Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Handbill: Best Foundation Repair

Here is a local company getting it wrong three ways:

1. handbill attached to rail rather than door
2. No Solicitors sign ignored
3. Solicitor not displaying the solicitor permit.

Here's the video where you can confirm the solicitor is not displaying a permit. (.avi, about 3MB)

Even local companies can get it wrong.

I've emailed info@best-foundation.com with this information.

Update 10/05/2009.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Found a hummingbird feeder at a garage sale for 50c. Cleaned it up, read up on making the nectar, and hung it up in the back yard. Saw the first bird (a brown female?) later that day. Just now a green one was at the feeder.

Here's a page on identification of hummingbirds in Texas.

Open house

Last week it finally got cool enough to open the house up and blow out some of the pent-up dog/human funk. The weekend was too warm for it but the windows are open now.

There are few screens on the house so we built one for a front window. This allows us to get serious airflow going through the couple of screens on the back of the house. Mmmmm.

I don't know why having the house opened up gives me so much pleasure, but it really lifts my mood. And I needed a mood lift. I'm still signing into about 40 school/isd sites a day to check for jobs but it's a desert. I feel better after my flu quarantine mid-month but I am still a bit washed out.

On the upside, I had three kids tell me I "ought to be a real teacher." :-) I told them I was trying.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally posting audio for 9/21 council meeting

And it sucks.

The audio from the visitor mic is nearly unintelligible. The other mics are about the same as always.

Haven't listened to all of it yet, but I am keenly interested in the SV revitalization stuff.

Keffler: "hope I can diffuse this one"

If you haven't read DC's blog entry on this yet, it's worth your time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aggressive limo driver on Grove

9/20/2009, 6:10pm.

White limo, Tx plate CNL-479 heading northbound on Grove.

Honking at other traffic, speeding/driving in the bikelane, going straight from a right-turn only lanes, etc. A real douchebag.

We both turned e on belt line and stopped at Bowser. I advised the driver he had been illegally driving in the bike lane. At that point the caucasian male driver (about 35yo?) encouraged me to "eat sh_t". I declined. To my discredit I responded with similar language, punctuating my shouty opinion with unkind gestures.

Since then I have been disappointed to find there is no searchable database of plate numbers.

Suspect in 9/16 home invasion

The details, such as they are, can be found here.

While you've got your eyeballs peeled, this fellow is also loose in the region.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

9/16 home invasion/kidnapping Buckingham apartments

Local 6pm news had a segment about a home invasion / robbery / kidnapping on Buckingham. I can't find any online sources of info yet. {Update: see vid at bottom}

My uncomfirmed instinct: is that it started last night and wasn't reported until this AM when the perps left the house so the residents could report it. The dispatch time and doesn't line up with the 9-to-12 hour event duration unless it started last night and ended this morning.

This is within easy walking distance of my house. I turned on a couple more exterior lights than usual, doublechecked the carry sidearm and the Moss 500. Yes, the Dear Wife also knows how to shoot them.

BTW, let's say it's the middle of the night and three armed men just kicked in your door (see above). How scary, inappropriate, and unnecessary is that homeowner's assault rifle now?

{edit: I do not mean to imply that an assault weapon is the best tool to combat home invaders; that role is served by a shotgun. Simpler to use, less $$$, and less risk of overpenetration. About the only time the assault rifle is a better deal is if the invaders are armored.}

Images by the amazing Oleg Volk.

I'll pull down this Ch11 vid from my MythTV box as soon as the segment appears on CBS 11. The audio and/or aspect may be jacked, as this is my first attempt at editing video.

a meditation after 9/11

I couldn't take much time to think about 9/11 on the actual day this year. I had 300 or so kids to get through the day at a local high school and that kind of thing leaves little time for introspection.

So today I find myself reflecting on things most of the world thought about last week.

I think this is perhaps the most moving, serious, and genuninely heartfelt tribute I have seen. I thank the BBC and the British people for their kindness in those days after the tragedy.

"Leonard Slatkin Conducts the BBC Orchestra on September 15 2001 in honor of those who lost their lives a few days prior. Visuals from BBC's 'Last Night of the Proms' and ABC's 'Report from ground zero'. AUVIEX edit. "

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

sprouts: lentil, mung, fenugreek

I do most of the cooking at home because I like it. There was a four-year stretch when I was working nights and the Dear Wife was pressed into service. She did great but I don't get the feeling it was fun for her.

