Friday, May 20

Does Jacksonville Get Double The Rain of Central Florida?

Total yearly rain Jax

I've heard the assertion twice (from people in The Villages) that Jacksonville gets double the rain of Central Florida. Or at least twice the opportunity for rain. It made sense to me (sort of), since we sometimes get rain that comes across the Panhandle and we also get the daily summer rain like Orlando. But is it true, or is this something realtors in The Villages tell people to keep them away from the slightly better climate (ie seasons) and actual beaches in Northeast Florida? It's a question that retirees comparing The Villages and communities in the Jacksonville area might want to take into consideration. The answer is that it's kind of true and kind of not true, but not for the reasons I'd assumed. 

My hypothesis was that Jacksonville would probably have more total rain than The Villages, partially because it would have way more total days with at least some precipitation. The reasoning here is that since we get both storms that cross the country AND daily summer rain, we'd have more rainy days, which should lead to more total rain. I found that Jacksonville, on average, has a lot more rain than The Villages (51 inches versus 42 inches). That's nine inches more rain per year. Or close to 20% more rain. So one part of my hypothesis is correct.
Total yearly rain the Villages

However (and this is kind of strange), when you look at total days that had more precipitation than 0, then Jacksonville has fewer days with measurable rain than The Villages:

Jax days with rain


 
days with rain in the Villages

Jacksonville generally gets 110 days with precipitation, while The Villages has 121, and it happens with one more day per month, not all at one time (like a rainy season would be). For comparison, Milwaukee (my hometown), has 124 days with some kind of precipitation, including snow, sleet, freezing rain, cold November rain, groppel, and other cold forms of water. Seattle, which is known for rain, gets 165 days of rain every year, which is nearly half of the days of the year, and way more than Jax. Phoenix, on the other hand, has 33 days with rain. 

I tried to tell if lighting strikes might indicate that Jacksonville simply gets more storms while The Villages just has more rainy days, but lightning strikes don't seem to be much different. One source I read showed Tampa as #1 in the country, Jacksonville at #9, and Orlando at #14. Since The Villages is kind of between Orlando and Tampa, its lightning strike totals ought to be somewhere in between, like Jacksonville. It's also worth noting that one online source shows Jax as the top Florida city for lightning. Also, Lakeland, Cape Coral, Hialeah, West Palm Beach, Pembroke Pines, Miami Gardens, and plenty more, have more lightning strikes than cities in other states. Basically, I don't think it matters where you live in Florida if lightning is your kryptonite. 

But the rain was surprising to me. If you're considering retirement in Florida, The Villages would be free of most hurricane activity and torrential rains, resulting in 20% less rain than in Jacksonville. However, if you want fewer total days of rain (potentially more days on the golf course or shopping at Nordstrom's), then Jacksonville might be a better fit. Also, if you want a Nordstrom's, Ethan Allen, Louis Vuitton, Dillard's, a Rolex store, or various other high-end shopping spots, then you might consider a larger metro than The Villages, though I did see there's a Costco coming soon. And if you're into the fish game arcades that some Florida counties have, we've done away with them in Duval. 

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Related Stories
 Why Rome, Italy, and The Villages, FL, Are Similar, And Why It Matters
 Retiree Guide to JAX
 A Newbie Experiences a Hurricane: Irma 2017
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Tuesday, May 3

Stealing From a Church and Teaching Kids That it's OK


A mom and daughter team was caught on camera stealing from a local church (Kernan and McCormick area) on 4-30-2022. Because of the age difference seen by a witness, it's assumed mother and daughter, but it could be some other relationship, like mentor/mentee. Apparently, they stole pavers surrounding a tree. The vehicle appears to be a 2017-2020 Nissan Pathfinder with Florida tags that begin with DQ (I could not verify the letters with the resolution of the image I saw). It's red with gray trim and a silver roof rack. The window tint looks dark in the photo. It's actually a nice-looking vehicle. 

On NextDoor, it was the usual array of comments to the post. Most people condemned the act, but a few had to weigh-in with comments like, "Send it to FBI to enhance the visibility of the license plate." And, "Pretty judgy group of people here. Maybe she mistakenly thought they were being tossed or had permission. But who knows right?" If that commenter had read all the posts, he would have known the answer.

Some people wanted the church to avoid involving the police and just reach out to the family "in need." Perhaps it wasn't clear that the original post was from a representative of the church, and it was confirmed that nobody was given permission to take the items. Anyhow, most people just said it was sad or wrong, with some advocating for the police to know about it.  

The matter, as far as I can tell, was never resolved. It wasn't addressed at the church or school level, even though there's a chance the family involved had some kind of connection to one of these entities. I think the church probably wanted someone in the community (via NextDoor) to admit to the crime or identify a neighbor so that it could be resolved with a stern message and without alerting church and school members to potential crime/safety issues. However, the post never uncovered a culprit, so it seems the real winners are the people who own a fairly new Nissan Pathfinder capable of hauling all kinds of free stuff from local properties. 

