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. 

Getting Accepted to Every College


important college skills uw whitewater
When I saw the article about a local Jacksonville student getting accepted to all the Ivy League colleges, I assumed he was a very good student who lacked some direction or guidance. Heck, I applied to at least two colleges back in the day, just to have a back up. And I probably should have made it a third, since I did end up going to a local commuter college rather than one where I could play football and be a big man on campus. So I kind of understand applying to several universities, just in case something doesn't work out. If your goal is to attend an Ivy League school, and it really doesn't matter which one, then I guess applying to all of them is a good idea. Then it's just a bonus if you get accepted to all of them, and you can spend a little more time deciding. I am sure there are plenty of stories of students who have applied to every Ivy League college and not gotten into ANY of them. Sure, no one really wants Cornell when you could have Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, but it's probably an OK backup plan.

Sunday, May 10

Mountain Style Home in Jacksonville?

lot to build mountain home jacksonville fl
I was surprised to see a vacant lot for sale about a mile away from my house because it's in a neighborhood with homes built in the 1990s. What was even more surprising, however, was the description that began with:

Great opportunity to build a mountain style home on this attractive lot.

Saturday, May 2

Watch Out For Local Truck For Sale Scam

ram pickup for sale jacksonville
I was talking to someone who was admiring my new vehicle. In the conversation, she told me she had nearly been scammed out of $800 in a deal for a truck that was too good to be true. Luckily, she pulled the plug on the deal because she discussed it with others who helped her to see the truth. I started thinking that there are likely a lot of people who are social distancing and not able to ask friends for advice, making them more susceptible to scams. Let's take a look at how this truck scam works.

Friday, May 1

Drunken Army Vet With a Bad Attitude Tests My Patience

Sometimes, you can't really win, so it's best just to play along. I got a Lyft ride call recently for a guy, we'll call him G.I. Joe, who called almost as soon as I accepted the ride. He started complaining about how he'd been dropped off and was waiting at a bus stop. I told him I just got the call, so it wasn't really my fault. When I got to the bus stop, he was smoking a cigarette and drinking booze out of a tumbler. Luckily, he threw out the cigarette and got in, but he didn't have to tell me (though he did) that he was blind drunk at noon. 

Wednesday, April 29

LyftUber In-Car Electronic Conversation Starter

lyftuber saab
I am not always the best at starting conversations, but I am pretty adept at talking once I get going. That's why I decided to create a slide show for my rideshare vehicle. I'll go through a bit of what I wanted to create and how I ended up getting it done.

Saturday, April 25

Please Won't You Be My Neighbor

potential neighbors?
My neighbors next door just moved out, and I am looking for a responsible family to move in. Here's what I'm looking for in my new neighbor, even though it's not my rental property and I don't have any real say in who lives there.

VW Biogenic Air Filter and Coronavirus

VW Atlas with Climatronic Biogenic Cabin Air Filter
Let's say you have a VW (or probably lots of other makes) with a cabin air filter. It might even be called "Air Care Climatronic" or something fancy-sounding. You might be wondering if it filters out Covid-19 and the best settings to use in order to do so. Unfortunately, I am not a doctor with access to the coronavirus for testing, but I do have some suggestions based on general science and unsubstantiated opinion.

Wednesday, April 22

2008 Saab 9-3 - My First Lyft Uber Vehicle

2008 Saab 9-3
I was kind of thrust into driving rideshare because I had to buy a newer car when my last one broke, and then I left my job because I kind of broke, which left me with bills to pay (for the car) and the ability to pay those bills by driving. The problem is that with an older Saab, you're going to have to set aside money for the repairs. So even though my 2008 Saab 9-3 has been OK, I would not necessarily recommend it as a Lyft or Uber vehicle. 

