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How To Debug Your Brain
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How To Debug Your Brain

by The MoleNovember 5, 2015

It’s super late over here in Spain – way past midnight – however I just caught up on a few comments in the prior thread and just couldn’t keep myself from writing this post. Damn you guys – I was supposed to catch up on some sleep! Anyway here is a nugget that is extremely crucial to your trading future and it is one I don’t recall ever being covered either here or anywhere else.

Apparently some of you regulars had a rough day riding the swings today and you’re probably not alone. One of you guys mentioned that crude had ‘saved his ass today’ and another responded that gold did the same for him. And then they both held hands and walked into the sunset together [cue romantic music]

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!

Very careful with the wording here, my dear steel rats, as your own internal feedback mechanism may subconsciously sway you to look at crude or gold more favorably in the future. It’s not crude that was saving you ass today, grasshopper – it was YOUR ENTRY on an energy related symbol that resulted in the presumed rectal salvage operation. See the difference?

Two reasons why I’m such a stickler about these things. First up – I’m German – what the heck did you expect? Almost half of all Monty Python skids are based on either British or German anal retentiveness. However there is madness to my method as they say. Over the length of my twisted existence ample opportunity for self reflection has equipped me with a pretty good sense of how the human mind works hard to get itself into trouble further down the line. Almost compulsively it is constantly establishing new connections, new paths linking various regions comprised of ideas, emotions, smells, impressions, fears, desires, etc.

If you keep repeating certain behavioral patterns your brain will over time establish those patterns as learning experiences. Remember when you sat in the driver’s seat for the very first time, carefully testing out the paddles and hoping to not kill yourself and your instructor on the first round around the block? Now compare that with last Friday evening when you were racing down the freeway after work following the GPS whilst balancing a cup of coffee in one hand and a mobile phone on the other? Oh yeah and you had the boom box shatter the rear window whilst mentally practicing your twirking routine (that’s you tradingmom). The only reason why you’re able to perform all these things without thinking is because your brain is very good at memorizing and automating actions/activities over time. I don’t recall exactly but I think over 90% of all the things we do every day are automated. It’s crazy if you think about it but we’re literally running on cruise control most of the time.

monkey

Now back to trading. So if you keep thinking to yourself ‘crude saved my butt today’ then you are on a path that may lead to prejudice/bias further down the line. Positive experiences can over time condition you positively toward a particular instrument – I know that from personal experience. You may even get ‘lucky’ and catch a few good campaigns in a row on one particular symbol. Then you start taking bigger risks on that one perhaps because you ‘had such a good run’. When things go the other way you may even rationalize away trading mistakes like not observing your stop. Why? Because you have developed a personal relationship with crude/gold/natgas/EUR/USD – all your favorite symbols. How dare they treat you like that?

The opposite can also spell true – you may catch a few bad campaigns in a row on one symbol and then swear yourself to never touch that damn [fill in symbol of your choice] never ever again. Same mental misfire as the positive reinforcement – you may just have caught a bad period on that symbol. So just wait for a better opportunity and always remember that you don’t have to make back your lost money with that particular symbol. It doesn’t owe you anything – the market doesn’t either.

Positive Reinforcement

The best way to debug at least the trading regions of your brain (I’m kidding – there is no such thing) is to constantly have your debugger running. Watch what you say and what you think – establish positive habits instead of feeding the reptile part of your brain. So if you catch yourself saying ‘I hate this xxx’ then it’s time for some immediate refactoring. Perhaps talk to your trading buddy and reinforce the notion that it wasn’t the symbol that produced that loss – it was YOUR ENTRY. You owe that one, my friend – yup, it’s all you – nobody else’s fault or responsibility. Just like the winners, remember? Those you are always happy to own – aren’t you?

So in a nutshell: What you are saying and what you are thinking does make a difference. It is important that you always keep frame and that you immediately take corrective action when you realize that you are slipping. We are all TA members – Trader’s Anonymous – and every day is a new challenge. You will always be an addict of negative self reinforcements – you just cannot help it, it’s the way humans are wired (me as well – so relax). The good news is that we can also make ourselves addicted to positive actions – via positive reinforcements. A good example are people who regularly hit the gym, even if they don’t feel like it on a rainy day or a bad night. Overcoming resistance repeatedly programmed your brain to trigger peptides producing positive emotions associated with physical training. Except perhaps this guy:

franz

Okay, Franz – just… just put the bar down. I swear I didn’t eat your damn protein bar. Please don’t hurt me?

