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A Few Seconds Toward My 15 Minutes of Fame

July 14, 2010 at 1:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I was on ESPN2 ever-so-briefly last night. Would you like my autograph? I take that back: my credentials specifically said “No autographs”.

I hope some of you were able to get up to Omaha last night to watch the U.S. Women play Sweden at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium. It was a beautiful night for spectating—though an unpleasantly-humid night for playing—in one of Nebraska’s great sports venues. My seat two yards from midfield and 4 yards from the sideline was one of the best in the house. The announced attendance was just shy of 6,500, setting a new stadium record.

I hope we can get major soccer events like that to return semi-regularly to Nebraska. It’s fantastic for spectators, but more importantly I hope it will help boost the somewhat subdued youth soccer environment in Nebraska right now.

Oh Sure, They Just Had to Pick Today

July 14, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Yesterday a representative from LES came by the house to let us know that our power will be off for about an hour today. Have you seen today’s forecast (or walked outside)? It might be a long hour.

Time for a Schedule Change

July 13, 2010 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Designating marijuana as a Schedule I drug was among the stupidest things this country has ever done—and we’ve done some stupid stuff over the years. Nebraska should change the designation without hesitation. Regardless of your feelings on marijuana’s place as a “valid” recreational drug, even a cursory analysis of marijuana research proves that Schedule I is no place for pot. Marijuana offers clear and indisputable therapeutic benefits for some people who display particular symptoms. Removing marijuana from Schedule I is both legally and morally right.

Again, this isn’t about recreational use. This is about making a substance available for specific, prescribed uses for which it offers proven benefits. Note that cocaine, meth, and opium are Schedule II drugs, yet marijuana—unquestionably less harmful than any of those—is stuck on Schedule I. Let’s stop being foolish and do what’s right.

Catch the USWNT Tonight

July 13, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The U.S. Women’s National Team takes on Sweden tonight at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium at 8:00pm. Local soccer fans should definitely plan to go to the match. How often do you get to see the top women’s team in the world play right next door?

I’ll be there tonight but I won’t be in the stands. Instead, look for me on the field as part of the stretcher crew. Hopefully nobody gets hurt, but if they do I’ll be one of the guys trotting out onto the field to haul off the player.

The match will be televised on ESPN2. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it onto Sports Center.

First Hour Free

July 12, 2010 at 3:39pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

When the heck did this happen?!

Beutler’s Budget Holds Steady

July 12, 2010 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Another year, another Beutler budget with no property tax increases. I’m surprised, honestly. I figured this was the year. Instead the budget relies on dropping a few services, privatizing others, and the classic government trick of moving cash from one pot to another while hoping that doesn’t come back to bite us down the road.

I’m still thinking about various components of the budget, but one thing has always jumped out at me during these budget discussions. Why aren’t City pools profitable? That’s not an accusation disguised as a question. I really don’t know, and I would like to. It seems like swimming pools should be able to pay for themselves. Clearly I don’t understand something about the economics of pool operation. What am I missing?

Anyway, what are your overall thoughts on this latest budget proposal?

Breed vs. Behavior

July 12, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m glad to see that the City Council’s current discussions on updating the dangerous dog ordinance focus on dogs’ behaviors, not their breeds. Although many dog breeds have certain tendencies and understanding those tendencies is very important, a dog’s breed doesn’t lock it into a particular set of behaviors. Training plays an important role in how a dog will interact with others. Besides, defining a dog’s breed can be problematic, particularly with all the mixed breeds running around these days.

I’m interested in the new “irresponsible dog owner” component of the ordinance. According to KOLN, “an owner would be considered irresponsible when convicted of seven or more violations within a two year period. As a result, they won’t be allowed to have pets or live with anyone who does, for two years.” Seven violations in two years sure sounds like a lot, especially if the violations are at all serious. I would love to know how many people over the past decade would have qualified for the “irresponsible dog owner” label based on those criteria. Or how many qualify today.

Hopefully all you Lincolnite dog owners are responsible: train your dogs well; give them plenty of exercise and attention; pick up their poop; and so on. And for the cat fanciers among you ... well, we can’t all be perfect.

Could This Be Foley’s Folly?

July 9, 2010 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

State Auditor Mike Foley has been on my good side for a while now thanks to his ability to stick his nose into other peoples’ business in the public interest. But his insistence on auditing the arena project from the get-go has raised some eyebrows. His motivation seems fuzzy at best, and it’s hard not to think thoughts of grandstanding. Now even finance geeks say it’s a bad idea that could harm Lincoln’s ability to raise funds for the project.

I’m all for transparency and accountability, as regular readers ought to know by now. Given Lincoln’s financial condition, we need to be as careful with arena project funds as we can reasonably be. Yet Foley’s demand for involvement feels like a step too far. I don’t feel like he has made his case for why his office, too, needs to be involved. Perhaps he will make that case, or maybe one of you can make it for him. So far I’m unconvinced.

Watch Out for 84th Street

July 9, 2010 at 12:20pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

All you commuters who use 84th Street from O Street south to Cherrywood Drive (about 6 blocks) may want to rethink your plans thanks to a water main break. As for those of you who work at State Farm: go back to bed!

Merrily We Roll Along

July 8, 2010 at 1:45pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Every year it’s in town I say I’m going to try to go to the USA Roller Sports events at Pershing. And so far I have failed. It’s very frustrating. It looks like I won’t be able to make it again this year. On the plus side, at least I can watch the events online. Too bad the quality of the stream leaves a lot to be desired.

