America is buzzing about the new diet sensation long thought to be only an eating disorder: Pica. The diet allows people to eat anything they want, as long as the food is made up of non-nutritive substances. As an added bonus, the food is inexpensive and commonly found around the house.

 

Dr. Karen Gregory, founder of the diet, claims anyone can lose unwanted pounds by simply ingesting a multitude of substances they cannot digest. Of course, some real food is required, and the Pica Brand, Inc. is selling snack bars to fulfill that particular need.

 

Pica as an actual eating disorder causes people to inexplicably eat such items as soil, chalk, paper, and coal, as well as food ingredients, like flour. “It’s easier than cooking, anyhow,” said one woman, who lost fifty pounds during Phase I of the diet. “I’m a teacher, so whenever I got that hungry feeling, I’d just reach for some chalk. Sometimes I’d even mix things up a bit and eat the colored chalk. It doesn’t taste any different, but I can imagine it’s fruit or candy.”

 

While danger exists for children suffering from Pica who eat lead paint, nails, or other dangerous non-nutritive substances, adults are generally more intelligent, and can choose what they eat with more discretion. “While someone suffering from Pica might decide to eat feces or drink urine, we do not recommend those for this diet,” said Gregory. “And, honestly, the body can handle only so many metal objects, so we tend to recommend items that are not completely socially unacceptable or dangerous. Wood, ice, or hair are better alternatives. These items are all-natural, and will not add an ounce of fat to your body!”

 

Some in the food industry are crying foul over the new diet, saying people will suffer unknown problems as a result. However, a large percentage of the food industry also uses high fructose corn syrup in the food it markets, and that particular ingredient is widely seen as not only non-nutritive, but also as non-satisfying. While a person eating tree bark or shoe leather feels somewhat satisfied after a meal, someone eating  (often fat-free) items filled with high fructose corn syrup will never feel full. Gregory said, “People become obese because corn syrup can’t fill them up. No matter how strange it may seem, dirt fills you up.”

 

Unfortunately for the people who use the Pica diet, like most other diets, the menu tastes horrible. Therefore, people will likely wean themselves off of lead-free paint chips and fried starch, and go back to potato chips and fried chicken. Gregory suggests testing to see if an individual is ready for the Pica Diet, so go ahead and eat that TPS report sitting in front of you. if you can keep it down, you may just have found the replacement for that before-lunch candy bar.



 

 

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


    One church we found almost seemed to meet the need. Good music, professional online presence, dynamic pastor, etc. However, the message wasn't quite right for us, as the church didn't even mention Palm Sunday and the pastor (in two different weeks) talked about his drinking days in college. I need a little bit of tradition in my church, and this new tradition of pastors all being sinful beings until they found Christ is annoying to me, like political leaders who talk about morals who have multiple divorces and affairs under their belts (pun, yes). Sure, I understand that God forgives, but you don't have to be completely immoral in order to receive absolution. Or to become a pastor.

    Anyhow, we decided Pastor Bluejeans was a little more than we could handle, so it was time to move on. It was a little like deciding to go to a different barber or salon, and my kids were worried about it. But it's actually easier to shop around for church right now. You don't have to worry about personal interactions and the feeling of letting someone down.

    That's why your church's online presence is SO IMPORTANT right now. You really ought to have perfect audio and an edited video (with multiple angles) for your Sunday service. Lighting is the most important for the video, but cuts to other angles with a little movement add a lot to the experience, especially when it comes to the band. Two camera operators, a sound person, pastors, band, and editor (who needs at least a day) to put the video together. YouTube rather than Facebook Live. Simple stuff, here.

    Since Pastor Bluejeans didn't have the traditional church stuff we were used to, I did specifically search for Lutheran(LCMS) churches, starting with ones for whom I've built websites. At the bottom of the list, I added some of the larger LCMS churches with decent online programs. Some of the churches I researched even use Pastor Bluejeans's online format for services. Which leads me to another (VERY IMPORTANT) piece of advice: if you are going to use churchonline, make sure you have a way to archive the videos so people can check out what church is like. I went to several church websites that had countdowns to the next service but no archives. Since I had no way of knowing what those services would be like, I ended up skipping them. Not having a past service to see is probably the absolute worst thing you can do to church seekers, unless your archives are all Facebook Live disasters.

