So What Will You Do, Mr. PIE? (Part II)

This is a follow-up post to the original post from Mrs. PIE on our plans on being busy after FIRE.

Beyond the nasty cold I am suffering from right now, please bear with me as I get a few other things off my weary chest. This is absolutely NOT a mini-rant about politics, more a short commentary on an individual.

  • I dearly wish we could have any other President-elect. And I mean ANYBODY. (Republican, Democrat, Independent…)
  • I understand many in America are disenfranchised. I am now one of them.
  • A smart President-elect will surround himself with an intelligent, forward thinking and balanced executive team. As of writing this post, there is absolutely no sign of any of this. Shit!
  • Vile comments made by the President-elect on the topics of race, LGBT, immigration, the military and veterans to name but a few are neither thinking global nor human. Think about that statement. Just think about it. A President-elect, through carefully chosen words, should inspire pride and greatness in all of us.  Today, I do not feel proud or great.
  • I don’t know how to effectively explain to our children that our country voted for an individual who has such disregard for fellow human beings.
  • Ultimately, the awesomeness of our country will continue to reveal itself through the behavior of the whole nation and long-standing principles set forth in our constitution.
  • I remain optimistic about how our family will adapt to the inevitable changes coming and our plans for FIRE in summer of 2018. As of today, there are no changes to that plan. I have however learned over the last week not to be surprised at anything so I am keeping my mind open.

So with all that as backdrop, what am I going to do to escape the never ending madness of work schedules, commuting and political nonsense?

Here are few things that jumped into my mind recently.

  1. Head to the great Northern Siberian forest and set up a cozy, minimalist home.  A pic here of a fixer upper, pulled directly from Siberian Zillow


Without internet, I would however miss the sporadic comments on my Twitter feed where some “followers” (who the heck are you, actually?) retweet the wisdom of visionaries like Newt Gingrich or Rudy Giulani. Still, with the YUUGE ties to Russia, I will likely have no issues with securing residency visas for the PIE family. I will however have to get used to the tactical discussions from political leaders of Russia looking to secure their tickets to the next Miss Universe pageant, sponsored by none other than the soon to be leader of the free world. Since the PIE family are particularly fond of long winters of heavy snow, I think we could get used to this living arrangement.

2. Relocate family PIE to a small island somewhere off the coast of my country of birth, Scotland. And here is the very place!! Growing up in Southwest Scotland, I could literally see this marvelous blob (as Mrs. PIE affectionately calls it), otherwise known as the Ailsa Craig, from my bedroom window.


For those readers who are card carrying geologists (I suspect not too many), the granite rock on the island is famed as a favorite material for curling stones. Yeah, yeah the Scots do more than distill and drink fine whisky…. we hurl weird shaped stones along the ice and sweep their path down the ice with brooms. It’called curling. Of course nothing is set in stone as we now know – repeal of Obamacare…..a big-ass wall or maybe a nice fence…..or jailing the NY Senator who actually is claimed to be a “good person” now. I don’t know what to believe any more, maybe I’ll just read what’s on Facebook news feeds.

The small island is also famous for a massive (not YUUGE) bird colony of gannets (sea gulls). We’d have to get used to plenty of loud squawking and large doses of poop raining down on us. It should be said that the resemblance of those living conditions to the political shit-show of the last 18 months is not lost on me at all. I’d feel right at home. Now, where did you put those British passports Mrs. PIE?

All members of the PIE family still carry dual citizenship so in theory could relocate to the UK very easily (Editorial note from Mrs. PIE – not a bloody chance!) . Think of all that fine whisky and yummy pub grub. Mmm!!  We would need damn good healthcare coverage given the toll that diet of whisky, fish n’ chips would take on our livers and arteries. Given the amount of money we are going to be spending on OBAMACARE / TRUMP-A-CARE / NOBODYBLOODYCARES, we might as well head to the PIE whisky cabinet to drown our sorrows.


