Things that are difficult to buy in Florida

Florida is not lacking in big box stores and the ones we’ve been in so far have generally been nicer, cleaner, and newer than their counterparts in Maskachusetts (exception: Costco in Palm Beach Gardens, but they’re expanding/renovating currently so perhaps there is hope). Our neighborhood is walkable, but we’ve certainly spent a fair amount of time at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Costco and in adjacent strip malls. Here are some things that I find perplexing….

It was baking hot in mid-August. I bought a sun hat at Walmart that was marked down and used it for about a month before a rogue wave smashed me into the sand and took away the hat, complete with chin strap. I went back to Walmart on September 30th to try to get a replacement, but couldn’t find any. I asked a clerk and she said that they didn’t have any “this time of year.” Daily high temps were still mid-80s with plenty of sun. “When will you have more?” I asked. She looked at me with an expression of patience that might have been prepared for a slow-witted 3-year-old. “In the summer.”

Our apartment, despite costing only about as much as we paid for property tax and lawn mowing/snow plowing back in the Boston suburbs, includes a huge balcony. I figured I would get something like the following:

Some specialty outdoor furniture shops exist and they could have it made in 3-6 months for $5,000+, but nothing was in stock and the Big Box stores didn’t have any of the Chinese-made outdoor seating. The IKEA Web site shows some outdoor furniture, but it isn’t even displayed in the Sunrise, FL store, much less stocked (see below as well). Given that nearly every house here seems to have some sort of shaded patio and most apartments have shaded balconies, how could there not be a market worth serving for Target, Walmart, and Home Depot?

Shopping in Florida is a different experience compared to in Massachusetts. It has been two months and no retail clerk has asked whether I would like a bag and, if so, what kind of bag. How about when it is time to dispose of items that have been brought home in the free plastic unasked-for shopping bags? One of my last experiences in New England was being recycling-shamed by a friend’s wife. Trying to be helpful, I had scraped some plates into the garbage, careful not to scrape them into the recycling. “That should go in the compost bucket,” she scolded. How does it work in our apartment complex? Garbage is picked up every evening at 8 pm and it all goes into a huge compactor at the back corner of the parking lot. This includes plastics that folks in MA would send to Asia (where they’d landfill or burn it!), aluminum that actually could be recycled efficiently, food scraps, cardboard, etc. You can’t save Mother Earth by doing a better sorting job. The townhouse owners just to our north, on the other hand, do seem to be saving the planet. They have regular trash cans, plus blue (containers) and yellow (cardboard) bins.

(The trash disposal system overall seems to work better than in Massachusetts. Senior Management has repeatedly remarked that it is cleaner down here, e.g., along the highways or local roads (though she previously remarked that Massachusetts was super clean compared to the San Francisco Bay Area, whose roadsides were strewn with debris even before you got to any homeless encampments).)

How about stuff for the beach? At least in August-September, it is tucked away at Walmart/Target and not easy to find.

Everyone here has a gas grill. Our apartment complex has three that are available for common use, right next to the pool, and powered by natural gas. Grilling equipment and accessories are impossible to find at Target, though Walmart and Home Depot do have them.

It is always warm so there should be a lot of ice cream shops, right? Wrong. The density seems considerably lower than in frigid Massachusetts. Our neighborhood has a big shaved-ice shop where you’d expect to find an ice cream parlor. One can get ice cream at the mini golf course.

We just moved in so it is time to get some furniture at IKEA, right? Almost everything that we considered was out of stock at the stores near Miami, to the point where we wondered who would even bother going to the store. What would they actually buy? (How did Americans manage to consume so many more houses, apartments, and IKEA furniture sets? We do have millions of migrants arriving every year, but the shortages seem too severe to be accounted for by the newcomers. Nobody can sit on two chairs at the same time, right? And nobody needs two houses in the same general area, right? How did we run out of both houses and chairs to the point where prices are being bid up to insane levels?)

