Friday, June 23

How Can A River Ferry Not Be Jacksonville's Biggest Money Pit?

I was driving along the 295 and noticed that the Merril exit had a little symbol on it depicting a car on a boat. Proportionally, it looked like a tow-boat for a car, but I took it to mean it was the exit for a ferry. As I continued over the Dames Point Bridge, I saw that the Hecksher Drive exit also has a ferry symbol. Problem is, the problem was already solved, meaning anyone on the 295 only needs to cross the bridge to avoid needing the ferry. I suppose there might be one tourist every decade or so that gets excited and exits in order to take a river ferry, but that's not a very good ROI for the sign. It's kind of like having a sign for the Matthews Bridge at the Dames Point Bridge. Anyhow, the sign is dumb, but what about the ferry itself?

I saw that it was closed for maintenance for several months. Maintenance sounds expensive. I don't have any clue as to operating costs or land costs or anything related to ferries, but it seems like a costly luxury when a bridge exists. I'm going to guess there are parking lots, ticket buildings with employees, at least one large boat with several more employees, etc. Even if the tickets are from an automated kiosk and people park themselves, it's a huge freakin boat, right? 

I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it seems that the Mayport Ferry has lost between $500,000 and $1 million a year for the past 30 or so years. Probably since the Dames Point Bridge was built. It's changed ownership several times (because it loses money), and now it's owned by JTA. I'm sure someone got rich back in 1874 by running the ferry, but 1874 is never coming back again, people.

JTA claims 400,000 passengers per year. I'm not sure the number of vehicles or whether cars are counted as a single passenger even if it's stuffed with people. Either way, every rider would have to kick in an extra dollar (minimum) in order to almost break even. But I'm sure all the expensive studies have shown the most you can charge a pedestrian to cross a river (and then have to pay to cross back) with nothing of interest on either side is $1.

So the best plan was to upgrade something or other, closing the ferry service for a few months. An upgrade probably has not resulted in higher ticket prices, and I really doubt it will result in more consistent ridership, so it was probably done to make sure the ferry was safe. At what cost? Beats me, but it probably wasn't cheap or free. 

I'd love to hear the argument for continuing to fund the ferry. If it's historical, then I'd like to see an old boat. If it's useful, then I'd like to see who benefits the most from the ferry. If it's tourism, then I'd like to see where people are from who use it. If it's economical, then I'd like to see it break even. Honestly, I want the ferry to make sense. Even a little bit of sense. I just don't see how. 

Tuesday, June 6

Yeah, Begshoppers Are Annoying

I was reading a story about begpackers in Asia (and how people over there find these people annoying) when I got to thinking about begshoppers in Jacksonville. Those are the folks who show up to Walmart or a gas station with their vehicles in order to beg for gas money to get back home. Just as the general consensus in Asia is that college-aged guitar players should not embark on tourism without the funds, my thought is that local folks should probably not venture out in a car without gas.

I guess most of us assume the asking for gas money is a ruse in order to get drug or booze money, but the fact is that these people do generally have cars right there, and they will have to add gas in order to get back home. So it's not a total lie, I guess. But still stupid.

Most people who own cars also have a place to live. Plus, they have a means of transportation to get to work, but instead of working, they are begshopping. One of the begshopper families that hang out by the airport drives a fairly nice black Camaro. They just roll up on everyone they see with the same story of needing gas to get home as they drive all around River City Marketplace, asking for gas money.

Would I feel more like donating if they said they needed money to buy groceries at Walmart? Or if they needed cash to make payments on their nice Camaro? Honestly, I can't imagine a scenario where I would give begshoppers money, but the scheme only has to work on a few victims per day to get a few hits of meth.

Harrell & Harrell 'The Right Size' Ad is Hilarious

Maybe Harrell & Harrell was going for a sassy, naughty response to Morgan & Morgan. Maybe the law firm just got really lucky and never thought about it. However, the result is one of the best clapback ads ever created.

For context, Morgan & Morgan created a series of commercials and billboards claiming that size matters. It's because Morgan & Morgan is the largest injury law firm on earth or something. The phrase also has a sexual connotation. The ads didn't take it too far, but everyone knows the debate about male size and whether it matters. So a big law firm is saying that size matters, and they are kind of using sex to sell, even if the Morgans aren't the sexiest men alive.

The genius of Harrell & Harrell's ad campaign is that Holt Harrell probably is the sexiest lawyer alive. And the billboard, with a photo of Holt, reads, "The right size." That's freakin hilarious! Plausible deniability allows one to say it's just in response to some large law firm that doesn't really know who you are, but if you acknowledge the use of sex in the Morgan & Morgan ad, then the response ad is doing the same thing. It's not the size but how you use it, right? Morgan & Morgan is just too big and too firm. 

When you are a handsome, wealthy lawyer-veteran like Holt Harrell, you're probably more worried about lining up donors for a potential Senate bid than a pissing contest with Morgan and Morgan, but Holt won it anyhow. Because of the ad, you assume Harrell drives a sensible family sedan instead of a monster pickup truck. You assume he shows up for court well-rested rather than hung-over. You assume he is polite to the judge. You assume he holds you afterwards; or holts you. Most of us associate law firms with one-night-stands: you're ashamed to do it, but you kind of want it to be good if you're going to bother. But Holt Harrell is the lawyer you'd be proud to bring home to dinner with the family.

My wife used Milwaukee's biggest and most advertised law firm when she got into an accident, and it worked out OK for her, but when she finally met the man behind the "one call, that's all" catchphrase, she said it was like meeting a rock star. And that was after all his minions did his bidding to get the settlement. I told her he probably meets all the clients once just to see if they'd make good billboard photos, but she didn't really make enough money to get plastered on a giant sign. You don't imagine Holt Harrell checking out clients once just to see if they're billboard-worthy. That's a big, sleazy Orlando-lawyer move. And it's not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean that makes all the difference.

New Roof Miscommunications Lead to Buyer's Remorse and This Review

My neighbor recommended CNR Roofing in Jacksonville because of the warranty and price. Assuming the company is still in business, workmanship is guaranteed for 10 years rather than the typical 5 years. I liked that, too, so I added CNR to my list of roofing estimates. 

The salesman told me what they'd do and materials they'd use and how it was all quality, and I was pretty much sold, so I asked if I could get a cash or special-financing-rate credit card discount or offer. I was told 1% cash discount. That was cool, though I assumed my other options were to pay with check or credit card (also about 1% cash back depending on the card). I was wrong.

CNR pushed the date around to account for rain. That's not a big deal when it was pushed back, but when it was pushed up, I didn't have time to get cash in hand (though it was in the bank). When I told the salesman this, he said just pay with a check, and in my mind, a check would be the same as cash when compared to a credit card (which I know charges fees to companies), so I saw it as a green light to pay partial cash and the rest a check. Nope. I was later told cash or check was all they took, and I lost my discount because I didn't go get $8,000 from the bank, even though I was also told it costs then money to process cash, so I was confused. I thought they'd want cash for maybe paying a worker cash once in a while or whatever it is companies sometimes want cash for, and I was willing to go get the cash, but then they didn't really want it and seemed to want payment immediately, even though the roof was done a day early. I hadn't slept much in the previous 24 hours, so I went with it. 1% isn't such a big deal if the job's done right.

