I was in Miami for a few days earlier this week, for work. Rough job, I know. To be honest, I’d been unofficially trying to go my whole life without ever setting foot in Florida, what with it being…you know, fucked. Still, I was invited to a conference, so I went.

I wasn’t really staying in Miami, at least not the Miami most of us think about. The conference was out in Doral at the Trump Hotel. There were no signs of it being a douchey Trump property, except that when you turned on the TV it would auto-play a random Trump speech. So I got to know the location of the mute button on the remote real quick.

Still, the weather was nice and they had a bar by the pool, so I spent a fair amount of off-conference time hanging out there and drinking Cigar City Jai Alai IPAs with friends. Related: our server didn’t know what Jai Alai is, or how to pronounce it, so I had to teach her. Related to related: I am old.

One other highlight: a vendor took a bunch of us out to dinner in South Beach, at Bazaar in the SLS hotel. We had a private room (which people kept sneaking up to, thinking there were celebrities inside…once they saw it was just a bunch of nerds they looked disappointed and slunk away) for dinner, which was pretty damn great. A quick scan of the menu produced some of the tapas dishes we shared, but not all: chinese buns w/ pork belly; cones full of salmon roe and dill cream cheese; hamachi w/ pickled onions, sour orange; dragon fruit ceviche w/ tuna, pecans, lime, hibiscus; brussels sprouts w/ “lemon air”; bone marrow w/ Caribbean white truffles, florida citrus, capers; Cuban coffee-rubbed churrasco; endives w/ goat cheese, oranges, marcona almonds, orange dressing; sautéed shrimp w/ garlic, parsley, lemon, guindilla pepper; croquetas de pollo; tacos made of jamón ibérico and caviar; and for dessert, some amazing churros with peanut butter.

The night was marred only by the fact that our transportation from the hotel to the restaurant was a Ford Hummer Killer, an enormous stretch SUV limo, which poisoned my very soul. I also got into it a bit with a Republican (or, more likely, Tea Partier) on the drive home re: the relative merits of socialized healthcare. Or, in my more aggressive moments, the “fucking travesty” of the US healthcare system. So, there was that. Oh, and Jamie Foxx ate dinner at the restaurant just as we were leaving, so people were all agog and agape.

All in all, though, it was a good trip. Though I am in no way attractive enough to hang out in South Beach, I’d be willing to visit Miami again. Not the rest of Florida though; that state is messed up.

At last: winter

Snow drifting on our balcony
Snow drifting on our balcony

After not having much of a winter last year I suspect we’re in for a rough one this time around. Yesterday was cold and messy and made for slow driving, but it’s been so long in coming that people seemed to enjoy it. It was actually quite beautiful for a few hours, until the exhaust had at it.

The next time I’m in a howling February snowstorm I’m sure I’ll forget ever saying this, but I like winter. I like having snow on the ground, even if I have to walk through it, and miss it when there’s none about on December 25th. The feeling of still sub-zero air is one of my favourites, especially when I’m in the woods of my family’s farm or in the Rockies or standing in a downtown Toronto plaza, deserted on a weekend.

Obviously I can see the appeal of living in a place with no cold weather, but I think I’d miss it pretty quickly. I’d miss the variety it provides in the year, and the feeling of sheer joy we all get when spring arrives. Most Canadians with no tolerance for snow just move south to Florida or Arizona, but there’s not enough sunshine in the world to make me move to a state so monumentally damaged. Case in point.