Greetings, friends. I am back from a relaxing week-long vacation in the jungles of Belize (with a one-day trip across the border to Guatemala to visit Mayan ruins — or the rebel base on Yavin IV, if you’re a Star Wars geek like me). I had a blast. I slept a lot, thought a lot about my future plans, and basically forgot about the world.

Toucan

As always, coming home was overwhelming. It’s a shock to come back into the U.S. and be instantly bombarded by the constant flood of commercialism and, especially, the mass media. Plus, there’s so much junk food! For an entire week, Kris and I ate healthfully (well, except for the beer), and then the first thing I ate in the Houston airport? A pretzel dog. My stomach rebelled! Don’t get me wrong — I love this country — but it’s far from perfect, and very very insular. I wish we, as a culture, were more willing to look at what other countries get right.

Note: I’ll be chronicling our vacation one day at a time over at my personal site.

Speaking of rebellion, it looks like there was a fuss over certain posts I picked for my absence. The life insurance post on Friday especially took some heat, some of which was deserved, and some of which was not. When I requested that post, I hadn’t yet written the chapter in Your Money: The Missing Manual about insurance (including life insurance), so I felt I needed an expert to respond. If I were to do it again, I’d field the question myself, and would write (as I did in the book)

The bottom line: For most people, the best choice is guaranteed renewable term life insurance.

But term life isn’t always the best answer. Cash-value policies make sense for some people, especially those with high incomes, large net worths, or small businesses. These folks should consider whole life coverage. But one point is correct: Seek advice from an independent adviser, not from somebody who has a vested interest in selling you an expensive policy.

By the way, Your Money: The Missing Manual went to the printer yesterday. It’s now available for pre-order from Amazon, and should be hitting shelves in your local bookstores in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I’m already starting to think about Book #2, which would be much more of a “J.D. book”, I hope — more about my personal journey and how the lessons I’ve learned can be used by other folks, too. (Your Money: The Missing Manual has some of this, but it’s much more focused on the nuts and bolts of personal finance.)

So, the book is done, I’m back from vacation, and I’m ready to blog!

Tikal (Temple I)