Thursday, February 29, 2024

Choice and Rationing Needed After School Closures

Don't Fence Us Out!

In the Google Street View above, the fence around Dartmouth Elementary is in the foreground, and houses that are newly zoned to be outside the Dartmouth attendance zone are in the background. Right across the street from the school. This can't be the best solution Richardson ISD can come up with for needed school consolidation. I'm here with a better idea.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Public Facility Corporations and Richardson

Source: RISD
Richardson ISD Student Density

The Richardson City Council held a short meeting on February 19, 2024, where most of the substantive discussion took place behind closed doors, in executive session, which the public (and by that, I especially mean yours truly) was not privy to. So the rest of this blog post is based on conjecture.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Musical Chairs with RISD School Closures

Source: SchoolSite Locator by Davis Demographics

The Richardson ISD announced that due to a severe budget shortfall, it is necessary to consolidate (i.e., close) five elementary schools. One of them is Springridge Elementary. Its students are to be reassigned mostly to Dartmouth Elementary. The big problem with that plan is that there isn't enough room at Dartmouth for all the students vacating Springridge.

The RISD's solution involves, first, reassigning 42 students who live in the Forestridge Elementary attendance area, but for various historical reasons were assigned to Springridge, back to Forestridge. And second, like dominos, changing an attendance boundary to reassign 113 Dartmouth students to Yale Elementary to create enough room to transfer the remaining 221 Springridge students to Dartmouth.

I thought I had a better solution.

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Marvels (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Marvels (2023): Don't think about wormholes and "jump points" and the Supreme Intelligence and you'll enjoy this silly romp. Reminded me of "Everything Everywhere All at Once", Bollywood, Cats, and even Star Trek ("The Trouble with Tribbles"), all while three female superheros save the universe. B-


Sunday, February 25, 2024

POTD: Bananas for Sale in Lombok

"Five million souls live
with Ranjani's constant threat.
Lombok's restless heart."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 05 Lombok

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, about the same size as Bali, which is just to its west. Lombok is home to over 5 million Indonesians, one of whom is shown here. If Lombok makes the news in America, it's most likely because of a volcanic eruption. The island's geography is dominated by the 12,224 ft stratovolcano Mount Ranjani, an active volcano that had a large eruption as recently as 2010. One of the largest volcanic eruptions in world history occurred on Lombok in 1257.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

POTD: Dragons are Real

"Volcanic islands,
Dragons roam in wild splendor.
Evolution's gift."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 04 04 Rinca

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken on Rinca Island, home of Indonesia's Komodo National Park, populated by an estimated 5,700 giant lizards, or Komodo Dragons. We saw a dozen or so, from a safe distance. At least they told us we were safe.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Magnet Schools and RISD's Budget Hole

Source: H/T DALL-E

The Richardson ISD Board of Trustees has a regular meeting Thursday, February 22, 2024. One of the (many) items on the agenda is this:

TOPIC Recommended Budget Reductions: Project Rightsize

In December, the Community Budget Steering Committee presented a series of recommendations to effectively “right-size” the budget...

The Administration Team will provide an update on the budget planning and recommendations for the Board’s consideration and feedback.

TIL: US is Choosing to be Poorer

Source: h/t DALL-E

Donald Trump might be the Xenophobe-in-Chief, but both political parties are moving to the right on immigration. This will have a negative impact on GDP, posing threats to everything from Social Security to housing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Boy Swallows Universe (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Boy Swallows Universe (TV 2024): Australian boy grows up in a broken home surrounded by deadbeat dad, drug-dealing stepdad, hardluck mom, and assorted bullies and crims. Somehow the kid manages not just to survive, but to thrive. Part fantasy, part crime story, altogether captivating. B+

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Daisy Jones & the Six (TV 2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Daisy Jones & the Six (TV 2023): Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. This is NOT Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, although the filmmakers wouldn't mind if that's what gets you to watch. The two lead singers are both selfish brats who are soulmates, but they are toxic together. It's the TV series that ends up poisoned. B-

Monday, February 19, 2024

Lessons in Power

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass is not wrong, just incomplete. He was referencing slavery. It took a Civil War to get Texans (and other Southerners, but I live in Texas so let's keep this close to home) to concede their power to hold other human beings in bondage. When it comes to much less consequential matters, people sometimes concede power without a second thought. Sometimes they might not even realize that's what they're doing. The Richardson City Council is in process of ceding power to the Mayor, without a demand. It's an implicit power that Richardson Mayors have wielded since forever, soon to be made explicit by a compliant City Council. See "Committee Appointments" in "Council Recap: Rules of Procedure" for details.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

POTD: Closing the Book on Australia

"Monochrome fetish.
Bookshelf swap, a little game.
Order soon restored."

— h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 04 01 Darwin

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken on our visit to Darwin, our last stop in Australia. The interior decorator on the Viking Mars cruise ship that we traveled on had a monochrome design fetish, as the bookshelves in various public rooms were ordered by color. Just wanting to mess with their heads, I sometimes swapped a book from one shelf to another, just to see how long it would take before the staff put things back in Viking's preferred order. I was never disappointed.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

POTD: Australia's Jumping Crocodiles

"Jaws in midair snap.
Darwin's wild heartbeat revealed.
River spectacle."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 04 01 Darwin

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken about 45 miles from Darwin, Australia. It was taken from a boat on the Adelaide River, billed as the "Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise." Was it spectacular? See for yourself.

