Tag Archives: writing

The Lonely Blossom

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Heart filled with stillness

heavy air sinking slowly

to collect as dew

~~~

Quiet overtakes

with no need to speak my mind

hushed shadows drifting

~~~

Creamy white richness

stretching on towards the heavens

in a yogic pose

~~~

Perfect proportion

a direct testament to

nature’s harmony

~~~

The lonely blossom

reflects its peace on the pond

content to just be

~~~

Love’s bounty ripples

outwards with tranquility

a serene blessing

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Music of Angels

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The morning stillness
a blank canvas
to leave an imprint.

Unexplored wonders
yet to be revealed
through dawns amber hue.

Delicate petals unfurled
turn slowly towards
the warmth of light.

Music of Angels
elegantly composed
on silver lyre strings.

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Living Dead

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Where do my emotions go when I bury them?

The absence of feeling in me is the most painful of all.

Yearning for the hot blast of alive.

~~~

The Machine does not allow for variance.

Slotted, herded, controlled, cajoled.

Led to willful slaughter like so many sheep.

~~~

Mind numbing diversions distract attention.

Controlled monotony of dreary lives.

Corporatocracy is supersized.

~~~

Teleport through dimension and time.

Find the place where the quiet mind

can truly hear the wind.

~~~

Shed your soul of the extra layers.

Travel lightly on your journey.

Every step filled with intention.

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BTFD

You all already know where I think this market is headed. However, the twitter streams are full of folks that are ready to declare yet another rally to new higher plateaus. Most investors don’t seem overly concerned about things. I certainly have not detected any real panic in either the sentiment readings or in the price action of the market.

There are still some pretty serious technical issues afflicting the market that have not been alleviated by the recent pullback. A myriad of indicators such as Put/Call ratios, Bullish Percentage indicators, volume studies, et cetera, are indicating weakness to come. I believe that the path of least resistance is to lower prices, and that the process has begun. Those are my personal opinions however, and that plus $3.50 will get you a Grande Soy Latte at Starbucks.

Anything is possible short term in this era of daily Central Bank injections of “monetary morphine” in the form of POMO. This stock market “crack” is in essence creating yet another asset bubble, this time through mispriced risk premiums in both equities and bonds. The chase for yield in a lower bound interest rate environment is the catalyst, but that is not the topic of today’s post.

You see, bubbles can go on for longer than even the most stubborn contrarian may be able to wait. Timing such reversals is treacherous at best and suicidal at worst. That’s not my point either. My topic du jour is of the incredibly obvious, yet to-date not talked about fact that the Fed’s open market operations since 2009 have created a unique moral hazard. This will act as dry tinder to the next real correction in the markets, whenever that may happen – and it WILL happen.

In the study of Psychology there is a theory of operant conditioning that was formulated by B.F. Skinner. Skinner’s theories were based on principles such as reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. Skinner created experiments using rats that would provide positive and negative stimuli creating learned behavior responses.  His Law of Effect was in essence that responses producing a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again, and responses producing a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again.

I would argue that the Fed has done the same with us folks in the investor class. Just like rats we are conditioned that buying any dip no matter how small will be rewarded with profits. Conversely, selling stock short or betting on stock prices to fall will be punished with severe losses. This keeps the herd moving in the same direction, but it inflates the bubble higher and higher. This learned behavior response is manifested in two phenomena currently observable in today’s financial markets: BTFD and Pavlovian Short Covering (let’s call it PSC for shorthand). Unless you have been underneath a rock in the fetal position since 2009 then you already know what BTFD stands for, but if not I’ll tell you here.

BTFD stands for Buy the Fucking Dip. The first time I saw it referenced was in a YouTube video that appeared at least a few years ago. Since then, BTFD has become somewhat of an accepted truth. After all, anybody that has bought ANY dip of ANY size over the last 4 years has made money with very few exceptions. BTFD has certainly made many of its disciples very rich and that is one of the strongest positive reinforcements a human can receive. Not only does it reinforce the behavior in the initial participants, but it has created a tractor beam of groupthink. As more and more people have benefited from the learned behavior, the strength of belief has spread far and wide and its practitioners have been emboldened.

