Friday, February 26

Section 8 Housing In Jax and St. Johns


section 8 jax

I first heard of Section 8 housing when I saw a news story about St. Johns County. That story said St. Johns had some kind of law against Section 8 housing, which resulted in fewer options to house the homeless contingent in St. Augustine. I never looked up Section 8 at the time, though I did wonder how St. Johns could ban Section 8 while Duval can't. I'm still not all that sure about how or why, but I do know most of us don't want Section 8 in our back yards. In fact, I just discussed something similar to Section 8 with my kids, as we drove past the Dunes Apartments next to Ed Austin Park. I said the apartments looked so bad that it might make sense to pull them down and build some smaller single-family homes, which might result in some of the people who no one really wants hanging out in a park being forced to move away. But then one of my kids asked me where they'd go, and that's what makes it complicated. I'd like to say, "St. Johns County," but I can't. And so that means that those of us in Duval who live too close to Section 8 housing will eventually move to where that type of housing can't exist.

Jax Local Ad of the Week: Beachside Swimwear and Gifts

First and foremost, support local businesses. Now, let's look at the ad. 

At first glance, this week's ad might seem like standard swimwear fare, but (like most ads) there are some strange details as you look closer. But maybe it's just because the business is trying to sell off those old 2020 swimsuits. Or it's just really difficult to make swimsuit models look natural in a tiny print ad.

Tuesday, February 23

Jacksonville's Two Civil War Burnings

Union troops hanging out at Bay and Ocean

At some point, most of us who live in Jacksonville learn about the fire of 1901 that destroyed most of the city. That's why I was surprised to learn of two other fires in the city's past, both during the Civil War. Neither fire was as destructive property-wise, but I think the argument could be made that both of these fires were more destructive to relationships between locals that extended to the rest of the country. These fires were burnings rather than an accidental fire like in 1901.

Saturday, February 20

Polar Blue Skies?

What are polar blue skies? 

I saw the term used on the First Coast News Weather Channel. When I asked Google, she said she didn't know how to help with that, so I just searched the term "polar blue skies" myself on Google. The top results were from old First Coast News posts about the weather. So is it a Jax thing or a local meteorologist thing? Or a real thing that most weather people ignore?

Friday, February 12

Jax Local Ad of the Week: Milano's for Valentine's Day


Local ads can be fun because they are not always as polished as national ad campaigns. This is the first in a series that will take a look at some local ads from mailer magazines.

Support local businesses, even if their ads weird you out a little.

My wife enjoys Milano's, and we have used the restaurant's promotions in the past. And if it wasn't for a pandemic, we might have done the Valentine's Day Special, even with it being presented in this somewhat odd ad.

Wednesday, February 10

Culver's Arlington Location (UN)Explained

culver's jacksonville

Evan Clagnaz is a lot like me. He's from Wisconsin. He wants a Culver's in the Arlington area of Jacksonville. He trusts other people. He has a few million dollars to invest in a restaurant. Etc. 

OK, fine, at 36 I didn't quite have $4+ million to invest. Or at 46. Maybe at 56 (fingers crossed), but by then, all the Culver's restaurants will have been built in Jax, and I'll have missed my chance to own one. Except for maybe one that fails because it’s been built in the wrong location.

Tuesday, February 9

The Best Gyros in Jacksonville

I wish this article was about the best gyros in Jacksonville. My family loves us some gyros, having learned about the awesomeness from Milwaukee staples like Oakland Gyros and Golden Gyros. We tried gyros when we lived in Kansas City, but almost every restaurant there mixed beef and lamb (at best) and fell a bit short. In Jacksonville, we've tried a few places, but we have yet to really find the best gyros in Jacksonville, so if your restaurant wants me to find out if you qualify, then contact me. We're good for several visits per year once we find you, but I'd suggest a discount or coupon to entice me from the start.

Thursday, February 4

Siteground Officially Not Best Hosting Provider

Let's say you have an idea to build a website, or maybe you want to build a website farm in order to funnel people to your pyramid or ponzi scheme. It used to be that if you wanted to use Joomla to build the websites involved in your business venture, you'd choose Siteground. It was a level above the other hosts for both services offered and customer service. Plus, it offered special tools dedicated to helping those who preferred Joomla to Wordpress. 

Monday, February 1

Open Season on White People?