3. Move to Svalbard. Now although I am a big fan of our Canadian neighbors, I did not contribute to the carnage that derailed the Canadian Immigration web-site last week.  No, I was busy searching for more exotic places to suit the budget of the early retiree. And hey presto, Svalbard! Where the heck is Svalbard, Mr. PIE?








Good question, readers. Governed by Norway and conveniently located midway between Norway and the North Pole, it provides a culture that should make the early retiree smile from ear to ear. The largest town is Longyearbyen with a population of 2,640. Jeez, 2016 has already been a very long year….! It houses a library, swimming pool (presumably indoor), a bank (seamless transfer of those capital gains from Vanguard index funds in a jiffy), a cinema (Horror movie themes are a specialty – you can watch endless re-runs of the Inauguration) and a handful of museums (I guess viewing the set of whale bones skeletons will get tiresome after a while) to suit the historical souls. There is even a NASA research facility on one of the islands that makes up the archipelago. So for the early retiree with a scientific background, jumping back into the fray of work is right here and waiting. Some other aspects of living here that you may find interesting are as follows:

  • No residency permit is needed for foreigners. OK, if you MUST make life easy for us….
  • You have to be able to support yourself financially. Check!
  • Endless high mountain snow fields for the skiing enthusiasts. Check!
  • Must be able to defend yourself from polar bears. Err….erm…will two dueling Darth Vaders be able to fight them off?


So this is all very serious stuff.

What am I really going to do to lighten the load of early retirement?

Here in no particular order is a brain-dump from my troubled mind. Be prepared –  (a) it is not organized, (b) it is loaded with fun activities and (c) it has family stuff at the very core. The A, B, C’s of early retirement.

  1. Travel with family slowly in countries/places I have already visited through work or vacations that were way too short to fully experience the local culture (International – India, France, Greek Isles, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Caribbean Island such as St Lucia, St John, Dominican Republic) ; America and Canada– Grand Teton National Park, Quebec, Canadian Rockies, Montana, Florida Keys). The summer vacations while boys are still school age are going to busy with lots of traveling. Our immediate family and friends in the UK will serve as a base to explore more of Europe and keep travel costs down overall.
  2. Travel slowly in countries on my dream list – Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Chile. Skiing in the southern hemisphere is very high on the to-do list. Skiing anywhere outside of North America is high on the to-do list to be honest.
  3. Visit family and friends in the UK on a more regular basis. See point #1.
  4. Further develop my skiing skills to be skilled enough to venture into the powder filled back-country with an experienced guide. Or to go on an awesome heli-ski day trip.
  5. Hike all forty-eight 4,000 ft’ers in NH. Our family has made a great start to this and knocked another one off the list over the weekend on a spectacular early winter season hike. Hike during the summer months in the Teton range – see point #1.
  6. Further my education. Yes, a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. allowed me to get by in the discipline of chemistry and build a worthwhile career. But there is so much more that interests me. Getting comfortable with Personal Finances has shown that although I am capable, there is much I would like to understand about finances, investing and markets in the broader sense. There is a fantastic set of business and finance MOOC’s – Massive Open Online Courses (many free or a modest fee ~$50) that is kept up to date over here. And through organizations like edX, a dizzying array of topics (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Economics:Macroeconomics, The History of Rockets, Computer Graphics to name but a few), are offered in low priced or free courses. Most courses are 4-6 weeks in length and have on-line forums to interact with fellow students and teachers. What is not to love about learning through free or low cost courses?
  7. Learn to cook better. I have a staple set of meals that I am very good at preparing. Most organic chemists are very good at following recipes and “cooking things up”. But there is much more to challenge me in the kitchen. I think with Mrs. PIE as a patient teacher and some time, I will do just fine. Perhaps a bit better than fine.
  8. Learn a foreign language. I was very fond of French at school and had a natural connection to the language which was further developed through leading a collaboration with a French company for a few years. Something as simple as Rosetta Stone where different levels can be accommodated would be a good start. Or living in a French speaking locale / country for a short period would help. Like Quebec. Or France. See point #1.
  9. DIY Home Maintenance. Never been a strong point. Must do better. More free time will help with this one.
  10. Be appointed Chief Travel Planner. Since Mrs. PIE has snagged the more lucrative Chief Travel Hacking Officer, I will be there to fill the organizational void that is travel planning. Our slow travel will be initially during the school vacation weeks of summer. This I will have to make sure we plan well ahead of time to grab supersaver flights where our travel miles can be used and affordable AirBnB or VRBO rentals. Of course when traveling to Europe, we will enlist the help of family and friends near London, central England and Scotland as a base to jump over to the EU. The planning here will entail a phone call (no doubt after too many beers) to declare that we are coming to visit and a request for spare beds or sleeping bags with airbeds. Heavy stuff requiring exquisite negotiation skills. Somebody has to take on the tough jobs. This will also require some periodic checking in with Mrs. PIE, aka talking to each other. There will be no place for any boardroom squabbles on conflicting travel strategies.
  11. Fill the Social Circle bucket – this is a large bucket with a few holes right now. It may involve volunteering with kids school activities, hiking club activities or perhaps speaking at local community gatherings on aspects of Personal Finance. It is often the case that small mountain town folks could benefit from some pointers on good investing habits but I have to be realistic on whether that demand may exist or not. I may be surprised. I certainly have a ton of material on what not to do.
  12. Work. Whaaat..? I can see some offers for sporadic consulting work materializing through my connections in the biopharmaceutical industry. This one will definitely be on a wants rather than a needs basis. Our FIRE plans do not have us working for money as a necessary factor in our budget management. If the offer comes, it doesn’t entail an extensive period of work and I find it interesting enough, sure, it will be worth considering.
  13. Read more. With so much time spent reading and pouring over data/documents at work, this after-work activity has been a lower priority for me. Although I enjoy reading blogs immensely, it is not quite the same as a good fiction or non-fiction book. A relaxing and peaceful afternoon down at the local river or on our sunny deck with a good book and a cold beer is my kind of heaven.