However, even before I didn't get my 1%, I had let CNR know that a rusty nail went through my foot the night before. I was very surprised to hear that I wasn't getting my discount AND that I need to be careful in my yard. No apology discount or immediate calling for a crew with magnets. Or an inspection of the yard together. Just be careful. After my overpayment, I headed outside to inspect, hoping the crew had picked up some nails since the previous night (they finished in the morning of the second day). I found over a dozen nails in the yard. That's worse than just be careful. All told, I found enough nails in the yard, plant pots, the shed roof, etc., to make the yard officially dangerous. Even the nails not in the yard itself, like the ten or so on top of the shed, would eventually end up in the yard. Honestly, if I wanted a crappy job of a roof tear-off, I would have done it myself. The photo I took of the nails I found does not include one my wife found (which she handed to the workers) and the one in my foot (which I tossed into the dumpster before cracking open a beer for self-healing heal).

We chose to keep cars in the garage to protect them from the elements, and we assumed the dumpster would leave when the crew was finished. Nope. I couldn't pick my kid up from school or use my vehicle to get to work. Again, probably just another miscommunication, but enough to make me feel like there should have been better communication. As in, "Have cash on hand for the discount (even if we go a day early), and have your cars out of the garage for as long as it takes because our dumpster leaves when it feels like leaving. And be prepared to clean up your yard yourself."

If I'd known all that, I'd be much happier. In fact, if you hire CNR, now you know. I think the roof is fine, and I hope they stay in business 10 years, honestly. Being from Wisconsin, my expectations are just high, even when Florida proves time and again that even big-ticket purchases are just barely adequate in most cases. I'm not saying you should pay twice as much to ensure a better roof experience or go with a cut-rate company that uses worse materials. Mostly, I'd just say to not expect an excellent experience no matter which Florida roofer, car dealership, plumber, painter, contractor, or whatever you choose. I've seen the results of those and more, and it's just not all that good.

After the roof was done, the bills paid, and my clean-up complete, my insurance guy told me to get a wind mitigation report from the roofer. He said roofers and contractors in Florida can fill out the form. Again, nope. While someone at CNR could take a class and be qualified, they are not, so that means an extra $80 to $135 needs to be in your CNR roofing budget. Also, the inspector said my underlayment was basic and not necessarily the better material insurance looks for, so I guess I misunderstood the sales pitch that said CNR used something better than other roofers. 

I was told when I paid that I could leave the CNR sign up as long as I wanted, so I walked down to the street as the bill collector was leaving in order to remove the sign. The job is done, and I hope it's the last I have to deal with CNR or any other roofer for a very long time. I obviously do not recommend using CNR roofing for those of you who expect the best, but as long as you know what you're getting, I'd say the company is worth an estimate.

I wanted to add that my bill to CNR for poor cleanup, storage of their dumpster, and lack of communication comes to $280. I'll update this page if the company decides to pay the bill. Cash or check would be fine.

Places to Advertise Community Events in Jacksonville

My son is in another school play, and this time I decided to try to drum up a little attention. However, I don't know exactly how to do it, so I want to document what I have tried to get a community event publicized, especially when a few hurdles existed from the outset.

First off, Duval County Public Schools have terrible websites, so while I don't think the school he's at has publicized the event, it's really hard to tell. On top of that, the tickets didn't go on sale on the GoFan site until less than a week before the event, which means all the meathead parents with kids in sports didn't see it as an upcoming event, nor could I use the link in material publicizing the play. Basically, the plan seems to be that no one will show up, and because no one will show up, there's no reason to publicize it. I don't like that plan, so this is what I tried:

About a month before the play (in this case it's Noises Off at Fletcher High School), I tried to add it to a couple of local events websites. Because I didn't have a link to tickets or an official website, I provided my own information. Folio Weekly ended up adding the event (Hooray!), while visitjacksonville did not (Boo! Hiss!) The only problem is that Folio Weekly doesn't rank high when it comes to theater events, and Jacksonville (no surprise) is all about the for-profit theater companies and their list of re-hashed productions. Anyhow, much love to Folio Weekly.

