Sim Florida

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Descending toward Ft Lauderdale airport this morning, I was shocked by the expanse of suburban sprawl stretching to the horizon below me. A huge drained swamp, all flat, covered by an intricate pattern of canals and streets and plots with low single buildings, broken only by a few golf courses and one or two cluster of skyscrapers. And nothing in sight older than a few decades. I suddenly realised that the reason the cities in Sim City look so artificial is that they model actual American urban areas. Nothing in this area has arisen organically. Everything has been planned, block by block, and built wholesale in brief flurries of activity. There isn’t even a topography to influence the planning.

I am now in a motel room with a swimming pool and a palm tree outside my window. I have had fajitas for lunch at a Mexican place with a waitress who was achingly beautiful in a robust rice-and-beans MILF kind of way. Her English was almost as bad as my Spanish: I asked her how business was and suggested that summertime might be a good season for Mexican restaurants. She replied that Thursday was the best. Aha.

Yesterday began in cold and solitude as I checked out the NC collections in the Wilson library, had a burrito with horchata (iced liquid tomtegröt) for lunch and took a campus tour with a borrowed tape-recorder. The day ended in hearty company as I imposed myself upon the NC University archaeology labs, headed by fellow son of the Baltic, Vincas (Vin) Steponaitis. He showed me around the premises, I met a lot of people and saw some exceptionally fine pottery and lithics, and then I gave a talk about my Östergötland research to a roomful of friendly and interested listeners. Finally dinner out on the town with fellow Swede Erik Johannesson and others. Thanks for taking such good care of me, guys!

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Comments

  1. #1 Dave Briggs
    January 24, 2008

    A huge drained swamp, all flat, covered by an intricate pattern of canals and streets and plots with low single buildings, broken only by a few golf courses and one or two cluster of skyscrapers. And nothing in sight older than a few decades.

    I lived in Miami and then was gone for 10 years before going back. It was the same kind of culture shock! I kept saying things like I thought this row of houses or strip mall ended miles ago. It literally had 10 years previous! Don’t forget that handheld GPS!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  2. #2 Kaleberg
    February 3, 2008

    You’d love the mid-west. It got subdivided into 40s back in the 19th century. The roads run straight for miles, except for the occasional kink to account for the spherical earth.

  3. #3 Martin R
    February 3, 2008

    As in 40 arc minutes? Arc seconds? Miles?

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