Monday, March 28

Man For Rent to do Nothing in Jacksonville

I read about the Japanese dude who rents himself out to do nothing, and I kind of want the gig here in Jacksonville. I'd heard about middle-aged men renting themselves out to give advice to youngsters, but I think I might actually be better at this doing nothing thing. In fact, I should be your first choice in renting someone who doesn't have to do anything while being somewhere with you.

The Japanese man says he'll talk when people want to chit-chat, but he's not in it for friendships. I can totally do that. I'm a good friend, a good wingman at pubs, and a good conversationalist when I'm interested in a topic, but I'm also an introvert who would rather avoid other people most of the time. I'm perfectly satisfied to stand around various places in relative silence. Sometimes, I'll sit and stare into the back yard for twenty minutes. If you want me to sit and stare into your yard with you, that's perfectly fine. I can even stare into your yard while you do laundry or watch soap operas.

Unlike other men for rent to do nothing in Jacksonville, I am perfectly capable of not doing anything. I won't mansplain at you or debate with you or try to make you a sugar baby or bff. Nope, I'm good. But if you don't want to visit the art museum or take your yacht on the Intracoastal alone, I'm the best option around. Better than an ex or that freeloading cousin from Palatka, anyhow. I'm even willing to hang out at a Jags game or some other local minor league game. I know a lot about sports, but I have no interest in local teams, so you don't have to worry about me swearing my fool head off. But I also won't go on my phone and ignore you or the game. I'll do my job, which is to do nothing.

I don't do drugs and I'm not a booze hound. I literally like any music--I used to listen to the Hmong hour in Milwaukee Sunday mornings on WMSE just because it was something different--so I'll go to any concert with you while doing nothing there. I'm artsy but not pretentious. I have more college credits than many PhDs, but you wouldn't guess it... unless we get into a deep conversation (we won't). I even speak French, but I probably won't be saying anything to you in French unless you know how to ask me a question in that language, and then it would just be to answer the question, like "Oui" or "Non." I won't try to sell you anything more than my presence, and I'm not generally embarrassed by how others look or act--I've got some stories I could tell you about that, but I won't. Most of all, I'm not going to tell you that you're doing it all wrong like your dad might do: I'm not there to do anything but be there.

I suppose there are some rules. You can't dress me up in a scary clown suit and have me frighten kids or use me as a mule for your drug transaction. Nothing illegal or immoral. No overnights to Monaco or Akron. Maybe Monaco. No dating or date-like handsy stuff, boy or girl. That's doing something, and my job would be to do nothing. That said, you can request that I smile or nod approvingly, like when I watch my kids play sports. And if you insist on doing something, you pay for all of the expenses. I'll drive if you want to pay for the gas and mileage, but I'm not coming over to help you move your sofa to your new apartment.

If you want to stop feeling lonely all alone and would rather feel lonely next to another person, I am that person. Use the contact form to hire me to do nothing with you. It'll really be something.

Friday, March 25

Jacksonville Native Calls Hometown Most Mediocre City, Unclear if That's Bad or Good

I recently met an educated Jax native who has traveled the world and lived in many locations who told he that he saw his hometown as the most mediocre city in the world. After saying it was mediocre, he detailed ways in which the city represents the median. High school graduation, household income, and the like. Looking at TIAA Stadium is a good example of mediocrity. If you've ever attended a game there, then you know what a mediocre stadium is like. You could pick and choose stats, like number of seats or screen size, but it's an overall mediocre experience. 

Mediocre is a decent word to use to describe Jacksonville's downtown experience. It's spread out, there are some homeless sections, and it's not altogether a huge destination, but it's also an inexpensive place to visit with several entertainment options. And if you count the South Bank and Five Points as part of downtown, it stacks up mediocrely with other cities of around 1 million people.

As far as schools, I'd vote for mediocre. It's not the worst but it's not very good. Police, parks, roads, sidewalks, public spaces, private partnerships, poverty, race, etc. Nothing special. Not even a tall building or orange-roofed landing to distinguish us.

I want to agree with my new acquaintance that Jacksonville is, in fact, fairly mediocre. In lots of ways. But that's not entirely bad all the time, and it's also fairly typical of large metro areas. I guess some of us would like it to become better than mediocre. Maybe someday. Until then, read articles on this website to discover ways to fix Jax.

Wednesday, March 23

Solar Ponds or Salt Ponds in Jacksonville, FL

I didn't invent the solar pond. However, I had an impression that sunlight on a pond might create energy somehow. I was right, but the salt pond doesn't exactly work the way I'd imagined (or much at all, I think). And since they serve a different purpose from our current retention ponds, it's not exactly a good fit in Jacksonville. 

The basic idea behind a solar pond is that you have a pond -- or something more like a giant in-ground swimming pool with black lining -- that's filled with three layers of water. The bottom layer is super-salt water, in that it's been salinated while boiling until it's like 20% salt. The next layer is somewhat salty, but I don't know the exact percentage. The top layer is fresh water. If the water is clear, sunlight will heat the pond, and the bottom layer, through the magic of either thermodynamics or chemistry, will heat to 170 degrees or higher. This hot water can be used to heat homes or make steam power to use less energy or something. It could help to create the heat for hot water heaters, but you can't use this weirdly-hot pond water as tap water for tubby time, partially because leaving the water in the pond and relatively undisturbed is what makes the magic happen. And it would be gross.

Because you want a clear layer of fresh water to drive the solar pond, Jacksonville's heavy rain storms on the hottest days would likely hurt efficiency. I could imagine a solar pond working in the desert or Southern California, though I assume the cool nights would have similar negative impacts. One report I saw from Iowa said that the water layers had to be replaced too often for the system to make a real economic impact. Granted, a study pond on a university campus is different from a huge lake created in the desert, but it seems the smaller-scale projects would need to be more successful before we see huge tracts of land used for the purpose of heating water.

If solar ponds could be dual-purpose, I could see them in the 904. However, our current ponds function to prevent flooding, store polluting run-off, and scare the hell out of parents with toddlers. Imagine how much scarier it would be to know that you could be boiled alive if you fell into your backyard pond. Also, oil from roads, stray soda cans from recycling carts, and organic material like grass clippings would probably all adversely affect the salt ponds. We'd also have to say goodbye to fish, turtles, and birds because I don't think anything could live in or near a solar pond, no matter how "green" it sounds.

I'm still optimistic that some other use for all of our ponds will be developed, even if salt ponds or hydroponics won't really work. Maybe something related to tides or waves or algae harvesting. Or just using the water on our lawns for irrigation.

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