Florida Resident (again)

OK, some time back I was a Florida Resident “for a while”. On that cycle the Banana Boat was my vehicle of choice.

I made several postings on that last turn upon the wheel.

I’ve now accepted another contract in Florida.
So, as of now, I am once again a resident of Florida.

Things will be a bit chaotic as I settle in on that side of the continent.
Please bear with me as all this sorts out.

The spouse will be joining me “soon enough”.
Her school year needs to end first.

This cycle I’m traveling in an SLC. That particular model was popular in Europe, less so in the USA. It is a Mercedes SL class car, but with a tiny back seat suited to kids or grocery bags, and with a hard top. It will be a bit of a challenge fitting what usually goes into a wagon, instead into a sports car.

A 450 SLC, while mine is a 380….

I have a 380 SLC; which has about the same horsepower as the 450 SLC, but is of smaller engine, weight, and smog equipment…

It cost me about $10k, about 20 years ago… (No, I could not buy a new one now…)

They are a fairly unique car. Rumor has it they will return in 2016…

I love the way they look like they are moving fast, even when parked…

Mine needs paint, an upholstery ‘redo’, and a bit of repair where my daughter decided to explore “parking garage post dynamics” and car width… but it ought to get me to Floria Just Fine (when it will become my “daily driver”… )

An interesting point, that… A 32 year old car as a “daily driver”… And folks wonder why I like really old Mercedes… Yes, it takes about $2k / year of maintenance if you drive it daily. Yes, it’s not new. Yet, for a $2k to $4k up front ticket, you can drive one hell of a car for the next decade or two. I bought this car when my daughter was in my lap. Now she is a college graduate. I’m about to drive it across a continent. Then to work every day for a year or two. I’m OK with that…

OK, with that said, I’m “On the road again”. So you may not hear much from me for a couple of days at a time. It depends entirely on what is available in terms of Wi-Fi and when / where I stop for gas.

So for folks “West of the Mississippi” who wanted to get together or “do lunch”, sorry, but I’m not here anymore. Perhaps on a visit we can hit a brew pub. For folks in Georgia to Florida, well: We be neighbors now…

More as time permits. For now, I’m driving…

Willie, where ever you are, I love you, man! (Sheryl too!)

You have no idea how much “on the road again” touches the hearts of Road Warriors everywhere. (Well, maybe you do… you spend a fair amount of time on the road yourself…) If ever the opportunity presents, I’d be proud to “share one” with you. (Your choice as to “one of what” ;-)

Once again, I’m a Road Warrior. Yes, I’m a “computer geek”. Not significantly different from a Road Warrior long haul trucker or a Road Warrior musician. One does “bits and bytes”. One does “bags and boxes”. One does “notes and tunes”. So? We are all “on the road again”… and covering this country from coast to coast. Doing what we do so that our family can be fed and cared for. So that the needs are met.

With that, it’s time for me to pack the car, and see what all I can manage in a record setting coast to coast run ;-)

Well…. 1/2 ;-)

I’ve done it in 56 hours before… but that had one night in a hotel in New Mexico as I was traveling with family and they, for some unexpected reason, though it unreasonable to drive for 48 hours non-stop ;-)

At any rate, I expect to be a bit more leisurely as I’m not a kid any more. I figure on 64 hours, minimum…

With that, time to, as George Carlin put it: “Pack your shit, folks, we’re going away”…

So that’s what I’m doing…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest, Humor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Florida Resident (again)

  1. nzrobin says:

    Safe travels and all the best in the new job.

  2. R. de Haan says:

    Great car, I’ll bet you haven’t lost any money on the car since you bought it. You can buy nice leather interior and turn it into a pristine classic for little money and navigate the roads for another 30 years since the mechanics of these cars is bullet proof if you stick to the maintenance intervals. I wish you good luck with the job and safe traveling.

  3. Bloke down the pub says:

    But your carbon foot-print! Oh the humanity!

    Enjoy the journey, I’m sure you will.

  4. omanuel says:

    Send me a message or give me a call (573-DELETED) and I’ll buy you lunch or dinner if you pass near Cape Girardeau, MO (100 miles S of St Louis).

    [Reply: Not a good idea to put your phone number where spammers can get it… so I’ve removed (and saved a copy) the number. -E.M.Smith]

  5. Richard Ilfeld says:

    welcome back — just in time for hurricane season. and summer….ah, the things we have to do to earn a living.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    Was it the electricity prices? Or did global warming send you to Florida? It’s been doing strange things lately.
    They’ve opened up a ski resort in the French Pyrenees in June, for the first time ever. A cold winter and spring have left plenty of snow, and as the resort had to close several times in winter because of “too much snow” this may help their finances. (NoTricksZone)

    Seriously, drive safely and best wishes in your new position.

