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Stories from Jacksonville

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.
  • Guide to Running a Hurricane Newscast
    Before I begin this article, I want to state that I am grateful that Hurricane Dorian missed Jacksonville, and I am also very aware that the storm's destruction was catastrophic for some. This article is not about trivializing a hurricane. It's more about trying to fill air time when the hurricane shows up and is just a wind storm in your area.

    The only torture worse than waiting for a hurricane to hit is watching hours of news leading up to the event. And then hours of news people trying to make a small, off-shore hurricane seem like something else in order to keep viewers tuned in. The news channels know a lot of people are watching, so the show must go on, and on, and on. The stars are the weather people, but you need the anchors to provide words such as "devastating" to describe storm potential, as well as general assignment reporters stationed at important spots in order to monitor that which needs no actual monitoring.


    I can't talk about the other channels too much, since Action News JAX is the channel that comes in on my antenna better than any other, but I sure can talk about the Fox 30 / CBS 47 news reporting of a hurricane. This article was compiled over two days, so it might seem as disjointed as the news coverage of Dorian, but it gives you an idea of how I see the business of covering a hurricane. It happens that this particular hurricane did not do a whole lot to Jacksonville, which (you could tell) was a general disappointment to the news media that needed to be explained rather than hailed as extraordinarily good luck.

    Ads and Weather Team

    Mostly, the ads indicate that something bad is, was, or will be happening. Buresh is calm and will help me make it through. It does not mention the reporters, whose job it is to add to the chaos and fear. But that's cool, as long as Buresh is there for us. Also reporting weather will be Garrett, who is seemingly more handsome than any man deserves to be (and is therefore a little suspect), as well as Corey, and Stacey. They will save us from the evil that is nature. God-like, I suppose, though Stacey Garvilla, in her flowing dresses, often seems more like a sea witch--the good kind. Also, I did not see Marithza Ross in the two days that I watched on-and-off, but she also probably has some supernatural qualities. 

    The most important part of the newscast is the weather, so we get a lot of that, but it's changing all the time, so the weather people need others to keep us entertained while we wait for new info-graphics or updated maps. Until the weather team has been on the air for the better part of 24 hours straight, they are pretty spot-on. You can tell that Buresh starts to get tired at some point when he's walking in the wrong direction or peering into the wrong camera, which he never does when he's well-rested. He tries really hard not to seem cranky or embarrassed about the fact that the high winds are about 5 miles offshore rather than battering our coast, but you know that he's trying to convince people it made sense to cancel school for three days for a storm that's equivalent to an afternoon thunderstorm. He also knows that he needs ratings, and that he needs to keep it together enough so that we believe the next hurricane forecast rather than assume it's all about sensationalism. It's not, at least for the weather team.

    Anchors
    More worthless than normal, the anchors are really there to direct traffic. Out to the reporters when the weather team needs to work on their computers. Back to themselves for expert opinions on being good-looking on TV. Then over to the weather team, sometimes with a question that's already been answered 30 times during the past two days of coverage. Lots of thoughts and prayers, along with reminders to be safe. If it was a family, the anchors are Mom and Dad, the meteorologist is your straight-laced-know-it-all, god-like grandpa, and the sports guys are your dopey uncles with beer-holder hats (and luckily not part of the hurricane coverage). And the reporters. They are the tattle-tale cousins and siblings who are always looking to get a better Christmas gift from Grandma if they bust you for riding on the ATV or climbing the silo without permission.

    Reporters
    Russel Colburn is in St. Augustine in his Storm Tracker Jeep, driving up and down the same flood-prone street, and continuously resting on his laurels on how he drove around in the last hurricane when it flooded the town, showing us video of that rerun over and over, like Uncle Rico making awesome throws on VHS. At one point, Russ assures us that his Jeep is made for this kind of stuff, so we don't have to worry about him. He also calls attention to the 360 cam on top of the Jeep, and I start to wonder if he takes it home and washes it every week instead of spending time with his girlfriend. From what I can tell, Russel is driving up and down the same street. Or maybe he is just showing us a loop of a drive he took several hours ago and he's sitting in the Jeep in his driveway. And you know the other reporters are all wondering why Russel gets to drive around like he's the Pope while they all stand in water to get stories. 

    Someone is near the Beach Boulevard Bridge. This is presumably because the bridge will be closed at some point. She's also near some boats, so we get to see them dance around behind her once in a while. Maybe the someone is Megan? Moriarty...you know, she reminds me of my wife a few years back. In fact, why are most of the reporters still in college at Action News Jax? Is this an internship? Maybe Miss Moriarty was by the bridge. Maybe it was Christy "Page" Turner, who says the words "Action News JAX" with a special emphasis on the "s" sounds, possibly as some kind of subliminal message. The good kind. I don't think it was Amber Krycka because she was standing near another bridge by Jekyll Island. Wait, were most of the men on the beach and women next to bridges? I thought Lorena Inclan was also next to a bridge somewhere. Weird.

    Ryan and Jamario are on the beach. Each of them shine flashlights on the dunes and then out to the water, which isn't really all that intense. Businesses are closed, but it's late at night, so that makes sense, anyhow. Both of them also say that they are monitoring something or other. And they both let the water creep up enough to get their shoes wet. It's like when you go to Summerfest on a sweltering day with that girl from school who's all innocent and nice, and then a downpour rolls in, and she goes and stands in the rain, arms reaching up in ecstasy, in her white concert shirt. Except this is Ryan and Jamario instead. 

    Dani Bozzini is somewhere, but I don't even care where she is, since she talks like she just got off work at the steel mill. Or out of prison. She tells me something about the place she's at and all I can hear is this loud, brash girl my sister tried to fix me up with at a bar one time. All the other people at the bar were looking at us, so I didn't hear a word she said because I was all worried about what those other people were thinking. Still, I'd probably hang out with Dani at a bar.

    Ben Becker stands in the water, which probably makes the waves look bigger. His camera operator avoids showing all the families enjoying strolls on the beach as Ben reminds us about how the pier fell down twice before. And that the construction crane (near the people sightseeing on the beach) could fall down at any time, since it's rated at getting through winds of 150mph, and our 40mph winds are somehow somewhere near that. Buresh and his hand puppet Garrett agree that you could maybe add 20mph to the winds up at the top of the crane, not based on any science or reasoning, but on the fact that they want to shut Ben up before he starts making any other outlandish claims. Until next time Becker's number is called, the crane is not in any immediate danger. In between being live, I imagine Ben going over to the crane and trying to rock it back and forth to get the party started.

    Elizabeth Pace is standing in water in a neighborhood. She interviews a guy who seems annoyed by her because he has somewhere to be walking to, and she says  the word "again" like she's either Canadian or from East-Coast old money. She tells me about the jackasses making a wake in the street water, and the only one that I've seen doing this is Russel (The Love Mussel?), who actually got yelled at by the fuzz live on the air for making a wake in his beloved Storm Tracker Jeep. Pace rhymes with face, and Elizabeth has a pretty face, but she just needs to say her "Action News JAX" sign-off in some kind of special way (like C. Turner) so that I can pick her out of a lineup of reporters, which would include Amber K and several other young blondes who seem to work part time while attending UNF.

    Bridget Matter is standing in, and then walking in, a St. Augustine street, which is filled with 6" of water. She could be walking on the dry sidewalk 30 feet away, but it makes more sense to get in the way of traffic in order to show the audience what 6" of water looks like in a street that she admits floods quite often. Probably right after Mom and Dad in the studio reminded us to stay out of flood waters because of snakes, bacteria, and debris.

    For all the constant warnings to residents to stay out of the water, it seems that the first instinct of every reporter is to go stand in some water. I'm sure that's in the Hurricane Reporting Handbook by Jim Cantore. I also found it ironic that the news reporters kept pressing local sheriffs about whether or not people who got IN the water to surf or whatnot would get arrested, almost as if they were tattling. No police officer wants to have to arrest some gnarly righteous dude who's just trying to catch a monster wave. He'd probably rather arrest Ben Becker for standing waist-deep in the ocean near the pier for no good reason, other than to keep people going for a nice walk on the beach out of the frame.

