TGIF: Healthy Traditions

\"fuji\"I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Mine was fabulous, as it involved me spending several incredibly relaxing hours with a bunch of naked Japanese dudes. The naked Japanese dudes weren’t the headline – in fact, truth be told, I’d actually prefer them not to have been there at all. But there they were, and they didn’t really get in the way of me having a good time.

Yep, we went to Japan for Thanksgiving last week (did I mention I’m a contrarian?), and one of the top highlights, as always, was some time at a Japanese hot springs spa. The only wrinkle is that clothing is not optional at Japanese hot springs – it’s forbidden. That means the lads and ladies are separated, and I was exposed to a lot more dingers than I’d like (ideal dinger exposure = 0).

I haven’t written much about health yet, but it is (assuming you actually have it) one of everyone’s most important assets. Time at a Japanese hot springs spa (or any of its sister venues in other cultures) is, in my opinion, extremely good for you, and last week was wonderful for my body and mind.

We actually did the hot springs experience a couple of times while in Japan, but my Thursday visit was the best because I had all the time I wanted at my favorite location. My in-laws have long ago given up trying to match my endurance, so my father-in-law and my eldest son stayed for about 30 minutes and then threw in the towel. I was there for hours.

The basics are you have a wide choice of indoor hot pools, outdoor hot pools, a sauna, and a (very) cold pool. The sauna was over 90 degrees Celsius, which is equal to “incredibly super hot” in Fahrenheit.

I baked in the sauna, then jumped in the cold water, then repeated multiple times. My body felt like it was in the midst of a huge workout, and I could feel my muscles relax and all of my mental and physical tension melt away. After I needed a break, I went outside to one of the hot pools with a lovely waterfall and read a book for an hour or so. Then I started the entire process over again.

At the end, my body felt better than it’s felt in months, and my mind was clear and incredibly relaxed. I was in a place of peace and harmony, and it felt like all of the toxins had left my body. Of course, I quickly remedied that with a huge meal and a lot of beer, but for a shining moment I was in a Nirvana-like state.

The benefits of hot communal bathing (that doesn’t sound right, but whatever) have been known for a long time and span many cultures. The Russians have their banya, the Finns their sauna, the Turks their hammam, the Koreans their jimjilbang, and the Native Americans their sweat lodge (note to Native Americans – you need a better name). And of course the Japanese have their onsen. A good dose of heat and heavy sweating followed (in most cases) with some cold is rumored to be really good for you, assuming of course you don’t die of a heart attack or something. I love it, and it always makes me feel great.

The Japanese onsen experience is incredible, and if you’ve never done this, you should definitely try it. I know the only – only! – thing holding you from buying a ticket to Japan this very second is a slight worry about the correct protocol (and the dingers), right? But don’t worry – my guide to Japanese onsen is already being drafted and will be delivered here in all its glory shortly.

Links and Thoughts

Some folks in America think everyone should have health care for humanitarian / social justice reasons. A lot of other people hate those people and want to do mean things to them. I’ll stay away from the social argument to avoid being eaten by trolls, but I do think universal health care (all things equal) would be outstandingly good for entrepreneurship, and anything good for entrepreneurship is worth a really serious look.

A dark specter of the pre-Obamacare world was being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Trump seems on board to keep the pre-existing condition provision, but that’s a step on a slippery slope. Amy at AssetBuilder highlights the adverse selection problem that must be faced.

Nelson at Financial Uproar warns of herd mentality and the risks of a personal finance echo chamber. I agree with him that many personal finance blogs feel like carbon copies of each other and offer frighteningly similar advice; we need differing opinions and original content to get to new and creative insights. I don’t agree with him that “every personal finance blog is identical” because, well, look at me. I’m clearly on the Island of Misfit Toys and can’t believe I resemble anyone. (And don’t tell Nelson, but I think he’s King Moonracer).

Speaking of echo chambers (fluid transition = nailed it!), let’s talk about politics. I see a lot of passion and groupthink, but not a lot of open mindedness and critical thinking. Exhibit A is the distress over the popular versus Electoral College votes. One side argues the President-elect has no legitimacy because he lost the popular vote. The other side is busy giving wedgies because they won. Some would even love faithless electors to hand Clinton the Presidency, but the Economist points out why that would be a bad idea. A better approach would be graceful acceptance of the outcome by one side and open-armed welcoming of former opponents by the other. Good luck with that!

[If you reach your free limit of Economist or Washington Post articles, paste the URL in an incognito Chrome window.]

To keep my mind open, I’ve found myself turning to the Washington Post. I don’t always agree with them, but that’s all the more reason to read it. The quality of the journalism is outstanding, and as a former turnaround guy, I’m really impressed with what Jeff Bezos has done with the paper. They also have great opinion pieces, like this one about the Carrier deal by some guy named Lawrence Summers.

Finally, going back to the Economist, we look at the hot topic of conflicts of interest from Trump’s business empire. This article takes a slightly different view than many (again, a good thing) and worries that his business’ weakness, rather than its strength, could be the problem. I don’t like the line: “expect grubby deals and murky meetings”. I’ve heard what happens in Trump’s murky meetings, and it brings me to this week’s glossary edition.

Glossary Edition – Let the Sun Shine

We’re not getting particularly good examples of how life really works from our President-elect. Most of the time, if you do or say things in private that would be abhorred in a more public setting, you’re courting disaster. If it does become public, you might get elected President, but most of the time it’ll crush your reputation, one of your most important assets.

Or, as Warren Buffet says, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

That’s why applying the Sunshine Test (aka the less alliterative Sunlight Test) is always a good idea.

Sunshine Test: analyzing private decisions and actions as if they were going to be known publicly and out in the sunshine for everyone to see. If you have any misgivings about your private behavior becoming publicly known, you’re failing the Sunshine Test.

Despite being a somewhat common reference in government, it’s not as ubiquitous a term as I’d like and I can’t even find a good google definition for it (so I made up the one above). My glossary should easily fix that. The Sunshine Test is in the pantheon of good general rules for life, right up there with the Golden Rule. Ignore it at your peril!

Teaser and Voting for Upcoming Posts

My ultimate guide to Japanese onsen. What I stored for 30 years in my attic. One of the greatest and cheapest grilling recipes. Swimming pools as an investment. My Christmas shopping guide. Or maybe something finance related.

You, reader, are in control – let me know which post(s) you want to see first.

Happy Friday everyone!


Picture courtesy of the missus and her window seat


4 thoughts on “TGIF: Healthy Traditions”

  1. I would like to see the recipe. Also, what is the real reason you stayed at the onsen for 4 hours? It wasn’t the dingers was it?

    1. One vote for the recipe, and given the way elections run around here, that may make it the favorite.

      The onsen is one of the most relaxing places I can imagine. I love reading there, and I’m hooked on the sauna / cold pool / repeat. It physically wears me out but is truly awesome. It’s also one of the few times in the year that I can be by myself without imposing too much on the missus. Good stuff all around.

      And I can say, scientifically, that the less dingers the better. There are a lot of other amenities at the location near my in-laws, and one year they were all closed (only the hot springs part was open). As a result, folks stayed away and I was literally the only person in the whole place for a long stretch. It was the best time ever.

    1. Yes, that place is really nice. The coed communal hot tub area used to be clothing optional, which made it pretty exciting. Now it looks like the coed area requires at least a bathing suit bottom for everyone.

      Ten Thousand Waves (esp. in a private bath) would be a great place to test out the Japanese onsen experience and get ready for the real deal.

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