  7. Gail Combs says:

    Congratulations on the new contract and drive safely. If I recall Gallopingcamel is in Florida. maybe some of us East Coast types can get together.

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    Willie and Sheryl…the old america spirit, now being substituted by a frankenstein-like ideology. Gotto revive that spirit again!

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Gail Combs:

    Yes, G.C. is over by the Space Coast. Stayed there for a night last time (and put a comment n a posting about a nice brew-pub where we met up…)

    Also over that way:


    which I hope to revisit ;-)


    Thanks! Madly repacking bags trying to get the size down ;-)

    @R. de Haan:

    Well… It’s pretty run down now. The upholstery is shot and the passenger side needs some body and paint work on the rear fender… When it’s had a ‘redo’ on those, yes, it will be worth closer to what I paid. BUT I bought it a long time ago, and didn’t haggle at all, just wanted it… Still, with a ‘fix up’ it could match that price.

    FWIW, the “top end” had a ‘redo’ at about 270,000 miles. In only a few years, and only in the 380 engine, they tried going to a “single timing chain” on the cams. It runs in a plastic guide. Tends to eventually jump the track, and then you do a new top end job… I didn’t know that (or that there was a dual cam chain kit you could put on). So this one didn’t make to this point without about $2k to $3k of engine rebuild… (I don’t remember exactly.. it was a decade+ ago…)

    There are a fair number of old SLs out here, and folks (especially rich folks) just get tired of them and they sell cheap when they need work. (One needed an engine rebuild of some degree – maybe $2k? – so was just left with the mechanic to become a ‘parts car’. Better condition than mine, but the owner just didn’t want to fix it… ) So somewhere around 300,000 miles, a moment comes. Pay a couple of grand for some major fix (to have a $50,000 to $60,000 car… ) or look at Kelly book and say “it’s not worth it for a $3000 car”… Some get fixed, more get crushed. Eventually a few are all that’s left and then prices rise for “collectors”…

    So mine has great mechanicals now (the rebuild was maybe 40,000 miles ago?) but needs interior / body / paint. I’m OK with that… But it will never be a “collectable” as it has had body damage. So will just be a “way cool daily driver”… Probably for the “rest of my days” ;-)

    @Bloke Down The Pub:

    Yes, I really really like when I put my foot in the carbon ;-) Vroom Vroom!

    (Gets about 17 mpg around town, but on the freeway it gets into the low 20s. It’s pretty sleek, but heavy. I could likely hit 30 mpg if I kept it anywhere near 55 … but with the speed limit at 70 to even 80 in some parts of Texas ;-) well, it’s closer to 20… )

    The power is a bit less than the 450 SL or SLC, but it had to be detuned for smog, so the 380 is much better gas economy while having nearly the same power (I know, not really nearly the same… but since any time I punch it it is more than I need, I just don’t see why I ought to pay to haul around that much more engine I never use… I once saw a 230 that is an inline 6 with a manual transmission… God I wanted it… but the spouse thought that having 2 or 3 cars for each of us was just too many ;-) At any rate, the larger engines do not give linear more power as they have ever more detuning to meet smog. If out of California and you can take off the smog gear, you can get a huge increase in power. There are some years (’70s?) where the “as sold” power was highest, and those get the most collector interest.

    If you look closely at the windows, you will notice a set of ‘louvers’ at the back of the rear window. That’s the added 18 inches of length in this chassis compared to the SL. Makes it just look longer and sleeker… And gives you a functional if small rear seat ;-)


    We’ll see which way I end up going, and if I end up near by, I’ll call. As it stands, I’m likely to pass a bit south of you, but will likely depend on floods in Texas vs tornadoes in places north…

    @Richard Ilfeld:

    So far I’ve managed to not be there for a hurricane… Hope they keep on missing me ;-)

    @Graeme No.3:

    Pretty simple, really. Florida has no State income tax, so that’s an 11% “raise” right there. Sales tax is about 4% lower too. So we’re at 15%. Then prices run a lot lower too (I’d guess about 10% to 20% depending on just what) plus housing is a LOT cheaper (a California house that runs $1/2 Million would be about $50,000 in Florida… yes, I’ve priced them…) Now add in that electricity here is about 30 ¢ / kW-hr headed to $1/2 / kW-hr (up to $1 for time of day pricing in the central valley in summer…) and more…

    Basically, California is a nice place “to be from” and not so nice a place to try making a living and all.