Search New Jax Witty
Related Stories

Jacksonville Vehicle Pet Peeves: Overtint

I'm Not Sure Stealing From Overflowing Salvation Army Donation Bins Is Stealing

 Guy in Blue VW Probably Deserves What He Gets
Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
McNewsy - Creative Writing
Educabana - Educational Resources
Brave New Church - Church Website Design
Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

Contact Me

Monday, April 25

She Used to be a Star; Now She Works in Jacksonville--Nope

For over a year, I've been seeing these clickbait stories that show a photo of Julia Stiles along with a title that she was once a star and now things are totally different. The truth is that she was a minor star who decided to finish college and therefore never became a major star, but the article title would have you believe she got on drugs, chose the wrong movies, decided to work 9 to 5, or otherwise did something to ruin her stardom. The latest iteration of this story in my "personalized" clickbait ads says that Julia Stiles used to be a star but now works in Jacksonville. 

Instead of clicking on the bait, I looked her up, though the top articles about her seemed to be on clickbait sites, anyhow. The problem is that Julia Stiles (and any former Hollywood actress you might see in a similar article) isn't working in Jacksonville. She's not down on her luck. She didn't ruin her career. She doesn't have tons of regret from something in the past. She doesn't look strangely old. She's just an actress in a successful TV series I've never heard of.

But talk about a manipulative and consistent click bait strategy. I'd been seeing fake-ish article links for months about this actress. I was able to resist because I didn't care all that much and figured it was probably gossip. However, once the algorithm (or whatever it is) added my own city to the story, I was obliged to find out if this former Hollywood starlet did, in fact, take a job at JaxPort or a local Whataburger. Alas, no. Her TV series does not film in Jax, and she does not have any appearances scheduled for the area. Sorry, guys, this particular star from your high school or college years is not working at the St Johns Town Center. 

Julia, if you're reading this, I really do hope that someday you will take a job at a local fish camp or at least retire to a house on one of our fine beaches. Not that you're old or should even consider retiring. Also, I am glad that you're not just a 9 to 5 working stiff like the rest of us. And always remember that I love the way you talk to me and how you cut your hair and the way you drive your car and when you stare and combat boots and rhyming. And laugh and cry. Blah blah blah.

Sunday, April 17

Goodwill Store at Kernan and McCormick is Either Good or Bad For Neighbors

My son and I were debating what might go in at Kernan and McCormick because I had yet to read the Jacksonville Daily Record article that would have given me the answer. Cheapo corrugated exterior with a drive-thru, but too big to be a fast food restaurant. After guessing at a funeral home or medical center, I found out that it's going to be a Goodwill Store. And I'm not sure what to think. 

The Goodwill will be our closest business (that's not a church). In some ways it's odd that Goodwill got the corner store when any one of three churches could have established a thrift store at the same corner. But I'm not sure I would have gone to my pastor (we attend one of those churches) and pushed to have a thrift store less than a mile from my house. I don't know if having this kind of store is bad or good for the hood. 

I tried to find any kind of statistical analysis of thrift stores and crime. My wife was concerned about the clientele that might shop within striking distance of our home. My kids were more worried about my wife deciding to donate all kinds of items behind their backs on the way to work. Either way, I couldn't find any proof that more crime happens when a Goodwill or other thrift store is near your house. Or if people who live close to a Goodwill donate more items than those who live further away. We know the batting average of a player at home at night in June when the dew point is above 70, but we don't know if thrift stores cause crime. 

Strip clubs seem to cause crime, at least in Jacksonville, so I'm glad the new Goodwill is not a gentlemen's establishment. I'm especially glad it's not some kind of Goodwill that transitions into a strip club after 9PM. Also, whatever those fishing game places were also brought crime. And gas stations, I think. The gas stations that are near thrift stores and wooded areas seem especially sketchy to me, but just the thrift store on its own, not so much.

Crimes might occur at places like massage parlors, tanning salons, laundromats, or other places people tend to get naked, but I didn't really research these establishments because Goodwill stores aren't massage parlors.

I guess I'm glad the Goodwill isn't a bar, even if I would probably like being able to walk to a watering hole like I could back in Milwaukee. Bars can probably cause some trouble. Liquor stores, too. Sure, you can buy a lightly-used set of wine glasses from Goodwill, but you'll have to head over to Monument to fill those glasses with booze.

If some guy named Zeke in a pickup wants to drive through my neighborhood on garbage day and take my old patio furniture before the garbage truck, I don't really mind. And if he just happens to be in the area because he also likes to hang out at Goodwill, no big deal. But if he decides to dismantle my catalytic converter from my car in my driveway, then it's a problem. 

I suppose if we had a Rolex store go in on the corner, we'd have nothing to worry about, but our local demographics don't support building a Rolex store. Which is probably my biggest concern, actually. Someone, somewhere thought that our local demographics will support a thrift store. That's kind of a reflection of who Goodwill thinks lives around me. My guess would have been a gun shop or pickup truck accessory store.

Anyhow, if you're looking for some DVDs or worn-out shoes, there will be a new store in Jacksonville for you to shop at the corner of Kernan and McCormick.