My meal planning isn't bad but for the past year or so I have been aware that we don't eat enough fresh greens. My rough plan to correct this has been:

1. try my hand at gardening (more about this in a future post)
2. shop more often at local stores to pick up green shtuff. This sucks a bit because I hate my local Kroger and the road is torn up between me and Sara Bakery.

Neither have been big payoffs, though I predict my garden will produce more next year. We are eating some tomatoes now.

So I was wandering around youtube one day and saw a video about sprouting various beans and legumes (sprout content starts about 60seconds into the vid). Hmmm. I knew I liked the alfalfa sprouts you get in salads and the mung bean sprouts you get in many Asian foods. Question is, how hard and how expensive could this get?

I had some spare screen scraps and cut them to fit the inside of some mason jar lids. Commercial sprouting lids are about $6/each as far as I can tell.

It turns out that sprouting is stupid cheap and stupid easy. Forget all the hippie "your body loves the owl spirit of the superfood raw enzymes" crapola, they are cheap, fresh foods you can grow on the countertop.

Basic how-to
Put a small amount of seeds/beans in the bottom of a mason jar. Start with a tablespoon full or other small amount until you know how big they will get. Some really explode on you. I do the soak overnight. Cover the jar with screened lid (commercial or homemade). You can also use something like cheesecloth or nylons and secure with rubber band or the lid ring.

8 hrs later (like the next morning) rinse with water, leave inverted or partially inverted. I prefer a 45deg angle which keeps sprouts from blocking airflow. Then 2-3x a day rinse and drain and leave inverted again. I do this in the morning, at night, and if I remember once in the afternoon.

A few days into it (3-4?) your sprouts will be luverly and ready to eat. You can put them in the window if you want them to green up more.

I eat them raw with salad dressing, soy, or vinegar, or cooked into other foods, or stirfried for a very short time (like 60 seconds).

Win: lentil, mung, fenugreek.
Fail: wheat sprouts were weirdly sweet; kids might like them. Garbanzo/chickpea; got weird.

fevered notes on the 9/14 council meeting

Unedited audio posted here for you mp3 player types.

This post is a mess, but feel free to slog through. I am quarantined at home with the flu and all my brain cells are sizzling with the fever. Hope some of it makes sense.

Notes from the Work Session, pt 1

I finally get to disagree with Amir!
At around 7:01pm Mr. Omar falls into the trap of trying to overcontrol city departments communication with the the public (ie, the customer). "I would love any piece of communication ... somehow go through Communications before it gets there... you see that a lot in corporations and I think it would make sense for us to do it here as well."

No, no, no. No. Overcontrolling worker communication with the customer is expensive and counterproductive. For an argument about why this is so, take a short ride on the Cluetrain. (full text starts here)

From Michelle's presentation
Around 7:04pm. One of the goals is "help the city position itself positively to current and future residents, visitors, businesses, others"

Why should we pay the city to propagandize us? I'd be more interested in seeing objective analysis than Feel Good softsoap. Sometimes the emperor really has no clothes, and the sooner we find out about that the better off the city will be.

How about this reach-around: "We want to focus on the fact that when you move to Richardson you have made a smart choice... and it's because you all on the city council and the leaders who have come before you have made some smart decisions..." I guess when you're asking for the council's vote a few strokes do a world of good.

"Key message document" - Here, city employees. These are your talking points.

"Brand positioning" - the idea of brand positioning a city makes me want to projectile vomit. If your city has the stuff it will have good word of mouth. If it's a turd then you can't polish it (mythbusters notwithstanding). I read a biography of David Ogilvie that had a quote something like this: "Marketing is showing the customer two quarters and convincing them not only that they are different, but that one is worth more than the other." Do we really want to attract warm bodies stupid enough to fall for sub-corporate marketspeak?

"We've already started the taping of council meetings and webcasts... one of the things we'd like to take a look at with CITV is to realign their workplans to be consistent with our key messages..."
Translation: We've already been forced to publish our meetings; in order to regain leverage we should force CITV to push our propaganda.