My next step is to get a document printed and posted wherever someone will let me in the East Arlington/Beaches area. I'll start with my church because my wife works there and the people know James. I went to the Pablo Creek Regional Library with one ad, but the library staff said I couldn't post it anywhere, which means a local public school can't post event info at a local public library about a literary event. My son was technically in charge of distribution of the rest of the printouts. I don't think he tried any local businesses, instead opting to hand them to fellow actors to each post one somewhere.

In the end, not much was advertised. We learned that Folio Weekly allows legitimate events, but it's not the calendar that tends to show up in Google searches. We learned that the library should change its policy and the high school should promote academic activities as much as sporting events. We learned that kids (even friends) don't attend plays, nor do most teachers or community members who happen to hear about them. That said, better execution of advertising will occur in the future because of what we've learned. If the play's appropriate, we'll try a local mom blog in the future, too. But I really believe a door-to-door canvassing with the printed playbill around the school might be the best way to let people know, since most people aren't actively searching for the information. We can ask the neighbors to post the info at work or pass the word to someone who might be interested.

Jacksonville's Bus-ted

Two stats about Jacksonville jump out to me as someone who cares (at least a little) about public transportation: we are among the worst cities for public transit usage as well as pedestrian deaths. Those two stats may not be related, in that I don't believe a more robust public transit system would make crossing Beach Boulevard outside of a crosswalk any less dangerous. However, the answer to anyone's question about transportation in Jacksonville is clearly that you better have a vehicle of your own. The traditional solution for a city like Jacksonville would be to expand the bus system (or that weird skyway dealio) and/or improve pedestrian access. What if we went totally against the grain and did NEITHER? Hear me out before you decide I'm some kind of misanthrope. 

Everyone hates the bus: riding it, getting stuck behind one, paying for empty rolling rectangles so one old-ass lady who talks to herself can get to the hairdresser. Also, everyone who isn't a daredevil hates daredevil pedestrians, which includes morons on bikes, motorized bikes, scooters, golf carts, and anything else of dubious legality clogging up roads, paths, and bike lanes (and often going the wrong direction). We also hate giant wastes of money like re-creating the skytron or creating pedestrian bridges.

I have urban planning credentials and I'm supposed to love public transportation. But, really, no one loves it. Planners can see it as the best alternative and commuters can accept it as the only alternative, but they'll never love it. In fact, in several years of taking urban planning classes at UW-Milwaukee, I never saw an urban planning (or any other) professor getting off a bus. Maybe a few biking profs and even walking profs, since the surrounding neighborhoods are fairly upscale. But no bus-riding profs. They weren't totally hypocrites, just pragmatists, since the fastest way for those professors to get to UWM was to drive. And in Jacksonville, the fastest way to get anywhere, even to the next neighborhood over, is to drive.

Granted, we could decide as a city that bike, e-bike, and other motorized devices are important, in which case we'd need to create separate connecting grids (and probably bridges) for these paths. Turn all major roads into highways with no pedestrian access. Basically, two separate systems.

The only way to fix our current roadway problem is to literally cut new roads. Not just widen the three major roads in one direction, but double the roadways in that direction (or at least stop having major thoroughfares dead-end into country club neighborhoods). Maybe increase bike and golf car lanes, but not the bus.

I read this study that promoted the economic impact of the bus system, but it's a farce, claiming a $200 million economic impact. OK, right, the poorest people in Jacksonville riding the least-used buses in the country generated $200 million? Well, not exactly. $74 million of that impact was from salaries paid to bus drivers who drove mostly empty buses (and probably lots of managers). Most of their salaries are paid by taxpayers. Another $23 million was in savings realized by the people using the buses. So these people saved on owning a vehicle, but their savings are also a result of our taxes, since JTA only took in $10 million in ticket sales in the study year.

The other economic impact is from $118 million in total added value. I think I can confidently say not a single resident of Jacksonville would believe a crappy bus system adds over $100 million in added value to our lives. I'm not sure if that's partially based on value of the buses themselves (which we buy or lease) or the fact that a few dozen people use the bus to get to work. A lot of public transit leaders will make the mistaken connection that local businesses along the transportation corridor benefit from the bus, but those are pawn shops and SNAP benefits grocery stores. It's not like a bus route is going to spur hotels, luxury goods stores, or sit-down restaurants, if they spur any business at all. 