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


    Hear me out on this one. A garage is an attached or detached shed-like structure built to house cars. That's why it has a concrete floor and a door large enough to drive a car into it. I'm not kidding: garages are actually designed for cars. Not couches and TVs or punching bags. Not bars or pet pens. Vehicles. Automobiles. And some storage, sure.

    Back in Wisconsin, a lot of people do use their garages for parties in the summer. The way it works is that you drive the car out of the garage, set up some tables, add some slow cookers, bring out the coolers, and you have a party. You might listen to the Brewers on the radio or maybe your favorite audio cassette or CD. Sure, it's old-fashioned, but Wisconsinites have been using their garages as garages AND party rooms for years. 

    When we lived in Kansas, people kind of made fun of Wisconsin for garage parties. I assume it's because folks in Kansas ONLY used garages for their vehicles. Or none of them did. I didn't really visit many people's homes there. Either way, they didn't tend to also use them for parties. Floridians probably don't use garages for parties because 1. they tend to store too much other junk in the garage to have a party, 2. it gets too hot in Florida garages to force guests into them, 3. people here tend to store garbage cans in the garage. 

    Pragmatism
    Your car will last longer and look nicer if it's kept in a garage. I have a car from 1986 that still looks pretty good because it's mostly been kept inside. My wife had a car that was nearly ten and looked brand new when it got totaled in an accident because it always stayed in the garage. That's how it works. If you've grown up with all your cars on the front lawn and driveway, you might not believe me, but it's actually true. It's kind of like that couch or TV in your garage: if you left them outside, they'd get pretty messed up, but they can stay pretty nice in a garage.

    Storage
    Some Floridians like the idea of a storage room and don't even have a couch or workout area in the garage. If that's you, I have a suggestion: garage shelves. The previous owners of my house put in shelving all around the perimeter of the garage. I added shelving units to two sides, as well as large storage shelves that drop down from the ceiling. I also added some flooring to the attic area. All told, I have about as much storage as I was accustomed to having in my Wisconsin house (that had a 2.5 car garage and a nice attic above the main living area). Most garages here are much smaller than 2.5 car, so it takes some doing to squeeze the space out of these garages (and it helps to have a small car).

    From a sanitary standpoint, you should keep the garbage and recycling outside. You might be forced to have a water heater and even laundry area in your garage, but I would also recommend against it if at all possible. Mainly, I would say this about house size and storage: if you can't fit your junk in your attic/closet/garage/shed space, then you probably need a bigger house, and parking the cars in the driveway will only make storing all that crap more expensive as you slowly destroy your cars and leave them more susceptible to break-ins. We have found that under-bed storage works well, so prop those beds up. We've also opened up the area under our stairs as a closet, so there's another project for the Covid-19 Time.

    Legal
    Our houses are assessed based on heated square feet. Garages fit into a similar category as  patios, in that it's not considered a living space. Many HOAs will have rules about setting up living space in garages, but it seems a lot of people get around this by just not officially turning the room into an addition. Instead, people will sweat it out or freeze in their man cave-like car sheds. When I had little kids, this wasn't even a thought for me, since those kids would have gotten into my power tools and chemicals. Like ponds and loaded handguns in Florida, garages being used as living space pose real danger. Making the garage into a bedroom might not even be legal, but I'd have to ask my legal team about that one.

    It should be illegal to park cars over sidewalks. Kids and old people can fall down and get hurt, and if it happens to me, I'll definitely file a lawsuit, especially if it's because you have a Billy Blanks workout area where those vehicles belonged.

    Stuff on Wheels
    A lot of exercise equipment and yard equipment is wheeled. I used to have two snowblowers and two lawnmowers in my Wisconsin garage. If I needed to move a car, I might need to move a lawnmower first. And you can wheel your power glider out the one time a month you use it, after you back your car out. Hang your bikes up, stick them on a porch, or just move them around the garage when needed. I do have to admit that our 2003 Florida home has the smallest garage we've ever owned. Actually, it's much smaller than our 1953 house and 1978 house, but it is about the same size as the garage we had on our 1926 bungalow. No matter what size garage I've owned, however, I have always tried to park two cars inside, even if I also have one or two more cars outside. If you are fancy enough to own a car collection, then you should have the money to invest in a 6-car garage. My dad grew up on a farm, and he said that some of his neighbors used to leave tractors outside in the elements, whereas his family always stored them inside. And their tractors, not surprisingly, lasted twice as long as their neighbors'. It's really worth the inconvenience, so go turn your garage into a garage.


