Thursday, April 30, 2009

firestation #2 open house

On the 28th the rebuilt FS #2 had an open house at 5:30pm. I was in the area shopping for dinner groceries so I popped over to see.

Turns out the place was packed. People were parking in the church lot across arapaho to the north, and residential streets were full of parallel parkers.

Who'da thunk it? I wanted to see inside (and the fireman's slide in particular; no more pole!) but the line, seen to the right, was long. I'm guessing there were a couple hundred people in the area when I walked up. Since the line wasn't moving I took a couple of bad cellphone pics and went home to cook dinner.

Richardson thief caught on video

This, my friends, is what video is for.

Our ethically challenged friend is lucky there was no armed guard posted in the building. Perhaps this is an opportunity for him to repent (maybe he will read a similar situation in Les Miserables while imprisoned?).


.6" of rain overnight.

So far the upside down spinach is the best of the lot, and the upside down peas are 2nd best. Both have no bug damage.

Two of my tomato plants got got eaten by bugs last week (snails? saw a few). Two others nearby are untouched and the ones in the shade look best of all.

I put two iPlanters 2.0 of tomatoes out yesterday. The new revision involves inverting the cut-off bottom of the 2L and affixing it upside-down to the planter (which is upside down so the bottom is actually upside-up). Confused? This cellphone pic is horrific, but shows the overall gist.

Also, here is a grapefruit tree I grew from a yummy grapefruit I ate in late 2007. I let the seed dry for a few months then sprouted/planted it in 2008. I don't have any illusions that it will ever yield fruit. But the leaves are a lovely deep green. I also planted a lemon tree from scrounged seed at the same time but it looks terrible (right beside it; basically a twig with one ugly leaf on it).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Early Voting

Went and voted.

I met Mr. Omar there, and he was as pleasant and professional as I would have assumed. I told him he was the reason I came out to vote (see below). I believe he is a good man (even if the RC recommended him!) and will represent the city in general and our talented immigrant populations in particular with integrity.

There were two other canvassers there, and coincidentally their candidates were also on my voting list. I do not feel strongly enough about their candidacy to mention their names.

I am not very political, and it was difficult figuring out who to vote for. Basically I wrote down every candidate and did my reading for a week. I put +1next to each name as I read things I thought were going to be helpful to Richardson, and -1 to things that I thought would be hurtful. In addition, any candidate endorsed by the RC was automatically dinged with a -1, but Mr. Omar was able to overcome that. :-)

Here are the things that concern me as a voter:

* embracing our productive diversity. I want citizens around me who want to contribute, who want to educate their offspring, run their own businesses, shop in their own town, run their own lives.

* crappy apartments breeding crime. I know, I used to live in one. I was very glad to have a CHL.

* uninsured and unskilled drivers. Take your life (and your car) into your own hands around SpringValley and Waterview. I try to avoid that area.

* Crime slipping over from Dallas from the South and from Garland on the East.

* residential burglaries, robberies, and assaults

* an intense hatred for officials who seek office for profit or self-advancement rather than for service to their community. Carpetbaggers and the good ol' boy network are not needed.

* wasting taxpayer money.

* hiding government business. Publish/podcast/broadcast! There is no excuse. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

* the COR website, full of unpredictable URLs, and proprietary formats instead of open standards.

Burglaries get no love from detectives?

I wrote a little script that downloads the current crime "blotter" (such as it is) and parses it. In looking for data on a few neighboring streets. Here's an example for Summit Dr:

04/22/2009 05:00 PM CRIM MISC 50-500 400 BLK of SUMMIT DR
03/31/2009 03:30 PM BURG UNLAW-RESD 500 BLK of SUMMIT DR
12/09/2008 02:00 PM CRIM MISC 50-500 500 BLK of SUMMIT DR
10/27/2008 05:00 PM THEFT-MV PARTS 400 BLK of SUMMIT DR
06/09/2008 04:00 PM CRIM MISC 50-500 500 BLK of SUMMIT DR
02/05/2008 06:00 PM BURG FORCE-RESD 400 BLK of SUMMIT DR
01/13/2008 12:01 AM CRIM MISC 50-500 PARK LN // SUMMIT DR

What's odd is that all the burglary/mischief calls over the last year are marked "inactive", as in "no followup". That's odd. What are the chances that ALL of them are effectively in the trash pile? So I started looking for cases that were active or pending. Based on my reading, it appears someone has to be shot, assaulted, or have their car stolen to get their case seen by detectives. I suspect the car theft one is due to agitation by insurance companies rather than any particular concern for the property of citizens.