Anyhow, the bus probably adds very little value and it probably costs taxpayers a lot more than the $74 million in salaries because of the millions in equipment and infrastructure. With only $10 million coming back from fares, I'd guess the city is $100 million in the hole every year, though I wasn't able to find actual numbers for you.

So what could be get for $100 million a year? You'd probably be able to partner with a ride share or taxi company to provide a much better experience for a fraction of that price. Everything is so far away to use the bus for most transit in Jax. JTA can't do anything about the fact that most of us need a car just to get out of our neighborhoods. Or the fact that our city's nearly half the size of Rhode Island.

I'd take the top bus lines near downtown and keep them. I'd continue some flyers to and from popular spots. And then I'd tell everyone else that the city will kick in x% for using Uber Lyft or whatever. Even if we paid $2 a mile to ride share companies that would hopefully pay drivers over $1 a mile, the total cost would be under $130 million year (based on miles traveled). No retirement plans for drivers or elaborate bus stops or bus purchases. It could probably cost much less (like half that), but we're talking high-end. And you'll have to offer these drivers more than a typical ride to pick up smelly people with no chance for a tip. But in a city like Jacksonville, some kind of hybrid mass transit and rideshare solution might work the best. At least it would be more convenient.

The only thing buses can do that rideshare fails at is reducing congestion, but I'm not sure most people will notice, especially if fewer buses mean fewer chances of getting stuck behind one.

Why Isn't There an NCIS Jax?

I think the various NCIS and FBI shows are all that's on CBS, which is fine, but I just wonder why we don't have an NCIS Jacksonville TV show. Instead, we have Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol as our most important local police drama. NCIS would be a good fit because we're the second biggest Navy town and we have as much crime as any other big city. 

We have stupid Florida crime, which is mostly only available in Florida. While the other NCISs focus on criminal masterminds, NCIS Jax would be more about criminals who rob banks and then walk to their apartment complex across the street. Or folks who have kennels with 30 pit bulls in their yards. Or geniuses who 3D print fully-automatic gun modifications to sell out of their garages. Or dentists who practice dentistry in their living rooms. Or executives who try to sell public utilities to get rich. Really dumb, immoral crime that's the bread and butter of the Keep Florida Free movement.

Maybe NCIS Jax could also investigate Navy guys who rent in neighborhoods beyond their means with a bunch of buddies and refuse to take their recycling out on the right day of the week, letting it sit beside their house as an eyesore. I'd appreciate that storyline. NCIS Jax wouldn't even have to worry about Writers Guild strikes because stupid crime in Florida pretty much writes itself. As in, today we need to investigate the guy who keeps gardening in the nude. Or we have to decipher who wrote a blog post about Ron Desantis without permission. Or which teacher let students read a Judy Blume book. Big crimes.

The Jacksonville NCIS officers should be decidedly Florida in their law enforcement, evading questions from the press and turning off body cameras when convenient. They should pull people over without just cause and use Guantanamo-style interrogation techniques. It could also have a Baywatch vibe with some surfing and tail-chasing in between drug busts and murder investigations.

Getting a Ticket in JAX: No Easy Way Out

Someone in the family got a ticket in Duval County. It's a traffic ticket issued by a lazy cop who never asked any questions, probably because his very job as a Beaches police officer depends on how many tickets can be issued. Anyhow, the ticket exists, but the way out seems like we're stuck paying full price no matter what, and that seems to be the way it's stacked against us.

Pay and Add Points
You can just pay your ticket and accept the points. Insurance companies claim they don't discriminate based on points, but they might, and you can also eventually lose your license.

