Once you leave Miami and South Florida’s heavy Latin influence, you’ll traverse northward through the swamplands of the Florida interior and begin making your way up towards the Georgia border. Soon the accents take on more of a southernly drawl. The signs for barbecue increase. Sports cars are replaced by pickup trucks. Yachts for fishing boats. Chanel for camouflage. And if you venture on over to the Florida panhandle, you’ll quickly realize why the call it the “Redneck Riviera”.
Visit Florida any time other than winter and two things are guaranteed: humidity and bugs. And often times they’re both simultaneously occurring. Summertime is the worst for both. So if you’re not on the beach using the salt air as mosquito repellant, be sure to seek out air-conditioning. Because unlike some other states, every building, home and store in Florida has A/C.
As you begin your final descent and start gazing out the plane’s window, one thing is remarkably clear: Florida is flat as a board. Sure there are sand dunes, high-rise building, bridges and the occasional small hill, but for the most part the entire Sunshine State is at sea level. Downhill skateboards are virtually useless here.
What started with Cypress Gardens in 1936 was quickly overshadowed with the likes of Disney World, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Universal Studios and Legoland as well as lesser-known oddities like the Alligator Farm, Marineland and Dinosaur World. And nowadays it seems like there’s always some fresh tourist trap springing up or rad new ride at one of the big dog’s sprawling wonderlands.
There’s a special term reserved for people who migrate sound for the winter. In Florida, we call them “snowbirds”. Yet you can’t really blame folks for wanting to escape the throngs of an icy winter for year-round sunshine. And that translates into year-round golfing opportunities. Because of its popularity within the golf community, Florida boasts some of the nation’s best links including the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach which hosts The PLAYERS Championship.
Sure there are a few other options, but I’ve never seen such a diversely deep-fried list that includes: pickles, zucchini, oysters, alligator tail, frog legs and even Thanksgiving turkey. Be sure to save room for desert! ‘Round here, it’s easy to find fried ice cream or sizzled Twinkies. And it’s probably best to plan for a later dinner as most restaurants will likely be swamped with “snowbirds” trying to save a few bucks on the early-bird specials before 6:00pm.
All jokes aside, Florida is an amazing place to live. We’ve got theme parks, golf courses, fried food and ice-cold air conditioning! Seriously though, there’s nearly 1200 miles of beautiful coastline and more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways statewide. Plus, there’s no state income tax. But for me, most of all, it’s home. And although I live out of state now, whenever I descend into the Floridian flatlands a whirlwind of remarkable memories bubble forth. Memories of running barefoot between the marshes and beach. Memories of never having to wear jeans or a jacket. And, perhaps most importantly, how amazing that initial blast of A/C feels when you first step indoors on a hot summer day.
A sign on the M8 motorway last week in Glasgow, Scotland. Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images hide caption
A sign on the M8 motorway last week in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
To stop the spread of the coronavirus, health officials have a favorite refrain: After being in a city or region where there have been a lot of COVID-19 cases, spend 14 days in quarantine even if you feel perfectly fine — don't leave your house. Coming from New York? 14-day quarantine. Arriving in Hawaii? 14-day quarantine. Been in Italy or China or Iran recently? 14-day quarantine.
"That's a long-standing public health practice, and it's called 'traveler's quarantine,' " explains Lindsay Wiley, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law. "Fourteen days is not a made-up number here — it's based on what we know so far about COVID-19, and it's possible that over time we'll see that number change as we learn more [about the virus]."
The 14-day rule is widespread because public health agencies around the world work together on these guidelines. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the quarantine period, and its counterpart organizations do so abroad, all in concert with the World Health Organization.
If you're one of the many people who are being asked to quarantine for a fortnight, you might be asking: Why 14 days, exactly?
The answer has to do with how viruses invade cells and replicate.
Once a virus infects someone — a host — it takes some time for the virus to make enough copies of itself that the host begins to shed the virus, through coughs or sneezes, for instance. (That's the way the host helps the virus spread to other people — who are then new hosts.) This is the virus' incubation period. For us hosts, it's generally the time between when we're first infected and when we start shedding the virus, which may be a little before we start experiencing symptoms.
