Latest Blog Posts

All’s Fair in Love and Gasoline Pricing

January 30, 2006 at 6:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Nebraska’s gas station owners did not gouge their customers, just as I said back in September. Not that this one little report matters. If you’re a gas station owner, you just can’t win.

Paying Uncle Sam

January 30, 2006 at 6:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Two very unusual tax-related events happened at the Wilson household this weekend. First, I actually looked at our taxes before April. That in itself is unbelievable. Second, it looks like we might actually get a refund this year, if only a small one.

Not unlike most Americans, I’m usually a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to preparing and filing my taxes. I don’t want to do that this year, though, because there’s a small, but non-zero, chance that our new little pooper could decide to show up around tax season. The last thing I’ll want to do is taxes if that happens. So a February filing it is.

It was great to see that The Missus and I might receive a refund this year rather than having to pay extra, like usual. Our problem in the past was that we were not withholding enough, mainly because I made too much untaxed money umping and reffing (and, unlike many sports officials, I actually report that income). This year we adjusted our withholdings, and things look much better now.

How many of you folks out there have already taken a look at your taxes? Any tax filing tips you’d like to share?

The Morning After

January 30, 2006 at 1:29pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

After a couple months of sloth, I finally engaged in a little exercise yesterday. Normally I exercise all year round because of my soccer reffing and baseball umping, but I decided to take this winter off. Indoor soccer just didn’t sound all that fun to me this year, and I have plenty of stuff to do around the house. The down side is that my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, and I haven’t really cut back on my food consumption. I don’t think I have to spell out for you the inevitable result.

So yesterday afternoon I went for a jog. I ran about 1.5 miles without stopping, and then I took a quick rest to fix my bunched-up sock. I turned around and did some light fartlek work on the way home.

The whole run felt reasonably good, despite the fact my body hasn’t been asked to work very hard since October. And I really don’t feel too bad today. My legs are tired, but not sore, and there’s a small irritated spot on one of my feet where my stupid sock rubbed (I knew I shouldn’t have worn those socks). It’s pretty sad to see how far I’ve slid, though. Ten years ago I could run two 800m races in under two minutes and two 400’s in 50-52 seconds, all within the span of a couple hours. Today? I’d be pleased as punch if I could hit 2:20 and :60 in the 800 and 400, respectively, even just once. Now that I think about it, that sounds like a fun goal. I may have just found something to work toward…

Home Town Rag

January 30, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Can we all agree that this morning’s front page fluff piece on Rev. Tom Swartley was further evidence of the Lincoln Journal Star’s descent beyond mediocrity? The headline alone is beyond pardy, if only for the “No duh!” quotient:

Minister driven by God’s will

(The headline is different in the online version of the story.)

I especially loved this part of the story:

[T]he controversy Swartley kicked up had mostly settled by Sunday, when he took the pulpit at First Christian Church.

His words had spiced dinner conversations, filled a news cycle or two and then disappeared into the ether.

...but we’re so desperate for filler, we’re going to milk this story for yet another news cycle! ::sigh:: If it weren’t for the comics there’d hardly be any reason to get home delivery of the LJS.

Is it Relevant?

January 26, 2006 at 1:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

This headline is running all over the wires right now:

7 adopted children killed in fiery Florida school bus crash

Perhaps I’m missing something, but what is the relevance of the fact these children were adopted? It strikes me as an unnecessary adjective in this context.

Interestingly, there seems to be a Lincoln link to the crash, through Crete Carrier:

Statement from Crete Carrier Corporation regarding Florida accident

January 25, 2006

Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in this accident and their families. We are in the process of gathering information, and at this point we are unable to accurately discuss the incident. We are very sorry and deeply saddened that this tragedy has happened. We will work diligently with the appropriate authorities on the investigation.

—Jack Peetz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Crete Carrier Corporation

Update: CNN is doing it too, with a caption to a photo:

Barbara Mann, the adoptive mother of the Mann children, is consoled at the crash scene. (emphasis added)

Apparently CNN thinks that adoptive parents grieve differently than birth parents. I don’t dare make the accusation that I want to make…

Moving to Lincoln

January 25, 2006 at 11:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I received an e-mail today from a gentleman who will soon be moving to Lincoln. Read on, and help him decide which neighborhoods he should investigate.


A Downtown Development Everybody Can Support?

January 25, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It’s not a theater boondoggle. It doesn’t require the use of eminent domain. It won’t cost the public tens of millions of dollars. It doesn’t include a Wal-Mart. And it doesn’t require the sale of a public building that would be extremely costly to replace.

Is there any down side to the new parking garage and commercial/residential project proposed for the parking lot south of the Gold’s building?

As it is being presented right now, I’m all in favor of the project. There’s still plenty of time for deal-breakers to pop up, of course. But the project’s early goals match many of my long-held opinions about the best use for that block. (Hint: the current use is not the best use.) Sure, it could use more retail space (only 19,000 square feet planned), but they’ve included residential space in the plan, which is nice to see. And let’s be honest: downtown Lincoln doesn’t have enough draw right now to fill too much more retail space than that, especially when you consider some of the new projects in the Haymarket coming online in the next couple years.

The current plan does fall short on one of my hopes for the block. I would like to see the primary bus stop moved from in front of the Gold’s building to the project block. There is not enough space in front of the Gold’s building to effectively house the bus stop, and the current shelters are very insufficient. I would love to see StarTran work with the folks leading this project to see if a new bus stop could be integrated into the plan. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. The Powers That Be™ at StarTran rarely admit that Lincoln’s mass transit system—or any part thereof—is anything short of perfect. And the vast majority of Lincolnites don’t care enough about StarTran to demand excellence.

Fire Barry Collier!