Pay and No Points
If you take an online class for $6, you can save $12 (on our particular ticket), but there's also a $20 state fee and $10 fee to get the proof you passed the class, which Duval requires. So you're spending an extra $24 to avoid the points.

Pay Online
Add $7 to pay online. I forget the scenario and whether we had to pay this or not, but there is some kind of online fee for the convenience of an instant transaction that costs Duval a lot less than $7.

Pay and Notarize
Add $7 for some kind of notarized payment option. Maybe this is in-person? I don't remember, but it seemed stupid whatever it was.

Don't Pay
Add $20 if you avoid paying by the due date. You still owe the money and the fees and you'll get the points, just an extra $20 for your decision to avoid the payment.

Pay a lawyer
Several law firms said they'd get you out of the ticket and points for about half the price or the ticket itself. That sounds good, if it works. If I had been the one receiving the violation, I probably would have rolled the dice with an attorney, but we didn't want to have to deal with it in this instance, especially since I checked the intersection and confirmed we were in the wrong. Also, I have to question a system that allows you to nearly automatically get our of a ticket with a lawyer. Also also, the lawyers warn against trying to represent yourself, but that should be just as good of an option, though it does require taking time off work or school with no guarantees.

In the end, it seems like the best option is to not get caught. I see so many bad drivers that don't get caught doing pretty insane stuff that I'm always surprised when someone gets a ticket for going 10mph over or coasting through a barely-red light.

How Does Jacksonville Compare to Finland, Home of the Happiest People on Earth?

Jacksonville is trying a new Blue Zone experiment that is supposed to make people healthier and happier. I hope it works better than that treating crime like a disease thing we tried. Blue Zones are based on places on earth where people live longer, and we assume living to 100 makes you happy, so we're going to push it on ourselves. Fine with me, but the happiest people on earth are supposedly the folks from Finland (whether or not they live to be 100), so I'm wondering if we can also learn something about happiness from them so that our 100 years aren't just a miserable extra 20 years of life. I'll take a look at the tenants that make Finnish people happier and see if they fit with Jacksonville's new mission to make us live longer.

1. We don't compare ourselves to our neighbors.
OK, so maybe Jacksonville isn't as bad as Los Angeles on this one, but what can be more American than comparing yourself to your neighbors? And not just the numbnuts next door who don't edge their lawn or store their garbage in the right place. I'm talking about your neighbors in Ponte Vedra or San Marco. I think comparing yourself to your neighbor is built into American capitalism, and it helps provide us with the drive to succeed. Even in a quasi-socialist retirement community like The Villages, neighbors with almost no rights to change their homes' exteriors race to replace perfectly good driveways with custom driveways that express something terribly interesting about themselves, like which college they root for (but in reality just expresses that they have more money than the neighbor with the boring old concrete driveway). But people in Jacksonville aren't all living off pensions, so you'd assume we have to be more mindful of our spending. The problem is that when you need a new car, you really need a new SUV or pickup truck, even if you don't haul much or go off-roading. Why? Maybe people want to impress themselves with the sheer size of their own vehicle, but I'm thinking it's to impress the neighbors, especially if we can't afford to live in their neighborhoods. 

It's totally possible that people in Finland buy expensive items to enjoy, but I think the question is whether that expensive item is for your own enjoyment or in order to show those around you how much money you spent in order to enjoy that thing. The outward materialism I saw when visiting Southern California was what you'd expect in a place where outward appearance makes or breaks careers, and I wouldn't say Jacksonville is any more about showing off to the neighbors than the other places I've lived (Milwaukee, KC).

2. We don't overlook the benefits of nature.
So here's one where Jacksonville does pretty well. Our parks are not rated all that high compared to other cities, but we do have a lot of them. The weather is nice fall through spring, and plenty of people enjoy being outside during those months. People like to fish and hang out at the beach. Homeless people love biking all over town, and people with homes love biking down at the Beaches. That said, there are days when I do several hours of yard work in the summer heat and don't see a single neighbor venture out. I'd say that overall, Jacksonville has ample outdoor places to be that could be improved with more to do once you get there, and that's likely a goal of the Blue Zones initiative.

