Friday, February 27, 2015

Snowpiercer (2014)

Snowpiercer (2014): Think Coors Silver Bullet train meets Hunger Games with Gandalf and zombies. Absurd. Illogical. Cheap. Dreadful. D-

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Agenda Watch: Food Trucks

The following item appeared on the agenda for the cancelled February 23, 2015, Richardson City Council worksession:
As usual, there is no hint of what prompted this agenda item (I've never understood how agendas are put together, but that's another topic). But my guess is that the reason this was on the agenda wasn't because some council member thought that existing regulations are too restrictive, maybe resulting in Richardson not having as many food trucks as a modern, vibrant urban city ought to have.

You know, like Plano...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Playoffs: Berkner 65, Jesuit 62

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team fought off a challenge from the Dallas Jesuit Rangers in the first round of the UIL state basketball playoffs Tuesday night at the Richardson High School gym. The Rams came back from a nine point deficit in the third quarter to win 65-62.

It's a great time to be a Ram!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Neighbors (2014)

Neighbors (2014): Gross, tasteless, raunchy, sophomoric, derivative, unfunny. Boy, I am so the wrong demographic for this movie. D+

Monday, February 23, 2015

CAFR's Upward Trend is Real

For city finance wonks, Christmas comes twice a year: once in August when the city budget is set and again in February when the city financial audit is published. The budget specifies the city's cash flow (its planned revenues and expenses). The financial audit details the city's assets (the value of city property, bank accounts, etc.) and its liabilities (outstanding debt, pension obligations, etc.).

After the jump, a quick look at this year's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

RALC Murder Mystery in the Library

RALC "Once Upon a Murder": Who knew an ESL program would lead to MURDER? Who knew sweet fairy tale characters had so many secret issues?

Friday, February 20, 2015

How Unpopular Is Palisades, Really?

At first glance, it looks like Mayor Laura Maczka might be ripe for a challenge in the upcoming Richardson elections. After all, when she ran for mayor in 2013, she left no doubt on where she stood: "When it comes to apartments, you know that Laura has always said we do not need more apartments near our neighborhoods. Period."

When the Palisades development came before the city council, a reported 651 people turned out in opposition; only 1 member of the public registered support. (I can't vouch for the numbers, but it sounds about right.) It was a tailor-made opportunity for Maczka to deliver on a campaign promise by voting "no", right? Well... Maczka led a 5-2 majority of the council voting "yes," handing the Palisades developer the right to build a thousand or so apartments next door to Maczka's own Canyon Creek neighborhood.

Surely, a huge majority of her neighbors would see this flip flop as a betrayal of her own neighborhood and be ready in 2015 to throw Maczka out, right?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

War on Education

It's not just in Texas that state government is waging a war on education.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made national headlines this month when his proposed state budget redefined the mission of the University of Wisconsin System as "to develop human resources to meet the state's workforce needs." His budget removed "to serve and stimulate society,", "to improve the human condition," and "to search for truth." Although the governor quickly retracted them, the proposed changes generated lots of conversation about the public purposes of college.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Particle Fever (2013)

Particle Fever (2013): People behind Large Hadron Collider, humans' largest experiment into universe's smallest things. Inspiring. B+

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Putting the Squeeze on Group Homes

The Richardson Coalition political action committee included this paragraph in its latest "Richardson News in Three Minutes" newsletter:
The City staff is actively working with an independent legal counsel to evaluate the City's current policies and procedures for processing group home applications.
Source: Richardson Coaltion PAC.
The words that jumped out at me were "legal counsel." That can only mean the city is looking for (legal) ways to put the squeeze on group homes that provide support for people recovering from drug and alcohol dependency. That is, keep more from opening, and who knows, maybe even hassle existing ones out of business.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Virunga (2014)

Virunga (2014): Congo national park. Mountain gorillas. Poachers. Oil. Corruption. War. More thriller than nature documentary. Intense. A+

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review: The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch
From The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt:
Open quote 

Whenever you see flies or insects in a still life -- a wilted petal, a black spot on the apple -- the painter is giving you a secret message. He's telling you that living things don't last -- it's all temporary. Death in life. That's why they're called natures mortes. Maybe you don't see it at first with all the beauty and bloom, the little speck of rot. But if you look closer -- there it is."

After the jump, my review.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's Going on in Downtown Richardson?

Towne Central map
That area in orange is a sub-area of a tax increment financing district, TIF 1A. It's bordered by Main St, Central Expressway, Greer St, and the DART line.

