cat-talk

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 14:39

Talk of the Towns for April 26, 2017

Science is no picnic

Talkers receive a lot of e-mails from people and organizations often eager to promote their latest news or to proselytize the audience to their point of view, most of which are disregarded because they have nothing to do with the contents of this newspaper nor its audience. Then there are some that are so riveting that we must pause our weekly production duties to investigate further.

Just this week, in fact, Talkers received the latest epistle from santilli-foundation.org. What is it? Well, we don’t really know, but from what we can ascertain, the organization wants to make the Citizen’s readers aware of the latest brainiac open-handed slap-brawl between those who espouse opposing viewpoints regarding a recent hypothesis of negative masses.

What is that? Even after reading it, Talkers have absolutely no clue, but the subject apparently arouses the level of passion of a UFC bout.

With lab coats.

It seems whatever the author, whoever it was, wrote in a recent paper that posited a hypothesis that new dynamical effects in Bose-Einstein Condensation can be interpreted via negative masses is subject to debate.

And the folks at the Santilli Foundation do indeed beg to differ.

“It seems that the authors, apparently, are not aware of the fact that the important effect they measured is evidence of the limitations of QM at mutual distances of particles smaller than their size (wavepackets or charge distributions), which conditions are necessary to achieve the Bose-Einstein condensation,” they wrote. “More specifically, the effect constitutes experimental evidence of the limitation at short mutual distances of the mathematics underlying QM, the Newton-Leibniz differential calculus, since the Bose-Einstein condensation cannot be exactly abstracted as an aggregate of point-particles in vacuum.”

Well, duh!

Ahh, but that verbal retort was followed later by an equally robust clarification

“When using QM and its underlying differential calculus, the proton must be essentially represented as a massive point; you cannot ‘compress’ the electron inside a point; and the neutron synthesis is impossible contrary to crushing evidence,” the Santilli folks wrote.  “In any case, the mass of the neutron is bigger than\ the sum of the masses of the proton and the electron, thus implying a ‘mass excess’ which is beyond any possible QM treatment, thus forcing the construction of the covering HM.”

But of course, Talkers acknowledge. Did they really need a press release to tell us that?

In other developments, with National Picnic Day coming up this Sunday, according to another e-mailed press release, “Americans may disagree on a lot of things, but eating outside isn’t one of them.” As evidence, nationaltoday.com reports that one in four Americans will celebrate Picnic Day at the park and, while there, one in three of them will prefer sandwiches over fried chicken.

The top five picnic foods, nationaltoday.com’s survey reveals are, in order,  sandwiches, fried chicken, watermelon, potato salad and chips and dip.

The Santilli Foundation has yet to weigh in on nationaltoday.com’s research. Talkers think they will find it to be a lot of baloney.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017 16:47

Talk of the Towns for April 19, 2017

Beats hospital food

Talkers were happy to hear that quick, thoughtful action by an administrator at a Statesville hospital in early April kept things calm, peaceful and groovy when it was discovered that a batch of cookies and muffins distributed to hospital staff were unknowingly baked with cannabis oil.

Somehow — and don’t you know the family member planning the party at home was sorely disappointed — a batch of marijuana-laced cookies and muffins (and Talkers never knew or just can’t remember if you can get the munchies while eating munchies) were mistakenly brought to a work station inside Davis Regional Medical Center and, before anyone knew what was happening, everything on that floor got really, really mellow.

That is until a few of the laid-back cookie crunchers overdid it and got to feeling a little woozy. Staff performance got sluggish when some workers complained they just weren’t feeling right and a few others got preoccupied ordering pizza, but before things got completely discombobulated a team leader bravely stepped in and confiscated the tainted snacks.

Talkers imagine the items were carefully stored and then personally hauled away when the shift ended, and furthermore believe that the fast-acting administrator deserves all the accolades — high praise indeed — for those selfless actions.

It’s always somethin’

On multiple occasions, Talkers have used this space to rant about incidents where social media posters and some television news folks have made a mockery of the truth or, worse yet, pulled down a few strings of information from dubious sources to catapult themselves toward a catastrophic conclusion that, despite those origins, is nevertheless shared with the world.

