Monday, June 30, 2014

Touring the Pasadena Chalk Festival

From 2014 06 15 Pasadena Chalk Festival

While visiting southern California for the Caltech commencement ceremony, Ellen and I took the opportunity to tour the Pasadena Chalk Festival.

It is so amazing what these artists can do with a square of sidewalk and box of chalk that I'll just let the art speak for itself.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Touring the Mount Wilson Observatory

From 2014 06 14 Mt Wilson

While visiting southern California for the Caltech commencement ceremony, Ellen and I took the opportunity to tour the Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The mountains are a welcome change from the crowds of the Los Angeles basin. Mostly in the Angeles National Forest, the scenery is magnificent. Even without the observatories as a destination, the ride alone would be worth it. But the observatories are a treasure all by themselves.

More after the jump.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Cad turned hero in struggle against 1980s AIDS epidemic. One-sided movie. Dubious history. Powerful acting. B-

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Richardson Lacks Fight Against TxDOT

At the June 23, 2014, Richardson City Council meeting, city staff presented TxDOT's plans for a tolled express lane on US 75 between IH 635 and Allen. Both the staff presentation and the city council reaction were impotent.

After the jump, why.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Touring the Reagan Library

From 2014 06 12 Reagan Library

While visiting southern California for the Caltech commencement ceremony, Ellen and I took the opportunity to tour the Reagan Presidential Library. This added to our growing list of libraries, having previously visited the libraries of Hoover, Truman, LBJ, Bush 41 and Clinton (we'll soon add Bush 43's library too as it's just down the road in Dallas).

The Reagan library's setting is stunning, high in the hills above Simi Valley. The main exhibits are humdrum -- windowless rooms burnishing the achievements of the Reagan presidency and overlooking the not-so-laudatory events. But it's the Air Force One Pavilion that people identify with the Reagan library. Think of the GOP presidential primary debates, with the candidates lined up under the wing of Air Force One. It's a spectacular exhibit, with the plane facing one glass wall, beyond which the California hills form just as spectacular a backdrop.

More after the jump.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Arsenic and Old Lace

Mesquite Community Theatre
Arsenic and Old Lace at MCT: Classic farce still works 70 years later. Laugh out loud at the same show your grandparents did. "Charge!!!"

Friday, June 20, 2014

Unsafe Routes to School

For the last several months, signs have been up all around the Yale Elementary neighborhood advertising street and sidewalk improvements being made as part of a Safe Routes to School program to enable and encourage children to walk and bike to school. Good intention.

I thought the city would be repairing sidewalks and perhaps installing curb-free sidewalk ramps at intersections. That some intersections that already had curb-free ramps were also being torn up was puzzling, but I thought that maybe they were adding those little round bumps to warn you of the approaching intersection. Still, why would they be tearing up the intersection for ten to fifteen feet? Dunno, but that turned out to be the least of the problems.

Houston Richardson, we have a problem. Someone from the city needs to come out quickly and look at the work being done (Mark Solomon, I'm looking at you). Someone needs to stop this before more work is done that will need to be redone. The program advertised as Safe Routes to School is taking already safe routes and turning them into accidents waiting to happen.

After the jump, one example of Unsafe Routes to School.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

120th Caltech Commencement

From 2014 06 13 Caltech Commencement

In his introductory remarks at the 120th annual commencement for the California Institute of Technology, David L. Lee, Chair of the Board of Trustees, told guests some of the things that members of the Caltech community have been up to in the past year. He highlighted three things: the collaboration on BICEP2, which claims to have found the first observational evidence of cosmic inflation during the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang; the first determination of the age of an extraterrestrial rock performed extraterrestrially -- on Mars by the Mars rover Curiosity; and the fabrication of a new silicon laser with unparalleled spectral purity that has the potential to speed up the Internet by orders of magnitude.

