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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're Going to Get Guy Food, Be Ready For Anything
    A local woman was emotional and upset during a news interview after a man pointed a gun at her in a Hardee's drive thru down on Baymeadows. Personally, I don't like guns, but I do have to admit that if you're going to get your food at a guy restaurant in Jacksonville, you should be ready for anything and nothing should surprise you.

    Hardee's and Burger King are for guys. Guys who aren't afraid to cry when Florida beats Georgia on a Hail Mary pass. Guys who won't ask for directions, even in Jacksonville. Guys who are fine with eating grease on their fat, along with a little iceberg lettuce when on a diet. Guys who carry guns in their glove compartments AND under their seats.

    When you take forever in a drive thru because you are an indecisive woman with a whiny child in the back seat, you can expect to anger a guy who was getting his usual: a Monster Angus Thick Burger Combo. You're going to anger a hungry man if he has to wait for you to decide which has less fat between the Original Roast Beef and the Charbroiled BBQ Grilled Chicken.

    It's like when he's playing golf and he comes upon a foursome that includes three old ladies and TWO grandkids. First of all, that's a fivesome, but more importantly, that group needs to keep the kids quiet and beg others to play through instead of acting as if they belong there. 

    I am sure this man politely flashed his lights, honked his horn, and brandished his middle finger before he decided to draw his firearm. Like all responsible, licensed gun owners, he only reaches for his weapon when absolutely necessary, like when he hears loud music eminating from a nearby vehicle, when someone takes his parking spot, or when he sees a teenager he doesn't recognize in his neighborhood. Luckily, this man's national Second Amendment and Florida Stand Your Ground rights ensure his lawful use of a gun while being blockaded by a pokey woman who could potentially use her vehicle as a deadly weapon, especially if she hits the gas instead of the brake while applying makeup.

    The best advice for women who are being asked to grab Hardee's for her man-friend is to call the order in ahead of time or go inside the restaurant or go to Panera instead. Just like men in line to use the port-a-john don't want to get stuck behind a woman (or old guy with prostate issues), the same applies to man restaurant and liquor store drive-thrus. 
  • Neighborly or Not: Dealing With Conflict in Jacksonville

    Relationships are important, especially when those relationships involve your neighbors. I can write an article on this or other websites that gets hits from all around the country, and I'm just some anonymous guy writing about a topic of interest. But when you post on your Facebook neighborhood group or on Nextdoor, you're making the choice for your neighbors to see the content. Even benign posts with the intent of being diplomatic can be taken the wrong way. A recent situation in my neighborhood is a great example of how conflicts might escalate on social media, even if the intent was basically the exact opposite.


    To begin with, I should have learned my lesson about trusting others when we first moved to Jacksonville. My car was hit from behind at a stop light by a college kid who begged me to let him pay for the damage rather than report another claim to his insurance. I trusted him and basically lost out on $1,000. Welcome to Jacksonville. But I didn't really know him, and I haven't seen him since, so I am mostly over it. Except there was a lesson to be learned that I apparently have yet to figure out. I had several options at my disposal when the latest incident happened, yet I still apparently got it all wrong, and this article represents my effort to clarify and attempt to rectify the situation. I once again relied on trust that another person would do what was right.


    This is what happened and is not disputed: a neighbor’s dog got out of his garage/family room and attacked our dog. Our dog was on a leash and on the sidewalk. The neighbor broke it up quickly and apologized, saying his dog had never done that before. I swore a lot; like a sailor, or maybe even like a sailor from Boston.


    Now for the disputed parts. 

    1. I say it was a Pit Bull, as it was a total Pit Bull attack (and the dog looked like one to me), while the neighbor (or at least his kid) said it was not a Pit Bull. 

    2. While there were no visible signs of injury to our dog immediately, we found a wound the next day that she was licking. 


    To be clear, we never had any problems with this neighbor before. In fact, our interactions had always been pleasant. Plus, I like the fact that he doesn't tend to park his two cars OVER the sidewalk like so many other neighbors, even if he doesn't park them IN the garage where cars belong (my minority opinion). But those cars being in the driveway did allow his dog to surprise us as it charged out of the open garage/family room.


    After the dog attack, we had to decide what to do next. We kicked around all of the ideas, but settled with the (I assume) typical Florida reaction of doing nothing. These are what we believed to be our options. 


    1. Do nothing, hoping my own swearing tirade and the fear of what could have happened would be enough to persuade the owner to keep his dog on a leash.

