Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sears Redevelopment

Social media has a long thread about the meeting last week at the Richardson Civic Center about the Richardson Square Sears site. Everyone was drooling about the names of the potential tenants that the developer dropped as bait, among them Trader Joe's and Sprouts (he's good at public relations). Correction: there was one naysayer, but even he cared only about the tenants: "I say NO! to Jersey Mike's. I hate their sandwiches, 70% bread."

Friday, June 28, 2019

MIB International (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
MIB International (2019): There's no reason to make this sequel but if you liked the first three, you might like this one. Tessa Thompson (best) plays a spirited new hire to MIB. Chris Hemsworth (worst) plays a goof-off. Kumail Nanjiani (cute, fun) is here mainly to sell toys. C+

Thursday, June 27, 2019

POTD: Assumption Cathedral and Eternal Flame

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Yaroslavl, Russia, one of the Golden Ring cities northeast of Moscow. In the background is Assumption Cathedral, rebuilt in 2010 after the original was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1937. But it's the eternal flame in the foreground that strikes me most. Russia suffered unimaginable losses during World War II. Estimates of the dead, military and civilian, are 20 million people, or even higher.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Frisco's 2,500-acre Fields Development

According to Steve Brown of The Dallas Morning News, "Frisco officials have gotten a first look at plans for the city's biggest pending development, the more than 2,500-acre Fields development on the Dallas North Tollway...The massive development will have more than 10,000 homes and up to 18 million square feet of commercial space."

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Late Night (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Late Night (2019): Dramedy packed with workplace topics, maybe too many: diversity hiring, being the new hire, sexism, growing old, #MeToo, all centered on a talk show's writers' room. Mindy Kaling brings her deft touch to a straightforward story. Emma Thompson is great. B-

Monday, June 24, 2019

POTD: Yaroslavl Market

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl

Today's photo-of-the-day is of one of the stalls in the old Yaroslavl market in the heart of Yaroslavl, Russia. Food looked appetizing, samples were delicious, and vendors were all friendly.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Review: Exhalation: Stories

Exhalation: Stories
From Exhalation: Stories, by Ted Chiang:

Open quote 
Past and future are the same, and we cannot change either, only know them more fully. My journey to the past had changed nothing, but what I had learned had changed everything, and I understood that it could not have been otherwise. If our lives are tales that Allah tells, then we are the audience as well as the players, and it is by living these tales that we receive their lessons."

Nine science fiction stories of all kinds: time travel, entropy, artificial intelligence, alternate universes, free will, robotic childcare, total recall, SETI, and creationism. Most of the stories have been published elsewhere, but they are new to me — the stories anyway, not the ideas. The ideas aren't fresh, but I suppose the value of sci-fi is telling stories to make hard-to-grasp scientific concepts accessible to the non-scientist.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

POTD: Rybinsk Lock

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Rybinsk Lock on the Volga River in Russia. The Rybinsk Reservoir was once the largest reservoir in the world. It's part of the extensive Baltic-Volga Waterway.

Abstract canal art after the jump.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

POTD: Mother Volga

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Volga River in Russia. The Volga is the longest river in Europe (2,292 miles). It's the source of life for Russia. It flows into the Caspian Sea, but with dams and canals, it's also connected to the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg. At the locks that form the entrance to the Rybinsk Reservoir stands a 236 feet tall statue of Mother Volga. This photo-of-the-day has symbolic significance today, as today is the day I bury my own mother, who at 98 years old was every bit the life blood of her large family as Mother Volga is to Russia.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Always Be My Maybe (2019): Rom-com with more rom than com. Childhood sweethearts grow up only to meet again in adulthood with predictable results. Keanu Reeves steals the movie with a zany scene as the rival love interest. Do I still need to say it has an Asian-American cast? C+

Monday, June 17, 2019

POTD: Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

From 2018 08 17 Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery on the Baltic-Volga waterway in Russia. It was founded in 1397 and was once the largest monastery and the strongest fortress in northern Russia before the growth of Moscow caused history to pass it by. The walls are 732 meters long and 7 meters thick. Like many other churches, the Bolsheviks secularized the monastery and turned it into a museum. Monks were allowed to return after the fall of the Soviet Union. Restoration of the whole site is slowly underway.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Good Omens (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Good Omens (TV 2019): Angel and demon, on Earth since the Garden of Eden, team up to prevent Armageddon. Zany, irreverent, fast-paced, stuffed with special effects. The two leads are fun to watch but other scenes in this one-note satire can get tedious. Daring choice for VBS? C+

Thursday, June 13, 2019

POTD: Goritsy Market

From 2018 08 17 Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Goritsy, Russia, a small town on the Baltic-Volga waterway. The photo shows the product offerings of a small market on the banks of the waterway.

