Sunday, December 31, 2023

POTD: Farewell to Melbourne

"Melbourne left behind.
Waves carry echoes of time.
New beginnings bloom."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 17 Melbourne

This photo-of-the-day was taken at sea as we sailed away from Melbourne, Australia, in March, 2023. Today, on this last day of 2023, this photo is also called on to say farewell to the year, full of good memories and sad. Here's hoping for a Happy New Year to one and all!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

POTD: Tiddly Oggies

"Authentic allure,
Bustling spirit, markets soar,
Queen Vic, evermore."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 17 Melbourne

This photo-of-the-day was taken in Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia. "Queen Victoria Market is an authentic, bustling, inner-city market that has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for 140 years. Home to over 600 small businesses, it is a great place to discover fresh and specialty produce, hand-made and unique products, great coffee and food, souvenirs and clothing." It was an old, established market when I first visited it in 1974. It's still going strong today.

Oh, I leave it up to you to discover what a Tiddly Oggie is. I'll just say Queen Vic has them for sale.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Friday, December 29, 2023

A Haunting in Venice (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

A Haunting in Venice (2023): A ghost story turns into a classic whodunnit set in an old house in Venice with a large cast of suspects. It's watchable enough but Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot has nothing new to offer. B-

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1 (2023): Lots of well done chases involving cars, motorcycles, trains, and speed flying. Plot, otoh, is silly, a hunt for a physical key that controls a super AI that can rule the world. No character development. Forgettable acting. But that's not why you go to an MI movie. B+

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Maestro (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Maestro (2023): Biopic of Leonard Bernstein, whose talent and private life are too big to be stuffed into two hours. The story is compressed, exhausting, and a little schizophrenic. A ten-hour TV mini-series might have been a better fit. Carey Mulligan as his wife grounds the man wonderfully. A-

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Housing: The Calm Before the Storm?

Source: Shoot2Sell in Frontburner

Many cities are facing the same problem: how to meet the demand for housing, both in absolute numbers and in affordability. Richardson is no exception. The solutions Richardson adopts, if any, will have to emerge from the "Envision Richardson" planning process now underway. But that's been quiet recently. Too quiet. When will the calm break? How fierce will be the storm?

Monday, December 25, 2023

POTD: Merry Christmas

"Modernist design,
Colorful stained glass panes line
Casablanca's shrine."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day is taken in the Church of Notre Dame of Lourdes in Casablanca, Morocco. It shows one detail of the windows by stained glass artist Gabriel Loire.

May your home be filled with love and laughter, the spirit of giving, and the magic of believing. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

POTD: Street Art in Melbourne

"Prominent alley,
Melbourne's visual delight,
Jam-packed graffiti."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 17 Melbourne

This photo-of-the-day was taken in Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. The laneway is a popular tourist destination because of its city-sponsored, graffiti-covered walls.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

POTD: Olé, Mate?

"Unbefitting pose
In shadow of sacrifice.
War's memory lost."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 17 Melbourne

This photo-of-the-day was taken at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia, built to honor the sacrifice of men and women of the state of Victoria who served in World War I.

The man and woman in the photo are posing on the ceremonial pedestrian walkway in front of the Shrine. Why they are doing that, what significance it has, even what nationality they represent, are all mysteries to me. But they were photogenic, so I snapped a photo.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Plugging RISD's Budget Hole

Source: H/T DALL-E

At the Dec.14 regular meeting, [Richardson ISD] trustees received operating budget recommendations from the Community Budget Steering Committee, which has been meeting for six months to arrive at measures the district can consider to address a significant operating shortfall in the 2024-25 budget.

