Monday, July 31, 2023

What To Do with the Doghouse When Fido Dies

Source: h/t DALL-E

In Facebook's "Richardson Urban and Neighborhood Discussions", Andrew Laska shared an announcement by the City of Richardson about open houses to gather community feedback about the City Hall/Comp Plans. He offered his own priorities, the first one (two?) of which were "1) Legalize missing middle housing. 1a) Legalize ADUs."

Sunday, July 30, 2023

POTD: The Arch of Hadrian, Now and Then

From 2022 11 03 Athens

This photo-of-the-day is from Athens, Greece. It shows the Arch of Hadrian. Hadrian was a Roman emperor and this arch is in Athens, at the foot of the Acropolis. What's with that? Ancient history is long...and messy.

A bonus photo, then and now, is after the jump.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

POTD: Genuine Fake Watches

From 2022 11 02 Ephesus

This photo-of-the-day is from the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey. Every stop on the tourist trail has them — souvenir stalls at the entrance/exit extending for as far as the eye can see. And common items for sale at these stalls are "Rolex" watches. This stall stands out for its honesty.

Full disclosure: I once bought a watch at a souvenir stand. In Russia. It turns out to have been one of my favorite souvenir purchases ever, even though I no longer have the watch. You can read the story here: "My Uglich Watch".

Friday, July 28, 2023

Silo - S01 (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Silo - S01 (TV 2023): Sci-fi mystery, drama, thriller. In dystopian future, all live in underground silo. Story starts with big questions (Who built it? When? Why? What's outside?) then develops characters, ending with a big reveal, which raises more questions for season 2. B+

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Council Recap: All Budget

Source: DALL-E

The Richardson City Council held a work session July 24-25 focused solely on development of the 2023-2024 budget. Attendance by the public was sparse. There will be public hearings on the proposed tax rate and budget in mid- to late-August.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Oppenheimer (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Oppenheimer (2023): Biopic of the "father of the atomic bomb." Morally conflicted, he developed the A-bomb to beat Hitler to it, but afterwards tried to put the genie back in the bottle. The era's anti-Commies are the ends-justify-the-means bad guys. Smart, compelling blend of history and science. A-


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023): I didn't expect to like it, but I did. The original was a modern take on an old-timey serial. That take still feels modern with Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the costar. Harrison Ford is too old, the plot predictable, but the action scenes deliver. A-

Monday, July 24, 2023

Semiannual Campaign Finance Reports

Source: DALL-E

In Texas, officeholders and candidates for local offices must file semiannual reports. In addition, candidates who have an opponent must file two pre-election reports, one 30 days before the election and one 8 days before. Political action committees have these same deadlines to file.

The Wheel has previously looked at the 30-Day reports (twice: here and here) and the 8-Day reports here. Today we look at the July 15 semiannual reports.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

POTD: Library of Celsus

From 2022 11 02 Ephesus

This photo-of-the-day is from the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey. It shows the pre-eminent structure standing (again) in the city, the facade of the Library of Celsus. "It was the third-largest library in the Greco-Roman world behind only those of Alexandria and Pergamum, [and is] believed to have held around 12,000 scrolls." Is it too late to submit this library to be used as inspiration for the renovations to the Richardson Public Library?

Saturday, July 22, 2023

POTD: Ephesus, Still Walkable after 3,000 Years

From 2022 11 02 Ephesus

This photo-of-the-day is from the ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey, still walkable after 3,000 years. Much of the city dates to Roman times but it was founded in the 10th century BCE, on the site of a yet older city. The Street of Curetes was one of three main streets in Ephesus. In its day, "The street was home to many fountains, monuments, and statues. There were also houses on the slope that would have been used by the wealthiest of Ephesians. Under these houses were colonnaded galleries and shops with mosaic tiled floors."

