Conservative Parents have traditionally used traditional names for their children, even as some of them make valiant efforts to be as unique as artsy, liberal parents. While there have been spikes in names like George, Barbara, and Nancy within the past few decades, imaginative conservatives have chosen Reagan as a go-to name, as well. The realization that George II was a bit of a dope followed by nearly a decade of a Muslim-named president led to such names as Easton, Wilson, Rawlings, Spalding, Mizuno, and Bombat, as GenXers to Millennials remembered the simple times of playing baseball at the sandlot. Now that Donald Trump is our fearless leader, there will be a spike in names associated with the president.

Sara Manning of ConservativeBabyNames.com has predicted that, barring an impeachment, Donald will surpass Aiden, Kaden, and Jayden in the top ten of American baby names. “While conservatives tend to choose more traditional names or names associated with power rather than trailer park names like Jayden, it will be nice to see some of our names supplanting those of the downtrodden,” Manning said. “For the girls, the obvious choice will be Ivanka, a name that symbolizes female power and beauty.” According to Manning, Trump will not be a first name, but Bannon and Conway will be excellent male names. Some will go a bit further in order to be unique, choosing Vlad for a boy destined to lead the family business with an iron fist. While Sergey will likely not see a surge because of its propensity to elicit “SirGay” from the masses, Kislyak can be a cute girl’s name.

Other names that will entice the refined parent include Pence as either boy or girl, Tillerson or Mattis for the boys, and Carson for .2% of minority boys. While Flynn, Carter, and Page will be on the outside looking in, Assange will likely become a female name in the near future. For those looking to make a bold statement, Kremlin would work for either boy or girl. Manning claims that press attacks on Eric will limit the name’s resurgence, but Barron will hit the charts along with Melania. However, Tiffany and Marla are considered as tasteless as Hillary for the true conservative. “You wouldn’t name your kid Golddigger or Bitch, would you?” asked Manning.

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s2smodern

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.
  • If You Have to Ask How Much Fortress Garage Suites Cost...
    That's right, you can't afford one. If you have to ask, I mean. But they do (or will) exist in Jacksonville. 13 of 30 are sold at the location I saw near Beach and I-295.

    If you don't have to ask, they start at about $170,000. People who are in the market for a garage suite more than likely own a home valued at 10x the garage price, as well as cars valued at more than my home's value. But they are real people, too, and they are totally normal once you get to know them.


    Then there's that one crew that pools together for a garage suite because all four of the guys own one nice car. Except the one guy, we'll call him Todd, doesn't make his $42,500 payment. Never should have trusted Todd, boys. Not when it comes to money. Or dating your sister.

    For most of the people, this is a man-cave deluxe. Some of the online renderings make it seem like where you might bring all your guys to hang out, complete with basketball hoop, but others have couches and intimate lighting, so maybe you bring your dates to see your NSX?

    I love cars, so I really want to understand garage suites that cost more than my second house. I guess for people who have that million-dollar house but not enough room to add a nice garage. I mean, these are nice garages, with room for four cars and some weird observation deck where you can stand and look at your cars from above. And watch TV. I guess you could also fit more cars with one of those car stands that allow you to drive one car above another, since these garages are two stories high.

    They are over 1,000 square feet. Somewhere slightly bigger than 20' wide by 50' deep. With RVs running about 8' by 30', maybe some people will store two RVs in their Fortress Garages, though it's definitely marketed for car enthusiasts. And no one owns two RVs, right? Maybe fifty motorcycles, none stolen.

    So $170,000 gets you in the door, then pay your own utilities. There's a clubhouse in case you're not storing your Sega Genesis in the loft area. Or if you need more guy time once your guy friends stop coming along to stare at your cars worth more than their life insurance policies.

    I assume some VIPs with Ferraris will pretend like they are going to work on their cars here, but I'm not sure if it's the right kind of setting for DIY oil changes and fixing the other 80,000 problems you get to own along with the Ferrari.

    But it's a good place to start up that Cobra, rev it, pull it into the alley, show it to the other guys, and then slip back into the Cobra Cocoon.

