Tag Archives: charlotte

It’s Warm

We are smack in the middle of a heat wave. Actually, that’s not true, we’re at the tail end of it, as they are expecting a cold front to move in tomorrow. We’ve had something like 17 consecutive days of….over 90 degrees.

Really?

I spent a lot of my life in Dallas, TX. I remember one year, I think it was 2000, when we had 35+ days of over 100 degrees for the high. And it was likely 80% humidity, on average, the whole time. That’s why I laugh in the face of this “Heat Wave” we’re having now in Charlotte.

I love it. I love walking out of my office and feeling the warmth on my skin. I love getting in the car and feeling that moment of heat suffocation before you get the chance to roll the windows down (although burning myself on the sizzling seatbelt and driving with one finger on the roasting steering wheel, I can do without). Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to sit or stand outside for extended periods of time. Even I start to complain when I’m laying in a pool of my own sweat. But just your average “to the car to the office to the car to the house” moments? I’m okay with those.

I get that we all have different levels of tolerance when it comes to heat and cold. People from Minnesota laugh at us when we complain about 49 degrees – it’s balmy to them. It’s all about what you’re used to, and what you can tolerate.

There are people who say they would rather be too cold than too hot, because you can always put on more clothes. Not me. I hate the cold. HATE. I tolerate it, and often don’t bother to wear a jacket if it’s above 30 (unless, obviously, I’m going to be standing out in it), but I would far prefer it to be 100 degrees.

What about you? Would you rather it be too hot or too cold? What temperature is too hot/cold for you?

Really? That was the best option?

“After days of public outcry,” Mecklenburg has revisited the decision to close half of the library locations.  Seems that was only one of three options originally presented when looking to cut the budget.  The other options included cutting library hours and cutting pay, each option with a different rate and number of layoffs. 

So, the board thought it would be better to close 12 locations and layoff 140+ employees, rather than cut hours and pay and layoff roughly 80 employees.

How was THAT the better option??

Wouldn’t it be better, in this economy, to keep people employed, and ensure access to a public resource?

It really makes me wonder if they did it specifically to get people riled up. 

Personally, I think the best option would be a combination of ideas.  I think that some locations can be closed without much of an uproar.  So, close some branches, cut some hours, cut some pay, and, if needed, lay a couple of people off.  It sucks, but shouldn’t the idea be to lessen the impact on everyone involved?

I love the idea of politics, or maybe I should say the ideal.  I hate the current practice.  Common sense is sorely missing in the public arena.  Kind of makes me want to (cannotbelieveI’mabouttosaythis) get into local politics.

Charlotte Mecklenburg closing 12 branch locations

On Wednesday, they announced that they would be closing 12 of the county libraries.  I was somewhat shocked – 12 seemed like an awful lot.  In fact, it’s a full half of the local libraries. 

I thought about the ones near me.  I have four locations within about 5 miles of me, so I figured three of those might close, and the biggest one, the Regional one, would remain open.

On Thursday, they announced which library locations would be closing.

All 4 of the locations near me are closing. 

From charlotteobserver.com

Here’s a map of the closings.

I live near 14, the Morrison Regional Branch that I thought they would keep open.  You’ll see that there is now a HUGE hole in the South Charlotte and East Charlotte areas.  They recently remodeled the Myers Park location (16), and it’s closing.  And the Hickory Branch location (8) is a new $5 million building that opened 6 weeks ago.  What a waste.

Meanwhile, they are keeping 7 (Freedom Regional) & 24 (West Blvd) open (see how close together they are?), as well as 11 (Downtown) and 18 (Plaza-Midwood), also close together.  (ImaginOn, 9, doesn’t really count, as it’s specifically a children’s library.)

And they’re closing 5 (Cornelius), but leaving 6 (Davidson) & 17 (North Co Regional)?  Why not close Davidson & North Co Regional and leave Cornelius open, since it’s in the  middle of the two?  (Granted, I think it’s a smaller branch, but you see my point.)

The board says they looked at “overall cost of library operations, usage levels, proximity to other branches and library size.”  I don’t think they took the proximity issue into account, based on the huge holes on the map.

Future budget cuts may reduce the library system even further, to just the downtown branch, or maybe the downtown, a North Regional, and a South Regional. 

I was absolutely sick about this when I read about it on Thursday.  And based on the comments on all the news articles online, so is everyone else.  There’s a grassroots effort to raise the $2 million needed to keep these branches open, but the deadline is Wednesday.  So far, $35,000 has been raised.  You can donate here.  The problem with this, of course, is that it only saves them this year.  More budget cuts in future years will only put them back on the chopping block.

This isn’t simply about losing libraries.  148 employees are being laid off.  People who depend on the branches for internet access, meeting locations, children’s story time, and any of the other programs the library runs, will need to find an alternative.  It’s exacerbating a problem – the unemployed who can’t afford a computer or internet access go to the library to search for jobs, but now they won’t be able to do that, or will have to drive further (or find another bus route).  Kids who can’t afford books will now have a harder time checking them out of the library, possible leading to a decline in education and/or reading levels.

Why not cut hours, or days, like the postal service?  Sure, close a few locations.  There are other ways, I think, that this could have been handled.  Charge a nominal fee for internet usage ($1/half hour?), or charge higher fines for past due books.  There will still be operating costs on the closed locations – leases that need to be fulfilled, security and maintenance for the now empty buildings. 

