Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sister Act at RCT

Repertory Company Theatre
Sister Act (RCT): If you liked the Whoopi Goldberg movie, you won't be disappointed. And if you haven't seen the movie, what are you waiting for? Infectious fun from the lead to the chorus(es) -- nuns and crooks. Support local theatre in Richardson.









Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton
Amazon
From Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow:
Open quote 

He was the messenger from a future that we now inhabit. We have left behind the rosy agrarian rhetoric and slaveholding reality of Jeffersonian democracy and reside in the bustling world of trade, industry, stock markets, and banks that Hamilton envisioned."

You want to see the Broadway hit hip-hop musical. First, read the bestselling 2004 biography that inspired it. Alexander Hamilton was the most fascinating of our nation's Founding Fathers, having risen from humble beginnings in the West Indies to somehow be at the center of every significant event from the Revolutionary War to the Constitutional Convention to laying the shaky young nation's economic foundation as first Treasury Secretary. And, he also fought duels.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

POTD: Of Vacation Homes and Yachts

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the vacation homes hang precariously on the hillside and the yachts rock gently in the harbor. It all has kind of an artificial feel to it, a manufactured paradise. Or maybe the ennui is just that I know this is the last port of call on a long, great cruise.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Breathe (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Breathe (2017): True story. A beautiful young couple has everything going. Then polio strikes. Then they piece their lives back together. An earnest love story, earnestly told, by the numbers. Nothing fresh here. Still I feel bad for not loving this movie. C+









Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Live Tweeting the Budget Retreat

The City of Richardson is holding its annual budget retreat to provide preliminary budget planning information to the city council. It's all tentative. It's all preliminary. It's all subject to change. Nevertheless, it's more likely than not to reflect the budget that's finally filed on August 10, 2018 and approved after a subsequent public hearing. My notes from the budget retreat are presented as captured in my tweets from Monday night made during the meeting. (No review. No fact-checking. No filter. What I got wrong blame on my listening comprehension faults.)

  • CoR open mic: No one here to speak. It's the budget retreat. You know, the one where surging property appraisals are discussed along with tax rates and spending. But no one cares...to speak.
  • Dan Johnson forecasts a 7.5% to 8.5% increase in property values. Preliminary budget assumes only 6%. In other words we can expect an "impactful" budget for 2018-2019. Each 1% equates to about $1 million for operations.
  • Dan Johnson proposes phasing out short-term debt issuance for equipment purchases. Maybe all that's why taxpayers weren't lined up to speak at the open mic.

Monday, July 16, 2018

POTD: Welcome to Cabo San Lucas

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the pelicans in the harbor entrance welcome cruise ship passengers ashore.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): Ant-tastic. Just kidding. Too many things going on. A house arrest for something, a woman lost in quantum realm, a ghost or something, some tech thieves. What's missing is a supervillain. But nothing is too serious and there is some fun dialog. C-








Thursday, July 12, 2018

POTD: You Can Buy Me That

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Las Brisas neighborhood in Acapulco, Mexico.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018): Wild dinosaurs on the loose, some killers, some not. Erupting volcano. Greedy, evil villain. All the expected ingredients, no surprises. Not even dino whisperer Chris Pratt can save this rehash. C-









Tuesday, July 10, 2018

David Tyson Strikes Again

In January, former Richardson ISD trustee David Tyson sued the RISD over its at-large voting system, claiming it is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). While that case is still pending, David Tyson struck again, filing yet another lawsuit last week.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Richardson's Central Park

"In Wildness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau


In 1851, when Henry David Thoreau was making his plea for environmental conservation in Concord, Massachusetts, half a continent away in Texas pioneer Jacob Routh was already putting the call into practice. When Routh built his homestead on land that would become present-day Richardson, he set aside some of his woods for preservation in its natural state. Thanks to good stewardship by his descendants and then by the City of Richardson, which eventually acquired the land, that bottomland hardwood forest remains wild today as the Spring Creek Nature Area, the city park that one city council member called "Richardson's Central Park."

Friday, July 6, 2018

POTD: Cliff Divers of La Quebrada - II

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico. I remember watching the cliff diving on television when I was boy, on shows like "ABC Wide World of Sports", usually in winter when the sports calendar was limited. When the snow was falling outside my Wisconsin home and NBC was showing something like bowling, I would switch to ABC. Nothing could be more exotic than dreaming of being in Acapulco, Mexico. Now that I've seen it in person, I wish I could tell my youthful self, it's just as exciting in person.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

POTD: Cliff Divers of La Quebrada

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico, where cliff divers entertain tourists by diving from a height of 45 meters. By comparison, Olympic high diving is done from a 10 meter platform. And the La Quebrada cliff divers have to time their dives so a wave below is at its maximum depth when they enter the shallow water. The cliff divers do it for tips. Tip well, my friends.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Flashback Fourth - 2017


A year ago, Ellen and I watched the fireworks from the eleventh floor of Clements Hospital near downtown Dallas. We were hopeful and anxious, as I imagine the Founders were on our nation's first celebration of independence in 1776, when the outcome of the grand experiment was still unknown.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

POTD: Acapulco Bay

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Acapulco Bay and shows what made it a strategic port. It's large, it's sheltered from the Pacific Ocean, it's easily defensible.

"Hernán Cortés established Acapulco as a major port by the early 1530s...Spanish trade in the Far East would give Acapulco a prominent position in the economy of New Spain. Galleons started arriving here from Asia by 1550...The galleon trade made its yearly run from the mid-16th century until the early 19th."

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Repeat Tweets: "The Entire World Right Now"

Repeat tweets from June, 2018:

  • Jun 1 2018: RT @marcorubio: "The entire world right now is in a battle between authoritarianism and democracy. It’s happening right here in our own hemisphere."
    Hey, @marcorubio, it's happening right here in the US, where you are an enabler.
  • Jun 1 2018: Headline: "Oil industry joins with solar and wind industry to condemn Trump admin plan to prop up coal industry by forcing electric grid to buy coal power."
    Picking winners and losers?
  • Jun 1 2018: Talk about meta. Or irony. Or something...the first news article in my Facebook "Trending" topics feature right now is... "Facebook is killing the controversial 'Trending' news section it showed on its homepage."
  • Jun 2 2018: Sorry, @StateFarm. I only buy insurance from companies that advertise on @iamsambee's Full Frontal.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Goliath (TV)

Rotten Tomatoes
Goliath: Season 2 (TV): Plot is a mess. Villain is absurd. Why some people are killed and not others makes no sense. But the characters, especially Billy and Patty, are strong and unforgettable. Patty's speech to her FBI agent date is series' highlight. I'd watch a Season 3. B-

Friday, June 29, 2018

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (2017): Cinéma vérité from Frederick Wiseman. Scenes of program planning, classes, lectures, book clubs, etc. Lots going on in libraries. Maybe too much for a movie. When I saw "Welfare" in 1975, I was mesmerized. But here, not so much. C-









Thursday, June 28, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018): Documentary of Mr Rodgers, TV's original Mr Nice Guy, the anti-Trump. No one has a bad word to say about him, which saps the movie of drama, except late in his life, when conservatives who didn't like his tolerance began to attack him. Sad! C+

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

POTD: The Hollywood Gang Hideaway

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Hotel Los Flamingos in Acapulco, Mexico. "The hotel is located on the highest cliff of Península de las Playas, about 150 meters above sea level." In the 1950s, the hotel was the scene of wild parties with guests such as Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), John Wayne, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, and Clark Gable. It's still in operation today.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

POTD: Commerce, the Universal Imperative


From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Antigua Guatemala. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches."

If you go to Central America, buy something from the hardworking people. They are good people. They welcome us to their country. Maybe we should consider doing the same. Just a thought.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Civil Rights Violations in RISD

Every year, the U.S. Department of Education investigates thousands of school districts and colleges around the country for civil rights violations ranging from racial discrimination in school discipline to sexual violence.
Source: ProPublica.
So, what's the story in the Richardson ISD?

Friday, June 22, 2018

POTD: The Walkable City that's Hard to Walk

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Antigua Guatemala. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches." It should also be famous for being an incredibly walkable city, if you make allowances for the fact that it's d*mned hard to walk on cobblestones.

