Thursday, February 25, 2010

DT, Laettner to college hoops Hall

The two greatest men's basketball players in ACC history are headed to the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

"Former NCAA champions Christian Laettner of Duke and David Thompson of N.C. State will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, which announced its eight-person 2010 class on Wednesday," says the News & Observer.

"Laettner led Duke to four Final Fours and NCAA championships in 1991 and 1992. He received national player of the year honors in 1992 and ranks third in Duke history in career points (2,460) and rebounds (1,149).

"He is the NCAA Tournament's career scoring leader with 407 points and made one of the most famous shots in NCAA history in overtime in a 1992 regional final to lift Duke to a 104-103 win over Kentucky.

"Thompson was one of the most athletic players in the history of the game and was named The Associated Press' national player of the year twice. He led N.C. State to the 1974 NCAA title and was selected as ACC player of the year in 1973, 1974 and 1975. He averaged 26.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game over his career.

"He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996."

Congrats to both.

Some good news: Biltmore Estate growing, adding jobs

Sure there's all sorts of bad economic news out there these days, but here is some good news.

"Biltmore Estate will create up to 120 jobs with its new Antler Hill Village visitation site, which opens this spring with an ice-cream shop, a tavern and a new exhibit hall," says the Citizen-Times.

"The estate is expecting strong visitation as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Biltmore Winery and its Festival of Flowers event.A job fair is planned for next week while work continues on the village, a 15-acre multivenue visitor site for estate guests that will open in late March, with a grand opening in May, estate spokeswoman LeeAnn Donnelly said."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Asheville, Hickory & Wilmington: Overvalued cities?

A new study that lists the most overvalued and undervalued places to live in America places Asheville, Hickory and Wilmington in the "bad" column.

"A CNN website rating 330 cities across the country shows Wilmington is a bad deal for real estate, ranked 15th on the list," says WECT.

[Click here to see America's most overvalued cities]

While the study may or may not be accurate, experts agree that when you look into the details of how the research was compiled, you can see why Wilmington is near the top of the list.

Economist Dr. William Hall says bad loans are to blame, but also believes things are improving.

"Things are not declining as much as they have in the past," said Hall. "In fact, sales have may in fact stabilize, or beginning to increase. I'm not so sure prices have reached their low point but they are close to it."

The good news -- from the state's standpoint -- is a number of N.C. cities are on the undervalued list. Among those are Burlington, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Winston-Salem.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick hits: 'Blood Done Sign My Name' opens, and UNCG talks drug school

Movie version of 'Blood Done Sign May Name' opens
"A movie about the killing of a black man in 1970 in North Carolina and the trial that resulted in the acquittals of white men is opening nationally," says the AP.

" 'Blood Done Sign My Name' opens on Friday on screens in large cities, but also in several North Carolina cities, including Charlotte and Raleigh. The movie is based on the memoir of the same name by Tim Tyson, a Duke University professor who grew up in Oxford during the time of the shooting and trial.

"Screenwriter Jeb Stuart, who directed 'Blood,' is best known for writing action films such as 'Die Hard' and 'The Fugitive.' The movie was filmed in North Carolina, mostly in Monroe and Shelby, and stars Nate Parker and Rick Schroder. ..."

UNCG's proposed pharmacy school gains attention

"After a year of gathering dust in Chapel Hill, UNCG’s proposal for a pharmacy school is finally getting some attention," says the News & Record.

"David Perrin, UNCG’s executive vice chancellor and provost, told the UNCG Board of Trustees on Thursday that a team of consultants will visit the university March 5 to review the proposal. All are from outside the state and are either current or former pharmacy school deans.

"The consultants will report their findings to UNC system officials. UNCG administrators said they expect their request to be placed on the Board of Governors’ April agenda. ..."

People still flock to remember 'The Intimidator'

I remember, in college, once joking (somewhat darkly, I now concede) that when "Dale Earnhardt dies, all the flags in this state will be held at half-staff." Of course, I made this comment thinking that this would take place around, oh, 2040 or so.