An unfolding of facts recently in Mooresville provided yet another example of how rushing to say something first, instead of finding out what really happened, can cause not only unwarranted anxiety but also fuel a disastrous dissemination of misinformation.

In April, personal postings ran amok when it was reported that a “stalker” had pestered a woman and her daughter inside two retail outlets in Mooresville. In a frighteningly swift, Internet-enhanced version of the Telephone Game, the report grew into a full-grown manhunt and women and children were warned that a vicious pervert was on the prowl.

A local TV news crew pounced on the incident, but the irony of their report — which included statements that the evil man was acting in a “suspicious nature” and that the juvenile girl in question had been “grabbed” — was that it included this statement by a Mooresville police officer: “The challenge with an investigation of this nature is the panic this type of incident creates through the community. In this age of social media, the information that gets posted, shared or copied can often be taken out of context or some facts changed completely from the initial incident.”

Yeah. Exactly.

Thanks to in-store video and an actual search for the facts, we know it turns out the girl in question had rounded a corner while leaving the restroom and bumped into a visually impaired man who was on his way to the men’s room. The man was concerned that the girl may have been injured and held her shoulders while making sure she was okay.

In the late 1970s, in the heyday of Saturday Night Live, Gilda Radner created the character “Emily Litella” who appeared as a local news guest commentator pontificating on controversial topics she had misinterpreted — like “busting school children” and “violins on television.” When provided with the truth, Emily didn’t alter her argument or look for someone to blame. She would just pause, look in the camera, and calmly say, “Never mind.”

In an age when technology makes it easy to sprint willy-nilly down the wrong path, maybe its time for that catchphrase to enjoy a revival.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017 16:49

Talk of the Towns for April 12, 2017

Arrest clarification

Cornelius resident Jim Cochrane wants his friends, neighbors and everyone in the Citizen’s distribution area to know that there was no marijuana arrest made inside his home. In the “Citizen’s Arrest” section of the March 29 edition of the Citizen, there is a listing of an arrest for marijuana possession at his street address.

When the Cornelius Police Department generates arrest reports, it includes the street address at the spot of the arrest. In Mr. Cochrane’s instance, the arrest was made randomly on the street outside his home rather than in his home and was unrelated to the home itself. Talkers completely understand his concerns.

And Talkers are also good listeners. Therefore, they will implement a policy change going forward in order to avoid future similar circumstances. Arrests in the police reports printed in the Citizen will no longer include house or business numbers, but rather only the street name on which they occurred. That’s important because residents still should know what is happening on the streets they either live or travel on, but the privacy and protection of those not involved is paramount.

Not right neighborly

Talkers get all kinds of interesting phone calls in the stretch of a news week, and last week was no exception. As interesting as they are, they sometimes result in even more interesting developments.

A reader called to relate her complete astonishment at what some people will share on social media, and wanted our help in exposing what she believed to be a very dangerous practice. Talkers wizened by years of exposure to the craziness and inappropriateness of what gets launched into the ether were a bit skeptical when the call began, but soon experienced the old “just when I thought I’d heard it all …” sensation.

There is a social media subculture of neighborhood networks out there that connect those who live in a similar town or neighborhood with the folks near them, and it can be a veritable treasure trove for those seeking other’s treasures, or as the case may be, a used lawnmower or an old set of luggage.

What our caller didn’t expect to see but said she has seen with recurring frequency were shout-outs to total strangers by moms looking for a last-minute babysitter.

No, really.

“Hey, I gotta be somewhere in three hours and need a sitter for my four-month old. PM me if you’re available.” Picture of child and address attached.

Again, really.

Talkers agreed with the caller that, yes, it was absolutely high-risk behavior and you would think a mother would know better; and, yes, we absolutely believe it should stop. The caller tried to do just that, but by posting a message about the dangers inherent in what the mother was doing, the caller and others who agreed with her were told in rather colorful terms to mind their own flipping business.

After that call, Talkers decided to jump online to Nextdoor.com to check out what the peeps in one Talker’s area were talking about, and found a great collection of items for sale, useful neighborhood activity updates, requests for recommendations for a contractor — the usual collection of what neighbors share over the fence or in the parking lot.