"The incubation period varies from virus to virus and sometimes from host to host," says Rachel Graham, a virologist at the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health.
For the virus that causes COVID-19 — its official name is SARS-CoV-2 — researchers have found that the typical incubation period is about five days. About 97% of the people who get infected and develop symptoms will do so within 11 to 12 days, and about 99% will within 14 days.
Canadian border agents are handing people entering Canada a sheet from the Public Health Agency of Canada that instructs them to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for any symptoms that might signal COVID-19. Selena Simmons-Duffin/NPR hide caption
So that 14-day quarantine is being considered the outside "safety" margin, Graham says, to be certain you haven't developed an infection that you could spread to others.
With two similar viruses, SARS and MERS, the incubation periods are a little shorter, with most people developing symptoms within 10 days. Those viruses also had a higher proportion of people experiencing more severe symptoms, which made it easier to define the end of the "safety" window.
There's a big open question with the coronavirus that makes these quarantine recommendations trickier than usual: It's not yet clear how common it is for people who are infected but not showing symptoms — at least not yet — to shed the virus. That answer has been particularly tough to nail down in the U.S. because testing for COVID-19 is not yet widespread.
An illustration created at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conveys a likeness of the coronavirus that's behind the current pandemic. CDC hide caption
An illustration created at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conveys a likeness of the coronavirus that's behind the current pandemic.
"It's still a big black box as to how much asymptomatic spread is contributing to the increased number of cases that we're seeing," Graham says.
And even if you don't develop any coronavirus symptoms during the two-week quarantine period, you're not totally off the hook when it ends, says Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist at the health care system HonorHealth in Phoenix.
It'll be just as important to continue washing your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough, avoid touching your face and wipe down doorknobs and other surfaces frequently touched by many people — to help keep yourself and others healthy.
"If you're using hand hygiene, [if] you're still practicing social distancing and all those other infection control measures that are being encouraged right now, you're going to help break that chain of infection," she says. "Once you're past that 14 days, you still want to engage in those practices — it's not a free-for-all."
Fourteen days can feel like a long time to be stuck at home feeling fine. But if someone under quarantine starts to develop symptoms — such as coughing or fever — that quarantine period will be longer. If that happens, Graham says, you should check with your health care provider or your local health department about when it is safe to emerge from home.
"They're probably going to tell you that you're going to have to start that 14-day count all over again, because right now there's not an efficient way to tell the difference between the coronavirus and another viral infection that causes similar symptoms without a test," she says.
"Keep monitoring your symptoms — if they worsen, then you have to take additional steps," such as seeking medical attention if you develop shortness of breath. Assuming your symptoms are mild enough that you can recover at home, you'll continue to be in isolation for the duration of your illness and a few days after you feel well. Your doctor will guide you about when and how to seek a confirmatory test.
It's helpful to understand the rationale behind these quarantine recommendations, says Wiley, because they're likely to be part of the new American reality for many months to come, as virus hot spots move around the country.
"As we start to get a sense for where community transmission levels are high and where they're low — in the areas where it's low, there's going to be a desire to return to some degree of normalcy," Wiley says. Those areas will be protective of their low levels of virus and will want to keep newcomers quarantined until it's safe for them to roam.
Survey your loss or damage. Go through your house room by room and record everything that's damaged or missing.
Contact your insurer. File a claim or follow up on the claim you already filed with your insurance company.
Reward good deeds. Bring back gifts to the neighbor who watched your home — copious ones if that person dealt with an emergency during your absence.
Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.
Life has thrown suffering your way and propelled you on a truth-seeking path. There's no turning back. If you're anything like me, you've meditated, gone to workshops, read books, listened to the masters. You've healed your past-life traumas and embraced your shadows. You've been feeling incrementally better, and theoretically wiser. Because you're almost a spiritual Wikipedia by now. You know every spiritual concept and healing modality and positive affirmation out there. What else can they teach you?
But just as you became almost content treading the sensible path of human improvement inch by inch, it started- the mysterious process of real transformation, which takes you by storm and throws all the spiritual rules you learned out of the window. It's chaotic, explosive, confusing, yet at the same time the most intelligent and elegant process ever. If you know what I'm talking about, good for you. If you suspect you know what I'm talking about because it is happening to you right now, then read on.