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


    Domain
    Choose something you think you'll want AFTER the pandemic. Coronavirus.com is already taken by WHO and lifeathome.com is being used by IKEA, so just name it for yourself or your business. Or the city you live in. Or the role you have. I recommend just buying the .com with Google rather than choosing some Blogger subdomain and then converting it later, but $12 might be steep for you right now.

    Blogger
    Let's keep this simple. Use Blogger. It's pretty easy to get your articles out there, and it's easier than the more fancy systems when it comes to photos, especially if you use Google (Android). You can choose a simple template. Whatever you do, don't think that a Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube page, or app is the same thing as a blog. No one cares about your posts on those formats, at least not for very long. By all means, use them to promote your blog, or create cool YouTube videos and embed them in the blog, but just make the website already.

    Content
    Write all the time. While you are social distancing, write about anything at all. You can always delete your post about grilling out when you decide to tie the blog into your business later on, but go ahead and write anything during these weird times. Don't get all depressed when no one reads it. Even family members won't tend to actually click on your full articles. Then, eventually, you'll write something that resonates with a bunch of people, like when I asked the simple question of where Ariel Nixon went. I did not intend my blog to be about hot meteorologists, but I'll ride that article until people forget about Ms. Nixon here in JAX.

    If you can spend the time off to become the expert in something, then you can start to write articles that will generate a lot of hits. Like if you know when the stock market will bottom out and which stocks to buy, people will read what you have to say. You might have to do real-ish research. If you can make the research and articles about what your business does, then run with it, even if you don't currently own the business. Eventually, you'll move on, and then your online content will still be yours, even if all the information in the article was learned while working for someone else.

    Promotion
    Social media is good for promotion. I don't tend to use it. I just try to get my articles indexed with Google in Webmaster Tools. Blogger sites will eventually get indexed and hits, but you can jumpstart it all with Tweets and posts elsewhere. In fact, most of what I've read on the subject says promoting your articles is more important than writing new ones. I think it's all a lot easier if you have good photos and a lot of social media friends. Remember to tag photos properly, too, as those can help send searches your way.

    You can always work on click funnels and marketing later on. For now, get the website started.


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

    I imagine it like this: you get to hell for swindling sick people as a health care worker or for insider trading. Something evil. But Beelzebub offers you a way to escape. All you have to do is use this great website that's worth $77.9 million in order to submit your request to leave. God has even offered a $600 bonus to anyone who can get out of hell, so there's extra incentive. The fun part (for Satan, not for you) is that the website won't work. Worse, you are required to start over from the beginning each time you attempt your escape, filling out the exact same information over and over, waiting for pages to load, over and over. But you're in hell, so you keep going back to try again. 

    That's the MyFlorida Connect system in a nutshell. Specifically, you wait 1 to 5 minutes for EACH page to load. Then you fill out a page, and it logs you out. In fact, I needed about 10 attempts just to get to the point where I could even create an account to login. But even after I had an account, I had to start over each time from before the login screen, agreeing to all kinds of documents, like that I was using a Florida system and that I would not defraud the state. Every time. Then I'd fill in a page, hit Next, and then be logged out. Sometimes, I could fill in two pages in a row, but I'd inevitably be logged out and forced to restart. 

    Some information was remembered from the last time you went through the torture, but you have to remember the obstacles, like having to re-enter your email address on one page, and having to re-find your profession. But I only got through to my profession three times in about 100 tries. It was playing a really tough video game, but one without checkpoints, so you have to replay the entire game and defeat all the levels and bosses every time you die. In this game, however, there was no secret to getting past the levels. There was seemingly a 50/50 chance of restart every time the Next button was pressed. 

    Other dumb elements of the Connect system included having to match employer names to a database (an extra step) and having to leave out hyphens in FEID codes and your license #. Sometimes, the pages would reload onto the same page you were just on, seemingly asking you to refill the same information, as if there was an error. Usually, however, it either restarts completely or else bumps you over to another previous page for no reason. But there's no way to quickly navigate to what is still missing from your profile. Maybe that option exists in Internet Explorer 7, but not in the modern world. The Connect system also tries to get you to use its debit card with all kinds of hidden fees that are probably owed directly to Rick Scott.

    The website also constantly told me that if I didn't finish filling the forms out within a day, all of the information would be deleted so that I could start over completely. Others had issues with being locked out with no way to recover PINs. I followed advice to try the system at odd hours, still unable to move forward at 12am, 2am, 4am, and 7am. But at around noon, it just boots you off without a second thought, so you feel like you have to be online when you should be sleeping. 

    Eventually, when the paper version was made available, I downloaded it and filled it out in about 30 minutes. Of course, Satan would never offer a paper version. Florida didn't do it until enough rich people complained. I expect that, if I get any unemployment benefits, they will be sent to me on my stupid debit card sometime in November, probably when people without direct deposit get their government checks. 

    I am sure Florida will pay another $100 million for a new UI system next year, but Satan will be able to use Connect to torment the souls of the damned for all of eternity.







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  • Coronavirus Family Activity: Filing For Unemployment Like it's 1999
    [UPDATE] This article was originally written before Captain Ron DeSantis said the problem was fixed by adding 70 servers and probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, I had the exact same problems AFTER the fix that was supposed to increase the capacity by so much. Great job, Florida.

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

    I've been building mobile-friendly websites that can be used in any browser since 2008 or so with my Joomla 1.5 sites. That's more than a decade ago. I suppose I didn't really design for mobile devices until maybe 2010, but I have been building websites capable of being used on a mobile device for at least ten years. 

    I was also unemployed for a few months back in 2014, and I had to work hard to look for five jobs a week as I also tried to set myself up to become a full-time web designer. It's ironic that people who are receiving unemployment benefits need to work hard in order to show that they deserve those benefits, but the entities that run the website that collects the unemployment information allow the website to become so outdated that it's practically unusable. 

    In an interview, a communications person for Florida DEO said that an app was on the way and that lots of assets were being moved to do something or other. She mentioned the cloud, probably assuming most of us are stupid enough to think that someone who has a ten-year-old asp.net website has a solution that involves the cloud. I am pretty sure an IT guy just told her to mention the cloud because that's what he does whenever anyone has a question for him he can't answer. 

    The news also reported that you need to use Internet Explorer rather than Chrome because the website, even on desktop, won't work on Chrome. You probably need to have your Flash player enabled and Windows Defender turned off on your Windows XP machine, too. No mention of Safari, so sorry Mac. I pretty much gave up filing for unemployment to concentrate on writing this article because nothing was happening when I clicked buttons on the site. Maybe the website and awesome new app will be working by fall sometime, after most of us are broke and some of us are dead.

    I assume that back in 2008, the last time the website was really used by a lot of people, it probably worked. Most people using it were likely thinking it kind of sucked, but it got the job done, and that's kind of the point of a website. Especially a website that's supposed to help people get reemployed.
    Even at 2AM, the Florida UI website was broken


    When I really tried to work on my unemployment claim after midnight, I started to make some progress, finally able to establish a pin. But when the site crashes, it makes you start the claim all over again. From question one, even if it's all auto-filled from that point. So bad. I mean, really, really bad. I surprised to read Rick Scott's assessment that the system he put in place in 2013 would be useful in the end. It was probably outdated in 2013 and something a friend of his cooked up to bilk the state out of money. As a web designer (not even a developer), I can see all kinds of flaws in the system, and the most glaring is that you have to start over if you log back in. I can't even remember the last time I was on a website that did this.

    I can think of two solutions I've created that would work better than this system, and I built them for about $1,000 for clients. Both on Joomla, I could use Community Builder to create profiles or even just Breezing Forms to make a simple form that gets submitted. If I wanted to be bad-ass, I'd have both Community Builder AND Breezing Forms on the same site.

    The fact that the Florida unemployment site tries to push you into its debit card with lots of fees means that there's certainly a corrupt corporate tie-in here. Again, probably some friends of Rick Scott. In fact, the payments defaulting to the stupid debit card is a sure sign of corporate stoogery, and also not the option you want to take right now, since I am sure the debit card company is also not prepared to issue enough cards when unemployment increases ten-fold in a week.

    Here's the paper application for Florida unemployment in case you need it.

    If your company is looking to reinvent itself after this all ends, check out my web design sites below.



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

    The article I found about the Jacksonville order was updated to follow the national list of essential businesses, since the state order was said to follow the national list. Sorry, gun shops (I think). But there was still the first DeSantis Safer at Home order I saw that appeared to keep open or reopen churches, as long as people practice social distancing.
    Churches are totally and completely non-essential, especially when we can get our services online. Yes, people are worried and scared, and maybe pastors could spend their free time calling members, but allowing church services to go on is the wrong decision. Plagues over the years never stopped at church doors, and this virus will not be kept out of services in Florida. 
    I'm hoping the opening of churches was a typo. If not, just don't go. It's probably one of the best places to spread disease, especially to older people. You can read the Bible and watch the services at home.