    And then there's the elusive guy who supposedly owns a McLaren F1, but he only shows up on Tuesdays at 10am when everyone else is at work, except the old guy with three Corvettes named after his three ex-wives.

    You know what, I really want in. No matter how sad I try to make it seem, I'd love to have a special home for my 1986 Bertone X 1/9, surrounded by other cars loved as much by their owners, who would all understand why I can't sell my Precious. Even though my wife did make me sell my Sega Genesis, so I'll be over after I stare at my car a while to play Streets of Rage.

    But the problem is that I had to ask how much, so maybe I'll just drive by the place a few times with my X, hoping someone will see me and want a selfie with their MR-2 or TR-7, and invite me into the fortress. Just for a fleeting moment, as a sing Calloway's "I Wanna be Rich" to myself.
  • Quick, Now is Our Chance to Kill Public Schools
    Jacksonville entered into one of the most liberal educational experiments of any city when the city basically became the county. While I am not sure forced busing was ever associated with the move, it's still fairly unique as an attempt to bring all the awesomeness of the suburban schools into the city schools. Problem is that the suburbs are now, basically, in other counties (St. Johns and Clay), and that's where all the Duval educational hope has run to. What if, instead of throwing $2 billion into Duval Public Schools, we step back and see how we can do it all different once again? I'm wondering what our unique version of public schools might be today.


    Consolidation 2.0


    Sure, we could go to St. Johns and Clay and say we want in. A combined school school district covering 2,300 square miles. Basically the same size as Miami-Dade (except half of it's area is Everglades). Milwaukee asked for this sort of opportunity to combine with the rich suburbs for years. And since Duval already did this once, it's probably not even on the table. I guess I thought I'd remind everyone that since Jacksonville was really a trailblazing city in trying to save public schools here once, maybe some lessons were learned.

    Technically, the city of Jacksonville has a huge percentage of the high-paying jobs AND all these new suburbs get out of such nuisances as Section 8 housing and public transportation, so there should be some way to equalize the educational systems. Basically, people leave the city to avoid the problems and find better schools, but their pocketbooks are very tied to the city, and the city has to recognize this without totally alienating those who have moved away. Good luck, since this is pretty much standard in every major metro.


    UnConsolidate 1.0


    So all the integration lawsuits and whatnot have gone away. Our neighborhoods in Duval are integrated to some degree, and busing is expensive and relatively stupid. Some of the highest ranked schools are in high-crime areas, and kids who live there take buses to low-performing schools. It's all a circus in order to pretend the school system works, and everyone pretty much knows that. If we UnConsolidate, the best schools will be in the best neighborhoods. I'm fine with paying for programs, police, extra teachers, charter schools, or whatever for failing schools in lower-income areas as long as my kids can attend a legitimately good school near me. I almost hate to be a snob, but we left good schools in Wisconsin and Kansas to come to Florida, where education is anything but a top priority. And we live in a county that does not have a good reputation even within that state. Like most people who have the means, I'll move my family to St. Johns before I'll send them to a joke of a school in Duval.  And I don't even believe that St. Johns schools are all that special for all the talk, but at least they'd be on par with the Shawnee Mission schools back in Kansas or the Brookfield Schools in Wisconsin.

    Kill em All 

    Yes, now would be the time to kill all local public schools and start over with something new. Back when I got let go from public school teaching, I suggested everyone else (mostly getting paid a lot more than myself) also get let go so that schools could start over with lower salaries. Sure, there was some spite in that suggestion, but I have also met some head-in-the-sand public school teachers in Duval who don't worry much about job security, even as schools don't perform well and the best kids move away or get siphoned off by charter schools.  Or we could sell the schools to charter schools (I think that's the city council / mayor's plan), not unlike the JEA plan. Charter schools like operating in mini-malls and other obscure places, probably because it's easier to get out fast, so we could just tear down the schools to build some more housing, and let charter schools figure out the whole problem of facilities.

    I'm not REALLY in favor of something like this, but now would be the time to think very big. $2 billion is huge when it's all about just rebuilding bad schools that have students leaving every year. Are you saying that for $2 billion, we won't even get a few boarding schools to house kids who would be better off away from home? Are there any brand-new buildings for those of us on the (somewhat) wealthier side of town, or is all the money just to rebuild old-ass schools where all the infrastructure is already dilapidated?

