With the current mysterious spike in deaths of unknown etiology killing healthy middle-aged people, I’m concerned about dying suddenly from either a long-COVID cardiac arrhythmia or possibly as a side effect of the two mRNA vaccine jabs I took over a year ago. (Uncancelled scientists are beginning to talk about mRNA vaccine side effects now. Another “crazy conspiracy theory” has gone mainstream and so far appears to be fundamentally true.)
With sudden death in the back of my mind, I felt that I should document the lessons I’ve learned about day trading in case my son or daughter ever develops an interest. I was about to send them a series of detailed emails that would likely sit in their Gmail archives indefinitely, but then it dawned on me that you might be genuinely interested. Times are tough and will deteriorate from here with the inglorious FED and their co-conspiring central bankster friends siphoning the purchasing power of fiat currencies from middle-class taxpayers around the world. So…
Sincere Caveat first: None of this is financial advice, of course. It’s just me trying to teach my adult kids something interesting and potentially useful. It’s all new to them now. I’m not a professional financial advisor. I’m not even a successful trader. But I’ve had the rare luck of meeting two successful day traders in my life. I also suspect that I’m far more objective than your average source of information because I happen to come from a profession (surgical pathology and cytopathology) where ego-detached objectivity was absolutely crucial to diagnostic accuracy, and diagnostic accuracy affected patient survival directly and routinely. So perhaps my opinions on day trading are worth hearing if you’re interested in money. But remember this: financial futures are leveraged trading vehicles. This means that anyone trading them, including you, can and almost certainly will lose every penny in your trading account at least once before you either give up or get lucky and discover one of the rare narrow paths to lasting success. Stats of unknown validity show that you will almost certainly give up after losing money. Worse yet, it’s possible to lose more money than you have in your account due to the inherent leverage of futures contracts. They say that “hard stops” (placed in the market with each entry order) will help prevent this disaster during ordinary market conditions, but human errors also happen, so there are no guarantees coming from anyone in the industry and certainly not from me. And you should know going into this that you will definitely make trading errors, especially when you’re first learning, but even years later when you’re tired, bored, sick, distracted by passionate romance, depressed over a breakup, etc. So if you’re going to do this, you MUST paper trade before trading with “real” fiat money. You cannot safely jump into futures trading with real money unless you’re so wealthy that losing thousands of dollars feels about the same to you as buying a cup of Starbucks coffee. If you’re that rich, you’ve probably got a room full of professional day traders working for you already and you probably don’t even know it. But for the rest of us, only trade with money you can easily afford to lose. That’s realistic.
With that caveat, you’re wondering why I would ever bother my son and daughter about day trading. Fair enough…
The decision to trade futures, or to do anything that’s extremely difficult, attracts certain people. For these folk, the path of greatest resistance and difficulty seems like the correct path, or even the very thing God wants them to do next. For people with this tendency, no one can dissuade them. Ambition kicks in and the decision has been made. Advising them to forget day trading would be like trying to talk a college student out of becoming an MD once they’ve had “the calling.” It’s futile unless you start trying to talk them out of it from the time they’re toddlers and never stop talking. Even then, it likely won’t work. If they’re prone to take difficult and ambitious paths, they will either fail and change their own minds or hang tough year after difficult year and eventually succeed.
“‘Are you looking for something easy to catch?'” – Bob Dylan
Trading futures for a living looks ridiculously easy until you try it. People tell us that 90 to 95% of those who attempt it will wind up losing money and quitting. Personally I’d guess that 99.9% fail, but who’s studied it scientifically and published the results in a peer-reviewed journal? At least everyone agrees it’s not “something easy to catch.” A person attempting this profession must work hard for years and somehow be fortunate enough to discover one of the rare strategies that connects experience to lasting success. (Temporary success, by contrast, is relatively easy and means less than nothing.)
From what I’ve learned about discretionary day trading, it will likely take 3 to 5 years of experience plus the constant reinforcing of counter-intuitive good habits while avoiding emotion-driven bad habits before you can hope to become consistently profitable and keep the money you’ve made (rather than over-trading and giving it back to the market). You’ll also need to avoid much of the popular misinformation about trading futures. And there’s a realistic way to do this now…
In my opinion, people who are emotionally stable and also genuinely teachable can shorten the length of their money-losing rookie period and increase their overall chances of eventual consistent success if they gain access to the detailed trading habits of a discretionary day trader with a success record stretching back at least a decade or so. These people are rare. No one is apt to ever meet one, let alone find one who is willing to be your mentor. On the other hand, miracles do happen.
As you may recall, back in the early 2000’s I met a retail day trader, Mike Reed, who had been an athlete in his youth and had been contracted to begin playing catcher in the minor leagues for the Dodgers. Right before he began spring training he suffered a spinal cord injury from diving into shallow water after a big rain. He became a quadriplegic with enough movement and sensation remaining in his arms and hands to trade the financial markets. He could also type into a chat box (one letter at a time) with a stick attached to his right hand.
Day trading became his passion, helping to keep him out of the grips of depression that all quadriplegics must somehow miraculously avoid. After several years of trading efforts (3 years, if I remember right), Mike became one of the vanishingly rare humans that can make a living from day-trading. He started with options and later switched to trading the financial futures (the e-minis, mainly the ES).
Sadly, Mike has passed away now. He supported himself as a trader for about 30 years. Every now and then I still ask God to send Mike Reed a message from me, realizing of course that such a thing might be out of the range of reasonable possibilities. But if it can be done realistically and without messing anything up, I bet God would pass my messages on to him.
Mike lived over a thousand miles from me. During my five years under his guidance, I mostly paper traded the ES futures in the first hour of RTH (regular trading hours). Mike would be typing brief messages to me on a chat box, doing his best to teach me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see his charts.
After a few years, I helped him write an e-book detailing his discretionary day-trading strategies, including his entry setups, and his unusual use of stop losses and profit taking. I wish I had that eBook now. It’s probably squirreled away on an old hard drive in some box out in the storage shed. I never thought I would day trade again.
During these years with Mike, I was a practicing pathologist and I couldn’t rack up enough hours of market exposure to become successful. Plus I didn’t seem to have the emotional toughness that I thought was necessary to make it as a day trader. My heart would pound during every trade, even when paper trading with fake money. And getting up so early was destroying my health because I didn’t have the discipline to go to bed early. I’m still a kid at heart, waiting for someone to make me go to bed.
