Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Premiere of Palisades Village

This is how it begins. A request for a zoning change.
Name/Location: ZF 13-13. Palisades. NW of Central Expy. & Galatyn Pkwy.

Project Information: A request by Larry Good, GFF Planning, representing JP Realty Partners, Ltd., for a change in zoning from LR-M(2) Local Retail, PD Planned Development, and TO-M Technical Office to PD Planned Development for the development of a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development on approximately 59.4 acres located on the west side of Central Expressway, generally bounded by Collins Boulevard to the west, Palisades Boulevard and Galatyn Parkway West Extension to the south, and Palisades Creek Drive to the north. The property is currently zoned LR-M(2) Local Retail, PD Planned Development, and TO-M Technical Office. Staff: Chris Shacklett.
After the jump, my early assessment.

Peggy Venable Says I am an Idiot

Peggy Venable tweet
Source: Twitter.
It's hard to argue with that logic.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stefani Carter, Short of Money and Friends

When I wrote about the Texas House District 102 race last week, the situation was relatively straightforward. Incumbent Stefani Carter wasn't running for re-election, having decided to run for the Texas Railroad Commission instead. Former Dallas City Council member Linda Koop had announced her own campaign to replace Carter. Koop was the favorite to win the GOP nomination and the general election.

Then a strange thing happened on the way to the voting booth. Stefani Carter announced that she was dropping her bid for Railroad Commission and would seek re-election to House District 102 after all.

After the jump, assessing how badly Stefani Carter misplayed her hand.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SimCity: CityLine

That humongous development at PGBT and US75 finally has a name: CityLine. It also has ambitious plans.
At build-out, the CityLine project will include 6 million square feet of office space, two hotels, 3,925 apartments, 300,000 square feet of grocery, restaurant, entertainment and retail space, and three parks.
Sounds a little like a SimCity simulation. SimCity was fun for children to play, but it always handicapped future urban planners. It encouraged zoning as either residential, commercial, or industrial. You couldn't put, say, residential above ground-level commercial. That is, mixed-use wasn't really an option. CityLine, on the other hand, is zoned mixed-use. CityLine developers promise mixed-use. But are we going to get it?

After the jump, let's put all those impressive build-out numbers in perspective.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Huffhines Art Trails (2013)

From 2013 10 27 Huffhines Art Trails

Each year on the 4th weekend of October Huffhines Park hosts Huffhines Art Trails, a Richardson tradition since 1976. Over 150 artists and craftsmen exhibit the products of their talents, live entertainment is offered on stage, and food stalls provide concessions.

This year, the city held a contest to name the new scarecrow. At time of writing, the winner was unknown, but I think "Art" would be an obvious choice. Or maybe "Rain Man" to mark the fact that rain often seems to require the liberal spreading of straw to keep the grounds passable. But my personal choice would be Tod (with one "d") to symbolize the straw man arguments the city falls back on when it fails to live up to Transit-Oriented Development whenever a developer wants to build another 1980s-era gas station, apartment building, or office building in Richardson. "Art" it is then, right?

Oh, and the League of Women Voters of Richardson was there, providing information on voter registration and the upcoming election on state constitutional amendments.

More photos after the jump.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Homecoming: Berkner 49, WT White 14

From 2013 10 25 WT White vs Berkner
The Berkner Rams ensured the home fans enjoyed homecoming Friday night by beating the W.T. White Longhorns 49-14 at Wildcat-Ram stadium.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, October 25, 2013

S2L77: Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, Turkey
April 13, 1977
Drove through snow. Had a swim in the hot pools. Walked through Roman ruins.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

For thousands of years, people have been going to Pamukkale (roughly translated "cotton castle"), in southwest Turkey, to bathe in the hot springs on travertine terraces. So, who were we to do any differently?

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built there (more on that in the next installment). According to Wikipedia, "As recently as the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins of Hierapolis, causing considerable damage. ... When the area was declared a World Heritage Site [in 1988], the hotels were demolished." I don't know if my hotel was one of the offending modern intrusions, but, in my defense, in 1977 I was young, dumb and happy. Good times.

More photos of Pamukkale after the jump.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DART Should Copy UPS - ctd

Regular readers might remember my "blue sky" idea (adjective: fanciful, impractical, having dubious value) from 2012 that DART should be less like USPS and more like UPS:
UPS proves that the technology exists to compute a customized route every day for every vehicle, all based on which packages need to go where. Imagine a DART system somewhat like a taxi service or a shared ride service, where passengers submit their desired starting location and time and their desired destination. A central computer would take those thousands of requests, compute the most efficient route for the hundreds of buses in the system, and report back to the passenger when and where his bus will pick him up.
Source: The Wheel.
After the jump, "Great Minds Think Alike," Helsinki edition.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Room 237 (2012)

Room 237 (2012): Hidden clues in The Shining about Indian Wars, Holocaust, or faked moon landings. Mind-blowing and crazy at same time. C+

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Texas House Candidates Jockey for Position

The 2014 primary elections are still months away, but the candidates are already jockeying for position. The races for Texas House Districts 102 and 112, both of which include parts of Richardson, are particularly active, especially given the early date.

