Tuesday, November 10

People Can Still Hear You, Even if You're Wearing a Mask

I realize that masks make talking and hearing others more difficult, and it also provides an odd sense of security that may or may not actually exist. While it's true people can't see all of your facial expressions, they can still hear you. However, if you're like me, your mask might entice you into forgetting that others can actually understand the words coming out of your mouth. 

Arlington Mural an Enigma and Kind of Silly

arlington mural jax




I've driven past the Arlington mural along the Arlington Expressway plenty of times by this point, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I know, it's art and individual and abstract, etc. But it's still supposed to mean something. To the artist, to residents, and to visitors. I'd like to make an attempt to decipher what the Arlington mural means in all or any of those contexts so that I can better explain it those who look to me for answers.


From an artist's perspective, I don't really know. Murals are huge, and they often resemble something painted by high schoolers with deeper meaning infused by 2nd graders. Always uplifting; bright future; justice; peace; hope. Often painted steps from a given city's worst "projects" housing. Those big smiles looking down on weekly violence.

Technically, I enjoy the Murray Hill mural because it kind of says, "Screw murals." A giant painting of Bill Murray, who isn't even the neighborhood namesake, is a poignant reminder of absolutely nothing. And if your part of town doesn't need affirmation from bold,smiling,god-sized children, then it's cool to have fun with the whole thing. Arlington is different, and someone seems to believe that the stereotypical mural (peppered with a few oddities) was the way to go.

I actually don't know who makes the decisions about murals in Jacksonville. I was never asked for my input on Arlington's mural. Maybe the city just arranges for an artist to get his or her hands on a building and leaves it at that. Maybe each community has a committee. I have to believe there are sketches and then some kind of discussion before the mural goes up. Then again, I believed that sort of thing would happen for major local developments, but it only really happens if neighbors get wind of a project. If nothing else, the artist probably drew something out and had someone critique the idea. Even if it's a mom who generally thinks everything the artist does is wonderful. Anyhow, the point is that there's probably a plan before the mural gets underway, as it's not just some graffiti hastily sprayed on an overpass. I only mention it because certain elements of the Arlington mural seem somewhat haphazard. Or they are intentional and artistic to a point I don't understand them.

Since the Arlington mural is a bit of an acrostic, we'll begin the analysis with the A and then move on to each letter in order to better understand the true meaning of the mural.

A

The A is written on a helmet that is Jaguar teal and also reads "Duuuval" and "904" (apparently in case it ever gets lost). However, it's not clear that the helmet is actually for football, as its adorning the head of a small Asian girl. Or boy. But we're talking kindergarten, so I assume it's more of a bike or scooter helmet. Maybe a street-crossing helmet. The white A is created with three strips of athletic tape being used, I would imagine, to repair a major crack in said helmet. Clever, yes, but also an opportunity to remind parents that cracked helmets need to be replaced immediately due to lack of efficacy. The A rectangle also has an animal pattern faintly added to the background. It may be Jaguar print, further implying a football franchise connection. The black smiley face sticker is an enigma, since it's not a sticker that tends to be used in reality, and the emoji version is old unicode and has no current meaning beyond being old-school.

The meaning of the A itself is a bit of a mystery to me. Based on other letters, it appears there is a meaning, but I'm not entirely sure here. Since we do see some kind of a helmet, A might represent Athletics, though I'm not sure Arlington is home to more athletes than any other part of Jacksonville. Any A, especially one that seems slightly jagged, could represent Anarchy, but the rest of the imagery does not support this interpretation. The most obvious association is that the A means Asian, being that this is the only Asian person depicted, but that would be kind of racially insensitive. It could stand for America, where throngs of Asians/girls have become pro football players. Achieve? Action? Angry? Animal? Aggressive? I don't know. My personal theory is that the artist was told to incorporate the Jaguars, Duuuval, 904, and an Asian somewhere in the mural, and the first tile was used to check all the boxes.


R

The R-rectangle is fairly straightforward, though surreal, with a young man in a barbershop chair getting his hair done...in the shape of the R. I believe the structural integrity of an afro is such that a shape such as an R cannot be sculpted. Maybe a pyramid or another solid shape could work. However, when I searched for hair sculptures, I was able to find elaborate creations using long hair, which is not what's implied in the mural. So the R isn't really possible, but what does it mean?

It could be that the R stands for Reality, an ironic word given the image. My daughter and I both surmised Razor because of the lines in the kid's hair, as well as the fact that he's seemingly wearing a covering to protect himself from the haircut he's receiving. I'm not sure how a razor is meaningful to the whole community. Arlington is known as a place to buy or fix a car, but I'm not sure barber shops are more prevalent than in other locales. Risque could be the word, since the haircut could be considered as such, along with part of Arlington's reputation as "Sin City." Respect would be a go-to mural concept, though it's not an obvious connection to the image. I guess it could be Race or Racism, but that seems to be creating an unnecessary discussion based on what we see. Same goes for Rap. Based on having taught some Duval middle school children, Reading could have been a better choice than whatever this represents: he could be holding a book as he gets his haircut.


