Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Angie Chen Button Draws a Primary Challenge

My state representative, Angie Chen Button (HD 112) has drawn a challenger in the 2014 GOP primary. It's Jared Patterson, a former Sachse city council member.

When I say Button is my representative, I use the word loosely. I can't recall any position she's taken where she represents me, but I don't hold that against her. I have that problem with most politicians.

Maybe Jared Patterson will be different. After the jump, I give him a look-see.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Big Lake Break

Once again we spent our summer vacation at the cottage on Big Lake, Shawano County, Wisconsin. Once again words escape me (me!?!) and I turn to images:

From 2013 06 Wisconsin
More photos after the jump.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saying No to Walmart

After months of speculation, Walmart officials have decided to move forward with the construction of a 90,000 square foot Walmart Supercenter in the northwest corner of Coit Rd and Arapaho Rd. The location is in Dallas just across the street from Richardson. Because of how the property was zoned, Walmart did not need to seek any approval from the City of Dallas to build there. A neighborhood grassroots opposition movement was unable to convince Walmart not to build there.

The City of Richardson was a spectator to this drama, but didn't waste any time to take action to make sure history doesn't repeat itself in Richardson. On the Richardson City Council agenda for its meeting July 22, 2013 was the following item. Call it the "Say No to Walmart Amendment."
The amendment to the zoning ordinances passed 7-0.

After the jump, my thoughts.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cherry Blossoms (2008)

Cherry Blossoms (2008): Aging German couple estranged from their adult children, dream of visiting Fuji. A story of late-blooming love. A-

Friday, July 26, 2013

S2L77: Partying Among the Taliban

From 1977 03 17 Pakistan

That photo above was taken in Pakistan, in the heart of Taliban country. Obviously, it demands explanation (and probably my apology). After the jump, I take my share of responsibility for the whole bloody mess that whole part of the world has become.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Richardson is "Running with the Big Dogs"

The Dallas Morning News published an editorial in which it described Richardson as "cruising on a massive dose of adrenaline." Specifically it highlighted the superlatives of the real estate development underway at the Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway.

Go ahead and read the editorial, then come back here for my thoughts ... after the jump.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why I Oppose Stricter Voter ID Laws

I don't believe we as a nation should tolerate voter fraud. Neither should we tolerate voter suppression. But what if pursuing the former increases the latter? I'm convinced that is the case, intentionally or not. The balance is not even close. That's the sticking point for me, leading me to oppose the strict new voter ID laws many states are passing, including Texas.

Details after the jump.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction (1994): Finally watched, after 19 yrs on to-do list. Classic Tarantino. Over the top violence. Part homage, part invention. A-

Monday, July 22, 2013

Like a Good Neighbor...hood name

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Maybe that's true for roses, but it's not true for real estate. In real estate, names matter. A University of Georgia study says home buyers will pay more when a development has the word "country" in the name. A good neighborhood name can command a higher price than a good neighborhood school can.

So what about no name at all? For the last few years, I've been calling all that vacant land at Bush Turnpike and US 75, well, "all that vacant land at Bush Turnpike and US 75." After the jump, the curious case of the lack of a name for this development.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spamalot, at RCT

Repertory Company Theater
Spamalot, at RCT: A spoof of a spoof of Camelot. Richardson production. Crams a lot of singing/dancing/laughter on a small stage. Great fun.

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas (2012): Parallel lives in different times, different worlds, all linked and all Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. True-true? Nuh uh. C-

Friday, July 19, 2013

S2L77: Pakistan's Swat Valley

Swat Valley, Pakistan
March 20-21, 1977

Morning hike up the mountain behind the hotel.
Evening dinner and costume party.
Spent the day napping on a blanket in the yard.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 03 17 Pakistan

More after the jump.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Forget Main Street. Focus on Greenville.

Patrick Kennedy, the CarFreeInBigD guy who wants to tear out IH 345 in downtown Dallas, takes a look at downtown Richardson with an eye towards "mining the poor utilization of land for gold."

The first thing he concludes is that there's not much that can be done to revive Main Street. The street can't be narrowed, sidewalks widened and more cafe space created. Main Street is already "at capacity, if not over, moving more than 30,000 cars per day as the primary firehose delivery system to/fro 75. The only way to increase pedestrian space here would be to knock down buildings."

As much as I hate giving up on my hopes for Main Street, I came to much the same conclusion when I reviewed the City of Richardson's own Main Street study. "The drawing shows wide tree-lined sidewalks, a tree-lined median, a lane for parallel parking and two lanes of traffic in either direction. How they're going to get all that in the narrow space available is unexplained. What is there now are narrow sidewalks and barely enough street to squeeze two overloaded lanes in either direction."

After the jump, Kennedy realigns Richardson's focus north-south, not east-west.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Before Silicon Valley, There Was Paper Valley

From 2013 06 Wisconsin

Long before Richardson's Telecom Corridor or even California's Silicon Valley, the Fox River Valley in northeastern Wisconsin was known as Paper Valley. The combination of Wisconsin's vast timber resources and water and power from the Fox River was ideal for making paper. The resulting paper mills created prosperous communities and wealthy paper barons with names like Kimberly and Clark. A hundred years ago, it was said that there were more millionaires per capita in Neenah, Wisconsin, than in any other city in America.

After the jump, the Fox River today.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meek's Cutoff (2010)

Meek's Cutoff (2010): Realistic portrayal of Western migration. Unvarnished. Unromantic. Moving. Pioneers were tough as nails. A-

Monday, July 15, 2013

Insurance Intersection

Richardson is in need of rebranding. Telecom Corridor is so 1990s. With all the recent hoopla over State Farm building three new office towers at the intersection of the Bush Tollway and Central Expressway, may I suggest "Insurance Intersection?"