First, let me compliment RISD for creating a Community Budget Steering Committee. Inclusion of the community is important for a problem like this. Keep it up. Keep spreading the word to make future community committees ever more inclusive.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Council Recap: Listening to the Community

"Retail Electricity Provider Procurement." That's the dry title of agenda item 7 in the December 11, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting. Richardson contracts with a retail electricity provider to purchase and pay for electricity used for all facilities, parks, pools, streetlights and traffic signals. The City spends $3 million annually on electricity, so we're talking significant sums.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Roads Can't Have Too Many Lanes

Do you remember that old cereal commercial, the one where a rabbit kept being foiled in its attempt to get a kid's Trix cereal, and the announcer kept reminding him, "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids." Well, in this analogy, the rabbit is a pedestrian, roads are Trix, and the kids are cars. I know, it's kind of a stretch, but bear with me.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

POTD: Good Morning, Melbourne

"Cruise trip rearranged,
Melbourne's skyline beckons us,
No complaints, just joy."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 17 Melbourne

This photo-of-the-day was taken from our ship docked in Melbourne, Australia, my favorite city in the whole wide world. We were on a cruise, so we couldn't spend a few extra days here like we did the last time we were in Australia, but because of a mechanical problem with our ship, our itinerary was changed, giving us an extra night in Melbourne. There were no complaints from me.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

POTD: Say Goodbye to New Zealand

"Ship leaves Dunedin,
Tasman Sea's horizon calls,
Rainbow's hopeful arch."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 13 Dunedin

This photo-of-the-day is taken from our ship as we sailed out of the southern New Zealand port of Dunedin, headed for the Tasman Sea and Australia beyond. That lonely lighthouse was our last view of New Zealand. The rainbow ahead of us was a good omen.

Friday, December 15, 2023

El Conde (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

El Conde (2023): Chile. Dictator Augusto Pinochet is a 250-year-old vampire. Aging Pinochet wants to die, but can't. His wife wants to be bitten, but he won't oblige. The kids just want their inheritance. Satire/horror/historical fiction. Shot in haunting B&W. The scene with the flying nun is beautiful. B-

Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Reverie of Hot Vernor's Ginger Ale


Jim Schutze, retired Dallas journalist, still shakes his fist at the sky in Facebook posts. Yesterday's rant caught my attention.

I ordered two twelve packs of Vernon's ginger ale from WalMart.

They said they would send me Vernor's ginger ale. They sent me Canada Dry.

Canada Dry. For Vernor's ginger ale.

OMG. Is this how it is now? I think I'm about done here.

Source: Jim Schutze.

That triggered a long-ago memory.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Leave the World Behind (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Leave the World Behind (2023): Family on a "get away from it all" vacation finds themselves losing connection with the world: phones, TV, internet, GPS. Watch it not for the science but for the psychological study of people reacting to the same disaster in different ways at difference speeds. B+

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

May December (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

May December (2023): Actress researching a part meets with woman who had a baby with a 7th grader 24 years ago. They interact warily as the tension builds. The last 20 minutes is where stuff happens. Raises more questions than it answers. Good performances by Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton as the adult 7th grader. B-

Monday, December 11, 2023

Save the Ice House

An agenda item for the December 11, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting caught my eye. The City is on the verge of using eminent domain to acquire parts of two properties on Main Street across from the Police Department. One property is the address of the Ice House. The other is the address of Spice of Richardson, an Indian restaurant.

Source: City of Richardson

Sunday, December 10, 2023

POTD: Mural by Street Artist Roa

"Brushed by Belgian hands,
Roa's mural enlivens
Dunedin's artful core."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 13 Dunedin

This photo-of-the-day is from the city centre of Dunedin, New Zealand. It shows a mural painted by Belgian street artist Roa.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

POTD: Freddy Mercury on Queen Street

"Portrait on house sings.
Dunedin's mural on show.
Queen Street's quiet song."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 13 Dunedin

This photo-of-the-day is from Dunedin, New Zealand. It shows a mural painted on a house located on, appropriately, Queen Street.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Bodies (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Bodies (TV 2023): A sci-fi/mystery/thriller. A dead body appears in 4 eras (2023, 1941, 1893, and 2053), the very same dead body. As the season wears on, the stories come together, leading to a time-traveling, doomsday cult. Too many gaping plot holes and inconsistencies to recommend it, more than most time travel stories. D+

