Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation recently announced a new offering - Segway tours through the 1300 acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.

Tours are available much of the year, though hours vary, so you'll want to check the site. You do need to meet certain requirements - namely you need to fit on the Segway, be of a certain age and able to stand for a length of time (tours last for 3 hours). Refreshments included, though no word on what they are. Maybe trail mix and a bottle of water, so you may not want to get your hopes up. But it is definitely something new in the Charlotte area, thus if you're looking for something different, check it out.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Because of events that recently transpired, we were able to come face-to-face with some of the staff of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control team, and came away less than impressed (to say the least). You're probably not surprised, as I've been talking about them for years - I think that the first post on the subject was way back in 2004.

To start things off, if we're talking about the strict letter of the law, Tigger never bit our son. Scratched yes, bit no. That means that he should never have been quarantined or even reported to Animal Control. But because we consider ourselves responsible parents and citizens, we explained what happened, and also to be absolutely sure that there was no cause for alarm (and because it was here at our house), allowed Tigger to be quarantined. What we really didn't like was the way in which it happened. There are so many blunders that it's just sad.

It's that time of year again. For a while now, we've had to suffer through the torture while our favorite teams didn't win The Big One (unless you are a fan of the Giants, that is). Luckily, the game was a pretty decent one, and we got to see the Patriots - finally - fall. Most anyone could enjoy that. Everyone likes an underdog. Though a certain part of me wanted to see the Pats finish the first perfect season since the 1972 Dolphins, it's just as comforting to see it not happen. The Giants played a good game.

Still, for most of us, it means that the long, long summer was upon us, and we had to wait for what seemed like ages before football picked up again. As luck would have it, the NFL draft came along this weekend, and what used to be a mere afterthought has turned into a veritable sideshow. Just look at Keyshawn Johnson. He deserves pages all to himself. Did you see that suit he was wearing? A plaid shirt, pink polka-dot tie, reverse pinstripe suit and what looked like an olive green pocket hankie. I don't care that he played for the Panthers, how good he used to be, the fact that he made (or makes) all kinds of money or that he could beat me up. It looked stupid and was just plain ugly to boot.

After the third checkpoint last week, I was getting a little antsy for this to be over. Like I mentioned, it really wasn't the 'stache, as I don't mind it much. It doesn't itch nearly as much as a beard, it's just that I'm not a mustache guy. I'm just not much for shaving (as I've already said more than once), and I think more than anything, I like variety - having to keep to the schedule - at least as much as I have - is probably worse than anything else.

So it is with no small amount of relief that I announce the finish of the 2008 Mustache for Kids competition. The actual event won't be over until the Sweetest Stache is judged at 6:30pm on Friday night at Madison's Bar and Lounge, but I already told you that I wasn't much for the whole schedule thing, so consider this my official completion announcement. You can check out my final entry, as well as the details of my donation, below. Enjoy!

The growing is now three-quarters of the way along, and this time I'm not quite so late to the checkpoint. I'm still running a bit late, because my camera is still wanting to act up a bit more than it should, but it's not as bad as it was at Checkpoint 2. In any case, there's only one week left (I'm sure that everyone is glad to hear that!), and this mustache is really starting to get going.

Whether you are growing yourself, or just sitting on the sidelines, Mustaches for Kids is working for a good cause. The donations that they raise go towards all sorts of programs, and perhaps most importantly, you have a choice in which ones get funded. The longer you wait, the less choice you will have, as that's just the way that these things work. The page currently shows that 77% of funding has been received for this goal - $19,412 out of $25,000. In other words, there's plenty of donating left to go (and I'm sure they will accept donations after the goal is met), but the choices may be getting fewer and far between as we reach the finish line next week.

This checkpoint was delayed not by more broadband delays, (those have finally been fixed), but by the camera acting up. In fact, it still is, so the picture just doesn't look very good. I'll have to do some practicing with it to see if I can figure out what is happening. Now that the broadband is restored, I'll probably have to go out and get a new camera.

Anyway - since last week, you can see (picture below) that the mustache continues to come in. I did have to make a slight adjustment to the rules. Mustaches for Kids - the official organization, I mean - doesn't allow any additional facial hair, and you can't really tell from my less-than-focused picture, but I had to leave a bit of a soul patch this week, because of a small shaving mishap last week.

I'm a little delayed in posting this, due to my continued broadband troubles. But better late than never, right?

In any case, the 2007 Mustaches for Kids event continues. After the kickoff last week, I now have a one-week growth of pure, corner-to-corner goodness. Or badness, I suppose - depending on whether or not you like mustaches. But regardless, it's here and it's growing. If you'd like to join in the fun, it's not too late - there are still three checkpoints to go. Well, there are two checkpoints and then the final Sweetest Stache Competition, which isn't so much a checkpoint as a race to the finale before Valentine's Day. But it's plenty of time to get growing is what I mean.

If you don't want to grow, but want to help out, check out the Donors Choose page and choose a cause (or more than one, even). You can do it now, or you can wait to see how big this thing gets before deciding what it's worth.

You may have heard about Movember on Problogger back in November when Darren grew a mustache for charity. He eventually raised more than $1800, a pretty impressive tally for growing a mustache (of course, at least $1200 came from the premium sponsors, who ended up with their buttons on the site - but still).

I didn't participate in Movember, mostly because I didn't read about it until it was already under way, but I did manage to catch wind of a charity with a similarly-odd name, Mustaches for Kids. No, it doesn't actually provide mustaches for kids who don't have them (though that might go over well), it raises money while growing mustaches, and the proceeds go to help kids. Simple enough, right? Well, yours truly will be growing a mustache for the next four weeks to help out the cause.