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Where’s Wilson? A Game of Twenty Questions

November 19, 2006 at 8:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I call this game Where’s Wilson? It’s a very simple, Twenty Questions-style game. I am thinking of a place somewhere in Lincoln. Your task is to figure out where I am by asking questions. Here are the rules:

  1. I will only respond to yes/no questions. Be sure your question can be answered with a simple yes or no.
  2. Each person should only ask one question at a time. If a single person asks more than one question at a time, I will only answer one. (It is fine if several people at a time ask one question each.)
  3. A guess (“Are you at 27th and A?”) counts as a question
  4. Please number the questions so that it is easy to follow along and see what questions have been asked.
  5. You have twenty questions to figure out where I am.

Ask away!

Adventures in Customer Service

November 19, 2006 at 3:59am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Compare and contrast these three customer service experience The Missus, Robbie, and I had today:

1. We had photos taken today at a place that advertises that you’ll be in and out with your photos in “about an hour”. We have had photos taken there before, and we have been pleased in the past. Today, though, was different. Troubles began after the photo session was completed. We were told we could come back in 15 minutes to pick up our photos. Great! We hadn’t had lunch yet, so we went and had a leisurely lunch. Lunch took about 30 minutes. When we went back for our photos, they weren’t ready. They had had to “restock the machine”, whatever that means. But we would have our photos “in about 15 minutes”. Fine, we could wait 15 minutes. So 15 minutes later we went back. The photos weren’t ready. We told them to give us what they had finished, and we would pick up the rest later. The woman went in the back to fetch our photos…and came back 10 minutes later, supposedly with our entire order. As we walked to our car, The Missus happened to look at the photos. The first one was great! So was the second one, except it wasn’t a photo of any of us. We stormed back in, only to be brushed aside. Long story short (too late!) we left dissatisfied, angry, and frustrated. What would have prevented all of that frustration? If the woman had simply said, “I’m sorry, our machine is down right now and we’re so busy I’m not sure how long it will take us to catch back up. I don’t know how long it will take. Would you like to wait, or would you prefer to come back another time? I apologize for the trouble; please accept this coupon for free services on your next visit.” Would that have been so difficult?

2. We spent a lot of time at Westfield Gateway today. The Missus and Robbie investigated the family lounge for the first time. The Missus was incredibly impressed. Comfortable chairs, private nursing booths, changing stations with individual Diaper Genies and heated wipes… In short, Gateway’s family lounge is top notch. Two thumbs up for Westfield Gateway!

3. The Missus ran into a problem with a prescription at Hy-Vee. I’m fuzzy on the details, but the basic story is that it was a messy case of computer error, forcing the pharmacist to have to go back to the original paper copy of the prescription from over a year ago. But that isn’t the story. The pharmacist was so concerned about getting things right that long after The Missus had left the store, the pharmacist (a) called the on-call doctor, (b) called the insurance company, and (c) called The Missus at home to let her know that all the loose ends were tied up. How’s that for service?

Now, is there really any question which businesses we will eagerly patronize in the future, and enthusiastically promote to our friends and family? I wonder how much extra business they will see as a result.

Deadly Fire at Wesleyan University

November 17, 2006 at 3:35pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Keep an eye on this story as it develops. An early morning fire at Phi Kappa Tau at Nebraska Wesleyan killed one man and critically injured three others.

Friday Five

November 17, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It’s a game edition of the Friday Five. Below are anagrams of five Lincoln neighborhoods. Can you figure them out?

  1. THEIR LAND HOGS (as opposed to their water hogs?)
  2. WEE EVIL CLOG (a bad movie about small, vicious wooden shoes?)
  3. HERO AUNTS (a new show on the CW?)
  4. LUST? A VICE. IN PYRE. (a verdict and sentence?)
  5. MOB IN, OUSTS TSAR (the newspaper headline the day after the revolution?)

Buy Cheap Drugs

November 17, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Wal-Mart’s cheap drug program, which offers over 300 generic prescription drugs for $4, has made its way to Lincoln.

Public Night at Behlen Observatory

November 17, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

If you would like to spend a chilly night under the stars, consider heading out to Behlen Observatory in Mead, which is hosting one of its periodic public nights from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

Realty Trust and the Great Switcheroo

November 16, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I have to hand it to Realty Trust. They really know how to play the real estate game. Flash back to January 2005:

Of particular interest has been a parcel on the northeast corner of the intersection of 48th and O streets, where an abandoned Amoco station sits. The city paid $923,000 for the property, which was assessed by the county at $456,000. The parcel was owned by Realty Trust Group, which had a lease agreement with Starbucks that fell through when the city cut off corner access because of safety concerns.

Realty Trust didn’t get its Starbucks (or the $3.9 million it initially sued the city for as a result), but it did get a $475,000 premium over the assessed value of its property. Not a bad profit. But it gets better.

Now that the O Street widening is finished, only one company bid for a redevelopment contract of the northeast corner of 48th and O. Who is the bidder? Realty Trust. They want to buy back their old property, and they will be able to use tax increment financing to do it. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

Realty Trust hasn’t announced their proposed tenants for their project, but I’ll give you one guess to come up with a prime candidate.

Hat tip: Neal.

Yeah, But How Much Time Did He Spend in the Bathroom Afterwards?

November 16, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Many of you know that Crawdaddy’s and Knickerbockers host $.25 taco days on Sundays and Thursdays, respectively. But do you know the record for most tacos eaten for a quarter a pop? I didn’t, so I asked. 42. That’s a lot of tacos. My measly 17 tacos is pretty pathetic in comparison.

Building Bridges

November 15, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Thanks, bridge builders! You helped Lincoln save over $45,000 in labor costs, and you further demonstrated Lincolnites’ commitment to quality trails throughout the city. I tip my hat to you.

Mayor’s Race Notes

November 15, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Mayoral Candidate Chris Beutler plans to end his consulting contract with the city prior to next year’s election. Beutler is currently paid $62,000 annually for 1,250 hours of work as a fund raiser for Parks & Rec. Expect that contract to get a little attention from his opponents as “excessive”.

Another candidate, Ken Svoboda, has a $24,000 contract to maintain medians around the city. Svoboda will end that contract as well. Cynical Lincolnites are probably saying: the medians are so poorly maintained, we won’t be able to tell the difference!

In other Mayor’s race news, candidate Mike Deal announced his candidacy in the forums. Mr. Deal appears to be a fiscal conservative interested in finding solutions to Lincoln’s money problems.

And as long as I’m mentioning all the candidates, don’t forget about Roger Yant.

I Smell Pork

November 15, 2006 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Ben Nelson now sits on the Appropriations Committee. He promises to “work with local officials in Nebraska to ‘ensure Nebraska priorities are recognized in the Senate.’” Translation: Ben promises to bring home the bacon. I wonder how he plans to reconcile that with another of his promises, to “identify and reduce needless spending”?

Hy-Vee Wins, Neighbors Lose?

November 14, 2006 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Imagine you own a house, and some new guy plans to move in. You don’t really care if the new guy moves in or not. But for the pleasure of having this new guy as a neighbor, you’ll have to fork out a hundred grand or more to help pay for his driveway, ostensibly because the driveway could benefit you somehow. You’d be ticked, wouldn’t you?

I sure would be.

Deena Winter on the Firestorm

November 13, 2006 at 7:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Kudos to Deena Winter for her lengthy piece in yesterday’s Journal Star on the firetruck controversy. It was exactly the sort of article I had hoped the LJS would run: a straightforward, chronological analysis of how a simple firetruck purchase could go so badly. Thanks, Deena.

Ms. Winter’s article is perfect for evaluating Mayor Seng’s statement that Lincolnites should thank her for her actions related to the controversy:

I think I should be thanked quite a bit because I fired the fire chief.

I’m curious how many of you agree with her self-assessment.

Do City-Owned Pools Make Sense?

November 13, 2006 at 6:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

In light of today’s article about city-owned pools, I wonder: do municipal pools make sense any more? Granted, they have a strong emotional draw. But are they worthwhile from a more rational perspective? I’m really not sure.

I do know one thing: pools open to the general public serve a legitimate and desirable purpose. I haven’t been an avid public pool user for years, but it seems clear that a pool-less summer in Lincoln would be, for many Lincolnites, a disaster. Closing Lincoln’s pools without a solid backup plan (i.e. a private company or two coming in and guaranteeing a certain level of service at certain prices) would cause more problems than it would solve.

I don’t think Lincoln should spend too much energy trying to build new pools in Lincoln’s newest neighborhoods. We need to ensure that Lincoln’s older (and often poorer) neighborhoods have ample recreational opportunities. Let’s take care of the most-used pools in the city’s core first.

I also think investing in Star City Shores might make sense. It has proven very popular and there is space available for expansion. As a bonus, SCS is accessible via three bus routes (6, 16, and 27S) and two bike paths, meaning kids from all over can get there relatively easily without needing a ride. I also wouldn’t mind building a second SCS-like park somewhere on the north side of town, preferably a spot that is likewise accessible. North 27th Street is an obvious candidate, but man, do we really need to put everything on North 27th Street?

My biggest concern is cost. When I hear questions like “How are we going to pay for new facilities?” I think, “Shouldn’t they pay for themselves?” It sure seems like they should. But then you think about the short season, subsidies for low-income families, and so on, and the financing difficulties become a little clearer.

What do you think? Do municipal pools still make sense today? Where should we focus our efforts? Should we pursue private options to replace or supplement the public options?

Totally ILLmatic

November 11, 2006 at 9:03pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m a pretty big fan of the City of Lincoln’s public library system. One of the many very cool but underused features is its InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service. And its completely free. Or should I say, paid for by Lincoln taxpayers. So yeah, it’s free, and totally illmatic.

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