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.


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.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:35

Talk of the Towns for January 25, 2017

Season’s grievings

Everyone, as the saying goes, complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it, and usually that’s a good reason to never gripe about it. But in the midst of this freezing-to-sweating roller coaster that can’t seem to make up its mind, Talkers have had enough.

There is plenty of praise for the mildness of our Carolina winter, which on the heels of delivering a sub-freezing Sunday promptly apologized with a 70-plus Friday, but from a sanity and selfish standpoint, Talkers prefer an actual pattern: something that makes it possible to know what to wear each day without walking outside and something that, if nothing else, makes us appreciate the subtle changes passing days are supposed to promise.

It’s January, and flowers and trees are beginning to bud and eager-beavers have already begun tending to their suddenly re-greened lawns. It’s not quite yet smack in the middle of what is supposed to be our cold spell, and we’re gnashing about gnats and being marauded by mosquitos.

There are some positives in that golf courses usually restricted to trying to endure the winter are now being bombarded with tee time requests, but they are countered by the fate of ski resorts dependent on at least a passing glance at winter for their survival.

And, no matter what gospel the sun worshipers and sandal wearers spew, a hot spell between cold and wet weather seems to, ultimately, create more health concerns than it heals. It’s only a theory, but at least one Talker is convinced that a few days of what would heretofore be described as unseasonably warm weather breathes new life into germs, and then the subsequent retreat indoors when the type of weather we should be having returns puts us all in seclusion amongst a fresh batch of viruses in search of a host.

And beyond the health concerns from the lack of seasons, there’s the basic fact — something the resort hotel chain, the famous New York restaurant and even a group in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all knew — that there are supposed to be four.

Whoever heard of Frankie Valli and the Season?

Return to sender

Among the pitfalls of being able to be in contact with just about anybody at any time, providing they are plugged into the various available modes of electronic communication, is the ability to be in contact with the wrong person at just about any time.

One Talker often makes the mistake of sending an e-mail to a local key town staff member because of a first name in common with a fellow Citizen staffer. That some of these e-mails might contain sensitive information, it is appreciated that this unintended frequent recipient is good-natured about it all and informs us of the transgression in short order ... usually with a smirk that somehow translates across the bits and bytes of the ethereal transmission of data.

Ahh, but what comes around quite often goes around, as a group text showed up on that same Talker’s cell phone late last week with the texter excitedly reporting to one intended recipient, and one unintended, that a close relative’s bag was found at an airport and was being delivered to its rightful owner. Highly experienced in the art of sending the wrong message to the wrong person, the Talker replied, “Admittedly I may not belong in this text group, but I may as well ask ... whose bag?”

Turns out the whole event was a reversal of fortune, as the frequent recipient of one Talker’s errant e-mails happened to be the one who texted the Talker who sends them for the very same reason ... a common first name. The content, of course, was harmless, but it serves as a cautionary tale for messages that might not be so:

Before you click send — be it on an e-mail, social media messenger or text — be sure you know to whom you are sending it.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 17:28

Talk of the Towns for January 18, 2017

Through space and time

In the single-letter terms of generational descriptions, Talkers are, for the most part, in the twilight zone around X and completely baffled — we presume like everyone else giving this any thought at all — about who it is exactly who feels entitled to assign those designations and, more importantly, what it is they know that we don’t that convinced them mankind is frighteningly close to the end of its alphabetic existence.

But while that issue is just one of many that keeps us up at night, and has led to the only reassuring conclusion we could think of — that, like hurricane names, when we run out of letters we just switch to the Greek alphabet and keep going — there was a recent event that provided yet another jolt about the certainty of mortality and the ever-present, hard-charging passage of time.

This week, the last man to walk on the moon left his earthly surroundings. Eugene Cernan, commander of the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, was 82. More than 44 years ago, Cernan did something Baby Boomers, the post-war generation blessed with a moniker more creative and colorful than those to follow, could never have imagined when they were children. And now, it’s something those in the Y and Z age groups, bombarded daily with tales of Jupiter probes, signals from deep space and the potential colonization of Mars probably view as an elementary achievement akin to rotary dial phones and microwave popcorn.

But Talkers, aware of the disbelief our parents held about the concepts of space travel and moon landings yet simultaneously blessed with the everlasting and exhilarating childhood memory of seeing it happen live on television — albeit in black and white — are somewhere in the middle of this generational vortex, and the passing of the last human to leave a footprint on a surface other than the Earth is a stark reminder of how quickly things progress and how fast our time here goes by.