Let’s face it people – deep inside we are all trading monkeys with bananas – on moonshine. Our brains are simply not wired to be doing this kind of thing. And financial Darwinism does a pretty good job of regulating the number of participants without compunction or mercy. The fact that you’re still here – reading this – means you may just be one of the drunk banana chomping monkeys that gets to meet Trixy, the hot new chimp in cage #3. But be careful, rumor has it she’s into banana options – or was it binary options… well, same difference.


About The Author
The Mole
Mole created Evil Speculator amidst the chaos of the financial crisis in early August of 2008. His vision for Evil Speculator is a refuge of reason, hands-on trading knowledge, and inspiration for traders of all ages and stripes. You can follow him and his nefarious schemes at various social media waterholes below.
  • wandering196

    Certainly glad you stayed up for this – unbelievable good post, it’s getting printed and going on my wall.

  • RoastBeeph

    Good post, I am slowly learning. Believe me, I am much more disciplined than I was just three weeks ago. :) And, what do you know, I made more money this week so far than I have any week this entire year.

  • Zhang_Ke

    Great post Mole! I’ve of course heard this in the past and try to avoid it, but I find that I browbeat myself when some position I’ve entered goes against me! And yes, I recognize that it could certainly be me at fault as I likely didn’t follow my trading rules, or it could be as simple as the trade simply going against me. That will happen on occasion. So, suck it up, follow your exit strategy (trading rules again!) and move on to the next set up (again, the trading rules – damn!). Anyway, I would like to get on the waiting list for the next round of Evil Speculator t-shirts. I envision them emblazoned with “Evil Speculator Drunken Banana Chomping Monkey”!!!

  • ridingwaves

    sweet post, like a Steph Curry 3 pointer, nothing but net!

  • BKXtoZERO

    I got my ear reconnected to my brain today. “Stapedectomy” and now I can hear! Nice Post. I think I have achieved a lot of this already from hanging out here. Crude treated me really well for months but I liked what I saw. I didn’t marry it and I stayed away when I didn’t like what I was seeing. You guys have already talked a lot about these things but I never tire of hearing all of this as it is needed re-programming and appreciated. More health stuff for me soon and house construction but after this I look forward to slower pace that allows me time toget more into trying to find an edge and a system that fits me.

  • vladv

    great post

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    That’s awesome!! I myself will have to see an ‘Otorrinolaringólogo’ (say that one three times in a row) as I can hear my heartbeat in my left ear (before you ask, my blood pressure is very low). Maybe wax accumulation because ear plugs are obligatory for noise sensitive folks like me here in Spain.

  • mugabe

    most likely wax build up – especially if you use ear plugs. I have this and deal with it myself. apply wax removal liquid in ear for 3 days (get it from chemists) then use a ‘pera de agua’ that’s what it’s called, to irrigate ear. Get the pera de agua from the chemsit, too. when you irrigate, use tepid water – body temperature.

  • TheRooster

    good work roasty, the important things here are all contained in sentence 3 onwards – your pnl for the week is irrelevant to improving as a trader

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    Exactly – every year or so I have my ears washed out. It’s tough to do by yourself – my doc is around the corner and has the proper equipment. Plus if I behave I get a chupachup :-)

  • mugabe

    oh well, in that case ..

  • tradingmom

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • mugabe

    euro – holy moley

  • tradingmom

    interesting things going on w/ the zero — not something you see very often.

  • Bill

    Doesn’t look like buyers are supporting the price to me as they are going in opposite directions.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    Extremely strange Zero signal… I would wait it out for 15 minutes. Clearly something’s not right here.

  • captainboom

    I haven’t quantified this by analyzing my daily screen shots of the zero, but in the past when I’ve seen an extreme down move on the hourly, say -6 to -10, that has been a good dip buying opportunity. Sometimes that down move has been intra-bar.

  • wandering196

    That is something. Tick is negative

  • tradingmom

    Any chance the blue is just a signal about how strong the selling is?