Absurd, you say? Well, sure. But think about why. Last week, my whining about the missed opportunity for these 186 acres of prime real estate focused on the form of the development (see here and here). I claimed it was more 1980s traditional office building, with maybe some nearby apartment buildings to come, than it was 21st century mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

After the jump, what I did not focus on: State Farm itself.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (2011): Turkish crime drama. Long moody scenes of rural Turkey at night lit by car lights. Nothing happens. D+

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Searching for Sugar Man (2012): "American Zero, South African Hero." Oscar-winning documentary of poet/singer almost too good to believe. A+

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not Just an Accident. It's State Farmageddon.


The State Farm development at PGBT and Central is even worse than I thought. For anyone who cares about mixed-use, transit-oriented development, it's not just an accident. It's a disaster. Call State Farm and see if we're covered for disasters of our own making. Call FEMA. We're facing State Farmageddon.

More after the jump.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Green Bay Does Light Rail

From 2013 06 Wisconsin

The Bay Beach Amusement Park in the city of Green Bay claims to be the ninth oldest amusement park in the United States. It opened in 1892. Its latest attraction is the relocated and restored "Zippin Pippin," the fourth oldest wooden roller coaster in the world, dating to 1912. Since 1956, another ride, the Bay Beach train, has provided convenient, safe, green transportation with some of the best views around. The park is on the shore of Green Bay, a vast body of water connected to the even vaster Lake Michigan. More photos of the shoreline after the jump.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

State Farm Accident in the Making

Along with the three office towers, KDC's initial phase of the mixed-use development includes 1,000 multi-family residential units, an 150-room select service hotel, a health clinic and fitness facility, a specialty anchored grocery store and more than 75,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
After the jump, why this is all so damned depressing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wait List for Packers Tickets Shrinks

Being an NFL team owner brings a responsibility to keep an eye on operations, so our trip to Wisconsin included a visit to Lambeau Field to check up on construction activity. Lambeau Field is adding 6,000 new seats to bring the total to 77,000, still not quite enough to hold the whole 106,000 population of Green Bay. The expansion means that about 5,000 people on the wait list, all of them waiting for at least 30 years, will finally get the opportunity to buy season tickets. Inside the stadium, those new decks in the south end zone will be hard to miss. Outside the stadium, the big new scoreboard is hard to miss. Approaching Green Bay from the south on US Highway 41, the big "G" on the back of the scoreboard is visible from miles away. Construction is expected to be complete this month, in time for the 2013 season. Go Pack!

Monday, July 8, 2013

OTBR: A Mill on a Pond in the Czech Republic

Latitude: N 49° 10.146
Longitude: E 015° 25.086

A child on a road trip with his family asks, "Where are we?" and the father answers, "Let's check the map. We're off the blue roads [the Interstate Highways marked in blue on the road atlas]. We're off the red roads [the US and state highways]. We're off the black roads [the county highways]. I think we're off the map altogether." It was always my dream to be off the map altogether.

After the jump, a few of the random places (and I mean random literally) that I visited vicariously last month that are "off the blue roads".

Friday, July 5, 2013

S2L77: Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore, Pakistan
March 15, 1977

Srinigar to Jammu. 200 miles. Nine hours. Delays due to army trucks blocking narrow mountain roads.
Jammu to India/Pakistan border. Three hours at the border.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From the Heaven on earth that is the Vale of Kashmir, it was back to the hot, dusty plains of the Punjab, across the India/Pakistan border (crossing took three hours, a sign of trouble in the region), and on to Punjab's largest city, Lahore, home to millions. Like much of northern India, Mughal architecture dominates tourism, from the ubiquitous Red Fort to the tomb of Mughal Emperor Jehangir to the gigantic Badshahi Mosque.

From 1977 03 17 Pakistan

More after the jump.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Glorious Fourth

From 2012 07 04 Breckinridge
Richardson's Family 4th Celebration 2012

Photos from 2012's celebration can be viewed on Google Photos.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained (2012): Quintessential Tarantino. Over the top, exaggerated violence, cartoonish spaghetti Western with an attitude. B+

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Repeat Tweets: Reward Good Trustees, Voters

Repeat tweets from June, 2013:

  • 1 Jun 2013: MT @aviselk: "Irving ISD has private investigator looking into board President." Richardson ISD is well run. Reward good trustees, voters.
  • 1 Jun 2013: Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Bipolar patient meets flipped out young widow. Somehow it works. Uncomfortable with a happy ending. B+
  • 2 Jun 2013: Overheard: "I keep asking when they are going to hire a qualified person to run the Dyslexia program." And school board candidates. ;-)
  • 2 Jun 2013: "We were put here on earth to help others. I'm not sure what others were put here for." -- W.H. Auden
  • 2 Jun 2013: RT @SenTedCruz: "Obama Admin is using machinery of govt to target political enemies." Who needs evidence? Darrell Issa's "gut" is enough.
  • 2 Jun 2013: Unfortunate choice of headline: "One-legged torso found floating in Venice lagoon has authorities stumped."

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Looking in the Kitchens of Richardson Restaurants

Did you know the City of Richardson's Health Department publishes restaurant inspection scores? Not on the front door of the restaurant, that's for sure (the city doesn't require restaurants to post them). Not on the city's "Dine Smart, Dine Local" promotional emails or website (the city doesn't include inspection scores with the tons of other information they helpfully provide on each restaurant).

The last time I looked at how the city handled this, I wasn't impressed. Hunting through the city's isolated restaurant inspection score website is the only way to find out what the health inspector thinks of your favorite restaurant's kitchen.

After the jump, technology comes to the rescue. If Richardson opens up its database, that is.