Saturday, October 31, 2009

Richardson Eagles Near First Playoffs Since 1992

Richardson Golden Eagle Band
From 2009 Football

For photos of all the action on the field and in the stands, including performances by the drill teams and marching bands of both Richardson and Berkner, look here.

The Richardson Eagles beat the Berkner Rams 14-11 Friday night in a defensive struggle, putting the Eagles in great position to make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. The key play of the game was a fourth quarter interception and 65-yard return for a touchdown by defensive lineman A.K. Akindumila, which gave the Eagles a 14-3 lead. Berkner responded with a late touchdown and two-point conversion to close the lead to 14-11, but their comeback fell short.

Richardson closes the regular season next weekend against Carrollton Creekview while Berkner plays W.T. White. Both games have playoff implications. Skyline and Lake Highlands have already locked up two of the four playoff spots in District 9-5A. The last two spots are still up for grabs.

  • Richardson will make the playoffs if they beat Creekview or if they lose by 8 or fewer points or if Berkner loses to W.T. White.
  • Berkner will make the playoffs if they beat W.T. White or if Berkner loses to W.T. White by 13 or fewer points while Richardson beats Creekview.
  • Creekview will make the playoffs if they beat Richardson by 9 or more points or if they beat Richardson while Berkner loses.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wanted: Superintendent, Practically Perfect in Every Way

The Richardson school district (RISD) is seeking a new superintendent. Everybody has an opinion. Expectations and demands are as high as those set by the George Banks family in Edwardian England when advertising for a nanny.

"If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition.
Rosy cheeks, no warts. Play games, all sorts.
You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet, and fairly pretty.
Take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets.
Never be cross or cruel. Never give us castor oil or gruel.
Love us as a son and daughter, and never smell of barley water.
Hurry, Nanny! Many thanks!
Jane and Michael Banks!"
Assuming that someone with Mary Poppins' qualifications isn't available, what criteria should be used to identify the RISD's next superintendent?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Everybody's After the Chamber of Commerce

What's more American than the Chamber of Commerce? Main Street and apple pie. Local accountants and insurance agents. Ribbon cuttings, golf tournaments, Christmas parades. What's not to like? Well, the Chamber of Commerce has run into a streak of bad luck lately with seemingly everybody finding something not to like, including conservatives right here in Richardson, Texas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Politics of Complaint: Trash and Blight

It's Monday and that means Open Mike Night at the Richardson City Council. This week's show lacked the passion of some previous shows, perhaps because it lacked any novelty as well. The topics were trash (Lookout Transfer Station) and blight (Richardson Heights area).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ride DART to Fair Park. Still.

Fair Park Station ... on a good day
From 200910 State Fair

A lot has been made of DART's failure to deliver thousands of fans to the Cotton Bowl in time for kickoff of the Texas-OU game last Saturday. Some of the criticism is valid. Some, not so much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Texas House Reps Discuss Constitutional Amendments

The November 3rd ballot will offer voters eleven proposed constitutional amendments. There will be no party identification after each amendment, no "R" or "D" to make voting easier. What is the lazy voter supposed to do?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Politics of Complaint: Does 2+2+1=5?

Does 2+2+1=5? Does that math violate the city charter of Richardson? If you think so, you might be a redneck. At least according to Nathan Morgan. Or something like that. Go figure.

Morgan, who takes advantage of the public comment period at Richardson City Council meetings so often that the casual observer might think he's the eighth member of the city council, used his five minutes of public input at this week's council work session to complain that the duration of the city manager's contract with the city exceeds the maximum specified by the city charter. The challenge hinges on whether renewal provisions, or options for additional periods, violate the city charter. A complaint that's technical, petty, and, frankly, boring. It's not even funny, even by the low standards of Jeff Foxworthy comedy routines. It definitely isn't one of the best examples of citizen politics of complaint. But it's the best that this week's citizen input to the city council worksession has to offer. If lack of serious problems is a good thing, this week's citizen complaint indicates Richardson city government is in good shape.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

AT&T Performing Arts Center Grand Opening

Winspear Opera House
From 2009 10 AT&T Performing Arts Center

This week marked the grand opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Arts District of Dallas. The new Winspear Opera House and Wyly Theatre were open for tours. Ellen and I took DART light rail to downtown Dallas and enjoyed the new buildings, the sunny weather, and the pleasant street life. Street life. In downtown Dallas. I know, it sounds improbable. But it's true. To see more photos from our day in Dallas, look here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Skyline 39, Berkner 7. Ouch!

Mighty Ram Band
From 2009 Football
Dallas Skyline lived up to its reputation. Ranked second in the state of Texas, the Raiders dominated the Berkner Rams, scoring on their first six possessions and putting the game away early, leading 26-0 by halftime and holding Berkner's offense to only 41 first-half yards. Still, the game ended on an upbeat note for Berkner, with Terry Gibert breaking an 85 yard run in the final minute of the game, followed by a touchdown. The fans got to stand up and cheer, the band got to play the fight song, and the bell guard got to show the flag.