Li

Remember when I questioned whether the mural artist had planned the whole project out or not? When every letter gets its own canvas except for two that are squeezed together, viewers might assume someone counted or divided wrong on the building. Or ran out of ideas. Regardless, Li ends up being one of the tiles. I figured perhaps the combined letters created an important word, but Li is just a Chinese unit of measurement. The image itself depicts the back of someone's head, presumably looking up at the partly cloudy skies before an afternoon rain storm. The hair is cut short and dyed (pink, green, and blue) to once again show an animal pattern, Jaguar or otherwise. Interestingly, the Li is not shaved into the head this time, but superimposed over the image. I imagine the word we are supposed to see is Lift or Light. Something beginning with Li. It could be a reference to "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which has a Jacksonville connection. Liberal? Listen? Life? I guess I expect my murals to have many right answers rather than no right answers/all wrong answers. Anything seems like a stretch and unrelated to both the previous tiles and the area of Arlington, or at least that's how I'm starting to feel as I move through the mural.


N

Just when it's not certain the letters in the mural mean anything at all, the N seems to represent a Night scene. Albeit an imaginary night scene, complete with a woman looking up at butterflies. Sure, there are some butterflies that fly around at night, and they're called moths. It's possible the enchanted-faced Black lady is mesmerized by Arlington's night-flying butterflies, or she may be enthralled by the stars. It is true that you can sort of see some stars in Arlington, sometimes, so I can buy stars and gigantic moths as a standard Night experience. Since there are 5,000 types of Nymphalidea butterflies, that could be the answer. Maybe dreaming during a Nap. Or this tile might be all about Nature, and maybe the stars are fireflies or mosquitoes getting electrocuted by one of those zapper lights.


G

In case anyone had any thoughts that this acrostic wasn’t really an acrostic, the G seems to most definitely stand for Giraffe. Because it depicts a giraffe. In Arlington. 100%, without a doubt, G is for Giraffe. Within Africa, there may be some Giraffes in Nigeria or Namibia, though I am not sure how those African countries relate to Jacksonville any more than does a random image of a Giraffe. In the painting, the G itself seems to represent the sun nearing sunset on the savannah. We can see an Acadia tree in the background, further indicating the scene is in Africa and not Arlington. Perhaps the meaning is more interpretive than literal, and we’re being encouraged to be more like the Giraffe. Long necks to watch out for our neighbors or something of that nature. If you see a Giraffe in your dreams, it might signify welfare and happiness, or that you currently can’t make your dreams come true. Personally, I’ve never seen a Giraffe in my dreams, but maybe people who drive by one every day on the Arlington Expressway do see them. Giraffes can also signify leadership, since tall people are often seen as leaders, and short people who are leaders will often pretend to be taller.


T

The T itself seems to be part of some industrial structure, maybe a bridge or the Arlington Expressway. And then there’s some abstract art in the background and foreground. Technology is kind of a blanket word for advancements in society, but we often don’t associate bridges with the word. I’m thinking Tacky could work, as there are parts of Arlington that fit this description, and the tile itself is kind of Tacky. Maybe Threshold, implying Arlington is on the cusp of greatness (or turning into the worst section of Jax). It could be Turbulent, since the art conflicts with the industrial scene, and people keep shooting at each other in Arlington.


O

Again, this tile seems to obviously imply Ocean (according to my daughter). I first saw it as Oprah, but then I looked closer to see all the waves surrounding the Ocean lady. The O itself could be a full moon behind Oprah the Ocean lady, maybe saying something about tides. I don’t know. The Ocean isn’t really part of Arlington, as it’s more of a river and rivulet part of town, but I guess the water is brackish. I suppose the word might really be Ominous, as Oprah the Ocean lady could flood Arlington during a hurricane.


N

The artist could be going for Nothing on Red Background for this tile. We can see some sort of plant life spreading, but it’s unclear if it’s in the water or on some red ground. Maybe it’s pond water in a jar. The closest plant I could find with an N is Nepeta, though I don’t know if it spreads in this way. I suppose it’s Nebulous, if nothing else.


Conclusion

The Arlington mural is a good example of the danger of an acrostic, whether meanings were forced or non-existent. A viewer is looking for all of the letters to mean something if some of the letters do. Even if we toss out the letter meanings individually, the mural as a whole seems to have no real message. Random people and scenes, which don’t fully (or even partially) represent a diverse area with an interesting history. For example, we have a movie studio in Arlington, and a university, some nature preserves, an outdated mall, a Fortune 500 company, lots of river access, and tons of slummy apartment complexes in between a sea of ranch-style.smallish homes. Kids play in culverts and swamps. People flock to various dollar-type stores. And there are all kinds of nonsensical diagonal streets that get you lost in sketchy neighborhoods with people fixing cars in their front lawns. That’s Arlington to most of us. Not Giraffes, weird hair choices, and Oprah. The best I can say about the Arlington mural is that it is not cliche, but that's not the same as saying it makes sense or inspires viewers. Also, if an elementary school put this whole mural together, I apologize for critiquing your ideas, but your teacher should have helped a little more.

