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Texas Jeff

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  1. A full lunar eclipse is happening tonight, starting in about an hour. It will be partial for a while before full. This is a "blood red" eclipse. Skies are clear in Texas, just look up if you want to check it out. Try to sell your Aggie friends on the special sunglasses they'll need to protect their eyes from the moonlight.
  2. The amount the school district collects in property tax is completely disconnected from the amount they get to keep ... sort of. Part of the collected taxes are "golden pennies" (about 8 cents) that the school district gets to keep, and these help pay teachers. Part of the tax is the "interest and sinking" fund (about 12 cents), which pays off AISD debt from school bonds. The rest of the tax, about 80 cents next year, is covered by Robin Hood. The property tax collected is simply the tax base times the tax rate. It has nothing to do with how many students are in the district. The money allocated for students is simply a state-provided formula times the amount of students in the district. It has nothing to do with how much property tax was collected. Change that formula and you can change Robin Hood. The amount of recapture AISD pays is just the first number minus the second number. If more money was collected than the state says AISD should keep, all of the excess goes to the state. If less money was collected, the state provides the rest. I don't fully understand why AISD does not lower the tax rate to the lowest possible number they can get away with, but the math works out to screw the district if they tried this. There are some complicated guardrails and formulas that ensure that property rich districts can't just lower their rates to the amount they would get from the state. Nothing in the funding formula addresses cost-of-living, which is obviously higher in Austin than elsewhere.
  3. Step 1: Collect $1.18 million from all of us. Rent goes up by a little bit for everyone. Step 2: Give about $150k of that to a non-profit from California to administer the program. Similar to the amount we give Jimmy Flannigan every year. Step 3: Give the rest to about 80 families who can't afford to live in Austin at about $1000 per month for a year. Step 4: (A year from now) Stop the money train .... or renew the program for another million bucks for those 80 families. It's a universal basic income program but only for 80 families. Everyone else, including those that are struggling to make ends meet, pays into the system. After a year, the support is taken away and the folks receiving the money will be in the same unaffordable position they are in now. The city is fighting economics, picking some random winners that they can say they helped and costing the rest of us just a little bit. It's not a scalable program.
  4. My wife’s AISD classroom topped out at 91 degrees in mid Sept. The district did nothing for a month, then brought in a refrigerator truck in mid Oct and fed it to the building with a giant tube. The next morning it was a cool 56 degrees in the classroom. They were able to open some windows to get it back into the mid 60s, and they used the windows as a quasi thermostat until the truck went away in December. The HVAC was declared repaired and life was ok … until a few weeks ago. Hot times are back and look to be here until the school year is over. That’s the condition of AISD schools.
  5. Needs more vuvuzela...
  6. SNL takes us back to 13th century England, to show us what it might have been like when some of Alito's quoted precedent was decided:
  7. My wife is a teacher and Amazon gift cards are the easiest thing to use. Especially for her, since she just gives them to me and tells me to figure it out. The other gift cards are in a drawer and some are nice and some are to places we would never go, so we give those to parents and friends. We got a Cabo Bob's gift card this year after my wife mentioned it in class, which was pretty thoughtful since some kid was paying attention and remembered. Notes are the best ... although for teachers struggling with low pay perhaps gift cards and cash would be the best. The best note talks about what the kid liked about the class and what impact the class has had on the kid. We have a giant folder full of past notes. Most of the notes are basically nice and talk about what a great class it was. But occasionally we get a two or three pager from a kid who pours it out and talks about how the class changed their life and those are never thrown away.
  8. eclipse simulator by location: https://eclipse2024.org/eclipse-simulator/2024/index.html Pick the place where you think you'll be and you can see what it's going to be like. You have to use the time sliders on the sim to get to the good part. Turn on the glare to get a more realistic picture of what you will see without eclipse glasses. The glasses will cut out most of the glare. It won't get as dark as the simulation shows, more of a twilight feel.
  9. Moving that 400 yds will give you a few seconds of totality, which wouldn't be enough for me. It's better than the 99.9999% thing, which will be kind of a cool event but after it is over you'll be thinking what was the big deal... This is a relatively long eclipse and probably the best one to visit Texas in our lifetimes. IMHO you want to be somewhere towards the middle of the track to get the most time in totality. You don't have to be right in the middle but you want to get 3 or more minutes to check it out. Somewhere between a year and six months out, stock up on "eclipse sunglasses" or welders glass or whatever makes you feel safe. If you buy too early, the material will degrade. If you wait too late, glasses will sell out. If you stick with the 99.99999% plan, you'll need eye protection to see anything.
  10. No need to speculate about what will happen in Texas. Here's the text of the Texas trigger law, which will go into effect 30 days after this decision is handed down: https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/HB01280F.pdf Abortion in Texas will be prohibited, unless a physician judges that the health of the mother is at stake.
  11. What is your favorite way to enjoy a football game? Sit inside the stadium and watch the game. Hang out right outside the stadium and figure out how it's going by listening to crowd noise. If you are "inside the stadium" person, you are going to want to have at least some time at 100%. Prior to 100%, you mostly see a crescent sun through protective glasses or a pinhole camera. Shadows look weird. At 100%, you have some amount of time to take off your glasses and look right at it. The closer you are to the middle of the ground track, the longer you have to look. At the one I saw, I would have been really pissed off to be at the 99% mark and never got to see the real deal. A rogue cloud can screw up the entire thing at the last minute, but you have to take your chances.
  12. This map lets you zoom in to any spot and determine when it starts and stops, and how long the sun will be gone: http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2024_GoogleMapFull.html If you are bothered by things like goalposts not lining up with letters, you really want to be on the middle blue line or it's going to drive you crazy.
  13. Prepare for biblical traffic jams starting five minutes after it is over. I saw the last one in Georgia, had four hours to make my flight out of ATL, made it by five minutes. Without Waze I might still be there…
  14. Imagine the sun, but it’s black with a ring of light around it. The horizon looks like late evening, but all around, not just in one direction.
  15. Totally agree…. Lots of folks are working for the insurance. Decouple insurance from work and make the cost reasonable. You’ll see older folks making room for younger ones and more people starting small companies because they don’t need the health coverage.
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