What if you wanted to buy some labor to assemble that IKEA furniture, assuming that you were able to buy the furniture? We are told that immigrants are a ready source of labor and millions of migrants show up at the southern border every year, so it should be easy to hire a handyperson (not to say “handyman” since that excludes 50 other gender IDs). In fact, it is almost impossible. I wonder if the shift from immigrant workers to immigrant asylum-seekers and refugees means that an increase in immigration no longer means an increase in the supply of labor, at least for labor traditionally performed by those who identify as “men”. The people best-situated for asylum are single moms and their children and unaccompanied minors (or unaccompanied young people who say that they’re under 18; as they have no documents there is no way to verify age). Since these folks will generally required housing and furniture, but not work, maybe this explains how the U.S. could be sold out of housing and furniture and at the same time have nobody available to do “handyman” chores.

One thing that I couldn’t leave behind in Maskachusetts and for which I am not sure a replacement can be found locally… my Pride-wrapped Listerine:

This was purchased right near the front door of the Watertown, MA Target. It is almost empty. I have been to three Targets so far in South Florida and none of them carry this product. Fortunately, this is still available at Amazon (review from a hater: “Not really LGBTQ colors.” and also complains that the colors are only a veneer on a wrapper, not embedded into the bottle).

Aside from Pride-themed household products, what do I miss? Apples! Macoun and similar cultivars are impossible to find here. Publix has some plastic bags of prepackaged McIntosh. Senior Management regularly braves a thicket of pavement-melting SUVs to enter Whole Foods and they have a minimal selection of mostly-insipid apples. A quick search reveals that a handful of orchards ship freshly picked apples, but they’re priced like melons in Japan, e.g., $62 for 18 apples, including shipping.

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California versus Florida government workers

Jesus said “The last shall be first and the first last.” Perhaps he was talking about government workers in Florida and California who swapped jobs?

Searching the Web for teaching examples of strategic plans (private companies’ plans tend not to be available), I found one for the Florida DMV (“Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles”). Pages 11-12 cover the outcomes that Florida considers important to measure. All of them relate to the customer until the last one…

Employee welfare is not even a “value”. Page 4:

What about their brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters working for the California DMV? The 2021-2026 strategic plan puts workers #1 on page #1:

This is over a heading mentioning “stakeholders” (i.e., people other than customers). A little more detail on page 4:

Separately, it turns out that a resident of Florida doesn’t interact with “the DMV” to get a license, register a car, etc. County tax collectors are responsible for dealing with the unwashed. Due to coronapanic, the thinly populated counties are refusing to deal with non-residents and the densely populated counties, such as Palm Beach, require appointments. Once there, one finds that the front-line workers are all masked and behind the Plexiglas dividers that #Science first told us to install and now says are useless. What about the management overlords who set up the mask policy? They’re in open cubicles, about 20′ behind the front-liners, next to a bank of windows looking out at the palm trees… unmasked.

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The last person that I saw in Massachusetts

It’s October, the month when rich people show up to their South Florida houses (folks without kids in school don’t rush back to catch the 90-degrees-and-humid high temps of August and September; see Weather Spark for an analysis of the climate and the opinion that mid-October through early May is when a rich/flexible person should be in Palm Beach). Starting in mid-September, we noticed that it was pleasant to be out walking Mindy the Crippler in the mornings and evenings.

I’ll take this moment to reflect on the last person whom I saw in Massachusetts. It was a hot August day. He was alone on the South T hangar ramp at KBED. There is no FBO there, just individual hangars to which aircraft owners must drive in private cars. As such, there was nobody within 300′ of him other than myself (taxiing past inside a Cirrus SR20 being ferried to its new Florida home).

He was wearing an N95 mask.

(No photo, sadly, since capturing the scene would have required a telephoto lens and I was solo in the airplane. Taxiing is an operation that demands concentration and avoiding distraction. There are a lot more taxi accidents than in-flight accidents, though obviously the consequences are less severe when something bad happens on the ground.)

What’s the current COVID-19 situation in a state that is fully vaccinated and fully masked? It’s an “emergency” according to this email from yesterday:

An Act extending COVID-19 Massachusetts emergency paid sick leave, H.4127, was signed into law on September 29, 2021. This legislation modifies the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave program in two ways:

Extends the program until April 1, 2022 or the exhaustion of $75 million in program funds as determined by the Commonwealth, whichever is earlier; and

Effective October 1, 2021, permits employees to use Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave to care for a family member who needs to obtain or recover from a COVID-19 immunization.

