April 5, 2000
4:39 am
Right now I'm feeling: Amazingly relieved and extremely tired (I'll explain later)

Right now I'm listening to: Ayumi Hamasaki -- Yet another great J-Pop artist

These days I'm still reading: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. A kick-ass fantasy novel, and The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan.

Quote of the Day:
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
-- Emerson
The Market

Money is the root of all evil, so some say. It is also the root of great opportunity, stress, fear, worry, hope and dreams. This night I have passed through all of these stages within a few hours.
I am heavily invested in the stock market. Most of you probably don't know that and maybe even some of my close college friends don't even know that. This year, I've spent quite a bit of time researching stocks, reading up on companies, some low-level analysis and watching them. I love to watch the market. There are sites on the internet where you can get streaming quotes; two and three dimensional graphs of orders going through and the prices of stocks going up and down. It's exciting. No, seriously, it is (although saying out loud that watching blue and red bar graphs on a computer screen is exciting, sounds kind of stupid right now. The bitch of it is is that in Japan, because of the time difference, the market is open from about 10:30pm - 5am).
It has become an important part of my life.
I'm not sure I like that.
I have always prided myself on being a non-materialist. I never really cared about what I did when I got older as long as I liked to do it and wasn't in any risk of being poverty-striken. But my ambitions have grown five-fold since I've been here and I have dreams I dare not tell anyone for fear I'd be laughed into silence at the absurdity of their scale. (No, I'm not planning on taking over the world... at least not yet..) hehehe




I've been criticized for my interest in the market. One person I know even said it was "pathetic". I'm not sure if it was spoken out of ignorance, understanding, or a different type of understanding (and before you ask, no, I don't know what that means). They think I'm wasting away my life, my youth, glued to a computer screen scrambling to accumulate worthless (in the grand scheme of things) paper notes which I can't take with me when I die. And maybe they're right. Where do we draw the line between enjoying the moment and preparing for the future?

Over the past two weeks the market has been in the crapper. I have watched myself lose thousands upon thousands of dollars daily and there seems to be no end in sight. Today the stock that I am most heavily invested in took a 30% hit. Disastrous. Terrible. Unthinkable. Better think of a new plan.
Actually, that was about three hours ago. Now the stocks are back up and the scare is (relatively) over. People will remember this day though, both the bulls and the bears, and it will shake the faith of the masses in the power of the allmighty stock market.
But it was really quite an amazing thing to watch, from a scientific and statistical viewpoint. It's interesting how many stocks will turn either up or down, on a dime. Like a flock of birds changing direction all at once for seemingly no reason whatsoever. This trend becomes "the market". "Oh, the market's up today," or "the market's down today". "Who says?" "They do." "Oh."
Anyone out there ever hear of the Cluster Effect? It's a mathematical/physical idea which theorizes that a random distribution of particles or events will tend to "attract" eachother. I was thinking of that today as I was watching all the great stocks of this year head towards the negative 30% mark within a few hours. It simply didn't make sense.
I was surprised to realize how my future became tied up with money (yes, I know that everyone's future is, to a certain extent, dependent upon money, but many of my ambitions depend on the stock market doing well, so I guess that's a little different ). Scenarios flashed through my mind of different paths my life was taking, threads of the tapestry which would never be woven.
I know of people who have lost all that they have (in the stock market) in the past couple of weeks, it has been bloody.
Now that the market is out of today's crapper, my ambitions take a turn. Just like the flock of birds, my thoughts and hopes have changed because of some nearly-random event. Now I know I don't like that at all, but I have come to accept it to a certain degree.

Are any of us really masters of our own destinies? Masters of our own futures? Or is it all random or depend on external circumstances, which for the most part are out of our control? "God, I hope I get into Berkeley!" "I need this job, I hope the boss likes my interview" "We need to sell more 'whatchamacallits', I hope what's-his-name calls in for another order". I'm an existentialist (for the most part, I still believe in God) and an optimist, so I'm clinging to the hope that we are still in control of our own lives. But not in the sense that we control everything that happens to us, only what we happen to others. I have to. I refuse to believe that all I am is a collection of random events. How my circumstances are shaped may be by things out of my control, but how I shape my life and myself is damn well under my control.

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