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Good Morning America and Chrysler team up to scare you into buying your kid a new car

12 Apr

I just heard this on Good Morning America and had to get it off my chest because it bothered me. There was a “Good Morning America” quick tip commercial that came on after George Stephanopoulos finished telling us about the Royal Wedding. It was presented as a Public Service Announcement-style commercial and features Ann Pleshette Murphy, PhD Parenting Contributor.

“Good morning, America. OK, so your teen just got their license and your panicked. And for good reason: Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. So think twice before you give your child a used car. Make sure you get it fully checked out by a mechanic, and make sure your teen never drives with a cell phone, or food or more than one friend in the car. And what can you do to … to make their driving safer? Go to for the answers.

Then a booming voice comes on to let us know that “This GMA Quick Tip brought to you by Chrysler.”

And then this handy PSA is followed up by a commercial for the Chrysler Durango!

gma quick tip

Why does this bother me so much? Because it’s totally using a fear tactic to market new cars. And it perpetuates this American buy-buy-buy culture that got us into this national financial mess. There is nothing wrong with buying your 16-year-old kid a used car. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. And you hopefully you will take ANY used car you buy to a mechanic for a safety once over.

Hopefully every parent who saw this pseudo PSA noticed what I did and won’t let GMA and Chrysler scare them into buying them a new car for their teen. It’s fine if you choose to because you want to and can afford to, but don’t feel bad if you pass on the family car to your kid and buy yourself a new car. This is really lame marketing and GMA should have figured out a better way to make a buck.

I turned my cat into a color palette

16 Mar

I’ve been turning to ColourLovers for color inspiration since 2007. It’s hard to stop clicking through palettes because I always think the next page will have an even better one. I recently created my first palette on the site because I couldn’t get these colors out of my mind.

Anyone can do it, you don’t even need an eye for color because I’ve seen some heinous color concoctions. Here’s one I made tonight inspired by my cat, Mogwai.

mogwai cute

Color by COLOURlovers

Ignite Durham enlightens 650 people at the Carolina Theatre

10 Feb

The only problem with Ignite Durham is that organizers are going to have a hard time topping themselves next year. The two-hour event at the historic Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham featured 14 micro presentations ranging from the Lost Art of Political Cartooning to highlighting our year of the Camahueto. Cama what? Yes, Camahueto.

Five-minute, 20 slide presentations are happening in more than 100 cities around the world as part of global Ignite week. The takeaways will vary, but attendees at each Ignite event should leave with some new knowledge and possibly even a desire to right some wrongs in our world.

At Ignite Durham we learned:

* The importance of getting involved and volunteering to help our neighbors. Henry Kaestner told us about a survey by the organization Durham Cares that found 64 percent of Bull City residents did not volunteer last year. He urged us to find a way to get involved.

* You can make a difference with minimal commitment. Another inspiring speaker, Sara Rose, also has a passion for making a difference through volunteer work. In 2009, she founded Change the Triangle, which makes it easy as pie to find time to volunteer in the Triangle, even if you think there’s just no time in your schedule. Her organization arranges a monthly volunteer activity planned and organized ahead of time. All you have to do is show up.

* Honeybees are overworked and under loved. Bee lover Jimmy Chalmers, a powerful and passionate speaker, tells us that part of the reason the honeybee population is dwindling is because some beekeepers are overworking their precious bees. Did you know honeybees need a vacation just like the rest of us? Well, they do.

Honeybees are not created to work 12 months a year. But some beekeepers don’t care. When it’s too cold to keep their bees pollinating, they put them on trucks and ship them to warmer climates. So honeybees have a carbon footprint. WTF, America?! Lesson learned: I will be doing my research before buying anymore honey.

* Skepticism is greater than cynicism. Researcher Tom Webster urged us all to be skeptics, not cynics. My little journalist heart sang because as our world becomes increasingly messed up and information becomes increasingly easy to put our fingers on, I’ve found myself dipping my toe in the cynicism waters more and more lately. His presentation helped put both of my feet back on the land of the skeptics. If you don’t know the difference between skepticism and cynicism, take a moment to familiarize yourself. The world definitely needs more skeptics than cynics.

Organizers Ryan Boyles and Jeff Cohen, Host Zach Ward and Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Sullivan made it all possible, along with other helpers and sponsors. Feel free to give those who deserve a shout out in the comments. I wanted to make this entire post a love fest for all the fantastic presenters, but my cup of tea is dry and I have to go to work.

Thank you, Ryan Boyles and Jeff Cohen for coordinating Ignite Durham. And thank you to everyone else who made it happen. It’s events like this that keep the Triangle cool.

