Mailbag: Top 15 electronic letters on lasagna, red light cameras, nonprofit analysis, Katie’s hair and more

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This is part of an ongoing series titled Mailbag, items readers submit via email or our feedback form (not social media, everybody already sees that). We get a ton of feedback — this is not close to everything (it’s about 5%), but it’s a good sample.


“Katie, from one curly haired gal to another, what product do you use to tame the beast? My hair gets “used” to any product I use and about halfway through any given product, I’m right back to a frizzy mess. Please enlighten me on your secrets!” – A

Katie: “I’m actually not product loyal at all. I buy whatever shampoo/conditioner is cheap and not tested on animals and don’t use any leave-in product. It’s all technique — never brush, condition excessively, dry upside down with a diffuser.”

In response to: SouthPark, get ready to crush Living Burritos. Living Kitchen is expanding into former Zebra space.

“I’ve had the lasagna from Mama Ricotta’s and I’ve had the lunasagna from Living Kitchen and I have to encourage you to try the lunasagna ASAP. It satisfies your Italian craving while also making you feel healthy and you don’t even have to feel guilty for finishing your plate… win am I right? Also, Open Kitchen’s lasagna is much better than Mama Ricotta’s. Mama Ricotta’s tastes too sweet for me, maybe the tomato sauce? I’d like to see some lasagna analysis for Open Kitchen vs. Mama Ricotta’s. You’re either one or the other if you’re a CLT native. #TeamOpenKitchen #TeamLunasagna #TeamFood Happy eating, Ted.” – M

In response to: I moved to Charlotte from Atlanta 6 months ago, and this is my initial reaction

“I COMPLETELY AGREEEE AND I’M NOT EVEN FROM ATLANTA!! I’m from Dallas, Texas and lived there all my life. Dallas has the same issues as Atlanta. We moved to CLT to get away from the sprawling area and credit card millionaires (or wanna be Richie Rich) we picked CLT because it was a big city feel with a more home town vibe. Love it here and hope that CLT doesn’t turn into Atlanta or Dallas for that matter!! I’ll always be a Texans though….can’t forget where you came from! #gocowboys” – A

In response to: Do Charlotteans want to bring back red light cameras?

“Yes, two thumbs up on bringing back the red light cameras! I’ve lived in a dozen cities and I’ve never seen anything like Charlotte when it comes to blatant disregard for red lights. So dangerous, especially for newbies and out of towners who don’t know to look both ways before proceeding through a green light. It’s almost comical.” – P

“Red light cameras? Hell yes, bring them back but make sure the jerks who believe red is a mere suggestion to stop get hammered with tickets they deserve!” – D

In response to: Here’s what it’s like to be inside a North Carolina legislative ambush

“I’m a Republican and am so embarrassed by ‘our’ representation in Raleigh.” – M

In response to: Rent or buy in Charlotte? I choose rent.

“You said, ‘Would it make better financial sense for us to buy a home at this point? Yes.’ But No! It wouldn’t. Everyone assumes that owning makes more financial sense. It did back in the middle of the last century. It doesn’t anymore. The thing is, everyone just assumes it makes good financial sense but they don’t crunch the numbers. The maintenance numbers are always underestimated and undercounted. It’s crazy. I owned a home in Foxcroft for 19 years. Sold it and made a killing. Whoops – not true! I tracked every dollar I spent over 19 years. I made a $800,000 ‘profit’ on my house, but I spent more than that on it over 19 years in maintenance and improvements. You are on the right track by being a renter. But you aren’t giving yourself enough credit yet. Good for you.” – J

“As a *FORMER* homeowner I can confirm that she nailed all of the reasons *EVERYONE* should rent. The so-called financial upside of buying can be disproven quickly with even a modest housing bubble. Add to that all the other hidden costs (taxes, insurance, maintenance) and it quickly becomes obvious that rent versus buying is a financial wash… But we continue to believe what the real estate industrial complex keeps telling us.” – D

“I rented for many years and then bought a home in 2004 at the age of 27. I did it because that is what I was supposed to do and there wasn’t a second thought about it. It was at a time when home prices were low in Ballantyne (as it was largely farmland) and I sold it a couple of years ago for a nice profit. Although I could have very easily lost money had the economy been different, in the end, I often wonder how much of it is actually profit. Considering how much money homeownership costs while you are living there, it is probably a lot less than I think (like putting an HVAC system on a credit card and taking many years to pay it off…). People will say renting is a waste of money, but I am not so sure about that. I think it’s all relative and you really have to look at the numbers. The thing about it all is that I was forcing myself to live in the suburbs and that was not me. I wanted so much to get out of Ballantyne. It was all I could think about. So two and a half years ago, I moved to an apartment in the South End and love it. I have no regrets and I don’t feel I am throwing money away. I feel so incredibly free in renting. In the end, money is spent either way, so why not spend it in a way that makes you happy and allows you to live a life you want? While some will argue that I am paying the same amount for a 700 sq ft apartment than I was a 2000 sq ft house, I believe it doesn’t matter. I can understand people typically want to get the most for their money, but based on my experience, I would say that living a miserable life is not getting the most out of it. At this point, I feel like my money is well spent here because I am living the life that works for me. Now maybe if I had a family I would feel the need to move, but honestly, I could make that work up here too. You just have to not give in to what you are ‘supposed’ to do. Yes, it’s probably gonna be smaller than a house, but I have found that I need waaaaaay less space and things than I previously believed. So as of now, I am not sure if I will own again; we will see.” – P