So there you go, a baker’s dozen for Mr. PIE to turn his undivided attention towards. I can’t help thinking there needs to be some flexibility in all of this as well as an understanding that any one of these can take up significant chunks of time. Oh, I’ll have plenty of that to play with, won’t I…?

What’s going to occupy your time? Will you expand current hobbies or find new ones? Will Mr. PIE have sufficient activities to keep him out of trouble?


    1. Sounds like a plan, Martin. Schedule the trip for Burns night and revel in the full party that combines whisky and haggis. It is a fine country to visit and if you make it to the western isles such as Islay and Skye, you will be in malt whisky heaven.

  1. That little Siberia hut looks pretty cozy……

    The list looks jam packed with fun and a few of them on there are ones I want to start sooner than later (especially learn a foreign language)

    It’s great to see what technology is doing to education – there are a ton of free or very low cost coding schools for software engineers.

    That is quite the whiskey cabinet!

    1. I actually had no idea what was available on line until recently. It is mind boggling. If you have the inclination and time time to do this kind of stuff now, go for it. At the costs, it is a no brainer.

      We try to keep the whisky cabinet well stocked but it is very hard to resist drinking them…..

  2. Nice whiskey cabinet indeed! One day I need to go visit my square foot plot on the Laphroaig distillery grounds. 🙂 As far as points on your post. You have at least 1 card carrying geologist reader, and while Mrs. SSC does mostly geophsyics, I’d still count her too! Regarding your twitter followers, I think the same thing when I get replies to the few random tweets I remember to send out there. There’s a Siberia Zillow?! How did we miss that?

    The more the reality of our post work life, or in case of healthcare unknowns, Mrs. SSC’s continuing work life, I’m realizing my time will be mostly eaten up with home-making and child rearing. While that won’t consume the full time that they’ll be in school, I am genuinely shocked how many early release days there are. We’ve had 6 already!

