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Where* in Lincoln is this?

September 30, 2013 at 12:33pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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*exactly

EDIT: Unsolved!

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Rise and Shine

September 27, 2013 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Every now and then I like to mix up my routine so that I don’t get complacent about my health. Why? The reasons vary. Most of my lifestyle changes are in response to some perceived shortcoming or a desire to improve myself in some way. For example, a few years ago I dove headfirst into a (mostly) pescatarian diet. At the time I felt like my diet was too one-dimensional so I wanted to force myself to sample a wider variety of foods. It worked. My tastes are much broader these days.

A little over a month ago I switched my routine up once more. I had grown frustrated with some stubborn belly fat that just wouldn’t go away, and my workouts were boring me. Even more worrisome, I was just so tired all the time. I decided to shake up my diet and my fitness regimen.

The first thing I did was get rid of as much sugar from my diet as I could. That meant no pop and none of The Missus’ desserts. The first and third weeks were the hardest, but now in week five most of my sugar cravings are gone. I’ve also tried to integrate a much higher percentage of protein into my diet. I’m not following Atkins or keto or paleo or anything like that. I’m just trying to make good choices for my body without being a religious nut about it. My weakness remains salty and spicy snacks. I haven’t figured out that little hiccup just yet.

Next I addressed my boring workouts and excessive fatigue at the same time. I tackled my tiredness in a way that may surprise you: I started waking up earlier. Formerly a post-7:00am sleeper, I now get up between 5:30 and 6:00 six days out of the week so that I can do my workout and be home by 7:00 or 7:15 to help get the boys ready for school. The first week was hard, as you might expect. I may have even turned off the alarm once or twice. But these days I feel great in the mornings. I haven’t set my alarm in weeks because I wake up naturally every single day. Each night I get a very restful 7-8 hours of sleep. It’s a fantastic feeling.

Previously I was doing a lot of plain running. Four miles here, six miles there. Meh. I’ve adjusted my workouts in two ways. First, my running days are much more intense with a focus on building strength. That means lots of sprints, intervals, and hills. This morning, for example, I did my workout on the side of Holmes Lake dam. Second, I now only run 3-4 days per week. On the other 2-3 days I work on my upper body and core. That means push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and so on—all stuff I can do using the playground equipment at the neighborhood school. It’s working. In my first workout I was able to do 3 consecutive pull-ups with good form; yesterday I did 9 and I almost had 10, but my form went to hell halfway through.

The long and short of all this is that yes, I’ve found yet another new way to abuse my body. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I’ve always been the sort of person who needs that next goal to pursue. What can I say, I have fun with these little lifestyle experiments.

Plaza Progress

September 25, 2013 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

It has begun! Finally! It’s about time!

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That’s more than enough exclamation marks for one blog post. As you can see by the above photo by @naifmarealty, construction has started on the Civic Plaza at 13th and P. The Plaza marks the final step in a process that began oh so many years ago—in February 2006, to be exact. That’s when I first talked about the proposal to bring a new high rise to Lincoln. We didn’t get our 25-story building, nor did we get our second highrise across Q Street where Wendy’s currently sits. I predicted as much. But we did get the Larson Building, which is a heckuva lot better than the asphalt parking lot it replaced. Although that parking lot was good for something...

It’s good to see this long, drawn-out process entering its final stages.

Where in Lincoln is this?

September 23, 2013 at 1:16pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Unsolved!

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Nebraska vs Denver

September 23, 2013 at 3:19am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Congratulations to Nebraska Soccer for beating 14th ranked Denver today! This was a great competition with some exciting late game scoring. The Huskers beat the Pioneers 2-1. Woohoo!

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Community Supported Art

September 20, 2013 at 2:30am By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Here are some photos of the Community Supported Art party at Union Plaza this past Sunday, a project of the Lincoln Arts Council. A great time was had by all - including lots of free arts activities, music, dancing performances and exhibitions, and robot building.

Kudos to the Arts Council, artists, volunteers, sponsors like Union Bank, and all involved for a great community event!

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Is Aces a ♦ That Lincoln Will ♥?

September 19, 2013 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

For a while, 70th and O was turning into a bit of a ghost town. Lonestar closed; the “coming soon” CVS still hadn’t shown up; and the vacant former Hy-Vee became more and more of an eyesore every day. Fortunately, things have changed at the intersection. The Hy-Vee building is undergoing renovations that will soon make it a Best Buy. CVS is under construction. And Aces Haus of Cuisine [Facebook] just opened in the former Lonestar building.

Aces specializes in American and German food, with an additional emphasis on vegetarian fare. It is managed by Eric Underwood, formerly of Hidden Valley and Skeeter Barnes.

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(I apologize for the crumminess of these photos. I apparently had some settings screwed up on my camera.)

The Missus and I dined at Aces on a whim last night—we had originally planned to eat at Grandmother’s, but when I saw on Twitter that Aces had just opened, I drove the extra mile up 70th Street. Yesterday was the restaurant’s grand opening so one certainly shouldn’t draw too many conclusions, good or bad, about the restaurant. Nevertheless, here are some Day 1 impressions. You be the judge of what it all means.