So I quit day trading in 2005.
Then near the end of 2021 the markets looked ready to crash again based on macroeconomics and the “bull run” of the S&P (while the broader indices like the Russell 2000 sagged). So I decided to give fundamental investing and swing trading a try (with Tobin Smith). He inadvertently rekindled my interest in day trading.
Based on an oversimplification of how Mike Reed traded, I came up with a 99% mechanical (as opposed to discretionary) entry and exit rule that I “knew” would fail. The plan was simple: I would “fade the TICK extremes” and double down when things went wrong. This means, for instance, I would “go long” and take a position that would make money if the currently falling prices reversed and went up an instant after they paused during a rapid price fall. To time this adventure, I would use the extreme TICK readings (of the NYSE internals, symbol TICK or $TICK), going long (buying the S&P futures, symbol ES or /ES) when the TICK fell below negative 1000 and “going short” (selling the ES) when the TICK readings rose above positive 1000. A key part of the plan was that I would ALWAYS get out early with a tiny profit, NEVER hanging around hoping for a big home-run point gain because, for example, rapidly falling prices usually don’t reverse for long, they bounce up a bit at TICK extremes then usually continue their trend downward. And then there was the doubling-down insanity which meant that if the market didn’t reverse for me at the extreme TICK reading, I wouldn’t close the trade and take a small loss like a normal human being, instead I would wait for the next TICK extreme, double my bet and hope that prices would reverse at that time so I could get out with a SMALL (always tiny) dollar gain.
I did this with a simulated (paper trading) account, so those dollars were pretend money and the whole experiment wasn’t actually insane, just another quick-and-dirty quasi-scientific trial designed to flesh out the relationship of price action to the TICK.
Mike’s strategies were more complex than this and always discretionary (i.e. requiring human judgement, not a mechanical trading rule), but he always paid close attention to TICK extremes. In fact, almost all of his setups involved taking a SHORT position when the following two things happened at the same time…
1. The TICK (internals) hit an extreme reading (anything over +1000) and
2. The price of the ES (S&P futures) simultaneously bumped up against a “resistance” line (like the previous day’s high, the morning opening price, etc.)
Here’s an example of a TICK extreme (red number 1 on the top chart) and the simultaneous price reversal of the ES (red number 2 on the bottom chart):
At the arrow labeled with a red # 1 on the TICK chart above, there’s an extreme high (greater than 1,000). At the same moment (in retrospect) the price of the ES stopped going up and began going down. If there had been a major resistance line at that price level (about 3820 on the ES chart), this would have been a typical short entry point for Mike Reed. If there had been one of his favorite chart patterns in play, and/or contact with his favorite exponential moving average (which I think might have been 9 on the 5-minute ES chart) all the more reason he would have to enter a SHORT position. He didn’t like trading the long side.
Of course, nothing as simple as my mechanical rule, “fade the TICK and double down when things go wrong,” can be expected to work for long because doubling down has inherent limits unless you’re infinitely wealthy and also…
For example, when the TICK hits a positive extreme (defined by Mike as anything over +1000), the price of the ES often does NOT reverse immediately. Instead the price may continue its upward trend without a tradable pullback. Meanwhile the TICK might also continue to go higher and higher every moment into the extreme zone. TICK extremes are variable and context related. You never know exactly where or when they will reverse, and you never know if the price of the ES will make a tradable pullback when the TICK does finally reverse. Someone with great experience like Mike Reed could usually make a good judgement call, but he couldn’t tell you how he did it because the knowledge was subconscious (experiential), unknown to him at the cognitive level, and would probably be too complex to put into words if it should ever enter into the realm of his conscious knowledge.
My “doubling down” madness was intended to get around this inconvenient truth. The TICK always eventually reverses from an extreme, it’s just that you don’t know where that reversal will take place, at +1000, +1200, +1500 or rarely beyond. Also, you never know if the ES price will reverse significantly at the final true TICK extreme and save your cookies when you’re counter-trend trading against a relentless trend such as you’ll often see after bad news from the FED. (Incidentally, don’t trade during FED chairman news releases and speeches, you’ll probably get crushed.) But I didn’t care about any of this in my paper-trading account.
The first time the TICK extreme didn’t “cause” enough of a reverse in the ES price to get me out with a small gain in pretend dollars, I stuck to my plan and doubled my bet, wondering if the next TICK extreme would bring a decent ES pullback so I could get out with a small profit. But that didn’t happen, so I doubled down again and finally got away at the next TICK extreme with a small win.
Just to drive the point home, doubling down is ALWAYS insane, unless you’re trading fake money, or you’re one of the FED’s pet banks…
You can afford anything if you’re one of the approximately 16 banks that the FED supports financially with free money donated to them in several ways, including the latest scheme which is giving these lucky banksters risk-free interest on their money sitting in the FED’s reverse-repo cash pile of about 2 trillion dollars now. This stash of liquidity (fiat money) plus the mainstream’s cooked and distorted unemployment figures seem to explain why the FED still claims to feel hope for a “soft landing” of the US economy, despite the writing on the wall telling us the FED is between a rock (i.e. inflation, which will eventually bring economic collapse if the FED doesn’t crush it with higher interest rates and prolonged Quantitative Tightening) and a hard place (global recession/ depression/ economic collapse if the FED does continue raising interest rates and prolonging Quantitative Tightening). Like vitamin D3, too much or too little of it can ruin you. Same with water, oxygen and carbohydrates. Most people think of it as a dichotomy, like a branch in a road, go left and it’s QT, go right and it QE. But QE (quantitative easing plus lowering interest rates) is like bringing in the crash cart to revive the patient after his heart has stopped. Although the FED is “swapping” dollars for other countries’ currencies already to bale them out of trouble, and this is quantitative easing at the global level, for the US economy QE is not an option while true inflation is in the realm of 15% (as opposed to the mainstream’s cooked numbers). The FED is dealing with something more like a parasitic infection for which the treatment (QT) is a pill that is toxic to both the parasite and to the patient. Too low a dose and the parasite kills the patient. Too high a dose and the pill kills the patient. Tough times for central banksters whose highest goal is to remain in power over Western democracies who can supposedly vote at any election for a person who promises to cancel the entire system of central bank organized theft.
Yawn. Not this again.
Anyway, the biggest problem with my doubling-down experiment was that it worked.
