Barney Miller

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Becker

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Bewitched

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Black Books

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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.
  • Duval Student Registration Still Sucks
    Another year, another child having to enroll in DCPS from a private school. The website and process is so bad that it's laughable. So bad that I blocked it from my mind or it got worse from last year. Maybe some of both. But it should have been easier with one kid already in the system. It's just not. Dumb, stupid, bad. And I'm not even close to done as I write this.

    If you don't have a kid already enrolled, then you can have the fun of creating your own focus account as you also try to navigate the student sign-up. I, however, had my own focus account with all the clunky information it provides, including a link to enrolling a new student, for some reason found under a documents tab.

    I went through the 20+ web page document to sign my second child up. You're told at some point which documents to upload but not on the upload page, so I think I missed a couple. And I can't go back now, since I hit submit. I also don't have the auto-generated student ID because I hit submit and then navigated to my parent portal to link the account. But since I didn't copy the ID, it disappeared somewhere in the outer limits of the internet because the email confirmation did not include the ID. 
    The form itself caused me to make this mistake because I had to physically choose "English" as my language three times rather than it be default. I even had to choose NA twice instead of the default N/A, which always resulted in an error. I was also told to toggle on the mailing address if it was the same as my home address, but toggling it on left it open to fill out the form. Poor instructions and a form designed by complete amateurs. And I forgot to upload a birth certificate, so I tried to add that later and was told I could not log back in and that i already had a student number associated with my kid. But I never got the number because that page disappeared. And the link to a page that might help in the email confirmation I received was a broken link. Obviously it was. So I think I'm stuck having to call an office that probably has to hand-write all the info I've already filled in the forms.

    Normally, I can get something done when I finally get through to a human at DCPS, which is often better in person. But it's overall a terrible experience that probably cost us taxpayers an obscene amount of money.

    [Update]
    I received word that I'd have to finish the registration by going in to my child's school, which, of course, is wrong. If you're transferring in and listed as an applicant (maybe moreso if trying for an accelerated program), you actually have to link the parent to student accounts at the school choice office. And why? Are there dozens of St. John's County parents trying to fake their way into DCPS? 

    Not surprisingly, the school choice office was closed over the Christmas break, just before the time to register for the new year. Or just when parents of transfer students would also have off. I mean, really, how much do people in this office really do most of the year? And then when they are actually needed, they're on vacation. When I showed after the holiday, I was told (for no reason other than to be bitchy) that I hadn't put the student's current grade on the form, which was technically impossible based on the aforementioned form. I also needed my password, which I didn't have readily available, and which was not offered by the employee, in order to use their coviddy community computer kiosk to finish the link between parent and student. Obviously, it took logging in and about eight clicks in order to get to the right place. The staff also forgot to return my license to me, which was just the icing to the cake that Duval schools let's us eat.
  • Chicago Bears Bar Jacksonville
    I've met several Bears fans since I've moved to Jacksonville, and I've asked them if they have a bar to call home on game day. I know there were two Packers bars in Jax, now down to one, but fans of Smoking Jay Cutler need a local establishment in which to drown their sorrows. Even though I'm a Packers fan, I'm here to help.

    Here's what you do. Drive your best BMW. The one that still has the Illinois vanity plate that reflects how refined you are. Head on over to Gates Gas Station on Moncrief Road. Be sure to drive like a FISH up Moncrief and never mind the railroad tracks. When you get to Gates Gas Station, pull in to ask for directions to the special Bears bar. Say, "So hey there do yous guys knows where da Bears bar is at?" Keep your doors unlocked because someone might want to get in and help guide you.

    If that's a little too complicated for you, I've heard really good things about the Flight 747 Liquor Store & Lounge Bar up by the airport. Lots of jetsetters along with a tangy local flavor. Just like Chicago. Or maybe Rockford. And there's an adjacent motel, just in case you want to stick around and start over at 11am after yet another painful loss and too many Lovies Lemonades.

    And remember that when your next ex-QB doesn't work out, Tim Tebow lives in Jacksonville. Just saying.

  • Logical Interstate Naming Alternative
    I've lived in three major cities, always near interstates and bypasses. Milwaukee's I-94, Kansas City's I-35, and Jacksonville's I-95. The 894, 235, and 295 circled these cities, making travel faster. However, the directional naming of these roads often left folks from out of town confused. Honestly, even people who live in the locales probably get confused. But there's a simple fix that can apply to all interstate bypasses that go around a city, and it makes so much sense that I'm sure it's been proposed before. I have to wonder why this naming has never been adopted. 

    My initial idea was to identify clockwise or counterclockwise. I think it would work after some time of people imagining themselves looking down on a map from above. For example, the 295 counterclockwise from the airport in Jacksonville would indicate you are going west and then south. These could also be called inside and outside, since clockwise would always be on the inside while counterclockwise would always be on the outside. 50 years ago or even 20 years ago, this naming scheme would have saved countless headaches and probably some lives. But most of us no longer think of a city from a north-up map or clocks with dials, and the time that people might need in order to imagine where they are in relation to being clockwise might prove excessive.

    The key is identifying initial actual direction AND future directions. By adding three directions to the name of the bypass at any given point,  drivers will be able to know precisely where they are AND where they are headed (without thinking too hard).  The same 295 westbound (counterclockwise) near Jacksonville's airport as above would be called 295 wse.  In fact, the current naming calls one direction northbound and the other southbound near the airport (north side of town) and near Orange Park (south end of Jax). But both roads really go south from the airport and north from Orange Park. Circular roads need different naming than straight roads. So from Orange Park, you'd take 295 enw towards the Beaches or wne towards Baldwin. Along the 10 on the west side, you might take 295 nes towards the airport and 295 sen towards Orange Park. But on Atlantic Avenue further east, you'd take 295 nws towards the airport and 295 swn towards Orange Park. If you know generally where you are in relation to the center of the circle, this naming scheme is perfect. You'd still need to see signs for Daytona Beach or Savannah in order to understand which road you'd need to continue on the 95, but for people trying to use the bypass for local navigation the multi-directional system is best. 
    In a perfect world with extra-large signs, I suppose you could combine both of my ideas, so the 295 crossing the Dames Point towards the airport in Jacksonville would be 295 nws out. Taking it even further, you could add 95 intersection with a bold or capitalized letter, so 295 nWs indicates the 95 intersects with the 295 as it heads west. If you were getting on the same road at Main Street, it would be 295 WsE, but getting on at Duval Rd (on the other side of the 95 interchange) would be 295 wsE because the 295 does not intersect with the 95 in this direction until Mandarin. I know, at some point maybe it's TMI, but the directional attributes could really be bolted on to existing signs, at least at decision-making points near ramps.

    Even accidents should be reported more logically with my system. Instead of saying "accident w295 nb near Orange Park," you'd say "accident in295 wnE near Orange Park." That's the inside, clockwise road that heads west and then north but does not intersect the 95 until it heads back east. Knowing this information, a traveler could decide to take 95 north through downtown or go enW on the outside 295 to avoid the accident.
    I'm sure that an idea like mine will probably never be implemented, especially with the prevalence of navigation devices, but I consider it a better system than currently exists, so it's just unfortunate I published the idea a few decades too late. Perhaps it can be used in naming the air roads for the flying cars we're all waiting to purchase.