October 16, 2022

Dateline – St. Petersburg, Florida

I slept in this morning before setting off on my continued journey south. It wasn’t all that exciting a drive through rural Georgia. The front entrance to Fort Benning with its statuary and flags was somewhat impressive but that soon gave way to cotton fields, peanut farms, flat stretches of scrub land with scraggly pine trees, and the red Georgia clay peaking through where the locals had been busy with their off road vehicles. I was off the interstate and soon found myself going through towns named things like Ty Ty. I think I passed by Plains, home of Jimmy and Rosalynn, but if I did, it made no impression. Kind of like the Carter presidency. He may not have been that great of a chief executive but we’re likely never to have another ex-President of his stature and moral fiber and I will be sad when he finally goes.

Eventually highway 82, or whatever it was, hit I-75 and I turned right towards Florida passing through such exciting towns as Valdosta. I had been to Valdosta once before. Many long years ago, I was brought in to be a lunch program on dementia for the local hospital staff. There were no good flights back to Birmingham that day so I was put up at some ranch in Thomasville that had been made into a boutique inn. It was notable for having been the gathering place for the Hollywood types in 1939 who came to Georgia for the premiere of the film version of Gone with the Wind in Atlanta and my room had a number of framed newspaper accounts of the festivities on the walls. I fully recognize the issues with that film in this day and age but I still love Scarlett and all of her gorgeous costumes. There is an infamous picture of me as her in the barbecue dress from one of the Politically Incorrect shows hanging around somewhere.

Found it….

Traffic came to a standstill on I-75 southbound somewhere around Lake City, Florida for no particular reason – at least I never saw an accident. Fortunately, I have good air conditioning and audio books so 45 minutes of staring at the back of a semi-truck didn’t pass too slowly. Eventually, the road swung a bit to the east and, as the sun set I was driving into the Tampa Bay area. (Tampa being one of the few major American cities I have never visited). It was too dark and too late to do any sight seeing and I ended up booking a hotel in St. Petersburg across the street from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for the night. I arrived about 8:30 PM, found that I had a lovely view of the parking garage, took a walk out the St. Petersburg public pier and back and have retired for the night. I’ll leave more exploring until daylight hours tomorrow. I have some time as I’m not due in Orlando until the dinner hour and it’s not that far.

I promised a quick update on the coronavirus situation. We must take all information about what’s going on these days with a very large grain of salt as the data is not what it once was. Data isn’t being collected or being collected at much lower rates and intervals. It’s sluggish at being reported to CDC or other national authorities who can synthesize incoming information streams form hundreds of autonomous public health departments into reasonable predictors. The epidemiologists of my acquaintance are simply shaking their heads, unable to offer the guidance they once did. A quick perusal of news stories and coronavirus information sites shows that we continue to be in a relative lull, if you can call a continued death rate of 300-400 people daily a lull. At least the general trend is still slowly down from earlier in the summer.

At the same time, there’s a new Omicron variant on the scene. This one, dubbed BQ 1.1 went from being less than 1% of cases a week ago to more than 10% of cases this week. This suggests an exponential growth curve and there’s some evidence that it’s better at evading the immune system and vaccines that previous omicron variants. If you’re over fifty or have a chronic illness affecting the immune system, the new bivalent booster with the omicron specificity is looking like a really good idea. It’s most efficacious if there’s a twelve week gap between any other booster or infection which is why I can’t get it yet. I’m only about six weeks out from my recent infection so I can’t get it until about Thanksgiving. I’m champing at the bit. Will the BQ cause a new surge this fall? Only time will tell. Numbers are definitely up in Europe but that’s likely due to a combination of colder climate driving more people indoors and German Oktoberfest celebrations acting as super spreader events. I look at that BQ and my brain either wants to add another B and order the pulled pork sandwich or shift the B to a D and order a Heath Bar Blizzard. I think that’s my road trip brain calling. Dairy Queen is one of the few things you can count on off the beaten track.

I feel like I need to write a learned post on another senior health topic. Have I done how senior living facilities work and the differences between them yet? If not, I may tackle that this week. But not tonight…

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