Friday, July 21, 2023

The AfterParty - S01 (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The AfterParty - S01 (TV 2022): Murder at high school reunion. Detective Danner interviews each guest, with each showing the audience the same events thru different eyes. Comedy/mystery with episodes of thriller, rom-com, musical, even animation. Fun show with a satisfactory solution. B+

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Council Recap: Audit, Audit, Audit

Source: DALL-E

The Richardson City Council held a work session July 17. There were several topics on the agenda for which the Council received lengthy presentations: National Parks Month, Park maintenance strategies, IT work plan, and Drainage utility strategies. There was one other item on the agenda that received little time. Less than six minutes, in fact. That topic was "Review and discuss the 2021-2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) Presentation." Because the Council's review and discussion was perfunctory, those six minutes are what I want to talk about.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

WAIW: Neighborhood Mural


Where Am I Wednesday?

Fifty points to the first person to identify where this photo was taken. This fence is a great improvement over the usual, boring, weathered fences seen all over Richardson. To this homeowner, I say "Well done."

Answer will be given on Thursday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Platonic (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Platonic (TV 2023): Two old friends, one newly divorced and the other in a stale marriage, reconnect, platonically. A broad, slapstick comedy of middle-aged people getting drunk and doing stupid things that get them in trouble. Not my kind of humor. For Seth Rogen fans. C-

Monday, July 17, 2023

ACFR: Christmas in July

Source: DALL-E

For city finance wonks, Christmas comes twice a year: once in August when the city budget is set and again in February when the city financial audit is published. The budget specifies the city's cash flow (its planned revenues and expenses). The financial audit details the city's assets (the value of city property, bank accounts, etc.) and its liabilities (outstanding debt, pension obligations, etc.).

For some reason, Christmas is coming late this year. The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) for fiscal 2022 is being published in July, not February as before. I'm sure there's a good explanation, but I don't know what it is. Fire??? The public will see it when it's presented at the July 17 City Council meeting.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

POTD: Alleyways of Chania

From 2022 11 01 Chania

This photo-of-the-day is from Chania, Crete, Greece. It shows a random door in a random alleyway. The old city is a delight to wander.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

POTD: Relaxing in Chania

From 2022 11 01 Chania

This photo-of-the-day is from the Greek port of Chania in Crete. Chania is sometimes called a Venetian port, not because of any canals or anything, but because the walls date back to the Venetians, who bought Crete for 100 silver marks in 1252. The site itself has been occupied since Neolithic times, too far back to document (7000 BCE). Now you can count us among the many, many people who have come through Chania, Crete, in its unimaginably long history. I doubt any had a more relaxing time than we did sitting on a bench in the old harbor.

Friday, July 14, 2023

65 (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

65 (2023): Survival tale in a jungle with dinosaurs. Astronaut and child crash land on Earth 65m yrs ago. Gee, what happens next? Unimaginative and predictable. Only astronaut speaks English, so all action, not dialog. A Quiet Place did that better. A waste of Adam Driver. C-

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Transatlantic (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Transatlantic (TV 2023): True WWII story. A non-profit in southern France in 1940 works to get Jews to America. Opponents everywhere: Gestapo, Vichy France police, and even the American consul. Low budget (it shows). Too many characters. And, I'm afraid to say, too few Nazis. B-


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Council Recap: Food Truck, Police Radios, Massage

Source: h/t DALL-E

The Richardson City Council held a five hour marathon session Monday night. The first 90 minutes of it were taken up by a topic not even on the agenda: a possible NRA move to Richardson. I've covered that in "Richardson, Guns, and the NRA". Here I want to focus on the intended agenda, presentations, and Councilmembers' questions, comments, and policy suggestions. Oh, and one important fact check at the end.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Richardson, Guns, and the NRA

The Richardson City Council held a 5 hour marathon session Monday night. The first 90 minutes of it were taken up by a topic not even on the agenda: a possible NRA move to Richardson. That story was exaggerated in one direction before the meeting (that the NRA is coming to Richardson) and then exaggerated in the other direction afterwards (that the NRA is not coming to Richardson). In fact, according to the NRA itself, "Texas remains a preferred choice for a future HQ. That said, the NRA Board of Directors has not made any decision." For its part, State Farm issued a statement saying that they "are not actively marketing space for sublease at City Line." So, is the NRA coming to Richardson? Probably not, but nothing said by anyone rules out the possibility that it could still happen.

