Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kiss Me Kate at LHHS

From 2016 00 00 Miscellaneous
Kiss Me Kate at LHHS: Couple fight and woo onstage and off. Shakespeare, laughs, and such talented voices top to bottom.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Grease at BHS

From 2016 00 00 Miscellaneous
Grease at BHS: 2016 kids in '80s musical about '50s rock and roll. Spirited production. Great singing and dancing (and sax solo).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Singin' in the Rain at PHS

From 2016 00 00 Miscellaneous
Singin' in the Rain at PHS: Great singing, dancing, acting, costumes, set, lighting and sound. All-around hit.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

POTD: Off the Rack

From 2015 11 13 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Jamaica, where the local vendors are ready to help out in case you forgot to pack appropriate clothing. A vacation rule of thumb: your comfort level wearing local fashion is inversely proportional to your distance from your vacation destination.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spy (2015)

Spy (2015): 007 parody that's surprisingly more fun than original franchise. Maybe too many vulgarities but they serve a purpose. B-

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

POTD: It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

From 2015 11 13 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the beach at Montego Bay, Jamaica, where it's always five o'clock at Margaritaville.

Monday, January 25, 2016

What's Up with the RISD Bond?

The RISD is facing a February deadline to put a bond proposition on the ballot in the May election. What's the sticking point in finalizing what will go into the bond package?

It doesn't appear to be the size of the bond package or the need to raise the tax rate. The size is projected to be $417 million, with a likely tax rate increase of eight cents per $100 dollars. Most of the public commotion is not over these numbers, but seems to be over what's in the bond package, not how much it costs.

It doesn't appear to be those multipurpose facilities (aka, indoor practice fields). The scope of those has been cut down from $80 million to $60 million ($15 million each for four high schools). Now that the sticker shock has been addressed and the price is more in line with the dozens other such facilities already built by other school districts in north Texas, this issue seems to have moved to the back burner. Whether it's still simmering away, ready to boil over at the ballot box, is an open question.

It doesn't appear to be how to break up the bond items into separate bond propositions for voters to decide on. The Community Bond Advisory Committee recommends a single proposition. All or nothing. Not what I would recommend. There are too many angles to attack this bond proposition to feel comfortable that an all-or-nothing proposition will pass. But it's likely the school board will go along.

So, what's the sticking point? It's what to do about enrollment growth, especially in Lake Highlands.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Frida (2002)

Frida (2002): Mexico in the 1920s. Biopic of Frida Kahlo. Art, politics, and volatile marriage to Diego Rivera. Leaves you wanting more. A-

Thursday, January 21, 2016

POTD: A Helping Hand

From 2015 11 13 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the cruise ship Liberty of the Seas. The photo shows an unknown passenger learning to ride the onboard FlowRider® surf simulator with help from an attentive crew member. Everything is better when someone's got your back.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ex Machina (2015)

Ex Machina (2015): SciFi. Explores what it means to be human. Creepy rich eccentric builds an AI robot. Is it conscious or itself creepy? B-

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

POTD: Idle Oil Rigs

From 2015 11 13 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Galveston, Texas. It shows idle oil rigs in the Galveston Channel. Now I don't know anything about the oil industry, but I know that gasoline prices are below $2/gallon, the lowest they've been in a decade. That can't be good for the oil industry. I wouldn't be surprised if these rigs stand idle for a while longer.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Sad State of Suburban Office Parks

In a story titled, "The Sad State of Suburban Office Parks", CityLab sounds a warning that ought to resonate in Richardson.
So-called Class A office space is in transit-oriented areas that are at least close to highways. These offices don't need to be in walkable, urban neighborhoods -- though that's ideal. At the very least, today's workers want to get lunch or maybe even a workout without firing up an engine.
There are models that developers are using to transform older office parks throughout the country, to measured success. They mostly involve turning definitely-suburban office parks into urban-like, albeit still isolated, office “cities.” (It is worth noting that many of these projects involve extensive rezoning efforts.)
Source: CityLab.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter on Fire (2015)

Winter on Fire (2015): Documentary of Ukraine revolution. Can't praise these people enough for their courage & determination. Stunning. A+

Thursday, January 14, 2016

POTD: "World's Only Corn Palace"