    Basically, will a $2 billion investment somehow create a situation where Duval can compete with St. Johns for the wealthiest clientele? Follow me on this one, since it's important. When new subdivisions go up at the current rate in St. Johns and Clay for a few more years, we will see a strong desire on the part of these people (with jobs in Jacksonville) to try to find a place closer to work. That is a natural progression in urban sprawl. If Jacksonville's investment in schools takes this future desire into consideration, I wonder how it might change the needs for the same money.


    What Then?

    Jacksonville might be the only city in the country in a position to try out the straight-up capitalist model for education (choice/charter/private/vouchers). It also might be time to move good schools out of crappy neighborhoods. It might be time to invest in the schools in Duval's version of suburbia. Or maybe getting new schools will turn around our worst schools for some reason. No matter what, I look forward to a bold new plan that isn't just the typical money pit public school solution.

    I do know that the worst thing that can be done is to just throw money at a system that doesn't work. The current plan asks for $15,000 for every student enrolled in Duval's schools. I'd bet that most of those families would be perfectly happy sending their kids to the same old, falling apart schools if they got a $15,000 check for each kid enrolled in public school. Heck, I'd enroll my kids for that.

    I wonder, however, if anyone's asked the question of current students and graduates. THE question that all this money is supposed to answer: What parts of attending Duval Public Schools made it difficult for you to learn? That's the $1.9 billion question, really. As a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools, I can tell you that my answer would have been about:
    • Students fighting during lunch or in the hallways. 
    • Worrying about getting jumped by groups of kids.
    • Disruptive students in my classes.
    • Students who didn't care about learning in my classes.
    • Teachers who were probably awesome at one point but who were exhausted when I was there.
    • My stuff or my car getting stolen.
    • The bathrooms always being locked because of vandalism.
     My high school was built 30 years before I attended. Maybe there were some small maintenance issues, and maybe Jacksonville has much more major ones, but the point is that if I'd been asked about it, my answers would all have been about safety, security, and learning environment, not whether or not we had the newest computers, science labs, or brand-new classrooms (we didn't). Five years after attending MPS, I substitute taught in many of the schools on the North Side of town, and my answer would have been pretty much the same. Old and new schools alike seemed clean. My former middle school (now a magnet school) was a "better" school than when I went there, and the building itself was a decade older. Same desks and lockers and classrooms.

    Anyhow, if the Duval School Board is forced to wait a year before the referendum is allowed to make it to the public, maybe the question above needs to be answered first and foremost. If the answer locally is all about how the schools are falling apart and nothing else, then I would totally vote for the money needed to fix the central problem of education in the city. If it's more about people than places, however, then maybe the answer isn't as simple as brick and mortar.


  • Duval or DuVal or du Val?
    I was just on an insurance website that listed DuVal as the county we're in. Some people go by DuWhatever, while others use DuSomething. Still others are du Frenchplace. So, I wonder what the deal is with Duval.


    Duval County is named after William Pope Duval, who was the first governor of Florida. He was an appointed governor, so it's not like the people of the state voted for him, but he did rule over Florida for twelve years. Duval himself went by Duval, as can be seen in his signature:

    Of course, Duval, regardless of how William spelled it, would have been du Val at one point. Just like duPont (as in Jessie Ball duPont), used to be du Pont, though I am sure some people around Duval County call it Dupont.

    One additional tidbit about William Duval's name is that he had three sons, with two of them going by Duval and one going by DuVal. Burr and John were Duval, and Duval County, Texas is named after Burr. Thomas, the obvious attention-seeking middle child, went by DuVal.

    To recap, the person specifically for whom Duval County was named was named Duval, not du Val, duVal, or DuVal. So, unlike St. Johns, which people from Florida changed because...lazy, Duval County is spelled correctly. With ONE u, not three.
  • Recyclable Plastic Bags as Beds
    Plastic bags CAN be recycled, probably even in Georgia. That's where a Girl Scout troop decided to save recyclable plastic bags from the landfill in order to build homeless beds. I'm wondering whether it's a good activity or not. I want it to be, really, but I have my reservations. My wife says it's me being cynical, but I just like to make sure the feel-good stories really make me feel good.



