Tuesday, June 30, 2015

POTD: On the Town

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. It's a photo of five unknown women colorfully dressed up for a night on the town. I don't know about them, but we were headed for a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River (I recommend it). I like to think they had an equally pleasant evening.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Filling City Council Vacancies - ctd

The commission appointed by the Richardson City Council to review the city charter made numerous recommendations for charter amendments. On June 22, the council deliberated what to do with those recommendations. I previously discussed those deliberations regarding one particular recommendation (filling a single vacancy on the council by appointment instead of a special election). Today, I want to add a postscript to that.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wild (2014)

Wild (2014): Messed-up woman undertakes insane 1,100 mile solo hike to clear her head. Reckless but it worked for her. I couldn't relate. B-

Friday, June 26, 2015

POTD: Grand Palace

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. Specifically, the Grand Palace. This has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam/Thailand since 1782.

If you're of a certain age, think Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr and the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "The King and I." If you're not of a certain age, try Amazon. You can thank me later.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Drove My Chevy to the Levee

From 2015 06 21 Trinity River
Dallas. Summer. 100 degrees. Drought. Except for 2015. This photo shows the Trinity River, normally a small stream in a large floodplain, now a major river due to this Spring's record rainfall.

That's a stop sign in the river. Ironic, as the biggest controversy in Dallas politics is whether to put a high-speed, massive tollroad down in that floodplain, between the levees that, so far, are keeping downtown Dallas dry.

Oh yeah, there was a classic car show down by the levee Sunday, too. "And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye."
From 2015 06 21 Trinity River

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Filling City Council Vacancies

The commission appointed by the Richardson City Council to review the city charter made a recommendation to have a special election in case of a vacancy in the mayor's seat. (Good.) They also recommended reducing from three to two the number of vacancies in the six council seats needed to trigger a special election. (Right direction, but they didn't go far enough. It should be one.)

Monday night, the City Council deliberated this second recommendation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dallas Arts District Summer Block Party

From 2015 06 19 Dallas Arts District

The Dallas Arts District put on another world class Summer Block Party Friday night. The Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art all were open late, with food trucks and more bringing the surrounding streets to life. Combined with the adjacent Klyde Warren park, the whole area is starting to look and feel like a real city. ;-)

More photos after the jump.

Monday, June 22, 2015

For Restaurant Row, Dessert is Served First

It appears that the City of Richardson is now the proud owner of a row of restaurants along US 75 north of Spring Valley Rd. Well, not actually owner. Instead the city is just putting up the money. Someone else will actually own the restaurants and make money off of them.
Hermansen was the recipient of a very generous deal with the city. Richardson gave him a grant for the full purchase price of the five-acre tract – $2.2 million. In addition, the city will provide up to $1.2 million in grants to pay for infrastructure costs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chef (2014)

Chef (2014): Talented but unappreciated chef quits and buys a food truck. As feel-good a movie as you could want. I just didn't want. C+

Friday, June 19, 2015

POTD: Thai Street Food

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. It's a photo of a
street food vendor. Here are some quotes from just a few of the first
hits you get if you Google "Bangkok street food."

  • "Bangkok is the best city in the world for street food."
  • "For the best food in Bangkok, hit the streets."
  • "Nowhere is the Thai reverence for food more evident than in Bangkok."
  • "Known as the unofficial outdoor dining capital of Asia, Bangkok's street food is unlike anything else in the region."
  • "You can wander the streets of Bangkok for weeks, pointing at every single thing that looks tasty, handing over a couple dozen baht [less than a dollar], and eating until you burst, all without ever trying the same thing twice."