I’ve started a new blog — check out

24 Jun

tfmplogofbI’m on a quest to only eat food from Triangle-area Farmers’ Markets for the next 30 days, and I’m documenting it all on I’ll also be offering updates via facebook. I need all the support and encouragement I can get. I’ll still be blogging over here, but the Farmers’ Market Project will take precedence for the next 30 days.

Two Triangle concerts worth seeing in two days

16 Jun

Two incredible North Carolina bands will perform in the Triangle over the next two days, and you really should make an effort to see one or both if you’re into Bluegrass-ish music.

I say Bluegrass-ish because the first band is Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and while their banjo invokes the feel of Bluegrass occasionally, I really have no idea how to describe their music. But what I can say is that their unique sound lured me to the tent they were performing under at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival this spring. Yep, I was listening to another band and I overheard Holy Ghost’s spirited noise at another tent so I headed to their tent and was entranced by their sound. They’re playing at the Pour House at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 17. Tickets are $8, which is an amazing deal b/c I’m pretty sure this is going to be an incredible, energetic show. Get a feel for them here:

The second show I highly recommend you see this week is The Kickin Grass Band, which is undeniably Bluegrass. I first heard them on WKNC, my favorite radio station since I ditched my Sirius subscription a few months ago. They perform at 6 p.m. Friday, June 8 for free at the American Tobacco free concert series: Back Porch Music on the Lawn. Here’s a sample for you:

If you go to the Friday show at American Tobacco, you can turn your Friday evening into a night on the town in Durham. After the concert, you might consider:

* Go to the American Dance Festival. The Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollack Dance Company performs a dance at 8 p.m. Friday based on a short story by filmmaker Tim Burton. The show is across the street at Durham Performing Arts Center, so you should have plenty of time to fit in both.

*Get dinner at one of Durham’s many fantastic restaurants. Perhaps you can try Pop’s now that it’s located in its new home in West Village. Or go to The Federal and get the pork sandwich (it’s not BBQ Pork) and then send me an e-mail thanking me for introducing you to one of the best sandwiches in the Triangle. Go have a cocktail at Whiskey or throw back a beer at The Pinhook.

* Check out Retrofantasma, a double-feature of classic horror movies at Carolina Theatre. Friday’s lineup includes a 7 p.m. showing of the 1953 “It Came From Outer Space” in 3-D followed by a 9 p.m. showing of the 1986 movie Invaders from Mars.

Let me know if there’s anything else cool going on in Durham on Friday night.

No free summer concerts in Moore Square this year

25 Apr

When I was 19, I went to a Backstreet Boys concert. But before you start laughing, let me explain. I was taking two preteen girls, whose parents would rather do anything than endure a boy band show. And, I admit it, there was a time when I was known to turn up the radio in my ’86 Buick Skyhawk and blast “As Long As You Love Me.”

Ten years later, I’m happy my musical tastes have improved. So you can bet I won’t be at the new Raleigh Amphitheatre on June 6. That’s when the Backstreet Boys will roll into the capital city to christen the new amphitheater. Am, I disappointed? Yes. I didn’t even know the Backstreet Boys were still together. But apparently they are, and Live Nation is bringing them here.

I’ll spare you a rant on who I believe Live Nation should be booking. New Raleigh let its writers and readers list their picks, and if Live Nation took a cue from this post, then I’d have a little more hope for this future Raleigh venue.

Here are details from the city about the new venue:

The 5,000-seat Raleigh Amphitheatre and Festival Site is being constructed in Downtown Raleigh on land just west of the Raleigh Convention Center, bounded by McDowell, Cabarrus, Dawson and Lenoir streets. The venue is scheduled to open in early June. In addition to concerts and comedy shows, the Raleigh Amphitheatre and Festival Site will host cultural festivals and other special events. It is projected to attract up to 225,000 visitors annually. The City’s net proceeds from all events at the venue are projected to be approximately $500,000 per year for the first five years.


Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, the free Raleigh Downtown Live concert series in Moore Square isn’t happening this year. I guess it’s probably pretty hard to get people to buy tickets to the Backstreet Boys if some other ’90s boy band is playing for free in Moore Square.

April in the Triangle: Art, Music, Beer, Barbies and More

14 Apr

It was a long winter. Seriously, I think winter 2009 has been my worst yet. I still feel like I’m thawing out and getting my Ginny groove back. It started just before Christmas, when my grandma passed away. Once that happened, I just sort of gave up on all the fun things I enjoyed and wrapped myself in a cocoon with my boyfriend and cats. I’m slowly starting to emerge, and I hope that means you’ll see more of me on my blog.