    First off, it seems like a good idea. Reuse or upcycle. Since you can recycle these bags, making beds out of them may not really be the best use, but if the bags were going to be thrown away, then it's cool. I just wonder what happens when the bed has served its purpose as a bed. I would think it could be hosed down and used indefinitely, but I'm not sure. But if the woven bags can still be recycled, then that's pretty sweet. 

    Plastics also leach chemicals. 95% of plastics will leach these chemicals when real-world stresses of sunlight or washing are added to the mix. The chemicals tend to be estrogen-like, so I don't really know if they're going to harm any homeless people, but it is something to consider. I don't know the specifics of which chemicals leach from plastic bags, and some are worse than others. Basically, beds made of plastic would likely be banned for normal human purchase, either as mattresses for homes or as camping beds. Surrounding yourself in a chemical bath while sleeping is probably not a great idea for most of us, but I can still see the allure of not wanting to sleep on the ground.

    In the end, I can't say using plastic bags as beds for the homeless is a bad idea, mostly because I can't think of a better material to be upcycled in this way. I guess you could fill the bags with Spanish Moss (which used to be used in mattresses), and they'd be softer yet much more flammable. 
    Actually, filling the bags with anything, like newspaper, might add to comfort or insulation, but the beds would probably less portable.  Besides, I am sure all of this is really about the thought counting more than the actual item being donated. And the work involved. Girl Scoutstrying to do good. 

  • Orange Park Wants to Limit Cars in Driveways?
    When I was driving around Jacksonville to find a place to live, I always crossed off the neighborhoods with several cars parked in the front lawn. In my mind, front lawns are not made for parking cars in a civilized society. But Orange Park, at least according to the news, wants to pass a law that kicks cars out of front lawns AND driveways. That would be going a bit too far, especially around here. That said, there should be some accepted rules about parking cars that should help property values, though I don't see much hope in enforcing most of the rules, even in hoods with an HOA.


    Most of our homes have two places associated with them that are made for cars: garages and driveways. I have noticed that around 50% of Jacksonville garages double as living rooms, workout rooms, or shops. Of course, you can't park a car in your living room, so that leaves the driveway. Since driveways are made for cars, it seems that those are the best alternative left for most folks in the area. Moving the cars into back yards in order to keep driveways clear seems a bit odd, actually. If that's what we wanted around here, then we'd build alleys, but we don't.

    Lawns, front or back, are not really made for cars. I have enough land on the side of my house that I could add a driveway there, and I may someday. However, maybe only 10% of the homes in my neighborhood have this option, and it's expensive. And it would still result in visible cars, unless I also added a garage. Expensive stuff. 



    So let's establish that garages and driveways (front, side, or back) are A-OK for vehicles. In a more rural setting, gravel could be the material, but grass is pretty po-dunk and a driveway. Broken-down cars is also pretty bad, but that's kind of hard to prove. RVs are big and ugly, but if they fit, they fit.

    Then what's NOT OK? Here's my list. Yours may vary. I'm thinking about intended use, property values, and safety.

    1. Cars parked over sidewalks in driveways
    Cars that extend over the sidewalks (if there are sidewalks) are a hazard. It makes me sad in my own neighborhood whenever I see them, and they probably break the law...remember all those ADA sidewalk ramps we now have in Jacksonville?

    2. Cars parked on front lawns
    There are very few curb appeal choices that are worse than a Cutlas Supreme rusting next to someone's front door. I do like me some sidewalks, but I can see why my HOA chose to enforce the no-front-lawn-parking rules over the sidewalk-blocking one. I literally never shopped for houses in any neighborhood where I saw a car in the front lawn.

    3. Cars parked in back yards
    This seems to be what Orange Park is going for, but it really opens the community up to people being allowed to have junk yards in the back and unused driveways in the front. Property values might be better, but you've got some safety issues, as well as lots of oil draining right into yards that will be mostly dead. And the kids are supposed to play on the driveway, then?