Thursday, April 16

That Gasoline Smell on Jax Roads

nice car jax
Since I'm driving around Jacksonville a lot more recently, I have noticed something that makes me kind of ill. At least once per day, I get behind a vehicle that smells of gasoline, and I kind of wonder why. The smell isn't coming exclusively from old pickup trucks, though old pickups almost always smell like something is wrong with them. (I tell my kids that an old Dodge smells like gas, an old Ford smells like oil, and an old Chevy smells like gas and oil.) In Jacksonville, it seems that decade-old compact cars, newish SUVs, pickups, delivery vans, motorcycles, and everything in between, often emit a gassy smell.

Wednesday, April 15

Coronavirus Family Activity: Themed Outings

all black mercedes g class
When I saw the all-black Mercedes G Wagon, I thought to myself, "Now there's someone who likes black." I kind of get it with Dodge trucks, since you have to do something to try to make them more desirable, but I wasn't quite sure where Mercedes was going with a $100,000+ Jeep knockoff that also stole the idea of adding dirty-looking wheels to the mix. I digress, and I apologize to the black wheel owners, as you have legitimatized my all-black steel wheels from my 92 Chevy Cavalier, as if I was ahead of my time. This article is about a theme when you venture out during Covid-19, not about my thoughts on all-black wheels. However, your vehicle of choice probably plays a big role in your themed outing right now, as evidenced by this all-black beauty.

Monday, April 13

Everyone's Home and Everyone's Annoyed on NextDoor -- Here's a Fix

turn off notifications in nextdoor
Before I write about this one, I want to remind people that you can turn off notifications in NextDoor. It makes the platform a bit more hit or miss if you do that, but then you don't get roped into what you don't want to read. That's what I do for Facebook, anyhow: no notifications, and then I'll spy on people once a year to see what's been going on. I'd recommend the no-notification route rather than just getting rid of any social media or NextDoor, since you never know when you might want to actually contact your neighbors.

Friday, April 10

Coronavirus Family Activity: Line Exercise

working out in line during coronavirus
Working out in line during Covid-19
You might think that social distancing and time stuck in your house will negatively impact your ability to do workouts, but you don't have to rush online to get the $10,000 home gym just yet. One local was able to get a full exercise routine completed by simply going to get groceries.

Wednesday, April 8

Coronavirus Family Activity: Find Church Online

LCMS church online
We already have a local church, so we're not looking to replace our home church. In fact, we already started online giving years ago, so our church isn't losing anything in our searching around a bit. If your church is having technical difficulties putting together an online presence right now, you've probably searched for something else. Don't feel guilty about it. This is a weird time, and it makes sense that you're searching for answers.

Monday, April 6

Coronavirus Family Activity: Turn Your Garage into a ... GARAGE

Jacksonville garage with storage AND cars
One of the only real activities most of us have right now is going for a walk. Since most homes are now packed with people, even during the day, the walks I go on result in the need to weave past vehicles parked over the sidewalks in driveways. It seems like many homes have in-laws or other refugees living with them, so our neighborhood feels like it's bursting at the seams. While it might seem like now is a good time to re-purpose your garage into another living space, allow me to suggest you turn it into a garage.

Coronavirus Family Activity: Start a Blog

make a website during covid-19
Here's a fun family activity that can lead to you going less nuts at home: create a blog. It's really pretty simple, and it could help you hit the ground running after the Covid-19 crisis is over. I'll go through some of the how's and why's here, on my own blog.

Saturday, April 4

Satan to Pay Rick Scott For Connect Reemployment System

the devil enjoys Florida's Connect website
Satan enjoys tormenting souls
When I read that Rick Scott spent $77.9 million for the Connect system, I wanted to know how one goes about procuring a contract like that. In its current form, no state would pay $77.90 for such a system. I wish the state would pay me for the hours I spent trying to submit my unemployment, but I guess the whole point of the system to prevent any payments from ever being made. Since the horrendous experience is fresh in my mind, I'll go through a few of the intricacies that made the Connect system worthy of the Prince of Darkness.

Thursday, April 2

Coronavirus Family Activity: Filing For Unemployment Like it's 1999

Florida Reemployment Assistance Program Website on mobile
[UPDATE] This article was originally written before Captain Ron DeSantis said the problem was fixed by adding 70 servers and probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, I had the exact same problems AFTER the fix that was supposed to increase the capacity by so much. Great job, Florida.