From 2015 08 15 South Dakota

Architects call them the "Big Three" -- the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Corn Palace. Today's photo-of-the-day is from Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the "World's Only Corn Palace." A bonus in the photo is the 1959 Pontiac Bonneville, Motor Trend Magazine's "Car of the Year" for that year. It's fitting that it's in the photo, given that my only previous visit to the Corn Palace was in the late 1950s, when many similar vintage cars filled the streets.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Big Eyes (2014)

Big Eyes (2014): Biopic of Margaret Keane. Art or kitsch? Innocent fib or fraud? Trapped or complicit? Portrait of a bad marriage. B+

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

POTD: Classic Road Picture

From 2015 08 15 South Dakota

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Badlands National Park. It's the South Dakota version of the classic road picture. The original classic road picture, from Monument Valley on the border of Utah and Arizona, is after the jump.

Monday, January 11, 2016

George Clayton is Running for School Board

George Clayton says he is running for RISD school board. You remember him, right? He's a one-term Republican member of the State Board of Education. He lost his re-election bid in the GOP primary. Then, as a Democrat, he lost his race for Texas State Representative to Linda Koop. Currently, he says he's the co-chair of the Trump for President Campaign for Congressional District 32. And now he says he'll be running for Richardson ISD board of trustees.

Friday, January 8, 2016

POTD: The Badlands are Amazing

From 2015 08 15 South Dakota

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The Great Plains stretch forever, endless grasslands from Canada to Texas and from the Rockies to the Mississippi. South Dakota is in the middle of all that nothingness. You drive for hundreds of miles on I-90 through flat grasslands, then turn off the interstate and within a few short miles you are faced with the scene in this photo. The Badlands are amazing.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Even More About Enrollment Growth

I had three takeaways from the Richardson ISD's 2016 Bond "listening tour."
  • Those multipurpose facilities (MPFs) seemed expensive. Comparisons with similar facilities in other school districts were lacking.
  • There wasn't enough in the bond to address anticipated enrollment growth over the next five years.
  • There appeared to be no way to avoid a tax rate increase, even if only maintenance and construction for enrollment growth were addressed.
The RISD school board addressed the first two of my takeaways at their December 7th meeting. What I said then:
It's too bad that the scheduled enrollment growth study couldn't have been accelerated so its results could have been presented to the public on this "listening tour." It's too bad that a placeholder for additional expansion wasn't included in the 2016 bond proposal so the public would know that the school board is aware of the need. But that's water under the bridge. I'm confident that by the time the school board signs off on any bond package that projected enrollment growth will be comprehended in it.
Source: The Wheel.
Now at their January 5th meeting, the school board took further steps to address my second takeaway, and in the process, my first takeaway as well. I consider those steps to be steps back in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

OTBR: Trail of the Tough in Estonia

Latitude: N 58° 28.584
Longitude: E 022° 12.060

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, January 5, 2016

Repeat Tweets: #txhshoops is baaack!

Repeat tweets from December, 2015:

  • 1 Dec 2015: Final: Naaman Forest 64, Berkner 52. #txhshoops is baaack!
  • 2 Dec 2015: RT @SenTedCruz: "Scientific conclusions should be based on the evidence & data, not the wishes of liberal global warming alarmists." @SenTedCruz is trolling us.
  • 2 Dec 2015: What's the difference between the KKK and the Irving anti-Islamists? One is a group of racist bigots and the other wears hoods.
  • 3 Dec 2015: MT @cressman: "When you live outside the US you think Americans are nuts regarding guns." Inside the US you *know*.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tree the (rest of the) Town

Remember "Tree the Town"? You know, the program with a goal "to plant 50,000 trees in Richardson during the next 10 years on private and public property." What's up with that?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Dallas Arboretum's 12 Days of Christmas

From 2015 12 30 Dallas Arboretum
The Twelve Days of Christmas, the second most annoying Christmas song ever, celebrates the twelve days between the birth of Christ (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi (Epiphany, January 6). The Dallas Arboretum celebrates the twelve days of Christmas from November 27 - January 3 (yeah, that's 38 days; I don't think they care). Scattered around the arboretum grounds are twelve Victorian gazebos each filled with animals and characters from the song. The DeGolyer house itself is filled with nativity sets. All in all, the best thing to ever happen to the song.

All photos from our visit to the Dallas Arboretum can be seen in Google Photos.