It’s a somber and sobering realization, underscored by the realization that the knowledge gap between generations continues to expand and the mobile phones our kids help us operate contain more computer power than the capsule that took Cernan to the moon. But the pain is eased by the wonder of all the things Generation Alpha may achieve.

Fair weather friends

Among the benefits of Facebook is the ability to live vicariously through others in all parts of the country at the same time. Or not.

One Talker, for example, has a friend who lives in the mountains of Washington state and another in coastal southern California, both occasionally posting on the weather extremes they have recently encountered. While the California friend has posted on the unusually wet weather they are having — the song “It Never Rains In Southern California” comes to mind with the lyric “but girl, don’t they warn ya/it pours, man it pours,” (for non-millennials, there’s your ear worm for the week) — the Washington friend is pining over her most recent trip to Hawaii as they face the latest in a long string of days she and her kids are stranded at home because of icy conditions.

“That’s why I live in North Carolina,” the Talker commented on the Washington friend’s weather-lamenting post. “I hear you had some icy weather recently,” she smugly replied. “Yes, but it was gone in 36 hours and replaced by temperatures in the 60s and 70s,” came the retort.

As can happen here during the winter months, the Charlotte region experienced three out of four seasons within seven days last week. The next several days appear to be a lot like London weather. Lest we Lake Normanites get too cocky about our characteristically seasonal mildness save for a few weeks out of the year, sometimes it pours, man it pours.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017 17:08

Talk of the Towns for January 11, 2017

No news is news

The turn of the calendar year and all the activities that surround the holiday season bring the news cycle to a grinding halt. That’s one of the reason’s many publications, such as the Citizen, take a one-week break from producing an edition. Another reason is that many advertisers are too engaged in critical, year-end commerce to be bothered with things like submitting copy, proofing and approving ads.

So in the spirit of all the news that doesn’t happen as the winter doldrums set in, here is some news that ... well ... didn’t happen.

The Charlotte City Council didn’t repeal its gender-identity equity ordinance because the North Carolina General Assembly didn’t repeal the controversial HB2 that it passed last year in response to the Charlotte ordinance. That comes after the ACC football championship game wasn’t held in Charlotte in protest of HB2 which was to have been repealed had it not been for partisan bickering over some provisions within the repellant legislation. Had the quid pro quo between the state and the city gone as scheduled, it would have been as if none of it had happened in the first place.

Even though it did. So now the Charlotte ordinance is in place but can’t be implemented because it doesn’t legally exist.

New Gov. Roy Cooper didn’t have a traditional swearing-in ceremony because he was sworn in under the cover of darkness in the wee hours of New Year’s Day. His inauguration ceremony was canceled because of wintry weather, so that didn’t happen, either.

The town managers of Davidson, Cornelius, Mooresville or anywhere else in the region — other than Huntersville — weren’t compelled by their town boards to “resign” despite their stellar records in managing a town government.

A North Carolina state senator didn’t send a group e-mail via official, government-provided e-mail addresses to select local elected officials and certain managed lane opponents about legislation planned to halt the project and re-work the balance of votes among the region’s transportation planning organization. The electeds’ unofficial e-mail addresses, however, are another matter altogether.

And the project to construct managed lanes on I-77 wasn’t yet stopped nor was the planning of significant ancillary road improvements in the Lake Norman area made possible in large part due to the bonus allocation funds associated with the project. Additionally, the aforementioned Cooper didn’t appoint an anti-toll transportation secretary to his cabinet, instead naming James Trogdon who served as chairman of the North Carolina Transportation Board during much of the managed lane planning process.

Now that the slow season is over, Talkers can’t wait to see what actually does happen.

Cold hard facts

Pity the poor decision makers for local school systems.

Talkers couldn’t help but notice that many were understandably fascinated by the blast of early January snow and tickled that schools were closed on an ice-covered Monday.

But by Tuesday, those same folks were complaining that not enough was done to clear the ice and snow, forcing claustrophobic children and kid-weary parents to endure another day at home facing the prospects of make-up days digging into planned vacations.

But truth is, what choice did administrators have? From Friday night to Tuesday afternoon, what froze was still frozen. And for those who speculate that all it would have required is some snow-moving effort to get the grounds and parking lots kid ready by Tuesday, here’s something to ponder. Snow moved or pushed aside would have left a watery trail that could have made conditions not only worse, but also invisible.

Administrators couldn’t win, but they did their best.

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 17:18

Talk of the Towns for January 4, 2017

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Leave a message

France continues to lead the new Euro-approach to laid-back living that makes California seem almost Draconian by comparison.