The flip side of the reinforced behavioral response is Pavlovian Short Covering. This is the act of reflexively covering short positions at the first sign of a return of strength to the bull side. This learned behavior is based on negative stimulus exerted upon bears time after time over the last 4 years. The tactics used to elicit this PSC is mainly through extreme, and some would say purposeful, manufactured violent short squeezes. Often these bear traps are sprung in the dead of night. Index futures rise in overnight trading creating a rush to cover short positions into the opening bell. Other times at key moments when the market is threatening to roll-over, there is an almost “magical” news item that comes out creating the squeeze. Sometimes, there’s no news at all, but a certain mysterious “hand of the Patron Saint of Bulltards” comes in and ramps the futures from certain failure. This hand of God typically lifts price up and past key areas where bears generally cover their short bets to avoid further and certain excruciating pain.

Any and all of these scenarios trigger PSC, and once it begins, a feedback loop comprised of weak handed short sellers and conditioned dip buyers combine into a glorious symphony of Federal Reserve operant conditioned rats.

Now this is all fine and good until somebody pokes an eye out. This conditioning is based on experience and results that have been extremely effective in the bull-run off the 2009 S&P lows. At SOME POINT however, (I would say that point has already arrived, but some will disagree) the trend changes, and the great Bernanke Bubble pops.

When this happens, the extreme conditioning response cultivated over the past 4+ years will serve to exacerbate the eventual declines. Initially bulls will not sell their positions when the market weakens and may instead continue to aggressively buy the dip. After all this has worked like a charm in the past – why change now? Bears on the other hand, gun shy and wary of all of the relentless traps, will not be eager to short, thus creating no fuel for squeezes.

Combine all this with the fact that there are currently many crowded trades due to the narrowing participation of stocks to the recent rally (see Market Halitosis for more on this). If things turn south the low volume on the exchanges will make declines more severe. Also, there is the very real possibility that if things get really ugly then the High Frequency bid will evaporate, further lowering liquidity. Thus the unique set of stimuli creating these learned responses will eventually be the fuel that enables real conflagration to erupt. This will be the point that everyone realizes that the new phrase to learn is STFR or Sell the Fucking Rip.

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These Are The Times

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Shimmering radiance
of full moons glow.

Never more alive than
those moments when

I peel back the layers
of rote habit.

Prodding my inner core,
allowed to feel

my real emotions.
Not protected but

at least I am not dulled.
These are the times

that I feel connected,
universal.

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The Island

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View of Alcatraz taken from the Bay Bridge

 

Heavy inversion layers

tamped down emotions

solitude of thought.

~~~

Days like these weigh on my soul

testing my psyche

in ways you can’t know.

~~~

Where does the self doubt come from?

Was it there since birth,

or learned behavior?

~~~

On an island in my mind,

watching the waves lap

and envelop me.

~~~

The sun tries hard to break free

 Focused beams puncture

through the mist and shine.

~~~

If only I can absorb

the sun’s loving rays

deeply in my heart

~~~

I can learn to love again.

The lessons of life

that guide me to peace.

 

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A Silence So Loud it Hurts

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Grey mist replaces what once was bright.

A Silence So Loud It Hurts

A silence so loud it hurts.
Bottomless depths,
absence of light.

Drawing all feeling towards you.
Black hole gravity pull
will never relent.

What will be left when I am gone?
Echoes of us
shadows of love.

Colors drain from the picture.
Grey mists replace
what once was bright.

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In The Arms Of Mother

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Held closely
in the arms of mother nature.
Her watchful gaze,
like a warm embrace that surrounds me.

Nothing bad
can happen here, you at my side.
Constant presence
guides me, providing gentle comfort.

Blowing breeze
swirling up through the canyon walls.
Calling to me
with the beautiful song of your love.

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Impressions of Her

Impressions of Her

Impressions of her

indelibly painted,

sweeping expanding images.