My sincere apologies to all the PR people and event organizers who have e-mailed me in recent months seeking coverage. Don’t give up on me, just be patient as I find my footing again in the social world. So let me jump back in …

Here are some not-to-be-missed Triangle events that are coming up this month:

* Durham Art Walk: More than 200 artists will have their works on display in downtown Durham on Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18. If you haven’t hung out in downtown Durham recently, this is an excellent reason to head over to the Bull City. Make a full Saturday out of it by starting at the Durham Farmer’s Market, then go across the street to the Scrap  Exchange and get lost in the randomness of recycled materials before heading downtown for art and lunch.

* Raleigh World Beer Festival: The annual event is Saturday April 24, which breaks my heart because it conflicts with my other must-attend seasonal event — Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival (see below). So for the first time in three years, I will miss the festival. My beer gut will probably thank me, but I’m still bummed about it. Tickets are sold out, but if you must attend, you can always find some on Craigslist. I would not recommend spending more than $60 on a ticket — they cost about $50 if you order them online.

* Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance: This four day festival on a farmstead in Chatham County is the only event I can think of that would justify me ditching beer fest. The music — everything from Bela Fleck and Rusted Root to Bowerbirds and Midtown Dickens — the camping, the camaraderie, the yoga, the rock gardens, the Earth Day fair, the games … it’s a blast and worth every penny. Tickets are $90 for all four days, or you can pack up the kids (children 12 and under are free) and head out to the family-friendly festival for the day. Here are details on ticket prices if you’re only going for one day.

* It’s baseball season already! The Durham Bulls have eight home games this month.

* Wicked: The hit Broadway musical flies into Durham Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, April 21 and will stick around until May 16. I’ve always wanted to see this musical. Everyone I know who has seen it says it’s remarkable. You better believe I’m going to be there on opening night. Bonus: There will be a limited number of orchestra seats available for $25 before each performance.

Random free fun:

* New Deal and Barbie: The North Carolina Museum of History has a couple of neat exhibits right now. “In Search of a New Deal: Images of North Carolina, 1935-1941″ is a powerful photo exhibit documents rural North Carolina during the Great Depression. And no matter how the recession has impacted your life, I guarantee this exhibit will make you feel better about your circumstances. After you finish up that emotional exhibit, head downstairs to see the small display of Barbies. “Barbie — Simply Fabulous at 50″ features dolls and commercial from 1959 to present day.

And on a more practical note:

* Shred-It: Saturday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Colony Tire in Cary. Shred boxes of documents for free! OK, it’s been six months since I quit NBC17 and believe me, I haven’t looked back. I didn’t enjoy volunteering for Shred-It, but employees are pretty much don’t have a choice but to sign up and work at this event. The only good thing I can say about it is that it truly is a great opportunity to shred those shoe boxes of bank statements and love letters from your ex in one single toss.

So with that, my dear readers, I shall leave you. I hope this is a true spring reemergence for me. We shall see.

Tips for How to Rawk SXSW — directly from the panelists

12 Mar

The fun, tipsy tone of the “How to Rawk SXSW” panel was set when moderator Min Jung Kim asked how many of us were “SXSW virgins” and how many people where veterans “who are here just to hear what fucked up shit we’ll say.”

Then panelist Jeremy Keith asked if anyone had a bottle opener to crack open his Shiner Bock and fellow panelist Cheezburger Network CEO grabbed his beer and did some sort of trick to open it. Meanwhile, someone shouted from the audience that the bottle was a twist off and Ben whipped a stuffed cat (of Icanhascheezburger fame) at the guy who shouted it. Welcome to SXSW — spring break for geeks.


Then the panelists passed a bottle of Bourbon (I think Denise passed her shots onto Ben though), so be prepared for the uncensored!

Here are some of the tips from panelists Min Jung Kim of , Jeremy Keith of, Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh and Denise Jacobs of

* Don’t just stand next to each other in the bar and RT who you’re standing next to or “you’ll just look like a fucktard.” — Kim.

*Don’t be a dick and upload your 900 pics to Flickr from the night before of people you made out with. — Kim

* If you have mobile wi-fi, don’t hot it. Share your walking hotspot “there is not enough bandwisdth in all of the universe to handle what’s going on right now.” — Huh

* Don’t be a lurker. “Everyone here is famous to exactly 15 people, so just say hi.” — Kim

* You are NOT Edmund Hillary. There’s no need to carry all of your shit everywhere. — Kim

* Don’t be cookie cutter, try to have meaningful conversations so that you can actually remember each other and what you talked about after 4 beers. — Kim (True that. I just met BJ Wishinsky from the Anita Borg Institute for Woman and Technology & learned about the Women Techies United Booth 219 at the Tradeshow).

* Sounds stupid, but wash your hands. Don’t be infectious. — Kim (Damnit, just remembered I forgot hand sanitizer in my hotel room).

