Thursday, June 13

Only Way to Avoid The Reverse Mortgage Disaster

I've seen several news articles about the pitfalls of reverse mortgages. I also saw that we've set up a fund to help people when they get stuck with a reverse mortgage here in Florida. But the simple answer that most older people don't want to hear is that there's only one way to avoid disaster with a reverse mortgage: don't get one.

Wednesday, June 12

Rental Bikes Aren't Exactly For The Homeless

Local news was down in St. Augustine covering the newly-proposed use of some kind of bike-share rental system. Since it's standard operating procedure, a homeless man was interviewed about the program. He said something to the effect that it would be good to have options for someone like him who can't afford a bike. FYI local news and homeless people: bike rental programs are not really created for the homeless.

Tuesday, June 11

Bored Cashier is a Marketing Opportunity

Most of the times that I've been to car dealerships, I don't really notice the cashiers until it's time to pay. The dealership I went to recently to get an oil change, however, had a cashier right in the waiting room (which was also the location of the service and parts desk). Efficient placement that should probably lead to employees working hard, since they are in front of each other and customers. For this particular cashier, however, it was 90% texting in her chair along with 10% taking payments/other work, and it's a missed marketing opportunity.

Friday, June 7

Sunpass, with more states coming soon...

Sunpass and KTag
Here's the text from the Sunpass website that's probably been on the website for the past several years (since mid 2018 for sure):
SunPass transponders also work in Georgia and North Carolina with more states coming soon.
I am not entirely sure why the toll systems in the US have decided not to follow the federal law requiring them to achieve interoperabilty. I assume Sunpass (with all its problems) does not meet the minimum standards set forth by the EZPass group. It's a set of rules that does not allow for fraud, so it's not in tune to Florida business practices.



While we wait for our Sunpasses to be more useful, EZPass has built the following alliances:
Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority
Burlington County Bridge Commission
Delaware Department of Transportation
Delaware River and Bay Authority
Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
Delaware River Port Authority
Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, LLC
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Maryland Transportation Authority
Maine Turnpike Authority
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels
Niagara Falls Bridge Commission
New Hampshire Department of Transportation
Central Florida Expressway
New Jersey Turnpike Authority
New York State Bridges Authority
New York State Thruway Authority
Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority
Skyway Concession Company
South Jersey Transportation Authority
Virginia Department of Transportation (Serves as the primary agency for the 9 independent toll agencies within the State of Virginia)
West Virginia Parkway Authority
North Carolina Turnpike Authority
Kentucky Public Transportaion Infrastructure Authority
Thousand Islands Bridge Authority
I probably don't have to create a huge list as to why Sunpass is awful. The preceding list is enough for me. Actually, any pass that is not part of some kind of national toll pass group is a problem in my book. If all the entities that are part of EZPass can agree on a system, then the others need to figure out a way to join. There's also the issue of Sunpass mismanagement and possible favoritism in government contracts, but that's just Florida politics.

Actually, the Central Florida Expressway IS part of the EZPass group. I have no idea why. The passes that are rotting on their own in America include those in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, Oklahoma, and Kansas. I had a K-Tag in Kansas, and it was pretty stupid, like the Sunpass. Of course, Florida, Texas, and California all probably think they are too good for some kind of national system, and we'd assume it's bureaucracy in California and fraud in Texas and Florida.

Sunpass lets us use the transponders in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. That's fine for people who don't travel much, but I'll be heading through Illinois again, and it's just stupid to have a useless pass that has all the technology needed to pay my tolls there. My family was also considering a trip to the Northeast at some point, and Sunpass would again leave us hanging.

The Peach Pass allows people to use the pass in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, so it's about as useless as the Sunpass. It also has a website that doesn't work in Chrome (video). If you have a website that doesn't work, let me know. I build ones that work.

So Is There A Good Toll Pass For Floridians?

The North Carolina pass, for some reason, allows Peach Passes and Sunpasses, but it's also part of EZPass system. If I'm right, and I think I am, everyone in Florida should get a North Carolina pass. Here's the email I sent to the folks at NC Quick Pass:
I live in Florida. I would rather have a pass that works everywhere than the Sunpass. Your pass is supposed to work in Florida in the sunpass areas, as well as Georgia. And I assume it works throughout the Northeast through to Illinois as part of the EZPass. My question is whether or not a North Carolina pass would work for all of that. If so, doesn't it make sense for Florida drivers to get the NC pass instead of our own, which only works in three states? Is there a reason to have a Florida pass instead?
I didn't want to wait for a response, since I am sure I'm right, so I called to see how quickly I could get a NCQuickPass with EZPass included. 5-7 business days. If you're making this call right before a trip, then it might not work. However, if you have the good sense to plan your trip ahead of time, then the NC Quick Pass is a better all-around option for people in Florida than the Sunpass. That's sad.

[UPDATE]
The folks in North Carolina got me the QuickPass within 5 business days. That meant that I had the pass for going on my trip north. 

I later read an article that claimed many states have started charging more than the posted electronic pass amount to anyone from out of state.  That sucks but also I don't care. I want one pass for the convenience, not six passes for the savings.

UPDATE 2
The NCQuickpass worked on a roll bridge crossing from Kentucky to Indiana, as well as in Illinois. Make sure you get the one with E-ZPass as part of the description. Also, if you use the Sunpass enough to get a discount, then reconsider the single pass solution, since the only discount I'll get is in North Carolina.