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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)

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I'm From Milwaukee, And, Yes, The 2020 Election Results Are Normal

mke lakefront

I was forced to write this article because of the number of people I've encountered who, upon learning I'm from Milwaukee, make such statements as, "Your city really blew the election." I can't speak for Philadelphia, Detroit, or Atlanta, but I can tell you that election results coming in late and favoring Democrats is fairly typical in Wisconsin because of Milwaukee. If you take a look at the Wisconsin results, you'll see that Dane County (Madison) and Menominee County (87% Native American) had higher percentages in favor of Biden. Democrats will often win Milwaukee with over 60% of the vote, but not always. Clinton won 66% without ever visiting the state. Obama got 67% in 2012 and more total votes than Biden in 2020. Biden got 69%. That IS the highest percentage I could find for Milwaukee County, but it's still in the ballpark, so I wouldn't claim anything odd about the election there. 

Friday, October 30

Profiles in Courage: Judge Shore

According to USA Today, a local judge named Brad Shore might have broken some laws when he donated to President Trump's campaign, displayed political signs at his home, and cut off the press from watching how his team manages issues with ballots. Either it's a fake news nothing burger, or it's the exact reason we have rules for judges in these situations.

Wednesday, October 28

Another Case Against Pitbulls

pitbull attack jax


I'm sure some people in Jacksonville have already written me off as that guy who hates pitbulls for no reason. Even my own kids weren't really believers because "So-and-so has a nice Pitbull" or "Their dog is only part pit bull." But when one of these monsters comes charging out of a house in your own neighborhood and attacks your leashed dog on the sidewalk, that's when even the kids believe what I've been telling them.

Tuesday, October 6

Is Jacksonville a bad place to live?

jax

I was busy learning about Google Search and people finding my websites when I came across this question on Google, answered by a Quora forum post. That's kind of sad, right? People must ask if Jacksonville is a bad place to live a lot, which is why it ranks high on Google, but the answer comes from some random person's assessment. Since I am also some random person answering, it might as well be me. 

No, Jacksonville is not a bad place to live, relatively speaking.

Wednesday, September 30

Jacksonville High School Search - An Annotated List of Options for East Arlington Families

Jacksonville High School Auditorium

Let's say you've got kids, and like most parents, you want the best for them. Choosing the right high school for your kids can be complicated, especially if you haven't had to make similar choices in the past. I've decided to detail my search for the right high school in this article in the hopes that I can reference it as the time nears for enrolling my eldest child in high school, but my research might be able to help you, too. 

Thursday, September 17

Yes, It's STILL Selfish of You When You Don't Mask Up

I don't want to harp on this much more, but after Day 1 of my kids being back in school, I figured I'd give it one last go. Here's why it's selfish of you to not wear a mask.

I am sure you are clean and healthy and all that, but someone out there is sick. You might believe yourself to be strong-like-bull, too smart, or immune. Or you're ancient and think it's your time when it's your time. Please, feel free to play roulette with your 2nd Amendment souvenir, away from the rest of us. You are not too smart, healthy, or clean to catch a virus. You might well survive it, or you might never even know you had it because you're such a freakin Adonis. While you are asymptomatic, possibly for weeks, you could infect dozens of people because of your odd belief that viruses respect your freedom and patriotism and religion.

Soldiers give up many of their freedoms in order to serve our country, and you like soldiers. The best leaders also submit themselves to others. What did Jesus do, again? Good people give of themselves to protect others. You have the freedom to post idiotic rants on Twitter and drive around with a flag of a college/breakaway country you never attended/fought for, mainly because your stupidity in those cases cannot kill someone else. If you are a carrier of covid, and you infect three people who infect three people and so on, until it ends up in a retirement facility, then you just killed 20 senior citizens because you wanted to cry about wearing a face covering, which makes you a total snowflake.

It's not hard to do. Asians can do it, so we can, too. But we can do it better, like all the other stuff we do better than others. Even in Florida, most people actually wear shirts and shoes into stores. Remember when every store had a sign for that? People kind of know it's expected now that you cover your plantar warts and your back tattoos while shopping. And covid is much more serious than people getting grossed out by your yellow toenails. 

I once read an article about why men in one African nation with a huge AIDS outbreak refused to wear condoms. A man being interviewed said it's like eating candy with the wrapper still on. I thought he was so ridiculously stupid, refusing to wear a simple (freely-distributed) item that could save his life. Stupid and selfish. Even the dumbest antimaskers would agree that a man in Zimbabwe in the 90s and admittedly sleeping with hookers should have been wrapped up or even double-bagged. So wrap yourself up.  

