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On Exploring and the New York Stock Exchange

just an old fashioned essay.

I am a simple country mouse. Exploring is fun. Walking down unfamiliar roads and trailsfeels wonderful. I like to wade through creeks, and turn over stones to see what bugs are under them. Experiencing new things is what brings happiness to my life. I don’t expect to ever see the Statue of Liberty or the Pietà. I don’t have the money for that kind of exploring, but I can explore those places with my intellect. Sometimes, I think that exploring something with my understanding is a richer form of discovery.

If I were to take a trip to New York and visit Wall Street, I would expect to see men in black suits within tall impressive buildings. I’ve heard there is a large sign showing the current national debt, and a bronze statue of a bull. I have always admired the stock market for the same reasons I admire the Roman Catholic Church. They are filled with mysterious black clothed men, within impressive buildings. They are mighty kingdoms that exude an aura of rich exclusiveness.

Last November, I decided to explore the stock market. I downloaded an audiobook called Stock Investing for Dummies and listened to Paul Mladjenovic say that, only people who have more than 20,000 to invest, should. He said you can’t create a diversified portfolio with anything less. He also said that you need to research your companies as if you owned them, because you do own them. I’ve had several bad experiences with the “for dummies” series of books, because they choose authors from the far left or right who have an ax to grind and an agenda as authors. Paul Mladjenovic is no exception. I think his book was full of antiquated myths.

Undeterred in my quest to understand the stock market, I opened an E*TRADE account and put 500 into it. With my hand on a little gray mouse, I scurried through windows, clicking on icons and typing in names of companies. I saw dozens of unfamiliar terms like butterflies, condors, puts, calls, options, and ETFs. I read about companies I never knew existed. The things I learn excite and interest me because they are exotic to me.

I typed “Ford” in a search window and read all about it. I bought ten shares of Ford (F) stock for 9.90 a share. Within a few weeks Ford (F) stock went up to 13.30 a share. It cost me 10 to buy the Ford stock, and 10 to sell it, so I broke even when I sold my shares of Ford (F). It was fun to own a piece of Ford for a minute. I’ve been meaning to begin investing with Options House instead of E*TRADE because they only charge four dollars per trade, but their website is not user-friendly. I play virtual trading games with fake money on Options I’m afraid I’ll make an ordering mistake with real money.

When you bought stock in the past, you had to buy a group called a lot, or hundred; that’s not true anymore. There are many myths about the stock market. Maybe they’re designed to keep nuisance explorers, like me, out of the way. But now, there is technology to stop small investors from cluttering up the system. The norms are changing as a result.

I’m so excited about all the things I’ve learned that I could spend pages regurgitating information about companies and markets. I don’t think you would enjoy this because it would be like a forced march. A path at gun point, isn’t the same as a new place explored out of your own curiosity. This is my sojourn, and you can only come part of the way with me. If you explore, you must do your own exploring. Curiosity is an attitude, a frame of mind, that can’t be forced, any more than I could make you to love someone of my choosing. All I can do is introduce you and step away.

(At the river) we spent many happy hours and played at

learning geography. I built dams of pebbles, made islands and

lakes, and dug river-beds, all for fun, and never dreamed that I

was learning a lesson. – Hellen Keller

One of the things I love about school is that it sparks my interest in things to learn about. I’m a business major, and my classes have gotten me interested in the stock market. Sometimes, school is disappointing because I see students who copy perfect presentations from the internet get good grades, while my misshapen creations barely pass. A demand for clique work frustrates my joy in learning, and my curiosity.

So, I logged back into E*TRADE and checked my stocks. There are disappointments in my explorations here too. I bought stocks in Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA). The next day my investment doubled its value. I got excited about this, and bought more MJNA stocks. My 85 stocks became 30 stock the next day, and have stayed low. If it follows its historical pattern, it will spike in price again in four years, when another state legalizes marijuana use. I’ll be ready.

I try to find a deeper sense of meaning when I explore. It’s not just about the face value of learning information, a computer can do that.

I know that investing in companies that have proven themselves, like Apple (AAPL) and Boeing (BA), can be safer than investing in penny stocks. However, I enjoy finding unique and inexpensive penny stocks, and expressing my quirky personality by investing in companies that are stretching the boundaries of research and science, medicine and society. I’ve invested in SEFE (SEFE), a company that is developing technology to remove static electricity from the air through the use of weather balloons, to introduce into the power grid. I’ve also invested in a company that makes small high-power steam engines, which can run off of any fuel. This company is called Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (CYPW). These ventures aren’t profitable, but I’m very proud to own a small piece of the innovation and vision of these enterprises. I feel like I’m touching the future; pushing it, nurturing it, even owning a small piece of it. I don’t feel like that when I invest in large capital stocks.

There will always be things that I don’t know about the stock market. I haven’t figured out what a condor and a butterfly are yet, but I do know that it isn’t as complex or intimidating as Paul Mladjenovic would like me to feel that it is. I no longer imagine that the stock market is like the Roman Catholic Church; I think it’s more like the ocean. The world is ever changing, and money is a liquid language that quantifies what people need and care about. The stock market is a huge sea of money, and I love watching it move.

Works Cited 

Mladjenovic, Paul. Stock Investing for Dummies. 2 nd ed. Harper Audio 2006 Audio

“E*TRADE FINANCIAL – Home.” n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013

“Options House – Home.” n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013

Keller, Hellen. The Story of My Life ch7 New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1905. Web. 22 Apr. 2013

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