First, I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday. I had the pleasure of both seeing both my daughter and wife race in Philadelphia's Independence Day Regatta, and for once the weather was terrific.

But now I think everyone is back in the swing of things until Labor Day, and I wanted to kick things off with a tricky topic, as outlined in the email below.

"Gary, awhile back you told everyone to hold off writing you when your house caught fire as you would be unable to adequately respond. You then mentioned not being truly sentimental and attached to personal effects. What do you do, or recommend, when it is personal? I have come up against a situation where I am very much emotionally affected; is there a way that I can honestly and accurately assess my ability to make sound judgments? Perhaps I am asking what you would do if you were in such a position. What can one do to get back on track?"

For many, including myself of course, it is nothing to work through something like a house fire. As long as no one is hurt, it's only material things that are lost.

However, there are a number of personal situations that I know are nearly impossible to recover from: marital difficulties, serious illness of a loved one, and loss of job come to mind. I will not say I've encountered all of these types of tragedies, but I have encountered my share, and I can share my personal experience.

A few years ago, I was hit with a mind-numbing situation. I will not go into details, but will say it was my own personal nightmare. Now, as I was going through it, I knew that I was affected mentally and emotionally, of course, but I thought my trading was somehow unaffected. I did the same things I do each and every day, diligently sticking to my routine. And while each day was a pain to get through, but I thought my trading was holding up well.

A few months after the storm had passed, I looked back at my trading records and came to a conclusion: I should have just gone to cash and resurfaced when I was a bit more stable. It was not that I had lost any money, but rather that I hadn't taken advantage of clear situations that could have made me money. In short, even though I didn't think my trading was affected, in hindsight it was, and I was just lucky to have not lost a fortune.

My advice, then, is that when your own personal tragedy hits, shut down for awhile and go to cash. You will likely need every ounce of energy to take care of both the situation and your own well being. If you get through things with no major damage, the market will still be there waiting.

As for getting back on track, there are no easy answers, and it depends, of course, on what you're going through. As usual, though, it is mainly "time" that is the most effective antidote. Today, the



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And that is the final word from the Canadian Henley, where all this regatta-watching has made me somewhat of an expert on? Porto-johns! Naturally, "Job Johnny" is a perennial favorite, although "Johnny on the Spot" has been making rapid inroads of late. Not to be discounted as an up-and-comer is "Potty Queen." However, my all-time favorite, on marketing alone, is the portable toilet with 5 poker cards across the door. The name to remember? Royal Flush!

Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks.

Smith writes a daily technical analysis column for and also produces a daily premium product for called The Chartman's Top Stocks --

click here for a free two-week trial. While Gary cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send your feedback to

Gary B. Smith.