Nixle vs. Twitter.
Twitter is used by the whole planet and no one has heard of nixle before this very second, but it's been pitched as "Twittr for governments" so we're leaning toward nixle. Great call! I am completely sidestepping whether or not the whole Twitter meme is idiotic.

And I get to agree with Michelle on something: it does makes sense to retain the current publishing schedule of Richardson Today. Push out more time-sensitive stuff through the web or email. I also agree with the move to cheaper thinner paper; the current stock is weirdly stiff. I disagree with the need for expensive color on each page.

Anyone who has made their living from the phone will tell you that scripted phone greetings are widely hated by the public and the workers. Sold-on-hold messages will have to be subtler than "reinforcent of our key messages".

Notes from the council meeting

* dog park. Nice idea, but I've never been to one where I felt comfortable with my dog. There's always some Type-A d-bag out there with his aggressive dog. I bought a house in part so my dog could run in the yard.

* Ho. Lee. Crap. Mr. Morgan's questioning of the Council paid off tonight. This 2r + 2yr + 1yr crap is a fig leaf, an obvious attempt to skirt the law. What good is a contract length limitation if it can be subverted this way> What if it said "2yr + 2yr +2yr until Mr. Keffler's eventual demise". Would that lifetime contract not breach the spirit of the law? Well done, Mr. Morgan. I suspect that this kind of term-skirting will not be implemented in future contracts with COR.

Notes from the Work Session pt, 2

* Audiocasting. I think audiocasting is a great idea. It uses very little bandwidth compared to video, and screen shots or images can be podcast(or even embedded) in the mp3 files if they are useful.

* neighborhood sign toppers. I think these definitely increase neighborhood awareness. I am asking my own neighborhood association about this at the next meeting (by proxy, because I'm sick) since there is a bylaws requirement. The enforcement of uniqueness is a bit odd. I think it would be sufficient to have a simple text sign with the neighborhood name on it (see below).

It's weird that the HOAs have to pay for the signs ($40-$85, two required per pole!) and also pay the city to install them ($45-$75 per sign - can't do it yerself). Sounds like union rules to me.

It's also weird that only $2k of the $6k installation cost was collected.

I think a better solution would be to let HOAs buy cheaper, plain signs at cost from the COR sign shop. But I do support the decision in the meeting to install the signs at city cost.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pee on your tomatoes

Really. It's good for them.

Where your Doom money went

Those of us that bought Doom, Doom II, etc, in the 90s funded more than a few Lambos and Ferraris around Dallas. It used to be that if you saw an exotic in town it was probably owned by one of the Id guys; now it's probably Mark Cuban. Saw him in a yellow 'rari on 35 earlier in the year.

Anyhow, one of the Id team was John Carmack. For the past several years he's been heavily involved in amateur rocketry (somewhere in Rockwall?), and it just paid off. $1 million if I understand correctly.

Check out the video. It's not dramatic but it's truly impressive.

Way to go, John. You continue to rock.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

class overcrowding

The City-Data Dallas forum has an interesting, ongoing thread about a kid being moved (with others, apparently) into a different classroom due to overcrowding. There are several complicating factors.

It's an interesting problem with interesting forum input. I think it's worth the read. If nothing else it is heartening to see a parent put thought and interest into their kid's relationship with the teacher.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

10/7: 2 armed robberies in short order

Note: there are a couple of {corrections/additions} made to the post below.

I started out listening to the "tape" from 10/7 because I saw this:
09/07/2009 11:55 PM ROBBERY-INDIVIDUAL 1100 BLK of ABRAMS RD

The file is the full day's audio (about 4 hours of solid audio), and the robberies start around {10:30pm} (2300 hrs in military/PD lingo). That'd be about 75% into the file.

{It'd been a while since I'd listened to a whole day's audio so I listened to the whole thing. I was surprised to hear two armed robberies within an hour.}

There was also an interesting altercation at the DART rail station that gives you an idea of what kind of weird thing happens there. I was one to pooh-pooh the "DART stations breed chaos" argument, but I've heard some pretty crazy stuff reported from there. Maybe we need video surveillance if we don't have it already.