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


    We had these crazy foam Easter decorations that might be a little too much if we had the family over for Easter. However, with no one to entertain, they are perfect decorations to brighten up the house and remind us of the importance of procreation. Bunnies, ducks, a lamb, more bunnies, and some baskets with a bunny and a duck. Pink, yellow, orange, powder blue, white, and green. Everywhere. 

    If you don't have a container full of crafty Easter items to set out, then go ahead and spend an afternoon creating some of your own. Even if you don't have little kids in the house. Just like facemask templates, you can find templates for bunnies and ducks online, and then add some color. Even if you don't really like Easter. Even if you're a Jehovah's Witness or a Budhist. The Pagan traditions of bright colors and fertile animals should resonate with all of us, especially at a time when we can't use Tinder to find a date. 

    You can also use some of that pent up energy on puzzles. I personally don't enjoy puzzling, but my wife and kids seem to enjoy it about as much as binge-watching the Golden Girls. A family member even created some kind of lesson plan to go along with the kids' current puzzles, which makes them annoying and educational. Or fun and educational, if you like that sort of thing. 

    Go ahead and set your puzzle table in the middle of any room. No one will come in and see it. Sure, you might decide to have it in the background of a Zoom conference meeting, but all of your co-workers houses look just as trashed by this point. I had put the puzzle table on lifts on one side, making it more of a drafting table, since my wife can sit there long enough to get neck pains. As a public service announcement, if you are working on puzzles enough to get neck pains, you need to go back onto Tinder.

    There you have it: two ways you can be entertained and make a mess of your house this Coronavirus/Easter Season.

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    Coronavirus Family Activity: Camping Out

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

    We started off with setting up the tent, which I'd only done zero times alone. I had the help of a scout leader in Kansas and then two other parents another time. When someone borrowed the tent, he accused me of having lost the instructions, which are attached to the carrying case (not that I knew that). Anyhow, it was nice to be able to take my time in the middle of the day to set up the tent, as anyone who has ever stumbled into a campground at sunset with a complicated tent will attest to. Also, it seems a similar Coleman tent might be better than the Wenzel I have, but mine was a Menard's special for about have the price elsewhere. If you are a pro at camping, you probably aren't doing it in the backyard. 

    We used the very nice Intex Mattress that we finally bought after years of trying to make thin airbeds work. Even for houseguests (unless you want them to leave), this mattress is worth owning. In about half an hour, the tent was ready for the kids and dog, as they moved in all the stuff they would need. 

    This being Jacksonville, I got a baseball bat ready, and my wife said something about having owned pepper spray at some point, but I used my imagination and decided the kids should not have access to pepper spray. However, next time I'll remember to give the kids each a personal alarm, especially since the worst they could do to each other is toss one in the tent and run out, hopefully without permanent hearing loss. I eventually forgot the bat, mace, personal alarm, and we even (seemingly for their own good) confiscated their phones. But they had a dog with a big bark, so whatevs. And I slept in the living room with the door open to the screen. OK, I know it sounds excessive, but even a big city like Milwaukee simply doesn't have the number of roving teenagers looking for open car or house windows, so you probably need to be prepared for the wildlife in town if you're going to camp out. 

    I made a fire in the backyard fire pit. Ours is similar to the one linked, only rustier. In Jax, it's always a good idea to know if there's a risk of fire. You wouldn't want you yard camping experience to burn down the neighborhood. We made Smores, which my son couldn't even do his last year of Cub Scouts because some kids were chucking hot marshmallows at each other, which does not even sound like fun to me. 

    If you really want to go nuts with the bug spray and sunscreen, go ahead and plan an outdoor meal with those plastic plates you never use, sitting on that patio picnic table you never use. We ate inside and then went out after dark, but it was still easier than setting up in the twilight. 

    Luckily, the dog was OK with sleeping in the tent, and the kids quieted down after about an hour. Because there was no chance of rain, I left the weather guard covering off the tent, so it was probably an amazing view while falling asleep. And 70 degrees overnight, so better than the 30 degrees I was forced to camp in with my son for Cub Scouts. 

