General cool stuff to do in Durham, NC, during ScienceOnline'09

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Bora/Coturnix has a nice post up this morning on science and nature things to do around the Research Triangle area for those of you coming to the area and staying before and/or after.

While Bora resides in Chapel Hill, I take personal pride in singing the praises of Durham, the sometimes-maligned apex of the scalene triangle that comprises, well, the Research Triangle (the third point being Raleigh, the state capital).

Since the unconference is being held at the Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park (80% of which is actually in Durham), here are two of the most valuable resources I use:

We Love Durham - This is a great site that has accumulated all sorts of information about anything you'd ever want to do while visiting or living here.

Carpe Durham - The Duke University School of Law counts among its noted alumni Richard Nixon, Kenneth Starr and, most recently, 2001 grad Tucker Max. To redeem the sullied reputation of this otherwise fine institution, several current Duke law students and some friends made a deal to eat at every non-chain restaurant and food vendor in town and blog about their experiences. The local Independent Weekly ran a nice story on these bloggers back in September and I greatly admire their mission:

"We somehow started discussing, in the basement of the law school, how awesome taquerias were, followed by throwing around the names of hole-in-the-wall places we liked," says Andrew Prins. "We decided our goal was to eat at every non-chain restaurant in Durham at least once before we left the area. We haven't quite gotten there yet, but we have made great progress."

Why do they do this? "We want to expand people's minds," says Sarah Ribstein. "Well, at least their food horizons. Also encourage a closer relationship with Durham, which we love. I have been to parts of Durham that I probably wouldn't have thought to explore if not for the blog. Meeting the proprietors of small businesses, who are always friendly and psyched to see new faces and explain their foods to us, has made me feel much more connected to Durham."

After they find a place they love, they want to make sure it stays around. "If no one is going out and supporting my favorite random taco stand or Asian noodle restaurant, then they may not be able to stay afloat," says Talia Wenzel.

Finally, for those of you staying the headquarters hotel, the Radisson RTP, you'll be smack in the middle of Research Triangle Park - here is a map (PDF) showing you the amazing density of research and technology companies, non-profits, and federal entities including a big U.S. EPA office and the southern offshoot of NIH, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

While we won't be facing blizzard conditions from the Alberta clipper coming across the northern US, it looks as though we'll be facing our coldest weather of the year just in time for ScienceOnline'09. In Denver, we'd call this "Stock Show weather" in honor of the truly buttass cold temps around the timing of the currently ongoing National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.

Perhaps Triangle folk could start calling this "Science Bloggers' weather."

Photo credit: Electric sign (c. 1918) for the North Carolina Postcards section of the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The superb preservation blog, Endangered Durham, tells the story of this electric sign, erected on 15 December 1913, by the Durham Traction Co (later Duke Power).

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For some reason, I'm not real concerned about the weather

Well then, bring bathing suits!

I'm hoping the weather doesn't wreak havoc on travel plans. Looking forward to seeing y'all.

For sci-fi/horror fans, The Carolina Theater in Durham will be showing John Carpenter's "The Thing" on the night of the 16th.

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