Thursday, June 6

I Did Not Know My AC is Obsolete

Obsolete AC
As I walk around my Jacksonville neighborhood filled with homes built in 2003 and 2004, I see that most of the AC (heat pump) units are original. They look like mine, complete with rust on the top. But it's more than the rust that makes these obsolete, and you probably better save up for the upcoming expense yourself if you have an AC unit that is over ten years old.

I Hate to Disappoint Home Invaders, But...

A home invasion down in Eagle Landing (Oak Leaf Plantation) netted $140,000 that the owner had hidden in the attic. Three home invaders and a gun. Scary stuff.  I'm here to tell anyone planning a home invasion not to bother with my home. Apparently, the man whose home was invaded flaunted money on social media. Maybe he was one of those make money fast gurus. I'm not, so no money here, home invaders.

Wednesday, June 5

$4 Wednesday At AMC Explained

The local news "reported" on AMC Theater's $4 Wednesday for the summer. When I searched for the program, I noticed a lot of local news channels had also picked up the "story." I'm glad marketing using local news channels is alive and well, but because it's TV news, there was little explanation. I had to search all around to figure it out. At least, I think I have it figured out, and if anyone from AMC wants to contact me to confirm, feel free.

Doctors Should Read This, But They Probably Won't

I had a doctor's appointment for my daughter today. The doctor was annoyed that we did not fill a prescription. I was annoyed that the doctor did not call my wife back when we had questions about filling the prescription. But I was also annoyed about the signage and marketing campaign that was being waged in the waiting room and appointment rooms that surrounded me.

Monday, June 3

Arielle Nixon Leaves Action News Jax

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:qzbPOgyl45UJ:https://www.actionnewsjax.com/station/personalities/arielle-nixon/31754931+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-b-1-d
New Jax Witty has gotten a lot of hits recently that include the name Arielle Nixon and the term Action News Jax. That's because she has not been on the TV screen for some time. And there's a new blonde in her place. What's weird, though, is that there was never the normal farewell (not that I saw or read), even though it's apparent she's gone. (Spoiler Alert - I found out as I was writing this, so skip to the quote below if you don't want to read my whole post).




Is there a scandal? I don't know. Sorry. You can look Arielle up on the court and local news websites to see that she has not been accused of anything crazy in the past few months. Still, most amicable divorces of this nature would result in some kind of goodbyes and her profile page staying on the website for a few days--the farewell from her previous job is still online.

It was kind of weird that I saw "Arielle" had retweeted a weather report on the same day that I found that her profile had been deleted from the Action News Jax website. I assume this means someone was given her Twitter profile to maintain during the transition. Still, kind of odd. Here's the cached website page in case you need to see Arielle's face one more time. And if you're still following her on Twitter now (and there are probably lots of you), it's kind of a catfishing thing at this point, unless she is still accessing it and liking weather stories. 

Back in Milwaukee, I used to read a section of the newspaper that was dedicated to the local news and radio personalities and shows, but that was a decade ago. Maybe people don't care about that kind of stuff here and now. Generally, when newscasters left MKE, it was for a larger market or because they'd been passed over for promotion to a better time slot. Arielle might have been getting sick of showing up for work at 4am. Or heading to Atlanta.

I think the governor's wife used to read the news a while back. There's always a chance that love was over the airwaves, too. Of course, the story is probably out there by now, since I looked for the answer to my own concerns over a week before writing this. I could find whether she'd gotten citations from the law and her political affiliation, but not whether or not she quit, got canned, or left for a gig in another city.

As I was writing this post, I finally found the one place that seems to have explained Arielle's departure. Actually, it was probably posted in several small posts, but I don't like or follow, so whatever. You don't either, or else you would not have read this whole article about something you already knew.

Here's what Arielle said about two weeks before I noticed she was gone on Instagram:
Friday was my last day at Action News Jax and on TV. Thank you so so much for your support over the years. I’ve accepted a position outside of the broadcast industry. It’s cliche, but it really is a very bittersweet ending. I’m excited for my newest adventure! I hope you’ll wish me luck.
I guess I always thought the pinnacle of a career in meteorology would be getting on TV, honestly. I've known plenty of science-types that would not be a good fit in front of a camera. Maybe she's pursuing her dream to be a storm chaser or to spend a decade living in Antarctica. She didn't say in her Instagram post. If you know the answer, let the world know.

Actually, the fact that I wrote this post (because I'd seen a lot of searches for the answer), and the fact that I did some research to find the answer, and the fact that I found other answers totally unrelated to her leaving the station, probably is reason enough for her to move on. I'm not sure I'd want all of my readers knowing all that same stuff about me. 

[UPDATE]
I received one message from a reader that summed up why many people were searching for Arielle:
I truly miss you in the morning
Your beautiful smile. Great way to start the day, pray you will be  successful in  whatever you do

Read about Corey here.
And my poem for Arielle here
And

Action News JAX Busy Mom Ad Should Bother Us

Youth Basketball and Volleyball Skills Camps in East Arlington, Intracoastal, Arlington, etc.

You might be looking for a basketball or volleyball skills camp for your kids, or you might be looking how to post the camp your school or organization is putting on. I've got some resources for you either way.

Sunday, June 2

AAA Drive, Allstate Drivewise, Progressive Snapshot, And So On

I wrote the main article on how to beat Progressive Snapshot. Now the other companies are doing the same thing, probably because Progressive actually saves itself money in identifying risky drivers. Sure, some of us do OK and get a discount, but the goal of these devices is really for all insurance companies to be allowed into our cars in order to spy on us and determine our rates based on very real statistics.