Other stuff worth listening to on there. You can play it on your iPod while you commute or whatever.

: if you have a CHL, carry. If you don't have a CHL, are eligible, and are comfortable with sidearms I encourage you to get licensed. Here is a layman's description of the process.

Praise: COR's graffiti abatement program

I reported the marker graffiti on those tall utility boxes yesterday around noon, using the online request form. Less than 24hrs later the boxes were repainted so carefully that I had to check the house numbers to make sure I was at the right spot. The paint was very carefully matched. If someone didn't point out where to look you wouldn't know it'd been tagged and repainted.

This was in the alley between Woodway and the railroad right-of-way.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Ok, last stove/lantern geek post for a while, I promise.

This gem of a post came from a thread called How I Became a Stovie. A stovie, btw, is a person who collects/uses/tinkers on liquid fuel stoves.

My Sainted Mother, bless her, taught me to read before I was five. I then began reading my older cousins' boy Scout books. There in print was tacit permission to have fires! I liberated empty cans from the garbage and washed them preparatory to savaging them with tin snips and straightened nails in order to contain small fires made of twigs and pine cones so I could incinerate food purloined from the kitchen. My parents saw no harm in it until I assassinated an innocent cottontail going about his lawful business in our vegetable garden. I divested the victim of his furry waistcoat and most of his inward workings with the aid of my (t) rusty pocket knife, then made some barely edible rabbit fricasse in a tin can kettle over a fire in a tin can stove. Nirvana!

Down the hill from us about a quarter of a mile was the western shore of a small irrigation dam which contained frogs, slime, hordes of mosquitoes, and an assortment of bullheads, sunfish, and perch. Some of these leviathans attained lengths approaching five inches. They were also severely retarded as proven by their propensity to bite hooks baited with bits of red bandana handkercheif. Many of these unfortunate denizens of "The Dam," as it was generally called, also came to ignominious ends on my various tin can crematoria. Since then I've had an unquenchable thirst for things "stove."

In my early teens I built a shack of salvaged (read: "stolen") lumber in the back yard wherein I and my partner in crime Joel Jensen had a stove fabricated from a 5 gallon lube oil can with a chimney made from a length of galvanised rainspout salvaged from a building being torn down in the neighborhood. We vulcanized dozens of eggs, cans and cans of SPAM, and boiled vats of bad coffee on that stove.

It was about that time I found a discarded REI catalog in the neighbor's trash. In it there were pages and pages of forbidden camping and stove porn ! ! Joel and I caught a bus to 11th and Pine in Downtown Seattle, where perverted enablers actually encouraged us to light up! We learned words like: "Svea 123", "Optimus 8R", "Primus 71L" and the delights of Army Surplus dried squash, spinach, and chemically mummified lemon type flavored drink powder. It would be many more years before I could actually buy any of 'em. I've never looked back.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009


some lamps

Fettling = working on an old pressure lamp or lantern. In Europe this might mean Primus, Petromax, Optimus, Tilley, etc. In America this means Coleman.

I have a ratty old 1961 lantern (red one on the right) that burns great but has been difficult to light. Hey, it's older than I am and start a little slow in the mornings, too.

Should work like this:

  1. fill with fuel
  2. pressurize with the pump
  3. crack open the fuel valve about 1/4 turn and listen. You will hear air hissing. Then after a few seconds you will hear fuel start to make a delicate gurgle sound. Close the valve.
  4. get your match/lighter/torch in there
  5. re-crack the valve 1/4 turn
  6. gentle "foof" as the fuel ignites. The mantles start to glow.
  7. when mantles glow gentle, increase the fuel delivery
  8. the generator gets hot enough to vaporize fuel efficiently and you get a soothing hiss and brilliant light. All is well with the world. Or the back porch, at least.

But it has been working like this:

  1. fill with fuel
  2. pressurize with the pump
  3. crack open the fuel valve about 1/4 turn and listen. Just air. No fuel.
  4. wait. wait more. Still no fuel. %&^#*&^!
  5. Get annoyed and open the fuel valve a couple of turns until fuel does begin to flow.
  6. floods or semi-floods the lantern as fuel at the 1/4 turn position is metered differently on purpose.
  7. get your match/lighter/torch in there
  8. dramatic "BOOF" as the whole top half of the lantern ignites. The neighborhood start to glow.
  9. if nothing (important) nearby is on fire, attempt to regulate fuel delivery until the generator warms up and things normalize.

