interesting


This article caught my eye because the neighborhood involved (Northgate Forest) is similarly named to our old neighborhood (Northgate Crossing). When you say “Northgate” in Houston people usually assume Northgate Forest. When I would tell someone we lived in Northgate Crossing people would give me a look like “la-te-dah” because it is a nice neighborhood.

Anyway, this article is about people in Northgate Forest who think they are better than everyone else and can just choose whichever school district they want. Petie and I moved partially because we didn’t like the Spring school district – maybe we should have tried to have the neighborhood annexed by The Woodlands (Conroe ISD) instead. 😉

Full article is below (for when the Chronicle archives it)

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Spring ISD refuses to cut Northgate loose

Homeowners in a posh Spring subdivision have lost round one of their battle to join the wealthier, better-performing Klein Independent School District.

The Spring school board on Thursday unanimously rejected a petition signed by 190 Northgate Forest residents to separate the area from the predominantly minority district and be annexed to Klein ISD.

The board’s attorney, Janet Horton, ruled the petition did not meet the requirements of a little-known provision in state law that allows detachment.

The assessed value of the relatively small subdivision — $92.5 million, about 1 percent of the district’s tax base — was too much for the district to lose, especially considering that only seven students from Northgate are currently enrolled in Spring schools, according to the district.

Another option

School board President Mel Smith blasted the petition’s chief supporter, Tom Matthews, for wasting the district’s time, belittling its teachers and pitting rich against poor.Matthews agreed the petition did not meet legal requirements, but said that parents in the subdivision simply don’t want their children to attend Spring schools.

After the vote, Matthews said he’s unsure whether he’ll pursue his fight by asking the Klein school board to vote to accept Northgate Forest.

“I may not want to bother Steve,” he said of Klein’s board president, Steve Szymczak.

If he does, and Klein rejects the petition, the issue is dead. But if Klein approves, the petitioners can appeal to State Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley.

Larry Allen, vice president of the Klein board, said this week that he was unsure how he or his colleagues would rule.

”Whatever Spring does, Spring will do,” Allen said. ”Klein will make its decision independent of what the Spring board does.”

Rulings can vary

Neeley’s eventual ruling is also unpredictable. The Texas Education Agency typically hears one detachment and annexation case a year, and the rulings vary, according to spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe.Matthews, a 63-year-old businessman whose youngest child graduated from Spring ISD about 15 years ago, also led the effort in 2005 that defeated Spring’s $385 million bond referendum.

Over the last decade, more minority students and more children from low-income families have moved into the Spring area.

Today, about 23 percent of the students in Spring are white, compared with 49 percent in Klein.

And more than half the students in Spring are low-income, compared with 30 percent in Klein.

W. Robert Houston, who directs the Institute for Urban Education at the University of Houston, said Spring’s approval of the petition would have set a bad precedent.

”It sends the message that any other subdivision, any other block, maybe any other family, could move to another school district with impunity,” he said.

ericka.mellon@chron.com

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My favorite RSS feed (not counting family/friend blogs, of course) is probably Lifehacker. Lots of great tips. Whenever I don’t have time to get into the details of one of them I just “star” it in Google Reader to read later.

Looking through some of those posts this morning I noticed that I had a few related to food, so I thought I’d share.

1. Thanks to the Dairy Council of California (uh, naturally) is a website called Meals Matter. Once you sign in (quick) you can choose from a list of recipes and it will automatically populate a shopping list for you. Good if you are looking for a new, healthy recipe to try and hate writing out a shopping list. Haven’t tried it, looks intriguing. I wonder if the recipes have an inordinate amount of dairy in them? Hmmm. …

Oh that reminds me of another thing that Petie and I have been meaning to try – this one I found on Juice AnalyticsCathy’s Recipe Manager is similar but you put your own recipes into this Excel spreadsheet and it creates the shopping list for you. We really will try this soon.

2. But it’s just so much easier to go out, isn’t it? Eating out can be yummy. Dining in is cheaper. Combine the two – make food at home just like the restaurant food with Top Secret Recipes. This site has recipes ranging from 7-11 Cherry Slurpee (free) to California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Pizza ($0.79).

Supposedly this site/book is going to be featured on Good Morning America next Monday (3/5/07).

3. Trouble sleeping (not counting “baby causes”)? Here are foods that should help with that. OK, it’s a cheesy article, unless you think referring to a muffin as an “edible lullaby” is normal. But who can resist a good list?

Ran across this article yesterday on CNN.  Take a look and then check back…(waiting)….

OK, my questions/comments are:

1. I’m impressed that they were able to pull off this “ruse” effectively for so long in front of so many different people.  It sounds like Social Security as well as state agencies were involved.

2. Is it just that the family was really good at acting?  I mean starting at ages 4 and 8, you’d think they would slip.  Or is it just that the social service interviewers just aren’t qualified? Both?

