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The Sunday Best (5/6/2018)

The Sunday Best

The Sunday Best
The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated for your reading pleasure.

Expect most of the writing to be from recent weeks and consistent with the themes presented on this website: investing & taxes, financial independence, early retirement, and physician issues.


Presenting, this week’s Sunday Best:


Before we get to the posts, you deserve to know that today is orientation day at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos and I anticipate limited internet time and availability this week.

Since we’re traveling ourselves, this weekend edition of The Sunday Best will be heavily travel themed.

I’ll start with posts related to our favorite recent “slow travel” or “micro-retirement” destination, Guanajuato. You can read about that trip here if you missed it. A number of these posts come from familiar bloggers who have been featured on these pages a number of times.


That last one was from Justin at Root of Good. That dude knows how to travel. He and his family of five spent 9 weeks in Europe last summer and have turned that experience into about 9 months’ worth of blog posts.  Check out his travelogues!

Learn how to better manage your student loan debt, and explore refinancing to a lower rate with cash back offers up to $1,000! Student Loan Resource Page

It wouldn’t be right if we got through an entire Sunday Best without some hardcore data and money talk. It’s been awhile since I shared Big ERN’s safe withdrawal rate posts, and he’s added a few more in the meantime.


The Joy of Mild Discomfort


Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? And, coming from a guy who just spent a week relaxing on a tropical island, rather hypocritical, too.

Years ago, when I was a college student doing surgical research, my mentor asked me why we choose to live in Minnesota. This was either just before or after a trip we took to Tampa to present our research.

I told him the winters help us appreciate the spring and summer so much more. And we’re forced to find ways to enjoy the winter because it’s just a part of life up north. He likened my response to enjoying getting beat up by bullies every few days and to learn to love the beatings. It makes the days you don’t get beaten to a pulp more enjoyable.

I can see what he’s saying, but I know for a fact he still lives in Minnesota twenty-some years later.

Roatán is a pretty hot and humid place this time of year. Highs in the upper 80s, lows in the upper 70s, and swimsuits hung out overnight don’t dry. We’re not used to that kind of weather in the winter, fall, spring, or summer.

But rather than crank the A/C in our apartment, we chose to get used to it. Knowing that climate control would not be an option on the mission trip we’re now a part of in central Honduras, we decided it would be best to acclimate. We may also have been motivated by the fact we’d be paying 9.2 Honduran Lempira per Kilowatt Hour over our meager weekly allotment at our VRBO apartment.

Either way, we were pretty uncomfortable that first night, but we soon got used to sleeping under part of a sheet without tossing and turning all night and complaining all the next day. My sleeping skillset has been expanded. This is the joy of discomfort. A weak example, yes, but one that makes me realize how accustomed I’ve become to the climate control I tend to take for granted.

Another weak example would be our day trip to West Bay, about a four-mile drive over pothole-laden roads or a fifteen minute water taxi ride at $3 USD apiece. We took a third option, and it made the day more enjoyable.

It took closer to an hour, and we had to scamper over a few rock formations breaking up the beach, but we enjoyed a great walk to the best snorkeling beach on the island that morning. On Hawaii’s big island (stay safe, my friends!), we opted for the six-mile round-trip hike to the green sand beach, rather than the rough ride in the pickup for $20 apiece.

In both cases, the walk made the experience more enjoyable. Compared to those who took the easy way there, we earned those beaches.


You get that same rewarding feeling when you haul and split your own wood to enjoy a warm fire in the evening, prepare your own delicious meals, brew your own beer, or build your own deck. You enjoy the end product that much more because you worked for it.

This next week, I’ll be performing anesthesia with what I presume will be substandard equipment compared to what I’m used to, with people I’ve never worked with, on patients whose words I can’t understand.  In addition to feeling good about the good we’re doing for the people of Honduras, I hope to also gain a new appreciation for the “summertime” that is the easy living and working conditions I enjoy back home.

And I must confess; we did take the water taxi back from West Bay to West End in the heat of the afternoon. The boat ride was a joyful experience for us and the boys (who didn’t complain once on the two-mile hike there), and there are times when it’s quite alright to spend the money for a fun experience, convenience, and comfort.