I couldn’t believe it. My every trade was an eventual win. No losses at all. And I kept getting better at waiting and judging when the TICK (and the ES) would, for example, stop going up before I put on a short trade. My insane plan just kept working and working and working.
After a while, despite my better judgement, I had to try it with real money. Daa Dum. (Jaws soundtrack.)
I didn’t go stampeding straight into the ES futures, though. I gave things a little kiss and traded something that risked much less money per contract (a cheap out-of-the-money put option on the QQQ).
And darn if my 99% mechanical rule didn’t keep on working with real money. It reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode where the gambler dies and goes to heaven where he’s in a casino and wins and wins and wins until gambling becomes boring and he discovers he’s actually in gambler’s hell and can’t lose. Cheerful little Twilight Zone insight: losing is essential to winning.
Meanwhile back in reality, one day the market (my OTM QQQ put option) made a prolonged move against me without reversing enough at the TICK extremes.
I kept doubling down but it wasn’t working. Soon I owned 16 of these “cheap” put options. Now I had thousands of dollars worth of them hanging in the balance, eating up my liquidity and requiring “margin.” (Which meant I was automatically borrowing money now from the broker just to “own” this pile of OTM options. Sheesh, this wasn’t the Army I signed up for.).
But the market (option prices) did finally reverse at an extreme TICK, and I finally exited the trade with a small profit, same as always, except that my heart was pounding.
The stress of that trade may have contributed to what I did next.
Like some half-awake, totally brain-dead, thankfully retired pathologist (me, me, me), I forgot to switch from 16 contracts back to 1 contract before the next trade.
I pushed the buy button at the next TICK extreme. Gulp.
The market went against me again and kept going the wrong way for the rest of the day and I couldn’t double down because I was all-in from the start. To make matters worse, I wasn’t using stops.
I forgot to mention that at some brilliant moment in the paper stage of this experiment I’d decided to ignore the advice of Mike Reed and every trading book I’d ever read. I decided to trade without hard stops forcing me out of losing trades and keeping my individual losses smallish. After all, I was paper trading when I made this insane decision, so it didn’t matter. But I should have changed that part of the plan when I switched to real money. No, that’s wrong. I shouldn’t have ever switched to real money at all because I wasn’t one of the FED’s pet banks who can trade with free money (ultimately at taxpayers’ expense).
You might wonder why I didn’t use a soft stop and get out of that trade at a reasonable loss. This is an extremely important question.
“Soft” stops are in your head, not placed with your broker in the market like “hard” stop losses. Soft stops are therefore a promise to yourself that sounds a lot like this, “I’ll get out of this trade if it goes ten points against me. No, I really will, trust me.”
One famous trader I ran into on YouTube uses soft stops on swing trading, but not on day trading. And even in swing trading he says that unless you have superhuman self-discipline, you really need to use hard stops.
And here’s why you do…
Watching price candles go against your position is hypnotic. It casts a spell on your brain that makes you sit there in horror and watch like a moth standing on a lightbulb while his feet fry. That’s my theory. There are scientific psychological explanations but I’m going with spells and hypnosis. Potato-potahto.
Taking a loss with a “soft stop” is like breaking up with an abusive person. It’s “a hard thing to do.” Many people hang in there taking abuse for longer than they should, hoping things will change. Rarely, the abuser has a fundamental worldview shift that truly changes him/her, such as the discovery that God is alive and well and resembles a loving parent, not an Old Testament warlord. But that’s rare. Never trust a hope if you’re on the floor bleeding with broken bones. And never trust soft stops in a volatile bear market.
By the end of regular trading hours when I sold those 16 option contracts after my trading error, I booked a real loss of about $2,000. It wasn’t the end of the world, but enough pain to teach me a lesson or three. (Things I consciously knew from books, but had not learned subconsciously from personal experience. This difference is THE key to becoming a successful discretionary day trader.)
Note to self: 1. Use hard stops, for heaven’s sake. 2. Forget shortcuts like “mechanical” entry setups (i.e. simple black-and-white, inflexible rules for entries, exits, or even for set-it-and-forget-it stops). 3. Fading every TICK extreme and doubling down works great if you’re “too big to fail” and will always get bailed out by the FED while poor people, small businesses and the middle-class taxpayers pave the banksters’ streets with gold. These banks can (and do) trade all the markets with money given to them by the FED at your expense and the expense of your sons and daughters, essentially borrowing money from future generations of taxpayers so they can spend it now and hang on to their ultimate global power. There’s a simple solution to our current pet bank bail-out economic system created behind closed doors in 1913 to inflict grand theft upon the middle class:
End the FED!
All in all, I was surprised at how well my mechanical trading experiment did, even with real money. It never failed, the failure was my daft trading error that scared the Chuck Dickens out of me. More research in a paper account would almost certainly prove that it’s a guaranteed way to lose all your trading money and then some.
But I learned something of extreme personal value from that costly experiment, something that really shocked me.
I learned for the first time that when I have a strategy that works in real-time, even with real money, I’m not afraid to trade. I’m not so frightened that my heart pounds and the tunnel vision of flight-or-flight overrides my cortex.
I remember how this would happen during every trade back in the early 2000’s, even with paper trades where the only things on the line were my hopes and dreams of becoming like Mike Reed, able to trade for a living and get out of the depressing, stressful profession of (surgical and cyto) pathology.
This means that even a person withOUT nerves of steel, even a person like me, can trade in freedom from debilitating fear provided you have a method that has given you experiential confidence. This is true even if you’re trading a stupid method that offers NO cognitive confidence (i.e. logic tells you it must eventually fail).
Think about it. I had cognitive confidence in Mike Reed’s methods, but virtually no experiential confidence in my own ability to put his words into successful trades. By contrast, during my doubling-down-at-TICK-extremes (nut-case) experiment, even with real money I quickly developed experiential confidence, and felt no fear until I got into trouble with real money (i.e. the last difficult winning trade before my trading error which ended the project but wasn’t relevant to it).
What a personal transformation! I had none of my usual debilitating trading fear from the old days, and yet I never developed a shred of cognitive confidence in that idiotic mechanical system. I still cognitively “know” that everything logical says doubling down at TICK extremes is doomed to total failure eventually. It’s like a pyramid scheme that sells widgets, unlimited personal distributorships, and the hope of great riches. Intellectually you know that sustained exponential growth in the number of people that sign up will eventually mean that everyone in the world will have either signed up or said “no,” and the whole thing will have to collapse, but if you’re a natural salesperson who’s successfully signing up friends, neighbors and strangers by the dozens and teaching them how it’s done, making thousands of dollars per week from your “downline” (this really happens), you can’t help “knowing” for sure in your heart that this system, this time, will keep growing forever and never fail. Moral of the story…
Experiential knowledge overrides cognitive knowledge, at least at the emotional level where many of us make life’s big decisions.
