I’ve always enjoyed going to markets. Whether that’s a local farmers market or a sprawling flea market, they are always interesting experiences. It’s one of the main reasons that I enjoy travel so much. Markets put all of the differences in culture into one concentrated exhibit. So when I learned that Bangkok is home to the self-proclaimed World’s Largest Weekend Market, I immediately moved it to the top of my list of places to visit. According to their website, the Chatuchak Market has “over 15,000 stalls which are spread across 35 acres and 26 sections which range from Food, Art, Antiques, Fashion and much more.” And I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but it’s the best market I’ve ever been to.
As Americans, everyone knows that our healthcare system is so fucked that you’d have to be insane to go without insurance for even a single day. Pricing is seemingly arbitrary and has little relation to the cost of the care. After all, we’re the land of $100,000 emergency room bills even with insurance. And unlike other industries, the cash price for any procedure can be more than the negotiated insurance rate. Despite the fact that prices for medical treatment in the rest of the world are ridiculously cheap by comparison, it’s hard to embrace the idea that going without coverage is an option. So while I’m not 100% convinced it’s necessary, I found myself shopping for insurance that has worldwide coverage.
After leaving Colorado behind, we drove north through the very eastern half of Wyoming to reach South Dakota. The weather was still uncooperative, and constant cold rain meant that we were definitely staying in a motel instead of camping. But we needed to go through South Dakota as opposed to taking a more southern route for two reasons. The first was that I had never been to South Dakota before, and Katie wanted to show me some of the highlights of her childhood vacations. The second was that South Dakota has very liberal residency requirements combined with zero income taxes, so we were there to become official residents.
Having lived in the upper Midwest for the first three decades of my life, I’m no stranger to bad weather. I’m used to freezing winters, pop up storms, and general unpredictability. In Michigan we had the “unique” saying that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. I later learned that they say this just about everywhere, but at the time it seemed apt. However, I think living in California for the last decade has really warped my viewpoint. In Silicon Valley, May is basically summer (if it didn’t already start in April). While I’m aware that’s not the case in most places, I really thought that it would at least be spring and we would be able to enjoy ourselves outside, even at elevation or higher latitudes. As you may suspect, this turned out to be extremely naive, at least outside of Utah.
With the car fixed and back on the road, our cross-country camping adventure was finally back on track. Until this point it hardly felt like a camping adventure at all, as we had stayed only two nights in a tent compared to six in a motel. And due to the popularity of Zion, the two nights camping were closer to sleeping in a crowded parking lot than a campground. While we were making the best of it, we were ready for more nature. We decided to head east towards Moab for use as a jumping off point for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Both of the parks, and Moab in general, turned out to be absolutely spectacular.
A few weeks ago, The Karate Kid marked its 35 year anniversary. To celebrate, the studio decided to have a special re-release in select movie theaters nationwide. Considering that it’s quite possibly Katie’s favorite movie of all time, we decided to break our multi-year theater fast and head to the cinema two towns over. Knowing that this would be a popular event, we purchased advanced tickets for a Sunday matinee.
It will probably not shock you to learn that growing up, I didn’t care
much about supermodels. Of course they were attractive, but eyeing a
magazine cover in the grocery store checkout line is about as close as I
got to knowing anything about them. I could put a name with a face, but
that’s about it. I was not into fashion then and not much has changed
with age. As such, I only know two things about Kate Moss. The first is
that she was extremely skinny. So skinny that even the President of the
United States decided to comment on it. (This was back when it meant
something for a President to address an issue, unlike the verbal
diarrhea we’re subjected to on a near-daily basis now.)
When preparing for a marathon, most runners follow a strict training program. Starting a few months ahead of time, they begin with runs of a few miles and eventually build up to a peak of around 18 miles before ramping back down before race day. Unlike people running a shorter race like a 10k, it’s not recommended to actually run the full distance while in training. That 26.2 miles is too hard on the body and requires too much recovery time. The idea is that when race day comes your legs will ache, your lungs will burn, and your feet will scream, but you’ll rise to the occasion using adrenaline and willpower to get through the final stretch to the finish line.
There’s a recurring theme in the media that Social Security will not be around for much longer. Anytime SS makes the news cycle for any reason, multiple discussions pop up about why it’s doomed. According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, over half of the working public expects to receive zero dollars from Social Security. Especially within early retirement circles, there seems to be a misguided badge of honor to plan a retirement without any SS payments. For a bunch of people who analyze numbers and build spreadsheets for fun, I find it dumbfounding that any of them would voluntarily decide to ignore all pertinent data and plan for zero. Especially because the result of ignoring Social Security is several extra years of unnecessary work. I’m not sure whether this is rooted in general anti-government sentiment or simply good old fashioned pessimism, but the idea of collecting nothing is completely unfounded.
Deciding to embark upon retirement in our early 40s can be a scary prospect. As many, many people like to point out, there are numerous risks associated with that decision. The stock market is due for a crash. Our money may have to last 60 years. Economic signs point to a recession. The uncertainty of self-inflicted trade wars, foreign policy, government dysfunction, and [insert current event here] means that the future is bleak. We could be forced to go back to work with a huge resume gap or work a crappy job when we’re old. Quitting in our peak earning years means we’re giving up money and safety when it’s the easiest to amass both. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.