After the jump, a look at who's who.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thrills and Chills at BHS

Thrills and Chills at BHS: A Halloween treat. 3 chilling 1-act plays of people going mad. Great lead acting. "I'm not mad. I'm nervous."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Meet Adolf. Err, Paprika!

Cat that looks like Hitler

Meet Adolf. Err, Paprika. Richardson's own shoo-in for inclusion in
"Cats that Look like Hitler."

Meet Paprika! She a sweet little medium hair kitty, about 5 months old. Paprika came to the Shelter back in July as a scrawny little kitten and has grown into a beautiful and sweet young kitty. She is up to date on all her vaccinations and gets along great with kids and with other cats. Please help her find a fur-ever home!

Friday, October 18, 2013

S2L77: Uchisar, Aksaray and Konya

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

From Uchisar, the highest point in Cappodocia, it's about a hundred miles to Aksaray. At Aksaray is a Seljuk caravansary, a fortified inn built in 1229 along the trade route from Persia to Constantinople. Sixty miles farther west is Konya, a large, industrial city with a history dating back to 3,500 BCE. Known as Iconium by the Roman Empire, Saint Paul and Barnabas preached here in about 47-48 AD (Acts 14:1-5 and Acts 14:21). Konya is maybe best known for being one of the most conservative religious centers of Turkey, home of the Mevlevi Sufi order of Islam, established in 1273 and known as the "whirling dervishes."

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible (2012): 250,000 died in 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. One family's story. Desperation. Bravery. Perseverance. Incredible. A-

Gravity (2013)

Gravity (2013): Stunning 3D images. Nonstop tension. Sandra Bullock is up to it. Forgivable liberties with science. "A hell of a ride." A-

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Richardson's Empty Storefronts

Ever wonder why Richardson has so many empty storefronts? Maybe it's because Richardson's city council spends too much time keeping businesses out of Richardson and too little time attracting them.

Case in point: the following is a (lightly edited) slide presented at the October 14 city council meeting.
  • City Council has expressed an interest in making certain the City has a well balanced, diverse mixture of retail establishments.
  • To that end, staff constantly looks for opportunities to enhance existing regulations, especially when it observes new trends in the community.
  • Recently, an influx of applications for [a certain kind of] establishment have been received.
  • Consistent with how other similar establishments have been treated, regulations regarding where these businesses can locate may be desirable to prevent clustering and ensure location appropriateness in keeping with the community’s standards.
After the jump, is this the right way to attract small business to Richardson?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Richardson City Council Cover-Up

In a move away from transparency, the Richardson City Council amended its city ordinances Monday night by unanimous vote, without deliberations. Despite paying lip service to the value of openness and transparency, the new ordinance not only permits cover-ups, it demands cover-ups in certain circumstances. This change was slipped into the city council's so-called consent agenda, in which items are adopted without separate consideration and without deliberation.

What is the council covering up now? After the jump, the details.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lake Highlands Homecoming Win

From 2013 10 11 Richardson vs Lake Highlands
The Lake Highlands Wildcats celebrated a 29-18 win over the Richardson Eagles Friday night.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, October 11, 2013

S2L77: Cappadocia

From 1977 04 08 Turkey

Cappadocia, in central Turkey, is one of those unforgettable places that combines otherworldly geology with spellbinding history. It's a land of fairy chimneys and underground cities where early Christians sought refuge from ancient Romans. They carved houses and churches from the soft volcanic rock or tuff. These were occupied for centuries until just a generation or so ago. Today, an open air museum showcases hundreds of such living quarters and dozens of churches dating back a thousand years.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Inaction Items

You may remember I made something of a deal out of the fact that the Richardson City Council met away from city hall, without video cameras to record their deliberations, four separate times in August and September. The meetings were billed as "Council goals retreats."

It's over a month later now. What are the goals and near-term action items the council came up with? Follow me after the jump as I play detective to find out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
From The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barberry:
Open quote 

Apparently, now and again adults take the time to sit down and contemplate what a disaster their life is. They complain without understanding and, like flies constantly banging against the same old windowpane, they buzz around, suffer, waste away, get depressed then wonder how they got caught up in this spiral that is taking them where they don't want to go."


Profound thoughts of a 12 year old French girl, wise beyond her years, and of a 54 year old concierge, educated beyond her station. After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lookout! Farm, Fire, Filth

Lots of news from Lookout Drive recently. First was the announcement that Owens Spring Creek Farm was closing. Then was the ribbon cutting for Richardson's new fire training center. This week, down in Austin, the rebuilding of the Lookout Drive Transfer Station (LOTS) gets one more step closer to reality.

