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Spur of the Moment

Last night I was in the Las Vegas airport, waiting for boarding to start on my flight. I went there an hour early because I didn't have time to play poker, so I figured I could get on wifi and get some work done. I knocked out a couple small SETT bugs, and then remembered about getgoing.com, the YC-backed discount flight site. The way it works is you pick two deeply discounted flights that you'd be willing to take, put in your credit card, and getgoing picks one for you. You don't know where you're going until after you've paid. When I first got invited to the site I mucked around with it and found some really great fares to both Beijing and Shanghai.

Maybe I should go to China, I thought. Twenty minutes later my flight to Shanghai was booked.

I like making impulsive decisions like this. My past is filled with them, and none that I can think of have ended in regret. Actually, if I were asked what I thought my biggest strength is, I would probably say that it is making good decisions very quickly.

I wasn't always good at making quick decisions. Twelve years ago I had the opportunity to fly on the Concorde for $1000. It was usually over $10,000 round trip. I really wanted to do it, so I called a few friends to see if anyone else was interested. There was some hemming and hawing, but no one was ready to commit. Well, I thought, I'll wait until tomorrow and buy a ticket then if I still want to go. The next day came and the deal was gone. Now the Concorde is decommissioned and I'll never have the chance to ride it. Strange is it sounds, this is probably one of the bigger regrets in my life. I really wish I got to ride the Concorde before it folded.

Four Lessons From "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator"

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

I'm reading "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" and there's some absolute gold in the book. The author's attitude to what he's doing is broadly applicable to anyone in any probability-based endeavor that will sometimes fail and requires self-control to not go on tilt during -

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It didn't take me long to realise that there was something wrong with my play, but I couldn't spot the exact trouble. There were times when my system worked beautifully, and then, all of a sudden, nothing but one swat after another. I was only twenty-two, remember; not that I was so stuck on myself that I didn't want to know just where I was at fault, but that at that age nobody knows much of anything.

The people in the office were very nice to me. I couldn't plunge as much as I wanted to because of the margin requirements, but old A.R. Fullerton and the rest of the firm were so kind to me that after six months of active trading I not only lost all I had brought and all that I had made there but I even owed the firm a few hundreds.

There I was, a mere kid, who had never before been away from home, flat broke; but I knew there wasn't anything wrong with me; only with my play. I don't know whether I make myself plain, but I never lose my temper over the stock market. I never argue with the tape. Getting sore at the market doesn't get you anywhere.

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