    Final Thoughts
    Hurricane news coverage is all about manipulation of the audience. The news channels will say again and again that they are not sensationalizing the coverage, but the reporters are all stationed in places that they are hoping will provide something sensational. We are shown pictures of past destruction, either from the storm upon us or from previous storms, and that's certainly meant to frighten viewers. Sure, the weather team is calm and scientific, but everyone else is part of a circus set up to attract the most viewers. If the city or the news wants to use the sensational to get people to evacuate, that's one thing, but once the coverage of the event starts, I'm not so sure it's what I want to see as I ignore evacuation orders in my home--I'd rather know if there's water or wind coming my way. That said, I totally understand why it's done, since I'd change the channel pretty quickly if I had to watch Bachman stumble over simple words for hours on end. Mostly, I'd just tell reporters to stop standing in the water so much, since it makes the practice seem like the cool thing to do. It's not like I need to go stand in my pond every time it rains just to confirm it's wet outside.

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  • New-to-Florida Guide to Pressure Washers
    I got the dreaded letter from my HOA that I was in violation of something new. This time, it was the driveway and sidewalks that were deemed dirty, so it was suggested that I pressure wash them. While I'm not a big fan of pressure washing houses or cars, as it can (I assume) create leaks or strip paint, I figured washing concrete was a DIY job I could handle. However, I needed to decide if a rental or a purchase was in order. 

    I first thought rental. That would have cost me $75, assuming I would have gotten the pressure washer for a day. Since I have some issues with my hands, and it seems that there's lots of squeezing of triggers, I'd assume I would have wanted it for the full day. There's also the hassle of having to reserve it for the weekend, or else get the item after work and hope the sun doesn't set too fast. I had two weeks to comply with my HOA demands, so there was probably time, but I also decided to see which pressure washers I could buy for a reasonable amount of money. 

    The Home Depot rental would have been a professional gas unit, but I wanted to see what I could get in electric. Obviously, the average homeowner does not need an industrial-strength pressure washer sitting around, especially a gas one that requires maintenance. There are all kinds of websites that claim to rate pressure washers, but I get the feeling that they are all just AI-created sites that take Amazon ratings and put them into paragraphs. The good thing is that those sites at least eliminate some of the cheap Chinese knockoff units. Granted, all the units are probably Chinese, but some that are sold seem to inflate numbers and use inferior fittings and pumps. In fact, I'd stick only with brands that seem to be real and that offer a 1 or 2-year warranty. These include AR, Sun Joe, Greenworks, Karcher, and Stanley. 

    When you search on Amazon, there will be a lot of "Sponsored Links" to units that look quite a bit like the units named above, more impressive numbers, and about 20 5-star reviews. That's a clear sign that those are knockoffs. They might be made in the same factory in China, but I'd be careful with those. 

    I had decided on either an ARor Karcherpressure washer at first, though the Karcher seemed too pricey for the numbers it put out. The Sun Joe I liked had more lower-star reviews. Then I read some more, and I talked myself out of and into several upgraded or downgraded versions. Here's the basics that I was looking for: around 2,000 PSI and around 1.5 gpm. If those two numbers are about that (and not inflated), the reviews seemed to indicate the unit would work to kill dirt on my driveway. 

    After going back and forth on Amazon, I ended up finding a Stanley on Walmart (also on Amazon) that met my criteria and could be at my house in one day, which was important at this point, since the HOA letter was now about a week old. The two mega-companies are selling the unit for the same price, so it's more about which billionaire you want to support. The numbers on mine: 
    2,150 PSI
    1.4 GPM
    25 Foot Soft Flexible Hose
    35 Foot Power Cord
    0°, 15°, 25° & 40° Nozzles
    2-year warranty 
    When I got the box, I could tell parts (pump, at least) were made by AR. That probably explains the better warranty. But would this electric pressure washer work on my Florida driveway and sidewalk? 

    Yes and kind of. 

    I tested the unit out with the 0° nozzle, and I could tell that it was powerful enough to take dirt off the sidewalk.I could also tell that this laser beam-type nozzle would take hours and hours of frustrating work to finish a driveway and sidewalk. It kind of made a bunch of squiggly lines of clean surrounded by lots of dirt. 

    I then used the 15° nozzle, and it worked pretty well. Still, I could tell it would take several hours of work to get the job done, but at least this nozzle was more like a paintbrush than an erratic pen. 

    I also tried the 25°, but it required me to get very close to work, which basically made it the 15° nozzle with me bent over more. 

