Monday, June 24, 2024

Richardson's new City McHall

Source: City of Richardson

The Richardson City Council reviewed plans for a new City Hall during its June 17, 2024, meeting. This was the second time renderings of the new building were reviewed, the first time being February 5, 2024. Then, I said, "My guess is the City Hall will look fortress-like from Fountain Plaza, but the rest of the views are more than acceptable to me." I also reported that the architecture team said, "The materials to be used on the exterior walls are not yet decided. 'We're intentionally trying to be very nebulous or non committal about what the exterior materials will be at this moment.'" Well, we now have a better understanding of the view and the materials. I'm sorry to say my overall grade for the plan has gotten worse.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

POTD: My Name is Ozymandias


"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

—Percy Bysshe Shelley
From 2023 09 18 Volubilis

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site in Morocco. Volubilis, "founded in the 3rd century B.C., became an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was graced with many fine buildings. Extensive remains of these survive in the archaeological site, located in a fertile agricultural area."

A bonus photo of the Queen of Queens is after the jump.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

POTD: Colors Bright and Faded


"Modern gaze meets past,
Overlooking ancient ruins,
Visitor ponders."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 18 Volubilis

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site in Morocco. Volubilis, "founded in the 3rd century B.C., became an important outpost of the Roman Empire and was graced with many fine buildings. Extensive remains of these survive in the archaeological site, located in a fertile agricultural area."

This building is modern and overlooks the ruins of Volubilis, which were behind me as I took this photo. It's said that many ancient buildings and sculptures were painted in colors that have worn away long ago. No one is saying that a visitor in Roman times might have seen Volubilis similarly painted, but modern visitors are permitted to imagine anyway.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Leveraging AI for Local Govt Efficiency

Source: Dan Barrios

Richardson City Councilmember Dan Barrios is attending a conference. He reports on Facebook, "My first fascinating breakout for the day! It was a packed room and the most popular one yet!"

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Boys in the Boat (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Boys in the Boat (2023): Drama based on real-life story of the University of Washington rowing team who went all the way to the Berlin Olympics in 1936. The scrappy kids face every obstacle on their way to glory. The script is filled with every sports trope, but if a feel-good sports movie is what you like, this is for you. B-

Amazon

Monday, June 17, 2024

Book: Symphony of Secrets

From Symphony of Secrets, by Brendan Slocumb:

Symphony of Secrets

Amazon


"It was actually happening. A piece of RED—the elusive, mysterious, impossible RED—had been found. And out of everyone on the planet, Bern himself—a poor bologna-sandwich-eating kid with a beat-up French horn—was going to actually see it. Be one of the very first people to touch it, to decipher Frederic Delaney's distinctive handwriting."

Sunday, June 16, 2024

POTD: Martyr's Cemetery


"Rabat's ancient stones,
Beside the vast, tranquil sea,
Eternal, serene."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 17 Rabat

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Rabat, Morocco. It shows Sidi Al Khattab Cemetery, also called Martyr's Cemetery. It is located next to the thousand-year-old Kasbah of Rabat. I haven't been able to find much information about the cemetery online, but visually it's incomprehensibly large and stunningly beautiful as it overlooks the ocean. As I age and contemplate being much closer to death than birth, I find myself irresistably drawn to such scenes.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

POTD: Kasbah of the Oudaias


"Ancient walls embrace,
Kasbah of the Oudaias,
Heritage preserved."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 17 Rabat

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Kasbah of the Oudaias in Rabat, Morocco. Dating to the 10th century, "it is located on a hill at the mouth of the Bou Regreg opposite Salé, and adjacent to the Medina quarter of Rabat. It is listed, along with other sites in Rabat, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site."