    I hope this article reminds you of the camping equipment you have in the garage and that it could be a back yard adventure for your family this Coronavirus season. Oh, and if you have a dead tree in the yard, avoid sticking the tent close to it if you don't want to worry about wind all night. And make sure your fire is extinguished. And no throwing hot marshmallows. 

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

    For our first neighborhood walk, I found a small area with sidewalks in the Miramar part of Jacksonville. It was sort of wedge-shaped area along the river, just off of San Jose Blvd before that street becomes a major thoroughfare. Point La Vista Rd N, in case you're looking for it. We went about 4,000 ft or 3/4 of a mile in 90 degree weather, so plenty far. 

    The nice part about this neighborhood, besides the sidewalks, included interesting homes. Many sprawling ranches with unique characteristics. Of course, the $1 million+ homes along the river also were part of the community. One of these homes had a huge window to the road with another one through to the river, while another had at least four very large round windows. A few homes looked ultra-modern, while other hearkened back to classical styles. Some had more of a Mediterranean style, complete with tile roofs. Two houses looked to be out of Ferris Bueller's Chicago suburb. There was even a ranch that looked a bit like a church with a high, atrium-like roof. The neighborhood also had a lot of construction happening, which is usually a good sign, meaning people are fixing up homes they love rather than moving away. 

    As for whether or not I'd live here, I have to say it appears to be a great, if expensive, place to reside. Zillow values most homes at or above $500,000. Two of the houses along the river were Zestimated at over $2 million on the high end. The houses are roughly the same size of the ones where we live, which means Miramar gets nearly double the price. I am also not sure about the local public school situation in this neighborhood, and that would likely be a factor. If I was going to sell my house and go way into debt for a house, even in a cool little neighborhood, I'd have to be certain I could avoid sending the kids to Bolles. The other, and more important, problem is that it's a half hour away from my wife's job, which would be at least 45 minutes to an hour at rush hour. I'd rather be in urban sprawl and five minutes away than spending 1.5 hours a day in traffic. 300 days of work would mean 450 hours of driving, or 19 DAYS behind the wheel. However, if you work in San Marco, Southbank, or downtown, it's probably a nice little jaunt.

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


    Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Office Depot were sold out of all the kinds of toilet paper. Even the fast-dissolving RV paper. And the Extra-large gas station paper. And the single-ply business sandpaper. Finally, I found a website that had some large rolls of TP in bulk quantities still available. About a quarter mile of the two-ply stuff, delivered in two days as everyone else waited for four-packs of the name brand stuff.

    Ordering unconventionally does not always work, but when everyone else is showing up in large groups to empty grocery stores, I'll go underground to get my goods. The main problem in this particular case was the fact that these giant rolls (about 4 times the size of a megaroll) would need a commercial dispenser. Even though I run my own business, I do not have a commercial dispenser like you might find at a wayside. I have never even had a client ask to use the restroom. But now I had 1200' of toilet paper to mount somewhere in the bathroom.

    Running out to the store to get a TP holder would have defeated the purpose of buying online, and it also would have cost actual money. It's not like this virus and the shortages will last forever. I racked my brain for some time on this one, since I would need a TP holder that would not mess up the wall paint or fall over because of the giant rolls of toilet paper being dispensed.

    Mainly, I knew I had a few dowels that might work, but I was not sure how to mount them with any stability, with enough room for the paper, and without having to repaint after I was done. I initially thought of a chair or table turned upside-down. Then I looked in the closet and saw some TV trays. These small, foldable tables were perfect for my TP stand, when turned upside-down. The tabletop created a stable base, and the criss-cross legs made a perfect X for the dowel.

    I could have made two of these TP holders by using a second table and cutting the dowel in half, but the result was a bit large for the kids' bathroom. The facts that we never use the tub in the downstairs bathroom and that we're not having any guests over right now make that most-used toilet the one that gets the commercial TP refurb.

    This type of TP is not as wide across as residential TP. I never realized that while trying to hurry through my business at a stadium or truck stop. This toilet paper also does not come in individual sheets: it's one continuous sheet, which means parents of young children or really old people might end up with a clogged toilet or weirdly-ripped TP all over the WC. However, I think I've done enough to get this huge commercial TP roll installed, and I don't plan on creating some kind of sheet-ripper.

    I hope you are able to find toilet paper. If you find the industrial-sized rolls, maybe my experience will help you. Another tip is to call the stores in order to find out when the truck comes in, which is an awesome idea if all of your neighbors aren't doing the same thing.

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