same almost happened to him - he cant generate stratospheric returns - but the environment is the environment!

The key to it - would be doing something that you continue to enjoy and if its investing - as long as you add alpha alongside.You may not have the thrill - of 2009 - but in 10 yrs - maybe this 1 yr return would pale into insigficance - the compunded ones amassed over a decade.

And why does it need to be in investing? You can do a pile of good to a lot of arenas 


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#9) On March 08, 2010 at 5:55 PM, USNHR (29.77) wrote:

Maybe I, or maybe all, should resolve to find one, or a few, more high water marks before the tides of time wash me into the past.


Checklist, the best is yet to come... enjoying the money you worked so hard for in your retirement... seeing your grandkids develop and mature without all the negative parts to parenting.... Taking days or weeks at a time to focus on a hobby without having work interrupt you... The high water marks that you measure your life with in your 30's are not the same you measured your life with in your teens, nor will they be they same you measure your life with in your 50's or your 80's.  The best thing about life is it's ever changing nature.  Live it today and appreciate it today. Tomorrow will be a different day to live an appreciate.

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#10) On March 08, 2010 at 6:37 PM, CMFStan8331 (96.96) wrote:

The specific things that are physically possible do change as we get older, but a majority of the stuff that really matters will still be available to most of us until our health completely goes away at the end. 

The people who have it really rough are those who have no passions.  When you strip away the diversion of daily work, those folks are left with a whole bunch of nothing.  For those of us who do have passionate interests, aging can offer all sorts of new opportunities.  Retirement, even moreso.  I know someday I'll get a kick out of being the oldest race car driver at the track, and the oldest attendee at a punk rock show.  :-)

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#11) On March 09, 2010 at 5:41 PM, sentinelbrit (56.48) wrote:

I share USnhr's sentiments. I had a great career with a money manager: saw the world, worked with some of the best money managers, did things I never thought I'd do and met some great people. But after 17 years I needed a change - needs/wants change, your perspective changes. It has been great to have a faith that has given me hope and someone I can talk to about anything - even 10 baggers (maybe I should add that one to my prayers!). 

Now, as for having so many 10 baggers - that is truely remarkable and while it may never happen again, so many people have never had even one!

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#12) On March 11, 2010 at 2:10 PM, lemoneater (57.42) wrote:

@ #4 Speaking of the here and now, rather than eternity, I agree with Jakila that I'm much happier at 35 than I was at 17. Braces, acne, being tall and bony, and not having many friends--I don't particularly want to revisit my past. I fully plan on being gorgeous when I'm 50:).

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#13) On March 14, 2010 at 11:00 PM, checklist34 (98.60) wrote:

Hey everybody, I just wanted to say thank you all very much for the comments offered herein, they are above and beyond.  I like hearing others outlooks on life when they aren't cheesy canned comments like "no regrets" or things like that. 

I miss being a waiter and a bartender.  I made some hundreds of times last year as I did back in those days, but ...  I have no real world friends to talk investing with on anything resembling a productive level.  My former biz partner, but he lives across the country temporarily, and thats about it.  A similar thing could be noted about owning businesses, its pretyt lonely.  As a waiter, 100 people share your outlook and experiences and time schedule.  I enjoyed the commaraderie.  Right now its me myself and I in my entire city that are into what im into as far as I'm aware.  

The few friends I have who are into investing are insane.  Like they get interested in stocks that cost $0.0008 and penny speculative stocks in general.  Basic human lvoe of gambling I guess...  that I don't have at all.

I hear you guys on the teen years sucking.  Poorest kid in my class, hand me down clothes, greusome case of acne,last kid in class to hit puberty, suicidal off and on in 7th grade...  but with puberty I never really thought about how I wanted to jump out a window anymore, I just thought about how I wanted to throw whomever was tormenting me out said window.  And that monstrous competitive drive saw me through the next 20 years of my life.  But now the testosterone levels are fading I suppose, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with msyelf.  

I'll think of something.  

Thanks again, to everybody for the kind and damned interesting replies and take care.  :)

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