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Oct
18

Reuse Convention Begins Today

The Reuse Alliance is hosting the first annual ReuseConex , a national convention and expo recognizing the importance of reuse. Running from Monday until Wednesday (Oct. 18-20) the conference and expo will be held at the North Raleigh Hilton, located at 3415 Wake Forest Road.

ReuseConex is attracting nationwide attention from government leaders, reuse-related product and service providers, non-profit organizations, artists, designers and architects. The reuse movement promotes a cleaner environment and a greener economy through reuse of items for the same or repurposed function.

The event includes a re-fashion show; re-art exhibit and sale featuring work from reclaimed material artists; keynote speakers such as Garth Johnson, author of 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse ; and a film screening.

Tickets are available for full-conference, one day or expo only on the ReuseConex website, or at https://ReuseConex.org/register . All conference meals, sessions and expo hall entrance and activities are included in the full conference ticket rate.

Oct
18

Zombies Walk Saturday

On Saturday at 7:00pm, hundreds will gather on Moore Square for this year’s Zombie Walk . The zombies, in various states of decay, will shamble on a prepared route through the streets of the city before returning to their point of origin. “Arrrggg mmrphh,” commented a representative for the Raleigh Zombie Walk before launching into a repeated monotone appeal to “join us, join us, join us…”

Zombie walks have become relatively common in large cities, often becoming annual traditions. During the event, participants are encouraged to remain in character as zombies and to communicate only in a manner consistent with zombie behavior. This may include grunting, groaning and slurred, moaning calls for ‘brains’. The Zombie Walk phenomenon has become an homage to the Romero Living Dead films, as well as recent additions to the genre such as the Zombieland film, 28 Days franchise and The Walking Dead graphic novel/television series.

[ Zombie Walk on Flickr ]

Oct
17

Outdoor Ice Skating to Return

skating Raleigh’s love of ice skating grows each winter, and this year will be no exception with the return of popular outdoor skating rinks.

Raleigh on Ice will offer families and visitors the opportunity to skate at chopping centers:

  • November 20 through January 2 at North Hills Commons. The event opens during North Hills’ annual Christmas tree lighting event.
  • November 14 thru December 10 at Brier Creek Commons
  • December 13 thru December 26 at Triangle Town Center

Winterfest returns to downtown Raleigh

  • Real ice rink
  • Opening at Winterfest’s grand opening, Saturday, December 4
  • Dates, hours, prices, and policies are still unannounced
Oct
17

Last Comic Standing Coming to Memorial

lcsfinal On October 29 the Last Comic Standing tour comes to Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. The event includes winner Felipe Esparza, and finalists Tommy Johnagin, Myq Kaplan, Roy Wood Jr. and Mike Destafano. Tickets are available online.

Oct
17

Time Warner Rolling Out More HD Channels

Time Warner Cable customers in the area recently got a notice that more lesser-viewed channels will be shifted over to the sluggish SDV tuning method. This move opens up bandwidth to add more channels, however, and they will be rolled out over the next month.

On 10/20:

  • Wize Buys (376) will be replaced by Liquidation
  • Art & Coin Network Channel 377 will be replaced by Black Shopping Channel
  • Cornerstone TV Channel 380 will be replaced by Shop Zeal 3

To be added 11/4:

  • WEPX HD (1155)
  • Comedy Central HD (1304)
  • Hallmark Channel HD (1218)
  • MTV HD (1450)
  • Nickelodeon HD (1205)
  • Spike TV HD (1310)
  • Nat Geo Wild HD (1254)
  • DIY HD (1356)
  • NHL Network HD (1526)
  • Showtime On Demand HD (1762)

On 11/10:

  • Primetime HD On Demand Channel 1195 will be available as a Free On Demand service.  Also, on this date, programming from CBS and NBC will move from HD Showcase On Demand to Primetime HD On Demand.