Here's the start of a post from NextDoor that was a little frightening: 

I just had a man attempt to run me over

Wednesday, January 27

Jacksonville Community Services Directory on Gloo

I was working on adding some functionality to a church website I built when I looked into the company that sent the code I was using. One of the options for church websites is to embed a community services map. I was going to embed an iframe of that map here, but it seems that it's more difficult than other iframes to generate. However, I'll provide a link so that you can check to see if your church or non-profit is listed with the directory

I am sure there are other websites out there that actually provide links to your organization, but if a lot of churches use this Gloo program, it's worth adding your listing, as well. I think it's supposed to function as a way for church members to find places to volunteer and maybe volunteer organizations to find churches that are engaged in the community, so it makes sense to claim your listing, since it seems to be free.

What's nice is the ability to search based on type of organization and then type of services offered. For example, you could search for "Church" and "Online Sermons" in order to get these results, albeit without links to the online sermons. It's very similar to a system I set up for my church about a decade ago for its 100 or so ministries so that people could search based on interest, except that was for a single church rather than a map of an entire country. And I had more categories, which would be nice on the map...it only includes very basic church services. Like my own creation, I assume this resource is underutilized. However, now your church or organization doesn't have the excuse that you didn't know it existed. 

Yes, you can pay $8,000 (PER YEAR!) for an online marketing firm to show you pretty presentations, create a ho-hum app, and sell you free online tools (Wordpress/Google Analytics/Email Newsletters) for a steep cost, or you can list your organization in ways like this, use Google and other free tools, and have a good freelance web designer make a website to which YOU add real content that brings in real traffic looking for a real church. 

This website has about 500 posts and averages 9,000 REAL reads a month, but it's all because of those 500 articles. I don't have an app, unless someone wants to add this site to their home screen (feel free). I don't email anyone. I don't market because I write. Some of my best articles don't even show up on Google anymore because they are no longer deemed relevant, while other articles get Top 10 rock star status. If your church offers addiction counseling, an article about your service might not get any hits because of all the other counseling services, but if you also write articles about how you deliver groceries to members and recycle batteries and make masks for frontline workers, one of those articles might inspire someone to watch a service or visit your church. And if you can link related articles to each other, that also helps. Even if it only inspires people to get involved at another church, your article got hits and results. Most people who find your church are not going to immediately download your app and sign up for newsletters. 

Based on church websites I've built, this website generates about 10 times the traffic of a typical church website that doesn't publish new content. Those churches would benefit from listing with Gloo, but they would benefit more from posting articles. They might be able to fake it a little with SEO and targeted marketing, but the long-term results may not be useful if there's never any new content. Apps don't create content. Neither do great keywords. If you want people to discover the community services at your church, write about them, even if it's a single article about care packs for immigrants from 2015. That said, I'm sure most churches will continue to send email blasts and run tired capital campaigns with no website evidence as to why someone would want to join or give. 


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Friday, January 22

Fellows and Residents Searching for Rental Properties

mcw mke rental house

If you have a fellowship or residency, you're going to be looking for a home in a new city, probably in a new state. You can rely on the rental or home websites or hire a realtor, but it also helps to have some insight from someone who has lived in the area for a long time. I qualify as that person in the Milwaukee and Jacksonville areas, so if you have a placement at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Mayo Florida, or UF, you might want to contact me. Especially for MCW and Mayo. 


Wednesday, January 13

If You're Going to Get Guy Food, Be Ready For Anything

A local woman was emotional and upset during a news interview after a man pointed a gun at her in a Hardee's drive thru down on Baymeadows. Personally, I don't like guns, but I do have to admit that if you're going to get your food at a guy restaurant in Jacksonville, you should be ready for anything and nothing should surprise you.

Neighborly or Not: Dealing With Conflict in Jacksonville

Relationships are important, especially when those relationships involve your neighbors. I can write an article on this or other websites that gets hits from all around the country, and I'm just some anonymous guy writing about a topic of interest. But when you post on your Facebook neighborhood group or on Nextdoor, you're making the choice for your neighbors to see the content. Even benign posts with the intent of being diplomatic can be taken the wrong way. A recent situation in my neighborhood is a great example of how conflicts might escalate on social media, even if the intent was basically the exact opposite.


To begin with, I should have learned my lesson about trusting others when we first moved to Jacksonville. My car was hit from behind at a stop light by a college kid who begged me to let him pay for the damage rather than report another claim to his insurance. I trusted him and basically lost out on $1,000. Welcome to Jacksonville. But I didn't really know him, and I haven't seen him since, so I am mostly over it. Except there was a lesson to be learned that I apparently have yet to figure out. I had several options at my disposal when the latest incident happened, yet I still apparently got it all wrong, and this article represents my effort to clarify and attempt to rectify the situation. I once again relied on trust that another person would do what was right.


This is what happened and is not disputed: a neighbor’s dog got out of his garage/family room and attacked our dog. Our dog was on a leash and on the sidewalk. The neighbor broke it up quickly and apologized, saying his dog had never done that before. I swore a lot; like a sailor, or maybe even like a sailor from Boston.


