More About the Author
As Michael Douglas said in the sequel to Wall Street: "Prison is the best thing that ever happened to me." I ended up serving just over six years, with one year off for good time. I have paid 82% of my restitution so far and hope to pay off the remainder. It's rare these days to find a hedge fund manager who actually made it through prison. Some blow their brains out, and the rest spend the remainder of their lives in jail. As far as my former partner and co-author, he tape-recorded our conversation without telling me. To set the record straight, I turned myself in, while he concocted a story that he confronted me, so he could get off the hook. But one thing I can say for sure that he can't... I was never a rat.
So what about prison? Well, it works because I lived in a toilet for six years. Every night, I got to look in the mirror, point the finger, and ask: "How do you like it?" I was supposed to go to the camp, but the eye "doctor" decided that camp was a "vacation" and that I needed medical treatment for my brain tumor inside the fence. In 1996, I was diagnosed with a pituitary macroadenoma, which could be treated with a dopamine agonist. And guess what the side effects of a dopamine agonist are? Compulsive gambling and buying. So, I had no business running a hedge fund, even though I tried everything to dig out of a deepening hole, putting my heart and soul into it.
So what about the book? Well, I still think it's the best book about developing TradeStation systems in EasyLanguage after all these years. I actually started writing the book in September 2001 when the market closed for the week after the terrorist attacks in NYC. The big mistake with the book is not giving traders the exact parameters to generate the charts that were included in the book, so people had a hard time reproducing the results. And yes, in retrospect, the charts were cherry-picked to show the best examples.
What am I doing now? Well, I spent much of those six years in the prison library building a dream trading platform from scratch using machine learning techniques. Not only did I learn how to scrub drains, but I learned how to program in R, Python, and Ruby, writing hundreds of pages of software on lined paper. For obvious reasons, I was not allowed to program a computer. I spent my first month of "freedom" on an ankle bracelet and spent 16-hour days getting all the code onto a computer. It's still not done because of the thousands of pages of research and data to compile. I can't wait to get the new book written; there is so much cool stuff in the material that survived so many cell shakedowns over the years.
My first job was a math tutor for sixth graders in a poor public school system, and it was very rewarding. I tried to get a job in software, but corporate America shuts its doors on people with felonies, even though friends are willing to help. So, I started competing on Kaggle (currently 802nd / 181,255) and achieved a high ranking in the March Madness contest because of the years recording NFL and NCAA scores by hand. I was able to compile a lot of knowledge about sports data and betting but had to throw away half of it because of the increasing heat by the tattletales. The choice was keep the data and get locked up, or throw it out and save the software.
One thing for sure, you can never stop fighting, and let me tell you, freedom never felt so good. The first time I got that $1 cup of McDonald's coffee, I was like: "Thank you, God." You really learn to appreciate the little things. I am truly grateful for a second chance at life. If you can survive both prison and a brain tumor, then you're going to be all right.
Peace and Love -- MC