Monday, March 28

Man For Rent to do Nothing in Jacksonville

I read about the Japanese dude who rents himself out to do nothing, and I kind of want the gig here in Jacksonville. I'd heard about middle-aged men renting themselves out to give advice to youngsters, but I think I might actually be better at this doing nothing thing. In fact, I should be your first choice in renting someone who doesn't have to do anything while being somewhere with you.

The Japanese man says he'll talk when people want to chit-chat, but he's not in it for friendships. I can totally do that. I'm a good friend, a good wingman at pubs, and a good conversationalist when I'm interested in a topic, but I'm also an introvert who would rather avoid other people most of the time. I'm perfectly satisfied to stand around various places in relative silence. Sometimes, I'll sit and stare into the back yard for twenty minutes. If you want me to sit and stare into your yard with you, that's perfectly fine. I can even stare into your yard while you do laundry or watch soap operas.

Unlike other men for rent to do nothing in Jacksonville, I am perfectly capable of not doing anything. I won't mansplain at you or debate with you or try to make you a sugar baby or bff. Nope, I'm good. But if you don't want to visit the art museum or take your yacht on the Intracoastal alone, I'm the best option around. Better than an ex or that freeloading cousin from Palatka, anyhow. I'm even willing to hang out at a Jags game or some other local minor league game. I know a lot about sports, but I have no interest in local teams, so you don't have to worry about me swearing my fool head off. But I also won't go on my phone and ignore you or the game. I'll do my job, which is to do nothing.

I don't do drugs and I'm not a booze hound. I literally like any music--I used to listen to the Hmong hour in Milwaukee Sunday mornings on WMSE just because it was something different--so I'll go to any concert with you while doing nothing there. I'm artsy but not pretentious. I have more college credits than many PhDs, but you wouldn't guess it... unless we get into a deep conversation (we won't). I even speak French, but I probably won't be saying anything to you in French unless you know how to ask me a question in that language, and then it would just be to answer the question, like "Oui" or "Non." I won't try to sell you anything more than my presence, and I'm not generally embarrassed by how others look or act--I've got some stories I could tell you about that, but I won't. Most of all, I'm not going to tell you that you're doing it all wrong like your dad might do: I'm not there to do anything but be there.

I suppose there are some rules. You can't dress me up in a scary clown suit and have me frighten kids or use me as a mule for your drug transaction. Nothing illegal or immoral. No overnights to Monaco or Akron. Maybe Monaco. No dating or date-like handsy stuff, boy or girl. That's doing something, and my job would be to do nothing. That said, you can request that I smile or nod approvingly, like when I watch my kids play sports. And if you insist on doing something, you pay for all of the expenses. I'll drive if you want to pay for the gas and mileage, but I'm not coming over to help you move your sofa to your new apartment.

If you want to stop feeling lonely all alone and would rather feel lonely next to another person, I am that person. Use the contact form to hire me to do nothing with you. It'll really be something.

Friday, March 25

Jacksonville Native Calls Hometown Most Mediocre City, Unclear if That's Bad or Good

I recently met an educated Jax native who has traveled the world and lived in many locations who told he that he saw his hometown as the most mediocre city in the world. After saying it was mediocre, he detailed ways in which the city represents the median. High school graduation, household income, and the like. Looking at TIAA Stadium is a good example of mediocrity. If you've ever attended a game there, then you know what a mediocre stadium is like. You could pick and choose stats, like number of seats or screen size, but it's an overall mediocre experience. 

Mediocre is a decent word to use to describe Jacksonville's downtown experience. It's spread out, there are some homeless sections, and it's not altogether a huge destination, but it's also an inexpensive place to visit with several entertainment options. And if you count the South Bank and Five Points as part of downtown, it stacks up mediocrely with other cities of around 1 million people.

As far as schools, I'd vote for mediocre. It's not the worst but it's not very good. Police, parks, roads, sidewalks, public spaces, private partnerships, poverty, race, etc. Nothing special. Not even a tall building or orange-roofed landing to distinguish us.

I want to agree with my new acquaintance that Jacksonville is, in fact, fairly mediocre. In lots of ways. But that's not entirely bad all the time, and it's also fairly typical of large metro areas. I guess some of us would like it to become better than mediocre. Maybe someday. Until then, read articles on this website to discover ways to fix Jax.

Wednesday, March 23

Solar Ponds or Salt Ponds in Jacksonville, FL

I didn't invent the solar pond. However, I had an impression that sunlight on a pond might create energy somehow. I was right, but the salt pond doesn't exactly work the way I'd imagined (or much at all, I think). And since they serve a different purpose from our current retention ponds, it's not exactly a good fit in Jacksonville. 

The basic idea behind a solar pond is that you have a pond -- or something more like a giant in-ground swimming pool with black lining -- that's filled with three layers of water. The bottom layer is super-salt water, in that it's been salinated while boiling until it's like 20% salt. The next layer is somewhat salty, but I don't know the exact percentage. The top layer is fresh water. If the water is clear, sunlight will heat the pond, and the bottom layer, through the magic of either thermodynamics or chemistry, will heat to 170 degrees or higher. This hot water can be used to heat homes or make steam power to use less energy or something. It could help to create the heat for hot water heaters, but you can't use this weirdly-hot pond water as tap water for tubby time, partially because leaving the water in the pond and relatively undisturbed is what makes the magic happen. And it would be gross.