  • Huey

    Thanks for the excellent post. It’s been a tough few weeks and I can feel biases trying to creep in. Symbols I love/hate, wanting to skip entries, etc. I cut my size in half until I don’t feel like I’m struggling to follow my rules.

  • RoastBeeph

    ZL is so negative right now, below -2.0, yet we have sold off only marginally. Doesn’t that usually point to upcoming more selling?

  • Ronebadger

    Wait for itttt……..
    Hourly VIX pattern and it’s indicators are negative for equities
    http://stockcharts.com/public/1092905/chartbook/428507379;

  • tradingmom

    I like to look for the following: 10 pt spread more greater btwn price and vwap, spike high/low, extreme zero signal followed by divergence, price at support on chart at some time level. Those 4 together have > 85% chance of reversal to vwap.

  • Huey

    Nice!

  • saltwaterdog

    Do you have VWAP at 2089ish?

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    WOW – that was something!!! Zero saw it coming but quite frankly it confused the shit out of me.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    I’m sorry guys but I never have seen this happen before. I thought it was a false signal or something.

  • tradingmom

    I’m looking at the zero — currently at 2087.88 on the 5 min ES chart from the zero

  • BobbyLow

    Mornin Folks,

    Seeing as how it was my ass that was saved by crude, I have to respectfully disagree with some of what Mole said in his post. :)

    As infants, we are trained right from the beginning not to touch a hot stove. Yet most us still have to do it. After touching this hot stove and getting burned we stop doing it and develop a negative bias toward touching a hot stove. When it comes to trading, I traded things like Natural Gas in the past and got burned many, many times and realized that it is nothing but a piece of shit that loses more money than it makes for me. So I refuse to trade it again. (This is an earned negative bias)

    I think we have people here using the Zero who trade nothing but E-Minis. Isn’t this a positive bias?

    I could go on and on, but back to Crude. I’ve been trading Crude for over 10 years and it is one of the only trading vehicles that I can honestly say that I have a winning record over this extended time period. I remember a few years ago when you called me a one trick pony. LOL Well it might be only one trick but it’s a damn good trick.

    You are correct in saying that “it was my entry that saved my ass” to which I’ll add that this entry was not made by luck. It was made because of what my chart told me – nothing else. We all should have a market belief system and one of my belief’s is that the all markets are related and the markets are like a smorgasbord and I can take what I want and leave the rest.

    Regarding using the term “crude saved my ass”, well it did. We can discuss semantics at another time and spit hairs that it was the entry that saved my ass. But sometimes it’s just what it is.

    BTW, I’m only half German so that allows me to loosen up on my anal retentiveness somewhat but it still makes me a little stubborn. :)

  • Ronebadger

    Tick positive for only 4 minutes of first 45 minutes (my Fidelity chart tells me)

  • mugabe

    Yeah, I can see how it’s perfectly possible to be disciplined and follow a system, but still use ‘colourful’ language.’
    I think it’s a bit much to expect people to say something like: ‘The gains in my rules-based trade in crude offset the losses in the others trades undertaken, which were likewise carried out in strict adherence to my rules.’

  • tradingmom

    If this downleg makes a lower low, but the zero does not, it will trigger the setup I described below.

  • mugabe

    this one trick poney thing is interesting. I was listening to marty schwartz who said that he only used to trade the emini but when market confitions changed (can’t remember why), he started trading only crude – not sure with the same or a different system.

  • Huey

    Agree TICK is hugely negative so far today. Max is +300 and min -1200

  • ridingwaves

    picking up vix L on any bull thrusts..also like JNK selling off, front running or setting up down move

  • newbfxtrader

    Today is probably best to short at VWAP…

  • saltwaterdog

    Thanks

  • ridingwaves

    That GS call of $1000 GC earlier in year is looking more and more like it will happen..doing gods work has to be tough..I say more bonus money

  • RonnieH

    Nice call

  • newbfxtrader

    They are not sharing with you. Post a chart of what you are looking at today if you can. Gold is back at minor support.

  • BobbyLow

    I think it’s because there was a time when Crude rose and fell with the equity market. Then things changed and this is no longer the case. Oil has been doing its own thing for quite awhile.

