Monday, December 31

Tipsy Tow and Tow to Go New Years and Beyond

AAA tow to go
I thought I remember seeing that the bus was free last year on New Year's Eve in Jacksonville. This year (2018), that seems to have been replaced by a free tow system. Makes sense, really. The bus is so ineffective in getting anyone home in Jacksonville, since everything tends to be so spread out. Since everyone has a vehicle, the tow service gets your sleigh home with you, too, instead of having to bum a ride back to wherever the party was.

Saturday, December 29

Checking Off One More Year Without Sweetest Day

sweetest day flowers
It was late October last year when I realized I'd missed Sweetest Day. This year, as the calendar turned to mid-October, I knew it would happen again. How could I possibly miss this important day once again? Well, it's partially because people in Kansas (last year) and Florida (this year) don't seem to know that there's a second Valentine's Day, roughly half a year after that holiday.

Friday, December 28

We're Giving Away $1 Million

I'm kidding, of course. We're not really giving away $1 million, and neither are the gambling halls. A local gambling establishment, bestbet, around Christmas was saying that it was "giving away $200,000." Can that really be true? I mean, if it's true, then I'm in. But I assume it's a play on words. Kind of a slight of hand.

Best Kitchen Purchase This Year is a Garbage Can

Garbage / Recycling Can
More than likely, the kitchen garbage is one of the last upgrades you're thinking about right now. I only had to go there because ours stopped working. We like the motion sensor automatic garbage cans, and they do tend to fail after some use. We'd also got into the habit of owning two full-sized garbage cans for our kitchen, one for garbage and the other for recycling. Since my wife thinks it's kind of gross (and a waste of valuable cabinet space) to mount the garbage inside our island, it was time to shop for another garbage can. This time, however, I wanted to eliminate the two-can system in favor of a two-in-one garbage/recycling can. After a few months, I feel I can safely say I made the right choice with this stainless steel, two sided garbage can from Amazon.

Good Credit, Bad Credit, We Should Care

a truck you can't afford
If you've shopped for any big-ticket item in Jacksonville (and other places in the US), then you've run across the stores that claim your credit score doesn't matter. Actually, it does, but so do the scores of others who shop at that store. Whether it relates to you or other shoppers, you actually should care about bad credit. I'll give you some scenarios that might help you understand why you should care.

I Wonder Which Cheap Frontier Flights Were Dropped From JAX

frontier airlines jacksonville
Less than a year before I write this post, I was all excited about the possibilities of Frontier Airlines adding direct flights to Jacksonville. JAX was getting a handful of new non-stop flights, one of which would take me home to Milwaukee. The flights seemed to be seasonal somehow, but they did exist, starting in early fall and kind of ending for the holidays. So, cheap, direct flights from September to early November. What a deal! I was already planning my spring trip home, but flights were initially only available through December, so I waited.

Monday, December 24

I Like Beer

i like beer
I was surprised to feel like I had to take notes recently while watching a show about beer. I've seen promotional material while touring breweries, and I've seen educational shows that mention the drink, but this program focused on beer as being vital to all kinds of important changes in the history of mankind. While I'm sure it was a slightly biased program that was trying to argue a point, the arguments seemed legitimate enough for me to go buy a four-pack of some beer from my hometown of Milwaukee. If you want to amaze your friends at your next party, watch the full documentary or check out my notes below.

Sunday, December 23

Can Safe Touch Help Me Be Safe?

safetouch-installed security system
Technically, I'm not looking for a security system right this minute. Maybe in a bit, once and if I get a job where I'm away from home. No, I need to find a way for my family to be safe with the currently unused alarm. Basically, we still can't test our smoke detectors because the realtor who lives one block away has not made it a priority to get the passcode for the alarm system from the previous owner. That means that I have to have an unhooked alarm that screams at me if I give it a current. Problem is that if I test the smoke alarms, then those also bother me until I plug the house alarm back in.