January 24, 2006 at 11:38pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Nebraska men’s basketball head coach Barry Collier should be fired. Or at least that’s what a bunch of recent visitors to Lincolnite seem to believe.

Those of you who’ve read my blogs here on Lincolnite for a while probably know what I’m up to. Back when Husker fans were calling for Steve Pederson’s head I noted it, and subsequently angry Husker fans came calling via Google, et al. Well, the furious hordes are back, but this time they want Barry Collier’s head. The phrase “fire barry collier” has drawn a lot of visitors to Lincolnite lately. Probably a half dozen each day, I’d guesstimate.

So all you Barry haters, this is your chance. Tell the world why you hate Barry Collier and why he should be fired in the comments. And when you’re done, browse around the site a while. Lincolnite is (still!) a work in progress, but we’re happy to have you here.

Speeding in a Construction Zone

January 24, 2006 at 6:56pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Some folks are excited about LB 1120 (PDF), Senator Adrian Smith’s (Gering) proposal to make the absence of construction workers or machinery an affirmative defense to prevent the doubling of fines in a construction zone. I think LB 1120 is bad law.


Osco to Become CVS?

January 24, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It would be great if Lincoln’s Oscos would become CVS Pharmacies instead. I don’t know much about CVS, but I do know that the Osco stores around Lincoln could use a little TLC. Here’s hoping that the new owners clean up the stores when they move in.

Power Plant Proposal Shut Down

January 24, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Bad news for Mayor Seng and other folks on the Downtown revitalization bandwagon: Heathrow Development has backed down from its desire to purchase the old K Street power plant.

I maintained a middle ground on this issue. On the one hand I think condos are a much better use of the building than storage, but on the other hand I don’t think the city was going to get as much money for the building as it deserved. That being (briefly) said, I want to point out that this is yet another example of Lincoln putting itself in a position to appear to be anti-development. To the degree that perception is reality, this is bad news.

LES Wants More

January 23, 2006 at 7:04pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

After years of promoting some of the most affordable electricity rates in the nation, LES is facing a bit of a public relations problem with its recent spate of rate and fee increases. Their proposed temporary solution, a so-called power cost adjustment, isn’t going over very well with some of Lincoln’s biggest power users (who happen, not coincidentally, to also be some of Lincoln’s most important employers). I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is, but in general I tend to support the notion that those who use a greater share of scarce resources should pay more for the privilege. Knowing very little about who pays how much for electricity in Lincoln, I can’t say whether Lincoln’s biggest power consumers are paying their fair share, or whether they are paying more or less than their fair share.

What I do know is that LES’s reliance on volatile energy sources (natural gas) and unsustainable energy sources (coal) is one reason, of many, that LES is in this predicament. And it’s not just LES; lots of power companies find themselves in these situations all the time. If I had my druthers we’d be using much cleaner, much more efficient, much cheaper electricity—nuclear-generated electricity, to be precise. It ain’t perfect, but if you spend a little time reading the wealth of information on nuclear power (pro and con), I think you’ll agree that it’s an option we should at least discuss seriously.

Sex Equals Love

January 23, 2006 at 1:27pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I know what they’re trying to get at, but the University of Florida’s requirement that domestic partners have to have sex to qualify for benefits strikes me as amusing and misguided. [Obvious joke]I wonder who gets to verify the claims?[/obvious joke]

Aborting Abortion

January 23, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

South Dakota wants to ban abortion. From the article:

A bill that would ban abortion in the state will be introduced within the next two days.

The bill will be called the Woman’s Health and Life Protection Act. It will ban abortion, but won’t prosecute a doctor who performs one to save a woman’s life.

I love that. They “won’t prosecute a doctor who performs one to save a woman’s life”. It’d still be illegal, but they just won’t prosecute. Yeah right. Few doctors are going to put their butts on the line to trust a prosecutor’s definition of “save a woman’s life”. I suspect the county prosecutor’s definition of “save a woman’s life” will be substantially less expansive than a doctor’s interpretation of that phrase.

Rep. Roger Hunt says, “Abortion should be banned.”

Hey, you’ve gotta give the guy credit for being blunt and honest. I like that in a politician.

Hunt says, “DNA testing now can establish the unborn child has a separate and distinct personality from the mother.”

You’ve also gotta give the guy credit for being a complete imbecile. What the heck does DNA testing have to do with establishing that a fetus has a “distinct personality”? Nothing, that’s what. Rep. Hunt is on crack.

Penny Poker

January 22, 2006 at 6:26am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I just wrapped up my first Texas Hold ‘Em experience. We played with a jar of pennies I had sitting around. Conclusion: I’m no good at poker. At least not poker with pennies. Bluffs don’t work with pennies, for one thing. And it’s too easy to be stubborn, to stick around longer than you ought to, when you’re only talking about $.03. The good news, in my opinion, is that I’m not addicted to the game. One of the reasons I had held off trying out Texas Hold ‘Em is I’ve seen how it can grab people and make them obsess over the game. I was addicted to online cribbage for a while, and I thought poker might do the same. I had fun and I hope to play again, but I don’t see myself playing all night or losing money on the game.

Before we dove into poker, we also played some pitch. I love pitch. I come from a four-person, ten-point pitch family. Tonight we played five- and six-person pitch. With the five-person crew we played call your partner and ace-deuce, and when the sixth person showed up we just played three-person teams. It was a good time, but I still prefer good old fashioned four-person games. Then again, I just love playing cards, so I’m not complaining.

Now that it’s 12:30 I should really go to bed. I haven’t been up this late in quite a while. Not even on New Year’s Eve. I feel fine right now, but when the dog wants to wake up and go outside in the morning, I’ll feel it. Sleep in, Daisy! Sleep in! Good dog.

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