Archive for December, 2011

County Closings for the New Year

Friday, December 30th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – County Closings for the New YearBuncombe County Government Offices and Buncombe County Public Libraries will be closed Monday, January 2 for New Year’s.

The Landfill & Transfer Station will be operating on a normal schedule.

New Year’s Food Traditions

Friday, December 30th, 2011
ASHEVILLE NC – Discover New Year’s food traditions from around the world.

  • Eating noodles at midnight is customary at Buddhist temples in Japan.
  • A German/Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck.
  • It is the tradition of Bosnia & Croatia (both of former Yugoslavia) to eat what is called “Sarma” or beef wrapped tightly in cabbage to bring good luck in health and wealth for the upcoming year.
  • It is a Cuban tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. The 12 grapes signify the last twelve months of the year.
  • German folklore says that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will bring luck for the next year.
  • Eating pickled herring as the first bite of the New Year brings good luck to those of Polish descent.
  • In the southern United States, it is believed eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Eve will bring luck for the coming year.
  • Also from the south comes the custom of eating greens such as cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach to bring money.
  • One more from the Southerners: eating cornbread will bring wealth.
  • The Southern custom of eating greens can be found in other cultures as well, although the cabbage can take many forms, such as sauerkraut or even kimchee.
  • Boiled Cod is a New Year’s Eve must in Denmark.

AIR Restaurants Closer to Green Certification

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville Independent Restaurants are reaching a milestone as the year draws to a close in completing an important stage in the green restaurant initiative. A significant number of AIR restaurants participating in the green restaurant certification, have either completed or are in midst of installations of solar panels for hot water usage. The installation is the latest step toward a grant project in the works since mid-2011 in conjunction with Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute (BRSI).

Awarded from the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology’s Green Business Fund through a unique partnership with the Asheville Independent Restaurant (AIR) Association, the $258,000 grant will improve the environmental sustainability and economic success of 17 AIR member restaurants. In addition, the BRSI/AIR partnership, a major component of BRSI’s Regional Energy Upfit Campaign, will provide the foundation for Asheville as a Green Dining Destination™ city, attracting tourism and promoting job creation and economic development in the region. The funding will enhance the restaurants’ efforts to increase use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation in support of achieving Green Certified Restaurant® status through the national Green Restaurant Association.

“It is very exciting to be part of this grant and the movement of AIR restaurants to become greener and have less of an impact on our environment,” said Peter Pollay, owner of Posana Café /AIR Board Treasurer and Green Team member.“Asheville has had a long standing outlook on pro-sustainability and AIR restaurants want to do our part to support that effort.”

AIR members included in the grant and working toward or have completed GRA certification are Bouchon, Burgermeister’s, The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, The Corner Kitchen, The Green Sage downtown (Completed), Green Sage south, Fiores downtown, Fiores south location, Frankie Bones, Homegrown, Laughing Seed Café, Jack of the Wood, Luella’s BBQ, Tupelo Honey Café downtown (Completed), Tupelo Honey Café south location (Completed), Neo Cantina, and Rosetta’s Kitchen. AIR member Posana Café in downtown Asheville, the first certified restaurant in NC, also participated in the grant and is one of only eight existing GRA certified restaurants in North Carolina. Four of the eight restaurants are in Asheville, Posana Café, Tupelo Honey Café (both downtown and south locations) and The Green Sage, downtown.

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is committed to the local economy, local businesses, and local philanthropies. For more information about becoming a member, associate member or sponsor of the Asheville Independent Restaurants, please contact [email protected], or visit www.airasheville.org.

Chimney Rock to Host “First Day Hikes” January 1

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Chimney Rock State Park is one of 27 North Carolina State Parks to offer guided “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day. Guided hikes will be offered at 11am on the Hickory Nut Falls trail and 1pm at Rumbling Bald. A trail guide or ranger will lead each hike, sharing their knowledge on plant and animal life and geology. See more details on each hike below.

Hickory Nut Falls Hike

Meeting Location: In front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts at the top parking lot of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

Time: 11 a.m.

Admission fee: $9/adults, $4/youth (ages 6-15) and free for kids under six.

Restrictions: Limited to 20 hikers.

Things to Bring: Wear good hiking shoes with ankle support and bring a bottle of water.

