Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Lighthouse (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lighthouse (2019): Two men confined in a lighthouse descend into madness. Dark. Unsettling. Intense. Like a punch to the gut. Who's mad and who's sane? What's real and what's hallucination? Is it all damn metaphor? Did you like it is the wrong question for this movie. A-

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

POTD: Luau

From 2019 01 17 Kauai

You go to Hawaii, you go to a luau, right? We went to Hawaii, so today's photo-of-the-day is from a luau in Kauai.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

POTD: Kauai Coffee

From 2019 01 17 Kauai

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kauai Coffee plantation.
"Grown in rich volcanic soil, touched by abundant mountain rain, warmed by the Pacific sun and cooled by the gentle Hawaiian trade winds. Taste Paradise. One Cup at a Time.™"
Too bad Ellen doesn't drink coffee. I do.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Laundromat (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Laundromat (2019): Satire with no bite based on "Panama Papers" leak showing how billionaires and corporations use shell companies to avoid taxes and hide corrupt money. Too many disconnected stories. Not even Meryl Streep can save this. Why is she even in it? C+

Sunday, October 27, 2019

POTD: Polynesian Red Junglefowl

From 2019 01 17 Kauai

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Kauai. It shows one of the countless free-range chickens all over the island. These feral birds are believed to be descendents of chickens that escaped from coops during hurricanes in 1982 and 1992. DNA analysis shows that they are a mix between the chickens brought by the original Polynesian settlers of Kauai and chickens introduced much later by Europeans. The most interesting fact (to me) is that chickens in South America lack the DNA of Polynesian chickens, suggesting that Polynesians themselves never settled South America. So the next time you hear a rooster crow, know that the story it tells contains much more history than I ever imagined.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tell Me Who I Am (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Tell Me Who I Am (2019): Documentary. Alex wakes from a coma with amnesia, remembering only his identical twin, Marcus, who fills him in on his life story, starting with childhood. Except for a dark family secret. Alex turns obsessive detective. Marcus clams up. All well done. B-

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review: Something Deeply Hidden

Something Deeply Hidden
From Something Deeply Hidden, by Sean Carroll:

Open quote 
Quantum mechanics, in the form in which it is currently presented in physics textbooks, represents an oracle, not a true understanding. We can set up specific problems and answer them, but we can't honestly explain what's happening behind the scenes. What we do have are a number of good ideas about what that could be, and it's past time that the physics community started taking these ideas seriously."

The title comes from a quote by Albert Einstein. All his life he sought to understand the foundations of physical phenomena. "Something deeply hidden had to be behind things," and he was determined to figure out what it was. So is Sean Carroll.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

POTD: Quinn's, the Southern Most Packers Bar

From 2019 01 15 Hawaii

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Quinn's in Kona, Hawaii, the self-proclaimed "Southern Most Packers Bar in the USA." Go Pack!

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Judy (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Judy (2019): Last months of Judy Garland's life, on a London tour, filled with depression, pills and alcohol. Unrelentingly depressing, with nowhere near enough glimpses of the brilliance that made her a superstar. Not a tragedy, just sad. Renee Zellweger deserves Oscar nom. B-

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

POTD: Secret Waterfalls of Kohala

From 2019 01 15 Hawaii

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a hike on the north coast of Hawaii, up in the Pololu Valley forest. The hike takes you to secret waterfalls of Kohala.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Wheel's Voters Guide

Election day is Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Early voting is underway. Two trustee positions for Richardson ISD's Board of Trustees are on the ballot. There are also ten state Constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Here are my recommendations for how to vote, not that anyone cares, and certainly not that it will matter in the vote count. But I needed to go through the process anyway to know how I should vote myself, so I might as well share my thinking.

Beginning in 2019, the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees has five single-member districts and two at-large positions. This November, Districts 2 and 4 are up for election. Note that I personally can vote only in District 2, but I studied District 4 also, as if I did have a vote because its outcome will affect my school district.

I attended multiple candidate forums, so you didn't have to (you're welcome). I also read candidate questionnaires. I also read pros and cons for the ten Constitutional amendments.