To Be Added 11/23:

  • HSN HD (1371)
  • QVC HD (1370)
  • BET HD (1308)
  • VH1 HD (1454)
  • The Hub HD (1211)
  • Cooking Channel HD (1353)
  • Disney XD HD (1202)
  • Fox Soccer Plus HD (1536)
  • Smithsonian On Demand HD (TBD)

Gogoraleigh’s TWC Channel Guide

Of course, Time Warner has an html channel guide as well as a printable channel guide (.pdf), but they didn’t fill my needs. Instead I created a Google Spreadsheet with the channel lineups . From this I can select channels to skip and see more per page than TWC’s. It is a powerful tool for setting up a Windows Media Center, TiVo, or Sage setup with Raleigh’s Time Warner Cable service (and believe me, bringing your own hardware to the table is essential to making Time Warner’s service enjoyable)

Oct
14

State Fair Opens (kind of) Today

2010-10-12_11-05-01_369 Today at 3pm the doors open for the N.C. State Fair’s preday. It also stands as the last day to get drastically discounted advance tickets for admission and rides (Ride tickets are 56-cents each in advance, and go up to $1 once the fair opens.). The fair also features nightly concerts which require a modestly priced special ticket to get in. (Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin are sold out, but tickets are still available for Danny Gokey, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Darius Rucker, and six others.

Food

While the State Fair is not my favorite food event of the year, there are several items to which I am look forward, including Cary Methodist Church brunswick stew and ham biscuits, Al’s French Fries, and N.C. State ice cream. The big new items people are talking about are Krispy Kreme hamburgers, Deep-fried Chips Ahoy, Deep-fried Honey Buns, and Kool Aid pickles. All of these are available at Murphy House Concessions next to the grandstand and the 1815 Grille. A complete list of new foods is available. These freak-show foods aren’t what really excite me, though. I’d rather find some neat marinated meats cooked in a pit or over coals. I’ve always wanted to run either a kebab truck, a pizza in a cup truck, or a soup truck, (but it will never happen). Nevertheless, I am looking forward to Deep Fried Bacon & Cheese Mashed Potatoes Bites, Café Du Monde Beignets, AND Crawfish Etoufee. All three will apparently be between the Grandastand Entrance, and the Grandstand Restrooms.

In your search for food, the new Food Finder at the State Fair’s website looks like a good resource.

Navigation

2010-10-12_11-10-42_94 I’ll be heading out there on Monday, sending Twitter updates as I go, using the hashtag #ncstatefair. Feel free to comment on your great finds here, and be as specific as you can about the location. For too many years people have said that some neat attraction was “near a sign that says pizza” or “near Dorton Arena”. Because these vague directions only leave me frustrated, I wrote the fair a month ago asking for a signage system.

To me the easiest solution would be to name the four or five zones of the fairgrounds and assign them colors. Take a look at these three maps:

Notice how the theme parks have assigned names and colors to their regions. The fairgrounds definitely has at least five regions:

  1. the old midway, expo building, Graham building
  2. the kiddieland midway and old expo buildings
  3. the area next to the Scott Building extending back to the pig raceway
  4. the new midway
  5. The Village of Yesteryear, the flower show, lake, grist mill, etc.

Each of these areas could be named after a part of the state or a piece of our history. Zone names could be something like: Piedmont, Appalachian, Coastal, Banks, Croatan, Dare, etc. Then do what Disney did: assign colors to those zones on the maps, and put up signs at the
entrance/exits of these zones.

Now, to keenly address the original problem: put up signs on the existing light poles with numbers, perhaps, so that people can say "The best corn dog at the fair is BETWEEN lightpoles 12 and 7, in the Piedmont area", or "between lightpole 9 and Gate 6 in the Mountain area". That way people have pinpoint markers to plot where they are. Meet me at lightpole #12 at 3pm…. Of course, the numbers should be mounted high enough to be seen for a couple of Fair blocks and should match the color of that zone on the map.

Eventually formal gateways could be added to signify the entrances to certain zones, but for now, colors on the lightpoles would suffice. Poles with numbers could also be mounted on the corners of some buildings, light the restaurant row, for added distinction.

Rides

The new big ride Powers Great American Midways is bringing to the fair is The Fighter (Midway near Gate 10). Only two of these rides exist on the planet, and I will admire from afar. They will also be bringing new children’s rides Ships Ahoy (Kiddieland), the Monster Trucks (Scott Building Midway). Many impressive old favorites will return including Vertigo , the RC-48 roller coaster (the largest traveling coaster in the world). the Vortex , the S 2010-10-12_11-05-20_285 uper Shot , the Claw , the Mind Blaster , the Zipper , and many more.