After the jump, fresh vegetables.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Dead To Me (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Dead To Me (TV 2019): Woman whose husband is killed in a hit and run accident makes a friend in a grief counseling group. Gradually through the season both women's secrets are revealed. A murder mystery. An odd couple buddy movie. Bits of dark humor. Nailed the ending. B+

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

POTD: Russian Nesting Dolls

From 2018 08 17 Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Kirillov, Russia, a small town on the Baltic-Volga waterway. It features a variety of nesting dolls, a ubiquitous souvenir in Russia. This photo features heroes of Russian history, everyone from Peter the Great to Lenin to Stalin to Putin to...Donald Trump. Barack Obama has been relegated to the back row.

After the jump, more nesting dolls.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Cards We've Been Dealt

The old Richardson Square Mall property is getting a Chipotle and a Jason's Deli. I like these chains. I drive to west Richardson frequently to eat at the restaurants there. So why am I not thrilled with the news for east Richardson? I am not thrilled because the approval process shows how Richardson is reactive, not proactive. Tactical, not strategic. Dealing with matters as they arise, not anticipating future needs, leaving us with suboptimal solutions. There are better developments for Richardson Square that could still include a Chipotle and Jason's Deli, but we aren't even considering them. Instead, we're jumping on this because the brands are popular.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Ma (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Ma (2019): Psychological thriller with Octavia Spencer as the psychopath. Builds slowly to a climax that borders on torture porn. Spencer's performance should make a big impression on a younger generation of movie-goers, who might learn to be nicer to their classmates. C+

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rocketman (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Rocketman (2019): Less a concert movie than a study in the personal demons that drove Elton John to rehab. A couple of big Broadway song and dance numbers add to the patchwork quality. Would have preferred more concert footage. A good behind-the-scenes look at a genius. B+

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

POTD: School in Kirillov

From 2018 08 17 Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a school in Kirillov, Russia, a small town on the Baltic-Volga waterway and home to the medieval Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. First the school. The schoolgirl in the photo did a local cultural dance for visitors, then answered questions. Her English was excellent.

In a display on the side of the room was a patriotic flag and army helmet with holes in it, a constant reminder of the huge sacrifices the Russian people made to defeat Nazism in WWII.

After the jump, the helmet.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

An Assignment for Steve Brown

Steve Brown is the real estate editor for The Dallas Morning News. I use the term editor instead of reporter because (1) that's what the newspaper uses in his byline and (2) his work often reads more like he edited a developer's press release than he did any original reporting. But once in a while, he breaks some news, even if you have to read carefully to find it. Such was the case with his recent article on the redevelopment of old downtown Richardson.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Retweets ≠ Endorsements

Retweets ≠ Endorsements. Unless they do. Sometimes a person retweets a message that he or she finds absurd/outrageous/despicable (pick any that apply) without intending to imply agreement. But sometimes, they do intend agreement. It depends. It sounds complicated, but it's usually easy to tell them apart in practice.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: Early Voting

Tweets from May, 2019:
  • 2019-05-01: Early voting at Richardson Civic Center:
    2015: 1,338 people voted early in person.
    2017: 2,476.
    2019: 3,999.
    That includes all Dallas County voters who voted at the Civic Center, not just City of Richardson voters. Draw your own implications.
  • 2019-05-02: Avengers: Endgame (2019): It was a satisfying finale to the sage. Tons of characters, tons of action, a simple quest movie but with many complex interleaved timelines. Best parts were when it didn't take its absurdities seriously. Next best were the few scenes without CGI. B-
  • 2019-05-02: RT Nancy Pelosi: "Barr is lying to the American people. #FreeMueller."
    Think how unprecedented this is. She's the Speaker of the House. He's the Attorney General of the United States. He works at the pleasure of the President of the United States. (Link)

After the jump, more idle thoughts.