And then there was the 1,000-word anti-toll lane project manifesto, er, post. Copied from a Facebook page for anti-toll lane project activists, it seemed out of context next to postings about yard sales and the need for a good plumber.

When Talkers asked why such a post found a home on that kind of site, the poster said we must not want to be informed about something as “corrupt” as the project.

Talkers know more about the project than they ever cared to. We were just hoping to sell a dang futon.

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 17:37

Talk of the Towns for April 5, 2017

No foolin’

Another April Fool’s Day has come and gone and Talkers took the opportunity to have their usual fun with a “fake news” cover, and response from the readers was generally positive. “I love a publication with a personality!” wrote one enthusiastic e-mailer. “The latest Fake Norman Citizen was the best one yet,” wrote another. One staff member forwarded a text from a friend in which they sheepishly admitted spending 20 minutes to determine if their lake view would be impacted by the “plan” to drain half of Lake Norman to create better roadway connectivity.

]And then there is a department head in a local town government who is a big fan of the annual April Fool’s edition — and admits to being occasionally fooled even though he knows it’s coming — who actually used this year’s false cover to play a prank on his wife (the identity will remain secret in order to protect him from yet another night in the doghouse).

He wrote in an e-mail: “I brought home the paper and slammed it down all disgusted-like and said these people have lost their mind. They are going to drain part of the lake to build roads! My wife followed my finger to the byline and just gasped (I knew I had her). She said what about all those people and their houses. Can they do that? Whose idea was that? I can’t believe it! And on and on.

“Then, she caught me laughing. I’m in the doghouse but once again it was fun.”

Don’t let the bed bugs …

Some Talkers are arachnophobes, well maybe it’s just one of them, so you can imagine the horror when a recent study suggested how much the world’s eight-legged, hairy, spiney, generally aesthetically challenged critters could consume should they ever unite toward such a common goal. Don’t think it could happen? Just watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. (To you millennials, he’s the world’s first M. Knight Shyamalan.)

And they’re closer to us than you think.

A recent entomological survey of North Carolina homes turned up spiders in 100 percent of them, including 68 percent of bathrooms and more than three-quarters of bedrooms. That means that, while you sleep, they’re hanging out in that upper corner of the room watching, plotting and wondering just how, should you wander into their lair, that they could wrap you up tightly in webbing and store you until they slowly suck the life out of you.

But Talkers digress. Most spiders eat small insects and work largely as nature’s own exterminators. Some larger species are known to eat lizards, birds and even small animals. But European biologists, naturally, recently wondered just how much all the spiders in the world could consume in one year’s time.

Humans, specifically.

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Spider sickos Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer published their estimate that the world’s spider population eats between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any given year. That mass exceeds the entire world’s human population. And because the entire body mass of adult humanity equals only about 287 million pounds, the scientists estimate, you could throw in the 70 million pounds of juveniles and they’d still be hungry.

Spider studiers have also found that they consume about 10 percent of their body weight per day, which is the equivalent of a 200-pound man eating 20 pounds of meat each trip around the clock.

So until spiders figure out that much meat consumption is bad for their colons, we’re all in danger.

Sleep tight.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 15:46

Talk of the Towns for March 29, 2017

Equal time

In case you somehow missed it, this week’s cover was our annual April Fool’s edition page, and it was all fake news. But a phone call Talkers received last week reminded them that often truth can be stranger than fiction. If they hadn’t consulted their calendar to see that April 1 had indeed not come a week early, they may have thought the call was a prank.

But no, the caller was voicing an objection regarding what must be the least objectionable feature of the newspaper, the weekly “Where is Luke?” game displayed prominently on Page 2. That’s where readers are challenged to identify the location where official Citizen mascot Luke, the Chick-fil-A cow/dog, is pictured during his many adventures around the Lake Norman area. There is no prize, but it’s something that’s popular with our readers.

The caller was incensed that a Huntersville town commissioner’s name regularly — pretty much weekly — appears as one of the correct guessers, and that somehow that is a violation of election equal time rules and that, if it continued, the Citizen may be looking at a lawsuit for … well, Talkers just aren’t really sure.