Bonus photos are after the jump.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Three-Body (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Three-Body (TV 2023): Chinese. Adaptation of same Chinese sci-fi novel as the American version, but not as well done. Character bonding is missing. On plus side, 30 episodes vs 10 means more time to explain WTF is going on. C+

Peacock

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Godzilla Minus One (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Godzilla Minus One (2023): Japan. Not a sequel or prequel, it's a reboot. And it's more than a monster movie. It's a melodrama with a lot of heart. A kamikaze pilot with unfinished business after WWII joins the fight against the monster. It's actually good. B+

Netflix

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Book of Clarence (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Book of Clarence (2023): Clarence, a man struggling with debt in Jerusalem in 33 AD, has a plan to solve all his problems by imitating Jesus. This could be seen as homage or as sacrilege depending on how easily offended you are. It'll probably satisfy no one. C+

Netflix

Monday, June 10, 2024

Which Brings Me to You (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Which Brings Me to You (2024): Young couple meet and dare to tell each other every romantic relationship in their past. This concept requires too much screen time for the leads to be dating others. And it shows them in unhappy relationships. Result? I never saw or cared about them as individuals or as a couple. C+

Hulu

Sunday, June 9, 2024

POTD: Mausoleum of Mohammed V


"King’s legacy lives
In each deliberate craft,
Mausoleum's grace."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 17 Rabat

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco. The king died in 1961. Construction was completed in 1971. "The rich materials, as well as the deliberate use of historical crafts and motifs, is meant to not only pay tribute to Mohammed V but also to evoke his own efforts to encourage traditional craftsmanship as a means of promote a sense of Moroccan identity."

Bonus photos are after the jump.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

POTD: Mercado de San Miguel


"Colors, scents, and sounds
Merge in historic Madrid.
Gastronomic bliss."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 16 Madrid

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Spain. "Located in the center of historic Madrid and with more than 10 million visitors a year, the Mercado de San Miguel is the gastronomic temple of the city of Madrid, the contemporary essence of all corners of Spanish gastronomy."

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Council Recap: Bicycle Parking

Source: h/t DALL-E

On June 3, 2024, the Richardson City Council held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance specifying a mininum number of spaces for bicycle parking in new developments. This was approved unanimously by City Council.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Council Recap: Ferris Wheel and Outdoor Music

Source: h/t DALL-E

On June 3, 2024, the Richardson City Council held a public hearing on a request for a new development in Restaurant Park on US 75 of a brew pub and food truck business with live outdoor music. Oh, and a 45 ft. Ferris Wheel. This was unanimously approved by City Council.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Eileen (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Eileen (2023): Psychological character study. Young, lonely woman living with her alcoholic father is fascinated by a glamorous new counselor in the youth prison where she works. As their friendship deepens, matters slowly turn dark. Reality and fantasy blur. B-

Hulu

Monday, June 3, 2024

Franklin (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Franklin (TV 2024): Docudrama about Ben Franklin's years as an American diplomat in Paris. It's a painless way to learn history, but Michael Douglas as Ben Franklin? Forget it. In its favor, costumes and sets are beautiful. C+

Apple TV+

Sunday, June 2, 2024

POTD: Catedral del Mazapan


"Gleaming sugar shrine,
Kids outside are unimpressed.
Toledo still grand."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 15 Toledo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Toledo, Spain. The photo shows kids hanging around outside a marzipan store which is named after a prized display in the store: a model cathedral made out of marzipan. Unimpressed is the vibe I get from the kids. Your own mileage may vary. But Toledo itself is undeniably a great city.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Random Thoughts: Taking Down the UT-Dallas Protestors' Encampment

Mastodon

2024-05-02: Taking down the protestors' encampment at UT-Dallas involved officers from UT-D, Richardson, Allen (SWAT), Collin County Sheriff, and Texas Rangers. That shows impressive coordination...and maybe needless risk, as coordination on that scale doesn't come easily.

2024-05-02: Maybe they all have experience taking down homeless encampments. If so, you'd think any one of them was probably up to the task at hand. From reports, everything was peaceful before (and during and after) the police move.