I would much rather have residential burglaries followed up on rather than car theft. My car can easily be replaced; my sense of security in my home cannot.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scanner feed: COR.200904200741

MP3 uploaded here, 28MB.

04/20/2009 06:55 AM THEFT-MV PARTS 400 BLK of S GREENVILLE AVE
04/20/2009 09:10 AM BURG FORCE-RESD 1000 BLK of NORTH PARK DR
04/20/2009 09:00 AM BURG UNLAW-RESD 400 BLK of SHADOW BEND DR

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scanner feed: COR.200904181505

Ok, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. This is a partial day's scanning. The filename carries the date in YYMMDDHHMM format.

MP3 (20MB).

Here is my hack of the RPD non-blotter for the day:
04/18/2009 12:00 PM BURG UNLAW-RESD 500 BLK of TRAILRIDGE DR
04/18/2009 08:00 AM CRIM MISC 50-500 1900 BLK of VILLANOVA DR

although neither one of those will be on the audio because it starts so late in the day. In general I run the recording from morning to morning, but this one was different for some reason.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Traffic on Grove

Last week the radar trailer was at the Northern end of Grove, and today there is a traffic-counting strip on the Southern end of Grove.

I understand that some folks are all fired up about traffic on Grove but I have never seen anything out of the ordinary. Nobody driving crazy or speeding.

Gardening experiments

Did a little bit of work in the "garden" (a 2'x4' patch of land next to the workshop).

I have a bigger patch, 2'x10' that I could use but it is north-facing. I may end up putting shadeloving plants there. But my reading suggests that some leafy veggies like beans and greens can tolerate partial shade.

So I xplanted some snow peas and spinach donated by my gardening wizard running buddy into the shade, along with some tomato and cilantro sprouts I'm starting in the greenhouse. We'll see what happens.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, I put a mustard and snow pea in (their own) iPlanter, which is an inverted planter made from a 2L bottle. The top is crushed in to give something to hold the roots with, and to make a water reservoir. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

hey, face shooting made the blotter

In the past I have made skeptical noises about the quality and quantity of the RPD blotter, such as it is.* I believe it is watered down to near-uselessness for legal reasons. I was doubtful that the robbery/shooting would even show up. But here it is:

Date: 4/13/2009 9:50:00 PM
IRA: 4700
UCR Code: 120
Offense Description: 120 ROBBERY
Block: 1000 of AUDELIA RD
Service Number: 09-035065

I am pleased to have been proved wrong on this.

* basically, that there should be a real blotter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

snapshots of Richardson by DCAD

Came in from a COR email list:

The Dallas Central Appraisal District will be conducting a project in all of Dallas County which includes parts of Richardson.

The company hired by DCAD to complete this project is Yotta MVS, Inc., they will be taking digital photographs of all real properties (residential and commercial) in Dallas County. They will be driving white vans and may have out of state license plates (Missouri). The project has already begun in some parts of the county and expected to conclude no later than August 2009.

There will be approximately six (6) vans with digital photographic equipment located inside each vehicle. Each van will have a driver and a photographer inside and a magnetic sign on each side of the vans that reads “Digital Photography Project, Dallas Central Appraisal District 214-819-2300”. The vans will only access public right-of-ways and will not obstruct traffic or create a safety hazard. The telephone number has prerecorded information pertaining to the project

This is being done to:

Improve the overall quality of appraisals

Make DCAD more efficient

Assist the public by providing better access to information

If you have questions, please call the Dallas Central Appraisal District information line at:



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sync your smartphone/PPC with Google Sync

Right now it only does Calendar and Contacts, but that is pretty cool. That means I don't have to keep a Windoze around for syncing duties. Works great. When they start syncing Tasks then my smartphone life will be complete.