    2. Go the legal route. Report the incident to Animal Control, the police, and the HOA. File a small claims lawsuit and hope for Judge Judy. However, COJ says you need an affidavit signed by two unrelated people or a video of the incident, which is pretty difficult to pull off (unless the neighbor has surveillance video he'd like to share or wants to sign an affidavit against himself). It also has to be notarized. Really. The HOA option, however, might have led somewhere, though I have had at least two email complaints ignored by our HOA. Your HOA results may vary. And small claims lawsuits are kind of small: I could waste both our time, win a hundred dollars, and just end up with an angry neighbor. It's not like you call JSO for a dog bite, right? Someone suggested putting the vet bills in his mailbox, maybe with a lawyer-ish letter, or even knocking on his door to talk, but I wasn't sure about another in-person confrontation. When our neighbor kid destroyed a Christmas lawn ornament, I also balked at the confrontation, even though I had video evidence. It's just not fun, and those neighbors liked us until the day they moved away, whereas I don't know what would have happened if I called their son a liar.

    3. Social Media Shame. I did NOT do this, though the neighbor seems to believe I did because I referenced the attack in a closed Facebook group post about two other Pit Bulls roaming around the neighborhood. If I wanted to Facebook shame my neighbor, I would have included his name, address, photos of an obvious Pit Bull from his own Facebook posts, his occupation and how it might relate to not wanting to admit what kind of dog he owns, the receipts for our expenses, and photos of the injury. I could have added a photo of the house to warn others to stay away, and I could have further tormented the neighbor with a recap of his court and financial history. And rather than posting it to a closed Facebook group, I certainly would have posted it to all of Facebook and Twitter, along with an article here and on several other websites. And I would have sent links to the local news, the HOA, local politicians, and the neighbor's homeowner's insurance or mortgage company. I collected all of the information I would have needed to be able to do this, but all I did was mention the attack in passing in a post: "I don't want to start a big debate, but our leashed dog was attacked by a pit bull in our neighborhood on the sidewalk a few weeks back (with the owner letting it run loose). I refrained from reporting the owner and suing for vet bills because I did not want to stir up trouble. But now I have this video of two different pit bulls wandering around at 4am. If you like dogs, cats, or small children, this video should worry you. I know some of you love these dogs, so I will not say more. My daughter witnessed the attack and is now worried all over again. Please, keep all of your pets inside, fenced in, and on a leash."


    Apparently, my neighbor whose dog attacked ours saw this post and became angry. Even though our family has mostly stopped walking past his house, I decided to take the dog that direction one morning. As I walked past his house, he walked from his side yard towards the oft-open garage and started laughing loudly. After the restraint I had shown (in my mind) by not suing, issuing complaints, or publicly deriding this man, I assumed the most I would hear out of his mouth would be a half-hearted apology with me accepting and reminding him to keep the dog on a leash. Instead, I heard cynical laughter that continued as I passed his house on the street (avoiding the sidewalk where it happened). Eventually, I said, "What?!"

    The neighbor, who you might realize I am still not naming, went through his list of grievances after saying he saw what I posted on Facebook: “I apologized.” “The dog had never done that before.” “You’re not going to sue.” “Your dog wasn’t even bitten.” “Your daughter only cried because of all your swearing.” I think he also initially asked me what my problem was, or something like that. The point is that he took my passing reference to his negligence and took it to be me attacking him personally, so he decided to come after me personally. Since I was kind of surprised, I didn't say anything. Besides, this neighbor already had two of the 3Ps of Jacksonville (Pit Bull and Pickup), so I assumed he owned the third (Pistol).

    I have tried to see this situation from my neighbor's perspective. I did swear a lot. Our dog didn't yelp. We didn't contact him to see about rabies after the bite. I guess I can see why he thought it was all behind us, but instead of allowing a fairly innocuous Facebook post to go by, he decided to call me a liar, as if I would create that lie and then not try to hit him up for cash? As if I'd create the lie to deride him and then not identify him? 

    So, lessons learned, everyone. It seemed that the only time the offending party in Jacksonville has been happy with me is the time I never told my neighbor his kid destroyed a lawn ornament. That means people want you to forgive, forget, move on, and never mention it. The problem is that I expect the opposite from others if I'm at fault. If my kids destroy something at a neighbor's house, if my dog bites a neighbor's cat, or if I sideswipe a neighbor's car, I want to own that it happened and what I can do to fix the situation. Integrity and honesty, especially when it comes to my kids seeing it. We all make mistakes, but those of us who admit our mistakes instead of trying to pretend they never happened are much better off. I already apologized to my wife and daughter about my swearing incident (and they know it's not who I am). I hope my neighbor can move past the people who might have wronged him in the past and realize that I am not those people. Maybe he also needs to reflect on the man he really is, too, especially if blaming others for his failings is typical. 