Because you want a clear layer of fresh water to drive the solar pond, Jacksonville's heavy rain storms on the hottest days would likely hurt efficiency. I could imagine a solar pond working in the desert or Southern California, though I assume the cool nights would have similar negative impacts. One report I saw from Iowa said that the water layers had to be replaced too often for the system to make a real economic impact. Granted, a study pond on a university campus is different from a huge lake created in the desert, but it seems the smaller-scale projects would need to be more successful before we see huge tracts of land used for the purpose of heating water.

If solar ponds could be dual-purpose, I could see them in the 904. However, our current ponds function to prevent flooding, store polluting run-off, and scare the hell out of parents with toddlers. Imagine how much scarier it would be to know that you could be boiled alive if you fell into your backyard pond. Also, oil from roads, stray soda cans from recycling carts, and organic material like grass clippings would probably all adversely affect the salt ponds. We'd also have to say goodbye to fish, turtles, and birds because I don't think anything could live in or near a solar pond, no matter how "green" it sounds.

I'm still optimistic that some other use for all of our ponds will be developed, even if salt ponds or hydroponics won't really work. Maybe something related to tides or waves or algae harvesting. Or just using the water on our lawns for irrigation.

Thursday, December 23

Duval Student Registration Still Sucks

Another year, another child having to enroll in DCPS from a private school. The website and process is so bad that it's laughable. So bad that I blocked it from my mind or it got worse from last year. Maybe some of both. But it should have been easier with one kid already in the system. It's just not. Dumb, stupid, bad. And I'm not even close to done as I write this.

If you don't have a kid already enrolled, then you can have the fun of creating your own focus account as you also try to navigate the student sign-up. I, however, had my own focus account with all the clunky information it provides, including a link to enrolling a new student, for some reason found under a documents tab.

I went through the 20+ web page document to sign my second child up. You're told at some point which documents to upload but not on the upload page, so I think I missed a couple. And I can't go back now, since I hit submit. I also don't have the auto-generated student ID because I hit submit and then navigated to my parent portal to link the account. But since I didn't copy the ID, it disappeared somewhere in the outer limits of the internet because the email confirmation did not include the ID. 
The form itself caused me to make this mistake because I had to physically choose "English" as my language three times rather than it be default. I even had to choose NA twice instead of the default N/A, which always resulted in an error. I was also told to toggle on the mailing address if it was the same as my home address, but toggling it on left it open to fill out the form. Poor instructions and a form designed by complete amateurs. And I forgot to upload a birth certificate, so I tried to add that later and was told I could not log back in and that i already had a student number associated with my kid. But I never got the number because that page disappeared. And the link to a page that might help in the email confirmation I received was a broken link. Obviously it was. So I think I'm stuck having to call an office that probably has to hand-write all the info I've already filled in the forms.

Normally, I can get something done when I finally get through to a human at DCPS, which is often better in person. But it's overall a terrible experience that probably cost us taxpayers an obscene amount of money.

[Update]
I received word that I'd have to finish the registration by going in to my child's school, which, of course, is wrong. If you're transferring in and listed as an applicant (maybe moreso if trying for an accelerated program), you actually have to link the parent to student accounts at the school choice office. And why? Are there dozens of St. John's County parents trying to fake their way into DCPS? 

Not surprisingly, the school choice office was closed over the Christmas break, just before the time to register for the new year. Or just when parents of transfer students would also have off. I mean, really, how much do people in this office really do most of the year? And then when they are actually needed, they're on vacation. When I showed after the holiday, I was told (for no reason other than to be bitchy) that I hadn't put the student's current grade on the form, which was technically impossible based on the aforementioned form. I also needed my password, which I didn't have readily available, and which was not offered by the employee, in order to use their coviddy community computer kiosk to finish the link between parent and student. Obviously, it took logging in and about eight clicks in order to get to the right place. The staff also forgot to return my license to me, which was just the icing to the cake that Duval schools let's us eat.

[Update 2]
I showed up at Fletcher to sign up for AICE from a private school. Having already been accepted to AICE and Duval Schools (and dealing with the madness above) two years in a row, I still had to turn in extra copies of birth certificates and whatnot to the school.
Also, there was no parking and no contact telling all the parents we could use student lot for parking. 

Thursday, December 2

Chicago Bears Bar Jacksonville

I've met several Bears fans since I've moved to Jacksonville, and I've asked them if they have a bar to call home on game day. I know there were two Packers bars in Jax, now down to one, but fans of Smoking Jay Cutler need a local establishment in which to drown their sorrows. Even though I'm a Packers fan, I'm here to help.