    Crude goes through periods of choppiness for extended periods of time and then has a relatively long extended trend. And as Ed says “One good trend pays for them all”.

    BTW, I have tried to adapt my charting system many times with equities and it simply does not work without “fitting” the shit out of it and fitting does not work for me. I can say the same thing about Gold. Sometimes charts on Gold etc. especially Gold ETF’s. have their candles look like a 12 Guage Shotgun bird shot pellets have been shot at the chart from 30 feet away. Why should I attempt to trade things that have such scattered patterns? I don’t have to so I won’t. :)

  • ridingwaves

    I’m trying to figure out if this pick I was stopped out of and jumped back in at the same level is going to 20..my trade is essentially over as profit was met…but….

    ridingwaves a month ago

    I’m going to try and pick CALA up at 6.90-7.40 tomorrow and hold it for move to 9.50-10, S at green bar 1/2 with trailing stop at 9.50 on rest..volume bars on P&F chart tail off around there

    Stop at 6.75

    http://s22.postimg.org/mnyrdx0w1/Cala_moving_on_up.jpg

  • ridingwaves

    and this entry is now getting real interesting….watch the action in this, shorts up the ying yang….if it breaks above 1.75 its off to races

    ridingwaves 16 days ago

    Hey all, jumped into ISR at 1.44 right now..stop at 1.41….looking for big breakout…I’ve made good change on this symbols big spikes…trailing stop after 2.00 and especially over 3

  • newbfxtrader

    Cala looks good for 14. ISR looks weird chart wise. I couldn’t trade that.

  • ridingwaves

    pf chart pointing Cala at 20 and change…the gold pf chart shows lack of pps volume below 1080…making it probably a good entry until December…
    ISR has some awesome technology on localized radiation with less effects from standard care, one big announcement from MD Anderson and it’s above 3 fast…they are a threat to mega billion dollar companies thus I believe the hold down….so many naked shorts in this one, its a nude hedgey block party…

  • tradingmom

    Multiple support comes in around spx 2079.

  • RoastBeeph

    Wow, I am glad I went long natural gas at 2.320 this morning (based on RSI and stochastics showing bottom signals). It just ramped the hell up right now, not sure why.

  • Huey

    Buzzy kind of quit trading for awhile because of his health and when he came back the S&P wasn’t the same market, maybe because electronic trading started to dominate the intraday trade but I don’t know. When he switched to crude he also changed his style to selling option premium. His basic strategy was to sell unhedged strangles and collect at expiration. From what I understand he did that for about a decade but has since moved on to something else. He’s one of my favorite traders ever :-)

  • Huey

    Nice entry!

  • RoastBeeph

    ZL is showing an up trend up on 5 min ES.

  • randomuser6789

    After a great entry like that, can you tell me how you will manage the campaign?
    My tendency would be to move my stop to b/e too soon and get stopped out for no gain. How will you know when to sell or trail the stop? Thanks!

  • RoastBeeph

    I had a sell order in at yesterday’s highs. It sold about 10 minutes ago and I have missed out on some juicy profits. I am not the best at exit strategies. :)

  • RoastBeeph

    Gold catching some bids right now. Gold has had 5 straight red days and is at some major support now.

  • BobbyLow

    Good trade. You had a plan and traded that plan. Therefore you traded correctly. The Money left on the table doesn’t matter because that’s not the deal you made.

    BTW, I want to make it clear that just because I said that I can’t trade Nat Gas for shit, doesn’t mean that others can’t do it. :)

  • RoastBeeph

    Well, glad I did sell when I did. NG has retraced much of that move up. :)

  • RoastBeeph

    ZL has a very obvious uptrend on the 5 min ES.

  • tradingmom

    Its got a wedge look — strange because it is so different from price. If the zl breaks below support I’d expect big selling.

  • http://pugsma.wordpress.com/denalis-turning-points/ denali92

    Just looking at it myself.

    Mole: What is your interpretation?

    Still trying to understand how it works — especially when your trend day indicator is giving a high probability day.

    Thanks,

    -D

  • tradingmom

    Its going to break out one way or the other pretty soon — I’d be looking for a decision at the close of the current hourly candle on the left side of the chart.