From the land and language that, ironically, gave us laissez faire comes a new national law that actually spells out an employee’s right to ignore a work-related, after-hours e-mail. Talkers saw this week that new employment law in France requires companies with more than 50 employees to adopt office policies limiting work-related technology usage outside the office.

In order to protect the sanity and quality of life of workers in a society that already regulates a 35-hour work week, the law somehow makes it illegal for a company officer or employee to attempt to contact a staff member or colleague about work issues outside of regular working hours. What’s not usual is that companies are expected to voluntarily comply with the new rules and, as yet, there are no details about the penalties or punishment tied to violations.

Talkers don’t know how far this movement will go and are very aware that French folks don’t exactly covet American advice, but they do have a simple solution for those poor, pitiful employees bombarded with after-hours interruptions that doesn’t require legislative intervention: Do what we do. Don’t answer them!

Now on the first tee ...

It’s been three long weeks since any professional golf competition has been aired on television, and Talkers who are fans of pasture pool have been forced to be satisfied with the Carolina Panthers’ long, painful limp to the NFL finish line and a collection of exhibition college football games, known as bowl season, for their sports viewing entertainment.

But now they can take heart that, this week, the PGA Tour hits the airwaves again with live telecasts Thursday-Sunday of the first tournament of the calendar year and the first significant event of the Tour’s “wraparound season” that began just two weeks after the conclusion of the 2016 FedEx Cup Championship playoffs in Atlanta this past fall.

The SBS Tournament of Champions, previously known as the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, tees off Thursday featuring an all-star field of tournament winners from the prior season. And just in time for the coldest weather of this young winter season with the prospects of frozen precipitation coating the ground and sending panicked Southerners to clear the shelves of all the milk, bread and driveway salt they can find, Talkers can view the re-start of the golf season from ... of all places ... Maui!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 17:27

Talk of the Towns for December 21, 2016

New year, new digs

If you’ve read Page 13 then you may be aware that the office of the Lake Norman Citizen is moving about a mile from its current location at the beginning of 2017. We’re moving out of a building owned by our majority owner — who has sold our current space to the ever-expanding Burn Boot Camp headquarters located next door — and into another building he owns in Huntersville, conveniently located next door to our distribution center.

And Talkers are pretty excited about occupying a quaint house on Old Statesville Road that, once the inconveniences of moving and communications infrastructure upgrades are complete, seems like an ideal setting for our type of business.

So, after our first publication of the new year we’ll hustle off to our new digs at 403 N. Old Statesville Road, and from there, Talkers will still be Talking either to the amusement, or in some cases bemusement, of our readers.

A-Salt on our senses

With all the post-election chatter about fake news sites and concern that too many people these days immediately assume whatever they see or hear is real, Talkers may be taking skepticism just a bit too far, but a few television commercials airing this holiday season have left us wondering if what we’re seeing is true or just another example of somebody testing to see just how gullible we are.

The first exposure to the V.I. Poo ad — the one with the pretend Hollywood starlet admitting to “punishing the porcelain” on occasion and using the special bathroom spray to make sure “all of Tinseltown doesn’t know you just bombed” — left us wondering if somehow a Saturday Night Live skit had been inserted into a primetime commercial slot. And now it has returned to the regular rotation of late night ads because, Talkers assume, some uppity-ups on the holiday party circuit will do anything to avoid the embarrassment of having fellow revelers fear Santa’s reindeer dropped something other than packages.

And now the Bug-A-Salt folks are bombarding us with ads promoting the perfect gift for that person on our list who apparently has absolutely everything else — or basically nothing at all but time.

The Bug-A-Salt (we’ve checked) is a completely legitimate item. It’s a plastic device that looks like an elaborate water gun, but it shoots salt crystals. You load the small shotgun with regular table salt and then cosk, aim and fire tiny pieces of salt at, presumably, flies and any other tiny creature that wanders into range.

Now Talkers admit to being just a tad bit curious about how the Bug-A-Salt could come in handy around the office, especially when a co-worker makes a second dash for the fruitcake before the rest of us grab a slab. But Talkers can also imagine the practice required to reach the accuracy level required to zap a fly with a pebble of salt, and how what could have been a thoughtful gift could instead become a cash drain for the recipient who is compelled to keep buying ammo.

And if these items are on your last-minute shopping list, exactly what message will your present deliver? Wouldn’t a fancy-wrapped bottle of V.I. Poo be something like a cold slap in the face, and by giving someone a weapon to kill flies, aren’t you assuming they have a serious fly problem in the first place? Or worse yet, are you saying the gifts are related and, if one doesn’t work, maybe you can use the other?