Friday, December 21

I Totally Forgot About My DIY Greeting Card Series


You need a vacation
Back when I was first setting up Real Wisconsin News, I had this idea to use a photo of my friend in various settings to help promote the site. That turned into the idea that I could make an entire line of greeting cards with him as the messenger. The main problem was that I didn't have the digital photos to edit (this is back in 2005 or so), and I really didn't have a way to market the idea. So I just stuck "Homeless John" in several photos that I did have in digital format. One day, I'll add him to more of the 30,000 photos I have. For now, I'll just go through the process I used, if I can remember it.

Thursday, December 20

Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister and Whitesnake among many others

Whitesnake - Wacken Open Air 2016-AL1193Andreas Lawen, Fotandi [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
I got my weekly library email from the Jacksonville Public Library trying to get me to buy discounted theater tickets. It's for Rock of Ages, which will be here January 10, 2019 (and maybe some other time in the future). I've seen the movie, and it was fine. I think my wife and I saw some kind of theatrical version at some point, maybe at a high school. It's decent and all, but I just kind of wonder about that "among many others" part of the ad. Here's the full line:
Featuring the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister and Whitesnake among many others.

Why Retiring At 37 Was Not An Option For Me

jacksonville jaguars early retirement
Sometimes, I hate my news feed. I looked up something about retirement several months ago, and I get news about retirement way too often. It's depressing because I'm not retired. It's also depressing because the Union I was part of sucked all the good retirement out of the system for themselves (Baby Boomers) before leaving me to deal with angry management. So I'm stuck with a pittance as a retirement when I get it, along with my wife's even more miserable monthly stipend (once she's finally vested).The truth is that I did everything about as well as I could before I was retired by my employer at around 40, but it wasn't good enough to stop working. And it won't be for you, either, so stop reading about the guy who did it.

JAX is a Registered Trademark of What?

JAX computer mouse
I was doing a totally unrelated search of my friend Alex Bartoszewicz when I came across some medical paper some other Polish guy with the same last name had written. That guy's paper was on some Jackson Laboratory website (jax.org) that has a little registered trademark symbol after JAX, especially for something called "JAX® Mice." And I'm all wondering if our city leaders are aware of this, what we can do about it, and why it matters.

Wednesday, December 19

DNA Evidence Caught a Hit and Run Driver?

hit and run jax
A local woman was arrested for being behind the wheel of a car in a hit and run accident nearly two years ago. If you break the law, you should face the consequences, so I am glad the police found the driver. The news kind of questioned why it took so long to catch her, and I can see that scrutiny. A witness saw the accident and called the police. The story implied the driver never stopped or called the police herself. But the news did say that the arrest was made because of DNA evidence.

Tuesday, December 18

I'm Number 200,000 or Thereabouts

amazon author ranking
I haven't checked my Amazon Author ranking in some time. It's actually an interesting, humbling experience. If you've been trying to sell books online, it's worth your time to check on it once in a while, especially if those books start selling to any degree. Right now, I'm ranked somewhere around 200,000th in the world? or America, I don't know.

The first image here shows my rankings for this year. You can see that I achieved my top ranking in the spring, which makes sense, since my top title is an ACT-prep kind of book. It seems I was in the top 50,000 for a fleeting day. Hooray for me! However, my ranking seems to be trending down over the year, so sucks for me. Really, you can't get too riled up over author ranking, but I would like to stay in the top 50,000 at some point. That would give my life some meaning, I suppose.

Kindle Blogging With NewJaxWitty

Like any author, I want my words to get out there. Kindle allows me to sell my books online. The Amazon Author page allows me to post my blog content to my profile. This can be useful in order to show that I know how to write, but it's also a nice cross-promotional tool. People might show up on my website and read more there, whether or not they ever buy a book. The problem is that my blogs have mostly disappeared from my author profile. Luckily, this blog seems to work.

Most of my other websites are Joomla and https. There seems to be a problem with getting the feed in that configuration, at least for Kindle and Feedburner. I get an error when trying to validate my feed:  
Server returned [Errno 1] _ssl.c:510: error:14077410:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:sslv3 alert handshake failure

Skin Cancer Higher in Florida, Obviously

cover up to avoid skin cancer
Being fairly new to the area, I have realized that the sun in Florida is more intense than in Wisconsin where I'm from. It seems so intense that it's probably dangerous, and I've met two people here who have had to deal with skin cancer, so it's for real. Obviously, Florida must lead the nation in skin cancer. Or not. 


