Tuesday, July 31, 2018

POTD: Cabo's Playa del Amor

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It shows Playa del Amor, a beach accessible from both sides of the Land's End peninsula at the very tippy tip of Baja California via a narrow gap in the rocks.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Americans (TV)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Americans (TV): The series that asks if US audiences can empathize with Russian spies. Answer: yes. Spoilers from finale: Philip and Elizabeth can't run from emotional consequences. Everyone ends up in a bad place. No one's happy, except maybe McDonalds. A-

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018): Netflix standup special in which this Australian explains how comedy works (tension and release) and why that doesn't work for her anymore (her life story is one of unreleased tension). Raw, powerful, and yes, very funny. Straight dudes beware! A-

Friday, July 27, 2018

An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Election

The New York Times has published an extremely detailed map of the 2016 presidential election that will keep mapping nerds and political junkies happily clicking away for hours. So go ahead. Click away. When you come back, I'll offer my own quick observations, some confirming my priors, some surprising me.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018): Round two of fun and romance in the Greek Isles. Over the top from the first song and dance number, with over the top costumes to match. Full of energy and joy and unabashed respect for all the old ABBA hits, it never lets up. A-

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Three Identical Strangers (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Three Identical Strangers (2018): Documentary of triplets separated at birth. When they discover each other at age 19, they compare looks, likes, personalities, etc. But when they try to understand why they were separated at birth, that's when the real story begins. A-

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Delphi Method Bogeyman, Again

The City of Richardson or the Richardson ISD periodically seek public input on an issue. Often it's by means of a public hearing on a proposal already on the table. You know the routine, an open mic where individuals give their opinions, pro and con. But sometimes, usually early in the process, other types of meetings are arranged, where organized group discussions take place, maybe some kind of voting happens, and a sense of the community is determined, or not. Sometimes the community is split and these meetings reveal there is no consensus. That's good to know as well. In any case, different formats for public input are useful at different times. Or at least you'd think. Not everyone agrees.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sister Act at RCT

Repertory Company Theatre
Sister Act (RCT): If you liked the Whoopi Goldberg movie, you won't be disappointed. And if you haven't seen the movie, what are you waiting for? Infectious fun from the lead to the chorus(es) -- nuns and crooks. Support local theatre in Richardson.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton
From Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow:
Open quote 

He was the messenger from a future that we now inhabit. We have left behind the rosy agrarian rhetoric and slaveholding reality of Jeffersonian democracy and reside in the bustling world of trade, industry, stock markets, and banks that Hamilton envisioned."

You want to see the Broadway hit hip-hop musical. First, read the bestselling 2004 biography that inspired it. Alexander Hamilton was the most fascinating of our nation's Founding Fathers, having risen from humble beginnings in the West Indies to somehow be at the center of every significant event from the Revolutionary War to the Constitutional Convention to laying the shaky young nation's economic foundation as first Treasury Secretary. And, he also fought duels.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

POTD: Of Vacation Homes and Yachts

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the vacation homes hang precariously on the hillside and the yachts rock gently in the harbor. It all has kind of an artificial feel to it, a manufactured paradise. Or maybe the ennui is just that I know this is the last port of call on a long, great cruise.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Breathe (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Breathe (2017): True story. A beautiful young couple has everything going. Then polio strikes. Then they piece their lives back together. An earnest love story, earnestly told, by the numbers. Nothing fresh here. Still I feel bad for not loving this movie. C+

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Live Tweeting the Budget Retreat

The City of Richardson is holding its annual budget retreat to provide preliminary budget planning information to the city council. It's all tentative. It's all preliminary. It's all subject to change. Nevertheless, it's more likely than not to reflect the budget that's finally filed on August 10, 2018 and approved after a subsequent public hearing. My notes from the budget retreat are presented as captured in my tweets from Monday night made during the meeting. (No review. No fact-checking. No filter. What I got wrong blame on my listening comprehension faults.)

  • CoR open mic: No one here to speak. It's the budget retreat. You know, the one where surging property appraisals are discussed along with tax rates and spending. But no one cares...to speak.
  • Dan Johnson forecasts a 7.5% to 8.5% increase in property values. Preliminary budget assumes only 6%. In other words we can expect an "impactful" budget for 2018-2019. Each 1% equates to about $1 million for operations.
  • Dan Johnson proposes phasing out short-term debt issuance for equipment purchases. Maybe all that's why taxpayers weren't lined up to speak at the open mic.

