Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick hits: Birthdays, growth, death & all-around nice people

A lot to get to today, folks ...

Andie at 50
"If you're not sure 50 is fabulous, you need to talk to Andie MacDowell," says the Charlotte Observer.

"The model/actress known for her work in films such as 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' and as a face of L'Oreal beauty products for more than 20 years says her life is full, frantic and fun. And she wouldn't have it any other way.

" '(Baby boomers) are not children, and we want to see our age reflected in the media,' she said in a recent interview with the Observer.

"The Carolina girl who celebrated the big 5-0 in April is the keynote speaker at the Dress for Success 'Look at Her Power' fundraiser next Thursday at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart. ..."

McDowell has lived in the Asheville area for years.

Carowinds to add new roller coaster
"A new 'boomerang-style' roller coaster is coming to Carowinds next season, the amusement park announced [yesterda]," according to the Observer.

"The 125-foot-high Carolina Cobra, the park's 12th and second-tallest coaster, will travel the same track forward and backward. It'll be located near the entrance of Boomerang Bay, Carowinds' water park.

"Riders will be pulled up 125 feet and sent down a 120-foot drop, with a 65-degree descent into three inversions, including a cobra roll and a 360-degree loop, according to a news release. The train will then go up another hill, then released backward along the same path. The ride will have a newly designed, exclusive 28-passenger train, the first of its kind in the United States, according to the park. ..."

Chimney Rock State Park to grow
"The Nature Conservancy has acquired 56 acres that will eventually be included in Chimney Rock State Park, the group said Wednesday," according to (who else?) the Observer.

"The conservancy has worked since the early 1980s to protect land in the area west of Charlotte, called Hickory Nut Gorge.

"The new acquisition will protect property between the state park and the conservancy's Bat Cave preserve.

"N.C. legislators created the state park at Chimney Rock, a longtime tourist destination, in 2005. The state has bought about 3,500 acres for the park in Hickory Nut Gorge. ..."

Death of an American giant
"The country's tallest eastern hemlock, reaching to the sky from a cove of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, towers 173.1 feet from its 5-foot-thick base to its last pencil-thin sprig.

"The tree is 400 years old, armored in rough bark, and dead," says that paper in Charlotte.

"Millions of hemlocks across the Southern Appalachians are dying, victims of an Asian insect that has moved faster than efforts to stop it. The trees' collapse will change these forests, from warbler nesting habits to the temperature of trout streams, unlike anything since the 1930s. That's when a foreign fungus finished off another keystone tree, the chestnut. ..."

N.C. residents are nice folks, according to study
"As Andy Griffith might say, we beat everything.

"At least when it comes to being nice," says the News & Observer.

"Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom surveyed more than 600,000 people to develop a personality map for the United States. North Dakotans are more sociable. People in New York are more high strung.

"As for Tar Heels, we're among the 'friendliest and most dutiful,' the study said.

"It took six years of research to reach that conclusion. A few reruns of 'The Andy Griffith Show' probably could have saved some time and said as much. Still, academic proof is welcome.

" 'I'm happy to see that others are learning what we have known for a long time -- that nothing could be finer than to live in North Carolina,' Gov. Mike Easley said. 'People here are pretty cool.' ..."

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