Here's what you do. Drive your best BMW. The one that still has the Illinois vanity plate that reflects how refined you are. Head on over to Gates Gas Station on Moncrief Road. Be sure to drive like a FISH up Moncrief and never mind the railroad tracks. When you get to Gates Gas Station, pull in to ask for directions to the special Bears bar. Say, "So hey there, do yous guys knows where da Bears bar is at?" Keep your doors unlocked because someone might want to get in and help guide you.

If that's a little too complicated for you, I've heard really good things about the Flight 747 Liquor Store & Lounge Bar up by the airport. Lots of jetsetters along with a tangy local flavor. Just like Chicago. Or maybe Rockford. And there's an adjacent motel, just in case you want to stick around and start over at 11am after yet another painful loss and too many Lovies Lemonades.

And remember that when your next ex-QB doesn't work out, Tim Tebow lives in Jacksonville. Just saying.



Logical Interstate Naming Alternative

I've lived in three major cities, always near interstates and bypasses. Milwaukee's I-94, Kansas City's I-35, and Jacksonville's I-95. The 894, 235, and 295 circled these cities, making travel faster. However, the directional naming of these roads often left folks from out of town confused. Honestly, even people who live in the locales probably get confused. But there's a simple fix that can apply to all interstate bypasses that go around a city, and it makes so much sense that I'm sure it's been proposed before. I have to wonder why this naming has never been adopted. 

My initial idea was to identify clockwise or counterclockwise. I think it would work after some time of people imagining themselves looking down on a map from above. For example, the 295 counterclockwise from the airport in Jacksonville would indicate you are going west and then south. These could also be called inside and outside, since clockwise would always be on the inside while counterclockwise would always be on the outside. 50 years ago or even 20 years ago, this naming scheme would have saved countless headaches and probably some lives. But most of us no longer think of a city from a north-up map or clocks with dials, and the time that people might need in order to imagine where they are in relation to being clockwise might prove excessive.

The key is identifying initial actual direction AND future directions. By adding three directions to the name of the bypass at any given point,  drivers will be able to know precisely where they are AND where they are headed (without thinking too hard).  The same 295 westbound (counterclockwise) near Jacksonville's airport as above would be called 295 wse.  In fact, the current naming calls one direction northbound and the other southbound near the airport (north side of town) and near Orange Park (south end of Jax). But both roads really go south from the airport and north from Orange Park. Circular roads need different naming than straight roads. So from Orange Park, you'd take 295 enw towards the Beaches or wne towards Baldwin. Along the 10 on the west side, you might take 295 nes towards the airport and 295 sen towards Orange Park. But on Atlantic Avenue further east, you'd take 295 nws towards the airport and 295 swn towards Orange Park. If you know generally where you are in relation to the center of the circle, this naming scheme is perfect. You'd still need to see signs for Daytona Beach or Savannah in order to understand which road you'd need to continue on the 95, but for people trying to use the bypass for local navigation the multi-directional system is best. 
In a perfect world with extra-large signs, I suppose you could combine both of my ideas, so the 295 crossing the Dames Point towards the airport in Jacksonville would be 295 nws out. Taking it even further, you could add 95 intersection with a bold or capitalized letter, so 295 nWs indicates the 95 intersects with the 295 as it heads west. If you were getting on the same road at Main Street, it would be 295 WsE, but getting on at Duval Rd (on the other side of the 95 interchange) would be 295 wsE because the 295 does not intersect with the 95 in this direction until Mandarin. I know, at some point maybe it's TMI, but the directional attributes could really be bolted on to existing signs, at least at decision-making points near ramps.

Even accidents should be reported more logically with my system. Instead of saying "accident w295 nb near Orange Park," you'd say "accident in295 wnE near Orange Park." That's the inside, clockwise road that heads west and then north but does not intersect the 95 until it heads back east. Knowing this information, a traveler could decide to take 95 north through downtown or go enW on the outside 295 to avoid the accident.
I'm sure that an idea like mine will probably never be implemented, especially with the prevalence of navigation devices, but I consider it a better system than currently exists, so it's just unfortunate I published the idea a few decades too late. Perhaps it can be used in naming the air roads for the flying cars we're all waiting to purchase.

Wednesday, November 24

Jacksonville Vehicle Pet Peeves: Overtint

I understand the need to be ultra cool, as well as the desire to protect the interior and exterior of your vehicle. However, there is a reason for the laws we have (or I hope we have) in Florida that limit the amount and locations of tint on vehicles. There's also common sense and aesthetics. Overtinting or All-Blacking your entire vehicle is annoying and dangerous.

Windows
Too many tinted windows are dangerous to both other drivers and pedestrians. I'm pretty much okay with tinted backseat windows even if they still limit visibility, but front windows especially for the driver need to remain clear to the outside. The driver should be able to be seen by other drivers as well as pedestrians. Whether at a four way stop, a pedestrian crosswalk, or while merging in traffic, tinted windows limit this interaction with other drivers and pedestrians. On a single day walking down by the beaches, I had two situations where the driver could not tell me whether to go or not go while in a crosswalk because of tinted windows. I ended up crossing both times, but if either driver had been distracted, I would not have known until it was too late. Making a left turn across from a driver who has tinted windows makes that maneuver much more difficult as well. Even if a vehicle has all other windows tinted, a dark windshield this simply insane. Yet I've seen tint all around. In fact, in a 20-minute drive at rush hour, roughly half of the cars I counted had obscured views of the driver from the side windows, while around 5% of the vehicles obscured the driver at the front windshield, as well. I have good vision, so when I say obscured, I mean a person with good vision cannot make out any discernable features from any distance. Age, sex, race, etc. Sure, tinted windows can eliminate racial profiling along with any kind of profiling or identification of the drivers or passengers. Seat belts? Texting? Who knows?