Sunday, October 20, 2019

POTD: Kilauea, Goddess of Fire

From 2019 01 15 Hawaii

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the rim of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. There have been recent explosive eruptions here at the summit. There have been eruptions at vents on the side of the volcano. There have been lava flows all the way to the ocean. The landscape is always new, no matter how long or short your time away from Hawaii has been.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

RISD District 2 Round Two

Berkner High School hosted a candidate forum for the first-ever Richardson ISD single-member district election for board of trustees. The forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Richardson and the RISD Council of PTAs. Steve Mitchell, council member of the City of Richardson, moderated the forum. About 35 members of the public were in attendance.

Beginning in 2019, RISD has five single-member districts and two at-large positions. The candidates for RISD single-member District 2 are Eron Linn (incumbent) and Vanessa Pacheco.

Friday, October 18, 2019

RISD District 4 Round Two

Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet school hosted a candidate forum for the first-ever Richardson ISD single-member district election for board of trustees. The forum was sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Richardson and RISD Council of PTAs. Elizabeth McNamara, immediate past national president of the LWV, moderated the forum. About 45 members of the public were in attendance.

Beginning in 2019, RISD has five single-member districts and two at-large positions. District 4, a single-member district, is an open position, trustee Katie Patterson having resigned earlier this year. The candidates for RISD District 4 are Taler BK Jefferson, Patricia Price Hicks, Regina Harris, and Sakennia Reed.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

POTD: Maui or Mars?

From 2019 01 13 Maui

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the rim of Maui's Haleakala volcano. Standing 10,023 ft tall, the air is thin and cool. Maybe not Mars-like, but standing there and looking at the landscape, you can imagine being on Mars more easily than being on a tropical island.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

First Impression of the RISD Trustee Candidates

Hamilton Park United Methodist Church hosted a candidate forum for the first-ever Richardson ISD single-member district election for board of trustees. About 45 members of the public were in attendance.

District 2 has two candidates: Vanessa Pacheco and Eron Linn (incumbent). Linn was not present.

District 4 is an open position, trustee Katie Patterson having resigned earlier this year. District 4 has four candidates: Taler BK Jefferson, Regina Harris, Patricia Price Hicks, and Sakennia Reed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019): In series finale, Jesse Pinkman got away. In this sequel, he (spoiler) still gets away. An unnecessary movie, but same look and feel as the TV series and a welcome encore for a favorite character. He's even learned a thing or two. B+

Monday, October 14, 2019

POTD: Popular Crossword Answer

If you do crossword puzzles regularly, you surely have encountered a clue like this: "state bird of Hawaii." According to The New York Times, "NENE has been an entry in The New York Times Crossword a total of 295 times since 1944. They may be rare in Hawaii, but they have hidden nests in your puzzle."

From 2019 01 13 Maui

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a nene crossword sighting in the wild, or a least a sighting of a nene crossing. It's on the road in Maui's Haleakala National Park.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

2019 State Fair of Texas

From 2019 10 10 State Fair of Texas

The cattle barn on the fairgrounds of the State Fair of Texas was busy Thursday with boys, girls, men, and women grooming their cattle, leading them to or from the show area, or just waiting around until their time to show. This unknown young man is using his downtime wisely.

More photos from the 2019 State Fair of Texas can be found on Google Photos.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Will Our Code of Ethics Be Strengthened?

Two points today. First, I was keenly interested in this week's Richardson City Council meeting because it was the goal-setting meeting that every council undertakes near the beginning of their term. I wanted to know if the council would undertake to strengthen our Code of Ethics after former Mayor Laura Maczka's bribery trial revealed how toothless the current one is. We have new council members, some of whom explicitly said during their campaigns that it is necessary to review and strengthen the Code of Ethics. I wanted to see what goals they would set related to that.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

POTD: Aloha to Big Sugar

From 2019 01 13 Maui

Aloha can be used for hello or goodbye. In this case, it's definitely goodbye. Today's photo-of-the-day is of an abandoned sugar mill in Maui. Many people think Hawaii and sugar are synonymous. But nothing is forever. Commercial sugar cultivation was introduced to Kauai in 1835. The last sugar plantation there closed in 2009. Maui held on a little longer. Maui's HC&S was Hawaii's last and largest sugarcane producer, ending operations in 2016.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Joker (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Joker (2019): Origin story for Joker, a mentally ill clown who is bullied and exploited until he snaps. First movie (or comic book or TV show) I've ever seen where Joker is a believable character. Explains a murdererer, doesn't glorify him. Give Joaquin Phoenix the Oscar now. A-