If you want to see a time machine, head on over to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity website, and the Connect pages you need to use to file for unemployment. I assume the website was developed back around the time Al Gore invented the internet, and that was the case well before the Covid-19 crisis.

Wednesday, April 1

Did DeSantis Just Reopen Churches?

Buried in all the Safer at Home orders today was a nugget that I almost couldn't believe. First, Jacksonville jumped the gun to issue a local order that apparently kept ammo shops open as an essential business, though I did not see the local Jax order on churches, most of which had already gone totally online.

Coronavirus Family Activity: Decorate for Easter / Puzzles

Easter decorations and a puzzle table
This is a dual activity for your family during the Covid-19 outbreak. Since no one should be visiting your house, this is your chance to decorate it however you want. This might include the most ridiculous Easter decorations, but it might also include setting up a puzzle or activity table right there in the living room. No one cares. The Queen of England is not coming over to inspect your house, so take this chance to live like it.

Tuesday, March 31

Coronavirus Family Activity: Camping Out

camping in jax
I'll begin this with my usual diatribe about why I hate camping. The human race has spent ions perfecting our dominion over nature, so why would I want to be sweaty/dirty/freezing/smelly/buggy/sleepless? I wouldn't, but I camped out for several years because my son wanted to be in Cub Scouts. Covid-19 and staying at home has provided our family with the perfect opportunity to use our camping equipment, even if not all of us actually spend the night in the tent. 

Coronavirus Family Activity: Walk a New Neighborhood

Point La Vista Rd Miramar Jax
Even if you are being forced to shelter in place, you have to get outside. Eventually, you might not venture any further than your own yard, but if there aren't strict rules, you can at least take a walk through your neighborhood. The only problem with having a dog who loves long walks is that you might get bored not having parks or beaches available. Our family decided to venture out to a new neighborhood for a walk before (and in case) the shelter in place order comes to Jax. 

Monday, March 30

Bulk Commercial Toilet Paper Solution

residential commercial TP dispenser
Maybe we weren't totally out of toilet paper, and maybe the stores were going to catch up with all the hoarding. But we were running somewhat low, and I sure didn't want to have to use alternative solutions that might clog up the plumbing, so I got to searching online. Plus, if we could get TP delivered, then we would not have to worry about hanging out at the store with hundreds of people in order to find one item.

Thursday, March 26

Online Church ... Now What?

church online donations
Your church has transitioned to being online. Maybe you drove people away in the first week with a shrill-sounding Facebook Live service. Maybe you don't even have a Facebook or (better) YouTube account for video. Maybe you'd prepared by delving into online technology and presented yourself in a professional manner. But the money problem still exists. Even if SOME of your church members have been paying online for several years, not everyone pays online. And those who do pay online might like another option. Let's take a look at some of your online church options for keeping the money coming in.

So All These Folks Who Can't Cook or Bake Need to Hoard Flour?

I understand the toilet paper. Everyone wants two weeks worth of TP to make sure that they can survive a quarantine or shelter-in-place order. Or an apocalyptic zombie attack. Even guns I get, since you obviously need to protect your toilet paper and canned food stash with an assault rifle. Other Covid-19 hoarding I don't get. Like water and flour.

Monday, March 23

Online School Day One

It's not even noon in my house, and it's nearly complete insanity. Day 1 of online school. Both kids are currently in school-sponsored group discussions, so I am hearing them and all of their friends all at once. My wife, who teaches at the school, is trying to troubleshoot problems in communication with her own students. And either it will all work out eventually or else devolve into something of a scheduled daily chaos session as the world deteriorates around us. 

Sunday, March 22

Covidifiers Could Cure Florida

The worst part about Florida is the hot, humid summers. I always tell people from the Midwest who are also considering moving down here that the summers are like winters up there: just stay inside. However, Floridians have a real opportunity to live Covid-19-free this summer, and it's a natural solution, maybe with a little help from my new covidifier invention (patent probably pending).

