Friday, May 30, 2008

Jeans named after N.C. places

Found this while checking out a local (Raleigh-area) blog by Lisa. Apparently Johnston County's Amy Stephenson has her own line of jeans. The different styles are reportedly named after places in North Carolina.

"And," says Triangle East magazine, "they are super cute."

Good to know.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quick hits: Wake to drop SAT, ACT; USS Kitty Hawk drops anchor for the last time; and the guy who dropped 'Andy's' theme passes away

Wake Forest to drop ACT, SAT
"In a groundbreaking move, Wake Forest University will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores for admission, school officials [announced on Tuesday]," said the News & Observer.

"Wake Forest will become the only top-30 national university in the U.S. News & World Report ranking to make the standardized tests optional. The policy change takes effect with the freshman class starting in 2009.

"University officials say they changed their policy after reviewing extensive research that shows the tests favor wealthy students and aren't the best predictors of college success. ..."

USS Kitty Hawk says sayonara
"The oldest active ship in the U.S. Navy, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, made its final departure from Japan on Wednesday to be decommissioned after nearly half a century of service," said the Associated Press.

"The Kitty Hawk, with sailors lining its decks, pulled away from Yokosuka port just south of Tokyo to the cheers of hundreds of schoolchildren and the sounds of brass bands.

"It flew the 'Don't Tread on Me' flag, which designates it as the oldest ship in the Navy.

"The Kitty Hawk, the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the Navy, is to be replaced later this summer by the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered carrier. ..."

'Andy Griffith' composer dies
"Earle H. Hagen, who co-wrote the jazz classic 'Harlem Nocturne' and composed memorable themes for 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'I Spy,' 'The Mod Squad' and other TV shows, has died. He was 88," according to the Associated Press.

"Hagen, who is heard whistling the folksy tune for 'The Andy Griffith Show,' died Monday night at his home in Rancho Mirage, his wife, Laura, said Tuesday. He had been in ill health for several months.

"During his long musical career, Hagen performed with the top bands of the swing era, composed for movies and television and wrote one of the first textbooks on movie composing. ..."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cape Hatteras among the nation's best beaches

Last year, North Carolina's Ocracoke Island earned "Dr. Beach's" award for the nation's best beach. A North Carolina beach was not this year's winner (that went to Florida's Caladesi Island), but Cape Hatteras, N.C., made the runner-up list.

Stephen P. Leatherman (an NCSU grad) is known as "Dr. Beach."

"Leatherman, a Florida International University professor ... picked Caladesi Island as the best beach in the 2008 ranking for his annual list, which was released Thursday. Caladesi beat out beaches in Hawaii, along the Eastern Seaboard and in California for this year's honor.

"The runners-up on Leatherman's list of best beaches this year were Hanalei Beach, Hawaii; Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida; Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York; Coronado Beach in San Diego; Main Beach in East Hampton, New York; Hamoa Beach, Hawaii; Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; Cape Florida State Park near Miami; and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. ...

"Caladesi, which ranked second in Leatherman's rankings in 2007, will now be retired from the list. Most years, he has chosen beaches in Florida or Hawaii as the top-ranked. He broke that trend last year by awarding the top spot to Ocracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New life for Tweetsie

It looks like North Carolina tourist and cultural attraction Tweetsie Railroad can be removed from the "endangered" list.

"Watauga County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to spend $3.15 million to help resolve a land dispute that threatened the future of the theme park between Boone and Blowing Rock," said the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"The train runs across some land it only leases and two minority owners of the property wanted to end the agree and get more money by selling or developing the land.

"The Winston-Salem Journal reported that commissioners will spend the money to buy a minority interest in the land and then lease it to Tweetsie. The family-owned theme park will eventually repay the county's cost, plus interest and expenses. ..."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Charlotte named best place in America to live has named Charlotte the No. 1 place in America to live. Last year's winner, Asheville, dropped to No. 7. Other N.C. places on the list included Cary, Holly Springs, Indian Trail, Raleigh and Wilmington.

"Apparently, there's just something about North Carolina," writes Yahoo Finance. "For the second year in a row, America's best city in which to live lies within its borders, according to's annual list.

" 'North Carolina is very active on our radar,' said Steve Nickerson, president and CEO of HomeRoute. 'It continues to get a flood of interest from all over.'

"HomeRoute is the real estate firm that operates, a source of community information and real-estate resources for those who are relocating. Each year, the site ranks the top 100 places to live in the country.

"Areas need to be nominated on the site in order to be eligible for the list; more than 2,000 were nominated this year, Nickerson said. Special efforts are made to prevent spamming campaigns from influencing the results, he added. ..."

Here are the top 10 in Relocate-America's 2008 list:
1. Charlotte
2. San Antonio, Texas
3. Chattanooga, Tenn.
4. Greenville, S.C.
5. Tulsa, Okla.
6. Stevens Point, Wis.
7. Asheville
8. Albuquerque, N.M.
9. Huntsville, Ala.
10. Seattle, Wash.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick hits: Wine and boat recovery efforts

Northwest N.C. grape growers hope this season will make up for last
"North Carolina's vineyards, many of them in the Yadkin Valley, expect a full growing season a year after the Easter freeze of 2007 destroyed 50 percent of the crop," writes the Winston-Salem Journal.

