Florida first impressions

We’ve been Florida residents since mid-August. Here are a few first impressions…

One of the most important issues to folks in Maskachusetts, at least to judge by lawn signs, emails from school administrators, teacher email signatures, and sincere expressions from politicians and government workers, is Black Lives Matter. After driving all the way from the border with Georgia to South Florida, and driving around neighborhoods (including some mostly-Black ones in North/West Palm Beach), I haven’t seen a single BLM sign. In what folks in Maskachusetts would regard as a poor substitute for putting up a sign, what I have done is interacted with Black people. During our first weekend in Jupiter (Abacoa), I interacted with more Black people than I talked to during the preceding year in Massachusetts. A manager at our apartment complex happens to be Black, some of the neighbors, a woman in front of us on the mini golf course who helped putt back some of the wilder shots by our 6-year-old, a cable/Internet installer from AT&T, cashiers helping me check out at Walmart, Costco, and Target, etc. In our former home, a rich suburb of Boston, Black people are generally objects of pity and charity. A rich friend’s wife is Black and the righteous moms of Lincoln, MA, seeing her at the local school, always started from the assumption that she was a “METCO parent” whose children were being bused out from Boston in a government-run program based on skin color.

It won’t help our kids get jobs in the victimhood industry, but I’m happy that our kids will learn about Black Americans from talking to the Black residents in our apartment complex, rather than from seeing BLM signs, receiving anti-racism training from white teachers, etc. There are no subsidized units in our building, so when the kids meet someone who is Black they are talking to someone who has equal status with the landlord, pays the same rent as us, presumably has a reasonably well-paid job, etc.

A lot of Floridians, including some here in Jupiter, have built elaborate screen structures over their swimming pools and backyards. I was told that summer is the bug season, but we haven’t seen or felt a single mosquito. We’re right next to a golf course with a variety of water features. The no-mosquito situation was the same in a swampy nature trail area near the F45 airport (miles inland). The bug situation is far more annoying in New England.

Driving is much more challenging than in Boston, despite Boston’s reputation for having aggressive, incompetent, and rule-flouting drivers. In Boston, roads are usually either so jammed that traffic is moving at only 10 mph or they are not too busy. If the speed limit is higher than 35 mph, the road is almost surely a limited access one. South Florida is densely populated, packed with commercial strip malls that generate mid-block entries and exits, and wide fast-moving main arteries. Since traffic is moving at 45 mph (the speed limit) on these 6-lane suburban thoroughfares, one needs to be alert. After only about two hours in the state, I was eating barbecue at an intersection near St. Augustine and witnessed a terrifying-sounding crash between a pickup truck and a car (fortunately, nobody seemed to have been hurt).

At least in the summer, car navigation systems should pull in NEXRAD weather radar data. There are quite a few small-ish rain cells in Florida that are dangerous to drive through due to reduced visibility. It would be a huge safety enhancement if Google Maps were smart enough to say “Pull over at the next exit and chill out at McDonald’s for 20 minutes because that way you’ll skip extreme precipitation.”

Speaking of driving, I would expect almost everyone in Florida to drive a Tesla solely due to Dog Mode (my dream from 2003). A parked car heats up very quickly indeed. A golden retriever on the beach heats up and times out sooner than the kids in the water and needs to be put into an air-conditioned environment. Even for those without dogs, it would be a lot more comfortable on a day spent running errands to leave the car’s climate system going during all of the stops.

Mask usage among adults was actually higher among Floridians in August than it had been back in the Boston area, perhaps due to summer being a peak COVID-19 time in Florida and a COVID-19 lull for New England (at least in 2020 and most of summer 2021). There is a lot less anxiety around COVID-19, however, especially among children. The Florida children we’ve met are not afraid to approach other children, adults, etc., and don’t hurry to put on masks. Back in Maskachusetts, my friend’s kids are literally terrified to go into another family’s house, will rush to yank their chin diapers up over their nose and mouth when a non-family member approaches, etc. (This is true even after everyone eligible has been vaccinated.) Children aged 3-5 in our old town display what would have been called a panic response (back in 2019) if you ride a bike within 15-20′ of them (i.e., ride by on the street while they’re in the driveway). By the standards that prevailed in 2019, children in Florida enjoy much better mental health than children in Massachusetts.