During this period, employers must continue to offer Massachusetts employees leave time for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19. Further information on the updated law is available at

Employers may continue to apply for reimbursement by logging into the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect website. Further information, including detailed instructions, is available here:

As the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave program comes to an end, the extension of this state leave program will assure continued support for businesses of all sizes, including smaller businesses that to date have relied primarily on federal financial support for employees’ COVID-related leave time.

(Note in the above that the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t in any way harmful, but you might need to take some taxpayer-funded days or weeks off work to help a family member “recover from a COVID-19 immunization.”)

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Will Kathy Hochul be Florida health care worker Recruiter of the Year?

Folks in the South Florida real estate industry dubbed Andrew Cuomo the “Florida Realtor of the Year” in gratitude for all of the money that they made selling houses to people fleeing New York’s lockdowns, school closures, and mask orders. (This was before Mr. Cuomo became famous for his efforts in other areas.)

I wonder if Kathy Hochul, the current governor of New York, will be remembered for solving every Florida health care enterprise’s HR problems. The nursing shortage in FL could be over by the end of next week, according to the NYT:

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is considering calling in the National Guard and recruiting medical professionals from other states to cover looming staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities as the likelihood grows that tens of thousands of health care workers will not meet the state’s deadlines for mandated vaccinations.

New York State is one of the first major testing grounds for stronger vaccination edicts rolling in across the country in the health care sector. California and Maine have also set deadlines for health care workers to be vaccinated. President Biden has said his administration will issue a national vaccination mandate expected to ultimately affect some 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Hospital and nursing home employees in New York are required to receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Monday night, while workers working in home care, hospices and other adult care facilities must do so by Oct. 7, according to state regulations and a mandate issued on Aug. 16 by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

For health care workers seeking freedom, Florida may not be a complete solution (since President Biden and, if necessary, the U.S. military could step in to deprive Floridians of the freedoms that Governor DeSantis has tried to arrange), but moving to Florida certainly will ensure as much freedom as is possible to obtain as an employed American (folks on welfare, of course, are completely free from requirements to wear masks, get vaccines, etc., since they are not going to work).

It doesn’t usually take a huge nudge to move someone from New York to Florida. A high percentage of the above-mentioned workers probably had planned to move to Florida after retirement. For those doctors and nurses who don’t want their pharmaceutical intake to be determined by two lawyers (Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul), could this be the final nudge that sends them down I-95?

Separately, how much do we love it when people with no technical or scientific training say that MDs and RNs are rejecting science and have fallen prey to “misinformation” about the vaccines whose long-term disease-prevention capabilities and side effects are apparently best-known to politicians and journalists? (from state-sponsored NPR: “In The Fight Against COVID, Health Workers Aren’t Immune To Vaccine Misinformation”)

Also, as a vaccinated person I do appreciate the “blame-the-unvaccinated-for-all-of-our-woes” strategy being pursued by our leaders. But I wonder how long we can keep it going. If someone is a front-line health care worker and feeling young/healthy enough to be out and about without a vaccine shot, isn’t it likely that he/she/ze/they has already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore has at least as good immunity as someone who is vaccinated?

Last night, from the Juno Beach Pier:


  • “These Health Care Workers Would Rather Get Fired Than Get Vaccinated” (NYT, 9/26): a selection of those who might be easily recruited
  • “Mount Sinai hospital leaders holed up in Florida vacation homes during coronavirus crisis” (New York Post, March 28, 2020): While heroic staffers beg for protective equipment and don garbage bags to treat coronavirus patients at a Mount Sinai hospital, two of the system’s top executives are waiting out the public health catastrophe in the comfort of their Florida vacation homes, The Post has learned. Dr. Kenneth Davis, 72, the CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System who pulled down nearly $6 million in compensation in 2018, is ensconced in his waterfront mansion near Palm Beach. Davis has been in the Sunshine State for weeks and is joined by Dr. Arthur Klein, 72, president of the Mount Sinai Health Network, who owns an oceanfront condo in Palm Beach.
  • No exceptions for “people who are pregnant, lactating, or planning to become pregnant” from the New York Department of Health: … all pregnant individuals be vaccinated … Vaccination of pregnant people against COVID-19 also serves to build antibodies which may protect their baby from COVID-19 infection. … pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19… If pregnant people have questions about getting vaccinated… If someone is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, healthcare providers should discuss the risk to the pregnant person … Vaccinations for Lactating People … A lactating person may choose to be vaccinated… . Pregnancy alone is not a valid “health condition” upon which to base a medical exemption.
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A month of not being told how or what to think comes to an end