* Don’t think you’ll get to see everything. Go through the schedule and note the unmissable events and make sure you get there. — Keith

* is the list of all the parties Keith suggests “hand-picked, curated by me.” — Keith

* Forget about the sponsored parties, it’s not worth waiting in line for free watered down beer. Pay for your beer and have more fun by not waiting in line. — Keith

* Turn of 3G to save battery on your iPhone. Your 2G bandwidth is good enough to Tweet and Turn off Roaming, Wi-Fi access, etc. Leave location services on so you can use GPS to check in. Do plug into the walls. AT&T has lockers so that you can lock your phone in a box and charge. — Huh

* Connect with people. Share ideas, make connections. — Jacobs BUT, as Jeremy Keith interjected, “there are a lot of social media doucebags” … so develop a bit of a radar or a “douchebag filter.”

* If you have any geek crushes or geek fandom, talk to them. — Jacobs

* Go to a panel that isn’t necessarily something you know much or care much about. Also, don’t be afraid to leave a panel if you’re not feeling it. — Jacobs

* Get one full night’s worth of sleep so you don’t get SXSW SARS. — Jacobs

There’s probably more, but I have to turn off my computer now — #alwaysbecharging.

Let’s meet! @GinnySkal

I will not be trying the bus during the Triangle’s “Try Transit Week”

30 Sep

It’s Try Transit Week in the Triangle, which means public transportation officials want people who normally wouldn’t ride a bus to climb aboard.


I’m fortunate to have a car, so I don’t have to rely on bus schedules. Sure, I could ride the bus to save gas, save emissions and cut down on traffic by taking my car off the road. But suddenly this independent chick would have to rely on other people, something I do not like to do. I like knowing that the bus is there, and if I needed it, you can bet I would take a seat. I also have no issues with paying taxes and fees to fund our local public transportation system, even though I don’t really use it. I understand the value the bus system provides to our community and I absolutely support it.

But other than riding the R-Line downtown, I have no plans to participate in this week’s festivities (which include free rides, ice cream and coupons to bolster ridership).

That said, I applaud local transit officials for setting aside time to help bring awareness to bus ridership and encourage new riders to ditch their cars. I’m not sure how much these awareness events have on ridership though. Last Tuesday was World Carfree Day, and the Daily Tar Heel reported that there didn’t appear to be an influx of riders (although, the article notes that rain may have been a deterrent).


Last year, fellow Raleigh blogger Leo decided he would ride the bus from his downtown apartment to his office in Research Triangle Park for one week.

He thoroughly documented his experience on his blog. The self-described “ecogeek” concluded that while it was nice to be able to watch videos on his iPod while the bus driver steered him home, he would rather leave a slightly larger carbon footprint than endure the 2.5 to 3+ hour roundtrip bus ride. He wrote:

“We all live and work in different areas so your particular experience will be different from mine. With that and the experience I just shared I have decided not to continue riding the bus as the time factor is the real kicker for me. The bus is just too slow and it is not worth it to me to ride it for so long.”

Another Raeligh blogger, John, is a daily bus rider and he seems to enjoy it. Best of all, he embraces the people watching and blogs about the characters who board his bus. With names like “Sci-Fi Fantasy Man” for the guy who loves his paperback science fiction reads to “Waffle House Man” for the guy who boards the bus after his shift. His blog is a must read for a snapshot of buscapades (as he calls them).

So if you’ve been thinking about giving the bus a try, this is the week to do it. As always, feel free to share your thoughts, experiences on the Triangle’s bus system in the comments.

What to do in Raleigh this weekend: Greek Festival and SPARKCon

17 Sep

The folks in charge of the 28th annual Greek Festival dropped off some crazy tasty food in the newsroom today. I’m glad they did because I completely forgot that this weekend is Greek Festival in the exposition center at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

I covered the festival last year for 30THREADS and had a lot of fun. I got to see some beautiful Greek dances, sample delicious food (which women from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church make from scratch at the church and deliver to the fairgrounds). Best of all, it’s only $3 to get in.

So last year, while I covered the Greek Festival, my former coworker Wayne Sutton covered SPARKCon. SPARKCon starts today and showcases the creativity of the Triangle through at least 14 different “sparks.” The events are at various places downtown.

Among the don’t-wanna-miss events are: FashionSPARK, which features a runway show from local designers from 7 to 10 p.m. on Fayetteville Street AND ArtSPARK, which features amazing street painting from 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. (Photos from last year above and below).

The Greek Festival and SPARKCon are clearly two very different events. But I think fondly of both of them because of how much fun Wayne and I had covering them last year. I’m posting the video we made below:

The Greek Festival runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

SPARKCon starts today and runs through Sunday. It features too many events and schedules to list here, but the event has a comprehensive listing on this website.