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Archive for May, 2007

Urban Living

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

We tried something new today.  We took the trolley downtown for dinner.  It’s kind of surprising, but we’d never done that before (we’ve been on the trolley once).  It was really convenient to walk to the closest stop and just take that down.  We tried a place I’ve been thinking of going — Wang’s Chinese Bistro.  Good food.  It was a little pricey, but we’ll probably be going back.  Turns out there’s a Quiznos that way too, so I see myself going that way quite a few times before we move.

59 Murders in 2007

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Well, I ran across this morbid article yesterday:

http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=6574288

The good news is that we’re down 10 murders relative to this time in 2006, but the bad (and really scary) news is that there were 5 murders on this past Friday and Saturday alone. Pretty scary stuff.

Update 5/30/2007:

Just saw on the nightly local news that the murder count is now up to 62.  One of the homicide detectives they interviewed said 8 were from this past weekend.  One murder would have made it 63 when a pregnant mother was shot (woman is still alive, baby died), but because she was only 2 months pregnant they have to consider it an aggravated assault (baby wouldn’t have survived outside of the womb as the deciding factor).  Sad sad sad…

Memphis in May 2007: Sunset Symphony

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

We went to see the Memphis in May 2007: Sunset Symphony on Saturday evening.  We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I had heard about a mini airshow going to be going on.  That really drew me in.  Neat event.  The mini airshow was quite small, but topped off with a wonderful performance by Skip Stewart.  I’ve seen him perform before and, honestly, the dude is nuts.  There is a fine fine line between someone that is really really good and someone that is insane.  I think he tips toward the insane side.  I’ve read that he lost his FAA performance waiver for a while over a particular maneuver, so I’m not the only one.  They reinstated him, though, so maybe I’m just too conservative.  After the airshow was the Memphis Symphony performing many general public friendly pieces.  We didn’t really see that from where we camped out.  We could hear it, though.  This was followed by the Temptations, which was certainly a crowd pleaser.  Then for the closing act, the Memphis Symphony played the 1812 Overture with fireworks in place of the cannons.  Then after that was a beautiful fireworks display.  It started off kind of slow, but was really well done overall.  It was huge.   I’d say it’s the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen.  Very cool.

The fireworks display at Memphis in May 2007 Sunset Symphony

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

We went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End on Saturday.  Afterward, I felt it was a little chaotic, but in writing this, I think it really think it was in line with the first two iterations of the story.  That’s something I want to emphasize.  This series is really just one story.  It’s one story with yearly pauses.  I can see them carrying on the story for however many they can afford to keep making.  I enjoyed it, so go watch and see how this one goes.  They certainly spent to bucks in the special effects department to give it the summer blockbuster wow.

Shrek the Third

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

We went to see Shrek the Third on Friday. Naturally, considering the first two iterations, there were high expectations.  I liked Shrek 2 even more than the original.  This one felt a little flat.  That’s not to say it’s a bad film.  It’s fine, but it was missing that “wow” that the first two iterations had.   I think the one thing that really made it “off” was a lack of focus.  The story telling could have been more focused and everything would have fallen together much much better.

It finally arrived!

Friday, May 25th, 2007

This has got to go down as the longest transaction I’ve ever done. I first called the seller on 4/10 to see if they had a rifle someone told me he’d seen at their shop (a variant of a rifle I’d spent a couple of months looking for). They said they did, so I setup with them to purchase it. I had my funds to them in about a week and a half (a little slow, but in my defense I spent a night in the emergency room and was horribly sick most of that time). I just picked up the rifle from a local FFL today. Yes, today 5/25/2007. This handily beats the huge UPS I got off eBay that took me a month to get. So, I present my new project rifle, an Arsenal Inc. SA M-7 SFC. I hope one day to convert it to a clone of the Arsenal of Bulgaria AR-M4SF. Gotta finish the house first.

Arsenal Inc. SA M-7 SFC

More concrete and wood

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Much to my surprise, we had a lot more concrete at the house when I checked its status today. They put in the driveway, path to the front patio, the front patio, and the rear patio. I didn’t know they’d go in so quickly. They looked like they had been there for weeks, and not freshly poured. Also, the inside wood trim is going in. Most of the doors have been put in, the window sills, base boards, and stair trim is what is in process now. Big changes in just a couple of days.

House Status on 5/24/2007

House Status on 5/24/2007

Educational quality and spin

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Yesterday, I was searching around for the results from the BBQ competition last weekend when I happened across this article about Tennessee students:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/education/article/0,2673,MCA_22897_5547147,00.html

I was surprised and dismayed that my newly adopted state performed so poorly with regard to education (not that Oklahoma was particularly great). I thought “at least they are being honest about it.” A local paper actually covering such news is important.

Well, today, I’m searching around for other local news to find out where a rather scary “random” park shooting was, and I came across this article:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local/article/0,2845,MCA_25340_5549461,00.html

I thought that those articles were somewhat contradictory.  It’s certainly possible for, say, the best school in the nation to be located in the worst district in the nation, it’s just not likely.  So, I decided to find out a big more about the study mentioned in the article and I found the results posted here:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/challengeindex/

It was good to see exactly what the study was supposed to show.  Well, for one, it’s a “challenge” index and they state pretty clearly that they don’t include magnet schools, or charter schools with high (I’m paraphrasing here) composite ACT and/or SAT scores.  I have plenty authority on the matter to tell you that magnet schools can certainly challenge their pupils.  The mini Commercial Appeal article doesn’t mention this.  They also include a nice disclaimer at the end, so maybe they expect more astute readers to catch them, but I’m sure the schools they mentioned will be touting this as “proof” of the quality education they provide, just as the article implies.

Well, I decided to take a look at the list a bit and see who is where, etc.  Didn’t I just read that they leave out magnet and charter schools?  Then why is the #1 school on the list named Talented and Gifted?  Why is the #2 school named Science/Engineering Magnet?  I start scrolling down the list and find a school I’m a bit more familiar with — Classen School of Advanced Studies.  I know that’s a magnet/charter school.  There are a bunch more just like that.  Something seems a bit fishy to me.  At the minimum, there needs to be some clarification, but I’m wondering if there was some funny business going on here to make somebody look good.

Rough Paint

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Well, it looks like the first coat of paint has gone up.  The change from white to beige is pretty dramatic.

House Status on 05/22/2007

Memphis In May 2007: BBQ Festival

Monday, May 21st, 2007

We went to the Memphis In May BBQ Festival/Competition on Saturday. It was neat to walk around and see what’s up. After seeing the special on Food Network last year I just had to go. We walked down to the trolley and took the trolley down to Beale Street. It’s kinda cool to be able to do that. It’s also kinda sad that we haven’t done it before considering how long we’ve been here. The down side is that there was a lot more “college party” atmosphere than I expected. A bit more wild than I like. We’ll see if we ever attend another one.Memphis In May Tom Lee Park North Entrance Gate.