Compared to Maskachusetts or California, one of the remarkable features of life in our corner of Florida (Palm Beach County) is the lack of folks telling others how and what to think. In the Boston suburbs, I would be reminded every few minutes while driving or walking the dog to (1) have faith in leaky vaccines to end the global COVID-19 pandemic (highway electronic billboards), (2) stop hating Asians, (3) celebrate that Love is Love, (4) agree that Black Lives Matter, (5) welcome immigrants, (6) vote for Democrats, etc.

When we departed the Boston area (see Relocation to Florida for a family with school-age children), I said “I’ve paid for my last shopping bag at the supermarket, driven by my last BLM sign in an all-white neighborhood, and read my last governor’s order.” We have yet to see a BLM sign, a Trump bumper sticker or hat, or a Biden/Harris bumper sticker. We haven’t bothered to check what Ron DeSantis is up to in Tallahassee and learn whether a recent order might make one of our daily activities newly illegal. Over the weekend, however, we flew the Cirrus SR20 down to Key West. Some folks were displaying rainbow flags, which didn’t necessarily qualify as educating others regarding the path of righteousness. Unlike our old neighbors (boring cisgender white heteros), the folks in Key West flying rainbow flags might actually have been living an LGBTQIA+ lifestyle. However, we did encounter the following “love comes in all flavors” sign prominently displayed on the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream freezer:

This is consistent with Is LGBTQIA the most popular social justice cause because it does not require giving money? There were no signs in the shop regarding other social justice causes, e.g., poverty or homelessness. That might lead to questions regarding how a “single mom” (who forgot to have sex with a high-income defendant and therefore was reliant on what we no longer call “welfare”) with two kids could afford to pay $14 for two small ice creams. There were no signs reminding customers to boycott Israel. Ben & Jerry’s did not urge us to assist the tens of thousands of Haitians who’ve recently arrived, nor protest the fact that at least some are being deported in violation of international law.

(Separately, let me note for the record that I think Häagen-Dazs is much better ice cream, as long as we’re talking about mass-market. Here in Jupiter, we’ve managed to maintain a reasonable level of obesity, and therefore our coronavirus cross-section, at Matty’s Gelato Factory and Loxahatchee Ice Cream Company.)


  • Wikipedia: Cohen has severe anosmia, a lack of a sense of smell, and so relies on mouthfeel and texture to provide variety in his diet. This led to the company’s trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream. [i.e., the co-founder had COVID-19 symptoms before COVID-19 symptoms were popular!]
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Coronalogic in Palm Beach County

Mostly-Democrat Palm Beach County was one of the local governments ready to fight the governor’s “no mask orders in schools” order (a.k.a. “parental choice order”) with every last dollar of residents’ money. See “Palm Beach County public schools set to hire elite law firm to defend mask mandate” (Palm Beach Post, August 31, 2021), for example:

With the legal battle over masks in schools heating up, Palm Beach County public schools are hiring a high-profile law firm to advise them on their mask mandate and, if needed, defend it in court.

School board members are expected Wednesday to approve spending up to $50,000 for advice and legal representation from the national law firm Boies Schiller Flexner.

The vote comes five days a Tallahassee judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis exceeded his authority by ordering school boards last month not to impose mask mandates on campus. DeSantis said he will appeal the decision.

