The Public Library Of Charlotte Mecklenburg County Censors An Anti-WordPress Site


charlotte mecklenburg library Censorship

charlotte mecklenburg library Censorship

I wasn’t planning on writing about my local library this morning but my hand has been forced by their actions.  I’ve complained previously about their Internet connection in the past and met with some results.  Granted that was after literally years of complaining.  I’ve been meaning to complain about a recent experience in the West Blvd. branch where card playing for money (what you and I would call gambling) was occurring, right underneath the eye of the security guard on duty, and how I still haven’t heard back from the library administration as to why this is allowed by their policy. (That was the guard’s excuse to let it continue.)

wordpress™ wank has been blocked by the library.  That’s right.  The leading site that tells the truth about Matt Mullenweg and the sad shape of ethics over at Automattic has been censored by The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County.

The irony of this is that their own blog is hosted on the servers.  That’s right.  The library who last year tried to get the entire Charlotte community to read and discuss To Kill a Mockingbird, a book that has been censored many times previously, as no problems with censorship and racism themselves. (Which makes for even more irony.) I guess their stated goal of “of expanding minds, empowering individuals and enriching the community” doesn’t apply when it concerns a vendor of theirs.  Can’t empower individuals when you deal with a company that believes discussion shouldn’t be open. Can’t strive to make information available to anyone who wants it when that information is locked away behind an Internet proxy.

Getting Paid to Ring the Bell

shirley temple bellringer

shirley temple bellringer

Yup, it’s almost Christmas time again. Where has the year gone? I’ve already started thinking about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army again this holiday season.  This makes the sixth year I’ll be doing so I believe.

And, yes, I get paid for doing so.  Before you get upset about that, I’ll point out that what I make gets used to keep me going and afloat.  I don’t make much during the year and most of the other bellringers, many of them area homeless, don’t either.

Not sure where I’ll be this year.  I’m shooting for the Macy’s again since there’s a library near by and it’s a location I can walk to without much issue.

What got me thinking about this, besides some of my local clients asking about it, is this recent post about bellringers.  The following is the comment I left about my experiences.  I copy it below since it appears to be a WordPress blog and I don’t want to lose the comment due to any Akismet censoring.

Just to clarify, some of the bellringers do get paid for their time.  I’m one of them.  Being a three time stroke survivor, my doctors will allow me to do little physical labor.  While I do a little webhosting and consulting that pays the rent and medical bills, this barely covers my expenses during the year.  I actually look forward to the 6 weeks with the Salvation Army every year as 1) it gets me out of the house and in the public interacting with folks and 2) what I earn myself helps me out greatly.  Most of the rest of the bellringers are area homeless men and what they earn helps them out as well.  New clothes and shoes, leasing a storage locker for a year, a new radio, bus passes for a few months, presents for their own children, etc. are some of the things that these men buy with their money.

Not every market is like this.  They do it like this way here in Charlotte every year because there aren’t enough volunteers to cover.  One a typical day, we have 60-100 spots with buckets with maybe 1 or 2 manned by volunteers.  Saturdays are better but still there’s less than a half dozen groups.

Most folks assume that I’m a volunteer.  Many of the bellringers fool folks into believing so but if asked, I tell the truth, explain why I do so and mention the lack of volunteer coverage.  There’s usually some shock when I first mention that I’m paid.  Either that or an assumption that I’m actually a Salvation Army officer who’s just out of uniform.  After taking the time to explain, I’ve yet have a single person get mad at me though.

I have two beefs though.  The first is the Target situation.  I’m assuming that the company you discuss in your post is Target.  Most folks praise WalMart for allowing the Salvation Army to contain to ring in front of their stores but this isn’t cut and dry.  Five years ago, they were allowed to ring each and every day during the season.  Last year, we had a total of 5 days.  I’m not privy to numbers but this is thousands of dollars lost in their fund raising.  Next time you visit a local WalMart and notice there no one is ringing, please take the time to mention your displeasure that they days have been reduced.

The other beef I have is with folks who brag about their bellringing.  I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had to listen to “I had to ring for two hours three weeks ago in front of a supermarket.” from folks and how they expect me to kiss up to them.  I ring for 9 to 10 hours every day for 31 days.  For my normal spot, I have to go into the mall about through half of it to reach a bathroom.  They come prepared with coffee but mine gets cold after a bit and I have to pull myself away from the kettle to go get another cup.  They spend most of their time talking on their cellphone while I keep mine off so I can do what I’m there for.  They don’t show up while I’ve missed only a single day in the 6 years I’ve done this.  They’re standing next to the kettle having a smoke where a homeless man would be fired if an army officer caught them doing that.  It’s really sad that I have a supermarket across the street from where I’m usually stationed and, when they have volunteers, they don’t put any real effort into doing the best that they can.  The homeless men who normally get that spot outdistance themselves and pull in a lot more money then those volunteers, even after pulling out their pay.