Lights
Clear light housings are annoying because they get cloudy. And they look kind of stupid in the back of the car. And when you buy a slightly different colored bulb, everyone can see your mistake. At the other extreme, we have tinted light housings, or covers, or tint film cut to cover. Whatever you use to darken your lights, it's just plain stupid, or at least dangerous, because it takes lights that have been approved for on-road use and lowers their efficacy. You as the driver might see less with tinted headlights, but just as importantly, others will not be able to see you at night. And during the day, suddenly your turn signals (I realize they are totally optional in Jax) sometimes can't be seen at all. If you must, use a black Sharpie and add a black border, or maybe a little smokey tint around the outside of the functional part of the light. Or add a ridiculous black spoiler and call it a day.

License Plates
My wallet has a slot for my license that is made out of some kind of dark mesh. You can't really see the license through the mesh, unlike the clear plastic in some wallets. However, police officers, bouncers, and other gatekeepers have always asked me to take my license out of the wallet, whether it was in clear plastic or dark mesh. The goal is to be able to fully inspect the identification. Tinted license plate covers attempt to obscure a vehicle's single most important identifier. 
License plates tell other drivers and authorities where you are from and whether the vehicle is being operated legally, as tags indicate a registration and proof of insurance. Police officers and governments have the right to access even more information based on the plates. Since operating a motor vehicle is a privilege rather than a right, and showing proof of that privilege is mandatory, obscuring the proof is illegal. I am surprised that I see several illegally-darkened license plates every day, yet I got pulled over in Florida for not having a light bulb over my plate. I recently saw a tinted plate with two bright bulbs surrounding it, and I couldn't even make out which state the plate was from. My plates were clearly visible during the day and with a little police work (a flashlight) at night. My opinion is that people with tinted plates need to be pulled over and forced to hand the covers over to law enforcement.

Wheels and Trim
When folks go all-black, they can't forget to cheapify the wheels and trim. Delete the chrome accents for black plastic, and turn those painted aluminum wheels into GM-spec steel wheels sans wheel covers. I was at a dealership recently when a couple asked about getting the nice- looking showroom vehicle but only if it had black rims. It wasn't even a black car, so they just wanted their new red car to have wheels that look as if they haven't been cleaned in five years. That's their choice, I guess, but it was a $300 upcharge per wheel. In other words, the couple wanted to pay an extra $1,200 for trendy wheels that will probably decrease resale value of the car once the trend wears off. (Like all those poor saps installing ridiculous barn doors in their remodels.) Listen to me people, you might think you want a white Ford Explorer SUV with black wheels now, but after realizing you just bought a police cruiser, you'll probably regret it. Or strap on a luggage rack cross beam to really mess with people. 
I do have to admit that there's nothing illegal about black rims or trim.  It's annoying to me because I apparently don't understand the aesthetic beauty in the combination of black tires with black wheels. Maybe if tires came in a rainbow of colors...but I digress even further. 
In the end, as long as your tint and black accents aren't illegal, all I can do is scoff at your lack of refinement. And even if your tinted add-ons ARE illegal, I can't do much about that, either, except write an article on this website and hope you click on one of the ads for tinted whatever so I can make fifty cents.

Sunday, October 17

Cecil Commerce Center Parkway: CCCP?

I know folks in Jacksonville like to shorten long names of roads and bridges. For example, the James Turner Butler highway is the JTB to locals. 

I wonder if locals over on the west side like to call the Cecil Commerce Center Parkway the CCCP. If so, I wonder if those commrades remember why it's probably not an appropriate acronym in America. Or maybe it's OK at this point?

Anyhow, for those of you who don't remember rotary-dial telephones and magnetic audio cassettes, the CCCP was what the Soviet Union called itself. Or at least what Russia called itself when included in the Soviet Union, which it called the USSR, or CCCP in Russian.
 I'm not sure all of the member states ever bought into either name. Like Poland. I'm sure most people there thought they were still Polish and lived in Poland, even if Russia told them they lived in the USSR and the USA said they lived in the Soviet Union. But I'm not positive because I did not live in post-WWII Poland. CCCP is the Russian acronym for Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. I suppose it could be Communists, Criminals, and Corrupt Politicians. 

Also, it's kind of ironic that the European Union is basically a Union of Republics that are essentially Socialist. So I guess both Stalin and JFK are rolling over in their graves.

Back to the Cecil Commerce Center Parkway. It's a stupidly long name, even before shortened to CCCP, which is too long as an acronym. Why not Cecil Parkway? Or just call it First Coast Expressway / FCE (its other name)? If you're going to name a road after someone with an obcenely long name, I understand the dilemma, but the powers that be shortened the main name to Cecil, as in Cecil Airport. Not Strategic Civilian Air Command at Cecil Field. I guess CCCP is better than Commander Henry Barton Cecil Commerce Center Parkway (CHBCCCP).

To me, it's just the toll road that saves two minutes while heading down Middleburg-way. And I guess toll roads are more of a representation of capitalism than communism, so whether it's CCCP, FCE, or whatever else, it's an American expressway and an excuse to get a license plate "protector."

Tuesday, July 20

Billboard Wars in Sports

In my hometown, just before Game 6 of the NBA Finals, a 'Go Suns" billboard appeared. That's like the Buffalo Bills having a "Go Bills" billboard in Jacksonville just before Trevor Lawrence's rookie season AFC Championship game. Or if the Packers got a "Go Pack Go" along the Arlington Expressway just before the Superbowl. 

Except the Suns billboard isn't just fantasy. A law firm from Phoenix really did buy a "Go Suns" billboard in my hometown of Milwaukee to have it revealed just before Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Clever? Yes. Acceptable? Not really. I'm not surprised someone from Phoenix needed to erect a sign to pump life into Chris Paul's flaccid Finals performance. However, the company that sells advertising space in my city should have more class. Then again, it's an advertising firm. And the company that bought the billboard? A law firm. Classy and more classy.

Gruber Law in Milwaukee has a One Call; That's All catchphrase. The figurehead lawyer is also a Bucks sponsor. No matter how many calls it takes, Gruber or someone else in Milwaukee needs to find a way to pay Phoenix back for the lack of respect. If nothing else, a "Bucks in six" billboard along the I-10.

I know sometimes Miller sends Milwaukee water to hurricane victims, so maybe send a semi trailer filled with Milwaukee Bucks water bottles and an exterior caption that reads, "Stay Thirsty, Phoenix." For a title and because it's the freakin desert.

I hope someone with deep pockets in Milwaukee gets on the horn and secures some sweet revenge, but the best revenge would be a Game 6 win and a title for a starved city (with plenty of water). And beer.

If you want to learn more about Milwaukee and Wisconsin, check out Real Wisconsin News.

Monday, June 14

Duval Schools Referendum: What it Means to Me

As someone who has not used the local public schools (for my kids) in the past, I didn't have much of an opinion about them. Even when I worked as a teacher in one of the not-so-great schools, the school district didn't matter all that much to me. This is because my kids weren't part of the school district. However, after researching options for local high schools, we decided to transition from a private K-8 school and into a Duval high school, so now funding for the schools DOES matter. Luckily, it mattered enough to other voters in order to pass a referendum in the 2020 election that will allow Jacksonville's schools to (finally) make some upgrades. 

Unfortunately, many of the upgrades will come in the form of tightened security and completing 
deferred maintenance. When a school district is underfunded for many years, that's kind of what happens, I guess. The security upgrades are obviously in response to the national rash of school shootings, and I also understand that expenditure, but it's still unfortunate that a percentage of the money allocated will have to be used for this. 

I also wanted to reiterate my opinion that a well-funded public school system is NOT a problem for private schools, since I'm sure some of those parents voted against the tax increase. If public schools are bad enough (and Duval was close to this tipping point), then families will continue to move to St. Johns or Clay, and your wonderful private school will be located in a less-desirable neighborhood. Your home, too. This is not to say that new or updated facilities will fix all of the problems in Duval schools. As a teacher at two different local middle schools, I can tell you that the behavior of the kids (always dictated by their parents) plays a much bigger role in the success of the schools than new classrooms. 

I am glad to see that new classrooms are a part of the equation. The school my kids will be attending is building (or has built) 32 classrooms. I hope. It's actually a testament to how poor the communication is in the district that parents of a student who will be attending a school that has $24 million to spend is not aware of how that money has been spent. But no one could tell me when volleyball season starts, either, so it's not a huge surprise. Anyhow, I am hopeful that 30-something classrooms will be added so that my kids won't be relegated to temporary portable trailer rooms. Of course, it's hard to believe we ever let that happen in the first place, but I'm hoping the sales tax money helps fix past wrongs so that I can funally benefit from the property taxes I've been paying since we've moved to Jax.

[UPDATE]
As of late June, 2021, no meaningful construction had begun at our kids' new school. That's pretty bad, as it was considered spendable money as soon as the measure passed. And all the schools had plans. I'll assume the construction will be starting any day now, but it's a disappointment that portables are still being used for summer activities rather than being recycled as tiny homes for the homeless.

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Sunday, June 13

Secret Beach is for Everyone, Just Not Now - Think Garbage Barge

I recently spoke with a former mayor of Atlantic Beach who told me that Secret Beach IS for me. And you. And all taxpayers. But there are some problems. 

Saturday, June 5

Leaving Passengers On Board Plane With Possible 'Device' Makes Sense?