Hard to believe, but it's been some nine years since "The Intimidator" died in a crash on the track. But fans still flock to Dale Earnhardt, Inc., in Mooresville to pay their respects.

Yesterday (Feb. 18) was the 9th annual Dale Earnhardt Candlelight Tribute, and has a photo gallery from the event. This was the first time that the tribute was held inside the DEI facility.

(Image by David Foster)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Favorite Carolina saying?

We were visiting with my grandparents in Clinton a couple weekends ago, and it reminded me of how much I love hearing some of their Southern colloquialisms. It also made me realize that, at least to these ears, a lot of those sayings are dying out.

Some of their sayings I've incorporated -- though, honestly, the times I say them are more to embarrass my wife than to honor my heritage. A good example is after a meal I'll say, "I'm fuller than a tick." She loves that one.

Another one I hear my grandfather say often is "it's raining to beat the band." Not sure what it means, but I love it.

I went to the Encyclopedia of Southern Expressions to see of any others I may have forgotten. (Yes, "full as a tick" is there.) A number of these I have heard growing up in North Carolina and, admittedly, some of these can't be proprietary to just the South. Among the more common ones are:

-Like water off a duck's back
-Livin' high on the hawg
-Faster than a scalded dog
-Skinny as a rail
-Nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers
-Deader than a door nail
-Slower than molasses
-I’ll be there if the Lord’s willing and the creeks don’t rise
-Well, shut my mouth

What are some great phrases and sayings that you've heard growing up in North Carolina or the South?

N.C. icons Pepsi and Cheerwine join together

A frequent Society contributor once lived in D.C. and would order cases of Cheerwine because it was so hard to come by in the nation's capital. Apparently, getting Cheerwine in Raleigh hasn't been easy either.

But no longer.

"A distribution deal with Raleigh-based Pepsi Bottling Ventures will bring Cheerwine to more grocery stores and other retail outlets in the Triangle market, the Carolina Beverage Corp. and Cheerwine Bottling Co. announced Tuesday," says the TBJ.

“PBV has fantastic relationships with local retailers and institutions where we’ve never been available before,” said Jim Leland, Cheerwine’s vice president of sales, “and we’re excited to announce to Cheerwine drinkers that, wherever they see Pepsi, they’ll now likely see us.”

The partnership brings together two soft-drink brands that were created in North Carolina.

“We’re pleased to have the two most iconic brands that are both born in North Carolina – Cheerwine in Salisbury and Pepsi in New Bern – together in our home base, Raleigh,” says Paul Finney, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Pepsi Bottling Ventures.

Raleigh has long been one of Cheerwine’s top markets, said the company, which expects sales to grow substantially with its new Pepsi partnership.

Monday, February 15, 2010

UNCC one step closer to 49ers football

Charlotte is one step closer to having another football team for which to pull.

On Friday, the North Carolina Board of Governors unanimously approved the proposed funding plan for college football at UNC Charlotte. This followed a unanimous approval from the UNC Board of trustees earlier this year. The plan is now pending the approval of the General Assembly this summer.

The goal is to have a team in place by 2013.

“I think it’s important to this community and for the university to get people on campus to be able to see games and connect around something like football,” Tim Ernst, a UNC Charlotte graduate, told Fox Charlotte.

The addition of football is a $40 million plan. Part of that plan would be funded by an increase in student fees, starting with $120 this fall, and reaching $320 in 2014.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick hits: N.C. AP test scores up, solid waste down

N.C. students' AP test scores beat U.S. average

"More than 17 percent of the state's 2009 high school graduates scored a 3 or higher on at least one Advanced Placement exam, outpacing the percentage of students nationally who performed that well," says the News & Observer.

"Across the country, 15.9 percent of students scored at least a 3 on a test in which 5 is the highest score.