Good times.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Real Sweet Deal for RealPage

Here's what I wrote in October, 2014.
"State Farm's move to Richardson will leave behind big blocks of empty office space." That was the headline to a story in The Dallas Morning News revealing the ugly secret behind the big win for Richardson. ... It turns out that many of the 8,000 employees moving into those new State Farm office towers will be moving from just down the road, where State Farm is currently leasing space in five office buildings in Richardson's Galatyn Park. That will leave a huge hole behind that will need to be filled, perhaps with the city trying to lure other big tenants to move.
Source: The Wheel.
It's time for an update on this game of musical chairs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy (2003): Korean thriller. Man imprisoned for 15 years by unknown enemy. When released, seeks revenge. Mystery and lots of violence. C-

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

POTD: Stanley Cup Champions

From 2010 06 Northwestern
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Chicago, home of the 2015 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks also won the Cup in 2013 and 2010. Dynasty!

The photo is from the 2010 Cup year and shows the Blackhawks banner flying from the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. In the background is the Wrigley Building.

Good times.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Filling a Vacancy on City Council by Appointment

At Monday night's meeting, the Richardson City Council is scheduled to appoint a person to fill a vacancy in the Place 5 position on the council.

Some people just can't let go of the false idea that filling a vacancy by appointment instead of special election is a violation of the Texas State Constitution. And that the city charter itself gives the city council the option of calling a special election. By some people, I mean specifically local gadfly Cheri Duncan-Hubert. She's been corrected before, including here, but in a (long) Facebook thread she demonstrates a remarkable persistence of willful ignorance. So here we go again.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

POTD: Water Taxi

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. Specifically, the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok's main thoroughfare. After a while, there's only so many temples you can stand to tour. You have to get away from the crowds, out on the river and breathe in some fresh, clean... diesel fumes from the river buses, cross-river ferries and water taxis. Good times.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: Salvage the Bones

Salvage the Bones
From Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward:
Open quote 

It's summer, and when it's summer, there's always a hurricane coming or leaving here. Each pushes its way through the flat Gulf to the twenty-six-mile manmade Mississippi beach, where they knock against the old summer mansions with their slave galleys turned guesthouses before running over the bayou, through the pines, to lose wind, drip rain, and die in the north. Most don't even hit us head-on anymore; most turn right to Florida or take a left for Texas, brush past and glance off us like a shirtsleeve. We ain't had one come straight for us in years, time enough to forget how many jugs of water we need to fill, how many cans of sardines and potted meat we should stock, how many tubs of water we need."

It's a Hurricane Katrina story, but so much more. After the jump, my review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

POTD: Bigfoot

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. It shows the foot of the statue of the Buddha in Wat Pho, aka the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The full statue is about 50 yards long, filling the temple. There's just enough room for visitors to walk along the outside wall, from head to foot then back along the back side. There's something attractive about a religion that depicts its most holy figure in a reclining position, blissfully at peace. Good times.

Oh, and that big foot? Each is about 15 feet long.

A bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Arapaho Redevelopment Put in Storage

From December, 2011:
The other request is for rezoning for a self-service warehouse with outside vehicle storage (boats, motor homes, etc.) on Arapaho Rd west of Custer Rd. That's right in a shopping center, across the street from a shopping center, just down the street from the Civic Center. A few years ago, the city thought parked boats and motor homes were such an eyesore that the city council passed an ordinance restricting home owners from parking their recreational vehicles at their houses. The city also spent years buying up aging homes across Arapaho Rd from the Civic Center and tearing them down. Why in the world would the city now agree to zoning that would allow a self-service warehouse, with boats and motor homes parked outdoors, to be built in a shopping center, near a residential neighborhood, and just down the street from the Civic Center? Here's another use destined to destroy any hope that this aging retail neighborhood can be revived.
Source: The Wheel.
That's what I wrote three years ago. The city council rejected that particular rezoning request in December, 2011, but the owner returned in March, 2012, with a modified request (he dropped plans for outside vehicle storage) and the council approved that. So now we have a self-service warehouse smack dab in the middle of the West Arapaho enhancement/redevelopment area.