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Killer (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Killer (2023): David Fincher thriller. A hired assassin botches the kill. Now the race is on for him to kill those coming after him before they kill him. More than an action movie, it's a good character study, with Michael Fassbender playing the icy, analytical, emotionless killer. B-

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Gaza Comes to Richardson

Source: City of Richardson

The visitors' section was full. There was an overflow crowd. For ninety minutes Monday night, speaker after speaker came to the podium and made heartfelt pleas for the Richardson City Council to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and to take measures to address the rise of Islamophobia in America.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Holdovers (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Holdovers (2023): Paul Giamatti as a cranky, unliked teacher thrown together with an unlikable student. Eventually, they bond. A nice, old-fashioned movie, literally. Set in 1970, made to look like it was made in 1970, it was inspired by a movie from the 1930s. It felt like I saw this movie before, maybe several times. Not that there's anything wrong with that. C+

Monday, December 4, 2023

How Parks are Named in Dallas

Source: DMN
Proposed Trinity River Park

Recently, the Richardson City Council got into what passes for a contentious exchange over the question of naming parks (or, at least, naming of bridges in parks). What it boils down to is that the lack of any policies in Richardson results in naming by whim — i.e., when someone on City Council gets a notion to name something after someone, and just mentions it at a Council meeting, and others on the Council agree it's a good idea, it happens. Just like that. I called it government by whim.

Our big neighbor to the south has a different practice.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

POTD: New Zealand's Other Sport

"Pitch meets petal's fall,
Cricket match by garden's edge,
Nature's green applause."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 11 Wellington

We were lucky to be in South Africa on October 28, 2023, the night that South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in a match played in Paris. All of South Africa tuned in and was elated with the victory. They had defeated New Zealand. I imagine spirits were crushed in New Zealand. I don't have any rugby photos to show from South Africa, or from New Zealand, for that matter. But New Zealand is not only good at rugby, they also are good at cricket. This photo-of-the-day was taken from New Zealand's Wellington Botanic Garden, looking next door to the cricket pitch, where a match was being played.

After the jump, a bonus photo from the Botanic Garden.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

POTD: Nature's Abstract Art

"Nature's artistry,
Wellington's garden reveals.
Ripples mesmerize."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 11 Wellington
From 2023 03 11 Wellington

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Wellington Botanic Garden in Wellington, New Zealand. Ripples on the water make for ever-changing, mesmerizing abstract art.

After the jump, a bonus photo revealing the artist at work.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Random Thoughts: Over/Under for Rangers' 2024 ticket prices


2023-11-02: What's the over/under for how much Texas Rangers' ticket prices will jump next season?

2023-11-10: I just received an email from Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson that begins, "Thank you for supporting the Republican Mayors Association (RMA), an organization I launched less than three weeks ago." The mayor of Dallas is officially a non-partisan office. Recently, Mayor Johnson announced he was switching political parties. Now he's turning the office partisan. I have no idea where he got the impression that I support the Republican Mayors Association. I definitely don't.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Strays (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Strays (2023): Raunchy comedy about a pack of stray dogs. Humor is poop and dick jokes. Who is the audience? Its crude humor seems aimed at adolescent boys, but its R rating should keep kids out. Movie avoids an F because of its talented dogs. 95% of the scenes use real dogs, not CGI. D+

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Napoleon (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Napoleon (2023): The subject is too big to capture in a biopic. 25 years of Napoleonic Wars stuffed in a 2.5 hr movie is too much. Only history buffs will understand it all. Joaquin Phoenix's performance is disappointing. He's a coiled spring that never snaps, too mechanical, lacking passion, in both war and love. Oddly, I still liked it. B-