"AP tests are a gauge of how many students take challenging courses in high school. Colleges and universities routinely offer students college credit for AP courses on which they receive a score of 3 or higher. White students are overrepresented among AP test-takers, while black students are underrepresented, say data released Wednesday by the College Board. ..."

Landfills down, recycling up
"Want some good news generated by the recession? When the economy shrinks, so apparently does the amount of waste put into public landfills," says The (Shelby) Star.

"People disposed of less solid waste in North Carolina landfills last year than any previous year in nearly two decades.

"On the other hand, residents recycled more glass, plastic and aluminum containers than in any previous fiscal year. ..."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The 'Devil is in the Distance': Urban planning in N.C.

Came across a blog post on Old Cities, Good Ideas from Howard Kelly Manorville from New York. Howard, a recent architecture grad, is "looking for ways to make the built world a better, healthier, more enjoyable place."

This particular post touches on, as an anecdote, the idea of "urban planning" in North Carolina.

Enjoy, and feel free to discuss.

I spent part of the work day yesterday riding to Home Depot with an extremely nice contractor named Jose. Jose is laying tile at the place where I work and he needed to go pick up some more materials, so my boss sent me with the credit card. Jose is a middle-age Dominican man who has been living in the U.S. for over 20 years - his English is very good, and his three children all know English better than they know Spanish.

We talked about a lot of different things during the fifteen minute ride to Home Depot, but one of the most surprising topics that came up was Jose's view on the urban planning in North Carolina. We were talking about how he spent 2008 in North Carolina doing work because there was not much work here on Long Island. He was going on about how much cheaper it is to rent and buy a house down South, but then he made a very astute observation:

"Everyone there [in North Carolina] tells you that where you have to go 'is close, it's very close'. But it's not close, they just mean that it takes a short time to get there. You always have to get on a highway and go 70 or 80 miles an hour to get to where you want to go. When I lived there it seemed like I spent $40 a day in gas for my work van because everything is so far apart. It's not like here."

Jose's comment is right on, and it reminded me once again that planning effects everyone, and that everyone actually grasps planning's effects on some level.

But Jose's observation also nails down a design flaw intrinsic to sprawl that has a cumulative effect on our lives: distance. When we design low-density, auto-oriented places with little regard for location efficiency, the distance a person must travel every day grows exponentially. Even if the time needed for travel stays the same (10 miles in Charlotte tends to take the same amount of time as 2 miles in Brooklyn), the mileage itself is the problem.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Decker makes cover of SI Swimsuit Edition

Charlotte native Brooklyn Decker was revealed as the cover girl for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition last night on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

A sheet was removed from a billboard in New York’s Time Square to reveal the cover photo of Decker in a bright yellow bikini.

Decker, 22, is making her fifth appearance in the SI Swimsuit Edition.

Born in Middletown, Ohio and raised in Charlotte, Decker was discovered at age 16 in a shopping mall. She has appeared in numerous magazines, including Victoria’s Secret.

As a teenager, she ran hurdles for the track team, played soccer and participated in competitive cheerleading. She is a Tar Heels fan.

Decker is married to tennis player Andy Roddick.

2010 Swimsuit Edition | Brooklyn Decker | “Late Show” reveal

Monday, February 08, 2010

From Raleigh to Charlotte in an hour

I had what I called the "absolute" pleasure two Octobers ago to take the Amtrak from Raleigh to Charlotte for a meeting. It was a trip that "did nothing but reinforce my belief that trains should be highly invested in as a critical mass transit option --whether for intra- or intercity travel." The trip took roughly the same amount of time as it would have if I had driven, except I was able to read a book, sleep or just enjoy the scenery.

Well, thanks to federal funding, that Raleigh-to-Charlotte trip could take about an hour. Nice.

"Uncle Sam is betting $520 million you’ll think twice about driving to Charlotte or Raleigh if a train can get you there in an hour," says the News & Record.

"That’s how much stimulus money the federal government gave North Carolina recently for the Raleigh-to-Charlotte run, with Triad stops in Greensboro, Burlington and High Point.