I rambled for a bit.  Please excuse any typos.

Maybe I should blog about free stuff more often


I made it to Denny’s this morning for their Free Grand Slam Breakfast.  It was a hair under a two hour wait and didn’t get any coupon book.  Oh well.  To be honest, the staff seemed to have forgotten the rainchecks until the very end.  And the pancakes weren’t totally cooked.  They were a little light.  But, hey, it was free food. Can’t complain about that. 🙂

I did notice a big huge spike in traffic though.  Maybe I should blog more often about free stuff. 🙂

Free Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s – 2/3/2009

dennys-weekday-breakfast-slam.jpgThis just came my way.  It’s being reported that Denny’s will run a commercial during the Superbowl offering a free grand slam breakfast on February, 3rd, 2009.   Haven’t seen much in the way of sites promoting this and I’m not going to be able to watch the Superbowl tonight.  Would love to hear back from someone if they see it on television.  We actually have a Denny’s here in Charlotte.  Well one left, just north of the city.

Here’s the copy:

Every guest from 6AM – 2PM on Tuesday will receive 1 free Grand slam, and 1 free coupon book with 8 coupons in it. Each coupon book has 4 BOGO’s, 2- 25% off coupons, 1 coupon good for free dessert , and 1 coupon good for a free order of pancake puppies. Each Denny’s in the US received 1,000 of these coupon books to hand out to guests on Tuesday who order a free Grand Slam.

Per Denny’s Corporate every store also received 500 Grand Slam rain check coupons. Denny’s has instructed each manger to hand these rain checks out good for a free Grand Slam to any guest who can’t wait.

Denny’s spent 3 million on the Super Bowl ad, and tons more on a full page ad this coming Monday in USA Today. They are taking this very seriously and instructing all stores to staff as if it’s a major Holiday and for the staff to be as friendly as humanly possible.

Commercial during the SuperBowl will announce this.

And don’t forget that we’ll have iHop’s Free Pancake Day on the 24th as well.

edit: This has now been confirmed.  A copy of the commercial is after the fold if you want to view it.

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2009 National Pancake Day – February 24th


Here we go again.

Get your free short stack of pancakes at iHop on February 24th.  They do ask you to consider making a donation to support local children’s hospitals through Children’s Miracle Network, or other local charities. (Tipping the wait staff would probably also be a plus.) The one I usually go to doesn’t go along with this promo but there’s a couple more around Charlotte that I can try.

Discovered from here.

I wonder if anyone will see Jesus.

The End of the iPod?


Well, three weeks in on the bellringing and I have to admit that it’s driving me crazy.  Not the actual bellringing but having to deal with folks who want to explain to me about how they’ve already given somewhere else or they gave to the previous.  Granted I’m the only one at my spot so I know there wasn’t any previous gentleman that they gave to.  Gotta love folks like that.

I’m really behind on stuff so please bare with me.  On a normal day, I’m getting up at about 5:30-6 am, walking down to South Park Mall which is where I’m currently ringing and having breakfast along the way at either McDonalds or at Eddie’s Place. (Steak and Eggs for $10.95?  Ouch.  It’s been more McDonalds than anything else.) I’m sitting in the mall for about two hours every morning, ringing for about 9 or ten hours and then it’s back to the laptop for another hour or two.  After walking home, gotta keep the doctors’ happy, I’m going to bed around 11 at night.  Kind of tired right now.  Probably should have slept in today.

And once again, I can’t get my paycheck cashed until Monday morning.  I’m itching for a decent meal right now.  That and a Monster.

I did buy myself a little something though.  Found a 2 gig mp3 player at a local WalGreens for twenty five bucks.  Granted I could have gotten it cheaper it now appears but it’s just nice to have.  I’ve been using my laptop as a mp3 player walking down the road with it under an arm.  Probably not the most safe thing to do and charging it is a pain.

But anyway, there’s an article over on Forbes predicting the end of the iPod.  The first time through reading it, I must admit that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  The author quotes a 20% decline in sales.  That’s not a whole lot to me, especially considering that the author also quotes a 10% increase estimate in Apple sales in general.

Then I read the comments.  Not a single commenter agrees with the article author.

So what do you think?  You can get mp3 players for quite a lot cheaper than what Apples sells theirs for.  I saw a 1 gig Shuffle for $50 recently.  That same amount would have paid for my 2gig player and still had money left over.

The image is from the ebay posting I linked to.