    Several hours later, I was done. I've read that the concrete scrubber attachments for these electric models don't work all that well, but I cannot confirm or deny that. What I can say is that for $150, or double the amount to rent a machine, I was able to buy a power washer that had enough pressure to do the job, eventually. 

    If I find other projects around the house before the next driveway and sidewalk cleaning, that's a bonus, but I figure I'll clean the concrete once a year and make the purchase worthwhile before the warranty is up. This pressure washer, like many others, has a foam cannon for cars, so I might have to try that out, too. But mostly, I'm satisfied that it did the job it was supposed to do. 

    One note, however, is that there is no lock on the handle, which means my hands got very tired until I wrapped a wire around it like I have for my old lawnmower. This is obviously not recommended by the manufacturer and could be dangerous, so I'm not telling YOU to do it, but if you have to squeeze a trigger for two hours, it will probably annoy you. 

    This is probably the best unit I could get for a few reasons: 
    It has a 2-year warranty, and even the ARs only have 1-year.
    It uses the standard quick-connect attachments as opposed to proprietary, and I might get an attachment to take care of the sewer main line. 
    It has enough power to get the job I wanted done without the need for gas power. 
    It's electric, so no maintenance. And quieter than gas.
    It's small enough to fit in the yard shed with my lawn mower. 


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  • Male Fashion and Lifestyle: $100 Shoes
    If you've read some of my other blogs about male fashion and lifestyle, you're not impressed right now. $100 shoes! That's way too expensive, and I agree. But I'm not talking ONE pair of shoes, my friends. That's FOUR pairs of shoes. $25 each, on average.

    I got a new job, and my old shoes were looking a little rough, as you can see in the photo. I had wondered why I was sliding around while going in for my interview in my $12 suit. Anyhow, I had a few days before the job was to begin, so I figured I'd splurge on some new shoes. My daily cross-walkers were in bad shape, too, so I decided two pairs of dressier shoes and two pairs of walking/standing shoes would be nice. But the way I shop for shoes, it's kind of a gamble. 

    I sometimes get shoes when the kids get theirs if there's some kind of BOGO deal or something. Or I get the really cheapo Academy Sports house brand, but I'd checked those out recently, the style was a little too young for me. That's ironic, since $30 shoes at the local sporting goods store must be targeted at cheap oldish guys like me, not millennials with cash to burn. Anyhow, with the brick and mortar stores not doing it for me, I spent about 30 minutes on 6pm.com. I'd gotten shoes there before, and I was fairly happy with the results. You just have to remember that these are going to be total clearance aisle deals, which means last chance before they head off on a plane for Uganda or somewhere, which means some of the shoes are really stupid looking. 

    I've been the same size since middle school, so that's not much of a problem. You can search for just your size. I was prepared to up or down a haf size, but I didn't have to in the end, since my daughter liked the black dress shoe in my normal size. Unfortunately, that was the only shoe that came which felt a little too big, but still manageable. I think it's free returns or whatever, but for $25, I told my daughter I'd just donate any pair that didn't work out. 

    Two pairs of Avia cross trainers or whatever the sporty shoes that you don't really play sports in are called. Avias used to be a decent brand, and these are pretty nice for $25. Better than some of the $40 shoes I've gotten in the past few years, anyhow. I also got some black dress shoes that have kind of a casual look to them, since I'm not trying to impress too much. And a pair of brown shoes for those days when brown shoes work best. Three or four times a month, from past experience. The dress shoes, even though they are not real leather, should last me a few years. The Avias should last at least as long as most shoes like them that I buy, maybe a year or so, even though my wife says I should replace them more often. 

    The bottom line is that I have new shoes that will look good enough for some time, and I didn't have to take out a loan to get them. If you make all kinds of money, then these Clarks are Amazon best sellers at $50 or so, and they look a lot like what I got. If you want to impress yourself and about one other person at work, then these Gordon Rush shoes, which also look similar to my $25 shoes, can be had for $225. You can then join the ranks of guys who talk like this: 
    Well, I always considered myself an a. edmonds guy. But this oxfords immediately caught my attention while perusing at bloomie.
    But just in case you don't hang out at Bloomie's too often, you might want to try your luck at 6pm. 

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    Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

    Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
    Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
    McNewsy - Creative Writing
    Educabana - Educational Resources
    Brave New Church - Church Website Design
    Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
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    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
    Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
    Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

    Contact Me