  • BobbyLow

    Well done!

    One of the most important things that Scott taught me was to always attempt to trade correctly on a consistent basis. And correctly means by my own set of rules. If this can be accomplished, the end results will take care of itself.

  • tradingmom

    This is the natural breakdown point…time will tell.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    Zero snappy:

    .

  • BobbyLow

    I have to chuckle a bit because I was looking at a chart of the /DX yesterday and thinking that the recent runup might be getting a little tired. Then I open up for business this morning and Boom! The /DX has shot up like a rocket. Glad I don’t trade on feelings anymore. :)

    This is the main reason that I try to jump on trends as opposed to shooting for tops or bottoms. But I respect those that can trade the other way.

    Currently have only one open position and that’s Short Crude. Current Stop on 30 Minute Trail is a close above $45.40

  • Bill

    Nice setup!

  • http://pugsma.wordpress.com/denalis-turning-points/ denali92

    thanks for the comment on the zero.

    -D

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    Trends on forex and futures behave differently than in stocks – very important to remember that always.

  • Grant

    Excellent post, Mole.

  • BobbyLow

    I agree. I also have to account for overnight trading with futures and allow for coinciding gaps in stock etf’s. In any event, I always chart and make my decisions based on the underlying future such as /CL while trading SCO and UCO.

    It would be the same for trading /DX. In this case, I might go with slower moving ETFs like UUP and UDN that I’ve used before.

    Because I’m still under capitalized, I trade ETF’s and A/H trading are not included on my Futures Charts. The reason for this is that any stop that I have in an etf won’t be triggered at 3 AM anyway so all my calculations have to include opening gaps. This might sound screwy but it works for me. :)

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    This was a fun Zero swing day – a bit disappointed by the lack of participation. I did my best to keep you guys in sync – hope some of you grabbed some entries on those two runs higher.

  • Scott Phillips

    Morning rats! I just woke up to see my biggest up day of the year, Thor catching the big move in audusd, Platinum, Palladium and HG this week.

    And this is the view from my bedroom right now in Nusa Lembongan https://youtu.be/W2lDfTr2Zow

  • mugabe

    it’s a hard life!

  • DollarChaser

    Really? Your version of Thor must be quite different to the one Mole send us?
    I didn’t enter any new trades this week. Had two close out that were entered last week, NZDUSD hit ISL @ -1R and ZW closed out at b/e.

  • BKXtoZERO

    sometimes artery can be close to ear drum….. don’t ever let ENT doctors touch your nasal turbinates. They screwed me up good. I still have more reconstruction inside my nose to be able to sleep, calm anxiety related to lack of breathing sensation.

  • Scott Phillips

    Yes there is substantial difference between our systems due to universe selection and other things. This week we took Platinum and Palladium short (both winners) Crude long (made 1.2r and reversed for break even trade), zm short (-.14R loss), copper short (trade open in profit partial profits taken), audusd short (big winner on Friday)

  • Scott Phillips

    For us NZDUSD is a no trade based on what we call the “volatility expansion” exception

  • DollarChaser

    Too volatile so you wont touch it until volatility falls back into the “normal” range?

  • Scott Phillips

    No for trend following systems a short term spike in volatility at the end of a big move is a sign of potential exhaustion. I added a rule to skip those

  • DollarChaser

    Could you elaborate on universe selection when you get a chance please? I’ve heard it mentioned a couple times here now.

  • Scott Phillips

    I should make the point that the differences between Mole and my versions of our system are not “mine are better than yours” type differences. More questions of personal taste and risk tolerance. My system outperformed Mole’s this week, which means precisely nothing in the big picture

  • Scott Phillips

    Universe selection is attempting to trade a system in a market which is in synch with it, or at least not out of synch. It is, a very complicated and difficult prove to solve

  • newbfxtrader

    Ha. You could try a Skynard on those….

  • DollarChaser

    How would you determine when a market is in sync with your system? Look for market conditions that are similar to when your system performed best during backtesting?

  • BKXtoZERO

    No more posts as no one can top the last one………….

  • Scott Phillips

    Mole is way better at it than me, my attempts at universe selection have been spectacularly unsuccessful. What happened this week is an anomaly. Mole cherry picks the best symbols. I trade every setup with some small discretion over a smaller universe of symbols.

