Hidden City

N&O staff columnist Josh Shaffer, after almost a full day of tour Raleigh via CAT buses:

Once you’re on it for a while, you realize how little of Raleigh you’ve seen. I’ve been exploring these streets for 10 years and I found myself completely lost twice, not a landmark in sight. There are large swaths of this city that only a few people ever experience. The bus will show you Snowberry Drive. And Mr. Wonderful’s Chicken and Waffles. And the little free library on Glascock Street, which offers selections from Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison.

Matters of State

I am the last person who should be writing anything that even closely resembles celebratory talk about the Wolfpack’s convincing 35–7 rout of the Tarheels yesterday. Why? Because I’ve barely laid an eye on the Pack all season. That said, I had a lot of fun watching the game, especially in the 4th quarter with about five minutes left when I finally let my guard down a bit, cautiously optimistic that the game was a bit out of reach even for the quick-strike Tarheels. I won’t lie, I even got a little greedy, practically begging the Pack’s defense to hold on for the shutout.

That was actually the most fun I’ve had watching Pack football in a long time. Games where we execute so consistently throughout the entire 60 minutes are few and far between, especially against our arch-rival1 Tarheels. Do I think UNC put their best foot forward yesterday? No way. To be honest, I was dreading this game after watching the performance the Tarheels put up against Duke two Thursdays ago. In fact, the optimistic spin that Tarheel fans might reasonably put on this is that this was a classic hangover/trap game after beating their real rivals, and of course the Pack would come out fired up with an extra week of preparation for their “Super Bowl”. Sour grapes for sure, but that’s to be expected from the wine and cheese crowd and, quite frankly, I’d much rather have this win than whatever’s next for the Pack. Calling it our Super Bowl is probably an apt observation.

Just a quick aside on the note of rivalry. The rise of Duke’s football program under David Cutcliffe certainly won’t do State fans any favors in the not-our-rival conversation. It certainly doesn’t help that Carolina and Duke are in the same division, with their match-ups having potential head-to-head implications if they can ever sync up their relative success. And on top of all of that, you have the Victory Bell – a tangible spoil for the victor.

What does it all mean about our respective programs? Not much more than what we’ve already seen all season. Carolina has shown glimpses of great football, but they still have a long way to go to get back to where they were headed a few years ago. The Pack’s glimpses have been more rare, but it’s nice to end the regular season on such a high note and so convincingly. Hopefully that victory gave the entire team a confidence boost that will propel them into their potential bowl game and on into next season. Don’t let up. Go Pack!

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

  1. That’s right, I said it.

The Dripolator

During a weekend road trip to the mountains a couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to check out The Dripolator Coffeehouse in Black Mountain, NC. I didn’t stay long, but the Killer Bee lived up to what I’d read or heard about it and I loved the branding so much, I bought this mug. If you ever find yourself with some time passing through Black Mountain, stop in the Dripolator. Great coffee and a neat place. I can’t wait for another chance to visit.

The Band

Perhaps bouyed by what I wanted out of it, I have to admit the Apple Watch wasn’t quite what I expected. I was in the camp that guessed/hoped/wanted Apple’s wearable to be more fitness band than watch. Even with the flood of smart watches hitting the market in the last year or so, I figured all of the signs were pointing toward something different from Apple — Nike dropping their Fuelband hardware, the limitations of battery technology, and the relative commercial disappointment of the existing wearables. But Apple pressed on with their vision, concentrating their wearable strategy on fashion rather than utility (though I expect there will still be plenty of utility … eventually) while simultaneously hewing to the popular convention of why such a device exists. Or, maybe not.

But my hopes are not yet dashed, for there is an unlikely hero waiting in the wings. To my surprise, Microsoft of all companies, released the device of my dreams (almost). The Microsoft Band is Redmond’s take on a fitness tracker, that seemingly takes the under-ambitious do-what-you-can-do-well-and-iterate-later approach that often characterizes Cupertino’s take on such devices. The Microsoft Band is not a bug the crap out of you wrist notifier, but instead that quantifiable-self stenographer in the background, recording your every move (and non-move).

For the past few years, I feel like I’ve been shedding my Microsoft skin, abandoning the 90s dominant Windows platform for the trendy Apple platform. I’m not alone in thinking that there have been a few missteps in Redmond, but in the immortal words of Harry Dunne I say this to you, Microsoft: “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

Photo Credit: Microsoft


A lifelong Carolina fan sent me this piece by Thad Williamson to serve as a representation of his thoughts and feelings of the revelations brought out by the Wainstein Report. The piece is honest, possibly still a bit defensive and deluded (regarding Dean and what he did or didn’t know and the degree, understandably so), and appropriately optimistic:

UNC is still an institution that aspires to greatness, and specifically to the notion that academic accomplishment and high-level athletic accomplishment can go hand in hand. Some of the problems at Carolina stem from the systemic tension between those two goals, when student-athletes are brought to campus without the requisite academic preparation. That’s a tension felt at almost every school in the country that plays big-time sports, and indeed is intrinsic to the current model of college sports.

I had similar thoughts about the program – regardless of how they got to where they are now (good or bad), UNC will always attract a large number of talented individuals, whether they be future professional athletes, doctors, scientists and researchers, writers – you name it. They still have the potential to build on the foundation of historical greatness and, if done right, they can rise to the top, look down and proclaim without irony that they arrived the Carolina way.