Wednesday, January 4

Jacksonville Vehicle Pet Peeves: Lights

I do a lot of driving at night, so I'm kind of an authority as to the lackluster vehicular lighting on Jacksonville roads. Whether other drivers have too many lights or too few, it's an annoyance that can sometimes be a safety concern.

Dim-Witted
The most obvious lack of lighting in Jax seems to be none at all. This is mostly from people not using the most obvious safety feature in existence -- the Auto setting for lights. It's also possible that complicated LED lighting has caused more failures than in the past-- I believe this to be the case for some of the taillight issues. Or just drunk people. The net result is a lot of people seem to have missing lights, particularly tail lights. Sometimes tinted lights or license plates render actual lights ineffective, but it's mostly lights burned out, fuses blown, or lights turned off. Maybe some people just like to drive with parking lights on, too. Please, just set your lights to Auto and forget about them. Also, try hooking up your trailers so that the wiring works.

Too Bright
Some people drive around with their brights on, but that's not really the biggest problem in my opinion. It seems a lot of lights, especially on big, stupid pickups, are aimed wrong. If you lift your whole truck or just the front, you really need to aim your lights lower. People will spend $10,000 to lift their pickups and then skimp on the simple adjustment that would make the vehicle legal to drive (and avoid blinding other drivers). Florida law says your lights can be up to 54 inches off the ground, but you also need to aim the light lower than that at 25 feet against a wall. If your truck is lifted only in the front and you don't re-aim your lights, they are blinding and fairly useless.

Too Many
I'm not talking about the Hyundai Tucson and all its weird little lights, since those are just stupid looking and not a hazard. I'm referring to the aftermarket fog light strips (sometimes multiple) or even the use of fog lights in the hopes of looking cool. I've also seen add-on brake lights or light-up car-model-script tail lights. Some diy folks will slap stick-on red led strips on the bumper for reasons. It's really best to leave the lighting alone unless you need to replace a bulb because more lights are way less important than working lights.

The Circus
Back when I was in high school, the kids started lighting up the area below their cars with neon lights. I even knew a guy who made a pretty good living off the trend for about a year, or the amount of time it took local police officers to pull the cars over. Like high-waisted jeans, the unlikely trend is back, in the form of LED lights that last about 3000 times as long as neon. They can change color, flash like Christmas lights, and generally turn any respectable vehicle into a clown car. Still, consumers love these lights, and they'll light up every nook and cranny of the car with the marvels. A slight glow to show off your big rims and expensive suspension doesn't bother me, but bright, flashing lights shooting off in all directions is a road hazard. If your vehicle isn't a spaceship, it's white and amber lights in front with red and amber lights in back (with white backup lights). When you add color-changing headlight surrounds in red, that's illegal because you have the wrong color in the front. As a driver, I am also distracted by red and blue lights that seem like police lights or any flashing lights. I'd also mention that flashing brake lights is a dumb trend as you don't need them, and they are especially annoying in rush-hour traffic. 

My recommendation is that you leave your car lighting alone and use your talents to add majestic lighting to rooms inside your house. LED toilet seats, backlighting around the television, and lighting above and below kitchen cabinets are pretty cool. You can even slap your Instagram sticker on the wall in whatever room you upgrade so everyone who is enchanted by your skillz can follow you.

Local Dating Scene: Mostly Mistakes by Men

I recently asked a local woman about dating after divorce, since both my wife and I agree it would be quite difficult (not that we're interested in finding out). Still, I was interested to discover what this woman (who told me her divorce made her very happy) thought about the dating scene. Her stories seem to prove men continue to make the same mistakes all their lives when it comes to dating. It's funny and sad, but the saddest part is that I only got to hear a handful of examples, even though she claimed to have many more. Anyhow, in case you're wondering what it's like to date after a divorce in Jacksonville (likely Anywhere, USA), here are some reasons to stay married. We'll call the woman I met Lucy because 50 First Dates.

The Movie Closeup Featuring Mr. McTexty
Instead of dinner and a movie, this guy decides to just catch a film together. Lucy and Mr. McTexty sit next to each other in the empty theater. He decides to hold her hand, and she's cool with that. However, at some point early in the film, she senses that his face is right next to hers. Lucy figures the guy is hoping she'll turn to him for a kiss, but she's only just met the guy  and doesn't want to go there. The crazy part is that Mr. McTexty doesn't get the hint, and he keeps his face right there waiting for the next hour. Lucy feels uncomfortable for the duration of the movie, but even after getting shot down like a bogey in Top Gun, Mr. McTexty decides the date went so well that he texts Lucy continuously for the next several days, telling her he had such a great time and wanted another date. Maybe he was planning on sitting on the other side of her at a different movie. Or right next to her in a booth at a darkly-lit restaurant.