Mike Reed’s trading strategy worked for him for 30 years, but as I say, we lived in different states so I couldn’t watch his computer screen and see the complex nuances of his trades as the candles moved through time.
I had no way to watch and emulate how he applied his vast experiential knowledge to his trades on a moment-by-moment basis where it counts. I could only get the broad cognitive strokes in retrospect, one patient and brief sentence at a time over the chat box.
But communication technology is far better now, and I’ve discovered an ES day trader who’s quickly becoming a living legend.
In an overview of retail day trading, you have two extremes: Mechanical trading and discretionary trading. These lie on a continuum with AI machine-learning algorithms at the mechanical end and the exceedingly rare human traders like Mike Reed at the discretionary end.
It’s cutting-edge “true Artificial Intelligence” versus human intelligence (with and without pedestrian retail computer algorithms).
Or if you exclude the true AI’s because they cost billions, the extremes of the spectrum become:
Rules-based (mechanical) human traders (with and without retail algorithms) versus discretionary (brain-powered) human traders. Of course this is a spectrum, not a binary dichotomy like pregnancy versus non-pregnancy, or a blast from the incipient rupture of the past: male versus female.
If you’re a fairly emotional person like I am (an INFJ by the old system), you’ll be drawn to the mechanical end of the spectrum, especially after you’ve traded away five thousand dollars of your first futures day-trading account like I did in the early 2000’s before switching to simulated trading and freezing there in fear for the next five years.
But as best I can tell from my limited experience with retail-level mechanical rules-based trading systems, they represent the dark side of the force, the side that leads to failure because…
We retail traders don’t have access, as far as I know, to machine-learning AI’s. I’d bet the FED’s pet banks do and possibly some of the world’s billionaire traders.
Of course there are plenty of programmable, back-tested and back-testable systems withOUT machine learning that you can use if you can afford them. There are systems that make every sort of outrageous claim of profitability, usually on historic data. Some of these vendors report actual trading success and failure (i.e. real trading profits and losses, assuming they’re being honest). But assuming they are honest, future market behavior is never guaranteed to reflect past market behavior. You’ll be required to sign documents to this effect before purchasing any retail mechanical trading system.
Think of the California Gold Rush of 1849. Oh My Darling… There were the LEVI brothers selling blue jeans to the miners and there were miners, but there was nobody selling gold to the miners at huge discounts. Nobody was saying, “Come to my bank, for just $5,000 a year, I’ll let you walk into the vault and take out as much gold as you can carry, every day.”
But if you could rent a profitable mechanical trading system, it would be roughly the same sort of thing. A money machine. Nobody would sell or rent such a valuable thing, as best I can imagine in my limited experience.
Or imagine you were a programmer with a mechanical trading system that made consistent money, year after year with drawdowns (losses) so small that your account was never in danger of being wiped out. Would you sell the system to retail traders while it was still working? Probably not, unless you were terminally ill and wanted to help save the middle class from the elites’ ongoing theft via controlled inflation (which causes real, not relative, devaluation of the US dollar). At the moment the FED is fighting out-of-control inflation, but they love controlled inflation at about 2%. That amount of gradual theft is sustainable and can be justified to lawmakers and presidents who know so little about money, history, and banking that they believe the psychotic magical thinking of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) which says a central bank can print any amount of fake (fiat) money forever and nothing bad will happen.
Sustainable theft and protecting the world’s banksters are, as best I can determine, the true purposes behind the FED’s irrational existence. We must elect people who will end it. Democrats, Republicans and dyslectics UNTIE!
But as an AI programmer, when market conditions have changed and your system begins to lose money, you’d probably tweak it until it worked again if you could. And if not, especially if you were a scientific materialist like most highly educated people are, living in the morbid perception of a random universe running on the amoral principle of “winning at any cost,” you might sell your old failed system to the retail crowd of rookies, and in your ads you might surely show your long history of winning trades with a glowing façade of arrogant self-confidence and false altruism, as in, “I’m so successful and rich now, it’s time to give something back.”
How many times have we both heard that?!
Anyway, I have to admit that although my involvement with (and jaded top-down analysis of) retail mechanical trading systems has been decidedly negative for years, my actual hands-on experience with these systems has been limited and extremely frustrating, so as I love to remind us both, I’m often wrong about important things. Incidentally, I think everyone is probably like me with this flaw, and I suspect that if we all came out and admitted it to ourselves, we’d have a starting point for global peace and lasting progress in science, politics, and spirituality / religion.
Having worked my arse off since I became a Christian and left my garage band “Friction” at about age 13, determined to become a helpful person in the world and postpone life’s “gratification” by becoming an MD and then an AP/CP boarded pathologist, a goal which, by the way, made me miserable after I achieved it and began my 25 years of careful, accurate, stressful and depressing practice, I now think that maybe God in his love sent Mike Reed my way to offer me a new life that didn’t involve frightening life-and-death diagnostic decisions while breathing toxic chemicals alone in a small room with a microscope.
Mike earned a good living day trading for about 30 years. When I went to visit him he lived in a large house built of thick timbers by a group of honest fundamentalist Christian people, Amish, if I remember right. His beautiful house had an elevator designed to accommodate his wheelchair. The house sat on five acres and had a large pond out back loaded with hungry fish that Mike fed every day by hand. And he had a beautiful fiancé who became his one-and-only wife for the rest of his amazing life.
But Mike dealt with chronic pain on top of severe acute pain episodes as well as the stress of having big medical bills that the government in its wisdom stopped paying because Mike could still move his arms and wrists enough to click a mouse, and he’d had the audacity to teach himself how to make money day trading. (The government’s “free” money plan is intelligently designed to create learned helplessness, in my humble and yet infallible opinion. Their message to us: “Give up on life and stop working if you want US government help.”)
I learned a great deal about Mike’s trading techniques, but the limitations of communicating to me over a chat box, typing one letter at a time with a stick strapped to his hand… Let’s just say he knew plenty that I had no chance of learning from him. Plus there’s the elephant in the room that young people don’t often understand: experience teaches you things that you cannot put into words, and in fact, you may not be consciously aware that you know these things at all.