Ringing a Bell For the Salvation Army

Shirley Temple as a Salvation Army Bellringer

Shirley Temple as a Salvation Army Bellringer

Well, I’m ringing a bell this year for the Salvation Army this holiday season.  It’ll be the 5th year I’ve done it in the last 6.  It’s not a great job but it;s better than nothing, it helps folks out this holiday season, and will hopefully put a few bucks in my pocket.  We start on the 22nd.

It’s going to be really bad this year and I have to admit that I’m a bit concerned. Wal-Mart is only allowing the bellringers outside their stores for a few days this season instead of every day like they did when Target stopped allowed the kettles. (But yet, no one is reporting on that.  Hmmm…) That’s a big chunk of change that the Salvation Army isn’t going to get.  There’s also five less days to rind as well this year.  Another big chunk gone.

But yet the Charlotte Salvation Army has something like three times the number of children signed up this year over last for their Christmas gift program.  And they’re still signing families up.  We do get some idiot bellringers who steal out of the kettles.  I wonder if they’ll ever realize that they’re stealing from little kids.

And yes, I do get paid. Have to admit that I’ve always been bothered by that as I wish I could do it for free but what money I do get really helps me out, gets me caught up on my medical bills, and gives me a bit of extra cash for the first few months of the new year.  We’re lucky to get maybe 4 or 5 local volunteer groups on Saturday every week that’ll handle 4 or 5 of those buckets.  Of course we have nearly a hundred every day for six days a week.  Without those who get paid, there really wouldn’t be any kettles out there and no money would get raised.  Necessary evil I guess.

If you would like to stop by and say hello, most days I’ll be at the Macy’s at South Park Mall here in Charlotte.  I’ll most likely be on the side towards Morrison Blvd on the back side of the mall.  Sounds like a rather poor location but I usually do fairly well out there.  If you feel like bringing by coffee, I won’t complain. (Cream and sugar please.  Carmel shots would be a plus. ) Have to admit that I’m wondering how I’m going to eat for the first week or so.  Not sure if folks remember but I live off a very small check that I get at the beginning of the month.  I won’t have any money for those first two weeks and, since I won’t be doing any volunteering, I know I’m not going to be getting any food from them.  Not looking forward to it.

The Shirley Temple picture is from here.  I wanted to use this picture but there’s a big old copyright on it with no permission to reuse. Oh well.  At the very least, I can link to it.

You Want Fries With That?


It’s being reported that a child was left in a local McDonalds restaurant restroom this morning here in Charlotte.  Go read the article first and then come back.

Finished?  Here’s my problem with the story.  In North Carolina, it’s legal for the mother to hand over her newborn  child, up to 7 days old to any complete stranger who’s responsible and walk away.

Any complete stranger.

Think about that for just a second.  Now I don’t mind having this law and to some extent think it’s a good idea.  Wouldn’t it be a better idea though for them to hand the kid over to, or, oh I don’t know, maybe a hospital or a police officer or maybe even walk over to the local fire station and hand the child off there?  How about a church?  Or a school?  Or heck how about a bank branch since we’re here in Charlotte?

Nope, not here in North Carolina.  It’s legal to drop the kid off at a pool hall with the bartender or the stripper working the table dances.  Or the homeless guy sleeping on the bench?  Or how about the parking attendant working the booth?  Or the McDonalds store manager who’s trying to get folks through the drive thru first thing in the morning?  Or how about the bus driver? (Actually that’s legal here in North Carolina as well.) The baggage clerk at the Greyhound station?  Heck, Bush is a responsible adult under North Carolina law.

Look, I’m glad the child’s being taken care of or hopefully will be but I have a problem with a wide open loophole like that.  Sure, there are a lot of responsible people out there who would do anything for that kid or any other child dropped into their lap.  But let’s make sure about it, OK?  I would think that would be a better idea.

Image from Calm Your Screaming Baby.

Why I Don’t Like The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County

where's google?

where’s google?

Yes, that’s the Google website from here at the library.  The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County system can’t find it.  The most popular website on the net and their system is telling me that it doesn’t exist.

I’ve been complaining about their poorly setup system for over a year with no response.  In fact I’ve gotten to the point that I’ve complained about their comment form on their site and wondered why they even bother having it since no one ever answers it.

It’s not just me either.  I’m sitting here with three over folks using their laptops and they get the error from time to time.  About 1 in 15 page views on average.  If I turned around I could watch those folks using the terminals hit the same problem.  If you sit here and just do CTRL-F5 refreshes on a site you’ll get it often as well.

What’s even worse is they keep winning “Library of the Year” awards from librarian organizations but yet they can’t fix this issue or even acknowledge it exists.

It’s really sad.