The town commissioner in question isn’t the only elected official from the Lake Norman area whose name has appeared in the feature, some of them on a semi-regular basis. And Talkers see the light that it’s just not equitable.

In the spirit of fairness, in order to not provide a sitting elected official the advantage of publicity over someone who might be thinking of running for his or her office, the Citizen has adopted a new editorial policy. In any story about a town government meeting, the paper will not identify any specific elected official by name, but rather by number or semi-vague reference (“Commissioner 1,” “Commissioner 2,” “Guy Holding The Gavel,” etc.). Similarly, since anyone from the gallery speaking to those seated at the dais may themselves some day decide to run for office, they will be identified only as “Citizen 1,” “Citizen 2,” etc.

Or, maybe this is just another April Fool’s joke, courtesy of the caller, who shall also remain nameless.

Rather, Talkers hope folks like Dan Boone, Charles Guignard, Dave Gilroy, John Woods and others will keep playing “Where is Luke?” and look forward to receiving the complaint letter from the attorney representing “Plaintiff 1.”

Rail talk revisited

Talkers agree with the Huntersville Town Board’s decision to support a resolution opposing Charlotte Area Transit System plans to spend money exploring an alternative route for commuter rail service in the Lake Norman region.

Investing $2 million or more in taxpayer funds to determine if and where a new railway line could be developed, especially where demand for land already outpaces supply, seems, at best, ill-advised and, at worse, borderline insane.

But the resolution could benefit by some tweaks before other towns act on it. In voicing support, Huntersville officials also expressed concerns that their actions were being portrayed by some as opposition to any and all plans for future rail service.

Instead of griping about that perception, officials should just add one more “whereas” to the document. One that urges CATS, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, the state and anybody else with an interest in doing what’s truly best for the community to — in addition to investing in infrastructure and amenities for the current transportation network — renew, re-emphasize and intensify negotiations with Norfolk Southern to find a way to use existing tracks and right-of-way for the commuter rail service the region needs.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 17:07

Talk of the Towns for March 22, 2017

Alwyn has his day

For the better part of the four-plus decades he has lived in Cornelius, Alwyn Smith has been an antagonist, protagonist and just a general “tagonist” who whomever was seated at the dais at Cornelius Town Hall. Until the last few months, rare was a meeting of the Cornelius Town Board of Commissioners when Smith didn’t stride to the podium and eloquently opine in his rich, West Yorkshire, English accent on issues of the day in his adopted home town.

Talkers could set their watch by his appearance during the public comments period of meetings and by the way he masterfully filled his three minutes nearly to the second.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 16:41

Talk of the Towns for March 15, 2017

Fighting time

Talkers are detecting more bellyaching on social media sites than usual about the start of daylight saving time over this past weekend. As far as we can tell, it’s largely due to the lost hour of sleep, as if Americans live amid a bastion of healthy sleeping habits. Rooted in antiquated agricultural practices, many complain that the semi-annual time change is no longer necessary, and they want their hour back.

Even among Talkers themselves there are conflicting opinions about the shift from standard time to daylight saving time, but for this particular Talker nothing portends the promise of spring and the eventual wobbling of the Earth’s axis toward the vernal equinox like springing forward in early March.

Now there’s an extra hour of daylight for playing golf, tossing around the ol’ pigskin and grilling steaks without the need for artificial light. As an added bonus, during a week such as this, how else are we supposed to know that spring is near?

Mere hours after the springing forward of one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, we were greeted with a fluffy layer of snow, but with the temperature barely brushing the freezing point before climbing rapidly throughout the day, the winter wonderland not only melted, but dried up because the two weeks prior felt more like May than February.

Thanks to daylight saving time, and its opposing shift back to standard time in November, we can all rest assured that we know what time of year we are in, even when the weather would have us believe otherwise.

The South shall rise

It was inevitable, Talkers suppose, that once the Atlantic Coast Conference expanded to points far north that those north of the Mason-Dixon Line would soon be posturing about how they do things “up there” and we Southern rubes would do well to learn from their example. Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim put himself in just that position after his first-round loss in last week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn when he commented to the assembled media that he sees no reason the tournament should ever be held in Greensboro, that long-time hallowed home of the tourney.

