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.

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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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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McNewsy - Creative Writing
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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)
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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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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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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

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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

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.

Friday, June 19

Florida Unemployment Officially Denied Me Anything, I Guess

florida unemployment denied
I assume this is it. After hours of trying to get my unemployment application submitted (online and through the mail), I have officially been deemed ineligible. I was expecting this, kind of. I understood that I should have received an email or link of some sort in order to at least claim my self-employed federal unemployment. However, I never received an email, link, letter, phone call, or anything. Just a note on my application that says "ineligible." 

Monday, June 15

Profiles in Courage: The "Be as Cool as You Can be" Guy

I hadn't heard a good catch phrase in a while. Sure, plenty of guys like to greet me with, "Hey, Boss!" or similar. But that's not really a catch phrase. My brother-in-law likes to use, "Living the dream," when people ask how he's doing, but he was thwarted during my past visit when he asked someone else how she was doing and she said, "Living the dream." I am sure he has since worked on an alternative in case this happens again, but he had nothing at that particular moment. A co-worker of my wife, when presented with a similar inquiry, always says, "Mighty fine; mighty fine," so I am offering that as Plan B for my bro.

I like to use the Airplane line with my wife when she complains about work or schedules or cooking or dust on baseboards: "Remember, we're all counting on you." She probably thinks it's trite of me to say it, but I mean it, and sometimes I blast her with the old standby of, "You can do it, Duffy Moon!" But that's for special occasions.

With little social interaction as of late, hearing an honest-to-goodness catch phrase was a big deal for me, which I heard from a dude (visiting one of my neighbors) as he mounted his scooter: "Be as cool as you can be."

I like that. It's not telling someone to go out there and be cooler than he can, and it's not implying that there's some level of coolness Nirvana that is unobtainable. It's like something The Dude might say, not just some dude in a Jacksonville driveway. What I also liked was that this guy was riding a tiny scooter and being safe with a helmet, which means he was deciding for himself what was as cool as he could be rather than social norms or peer pressure. 

Conventional wisdom might suggest that the capacity for coolness is much smaller for someone riding a scooter or who might not look like The Fonz, but I think this random dude in a neighbor's driveway was channeling The Dude in a pretty cool way. Whether you're out bowling with your buds, scootering with your homeslices, protesting with fellow believers, yachting with the yacht club, or getting Jagd up at a Jags game, you should always remember to be as cool as you can be. I think that if we all remember that, most of us won't yell obscenities at the scooter guy as we pass him on Atlantic when he's doing 35mph.

FMAP: Send in the Clowns

PEX in bathroom
If you are feeling bored and lonely because of Coronavirus OR you really need new homeowner's insurance, you can create an account over on the FMAP website and watch your phone, text, and email blow up with messages from new best friends.

Saturday, June 13

New Covid-19 Florida Dashboard

The lady who got fired from working on the official Florida Covid-19 Dashboard has create one of her own. Here's the link. Since I am merely a web designer (and not an infectious disease doctor), all I can say is that it's a nicer website than the actual government one, and it works better on my phone.

Since the numbers are way higher than the actual officially released ones, you'll have to decide who is right. Also, I assume someone who thinks the whole pandemic is a hoax may create another alternative dashboard with 0 total deaths or something like that.

A lot of the comments on the site talk about the importance of truth. I agree, but I also really hope with my fingers crossed that our government would be truthful. Sometimes, truth from the government does require some prodding, so I am fine with this alternative reality. If the new site is wrong, the government should have no trouble refuting the numbers with evidence. If the new site is correct, I hope the government adjusts its own numbers, even if means scaring people a bit. 

Here's a list of some of the people who have succomed to Covid-19 as given in the new website. It was kind of powerful for me to be able to read these short descriptions because it represents a diverse group.

List of COVID-19 Victims

Wednesday, June 10

Karen Protests For Justice in San Marco, So Now We're Good

Karen protesting
[I began writing this article BEFORE Mayor Lenny Curry participated in a march led by Leonard Fournette and decided to simultaneously begin dismantling Confederate monuments in Jax. More on that at the end.] 

I am in favor of being able to protest for something in which you believe. I don't tend to do it myself, but that doesn't mean I think it's wrong, unless someone tosses a Molotov Cocktail onto my car. Luckily, that's never happened to me. Anyhow, I saw that there was a squeaky clean protest in San Marco. Karen was there. Dougie E Doug Marrone was there. Probably OK Boomer and a several others. So it was mainstream and nice. Maybe like going to a farmers market. That's why I ask myself the following questions. Does this mean something is really going to change? Does it mean those with relative power expressed some empathy and now it's all good? Does it mean people are just really bored right now?

Saturday, May 30

Wanna Get Flamed on NextDoor in Jacksonville? Suggest Masks

A neighbor went to a local ice cream shop where none of the employees were wearing masks, so she posted that she did not order anything and asked if anyone knew the manager. She wasn't really irate or mean-spirited in her post, just saying she was surprised that the business had no mask policy on Mothers' Day, 2020. We learn later in the post that she has a family member who has contracted the virus and another one who works at a hospital, which she mentions after some of the comments.

Let's take a look at some of the responses our neighbor received for asking about the sanitary conditions at a local eatery:

Speak with your wallet and just leave it at that....
This means, of course, don't eat there. Of course, the woman had already said she didn't eat there, but this post basically says don't eat there AND shut your mouth about it.


I don't have a problem with it.
I'm not sure adding this statement adds anything to the discussion. But it's also not mean.

This poor squirrel wasnt wearing a mask in public. Look at what happened to him 😢
One guy decided that a dead squirrel would be a humorous way to ridicule the mask-wearing people, I guess. A few more people commented on the dead squirrel. I assume that the idea here is that masks don't really protect anyone, since cars will still run you over. While it's true that masks can't protect pedestrians on Beach Boulevard, they actually do help to prevent the spread of viruses.

Stay away and keep your family safe so the rest of us can go there and enjoy their delicious ice cream - in peace
I guess this one is meant to say that people who complain make life difficult for the rest of us who want to enjoy our food prepared without masks during a pandemic. It's like when my wife makes me leave the room so that she can watch a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie - in peace. 

Living your life in fear will kill you quicker than experiencing life to its fullest. Just sayin.
The logic here is flawed. Yes, if you live every day in debilitating paranoia, that's probably not good for your health. However, the original post didn't seem to come from someone who was living in fear. In fact, she had ventured out on Mothers' Day. I am apprehensive of riding a motorcycle, and I can therefore guaranty you that I will not die while riding one, but it's not like I dwell on NOT riding daily. But I might shake my head when I see someone speeding past me at 100mph on McCormick. And my fear still won't kill me, unless I swerve to miss the crotch rocket and swerve again to miss a squirrel and then again to miss a pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk and crash into a tree.

Bottom lines is if anyone disagrees with how someone runs their business.... just don’t go That simple . America is about personal freedom and the right to choose. Consequences be what they are
Good, a bottom line for all of us to learn from. The problem with this reasoning is that during an outbreak, we are all kind of responsible to each other. It's not the same thing as whether or not a business owner comes out against homosexuality or in favor of gun control. I've seen all the virus outbreak, zombie apocalypse movies, and high school health class videos, so I am an authority on the spread of disease. 

Then don’t go there!!! Stay home and don’t go out. This whole thing is BS trying till kill our economy..
I am not sure who really wants to kill the economy. I guess the mindset would be that Demoncrats will win in elections if they can prove the president didn't take the virus seriously. However, that also would mean that any country with liberals in power (and also experiencing the pandemic) will also decide to vote against the party in power. I can see this kind of tactic working in North Korea, maybe, where there's no outside news. Even if you believe that this is nothing more than the flu, then it's the flu in every country on earth, and I don't think that every opposition party in every country really wants to ruin the global economy in order to win elections. 

You all make me sick. Keyboard warriors; with your nose so far in everyone's business and trying to cry to someone and get your way and have things changed to how you want them...then disguise it by saying you're trying to save the world and be the bigger person. Good lord-get a hobby
I wish that I had more hobbies right now. I'm stuck reading NextDoor posts for entertainment. The point here is that the folks who wear masks are trying to both getting in other people's business (to NOT wear masks) and crying to get their way. These people, apparently, simply love masks. I have worn a mask for several hours in a row, so I can attest that no one loves wearing them. I don't like the way they make me feel or the way they make other people look. I freaking hate masks, but I'm willing to wear mine in order to protect others and myself. I don't want there to be universal mask laws forever, and even if that was proven to be the best course of action, I still would not like it. 

You really think a mask makes ANY difference at all?
This comment led into a debate about science. If you are dumb enough to ask this question, then I just shake my head in your general direction. Even really stupid people can admit that masks do, in fact, make a difference when it comes to the transmission of a virus. Masks are not 100% effective, and there's some truth to the notion that people become overconfident, but even most flat-earthers and climate-change-deniers will agree that a face covering makes a difference. For those of you on the fence, consider the purpose of the masks I own--I bought them when I refinished my wood floors to keep dust particles out of my nose and mouth. Even though you can't see a virus, and it's smaller than wood dust, the principal is the same. Even if ALL masks do is keep us from touching our own mouths and noses, that's still something.

You don’t have to eat there. They can do what they want
This comment is probably fairly consistent with the general mindset in Jax. Consider this, however: government (even for the most conservative people) has public safety as one of its core responsibilities. Police, firefighters, paramedics, disaster relief, etc. We don't need government to dictate how we live generally, but a pandemic qualifies as one of those moments when we as individuals should probably pay attention. So during that time, if the government says that people serving food must wear masks, then that should be what those people do. However, since our government response has been a patchwork of rules and exceptions, I myself do not know if this ice cream shop was or was not following either rules or even guidance by the entity with our safety as its main tenant. If there were no restrictions, then it does become a simple case of eating where you feel comfortable.

Everything on here turns into a controversial post. this app is called next door and I'm glad I don't live next door to a lot of you. Most of you never have anything nice to say at all... You're just mean and cowardly
I just liked this post, even if it's not really targeting one side or the other. We've gotten so used to trolling on news sites and responding to famous people on Twitter or even distant relatives on Facebook that we forget that those are real people. NextDoor is an app that shows real names and probably even addresses, and a lot of people treat it as if they are flaming a Politico article. Forget about the neighbor dog crapping on your lawn when you can see what he thinks about wearing face masks on NextDoor. And also forget about discussing real ideas with one another over a beer. 

In case you were wondering, the ice cream place is Bruster's on Atlantic. I went there with my family about a week after these posts, and the 20-or-so teens inside were definitely not wearing masks. We still ordered ice cream and social distanced. I told my wife that all the kids working there are probably making out with each other after work, so it's not like face masks are going to stop the spread of Covid-19 (or herpes) among the crew. The situation did make us uncomfortable, and I commend the original NextDoor writer for taking a stand and leaving, but we had also not had any decent ice cream in two months, so we went for it. If you want to support or boycott Bruster's for political reasons, feel free. As for me, I'm just hoping my ice cream didn't come with a topping of Coronavirus. Or herpes.



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Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

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Tuesday, May 26

Rosa Parks Homeless Park?

Rosa Parks Homeless Park Jax
Rosa Parks Homeless Park
I've driven past the Rosa Parks Transit Station several times since it closed, and I noticed that quite a few homeless individuals line the streets nearby. Since a bus terminal is an eyesore already, and this one is just fenced off, I was wondering if maybe we'd be better off just combining two eyesores into one, making the Rosa Parks Homeless Park out of the bus station. 