All the mystics who came before you, be it Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, or Snoopy, had periods of disappearance into the void- the empty spots on the timeline of their life when it seemed they had suddenly dropped off the edge of the planet. Nobody knew where they were and what they were doing. They went alone, they went within, relinquishing their old limited identity and becoming something more expanded, powerful, and closer to their true self. In a sense what you're experiencing is similar. Except that they had a desert or a cave to go to, instead of living in midtown Manhattan and riding the metro to work everyday. Now we don't have that many caves left to legally occupy. But that doesn't mean the archetypal process of spiritual transformation has changed in its essence.
Despite sounding benign, the kind of spiritual shift I'm talking about is most likely inconvenient to your daily life and worse, makes you question your own sanity. Because from an outside perspective, what you're experiencing. um. sucks. (A catholic monk once wrote a book about how much it sucked for him. You've likely heard of the book. It has a depressing name. But I feel the author is more than a bit masochistic. So, reader beware.) Maybe the most maddening part is that you don't know where it is going- you're certainly not the one in control. Many things can happen in the process, including.
1. Your mind is empty.
Sometimes it feels like your mind has been sent for service at the dealer shop. You may not even be aware of its absence-we take it for granted too much- until you need it for reading a newspaper or crunching some serious numbers. And then to your great horror, you realize you can't comprehend any written words and have lost the ability to count. I'm not even talking in metaphor. you don't feel like meditating anymore. In fact, you don't feel like doing anything much of the time, which makes you an extremely boring person to be around. Although you've been slacking on meditation and all of your other spiritual "practices", you have the strange feeling that you're actually meditating all the time, even when you're brushing your teeth or doing the laundry. It is true--you're meditating 24/7, mostly without your conscious awareness. Thoughts run through you faster than ever. One moment you have a lot of them. The next thing you know, they've all disappeared out of thin air and leave you totally empty. Sometimes your mind is so vacant that you want to puke, or punch someone in the face. Yet you notice an underlining stillness in you no matter where you go. Sound contradictory? Trust me, they're not.
2. You're cut off from the world and oddly, you feel OK about it.
You feel like you're living in the middle of a desert, alone. No matter how gregarious you used to be, by the middle of this you probably find yourself alarmingly isolated. All your social charms are gone. You don't even know how to talk properly (because your mind is on leave). Yet most of the time you feel just fine without company. Aloneness is rich and meditative and seldom lonely. You don't have much desire to connect with the world anyway. In fact, you've become so sensitive that if you go to over-crowded venues, after a while you feel dizzy and overwhelmed. You find yourself sort of withdrawn energetically even when you're interacting with others. And if your head is stuffed with spiritual doctrines, this would freak you out, because being spiritually advanced means you should be as open as possible, no? No. The alchemical change process needs space to happen. When the caterpillar is morphing, you don't cut the chrysalis and expose it to the open air. Similarly, things are happening in you that the eyes can't see. Listen to your body. And don't force yourself to be any other way than what every cell of you wants to be.
3. You're riding a roller coaster for no reason.
One day you feel sublime and free. The next day you're driven into the ground and you don't even know why. Nothing bad has happened, but you feel like a stinky sock soaked in the rain, miserable and heavy. You have nobody to complain to, others don't understand what you're complaining about. Not even your shrinks or your shamans. (They can't help with your case, because you're not sick, the most they can do is to not misdiagnose you. So go ahead and fire them already.) Besides, you don't have the language to describe your condition to others- too few people have experienced it, and those who experienced it never talked with each other enough to develop a consensus-based lingo. You are feeling this way because a new system is being constructed in you, while the heavy debris of your old structure is burning away. You're simply smothered by the ashes. Try not to engage with the dark thoughts accompanying the smoke. Know that they are not yours anymore. They're just saying goodbye.