In Cambridge, MA, a Comcast Xfinity coax cable delivers, depending on what the neighbors are doing, 200 mbps down and 5 mbps up, plus TV, for $200/month. In Jupiter, AT&T fiber delivers 1 Gbps up and down, plus TV, for $60/month (i.e., 200X faster upload for one third the price, though I think we may be getting a small discount for being part of this apartment complex).

People are far friendlier than in Massachusetts. Nobody says what they rationally should say: “go back to where you came from so that you don’t bid up rents and real estate prices and clog up the highway with your minivan and that Tesla that might show up in 2023 if you order it now.” Instead, the locals say “welcome” and try to help us enjoy everything that they’re enjoying about the area.

I’m not 100% sure that we made the right decision with Abacoa. It’s great if you want to walk to work at Max Planck Institute, Scripps, or the Florida Atlantic University campus here. There are a lot of people to meet, restaurants to visit, etc. It is not super expensive ($2000 to $3000/month for an apartment) and therefore there are a lot of young people, even before factoring in the 200 who live in the FAU dorms. The landscaping and architecture are appealing when walking around. But this neighborhood is a 15-minute drive to the beach and maybe it would be better to live a car-dependent lifestyle in a house that is only a few minutes walk from a dogs-welcome beach. Not so great when the hurricane and storm surge hits, of course!

My quintessential Florida experience thus far has been hearing Mindy the Crippler drinking from her water bowl in the kitchen of our apartment in a massive concrete building while simultaneously seeing her sleeping in the living room. It turned out that a lizard had entered the apartment and taken up residence in the golden retriever’s water bowl:

(I covered the bowl with a Chinet plate, carried the combined system out the front door, and dumped water+lizard into the bushes.)

41 thoughts on “Florida first impressions

  1. We must see a photo of Greenspun living in an apartment. It’s impossible to envision him in anything but a giant mansion with fake cockpits covering the walls & giant refrigerators.

  2. I am thoroughly enjoying your synopsis and review of Florida. I am excited to hear more about your interaction at the local FBO and maybe even a review of the “Airpark” Jumbolair Aviation Estates.

    I loved the idea of the weather integration into Google Maps. Here in Virginia we could use that. We have been in a non-stop issue of “Flash Flood Warnings” and I have been stuck in some of the “Rain Cells” which are very un-safe for driving.

    Thanks for taking the time to write these posts.

  3. Everything you say about your experience with roads rings as true to me as if I was there again right now. I’ve put a couple thousand miles (once in the VW Scirocco I mentioned in the “Corona” thread, but in other cars also, including a Corvette and even an older and very very mean Ford Bronco with huge Gumbo Monster Mudder tires ( https://www.pavementsucks.com/threads/does-anyone-still-make-a-gumbo-monster-mudder.133287/ ) and a supercharger with nitrous) on various Florida roads in my time, mostly along the I-95 corridor but once across the state to the Gulf Coast. I read your words and I can see it, smell the melting tarmac in the parking lots and the mud and the swamp smells, and feel the inundation from the microbursts. It’s a different kind of driving, and you must exercise caution and spend some time learning. Thank you for the memories.

  4. After each Florida visit I am newly amazed how few mosquitos and other biting flying insects are there. None at the beach, and close to none in the Everglades, which are swamps and supposed to have them. Probably we need to thank those lizards and other amphibians for that, not sure. One of them got to exercise with me by somehow snicking into my fitness room.
    Florida highways are very busy and seem rarely to be congested despite huge number of driving tourists. Florida traffic is too small can not be compared to North East traffic. I guess it is because of the nearly grid level of highways unlike North East which one or two major roads bear traffic to spread over significant wide area at the end. Most amazing, before “infrastructure” disaster is being consider in US congress, Florida seems to be full of new highways in progress, without blocking existing highways they rise to the 3rd and second levels above existing ones. This is in state without any income tax and inheritance taxes. Georgia and some other Southern states seem good with infrastructure, but they have income tax.
    Thirdly, if you read yahoo.com click-bait or major media you would think that Florida is full with dying people dropping dead on the street of coronavirus. Since I believe in scientific method I had to see it for myself playing beach volleyball, pool ball and attending all major tourist attractions and Disneyland and other packed amusement parks and packed restaurants and such. I had seen tenths of thousands or more smiling and laughing faces and myself alive with keen sense of taste up to this date and some are everyone who accompanied me, some of them middle-aged with per-existing conditions So now I think this click bait and major news are from some parallel world.

