WHO I AM--an unauthorized autobiography of Steven Jon Kaplan

I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, home of brick houses, marble steps, a strange dialect, and the Orioles. At the age of three I began to play the piano, and have been doing so ever since. I learned to write music at Peabody Institute from a wonderful teacher, David Hogan, who died on Flight 800. Recently I have been performing my own songs in clubs and coffeehouses (for small but appreciative crowds), and plan to release an album within a few months.

In 1981 I got a summer job as a computer programmer earning $7.50 an hour, so I finally had some money left over after paying the $110 per month rent for my one-room attic apartment and buying food. At this time I began to learn about the financial markets, which are no less of a jigsaw puzzle even as the pieces keep changing. Since 1988 I have spent at least fifteen hours each week analyzing precious metals. After the Gulf War broke out I started to invest in line with my analysis, which I discovered is a whole different ballgame from pure research.

In May 1982 I graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a B.E.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the maximum number of humanities credits that I was able to take.

In February 1997 I moved from Weehawken, New Jersey to Kearny, New Jersey, after having been kicked out by the landlords (may their investments always go down!). Kearny is any mid-American town of thirty-six thousand people. I take a train one stop to Hoboken and then take a ferry one stop to downtown Manhattan. In case you haven't been there, Wall Street is where the best-dressed (read, best paid) people are salesmen who want to sell you something they would never buy themselves. That is, until lately, when they've been believing their own pitch. Dangerous days we live in (financially speaking, that is). I always wondered what it would be like to be in England just before the collapse of the equity markets in the 1720s, or in Holland just before the tulip catastrophe. Now I know--no one else realizes that we're in the euphoric zone. This will one day be known as the Baby Boomers' Bubble, as their descendents deride them for chasing after a mirage.

Before breakfast I run several miles. It's the only time of the day that belongs to me exclusively.