>Here are the rates of skin cancer per 100,000 for a recent year:
1. Delaware—32.6
2. Vermont—32.3
3. New Hampshire—31.4
4. Wyoming—30.1
5. Oregon—29.6
6. Montana—29
7. Iowa—27.8
8. Washington—27.5
9. Utah—27.4
10. Maine—26.5
These rates are similar to other ones I found online from 2015, which had Utah way at the top with something called the age-adjusted rate (not sure if that makes a difference).

Saturday, December 15

Tough Times in Jacksonville

tough times jaxMayor Curry's wife was talking about all the good stuff her husband has done to keep our families safe. Then she wished me a Merry Christmas. But one thing that got my attention was when she said this:
We are thankful for coming through tough times together to rebuild and restore. 
Just wondering what the tough times were.

Thursday, December 13

My Screenplay Play

Eighth Grade Ends by Brian Jaeger and Casey Palbicki
Maybe someone out there is a struggling screenplay writer like me. Maybe you've mailed the scripts or tried the pitches. Maybe you watch the typical Hollywood rehash and wonder why no one will even look at your work. I totally understand. I've written two movie screenplays and a musical play, and I've gotten no real bites. Here's a letter I wrote to someone in Hollywood who was willing to look over my work. His comments were encouraging for one of the scripts--the one he actually finished--but he wasn't in a position to help more than that. Anyhow, besides publishing the screenplays as Kindle books and hoping for the best, the guy I knew through a friend will probably be my last attempt to get them noticed.

Wednesday, December 12

Donuts for Dads and Muffins for Moms

muffins for moms
An angry mom was upset about a school gathering that turned away moms looking to score some free donuts because it was Donuts for Dads. She said the kids who don't have dads in their lives should not be excluded from such programs, and that doing so will lead to bullying. The news reported that Muffins for Moms is coming up shortly, but I guess that's not enough for the angry (or hangry) mom. I don't think there's a perfect answer to this one.

Tuesday, December 11

Seven JSO Employees Arrested In 2018

jso
The news ran a story about the seventh JSO employee arrested this year. Maybe it was the 7th officer, not just employee. With 2000 police officers, 1000 corrections officers, and nearly 1000 civilian employees, JSO employs about 4,000 people. Assuming seven arrests is a normal year, I wonder how that rates.

Alien Movies Keep One Website Afloat

Smoke Signals MFHS
I've gotten some attention with this blog, but I need to take it all with a grain of salt. The articles on this website are generally very specific. Besides, it's only been around a year or so. Other articles I've written have more than 10,000 views. Several articles, actually. That's a lot for websites not associated with news outlets or huge marketing campaigns. But one of my best articles, and one that's saving a website from extinction, isn't even mine.

Monday, December 10

I Guess I Moved to Ground Zero

tanks in normandy
A few years back, I wrote an article about a missing nuclear bomb that was near some places I'd never visited. No big deal. I was safe in Milwaukee, which is probably the single safest city when it comes to natural disasters, deadly animals, and nuclear bomb explosions. Now I live 150 miles south of this missing bomb.

Thursday, December 6

Kernan and McCormick Intersection Options

Proposed McCormick and Kernan Intersection
This article may not get very many hits because no one is going to search for something that seems to be a no-brainer. But I was inspired to create an interesting design option based on a road configuration I saw in The Villages. And if anything is a no-brainer, it's that nothing can be inspiring in The Villages. But this was. With all of its uses of traffic circles / roundabouts, one intersection stood out to me, and it could lead to an option for Kernan and McCormick if we're willing to think outside the box.

Wednesday, December 5

Wondering How Many of us Would Break a Window for a $3,600 Louis Vuitton Bag

vintage handbag
I bet when you park next to a car, especially a nice one, you glance at the interior. I know, you're not casing these cars, but it's just kind of interesting to note how the other half stocks their vehicles. I'm sure that even two centuries ago, people would check out the fancy horse or carriage parked in front of the general store. Sure, you could be shot for stealing someone's horse back in the day, but people still would have coveted what others owned. Today, we keep a lot of junk in our locked cars, especially if we're worried about someone strong-arming us in parking lots. That means the items we need with us stay in the car, and thugs know this. Of course, most of us don't even know if the purse inside is worth more than our entire home entertainment systems.