The part that I needed to work on is hidden inside the fount (the metal base where the fuel is held/pressurized). This part, the fuel/air tube, serves partly as the fuel pickup mechanism and as a kind of crude carbureter. I cleaned the f/a tube and re-stretched a small spring that's part of the carbing process. Starts immediately now.

Here's a pretty good explanation of how it works.

rode the completed bike lane

The paintjob and signs appear to be complete on the Grove bike lane (read: traffic calming lane).

I rode the bike lane from Centennial to the DART station at Arapaho. No cars were driving in the bike lane this time which is a welcome change. No big trucks parked dangerously far into the lane.

It was generally enjoyable although bicycles do not trip the traffic signals, so one has to wait for a car to come along in the same direction. At Arapaho a car can set off the lights on the other side of the street but you still get red. :-( Running the light at Arapaho is a little scary. I mean it would be if I did it. Which I wouldn't admit.

There were some "traffic school" type pylon patterns in the northeast corner of the DART lot and road, so I slalomed them. Or I would have if I had ventured over there. Which I wouldn't admit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

possum kingdom

A possum wandered onto the back porch; one of the (non-nightvision) security cams picked him up. He wanders up by the chair at around the 15sec mark, and I spotlight him with the q-beam.

He was licking beaded up water off the deck. I guess he was thirsty. He waddled off somewhere after a few mins.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

a football idiot speaks

To be sure, I don't know squat about the NFL.

But watching Friday's game I am confused why we are not keeping Carpenter and booting Kitna. Carpenter can at least take a snap, make catchable throws, etc. Heck, he even caught that one really high snap and got the ball passed off.

I wonder which Romo we get this season:

* the highly mobile, effective, mirculous Romo who can make a pass while falling, flying, or running, or

* the "throw it directly to any available member of the opposing team" Romo.

Maybe they are the same guy. I hope not. I hope he's got the Jessica curse washed off him and he's ready to pay attention.

Glee is back

I had suggested earlier that Glee doesn't suck. It's back on and worth a taping.

The pilot was rebroadcast with some extra (worthwhile) footage. They also did a "tweet peat" rebroadcast where the cast tweeted. I was hoping for something closer to DVD commentary, but it was mainly chatter. Good idea, but didn't work first time out.

Maybe just record commentary and put it on the secondary audio track?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Comments on 8/31 work/council meeting

Work session

* Keffler's response to Visitor Morgan's "5 year contract" issue was interesting. It wasn't "that isn't what happened", or "you don't understand the law", but rather, "we had our lawyers check off on that." I hope Mr. Morgan shares anything he learns on this topic.

* More practical and insightful questions from Mr. Omar (school zone lights).

* bike lanes on grove and elsewhere - so far 100% of the time (see update below) I have driven down Grove since the installation of the bike lane I have seen cars driving in the bike lane. Dave says "the ones that live along there are pleased; the ones that do not live along the roadway are the ones that are not [pleased]." Ya think? This confirms my previous comments about the NIMBY aspect of this traffic calming project. I live off Grove and am not convinced of the overall value of the project yet.

[update: it's now the 6th. I drive Grove at least 2x/day. 4 days after writing the above "100%" post I finally traversed Grove without seeing someone driving erroneously in the bike lane. This occurred at 6:15pm on a Sunday afternoon. So I stand corrected.]

"bulb-out" - well, I learned something today.

Mitchell: "It's an esthetic thing". Really? Cars parked alongside the road are pretty?

Macy: "my beady little brain". Hey, I didn't say it.

Mr Solomon: bike lanes are causing congestion, and drivers are having to choose other routes. That, Mr. Solomon, was the intention of the traffic calming project.

Council Meeting
Didn't run long, so there is going to be a couple hours off his at the end of the mp3 I posted.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

COR work and council meeting, 20090831

Uploaded the audio for those that can't are prefer not to stream.

Haven't listened to it yet, so my comments will follow a little later.

As before, it's unedited and there will be blank hiss on the recording where it was blank hiss on ch16.