So you got all the crappy Christmas gifts you can handle, and you decide it's time to get yourself what you really want: a home theater room.

Maybe the wife talked you in to one of those Aquos TVs for your family room, or maybe you're an HDTV newbie. Either way, what you really want is the mother of all televisions in a secluded room for under $2000. This aritcle will provide you with a step-by-step, do-it-yourself way to impress even your father-in-law.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time needed: 6 beers

Power Tools: None

Measuring: Optional

 

Start this project out with a beer because the scope of it could be daunting, especially if you're used to just calling the cable company and having them plug your television in for you. A suitable theater room needs to be identified, and all your wife's sewing equipment or Christmas decorations need to be thrown out of it. The room I chose is about 10' X 15'. You need to make sure the room can fit some furniture and can give the projector enough room to throw the image up on the wall. My projector gives me a maximum of roughly 10' wide projection mounted about 15' away, and the minimum size I can project from that distance is about 5'. I'm not sure if the minimum matters much, but some people like to know that kind of thing. I guess all that really shows is that at its minimum size, mine is bigger than yours.

Now that you've found a room, you need to get the right projector. Don't go and talk to any of the clowns at one of those chain electronics stores. The only reason they'd have a good home theater system is to watch porn and play video games, and even if those goals seem admirable to you, you can find the projector cheaper online. I tried to establish an affilation with the company that sold me my projector, but they didn't get back to me, so I won't recommend them by name. However, there are a number of sites that compare projectors. You'll need one that is for home theater, not some computer VGA projector that some ball jugglers will try to sell you and say will work fine for a nice big picture. Don't listen to that noise. You need something that projects in 16:9 and can handle 1080 lines of resolution. I don't care if you want to pay more and go with the DLP version because you like those ads with the creepy little girl and her DLP mirrors. However, I bought an LCD projector. It's the Panasonic PTAE-900U, and I'm sure it's called something else by now. I paid around $1700 before a $300 rebate, 40 free movie rentals from Blockbuster, and a free 3-year bulb-replacement guarantee. The LCD wasn't as good as some of the DLPs at the time, but it cost about half as much, so I figured I'd go with it. Anyhow, get the projector.

Now, you're going to have to get some HDTV service. I use Dish Network and am roped in for a couple of years. If you can get AT&T, look into it. Don't even talk to me about the cable companies. If you want to throw money away, just send it to Real Wisconsin News and we'll put it in our drinking fund, but don't give it to them. I'm sure Direct-TV is pretty good, too, but I have Dish. Anyway, find the right service, and give yourself a few days to finish setting up the room.  Keep in mind that nothing broadcasts in 1080p right now, so don't get all retarded with the sales people and ask about that.

You can start putting your theater room together at this point, and I'll provide you with the easy steps of doing it pretty much for free.Active Image

To mount the projector, you can go and buy a ceiling-mount device for about $50, or you can save that money for a lap dance at your local gentlemen's club and build your own. I just used a bit of wood that was sitting around and nailed it up. It's probably sturdier than a ceiling mount dangling from my accoustical-tile ceiling, anyhow. You can use a level to make sure it's plumb, or you can just rely on the projector, which can be adjusted for idiots who can't figure that kind of stuff out. I just nailed it up and turned the projector on in order to adjust the levels on each side of the mount. Don't drop your projector while doing this, however, because you'll still be driving that Toyota a few more years if you pull some crazy junk like that.

Now for the wall. If it's big, flat, and white like the girl I dated in high school, you might want to just use it as your screen. Some people sell special paint for walls, but if it's a fairly flat paint, you'll probably be happy with the results. The room in my basement had a big window in the middle of it, so I just used some extra peg boards I had and nailed them up to cover the window. Don't block any windows you want to open, though, but if I have to tell you that, you're probably really lost already.Active Image

I happend to be shopping for a new projector screen (around $500 for the size I wanted) when I ran into a guy I knew and told him what I was looking for. I told him that I'd read that big sheets of photo paper work pretty well as projector screens. In a strange coincidence, he worked at a place that used rolls of photo paper, and he offered to donate one to my cause. I told him I needed about 10 feet of stuff. He gave me a 100' roll, so even if I throw a ladies' drink at the TV when the Packers lose, I have nine more screens available. Anyhow, I guess you can buy the stuff, too. The rolls are 4 feet wide, so doing a little math, a 16:9 aspect ratio on a 4' high screen can give you about 7' width, or about 85". Measured diagonally, it's about 8' or 96". That's about three times the size of your $1000 32" HDTV. Keep in mind, however, that a 100" plasma TV will run you over $60,000.