OTOH, it's hard to drive on cobblestones, too, making car drivers slow down naturally without the need for stop signs and traffic lights. All in all, a worthwhile tradeoff.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ocean's 8 (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ocean's 8 (2018): Heist sequel with switched genders. Nothing new here but it does show that women can ably fill these roles. Plot has more than a few holes, and gadgets outshine brains, but hey, the story was credited to a man. Still, fun overall. B-









Wednesday, June 20, 2018

POTD: Shade Tree Mechanics

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Plaza Mayor of Antigua Guatemala, the place to see and be seen, and apparently to work on your car. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches." Antigua was our favorite city in Central America during our visit in January.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

POTD: Quinceañera

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches." Antigua was our favorite city in Central America during our visit in January.

Photos of volcanoes and earthquake damage can get you down. The loss of life such natural disasters can bring is tragic. But the human spirit can never be kept down for long. This photo of a girl celebrating her quinceañera just outside the ruins of San José Cathedral gives hope that things do get better.

Monday, June 18, 2018

POTD: San José Cathedral, or What's Left

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches." Antigua was our favorite city in Central America during our visit in January.

This photo shows one of the ruined churches, San José Cathedral, destroyed by earthquake in 1773, then its partial restoration damaged again and again by subsequent earthquakes. One side chapel was restored and is still in use for church services. But the people seem resigned to leaving the main part of this church in its ruined state.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, June 15, 2018

POTD: Volcán de Agua

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site "famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches." Antigua was our favorite city in Central America during our visit in January.

In this photo, lost in the haze and clouds behind the archway is Volcán de Agua, one of several active volcanoes near Antigua. The history of Antigua is a history of volcanoes and earthquakes. The recent eruption of Volcán de Fuego, another nearby volcano, which killed about 100 people, is the latest natural disaster in this disaster-prone region.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

POTD: Volcán de Fuego

From 2018 01 27 Guatemala

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the base of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala, as it looked in January. During the hour or so it took us to drive past the volcano to Antigua, we saw three or so such small eruptions. Our tour guide, who lives in Antigua, said the volcano was active almost every day. At night, the molten lava might light up the peak. During the day, puffs of smoke and ash like this. But we were told that there were no large eruptions for the last century. I considered it a tourist attraction along the lines of Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Well all that changed on June 3, 2018, when the volcano had a major eruption, "unleashing a fast-moving mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases" that left at least 99 dead and 192 still missing. What had been a fascinating tourist attraction for us suddenly became deadly for those who lived in the mountain's shadow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Molly's Game (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Molly's Game (2018): Former Olympic skier turns to running poker games until the stakes get too high and the FBI intervenes. Lots of fast dialog and narration that reduces cinematic quality but highlights the plot. Chastain and Elba top-notch. B+

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

POTD: Tiempos de Victorias

From 2018 01 26 Nicaragua

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the small town of Telica, Nicaragua, and shows a roadside billboard promoting President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, the Vice-President and First Lady of Nicaragua. The sad news is that since our visit in January, Nicaragua has been "slipping into darkness." Protests calling for democratic reforms have been violently suppressed by the government, leaving at least 127 dead and thousands injured. All of which has caused the slogan on the billboard, "Times of Victories," to sound bitterly false.

Monday, June 11, 2018

POTD: Up on the Roof

From 2018 01 26 Nicaragua
When this old world starts a getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I'll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it's peaceful as can be
And there the world below don't bother me, no, no
Source: James Taylor.

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the roof of The Lady of Grace Cathedral, León, Nicaragua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's also known as the "Real and Renowned Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary" (Wikipedia). That's a mouthful. It's said that for penance after confession, priests ask you to say that name ten times, fast.

But we're here for the view, not bad stand-up comedy. The León town square is right below. Other churches dominate the mid distance. And a ring of volcanoes are on the horizon. All sandwiched between the stark white roof and the bright blue tropical sky.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, June 8, 2018

RISD TRE for M&O

If Texas school funding discussions seem to bury you in acronyms (see the headline above), or terminology (recapture and "golden" pennies and "copper" pennies), or worst of all, dense spreadsheets, I feel your pain. The simplest thing to do, and actually wisest in many cases, is to elect good school board trustees, hold them accountable for doing their due diligence, then trust that their decisions are in the best interest of children, parents, teachers and homeowners.