Now for the disputed parts. 

  1. I say it was a Pit Bull, as it was a total Pit Bull attack (and the dog looked like one to me), while the neighbor (or at least his kid) said it was not a Pit Bull. 

  2. While there were no visible signs of injury to our dog immediately, we found a wound the next day that she was licking. 


To be clear, we never had any problems with this neighbor before. In fact, our interactions had always been pleasant. Plus, I like the fact that he doesn't tend to park his two cars OVER the sidewalk like so many other neighbors, even if he doesn't park them IN the garage where cars belong (my minority opinion). But those cars being in the driveway did allow his dog to surprise us as it charged out of the open garage/family room.


After the dog attack, we had to decide what to do next. We kicked around all of the ideas, but settled with the (I assume) typical Florida reaction of doing nothing. These are what we believed to be our options. 


  1. Do nothing, hoping my own swearing tirade and the fear of what could have happened would be enough to persuade the owner to keep his dog on a leash.

  2. Go the legal route. Report the incident to Animal Control, the police, and the HOA. File a small claims lawsuit and hope for Judge Judy. However, COJ says you need an affidavit signed by two unrelated people or a video of the incident, which is pretty difficult to pull off (unless the neighbor has surveillance video he'd like to share or wants to sign an affidavit against himself). It also has to be notarized. Really. The HOA option, however, might have led somewhere, though I have had at least two email complaints ignored by our HOA. Your HOA results may vary. And small claims lawsuits are kind of small: I could waste both our time, win a hundred dollars, and just end up with an angry neighbor. It's not like you call JSO for a dog bite, right? Someone suggested putting the vet bills in his mailbox, maybe with a lawyer-ish letter, or even knocking on his door to talk, but I wasn't sure about another in-person confrontation. When our neighbor kid destroyed a Christmas lawn ornament, I also balked at the confrontation, even though I had video evidence. It's just not fun, and those neighbors liked us until the day they moved away, whereas I don't know what would have happened if I called their son a liar.

  3. Social Media Shame. I did NOT do this, though the neighbor seems to believe I did because I referenced the attack in a closed Facebook group post about two other Pit Bulls roaming around the neighborhood. If I wanted to Facebook shame my neighbor, I would have included his name, address, photos of an obvious Pit Bull from his own Facebook posts, his occupation and how it might relate to not wanting to admit what kind of dog he owns, the receipts for our expenses, and photos of the injury. I could have added a photo of the house to warn others to stay away, and I could have further tormented the neighbor with a recap of his court and financial history. And rather than posting it to a closed Facebook group, I certainly would have posted it to all of Facebook and Twitter, along with an article here and on several other websites. And I would have sent links to the local news, the HOA, local politicians, and the neighbor's homeowner's insurance or mortgage company. I collected all of the information I would have needed to be able to do this, but all I did was mention the attack in passing in a post: "I don't want to start a big debate, but our leashed dog was attacked by a pit bull in our neighborhood on the sidewalk a few weeks back (with the owner letting it run loose). I refrained from reporting the owner and suing for vet bills because I did not want to stir up trouble. But now I have this video of two different pit bulls wandering around at 4am. If you like dogs, cats, or small children, this video should worry you. I know some of you love these dogs, so I will not say more. My daughter witnessed the attack and is now worried all over again. Please, keep all of your pets inside, fenced in, and on a leash."


Apparently, my neighbor whose dog attacked ours saw this post and became angry. Even though our family has mostly stopped walking past his house, I decided to take the dog that direction one morning. As I walked past his house, he walked from his side yard towards the oft-open garage and started laughing loudly. After the restraint I had shown (in my mind) by not suing, issuing complaints, or publicly deriding this man, I assumed the most I would hear out of his mouth would be a half-hearted apology with me accepting and reminding him to keep the dog on a leash. Instead, I heard cynical laughter that continued as I passed his house on the street (avoiding the sidewalk where it happened). Eventually, I said, "What?!"

The neighbor, who you might realize I am still not naming, went through his list of grievances after saying he saw what I posted on Facebook: “I apologized.” “The dog had never done that before.” “You’re not going to sue.” “Your dog wasn’t even bitten.” “Your daughter only cried because of all your swearing.” I think he also initially asked me what my problem was, or something like that. The point is that he took my passing reference to his negligence and took it to be me attacking him personally, so he decided to come after me personally. Since I was kind of surprised, I didn't say anything. Besides, this neighbor already had two of the 3Ps of Jacksonville (Pit Bull and Pickup), so I assumed he owned the third (Pistol).