I used to daydream about how wonderful it would be if only I could sit for a few months beside Mike and watch him trade. Actually it would have taken years, not months, and I would have needed to trade on my own decisions independent of his for most of that time. But it was all a dream. There was no way it could happen at the time.
That was then, this is now, and times have changed…
Recently, Google’s AI sent me to the YouTube channel of a great futures day-trader, an extreme outlier in the sense that he almost never has a losing day, he makes his living by day-trading the futures (mostly the ES), and his trading technique closely resembles Mike Reed’s successful strategy.
I’m of course talking about Matthew Brydges, The Day Trader Next Door.
Watching his videos is a dream come true for me. I watch them over and over nowadays, soaking in the complex subconscious data contained in the movements of the chart candles accompanied by Matthew’s real-time explanations of what he’s cognitively doing and why.
As I keep repeating (as if redundancy were a good thing and not tediously annoying), learning comes in two flavors:
1. Cognitive, like classroom learning and
2. Experiential, like learning to ride a bicycle. (Things that require experience to learn are largely held in your mind at the subconscious level and can never be translated 100% into words.)
There was a pig farmer on TV the other night. Wait, hear me out on this, it’s interesting. He’d been around pigs since he was three years old and had learned to detect which way a pig will turn and how fast it will charge at him when it’s angry.
This pig-reading farmer is analogous to a “tape reading” discretionary day trader. The subtle movements of the pig’s back muscles, the farmer says, tell him what the pig will do next, just as the subtle movements of the ES price candles (plus the TICK chart in conjunction with S/R lines and a few other things) tell Matthew what’s likely to happen next to the ES price (“next” meaning within the next few seconds to minutes).
Day Traders really need to wrap their minds around the concept of experiential learning because it’s the only route to becoming a successful discretionary day trader, as far as I know. Accurate cognitive classroom-style knowledge is also essential, but it’s NOT the crucial path to success. Experience is. It takes YEARS to master this skill for most people, even with good cognitive guidance from a truly successful mentor.
And unless you have access to machine-learning AI technology and brilliant code writers, you’re extremely unlikely to succeed at mechanical systems trading because you will be limited to retail-level back-tested mechanical trading rules and non-learning algorithms (as far as I know at this time).
The allure of mechanical trading rules and systems is strong, though. Working with rigidly defined rules promises to take the nearly random markets and extract from them a non-randomness that can be used to design entrances and exits through back-testing and optimization. This ultimately promises a set-it-and-forget-it money machine that should also remove the stress of trading decisions.
In the words of an influential professor of mine who often quoted shocking texts from the Bible, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were true?”
And there are plenty of salespeople online ready to sell you a mechanical system that they’ve back-tested and tweaked. They really have done that for you. Unless they’re frauds, and some clearly are, they’ve back-tested their systems and optimized them until they genuinely make money on historical data. And if a system worked in the past, it’s natural to think it should keep working in the future, at least for a little while. And I bet some do for a while. Hopefully long enough to make the money back that you spent on the system.
But in my humble and yet somewhat informed opinion, the market is like a hungry, angry, charging, wild boar. You must either develop the ability to read its body language, or you should stay out of its way. Domesticated pigs are smart, cute, and seem to make good pets. But wild boars, not so much.
You could take videos of wild boars and use a computer to back-test and optimize rules for dealing with them. Things like: “If it moves one inch to the left then three feet to the right, the boar will charge at 10 miles per hour. Exit the trade.” Optimize this mechanical rule with enough historic data and you’d have a set of rules that “predicts” the wild boar’s charge 80 to 95% of the time, but only on old historic data.
The next morning in real time when you step into the boar’s territory, your optimized rules won’t likely save you because the huge animal has a brain that’s somehow not limited to the “scientific” materialist’s quasi-religious and untestable assumption that free will cannot exist because everything is predetermined by previous physical causes involving matter and energy (because nothing besides matter and energy could possibly exist for these highly educated people… uh, er, except for dark matter. They’ve spent billions searching in vain for that stuff because it was their own sacred idea.).
In reality though, like financial markets, wild boars make decisions moment-by-moment that are at times significantly different from their old decisions. Wild boars change their minds, same as the markets. Worse yet, if you threaten their territory, they learn and adapt, same as the best discretionary traders and our best machine-learning AI’s.
As I see it, there is only one fairly dependable way for a retail day trader to become successful. It’s by spending a great deal of time observing and trading, first with simulated trading, then with tiny positions of real money, then with gradually increasing position sizes, all the while learning and re-learning the “body language” of price movement at the subconscious level. With this approach, some people have a decent chance of achieving lasting success at day trading the highly liquid ES futures market where “slippage” isn’t usually a problem.
Truly, if you’re going to try this, you’ll have to plan on losing money and working hard for years to become a person with an extremely rare, hard-to-learn skill, a person like Mike Reed or Matthew Brydges.
But I hear you thinking, Mike Reed, sure, I believe he was the real thing, but lightning never strikes twice. “Today there must be thousands of self-proclaimed ‘expert day traders’ on the internet. It’s obvious that most of them, if not all of them, are making most of their money selling grand promises to rookie traders.”
I agree. It takes all day every day and a lot of help to create complex videos and run a big YouTube channel, so it seems obvious that most of today’s “expert” day traders couldn’t possibly have enough time to sit and day trade all through Regular Trading Hours.
So, am I really SURE that Matthew Brydges isn’t just another guy selling blue jeans to miners?
Short answer: Yes, 100% sure.
If I had NOT spent five years with Mike Reed, I couldn’t be objectively 100% sure. But I could certainly feel 100% sure…
Matthew comes across on video as the most genuine person you’ll ever meet in your life. You’ll wish he was your next-door neighbor. At the intuitive level, anyone who watches his videos will FEEL absolutely sure he’s honest and genuine. There doesn’t seem to be a fake bone in his body. Plus he video records his trades and shows his profit and loss data right there on the spot. Who else does that?
But objective analysis calls for more evidence.
Matthew makes so few trades per day, almost all of them before 11:00 AM Eastern, so this gives him plenty of time to edit his videos (which are not hyper-complex at all) and plenty of time to run his small YouTube channel. He doesn’t trade some days because he has a big family and tons of things he must do besides sit and trade. So it’s all congruent.