The Richardson ISD board of trustees called a tax ratification election (TRE) for September 4 to ask voters to raise the district’s operating tax rate. You can find out all about the election, and why there is no good alternative, on the district's website.

Before the trustees acted, there was a public hearing at which the public had their say. Only a couple dozen people attended the public hearing. Pitchforks and torches were not in evidence. Only a half dozen or so of those people chose to speak.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"You Want All-Over? OK, How About This?"


Recently I had a conversation in which I wondered how many great painters are working today. A century ago, there was Matisse, Picasso, Rousseau, Mondrian, Kahlo, O'Keefe, Pollock, Dali, and more. Who can name anyone in their league today? The Dallas Museum of Art is currently showing an exhibition by Laura Owens, who it calls "one of the most influential artists of her generation." Well, OK.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

POTD: La Gigantona

From 2018 01 26 Nicaragua

La Gigantona and El Enano Cabezon are giant dolls constructed on wooden frames that are paraded in the Central Plaza in León, Nicaragua. Both dance to the rhythm of drums. Accounts of gigantonas on the streets of León date back to at least the mid-1800s.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Insult (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Insult (2017): Lebanese Oscar nominee. A street insult ends up in court, uncovering Middle East wounds that never heal. At heart it's a personal story of two aggrieved and stubborn men and their struggle to deal with Lebanon's past and each other. B-









Monday, June 4, 2018

POTD: Momotombo

From 2018 01 26 Nicaragua
Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in the ruins of the Spanish colonial city of León Viejo, a World Heritage Site in Nicaragua. The volcano is Momotombo.
Momotombo is a stratovolcano in Nicaragua, not far from the city of León. It stands on the shores of Lago de Managua. An eruption of the volcano in 1610 forced inhabitants of the Spanish city of León to relocate about 30 miles west. The ruins of this city are preserved at León Viejo (Old León). It also erupted in 1886, 1905, and most recently November 30, 2015.
Source: Wikipedia.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Repeat Tweets: Victim of the Crazies

Repeat tweets from May, 2018:

  • May 1 2018: RT @tgiovenetti: "You did nothing wrong @daumkeziah. You are a victim of the crazies who spend their time criticizing others instead of just living their own lives."
    "crazies who spend their time criticizing others instead of just living their own lives." Today's award for unintended irony.
  • May 3 2018: Avengers: Infinity War (2018): More like Infinity Cast. Full of deaths, resurrections, near-deaths, and scratches. Needs less over-the-top acting and more self-aware pop culture references. I did not see ending coming, but in hindsight, it's brilliant. C+
  • May 3 2018: "Euless City Council Candidate Salman Bhojani Has Jonathan Stickland Very Upset."
    @AngieChenButton, you serve with Stickland and represent me. You need to call out this behavior for what it is.
  • May 3 2018: RT @TXHouseCaucus: "Join us in unity as we celebrate today's National Day of Prayer with the rest of America."
    In your prayer, how about condemning the religious bigotry on display in the @TXHouseCaucus by one of your own? dallasobserver.com
  • May 3 2018: RT @tgiovenetti: "Facebook continues to needlessly flounder. There is a simple solution for this: Social media platforms should only block content that is ILLEGAL."
    Yeah, that'll solve Facebook's problems. Turn it into a white nationalist bullying site.
  • May 3 2018: Headline: "Mystery pooper at N.J. high school's track turned out to be superintendent, cops say."
    Reason #126 to be grateful to live in RISD.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

David Brooks as Rorschach Test

The New York Times's columnist David Brooks is like a Rorschach test for Americans' view of politics. He equally pisses off conservatives and liberals alike. Conservatives because he refuses to pay obeisance to Donald Trump. Liberals because he pines for a mythic past that never was. His latest column doesn't disappoint. It's a Rorschach test that both sides can criticize. Let's unpack.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018): Finally a Stars Wars movie I like. Minimum mumbo jumbo about the Force, Jedi and the Empire. Instead a popcorn-worthy heist movie about the Millennium Falcon's first Kessel Run. Look for winks at classic movies and genres. B-









Tuesday, May 29, 2018

School Sports

I didn't think this needed saying. I didn't think this was controversial. But apparently, I was wrong, so here goes...

