Moontower #131


First, a quick mention that Moontower is taking the next 2 weeks off and returning on January 9th. We can all use a bit less stimulation at the end of the year. Play some boardgames, go to sleep late, binge some shows, gain a few pounds. Laugh so hard bourbon eggnog comes out your nose. Shower your loved ones with attention. You’re not missing anything, including Moontower.

Money Angle

Two personal finance ideas to wrap the year:

  1. When the calendar rolls to 2022, I’m re-loading another slug of 7.12% I-bonds. I explained them in I-Bonds For You (2 min read)
  2. I’m buying my car lease out. If your lease period is ending, compare its residual with the used market price. Your leases are options that are way in-the-money. You should buy your leases out if they are expiring. Do not just give the car back. I’m hearing that dealers are offering to pay lessees to get the cars back. You have maximum negotiating power right now.

From My Actual Life

I’m going to take you into the holidays with a quick personal story.

I was driving Zak, my 3rd grader, to basketball practice.

Zak: Dad, I learned something today.

Me: What’s that bud?

Zak: I learned I had a unibrow today. XXX told me.

Me: (heart sinks as the vapor of childhood innocence wafts out the car window) Was XX mean about it?

Zak: No. (Nonchantly. Almost surprised I would ask.)

Me: How did it make you feel?

Zak: (a pause that felt like forever to me but was probably only 2 seconds) It feels cool. I have a unibrow and I’m double-jointed so it’s hard for other people to be like me.

Mic drop for mom and dad. You can go to college now, there’s nothing left for us to do kid.

Seriously, this was the opposite of me at his age. I remember feeling bad for blue-eyed kids because they were different. My desire was just to fit in and not get made fun of for eating pita bread.

I don’t actually believe we have anything to do with this kid’s understated confidence. He’s sensitive and sweet. Full of joy. I have another son and know the difference. I know many of you have children that seem like they’re from different planets and can relate to how mysterious these creatures under your same roof are.

I learn a lot from watching Zak. His dominant characteristic is “happy wherever he is”. I seriously try to channel him when I’m anxious. The exchange we had in the car was a proud moment in the face of the tension all parents face — trying to balance prepping these small humans for reality and preserving their innocence.

Still, this is not really a parenting win.

Sometimes it’s just them. And you can learn from them if you take them seriously. It’s a strange privilege to admire your kid. I’m proud of him but that’s a weak description because “being proud” of a gift that comes from nowhere is not the right feeling.

I’m just grateful.

Happy Holidays!

Wrapping 2021

Moontower Gratitude

I started writing online nearly 3 years ago. I started by curating stuff I enjoyed and adding commentary to it before finding my own voice. Of the stuff I write my favorite thing is the challenge of breaking down concepts into something a HSer can handle, if not younger. I also enjoy organizing notes or resources into references. This little online writing experiment has told me I’m probably supposed to be a teacher and librarian. While I’m not likely to find my way into a school setting, I will carry these clues into whatever comes next for me commercially. Without having the feedback and encouragement of an audience like you I would have less options as I think about the next step.

So thank you.

(In case curious, subs grew from 1,100 to 2,700 in 2021)


And if you are even thinking about writing online then you should be writing online. The easiest way to start is to curate stuff from one sphere of your life (say Twitter) and bring it to another (ie your meatspace friends). The raw material is free and there’s value in it for an offline audience who checks their email. It’s the most basic arbitrage. Think it over during some of that holiday downtime.

A Request

While you are mixing it up with your loved ones this season see if there is one person who you think would enjoy or benefit from Moontower. If you are enjoying Moontower you are giving both them and me a small gift by spreading the word.

Just say, “you should check out this letter named after that scene in Dazed and Confused where some stoners contemplated how many people in Austin were having sex at this very moment. I’ll text you the link

Writing Recap

This is the self-promotional section meant to quicksand recent subs into the rest of my work muahahahaha.

Top Moontower Posts of 2021

  1. Why Investing Feels Like Astrology (19 min read)
  2. Using The TSLA Price Endgame To Understand Options (12 min read)
  3. How Options Confuse Directional Traders (8 min read)
  4. The “R” Word (13 min read)
  5. Structuring Directional Option Trades (8 min read)
  6. Understanding Edge (10 min read)
  7. How I Misapplied My Trader Mindset To Investing (14 min read)
  8. Talking To The Diamond Hands (22 min read)
  9. Understanding Vega Risk (6 min read)
  10. A Former Market Maker’s Perception Of PFOF (9 min read)

Math Posts

  1. Solving A Compounding Riddle With Black-Scholes (13 min read)
  2. I Felt Bad For Picking My 3rd Grader Off (8 min read)
  3. Jensen’s Inequality As An Intuition Tool (10 min read)
  4. The Monty Hall Problem Is More Than A Game (4 min read)
  5. Berkson’s Paradox (5 min read)

Other Projects

  • Moontower Volatility Wiki (Link)

    This is a reference for anyone interested in options, from beginners to seasoned pros to academics. The material is mostly crowdsourced but I vet it to maintain some minimum bar of usefulness.

  • A Summary Of Jesse Livermore’s Upside Down Markets (Link)

    Upside Down Markets is a book-length paper by the pseudonymous @Jesse_Livermore. It’s one of the most educational economic pieces I’ve read and it’s extremely relevant to today’s environment. I urge you to read the paper. Still I cleaned up my notes and shared them which are in a reference-friendly outline form.

  • Moontower Home (Link)

    Most of my effort is focused on evergreen content rather than commentary on what’s going on in real-time. A chronological blog is a poor way to organize this type of writing. Wikis and indexes make more sense. I started using this year to centralize Notion as my CMS.

    This home-on-the-web branches to everything I’ve done.

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