    I wish I could offer more concrete advice. I saw one 60s sitcom where the wives got together and figured it all out for their husbands. But I saw another more recent one when the wives got together and made a feud worse. Plus, sitcoms are not real life. Maybe our kids will be friends in high school. My plan is to move on and start walking past the house again. I am hoping I don't have to keep my phone recording the whole time, but since it's Jacksonville, that's probably the best idea.

  • Save Money on Gas
    I was excited when AAA changed its partnership to Shell and offered $.05 / gallon discount to members. Then, T-Mobile bought Sprint and gave me another weekly discount at Shell. Now, I also started using the Getupside app for another discount on fill ups, and you should, too.

    While my Shell rewards doesn't allow me to fully stack the rewards, I do get "cash" back from Getupside that can be used for Amazon or Walmart gift cards. Instead of the normal $.12 per gallon, I get $.085 per gallon while saving $.05 at the pump, for a total of 13.5 pennies back per gallon. When gas is as low as $2.00 a gallon, that's a decent 6.75% off. I'm also not limited to Shell with Getupside, so I can just take the $.12 per gallon at a cheaper gas station that also offers my preference of top tier gasoline, though I have yet to research which local ones would be my best bet.

    If you are currently driving to help make ends meet, using Getupside is a total no-brainer (unless you're using an EV). Your Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Postmates, Grub Hub, Roadie, etc., runs will be at least partially offset by gift cards to buy the necessities.

    You're not going to get rich by saving money on gasoline, but if you drive a lot, like me, you might earn $10 gift cards every 2-3 weeks, and that's something, which is better than nothing.
     
    My code X95JF gets you a 15¢/gal bonus: https://upside.app.link/X95JF

    A friend of mine signed up and got around $.30 off per gallon on his first fill-up and then he has an opportunity to earn another $7.00 for friends of his who sign up. It's like a pyramid scheme, except you don't have to buy products you don't need to store them in your garage and hold fake parties for friends you don't like to sell them products and an opportunity to be in your downline. 

    Also, I wanted to mention that you don't have to give Getupside your entire credit card number or bank information, but the process is kind of clunky as a result: you have to claim a discount in the app, then check in when at the gas station, then choose the partial credit card number being used, then wait two days to see the reward. It's better than taking photos of receipts, which was the original model, but still clunky. That said, it's a decent discount off something you need if you drive a gas-powered vehicle.

    [UPDATE]
    I was able to cash in my first gift card. I chose to add it to my Amazon balance, just to test it out. I also received the money for referring a friend/reader of this blog, so thanks. Everything about Getupside seems to check out, so it's a full recommendation. Just be aware that it often takes several days to see your cash back. And it's small increments, but worth the effort to me.
  • Male Fashion and Lifestyle: 3 Things Every Man Needs


    Since I started wearing my Christmas present a bit early, I was asked about my watch by someone. It's a hybrid watch, which means it looks and acts like an old-fashioned watch but adds some smart watch features. I'd kind of missed having a watch since the Kansas movers stole my last one on our way to Jacksonville. Anyhow, the topic is watches, and this guy tells me there are three things every man should have: a tie, a watch, and a cologne collection. 

    I'd never really thought about the male essentials, but since I'm a male fashion and lifestyle blogger, I figured I ought to weigh in on this one. While I can kind of agree with the essential of manhood list, I might have to add other items that are just as important, or at least bump something down to semi-important from our list. Anyhow, let's take a look. 

    A Tie
    So the tie does you no good without a collared shirt, so I'd probably say a shirt and tie, or maybe just call it a suit with a tie. Something you can wear to an event where everyone else will be wearing a tie. My friend and I, well before the film Wedding Crashers came out, had floated the idea of buying tuxedoes to wear to all formal events (and maybe sneak in to a few). It might have been funny, but I think I would have been overdressed to everything but our own weddings. Mostly, I don't wear a shirt and tie or suit to anything except some weddings, funerals, and job interviews. If you plan on ever showing up to those events, then owning a suit might make sense, and since most of us are not self-employed on a private island, you're going to need to be dressy a few times in your life. 

    A Watch
    Watches are mostly for decoration today, since every digital device in every room of your house has the time. Your vehicle, your phone, and the computer you play games on for work--all of them tell you the time. I even find it amusing when semi-homeless people around Jacksonville ask others for the time, since anybody for whom the time could possibly matter owns a device that tells him that time. But for a man to have the right accessories, does he need a watch? I'd say no, just because I've made it for several years at different times without one, and I don't think much changes. 