Have a joyful week!

-Physician on FIRE

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10 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (5/6/2018)”

  1. Blast from past. I worked at NPH Cuernavaca Mexico in 1979. The experience actually directed me toward Medicine and away from International Relations degree. Seeing those children, many dropped off in middle of night as infants in a little basket, was a real “eye opener” for me. I recall the dorms were huge, perhaps 150 each in boys dorm and girls dorm. Gym size with rows of triple bunk beds. The children were very appreciative of any time spent with them. Many children with severe disabilities. A wonderful organization.

    • That’s amazing! I’m learning all about the history of NPH here and in the dozen or so other sites where they now exist. It all started with a priest saving a kid from jail when he took money from the church to feed his orphaned family.

      Powerful what they have accomplished and continue to provide day in and day out.


  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Somewhat related. No too sure how much peer reviewed research has been done to support this. Usual correlation vs causation caveat.

    Saunas can reduce stroke risk — more evidence that there could be a 3rd pillar of physical fitness beyond diet and exercise
    Regularly taking saunas is associated with a more than 60% reduction in stroke risk, according to a new study.
    This adds to a growing body of research that suggests exposure to different temperatures — both hot and cold — can provide health benefits.
    A fitness approach known as environmental conditioning centers on the idea that climate-controlled bubbles aren’t always good for our health.


  4. Even the poorest meal tastes better after you haven’t eaten for a few days. Such are the vagaries of the human mind.

    I confess it’s always been hard for me to adapt quickly to warm temps. We don’t have any AC in the house, so I just have to sweat it out in the summer months. By the time fall rolls around, I finally adapted…. only to have the cold weather all over again! 😉

  5. I have to give you credit for the hike. I’d read a lot of horror stories about noseeyms hanging between the dunes.

  6. We “had” AC at the house we stayed at while in Honduras, but it was spotty and weak at best. Not to mention that the power went out consistently every day. On our last night, the power went out at about 6pm and didn’t come back on till the morning. That was a rough night, but honestly I’m no worse for the wear. Just gotta lean in to the discomfort cause after awhile it won’t be as uncomfortable anymore. That goes for so many things not just AC!

  7. I laughed reading about your hike to West Bay and your one in Hawaii because it brought back vivid memories of my honeymoon to St. Kitts. I convinced my wife to walk to town from our hotel on our first day there, as it only looked like a couple of miles as the crow flies on our map. It turned into an ill-prepared hike of 5+ miles on steep hills and through some sketchy areas on a hot day. But we did see some great scenery, and I still remember the very refreshing taste of the cold fruity drink I had at the restaurant we stopped at when we got to the town. And yes, we also took a taxi home!
    The joy of mild discomfort for the win!

  8. Great stuff, POF. My first medically related mission trip was to Ghana. It was hot there, too, man. And the equipment was definitely substandard. In fact, they had three monitors for each patient because the pulse ox worked on this one, the blood pressure cuff on this other one, and oh… this other one is the only one that will give us an EKG tracing. It was fascinating (and scary) all at the same time.

    Their equipment failed so often many of them carried around a finger pulse ox detector around their neck that they could use if the machine stopped working… except the one on the finger doesn’t have a tone. So, they just had to “notice it” if something happened.

    I personally hate sleeping hot. Like I really really hate it. Glad you expanded that part of your life. I feel like I never get used to that after trying in Ghana. I guess some people are better at adapting than others.

    What kind of procedures are you guys doing down there? Any specific patient population or procedure? Or are you just doing whatever cases come up?

    Looking forward to the freedom you have to this stuff some day!


    • I had to wait 10 minutes for the page to load to leave this comment. Another example of mild discomfort!

      We’ll be touring the surgery center later today, but it looks and sounds quite modern from all I’ve heard — certainly more advanced than what you saw in Ghana. Good for you for doing that.

      This week, we have lots of orthopedics and one pediatric general surgeon, and it sounds like a busy surgical schedule, but they do their best to limit the workdays to about 12 hours a day, with a short day on Wednesday (about 8 hours) so we can have an afternoon to play soccer with the children who live on the ranch.

      I’m sure I’ll be writing up a ful post about the experience, but it’s been great so far.



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