Every student should have the opportunity to play sports. But not every student should make the varsity team. There needs to be varsity sports, junior varsity, intramural, physical education classes, etc. Every student should be given a chance to play in a setting appropriate for his or her age and ability.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Book Club (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Book Club (2018): Four mature women seek to refind romance by reading "Fifty Shades of F*%#ed Up." Four great actors with so-so material. Hope this movie leads to more opportunities. Some laughs, some sympathy. Some of it falls flat, but satisfying overall. C+

Friday, May 25, 2018

POTD: Puntarenas Sunset

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken just offshore of Puntarenas, a Pacific port town on Costa Rica's Gulf of Nicoya.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

POTD: Hopped Up on Caffeine

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. The photo is of the plantation tour guide, or as I like to think, an example of what happens to you if you work too long on a coffee plantation.

I think I may have had a similar look after writing this week's earlier blog posts. ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Time to Review Richardson's Code of Ethics

Yesterday I called out the City of Richardson's Code of Ethics as being deficient and in need of review. So, color me surprised to find this section deep in the code itself:
Sec. 2-10. Review.
The City Council shall review this article once every two years following its adoption on September 27, 2010.
Maybe those periodic reviews have been happening like clockwork and I just missed them. Can someone alert me when the next one happens so I can contribute?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The City Has Some Explaining To Do, Too

Yesterday, in response to the federal indictment for bribery of former Richardson mayor Laura (Maczka) Jordan, I explained and apologized for my endorsement of her for mayor in 2013. The City of Richardson itself (whoever the "City" might be) offered up its own response to the indictment. I'll let others judge my response. But in my opinion, the City's own response falls short of any hint that I might not be the only one with some explaining and apologizing to do.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Never Apologize, Never Explain

"Never Apologize, Never Explain." Purportedly, that was the guiding philosophy of the Victorian English in how they ran the British Empire. I don't believe I have any English ancestry, and I certainly don't rule an empire. I find a better personal guiding philosophy to be, "Always Apologize, Always Explain." That brings me to a rather awkward moment in my blogging archive: that time when I endorsed Laura Maczka for Richardson mayor.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad
Amazon
From The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead:
Open quote 

The music stopped. The circle broke. Sometimes a slave will be lost in a brief eddy of liberation. In the sway of a sudden reverie among the furrows or while untangling the mysteries of an early-morning dream. In the middle of a song on a warm Sunday night. Then it comes, always—the overseer’s cry, the call to work, the shadow of the master, the reminder that she is only a human being for a tiny moment across the eternity of her servitude."

"The Underground Railroad" had me by its awards: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. But then there was this: Winner of the Arthur C Clarke award for Science Fiction. Say what???

Thursday, May 17, 2018

POTD: Coffee Beans Soaking Up Sun

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, where what look like parking lots are coffee bean drying patios where beans are spread to dry in the sun. All in all, a much better use of space, in my opinion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

POTD: Costa Rica Hydrangeas

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Doka Estate, a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. Although most the estate is given over to growing, drying, roasting, tasting and selling coffee, the grounds are beautiful for other reasons, especially if someone in your party doesn't drink coffee.

(P.S. I like coffee.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Square (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Square (2017): Museum curator experiences crises with a pickpocket, PR stunts, and sex. This Swedish, Palme d'Or winner pokes at art, money, society, political correctness and social consciousness. Hit or miss on the satire, but always weird. B-









Monday, May 14, 2018

Mapping Racial Diversity in the RISD


The Washington Post published a tool that allows one to use census data to map changing racial diversity in cities across the country from 1990 to 2016. The graphic here is roughly contiguous with the Richardson ISD boundaries. There are no surprises.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Neighborhood Schools

Recently, 300 community members of the Richardson school district wrapped up months of meetings, making 27 recommendations that were accepted by the school board to comprise the RISD's Strategic Plan 2017. One recommendation in particular caught my eye.
Adopt a neighborhood school policy and create a formal definition of neighborhood school to provide clarity on future decisions regarding school construction, boundary lines, and transfer policies.
Source: RISD.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