My reaction to Lucy's story was to tell her about Dave from back in high school. He was super-flirty and silly around girls, and most of them made fun of him, but the technique only has to work once. Or once in a while. So I was generally dateless back then yet Dave was outkicking his coverage with all kinds of lady friends. If Mr. McTexty has a 10% success rate in empty theaters with women he couldn't possibly land with a real date, he's probably doing just fine. Even if he creeps out the other 90%.

The Spanxman
Lucy had gone on a few dates with Spanxman when she goes over to his place. At some point, she removes her Spanx. I was not told if this was an entire body suit or high-waisted shorts, but it's basically a tight-fitting, modern girdle that women who return to the dating scene use to recapture their college bodies in cute outfits but are probably removed well before any happy-action-fun-time begins. Since Spanx doesn't sell a discreet carrying case, Lucy leaves hers somewhere at Spanxman's place. When he talks to her to let her know he has her undergarments, he also reveals he's been enjoying smelling them because they smell like her (obviously). Once again, Lucy is creeped out and another guy who thinks he's being sexy gets shot down.

Not to defend the Spanx Sniffer, but I did mention to Lucy the Ed Sheeran song where he sniffs his bedsheets that smell like his special lady. I get Lucy's point, however, because I have compression shorts for baseball that make me all sweaty. Even after a really good game, I would never toss them at my wife and encouraged her to sniff away. Also, it's a lot like panty sniffing. Also, he probably tried them on. And lastly, because I know you were wondering, Spanx sells products for men that enhance your "pecs."

The Business Witch
Lucy started dating a guy (we'll call him Darrin) who she described as too nice in the dating scene. Before he found Lucy, he went out with a business witch but didn't break it off because he didn't want to judge. Or because being a witch fits into that category of girl you've kind of thought about but never would ask out, like women with full-body tattoos or who are professional weightlifters. Anyhow, this woman wasn't really a total witch--she just uses witchcraft to try to make her business perform better. I guess religious people pray to God for business success, but if you don't believe in God, your options are limited. I told Lucy she should be concerned the business witch might have a Voodoo Doll of her boyfriend, but after saying it, I wasn't sure if mainstream witches in America use that type of magic. I was intrigued by how magic or witchcraft works in making business better, like if you cast spells on clients or use magical scents in your store to make people buy stuff. Or maybe a hex on your competition.

OK, this one's a stretch to say it's in any way Darrin's fault for not dumping the business witch because he was too nice. However, as a guy, I don't buy that he was too nice. Whether she's a hot witch, a hot Russian spy, a hot Christian blogger, a hot married woman, or a hot illegal immigrant, most guys are going to hold onto the hot, crazy woman until something better comes along for fear of being all alone and shriveled up, like a dried toad used in a potion.

The Married Booty Call Co-worker
Lucy talked about a co-worker who used the employee texting system to contact her at 10 pm. He asked if it mattered to her that he was married. It did, so he stopped texting, but she did say that he'd hooked up with another co-worker earlier in the year. This proves my earlier point that your game only has to work some of the time. Obviously, a certain percentage of single ladies at work must not mind that you're married. Or, he felt a little guilty after the first co-worker and decided he'd lead with the whole marriage angle, but then he's learned his lesson and will most certainly not ask next time. Lucy also figures she's dated several married men from the dating app (never on purpose). All this leads to the relationship rule that Booty Call Co-worker and Spanxman broke: Avoid being honest. I have a friend who would also add that when you get caught, deny everything. Maybe it sounds like what politicians do, but remember that they win elections that way. I've never been able to be dishonest myself, but I can look back now and say I would have had many more dates in high school and college using dishonesty as my starting point.

The Ex-machinegunna
Lucy briefly mentioned the ex, saying that he did the "typical" driving up and down her block with his guns in the front seat of his car. And that he's already remarried. I bet he wasn't honest with his new bride when discussing Lucy, at least about how he tracked her every purchase and yelled at her for buying name-brand soda. And the guns in the front seat thing. I also assume Lucy knew better than to tell her potential new boyfriends that her ex might be driving by the house during their dates, unless she saw it as a test of their pecs.

Til Death Do Us Part
Eighteen years into our marriage, my wife tossed out my Big Dog Milwaukee Bucks jersey, and I nearly lost it. For her, cleaning means throwing things away, while for me, it's more about finding a place for the things to be stored out of her sight. I was angry, but I wasn't going to leave or toss my compression shorts at her. She'd have to throw all of my stuff away and sign us up for a line dancing class for me to really fly off the handle. Mostly because I love her, but also because I can be relatively  honest with her and avoid awkward first dates with women whose exes may be hiding in bushes with assault rifles. 

I also want to reassure Mr. McTexty and Spanxman that there are women for you out there. Just try a little less honesty, whether you think she's the one or just the one for now. Even if she's a witch.

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