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

POTD: Nature's 3D Printer

From 2019 01 13 Maui

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Iao Valley State Park in Maui. It's a spider web. D'oh. It caught my eye. That's all I know.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Walk with the Mayor: Galatyn

From 2019 10 05 Galatyn Walk

Paul Voelker, mayor of Richardson, leads informal walking tours in Richardson every two weeks on Saturday mornings. October 5th's tour was of the Galatyn Woodland Preserve. Even though this tour featured a nature walk, the mayor likes to highlight public art on his tours, so this week's walk included a look inside the Eisemann Center at one of Richardson's hidden gems, the Mezzanine Gallery that showcases local and regional artists. Currently on display is Chris Miller's exhibit "Defining Edges."

Eight Richardson residents joined the mayor on a beautiful Saturday morning for this easy walk. Be on the lookout for future walks and take advantage of this opportunity to meet the mayor and see the best that Richardson has to offer.

More photos from the walk are after the jump.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Colin Allred Faces His Constituents

"What does it profit a man to change the trade deficit with China a little but allow human rights in Hong Kong to be strangled?" — Rep. Colin Allred

Representative Colin Allred (TX 32) held a townhall meeting at Yale Elementary School in Richardson Saturday morning, sponsored by Richardson Area Democrats. The crowd and the mood were decidedly different from former representative Pete Sessions' 2017 townhall meeting at Richardson High School. Then, an overflow crowd of about 1900 people dissented from most of Sessions' position. In contrast, the much smaller crowd of about 100 people Saturday gave Allred a warm welcome and greeted his answers to questions with polite applause and sounds of approval.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

POTD: Cliff Palace

From 2018 09 21 Mesa Verde

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. This ruin is called the Cliff Palace and is more than 700 years old. It's impressive. It's also tragic in that we know virtually nothing about the people who built it, who lived in it for hundreds of years, who then completely abandoned it. The Cliff Palace is just one of many impressive dwellings in the park, most of which hug the canyon cliffs, presumably for defense. Or for safety from forest fires, which are still a threat today (see photos below). But who knows?

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Review: Wind/Pinball

From Wind/Pinball: Two Novels, by Haruki Murakami:

Open quote 
In the bottom of the first inning, Hilton slammed Sotokoba's first pitch into left field for a clean double. The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded throughout Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, for no reason and based on no grounds whatsoever, it suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel."

The foreward (above) to "Wind" reveals how Murakami decided to become an author. The result is two short works that share a narrator and characters and setting.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Country Music (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Country Music (TV 2019): 16 hour Ken Burns love letter to 100 years of an American art form. It's all here, hillbilly, bluegrass, Western swing, rockabilly, stars. Educational, entertaining, fast-paced. Could use more critical introspection of business and politics. Yeehaw! A-

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Idle Thoughts: What the Hell is Going On?

Tweets from September, 2019:
  • 2019-09-01: Mr. President, how about calling for a total and complete shutdown of gun sales in the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on? (Link)
  • 2019-09-02: Drop ice in the ocean to stop hurricanes? Fly military jets clockwise in hurricanes to stop them? Silly man. Everyone knows the real answer is to bomb hurricanes with nukes. (Link)
  • 2019-09-02: @RepLanceGooden, the protest movement in Hong Kong does have the attention of our leaders like you. Almost to the exclusion of attention that should be paid to the growing threat of authoritarianism here at home. Not good.
  • 2019-09-03: "Religion makes good people better and bad people worse." -- H. Richard Niebuhr.
    God grant me the humility not to automatically assume I'm in the former category.

After the jump, more idle thoughts.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Downton Abbey (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Downton Abbey (2019) Faithful to the TV series. Julian Fellowes gives every story line that wasn't wrapped up in the series finale a happy ending. If you've never seen it, you'll be lost by all the characters and subplots, and raise your eyebrows at some plot contrivances. B+