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The interior is nice and simple. I don’t remember what Lonestar looked like on the inside, but I heard another patron comment that the restaurant felt “much more open” than before. Indeed it is open, but not so wide open as to feel like a cafeteria. On the contrary, a nice mix of booths, tables, and the bar area help divide the space and offer plenty of opportunities for privacy without any table feeling isolated. Decorations are minimal and simple. The furnishings are simple but of good quality. Noise levels are very tolerable; neither neighboring conversations nor the background music were a distraction. The only thing I didn’t care for was some of the televisions. The small TVs over the bar were fine. The TVs in the dining area, however, seemed unnecessary and distracting. The Food Network show directly above my wife’s head added nothing to the mood. In fact, one entire segment of the show was dedicated to showing how disgusting a restaurant’s kitchen can be. I’ll take “Things You Don’t Want To See Right Before Eating In a Restaurant” for $500, Alex.

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Upon being seated, diners are presented with some pretzel bread and butter. The piece we received was fairly small, but that’s ok. Some restaurants serve ridiculous portions of bread (or chips), most of which goes to waste. I quite enjoyed the bread, both with and without the butter. It had a pleasant, chewy texture and just the right amount of salt.

Service was good overall. The people who interacted with us were friendly and professional, if a touch unpolished around the edges. Drinks were brought promptly. Our waitress gave us plenty of time to look over the (expansive!) menu, checking in at the right time to ask if we were ready to order or if we had any questions. Drink refills could have come a hair faster, but I give credit to the staff because somebody other than our waitress noticed my wife’s dwindling Diet Coke and took care of the refill for her. My biggest complaint about the service is that the staff apparently have virtually zero experience with the food. Our waitress had only sampled two items off the menu, while another waitress nearby had sampled five. That, to me, is inexcusable. How are the staff supposed to speak intelligently about the food if they haven’t even tried it? There’s no way they can offer meaningful suggestions. That’s a major failure by the management and the training process. It’s an easy fix, though. I hope they take care of it pronto.

Speaking of the food, there’s a lot of it to choose from. There doesn’t appear to be a menu available online just yet, which is too bad. Just know that if you go to Aces, you’ll need to plan to take some time to read through the options. There’s pasta and burgers and steak and seafood and sandwiches and salads and German food and a vegetarian section. There’s even a chicken and apple [sic] enchilada. Choices aren’t a problem. I get nervous when I see new restaurants throw a ton of stuff at diners to see what sticks. Remember Bob’s Gridiron Grill? They tried that approach. They aren’t open any more. I’m just saying.

The number of choices is even more difficult for diners because so many of the options sound so darn good. Aside from the unnecessarily sexist description of the paulie melt (it’s too manly to be a mere patty melt; get it?), I could have talked myself into most of the items on the menu. That’s great and all, but it presents a paradox of choice. The present menus are simple stapled sheets of paper, presumably because the real menus aren’t ready just yet. I suggest Aces take the opportunity to trim things down a bit. They can always bring items back later.

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Eventually we made our choices. The Missus went with the “veg-eat-able” burger ($8.99), a handmade vegetarian patty that tastes better than its name implies. The Missus quite enjoyed the flavor and texture. She compared it favorably to the veggie patties at Abe’s Burgers & Freedom, and LeadBelly. She commented that it had a “meaty” taste and that it seemed to be lentil based. (I sampled a bite. The flavor was ok, but the burger was too dry for my preference.) The Missus was disappointed that the burger arrived topped with a boring slice of American rather than the swiss cheese promised by the menu. The bun, on the other hand, exceeded expectations. Sure it was too tall for this particular burger, but it was a very high-quality bun. The Missus chose broccoli for her one side dish. It was prepared well, but there were a lot of stem pieces. In the end it wasn’t a perfect meal, but she was pleased enough with it to take the leftovers home.

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I opted to select an item from the German portion of the menu. I went with the sauerbraten ($10.99), both because the description sounded good and because I had never had it before. The dish featured pot roast along with a few carrots and potatoes and topped with a brown gravy. Four dumplings accompanied the meal. The gravy was delicious. The pot roast was, well, pot roast, not exactly melt-in-your-mouth tender but certainly not chewy either. The dumplings were a nice addition to the dish. The Missus wondered if the meal was enough to fill me. It was. The serving size was perfectly appropriate, not eat-until-you-hate-yourself huge. Those of you who prefer the latter, take note.

Speaking of eating until you hate yourself, there’s a decent selection of desserts to choose from. We didn’t sample any, but the lady behind me ordered the German chocolate cake. It was big enough to share with a small army. Needless to say, she took most of it home in a box.

There you have it. Aces Haus of Cuisine has some kinks to work out, but which brand new restaurant doesn’t? I suspect that they’ll find quite a few regulars in this town. My biggest concern is the size of their menu. It’s really, really difficult to be good at so many things. I wish they would narrow their focus and specialize a bit more, especially in their early days. Many of the dishes they trim could easily become specials (i.e. the entire pasta section could become “Noodle Night”). Lincoln’s restaurant scene is going crazy right now and that can present some extremely difficult challenges to newcomers. Aces has a lot going for it. Notably, its location is insulated from the insanity going on Downtown. I wish them luck.