Friday, May 31, 2024

Council Recap: The City Manager's Curious Statements

Source: h/t DALL-E

Wednesday, I reported on the Richardson City Council's review of the 2023-2024 Second Quarter Financial Report ("Council Recap: The Case of the Missing Sales Tax"). I included the comments from most of the City Council. Thursday, I reported on what the Mayor said (or didn't say) ("Council Recap: Where was the Mayor?"). Today, there's one more person to hear from whose comments deserve scrutiny — City Manager Don Magner.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Council Recap: Where was the Mayor?

Source: h/t DALL-E

Yesterday, I reported on the Richardson City Council's review of the 2023-2024 Second Quarter Financial Report ("Council Recap: The Case of the Missing Sales Tax"). I included what most of the City Council said. Privately, someone asked, "Where was the Mayor during this discussion?" The literal answer is that he was right there with the rest of the City Council. The more interesting question, "What was he thinking?" is one I can't answer.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Council Recap: The Case of the Missing Sales Tax

Source: h/t DALL-E

On May 13, 2024, the Richardson City Council held a worksession in which they reviewed the 2023-2024 Second Quarter Financial Report. "It's going to hurt." That's how Richardson Budget Officer Bob Clymire described the impact of a significant sales tax decline. What was the City Council's reaction to this bad news? Therein lies a tale of institutional memory loss. Or self-gaslighting. Say something often enough and you start to believe it inherently. We'll get to that. Bear with me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Dream Scenario (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Dream Scenario (2023): Nicolas Cage plays a small-college professor having a midlife crisis who is suddenly famous as the guy who appears in everyone's dreams. A cautionary tale of cancel-culture without much to say about it. Good work by Cage. C+

Max

Monday, May 27, 2024

Council Recap: Bicycles

Source: h/t DALL-E

On May 20, 2024, the Richardson City Council reviewed and discussed renewing Richardson's status as a Bicycle Friendly Community and attaining a silver-level bike-friendly designation. A year ago, the City Council set a goal to gain the silver designation. Everyone remains on board with that goal. City staff also briefed the City Council on the City's progress on adopting a Complete Streets Policy. "Complete Streets" mean a "comprehensive multimodal transportation system that facilitates safe, accessible, comfortable, and convenient mobility for all people and travel modes." There's a consensus on that as a goal for Richardson as well.

That said, I'm worried about some of the things that individual Councilmembers said.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

POTD: View of Toledo


"Grade school memory
of El Greco's Toledo.
Homage through my lens."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 15 Toledo

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Toledo, Spain. It's my homage to a famous painting that I first became aware of when I took a Spanish language course in grade school. The painting is El Greco's haunting "View of Toledo" owned by the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

El Greco's painting is after the jump.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

POTD: Almonacid Castle

"Time's relentless march,
Leaves marks on every stone.
Almonacid's pride."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 09 15 Toledo

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Almonacid Castle in central Spain, south of Toledo. It dates back to the 9th century. As far as I can determine, it is unoccupied. Wikipedia says it is available for sale for "one euro cent to anyone who undertakes to completely restore it." It's a majestic opportunity.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Council Recap: Comp Plan Planning

Source: h/t DALL-E

On May 20, 2024, the Richardson City Council reviewed and discussed the Envision Richardson Comprehensive Plan update and upcoming Community Summit 3. That was the agenda item anyway. In fact any details of the Comp Plan were missing and the plans for the community summit took up all the time.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Stefani Carter and Monty Bennett's "Buffoonery"


2013: Ringing Opening Bell on NYSE (Stefani Carter on left)

Stefani Carter is in the news again and not in a good way. Again, it's about Blackwells Capital LLC making a hostile attempt to install independent directors to the board of Monty Bennett's Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc. The Wheel has followed Monty Bennett for his own behavior but mostly because of one of his company's directors, Stefani Carter ("What Has Stefani Carter Been Up To"). Carter is a former member of the Texas House of Representatives. She represented Richardson from 2011-2015. Or rather, she represented herself. She turned her service into a gig with Monty Bennett. Or, as D Magazine puts it, she "suckles at Bennett’s REIT" (Real Estate Investment Trust). Blackwells has now released a presentation titled "The Buffoonery of Monty Bennett" in which Bennett is featured and Carter, his lead director, is mentioned and not in a flattering way.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

WAIW: This Might Blow Your Mind

Where Am I Wednesday!