    4. Cars parked on streets
    Actually, if we built slightly wider streets around here, I wouldn't mind. But that's not the case, and there's mail and garbage pickup. Again, if we don't want alleys, then larger driveways and wider streets should be the solution, but then you can't pack as many homes into a PUD. Most streets around me can only really accommodate parking on one side, and it's pretty dangerous when there's a party and it's parked full. My recommendation would be overnight parking restrictions on streets, allowing people to get passes. Make a little money and get a few cars off the streets. Anyhow, my neighbor, who probably isn't unusual in Jacksonville, has a two-car garage. He owns three cars, but uses the garage as storage, so he parked his project car on the street for six months. That's not my favorite solution, but if the city got $100 or $200 a month for his privilege, then I'd sign off on it.

    Solution?
    You can see from the aerial of my own neighborhood that two cars parked on one side of the street isn't a big deal. The blue circles represent mail boxes, where you generally cannot park. Once people return from work in the evening, however, the street often looks more like the following image:


    The driving lane is only wide enough for one car to pass. Cars are over the sidewalk, which puts kids into the street in order to get around, and it's generally unsafe and unsightly.

    In my neighborhood, there actually would be a solution, but it's not going to be free, so it probably won't happen. What I would do is take the grass between the sidewalk and street (in some areas along the street) and pave the section as dedicated parking. It effectively makes the street wide enough to allow parked cars and traffic flow. Less cars over the sidewalk and more visibility of pedestrians, who can maybe use the sidewalks more. The following image has the same number of cars as the one above:
    Sure, there are some cable or phone boxes to relocate or protect. And you normally only see this kind of thought going into parking in revitalized downtowns, but it really is the auto-centered world we live in. The grass between the sidewalk and road does not serve a real purpose where I live (unlike in Milwaukee, where we always had city-owned trees there). I assume we either have more cars, less garage-use, or bigger families than those who built the homes in my neighborhood 20 years ago, so they did not consider the need for safer parking options. Even those roll-out basketball hoops are safer in the scenario presented here. However, I'm no engineer, so I don't know how you pitch the concrete around existing driveways or if there's going to be runoff issues. 

    I realize my solution doesn't help Orange Park residents with giant RVs and old Buicks sitting in their driveways, but it's probably something for Jacksonville to consider in order to meet the letter of the law for those ADA sidewalks, and prevent some fender benders and pedestrian accidents in neighborhoods.
  • Vacation to Asheville - Watch For Gas Gouging
    We were visiting the Biltmore in Asheville when I ended up at a gas station that seemed impossible. At first, I felt lucky that a Shell was right there, since our AAA gas discount has been giving me $.15 a gallon recently. But after I ended up putting $20 into the car, I realized I'd been totally scammed, right in the open.



    We were staying in a hotel in the Biltmore Village area (at the center of the pictured map). Next to the hotel was this Shell station. Since we'd been on the 40, it was the first station we'd seen, and since we'd come from Tennessee, it's the first prices we'd seen in North Carolina. Therefore, I figured the $3.49 price for gas was what all the local stations were charging. I was surprised by the $.15 per gallon upcharge for using a credit card, and I also wanted my $.15 per gallon discount, so I went in and paid cash. I saved $.30 a gallon over what some of the other folks around me were paying, but it was still $.50 to $1.00 more than other stations in town.

    I've never seen this kind of discrepancy in a city of around 100,000, or even here in Jacksonville with ten times the population. In fact, I thought price gouging was basically illegal, and that gas stations were required to stay within a certain amount of the average. Maybe this Shell station was the only one right next to the entrance to the Biltmore for many years, and it just got used to charging what people would pay. I'm sure the free-market people out there are just laughing at me for not being a good consumer. I guess I can be glad I only blew a twenty on the lesson, but I still feel a bit let down by Shell, which sanctions this particular gas station.

    Anyhow, if you plan on visiting the Biltmore (and I think a lot of us from here do), make sure you don't fill up at the Shell right next to the entrance, unless paying more for gasoline makes you feel wealthier.

    [UPDATE]
    I sent a message to Shell about this gas station. We'll see if there's any kind of response.