    Hobbies that will get more time will include but not be limited to: gardening (at some point I’ll grow something we can eat besides collards), music playing (banjo and resonator guitar), woodworking, and I want to get back to drawing. I’ve always liked drawing but being born into a family of good artists, my stuff looked like stick figures so I quit doing it. Oddly, I like drawing flowers, nothing else really, just flowers whether they’re “real flowers” or blooms on a random tree or bush. I’d like to cultivate that more. It’s relaxing.

    Hiking and snowboarding, although the latter will be geographically dependent.
    My friend and I joked that climbing the CO 14’ers wasn’t much more than a strenuous hike, especially considering most start at 10,000′ or sometimes higher. I love the 4000’er challenge, those mtns out there can be tough. Depending on where we end up, I’ll look for something similar.

    Finally, triathlons and half marathons. I recently found out I enjoy sprint triathlons and want to do my first Olympic triathlon this year. It’s a 1500m open water swim, 26 mile bike ride and 6 mile run. It’s way more fun to “train” for than a half marathon, and I enjoyed the sprint one. Although after doing my first Olympic, I may go back to the Sprint distance (500m OW swim, 15 mile bike ride and 3 mile run). We’ll see.

    Hope you get to feeling better soon!

    1. Wow, that sounds like quite the list of activities you have brewing Mr. SSC. I am very impressed by the diversity. Drawing and crafting is more of Mrs. PIE’s skill set.

      Regarding the 4000 ft’ers, it is interesting what you say about toughness. Some of them can be done together as part of a ridge but the distance and time to do them is long. We did a great winter hike this weekend on Mt. Pierce but if temperatures had gotten lower and wind on the exposed ridge had whipped up, it would have made for a sharp turnaround. We have seen enough horror stories not to mess around in the White Mountains. Places like Mt. Washington can get literally deadly with no notice given whatsoever.

      Finally, I tip my hat on your penchant for triathlon. I feel like I need a whisky to contemplate the terror of doing one…..

  3. Thanks for the great laughs, Mr. PIE. Just think: If y’all move to Siberia, you might end up neighbors with Steven Seagal!! You wouldn’t even need to worry about a movie theater with that kind of comedy nearby.

    The lineup of PIE-tivities sounds pretty sweet to me. Learning a foreign language, though? I’m reasonably confident that brand of brogue spoken in Scotland is at least as foreign than anything else one might find on the Continent. (Sir Libre himself has Scottish roots, which prove 0% useful in deciphering what’s said in just about any region of the British Isles.) Which is to say: If you learn yet another foreign language you’ll just be showing off. 🙂

    Enjoy some of that whisky/whiskey, which I understand is only good for livers and arteries, particularly in the winter months, and is necessary fortification against the cold of vertical hikes and powder runs. Cheers, PIEs.

    1. Jeez, I forgot about Seagal and his love for Putin. What a hoot…

      It is funny that I still get rather perplexed in teleconferences after a long rambling on my points. Then deathly silence. People don’t disagree, they just don’t understand. Although it is a tad annoying when folks ask if I am from South Africa….. cue to kill the WebEx and end the call swiftly…..oops, technical glitch. Ha!

      I like how you draw attention to the subtleties of whisky/whiskey. Too often folks don’t appreciate the geographical origin of each. After a day of skiing, pretty much anything with ethanol is mighty fine!!

    1. Unfortunately, none of Western Scotland, Siberia or Svalbard are particularly warm…..although I can vouch that the people of Scotland are warm and generous, particularly if there is a drink or two involved…..?

      I think if I started traveling now, i may just keep going and going until I was really far away. That kind of environment.?