Tuesday, December 4

Soccar Field at The Episcopal School?

Episcopal School of Jacksonville Soccar Field
With an upcoming trip in the works to the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, I went onto Maps to check out my route. After being sure of how I'd get there, I decided to take a satellite tour of the campus. I was kind of looking for parking, since I think I've parked in the staff lot here in the past. As I navigated around the campus, however, I saw what almost looked like a parking lot on a soccer field (or soccar field as I renamed it). What is up with that, Google Maps?

Thursday, November 29

Male Fashion and Lifestyle Blogging

Glenn Robinson jersey mke bucks big dog
I wanted to see what other Jacksonville bloggers write about. It's mostly running, momming, and fashion/lifestyle. Real estate, art, and food are in there, too, but those end up being fashion and lifestyle, as well. Spellcheck doesn't think momming is a word, but mommying is really more of a helicopter mom thing. Another time we'll get into it. Also, almost all local bloggers are women. Men are too busy driving their big pickup trucks around town. I started to thinking that maybe what we need is a guy fashion and lifestyle blog. Or one about pickups. But I don't own a pickup. So fashion it is.

We're Taking Local News To The Next Level

next level local news
There's an ad for a local morning news show that ends with the declaration, "We're taking local news to the next level." It's one of those statements that sounds pretty cool, like "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," but the meaning is actually just as unclear. Almost as vague as commercials I see during the news, like "It's huge," or "Don't settle for less than you deserve." But you have to think about them, and most people don't bother doing that when it comes to catch phrases. I realize it's supposed to be a metaphor, but news it literal, so that's how I'll look at it to try to understand the tagline.

Wednesday, November 28

A Porsche Cayenne For My HOA

suitable HOA company car
I'm still debating how I feel about this one. A few weeks back, I saw a Porsche Cayenne with my HOA advertising written all over it. Kingdom Management. I don't have anything too bad to say about the company, unlike those who have rated it on Google. More than likely, those folks ran into the wrath of not paying HOA fees or getting caught parking an RV in the side yard. Then I got my yearly HOA bill, and I thought about that Cayenne again, wondering about the purpose of it and how Kingdom Management manages its own budget.

How Does Brucelli Sell Online?

Brucelli JAX
As a web designer and small business owner, I'm always interested in ways to promote my brand. As a concerned consumer, I'm worried about my credit cards or bank accounts being assaulted by digital thieves. I was able to consider both when I stopped by the Brucelli marketing website today.

Alignable For Local Businesses: Three Cities In

alignable dashboard
I got an initial invitation to Alignable from a former student when I was still living in Wisconsin. The idea seemed like a good one and came at the right time, since I'd recently been laid off. I was also trying to take my career in a new direction. But Alignable has been a bit of a disappointment in a long line of time-consuming disappointments when it comes to running my own business.

2017-2018 Grace Lutheran - Jacksonville JV Basketball

Grace Lutheran Jacksonville JV Girls Basketball 2017-2018
I had all these photos I took of my kids playing basketball for Grace Lutheran here in Jacksonville, but I never posted them to my main blog, so I figured I'd add them here. I am currently purging my Flickr albums because my free storage got nixed. Neither of my kids are tall, but they both work hard. Coaches did a great job getting kids a chance to play and gain experience. If you're looking for a private school in the East Arlington/Intracoastal West/Arlington/Mayport area of Jacksonville, then check out Grace.

Monday, November 26

Kernan Forest DR Horton Stucco Problems

stucco on DR Horton house in Kernan Forest, Jacksonville, FL
I typed the above search phrase into Google and didn't come up with much. I did this for two reasons: our house has a couple of replacement windows, and a house down the block just had a window replaced. That doesn't seem too odd on the surface, but stucco problems are below the surface. They're also, when you find them, probably beyond the time frame for litigation. So do homes in Kernan Forest / Jacksonville have problems that are the result of shoddy construction back in 2003-2005 (and before), or is this all just normal wear and tear? And if there are problems, should previous owners and inspectors be expected to know?