He isn’t necessarily against the South per se, suggesting that because the tournament is a major media event that a major market such as Atlanta could be in the rotation with Washington, D.C. and New York.

That no matter where the tournament is played it is a major media event seemed to escape him, as well as location of the geographic center of the conference. With four ACC teams in North Carolina and four more in nearby states of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, Greensboro — which boasts a major market-sized arena — is no less suitable for the ACC Tournament than Boeheim’s preferred locales.

So why single out Greensboro? Perhaps given his team’s 0-3 record in the Tournament since his school sought asylum there after defecting from the Big East offers a clue. Non-stop flights to Syracuse on Wednesday afternoons are likely much easier to find from Atlanta, New York City or Washington.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 17:05

Talk of the Towns for March 1, 2017

Economic engines

Talkers know with the early arrival of spring-like weather and the outdoor and open-window lifestyle it brings, other things are sure to follow. And high on that list is a renewal of complaints about noise associated with airplanes inbound and outbound from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Often these gripes are accompanied by exaggerated accounts of how low and loud the jets are, and many times in recent years elsewhere in the Citizen we’ve tried to explain those claims are not only false, but — given strict Federal Aviation Administration and airport rules, and the laws of physics, motion and gravity — very often impossible.

But yet they persist, with some even shouting they wish the airport would simply go away. Really?

This week, a study by UNC Charlotte’s Center for Transportation Policy Studies determined that in 2015 the airport and its multi-faceted operations resulted in a $16.2 billion economic contribution to a 16-county region anchored by Mecklenburg. More than 220,000 jobs with salaries topping $11 billion are tied to the airport.

In various parts of North Carolina, folks gripe about odors from chicken farms or paper mills, but those in the know realize that’s the smell of money.

Here, almost everything is linked, and therefore more valuable, by proximity to an airport offering virtually unlimited access to anywhere for anything. Sometimes it may be loud, but keep in mind what you’re hearing.

Boundaries

Every now and then, it appears that some members of the general public need a refresher course in civics. And since the subject of how our governments are structured is no longer required learning in middle school, once the Baby Boomers have passed on, the American population at-large will be largely ignorant as to how and why local, state and federal governments are structured the way they are.

So here goes: legislatures write laws, executive branches enforce laws and judicial branches interpret laws when necessary. Similarly, state legislatures determine policy and departments under the executive branches implement said policies. Local and regional bodies make local and regional policy which is either enabled, or not, by state legislatures and, if so, executed by the appropriate departments.

All of these functions are performed either by people who are elected or who are appointed or hired, directly or indirectly, by those who are elected. And unless they involve themselves in the arena of public policy, spouses of all of the aforementioned, in a decent world, are off limits to criticism related to any policy issues or their execution.

Except, it seems, here at home in Lake Norman, where last week Susan Tillis (the wife of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of Huntersville) came under fire by a certain group of anti-toll, anti-NCDOT, anti-Thom Tillis individuals, calling her out to cite her position on the managed lanes project, some effectively accusing her of guilt by association as the wife of the then-North Carolina Speaker of the House when the managed lane (toll) project was approved. Some social media commenters were even questioning how Susan Tillis, a real estate executive, was presenting the managed lanes project in her home sales efforts.

The legislature — under Tillis’ leadership and since his departure — has refused to overturn what was a local decision, one that the local body has reconfirmed, and even the new governor whom some believed would cancel the contract to build the new toll lanes has shown no inclination to do.

All of this is intended neither as support nor criticism for the project or those who paved the way for it to happen. But one thing is for certain: Susan Tillis wasn’t among them.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 16:26

Talk of the Towns for February 15, 2017

The lamp rubbed

It’s no secret to regular readers of these brief opinion pieces that Talkers have long lamented the pervasive nature of social media and its ability to embolden those who are not held to the standards of the real media (such as they seem to be anymore) to spread whatever exaggerations, non-truths and vitriol to their audience and, through the far-reaching tentacles of the misinformation super highway, to the eyes, hearts and minds of those far beyond. And when it can be done either anonymously by using aliases or screen names that render them safe from reprisal — or simply beyond the physical reach of an actual carbon-based organism — they can safely say whatever about whomever they want.