  4. Wow, nice liquor cabinet! I see some of my friends are your friends, too.
    Moving to Europe has been on our radar screen, too. It has nothing to do with the president-elect because there is a wave of nationalism/populism in Europe as well. (I’m still amazed how they suckered Scotland into staying in the U.K. and then leave the EU!!!). Lifestyle, safety, and the healthcare system are the big plus for us over there. But it would have to be a place in Europe with a nicer climate than Svalbard. 🙂
    Apart from that, I will probably be busy with some of the same things as you all. Whether in Europe or the U.S., I would love to stay close to hiking and skiing. Finally, get a season pass and ski only on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.

    1. I detect a common theme in our readers here. Whisky lovers. Fabulous!
      Mrs. PIE and I have discussed moving back to the U.K. but once you look at property prices, you change your mind in a hurry. I can see parts of Spain and Portugal being much more budget friendly though.

      Oh, don’t even get me started on that Brexit nonsense after the independence vote. Aargh!!

      I like your thinking on skiing when the mountain is empty. That is when you really get to enjoy a ski mountain in its full glory. We are going to love that luxury, oh yeah

  5. First of all – kick ass whiskey cabinet. As long as you have that as a buffer between you and the rest of the world I’ll venture to say you will be ok.

    I share your feelings about His Rightness (our President Elect), and I said so on my blog a few days ago.

    And lastly, I look into my crystal ball and predict that your list is going to make you very happy.

    1. My goodness, another whisky lover. This is awesome. We should all meet up at FinCon or somewhere like that and open up a bottle or two!! We’d have a blast mixing whisky and personal finance chatter.

      I have been getting a bit behind on my reading of late so will venture over and check out your musings on the D.

      I think you are right about that happiness list thing. ?

  6. Big fan of slow travel and work! Would be my ideal combo. Each gets 50pct of the time allocataed. That leaves plenty of time for whiskey!

    All the best with your President-Elect!

    1. I will raise a glass to your balance of travel, work and whisky. I like your math.

      I will raise an eyebrow or an angry fist to your last point….?


  7. Count me in on the whiskey tour! And it just so happens that the last glass of whiskey I enjoyed was election night. I remember getting ready for bed maybe around 9…still early with the results coming in. But I forced myself to stay up a bit later until a Clinton win was ensured (figuring that wasn’t going to be much longer…). Obviously it got really interesting right around then and finally at 10 or 10:30 I knew it was time to pull out the bottle and have a glass…

    Thanks for the laughs Mr. Pie. It definitely sounds like you have a good list of things to do in early retirement.

    1. Hey GS,

      I suspect you were not the only one getting through the evening with a stiff drink! You were in good company.

      Thanks for the support of my plans. More than enough to keep me busy I think…..?

  8. This is quite a post. I like your goal of hiking all of those mountains in NH – a commendable achievement, but totally doable. It must be getting really exciting, as you keep inching closer and closer to 2018.

    I sometimes daydream about selling everything and moving up to the family cabin in Maine. But then, I think about how winters would go with only a wood stove for heat. The daydream usually melds into a Shining-type prophesy of what would happen once we go stir crazy from being snowed in and getting sick of each other.

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading more once we semi-retire. As of right now, I’m only finding time to listen to audio books on my commute.

    1. Haha! Had to laugh at the Shining reference. What is about cabins in the woods that terrifies us? Well, movies like the Shining!

      It is certainly getting real the prospect of FIRE in 2018, no doubt. I hope my legs can withstand the plans for the hiking goal. Keeping up with our two very fit and energetic young boys is quite the task!!

      Thanks for swinging by!

  9. Hi Mr PIE! Just found your blog and this was a really cool first post to read. A few things struck me-
    1. My mom’s an organic chemist so I have a soft spot.
    2. You should try duolingo for language learning. I just started on Italian 2 weeks ago and it says I’m 12% fluent now (but I’m doubtful!)
    3. Your goals make your current life and the one you’re aiming for really happy and it’s so nice that that comes across in your writing!

    So, good luck! You’ve definitely got a new subscriber!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *