Latest Blog Posts
A hearty congratulations to Lux Middle School student Akshay Rajagopal for winning the Natinoal Geographic Bee! The win comes with a $25,000 college scholarship. Akshay didn’t miss a single question in the preliminary or championship rounds.
And what, you may ask, was the winning question? Here it is:
The urban area of Cochabamba has been in the news in recent years due to protests over the privatization of the municipal water supply and regional autonomy issues. Cochabamba is the third largest conurbation in what country?
I absolutely love it when Nebraska’s politicians panic about gambling, as Governor Heineman and others are doing these days in response to a proposed Carter Lake casino. Watching them fall all over themselves in their scramble to condemn gambling and its effects on society is positively hilarious. Is there any political hypocrisy more transparent than a government’s simultaneous celebration and condemnation of gambling?
After hours of muscle-straining labor, my garden finally looks like a garden again. It was a long process.
First I tore out the old rock path that runs from the patio to the side yard, bisecting the garden. When I originally put it in I didn’t lay down any weed blocker, and then I didn’t maintain it very well. As a result, it aged poorly. Have you ever tried to remove a bunch of rocks that have lodged themselves in the underlying ground? What. A. Pain.
Once I finally had (almost) all the rocks out, I reworked the ground and leveled things out. Then I laid out pavers to act as a border between the path and the garden. I wanted to line up the border pavers with the pavers that make up the patio, which required widening the path a couple inches on each side, not only for the pavers, but also to make room to install the plastic edgers that would hold the pavers in place.
Then I thought, “Those old rocks are all dirty and dingy. I need new rocks. But what to do with the old rocks?” I just love creating more work for myself. I decided to extend the path around the side of the garage, using the old rocks next to the garage where they didn’t need to be as pretty. That meant buying a bunch of new rocks for the garden path.
Long story short, the new path through the garden is finished, and it looks awesome. Now to start work on the extended part that will go along the side of the garage. That part shouldn’t take more than 3 or 4 hours.
I also have most of my garden planted. This year’s crop includes:
- “Fooled You” chile (look and taste like jalapenos but are much milder)
- Hungarian wax chile (I love these for a mild zing)
- Habanero (4 plants! What am I going to do with 4 plants worth of habanero?!)
- A Thai chile I can’t recall the name of (perfect for adding to summer veggie stir fries)
- Italian roasting peppers (great for kabobs)
- Red, yellow, and green bell peppers
- Eggplant (a request from The Missus)
- Cucumber (most will go to my mom so she can make cinnamon pickles)
Yes, I went crazy with the peppers and chiles this year. I still need zucchini or some sort of squash. I also have a couple spots open for other plants, if anybody has any suggestions. Both spots are in full sun. One spot has loose, quickly-draining soil and is close to the house (so it will be warm). The other spot’s soil is a bit denser and retains moisture better.
Disappointingly, I didn’t get any cilantro this year. After a couple years of cilantro practically taking over my garden, not a single plant came up this year. I don’t know what I did to make it mad.
What’s in your garden this year?
Many of my favorite memories from summertimes past involve family gatherings at Pioneers Park. On many a Sunday afternoon, family from Lincoln, Omaha, and Grand Island would gather for a picnic lunch, followed by an afternoon of softball, frisbee golf, or just playing in the playground. Sometimes my parents would let me buy a treat from the concession stand—a can of pop, a candy bar, or maybe a frozen malt. The park used to be quite busy on Sunday afternoons, and we would often have to scramble to find a picnic area big enough for all of us.
And then there was Babe Ruth baseball. I rode my bike five miles to every morning practice. Once I stopped to feed wild berries to a fox near Beal Slough. Another time I got the crap beat out of me by hail until I was able to take shelter in a fire station. And on yet another trip to practice something fell from a tree, hit me in the eye, and lodged itself under my eyelid. Now that I think about it, I remember far more about the bike rides to and from practice than I do about practice itself, or even the games.
I suspect many of Robbie’s early summertime memories will be from the playground at Antelope Park. We spend a fair amount of time there, and why not? It’s an awesome playground. Southpointe’s Friday night music series will probably also be up there in his memory bank. Heck, that’s where he stole his first kiss.
What are some of your favorite summertime memories in Lincoln?
Last year in Nebraska 158 girls were named Addison.
Addison? I don’t think I have ever met or known an Addison, yet here it is, the most popular name for baby girls in 2007. Once again pop culture passes me by.
Ava was the only other name on the top 10 lists that surprised me. I’m familiar with all of the others, especially on the boys side. Any surprises for you? Any guesses on which names will be up-and-comers, and which will drop in the near future?
I’ll give you a hint: Brent is dropping quickly, having now fallen out of the top 500. Sadie (my wife’s name), on the other hand, is about to crack into the top 100. I could see that one taking off.
My dad had some dental work done today and he isn’t supposed to chew for a few days. That means lots of soup for a while. We had planned to eat lunch together today, but my brain froze up when I tried to think of good places to get soup for lunch. So I’m opening it up to you folks, not just for my dad and me today, but for all Lincolnites:
Who has the best soups in Lincoln?