3. Of course you always want to know more after reading such a short story – like, did these kids go to regular school and just act for their interviews?  If so, couldn’t they have, uh, noticed that the kids were in regular school?  If not, did they get home schooled just for the purpose of collecting this money? That’s dedication.  As if the kids weren’t going to be screwed up enough…

I’ve found myself busy lately and haven’t picked up a book in a while (besides studying for the CFA, of course). So when I saw an article about DailyLit in my RSS reader I was intrigued.

DailyLit is a service that takes literature in public domain and breaks into e-mail sized chunks so you can read the classics via e-mail just a few minutes at a time. You’re reading your e-mail anyway – just pretend it’s another forward that you have seen before but find mildly amusing so you read it again (you know you’ve done this). Can’t you spare 5 minutes a day? If so, you can read some great books.

I just finished Frankenstein. I found that at first I would read one e-mail a day when I came into work. As I got into the story I started using the “send next fragment immediately” feature pretty often because it was such a good book (could be because it was a thriller as opposed to something a little more slow-paced). Here is what the e-mails look like.

You can search by title or author. The number of books is limited enough to where you can easily browse through all the titles to see if something interests you. Here is a screenshot from the site (very bare bones, which suits its purpose).

You can schedule delivery for any time of day and have the frequency be daily, weekdays or every other day. I would hope that they add “twice daily” in the future – who really is going to take two YEARS to read War & Peace and who wants to click on “send next fragment” that many times?

Anyway – I recommend it, let me know if you try it and what you think about it!

Petie and I were discussing what to watch on TV one night and realized it was getting late. Maybe we have a 30 minute show on the DVR? Then it hit us – we don’t watch any 30 minute shows. Maybe we could tape some? Uh, there ARE no more 30 minute shows. The sitcom died sometime in the last couple of years.

I know that some of the issue is that it is still early in the season – it seems that many of the sitcoms come on as the season goes on…Here is the complete listing of 30 minute shows according to the broadcast station websites. I assume all shows listed are still on and I’m not including animated series and not including other networks besides the “big 4”. Before reading on, how many sitcoms can you name?

Returning shows:
ABC: According to Jim, George Lopez
CBS: How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, King of Queens, The New Adventures of Old Christine
FOX: The War at Home
NBC: Scrubs, My Name is Earl, The Office

New shows:
ABC: Help Me Help You, Big Day, The Knights of Prosperity, In Case of Emergency, Notes from the Underbelly
CBS: The Class
FOX: ‘Til Death, Happy Hour
NBC: 30 Rock, 20 Good Years

Now that seems like a lot in a list – 10 old, 10 new for a total of 20. However, if you look back at the 1989-90 television season, 11 of the top 19 shows were 30 minute sitcoms. There are only 10 sitcoms returning this year and more than that were more or less “mainstays” for at least a couple of years in the 1989-90 season.

Fast forward to the 2005-06 television season and 1 of the top 20 shows was a 30 minute sitcom. You could call 9 of those shows “reality” shows, so maybe that’s what Americans are turning to today.

Here are a few interesting articles about this type of thing:

History Speaks to Reality’s Untimely End 2/13/2003, Media Life Magazine – discusses fads related mostly to game shows, but also with a bit about fads in sitcoms and cop shows as examples.

A History of Comedy on Television 1970 to Present – at the very end of this page the author refers to the all-time low (1950) being 11 sitcoms and the all-time high (1979) being 44 sitcoms with ups and downs in between.

Finally, Sitcoms Online allows you to keep up with what’s going on in the sitcom world.

If you know me very well you probably know that I’m often easily impressed with a new website or application. Luckily I restrain myself and only blog about the most interesting ones. Here’s one that I think qualifies – partially because it’s a good idea and partially because I like the simple design.

Yes.com allows you to put in a zip code or a station’s call letters and you can look up what was played in the last 24 hours, see the station’s top 10 for this week or top 100 for this week/last week. Cool in case you (a) want to know who sang something you heard on the radio, (b) are looking for a station in a new area or one you are visiting, or (c) are looking to download some music and you want ideas (I will now go to a few local stations for ideas).

A side feature is a US map that shows what is starting to play as it starts…definitely worth a look, even if you don’t think you’ll use it that much. [via Lifehacker]

There is a common English word that is nine letters long. Each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word — from nine letters right down to a single letter. What is the original word, and what are the words that it becomes after removing one letter at a time? (not a trick question)

I imagine just going in from scratch that that is a tough one – I happened to see the answer at the same time I saw the question. Here’s a hint – try starting with a one letter word (ok, “i” or “a”) and then build to see how long of a word you can make. I’ll try to think if I can think of any ones that are at least 7 or 8 letters long though (besides the one that is the answer). I’ll post the answer in a day or so in the comments section. If you can’t sleep because of it let me know and I’ll e-mail it to you or it can be found on the web (since that’s where I found it).

While we’re on the subject of brainteasers, check out this guy. At the same time both utterly amazing and useless.

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