The band, as always, put on a great show. Last week, the Mighty Ram Band finished 4th of 28 bands at the Bands of America competition at the University of Texas at Arlington. Next Wednesday, they perform for UIL judges at Mesquite Memorial Stadium (Oct 21, 8PM). Judging by the show the fans saw Friday night, the band is ready to impress the UIL judges. Also, it was Junior High Band night. Seeing the Apollo and Liberty Jr High band students join the Mighty Ram Band on the field at halftime made for an impressive show of force. Friday Night Lights is still the greatest entertainment value around!

To see more photos from the game, look here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Texas Constitutional Amendments: How to Vote

There's an election coming up November 3, 2009. For Richardson voters, the only items on the ballot will be eleven proposed state constitutional amendments. The US Constitution has been amended only twenty seven times in over two hundred years. In contrast, Texans amend their constitution as often as possible. The Texas Constitution has been patched and repatched 456 times since it was adopted in 1876. Unless you want to wake up on November 4 asking how this or that whack amendment got passed, brief yourself on the proposed amendments now, then get out the vote on Tuesday, November 3.

For more information on these proposed constitutional amendments, I recommend: "Analyses of Proposed Constitutional Amendments", published by the Texas Legislative Council, whose mission is to provide professional and nonpartisan service and support to the Texas Legislature.

I also recommend attending the program cosponsored by the League of Women Voters of Richardson, the RISD Council of PTAs and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce on October 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the RISD Administration Building (400 S. Greenville Avenue, Richardson). State Representatives Carol Kent, Angie Chen Button and Jerry Madden will discuss the proposed amendments.

After the jump, The Wheel's cheat sheet on how to vote.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Help Wanted: School District Superintendent

The Richardson Independent School District is seeking a leader who has a passion to lead a dynamic suburban school district to an unprecedented level of success. The RISD is already the largest and most diverse "Recognized" school district in Texas. The school board, administrators and teachers are seeking to build on this solid foundation and to set the next standard, moving above and beyond what the state legislature measures for success. The district seeks improvements in post-secondary readiness, measured by participation in vocational classes, by SAT scores, by National Merit scholars, etc. The successful candidate will not only share that vision, but also build on it and provide the direction to get us there.

  • Location: Richardson, Texas
  • Compensation: TBD
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services or products.

To Apply: Contact RISD. Tell them you learned of the opening via The Wheel's Classifieds. I don't charge $20,500. I'll accept $500.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sonja and Casey's Wedding

From 2009 10 Sonja Casey Wedding

Milwaukee. Wedding. Sonja and Casey. I know what you're thinking. There have to be some oversized, foam sausage mascots involved somehow. And you're right. Sonja and Casey broke the mold for their wedding and reception at Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center. From start to finish, from the hand-made paper invitations (I mean the paper itself!) to the hymns sung by the guests during the ceremony (or should I say hums or maybe just hmm?) to the famous Miller Park racing sausages crashing the reception, this was a wedding to remember. Thanks, Sonja and Casey, for inviting us to celebrate with you. Our best wishes to you.

For more photos of the wedding and a few sightseeing snapshots of Milwaukee, look here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wildcat-Ram Stadium, or Ram-Wildcat?

Wildcat-Ram Stadium
From 2009 Football

The Richardson ISD has four high schools, but only two football stadiums, so sharing is a must. The Lake Highlands Wildcats and the Berkner Rams share the stadium at Lake Highlands High School, officially known as Wildcat-Ram Stadium (map), although Berkner Ram fans unofficially call it Ram-Wildcat Stadium. When the stadium press box was recently renovated, the school district diplomatically installed a circular sign with "Wildcat Ram" on the top and "Ram Wildcat" on the bottom. The outcome of the annual football game between the two schools determines which name gets unofficial precedence in the stadium name for the next year.

War of Words: Battle of Immigration

In an innocent little blog post talking up the upcoming fifth annual Plano International Festival at Haggard Park, reporter Theodore Kim made an unfortunate aside about how Plano has so far managed to avoid controversies over immigration reform.

You know what's coming in the reader comments, right? Controversy. The very first commenter says, "Immigration reform? Funny, I though it was 'illegal immigration' reform." The second commenter immediately demonstrated that the anger is broader than just illegal immigration, taking a whack at the H1-B visa program, which is "legal" immigration. It seems that there are folks opposed to immigration of any kind, legal or illegal. And they are fighting a war of words. "Undocumented worker" is already a casualty. "Illegal immigrant" is considered a contradiction, as foreigners without visas are considered invaders, not immigrants. I'm surprised the first commenter didn't opt for "illegal alien", which is still safe to say without drawing incoming fire.