I read that a Delta airlines plane coming into Jacksonville was diverted to a separate runway and then thoroughly searched for a 'device' of some kind. With all the passengers on the plane! I know the public isn't made aware of all the details in a case like this, but doesn't it seem like the opposite of the right way to search the plane?

I guess I'll have to assume someone sent a threat that maybe included the instructions that a bomb would go off if anyone was allowed to leave the plane. That's the only scenario that makes sense. It's like, "Send 50million crypto coins to this account or else I blow the plane. And if anyone tries to leave, I blow the plane."

However, in every other scenario under the friendly skies, I would say you get all the people off the damn plane FIRST. If it's a ticking time bomb somewhere on board or a passenger with a remote or something volatile in the cargo area, it seems to make sense to get the people out of there.

Imagine being one of the passengers stuck on a plane that has arrived without a problem, then being told by the pilot that there's a maintenance issue (which could obviously be fixed once everyone is off the plane), then being told the pilot lied and it's something else. You assume someone on board is a killer or drug czar. Or that there's a bomb. The last place you want to be is in your seat for three hours, just waiting to see if one of your fellow travelers finally cracks and takes the little kid in row 19 as a hostage. Or the whole plane blows up.

I'm sure this was all done by the book, but it seems to me the book has to be wrong. Since I don't have a background in law enforcement, I might be missing something. I just remember the time I was on the London Underground and saw an unattended bag sitting in the middle of the walkway for several stops, my anxiety skyrocketing until I (a total introvert) started asking every single passenger if the bag was theirs. I was floored by how others didn't seem to think a bag like this was a concern. I was considering picking the luggage up and throwing it (or myself) out the door at the next stop when someone several seats away grabbed it, but that was the most stressful ten minutes of my life because I was sure that bag was going to explode. That's not a feeling I wish on anyone, but many of the passengers in Jacksonville must have felt similarly. 

Call me a romantic, but I'd rather see everyone safely off an airplane that might explode even if there's a small chance the perp gets away. It's like a police car chase through a densely-populated part of town: I want the bad guy to get caught, but I don't want others to die just so that can happen. 

Anyhow, nothing was found, no one was arrested, and nobody died, so I guess it was "mission accomplished" for federal law enforcement.

Tuesday, May 18

Home Insurance Prices in Florida: What's Next?


I wrote about trying to find new insurance last year when I was dropped. This year, my new insurance guy (who I'd recommend over my last deadbeat and all the vultures I met last year), sent some rate comparisons out, along with an article I'd read about the soaring costs of Florida homeowners insurance. It's pretty bleak, and if you've been dropped, there may not be many options. 

Tuesday, May 11

Shooting, Archery, and Deadly Projectiles in Jacksonville

archery jacksonville florida

I received an email from a reader who had a question about bow shooting in Jacksonville. The reader had probably done research online before contacting me, and my own research led to likely the same conclusions, but I figured it was worth finding out. Here's the email:
"I live in a residential neighborhood in Jacksonville city limits. I found
out my neighbor has been target practicing with a compound bow in his back yard. I found this out when his target was missed and his arrow came thru my fence into my back yard. Is it legal to shoot a compound bow in the city limits?"

Monday, May 10

Dear Jacksonville Landlords: Sell NOW!

sell your jacksonville rental property

Full disclosure: I would rather live next to homeowner's than rental tenants. That's partially why I am writing this article, but it's also sound financial advice for landlords right now. Sell, sell, sell!

Why? I know a lot of Jacksonville Landlords got in to the real estate market after the 2008 fire sale. That was smart. You've made some good money. Now is your time to cash in and wait for your next conquest. In doing so, you will allow homeowners to live in my neighborhood with me rather than renters, which will make me happier.

Saturday, May 8

Florida Sports Seasons

florida sports seasons

As our kids prepare for high school, it's time to consider which sports they might play. Florida has different sports seasons than some other states, including Wisconsin (where I played), so it's important to know which sports are available here for the kids. The offi official Florida site makes you click twice for the following list:



FALL

Bowling
Cross Country
Football
Golf
Swimming & Diving
Volleyball (G)

WINTER

Basketball (B)
Basketball (G)
Competitive Cheerleading
Soccer
Weightlifting (G)
Wrestling

SPRING

Baseball
Flag Football
Lacrosse
Softball
Tennis
Track & Field
Volleyball (B)
Water Polo
Weightlifting (B)

In case you were wondering, I know that Wisconsin had soccer in the fall because I recall watching Cheri R. run around the soccer field after football practice...and my dad always said football teams lost some of our best d-backs to soccer. Some Wisconsin high school baseball teams played in summer rather than spring, mainly because our first games were generally snowed or rained-out. As far as I can tell, there is no official summer high school sport in Florida. Also, I don't really understand why there are two separate weightlifting seasons, unless it has to do with steroids/transgender issues. Flag football was not an option when I was in high school, and I'm not sure if it's a girls only thing or if guys have teams, too. I'm also not sure why the state seems to delineate with a B or G in basketball but not soccer, both in the winter. But mostly I wonder how anyone plays water polo, unless it's just in the shallow end like Marco Polo.


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