Sometimes I like to search Google News for articles that contain “lincoln nebraska” or related queries. Here is a fairly random collection of my recent finds:
- Ted Sorensen talks about his roots
- Former Lincolnite John Moran is performing in Tel Aviv
- I’ll bet most of you didn’t know that “the palm-down, extended-arm salute was the officially prescribed form at Prescott School in Lincoln, Nebraska” in 1941
- UNL is getting many Paul Fell cartoons and illustrations
Sorry all you yardwork slackers out there, the City Council nixed the idea of doubling the City’s weed height allowance from 6” to 12”.
The amusing thing about this community-wide discussion has been listening to people complain about the height of the grass and weeds in several City parks and adjacent to various bike trails. Parks and Recreation was recently ranked as one of the least important departments in all of City government. Parks & Rec has already been cutting back on its mowing schedule over the past several years. If they face budget cuts, or even a stagnant budget while having to maintain more parks and bike path miles, we’ll be seeing more and more neo-tallgrass prairies around town.
Actually, that makes me wonder. What is the net cost/savings of planting an acre of parkland with native grasses and plants? I spend a lot of time on the Helen Boosalis Trail—aka the Highway 2 trail—and I have been pleased with the areas of native grasses already planted. Several more acres could be added. I wonder if it’s worth it?
Inside are a few more photos from Robbie’s birthday festivities this weekend.
Star Tran has finally—finally!—made some adjustments to its routes. After months of talk, the new routes will kick in on Thursday, June 5. A series of open houses—including two today at Energy Square from 11:00 to 1:00 and 4:30 to 6:30—will help introduce riders to the new routes and schedules.
I rode Star Tran for years, so even though I don’t currently use their services, I’m trying to follow this transition. Star Tran’s riders tend to be creatures of habit so I don’t expect the new route schedule to go over well in the short term. I suspect it will take a few months for folks to really be able to judge the new system’s worth.
Are any of you Star Tran riders? Have you evaluated how the new system will affect your usage of the city’s buses?
Yowzers, I can hardly believe my little boy turned two today.
No, wait, that’s a lie. I can definitely believe it. When Robert turned one, it felt weird. But he has seemed like a two year-old for a couple months now. This birthday didn’t sneak up on me like the last one did. There’s no disguising the arrival of the Terrible Twos. Not that Robbie is all that terrible yet, but he can throw a fit when he’s motivated.
Now that Robbie is two, all sorts of doors will open for him:
He doesn’t sit still very often:
This didn’t turn out half bad, considering I just held out the camera and clicked:
Don’t mess with this guy!
Robbie is going to clean up this town:
For the record, Robbie weighs in at a slim-and-trim 25 pounds and he stands 33 inches tall. That puts him squarely in the 30th percentile. (In contrast, his cousin Sam is 7 months younger but could eat Robbie for breakfast.)
This morning Robbie got to open his presents from mom and dad. The two big winners were a book about vehicles and a nifty “bike”. Tonight he will get to eat at either Gateway (for the carousel) or Red Robin (for the “balaloons"). And then tomorrow is his birthday party at the awesome Antelope Park playground. We’ll be there from about 1:00 until 2:30 or 3:00. Stop on by and say hi!
The Mayor’s road design task force has released its report. The skinny: there’s plenty of money to be saved in our road construction budget. We just need to cut back on some of the “nice-to-haves” and focus more on the “need-to-haves”. No surprise there. I have long been critical of the City’s excesses in new road construction.
I would tell you more about the report, but despite assurances in the City’s press release that the report is online, I haven’t found it yet. It isn’t on the committees and task forces page, nor is it on the task force reports and initiatives page. Oh there it is. Dang, they sure didn’t make it easy to find. You can find the report here.
Among the report’s findings:
- Use several different road types over the next 20 years to help stretch road funds;
- Lincoln can’t afford to build roads today to meet needs that won’t exist for decades;
- Changes in road type don’t diminish safety, just convenience;
- Money can be saved over the long term through road offsetting, use of asphalt, and asphalt reuse/recycling.
I encourage you to take a look at the report (PDF) yourself. It’s a refreshing read. Or maybe I just think that because it confirms many of my existing opinions. Gotta love confirmation bias.
Let’s compare internet connection speeds so we can help each other comparison shop. Here’s how we’ll do it:
- Avoid any bandwidth-hogging activities, such as file sharing
- Go to SpeedTest.net
- Click the pyramid associated with Kansas City, MO to start the test
- Record the download and upload speeds. If you run the test more than once, record the fastest speeds
- In the comments, note your ISP; your service plan and monthly cost; your download speed; and your upload speed
Don’t go to NebraskaSpending.com. Seriously. You’ll spend way too long clicking around and looking at numbers.
Now I’m curious just how complete the data is. For example, is it really possible that we have a 23 month contract totaling $254,417.85 for ”size 5 reg men’s work boot”? How do you spend $250k on size 5 boots? Hopefully the description field isn’t fully descriptive, or we have a whole bunch of Correctional Services employees with really small feet.
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