All posts filed under: current stories

No, the light rail was not a good idea. Part 1: Going through the route in detail.

It has been nearly a year since Duke University rejected plans for the controversial Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit, leading to GoTriangle ending the project, and questions surrounding it still abound. To sum up, the light rail was planned to be a 17.7-mile train with 19 stops, and estimated to cost $2.5 billion. Construction was supposed to begin this year and last until 2028. The train had been proposed back in the ‘90s, then fallen out of the political conversation for some time, and GoTriangle, the organization in charge of transit in the greater Triangle area, brought this project back to the table again halfway through 2012. In 2014, analysts told GoTriangle there was room for growth in the bus system and the light rail, or DOLRT, was not needed. In 2015, Duke University told GoTriangle it was not on board. But by late 2018, GoTriangle put the light rail at the forefront again and that’s when this light rail became a politically charged, toxic and explosive issue. First of all, even in 2012, this project …

Why did RDU try to swap more than 300 acres with Umstead Park in 2015?

In 2015, attendance at North Carolina’s state parks was up. The park system was riding on a historic high, celebrating its centennial. The first state park had been created at Mount Mitchell in 1915. At an event at William B. Umstead State Park, then-Gov. Pat McCrory designated the first week of March “North Carolina State Parks Week.” Then, out of nowhere came a bill to swap more than 300 acres between Umstead and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. At one point, Senate Bill 486 blithely calls for 206 acres, the western chunk of Umstead Park closest to the airport — “Polygon F” on the map helpfully provided — to go to RDU. Primary sponsors of Senate Bill 486 were John Alexander, Republican senator from Wake County, Andrew Brock, Republican senator from Mocksville, and Republican senator Tamara Barringer of Cary. Other sponsors were Democratic senator Ben Clark of Cumberland and Hoke counties, and Republican senator Bill Cook, representing the 1st district which includes Beaufort, Dare and other counties on the coast. According to an N&O story from May …

Let’s eat! Making dumplings for the Chinese New Year

Dumplings. You must have dumplings for the Chinese New Year. You can skip everything else, but have a huge platter of dumplings, some dipping sauce, and throw out some thick red envelopes and people will go, “Ah! What a great Chinese New Year dinner!” Just kidding. Sort of. Everyone coming together and making dumplings together really is one of the best parts of the Chinese New Year. Even better if you make your own dough! The conversation around that table has so much warmth. Don’t put in too much soy sauce. No, more than that. No, you’re putting in too much vinegar! Put in another egg. Keep mixing the filling. I love that, the chopsticks mixing the filling. What is it that I love so much about that? The sound, the smell, everything about it. And probably the ginger. This year, when I was planning my Chinese New Year dinner, I went to my favorite Chinese food blog: China Sichuan Food. I’ve been reading them for years now. They really know their stuff. They are …

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China,” bubble teas, and Ina Garten’s lemon bars

Let’s eat! “A Bite of China” was originally posted in July. Here, I’m updating it with some writing on bubble teas and Ina Garten’s lemon bars. Enjoy! “A Bite Of China” There are moments in “A Bite of China” that stay with you long after you watch the show. A mother and daughter walking together at dawn, digging for mushrooms in the mountains of Yunnan. They easily push their sticks in the dirt to gently push up a priced mushroom that sells for thousands in city restaurants. Inside a ger in Inner Mongolia, in the early hours, a woman dips a ladle in milk to make breakfast for the family. The man will herd their sheep on the grassy plain. Fermented tofu nuggets are laid out on baskets on a balcony before they are hauled out to a busy city sidewalk and sold. The most simple yet amazing street food. More than technique and skill, “A Bite of China” is about taste and heritage, habit, livelihoods, the knowledge and skill that comes from working with …

Blog post: Gemstones in January

The quietness of January. You’re a bit drowsy from the holidays. A bit empty maybe. January is a good time to challenge yourself and do some spiritual work. You go out, and the air is cold and the sunlight slants. It’s quiet. The trees are white. In the world, everyone is drowsy and quiet. Back to work after the holidays. You sit at your desk for a couple hours before blinking, “Oh right, I have to do some work.” Or at least, this is how this used to go. A few years ago, I started wanting to get new gemstones in January. I went to Rare Earth Beads in Durham today, the last day of the month. They have a large book called, “The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach.” The world was so cluttered, and I felt so cluttered, I had no idea what to get. Mujiba Haroon, who works at the store, told me that recently, customers have been buying Obsidian, which protects against negativity. January’s birth stone is …

Save RDU Forest: A timeline

An ongoing timeline for all major developments in the Save RDU Forest issue. March 2015: NC State Parks system celebrates its centennial at Umstead Park on March 5. The first state park was created in 1915 at Mount Mitchell. At the event, Gov. Pat McCrory designates the first week of March as “North Carolina State Parks Week.” March 2015: NC legislature bill filed on March 26 proposes to swap more than 300 acres between Umstead and RDU, much to the surprise of The Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves the park. The bill eventually failed in the Senate. June 2015: Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority begins the planning process for its $2.7 billion Master Plan “Vision 2040.” March 2016: Voters pass $75 million bond for state parks. October 2016: RDU holds last public workshop on the plan. October 2016: The RDUAA board unanimously approves the “Vision 2040” plan on Oct. 20, 2016. July 2017: The Conservation Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based conservation group, Umstead Coalition, the nonprofit that preserves Umstead Park, and Meetup group Triangle Off-Road Cyclists offer …