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Nyad (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Nyad (2023): Annette Bening plays the egocentric Diana Nyad, whose goal is to be the first to swim from Cuba to Florida w/o a shark cage. Jodie Foster plays her friend and trainer. Their outstanding performances raise this sports movie of inspiring tenacity (or unhealthy obsession) above cliché. B-

Monday, November 27, 2023

All the Light We Cannot See (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

All the Light We Cannot See (TV 2023): WWII draws together the stories of a blind French girl and an underage German radioman until they intersect in the last violent days of war. Plot relies on too many tropes, but teens won't know that. Regardless, this adult enjoyed the movie, too. B+

Sunday, November 26, 2023

POTD: Pretty as a Picture

"Botanic beauty,
Wellington's garden unfolds.
A stroll through joyous."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 11 Wellington

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Wellington Botanic Garden in Wellington, New Zealand. I won't compare different cities' botanic gardens. I find them all joyous. Wellington's is no exception. It's a wonderful place for a romantic stroll.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

POTD: Fun on the Funicular

"Funicular climbs,
Wellington's view unfolds wide,
Top of the city."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 11 Wellington

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the top of the funicular ride in downtown Wellington, New Zealand. Travel tip: buy a one way ticket. We paid for a round trip only to discover that a stroll through the botanic gardens at the top is all downhill, finishing back down in the central business district. Our funicular return tickets were never used. I know — first world problem.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Cigarette Girl (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Cigarette Girl (TV 2023): Indonesian. A mystery. A romance. A tragedy. Dying man sets his son in search of a woman from his past. Old letters reveal family secrets dating back to the Indonesian mass killings of 1965. Everybody loves somebody, but nobody is married to whom they love. B-

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

A Thousand and One (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

A Thousand and One (2023): Young, single mother gets out of prison and wants to get her young son out of foster care. A heart-wrenching drama with an arc that leads to a gut punch at the end. Excellent acting by Teyana Taylor. B-

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Maggie Moore(s) (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Maggie Moore(s) (2023): A police procedural about a small town sheriff investigating the deaths of two women with the same name. A better than average black comedy with a romantic element with John Hamm and Tina Fey. Nick Mohammed brings the comedy as the sheriff's sidekick. An easy watch. B+

Monday, November 20, 2023

Council Recap: Bob and Lynn Townsend Bridge

Source: DALL-E

At the November 13, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting, the Council approved a resolution naming a new park "Twin Rivers Park" and naming the bridge there "Bob and Lynn Townsend Bridge." The vote was 7-0. An uncontroversial action. So why did it feel like some people were left feeling more than a little frustrated, if not with the result, then at least with the process, or lack of one? And why did Mayor Bob Dubey feel a need to apologize?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Angie Chen Button and Vouchers

Source: Texas Monthly

This week, the Texas House voted in favor of an amendment stripping school vouchers from a school funding bill. You can read elsewhere how significant this vote is (in the short run, very; in the long run, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), but here I want to report on how my Texas representative, Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) voted.

POTD: Logs and Lumber on the Dock

"Lumber on the dock,
Tauranga's tale unfolds here,
Shipped dreams but which way?"

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 09 Tauranga

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the port of Tauranga, New Zealand. According to IBIS World, online retail, IT security, and sports administration are among some of the growth industries tipped to boom over the next five years in New Zealand. But forestry is more photogenic, so the photo you get is of lumber stacked up on the docks waiting to be shipped overseas. Or, maybe that's wrong. Maybe the lumber is waiting to be picked up and delivered to New Zealand's construction industry to be turned into homes. You see, I heard that New Zealand exports logs and imports lumber. Why they don't cut the logs in New Zealand I'm sure can be somehow explained by David Ricardo's economic law of comparative advantage, but I'm sure I've lost you now, so let's drop it. I was just struck by the pretty picture of logs and lumber on the dock.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

POTD: Genealogy in New Zealand

"On Tauranga's shore,
Ellen, kin reunited,
Photobombed by fate."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 09 Tauranga

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Tauranga, New Zealand. Ellen poses with her DNA cousin and her husband. From DNA results, they know they are distantly related, but try as they might they have been unable to find a common ancestor. They suspect it's someone in Scotland, maybe in the 1700s. As I was taking this photograph, Mother Nature, as she is wont to do, serendipitously photobombed it with a young woman heavy with child, preggers as they might say in New Zealand (and if they don't say that, I apologize).