Changes to the TIF were made at the February 9, 2015, Richardson City Council meeting. The previous plan had only retail as part of the TIF. An update to the plan adds what the city calls mixed-use, but you should probably read that as the addition of two large, single-purpose, multi-family buildings to the other nearby retail buildings.

Details after the jump.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Frozen (2013)

Frozen (2013): Princess, vaguely Grinch-like, Frosty and a gospel of sacrificing one's life. Nice animation and songs anyway. B-

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Many Starbucks are Enough?

Source: Starbucks.
How many Starbucks are enough? The question arises because of the construction of a Starbucks on the southeast corner of Campbell and Coit. You may be asking, isn't there a Starbucks on that corner already? Well, yes, but the existing Starbucks will close when the new one opens. You may also be asking, isn't there another Starbucks in the Tom Thumb across Campbell? And another in the Target across Coit? Well, yes and yes. And another down Campbell to the east in the UT-Dallas student center? And yet another one on Campbell at Central? Well, yes and yes again. And another one here, there and seemingly everywhere. So, just how many are enough?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Who Owns Your Body?

Who said it?
Who Owns Your Body? If not you, then you are a slave. When your health depends on the sanctions permitted by your society and not your independent action, you have no right to your life and are thus a slave to the whims of others.
Barbara Harless said it. Who is Barbara Harless? If you guessed some left-wing spokeswoman for the pro-choice movement, you'd be wrong. She's a right-wing advocate for the anti-vaccination movement in North Texas. The unintended irony is rich. The unwitting hypocrisy is stunning. But that's what passes for reasoned discourse today.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood (2014): Clever concept in service of an uncompelling story. Every character is more interesting than the boy. Please, no Oscar. B-

Saturday, February 7, 2015

How to Succeed in Business at PHS

How to Succeed in Business at PHS: Great lighting, sound, voices and especially choreography in this old sexist musical. Learn from it kids.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ill-suited Building

Peter Simek doesn't think much of a building under construction in Dallas. It reminded me of one in Richardson. See if you can identify each.
The very fact that the building sits right next to a DART station demonstrates that:
1) Our light rail system doesn't count as a real public transit, at least not in the eyes of decision makers at companies who want to work in the core. We need to improve public transportation desperately,
2) Market demand is still driving development that is ill-suited to the long range viability and potential of our urban neighborhoods.
Source: FrontBurner.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

OTBR: A Multi-armed Saguaro in Arizona

Latitude: N 32° 20.196
Longitude: W 110° 24.588
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, February 4, 2015

Sweep: Richardson 64, Berkner 56

From 2015 02 03 Berkner vs Richardson
In District 10-6A action Tuesday night at Richardson High School, the Richardson Eagles men's basketball team defeated the Berkner Rams 64-56. Berkner's Torey Everett led all scorers with 23 points.

With the win, the Eagles sweep the Rams in the season series. More importantly, with this win and a loss by Mesquite to Highland Park (27-26!), the Eagles take sole possession of first place in the district with a record of 9-1.

More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Repeat Tweets: Boxcar Children at Richardson Public Library

Repeat tweets from January, 2015:

  • Jan 1 2015: The Richardson Public Library acquired Kindle editions of the Boxcar Children series of mysteries. Great choice for bedtime stories.
  • Jan 1 2015: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is the man. With 2,587 yards this year, Gordon finished just 41 yards shy of Barry Sanders' all-time NCAA record.
  • Jan 2 2015: "I'm not suggesting that we're on the verge of fully replaying the 1930s." It's that "fully" that's got me worried.
  • Jan 2 2015: Auburn Tigers are 0-2 against schools that lost 59-0 this year (Texas A&M and Wisconsin).
  • Jan 2 2015: "They're going to be holding the Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 12." Champion of Big Ten vs champion of PAC 12.
  • Jan 2 2015: MT @ESPN_CoachMack: "Michigan State's only two losses this year came at the hands of the two teams playing for the national championship."
  • Jan 2 2015: Final: North Mesquite 57, Berkner 80. It's a great time to be a Ram. #txhshoops

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, February 2, 2015

What's to Show for Revitalization Efforts?

Wendy Hundley of The Dallas Morning News has a story questioning whether there's anything to show for Richardson's revitalization efforts. Actually, she doesn't question it; she quotes some Richardson residents who question the efforts. Then she gives the mayor and city manager an opportunity to dismiss the criticism.

After the jump, unpacking the story.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Little Shop of Horrors at BHS

Little Shop of Horrors at BHS: So much to praise, including orchestra, tech, Audrey II, Mr Yartym, Doo Wop Girls and Audrey's awesome voice.