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 This year (2018), that seems to have been replaced by a free tow system.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?

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