Friday, November 17, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023): Based on a true-crime nonfiction book, this is a multi-faceted story, as large as the Osage murders themselves and as intimate as the marriage between Ernest (Leo DeCaprio) and Mollie (Lily Gladstone). Scorsese succeeds in it all. A-

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Council Recap: Kayla Walker Lawsuit

Source: DALL-E

Coming out of an executive session during the November 6, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Arefin made this motion: "I move that the City Manager be authorized to execute a mutually satisfactory settlement agreement in Walker at al. v City of Richardson, Texas, et al. civil action on 3:22-CV-01164-X pending in the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division and any documents related thereto." Seconded by Councilmember Joe Corcoran and approved unanimously without comment, this motion at 10:59pm closed the book on a sorry story of Richardson's history.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Council Recap: Public Engagement

Source: DALL-E

On the agenda for the November 6, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting was this item: "REVIEW AND DISCUSS STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND INVOLVEMENT." This is less than two months when they idea of a community engagement board was raised in the Council's goal-setting meeting, and less than a month since the Council first deliberated on this matter in open session (October 16). Then I was pleased to see the Council quickly tackle this need, but I was not as pleased with the scattershot ideas the Council had. Now I hoped that maybe this month they'd be focused and align on effective approaches.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Council Recap: Tactics

Source: DALL-E

At the November 6, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting, the Council adopted its tactics for the 2023-2025 term. According to City Manager Don Magner, these were developed with direction from the City Council and inputs from Boards and Commissions, residents and businesses. But let's face it, they were essentially drawn up by Magner. They read like a (long) scorecard by which his performance will be able to be graded.

Let me say, up front, that I very much like the comprehensiveness of this list. It shows just how much is going on at City Hall. There's no comparison to the (relatively) meager list of tactics brainstormed by the City Council at its Saturday morning unrecorded meeting on September 16. But given that the City Council's list might indicate just what they think is important, let's compare it with what the City Manager presented Monday night.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Council Recap: Naming of Parks

Source: DALL-E

At the November 6, 2023, Richardson City Council meeting, one agenda item struck me as curious. It was listed as "REVIEW, DISCUSS, AND UPDATE ON THE 2021 BOND PROGRAM PARKS CAPITAL PROJECTS AND PROPOSED NAMES." That 2021 bond included $7.5 million for parks. You'd think the Council would keep a close eye on how that money is being spent. Good governance. Keep your eye on the ball and all that. Well, you'd think wrong. Instead, in Monday's update, the seven councilmembers were easily distracted by the unimportant part of that agenda item, the "AND PROPOSED NAMES."

Sunday, November 12, 2023

POTD: Auckland's SkyWalk

From 2023 03 07 Auckland

"High above the streets,
Sky Tower stands bold and proud.
Courage in the wind."

—h/t ChatGPT

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. If you are not afraid of heights, you can take a SkyWalk and pose for a photo of a friend pushing you off (or an enemy — your choice). There is nothing below you but the street, 629 feet down.

A photo of the Sky Tower from the ground is after the jump.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

POTD: Auckland Shopping Arcade

From 2023 03 07 Auckland

"Strand Arcade beckons,
Amidst the grandeur of old,
History preserved."

—h/t ChatGPT

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Strand Arcade in Auckland, New Zealand. Dating to 1900 (rebuilt in 1910 after a fire), it's one of the grandest surviving shopping arcades in New Zealand. Being a Sunday, foot traffic was light.