This last highlight was the result of research by a Caltech Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering, a graduate of the Richardson ISD, whose parents just happened to be in the audience. We couldn't have been prouder of our son's achievement or more appreciative of the educational foundation laid in Richardson schools.

More photos from Caltech commencement after the jump.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Round of Applause for RISD Insurance

The Richardson ISD is not perfect (no one is), but it's willing to correct its mistakes when they are pointed out. That's worthy of notice and applause.

When I first looked at the issue of school districts leaving its student athletes on the hook for thousands of dollars in doctor and hospital bills for injuries suffered while playing sports for their schools, the RISD was one of five out of sixty five in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that did not provide catastrophic insurance for its student athletes. As I said then, "Richardson ISD?!? No coverage? Seriously?"

Now, the RISD has corrected that egregious oversight. According to The Dallas Morning News, the RISD added a catastrophic insurance policy that will take effect before the 2014-15 school year. Three cheers for the RISD!

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

Monday, June 16, 2014

Something in the Air (2012)

Something in the Air (2012): Paris 1971. Rebellious teen drawn to revolution, art, love. Seeks purpose. Not my life story but I relate. A-

Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything
From A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson:
Open quote 

That to me remained the greatest of all amazements -- how scientists work things out. How does anybody know how much the Earth weighs or how old its rocks are or what really is way down there in the center? How can they know how and when the universe started and what it was like when it did? How do they know what goes on inside an atom?"

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

Much Ado About Nothing (2012): Shakespeare comedy shot in 12 days in B/W, set in director's house. Mostly works. It is still the Bard. C+

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mayor Maczka Shows Leadership on Palisades - ctd

Monday night (actually after midnight, so very early Tuesday morning), the Richardson City Council approved, 5-2, a rezoning request for Palisades Village, increasing the number of multi-family units from 600 to 1090. This was in response to the developer's request after acquiring 20 acres to add to the original 59 acres in the development. Once again, Mayor Laura Maczka displayed strength and resolve in leading the council to this decision despite vocal opposition from her neighbors in Canyon Creek.

I haven't had anything to say about this second round on this rezoning matter because I had my say during the first round. Rereading what I said then, I find it applies equally well now. So... follow the link and save me the time and trouble of rephrasing the same arguments.

But, after the jump, I do want to add a word about Paul Voelker.

Friday, June 6, 2014

American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle (2013): The big con. Plot twists. Unforgettable characters. 1970s clothes and music. Pushes without going over the top. A+

Thursday, June 5, 2014

OTBR: A Field of Rapeseed in Ukraine

Latitude: N 49° 19.176
Longitude: E 027° 13.524

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".

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Relatively Speaking at PST

Relatively Speaking
Relatively Speaking at PST: 3 one-acts by Coen/May/Allen. Plots and jokes feel dated, but enthusiastic local acting makes up for that. C+

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

As Richardson Goes, So Goes Plano

Wendy Hundley, of The Dallas Morning News, thinking about the news that Toyota would be building on a 100-acre site in the Legacy business park, notes that Plano's open land is almost gone.
Less than 8 percent of Plano's 72 square miles remains available for residential or commercial development. Of that 8 percent, 6.6 percent -- or 3,052 acres -- is earmarked for commercial development. A mere 1 percent -- or 428 acres -- is left for housing. Plano officials say that leaves plenty of room for business expansion, and future housing may take new forms to accommodate a population that will continue to grow. Buildout, to Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, simply means "a new phase of the city’s life."
Sound familiar? After the jump, more echoes of Richardson's experience.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Repeat Tweets: We Want More Speech

Repeat tweets from May, 2014:

  • May 1 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "We don't need less speech, we want more." But Cruz doesn't want billionaires to have to put their names on their speech.
  • May 2 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "Religious liberty is under assault like never before." You do know who is denying wall between church and state, don't you?
  • May 2 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "We need policies that encourage job creation & growth." Then pass the Job Creation Act already. #wacko

After the jump, more repeat tweets.