Additional Information: Hike with us out to one of the tallest waterfalls on the east coast—Hickory Nut Falls—at an incredible 404 feet. The falls appeared in the movie The Last of the Mohicans. Stay for the day to hike other Park trails, picnic outdoors and check out live habitats at Grady’s Animal Discovery Den.

Cancellation Information: Visit chimneyrockpark.com or call (828) 625-9281 for hike status.

Rumbling Bald Hike

Meeting Location: Rumbling Bald Climbing Access Parking Area

Time: 1 p.m.

Admission fee: None

Restrictions: Limited to 20 hikers. Call to RSVP.

Things to Bring: Wear good hiking shoes with ankle support due to the ruggedness of the terrain.

Additional Information: This hike will offer some great views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Please call (828) 625-1823 to RSVP and to get directions.

Cancellation Information: Call (828) 625-1823.

“First Day Hikes” originated 20 years ago to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks. However, this is the first year all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor the hikes. For more information on “First Day Hikes” and to find the state park hike closest to you, visit http://www.americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes.php

About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor destination located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species, and the second highest waterfall of its kind in the eastern United States. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com. More information on current Capital Improvement projects at chimneyrockpark.com/progress or by calling 800-277-9611.

 

Park Ridge Pediatrician Offers Free Seminar on Challenging Behaviors

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Board-certified pediatrician and child behavior specialist Charlotte Riddle, M.D., of Park Ridge Pediatrics will present a free seminar “Touch Points: Addressing Challenging Behaviors in Children” on Monday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m.  The presentation will take place at The Health Adventure’s new location in Biltmore Square Mall, located at Exit 33 on I-26.

A kid-friendly activity will take place during the adult presentation, supervised by Health Adventure staff, and kid-approved refreshments will be available for guests.

Though this event is free, pre-registration is required by January 18. To sign up and for more information, please call 855.PRH.LIFE (774.5433).

About Dr. Charlotte Riddle:  Dr. Charlotte Riddle joined Park Ridge Pediatrics in March 2010. She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., and completed her residency in Pediatrics at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville, Va.  At Greenville Children’s Hospital, Dr. Riddle also pursued specialty training in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, which included treating children with special needs, such as Autism, ADHD and developmental delays. She is board-certified in Pediatrics. For more information and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Riddle, please call Park Ridge Pediatrics at 828.650.8032.

About Park Ridge Health:

Park Ridge Health was built by Henderson County residents, and more than 100 years later, they are still a beloved piece of the growing community’s health care network – providing quality, compassionate care in a Christian environment. In 1986, Park Ridge partnered with Adventist Health System, joining more than 43 exceptional not-for-profit community hospitals in the U.S., and leading the way in many medical firsts for the region.  For more information about Park Ridge Health or to find a physician, please visit parkridgehealth.org or call 855.PRH.LIFE (774-5433).

Health Adventure Offers Tai Chi for Seniors

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – A group of Hendersonville-area seniors are moving their way to better health through a free class offered at the Edneyville Community Center.  Jenny Mercer, a health and science educator at The Health Adventure, has been teaching “Tai Chi for Arthritis” since November.

“This group is so dedicated,” Mercer said. “They practice on their own time, and they come every week. Their dedication is really evidenced by their improvement.”

Such improvements include better posture, improved flexibility and less pain. The Arthritis Foundation recommends Tai Chi as a “safe, easy to learn and suitable” exercise for arthritis sufferers. The gentle exercises involved in Tai Chi have been shown to reduce risk of falling in older adults, improve muscle strength, and help calm and focus the brain.

“Tai Chi for Arthritis” is taking place at the Edneyville Community Center on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9:30 a.m. through January 6.

Ongoing classes for seniors offered by The Health Adventure include “Tai Chi Tuesdays,” “Fit Fridays” and “Mmm Good Mondays.” To find out more, please contact Jenny Mercer at 828.665.2217, ext. 325.

About The Health Adventure:

Since 1968, The Health Adventure has been an important part of the community and has provided much needed health and science education to children and families. The Health Adventure is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers.  For more information visit thehealthadventure.org, and visit them at their new location in The Biltmore Square Mall – I-26, Exit 33, in Asheville.