Coronavirus Assignment: Say Something Nice

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all
Sometimes it's fun to mess with people a little bit online, like when I ripped on some guy from Lenexa, KS, for thinking he was some kind of a real poet. Or the local Millennial on a mission to become a typical scammer. Or when I smoked a CEO who was acting like a CEO. However, as we all deal with Covid-19 and our families all day at home with us, let's all take some time to write something nice once in a while in order to keep the world and ourselves sane.

Saturday, March 21

Just the Mobile Version of the Florida Coronavirus Covid-19 Map

florida coronavirus map
Too many websites want you to read lots of content or click on newsy ad links before you use the Florida Coronavirus map of Florida Covid-19 cases. Or someone thought embedding the map on a website was a good idea using either mobile or desktop.

Wednesday, March 18

Online Lessons for Teachers

online teaching during covid-19
If you're a teacher suddenly having to teach students online for the first time, you're going to want to use the resources available from your district and beyond. I started teaching predominantly online about a decade ago, even though I still had students in my classroom. Most of my 300+ ORIGINAL assignments were created so that I could use them either as handouts or as Google Docs. They were also used as Microsoft Office assignments when I taught in Florida for a stint.

What the Duck? Irresponsible Dog Owners or Nature

what the duck, jax
I was driving through the Five Points area, trying to avoid hitting one of those colorful ducks when my rider told me the worst story ever about a duck. At least the worst I'd ever heard, not having been told an abundance of duck stories.

Monday, March 16

Home Dental Office in my Neighborhood

dental office east arlington
Apparently, one of my neighbors was running an illegal dental office a couple blocks away. I never knew such a place existed. I mean, I could see a massage parlor or loansharking business, but an actual dental office? And without me even knowing it.

2010 - 2014 Cadillac SRX or Saab 9-4x Trunk Fix

fix your cadillac srx or saab 9-4x liftgate
Our Saab 9-4x (similar to Caddy SRX) had a liftgate that started to creep back down after opening. We did not yet have the problem of it closing immediately or without warning like I'd seen on forum posts, but it was probably heading in that direction. I searched for the best replacement pressurized cylinder liftgate support, and this is the one I chose from Amazon.

Friday, February 28

Getting a Dog License in Jax

tax collector jacksonville fl

I don't really know why a dog needs to be licensed in Jacksonville. I have a microchip inside my dog that will lead me to it, and the dog also wears a collar with contact information for our household. We have the documents stating the dog has three years of rabies shots, but we did not have a tag for Duval County. And that's probably the reason to get licensed, not that I've ever heard of animal control shooting a dog for not having tags in Jacksonville. Anyhow, the wife says we need a licensed dog, so for $20 a year, I figure that's the least of our dog-related expenses.

Thursday, February 27

Viral NextDoor Child Care Post

$5 an hour child care jax
Normally it's the crime posts that get the most comments on NextDoor, but one slightly out-of-touch grandma set off a firestorm of responses, so I figured I'd give her post another boost on here:

Childcare Needed
For our 4 year old granddaughter......We prefer an adult, with or without children, but a responsible college or high school student will be considered.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
* We live in Cobblestone
* Provide Care in your home
* We will pay you $5 per hour cash, weekly
* No set hours, but mostly afternoons and evenings, including weekends
* * Anywhere from 10 to 25 hours per week.

Wednesday, February 26

1001 Reasons NOT to Build a New Website

Salesmen are good at what they do, and they will tell you that apps are the future or that you can simplify your website. While apps aren't the future, there's some truth to simplifying, but it's at a cost. What I would say is that you should simplify and then have a blog or archive, just in case. Facebook doesn't do this for you. Twitter or Instagram either. Youtube can be useful, but it's not really a great place for people to learn more about your business.

How to Get Your Nuisance Neighbors Out

I just found out that the neighbors that we like next door are moving out. That's good for them, as they get an opportunity to get a new home of their own. We are hoping it's good for us, too, but just in case it's not, I am prepared because of events that happened on our block about a year ago.