At my kids' school, like in many places here, wearing a mask was deemed optional. For most kids, that meant no mask, ever. My kids tried to wear their masks, but they also felt they had to explain why, probably because other kids asked them why. The school had a few kids in masks because they had babies or old folks or compromised immune relatives at home. But I let my kids off the hook, telling them that if no one else was going to wear a mask, it really wasn't a big deal. Masks work when everyone wears them, limiting breathing projection to a couple of inches rather than 6-8 feet. We can handle being two inches apart from most people. Even my close-talking uncle stays roughly 6 inches from my face. 

But here's the deal, and this is really THE deal. Even if you don't believe. Even if you don't have that baby or sick relative. Even if you think God will protect you from anything. IT'S ALL ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE, NOT YOU! So the fact that my kids said they were wearing masks because of a father with a compromised immune system should have led every single jelly-faced kid at that school to put on a mask. Or the fact that one kid has a baby brother. Or a grandparent. If one kid is concerned, then all kids should have the compassion to just wear a freakin mask. I've seen entire schools jump rope for heart conditions or dye their hair pink, and if you want to think of it as charity to those who aren't as fortunate, then go right ahead. Love your neighbor as yourself, especially during a pandemic.

Maybe the numbers are off a bit, and maybe 100% mask usage wouldn't really eradicate the coronavirus. This article is even being finished as the numbers keep dropping in Florida, so I'll look like the extremist, especially since I don't even have a relative in a retirement home in Florida. Forgive me if I think the government has only a few basic functions, one of them being to protect its people. If the government disbanded all the military, police, and fire forces, you'd be worried. If it told us to do whatever you want during a hurricane or didn't post any speed limits, that would be irresponsible. But it's OK for our government to avoid mask mandates (the ONLY tool it really has) during an honest-to-goodness epidemic? That's not the American way of fixing problems. At least it wasn't back in 1918, when it was seen as UNpatriotic to avoid wearing masks. 

I am sure that America is probably eventually heading towards herd immunity, and that's maybe what a lot of government officials and millennials want us to be. If you want to sacrifice a few hundred thousand old folks to become the first country to reach herd immunity, I guess that's where we're headed. My thought (and I'm just spitballin here) is that we mask up until there's a viable vaccine, and then allow the vaccine to create the herd immunity we all crave, as long as the antimasker/antivaxer crowd participates in allowing the government to inject them with a vaccine/tracking device. 

If you want to be selfless and Christ-like, please consider wearing a mask whenever you are near other people. 

Wednesday, August 19

Jogger, The New Jacksonville Video Game

Jacksonville street
I can remember heading over to the Radio Shack on North Avenue in Milwaukee back in the 80s and seeing the new Tandy home computer, which was so much cooler than the Commodore VIC-20 we had at home. The display model even had a video game for me to play: Frogger. Forty years later, I read an article about the guy who created Prince of Persia, and the article must have mentioned Frogger, which I had on my mind as I drove down Beach Boulevard. After I nearly hit a homeless guy who had jumped out of the way of a bicycle (going the wrong direction) and into my lane, I thought that a version of Frogger called Jogger would be pretty awesome with Jacksonville as the setting.

Sunday, August 16

Cheapest Propane Exchange in Jax

BP propane exchange jax
I haven't done the math on refilling my propane tanks, since that's more of a hassle than it's probably worth. I have to assume it's a little cheaper than a propane exchange, but I'll focus on good deals for the exchange in Jacksonville.


Walmart - $15
Yes, it's the cheapest around. During Covid Times (or on a Saturday afternoon), it's also a lot of work to get your propane this way. I told my family that Walmart probably has some kind of contract to undercut every other seller of propane, which is either good business or bad business, depending on how you look at business. Since my time is worth a couple of dollars and I don't tend to shop at Walmart much, I am willing to pay a little more elsewhere.


Family Dollar - $15-$20
I wrote an article about propane on Satisfamily about the good deal here when the $5 off $25 coupons exist, but then Family Dollar went and added an exception to the coupon because of my article. However, I have seen a $5 off just for propane, so keep an eye out for that one. At least it's fairly easy to get your propane here, more like the gas stations.


On the Fly BP Monument East Arlington

On the Fly BP on Monument - $17
I ended up here because Wawa didn't seem to have propane, so I couldn't use my Wawa gift card, and since I couldn't make a u-turn on McCormick to get to Gate, I decided to take a gander at the BP station. I was surprised by the $17 price, since $20 seems to be standard at gas stations. The attendant told me he had the cheapest prices in town, which might be the case when you compare to other gas stations. Fast and easy, like it should be. The store even has two cases of propane, probably because so much of it is sold here. I told the guy I'd be back.


Most other gas stations - $20
I have seen propane as high as $22 at local gas stations, but I think the $19.99 is normally the standard price in Jacksonville for propane exchange. There's no shame in paying the standard price, especially if you don't want to deal with Walmart or don't live near Monument and McCormick.


