Someone described Mitt Romney campaigning in Mississippi as like he was "on safari in his own country". I feel like that whenever I visit Florida.
Went to visit my Dad the other week. My Dad and his wife (not sure if she's technically my "stepmother") moved there about a year and a half ago from Connecticut.
They moved to an region called the "Treasure Coast", the area around Vero Beach up to Cape Canaveral (the recent SpaceX launch was scheduled for that week and would have been visible from their backyard had it not been delayed).
Now, moving out of Connecticut was probably a good idea, for climate reasons as well as economic (he's 87), and her son and his wife's family live there — but I really don't like Florida.
My issues with Florida are manifold, but just superficially, differences in local culture (as pretentious as that sounds) rarely fail to amaze me. I frequently forget how special California is. This stood out:
We went to dinner one evening at a beachfront restaurant. Mid-March to early May is an optimal time to visit Florida; the tourists and snowbirds have gone home, but it hasn't gotten horribly hot yet like it does after Memorial Day. I don't think we could have asked for better weather, the Sun was low (and behind us), the temperature was comfortable and the breeze was light and cool. We took a table on the deck.
There were seven of us. Besides myself, we were my Dad and Hana, her son and his wife, and her parents. I was the only one that wasn't smoking.
And yes, we were at the dinner table, and yes, there was food on the table, and yes, there were ashtrays on the table as we ate. No one put out his cigarette in the mashed potatos, thank heaven.
Curiously, at home Dad and Hana kept their cigarettes loose in this oblong plastic box, and used these generic flip-top boxes for day-to-day. No brand names were apparent.
Turns out the way one buys cigarettes in that part of town (they way they buy them, anyway) is you buy the tobacco in bulk — enough for 200 cigarettes, one regular carton — and the dealer has a little cigarette-making machine that puts the tobacco in little paper tubes with filters. Since bulk tobacco is taxed dramatically less than manufactured cigarettes — the shop makes the cigarettes as a "courtesy", there's no extra charge — the cost is 40% less than buying a carton of Marlboros.
I was really glad to get back to America's non-smoking section. My response to those who whine about not being able to smoke anywhere they want: Shut up, and quit smoking. Or we'll send you to South Florida.
And vote Yes on Proposition 19.