Back to the screen... if you use photo paper, I've found that pinning it up on the wall works sufficiently. Yes, pinning it up! Like eight or so around the outside. I tried using Gorilla Glue on the back, but it didn't stick, so the pins have worked for over a year. There's probably a better glue out there, so you can try that, too. Maybe even masking tape. Who the hell cares, as long as you get that big-ass screen up on your wall. Once the lights are off, all you see is TV the way it should look, and if you mount it fairly straight, it'll be just fine. You can let your mom make you some red velvet curtains for the outside if you want.Active Image

The last thing you need is a kick-ass sound system, and you don't need the big money for this, either. I picked up a Pioneer--that's right, I said Pioneer--7.1 receiver ($150 from a local electronics store) that puts out more than a hotel heiress, and then I bought a clearance 5.1 speaker system with a powered sub for less than $100. I use my old MTX box with twelves from my car as the front left and right speakers. I know, I know, the audiophiles will tell you not to mix speakers, but most of us are a little tone-deaf anyhow, and 770 watts and a powered subwoofer in a 10' X 15' room can get it done. Besides, you can tweak the levels and get it sounding pretty sweet. Mind you, I'm not recommending you grab some 6X9s out of your Camaro and mount them on the wall, but make due with the means you have. You can hide all the speaker wires if you want (and you should get some nice thick ones to carry the noise properly), but, again, it's going to be dark, and you're not really going to notice. Making all the connections can be daunting, but like finding your perfect mate, just keep plugging all the holes you can until one seems right.

I eventually picked up a cheapo up-convert DVD player, but the picture isn't much better than the old DVD player. I expect a high definition DVD player to be pretty nice, but the wife may not allow that upgrade right now. Anyhow, the picture quality is pretty phenomenal. Sports and travel shows are simply amazing at the size and resolution. Some action movies are hard to follow, but unlike a television, I can resize the screen if there's too much going on to catch everything. Standard def signals suffer, just like in any HDTV, so you'll mostly want to watch HD programming or DVDs. Local HD channels are available with an antenna, but I've had mixed success getting a signal in my basement.

As far as seating is concerned, you can go and get stadium seats and really pretend you're in a theater, or you can just add comfortable chairs or couches. I've got a leather sofa and two recliners, as well as a bean bag. My friend says buying one of those big bean bag dealies from the mall saved his marriage, so you might want to consider one of those. Just get something in there to sit on... most of the stuff you watch will be by yourself anyhow, so one big comfy chair would be fine.

Lastly, enjoy your new theater room, and tell all of your friends that you love their new 32" anemic televisions and piss-poor "virtual surround" sound systems. Laugh to yourself when you see a 60" plasma hanging from a wall, pretending to be an actual big screen. And when you truly upgrade to HDTV, thank Real Wisconsin News for pointing you in the right direction. Picture taken of an Elvis movie... Did you know that Elvis said he slept with all but one leading lady?

A travel television show

DVD

another DVD shot

If the lights are left on... still decent picture

 

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Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • 5x110 16" wheels and tires in Jacksonville - $150 (from a Saab 9-3)
    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. 
  • 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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  • 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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  • The Right Way to Update Your Old 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
    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. 
  • Why I Chose a Single-Stage 16 SEER Heat Pump
    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

    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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  • Get a Job in JAX During the Pandemic

    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.
  • Florida Unemployment Officially Denied Me Anything, I Guess
    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." 
  • 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.

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