ALEXANDRIA, VA (Oct. 6, 1999) -- Well, "interest rate concerns" have been cast aside, if you read the official market news today, and (according to Bloomberg), investors "turned upbeat about third-quarter earnings."


That's you.

So tell me... did you feel that, today? Was there any particular moment in your day -- perhaps a sudden breeze, or a certain look from someone, or a pause over lunch -- in which you suddenly sat up and thought:

"Hey! I'm suddenly upbeat about third-quarter earnings!"

No? If not, you're like most of us. Most of us are not very accurately described in these market recaps. Those who write them feel some need (perhaps it's a human need, a love of reason, call it what you will) to explain the daily moves of the market. Thank God I don't have to do this. I couldn't. Not with a straight face, anyway.

The Rule Breaker portfolio rung up another 4%+ gain today, which isn't a bad day. In fact, it's almost half of what one might get in a typical year, when you look at the market's historic annualized returns.

Of course, the way this market is going, we could just as easily give up 5 percentage points tomorrow.

We don't celebrate short-term gains in Fooldom.

So what gains do one celebrate? Easy. Long-term ones. Ah, but what's the long term? Well, in human stock-market investing terms, we traditionally use five-year returns as the Foolish minimum to assess your long-term performance. So if you've been investing for two years and you think you're great or you think you're not great -- don't think either of these things. Don't think about your performance for at least three more years. Over any short-term period, great investors can look bad, and poor investors can look superb.

Consequently, we remain unimpressed by some hot fund's great 1998, just as you don't see us taking out a national advertising campaign trumpeting: