Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy 67th Dad!

Today is my dad's 67th birthday! Here's a photo of him on his 52nd birthday - we celebrated in our backyard with a barbecue and croquet. Ivy is just over a year old.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Work in May and June

The past two months have been crazy at work. May was Bike Month and I (along with volunteers and help from fantastic people) put on Denton's first open streets event, CycloDia. It was a hot, sweaty, stressful, fun, crazy event. I'm glad it happened, but also glad when it was over. As always, it was a busy, fun month. 

June brought less fun items, but still items integral to my job. As I work to implement the Bike Plan of Denton, it sometimes means that on-street parking needs to be removed to facilitate a bike lane. This is generally always a fight, and I haven't yet come across this scenario in my career. Until now. 

My item went to City Council this Tuesday to get the ordinance to make the street No Parking so a bike lane could be installed. I gave a presentation that, frankly, I felt really good about (if you feel like it, you can watch it here and click on Agenda Item 5D). The item died when it failed to get a second. Then it was voted on to be postponed. 

It was a tough night. I put a lot of work, effort, energy, time and passion into this item. It's hard. But, I'll keep working and fighting for bike lanes. Every bike coordinator, bike advocate, person who bikes has to go through the parking-removal fight. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

It has been at least four years since I have spent Father's Day with my dad. He's lived in Vegas, I've lived in Kansas and Texas. This, year, though, he is also in Texas for some work he is doing. He's in Bay City, which is south of Houston, so we aren't terribly close (one of Texas' claims to fame is that we state distance in hours since one could drive ten hours and still be in Texas). But we are close enough that if we each drive about three miles we can meet in the middle in Austin.

And that's just what we did today! I gave my dad a choice of three different places: tacos, tex-mex, or BBQ. He went with BBQ and we met at Black's BBQ near the UT campus on Guadalupe Street (GoogleMaps refers to it as Guada-loop Street). Our food was delicious and we had a good time talking to each other as he filled me in on his work and me on my work.

We then headed over to the LBG Presidential Library. LBG was president during my dad's early teen years (born in '50, President from '63 to '68). LBG was born in a small Texas town and his first job out of college was as a teacher in a small town. He came from a family of politicians and was a life-long one himself. He was known to get close to people when he talked, sometimes pointing his finger in their face.



There is a 7/8 replica of the Oval Office during his time as President. Unlike at the George W. Bush Library, it was sectioned off so all one can do is look. There was also a replica of Lady Bird Johnson's office when she was First Lady.




We had a nice time and it was great to see my dad. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Those Front Flowers

A few months ago I got semi-ambitious and planted some flowers in my front hanging-beds. I had grand visions of them looking perfect and fantastic. Here's what they started out as:

Left side


Right side

Left side

Right side

Here they are a couple months ago, starting to wilt:
Left side


Right side


And here is how they look now: 
Left side

Right side

The cyclamen did not last long. I'm not sure if they needed more water, less sunlight, or a mixture of those. Or maybe they just don't last long, aren't Texas natives. I won't be planting them again. 

The oxalis is very robust! The one on the left side of the house wilted away at one point. I have some of these on the side of my home that doesn't get any sun and they grow with no problem. I think these ones, being more exposed to direct sunlight than the ones on the right side, couldn't handle it. However, they are resilient because just last week I noticed them starting to come back! They aren't as big and bushy as the other side, but I'm very impressed that they came back from near extinction.

The begonia, sturdy Texas natives, must have a short blooming period. They aren't wilted or anything, but they are no longer blooming. I'll see what happens with them next year.

Meanwhile, I'd love to plant oxalis everywhere! I'll have to start planning out my front yard at some point.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Taking the Cannoli Again

Seeing The Godfather at Film Forum in NYC is probably one of my most favorite memories of living in the city. It's one of my favorite movies. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece. When TCM announced their showings way back in December, and The Godfather was on it to mark it's 45th Anniversary, I put it on my calendar even though it was months away.

Today was that day and it was just as awesome as I remembered it to be! Check out my post from way back in 2008 when I saw it at Film Forum.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wonder Woman

Friends and I went to the opening showing of Wonder Woman tonight. It was awesome to see all of the girls there in their wonder woman shirts. One of my friends brought her daughter, who not only had a Wonder Woman shirt but also the crown (is that what it's called?? I'm not sure.) and an action figure with her.

I am not an aficionado on Wonder Woman and I haven't read the comics, but I heard that the backstory for Diana was changed. In the DC Movie Universe, Diana lives with her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and other Amazon warriors on a paradise island (I can't remember the name of it). They are strong awesome women in charge of protecting against Ares, the son of Zeus and God of War.

When a man in a plan penetrates the mystical barrier and lands in the waters of their island, Diana rescues him from drowning. After some talk, Diana decides she needs to leave with said man, Captain Steven Trevor, as he fights "the war to end all wars." This is exactly what Diana has been waiting and training for. So they sail off, and have a very funny exchange on the sail about sleeping together.

There's a good bit of fish-out-of-water story going on when Diana first arrives in London. And she gets a pretty cool moment to show all the boys around her how she can save people and do good. She believes that killing Ares will stop people from being evil and doing bad things, and thus ending the war. Her naivete in this is charming and warming. When Diana is finally confronted with Ares it felt slightly ridiculous, and I wasn't entirely sure what was going on with everything else in the background (what was Steve doing??).

However, it still felt an awful lot like a DC movie. Which doesn't have the best track record in my book. The CGI in the film was lacking, as if their budget was half that of Marvel movies. Sadly, it has too much Zach Snyder in it. So while there is nothing bad or wrong with the film, it still felt an awful lot like just another run-of-the-mill superhero origin story. It reminded me a lot of Captain America: The First Avenger which, as the first Captain America movie, I thought was awful. But the next installment really kicked it up several gears and is still the best Marvel Avengers movie.

And that gives me hope for the next Wonder Woman movie. Sometimes origin stories can get boring, but once they are given room to flesh out they can become much more interesting.

The review from Vanity Fair pretty much sums up my take on the film, and quite possibly read my mind with these two sentences:
"Well, Wonder Woman is “more” in that it’s easily the strongest film DC and Warner Bros. have made since they left Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight world behind and reimagined Batman and Superman’s exploits as turgid, fascistic operas of destruction."
"[T]he Marvel movies really are just so much better... They’re cleverer, nimbler, more cohesively realized. They balance humor with pathos in buoyant, rarely strained fashion. They’re well-oiled machines, slick and confident. Mind you, I would be perfectly happy if Marvel never made another superhero movie as long as we live."

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sealing Up the Home

Back in January something really strange happened in Texas - temperatures dropped to below freezing one night. That was the time my pipes froze. It was cold and it sucked. To combat the cold, I, obviously, turned up my heat.

My electric bill that came for that time period nearly gave me a heart attack; it was double what it normally was. I immediately signed up for an Energy Audit through the City. They came out and did their stuff. I live in an old house with very poor insulation - it's basically inside, wall, outside. It's nowhere near current standards. Besides getting new windows and doing a huge undertaking to insulate, it was recommended to do some simple caulking of the baseboards for a quick ROI.

I of course didn't do it right away. It warmed up to normal Texas-winter-standards. And it wasn't hot enough for the AC...until Friday. I was dying and finally turned the AC on for the first time.

That spurred me to finally get down to caulking. It was a learning process, with the first room turning out somewhat-acceptable. But then I really hit my stride and caulked my bedroom, the second room, the dining room, and the side door in the kitchen. I've sealed my house to escaping cold/hot air the best I can.




 

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