    • I have to admit though that the percentage of people driving like maniacs is higher on the Florida stretch of I-95 than on the MA one/aka route 128 despite the road itself being in a much better shape in FL. In my experience of course.

    • Yes Ivan, but when Floridian drivers pass you on the left at incredible speed (who new that Ford Escort could accelerate like Porsche 911) they kind of go with the flow. If you free your mind from the cabal of road signs and traffic rules and go with your gut feelings instead you have a good chance to survive. If following letter of driving laws you are at times at risk in Florida. I was also surprised with high level of presence state troopers showed on Florida highways, especially for the state without income tax. They are making Florida highway save even though for some reason they sometimes trailed rules abiding me.

    • I of course meant to write ” when Floridian drivers pass you on the right”.

  5. > what I have done is interacted with Black people.

    Last post for a while, promise, I’ve got some other things I need to do but I am fascinated and would like to say this.

    I don’t want to stretch this too thin or claim or reserve or appropriate or borrow or suggest any special virtue or insight, but my first three suitemates in college were Black (two from Jamaica) and I lived in Newark, NJ with them for an entire academic year. All of them rode at various times in that Scirocco with me, all of them borrowed it on different occasions and always returned it to me (the driver’s side floor had not rusted through at that point and the car was rather quick and nimble for a Volkswagen) in perfect shape, along with my keys. We drove through lots of neighborhoods and heard gunshots close by on a couple of occasions.
    One of them was studying to be an architect. He was tall and physically built like Carl Weathers, was always very smartly dressed and cut quite a figure in Ray-Bans. We worked out together in the school’s gym, jogged on their indoor track, and swam in the pool together many times. There are lots of other things we did together also. I should write that up carefully some time. We were good friends.

    I knew Black Lives Matter before it was COOL and not because they outnumbered me 3:1 behind locked doors with NO PHONES. One of them had a Glock in his desk drawer, too, which I accidentally discovered when he left it ajar one morning on his way to the shower.
    We had a serious conversation about it, came to an ARRANGEMENT that we could both agree upon.

    There are a lot of complications in this world, and one of the best things you can do is talk with the people you are talking about and try your best to understand where they are coming from, be honest, and so forth.


    Over and out for a little while.

  6. “In Cambridge, MA, a Comcast Xfinity coax cable delivers, depending on what the neighbors are doing, 200 mbps down and 5 mbps up, plus TV, for $200/month. In Jupiter, AT&T fiber delivers 1 Gbps up and down, plus TV, for $60/month …”

    I’m on a legacy Bright House internet plan with Spectrum 20 mbps up + down for $45/mo, and it’s perfectly fine for my Internet surfing and YouTube viewing, and with nearly zero down time. Spectrum just offered me 200 mbps up + down for $65/mo.

    And, yes, I’ve never been bothered by mosquitoes in over 30 years in FL on both coasts and in the center of the state. I know the counties and state do regular mosquito spraying.

  7. “But this neighborhood is a 15-minute drive to the beach…”

    After more than 30 years in FL, on both coasts, and usually directly on the beach or w/i a mile away, I find that after the first year or so, the regular Floridian seldom goes to the beach. I always take my out-of-town visitors for at least one beach visit, but I the heat and sun is unbearable after 15 minutes. Overcast winter days are more tolerable, but the water is too cold in winter. The beach scenery is always great.

  8. Wonder if they still spray FL for Mosquitos using DC-3s. I saw them parked on an airport decades ago when flying around down there.
    Better for the kids is a good enough reason to live in FL. I didn’t realize little kids in MA were so broken. Lots of aviation stuff in FL as well.
    Buddy that was considering FL was talking about living on a canal and buying a small boat. Motor to any old beach on the IC no hassle, safer from hurricanes and I imagine cheaper than beachfront.

    • I doubt they spray Everglades swamps for mosquitos. But it is relatively mosquito-free, compared with North East woods

  9. My experience living in Texas was similar to yours in that the relations between blacks and whites were a lot more relaxed and the cities were more integrated than the left leaning northern cities.

    • But Texas and Florida do not produce fine essays such as Alex’s take on some architecture student exercising his 2nd Amendment rights.

    • Why is it surprising ?