Fifty points to the first person to identify where this photo was taken.

Answer will be given on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Dune (1984)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Dune (1984): This David Lynch adaptation is as bad as I heard. Cheap sets and miniatures and special effects. Overly dramatic music. Clunky dialog. It's said movies should show, not tell. Dune tells, even down to narrating characters' thoughts. C-

Max

#VeryTardyReview

Monday, May 20, 2024

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975): French. As dry as its title. 3.5 hrs of static camera shots in a claustrophobic apartment showing a woman's life of quiet desperation. Packing a punch for feminism, it tops BFI's 2022 list of best films of all time. Not for everyone. C+

Max

#VeryTardyReview

Sunday, May 19, 2024

POTD: Man of La Mancha

"Miguel's words still live,
In the streets of this small town,
Don Quixote's realm."


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 15 Toledo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Puerto Lapice in the province of La Mancha, Spain. Don Quixote is a fictional character, created by Miguel de Cervantes, who mentions the real town of Puerto Lapice by name in his classic novel. The modern town has capitalized on that fact. It's not big, but it's all about the Man of La Mancha.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

POTD: Olives Everywhere. And Bull.

"Olive groves extend
All across central Spain's land,
Liquid gold abounds."


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 15 Toledo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from central Spain, where olive groves are everywhere. We've already covered this agricultural fact in our photo-of-the-day near Seville in southern Spain, but the country is the world's largest exporter of olive oil. In 2022, 43% of the world's exports came from Spain. And that's no bull.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

POTD: Does God Exist?

Today's real-time photo-of-the-day is from Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera. A man nearby is reading a book with the title "Does God Exist?" From my particular vantage point today the answer is unequivocally yes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

WAIW: Things Worth a Solitary Dime

Where Am I Wednesday!

Fifty points to the first person to identify where this photo was taken. (Ten bonus points for each of the three things that you can name that are worth a solitary dime.)

Answer is after the jump.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Wonka (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Wonka (2023): Origin story for the chocolate maker. Songs are catchy, but Timothée Chalamet has neither the voice nor the needed madcap twinkle in his eye to carry the movie. There may be a happy ending, but before that it's all Wonka's hardships with slave masters, corrupt police, and an evil chocolate cartel. B-

Apple TV+

Sunday, May 12, 2024

POTD: The Alhambra

"Granada's treasure,
Alhambra's timeless allure,
Echoes of glory."


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 14 Granada

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It's not just a monument or a building. It's a fortress and a palace and a whole world unto itself. Begun in 1238, "it is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the best-preserved palaces of the historic Islamic world, in addition to containing notable examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture."

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

POTD: The Bishop's Opening

"Cathedral backdrop,
Father and son deep in thought,
Chess pieces in hand."


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 14 Granada

This photo was taken on the steps of Granada Cathedral in Granada, Spain. It features an unidentified father and son playing chess. A chess beginner's maxim is "develop knights before bishops" but when you are playing literally on the steps of a cathedral, such maxims maybe can be ignored.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The Gentlemen (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Gentlemen (TV 2024): A Guy Ritchie production. A young English duke inherits his family estate...and the enormous weed business it harbors. He tries to extricate himself and only gets dragged deeper into the criminal world. There are no good guys here, only a lot of unlikeable characters doing unlikeable things. B-

