My Curiosity Lab

As I approach my fortieth birthday, I wonder what I will do for the rest of my life.

It’s not exactly a mid-life crisis. I married a wonderful woman, who birthed one spirited child and is incubating another. I have a dog who breathes on me until I wake because she loves breakfast so much. I am a doctor and I like my job (a bit of a rarity for doctors these days). I generally have fun. I consider myself happy.

Cran kick
And deadly with a crane kick.

I am also lucky. I am not particularly worried about financial security, personal safety, or any other existential threat that might keep others up at night. I had the fortune of being born in a developed country to a non-poverty-stricken family who didn’t abuse me; that may sound pretty normal, but most people entering this world can’t check all three of those boxes.

‘In another place, in another time, I’d be driving trucks my dear, I’d be skinning hunted deer.’ —’Rattlesnake’, Live

With the help of the finance and early retirement blogosphere over the last decade (especially White Coat Investor and the Bogleheads forum), I am in a position such that if I continue working and saving for a while, I could retire early to a life filled with gym, tanning, laundry, and Netflix. Not bad.

A Sort-of Crisis

Coincident with fatherhood, I began to shed the “what’s next” mentality that had driven my professional life through the years. Although work was brisk and often intellectually challenging, I had settled into a comfortable routine that only experience can bring.

These new life circumstances shook something loose—mentally—and led to increased introspection. My own Walden Pond in the suburbs. I developed a powerful urge to fill some (large) gaps in my knowledge—gaps that had been sacrificed to the gods of science, math, and medical training. Books about previously ignored subjects began to fill my shelves. I wanted the ability to say something un-stupid about art, literature, history or philosophy if my son asks me.

“Daddy, why are there naked people in that painting?”

“Go ask your mother.”

Mother and child in front of aquarium
Oceanário de Lisboa, Portugal

I also explored personal questions that—I’m embarrassed to say—I had barely considered before. Am I defined by my profession? Are there other things I am meant to do? Am I living life “to the fullest”? Could I benefit from changing my routines? Should I drop everything and travel the world? How can I be the best parent and teacher to my children?

For some reason, I felt that writing—getting my thoughts down on paper—would help me find answers. Almost immediately, I knew it was a step in the right direction. My first foray into blogging was related to my profession (I am a radiologist). While I was invigorated by the writing process, I realized over time that I lacked an emotional connection to the material. More, I came to dislike the (admittedly self-imposed) limitations on the subject matter.

But What Should I Write About?

My mind swirled with possibilities. I could be the next Tim Ferriss and go on a self-experimentation binge. What about early retirement? It’s something I aspire to. Personal finance is also a hobby of mine, and I would be among good company starting a personal finance blog. Or travel. My wife and I have been to six continents and had some amazing experiences. We plan to continue with our children: family travel blog! Oooh, I love to cook too. And I love taking pictures of the food.

After weeks of contemplation, I had an epiphany—a Seinfeldian moment of clarity: My blog should be about nothing!

Well, not really nothing. Because a blog about nothing is really about everything, right? I could say it’s an attempt to “figure out life,” but that’s not quite right and a bit ambitious. At base, this is an attempt to put what is on my mind on the page. Some of the topics you can expect to see include:

  • Life and health experimentation
  • Parenting
  • Travel (including family travel)
  • Early retirement
  • Personal finance
  • Food (cooking and eating out)
Angel's landing hike Zion National park
Can you name this famous hike?

Reasons and Goals

The reasons for creating this site and my personal goals related to it are really one and the same:

  1. Better myself. Through posting, I want to improve my writing and communication skills. Through introspection and experimentation, I want to improve myself. Many self experiments may be small and silly. Although I have a science background, many will be unscientific (almost by nature, with n=1). Think of them as “science-tainment” rather than rigorous experimentation.
  2. Exercise and exorcise my introversion. I consider myself a strong introvert and a private person. I imagine people view me as a quiet, reflective individual, which I am. The pseudo-anonymity of a blog can help me “put myself out there” in ways that would be difficult for me in the real world.
  3. Have fun. I want to be silly and stupid, and write about it. I want to wonder out loud and share something interesting that I read.

What’s in a Name?

I struggled in deciding on a blog name. “The Nothing Blog” sounded too nihilistic. “The Everything Blog” too much like a bagel.

As my wife will attest, I am a curious guy; I tend to ask serial questions until I get to “I don’t know!”

I plan to explore and experiment: Try New Things.

Curiosity? Experimentation? Domain name available? My Curiosity Lab it is.

Personal Philosophy

I trust the scientific method. Science strives for ever-increasing knowledge about how the universe works. In retrospect, it will sometimes yield the wrong answers, but that does not mean we should disregard the best scientific explanations of the day. If we choose to ignore what science says, what is our alternative? At best, rumor and anecdote, and at worst, conspiracy theory.

Since the Enlightenment, the scientific method of viewing the world has improved the human condition in almost every way imaginable—in stark contrast to the previous 200,000 years or so. Let progress keep progressing.

‘Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.’ —Philip K. Dick

That said, I’m only human, and certainly a great many things I do are unscientific, whether due to ignorance or laziness. I don’t floss everyday because my teeth are crowded and it’s a pain. I reinforce my dog’s incessant begging by giving her my dinner plate to lick. My running clothes stink more than they should; I wonder why, but never do anything about it. I’m working on it.

Aren’t You Like Other Blogs?

Yes. And no.

The number of excellent blogs with life-altering insights is intimidating; each one is unique—a precious snowflake—and a reflection of the person behind the keyboard. I gain something useful or learn something new from almost every blog/person I stumble across. I hope I can provide the same for some of you.

‘You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.’ —Charles Buxton

Time is a precious resource, perhaps the most precious one. Like most working dads, I don’t have lots of it. I suspect many of you are in the same boat. Weekends are busy. Weekdays are really busy. I can’t do a month-long silent meditation retreat (my wife would kill me) or a 5-day supervised fast (I would get very hungry).

I plan to make the time to share my thoughts and experiences, and I would be honored if you take the time to read.

Am I right?

I am wrong about something every day.

I will be wrong in some of the thoughts and ideas I write about here.

I will not know I am wrong until someone tells me. So please do.

I want begin conversations, not end them. I care more about the journey than the result. I hope to be surprised with what I find.

‘I will do such things—what they are yet I know not: but they shall be the terror of the earth.’ —King Lear