Monday, July 16, 2018

POTD: Welcome to Cabo San Lucas

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the pelicans in the harbor entrance welcome cruise ship passengers ashore.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): Ant-tastic. Just kidding. Too many things going on. A house arrest for something, a woman lost in quantum realm, a ghost or something, some tech thieves. What's missing is a supervillain. But nothing is too serious and there is some fun dialog. C-

Thursday, July 12, 2018

POTD: You Can Buy Me That

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Las Brisas neighborhood in Acapulco, Mexico.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018): Wild dinosaurs on the loose, some killers, some not. Erupting volcano. Greedy, evil villain. All the expected ingredients, no surprises. Not even dino whisperer Chris Pratt can save this rehash. C-

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

David Tyson Strikes Again

In January, former Richardson ISD trustee David Tyson sued the RISD over its at-large voting system, claiming it is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). While that case is still pending, David Tyson struck again, filing yet another lawsuit last week.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Richardson's Central Park

"In Wildness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau

In 1851, when Henry David Thoreau was making his plea for environmental conservation in Concord, Massachusetts, half a continent away in Texas pioneer Jacob Routh was already putting the call into practice. When Routh built his homestead on land that would become present-day Richardson, he set aside some of his woods for preservation in its natural state. Thanks to good stewardship by his descendants and then by the City of Richardson, which eventually acquired the land, that bottomland hardwood forest remains wild today as the Spring Creek Nature Area, the city park that one city council member called "Richardson's Central Park."

Friday, July 6, 2018

POTD: Cliff Divers of La Quebrada - II

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico. I remember watching the cliff diving on television when I was boy, on shows like "ABC Wide World of Sports", usually in winter when the sports calendar was limited. When the snow was falling outside my Wisconsin home and NBC was showing something like bowling, I would switch to ABC. Nothing could be more exotic than dreaming of being in Acapulco, Mexico. Now that I've seen it in person, I wish I could tell my youthful self, it's just as exciting in person.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

POTD: Cliff Divers of La Quebrada

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is from La Quebrada in Acapulco, Mexico, where cliff divers entertain tourists by diving from a height of 45 meters. By comparison, Olympic high diving is done from a 10 meter platform. And the La Quebrada cliff divers have to time their dives so a wave below is at its maximum depth when they enter the shallow water. The cliff divers do it for tips. Tip well, my friends.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Flashback Fourth - 2017

A year ago, Ellen and I watched the fireworks from the eleventh floor of Clements Hospital near downtown Dallas. We were hopeful and anxious, as I imagine the Founders were on our nation's first celebration of independence in 1776, when the outcome of the grand experiment was still unknown.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

POTD: Acapulco Bay

From 2018 01 29 Acapulco

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Acapulco Bay and shows what made it a strategic port. It's large, it's sheltered from the Pacific Ocean, it's easily defensible.

"Hernán Cortés established Acapulco as a major port by the early 1530s...Spanish trade in the Far East would give Acapulco a prominent position in the economy of New Spain. Galleons started arriving here from Asia by 1550...The galleon trade made its yearly run from the mid-16th century until the early 19th."

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Repeat Tweets: "The Entire World Right Now"

Repeat tweets from June, 2018:

  • Jun 1 2018: RT @marcorubio: "The entire world right now is in a battle between authoritarianism and democracy. It’s happening right here in our own hemisphere."
    Hey, @marcorubio, it's happening right here in the US, where you are an enabler.
  • Jun 1 2018: Headline: "Oil industry joins with solar and wind industry to condemn Trump admin plan to prop up coal industry by forcing electric grid to buy coal power."
    Picking winners and losers?
  • Jun 1 2018: Talk about meta. Or irony. Or something...the first news article in my Facebook "Trending" topics feature right now is... "Facebook is killing the controversial 'Trending' news section it showed on its homepage."
  • Jun 2 2018: Sorry, @StateFarm. I only buy insurance from companies that advertise on @iamsambee's Full Frontal.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Goliath (TV)

Rotten Tomatoes
Goliath: Season 2 (TV): Plot is a mess. Villain is absurd. Why some people are killed and not others makes no sense. But the characters, especially Billy and Patty, are strong and unforgettable. Patty's speech to her FBI agent date is series' highlight. I'd watch a Season 3. B-