Pull the Plug

Pull the PlugI’ve already made my wishes pretty clear.

After seeing the latest George Clooney movie, “The Descendants”, I definitely don’t want the plug to stay in the wall whenever that time comes along, as it most certainly will.

Nor do I want my loved ones tearing me a new one as I helplessly lay comatose in an overpriced hospital room if (when) by chance they discover some dark secret about me that will occur sometime in the distant future.

Or while I was 500 miles away from home today.

It seemed funny in the movie, but I think that would mar the legacy that I’m actively trying to fabricate.

So, in the event that the documents I’ve previously completed in response to the certainty of the former occuring  are misplaced, let today’s blog serve as a legal document as to my intentions.

Pull the plug. Let me go.

But I don’t think that I need to worry about anyone forgetting what my wishes were.

Although letting go is so hard, one of my sons has already given indication that he’s ready to pull as and when needed.

Even going so far as to smother me, if necessary.

On a day like Tuesday when I was up in the air enroute to a meeting, there was very little, if any evidence on Twitter or elsewhere on-line that I was engaged in any cognitive activity. Based on my usual level of activity, Tuesday was if I had flatlined, with only an occasional spasm reminiscent of a neurovascular bundle firing one last time in a headless chicken..

If I neglect to tell my oldest son of such travel plans, he takes my on-line silence as a sign of my death or irreversible incapacity and immediately begins making plans for the reallocation of my portfolio under his watchful eye.

But when the time does come, I know that I’ll be able to count on him, regardless of how difficult or painful the decision may be. However, he is the son that I’ve also had to school of the definition of “terminal illness,” so as no to be confused with a “sinus headache.”

Sometimes it’s not really your time.

This past Friday I wrote about the possibility of taking a loss on my options contracts in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters following the stock’s short term irrational move upward and the looming contract expiration later that same day.

Faced with the crisis of the loss of a loved one, the underlying shares, sometimes you begin to dabble in irrational thoughts that go counter to the rules of nature. After a while, the dignified thing to do is to stop resuscitative efforts and go on.

When it’s your time you keep your option contract premiums and just let the stock go.

But I just didn’t want to lose my shares. I wasn’t ready for the inevitable. I was even willing to take a loss on the option contracts despite knowing that Green Mountain could just as easily choose to succumb to the improper accounting allegations and take me into the crypt along with it.

I thought about the good times I had with Green Mountain in the past, having first bought shares at about $28 probably a year or so ago.

In the meantime we found ourselves frolicking through the lush fields of green that were lined by all of those option premiums. Occasionally we’d lose sight of one another as someone else would come along and exercise their right to take my shares from me, but somehow we always got back together.

And it was always good.

But lately, Green Mountain was becoming unrecognizable to me.

I’d been there before, though. I thought back to some of the other stocks whose plugs I had pulled without even the slightest thought.

Hewlett Packard, Dell Computer and others sharing one predominant characteristic..

In all of the previous cases the decisions weren’t so difficult once I realized that technology stocks and I were never meant to be together. I should have realized that much sooner, as an early venture into the fledgling, but poorly conceived Putnam Information Sciences mutual fund nearly 30 years ago proved to be a poor decision.

“Technology is the next big thing,” or so they said.

With those I never looked back, never thought about sacrificing the options profits for the parent stock.

But I’d professed my love for Green Mountain in front of an audience of dozens.

Or thousands, as I’m not realy certain how many people actually watch Bloomberg Rewind.

I do, but then again, I also anthropromorphize stocks, so maybe I’m not the best one to set an example.

Although I did the right thing, or at least believe I did, the truth is that I couldn’t do without my Green Mountain.

Not the coffee. That’s pretty insipid.

But I repurchased the shares that I’d just lost and proving that I’m incapable of learning from my unfortunate recent journey, went and sold in the money call options on my repurchased shares.

It’s like putting the plug right back in, just to have a chance to pull it again.

Strange, but I could never understand people whose pet had just passed and then immediately went out and got an identical pet as  a replacement for their beloved friend.

Yet, no such thoughts over stocks, despite the tendency to anthropromorphize.

In fact, I’m more than happy to see some shares go with no greater joy than to get them back in the fold as quickly as possible.

Today, while waiting for the plane’s door to be shut at 9:50 AM, I was able to pick up shares of Deere and then do the obligatory thing and sell calls on those shares.

Unfortunately, and yet again, now for the 8th time in about a month, I’ve been aboard a Southwest Airlines jet that wasn’t equipped with Wi-Fi.

But, as it turned out, not too much happened in the 90 minutes that I was cut off from my version of civilization. I really missed nothing other than the chance to not be overly concerned about missing something potentially important.

Upon landing, I picked up some additional shares of Textron, and, you guessed it, sold some call options.

As I think about, my reflexive sale of call options is the ultimate endorsement of pulling the plug.

Most knowledgeable about investor psychology will tell you that the single most difficult thing for an investor to do is to sell shares. Not because it’s so hard to let go, but because greed intervenes and sends the message that whatever profits are available are but a mere pittance of what could be on the table if you only had the cajones.

But by selling calls, especially in the absence of any emotion surrounding their exercise, the decision to sell is made for you as circumstances unfold. It’s the equivalent of Advanced Directives for the investor.

What more of a natural way to see the life of a holding run its course?

No need for controversy, no discussion regarding ethics.

Just a very simpel transaction.

We all know that we’ll all go down that same path, so why not do it in an non-impasioned fashion and maintaining dignity for all?

So for me, there’ll be nor more angst like that which I just went through.

Just as “Ashes to Ashes and dust to dust..” has real meaning, so too should every stock have a life cycle that runs its course without extraordinary intervention.

In the meantimes, believe me, it’s just a sinus headache.