It's time for an update on this three-year-old decision.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Still Alice (2014)

Still Alice (2014): No cure for Alzheimer's. No surprise movie happy ending. Sad but still positive. Oscar for Julianne Moore. Deserved. B-

Monday, June 8, 2015

Highway Planner Sees Handwriting on Wall

Some in Richardson see projects like CityLine and Palisades as conspiracies between government and developers to rip off the little guy -- usually homeowners who already own a house in Richardson. Conspiracy theorists predict housing prices will drop as new apartments go up nearby. Simultaneously, housing prices (and property taxes) will go up as an influx of new jobs increases demand for nearby housing. (Cognitive dissonance doesn't afflict conspiracy theorists.) If they wanted to live in a high-density urban environment, they say, they'd have bought a condo in downtown Dallas. If Richardson keeps trying to increase density and force people to ride trains and bikes, they'll have to move to somewhere like Frisco or McKinney that's still in love with cars and sprawl.

You just know there's a "but" coming, don't you? The "but" here is that the trend towards mixed-use, high-density development is indeed happening, but it's not because of a conspiracy, either local (Richardson's mayor's recent behavior) or global (Agenda 21).

Saturday, June 6, 2015

POTD: Pretty as a Picture

From 2015 03 16 Bangkok

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Bangkok, Thailand. It shows an unknown woman framed by doorways in the Wat Pho temple complex. There are more temples, towers, halls, shrines, classrooms, walls, gates, and courtyards than you can take in. All gilded, tiled or chiseled. A Buddhist Disneyland. Only without the thrill rides. Except for religious thrills, if you're into that. Sensory overload, in any case. Good times.

Friday, June 5, 2015

OTBR: Gus Grissom Road

Latitude: N 29° 30.726
Longitude: W 095° 08.682

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".

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Charter Amendments: Three to Like

Previously, I took a first look at the Charter Review Commission's recommended changes to the Richardson City Charter. I found three changes that I'll oppose. But just to show you that I'm not reflexively negative, today I highlight three changes that I like.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Charter Amendments: First Look

The Charter Review Commission presented their recommendations to the Richardson City Council June 1, 2015. Now it's up to the council to decide which, if any, of the recommendations to adopt and place before the voters in November, 2015.

The commission made recommendations in about fifty areas, meaning that the ballot facing the voters could contain more than fifty propositions. Many of the propositions will be inconsequential (changing spelling, punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, etc.), but by the commission's own estimation, twelve of the changes are substantive, meaning they will have practical effect on the operation of government.

Unfortunately, while the commission explained *what* their recommended changes are, they didn't explain *why* the recommended changes are necessary. It's left to the voters to either put blind faith in the commission or attempt to divine the reasons behind the recommendations. I'm not inclined to the former, and I don't have the skill for the latter. Unless someone offers some compelling reasons otherwise, here are three changes that I'll oppose.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Repeat Tweets: Justice for All

Repeat tweets from May, 2015:

  • May 1 2015: "None of us will know peace until we see justice for all, so it's time to take the blinders off." What she said. Destiny Herndon-DeLaRosa
  • May 1 2015: To support his anti-gay bigotry, @DonMcLeroy pretty much says women are not created in the image of God. Just wow. TheEagle.com
  • May 2 2015: Interstellar (2014): Wormhole shows humans way off dying Earth. Mishmash of ideas. Explains plot with dialog not action. Waste of talent. D+
  • May 4 2015: "There is a pattern of the state leadership pandering to the fringe of Texas politics rather than the mainstream." texasmonthly.com
  • May 4 2015: "It's possible to think both that this event was in bad taste, and that the response was utterly unacceptable." frontburner.dmagazine.com

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Changing the City Charter

Now that the city council election is behind us, now that Mayor Laura Maczka has left the building, it's time for Richardson to turn its attention to something that's been bubbling away on the back burner for months: the work by the charter review commission to amend Richardson's City Charter. If all goes as expected, the voters will be deciding whether to amend the city charter in the November, 2015, election.

But before we dive into just what changes the commission has come up with, let's first look at the process. There seems to be some charges circulating that the commission is illegitimate, that it's a tool to provide a smokescreen for the city to change the charter to its own advantage and to the disadvantage of the citizens. Is there truth to that?