POTD: Scarlet Macaw

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Botanical Orchid Garden in La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica. The garden is filled not only with tropical flowers but shows off a few native bird species as well, like this Scarlet Macaw.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

All the Money in the World (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
All the Money in the World (2017): Forget the drama surrounding Spacey/Plummer, this is a surprisingly good thriller. Maybe JP Getty is made too much the villain, but maybe in real life he was. Wahlberg and his character are weak points. Michelle Williams is great. B+









Tuesday, May 8, 2018

POTD: Land of Orchids

From 2018 01 25 Costa Rica

Costa Rica, land of orchids, volcanoes, coffee, jungles, beaches, you get the picture. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Botanical Orchid Garden in La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica. The garden is filled with trails, greenhouses, nurseries and a laboratory, mostly but not exclusively devoted to orchids.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017): Documentary of how a small family bank in Chinatown became the only US bank the govt prosecuted for mortgage fraud during banking crisis. The only one. Besides the injustice, movie provides insight into Chinese-American community. B+

Friday, May 4, 2018

POTD: Add Some Color to the Skyline

From 2018 01 23 Panama Canal

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Biomuseo in Panama. a museum desiged by Frank Gehry, showcasing Panama's natural and cultural history. Three million years ago, rocks rose creating the isthmus of Panama. The resulting land bridge joining North and South America allowed species exchange. Simultaneously, species exchange between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was blocked. The museum tells the story of the significance of Panama to the history of life on the planet. And for the casual passerby in a cruise ship, the museum provides a splash of color to the monotonous gray color palette of the Panama City skyline.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Avengers: Infinity War (2018): More like Infinity Cast. Full of deaths, resurrections, near-deaths, and scratches. Needs less over-the-top acting and more self-aware pop culture references. I did not see ending coming, but in hindsight, it's brilliant. C+









Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Metadata and Education

I understand the benefits of metadata collection. I want to know what school children who are failing have in common so that by targeting that, maybe I can have more children succeed. Is it the school, the teacher, socioeconomics, health, language, etc. If you look at one child's academic results, it's difficult to understand why that child is failing. But if you look at dozens or hundreds or thousands of children's results, patterns emerge that can be used to pinpoint the source the problem and suggest ways to improve teaching methods.

But I also understand that metadata collection and analysis is unpopular in some circles. I'm not unsympathetic to some of their concerns.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Repeat Tweets: Nasi Mexi-Goreng

Repeat tweets from April, 2018:

  • Apr 1 2018: The closest these Texans came to having a traditional Easter dinner in Jakarta was having quesadillas and something called Nasi Mexi-Goreng.
  • Apr 3 2018: Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017): Aging civil rights lawyer has trouble fitting into modern legal system. Vehicle for Denzel Washington and he is superb, but character overwhelms story. C+
  • Apr 4 2018: Justice League (2017): Only as much plot as needed to give each superhero his or her time in front of the camera. With wisecracks. I guess the Flash stands out as most interesting character but that isn't saying much. C-
  • Apr 5 2018: Coco (2017): Oscar for animated feature. Boy travels to land of the dead in search of his gg-grandfather. Sweet tale about power of music and family. More music please. B-

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Richardson ISD Accepts Strategic Plan

"Board Unanimously Accepts Strategic Plan." That's what the headline says. "Trustees voted unanimously to accept the 27 recommended strategic action items from RISD’s Strategic Plan 2017—a culmination of the work from more than 300 community members shaping the future of RISD."

What's not to celebrate?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Review: The Secret History

The Secret History
Amazon
From The Secret History, by Donna Tartt:
Open quote 

We hadn’t intended to hide the body where it couldn’t be found. In fact, we hadn’t hidden it at all but had simply left it where it fell in hopes that some luckless passer-by would stumble over it before anyone even noticed he was missing. This was a tale that told itself simply and well: the loose rocks, the body at the bottom of the ravine with a clean break in the neck, and the muddy skidmarks of dug-in heels pointing the way down; a hiking accident, no more, no less."

I chose to read this 1992 novel because I so enjoyed Donna Tartt's 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Goldfinch." The earlier debut novel reveals Tartt learning her craft. It's not as good, but it's still a good read.