Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Big City In The South
by James Glaser
February 8, 2008

Here I am in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville sits on the Atlantic Ocean about 25 miles south of the Georgia border. It is the biggest city in Florida, with a metro population of 1.25 million, and the city limits cover over 874 square miles.

I moved to Florida a couple of years ago from a town of 280 people, (Northome, Minnesota) and that figure counts the people who live in the nursing home, too. We didn't have any stop lights, but we do have a few stop signs. So, driving around Jacksonville is a real challenge for me. Five lane roads going one way seem strange, and so many stop lights, that I never seem to get to on the green. Retail store, after retail store, after retail store, it never seems to end. When you get to a big American city, you can understand why we have such a deficit in our trade with China.

I am down here, I should say, I am over here, as Tallahassee is due west of here, to look for an art gallery to show my work. The hard part for me is not going to be convincing the gallery to take me on. The hard part is going to be finding the gallery in a city this big. Yes, I used Map Quest to get directions, but being essentially a back woods driver makes driving around here rather intimidating.

Up North, if you look down a street and all the cars parked on both sides of the road face you, you can assume that you are looking down a one way street. Not true here in Florida. If you are driving down a street looking for a parking place, and spot one on the wrong side of the road, you don't have to drive by, and then make a u-turn and take it heading the other way. No, down here you just cut across and park heading the wrong way.

Here in Florida, just because the street sign says that you are on lets say, third street, never assume that you are still on third street a block down. In Florida, changing the street name can happen at any intersection, with no warning sign at all. That does make finding places harder, but maybe they do that in case an invading army tries to take the town. Plus, tourists are bound to spend more money and stay longer if they are lost in the metro area. That is just a theory, I would guess it drives most tourists out of town in frustration.

Today, I did find a woodworkers power tool store, and rationalized that the tools I always wanted were the tools that I really needed. I bought a Performax 16-32 drum sander. Well, if you have a drum sander, then you need a dust collector attached to it. I have a dust collector, but that is attached to my pedestal belt sander and band saw, and who knows what a hassle it would be to change them over every time I wanted to switch tools. So two dust collectors must be better than one, so now I have two. Well to be honest, three. I bought another one for the gallery, as I am putting a new shop next to the gallery and I know dust will infiltrate into the gallery. Besides that, it was on sale.

Now, if you are a woodworker, and you are in a woodworker's store, there are always things you should pick up. So I also bought a few boxes of sandpaper, a couple of band saw blades, a dado blade insert for my table saw, hose for the dust collector, extra sand paper for the new drum sander, and a woodworker's book. But there were thousands of things that I didn't buy, so I can feel good about restraining myself. I think of it this way, with the money George Bush and Congress are going to be sending me to stimulate the economy, this stuff was almost free. I just started stimulating a little early.

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