    My way is simpler, Moles way is probably better

  • Kishore Kumar

    Ten years of trading /CL is good enough for addiction, though my addictions are a lot worse with a lot longer histories. You are obviously addicted to /CL, for trading it, though it has been in a narrow trading range on daily charts. There are a lot of other instruments that are trending. Just scan through all the Futures and you will find them. Normally, addicts don’t even like to change their brand of the “poison”. Sorry about the analogy but I think it is true.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    That’s nice but we’ve been getting our asses kicked lately. Tough fall season…

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    Yup, that’ll be my last post ever. Nowhere to go from here but down…

  • Scott Phillips

    I’ve had a great last few months

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    How’s everyone? Good weekend?

    On Friday evening I was under the impression it was still Thursday – that was kind of weird. Now it’s already Sunday – where does the time go??

  • RonnieH

    I know, the older you get faster it goes.

  • RonnieH

    Appreciate all the imput you put on Zero, really helps.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

    For sure… the weeks are whipping by these days.

  • BobbyLow

    That’s a crock of shit and you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about. Don’t confuse experience with addictions.

    I might have you confused with someone else but arent you the same person who got “addicted” to a position, got hooked on hopium, couldn’t force yourself to get out and lost your ass? Now that’s an addiction.

    BTW, just in case you didn’t know, there are other charts beside Dailies. And as shitty as crude has been, my current short position position in crude is currently up over 2 R.

    You don’t know anything about me or what I’ve gone through in the markets so please don’t try to analyze me.

  • TheRooster

    I normally run a new system on every contract I can trade – at first I thought certain symbols really favoured my systems but I am a little wiser now and realise it was the conditions in those markets that made the money.

    e.g. I dont currently trade cable on 3 of my 4 set ups as it has never been a winner – however i still watch cable as its underlying character could change and become ‘selectable’ in my universe again. I only do this review every 6mths or so though

    I know that this approach is fraught with problems but i don’t have a better one yet…..

  • Scott Phillips

    I’m with you, but for different reasons. The divergence between Moles system and mine is neatly illustrated by copper, which painted a 8r drawdown by itself and is out of Moles universe. Good call on his part, but recently market type changed and copper has put on 5/6 recent winning trades.

    So overall universe selection is a smart tactic, but it increases complexity. For me complexity equals mistakes and avoiding mistakes not making money is my priority.

  • Scott Phillips

    Kishore – BL is a very good trader, roughly at my level, and your assumptions are way off base :)

  • Kishore Kumar

    Scott, you are too nice of a person and I won’t even try to argue with you. However, Jesse Livermore was a very good trader too, and that too for a long time. History of good or bad trading has nothing to do with what made Mole create this posting, i.e. triggered, as it appears, by “saved my ass” comment by BoobyLow, indicating love for a particular instrument. It is a fact that many instruments are trending on daily charts compared to /CL being in a trading range on the dailies. So, BobbyLow might have been using trends in lower times frames. One can do better being in sync, in the lower time frames, with the a trend on the dailies. His multiple defensive responses indicate his egoistic BS. Good luck to him!

  • Scott Phillips

    Hell no. Just because it becomes a marginal trend continuation play does not mean it has risk/reward for a reversal play. This thinking is precisely what sent Sky broke

  • BobbyLow

    I think what might need analizing is why this issue and what I do is so important to you? I have never implied that I had all the answers. I have shared many mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I also think I’ve tried to help people when I can.

    What your implying is that your way is best for everyone. Once again you are full of shit. Your way got you into a massive loss and the type of mistake that I haven’t made since I was little better than a rookie.

    Whatever I do has to fit my needs and my personality not yours.

  • Scott Phillips

    No. Mole was wrong in his post and you are wrong here. Bobby just has a lot of experience and a good track record (better than mine objectively) trading crude. He has a crude specific version of his system (as does Diudeplunger who trades a crude only system with my money).

    Saying that crude “saved his ass” is a simple statement of fact, nothing more.

    I’m very familiar with Bobbys system since I was involved in its development and I can say without a doubt it is superior to anything I ever produced.

  • http://evilspeculator.com molecool

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