Walgreens - $22
The Walgreens on Monument and McCormick advertises $20 propane exchange, but when I bought my one and only tank there, I ended up paying $22 plus tax, not $20. For $2, I didn't end up going back up there, and the sign has claimed a lower price for two years, so I'm not the only one who has not complained to management.


For the amount of cooking you'll get out of your propane, it's probably worth the $15-$22 you'll spend on fuel. It might not be a good deal to heat your house in the winter or to run your dual-fuel generator after a hurricane, but it's not bad for outdoor cooking. If you live in East Arlington, try the BP station on Monument. If you know of a low price in another area of town, let me know, and I'll add it to the list.


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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)

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Thursday, August 6

Florida Tourism - The Destination Funeral

burial in jacksonville
I was trying to find out what happened to the lovely 33-acre May Mann Jennings Park over on the North Side when I had this great idea for tourism in Jacksonville. It's mostly because Streetview of the park seemed to only show the Evergreen Cemetery, which kind of shares (or overruns) the park. In fact, COJ says the May Mann Jennings Park has "been returned to a natural, undeveloped state." For those of you who don't know government code, this means there's no funding for a park in an industrial/hood area of town. Anyhow, my search for a forgotten gem of a park was thwarted, but the cemetery next door got me to thinking about Florida/Jacksonville tourism, and I wondered if anyone had ever considered a destination funeral. 

Thursday, July 16

This Article is Not a Paid Placement Written by a Guest

I get contacted all the time about allowing someone to write an article on one of my websites, many times about a topic I've covered. These people either want to send me full text articles or links to articles that I can copy from another site. They never say how much they want to pay me to host their articles, and I don't really know how much to charge (if I were to do it), but I got a bit of an idea what it might be worth based on a Craigslist ad I saw. Still, I won't be offering my website to the highest bidder like the local news sites do. 

Wednesday, July 1

5x110 16" wheels and tires in Jacksonville - $150 (from a Saab 9-3)

215/55R16 tires
I tried posting these tires and wheels on Craigslist, but I think everyone in Jacksonville is scared of the website, so I'll post it here instead. If this article is still online, then I have the wheels with tires in my garage, and I want them gone. The wheels came off a 2008 Saab 9-3. The tires are not matched, but they have a lot of tread. I'll share the original posting and reiterate that the wheels should work on the vehicles I list with the same bolt pattern and similar offset. 

Tuesday, June 30

Teens Send Eyes Rolling

Have you ever heard teens or young kids talking in a way that made you roll your eyes? Obviously, you have. Anyone who is not a teen or braggadocios toddler laughs and cries on the inside any time one of these types speaks out loud. Here's an example from my Lyft travel chronicles. 

I've picked up these teens a few times now. I'll assume they are cousins, and (based on cars in the driveway), I'd say that at least one cousin is from Missouri. Not that it really matters, except those of us who have lived in Kansas know that not a whole lot of good comes from Missouri. 

The first time I picked up these girls, they were headed to a fairly interesting neighborhood, maybe because they lived in a very uninteresting area. I didn't think too much about it, at least until I pulled up and saw a dilapidated house with dozens of people hanging out in the parking lot that was once a residential street. And there was a bouncer. Some kind of house party. I wasn't sure it was a safe place, based on some of the partygoers who had spilled into the street and begun yelling at one another. But I am not the father of these youngins, so it wasn't really my place.

The next time the girls got in the car, they were headed to the bars at the Beaches, which seemed odd, given that there was no way any of the three were 21. Based on the conversation on the way, I know at least one of them wasn't even 18, as she was telling her other companions that she always blocked guys on whatever social platform when they started to ask about her age. What's funny is that I did one other ride of maybe twenty minutes, and then I ended up picking these girls back up, which means for all their short skirts and attitude, they could not convince the pubs to allow them in. 

On the ride to the bars, it was mostly about the under-18 friend telling the others about her desirability. Beyond the InstaSnap example, she also discussed several guys who were texting her, as well as the one or two she was actually dating. She said one guy said he'd kill himself (or her, or both) if she ever cheated on him, but she also implied that's exactly what had been happening. I'm not sure it was with the other guy she'd been chatting with, but one was, according to her, the top rated high school athlete in the country. That made me laugh, but her friends didn't question it one bit. It reminded me of when I took a bunch of German interns out to a bar in Madison, WI, and two guys there started telling the girls they were actors. My friend and I then started telling the interns that we too were actors. FYI guys, girls will believe you are the top rated athlete in the country or an actor, if you want to play it that way. My friend and I had a girl back in high school convinced we were nationally-ranked ultimate frisbee competitors.

So these high schoolers were all excited about the bars and online boyfriend's. But, like I said, twenty minutes after the drop-off, I was taking them back home. No one said a single word until the vixen got a phone call from her mom, and she told her mom several times that they were now in the car and heading home. I am sure there is a story I don't know, like mom had the phone lojacked or mom got a call from a bouncer. Either way, it's probably for the best that mom got involved and that these high school girls looking for trouble didn't find it.