About Park Ridge Health:

Park Ridge Health was built by Henderson County residents, and more than 100 years later, they are still a beloved piece of the growing community’s health care network – providing quality, compassionate care in a Christian environment. In 1986, Park Ridge partnered with Adventist Health System, joining more than 43 exceptional not-for-profit community hospitals in the U.S., and leading the way in many medical firsts for the region.  For more information about Park Ridge Health or to find a physician, please visit parkridgehealth.org or call 855.PRH.LIFE (774-5433).

City Offices Closed Dec. 26, 27 and Jan. 2

Monday, December 26th, 2011

ASHEVILLE – Asheville city government offices will be closed Dec. 26, 27 and Jan. 2.

Garbage and recycling collection will occur Dec. 26, 27 and Jan. 2 following the normal schedule.  Residents are asked to have items placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on collection days.  To view collections schedules for the sanitation division visit: www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation.

Transit operations will be closed on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.  For more information about Asheville Transit, call 253-5691, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.ashevilletransit.com.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and Jan. 1.  For hours of operation and other information about the WNC Nature Center visit http://wncnaturecenter.com/.

Many recreation centers have adjusted holiday hours.  For a full listing of closings and special hours of operation visit  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/ParksRecreation.aspx.

All public safety services, including police, fire and emergency response, will operate according to normal schedule – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – during the holiday.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

Monday, December 26th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Christmas trees will be collected by the City according to the regular brush collection schedule. Residents are asked to remove lights, tinsel, ornaments, and stands prior to placing the trees to the curb for collection.

Residents can also drop off Christmas trees for recycling at the Buncombe County Landfill located at 81 Panther Branch Road and at private yard waste facilties.

Residents wishing to dispose of artificial Christmas trees should call (828) 251-1122 to request collection.

WCU Pat Passlof Art Exhibit

Monday, December 26th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – The work of late painter Pat Passlof will be the focus of a joint exhibition of the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University and Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville from Thursday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, May 27.

“Morgan’s Window” (oil on linen, 36 inches by 27 inches, 1957), is part of an exhibit of work at WCU by the late painter Pat Passlof.

“Pat Passlof: Selections 1948-2011” will occupy space in the two venues simultaneously and will feature a selection of 50-60 paintings by Passlof, representing more than 60 years of her career. This long-planned retrospective is among the first since Passlof’s death from cancer in November at the age of 83. The artist helped select the work represented in the months before her death.

The exhibition will open with a free reception at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at WCU. For this reception, the WCU Fine Art Museum is sponsoring a tour package for individuals in Haywood and Buncombe counties. Patrons can ride by bus from those counties to the WCU Fine Art Museum, enjoying an “art insider” program hosted by Denise Drury, interim director of the Fine Art Museum, and Alice Sebrell of the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Art historians acknowledge Passlof as an under-recognized figure in the development of abstract expressionism. An alumna of Black Mountain College, she studied there during the summer institute of 1948, working closely with Willem de Kooning, Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards and Merce Cunningham. Passlof was married to the late painter Milton Resnick. According to her obituary in The New York Times, Passlof’s “canvases are distinguished by the primacy of the brushstroke,” with the “deliberate, dense layering of paint” making it “hard for the viewer to tell what is figure and what is ground, and the constant, jockeying interplay between the two gives Ms. Passlof’s work much of its dynamism.”

For more information, contact Drury at 828-227-2553 or [email protected]. The WCU Fine Art Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (and until 7 p.m. Thursdays). Admission and parking are free. Learn more online at fineartmuseum.wcu.edu.

Interferometer Receivers Mounted on PARI Telescopes

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Receiver is readied for hoisting. Photo by Perry Hebard.ASHEVILLE NC – Installation Caps Six-Year Project by Scientists and Students at UNC Asheville, Furman University and PARI, to Design and Build Equipment that will Detect Rarely Observed Events in Space.  Six years of design, engineering and computer programming were brought to a climax this week with the hoisting and mounting of two highly specialized receivers onto radio telescopes at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), in Transylvania County, N.C. Faculty and students at UNC Asheville and Furman University, and PARI staff, designed and constructed this new instrument for studying signals from space. The two custom-built receivers, each mounted on PARI’s 26-meter radio telescopes, will be linked using specialized, high-speed computers to create a complex piece of equipment called an interferometer.

A team led by Brian Dennison, UNC Asheville’s Glaxo Wellcome Professor and professor of Physics, will use the interferometer to monitor some fifty distant quasars for “extreme scattering events.” These rare disturbances in interstellar space distort the otherwise fairly constant signals from quasars and have only been detected about a dozen times. Dennison was part of a group of scientists that first discovered this rare phenomenon 25 years ago. Securing a series of grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $1 million, Dennison led the effort to design and build the new interferometer, which he calls the best tool for monitoring and learning more about extreme scattering events.

PARI is dedicated to providing hands-on educational and research opportunities for a broad cross-section of users in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. “This interferometer project is a perfect application of PARI’s goal to have scientists and students working side by side on our campus,” said PARI President Don Cline. “PARI’s Facilities Director Thad McCall, Site Engineer Ben Goldsmith and the entire PARI team did a magnificent job installing these receivers into our 26-meter radio telescopes. It was a great collaborative effort with Dr. Dennision and UNC Asheviille. The result is a world-class research-grade instrument of which we can all be proud.”

The first receiver is hoisted 75 feet in the air for installation. Photo by Perry Hebard.The installation was completed Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 12 and 13. On Tuesday, the receiver boxes, each weighing more than 1,500 pounds, were hoisted 75 feet off the ground by crane and installed by skilled PARI staff in raised buckets. Wednesday morning, the work crew checked the receivers’ positioning, bolted the equipment in, and attached tubing to bring in dry air; a dehumidified environment is crucial for some of the components.

Faculty and student interns worked during semester breaks and in addition to their everyday work over six years to complete the project. Said Dennison, “At national observatories, the engineers have the equipment set up, you take your data and leave. That is efficient but it means that scientists and students don’t necessarily get their hands on the equipment they’re using. Here, it’s nuts and bolts from the get-go, and our students are intimately involved with the instrumentation, which is a great experience. If you’re involved in the design of equipment, you know what it’s capable of and can come up with new applications. It is wonderful that PARI provides this unique environment for undergraduate students to gain experience they cannot get elsewhere.”

Brian Dennison (left) and Joseph Daugherty. Photo by Perry Hebard.Many people have been crucial to the interferometer project, including Joseph Daugherty, recently retired UNC Asheville professor of computer sciences; Chuck Bennett, UNC Asheville physics professor and director of PARSEC (Pisgah Astronomical Research and Science Education Center, a research center of UNC Asheville); Michael Castelaz, PARI astronomer; Don Cline, PARI director; and David Moffett, Furman University associate professor of Physics.

UNC Asheville student interns also played key roles in constructing the interferometer receivers. Junior Mechatronics Engineering major Micah Prendergast worked through the summer debugging the temperature and humidity control systems, and designing the specialized door hinge system. He wasn’t able to observe the installation because he was studying for a final exam, but upon hearing that it was successful, he said, “All of us feel like a weight lifted off of our shoulders, to know that it’s up there. Of course, my feelings aren’t comparable to what the professors who’ve spent years on this must be feeling.” Prendergast will likely stay involved, tweaking and maintaining the equipment he helped create.

Daugherty, although retired, will continue to update and troubleshoot the software programming he created for the interferometer’s computer system. The hardware correlator at the heart of the interferometer system was built by a team at the University of California, Berkeley. It processes data at one trillion bytes per second and has the computing power of several hundred conventional PCs.

Dennison confessed to “only a little bit” of nervousness when the telescope dishes were rotated for the first time Wednesday morning with six years of work attached. “Everything remained perfectly rigid – the PARI staff did a great job.” said Dennison. “This was a tremendous milestone for us. Now we can start testing the system. In early January, we’ll begin the process of commissioning, actually getting the system working as an astronomical interferometer and calibrating all of its properties.”

Once the interferometer becomes fully operational sometime this spring, Dennison and his colleagues will begin generating the data that may help reveal the cause of extreme scattering events. Dennison believes the likely cause is shock waves in the interstellar medium, but a few scientists believe that dark matter is the cause. “If they are right, that would be the discovery of dark matter, which would be a huge event,” says Dennison. “While that would be exciting, I fully expect that we are seeing the effects of gas compressed by violent shock waves such as those caused by supernova explosions.”

While only about a dozen extreme scattering events have been observed to this point, Dennison is expecting the new interferometer to lead to observations of such events perhaps on an annual basis. These interstellar disturbances last about a month or longer, and once they are discovered with the interferometer at PARI, other observatories around the globe will also monitor the event to provide more refined data. “I think we’ll be busy,” said Dennison. “I’m really anxious to get started.”