But the fact that he trades so infrequently can be taken wrong: at least one person asked him if he only posts his good trades (cherry-picking). He says he’s posted 100% of his trades since the day he started his YouTube channel. When he says this, a person like me FEELS sure he’s telling the truth.
But that’s still not objective information, is it? So what have I got that’s objective?
Well, I spent those five years with Mike Reed and helped him write his e-book on how to day trade the ES futures, so within this one narrowly specialized niche of discretionary futures day-trading of the ES, I know enough to distinguish a successful day trader from someone faking it.
Below is a long list of crucially important components of Matthew Brydges’ trading strategy that are extremely similar and often identical to Mike Reed’s strategy while contradicting much of the retail crowd’s ingrained ways of thinking and trading. (The retail trading crowd is called the “dumb money” and gives up day trading in despair at a rate of at least 90+ %.) Meanwhile, the similarities between Matthew’s and Mike’s trading strategies are too many and too nearly identical to represent coincidence. Here we go…
1. Matthew is a discretionary trader who uses flexible Central-Nervous-System (CNS) discretion on entries and exits by reading the ES price action in real time withOUT simple, inflexible, mechanical rules. Just like Mike.
2. Matthew places very few trades per day, saying that you’ll do better if you wait patiently for good setups and avoid giving money back by overtrading. “Wait for your pitch,” Mike would tell me. “You shouldn’t be making more than three to six trades a day,” Mike would say over the chat box. Matthew usually trades even less frequently than that. By contrast, on trading frequency, I’ve heard popular day traders describe a certain chart setup (“the leg” they called it), saying that it had a 95% + history of making money, but that it happened so rarely you couldn’t make a living from it. Is that logical? No, but it’s typical retail balderdash: “If you’re sitting there watching the markets and not trading, you’re wasting your time.” If you believe this sort of thing, you’ve been silently brainwashed and might want to read the first trading book that Mike recommended to me: “The Phantom of the Pits.” This Phantom would sit (for days reading a novel) watching the markets, and “day trading” without placing a single trade until the bottom seemed to be ready to drop out. Then he would go short with a huge position, trading in the actual physical trading pits. (This was years ago.) He made himself wealthy doing this, so he claimed. But could it be true? Logically speaking, yes. If you’ve got the conviction and confidence to “trade size,” like the “plungers” of old (i.e. plunging a large amount of money into a “for sure” trade), you could do extremely well or get wiped out. Nobody brags about their losses, so the plungers were the “great traders” of their day. Matthew takes their underlying principle in a different direction, waiting for good trades but seeking small point gains with relatively large sized trades (large to me, small to him). He normally trades five ES contracts per trade now (down from 10 when he started doing videos and wanted to get really comfortable). He says 5 is comfortably small for him. He has traded 10 to 50 contracts at a time, even 100 if I remember right. So five is easy for him, emotionally speaking. I get it. But for a rookie, 5 ES mini contracts seem gigantic. And to further my vague point here, a few of these 5 contract trades several times a week, each time making a small point gain, provides Matthew with enough active income to support his entire family. On this point (all of which you can find on his videos), Matthew wrote the following to me : “…full disclosure – trading is not my sole income, though it is my only active source of income and is what I “live on.” I have passive income from properties and the fixed income portion of my portfolio. Income from YouTube and the course are essentially negligible. Having said all that, a few years of much more aggressive trading after my divorce/financial reset is what built most of what I have now, (trading essentially the same, but 5-10x the size and taking a few more trades per day) so trading has done far more for me than any other endeavor and would have been plenty on its own, though my funeral business was what generated the capital to trade with.” So the principle is clear, right? A few ES points gained consistently while trading an arguably large size (if emotionally small) yields a good stable income. (Mike never told me his trading size but I’m fairly sure it was something like 2 to 5 ES contracts per trade.) Matthew was begged by day traders to develop and sell a trading course. I bought it, loved it, and can report that from the small size of the comment section there, it appears that very few people have bought his course. And it only takes one look at his YouTube channel’s stats to see that very few traders (relatively speaking) even know who he is as of 10/16/2022. This is rapidly changing, of course. The man’s a phenomenon. So he’s not making any significant money from “selling blue jeans to miners” at the moment. On the contrary, he says he’s doing trading videos because he loves teaching, and I for one, believe him. You can see the joy in his eyes and hear it in his voice, for crying out loud.
3. Matthew uses a combination of A.) remarkably well-timed entries (i.e. entries after which the price routinely goes in a favorable direction without threatening his hard stops) and B.) reasonably tight hard stops that are rarely hit. (Note to my adult kids: just to be clear, when your stops are hit, it ends the trade for a loss.) The principle is this: as you gain experience, your entries get better, and as this happens, your hard stops should become tighter, up to an inflection point (like with vitamin D3) where tighter stops begin to reduce your win rate. It’s a U-shaped dose-response curve where a balance is gradually reached between a high win rate (ideally well above 80%, as best I can tell at this time) and the size of the hard stops (which Matthew adjusts on the fly at the start of each trade, then moves to break-even as soon as possible, usually when his trade is about 5 points above his entry). Similarly, Mike used to say: “Never let the market hit your stops.” Remember this: Matthew tells us that when it comes to the size of your hard stops, one size does NOT fit all trades. You need to learn to adjust your stops to each trade at the start and then readjust them to breakeven during the trade as soon as you reasonably can. Think of it this way, let’s say you’re like Matthew and you trade six times a day at most (usually much less), and darn it, on four of the first five trades you moved your stops to breakeven too soon and missed out on four nice winning trades, breaking even rather than making money. Sure, getting out early at break-even saved you from loss on one of the five trades, but was it really worth it? Yes. Then, let’s say on your sixth trade you moved to breakeven just as early as before because your number one rule is “don’t lose money.” And this time the price didn’t fall back and hit your break-even stop. You made money. You’re up for the day! You’re done. If this is you, it means you’re doing things right, not wrong. If you’ve been brainwashed by mainstream day trading “education,” you’ll feel like a failure because of all that money you “left on the table.” Fight that feeling. You’ll get better at the whole process as long as you keep priority #1 at the top of your list: Don’t lose money. Going to breakeven “too early” prevents a win turning into a loss. “When you finally become a break-even trader, you’re about 80% there [80% of the way to becoming a success],” Matthew tells us. Mike Reed also emphasized how important learning to break even is. For sure it’s a difficult dance to learn, but as best I can tell, becoming a break-even trader is a vital step towards someday doing this job for a living, if that’s your goal. And I’m neutral on that goal, just for the record. “It’s all you.”