3. We don't break the community circle of trust.
So, this is Florida. I don't think there's much of a community circle of trust. In fact, I'm not even too sure what this means, other than maybe the idea that if you let your kids walk to the park alone, you don't have to worry about some guy in a white van taking them for a ride. That's probably the idea: in Finland, citizens don't worry about getting shot by gang members, getting abducted by child molesters, getting molested by clergymen, getting scammed by contractors, getting stabbed by panhandlers, weird doorbell rings after midnight, getting shot by your neighbor for making a y-turn in his driveway, or having your dog attacked by your neighbor's pitbull. For most of us in America (and especially in Florida), the circle of trust probably stays in your own home and does not extend to the community. Maybe it extends to church. But the JEA and Douglas Anderson scandals demonstrate how that circle of trust does not extend to government or schools. And if you rent an apartment in Jacksonville with roommates, that circle of trust might not extend out of your own bedroom. I guess I'd have to say that Jacksonville has not earned my trust because way too many of my fellow citizens take advantage of the trust of others in order to benefit themselves. 

Jacksonvillians may live to be 100 because we learn to live healthier lives, and we may do that, in part, because of our relationship with the outdoors, but in order for us to be happy enough to WANT to live to be 100, we should work on being satisfied with what we have and trusting our neighbors. Maybe if we all build really high fences around our compounds, we won't see what our neighbors own and we won't have to worry about people breaking in, but I doubt that's how they do it in Finland.

Monday, June 5

There's No Culture in Jacksonville?

I overheard some Gen Zers at the doctor's office talking about Jacksonville. They said Jacksonville has no culture and that you gotta watch your back when making friends. However, they also seem to agree that enough money can make your Jaxperience better.

Of course, the GenZers weren't working while at work, but that's nothing new. 

They were all three of them transplants to Jacksonville. Two Lantinos and a Black person--I got the impression that they felt the race part mattered, as in people of those races specifically are more cultured in other parts of the country. Something about always doing things the same way in Jax. They mentioned restaurants and how people look at you funny if you want to try something new. Like if you wanna try Whataburger instead of Checkers? The new person got the recommendation of going to Riverside, so I guess that's where culture is supposed to exist in their minds. One of the three had lived here a year and just gone to the beach for the first time, though I'm not sure the beach is high culture. Also, one mentioned the Jaguars as an example of culture, though the other two didn't agree, and seemed to offer clubs and restaurants instead.

One  of the three, when asked why Jacksonville lacked culture, just said, "New York City; need I say more." To which I would have said yes because I truly wasn't sure my view of culture was the same as theirs. For example, I heard the word diversity used a lot in the conversation as if it was a synonym for culture. While I might agree that I see culture as a diverse collection of music, art, architecture, idea exchange, etc., I'm not sure diversity itself creates culture. According to one study, Argentina is the least culturally diverse country while central African countries like Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria are the most culturally diverse. However, as a tourist looking for "culture," I'm sure all of these GenZers would head to Argentina first and then tell their friends about all the great cultural experiences they had. Why? I believe their definitions of culture would shift because they are not from Argentina, and the country would have art, architecture, public markets, parks with fountains, old bridges, cathedrals, museums, universities, ethnic restaurants, and maybe even an opera house. You know, culture.

My own kids, who grew up being forced to visit art and history museums on a regular basis (and are also Gen Z) seemed to agree with my talkative new acquaintances. They said culture in a community had to do with the different kind of people in that community. Diversity, again. I tried to explain to them that they were only partially correct, which led to us talking in circles, as tends to happen when one tries to correct GenZers. I guess there's an instapot hack on TikTok for every eventuality. 