The award covers enough work to make high-speed rail a reality in the Central Piedmont in four or five years, said Gene Conti, state secretary of transportation.

“On the Raleigh-to-Charlotte connection, we’re going to be in good shape to get our average speed up to 90 mph, where we’re averaging just over 50 mph now,” Conti said. “Going from that to 90 mph is huge.”

The aim of high-speed rail at the regional level is curbing highway congestion and pollution, primarily by getting commuters off the roads.

“High-speed rail will provide business and leisure travelers with a competitive option to car or air travel for distances of 100 to 500 miles,” said Joan Bagherpour of North Carolina’s rail program. ...

The route belongs to the national Southeast High Speed Rail corridor, which eventually could extend from Washington through Atlanta. The larger route won a total of $620 million in stimulus money for work in both Virginia and the Tar Heel State.

North Carolina’s piece of the larger award was $545 million, but $25 million is earmarked for the route from Raleigh to Richmond. That route is not as close to completion as Charlotte-to-Raleigh.

“For the Raleigh-to-Charlotte (leg), we got pretty much everything we asked for,” Conti said of the $520 million.

So, before long, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. But don't get too comfortable -- you'll be at your destination before you know it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Quick hits: Charlotte studio gets two Grammys, and deal ends 'Road to Nowhere' standoff

Charlotte studio gets 2 Grammys

"A Charlotte-area producer and sound engineer received Grammy awards during the streaming webcast prior to the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony Sunday," says the Charlotte Observer.

"Producer Cedric Thompson and sound mix engineer Glenn Tabor picked up awards for their work on vocalist Heather Headley's 'Audience of One,' which was named Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. They also received the Best Traditional Gospel Album award for 'Oh Happy Day,' a compilation featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Patti Griffin and Queen Latifah.

"Also, Charlotte trumpeter Ashlin Parker received a Grammy as a member of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The 15-piece ensemble's latest release 'Book One' received the trophy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. ..."

Deal ends 'Road to Nowhere' standoff

"The federal government has agreed to pay $52 million to Swain County, settling a 67-year conflict over a promised but never built mountain road, Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., said Tuesday," according to the Observer.

"Swain County commissioners are expected to approve the agreement on Friday. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Bev Perdue will appear at a signing ceremony in Bryson City planned for the next day.

"The dispute dates to World War II, when the government quickly built the Fontana Lake hydroelectric project in North Carolina's western tip.

"The government moved 600 families off mountain land that the lake would flood. It also vowed to build a new road to compensate for taking thousands of acres off the county's small tax base.

"The government started construction - but then stopped in 1972 - of what became known as the seven-mile 'Road to Nowhere.' ..."

(Sign photo courtesy of Western NC

Update: Asheville finishes third in ‘Most Romantic City’ race

Not sure if they give out medals for this sort of thing, but if they do, the city of Asheville will be getting a bronze in the Korbel Champagne "Most Romantic City" contest. And the AVL may have done better, says the Citizen-Times, had a few more locals cast ballots.

Winning the title was Hana, Hawaii, followed by Indialantic, Fla, and Asheville. About 2,000 votes were cast, with Hana receiving 210 more votes than Asheville. Only 10 votes separated Asheville from Indialantic.

But, hey, No. 3 ain't nothing to sneeze at. After all, Asheville beat out the likes of Charleston, Duluth, Pittsburgh and Manhattan ... Kansas, that is.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Zach G from 'The Hangover' to host SNL on March 6

North Carolina native and N.C. State alum Zach Galifianakis (in the middle of the photo) is slated -- according to his Twitter feed -- to host "Saturday Night Live" on March 6.

Galifianakis starred in "The Hangover," which recently won a Golden Globe for best motion picture (musical or comedy), beating “(500) Days of Summer,” “It’s Complicated,” “Julie & Julia" and "Nine."

(Image courtesy of 280characters)