Wednesday, May 20

A Month Later, Still No Federal Unemployment in Florida

florida unemployment broken a month later
I quit a job as a teacher just before Covid-19 hit because I figured I couldn't stay safe in the classroom with my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis (and all the meds I was taking to suppress my immune system). Of course, that was two weeks before schools closed for the year. Oh well, not a big deal, right? Even if I don't technically qualify for Florida's rinky-dink unemployment, at least I'd be getting the $600 from the federal government to help cover the Lyft and Uber rides I was not taking to avoid getting and spreading the virus. After trying hundreds of times, I sent my unemployment form in the mail. A month later, I got an email telling me to log into the same broken-down Connect system in order to submit myself to more torture, since it's still broken-down as of May 20th.

Wednesday, May 13

Profiles in Courage: Too Cool Cal From California

I picked up this guy from California who mostly just coughed his way through the ride, so I didn't get to know him real well. I am sure that's for the best. I like to have a positive opinion of my riders, if at all possible, but you know how first impressions go. It's sad when you end up with a lasting negative impression of someone, but I think some people try really hard to make sure that's exactly what you get. And it was more than just a little coughing (actually, a lot of coughing) that caused my impression, albeit not that much more. 

I suppose this guy probably has a chip on his shoulder about something. Since he told me he was a truck mechanic, I assume he probably went to work doing that rather than going to college. And there's nothing wrong with that, but maybe some people have made him feel inferior because of it, and that's why he wants to portray himself as someone to be reckoned with. Like I said, he barely said two words to me, but what he did say was plenty. 

As we were in the Avenues Mall parking lot, he slathered himself in cologne. He apologized for doing it and causing my car to smell like a pheromone factory, but he said the ladies liked it. "And I gotta get some booty," he added. So this guy was heading to the mall, where teenagers and young moms hang out, and that's when he decides to pull out the big guns. Pitbull Man, perhaps. Then again, he was a little older than he was pretending to be, so maybe he was still rockin the Axe body spray. Apparently, body and auto interior spray.

So Too Cool Cal was going to the mall to look for some beautiful babies because the high schools were closed, apparently. And I can respect his game, since all the bars and libraries are closed, so the mall probably does become the best place to cruise for hotties. So far, he's not really all that bad, I guess. Probably most guys on a two-day vacay to Jacksonville are crawling the malls for some bootay. I assume he didn't know about the Town Center, and I'm glad I didn't suggest it earlier in the conversation, before he'd divulged his intentions to cruise for teenagers at The Avenues. 

Anyhow, Too Cool Cal was kind of an amoral sleazeball, but he's was just representin his home state. I know, I know, this is Florida. But people here are at least a little nicer about their lack of moral judgement, and they probably say "I appreciate it" as they carjack you. And "Yes, Sir," if you ask if you're being carjacked. Too Cool Cal, on the other hand, decided to tell me a little story as he left the vehicle to comb the food court for tasty treats, letting me know that it's great to be on vacation and to be rich, as he'd recently sold his business to a family member for $400,000. I told him that was great, and I'm sure it's the line he uses to get all the babes (in case the Pitbull perfume doesn't do the trick). The problem is that I wasn't looking for a one-night stand with Too Cool Cal, so telling me he's taking a vacation with $400,000 only means that he's declaring himself the winner in a pissing contest that started at the moment he told me about his happiness. Obviously, a Lyft driver isn't going to compete with that, with my main asset depreciating as fast as the money I make using it for rides. 

The lesson here, for those who are as socially dimwitted as Too Cool Cal, is that you should not degrade women (or chase teenagers) as objects, even if you think your driver is your brah. And you shouldn't brag about all your money, even if you are planning on giving that driver a decent tip. In this particular case, Cal didn't send a tip my way, which makes him look even smaller. He said it was good I had the AC running because other drivers did not, he used my usb charger for his device, and I even went to the trouble of asking someone where the best entrance to the mall would be for him. Actually, I only heard about his getting teen booty and newfound fortune because I went to the extra effort of not dropping him off at the first set of doors, from whence he would have had to have walked about 1/4 mile to the open doors. Just remember that everyone out there is forming opinions of you when they meet you. This guy just annoyed me with his annoying confidence, probably based in reality, but still annoying, especially when he thinks all I wanted from him was to bask in his second-hand coolness. Not good enough, Brah. 

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)

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