Latest Blog Posts

Last Jamm

July 21, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

July Jamm is done after this weekend. A lot of Lincolnites are mourning the loss of a big community event, but they don’t mourn the loss of July Jamm itself. Why do you think that is? Why is July Jamm seen as unfriendly (admission fees, fences make attendees feel like cattle), while Ribfest remains so popular?

And the big question: how would you design a community festival to replace July Jamm?

Friday Five

July 21, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Five things Lincoln can do to begin moving up from sixtieth place:

  1. Ditch the “we’re Omaha’s kid brother” mentality
  2. Make economic investment in the community easier;
  3. Actively promote and support local entrepreneurship;
  4. Build feelings of ownership and responsibility for local (neighborhood) parks and other public goods;
  5. Improve civic engagement and increase ownership of public decisions.

Those are just a start. What’s on your list?

The Tamale Lady

July 20, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Does anybody remember the tamale lady?

The Missus was telling me last night that when her family first came to Lincoln (circa 1992), they used to buy homemade tamales from a woman at Russ’s on 33rd and Highway 2. But there was a catch: the tamale lady was a secret. She quite literally sold her goods out of the back of the store, and only at specific times. She quickly sold out to her regulars. Then one day the tamale lady disappeared without explanation. Russ’s employees only said “She doesn’t work here any more” when asked about her.

Does anybody remember the tamale lady? What happened to her?

Fifty Two

July 20, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Inspectors have found fifty two problems with Lincoln’s new fire trucks. Some of the problems are less serious than others. Hang on to your butts, the roller coaster continues.

I wonder: why isn’t it standard procedure for the actual instructions to the manufacturer to be sent to the City for verification? Seems like that could have headed off this problem. If Lincoln said to EDM, “Build it this way,” but Lincoln found out immediately that EDM told the manufacturer “Build it some other way”, alarms would have gone off. And if they didn’t, well, the City should have been paying better attention. Or is that how things work and the process failed in this case?

Sweet Sixty

July 19, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Is it just me, or is Melissa Lee’s celebration of Lincoln’s sixtieth place finish in a CNNMoney poll of the best places to live a little ... off? Sixtieth place just doesn’t sound all that exciting to me. It’s not bad, mind you, but Ms. Lee’s gloating seems a bit over the top. Actually, it sounds like another example of the Journal Star’s ongoing insecurity over Lincoln in comparison to Omaha. Since Omaha was way down the list at 97, this gives the local rag a chance to strut. That’s fine, I guess.

(On second glance, Omaha isn’t number 97 at all. Omaha came in 7th in the list of cities with a population over 300,000. To me that sounds like they scored better than Lincoln, not worse, although a direct comparison is difficult since we’re talking about two different lists. Omaha typically scores better than Lincoln on these lists, so I’d be very surprised if Lincoln actually topped Omaha by 37 spots.)

In any event, I’m not all that impressed by a Top-60 finish. Even though this is just a goofy little analysis with some arguable methodological decisions, it still is a decent rough indicator of how we’re doing. I think it says we’re doing OK. We can, and should, do better than OK. I’m not saying we have to hit #1, but reaching Casey Kasem territory would be nice, don’t you think?

Too Cool

July 19, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

What do you keep your thermostat set at during these hot summer days? Some businesses keep their buildings really blasted cold, which makes me wonder if they are trying to freeze out their customers so they can all go home. It’s the outdoor to indoor temperature difference that really gets me. For example, if it’s 100 degrees outside and a business has their A/C set to 72 degrees, I darn near freeze my buns off. And I like to be cold. But give me a 30 degree temperature swing when I’m covered in sweat and I start to feel hypothermia coming on.

The Missus and I keep our place at 78 degrees in the summer. That, plus a couple ceiling fans, keeps things comfortable (and affordable). What’s your setting?

Make Your Cuts

July 18, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

What cuts would you make in the city budget? Would you try to tackle all $4 million needed to keep property taxes from going up, or would you settle for less?

Zero to Fifty

July 18, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

There are somewhere between zero and fifty problems with Lincoln’s new fire trucks, depending on whom you ask. Here’s a fun question to ponder: what if EDM, the trucks’ manufacturer, is right, and the trucks do meet the city’s specs, at least substantially? That’d be fun, wouldn’t it?

And by the way, it sure seems to me like a representative from the manufacturer should have been present for the inspections. As somebody involved in building the trucks, the rep might have been able to offer some valuable assistance. After all, the manufacturer will certainly want to counter with its own inspection anyway, if the City makes a formal complaint.


July 18, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Clarence Osborn is the man. I feel all tingly inside every time I see him running. I hope I can still walk when I’m his age, much less run.

Land Grab

July 18, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln is about to get 226 acres bigger at a cost of -$100,000 annually. That’s not a bad deal. It isn’t clear how many hidden costs are involved in the annexation of State Fair Park, but Lincoln will not take ownership of the buildings, infrastructure, or utilities.

Moralizing Editors

July 18, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Lincoln Journal Star editors often get accused of being too liberal. Not today. Their chock-full-of-holes defense of the internet gambling ban reads like something straight from the pen of Bill O’Reilly. The editorial refers to “the problem” of internet gambling without ever explaining how they came to the conclusion that a problem exists, and their supporting arguments consist entirely of:

  1. Some people misuse it;
  2. Young people do it; and
  3. People who make money off of it want to keep making money off of it.

Hardly the stuff Pulitzer Prizes are made of. The same arguments support banning, among countless other things, junk food. The nannies are all around us.

Welcome Skaters!

July 17, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I love the USA Roller Sports National Figure and Speed Skating Championships. I haven’t ever actually been to any of the events, and it’s not the millions of dollars of economic activity the event generates that gets me excited. Rather, I love that Lincoln is the place the skaters dream about reaching. For a few thousand people from all over the country each year, Lincoln is a destination. That’s so cool. I would like to see Lincoln run with that. For example, whatever form the new event center takes, it should totally embrace roller sports. It’s a strength we could easily build on.

I admit I’m a bit ashamed I have never been to any of the skating events. I hope to change that this year. The Missus and I hope to take Robert to Pershing for at least a little while. I’m not sure which event(s) we’ll target, though. Any suggestions?

This Lane is My Lane

July 17, 2006 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

So Lincoln may finally see bike lanes Downtown. If the City Council approves on July 24, bike lanes should go in later this summer. That’s great news for cyclists who have been asking for bike lanes for years. The Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Master Plan both sanction bike lanes.

I have no doubt that bike lanes will make riding Downtown safer for cyclists, but I hope nobody thinks this is a panacea. Riding a bicycle in traffic in Lincoln will always be somewhat treacherous because our drivers: 1) don’t pay attention to their surroundings very well; and 2) don’t have any desire to share the road with anybody on two human-powered wheels. At the very least, bike lanes will legitimize on-street bike traffic. Hopefully that will cut down on a few screams of “Get off the road!”


July 14, 2006 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Today’s Ground Zero features Cristina’s Family Restaurant in Crete. The Missus and I are huge fan of Cristina’s (formerly Santiago’s), so I am both excited to see it get exposure, and bummed that a bunch of Lincolnites might hog my favorite Mexican restaurant. Oh well, I suppose I should learn to share.

In typical Ground Zero fashion, the review is pretty laughable:

  • On the food: “Our meals were good, and neither of us left hungry. Bonus: The chips served before the meal were warm.”
  • On the service: “Lopez and the other staff members make a point to chat with regulars.”
  • On the atmosphere: “...”

Author Cara Pesek gave Cristina’s 3 stars (out of four) in each category based on that. That’s not to say the ratings are or are not fair. But given what they are based on, it’s hard to know how meaningful they are.

But what really gets my goat is that the review doesn’t even mention the star performer on the menu: the stuffed empanada. Cristina’s serves up a hot and fluffy fried ball of dough stuffed with rice and your choice of meat, and then topped with melted cheese and smothered with green chile. My stomach is crying out for one just thinking about it.

Long story short, if you’re ever up for a little drive, take the 30 minute trip to Cristina’s. It’s located in the strip mall on the highway (former Wanek’s of Crete) as you enter town on the east side.

And would somebody in Lincoln please offer up a green chile salsa like Cristina’s. Mmm.

Friday Five

July 14, 2006 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Yesterday I mocked Lincoln’s Centennial Mall as a veritable toxic waste dump. Today’s Friday Five features five things a new Centennial Mall—they’ve been talking for years about renovating it—should feature:

  1. More greenspace. The current pavement-heavy design is very unforgiving in the summer heat.
  2. Less dominant steps. Steps are a great design element. They are great for sitting on, for example. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that there must be steps in the new design. But the current steps overwhelm the Mall, leaving bikers and those in wheelchairs to navigate a confounding maze of inadequate ramps.
  3. More interesting water. Each fountain should have its own character and theme. And one should be a silent pool of shallow water to symbolize the “flat water” of Nebraska. Even cooler: a continuous stream of water connecting all of the fountains (or something simulating such a stream).
  4. More public art. People love interesting public art that they can interact with. Nebraska-themed public art should be a prominent feature. Lump and Bump are a good start, but there needs to be more.
  5. More education. Right now the mall is just a big empty strip. Considering its proximity to the University, the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the Nebraska Historical Society, and the State Capitol, the Mall should serve to educate kids and adults about Lincoln and Nebraska.

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