King of the Hill

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.
  • 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.


    Search New Jax Witty

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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.







    Search New Jax Witty

    Related Stories
    Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

    Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
    Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
    McNewsy - Creative Writing
    Educabana - Educational Resources
    Brave New Church - Church Website Design
    Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
    Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
    Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
    Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
    Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
    Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
    Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
    Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

    Contact Me