"But the effects of the freeze on the vines could be lasting, agriculture officials say.

" 'We will see recovery. It's just, if you look carefully at vines, in places there will be some that aren't growing quite as strongly as others,' said Sara Spayd, a grape specialist at N.C. State University.

"The freeze hit in April 2007, just as many vines in the region broke their first bud. Grape growers had hoped that many of their vines would bud a second and third time to bear fruit. For chardonnay, the loss was 80 percent to 90 percent. The white grapes were more affected than the reds because some white grape vines had already broken bud when the freeze hit and were most vulnerable, Spayd said. ..."

Monitor in good shape, but threatened
"The wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor off the North Carolina coast is in good condition, but still faces threats, according to a report released Wednesday," writes the Associated Press.

"The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, which surrounds the shipwreck 16 miles off Cape Hatteras, is threatened by corrosion, strong currents, hurricanes, high water temperatures and highly salty water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

" 'For a shipwreck that is more than 140 years old, the wreck is in pretty good shape,' said David Alberg, superintendent of the sanctuary.

"The report found that the sanctuary has also become a productive artificial reef. Black sea bass, oyster toadfish and great barracuda live nearby, and coral and sponges are abundant on the ship's iron surfaces. Alberg said the sponges and coral help protect the ship from corrosion. ..."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Photos of history

Most Americans (and especially North Carolinians and Ohioans) recognize the photo from December 17, 1903 of the Wright brothers' "plane" gliding a few feet above the ground with Orville Wright lying down on the flyer and Wilbur on the ground nearby.

"That picture has struck awe and inspiration in generations of aviation enthusiasts ever since," writes News 14 Carolina's Heather Moore.

According to Moore, Outer Banks lifesaver John T. Daniels took a now famous picture of the first flight on December 17, 1903.

This week is the 100th anniversary of when most of the world first saw proof of flight from Kitty Hawk. It was, after all, five years after the first flight, but up until May of 1908, there hadn't been any published pictures of flight.

Most North Carolinians know the story of the Wright brothers. While the Daniels picture was the first taken of successful flight, it was not the first picture that went public. The world didn’t get a chance to see aviation in action until several reporters and photographers secretly saw a later flight, in May of 1908.

“As far as the world is concerned, the 1908 flights were much more important than the 1903 flights,” said Larry Tise, Wilbur and Orville Wright Distinguished Professor of History at East Carolina University. “Until 1908 nobody had seen the Wright brothers fly and suddenly in May of 1908 at Kitty Hawk, they were viewed by seven reporters who got the story, got a photograph, and sent it out across the world.”

The 1908 Wright flyer was also different from the 1903 machine.

“In the 08 flight, they weren't lying down, they were sitting up,” explained Tise. “In the 08 flight they controlled the plane basically with a stick which would become the way planes were controlled. Also in 1908 for the first time, they carried a passenger. On May 14, 1908 was the Wright brothers’ first passenger flight.”The Charlotte Observer was the first newspaper to publish a story about the Wright brothers flying. However, when newspapers allacross the world published the first pictures of flight, the Wright brothers became instant international celebrities.

Those first public pictures were later lost, until recently.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Horwitz discovers N.C.'s true religious differences

USAToday live blogger Tony Horwitz is currently dispatching his "Live from ..." reports from the Great State. (You can read his accounts here.) So far he has researched the Lost Colony, seen just how rural (and wide) North Carolina is, and his latest installment (as of noon on May 14, 2008) had him approaching a very contentious subject.


"All across North Carolina, there are roadside signs depicting very big men clutching very big pigs. This state may be a Baptist stronghold, but its true religion is barbecue," writes Horwitz.

"There are other food cults in the South, like chili in Texas," says John Shelton Reed, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina. "But barbecue has the most sects, and fundamentalists." ...

We tuck into moist piles of pulled pork, seasoned the eastern North Carolina way, with a sauce of vinegar and red pepper. Farther west in the state, the sauce has just a touch of tomato. Dale [John Shelton's wife]concedes such differences may seem slight, "but it's heresy if your taste strays from the region you're in." John adds: "Part of barbecue's appeal is that it's so intensely local. It's the closest we have to wine, you drive 100 miles and it changes."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sandburg expansion bill heads to president's desk

The home site of poet and author Carl Sandburg in Flat Rock is closer to being expanded. A bill authorizing the expansion of the Carl Sandburg Home Historic Site and a new visitor center there is headed to President Bush's desk after passing the House, according to the Hendersonville Times-News.

The Consolidated Natural Resources Act passed the House on Tuesday. The bill had previously cleared the Senate and now heads to President Bush's desk for approval.

"The Sandburg Home is an important part of both our heritage and our economy in Western North Carolina," said U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, who co-sponsored the bill in the House. ...

The legislation authorizes the historic site to expand on its western boundary if land becomes available from willing sellers. The National Park Service supports the expansion, wanting to prevent development from encroaching on the park. The bill authorizes the acquisition of up to 115 acres. Up to five of the acres would be for the visitor's center and an expanded parking lot.

The land around Connemara, the name of Sandburg's home, is gorgeous, and the entire site is probably one of the least-known of the state historic sites. The home is left pretty much how Sandburg lived; it's a snapshot in time.

Sandburg won two Pulitzers, one for his Abraham Lincoln biography and one for The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg.