Charlotte Diary September 2000

August 29th September 9th September17th October 9th

Saturday 9/9/00    2293


That pool is inviting...The weekend is not a holiday weekend: Sun and blue sky.
The pool is empty. No Dudes or Chicks out yet: it's too early.

"The sun is out and the grass is green, ..." time to get down to SouthPark.



SouthPark MallThere is absolutely no reference to Cartman et al at the SouthPark Mall, Charlotte. The management must either be embarrassed, or don't understand.

The Mall consists of three large department stores, and lots of smaller shop. In the centre is a eatery that's surrounded by food shops. Some sell junk, some try to be foreign, others are really good. I settle for a veggie pizza.

The nearest I get to meeting a cartoon character is a dude (sorry, Shop Assistant) in Sears' video department. He's from Brooklyn and and reminds me of Krusty the Clown from The Simpson's.

DVD Player

From my research at another Sears store the previous Saturday, I ask Krusty where the store's demo Panasonic DVD - LV75 player is.
"Hey, do ya think I'd have a thing like that out? It'd walk!" he barked.
He lets me know what he thinks to the locals.
"The thing's still in its box in the strong room, with a security guard. Take it off may hands!"

I do so.


I also buy DVD's, trying not to get those we have at home:

Lake Norman

There's a large reservoir, about 15 minute's drive from my apartment. Lake Norman is a 32,510 acre lake with 520 miles of coastline. The reservoir was created as part of a 350 MW hydroelectric station built in the 1960's by Duke Power.

(Duke Power is the name of an electricity generating company, not somebody out of the X Men.)

Duke Power then built a nuclear plant in the 1980's. This consists of 2 nuclear reactors, each one producing 1,129 MW. The lake provides cooling for the steam turbine power conversion.

1960's Dam at Cowans Ford

Energy Explorium

McQuire - A Nuclear Plant in the Park Duke Power have a visitor centre, the Energy Explorium.

I am visitor number 37 that afternoon - the place is really deserted! There is one family, et moi. The receptionist gives me a warm American welcome.

This place is geared toward school kids, but gives a good introduction to the nuclear energy process, and how safe it's all supposed to be.

FishermanThere are a several  number of monitoring stations in the area - they do appear to take things seriously.

The centre is surrounded by a well groomed park; butterflies are encouraged; and visitors are invited to fish from the lake, adjacent to the nuclear plant.

I hope the escaping radiation will respect all this P. R. effort.

Green Issues

A Solar Panel lurking at the ExploriumI asked the receptionist if she had any publicity material about Duke Power's involvement with Green Issues, Solar Energy and good things like that. That silenced her for a few seconds - then she hid for a minute, re-emerged and said 'No."

At least they have a solar heated water panel on the roof!
(Note the extra rake provided by the frame - is it really needed at this latitude 35N?)


The Shoreline

I drive around the reservoir with the Piedmont Mountains as backdrop - all very picturesque. I was surprised by the lack of tourist facilities - no restaurants to chill out at on the water's edge. Quoting Sim City: only "low density residential" is zoned around the water front.

I snoop around a partly built, almost weather tight water front property. I could handle this as a second home!

Viewpartly built Waterfront Property

I have not re-touched this image!The actual shoreline looks like this - the nuclear plant is over a mile away.

It can't be having any effect!

(I haven't tampered with the image!)


"Boys Don't Cry"

On my return to the apartment, I start to soak test the DVD player.
"Boys Don't Cry" gets a 8/10.

Sunday 10/9/00    2473

Petroleum Spirit

Gas is 30p a litre here. It's 80p or so at home, and you have to queue for it - if you can get it! And that includes the horrendous exchange rate of 1.40 to $1.00!

Old Fogie

It's official - I'm an Old Fogie. My car radio is parked at 96.1 MHz, local station is Oldies Radio Magic. The station churns out a blend of 60's 70's and 80's light rock. The popular music around here does seem to be 10 years behind the U.K. I'm not complaining!

Monday 11/9/00    2493


RoadRunner ModemToday I get fast internet access at the apartment.

A dude turns up with a Toshiba DOCSIS Cable Modem, a length of co-ax and a splitter. All goes well: the modem is powered up, connected to the Time Warner Cable TV feed. He contacts base on his digital walkie-talkie.

There is a headend (Beast box) that is on the local 'Oaks' estate. This couples the r.f. to a fibre optic cable.

The modem is remotely registered and authorized.

Then Disaster! The dude hasn't seen Windows 2000 before! He knows Windows 98, but 2000 throws him.

I step in with a ipconfig /release and a ipconfig /renew and DHCP does it all!

He leaves - happy to have installed his first RoadRunner on 2000. It was a "big 10-4", apparently.

The bandwidth is amazing! 850 kbps was measured by

I configure my [email protected] email account and I'm back on line.

One of the apartment's 3 televisions is wheeled in and connected with my DVD cable to get the internet audio. I think another trip to Best Buy to get a cheap PC audio system is due.

Streaming video works!

Now to set up video conferencing...

Tuesday 12/9/00    2503


The bandwidth drops really low (30 kbps) late last night, but is back up to 850 kbps this morning.

I check with the dudes at work - this fluctuation is normal. Time Warner have a monopoly in Charlotte - soon to be broken by 2 alternate bandwidth suppliers.

A few reasons why I'm getting a good bandwidth were suggested:

Wednesday 13/9/00    2512My New Toy!


The DVD player is cool!

Tonight I'll be watching "I know what you did last summer" set in Southport on the North Carolina coast. (6.5/10)

(May be an excuse to go there this weekend...)


I'm planning on seeing Suresh in Chicago. I learn about buying flights on the internet. You can:

I book a flight to Chicago on the 22nd and back on the 24th.

Thursday 14/9/00    2520


Means Atlantic Beer and Ice. And cold beer, and decent Guinness down the road in a Irish pub with live music. John acts as driver - great! Lots of talking - difficult in a noisy pub!


Another MakeClean utility.

Friday 15/9/00    2529

Flight Tickets for Chicago

The tickets appear - I'm amazed!


A worker dude says he can get a bandwidth of 1.2 Mbps. Hmm.

Now I hate modems - but at least with the AT command set you can enquire what the bloody thing is doing. The RoadRunner modem doesn't have any (obvious) means of determining its performance.


Saturday 16/9/00    2538


The strawberries that I buy here are like Americans: they're large and look good, but have no taste. (Who said that?)


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