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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)

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Why Are You Wearing a Mask? Teachable Moment Lost

As an UberLyftGrubHub-type independent contractor, I am supposed to wear a mask when I work the side hustle. I am generally OK with it, but I have been mask-shamed enough in Jacksonville that it's time to write about my experiences so that (hopefully) others don't have to deal with the same bullying. 

Yes, I (and other people) will be driving around with masks on, even all alone. These people might be driving other people around in a rideshare, they might be delivering food or supplies, or they might be just around the corner from picking up Grandma. The point is that people who are wearing masks all alone in a vehicle, probably have a reason to be wearing that mask, and no one is wearing a mask to ridicule you or your president. 

I have had three people in less than a month decide to ask me why I was wearing a mask. The latest was potentially the best opportunity to turn the situation into a teachable moment, but I instead acted in anger (with a touch of worry), so I missed the chance. I'd like to take the opportunity to add a little to the initial interaction now. 

A high school-aged girl rolled down her window as I sat at a red light. "Why are you wearing a mask when you're all alone?" 

"I am driving for UberLyft and it's required, Babe," was my first response. I don't normally call girls/women "babes," but I was feeling a little sassy. She smiled and was satisfied, but that's when anger took hold of me instead of reason. "And so I don't have to smell you," I added. 

She was quick enough to bring back, "Yeah, people are pretty gross," as she rolled up her window. But that's not how it was supposed to end, with her making a Tik Tok video about the mean UberLyft guy who said she smelled bad. Actually, I tamed my response way down BECAUSE she was so young, since I've been preparing some real zingers, but I've also thought of some more important things I could have said. So here's what I really meant to say. 

"None of us are all alone." No man is an island entire of itself. We are all in this together, and we need to be responsible for each other. This answer would not have addressed the specifics, but it might have gotten an important point across. All the young people, like this girl, deciding to head out for no real reason, may not realize that when the bell tolls, it tolls for them. 30, 40, 50 deaths PER DAY in Florida have mostly been preventable, at least a percentage of them. So what if I over-wear my mask to protect others (or myself) just a little bit more than the CDC even requires? 

"Why aren't YOU wearing a mask?" This answer might not always work, but this white girl was sitting next to her Blasian/Whack/Blaxican friend. I only mention the other girl's race because it led me to assume they were not siblings (and combining race names is an interesting use of language, and two friends out for a drive during a pandemic should both be wearing masks. If Kaitlyn goes and infects her grandma with Type-2 Diabetes because she got a virus from an asymptomatic friend, then Kaitlyn will feel guilty. I met a guy who said he brought Covid-19 home to his dad and his dad died. While the guy I met did not seem to blame himself (and that's probably the best response), I couldn't help but feel like I would have blamed myself. Anyone who refuses to wear a simple mask and then carries a deadly virus to a loved one should feel guilty. I'd feel guilty even if the virus got through my mask. Yes, you should feel guilty if you show up to school or a nursing home with the flu, but Covid-19 is marginally worse than the flu, AND it's been covered by the media enough to remind you. 

"I don't want to smell all the BS from people like you." This response is taking it more political. I hear a lot of people who say Covid-19 is overhyped or fake. I assume that people who are going to bother to call me out for wearing a mask (while not wearing a mask next to a non-family member) do not believe in pandemics, masks, or science. 

"Jacksonville stinks!" I kind of like this open-ended version of the previous answer, since it's not putting her down overtly. But it still is. And it's not making it all political, but it still is, if you read into it. But I am pretty sure these two teens were fairly shallow, so she probably would have just assumed I was being completely literal. 

"I don't want to have to hurt your grandma/mom if I give her a ride, so I strap on protection." This one is probably my favorite of the comebacks I have considered since the latest incident. I might have even thought of it at the time, but when I saw two teenage girls, I decided to tone it down a few notches. Still, the double entendre here is pretty funny. But it's also true. 

"I'm a real American." Just reverse psychology here. Most people who think masks are wrong somehow see them as an afront to patriotism, but nothing is more patriotic than sacrificing for the good of your country.

Don't read the following comeback unless you are over 17 or are being supervised by an adult:
"Because your / your mom's ________ -_________ed __________ ________ of _________ _________'s __________  that has been used to __________ various _______ stars, _________, and models/wives (who are also basically ____________s) , and your boyfriend/dad has _________ from ______ing too much of _________'s _________, and the only reason your ________ist boyfriend/dad votes for the ____________ is because he wants the government to force __________ to not have __________ but then not force him to wear masks for basically the same reason, and he also probably would rather be ____________ing a super porn whore model star wife than you/your mom. And he wants to be rich, but he won't be through any ability of his own, just like his favorite president." If people want to make simple, proven science into another political debate and say that I am somehow weak for wearing a mask because a self-professed germaphobe and completely amoral president calls the pandemic names instead of encouraging the use of common sense, then I can be just as nasty as anyone, and I don't need a gun or red trucker hat to back me up. And those of you who support Trump don't need his permission to make a decision that might save a loved-one's life. You are the epitomy of stupid Americans and are embarrassing the rest of us, and while being a stupid American is usually just synonymous with being wasteful, this time you are saying your personal freedom to be a stupid American is more important than preserving the lives of millions of older fellow stupid Americans who mostly vote for the same stupid people as you. Play along, at least until we decide whether or not a vaccine is going to happen. If a vaccine doesn't seem like it's possible, feel free to abandon the masks and give your grandma and favorite hooker one last hug.