I’ve always joked that the way I support the local library is by paying overdue fines, because I’m almost always late with books.  Now I’m looking for another way to support the library.  Where’s a damn petition I can sign??

Charlotte Dinner Club

When I lived in Denver, I met a group of people through a dinner club that I found on Craigslist.  The idea was you would meet new people and try new restaurants…it was good for me at the time, when I was very alone in a strange city.  The only problem with that dinner club was that you never quite knew what you were getting into, they were complete strangers, and sometimes the size of the crowd got way out of hand (one time there were over 40 of us that showed up at a restaurant).

Lately, a few friends began talking about a similar idea, but I think it was more about trying new restaurants with our current group of friends, more than meeting strangers.  I thought a kind of compromise would work well – starting with a circle of friends, and going out like spokes of a wheel – getting different circles of friends together, so that you may meet someone new, but there’s still a connection there.  Degrees of separation and all that.

The most important thing in doing something like this is that it has to be a firmly scheduled event – none of that “what works with your schedule?” and “I can’t make that, can we change the date?”  So I decided on the Second Wednesday of the month.  Wednesday should be less crowded in restaurants than a weekend night, and making it the second rather than the first of the month should get us away from any holiday conflicts.

The second most important thing is getting the information out to people in a safe, easy way.  Emails and evites would be a little complicated – it would take a lot of coordination, and then you’re sending emails to people you don’t know, etc, etc…  A website would be a great way, people can check it at their leisure, but then what’s to prevent a psycho stranger from showing up at dinner, too?  (A dinner club stalker?  Improbable, but not impossible.)

Then I remembered that on Blogger you have the ability to host an “invite only” blog, so that only the people you invite can see it.  I started there, set up a blog, but then I realized there were a couple of issues there.  Number one, it’s limited to 100 email addresses (I know, I have high hopes thinking this could ever get up to 100 people), and number two, people would have to register, and some people don’t want to do that.  Same thing with setting up a group on Facebook. 

But WordPress has the ability to password protect posts.  So the blog can be checked by anyone, but people would need a password to view the restaurant of the month.  Getting the password out wouldn’t be hard to do, and you don’t need to register to post a comment.  So, I think I found the solution.

If you’re a friend in the Charlotte area, let me know if you’re interested in joining us sometime.  You can find the new blog here:  www.charlottedinnerclub.wordpress.com

Welcome to Charlotte, NC. How do you like our weather?

I’ve lived in Charlotte for four years. Before that, I lived in Denver, Little Rock, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and, as a kid, Southern CA (San Diego/LA). So I’ve experienced quite a few different areas of the country. I want to make sure you know that so when I say that Charlotte is a pretty great place to live, you know that I do have some experience with different places.

For those of you who don’t live here (or live under a rock), people from Wells Fargo were in town today to look around the city. We, of course, want them to base their east coast operations here in what will soon be called The Old Wachovia Building. The less job cuts, the better.  Of course, it was a bonus to get them here on a day like today. Beautiful, cloudless day, high in the low 80’s with a light breeze. One of those days that make you want to play hooky from work and go sit in a park and soak up the sun. Not that days like today are in short supply here – quite the contrary. We have weather like this quite often (which makes me want to play hooky quite often). Summers are mild, with highs in the high 80’s to mid 90’s most of the time, rarely reaching 100 (I think we hit 100 twice this summer). Winters are also quite mild, with highs in the 50’s and morning lows in the mid 30’s to mid 40’s. According to Wiki, the average high in July is 90, the average low in January is 32.

We also have the good fortune to be close enough to both the beach and the mountains, something that is in short supply in some of the places I’ve lived. The beach is three hours away, the mountains are only two. No, we don’t have white sand beaches or world class snow skiing, but it’s certainly better than nothing. And within easy driving distance: Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, Richmond, Asheville. Heck, even DC is less than 6 hours away. (While Denver was a lovely city to live in, with lots of outdoors activities, it was not within driving distance to ANYTHING – except Taos, the middle of nowhere Kansas, and the middle of nowhere Wyoming. And if you loved the mountains you were set – if you’re a beach person, you’re screwed.)

Is Charlotte The Perfect Place to Live? No. But you could certainly do much, much worse. (BTW, in my experience, The Perfect Place to Live is San Diego, c. 1985-ish. Before real estate went through the roof.)

So, the point of my post.  There was a discussion on the radio today that I found intriguing – If you were showing the Wells Fargo people around town, what’s the one thing you would be sure to show them, and what is the one thing you would be sure not to show them?  Some things mentioned on the radio, around my office, and in email discussion:

Would show them – Lake Norman (“Look, we have water, too!”), Dilworth and Elizabeth neighborhoods, the Palisades neighborhood (“Look what you can get for $1M!”)

Wouldn’t show them – BofA Stadium (it is, after all, the competition), neighborhoods in East Charlotte, the Onion Rings sculpture (I could not find a photo of this anywhere!), the light rail (they would only laugh), the Gold Rush Trolley (again…)

I would show them USNWC, and I wouldn’t show them the cluster f— that is construction in uptown (including foreclosed half built highrises).

If you are familiar with the area, what do you think?  What would you be sure to show people  What would you be sure not to show people?