Sharper (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Sharper (2023): A caper movie where every time a new character is introduced, the caper changes, with a new villain and a new mark. By the end, it's anyone's guess who is going to come out on top. Plot gets more and more implausible, but it's a fun ride anyway. B-

Monday, July 10, 2023

How Richardson's New City Hall Went Wrong

Source: Bryce Richter for OnWisconsin
U of Wis Humanities Building

The City of Richardson is in process of getting public input that will shape the design of a new City Hall. I'm here to report on lessons-learned from another building, new in 1969, from a university campus a thousand miles away that I always think of when I think about Richardson's own municipal campus. That building is the UW Humanities building on the campus of the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are lessons for Richardson to learn from that building if you don't want to see a headline like the above sometime in the future.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

POTD: Sicilian Ceramic Heads

From 2022 10 30 Mt Etna and Taormina

This photo-of-the-day shows typical Sicilian ceramic heads in Taormina, Sicily, Italy.

According to legend, "there was a beautiful girl who loved to take care of flowers in her balcony. One day, while she was watering the flowers, a young Moor, who was walking in the street, saw her and fell in love at first sight...She didn’t know he was married...When she discovered the painful truth, in a rage, she cut off his head and used it as [an] ornamental vase for her balcony." (I know, legends often are very dark.)

Taormina is the setting for the second season of White Lotus. Fans of that show definitely should add Taormina to their bucket list of places to travel to. Its history goes back to ancient Greece.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

POTD: The Tallest Volcano in Europe

From 2022 10 30 Mt Etna and Taormina

This photo-of-the-day shows Mount Etna. It's an active volcano, by far the largest and tallest volcano in Italy. Its height varies from eruption to eruption, the last of which was in 2017. It's in Sicily, an island and a world apart from Italy.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Diplomat (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Diplomat (TV 2023): Explosion kills 41 British sailors in Gulf. Who did it? Iran? Russia? US ambassador in London works to find out, complicated by politics in both capitals, and a love/hate triangle with Keri Russell in the middle. Intrigue and personal drama. A-

Thursday, July 6, 2023

POTD: Portrait and Cityscape

This photo-of-the-day is from the Meadows Museum at SMU in Dallas. It shows two paintings in the exhibit "In the Shadow of Dictatorship: Creating the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art".

Fifty points if you can say which painting is a portrait and which a cityscape. Extra credit for knowing which person the portrait is of and which city the cityscape is of. Muchisimo puntos if you know the model in the middle.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Promising Change

Source: h/t DALL-E

After apologizing for the "Texas Chain Saw Massacre", the City of Richardson pledged on Facebook, "We will also do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again."

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Random Thoughts: Mike Pence is Connor Roy


2023-06-01: Mike Pence is the 2024 presidential campaign's Connor Roy.
Headline: "Mike Pence is a man without a constituency."

2023-06-01: Ted Lasso series finale (with spoilers): True to the end, Ted Lasso stays nice win or lose. Laughs were never the main goal here (warm fuzzies were), and became less a goal as the series wore on. Series could continue without Ted, with a sharper edge (I'd watch that), but won't. B-

2023-06-04: TIL: "In a typical year, the country builds more three-car garages than one-bedroom apartments."
How Parking Ruined Everything - The Atlantic

Monday, July 3, 2023

Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Source: Amir Omar

Condition of trees? Dead.
Cause of death? Chain saw.
Chief suspect? City of Richardson.
Statement by the accused? Sorry, not sorry.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

POTD: Galleria Umberto I in Naples

From 2022 10 29 Naples

This photo-of-the-day shows the Galleria Umberto I, a public shopping gallery in Naples, Italy.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

POTD: Vesuvius at Dawn

From 2022 10 29 Naples

This photo-of-the-day shows the Gulf of Naples with dawn coloring the sky behind Mount Vesuvius. Quiet. Beautiful. Right? Well, it wasn't that lovely in 79 AD when it blew its top and buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. What looks like two peaks in this photo was actually all just one much bigger mountain before it collapsed in the eruption, leaving the famous profile we see today.

Bonus photo after the jump.