4. You need lots, and lots, and lots of rest.
Otherwise you are tired all the time. If you want to take a nap after breakfast, consider this your new normal (and go ahead and lie down). All the growth and reconfiguration in you takes enormous amount of energy. Think of your body as a computer changing operating system. In between systems the machine seems stunned and can hardly perform any function. If you don't expect your computer to be productive during those paradigm shifting time, be even more patient with your own inner computer. Respect your body's instinct. Keep it well rested and nourished. And stop scolding yourself for being "lazy".
5. You occupy your body differently.
There's more space in your body, like you're wearing a loose-fitting shirt. You have a more flexible relationship with the physical entity you occupy, instead of being imprisoned in it. That doesn't mean you're zoned out. No, you're not going anywhere else. But you're present in a way that feels like freedom. Yet too much freedom can be eerie in the beginning.
6. Sleep is always an adventure.
Sometimes you have such wild and vivid dreams that you know you'd get rich by turning them into best-selling novels, but you wake up not remembering a thing. Other times you're sure you didn't have any dreams. But you know the whole night you have been traveling, lifting weight, undergoing surgeries, intensely working on. something. You just wish you knew what that something was. No wonder you wake up feeling exhausted, like you haven't slept at all.
7. The outcomes of your worldly pursuits don't concern you as much.
Of course it'd be nice if you get this job or keep that relationship. But you're way less attached to them than you used to be. Because like it or not, the focus of your life has gone through some subtle shifts- it's now focused on giving birth to your own transformed self. Just like someone who's pregnant, your days implicitly revolve around the new life forming in you. You're busy with what's happening inside you and any other goals feel like distraction. However, none of this may be obvious to your conscious mind. You may start wondering if you've become too passive when it comes to pursuing the normal goals of life. Yet if you go against your own inner knowing and start your world-conquering missions now, you'd find that none of your actions yield much result. And you're doubly exhausted in the end. Thankfully, you care less and less about what others think of you. And you may find that people like to be around you, even though you haven't done anything to please them. The collective consciousness has a lighter grip on you. And your perception has grown that allows you to differentiate between thoughts and desires originated from your deeper self and those that are mere inheritance from the collective.
You are being trained to be a different kind of human. Ok, that's not exactly right. Because you're in fact the trainer, the trainee, and the spectator, all in one. You're learning to merge your identity with all there is, the powerful force that makes the earth turn and the stars shine, so that when you say the word "I", you'll mean so much more than the facade of your little human will, and the entire universe will be at your back.
But all these strange happenings are likely to upset your mind. Fear, guilt and shame may rush in. Sure, you're going through something. But how do you know this is not simply depression, or a flu, or some new genre of craziness that hasn't been properly labeled in the psychiatry textbooks? Your mind demands an answer. Well, that's why articles like this exist. This blog post is for your mind. Because the rest of you doesn't need anybody to tell it what's going on. It knows. In fact, your inner knowing is now stronger than ever. It just takes a while for your mind to catch up and start trusting it.
It's ok. Let your mind do its job. But try to listen to the deeper voice inside you. Get a medical check if it helps reassure your mind. Rest well and eat healthy. Be gentle on yourself. Be loving. Don't beat yourself up when you are not acting the way you "think" you should. This is the best time to practice self love. And better yet, If you can find mutual support from someone who's experiencing a similar process, high five!
What will happen when you finally come out of the dungeon? No, angels won't descend from heaven and there won't be any red carpet welcoming you to the fifth dimension. But you won't need them anyway. Because you will find that more than ever, you feel clear, free and at home just where you are. You may go out into the world and make a splash, or not, depending on what unique role you are called to play in the grand theater of the universe. But one thing for sure is that you will be a source of light and strength, in a much confused world. Indeed, it's a rare blessing to be you.
Many people relocate because they feel that there's something missing and think they'll find it elsewhere. But before you move in an attempt to fill that void, make sure you've exhausted all of your options in your current location.
If you feel like you're lacking a strong social circle, have you attended networking events or joined a local club or sports team to make new friends? If you're in a dead-end job, have you truly put in the time and dedication a job search warrants? If you're seeking more culture, have you looked into the showtimes for local plays or researched nearby art galleries and upcoming art fairs?
Put in all the effort you can before you decide to pick up your life and move. This is especially true if you're relatively new to your area — give yourself time to explore, evolve, and adjust.