Where else on this blog might you have seen mention of Boies Schiller Flexner? They were the law firm that enabled Elizabeth Holmes to silence potential whistleblowers. From Evaluating trustworthiness; lessons from Theranos (based on reading the fascinating book Bad Blood):

Background: Roger Parloff, legal affairs reporter for Fortune, was intrigued by a story about Theranos hiring David Boies to sue a guy who had a patent that they would have needed to license if the blood testing machines had actually worked. Boies was given a fat slice of Theranos equity and a board seat in exchange for doing the company’s legal bidding. The author describes the lawsuit as entirely meritless, alleging that the inventor had somehow gotten hold of proprietary Theranos info because his son was a partner at the same huge law firm that had filed some patents for Theranos. The inventor spent $2 million on legal defense before caving in. (The big multi-office law firm’s records manager investigated the allegation and couldn’t find anything to suggest that the son/partner had ever accessed any Theranos-related information or even knew at the relevant time that the company was a client.)

So… the county is prepared to lose state funding (but they’ll get it all back from Uncle Joe: “Biden Administration Says Federal Funds Can Cover Florida School Board Salaries If DeSantis Defunds Them Over Mask Mandates” (Forbes); how are Presidents Biden and Harris able to write checks for this without Congressional funding?). And the county will happily hire a law firm that enabled one of of America’s most prominent criminal defendants, with its lead name partner actually serving on her corporate board and the firm hoping to benefit from the fraud by holding shares. All of this to ensure that when children sit together in a classroom, kept separated by however many feet the CDC recommends, they are wearing some sort of mask.

Suppose that the kids in the class decide to go to an after-school basketball program run by a different branch of the same enterprise (Palm Beach County). They will then meet on an indoor court and be close enough to actually touch each other, without any masks on. They’ll be breathing much more forcefully, of course, on the basketball court than in the classroom.

I would expect variation in coronapanic level and faith in masks from state to state and from county to county, but I didn’t expect to find this much variation in coronascience between two departments of the same county government!

(Separately, our neighborhood is packed with kids. As soon as they’re out of school, the masks come off and they play with each other outdoors in direct physical contact with no masks. They are also observed to visit each other’s homes and socialize without masks. So even if the county itself didn’t run mask-free kid gatherings, the young people and their parents would do this. Thus, it is a mystery to me how the masks-in-school plan was supposed to be effective.)


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Science: opening schools without masks stops a coronaplague (data from Florida)

Inspired by the official coronascience that I’ve seen in the last 1.5 years, here is an analysis that follows the same logic and methodology….

Florida was suffering from a terrible coronaplague, leading to an exponential rise in hospitalizations of patients tagged with COVID-19, a tweet from the Florida Hospital Association on August 23, 2021:

As a way of fighting this wave of contagious death, public health officials wisely decided to reopen schools on the usual schedule, with the last school district opening on August 23, 2021 (calendar). Mixing students from different households in the same room, oftentimes without masks (due to a governor’s order that parents retain the ultimate decision regarding whether their children would wear masks 7 hours/day), diluted the coronavirus so as to render it harmless. Same chart from the same source, today:

The red curve that was rising inexorably toward infinity is now trending down, having peaked right around the time that schools throughout Florida were back in session.

Because coronanumbers don’t move without government action (see Thomas Aquinas regarding the Prime Mover and First Cause), we can be confident that it was the reopened mask-optional (depending on county) schools that caused the decline in hospitalizations. Thus, it is fair to say that #Science proves that unmasked children in schools, or at least tightly packed children in indoor classrooms (in the counties that defied the governor), are the key to ending an exponential coronaplague.

(Separately, while on a Zoom call with a group of MIT alumni a couple of nights ago, I asked the assembled group whether hospitalizations in Florida were trending up or trending down. All of the folks on the call, based on what they’d read in the media and heard on NPR, believed that COVID-19-tagged hospitalizations in Florida were trending up.)

(On a more serious note, deaths tend to lag hospitalization and therefore there are still quite a few people dying from what seems likely to be an annual summer COVID-19 wave in Florida. The cumulative death rate remains lower than in many states, but it is still painful to confront the fact that we humans cannot escape a determined virus.)


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Not everyone in Florida is a Deplorable Neanderthal (children’s section of a Palm Beach County library)

Folks in Maskachusetts tend to be scornful of Florida, dismissing it as a “Red state” with “stupid” residents. But you won’t see a big difference at our local public library (the Jupiter branch of the Palm Beach County system).