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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

Tuesday, June 23

The Right Way to Update Your Old Website

church website
I updated a website several years ago for a church in Milwaukee. Basically, it had a website that was broken (and potentially hacker-dangerous) because it was built on Joomla 1.0 technology. The church assumed I would be building a whole new website, but when I saw that several articles were approaching 10,000 hits, I figured it was better to migrate the website. 

Shell Fuel Rewards Simple Enough Until it Gets Complicated, But You Should Have It

shell gas station jax
When I decided I needed Top Tier gas and then AAA switched rewards from Gate to Shell, it seemed like a perfect match. My 5¢ per gallon discount would make the slightly more expensive Shell gasoline about the same price as the non-Top Tier options. And it's really pretty easy to
Save Money at Shell.

Classic Chevys in Jacksonville

In the past year, I have seen several classic Chevrolet vehicles in Jacksonville, and as I continue to see them, I will add photos and descriptions. While most older Chevys you see around here are stranded on the side of the road, some still look the way they did on the showroom floor. 

Sunday, June 21

Why I Chose a Single-Stage 16 SEER Heat Pump

old heat pumps jacksonville
I needed two new heat pumps for the house, so I went and got my obligatory quotes. I won't get too much into the process right now (or even the company I chose), since what I wanted to do was concentrate on why a single-stage heat pump is just fine, even in Jacksonville, and even as dual-stage and multi-stage (variable speed) units are much sexier. 

Cost
You can expect to pay a few thousand dollars more for a dual stage system, and then a few thousand more than that for a multi-stage. Having two systems (upstairs and downstairs), I could have easily doubled my bill. My lowest quote for a 14 SEER single-stage system was around $7500, while I had two salesmen try to push me into the multi-stage systems for nearly $15,000. These are different companies and different brands, but there is almost no way to recoup the cost. One technician doubling as a salesman (and NOT pushing multi-stage) said you can expect maybe $5 to $10 a month per higher SEER in savings. So an extreme example would be from 14 to 21 SEER. A difference of 7 for each unit or 14 for the set, and a savings of $140 per month (which isn't even possible based on what I pay right now, but whatever). Maybe $1500 a year if you are a total energy hog. So, that $15,000 unit is finally going to start saving you money after its fifth year in service. Theoretically. 

There is a way to take a lower-SEER heat pump and boost it a bit with a variable speed air handler, but the cost of turning a 14 SEER into a 14.5 SEER for my house would have cost only $400 less than just buying the 16 SEER unit, partially because the 16 SEER qualified for the $150 JEA rebates ($300 on two units). However, you might find that a special air handler can help your budget system operate more efficiently. 

I should also mention the option of fixing the current system. Since it's the old refrigerant, it would have cost a lot, and I know that both units were leaking. So you figure $1,000 for maybe a year or two of operation (if we were lucky). If the refrigerant wasn't outdated (or if the realtor guy from next door was offering to come fill mine up like he did that one at midnight), then I might have rolled the dice, but my wife would have been very upset had I blown $1,000 now and then still had to replace one or both units in six months. 

It's also worth mentioning that most AC places will offer revolving credit loans at 0% interest. The one I am getting is for one year at 0%, but some go as high as five years, though that will sometimes disqualify you for other offers. One HVAC owner/salesman said that he would give me a better cash price and that the 0% offers all had fees built in, but he also sold me hard on the variable speed option. And his cash price was still higher than another installer with the same product offering 60 months of 0%, so go figure. Some warnings: 0% credit card loans (through Wells Fargo) are going to lower your credit score until paid off, since they are considered revolving credit rather than a loan. And you'll owe all kinds of interest if you miss a payment, so be careful with them. 

Efficiency
I was reading an article from SFGate that said that two-stage units don't tend to get close to listed SEER ratings. It's probably like the old MPG ratings, or some of the electric car MPG ratings. Perfect world ratings. Back in 2006, two-stage units were only getting 60 to 85% of advertised efficiency. I am not sure if a newer study has looked at real-world performance in multi-staging, but the article said that single stage unit SEERs were pretty accurate. Salesmen seem to make you think the multi-stage units are so efficient that JEA will be owing YOU money every month, but the reality is that I spend less than $200 a month on electric, and even if my AC accounts for $150 of that total, there is no way two 21 SEER units are going to save me $10 a month per SEER over my 10 SEER system, since that would be like $220 in savings each month, and I only spend $150. If we instead just say a 15 SEER is 1.5 times as efficient and a 20 SEER is twice as efficient as my 10 SEER setup, then my 20 SEER bill for electric would be $75 per month, and maybe $70 for a 21 SEER. And a 15 seer might be $100 a month instead of $150. A 14 SEER might be closer to $110 a month, or $40 more than the 21, meaning the real efficiency savings of investing in unit double the price would take around 15 years to realize the savings in initial cost through efficiency, right about at the time you'll need to replace the unit. 

