Something like nine months ago (in November of 2007), the Lynx Blue Line opened to great fanfare - and not a few Bronx Cheers. Those who thought that the entire mass transit system of Charlotte would be paid for - not to mention built - by that time had a few shocks in store, as the budget kept going up and up ,while the delivered goods kept going down and down.

The sleek cars were definitely nice and all, but ultimately there was a certain disappointment. Original plans had called for trains that could handle three cars. Scaled-back plans had many trains running with two cars, and some sporting only a single. Parking lots along the farthest reaches had been trimmed as well, because with citizens screaming for another referendum, it seemed like the only way to make ends meet was to trim the fat. That was done, and now things have been up and running for the better part of a year. To make things even more interesting, gas has gone up with no apparent end in sight. What does it all mean?

From time to time, I am asked how to display related entries on a Movable Type-powered site (and I frequently have to look it up myself), so I figured that I'd document it here.

While there are plugins that do the work, they typically depend on another value (usually categories, keywords or tags - sometimes a combination of those), and the problem with those is that they depend on humans to first enter that value. If you forget to do so, then it means the related entries won't work until you go back and enter it. If you enter the wrong value, you get the wrong results. There has to be a better way. Luckily, there is.

For just about as long as I can remember, I wanted to take a Windjammer cruise, which was odd because I really don't care for cruises in general. I think the thing that I dislike about cruises - that they are on these big, impersonal boats - was what I liked about the Windjammer.

You are on smaller, more interesting boats, you get to have a more personal experience with whatever country (or countries) you are in, it just makes for more of an adventure. And now that I put it that way, I guess really can't argue with it. So if you're after adventure, you may want to go Windjammer. But if you're interested in a cruise with Windjammer, you might want to stay away.

There are people who will try to tell you that Charlotte is the Queen City. Don't believe them. Charlotte is Bus Stop City.

I've never been a huge rider of the bus. Even when I was in school I didn't ride the bus that much. I won't say that there weren't school buses back then, I just don't recall them being all over like they are now. But whenever I did ride the bus, I remember having to walk a good bit to get on the bus. Not the case in Charlotte. For whatever reason, Charlotte has to have the closest bus stops I have ever seen. There are some places in Charlotte (Idlewild Road North and Milton Road being two of them, but I'm sure that there are others) where the bus stops are perhaps a hundred feet apart.

I don't get a lot of junk mail. I have the warning message on my credit report, I've used as many pre-screenings as possible, and I'll opt out as often as I can. I've even tried to get out of the Valassis list (they are the ones who put the newspaper-like ads in your mailbox). I'm stll working on that one. Though they say that it will take 6-8 weeks to get off their list, and it will last for five years, I've yet to get out.

Anyway, because of all this, I get very little junk mail, and even fewer of those pre-approved credit offers. So I was a little surprised when I received a Disney Rewards card (Visa, I think). It might have been from when we went to Disney a few years ago - as long as you've done business with them, they can send you something, and they might consider staying in their hotel "doing business". But what really gets me is that if you sign up for it, you get a free Bambi DVD!

The laughingstock of nearly every state, the DMV is the place where just about everything goes to die. Your morning is wasted. Don't even think about a lunch hour. Try and go in the afternoon and you'll be lucky to get home before the evening news.

Reports in North Carolina have recently said that our DMV lines could be expected to double in the Charlotte area - from 45 minutes to as long as 90 - because of increased federal requirements. This makes no sense. While most things are faster in the computer age, this relic of antiquity languishes.

It is true that you can at least renew your vehicle tags online, and that's a good thing. But if you need to get a new tag or tag a test, beware of the great black hole.

Anyone who has been reading for any length of time knows that I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to keeping track of data, so a message like The Data has Been Lost is a killer. Some people might even call this behavior anal, but it is what it is. So when the message comes up - repeatedly - telling me that the Delayed Write Failed and that the data has been lost, it ate at me. Really. I didn't know what to do. I think most people might take issue with it, but hey. What can I do?

Now it's not as if I'm talking government secrets here. I'm just doing a typical backup of data across a pretty simple home network (and a wired one at that). If it was on the wireless portion of the network, I could perhaps consider that maybe the neighbor's signal got in the way. But why it decided to start happening - and happening all the time - was driving me absolutely nuts.

For some time now, I've been trying to find the perfect mouse. Please realize that I know it's not going to be completely perfect for everyone. It's more like the one that's just right for me. If you're busy and just want to get to the result, I'll tell you now: I'm still looking.

If you have any ideas, I'm all ears. I just can't seem to find the one that does what I want. I've gone through a wide variety of them over the years, and I just can't seem to find the one that's right for me. So I continue my quest. Maybe one day I'll find what I'm after. In the meantime, let me tell you what I have found.

Back in 1937, the North Carolina General Assembly created a system of control for "spirituous liquor" in the state. This act allowed voters in each county to determine whether or not liquor would be sold at retail, and if it would be sold, their vote would create an ABC board in that county, which in turn would be able to run one - yes, one - retail ABC store. Some seventy years later, there are 156 separate ABC systems in North Carolina and 392 retail stores.

Obviously something has changed, since there should be a one-to-one correlation with those numbers, and that is obviously not the case. I can personally say that there are nineteen in Charlotte, according to the search tool on the site. I haven't been to each of them. According to a recent article in the Charlotte Observer, while two-thirds of the boards run only one store, as was originally intended, there are actually nine boards in Brunswick Country operating ten stores. So I don't know how it works, I just know that it's a really odd setup.

Throughout the course of my life, I find that I read different parts of the paper. When I first started, I think I probably only read the comics (they were probably called the "funny papers" back then). One day I started reading the sports section, because there was something or other that I found interesting. Then I found myself wandering into the business pages, even though I have no business aptitude. I find it interesting.

These days, I typically browse through most of the paper, typically still on my way to the business section or the sports, with a stop at the comics now and again. But what really gets me is why there is just about always an ad in the sports section for an enhancement of some kind or another. If it's not for the best sex that I've ever had, it's for the guy who ate plankton and cured his cancer. Now it's not that I'm not happy for the guy or anything, but come on!

After careful consideration, I have determined that the drivers in and around the Charlotte area have no idea how to use divided highways. They might not even know how to drive. But the divided highway baffles them like absolutely nothing else that I have seen.

In most parts of the United States, it is common for it to be unlawful to pass a stopped school bus (at least one with red lights flashing). The exception to this rule is on the divided highway, where that special division allows for special privilege. It's like the school bus is on an entirely different road, meaning you can pass at will, and safely ignore the fact that they are stopped, red lights or no. The first problem is that drivers in Charlotte seem to have no idea what constitutes a divided highway, so they just don't know when they should stop. That is a problem.