      The “Left leaning” elite has been heavily leaning on sowing seeds of racial discord since at least ’60s in this country. The CRT is the official religion of the modern left, one of their dogmata, nowadays. TX and FL will succumb to the general madness pretty soon, say in 5-10 years:

      “The Florida Education Association released a statement Tuesday slamming a proposed ban on teaching critical race theory, pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. ”


    • @Anonymous: There were four of us in the suite, which had two bedrooms connected by an entryway/foyer/bathroom/shower. The two Jamaicans were in the first and were both Arch. and my roommate with the Glock who was born and raised in Newark, was Mech E. I drove to his house with him on several occasions and met (one) of his parents. He had the gun for self-protection. A lot of people he grew up with in Newark thought he was kind of an outcast for going to college and it was a dangerous neighborhood (although not nearly the worst I saw.) I had shot lots of guns in high school as part of an organized varsity sport. I knew from living in Newark that Black-on-Black crime is a real thing and because I am not preternaturally afraid of firearms (I was both well-trained and thoroughly safety indoctrinated as part of the Team) I was able to communicate my concerns with him so that we could stay safe together, along with everyone else, and avoid the much more serious negative consequences that would have resulted had I ‘panicked’ and ran to an RA screaming: “My roommate has a GUN.”

      We had zero problems. Never thought twice about it and I am glad I did it.

    • Alex, great to hear it. Many people who has never set a foot into Newark NJ buy firearms for self-protection. Everyone has their own reasons and it is great that the framers though to protect rights of all. It may be that your Mech. E roommate was just a recreational shooter. I 100% agree that firearms should be protected from small children. Hope you sent your roommate Eddie the Eagle firearms education link if he was bringing children into the room. If he was not, whom were you not sure about, yourself?

    • @Anonymous: I was not concerned with children, myself, him or suitemates (who knew per our agreement.) He was a stable person and understood what he was doing and I had several years of experience with safety and I gave him all the important advice I had. Rather it was establishing a meeting of the minds around baseline ground rules and safety rules which I will not explain or elaborate upon in this space.

      It was also not the whole year, only about a month and a half and then the situation changed and we all reverted to everybody’s regular old dorm suite at an engineering school, but with some really great music of different kinds, PCs running Windows 3.1 with no internet but Matlab, etc., and Tetris galore. It worked out fine and everyone remained friends and nobody got hurt either on or off campus in any circumstance. Also, metal detectors were added to dorm entrance/exit at one point (except emergency, etc., and we were aware of Roof & Tunnel) and he/we had no real desire to run the gauntlet against them, we had other things to do.

      I think in part he was also challenging me although that was never made explicit.

    • @Anonymous: Also relevant inre: metal detectors. The Glock pistol was initially very controversial when imported to America because of media hype/ignorant and inaccurate hyperbole panic fear mongering of it as a plastic gun that could sneak through metal detectors but of course that has never been the case. But journalists have a long and deep history of not knowing the first thing about what they are talking about when it comes to firearms.

  10. Regarding BLM, this is not surprising.

    Where do you find most BLM signs? Blue states. Where are most riots and marches for BLM are? Blue states. Where are the most homicides? Blue states.

    Those are the same states that care about BLM, LGBTQ+, guns, immigrants, etc. but yet those states are also the states where you find more homicides, less equality and opportunities for BLM, LGBTQ+, immigrants.

    The only time an issue becomes an issue is when you keep spinning it over and over with no goal or plan on how to exit from it.

  11. PhilG – https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/31/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

    With increased hospitalizations, more deaths have followed. The Central Florida Disaster Medical Coalition has purchased a total of 14 portable morgues to help with the “unprecedented” number of Covid-19 deaths in the region, the organization told CNN.

    presents a much darker picture of the conditions there. What's actually happening? Is it specific to only parts of the state?

    • That’s Communist Nonsense Network, doing it’s propaganda best. In reality these 14 portable morgues ended up unused… which CNN carefully fails to mention saying only that these were purchased. Overall mortality has been well within normal year-to-year variations, so why the morgues?

    • Ah, and normally ICUs run at 85-90% capacity during regular flu seasons… so what changed now so 90% use got so effing scary?

      One of the sure signs if propaganda: omitting the infomation needed for basic comparisons with normal state of things.

    • averros: My question is why ICUs ever have a free bed. If I ran a hospital and my expensive ICU beds were empty, wouldn’t I have a huge incentive to find some patients who could arguably benefit from ICU care?