    The fact is that I have always enjoyed having a nice watch. I got my first fancy-looking watch from Kohl's when I was twelve. An Armitron. It didn't keep the time well, even after I took the first one back. I had Swatches before the Armitron, but those were not really fancy. I got my next nice watch in college, and it was a Seiko Kinetic. I thought I had a watch that would last forever, but when I stopped wearing it over a summer when I played a lot of baseball, the battery never charged back up, and it was a stainless steel brick. Years later, my wife got me a very fashionable Skagen that got stolen before I got to Jacksonville, leaving me another three years in between watches. No big deal, though I do like wearing a nice watch when I am in public.

    I guess I could agree with the idea that a man ought to have a nice watch rather than a cheapo (or even expensivo) fitness tracker. I suppose that's where some smart watches and hybrid watches might work. I did make the conscious decision to buy a watch first and then see what smart features were part of the deal. 

    How about we say that a man ought to have a male jewelry item. A watch, a ring, a necklace, etc. Maybe an earring if you're a youth pastor or a tattoo if you're in the Navy or prison. The problem might be if you decide you're going to wear all of these accessories at once: a Rolex, tattoos, several rings, big gold chains, earrings, and more. Maybe Dennis Rodman could pull it off, but most of us, not so much. 

    A Collection of Cologne 
    I would say that a man ought to own a good go-to cologne that isn't a knockoff brand or something he wore in middle school. I'm not sure most men need an entire collection of colognes, though I do happen to have this because Christmas. Cologne lasts forever, and when your mom, wife, and even aunt buy it for you, then it lasts even longer. I even have some Stetson my grandma's boyfriend got me in our yearly secret Santa exchange. I also do have a tiny bottle of my middle school scent (Drakkar Noir), but I only wear that on retro dress up days. 

    One warning about a signature scent cologne choice is that you might want to get more than one opinion about yours, even if your wife got it for you. My best friend always wore this one cologne after he got married, and I assume he liked it and his wife approved. However, I have a pretty good nose, and it smelled very much the same as a national brand feminine hygiene product. I couldn't bring myself to tell him, and since we were both married men not cruising for hotties, I didn't think it mattered too much. But if he'd have asked me if liked his new cologne, I would have been honest. He might have been like, "But I picked this out myself." And I would have said, "Dude, you're color blind, so these things happen."

    MORE

    Coat/Jacket
    Since I'm from Wisconsin, the importance of winter coats is ingrained in me, and a man needs to have at least one coat he can wear to church or a job interview. In Jacksonville, my nice black wool coat doesn't get much use, but having a decent all-around jacket here isn't a bad idea. I have a waterproof windbreaker that kind of fits the bill most of the time, but I probably should have gone black rather than gray. In general, I see way too many men around town who freeze when it gets cold out and/or who wear hoodies all winter. My choice for Jacksonville would probably be waterproof but with a liner that can be taken out. I'm not sure if that's a hybrid or convertible or neither, but the only thing I won't get is the puffy style. 

    Cap/Hat
    I have a collection of baseball hats, both from playing on teams and from being a fan. I noticed my neighbor heading out to the bars last week and wearing his own baseball cap backwards (which he probably hadn't done since college), so some guys still see it as a fashion accessory. I see it more as something I'll wear when my hair is having a bad morning. Also, you might be able to forego the all-around jacket with a decent winter hat. I can usually stay warm enough in Jacksonville with a fleece and knit cap because it's never really winter parka weather here. 

    Sports Car
    Let me ask dads out there if you still have that sporty little car you had back in high school. I assume not. I'm not saying everyone needs one of these, but if you can swing keeping that car, you'll be happy you did. I have a 1986 Bertone X 1/9 that isn't fast or in perfect condition, but it's a lot more fun to drive than an SUV or (heaven forbid) minivan, so I can still own one of those and tool around in something fun when I want. Some of you will buy a Porsche or Maserati SUV and call it a day. That's fine if you're satisfied with it. I just don't think a man with a Dodge Caravan GT is really happy or impressing anyone. 

    Pectoral Muscles
    After a year-and-a-half of dealing with what has been diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, I can no longer play sports. I'm not sure if I can do a push up, either. Yet, somehow, I still have pecs rather than man boobs, though the distinction is not quite as defined in years past. That said, I did almost impress my wife recently while doing some pec pops (Dwayne the Rock Johnson-style). Pecs are not a sign that you lift weights or work out a lot, just enough to not have flabby chest muscles. Of course, just as women now expect men to shave most of their body hair, perhaps women have also soured to defined male pecs. 