Bonus photos are after the jump.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Guns: Adding Insult to Injury

Source: Nationhood Lab

The last few days have seen a confluence of gun tragedy. A shooting death in the church of Joel Osteen ("church" used loosely) in Houston and a shooting death (and 21 wounded) at a Superbowl rally in Kansas City. More and more, mourning for the dead has barely begun before new dead take their place in the headlines.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Council Recap: Rules of Procedure

Source: h/t DALL-E


With that innocuous wording, the Richardson City Council took up a question that has long puzzled me. That is, why don't City Councilmembers drive change in the City of Richardson? I attributed it partly to lack of will, but also partly to confusion over whether they even have the power to set the agendas for the City Council meetings. If it's not on the agenda, they can't deliberate it, they can't make motions for it, and they can't pass the motions that bring change.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Society of the Snow (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Society of the Snow (2023): Spanish. Docudrama of the real life tale of survival of a plane crash in the Andes in 1972. No sensationalism. Respect for the dead and the survivors. 2+ hours of a slowly unfolding disaster punctuated by moments of sheer terror. B+

Monday, February 12, 2024

Good Grief (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Good Grief (2023): Good first movie by Daniel Levy, who wrote, directed, and starred as Marc, whose husband dies suddenly, upending Marc's life and revealing cracks in the lives of his close friends. Watching them all work through their issues is not as much of a bummer as you'd think. This ensemble would work in a sequel as a TV sitcom. B+

Sunday, February 11, 2024

POTD: Australia's Top Pub

"Car stops, man offers
to show us Thursday Island
On his Thursday off."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 30 Thursday Island

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken on Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait between the Australian mainland and Papua New Guinea. It's Australia's top pub, that is, its northernmost pub. There's not much else on the island so my guess is that it gets a lot of the island's business.

Ellen and I were hiking up to what's left of the historic, hilltop fort when a man in a car stopped and offered to give us a lift. He worked for the Australian border service and had the day off. So he gave us a panoramic tour of the hilltop, then offered to drive us around the rest of the island. We took him up on his offer and received the best personal tour available.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

POTD: Beach Camping

"Safe zone amid waves,
Jellyfish safely kept out.
Lone camper's haven."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 28 Cairns

Another port in Queensland, another (almost) empty beach. Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. There is one lone camper on the beach. Beaches in Queensland are plagued with jellyfish, whose stings are painful. This beach has one safe zone for swimming. Halfway down the beach, you can see the floats for a net used to keep swimmers separated from the jellyfish. In the foreground you can see one lone camper sitting in the sun and enjoying reading a book.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Gran Turismo (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Gran Turismo (2023): 2+ hour PlayStation commercial. Teen video gamer gets a chance to drive real race cars. Formulaic sports movie. Think Rocky and his grizzled trainer. The races blend together. Still, the movie manages to create suspense and excitement in the climax. That's more than I could have asked for. C+

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Council Recap: City Hall and Library

Source: City of Richardson

The Richardson City Council held a worksession February 5, 2024, to receive an update on the new City Hall and Library projects. The schematic design of City Hall is now complete and design development is beginning. There are enough details for the City Council and the public to have a good idea of what our new City Hall will look like. The new Library is farther along, with construction to begin in March, 2024.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Council Recap: Comprehensive Plan

Source: City of Richardson

The City Council and City Plan Commission (CPC) held a joint worksession February 5, 2024, to review progress on updating the City's Comprehensive Plan. Regular readers know just how much importance I place on this opportunity to reform Richardson's outdated regulations that limit a denser built environment, mixed-use developments, transit-oriented developments, missing-middle and affordable housing, and safe streets for bicycles and pedestrians.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Brothers Sun (TV 2024)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Brothers Sun (TV 2024): Brothers raised an ocean apart are reunited when a gang war in Taiwan spills over to L.A. Michele Yeoh is the mother, both nurturing and steely. Lots of choreographed fights. Lots of violence leavened with humor and meet-cute romance. B-

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

Source: h/t DALL-E

The Academy Awards will be given out Sunday, March 10, 2024. I've seen all the nominees for Best Picture. That means my opinion means something. Right? Regardless, I've ranked the movies in order of my preference for "Best Picture."

Sunday, February 4, 2024

POTD: Marine Stingers

"Empty Queensland beach,
First-aid stations ready for
Jellyfish stings."

—h/t ChatGPT
From 2023 03 27 Townsville

Another port in Queensland, another empty beach. Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. The beach is empty in part because of the presence of jellyfish. Beaches in Australia have first-aid stations with bottles of vinegar to douse yourself with if you happen to fall victim to these beautiful but nasty sea creatures. Oh, also, beware of the crocodiles.

After the jump, a view of Townsville.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

POTD: The Heart of the Reef

"Reef's empty allure
spoiled by fear of jellyfish.
Caution in the waves."

—h/t ChatGPT

From 2023 03 26 Airlie Beach

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia, the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Reef." The "reef" referred to is, of course, the Great Barrier Reef. The beautiful beach is empty, perhaps because swimming is definitely not recommended without a wet suit because of the high risk of jellyfish stings.

Friday, February 2, 2024

The State of the City: It's an Outlier

Source: h/t DALL-E

The City of Richardson held its annual State of the City Address on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, highlighting the City's achievements in 2023. I'm here to give my instant feedback.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Random Thoughts: Thinking about...Ann Landers?


2024-01-01: "At age 20, we worry about what others think of us.
At age 40, we don't care what they think of us.
At age 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all."
-- Ann Landers (1918-2002).
At age 20, we thought Ann Landers was embarrassing.
At age 40, we conceded that she sometimes knew what she was talking about.
At age 60, we missed her dearly.