Netflix

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Unfrosted (2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Unfrosted (2024): Origin story of Pop-Tarts by Jerry Seinfeld, filled with more comedians than "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." What made that show interesting was the loosely scripted banter. Here, it's all scripted and rehearsed. Jokes are aimed for Baby Boomers but Barbie did it so, so much better. C-

Netflix

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Baby Reindeer (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Baby Reindeer (TV 2024): Lonely woman walks into a bar. Bartender takes pity on her, bringing a stalker into his life. Why does it take him six months to go to the police? The sexual abuse he once suffered plays a role. Like slowing down to rubberneck a car accident, I hated myself for watching. Sad. Exploitative. C+

Netflix

Monday, May 6, 2024

A Time for Pigs to Die

Source: h/t DALL-E

Recently, I wrote about "Density versus Sprawl". I was referring to the choice the City of Richardson faces in updating its Comprehensive Plan. In another post, "The Road to Zero Degradation", I identified increased density as part of the solution to the eternal challenge of finding enough money to fix potholes. I said, "Mayor Pro Tem Arefin gets it, saying in a recent City Council meeting, 'We have to have revenue from new sources to get our infrastructure fixes.'"

Sunday, May 5, 2024

POTD: Our Love is Here to Stay

"In time the Rockies may crumble,
Gibraltar may tumble,
they’re only made of clay.
But our love is here to stay."


— Ira Gershwin
From 2023 09 13 Gibraltar

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken at the border between Spain and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

POTD: This Sceptred Isle

"Do photos deceive?
Would calling England from here
Require long distance?"


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 13 Gibraltar

Where was this photo taken? You might say, obviously somewhere in England. Even the title of this article, a famous phrase from Shakespeare's Richard II, seems to say so. But the photo was not taken in England, unless that is, you consider the British Overseas Territories to be as much a part of England as the Lake District or the Cotswalds. Which, of course, is what the English believe. The Spanish have other ideas. Anyway, this photo-of-the-day was taken in Gibraltar.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Council Recap: A New School in Richardson?

Source: h/t DALL-E

On April 22, 2024, the Richardson City Council considered a request by a private school to move into an existing church building on Abrams Rd. near Walnut St. The school is Coram Deo Academy, a classical, Christian, K-12 school with three campuses. It wants to relocate its Dallas campus on Alpha Rd to Richardson. Because of zoning regulations, a special permit is needed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Random Thoughts: Eclipse Conspiracy Theories

Mastodon

2024-04-06: I don't recall any conspiracy theories about the eclipse circulating on social media. Am I missing them?

2024-04-09: Great view of the eclipse in McKinney. Diamond ring, 3 minutes of totality, then another diamond ring. Awesome.

2024-04-09: I always tell people that partial eclipses are interesting, but just can't compare to a total eclipse. A 99% partial eclipse sounds good, but totality is something else entirely. We would have been chasing the 2017 eclipse if we didn't know that the 2024 eclipse was coming right to us.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Argylle (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Argylle (2023): Spy novelist gets caught up in a real life spy operation. Why do her plots mimic real life so closely? Part mystery. Part action movie. Part silly. None done well enough to hold up the movie. The ending, instead of wrapping things up, just creates more confusion. C-

Apple TV+

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Road to Zero Degradation

Martin Luther King Blvd, Dallas. Source: Google.

The City of Dallas has bond proposals on its ballot in the May 4, 2024, election. Proposition A will ask voters to approve "$521 million in bond money to repair streets, alleys, sidewalks, bridges and other transportation-related infrastructure over five years." That sounds like a lot. It isn't. It's not even enough to keep up. The Dallas Morning News has the details.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

POTD: A Well-Read Man

"In Málaga's heart,
stop for coffee and the news,
Spanish elegance."


—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 09 12 Costa del Sol

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Calle Marqués de Larios in Málaga, Spain. Wikipedia describes it as "the most expensive street to live on in Málaga, and the eleventh most expensive to live on in all of Spain." To sit and read the paper, however, costs only a small tip.

A bonus photo is after the jump.