One Talker has even warned on multiple occasions that smart phones and anti-social media will eventually lead to the downfall of civilized society. It’s only human nature that when you can get away with something in one forum, those limits will be tested in another. Eventually, the bullying will make it beyond the keyboard and screen into the real world and, there, continued lack of adult supervision over a collective pre-adolescent temper tantrum will only encourage and intensify such behavior.

Now that the genie is out of the bottle, the American culture is left to settle this dispute on the streets. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Budget bedevilment

Between planning retreats and department head presentations highlighting wants, needs and musts for the months and years ahead, this is the time of year when Talkers get first-hand previews of the budget-balancing brawls local town boards are sure to wage between now and July 1, when the next fiscal year begins.

In every town, especially in a year with municipal elections looming in November, there will be the biennial bickering between those who reluctantly realize growth comes at a cost and those who believe — and make a vocal point of telling their constituents — that just as much can be achieved while spending less.

It’s a tradition at the local government level that electeds who have sworn to keep a firm grip on town expenses have to chose between accepting the realities of what things cost or, once again, trying to convince voters there is a way to adequately meet growing demand without increasing supply.

And the process this year begins fresh on the heels of sessions in Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville highlighting a massive assortment of road, facility and municipal program expansions that not only involve significant current expenditures, but are often the first phase — or one of the mid-point steps — of a much bigger and subsequently more expensive undertaking.

And the two nagging consistencies commissioners can’t escape associated with all the planned and proposedprojects are that costs, as the economy improves and material and construction fees rise, are increasing and that delaying needed improvements — whether for philosophical reasons or political cover to avoid expenditures and potential tax hikes in an election year — achieves nothing more than kicking the can down the road until, they hope, fewer people are watching.

In the very near future — and probably now if you include all those in and around the three towns — the population of what we call north Mecklenburg will constitute the ninth largest town in the state. If you add Mooresville and all the lake region residents, it’s in the top five. And the bulk of the tax base is residential, which while generating accelerated demand for roads, infrastructure and municipal services, basically pays just enough in taxes to cover expenses.

That’s the sticky situation and, whether they like it or not, those in office and those who would like to be better know it. And whether they tell you or not when it comes time to argue budgets and ask for votes, it’s not likely to change.

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 18:17

Talk of the Towns for February 8, 2017

Coffee Talk

It could just be a deadline day, caffeine-fueled delusion, but Talkers are increasingly convinced (or maybe paranoid is a better description, as this observation occurred following a trough-load of coffee) that it’s highly probable that nothing gets accomplished unless it’s discussed, debated and decided over a hot cuppa Joe.

Among the many e-mail notifications and press releases Talkers receive during a week, there is always a sprinkling of public meeting announcements of one ilk or another where the prospect of free coffee is used to lure folks into participating — read, seeing things the way the host of said meeting wants them to be seen by the general public — in a discussion they would have in all likelihood abandoned for the more exciting prospect of sorting their sock drawer.

In just the last few weeks, Talkers have been reminded to attend a monthly “Coffee Chat” with a couple of members of the Cornelius Board of Commissioners to choke down the prospect of a bond referendum this year, as well as a “Coffee & Conversation” confab with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Ann Clark, where you can guarantee the touchy topic of the district’s diversity push by redrawing attendance boundaries and feeder patterns will come up in the crowd.

The sole conclusion Talkers have come to is that, from elected officials to education wonks, everyone seems to believe potentially bad-tasting ideas always go down better with coffee.

That’s got to be it, because it sure would be a lot harder to swallow the prospect of a tax increase to pay for more road projects or losing a seat for your child in their neighborhood school at the hands of supposed diversity with a free wheatgrass smoothie.

Judgment call

Talkers are known to posture about other peoples’ judgment, but as equal opportunity offenders, they often question their own as well. Which makes it all the more alarming when experts in a particular field yield to our own assertions on a given topic.

Last week, when a new fiber optic line was being run to the Citizen’s new office from the street, the contractor clipped a water line, causing a geyser and an emergency call to Charlotte Water. You know, that’s the outfit that used to call itself Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD), which in an apparent effort to remove the combinations of letters that spell the word “mud” from its acronym, shortened its name to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU).

