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The good news is I earned what it used to take me a MONTH to earn during this, my first week at my new job. The bad news... well, there isn't really any bad news, but over the next seven weeks I'm going to be deep, deep, deep in the throes of trying to pass the eight-hour Series Seven Certification Exam. There is a lot to like about this job. But I'm extremely anxious to move the next two months ahead as soon as possible.

In the next two months I will complete the exam, move into my new apartment, buy my new car, take delivery of several pieces of furniture, have the Dish Network installed, buy at least a thousand dollars worth of "business casual" clothes, open my Roth IRA, and umpteen other things. I'd feel a whole lot more settled if this were August 27th instead of June 27th.

The Series Seven really is excrutiatingly difficult. My study materials are over a FOOT high when stacked on top of each other. Thousands of pages. My whole LIFE for the next several weeks is studying. I'll even get paid to study half the day at work for five weeks.

The biggest (and most pleasant) surprise so far has been my co-trainees. I guess I didn't know what to expect -- maybe I was expecting the worst, based on experiences with business students at UNT. But the folks in "class" with me are some of the most intelligent, diverse, interesting, discerning people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting! I count myself fortunate to be part of such a group. Several friendships have been started. About eight of us take our lunches out on the pier by the lake, a blissful arrangement. Watching the turtles, ducks, and herons...

Fidelity's software is stunningly good. I'm taken aback by the professionalism of the various systems, and also their usability in the face of nearly overwhelming complexity. It's said that Fidelity has created the best software in the industry, as its President, Ned Johnson the Third, is a huge technophile.

One nice thing about this "campus," other than the obvious (the picturesque location and the total lack of traffic) is the parking garage. I hardly have to run my AC at all -- in the morning the car is still relatively cool, and in the afternoon it's still cool due to the parking garage.

My business hours will run from approximately 8:00 in the morning until around 4:30 in the afternoon, Tuesday through Saturday. I decided a half hour lunch was fine, and having a Monday off will give me a chance to get things done I might not otherwise be able to. There's a lot of leeway, on a day to day basis though. Once I move to Keller, I should be able to get home by 4:40 or so.

My mornings have been good too. I went and shot baskets a couple days before work, and on the other ones I watched an episode of Northern Exposure on DVD.

One thing I'm going to get serious about real soon is retirement. It is time for me to think about how I'll live when I'm my father's age. I have $53,000 in my trust fund, which should be up around $300,000 by retirement. Fidelity has an impressive 401(k) matching program, so I'll definitely take advantage of the sweet spot for that. There's a handsome pension package as well, which REALLY starts to pay dividends after ten years or so. Profit sharing is a big part of the benefits package -- all profit sharing dollars go into a separate retirement account. There's social security (heh heh). I'm going to open a Roth IRA very soon (takes precedence over the 401(k) right now). And there's whatever equity/line of credit I can get by then (through home ownership), plus the contents of my bank accounts. All the elements are in place for me to comfortably retire by age 60, now I just have to work for three decades and invest the money wisely. Can you say Fidelity Spartan 500 Index Fund and free trades via employee perk? But I'm also putting money into both NVidia and ATI, in kind of a pseudo-hedge. A short/mid-term priority is paying off my car and my school loans (I haven't paid a finance charge on my credit card in several years).

I certainly took a circuitous path to get here. It was ten years ago to the month that I read The Fountainhead and began questioning my assumptions about politics, money, economics, and business. Prior to that, my beliefs were a rough duplication of Dana's beliefs -- to "laser" it, I hated business majors and everything they stood for. From that to an Investment Representative (my eventual title by some time next year) in just ten short years...

Alright, so there were some wasted years there in the middle. I know exactly what I was doing during "all that time," but sometimes it still shocks me to realize "all that time" is gone and I had, until recently, little to show for it. I still FEEL young... as a matter of fact, given my lowfat, sugarfree diet, I feel better and younger for my age than I probably ever have in my life. Some years were better than others. If I could delete Spring '97 through Fall '98... if I could cut short my time in Irving by half a year... if I could erase the latter half of 2000, and make the first semester of 2001 more meaningful...