So, Plano, enjoy your festival. Celebrate diversity, I say, ducking.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's the Speed Limit, Really?

The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) raised the speed limit on the Dallas North Tollway. Or did they? The brand new white speed limit signs saying 65 MPH certainly suggest they did. The NTTA soon decided that slight curves and rises cause blind spots that called for lower speeds along some stretches, so NTTA erected brand newer yellow signs specifying a 50 MPH speed limit. In some cases, the newer yellow signs are within sight of the new white signs. So, what's the speed limit? Hard to say. Two signs, different numbers.

Some drivers believe that the yellow signs aren't speed limits at all, only recommended maximum safe speeds. They claim that the "real" speed limits are posted on the white signs. Left unexplained is why the Department of Public Safety would set the real speed limit at 15 MPH above the maximum safe speed.

The Texas Department of Public Safety doesn't completely clear up the confusion. In a story in The Dallas Morning News, spokesman Lisa Block says police do not enforce the yellow advisory signs, except if you cause an accident. So, is a speed limit that police usually ignore, but sometimes enforce, a speed limit or not? Conspiracy theorists might call it entrapment. The Department of Public Safety lures drivers with the white signs suggesting it's OK to drive at an unsafe speed, then when accidents ensue, tickets the drivers for violating the yellow signs.

There's a simple solution. Remove the white signs in the stretches of highway with limited visibility, leaving only the yellow signs there. Whether or not the police choose to enforce that yellow speed limit, at least there'll be only one speed limit posted for each stretch of road. Not that it will make much difference. The DMN quotes one driver who points out the irony of the whole matter, "Obviously, no one is paying attention to [the signs], white or yellow. People seem to drive as fast as they want."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Green Line to the State Fair

From 2009 10 State Fair
It was Fair Day for the Richardson ISD and that means a day off to enjoy the State Fair of Texas. Ellen and I took the newly opened DART Green Line. It was hassle free. No traffic jams. No long walks from remote parking. No risk of having our car towed if we chose the wrong private lot. At the Fair, Ellen was interested in trying the new treat fried butter, which somehow we never got around to trying. ;-) We did split a funnel cake. Other than that, it was just a leisurely stroll through the park, seeing the prize steer, sheep, goat and pig, seeing all the prize arts and crafts, seeing but not riding or playing the Midway rides and games, a quick walk through the automobile building futilely looking for a Chevy with a joystick instead of a steering wheel ("That's not in the GM lineup") then, at the end, serendipitously following the US Marine Corps Band to the parade grounds for their concert. Then, it was back to the DART Green Line for a ride to the West End and dinner, then a ride on the DART Red Line back to Richardson. Another successful Fair Day!

To see all of our photos, look here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Michael Crabtree's Unemployment Check

ESPN GameDay sign

OK, this one will take a bit of explanation. Bear with me. First, who is Michael Crabtree? According to Wikipedia (which, at the risk of making myself the target of derision, I still say is the single best source of information on the Internet), "Michael Crabtree is an American football wide receiver who was selected by the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League in the 2009 NFL Draft. He was drafted by the 49ers with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, but currently remains unsigned by the team." OK, that explains why Michael Crabtree might be receiving an unemployment check from the Governator. After the jump, let's bring the story a little closer to home.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cottonwood Art Festival: Rain 1, Art 0

From 2009 Family

Saturday morning was sunny and pleasant, a perfect day for Ellen and me to go to the Cottonwood Art Festival with Walt and Ruth. By 2:30 PM, the time we got around to going, the clouds had moved in. By 3:00 PM, minutes after we arrived at the park and were strolling among the booths, the rain sprinkles began. No umbrella. One wheelchair. A walk of several blocks back to the car. Luckily it was a sprinkle, not a downpour, making the whole outing an adventure, not a disaster. All in all, a good time was had by all.

After the jump, a few photos I managed to snap off before the rains came, and then a final word about parking

Homecoming: Berkner 32, Creekview 0

From 2009 Football
It was a perfect night for homecoming football. Clear skies. Comfortable temperatures. Berkner favored to win. The team struggled a bit on offense with penalties and an inability to get the triple-option play working, but with the defense shutting down Creekview all it took was a few big plays for Berkner to win this one. The team's #10 ranking in the DFW area is secure for another week. Next week's game against Lake Highlands will test this team.

The Mighty Ram Band performed most of their competition program at halftime. It looks like it's shaping up to be a winner. Wish the band luck at next Saturday's BOA competition at UT-Arlington. Go Berkner!

Check out our photo albums for a look at all the action, and not just in the game. After all, without the band, it's just a game!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicago 2016. No, Rio!

From 200905 Chicago
"Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders"