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La Paloma is Coming Back to Town

April 19, 2010 at 2:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Moses dropped me an email to let me know that he noticed a sign on the former Braeda at 84th and Holdrege indicating that La Paloma would soon move in. La Paloma, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, was located in the Haymarket many years ago. More recently they opened a location on East O Street near Eagle. That makes the selection of 84th and Holdrege fairly unexpected. Will they close up the Eagle location, or do they think there’s enough business on Lincoln’s eastern edge to support two locations? Regardless, 84th and Holdrege is a nice, high-profile, high-traffic intersection. One which I just happen to drive by regularly on my way home from soccer games at Abbott Sports Complex and Omaha. I can already smell an upcoming post-match meal. Mmm.

If you aren’t familiar with La Paloma, read about my first experience.

Where in Lincoln is this?

April 19, 2010 at 1:01pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Solved!

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How Much is a Good Principal Worth?

April 19, 2010 at 11:55am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The situation with Elliott Elementary Principal De Ann Currin is frustrating. If you aren’t aware, the basics are this: Elliott is classified as a “persistently low-achieving school” by the feds and Nebraska. In order to receive a big chunk of grant money—the minimum amount is $1.5 million over three years—LPS has to make one of three big changes. The least intrusive of those changes, and the one LPS will choose, is to get rid of the principal. So Ms. Currin will be reassigned.

The trouble is that nobody has a beef with Ms. Currin. She is being universally praised as a tremendous asset at Elliott. For example, despite a 40% mobility rate, Elliott’s reading and math scores are in the 65th percentile. In other words, according to No Child Left Behind the 65th percentile is “low-achieving”.

What a strange system we have where an excellent principal at a good—but challenged—school has to leave her post as a condition for receiving a grant. And consider that other schools around the country with far worse conditions and inferior leadership will not receive this grant money.

It’s difficult to turn down $1.5 million. Plenty of folks around Lincoln are saying LPS should do just that. Ms. Currin isn’t one of them; she is leaving “voluntarily” so the school can benefit from the new resources it will receive. Lots of people think a little cash isn’t enough to replace great leadership.

What do you think about all of this? Does the system make sense to anybody? Should LPS take the cash?

Ba Lee 1 Finally Opens

April 14, 2010 at 10:38pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

As some of you may have noticed, the Vietnamese sandwich joint in downtown finally opened about 2 weeks ago. I was able to run over for the first time today and pick up a few sandwiches. Those of you who have been to southern California or other areas with large Vietnamese communities may be familiar with these sammies. They are basically meat with pickled veggies, peppers, cilantro, and various spreads, on oven-baked mini-French baguettes, and they have a distinctive sweet, salty, and hot taste to them. They are also characteristically less expensive than typical restaurant-style deli sandwiches. At Ba Lee 1, they are also pretty inexpensive - $2.75 per sandwich.

But here is the kicker: I ordered 2 sandwiches this afternoon – barbecued beef and chicken – and these sandwiches were HUGE. I would say they were easily 7-8 inches of goodness on freshly made French bread rolls. Each sandwich came with generous dobs of mayonnaise, butter, veggies, peppers, as well as meat. I had ordered 2 because I had thought they would be small, but I could only finish one and a half (and I can eat a lot).

Here in town a few of the grocery stores have (or at least had) these sandwiches in stock as deli items. The Little Saigon grocery store at Vina Plaza on 27th comes to mind. The ones at Ba Lee 1 are about 50% bigger, no exaggeration. Of course, size doesn’t always equate with quality. But I found the bread to be fresh and crusty, the veggies were plentiful, flavorful, and crunchy, and the meat quite tasty indeed. Juice from the barbecued beef practically soaked my hand and nearly destroyed my dress shirt. I’m not going to try and describe the taste, but I’ll just note that folks familiar with that distinct sweetish, slightly hot taste of Vietnamese sandwiches won’t be disappointed. 

I had originally thought that there was no way Ba Lee 1 would be able to survive in the downtown lunch environment. But I am starting to have second thoughts. This IS a quality product, and a novel one for Lincoln. For the size and price, its very hard to beat. The challenge will be whether or not these sandwiches will appeal to our relatively conservative tastes. 

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me. If we have an opportunity to go back to Ba Lee 1 soon we’ll try and post some photos of these babies.

EDIT: Long-time reader Gene is at Ba Lee 1 right now, and sent this photo of his lunch (below). Thanks Gene!

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A Clocktower Renaissance?

April 14, 2010 at 1:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It seems like it has been many years since Clocktower Shopping Center, at 70th and A, has been a vibrant, go-to spot. The whole shopping center was once filled. Long-time Lincolnites will of course remember Clocktower as the former home of Garden Cafe. (Man I miss that place!) In recent years, however, there have been many empty storefronts.

Lately there has been a lot more activity at the corner. Jimmy John’s showed up, for one, and Rocket Fizz is coming soon. Plenty of other new businesses are sprouting as well.

It’s nice to see such a major intersection showing some fresh activity. Just like 40th and Old Cheney feels more vibrant now that the new hardware store has opened, and 48th and O is starting to feel better as well. Can you think of other major intersections around town that feel like they’re coming to life after periods of doldrums?

Things That Go Boom in the Night and Day

April 13, 2010 at 11:50am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Get ready to blow some stuff up, ladies and gentlemen. Lincoln has joined the rest of the state by significantly expanding its list of legal fireworks. I suspect the actual effect will be minimal. After all, a big chunk of the people who wanted a wider selection of fireworks had only to drive a few miles out of town to get them. I know that never stopped me when I was a kid.