The Catastrophe of Success

author Brian Jaeger
I was watching a Kirk Douglas interview by Dick Cavett from a few decades ago on the Decades Channel, and Douglas was discussing a Tennessee Williams quote about the catastrophe of success. Kirk's own story was that he had been saddened when he returned to New York and got a suite on the 25th floor of a hotel overlooking Central Park. He had reached the success he'd hoped to achieve, yet it wasn't enough. Douglas's advice was to always have the next goal ready. Of course, catastrophe of success is a fancy way of saying resting on your laurels, but the truth for those of us who have never fully realized our potential is that life becomes more of a catastrophe of near success, and that's probably even worse than getting there and feeling empty.

Sunday, November 25

100mph = Dangerous

1986 Bertone X 1/9I saw on the news tonight that 300-some people have been caught speeding at over 100mph in the past year or two. I wonder how many people regularly travel at speeds of over 100mph. Probably more than 300, since speed traps aren't everywhere. Anyhow, it's wrong to speed, even if I think speeding in certain situations is worse than others.

Saturday, November 24

I Guess I'm Still Tutoring; Getting Paid Might Be Nice

one day
I get about one call per month from people looking for a tutor, generally in the Milwaukee area. Most people leave messages and then I pretty much ignore them. I'm not really going to try to do some long distance tutoring with people who probably need some in-person help. However, tonight I did a little free tutoring, just because I felt like it.

Thursday, November 22

Is Nest The Best For JAX HVAC?

nest thermostat jacksonville
When I was told I needed a new thermostat, the recommendation was for a Honeywell 9000 series unit. And I was perfectly prepared to spend $155 per thermostat. However, my HVAC guy also mentioned the Nest, in the, "If you want to spend the extra cash" kind of way. I didn't. But since he never mentioned the Sensi by Emerson, which seems to be the budget version of the higher-end, smart, DIY thermostats, I had a decision to make, and since it was Black Friday week, that decision got clearer as I read more about the deals.

Wednesday, November 21

$700,000 Missing From St. Johns Sheriff's Office And Neighbors Didn't Notice

two dollars!
A naughty employee has been accused of stealing $700,000 from the St. Johns Sheriff's Office. And her neighbors didn't notice any crazy spending. What gives? If you stole $700,000, wouldn't all your neighbors know about it? Mine sure would.

Tuesday, November 20

PO Problems - Heat Pump MIA

Honeywell thermostat that can work with heat pump
I've talked about the fact that the previous owners of my house never had their dishwasher hooked up to drain, meaning it never worked for their 13 years in this house. I also wrote about the neighbor's weird air conditioner that ran in the winter, eventually concluding it was a heat pump. But I would have never imagined that I also have a heat pump, one that I believed was possibly never connected by the original installer. After talking to McGowan's Heating & Air (original installer), I've got it figured out. Read the whole article to see how that worked.

Guest Blogging: Should I?

guest blogging
I got an intriguing offer today in my email. It was for guest blogging. I think I've gotten similar emails before, but I always assumed someone was trying to scam me. When I looked into it further, however, I understand the concept of guest blogging. What I'm not sure about is whether or not to participate in some way.

Thursday, November 15

Bigdealsbox.com - The Scam I Almost Bought (Also Bigdealsmall)

bigdealsbox.com
I was looking for a place to buy a specific item, so I searched for that item online. This method has worked in the past in order to get the best price. However, as I was about to order from bigdealsbox.com, I got suspicious, so I looked up the site. A search of "Is bigdealsbox.com safe" just got me safes offered by the site. Luckily, I refined my search to "Is bigdealsbox a safe website," and here's the Reddit I found.

Florida Should Not Be The Laughing Stock Because of Election

florida parking lot
I've seen it on local and national news. People are trying to cast Florida as a laughing stock because we had insanely close elections. But if you really think about it, we should not be ridiculed in Florida for close elections or recounts. Not even for all the posturing and lawsuits. Sure, you could argue that the actual candidates for whom we voted might open us up to mockery, but the fact that we had a close election should really be celebrated.

