Saturday, October 4, 2008


Hi. For my freshman and sophomore years in college I attended Valley Forge Military College in Wayne, PA. It was a private, all-male college and it was absolutely brutal. Before anyone becomes a cadet, they must first pass the rigorous 6-week plebe system. This is where you get molded the way the institution wants you to be and all military academies have it. The people at the admission office watered it down by saying something like "you're going to have a good time". That was completely wrong. In fact, during plebe system in 2002, I caught pneumonia and almost died! I also lost 15 pounds. It was extremely difficult and I think the drop out rate was around 20%. There was constant marching, taking orders, "squaring" meals, room and formation inspections and everything else. You always had to be on your toes and ready, just as a trader is always ready to attack the market.

I did make it out alive though, but I can't say it was easy. Looking back, I realized that everything I learned, all the s- that I took, was actually beneficial to me. In a bear market, things will get worse, but it is required and necessary. Bear markets correct the excess of the previous bull market and they are required for the next bull market to begin.

Here are some pics that I found:

This was my barracks, headquarters of F. Company which belonged to the college. The room was about 14' X 12', no carpet, and had a small radiator for heat. The basement was where all the bathrooms and showers were located. If you lived on the top floor, you had to walk down 4 flights of stairs!

Here's what the showers looked like! Would you take a shower here?

This is my wall locker where I kept all my 'stuff'. Everything hanging on hangers must be fully buttoned up (even though they're not being worn). The clothes on the shelves must be folded with a 6-in width. If it's not up to code, the inspectors will trash your wall locker and tell you start all over.

Here is my desk. Look how clean and organized it is. It's not by choice, it's required. Look at my bookshelf especially. Notice how I have no trading books whatsoever. This was about 2-3 months before I started trading. Now I have a combined 1,000+ collection of books and e-books in trading and finance. I do have the 'Boiler Room' DVD though.

Before we go anywhere, like go eat, or go to class, or anything, we had to stand in formation on our company area right outside the barracks. The uniforms that the cadets are wearing is the parade uniform, 100% wool - good for winter, but kills you in the summer! Shoes and all brass must be shined and we spent at least 1hr a day doing just that.

This is the parade field. We had to march in a parade every Sunday. The whole thing takes about 4 hours of your time. We carried 13 pound rifles for that duration.

Yes, we marched in snowstorms too. No exceptions.

This is 1st Sergeant Ansbro, our F. Company tactical officer. See that bag he's holding? That's a bag full of plastic spoons. What happened was that some idiot decided to throw a snowball at him and since no one came forward to admit it, everyone was brought outside and we had to SHOVEL the company area with SPOONS without any gloves in the dead of winter. He was pretty mad.

ROTC was a required part of education and there were frequent FTX's (field training exercises) on the weekends.

If there actually were girls on campus for some kind of special event, it was like hitting the lottery.

As bad as the first 6 weeks were, the rest of the 2 years were great. I ended up graduating 3rd in my class, summa cum laude, and also retained the 7th highest rank in the regiment as a 1st Lieutenant, Headquarters Commandant.


Trading Goddess said...


Thank you for sharing that.

I dislike those types of "schooling".

We all are human. No need to degrade and treat others like crap.

I am glad you made it, but sad as well.


Anonymous said...

Wow that was some impressive stuff you just showed us! I disagree with xo, I think John actually appreciate everything little thing in life(Which I can never learn how to do that) after going through all that crap. The spoon part was terrible, did you guys had an idea who did it? btw, those girls seems pretty cute!


John C. Lee said...

never found out. it's a good thing for whoever did it because we would have kick his a**. Yes, I appreciated life more than ever.