4. Matthew emphasizes the central importance of trying really, really hard to avoid losses. This is the first and foremost goal, achieved largely by taking easy base hits (small point gains) rather than joining the usual retail trading hunt for home runs (large point gains) to be achieved by “letting your winners run.” Gag me. In practice, taking small gains withOUT “letting your winners run” is frustrating, I know. One YT commenter told Matthew something like, “Oh Matt, you got out way too soon. You left 30 points on the table, dude, what a mistake!” Matt not only humbly accepts this sort of criticism, he often gives it to himself after he books yet another winning trade, usually worth several thousand dollars. But actions speak louder than humble words, don’t they? Matthew doesn’t change his trading habits or stop teaching the principle of aiming for base hits and NOT home runs. And when you watch him trade, he never lets his winners run. Virtually never. He almost always closes the trade for a relatively small point gain (between 4 and 10 points on the ES) because he knows that the home-run mindset creates a losing profit/loss ratio in the long run for counter-trend discretionary day traders. (Perhaps not for all traders, I don’t know, but definitely for this trading niche.) Matthew seems to consider “leaving points on the table” a necessary part of his overall winning strategy which starts with focusing first and last on avoiding losses. This is exactly how Mike Reed traded. Forget the fear of missing out (FOMO) on a steep trend. Another winning entry point will soon arrive because Matthew ALWAYS aims for base hits, not home runs, same as Mike Reed. In fact, “RBI” (standing for Runs Batted In) was the name of Mike’s daily trading letter in which he provided support and resistance zones and incorporated them into an if-then style trading plan that went out to a few professional traders on Wall Street every day, one of whom paid him a personal visit, to discuss trading strategies and noted that they followed the same approach to day trading. Incidentally, the ES and NQ respected Mike’s S/R zones like nothing I would have imagined possible. True story: one night after Mike’s RBI report was out, I found a mistake that he had made in calculating a support level (based on a pivot-point calculation). He checked it and agreed that he’d crunched that number wrong. So he put out an updated report late that night, but the big traders on his list must not have seen the update because the ES price dropped down and bounced off Mike’s original miscalculated support number, right to the tick. That opened my eyes to how remarkably fortunate I was to meet Mike Reed. Big money on Wall Street traded off of his Support and Resistance numbers, I don’t know how else to rationally explain it. Coincidence? Yeah, about like the way DNA code was supposedly written by random coincidence. Statistically impossible in a finite universe that’s only 13.8 billion years old.
5. Matthew emphasizes a high win/loss ratio that can only be developed gradually over time with tons of experience. This approach is the opposite of the popular retail strategy of allowing yourself a LOW win/loss ratio that you hope to make up for with an occasional home run. Yes, it’s possible that this home-run trend-following breakout strategy works for traders with deep pockets and nerves of steel, but I just don’t know for sure that it works at all for anyone. It’s never worked for me. Moreover, like Mike Reed, Matthew Brydges takes the opposite approach: targeting a high win/loss ratio that a trader develops gradually and naturally over time with much experience, not looking for shortcuts the way I did when I worked with Mike Reed. Yeah, I spent thousands in the hunt for an easier way and bought (and read) a tall stack of trading books. Those book are out in the shed now, all boxed up.
6. Matthew takes the small point gains quickly and consistently based upon the real-time price movements of the ES, not based upon any predetermined, inflexible exit-with-profit target or an inflexible “risk/reward ratio.” (As with hard stops, one winning target size does NOT fit all trades.) Matthew’s initial winning exit target is completely flexible. It’s usually NOT achieved because price weakness usually takes him out of a trade early with a small point gain. Matthew’s price target decisions appear to affect his trade entries more than his actual exits (as viewed in retrospect). He exits winning trades on price misbehavior alone, not waiting or hoping, but getting out with “a bird in the hand.” (Importantly, price movements that close his winning trades are evaluated in real-time with a unique 2.5 ES point interpretation of significant price movements. This is entirely original to him. I’ve never seen anyone else looking at price this way and neither has Matthew.) Price going against a winning trade is his true exit target strategy. Just like Mike. In contrast, the common retail approach of setting a fixed risk/reward ratio appears to doom most traders to failure from the start, as best I can tell. Traders never question the unspoken FALSE assumption that the initial risk/reward ratio of a trade, once placed, must be obeyed otherwise it is meaningless and has no practical use. For Matthew, the initial risk/reward ratio of a trade frames the initial possibilities, which is useful when deciding if you should get into the trade in the first place: “How far can this go? Can I get a reasonably tight stop behind the protection of a near-by support or resistance area with a decent [usually at least a 10 point winning] price target?” After a trader has opened a trade and it’s about 5 points into the green (a winning trade), taking the common approach of strictly obeying the initial profit target means allowing a significant percentage of gains to become losses over time. This destroys the statistical goal of achieving a high win/loss ratio over time. This is a trading mistake because although these fewer gains may be larger on average than Matthew’s purely discretionary gains, they will be smaller in aggregate, especially after a trader has had a few years of experience in discretionary profit taking the way Matthew teaches it. Counterintuitively, even something as seemingly helpful as having a rigidly fixed and obeyed 10-point winning target defining all your wins, even this will work against you (by teaching you to ignore price action during trades). I may be wrong, but I suspect this common trading practice virtually guarantees failure. There are bound to be exceptions, but I suspect that A.) rigidly fixed and obeyed profit targets and B.) the general absence of single-click break-even buttons on most retail trading platforms… these two taken together are largely responsible for the 90+ % failure rate among ES futures day traders.