    [UPDATE 2]
    No response from Shell. A Gasbuddy search still shows the Shell station I went to at nearly a dollar more than anywhere else in town, so I guess that's that.


  • The Hidden Cost of a Hidden Hills Upgrade
    I took my daughter to a party in Hidden Hills. Nice neighborhood and homes, along with a security guard. So what does the convenience of being in a fancy hood near the Beaches and downtown cost? And what are the hidden costs of Hidden Hills? Just in case we decide to move on up, I decided to do some research.


    HOA
    It looks like the HOA costs $104 per month as of 2019. Three separate homes for sale had this number, which is surprisingly low. This area is gated, and therefore has private roads. It also has tennis courts, RV/boat parking, sauna, club house, playground, game room,  but seemingly no pool.  And I am not sure about basketball or how much it costs to play the golf course that surrounds many homes... it's a public course now, so you just pay when you play. Many
    of the homes come with a pool, big driveways, and a lot of space.
    We're at $1,248 per year.

    Price of Homes
    I did not find a huge difference in price per square foot between my own, non-gated East Arlington community and Hidden Hills. That said, homes were still more expensive on average because there are fewer 1,500 square foot homes next to golf fairways. With the golf course going public, you might end up seeing normal, everyday people walking through your back yard on a daily basis. That might bother you more than if all the golfers were country club members. Probably still better than rows of Section 8 housing.
    The neighborhood has a nice feel to it. Maybe it feels like money. I've lived in two not-as-wealthy neighborhoods with a similar feel, and it's a small step up from my current block. Subtle, but apparent to someone knows what he's looking for.

    A pool and upkeep might be a part of your monetary consideration in Hidden Hills. That's up to $5,000 a year.

    Other Expenses
    Local public schools would include Landmark and Sandalwood, so that may not impress your impressive set. The area is close to Grace Lutheran through middle school and Providence for high school, but then you'll have to add tuition into your yearly expenses. In St. Johns, the highly-rated schools are free, but you'll have other expenses, including mileage on your car and possible new community fees. Expect to pay $8,000+ per child at a local private school. If you're past having kids in K12 schools, Hidden Hills might be a nice retirement option.
    If you are considering the East Arlington/ Intracoastal West part of Jacksonville, make sure that you schedule a showing at a Hidden Hills home (if it's in your price range). I'll be considering the neighborhood when and if I sell my Milwaukee rental, assuming the golf course remains solvent and our main commute stays close to East Arlington.
  • Only Way to Avoid The Reverse Mortgage Disaster
    I've seen several news articles about the pitfalls of reverse mortgages. I also saw that we've set up a fund to help people when they get stuck with a reverse mortgage here in Florida. But the simple answer that most older people don't want to hear is that there's only one way to avoid disaster with a reverse mortgage: don't get one.


    The ad that inspired this reverse mortgage article claims that Americans have trillions of dollars just sitting there, not being used. The problem is that a reverse mortgage isn't using that money, either. It's using the house that's worth that money as collateral for a LOAN. It's a loan that needs to be paid off when your house is sold. You can make mistakes and end up losing your house.


    The better advice for anyone already retiredor looking to retire is to sell. I know, you love your house, all the stuff in it, the neighbors you wave at, the same big box retail down the road, and all the stuff in the house. It's basic economics: if you own something outright worth $500,000, sell it for $500,000 and rent a nice condo for 20 years. If you take out a reverse mortgage, then you can get $250,000 towards a condo for 10 years, still pay property taxes and insurance on the house, and continue to maintain it so that in a decade, you'll make enough money to pay off your reverse mortgage loan. New AC, new roof, new driveway? That would all eat into the profit on selling your house that you'll need to cover all the interest on the loan. Don't pay a bank for the right to live in a house for your entire life. Avoid reverse mortgages at all costs.
  • Rental Bikes Aren't Exactly For The Homeless
    Local news was down in St. Augustine covering the newly-proposed use of some kind of bike-share rental system. Since it's standard operating procedure, a homeless man was interviewed about the program. He said something to the effect that it would be good to have options for someone like him who can't afford a bike. FYI local news and homeless people: bike rental programs are not really created for the homeless.