Wednesday, November 14

Profiles in Courage: Shawn Hall

bottles of booze
Shawn Hall, according to the news accounts, single-handedly stopped an out-of-control ride at the Duval County Fair. He looks to be a big guy, so I can believe he stopped the ride. (Also, if a ride can be stopped by one person, it might not be the sturdiest ride in the world.) When I looked up his NFL career, just to check out his stats, I could not find him. Maybe he changed the name he normally uses so that fans don't recognize him. This article wasn't going to be about the NFL career of Shawn Hall, but I just wanted to see how big he really was. Anyhow, I want to return to the news interview. What caught my eye in the interview? Malibu!

Tuesday, November 13

Keeping Kids Safe: Home and Road

use car seats jacksonville
Maybe you're new to Jacksonville, new to parenting, or new to watching someone else's kids. There are some rules, but I don't think many people stress these rules until something bad happens and you get blamed. Or you don't get blamed because you're the victim. I'm going to throw a few scenarios out there to illustrate how keeping your kids safe might be easier than you think.

Monday, November 12

Just In Case You Want Your Shower Water to Taste Better

aqua bliss shower water filter
Jacksonville doesn't have terrible water, but I don't like the taste of it, or smell of it. Since I have a refrigerator with a water filter, I don't have to deal with the sulfur, pharmaceuticals, and whatever else sneaks into the Jax water supply. But that's a totally different review. This one is all about shower water, and most of us don't drink it, so why get a shower filter? Well, if you want slightly less hardness without a water softener, this might help a little.

Friday, November 9

Instead of Recount, Let's Do A Revote

chaos in Madison, WI
I know it's not the law and it's not going to happen, but it's kind of interesting to note that we just approved voting rights to an extra 1.5 million voters in Florida ON the day that we had one of the most important votes in the last 50 years (I'm totally making that up...I am not a political analyst). It seemed important.

Thursday, November 8

37,799 Photos is 36,799 Over My New Flickr Limit

flickr limits
I have some work to do before January. I've been using Flickr's free version that promised me 1TB of storage since 2007. I went along with Flickr when it wanted me to install an auto-uploader on my desktop. I installed it on my phones as a secondary (full size) backup to Google Photos. I even half-heartedly believed the whole SmugMug and Flickr better together company line. I know, a business needs to make money, and storing my photos for free isn't making Flickr (now SmugMug) any money, so I get to try to figure out how to store nearly 40,000 photos that I already have stored in several places. But Flickr does not make it easy.

I Want to Build My Own Website But Don't Know Where to Start

passive ninja websites jax
I get people who ask me all the time about websites for business or churches. That's probably because I work as a church and small business website builder, but also because people love free advice. Once you determine the purpose of your website, then it's not all that hard to build it. Here are some quick tips.

Wednesday, November 7

Rick Scott's 10 Point Plan

rick scott's 10 point plan
I was watching Rick Scott declare victory as our next senator from Florida, and he said that no one in the press read his Ten Point Plan. I'm not in the press, and I guess I'm reading it a bit late, but after having read it, I'd like to wish Senator Scott the best of luck with his list. I'm not saying the ideas are bad, but I'm also not saying any of them will happen while he's in Washington. In fact, he probably won't even suggest most of them, but we can take a look in a few years. For now, I'll just go through the list with my opinion on each point.

Tuesday, November 6

82% of Jacksonvillians Good With Spanking

jacksonville moms agree: spanking is ok
If I ever run for mayor of Jacksonville, I have officially found my platform. I've watched the news for over a year since I've moved to the area, and the issue that has united people who watch the news and bother to take the news survey more than any other issue is whether or not to spank your kids. As of when I saw the results, and unless there was some left-wing hacker who changed them, I'd say it's the most unifying issue in the history of TV news polls.

Blurred Out Racial Slur Is Kinda Funny

You're going to have to stay with me here. I am not a racial slur kind of guy. Not at all. I grew up going to schools with 80%+ African American populations (and I'm white), so I know better. But whenever people decide to do stupid stuff, there's all kinds of irony, which is funny, as long as you're not too outraged to look for it. Let's look.

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