That trash transfer station has been a regular topic here on The Wheel. Most recently was last November, after a public hearing on the project, when the neighborhood learned that the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) had made all the concessions they were going to make to address the concerns of the neighborhood. Next week in Austin the neighborhood makes its last (?) ditch effort to stop the project as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) holds a review of a request for reconsideration of the TCEQ's decision that the NTMWD project application meets the requirements of applicable law.

After the jump, the TCEQ's response to the neighborhood complaints.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cottonwood Art Festival - Fall 2013

From 2013 10 06 Cottonwood Art Festival

From 2013 10 06 Cottonwood Art Festival

Saturday was cool and drizzly, but the weather Sunday was ideal for Richardson's twice yearly Cottonwood Art Festival, now in its 44th year. After the jump, more photos from this fall's festival.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Junior High Band Night 2013

From 2013 10 04 Jesuit at Berkner

The Dallas Jesuit Rangers defeated the Berkner Rams 31-14 Friday night at Wildcat-Ram Stadium, but the bands kept the home team's fans in good spirits. It was Junior High Band night, with young musicians from Apollo and Liberty Junior High Schools joining the Mighty Ram Band on the field and in the stands.

More photos after the jump.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

College GameDay - Northwestern University

This week ESPN's College GameDay is in Evanston, Illinois, at Northwestern University. This week GameDay is featuring the matchup between The Northwestern University and the visiting Ohio State University. Go Wildcats!

The photo is a screen capture from College GameDay. Recognize anyone?

Another "Where's Waldo? John?" after the jump.

Friday, October 4, 2013

S2L77: Mount Ararat, Turkey

Van, Turkey
April 10, 1977
A Turkish man helped us communicate with a waiter. Later he sent a bottle of wine to our table and paid for desserts and ice cream. A good welcome to Turkey.
Source: Personal travel notes.
From 1977 04 08 Turkey

I love Turkey. Perhaps it had something to do with that warm welcome in eastern Turkey. Eastern Turkey is rural, poor, and scenic. Mount Ararat, the mythical resting place of Noah's Ark, is in eastern Turkey. We didn't search for the ark. The Turkish people turned out to be the real attraction of eastern Turkey. I wish I had a photo.

More scenic photos of eastern Turkey after the jump.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Say Goodbye to Spring Creek Farm

Spring Creek Farm
Imagine finding a peaceful farm with rolling green grounds, beautiful horses, animals, and a museum in the middle of busy Richardson, Texas. This lovely spot is Owens® Spring Creek Farm and it's available to you and your family.
Source: Bob Evans.
Or rather, it *was* available. Owens Spring Creek Farm is closing. Owens Spring Creek Farm, a Richardson institution for over 80 years, was increasingly an anachronism in the city. The land on which it sat is too valuable to sustain hay rides and pumpkin patches, so Owens Spring Creek Farm is soon to disappear forever, to be replaced by... that is the question.

After the jump, some speculation.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

OTBR: Kunnati Bay, Saarema Island, Estonia

Latitude: N 58° 22.944
Longitude: E 022° 57.546

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".

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome Back, The Dallas Morning News

October 1. The government shut down. Obamacare exchanges opened for business. And The Dallas Morning News removed its paywall. "Its news content will once again be free to all web visitors." Once again I can read the bad news, the good news, all the news, in the News.

Long ago, I gave up my print subscription to The Dallas Morning News. And when the online product was locked behind a paywall, I largely gave up reading The Dallas Morning News online as well. I quit clicking on links to The Dallas Morning News stories because most of the time, I'd get the first paragraph, then a paywall notice telling me that the rest of the article was for paying customers only.

Now I can go back to clicking on links to The Dallas Morning News. That's good, right? After the jump, the downside of free.

Repeat Tweets: Time for Washington to Listen

Repeat tweets from Septemter, 2013:

  • 1 Sep 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "It's time for Washington to listen to the people!" Yeah, that 2012 Presidential election was like so 10 months ago. #wacko
  • 2 Sep 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "Right to vote is fundamental building block of our democratic process." Making it easier to buy guns than to vote is #wacko
  • 2 Sep 2013: Headline: "CBS, Time Warner Cable Agreement Reached." w00t! I've been having withdrawal symptoms without @CraigyFerg.
  • 5 Sep 2013: The Butler (2013): Civil rights movement seen through prism of White House black butler's family. Works as both history & drama. Moving. A+
  • 5 Sep 2013: The Master (2012): Acting A+. Depiction of mentality behind cults B+. Overall, empty and depressing. Characters, scenes don't connect. C+
  • 5 Sep 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "Voter ID protects election integrity. Despite AG Holder's claims, in GA minority turnout INCREASED." Minorities are pissed.
  • 5 Sep 2013: Amour (2012): Elderly man cares for his invalid wife. What do you do when nothing can be done? Heartbreaking. Oscar-worthy performances. B+

After the jump, more repeat tweets.