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Matthew Koso is Going to Jail

February 8, 2006 at 1:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Matthew Koso is going to jail for 18-30 months. He may get out on probation after as soon as 9 months.

I’ve given this case some thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that this is as fair an outcome as could have been hoped for. With all due respect to Mr. Koso’s love for his now-wife (which I have to assume is sincere), he was an adult having sex with a child. That he later married that child to “take responsibility” for his actions is only loosely relevant. It does not negate the fact that their marriage arose out of a relationship built upon the disproportionate power of an adult over a child.

Any jail sentence over three years would have been cruel. Even 30 months seems harsh. But overall, I think the sentence handed down by Judge Daniel Bryan was very fair. Despite his firm rhetoric at the sentencing, he acted with restraint. Too much jail time would destroy a family (albeit an unusual one). Too little, and a message is broadcast that the laws protecting Nebraska’s children are weak and not enforced.

It’s still possible that Koso will appeal his sentence. I don’t know that he can hope for a much better outcome than this. Besides, he has other big problems awaiting him, such as how he’ll find good employment while having a sex crime on his record.

More for LES

February 7, 2006 at 6:39pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Lincoln Electric System rates and fees will increase under a new rate plan finalized yesterday. The plan was achieved after some impressive work by a number of individuals and agencies.

I can’t help but feel dismayed that the plan hits very hard at our community’s low-income residents. I’m no defender of “slackers” who fail to pay their bills on time or who write checks that aren’t backed by sufficient funds, and I’m not against punishing them for their failure to meet their obligations. Yet I also understand that those who are most likely to be hit by some of the new, stiffer fees tend to have the least ability to afford them. I’m in favor of the fees to the extent that they act as a slacker tax; I oppose them to the extent they are a poor tax.

I appreciate why the plan was structured as it was. It was developed in relatively little time and under heavy pressure from Lincoln’s largest and most important electricity users. Unfortunately, Lincoln’s advocates for those with the lowest incomes don’t have nearly as much clout as other groups, so I have to wonder how much consideration was given to their needs and wants. It’s easy to be intimidated by fears of raising a huge business’s rates by thousands of dollars each month; it’s a little harder to understand the effect a few dollars can have on a low-income budget.

In the end, we’re all paying more for electricity beginning March 1. I fear that LES has pretty much run out of public goodwill, and future rate increases are going to come harder and harder. In the short term, at least, the days of everybody loving LES are history.

Punishing the Non-Guilty

February 7, 2006 at 6:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Punishing individuals for crimes they did not commit is ridiculous, right? Not according to the City of Lincoln, which is pondering doing just that with a new littering ordinance. Lincolnites ought to be just as fired up over this threat to their rights as they were fired up over the threat to their property during the infamous Samurai Sam’s vs. John Q. Hammonds hotel battle last year.

The proposed ordinance deals with illegally posted handbills and fliers related to upcoming events. It would punish not only the persons responsible for posting the fliers, but also the owner of the establishment at which the event will occur. That means if Jammin’ Joe Smith litters while advertising his upcoming concert at Knickerbockers, both he and Knickerbockers are punished, even if Knickerbockers had nothing to do with the crime.

At first blush it’s easy to have sympathy with the City on this one. The litter created by illegal fliers is an eyesore, it lowers property values, and so on. It’s nearly impossible to catch the deed-doers in the act, so they go unpunished. But we have to punish somebody, right? Wrong. A society that punishes the innocent merely for punishment’s sake is a brutal, uncivil, and unconscionable society. If we accept “guilt by association” alone as sufficient grounds for taking punitive action, none of us is safe from prosecution for a host of crimes.

Let’s address this problem in a sane, ethical way, rather than taking the lazy way out. There are plenty of creative solutions available to us that don’t require criminalizing the innocent.

No Noise From Doughboyz

February 6, 2006 at 1:26pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I tried to eat at Doughboyz (sp?) this weekend. She thought she had seen a sign on 56th Street saying it was open. Either the sign lied, or The Missus misread it, because Doughboyz is definitely not open yet. The sign on their door promises they’ll be open by the end of December. 2005.

If you haven’t heard, Doughboyz is some sort of Italian bistro in Edgewood owned by the same crew that brought Lincoln Scrumpy Jacks. Last fall I spoke with one of the owners and he said Doughboyz would definitely be open by the end of November. It’s now February. You do the math.

What’s curious is that Doughboyz has been sending out coupons and advertisements since last fall. It seems a little odd to so heavily promote a restaurant that has come to be three months behind schedule.

I’ve sent out a couple feelers to see if I can find out any information. I’ll keep you posted.

Calendar Disfunction

February 6, 2006 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Yesterday was Daisy’s second birthday. Happy birthday, Daisy! We celebrated by letting her attack three balloons at once. It was quite the event. Daisy loves playing with balloons.

You know what’s sad? I can remember my dog’s birthday, but I forgot my sister’s anniversary. (I’m still in the process of atoning for that monumental sin.) In fact, I remember very few dates. Let’s see, there’s my birthday, The Missus’ birthday, our wedding anniversary, our dating anniversary, and Daisy’s birthday. Those are the only dates I ever remember. I’ve tried remembering other dates, but I just can’t. They don’t stick.

When I married The Missus I really thought salvation was at hand. “Aha!” I may or may not have exclaimed. “Now that there’s a woman in the house, she’ll keep me straight!” Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. You see, although The Missus is a little better than I at remembering dates, she doesn’t yet fully understand just how incompetent I really am in these matters. She still thinks that gentle reminders are enough (i.e. “Your sister’s anniversary is coming up, you should probably get her a gift.”) They aren’t. I hate to admit it, but I need all-out nagging. Better yet, I’d love it if she’d just sign my name to a card and mail it for me. I’m more than happy to make it up to her somehow.

The trouble with that approach is it lies on a bit of a slippery slope. I mean, it’s not far from having your wife buy gifts for your family members to having your wife buy gifts for herself. Boy, wouldn’t that make life easier! But no, I’m not going to go there. I don’t want to be that guy. Not until we’ve been married at least five years, anyway.

Oh Valentina

February 4, 2006 at 4:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

It finally happened. Deep inside I knew it would happen eventually. I suppose I should be glad I got it out of the way. Yet I’m not comforted.

I went to Valentinaland last night. It’s the restaurant that Valentino’s is so ashamed of the company doesn’t even mention it on its website.

Valentinaland interior

My mom e-mailed me yesterday afternoon with the invitation. We haven’t really spent much time with my family lately, so The Missus and I felt compelled to go. As much as I disliked the idea—Upchuck E. Cheese is bad enough, a knock-off would surely be a hundred times worse—I especially wanted to see my niece, Morgan. Watching her have fun would make it all worthwhile, right?

Morgan enjoys Valentinaland

For the most part it did. But I’ll tell you, when I walked up to the door and saw their freaky mascot, I nearly turned around. Seriously, is there really any question what the artist was smoking when s/he created this thing?

Valentina and relatives, the Grateful Dead bears

(Is it just me, or does poor Valentina have five fingers on her right hand but just four on her left?)

The food is, well, it’s Valentino’s. Valentino’s pizza has always been one of my guilty pleasures, but I’ve become less and less fond of it over the years. Last night was really the first time I realized just how doughy and blah Val’s pizza can be. I feel horrible admitting that after being a Val’s defender for so long. I want to like it, if only for nostalgia’s sake. But as with Lincoln originals Runza and Amigo’s, the quality of food at Valentino’s just isn’t what it used to be.

The overall experience at Valentinaland wasn’t too awful. It wasn’t nearly as loud and obnoxious as I feared, but neither was it as large. In fact, it’s pretty tiny. I don’t see kids older than age ten staying interested for very long. Morgan managed to stay entertained throughout the evening. She especially loved grabbing the prize tickets when they came rolling out of the machines.

My evening turned out pretty well. I decided to play “The Claw” for a while, to live a Toy Story moment.

Buzz: This is an intergalactic emergency. I need to commandeer your vessel to Sector 12. Who’s in charge here?
All: [pointing up] The Claw!
Alien #1: The Claw is our master.
Alien #2: It decides who will go and who will stay.
Woody: Oh, this is ludicrous.

My first try went reasonably well. I got a Care Bear latched to The Claw for just a second, but, alas, I failed. I wasn’t going to try again—one try cost $.50, after all—but my dad and brother-in-law taunted me. I gave it another shot and holy heck, I won a Care Bear! I gave it to Morgan, of course, but not until after The Missus posed with my trophy.

The Missus poses with my Care Bear prize

And on that note the evening ended. Morgan had a great time and we all survived. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to go again.

It’s All Downhill

February 3, 2006 at 1:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

This is so cool: Curt Tomasevicz, an ex-Husker football player and a pretty decent local baseball umpire, is going to the Olympics in bobsledding. I suppose that explains why I haven’t seen him around for a long time. Good luck, Curt!

Blue Orchid: The Owners Respond

February 2, 2006 at 8:46pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Blue Orchid’s owners have responded (second comment) to my previous post about the restaurant’s less-than-stellar service. It is, in my opinion, an excellent response, and I am more than happy to highlight it.

For those of you who find yourself in a similar position some day, please note that they:

  • ...responded quickly to their clientele’s unease;
  • ...did not insult me, belittle me, or even express disagreement with me. They acknowledged the problem openly and honestly;
  • ...offered explanations, but no excuses;
  • ...identified good solutions to several of the problems, with timelines for some of them;
  • ...wrote clearly, concisely, and correctly.

Blue Orchid’s Abysmal Service

February 2, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’m the head honcho here at Lincolnite. I could change history if I wanted to. I could go back and edit my review of Blue Orchid to try to erase my mistake. But I’m not going to. Doing so would be dishonest.

What am I talking about? The Missus and I went to Blue Orchid last night for our weekly Date Night. For me it was my third trip in as many weeks, inspired mainly by the excellent food, nice atmosphere, and very reasonable prices. And the service? Well, it was passable on my first two trips. I had heard it could be poor to awful, but that wasn’t my experience. Until last night.

If I could amend my review I would rate Blue Orchid’s service at 1.5 or 2 (out of 5). (I gave it 3.5 in my review.) Where should I begin?

  • There is no greeter or clear waiting area. Upon arriving customers have to just mill around until an over-worked server takes notice. If there’s a wait, customers stand in a mob, and the servers attempt to keep track of who is next by using make-shift lists rather than an organized system.
  • The Missus and I were seated at a table that was way too close to an adjoining table. I couldn’t squeeze into the seat with my place setting, so I had to move to sit next to The Missus. I like The Missus and all, but I hate having to look to the side through the entire meal to try to have a conversation.
  • Our waiter was too distracted to listen. She thought The Missus ordered a Pepsi (rather than the correct Diet Pepsi), and it took me three tries to get across that I wanted a Mountain Dew. (Yeah yeah, I’m not a liquid gourmand.)
  • We waited 20 minutes (well, 21, but who’s counting?) before our waiter returned to take our order. Again she didn’t listen. “Yellow curry” became “lemon curry”, for example, which isn’t even on the menu!
  • Eventually our waiter told us why she was acting like it was her first day—it was her first day! The poor woman obviously had not been sufficiently trained, and she was responsible for way too many tables.
  • Our appetizer never arrived.
  • Our food arrived 35 minutes after we ordered. Fortunately, the order was correct. That was about the only thing to go right all night. They only gave us one small bowl of rice for two people, though, so we had to send for another.
  • Our waiter did a decent job learning on the fly. She eventually figured out, for example, that empty drink glasses are a bad thing.
  • When our bill arrived, our absent appetizer was on it. I crossed it out and wrote “DID NOT RECEIVE” underneath. Our waiter apologized, but she did nothing to try to “make it better”, as any good restaurant would do. I wasn’t looking for freebies, but for a nice joint like Blue Orchid to not offer any sort of tangible apology is shameful.

Believe it or not, those are just the highlights. It wasn’t just a matter of our first-day waiter having a rough time. The service throughout the restaurant appeared to be poor. Watching one server attempt to deliver food to a neighboring table actually made me so embarrassed on her behalf that I had to look away. I looked around the restaurant and observed many knowing, uncomfortable glances from patron to patron. Everybody seemed to know that the service was awful. When The Missus came back from a quick visit to the ladies’ room—“It’s like a football stadium restroom”, she said—she noted “it’s not a good sign when the restaurant is full and yet nobody has any food on their plates”. Indeed.

I stand by my assertion that Blue Orchid could easily become Lincoln’s best restaurant. It could. But Lincolnites—yes, the very folks who voted Applebee’s as “Best of Lincoln”—will only tolerate institutionalized service incompetence for so long before they rebel.

I won’t be going back to Blue Orchid for a good long while. In part that’s because I’ve had my fill for a while. Three trips in three weeks is plenty. But more importantly, I need to stay away until I can look at Blue Orchid’s service with a fresh eye. In the mean time, I hope those of you who do go let me know about your experiences.

Dave Nabity Spams

February 1, 2006 at 11:06pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Republican Dave Nabity, “running for Republican Governor of Nebraska”, spams. (I like how he’s not just running for governor, he’s running for Republican governor.) The Nabity for Governor campaign sent me—and likely thousands of others—an unsolicited e-mail today. The poorly edited e-mail—it includes the word “Nebraskan’s” in place of “Nebraskans”, for example—was ostensibly written by Dave Nabity’s son, Justin. Justin apparently has a very friendly relationship with his dad because he likes to call his dad by his first name. The message includes some fun phrases:

  • “As Nebraska taxpayers, we pay 2-3 times more than other states to live.” Not only is that deceptive, it’s just plain not true. For one thing, there is no “life” tax in Nebraska, so we don’t pay anything “to live”. For another, Nebraskans do not pay 2-3 times more than every other states’ citizens in taxes.
  • “Now that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is confirmed we as a state are one step closer to the unique opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.” I had no idea the state of Nebraska had the power to overturn Roe v. Wade. I can’t believe the other 49 states would trust us with that responsibility.
  • “Never before, nor during this current primary race, has any candidate for Governor addressed so many issues and offered so many solutions!” Now that’s just hokey marketing.
  • “Thank you for taking the time to read this message and for your contined support…” I’m not sure what “contined” support is, but I’m happy to have offered it.

 

I unsubscribed from Dave Nabity’s spam list, but I’m really curious how his campaign got my address in the first place.

Strike that. I just resubscribed. Granted, the campaign’s tactics are tacky, but I want to keep tabs on Nebraska’s candidates. I already know I’m not voting for Dave Nabity so at least I know that his campaign’s dirty marketing won’t gain him my vote.

Stupid Criminals Come to Lincoln

February 1, 2006 at 7:03pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I don’t think this story needs any commentary from me.

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