“After being homeowners for 23 years, we are going back to renting. Owning a home as an investment is no longer a viable excuse. Additionally, with renting you get amenities AND location!” – F

In response to: Pinky’s is adding a heated patio so you can continue to enjoy your fried pickles outside

“I borrowed a quote from Pulp Fiction to express my feelings on the number of articles I have to see published in CA that mention or revolve around outdoor eating/drinking spaces – Say ‘patio’ again! SAY ‘patio’ again! I dare you! I double-dare you, *&#%*(@&#%*$! Say ‘patio’ ONE MORE @(#*%&# TIME!” – A

In response to: Could Charlotte become the Silicon Valley of nonprofits?

“People are very generous around this time of year and often sit down around the dining room table to make their end of year contributions to their alma maters, religious institutions and favorite nonprofit organizations, however your article should have stopped at just that. The data about what percentage of income people give and where they give there money is helpful, but it is a little far reaching to claim that Charlotte could (or should for that matter) become the silicon valley of nonprofits. Simple research or just taking some time to think would have made you realize that this idea is absolutely nonsense. What we don’t need are more nonprofit organizations, we just need talent and innovative ideas to refresh the way too many organizations that already exist in our community. There are over 6,000 nonprofits in Mecklenburg county alone, 6,000! This number is outrageous and turns into all out warfare as many organizations, both big and small are cannibalizing one another over the same limited resources. I believe it is problematic how easy it is to start a nonprofit organization – if you wake up tomorrow morning and feel the desire to create an organization to provide leashes for stray dogs, you could do it with some simple paperwork and be receiving contributions to your 501c3 tax status within weeks, those contributions would just be reduced from other organizations who are capable to sustain their hand work. I am in a position where I am able to meet with nonprofit organizations on a daily basis and try to connect passionate individuals to organizations that already exist, and not to create a new organization unless there is a real need that is not being fulfilled by 1,5,10 or 100 other organizations in Charlotte alone. Secondly, ‘nonprofit innovators’ generally aren’t able to invest in fundraising and marketing because they don’t have that money to invest – the vast majority of income that organizations receive is from individual contributions, and more often than not, people want to see their money at work, feeding the homeless and providing backpacks to children, not paying salaries, offsetting the cost of Salesforce or other necessities that organizations need to truly scale up by improving their infrastructure.” – D

“Your article has single-handedly sent my day into a spiral. I read your commentary in bed then spilled my coffee everywhere…thanks Ted. Your article is based off of a survey you took of 21,000 agenda readers…Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley because there is no where else like it nationwide. Where is your comparative argument? Because tbh, asking 21,000 yo-pros if they want to volunteer and the majority saying #same isn’t really getting me there. Next time you use the term ‘must-read’, please use it more carefully. Merry Christmas.” – A

“In the How Charlotteans Decide Where to Give Their Money section, you say ‘the results presents a huge opportunity for non-profits who take digital marketing seriously.’ You sound extremely condescending to non-profits that can’t afford a huge marketing strategy (like the one where I work, for example). Realize it is very hard to get the word of your non-profit out there when you have a limited budget and your staff is already working its butt off on progamming, implementation, compliance, etc. If you wanted to help Charlotte become an effective, organized non-profit center, maybe reach out to some lesser known ones in the community and do an article on their impact, instead of articles about Kid Cashew every other week.” – D

In response to: How University City plans to become cool

“I moved to the university area in 2010 to attend UNC Charlotte for grad school and I’ve been here ever since. I hope it remains ‘underrated’ and doesn’t become another South-End that a majority of us cannot afford.” – A

In response to: Dilworth, so hot right now. Neighborhood goes from rich and sleepy to rich and trendy.

Why not use that lot at the corner of East and Scott in Dilworth to serve as a Green Space? Similar to the small area on the corner of Tryon and 6th (I think?) Uptown or over at the Met adjacent to Vivace. With that area of Dilworth being/becoming so walkable how about a nice place to relax, take it all in, people watch, shaded area, etc.

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Ted Williams
Publisher, golfer, dad and magician (seriously).