The big losers in this decision are the fireworks tent operators in small towns surrounding Lincoln—Hickman, Roca, Cortland, Eagle, Raymond, and so on—though those tents usually are a bit cheaper, and they start selling much earlier.

The oddest thing to me about this decision is how negative I am about it. I used to love early July. Now I loathe its noise and pollution. Teenage me would mercilessly mock current me.

The Annual Smoky Tradition

April 13, 2010 at 11:45am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Bleh, I hate being outside on these days when fires to the south pollute our air here in Lincoln. Reffing during these events is an exercise in trying to not cough up a lung. Be careful out there, folks!

Where Can I Find That Map?

April 12, 2010 at 1:40pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Is there a map online that shows where stormwater from across Lincoln ends up? For example I know that water that goes down the sewer in front of my house proceeds directly into Beal Slough. Is there a map that shows that information—preferably in a clear, non-technical format—for the entire city?

You Bring the Net, I’ll Bring the Hefty Bags

April 12, 2010 at 1:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I took Daisy the Wonder Schnoodle for a walk yesterday morning. Can you tell from the picture where we went?

Daisy by a creek

Did you guess Wilderness Park? Well, you’re wrong. This photo was taken on the north side of Beal Slough, just east of 40th Street. Walking along the creek makes for a great Sunday morning excursion. Bring your ear plugs, though, because the noise can be deafening. Not from the traffic on nearby Highway 2—although that can get loud—but from all the birds that hang out in the area.

There were a whole bunch of trees cut off like the ones you see in this photo. Can any of you nature lovers confirm or deny that as beaver activity? Beal Slough certain doesn’t strike me as prime beaver territory, but what do I know?

Shelter made from wood

Along the south side of the creek you will stumble across several contraptions, holes, and blinds like this one. At first glance I thought I had stumbled across some sort of campsite for homeless people. But then evidence on the scene revealed the structures’ true purpose: paintball wars. Somebody has been having a lot of fun deep in the grass.

Trash in the creek

That brings me to this final picture. Thanks to renovations over the past several years, Beal Slough is a much more pleasant creek than it used to be. Unfortunately, since it collects runoff directly from area neighborhoods it picks up its share of trash. Most of the creek is actually pretty clean, but there are spots like this one where the garbage gets held up. Do any of you happen to have a good way to collect this garbage from the creek? Nets? Hip waders? I’ll bring the Hefty bags!

Where in Lincoln is this?

April 12, 2010 at 1:01pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Ack! Fletch wins again!

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Who’s Up for a Horse Race?

April 9, 2010 at 12:55pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Do any of you give a hoot about horse racing in Nebraska? Do you know anybody who does?

I ask because I can’t name a single person among my network of family and friends who has the slightest interest in horse racing. But somebody around here must care about it because the Unicameral has spent a good deal of time worrying about it. So who (and where) are these people, and what’s the draw of horse racing to them?

100 Games Til the Games on the Wall Calendar

April 9, 2010 at 12:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

We’re under the 100 days mark. Have you volunteered yet?

Hey Look, There’s Me!

April 8, 2010 at 3:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Not long ago I commented that the pro-arena folks were making it easy for the anti-arena folks to portray the issue as one of “us vs. them”. This latest commercial is an improvement in that regard:

Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Gets a Home

April 8, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I know a lot of you feel strongly one way or the other about the Salt Creek tiger beetle and efforts to protect it from extinction. I, on the other hand, still haven’t figured out what I want to do about the little critters. But that doesn’t matter any more. Now there is a plan, and it involves setting aside 1,933 acres as “designated critical habitat”.

Now I don’t know a whole lot about saving endangered species, but an amount of land just shy of 2,000 acres doesn’t sound like a whole lot to me. Considering alternative plans called for setting aside as much as 36,000 acres, the selected plan feels like little more than a way for those involved to be able to say “Well, we did something”. Settling for doing “something” is the worst of all possible solutions. More often than not you wind up with the economic hit of action, but the environmental cost of inaction. Few will care in the long run. Both the economic and environmental impacts are minuscule.

It will be interesting to see how the tiger beetles fared this winter. At last count there were fewer than 300 adults remaining. That’s pretty much zero for an insect species. There’s a nonzero chance we’ll find out this summer that this decision is moot.

They’re Too Yellow to Go Green

April 7, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Sure was nice of the Journal Star to publish this ridiculous press release from Windstream and Berry about their upcoming phone book recycling program. The companies want you to help them look good by recycling your phone book through their program. I’m asking you: please don’t. Don’t give them your phone books, and tell your friends and family to do the same. Why? Because the problem they’re trying to solve—a ton of trash in the form of fat phone books—also happens to be the very problem they themselves create. Every time you recycle a phone book through their program you allow them to claim that they are “green” and environmentally responsible and yadda yadda yadda. Baloney.

If Windstream and Berry wanted to “go green” they would establish programs to deliver phone books only to those who want them, and they would actively pursue new and better ways to utilize technology to decrease (or eliminate) our need for dead tree phone books. But no. They continue to spam our front porches with their garbage year after year. I certainly am not going to “reward” them by going out of my way to recycle their trash for them.

Please do recycle your phone books, but not through this program. Use your own recycle bin or, lacking that, use a neighbor’s. Don’t give the phone book companies the smug satisfaction of being able to count your phone book among their “green” total.

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