Tuesday, February 25

Voter Slightly Confused About Role of Korean War Veteran

A woman interviewed at an early polling site said that she appreciated all the Korean War Veteran had done for her. That's great, and I appreciate the man's service. The problem is that the woman believed the vet had paved the way for her to be able to vote. Since I wasn't there for the speech, I can't say she was totally wrong, but I wondered whether she wanted to believe a bit more than was possible for a Korean War Veteran to have done.

A Tree Grows in Jacksonville

broken window building jax
I was talking to a young man visiting Jacksonville from Illinois, and he wanted to know more about the city, as he was considering relocating here. I gave him the regular routine about the weather (heat and hurricanes), told him to be ready for long dinners out, and said that you always have to be aware of criminal activity. He also wanted to know about downtown, since he had been there at a bar but didn't know much beyond that.

Monday, February 17

Sawgrass Village Shopping Center Road Rage

Sawgrass Village Shopping Center
I guess folks with expendable income show up in their Mercedeses and Lexuses (Mercedes and Lexi?) to the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center on Valentine's Day. At 1:15 on Valentine's Day, it was if there was a senior citizen convention at the shopping center. One of them nearly made a citizen's arrest on me, just before another one nearly crashed into another patron of the NY strip mall. Overall, there were too many mini and mega SUVs vying for the same parking spots, presumably occupied by shoppers looking for that perfect gift to curb the whining before it even happens.

Formerly Fuscillo (or Fuccillo) Nissan

huge jacksonvilleI was looking for a deal on a synthetic oil change, and I'd used the Money Pages magazine for such a deal before with Southside Kia, when I came across an even better price at Nissan of Orange Park. When I looked at the ad a little closer, I saw the phrase, "Formerly Fuscillo Nissan," which got me to wondering what happened to the Fuccillo business, and whether it was Fuccillo (like the other dealerships in Florida) or Fuscillo (like the ad says).

Sunday, February 16

Is Regulation The Problem With Jacksonville?

Electrical fuse panel jax
I got into an interesting conversation with a gentleman about why Jacksonville has not yet attained the stature that it should have as a metropolis of one million residents. We kind of went back and forth for a time, both of us mentioning what might be wrong, when he came up with government regulation. He claimed government regulation was the number one worst thing with living here, even though I often look around and wonder whether there's any regulation at all in the city. 

Friday, February 14

The Last-Minute Valentine's Day Guide: Jacksonville

Valentine's Day Jax
So, you're supposed to book something romantic in Jacksonville, but you put it off until the last minute. Worse, you hate calling restaurants. Sure, you could seek out some national chain restaurant that doesn't take reservations and tell her everything else was booked. Or you could try to be a little more creative (though she probably won't appreciate that anyway). Here's what I did.

Wednesday, February 12

Jaguars in London Has Precedence (And it Worked)

Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA
I grew up in Milwaukee, near where the Packers played. When my family moved to a new house near County Stadium, I lived just a few miles from Packer home games. Yes, home games in Milwaukee for the Green Bay Packers. The Jacksonville Jaguars are going from one to two games in London, and it's being done for the same reasons as the Packers playing in Milwaukee. The real question is whether it will work out for the Jaguars as well as it did for the Pack.

Wednesday, January 22

Alleys in Jacksonville Confirmed

alley in jax
There are alleys in the Springfield area of Jacksonville
I was driving in the Springfield area of Jacksonville when I finally saw my first alley. As I drove around a bit more, I saw more of the handy passageways, nestled behind homes. I'm not sure if this is exclusive to Springfield or if I've missed the miniature roads in other parts of town, but I'd been under the impression that alleys never made their way to Jacksonville at all.

Advice From Your Driver: Lawyer Up

jax accident fender-bender damage
I was listening to a lady today as she described her recent car accident. She had a green left turn arrow, but she was hit by someone who seemed to have been disobeying the law. While I think she was being truthful, I also think that she's probably in some trouble if she doesn't lawyer up.

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