    Since I don't claim to know the biking habits of the typical homeless individual, I'm going to assume it involves getting to a place and then back home. Home being a structure in a field outside of town, not where you'd be able to return the bike for credit. My understanding would be that these folks would need the bike to get to and from "work," each and every day. Based on a similar rental system I found online, the 24-hour rental is $24. Alternatively, an annual pass is $80. The problem is that the trips can only be 60 minutes each. Assuming the homeless camp is close enough to downtown, this might work as a way to get around once in St. Augustine. Not a bad yearly price to not have to worry about bike maintenance, anyhow. If you're homeless already, and now you can get as many maintenance-free trips on a bike as you can use each day, then $80 for the year isn't bad at all.

    But wait, there's less. The yearly pass will need to be paid for with a credit card with a fob mailed to an address. So even if these ride share bikes makes sense to homeless people, it might not be something that can be purchased without the help of someone with credit and an address. It might seem like a lot of people would volunteer to do this, but any extra time or any damage would be billed to the credit card, so I certainly wouldn't volunteer my credit in the hopes that someone else will always return the bike in time (or at all). The Cincinnati bike share, for example, charges $1,200 for a bike that is not returned.

    I have a $1,000 bike. At least someone paid $1,000 for it back in 1986. I picked it up amidst college moving day garbage at UW-Milwaukee back in 1999. It was already worth $0 at that point. I've used some tape to hold it together, but it's still worth about $0. Since I'm probably not the only person in the area with a worthless bike, I'm thinking a bike donation for the homeless might make more sense than saying they should be using tourist bikes. That's not to say that bike shares don't have a place in St. Augustine, just that it might be meant for rich tourists instead of homeless interviewees.
  • Bored Cashier is a Marketing Opportunity
    Most of the times that I've been to car dealerships, I don't really notice the cashiers until it's time to pay. The dealership I went to recently to get an oil change, however, had a cashier right in the waiting room (which was also the location of the service and parts desk). Efficient placement that should probably lead to employees working hard, since they are in front of each other and customers. For this particular cashier, however, it was 90% texting in her chair along with 10% taking payments/other work, and it's a missed marketing opportunity.



    Before we venture too deeply into the car dealership cashier job description, I will make an observation: most car dealership employees are men; most cashiers at car dealerships are hot, youngish women. Being hot is seemingly part of the job of a car dealership cashier. I'm good with some eye candy: back when I worked on the dock at The Boston Store (high-end retail), there was all kinds of pretty girls on the floor, especially in women's fashion areas. But our cashiers were expected to fold clothes or bother customers when not working the cash register. Where I was on the dock, it was the standard, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean." I know, not everyone follows the rules all the time, but that's the idea. 

    Our lovely cashier at the local car place, in the two hours I was there, received a few packages, could not help find some packages that had been lost, and checked out fewer than ten customers. In fact, when I was being checked out, my service rep did all the work instead of the cashier, so she stood there and watched. 

    I started to think that a bored cashier at a car service department could be marketing gold. She's already pretty, probably has lots of social media followers, and would rather be communicating with "friends" than being forced to sit there without a phone. She could be like the bored Maytag repair man, representing the fact that these cars don't even need repairs. Maybe selfies with a browser open to the current inventory. She probably has over 1,000 followers on more than one social media account.

    Actually, I'd probably just do that with her: have her post about the cars, in her own voice. "OMG this pickup would make any guy a hottie!" I'd give her a list of current automobiles for sale, and then have her talk them up, focusing on all the cool features that would be da bomb. I'd probably set her up with a blog, like the one you're reading, and just tell her to have fun talking about why the cars are so swell, or whatever term the kids are using these days. Sure, some fashion and makeup advice would also be fine. 

    Or, if you want to keep it to the service department, she could take selfies with the other employees and then add short bios about the guys that will be working on the cars. Basically, it would be like her friends are working hard at fixing cars rather than some guys we never see back in the service area. 

    Something, anything. In fact, she's probably bored because she has to sit there and post/read all day long. The shift probably seems like forever, even if she's checking out Lily's Instagram or Hailey's vlog. Those girls are so fake, anyway, and their parents don't make them work while they're in college.

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