I have tried to see this situation from my neighbor's perspective. I did swear a lot. Our dog didn't yelp. We didn't contact him to see about rabies after the bite. I guess I can see why he thought it was all behind us, but instead of allowing a fairly innocuous Facebook post to go by, he decided to call me a liar, as if I would create that lie and then not try to hit him up for cash? As if I'd create the lie to deride him and then not identify him? 

So, lessons learned, everyone. It seemed that the only time the offending party in Jacksonville has been happy with me is the time I never told my neighbor his kid destroyed a lawn ornament. That means people want you to forgive, forget, move on, and never mention it. The problem is that I expect the opposite from others if I'm at fault. If my kids destroy something at a neighbor's house, if my dog bites a neighbor's cat, or if I sideswipe a neighbor's car, I want to own that it happened and what I can do to fix the situation. Integrity and honesty, especially when it comes to my kids seeing it. We all make mistakes, but those of us who admit our mistakes instead of trying to pretend they never happened are much better off. I already apologized to my wife and daughter about my swearing incident (and they know it's not who I am). I hope my neighbor can move past the people who might have wronged him in the past and realize that I am not those people. Maybe he also needs to reflect on the man he really is, too, especially if blaming others for his failings is typical. 

I wish I could offer more concrete advice. I saw one 60s sitcom where the wives got together and figured it all out for their husbands. But I saw another more recent one when the wives got together and made a feud worse. Plus, sitcoms are not real life. Maybe our kids will be friends in high school. My plan is to move on and start walking past the house again. I am hoping I don't have to keep my phone recording the whole time, but since it's Jacksonville, that's probably the best idea.

Monday, January 4

Save Money on Gas

I was excited when AAA changed its partnership to Shell and offered $.05 / gallon discount to members. Then, T-Mobile bought Sprint and gave me another weekly discount at Shell. Now, I also started using the Getupside app for another discount on fill ups, and you should, too.

While my Shell rewards doesn't allow me to fully stack the rewards, I do get "cash" back from Getupside that can be used for Amazon or Walmart gift cards. Instead of the normal $.12 per gallon, I get $.085 per gallon while saving $.05 at the pump, for a total of 13.5 pennies back per gallon. When gas is as low as $2.00 a gallon, that's a decent 6.75% off. I'm also not limited to Shell with Getupside, so I can just take the $.12 per gallon at a cheaper gas station that also offers my preference of top tier gasoline, though I have yet to research which local ones would be my best bet.

Male Fashion and Lifestyle: 3 Things Every Man Needs



Since I started wearing my Christmas present a bit early, I was asked about my watch by someone. It's a hybrid watch, which means it looks and acts like an old-fashioned watch but adds some smart watch features. I'd kind of missed having a watch since the Kansas movers stole my last one on our way to Jacksonville. Anyhow, the topic is watches, and this guy tells me there are three things every man should have: a tie, a watch, and a cologne collection. 

Tuesday, December 15

My Guides to Jacksonville

welcome to jacksonville

I've met several people thinking of relocating to Jacksonville, and I often tell them to check out my website for my guide to the city. Except I did just that myself and realized it's not that easy to find, so here's a guide to my guides. 

Also, if you're thinking of moving here and want to hire an actual guide, that can be arranged. Use the contact form to work out the details. Or ask your realtor to take you everywhere...they love doing that.

Monday, December 14

95% of Jax Florida Blue Employees Are Working From Home; Umm, Uh-oh

I am all for American jobs in America, which is why when I read about Florida Blue renting out office space because 95% of its workforce is working from home, I got worried.  If Florida Blue realizes that the employees don't really have to be in the office to be effective, I have to wonder how long it will take before the company wonders whether the employees need to be in America to be effective. And it's probably happening in lots of places across America right now. 

Every Duval County Middle School Parent--Read This

Duval County Schools

I wrote an article about searching for a high school if you live in Jacksonville, but I realize now that my article might give some parents a false sense of security because your otherwise good student might not qualify for some of the Duval programs. Your own school and Duval Schools might claim it's all your fault. While that's partially true, I'm here to help you avoid a potentially huge mistake that needs to be addressed early in middle school. And it's especially important for those of you with kids in private or charter schools.

Tuesday, December 1

Guy in Blue VW Probably Deserves What He Gets

I'm not sure what the penalty is for shoplifting, since I've never really done it, but I do feel that a guy I saw recently stealing from a convenience store probably deserves to get the book thrown at him. The problem is that it probably won't happen, so this guy will keep on taking his own personal discounts until someone bothers to go after the bum, though perhaps writing about him will help him admit the error of his ways.

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 wearing one 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. 

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