retirement, aging, and illness
Thursday, January 31 2019
location: Casa Trogon, Agua Vista Lodging, Montezuma, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
The other day I learned that my employer (which was recently bought by some sort of private equity conglomerate) is now offering 100% matching on up to 4% of my salary if I put it away in a 401K. Here I am, nearly 51 years old, and I've never thought about retirement except in passing, always assuming I would keep working until the day I die. But who am I to turn down free money? So today I signed up, directing all my money into riskier, high-growth portfolios. Unlike what Gretchen would've done, I didn't look into what terrible industries this money was going into. I generally assume they're all terrible and run by sociopaths, and I'm probably not wrong.
Today's big bird discovery was a white-throated magpie-jay, which landed in a nearby tree and seemed fairly unconcerned as I attempted to take pictures (none of which were very good). This particular species of magie-jay looks like a stretched, caricatured blue-jay. It has a very similar color pattern, but its tail is much longer and it has a ridiculously whimsical crest of long curling feathers.
Today's mix of mind-altering chemicals started with kratom and then at some point moved on to booze. I've been mixing a Costa Rican cane rum called Guaro Pluma Roja with orange juice, and that seems to work pretty well. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, I have no particular loyalty to any type or brand, at least not when I am traveling. I could pay a premium and get familiar brands in any Costa Rican supermarket, but I prefer to experiment with the cheap stuff produced in-country.
The other day, Gretchen had asked around at the Super Montezuma about tofu and learned that it was available, though it's sold as a shelf-stable canned product produced by a company called Roland. Tonight Gretchen used some to make an Asian noodle dish in our little casita kitchen, and the results were great (though the flavor profile was a little different than what I've come to expect from Gretchen's cooking).
One conversation that came up around dinner time was Gretchen wondering if perhaps I am working to hard. It's true that I've been putting in solid eight hour days even here in Costa Rica working on perhaps the most miserable coding project ever. But, as I said to Gretchen, it does me no good not to work on it. The sooner I get it behind me, the sooner my job has a chance to become something enjoyable.
Meanwhile Gretchen's problems with swimmer ear have been getting worse. It's now affecting both ears, and she has nothing to treat it with. Tonight at around bedtime (say, 8:00pm), I suggested she heat up some strongly saline water and put that in her ears. My father, who grew up in the period before the widespread availability of antibiotics, used to always recommended soaking infections in hot salt water (indeed, we never stocked antibiotic salve), and I remember it being effective. It also has the advantage of working even when the infection is from antibiotic-resistant microbes.
But the water Gretchen put in one of her ears (ladled with a bottle cap) was a bit too hot and was so painful that she started crying. Part of this was fear that she'd done herself some permanent injury with that hot water. But part of it was also just terror at the reality that we're growing old and slowly falling apart. She doesn't usually talk about this issue unless she's off her celexa (and I'd really rather not, since there's nothing that can be done about it). But I can understand the feeling of vulnerability, particularly when in a foreign country where it's not really clear how one goes about getting medical care. Remember, a little over a year ago Gretchen suffered from a rampaging infection that led to more than a week in the hospital and a total hysterectomy.
I looked up this woodpecker in Google Image Search and am pretty sure it's a
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