    • Well, this take is beyond even my level of cynical:) Anyway, barring major disasters the ICU occupancy is rather predictable… the whole industry of life insurance is built on the fact that the law of big numbers is quite dependable. So, ICUs don’t run with a lot of spare capacity, for a simple reason: they don’t need it. Unless some enemy comes up with a real biological weapon, but we’re getting into conspirology territory now, don’t we? 🙂

    • averros it isn’t just about the law of large numbers – a lot of elective surgeries include a mandatory, often brief, stay in the ICU afterwards. Particularly heart surgeries, see e.g. https://www.covenanthealth.com/heart-surgery-guide/stay-intensive-care-unit/ . (An “elective” surgery is usually one that needs to be done, but not necessarily this instant.) Hospitals adjust their surgery schedules to keep ICU capacity where they want it to be, which as philg notes, should be close to full in order to get maximum benefit from the equipment.

    • aah.. I see averros, what you are saying..

      but, incredibly irresponsible of CNN to publish it as a matter of fact without any context or background.
      in my country, some media houses picked up such stories from the US & now ppl form a perception of how bad things are…

    • averros: Philip’s always-full revenue-maximizing ICU doesn’t depend on a crazy level of greed nor on a willingness to harm patients in search of $$. Remember that “ICU” doesn’t mean “on ventilator”. Boris Johnson never needed more care than an oxygen bottle (could easily have been done at home), but he was placed in the ICU #JustInCase. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52192604

      I’m just saying that if I have 50 ICU beds I will make sure to have the 50 sickest patients in the hospital in those beds so that the ICU beds are always 100 percent full. If someone yet sicker arrives at the hospital, I will move the least sick patient from the ICU to the step-down unit and move the new arrival into the ICU.

      (Separately, my MD friends say that hospital care, ventilators, etc. killed more COVID-19 patients than they helped all through spring 2020. If they’re correct, the U.S. would have had a lower death rate tagged to COVID-19 if nobody had ever gone to a hospital for COVID-19 care. The improved survival rates since spring 2020 are partly due to the easily killed people already having been killed and partly due to physicians being less incompetent.)

    • @philg – my doctor friend (who mostly reviews cases as a medical director these days, but still volunteers at emergency to keep his skills) says exactly the same about ventilators and such. The COVID saga has shown quite clearly how deeply corrupt the US medical establisment is. Hippocratic oath? How quaint…

  12. Adults have succeeded in scaring at least some kids, or at least NPR found some who thought about what kinds of things they were supposed to parrot back.

    Was listening to them interview kids heading back to school. One 17 year old said she was very nervous about the Delta variant, which is odd considering no child in MA has ever died from Covid over almost two years, and many have died from Flu.

    One 13 year old in Florida said masking was so important to him that he changed schools from one where he could wear a mask as much as he wanted to one where he had to wear a mask. He said without masks, they would have to quarantine every other week. With masks, they can stay in school. I guess no one told him that with masks, an outbreak would also force them to go home as per the protocols in place.

    Another 13 year old said that he can understand why black people won’t get the vaccine because they justifiably don’t trust white people for experimenting on them all of the time, but that white people should know enough to trust Science without questioning it.

    • This is child abuse, plain and simple.

      These kids will be mentally scarred for life. Growing up in fear does that. (And it goes beyond mental… fear causes chronically elevated cortisol, which impacts the immune system and causes a host of other health problems.)

    • @averros: Not to mention what can happen to the serotonin system, which is very important when it comes to not doing things like jumping off a bridge, and just being able to function among the rest of the species without becoming a permanent customer of the psycho pharmaceutical industry.

    • @Anonymous – you are quite correct. I grew up in the USSR and after spending better half of my life in US I sill get really nervous when somebody knocks on the door. This shit never leaves you, no matter how safe and objectively worry-free you are now. This alone is good enough reason for me to hate socialists enough to want all of them exterminated. And I guess I’m lucky – they failed to break me, so I ended up with hate where most end up with despair. But I am quite certain that thus is still damage, hate is not something people who weren’t abused normally feel towards mere politilically correct useful idiots. Though maybe we should… after all we’re dealing with the cult which already murdered people by millions. .

    • I think it’s rude to post Twitter links without full quote. I quit Twitter at the moment they banned trump.

    • I think its rude to instruct others on how to comment ON A FREAKIN BLOG.

      And Twitter doesn’t miss you.

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