Having speed and figure skating nationals in Lincoln is pretty cool. Granted roller sports nationals is no Final Four, but it’s a good sort of event for Lincoln. I wish the community more actively supported it.

Have you ever attended the event as a spectator? Even better, have any of you ever participated as an athlete?

Where Am I?

July 7, 2010 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Take a walk down memory lane with me.

In the car are my grandma, my mom, my sister, and me. We pull into a large parking lot. I see the sign and get excited. I love coming here for lunch.

We get out of the car and walk inside. It’s busy. We wait in line. I’ll take that. And that. NO! Not that! And that. And mashed potatoes with lots of gravy. We sit and eat.

I’m still hungry. I turn on a light. More food arrives. I eat it, but I’m still hungry. My mom rolls her eyes but my grandma tells me to go ahead. I turn on the light again. More mashed potatoes and gravy, please! I eat it and I’m stuffed.

Later I have to try on clothes. I grumble, but that’s the price to be paid for the food.

Where am I?

Squatting

July 7, 2010 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Mike Grieger sounds like a schmuck.

Apparently Mr. Grieger discovered that “Lincoln Traction Partners” and “Lincoln Sawmill Partners” were unregistered trade names in Nebraska, despite the fact that WRK was using the names to work with the City on a couple projects. So he did what any ethical person would do: he informed WRK of their mistake and encouraged them to register the names with the Secretary of State.

Ha! Just kidding. No, instead he registered the names apparently with the primary intention of harassing WRK and the City with cease-and-desist letters. In other words he squatted on the names, much like domain squatters on the web.

Stay classy, Mike Grieger.

Miscellania

July 6, 2010 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Random thoughts for this fine Tuesday:

  • I watched Caddyshack for the first time. It definitely makes my top ten list. Top Ten Overrated Movies of All Time, that is.
  • I saw Toy Story 3 on Saturday. It was surprisingly intense. It’s most definitely not a G-rated movie. It’s PG all the way. That may seem a minor quibble, but for parents of some young children the distinction is important. That aside, the movie pretty much kicked ass.
  • I’m surprised Toy Story hasn’t yet become a Saturday morning cartoon. There are still a ton of stories to be milked out of that franchise.
  • We are one week in to our first foster care placement and so far KVC has not impressed us. (We actually go through Christian Heritage, which in turn goes through KVC. Christian Heritage has been fine.) We were warned about KVC so at least we weren’t blindsided by their early flaws. The biggest errors involve lack of communication and flawed or incomplete information. I’m already thinking about taking some ideas to somebody in the Unicameral.
  • Go get half-price smoothies at Juice Stop.

What the Texting Law Means

July 6, 2010 at 12:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

There’s been some chatter about the new texting law that will go into effect on July 15. (I originally thought it was July 1. Silly me.) The law (PDF) is actually a bit broader than just texting. The law reads:

Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, no person shall use a handheld wireless communication device to read a written communication, manually type a written communication, or send a written communication while operating a motor vehicle which is in motion.

Let’s start at the end. Note that this law only applies to operators of vehicles in motion. If you want to text at a stop light, you’re golden. Just be ready to face the ire of other drivers when you text through a green light.

So what is a “handheld wireless communication device”? The law defines it like this:

Handheld wireless communication device means any device that provides for written communication between two or more parties and is capable of receiving, displaying, or transmitting written communication.

That includes, but is not limited to:

  • Cell phones
  • Text messaging devices
  • PDAs
  • Pagers
  • Laptops

Importantly, devices built into the car itself and handsfree devices are not included. The law also defines “written communication”:

Written communication includes, but is not limited to, a text message, an instant message, electronic mail, and Internet web sites.

This definition is odd. Texts, IMs, and emails I get. But “Internet web sites”? How is looking at a website a communication “between two or more parties”, unless a server is counted as a “party”? I’m no lawyer, but I thought a “party” was typically human. Furthermore, does that mean that looking at a map from maps.google.com is illegal, but looking at the identical map via the Maps app on an Android phone is allowed?

Not that you should worry yourself too much about any of the loopholes and quirks in the law. The law is a secondary offense, meaning you can’t be pulled over for violating it. (Not that a police officer couldn’t find some other reason to pull you over if he wanted to.) Aside from that, police officers will have a hell of a time trying to prove you were illegally engaging in written communications using a handheld wireless communication device as opposed to, say, dialing a phone number. For a charge to stick, cops will pretty much have to get you to confess on your own or pull your phone records, an act which would require a warrant.

Still, the point of the law isn’t really about texting. It’s about people being idiots while driving. The long and short of it is stop being an idiot behind the wheel. No law can halt idiocy, it has to be a voluntary act. So how ‘bout it?

The Old Folks Want a Place to Play

July 6, 2010 at 12:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t know how they think they’ll achieve it, but the City Council apparently would like to try to ensure that establishments near the new arena will cater to thirty- and forty-somethings. The college crowd and twenty-somethings can have O Street. That sounds fine, except wasn’t keeping twenty-somethings happy a big part of the sales pitch behind the arena vote?

I’m teasing a little bit. It makes sense to hope that different “zones” Downtown develop distinct identities, and Lincoln could use a zone like what the City Council envisions. Bread & Cup already plays somewhat to that market, for example. But whether the Council likes it or not, their ability to control the character of the businesses that open near the arena is limited. Zoning restrictions aren’t age-specific.

So that’s the Council’s druthers for the type of businesses that will surround the arena. How about you? What kinds of establishments would you like to see down there?

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