    So a load of data centers and “start ups” folded their tents and left Silicon Valley. I made a decent living out of a few square miles of Silicon Valley where “there was always something new” starting up or shutting down. Needing an I.T. guy in a hurry. Then, about 10 years back, it just died. I’ve back past the old areas many times. Lots of “for rent” signs. Lately the “tech” offices have become things like Chiropractors offices and other kinds of retail. Apple put up a giant data center… in one of the Carolinas… (north, I think…) not here.

    So when you have one place with the attitude that “Fiscal beatings will continue until business attitude improves” and the other where even folks at minimum wage can own a home; well, it’s just not a hard decision.

    Besides, Florida has a warm ocean while California is about 50 F on a hot summer day (and nearer to 40 F and below in winter – especially in the North half …) so you can actually swim in their ocean and not be frozen ;-) (Yes, need to watch for salt water crocs and gators, but hey, nowhere’s perfect ;-)

    So there’s a better climate, better cost of living, better “things to do”, and a thriving economy without an imploding government with exploding budget looking to tax, confiscate, fee, fine and punish everything that moves… and most that doesn’t… Just why would I want to stay in California and get a share of Gov. Moonbeam’s $10 Billion? debt and rising expenditures for a ‘Train to nowhere’ and ‘river in a hole in the ground’? Last I looked, all in, the projections were running out to over $100 Billion… but that was a few years ago… This article had it at $68 Billion for the train, but that’s way out of date now… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9310511/Buyers-remorse-for-Californias-bullet-train-to-nowhere.html while this one puts the “river in a hole in the ground” at $23 Billion http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/26/local/la-me-water-tunnel-20120726 yet that’s just the opening gambit. Things usually “over double”… So those two things ALONE will run about $10,000 debt for my family… but only if I stay here…

  10. philjourdan says:

    We made it in 56 hours (San Diego to Norfolk) back in 68. I-40 was not complete yet, so we did part of it on Route 66. But we had a van (and 4 of us kids!), and 2 drivers (parents alternated).

    And I love the SL as well. While it is technically an antique, it is still as sleek and sweet looking at the say it rolled off the assembly line.

    As for the “Jet” lag, just remember, towards the ocean is east! The rest comes easy after that. ;-)

  11. Verity Jones says:

    Beautiful car – “…they look like they are moving fast, even when parked…” just what I was thinking when I saw the photo. Safe travels.

  12. pyromancer76 says:

    You must be getting close. Congratulations on your contract and move. Daughter’s graduation, Spouse’s retirement, and “freedom”, to California’s great, great loss. I wish Florida was worthy of you, with the Trayvon Martin thuggishness, the BGI industry, police departments cooking the books for errant (criminal) black students (lots of excellent investigative reporting on conservativetreehouse.com), bought and sold politics (and attorneys general and judges), Marco’s sellout for open immigration with no borders — but, as you said, Celts manage. Just didn’t want you to over-idealize Florida vs Kalifornia! Hope you find acreage plus a house; we still need farming, gardening, and bunny stories (bunnies in Florida?), along with all the IT, AGW scam exposed, comet-asteroid studies, resonances, etc. etc. We Californians will continue to follow faithfully. Bon voyage to the whole family. Very best wishes.

    Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
    Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
    Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
    Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
    Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
    Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

    Elegant, in Portuguese — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksncy-nnigA

    More traditional (Irish) American — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c95TtyqbRhE

    And enjoy good Florida parties — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT7fK872RRM

  13. R. de Haan says:

    E. M, found exactly one 350 SLC on the web that looks original and in good condition but still needs work for 7500 euro’s, re-imported from the USA. http://www.autoscout24.de/DetailsGTM.aspx?id=231688565&cd=635027661860000000&asrc=st

    These cars are getting scarce. Just a matter of time for prices going up. Maybe you can do the bodywork in Mexico and find a nice interior at the scrap yard.

    The 450 SL soft top already goes for 25k: http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/mercedes_benz/450sl/1575419.html

  14. R. de Haan says:

    With one SLC I mean in Germany of all places. Not so long ago you would find an SL or SLC with every used car dealer. This is a sign these cars are getting rare.