7. Mathew uses nearly naked price charts without relying on oscillators for entries or exits. Mike had no price oscillators on his charts at all, just a moving average. Matthew has one oscillator on his background (TradingView) charts, mostly for sentimental reasons it seems, but he doesn’t use the oscillator to make entry or exit decisions. There are no oscillators or moving averages or even S/R lines on Matthew’s trading chart (which is from Sierra Chart and has a glorious break-even button that’s vitally important, in my opinion. QuantTower platform also has a B/E button and is currently “free” if you use AMP brokers). Matthew uses the TICK (internals) chart which oscillates, but it’s not a “price oscillator” because it brings you direct internal market data that’s fundamentally different from price action, yet it correlates naturally with price in a meaningfully inconsistent way, making TICK extremes and zero TICK readings powerfully useful (and price-independent) data. Mike focused heavily on the TICK chart, more heavily than Matthew, as best I can tell. But Matthew has it open at all times during RTH. Mere price-derived oscillators are a different animal from the TICK. They may give traders a sense of objectivity, but as best I can tell, they slow and derail the long and gradual process of learning how to read market action directly and therefore quickly. Obviously, part of becoming a successful day trader is quick decision making. The more time you spend evaluating various oscillators, the slower your decisions will be, and the more often a good entry point with a tight stop will become a fair entry point with a larger stop. Yeah, I still sometimes wonder if certain oscillators may have a usefulness that I’m unaware of, but currently I’m doing better without them, same as Matthew, and just like Mike.
8. Matthew believes that it takes years (not months) to become a successful day trader, but it’s worth the time and effort. The possibility of becoming a successful discretionary day trader exists because the brain is by far the best “machine-learning computer” that any retail trader will likely ever own. The years-long time horizon merely seems long because the physical process of trading the ES looks deceptively easy at the start. Later it seems impossibly difficult. But imagine learning any other skill that brings a comfortable living in the USA, and you’ll probably agree that three to five years of self-disciplined, seated, work-when-you-can, on-the-job training is no big deal at all. For instance, from my perspective, compare these three to five years with my own five years of college, four years of med school, a year of research, and then four years of pathology residency. It’s not that money and training time are the main points of a person’s job selection, but these are significant aspects of life when you’ve got the FED and both sides of congress systematically eliminating the middle class, generation after generation while the schools, both private and public, teach virtually nothing about money or the actual details of the various professions and their current job market trends. Why do you suppose schools are like that? Does it make any sense to neglect financial education for your kids in a world where three things will dominate their lives?… Job selection, Spouse selection and Religion/ Spirituality (or anti-spirituality which is a religion thinly disguised).
9. Matthew prefers short trades over long trades. Mike didn’t say why he felt the same bearish bias, but Matthew says, for him, it’s because prices usually fall faster than they climb. Tied to that idea, he says that the faster you can get into a trade and out, the less stress you’ll feel. Matthew takes trading stress seriously and has a five minute rule that says: after a losing trade, wait five minutes before taking another trade. He even does this for winning trades most of the time. He says that a losing trade “changes you” and diminishes your ability to look at price movement objectively. He says a trading loss tends to wake up your “lizard brain” (your limbic system where powerful emotions arise and can override your cerebral cortex). This can make you want revenge, so you’ll be more apt to increase the size of your trade or move your hard stops in the wrong direction to avoid an immediate loss. (Moving your stops away rarely prevents a loss, it almost always postpones and increases it.) Also Matthew says the emotions of losing tend to cause overtrading (i.e. taking too many trades rather than waiting for good setups), which usually results in greater losses, even for highly experienced traders. A five-minute time-out rule, especially after losing trades, cools down the limbic system and allows the cortex (logic, judgement, self-control and wisdom) to kick in again.
10. Matthew prefers counter-trend entries to trend-following entries such as the ubiquitous retail trader’s break-out entry (north or south). There’s an important distinction here and it’s a little subtle. Matthew will trade in the direction of a trend, preferably south, but he avoids breakouts. Instead, he waits for a pullback before he enters against the direction of the pullback (and in the direction of the larger trend on an intraday chart). And speaking of trends, he points out that in the early part of an intraday trend (usually near the open, but generally in the morning well before 11:00 Eastern when he does most of his trading), there’s no RTH intraday trend yet so there’s no way of knowing if you’re following an intraday trend or not. And since exiting with small point gains increases the win/loss ratio while avoiding overall losses, and since the goal of avoiding overall losses is Matthew’s absolute #1 top priority at all times, the hopes and thrills of catching large parts of long intraday trends don’t seem to excite or distract him. Speaking of priorities, here are Matthew’s (and Mike’s) trading priorities, as I understand them (and Matthew has now reviewed this and didn’t say I’m wrong here): #1.) Focus on avoiding losses, not on making money. #2.) Focus on learning how to make great entries (where the price hardly moves at all toward your hard stop after you enter the trade. Mike used “time stops” for this. If the price didn’t move his way soon after entry, he closed the trade.) #3.) Maintain a base-hit mindset in every trade, seeking small consistent point gains and forgetting about home runs (in terms of ES points).
11. Matthew Brydges is humble about his remarkable trading skills. Mike Reed was the same way. By contrast, many day trading educators, in my limited experience, seem to hide a lack of trading success behind boastful hyper-confidence and elaborate sales pitches. They don’t show free videos of all their trades, and they don’t show their profits and losses on videos while they’re trading. Matthew Brydges does. And astonishingly, Matthew gives it all away on YouTube for free. No one can help admiring the guy.
With all these specific similarities between the trading strategies of Matthew Brydges and my old mentor and pal, Mike Reed, I can tell you with complete objective and intuitive confidence that Matthew is the real thing, a genuinely successful discretionary futures day trader. If you’re already interested in day trading, you couldn’t find a better mentor at any price, and Matthew teaches and demonstrates everything he knows and does for free on YouTube. It’s a dream come true for me, perhaps another kindness reflecting the loving personality of God and/or his Universe.
In general I’ve found that almost anyone with a rare skill tends to speak in humble tones about it. With notable exceptions (occasionally in Mixed Martial Arts, for example) humility seems to be the natural human response to mastering any rare and difficult skill. So despite our human tendency to follow boastfully self-confident leaders full of self-promoting hype, I think there’s a better way…
“By their fruits ye shall know them.” — The Nazarene
Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD
PS: If you know anyone who’s so unusually ambitions that they’re already interested in day trading, please do them the biggest favor of their day-trading lives and send them a link to this blog post. Or if they don’t like reading long pedantic posts, send them directly to this link: Matthew Bridge’s YouTube channel, Day Trader Next Door. Someday that person will thank you from the bottom of his or her heart.
By the way, I have no conflicts of interest to disclose: no financial connection to Matthew or his trading course or anything else related to trading. Plus I’ve got nothing to sell that’s unrelated to trading. (I’m a zero when it comes to selling, though I have great respect for the profession. Selling is a rare gift.) And as I mentioned above, just before you fell asleep reading this, I’m offering NO financial advice of any kind, just sharing with you things that I currently believe to be true, “same as it ever was.”
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