A full, but tentative, list of rides is posted at the State Fair’s website. The list includes the number of tickets needed and the ride’s general location, too.

Transportation

The best times to go to the fair are Monday and Tuesday, and it isn’t even close. The crowds are very manageable, parking is better, and the ride times are decidedly longer. As far as parking goes, We have found success parking in the weekday afternoons on Beryl Road (access from the Waffle House on Hillsborough St.), but the Carter-Finley lot is a sure bet and has a dramatic entrance.

In order to get by with the least amount of walking, however, ride the CAT bus. Routes run from downtown, the Raleigh Trader Joe’s area, WakeMed Soccer Park, RTP, downtown Durham, Garner, and Chapel Hill. Fare is $4 round trip, and the bus stop at the fairgrounds is at Gate #1 (at the edge of the Education Building).

Maps

Several maps exist of the fairgrounds:

Schedule

I am not able to provide a Google Calendar for all of the events going on at the fair this year, but the fair has printed an excellent booklet with the schedule included, and they are available at all of the entrances to the fairgrounds. That same schedule, however, is available online in html format , PDF format , and via the mobile platform apps.

Apps

While the NC State Fair has done a wonderful job with their website, they have also done an admirable job reaching out to new platforms with mobile apps which include event schedules, maps, news, and more:

QR_NCFair

Oct
12

Belk Undergoes Makeover

belk The only constant in life, is change. There is no better proof than what happened today at the Crabtree Hudson Belk. As detailed in last Sunday’s News & Observer, the entire Belk chain is executing an image overhaul, and this means two things: standardization of the name and changing the logo.

The article detailed how Belk is going for a more modern image by retiring the scripted font and replacing it with a sans serif, all lowercase font. While one of the first new signs was installed last week at Crabtree and I had a chance to discuss it with the installers. The new logo does convey a radically different image for the store, however perhaps more intriguing is the sign technology itself. The second featured photo is a closeup of the “b” and it reveals that the sign’s surface is actually a sea of LED lights. The new Golden Corral on Glenwood features a highlight stripe on the building consisting of yellow LEDs, but their actual sign is still neon. Belk’s is the first such LED sign that I’ve seen in the Raleigh area, and I look forward to seeing it at night.

2010-10-06_18-10-06_612 2010-10-06_18-12-25_697

Another major change that will be difficult to accept is the disappearance of the “Hudson” name from the area stores. Several decades ago Charlotte-based Belk bought several local department stores in the region, but allowed their local flavors to remain. For many years Karl Hudson and his family ran the Triangle area stores and did a fine job. Mr. Hudson died about a decade ago and the rest of the family sold their interest, so the Hudson name has been a non-functional relic; a vestigial reminder of the store that once had fabric, toy, electronic, and furniture departments worth visiting.

The new-look “belk” signs aren’t the only recent addition to the walls of the Crabtree Belk store: 5 banners featuring major works displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The banners are gorgeous, and a significant amount of warmth compared the the building’s beige brick facade. I’m also struck by the selection of the works. They all are classic, but show five extremely different styles of painting, yet as a collection, the colors blend well as a set. This is a real treat for those going to dine at Brio, Fleming’s, or McCormick & Schmick’s.

2010-10-12_12-12-06_533

Oct
12

EPA Considering Drastic Laws

Carolina Journal has an article revealing some disturbing concepts being considered by the EPA. In an effort to reduce coarse particulate matter in the air, the agency is contemplating a ban on all grills and smokers. They also aim to limit dust production by farmers. Some even suggest that all dirt roads be paved in order to reduce the travel of particulate matter to ditches and streams. (Keep in mind while reading the article that our mental hospitals have gotten smaller through the years, not bigger)

Oct
05

Stone Temple Pilots Concert Postponed

Just a simple reminder: tonight’s Stone Temple Pilots concert at The Walt has been rescheduled for October 19. After a bizarre onstage rant a couple of weeks ago, the band decided to take a week off and resume the tour later this week.

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