The WC – A Very Special Issue

Welcome to a Very Special Issue of The WC.

Over the weekend, my mother in law Jane passed away from pancreatic cancer.

When we lived in England, she was a two minute walk away, and when we moved to Spain, we bought a house with a casita so she could stay close. She’s been an essential part of my life for more than a decade now, and she’ll be missed deeply.

She was an enormously impactful and impressive woman who grew up in the shadow of the Blitz post World War II. She studied nursing, married early, lived abroad before it was cool, raised the most incredible daughter, and was the platonic ideal of a grandmother.

She’ll be missed daily, and I’ve dedicated this issue to her memory.

Each of the five bits tomorrow tells a small part of her story in a way that is — I hope — compelling to you, the reader.


The rise of Oman

Jane and her late husband lived in Oman in the 1970s, and safe to say it was a much different place then. Paved roads were rare, air conditioning was non-existent, and there wasn’t really an economy to speak of.

Oman then

Since 1970, GDP per capita has ​increased​ from $380 to $20k in today’s dollars, which is ​comparable​ to China’s rate of increase and far exceeds what ​India​ has managed.

Oman now. (Oh man, what a difference)

While the discovery of oil played an ​instrumental​ role in the country’s rise, many Omanis credit the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said for the Sultanate’s steady growth and prudent investment.

Relying on a natural resource (oil contributes around 2/3 of Oman’s revenue) is risky, and the Sultanate is taking the nordic path of income diversification through 2050.

Grace and I took part of our honeymoon in Oman, and I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re in the neighborhood.

Investing in student housing

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Jane secured her economic future by investing in student lets in Devon, UK.

The University of Plymouth, which has nearly 20k students, is there along with the Art University, which is home to another 2k.

​Investing in student lets​ is both simple and complex. (Stefan ​wrote about this​ a few months ago.)

Simple because all you need to do is buy a home with several bedrooms in it and cram as many students into it as possible. Then you spend two months in summer cleaning and repairing it before the next lot of hoodlums move in.

Complex because students are tricky and come with unique requirements you don’t get from other tenants. It’s said that the real client isn’t the kid — it’s her mum and dad — and I think that’s true. The job is 100% keeping the chequebook happy.

If you do it right, though, it’s lucrative — 10% ​returns​ aren’t uncommon.

Healthcare in Spain is elite

Jane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago, and in those twelve months, we said over and over again how lucky she was to be in Spain.

Spain has a fully functional and easy-to-navigate socialised healthcare system. She always got an appointment, medicine was free (or near enough), and house-calls were frequent.

Spain’s elite healthcare system

The NHS in the UK, from where she moved, is ​broken​, and paying for insurance in the US would have cost tens of thousands.

But Spain has got it right.

The Iberian country ​tops​ the list of healthiest countries in the world with an overall life expectancy of 83.5 years — ​highest​ in the EU.

For reference the US is 35th healthiest.

Will we ever find a cure for cancer?

If you’re not familiar with the comic XKCD, you’re in for a treat. It’s always nerdy and frequently hilarious.

Maybe ten years ago, the author did a less-hilarious ​comic​ on cancer, and for some reason it stuck with me.

The truth is, there really is ​no cure for cancer​. There’s only mediation, treatment, and hope. Hope that it doesn’t come back and that you’re one of the lucky ones.

Hope that the cancer you cut out of your breast doesn’t turn up later in your bones. Or liver or pancreas or brain.

It’s all about ​survival​ rates over a given number of years. Five year survival rates for testicular cancer are nearly 100%. Breast cancer is 87%. But those numbers decrease over time. The ten year rates are lower, and the 20 year rates are lower still.

Ten year survival for pancreatic cancer is nearly nil. Janie made it about a year.

Speaking of hope.

While there’s no cure, there may be a ​vaccine​. I wrote about it several months ago, and it looks promising.

So it comes back to hope. I hope this is sorted in time for my wife and kids.

The multi-billion dollar bird watching industry

Jane loved birding and could name just about everything she saw. Her favorite species was, delightfully, the great tit.

While worldwide interest in birding is in decline, it’s still a ​multi-billion dollar industry​ and the topic gets 68k searches per month on the googles.

via Glimpse

“It is ​estimated​ that over $800 billion is spent a year in outdoor recreation in the United States, with birdwatching having an economic benefit of $41 billion dollars. ​Roughly $17.3 billion​ is spent annually in wildlife-watching trip-related expenses in the U.S., with more than 20 million Americans taking birding-specific trips.”

That’s a lot of bird nerds.

Don’t believe me? There’s a ​Birding Festival​ in Harlingen Texas that draws in over 2 million visitors per year. In 2019, ​nearly​ 300 distinct species were seen. The next festival is in November if you’d like to check it out.

But if you’re a serious birder (and who isn’t?), you’ve got to beat feet to Colombia, which is home to over 1,900 bird species. “The country is the only home for ​eight species​ of hummingbird, including the stunning shimmering-green and purple-bearded ​Buffy Helmetcrest​.”

If you’ve been, send photos.

Bonus Section!

This got great feedback last week. If people continue to find it helpful, I’ll continue. If not, I’ll blow it up faster than three young kids has exploded my waistline.

What I’m reading

Randall Munroe, author of the XKCD comics, has published some ​delightful books​. If you’re all all nerdy, you’ll love them.

What I’m listening to

Smashing through my ​dad rock playlist​ today.

Investment I’m learning about

​Percent​ – They’re a private credit platform claiming recession-resistant returns of up to 20%.

That’s all for this week; I hope you enjoyed it.






Picture of Wyatt Cavalier

Wyatt Cavalier

With a background in finance & intelligence analysis, Wyatt has an unhealthy obsession with finding the best blue chip investment opportunities. His previous newsletter, Fractional, resonated deeply with subscribers, bringing actionable insights and unconventional trading strategies. His rare book collection specializes in banned editions. He currently lives in Spain with his beautiful wife, three young boys, and dog Monty.

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