So getting back to Jacksonville, my own neighborhood is much more diverse than the one I grew up in back in Milwaukee (the most segregated city in the US). But here, I live in East Arlington suburbia with an HOA to ensure I don't get out of line. Back home, I had two parks, a college campus, several small retail stores, a Mexican restaurant, a hospital, and a zoo within walking distance, as well as a fancy-schmancy 1920s neighborhood and a low-rent public housing building. The whitewashed suburban neighborhood is not a cultural experience, no matter who lives in the homes. Maybe that's what the comment about New York City meant, but I can't really be sure. I just know culture has to be something more than you HOA amenities building.

Friday, June 2

Please Hire My Daughter!

When my wife and I decided it made sense for our daughter to get her license to drive to school, we really didn't fully understand the financial implications. Sure, we knew we'd have to provide a car, but the insane used-car prices made that investment skyrocket. We also knew we'd have to provide insurance, but that was the hit I was not prepared to finance. It's about $4,000 extra a year to insure our daughter, and our son is about to get his temps. Very ouch, especially after we provided one vehicle worth around $10,000 for the kids to destroy. Anyhow, for our daughter to keep driving for anything other than school, we really need her to get a job. I'm hoping someone out there has a good part-time position for a 16-year-old who is honest and responsible. Here's a link to her website that I built. She still has to fill some stuff in, but it gives a bit of a profile. She's looking for anything from East Arlington to the Beaches. She'd be great dealing with customers, even annoying ones. She's not going to ask for too many hours, but she'd be reliable when she's scheduled. So if you or anyone you know has a job for her, use the contact form in this website to let me know. 

Also, I might want a job, too, so feel free to check out my resume.

Contact Brian


Email *

Message *

Pennies From Heaven AKA Welfare for Writers

The reason why we have ads on this site is because that's one way writers make money online. Your presence on this site right now might make a penny for our family. Clicking on an ad might get us closer to $.50. Buying something online as a result of clicking on a link can make us a few dollars. We will not get rich from this money, but every penny helps out. Every like or share or re-post or follow. Please, make a donation to our family by clicking.

JAX Weather


Jacksonville jax money Florida crime housing activities vehicles economic development school home news transportation planning police Duval website design kids politics traffic research TV neighbor reviews sports taxes parks statistics East Arlington writing history environment St. Johns roads travel water employment fun men previous owner rankings Arlington weather women beach review business church jaguars pollution dating fashion football guns hurricane library race tourism fatalities health care zoning baseball music JEA Mayport restaurant summer animals games military unf Lyft St. Augustine education flooding pets spanish AC Halloween farms film french hockey noise ocean po radio Duval County Fletcher high school armada cats christmas controversy debate decision fall fort caroline style superhero 2021 AAA Roadside Assistance Advice Blowhard Cambridge AICE County Sheriffs Duval County Public Schools Easter FDOT FL Google Gyros Haretna Hilton Honors James jaeger Kernan Boulevard Lutheran Milano's Ocala Pressers SEO St. Johns County Starbucks T-shirts Tim Tebow VW acting ad of the week addiction again all balls arts asked avoid behavior belief best bi-polar boo celebration chances chump colleges column common comparison consequences councilmembers credit card cuisine difficult to use don't work doors driving games entertainment experience expression faith finding food frustration future gambling gaming gas station grass hack handles high school exchange homes housing market humor illegal traffic stops impact importance improve indians informed infrastructure insightful issue. killing language last chance light boat parade lights local dating scene lottery love made mascot meaning mental health merchandise mistakes mood swings no U-turn sign no brains notebooks opening opinion origins ownership party paying for hotels personal opinion pet ownership pitbull play players pooper popular pound sand program protect real estate reason reform religion request revenue rewards program rights road trip save school identity school pride school spirit service simple sketchy slang someone state struggle support system take down taste teachers thank you timucuan traffic laws traffic stop universities unpredictability usage vehicle pet peeves welcome workplace