The first salesman also tried to convince me that my 10 SEER units were so old (16 years) that they were no longer operating at 10 SEER. He even had some kind of pseudo-mathematical equation of how much efficiency is lost every year, and he claimed that the 20+ SEER unit he was selling me was going to stop that yearly loss of efficiency. However, he failed to take into account the new unit's own yearly loss of efficiency. It's not like you're installing a NEW 21 SEER unit every year, so it will presumably also be affected by the same loss. And I don't really buy it, anyhow. I have a 1986 Bertone X 1/9 that has consistently averaged 30 mpg highway for me since I bought it in 1996, and that's above the 26 mpg EPA estimate. It doesn't like to start consistently, but the efficiency of the engine has remained pretty constant over time. So I just don't think I buy that there's a loss of SEER efficiency just by a unit running, as long as it's operating properly. Maybe I am all wrong here, but the fact remains that I'm not paying $500 a month for AC right now, and I don't expect that a new unit will slash the prices to nothing.

Maintenance
Theoretically, a two-stage or multi-stage heat pump could cost more in maintenance. More parts. More technology running those parts. Fewer techs who can handle the system. Shorter track record. I guess I'd assume it's basically a wash, since most techs probably know what to do, and the warranty periods are the same. No, your great-uncle who can fix anything probably won't be able to fix your multi-stage heat pump, just like you shouldn't let him touch your Tesla for repairs. 

I read one article that implied that the jury is out on whether or not multi-stage units will hold up over the long haul, since machines are generally created to be on or off rather than operate at all different percentages. I remember people making similar arguments against cruise control for cars, but in reverse, saying that car engines weren't meant to run at the exact same rpm all the time. Mainly, we just don't know if the repair rate will somehow be higher in multi-stage units because they spin slowly for a good portion of the day. It will probably prove to be about the same as single-stage for repairs, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be in the test group for a new way of running AC units. The next decade will tell if variable speed compressors are as reliable (or more reliable) than single speed ones, but I wasn't terribly interested in being part of the experiment. 

Resale
I live in a middle-of-the-road neighborhood in Jacksonville. Houses go for $200,000 up to around $400,000. We have to be careful that we don't over-update our house. The house I own in Milwaukee has quartz counters and is probably the highest-valued house on the block, but we'll never recover the investment on the counters because of the area. People shopping for a house in my neighborhood will mostly see single speed heat pumps in the other homes. And looking around, I see plenty of Goodman units, so it's not like the neighbors are all purchasing multi-stage Carriers. If we sell in the next five years, a newish 16 SEER unit will still be about average. If our house was in Ponte Vedra or Avondale, buyers would expect variable speeds and UV filters, but not really in East Arlington. Besides, most people moving to my part of Jacksonville are moving from outside of Florida, often from cooler climates. I didn't even know what a heat pump was until I got here, and I had no clue that central air units could operate at different speeds. Since realtors aren't HVAC salesmen, it would be hard for them to explain why one house is worth $5,000 more than another one just because of some fancy AC. 

If you really need to be super-comfortable or have breathing or other health issues, then a multi-stage, variable-speed, perfect-all-the-time system might make sense, even in a middle-class house. You might find a buyer with a kid who has asthma or a couple with their first child on the way. I understand that we might have to adjust the temperature once in a while to force the new heat pump to kick in or turn off, but I'd rather save the thousands on the heat pump to invest in windows that will help resale value and to control the temperature fluctuations in the house. 

Conclusion
Highly-efficient heat pumps still do not make cooling or heating your house free, so you need to weigh the benefits of two-stage or variable speed compressors against the initial cost. You are not going to make up the difference in energy savings or resale value very quickly (if at all), so it really has to be about the desire to have an extra-comfortable environment inside your home. If you work from home or plan on extended time at home with various pandemics over the next decade, then it's probably worth the money. About half of the sales people coming to your house will push the higher-end models, and the real sleazy ones will try to make sure your wife is part of the conversation so that he can use one of you against the other. You need to make the right choice for you, however. Right now and in a middle class neighborhood, that  best overall choice is probably still single-stage

Search New Jax Witty
Related Stories
 
 
 
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

Saturday, June 20

Get a Job in JAX During the Pandemic

Lyft car jacksonville

Lyft is looking for drivers in Jacksonville. If, for some reason, you are sick of collecting you Florida UI AND your federal bonus cheese, then apply for Lyft here. You'll get to get out of the house, take possibly-infected people around for rides, put lots of miles on your car, see Jacksonville, and get a tip from about 10% of your riders.

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