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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 …

Lucia Micarelli’s performance of “Kashmir”

If you can, wait until night to watch this video. This is not just another classical music concert. A violinist plays barefoot, wild yet controlled just enough. Her sound on the violin is smooth, the kind of smoothness that you think would lead to overthinking and coddling the violin. But she is more free, and passionate and graceful. She also plays barefoot, a preference of hers. This is Lucia Micarelli’s performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Pay attention to the build up, half crazed, to the moment at the 2:45 mark when the first note for Kashmir drops. The entire stadium’s soul feels elated. This is the kind of artistry you want to rhapsodize about. Micarelli is one of the young stars in current classical music. Born in Queens in 1983 to a Korean mother and an Italian father, Micarelli began studying violin, piano and dance when she was three years old. When she was six years old, she was a violin soloist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. By age 11, she was studying at the …

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here are 7 movie scenes of love and romance (Spoilers)

The English Patient (1996): “Cathedral paintings”   One of the most romantic scenes in cinema. Hana (Juliette Binoche), a vibrant and capable nurse who takes care of the titular patient played by Ralph Fiennes. One day, when she is playing the piano in the bombed out shell of a building, Kip (Naveen Andrews), a lieutenant and bomb defuser in the British army, runs to her and tells her to stop playing. There might be a bomb in the piano, he warns her, and sure enough, there is one just inches away from being detonated. “I’ll probably marry him,” she later tells her patient. “Really? That’s sudden,” he quips. She answers, “My mother always told me I would summon my husband by playing the piano.” Not long after came this scene, full of kindness and lightness, as Kip gives this gift to Hana of a little grace and beauty during wartime. Before Sunrise (1995): “The space in between”     Thoughts about love and relationships, dilemmas about ambition and family. Celine (Julie Delpy) feeling torn about …

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 …