Government workers won’t have their pay cut or jobs eliminated no matter how unpleasant they make the customer experience. Thus, in a generally mask-optional state, the librarians don’t have a problem demanding that customers wear the hijab (so both librarians and patrons can catch coronavirus 15 minutes after leaving when they walk into a mostly-unmasked store or restaurant?):

The librarians also sit behind Plexi screens that the New York Times says #Science now disclaims.

How about the featured books in the children’s section?

What if a child wants to read about a white heterosexual cisgender male? He/she/ze/they will have to dig into the stacks! (Keith Haring, above, may have identified as “white,” but was a member of the LGBTQIA+ community until HIV killed him at age 31.)

Children can learn about the female roots of aeronautical engineering:

(Maybe a book about Kitty Hawk could be featured if titled “The Wright Brothers, Sisters, and Binary-resisters”?)

A featured book in the adult section:

(Another way that Maskachusetts residents insult the idea of Florida is by talking about how old everyone in Florida is. (If the Northern Righteous have such contempt for the elderly, why do they put masks on 7-year-olds in hopes of reducing plague deaths among the 82-year-olds?) In fact, our new neighborhood is about 30 years younger than our old neighborhood. Still, it is tough not to love the fact that the librarians expect their elderly customers to still be running Windows 7 (released in 2009). There were no corresponding books about Windows 10 or 11 available. Speaking of Windows 11, will the main reason to upgrade be the ability to point to our PC and say “this one goes to 11”?)


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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.)

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Florida implements my renal dialysis-inspired COVID care idea (sort of)

Since all that hospitals are generally doing for COVID-19 patients is providing supportive care (i.e., not treatment) and, in fact, patients can do just as well at home with an oxygen bottle (nytimes), it seemed like an obvious idea to look for a way to handle COVID-19 patients somewhere other than a hospital. If nothing else, this would prevent the COVID-19 patients from infecting workers and patients within the hospital. If we could build renal dialysis capacity, why not COVID-19 treatment centers? is my idea from April 2, 2020:

On the one hand, the U.S. health care system is kind of lame. It consumes a ton of money. New York State spends $88 billion per year on its Department of Health, $4,400/year for every resident, mostly just for people on welfare in New York; Mexico spends about $1,100/year across all citizens, including those with jobs. The U.S. health care system delivers feeble results. Life expectancy in Mexico is 77 versus 78 in the U.S. Despite this prodigious spending, New York has completely failed to protect its residents from something that isn’t truly new.

On the other hand, the U.S. managed to build enough renal dialysis capacity to keep 468,000 Americans with failed kidneys alive. This is a complex procedure that requires expensive machines, and one that did not exist on a commercial basis until the 1960s.

Of course, one issue is that we had decades to build up all of this renal dialysis capability while we have only about one more month to build COVID-19 treatment capacity. But once we have built it, can we sail through the inevitable next wave or two of COVID-19?

(Looks like I can take credit for predicting “the inevitable next wave or two of COVID-19” (the U.S. is officially in Wave #3? BBC).)

If renal dialysis can be delivered in a strip mall, why not COVID-19 care? Florida has taken a step in the direction that I suggested nearly 1.5 years ago. From :

Note that the locations are not hospitals. They’re not empty strip mall shops or big box stores as I’d expected, but rather parks and libraries (i.e., existing state-owned facilities). But maybe this is because these are the state-run operations rather than private sector. (Also, as far as I have seen, South Florida isn’t in the Zombie Apocalypse retail vacancy situation that Boston is.)

Also, I wonder if the 9-5 hours support my analogy between the Vietnam War and our War on COVID-19. We were in a fight where the fate of democracy all around the world was at stake… but the upper-middle class back home kept playing tennis and golf and President Johnson and Congress kept larding on social welfare programs without considering the cost. Right now we’re in an unprecedented emergency. Our best and brightest technocrats are using advanced technology and trillions of dollars against an enemy that has already killed more Americans than all wars combined… but we will fight the enemy from 9-5. (I don’t think this is completely fair because the Florida state government has treated COVID-19 as a respiratory virus to be managed like the flu, not as an entirely new phenomenon nor as something that can be vanquished by government action.)

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