  15. Lynn Clark says:

    About six years ago I starting thinking about buying some kind of 4-door sedan so I’d have room for more than one other person on the somewhat rare occasions I needed the space. Was thinking about something like a Toyota Camry. Two guys I worked with owned nearly-identical 2002 Mercedes C32 AMGs and one of them sent out an email that his was on the market. I’d ridden several times in the one not on the market and liked it. After a short test drive I bought it. Best car I’ve ever owned, hands down. For those who don’t know what an “AMG” is, AMG is the performance division of Mercedes. What AMG does is take a “normal” Mercedes (mine started life as a C320), essentially re-builds it for performance (AMG drivetrain, transmission, suspension, wheels, brakes, hand-built engine and interior), and rebrands it as an “AMG”; in my case changed the “C320” to “C32”. All AMG engines are hand-built by one guy at the AMG factory. Starting with the 2003 model year they started having the guy attach a small plate with his name on the engine so you know who built it. The C32 has a supercharged six-cylinder 3.2 liter engine (the side badging has the German word “Kompressor”, meaning “Supercharger”). Gets about 20 MPG around town, around 24-25 on the highway. I don’t drive like an idiot — almost always on cruise control on the speed limit — but have had it to 145 MPH a few times out in sparsely-populated northeast Colorado (top speed is rev-limited to 155). Even at 100+ MPH it accelerates like a ruined bat out of hell. Quite a rush. It’s a perfect blend of performance and luxury. The only fly in the ointment is that you either have to do your own maintenance or find a good, independent mechanic who knows Mercedes Benz cars. Otherwise you get into the “$1,000 carwash” maintenance program (every time you take it to a Mercedes dealer’s shop the bill is at least $1,000 — often way more — but including a “free” car wash; some dealers are better than others). Unfortunately, my relatively inexpensive, good, independent mechanic packed up and moved his whole operation from Colorado to Riverside, California last year right after he did the 5,000 mile service. The silver lining is that I inadvertently left my Contour HD camera on in the car while he was doing the service, so I got everything he did on video, and realized there wasn’t anything I couldn’t easily do myself. I’ve already added all the exact same replacement items (oil/air filters, etc.) that he used to an Amazon wish list, so the next time 5,000 miles rolls around, it’ll be easy to get everything I need to do the work myself for “free” (including a car wash). Anything more involved than a routine 5,000 mile service, I might just be crazy enough to take/ship it to Riverside, CA (especially if I follow through with my plot to move to Nevada). ;-)

    So yeah, I never thought I’d buy a Mercedes, but I’m REALLY glad I lucked into buying this car, so I think I understand how you feel about your 380 SLC.

  16. Kalifornia’s loss is Florida’s gain!

    Florida is a large state so I hope you won’t be too far away.

  17. Sera says:

    And you can visit your friends in GA in case of a hurricane evac- you have a place to stay.

  18. punmaster says:

    Best wishes to you.
    Good looking cars, those models.

    Many years ago, I bought a Freightliner tractor and became a trucker. Somewhere close to the end of the first year, one of my brothers called and asked, ” Can I borrow $500″ I said, ” Yes. Why do you need it?” He said, ” I want to buy a Mercedes diesel.” It was an old car, 1960, I think, and this was 1976. He bought it, drove it for several months, until his mechanic told him it would need
    some expensive work soon, then he sold it.

    From time to time someone would ask me, ” Do you make any money owning a truck? ” I always smiled and said, ” I made enough money my first year to buy a Mercedes Benz.” They always looked at me in awe. No one ever asked what model or year.

  19. Ralph B says:

    Not too much seismic activity here either. The only thing I pay more for now since moving from MA is house insurance. Property taxes are way less…trash pickup is included, no need to buy stickers or special bags…and I get great NE seafood cheaper than in Essex. Need I mention Key Lime pie?
    It is a shame though…California should be the place people want to live, not leave.
    Welcome to the Sunshine State!

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    Expected seismic and volcanic activity this weekend, according to Michele Casati:

  21. Steve C says:

    Safe journey (or hope you had one) – and I’ll add a voice to the chorus of approval for that old Merc, a beautiful piece of engineering. Best of all, I’d guess there isn’t a transistor, still less a chip, anywhere outside its radio.

    And, should that job work out well (as in pretty spectacularly well …), you might consider trading up to one of these – do read the article, it’s unusual to see such a nicely written piece of text in the MSM, and even more gratifyingly unusual to find someone capable of engineering something to this sort of awesome spec:

    We can dream …

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ralph B:

    Thanks! Do like the low prices and lots of seafood ;-)


    Looks like they had a tiny tornado in Italy too…
    @Steve C:

    OMG, what a car!

    I’ve delayed my departure by a day (see recent posting) due to weather.

    The SLC has a couple of transistors in the Cruise Control (that doesn’t work – they fail early on this era Benz… then again, I never use it and I think Mercedes wasn’t fond of putting them on anyway… it looks a bit of a ‘glue on’…) Not sure about the “electronic ignition”… but maybe.