    A Castle
    The guy who provided the list of what every man should have was being dropped off at his parents' house. Actually, that's probably fine and often a wise financial decision, but it also might bring clarity to why this young man chose cologne as more important than a pot to piss in. When I was in college (and looking for hot babes), I am sure my cool watch and signature cologne seemed more important than the boarding house I shared with five other 20-somethings. However, now that I am a husband and father, I am thankful that I am not living in my parents' basement with my family, even if it was a fairly nice dwelling. I am also glad my family doesn't have in-laws staying with us or neighbors who live upstairs, but I could handle those situations as long as I was providing the house, condo, apartment, or double wide. 

    Retirement Plan
    While the young man who told me about his list of what every man needs was probably in his twenties and not worried about his retirement years, it's kind of an important part of a man's life eventually. I'm not talking about needing $1 million in investments or an insurance policy for future assisted living needs. I've got a partial pension, an investment property, some residual income, and another 15 years on my term life insurance  policy (just in case I don't make it to retirement). It's not a perfect plan, but it's at least a general outline. I think a lot of men might say a good job is more important than a retirement plan, but it's all kind of related. I had an OK job, but I got laid off. I've known others who worked entire careers just to lose their pensions to corporate greed. Still others worked 40 years with full retirement packages intact until the end. We can only really be sure of uncertainty, but a man does need to at least make an effort to provide some hope for a few years free of constant toiling. Even if the plan is to keep working to some extent well into your 80s, it's still a plan.

    Family
    In some ways, the point of a man having all the stuff listed here is to make him a viable candidate to land a special lady and form a family. Some men might think having a beautiful girlfriend or wife is on the list of what every man should have. Or lots of beautiful women. Or men. Maybe it's just about having the children that result from dedicated or even fleeting relationships. Or living at home with your own parents until they need a care provider. Some men, especially young ones, might think friends are just like family, so your bros might qualify, at least until they get married and their wives don't like you (and they won't).

    My List
    When I was young, my own list might have included fashion accessories or fragrances. When I was really young, it would have included a baseball glove, a bat, and a ball. The things every man needs change as he changes, and it would be presumptuous of me to say my own list would be definitive for any man other than myself, but it's probably not a bad idea to make a list of your own and rate how you're doing, even if list-making isn't normally a guy thing.

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    Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
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    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
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    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

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  • My Guides to Jacksonville

    I've met several people thinking of relocating to Jacksonville, and I often tell them to check out my website for my guide to the city. Except I did just that myself and realized it's not that easy to find, so here's a guide to my guides. 

    Also, if you're thinking of moving here and want to hire an actual guide, that can be arranged. Use the contactform to work out the details. Or ask your realtorto take you everywhere...they love doing that.
  • 95% of Jax Florida Blue Employees Are Working From Home; Umm, Uh-oh
    I am all for American jobs in America, which is why when I read about Florida Blue renting out office space because 95% of its workforce is working from home, I got worried.  If Florida Blue realizes that the employees don't really have to be in the office to be effective, I have to wonder how long it will take before the company wonders whether the employees need to be in America to be effective. And it's probably happening in lots of places across America right now. 
  • Every Duval County Middle School Parent--Read This

    I wrote an article about searchingfor a high school if you live in Jacksonville, but I realize now that my article might give some parents a false sense of security because your otherwise good student might not qualify for some of the Duval programs. Your own school and Duval Schools might claim it's all your fault. While that's partially true, I'm here to help you avoid a potentially huge mistake that needs to be addressed early in middle school. And it's especially important for those of you with kids in private or charter schools.
  • Guy in Blue VW Probably Deserves What He Gets
    I'm not sure what the penalty is for shoplifting, since I've never really done it, but I do feel that a guy I saw recently stealing from a convenience store probably deserves to get the book thrown at him. The problem is that it probably won't happen, so this guy will keep on taking his own personal discounts until someone bothers to go after the bum, though perhaps writing about him will help him admit the error of his ways.
  • People Can Still Hear You, Even if You're Wearing a Mask

    I realize that masks make talking and hearing others more difficult, and wearing one also provides an odd sense of security that may or may not actually exist. While it's true people can't see all of your facial expressions, they can still hear you. However, if you're like me, your mask might entice you into forgetting that others can actually understand the words coming out of your mouth. 
  • Arlington Mural an Enigma and Kind of Silly




    I've driven past the Arlington mural along the Arlington Expressway plenty of times by this point, and I'm still trying to figure it out. I know, it's art and individual and abstract, etc. But it's still supposed to mean something. To the artist, to residents, and to visitors. I'd like to make an attempt to decipher what the Arlington mural means in all or any of those contexts so that I can better explain it those who look to me for answers.

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