It’s also the outfit that , several years ago when automated meter reader transmitters were going haywire in the Lake Norman area and in other pockets around the county, resulting in bills sometimes up to 10 times what they should have been, would blame underground leaks, running toilets and customer stupidity for the overcharges before finally admitting to fault.

Charlotte Water did come out and fix the leak lickety-split, but the liquid spewing forth from the plumbing inside the building remained a milky-transluscent color. Days later and no improvement, a call to Charlotte Water customer service yielded this advice when the condition of the water was described and concern was expressed about whether it was safe:

“Use your own judgment.”

The results of following such guidance being wholly contingent upon the individuals applying that judgment mean results may vary. And whatever those results might have been, Talkers opted for insisting on another service call, Charlotte Water’s history is one of deflecting liability.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 17:05

Talk of the Towns for February 1, 2017

We’re Number 244!

The bucolic burg of Davidson has found itself on a number of lists lately, most of them lauding great things about living, working or dining there. All of which helps cushion the blow of the town finding itself ranked dead last among 244 cities in a recent “study” of “2017’s Best & Worst Cities for Football Fans.”

Conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website that seems to also dispatch interns to create all kinds of useless lists for the purpose of flooding e-mail inboxes in an attempt to ... well, Talkers aren’t exactly sure what ... the survey seemingly gathers irrelevant statistical data in any city or town that has a professional or college football team in order to rank them as a football town.

Not surprisingly, the best cities for football fans are those with National Football League franchises, with Green Bay, Wisc., topping the list followed, in order, by the remaining top 10 of Pittsburgh; New York; Dallas; Boston; Seattle; Philadelphia; Indianapolis; Glendale, Ariz.; and Minneapolis.

The worst 10, from 235th downward, were Worcester, Mass.; DeLand, Fla.; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Valparaiso, Ind.; East Hartford, Conn.; Amherst, Mass.; Lexington, Va.; New Britain, Conn.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; and last, and apparently least, our very own Davidson.

Drilling more deeply into the data, apparently to make it fair, cities were divided into large, midsize and small categories, small being populations of 125,000 or fewer. Tops in the “small” category, in which Davidson was ranked, was the overall winner of Green Bay, home of the Packers, Lambeau Field, Vince Lombardi, the “Frozen Tundra” and richly immersed in NFL lore. Coming in second and third in small cities were Clemson, S.C., home of the 2017 college football national champion Clemson Tigers; and Tuscaloosa, Ala., from which hail Paul “Bear” Bryant, Nick Saban and the perennial college football championship contenders the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

And then there’s Davidson, home of Richardson Field, Vic Gatto and former quarterback and retired North Meck High School Principal Jimmy Poole. Apparently, WalletHub failed to factor such local treasures as Famous Toastery, the Town Green, Tom Clark gnomes, Kindred restaurant, Summit Coffee and Bob McKillop into its equation.

Ahh, but Davidsonians can take heart in knowing that, unlike Green Bay, Clemson and Tuscaloosa, the college in their town (Green Bay does have a college, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay) has produced a two-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player.

The price of relaxation

Successful business models are often duplicated, and it’s no different for the transportation juggernaut Uber, from which passengers can get a ride just about anywhere, anytime with the swipe of a smart phone screen.

Among the latest in the trend of anytime, anywhere services that can be summoned by a click is Zeel, which has entered the Charlotte area with its on-demand massage service. “Licensed,” “experienced” and “vetted in person” massage therapists will show up at your door between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. with services certain to make anyone in need of a rubdown happy.

The cost, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, is $105 for a 60-minute treatment, not including an 18 percent gratuity.

But as all things must either evolve or whither into extinction, Talkers suggest a way to take on-demand services to the next level. By joining forces, Uber and Zeel can address two needs at once. With a fleet of Sprinter vans, for the ultimate in relaxation the partnership can not only provide transportation, but in Charlotte traffic have enough time to work out the kinks at the same time. And because there will be at least three people in the rolling massage parlor, no tolls are required.