~~~

Savoring the time

never knowing.

Grace comes and goes.

~~~

Could a dream

be what I saw?

How can I know for certain?

~~~

With every shared whisper,

every exchanged glance,

her essence gains gravity.

~~~

Until she appears

before me.

As if by my side

for eternity.

 

 

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Summer Remembrances Of The Yuba River

The Yuba river

The Yuba river

 

Shadows stretch languidly
fluid rivulets groove into granite.
Time passes with no words.

Echoes reverberate against box canyon walls.
Foam spray on mossy stones.
Driftwood collects in swirling eddies.

Dappled stars twinkle and dance on waters surface.
Scent of pine duff wafts.
Calm pools teem with life as
water skeeters flit and skip about.

Breathy breezes and puffy clouds.
Cans of cheap beer chill at rivers edge.
Eyes closed but calming ripples
fill my mind.
Falling deeply into summers trance.

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I Have Created a Monster

Sometimes she gets me so angry. It hardly seems fair when she knows exactly the right buttons to push. It’s part of the challenge of trying to repair a fractured relationship. A fractured trust. My role is not that of the innocent, I admit this. At times I play into the emotions, and help to create the monster that rears it’s fangs. 

Still I wish that things were different.

Find myself longing for simpler times, when we were on more even footing. When we both had careers, and both brought home the bacon. When she could explain to her friends what I did on a daily basis without having to massage things to make them sound more palatable. When she was proud of me, of our relationship.

These days the turmoil is causing hairline cracks. Emotions bubble up at inopportune moments. What would once go unsaid now gets repeated daily, hourly. Frustrations cause mountains out of molehills. She is quick to anger and I am quick to be defensive. To survive this we will both need to learn how to relate to each other better.

The good news is that there is still love. There is still something worth fighting for. She may run out of patience with me and if she did I could not really blame her. The past few years have been very painful for us both. At times I don’t like the man that I have become but at the same time I have been forced to learn some humbling lessons about life. About what is truly important and what is not.

The hope is that these travails may bear sweet fruit for us eventually if we can wait it out. If only we can find the strength to see our way through these challenges. Life does not owe us anything, but if there is any justice in the universe I will get a chance to see this journey through to it’s conclusion and come to realize the greater purpose for the path that I took.

Like tempered steel, with the right mindset our relationship will emerge stronger. Everything happens for a reason. I refuse to give up my faith in this simple belief. 

 

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Resiliency

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Even under less than ideal circumstances

nature finds ways to push on,

to thrive.

There is a great lesson for each of us in this simple observation.

Instead of telling yourself

why you cannot possibly succeed,

perhaps

you should be telling yourself

that if you persist long enough

there is no possible way you can fail.

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Morning Prayer 3/25/14

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On this morning I draw strength and inspiration from others. Those that are kind and those that push through their difficulties and still find time to smile and greet me with warmth. Many are less fortunate than I. Realizing how blessed I am makes me happy. Cherishing my friendships and my family. The beauty around me every day is another source of inspiration. Watching the sun rise every morning is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the Universe. How can I be anything but grateful for the blessing of life and health? My wish is that today I am able to reflect these feelings back into the world and find my peace.

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Live Oak

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Live Oak

Arms outstretched as if in prayer

tendrils intertwine in delightful chaos.

We have grown wise and old through the years

like the live oak by the river.

Remember how we used to picnic

‘neath her canopy in the summertime

and make love in the evening gloaming protected from view.

The quiet sentinel always willing to keep our secret.

Head resting in your lap as you absentmindedly

ran delicate fingers through my hair.

Feelings of freedom and security, wind rustled leaves

entranced us with hypnotic rhythms.

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