    The fuel injection is all mechanical, even the “brains” parts ;-) and the transmission is old school hydraulic brains. (“Modern” GM style do it with chips and fail way too fast…. if the clutch slips and it shuts down, then you restart, and it slips again… IIRC you get three of those then it “blows its brains out” and prevents you limping the car in as you might hurt something… Why I don’t buy GM products…)

    So to the best of my knowledge, it’s just radio and cruise control with the ‘ignition control’ being inside metal covers. Making this one of my EMP proof cars ;-) Not as usable as the Diesel Wagon in a post EMP world, but still, nice to think of it as a “survival ride” ;-) IFF the ignition has any electronics, they look to be encapsulated into pretty good shielding and I’ve never seen any reports of failure.

    It does tend to ‘just run’ ;-) Likely I could retrofit the older points ignition distributor for true mechanical ignition, but it’s not worth it, even post EMP… With the engine inside a metal shroud of hood /body / etc. and ground under it, then the ignition module pretty well shielded anyway (keeping noise out of radios, I think), and not prone to failure. I don’t see a problem.

    Oh, and it never ever nags me with “check engine” lights or voice nags…

  23. Gail Combs says:

    EM I can understand why you are in love with your Mercedes. We bought one Dodge (I hate Dodge) with a Cummins diesel and then bought a second a few years later. My first Pkup (1992) has over a half million miles and is still hauling trailers every weekend for my business and so is hubby’s 93.

    Is your move permanent?

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    It will be permanent if the job is extended. It will be temporary if the contract wraps up prior to any new job.

  25. jim2 says:

    As a programmer, I’m interested in the more mundane question of the nature of your contract. Are you doing what we call “legacy” stuff – like Cobal/Mainframe? Some other legacy platform? Something newer? What with all the outsourcing and H1B expansion and just generally being nosy, I’m curious.

  26. Geoff Sherwood says:

    I posted a comment a while back during a previous trip of yours to Florida (you were giving a review of some Orlando restaurant if I recall) offering a kayak trip on the Hillsborough river near Tampa. You didn’t have the time then, and I’m in Ireland now through the first week of August. Should you still be around after that the offer stands. I find it pretty amazing — just a few miles from Tampa (on a nice flat calm river) surrounded by nature that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years (other than the change from wet season to dry which is pretty dramatic!).

  27. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m under non-disclosure. Best I can say is that it is more “management consulting” than “technical bits and bites”.

  28. BobN says:

    When looking for a place, ask how far to the nearest sink hole.
    Almost moved to Sanibel Island years ago.

  29. Stephen Wilde says:

    I run a 1988 Mercedes 500 SEC and a 1993 320 CE as daily drivers. Both are coupes but with good rear passenger space and large boots (trunks?).

    No depreciation on either and the repair costs far less than depreciation would be on a recent model.

    Should see me out.

  30. E.M.Smith says:


    A friend lives in “Lake County” known for all it’s nice round lakes …. ;-)

    @Stephen Wilde:

    Ah, yes, love the coupes… My 240 D has all of 120,000 or so miles on it. I could not drive the 400,000 to 800,000 miles it would take to wear it out in all my remaining years… It will need new paint, though ;-)

    The 300 TD is going to get an engine rebuild and new paint as well. So the spouse will be ‘set for life too’. (Then the 300 TE will eventually get an engine ‘do over’… it’s at some odd ‘approaching 300 k’ so likely just a year or three more…) That gives each of us 2 cars, any one of which is ‘enough’. At that point I don’t care what crap they mandate and load up on new cars. Not my problem… No black boxes, no computers on board.

    I just drove a 1981 car with nearly 300,000 miles on it (so 32 years old) coast to coast stopping only for gas and ONE night in a hotel. Now it will be my daily driver “for the duration”. I’d not even think of doing that with several other makes…

    FWIW, I almost got a 300 CD … the Diesel version of the 2 door coupe. Phenomenal car, but I already had too many cars… Oh well.

  31. Stephen Wilde says:

    “At that point I don’t care what crap they mandate and load up on new cars”


    I found that by the late 80s most vehicles had all the features that were either essential or sensibly useful for the intended purpose and everything added since has just been a marketing ploy with little or no real world utility and a high prospect of expensive failure which prejudices longevity.

    Mercedes had the complexity / utility / longevity balance right from the late 80s to the mid 90s.

    Nice to hear that you have a whole stable of their products.and use them in the manner they were built for.

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