I use synce to move files back and forth between the linux workstation and the phone. Doesn't work great. No wildcard support, so when you are moving files you have to do some shell scripting to build the list of files, strip out the path and other data, etc. Works, but barely.

Ah, the old "shot in the face" trick

Idiot robbed and shot a fellow in the face at a carwash Monday night about .5M south of here. Yay.

The newspaper article didn't mention a description, but the scanner did. I assume the paper (and blotter report, if any) will tiptoe around that one for PC/age reasons.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some thoughts about RPD radio comms

I have some disconnected, general thoughts about RPD radio comms rolling around in my head.

  • Some acronyms you will see here and elsewhere: COR=City of Richardson, RPD=Richardson Police Department. RFD=Richardson Fire Department
  • RPD radio comms are some of the most well-ordered and professional comms I have ever monitored.
  • I am changing my listening habits somewhat, and may start posting mp3 snippets somewhere. Right after this post I'll make a short example of what that might look like.
  • An average day of RPD (most comms) and RFD (dispatch only) consumes results in about 4hrs of active vox-recorded audio in a given 24hr period. I listen to it while commuting or doing housework.
  • During the last week I heard two manhunt ("block off the streets, check anyone that moves") scenarios. This is the kind of thing that's interesting to monitor, and that generally doesn't make it to the blotter.
  • In both the manhunt cases above the RPD wanted K9 support and in both cases K9 was unavailable to them. Odd. I trust that's an anomaly. In one case the dog[s] were in training, and in the other the handler was "unavailable". In the latter case RPD considered borrowing K9 from Garland.

batch[32] DipWick's Irish Red

Another try at the Smithwick's clone. When it was in the primary last time my heater was out and the house dropped into the 40s. Had to repitch after we got heat back in order to finish the fermentation.

BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: batch[32] DipWick's
Brewer: Frater Mus
Asst Brewer:
Style: Irish Red Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 18.93 L
Boil Size: 21.67 L
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 12.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 22.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
3.63 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 85.02 %
0.34 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 7.97 %
0.23 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.31 %
0.07 kg Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 1.70 %
25.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 16.0 IBU
14.00 gm Vanguard [5.00 %] (20 min) Hops 5.4 IBU
7.09 gm Fuggles [4.50 %] (10 min) Hops 1.5 IBU
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: mouse mash
Total Grain Weight: 4.27 kg
mouse mash
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min mash in Add 11.84 L of water at 163.0 F 152.0 F

26.17# of mash water @163F
31.06# of sparge water @190F

.5L decanted starter.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Planet Money podcast

There is a fantastic NPR finance show called Planet Money.

They've really helped me understand the complex financial instruments and power plays involved in our current economic fsckup.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

City Council districts

[This is a reworking of a post I made elsewhere]

It took me a while to find any information on the City of Richardson website that shows what city council district one lives in.

I am not generally stupid or web ignorant but it took me a while to find. There are references on the COR site to the city being broken up into quadrants for this purpose, but no indication of the boundaries that I could find.

Here is what I found; a page that has a GIS-created map with a district overlay on it. It's the top map.

As with most of the other documents on, it comes up in .pdf. I wish would quit encapsulating everything in .pdf. It's unnecessary, wasteful of bandwidth, requires proprietary software (which we are likely not getting for free) and annoying. Time to write email to the COR webmaster...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Urban Peasant on ION Life

68_3 - KPXD ION Life , one of the free Over The Air (OTA) digital channels being broadcast, is running the Urban Peasant cooking show. Hosted by James Barber, now deceased after a very full life, the show is easily the best cooking show I've ever seen.

He is gentle, funny, caring, and pragmatic. Joe Bob says check it out.

COR radio system rebanded today

The City of Richardson radio system rebanded today.

Rebanding is a changing of assigned frequencies based on an FCC realloction.

The Bad News is that some older scanners do not know how to use the new frequency allotments, particularly with Motorola-based systems. Some scanners have firmware upgrades to help the situation.

The Good News is that the COR radio system is EDACS/LTR instead of Motorola, and most older trunking scanners can handle that. Both my new 246T and old 245XLT took the new freqs with no drama.