The Spider Dome

September 18, 2013 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Lincoln has several nice play areas for kids around town, with enough variations to keep just about everybody happy. But to my knowledge the “spider dome”—that’s what I’m calling it—in Union Plaza is the first of its type in the city.

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It is a geodesic dome structure with a mesh of heavy-duty ropes to climb on and hang from. It’s absolutely fantastic for kids. It’s large enough to support several active players at once. It includes a variety of opportunities to climb, hang, and even lay down. And best of all, it features a reasonable degree of danger that presents a number of challenges to kids as they play on it. It is significantly less safe than, say, the nearly danger-free Antelope Park playground. That’s either a feature or a bug depending on your kids and your parenting style. I love it.

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I want one for my yard. And not for my kids. Well, not just for my kids. I would have fun on it, too. Unfortunately I don’t think The Missus will let me dip into the kids’ college funds to buy one.

Where in Lincoln is this?

September 16, 2013 at 4:43pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Solved!

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When the Floods Come

September 13, 2013 at 3:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Antelope Creek doesn’t look like much. Sure, it swells a bit in heavy rains. Sometimes it might even come within a couple feet of the top of its banks. But overall, it’s a pretty boring creek. It’s easy to ignore.

That’s why, when the Antelope Valley Project was sold as a “flood protection” project, a lot of people scoffed. I know I did. The project clearly was about a whole bunch of other things first. Roads. Parks. Urban renewal. The flood protection angle was tacked on because it made a ton of extra federal dollars available. The water portion of the project wasn’t a total scam, but it didn’t feel entirely honest either.

But here’s the thing about 100 year floods: they’re rare. That’s why they’re called 100 year floods. The water related components of the Antelope Valley Project may not seem like much right now, or even for many years. But some day we’ll be thankful. Take a look at Colorado right now. Nasty weather happens. We can’t prevent every injury or protect every property from damage, but it’s worth our energy to make reasonable preparations.

I’ve ridden my bike along Antelope Creek and through the Antelope Valley Project area quite a bit this summer. The project was huge and messy and inconvenient and it took years to plan and complete. Now? It’s just kind of there, unlike the sexy arena and Haymarket expansion just a few blocks to the west which attract all kinds of attention. The process was anticlimactic. But ultimately that simple little creek and its environs are every bit as important to Lincoln in the coming decades. And some day we’ll see that we got our money’s worth.

Husker Seniors Take the Field

September 12, 2013 at 1:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m a little late to post this and many of you have probably seen it already but ... well, just watch.

Hat tip: Dave

Support the Food Bank of Lincoln

September 11, 2013 at 2:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Food Bank of Lincoln‘s annual Dine Out to Help Out event runs throughout the day. These restaurants will give 10% of the day’s proceeds to the Food Bank. Feel like eating out and supporting a good cause? Pick a supporting restaurant and have a great meal. Or I’m sure the Food Bank of Lincoln would love a general donation as well.

Braking Bad

September 11, 2013 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

This morning I ran a workout on the Boosalis Trail along Highway 2, as I often do. My usual starting point for interval training is 40th and Highway 2. Over the years I have spent a lot of time near that intersection. I’ve never witnessed a crash there, though I have seen the after effects of accidents—as well as a common cause: running “orange” lights.

In fact, it’s very common to see drivers on Highway 2 tempt their fate and that of their fellow motor vehicle operators by hitting the accelerator rather than the brakes when that yellow light turns on. Truckers get much of the blame, but they’re far from the only sinners. They’re just easier to notice because they’re so much more massive than your friendly neighborhood Yaris.

What causes the orange light running on Highway 2? Many of the reasons are the same as elsewhere: drivers think it won’t hurt anything; drivers are in a hurry; drivers aren’t paying attention; drivers misjudge the length of the yellow light; and so on. But some factors are more unique to Highway 2. Frustration can play a big role, for example. Certain intersections along Highway 2 are prone to backing up, not just because of heavy traffic but also because of horrible light cycle timings. Drivers “get back” at the signals by ignoring them. Another factor is that Highway 2 is, well, a highway. Drivers cruising along at 45 miles per hour on a divided highway feel a sense of entitlement about their right to keep on keeping on. Last, Highway 2 has fewer intersections and access points (driveways and such) than most other streets in town. That can give drivers a sense of momentum that they don’t want to interrupt.

Prepare to Stop When Flashing

Given all of those potential causes and the obvious potential consequences, one wonders why more hasn’t been done to help prevent disaster. There’s one very simple—and I think inexpensive—solution that I would like to see implemented. A series of “Prepare to Stop When Flashing” signs along Highway 2 would work wonders. They’re already in use east of 56th Street and there’s one at Van Dorn, but in between they’ve been left out. I would like to know why. I’m sure cost plays a role, but I suspect there’s something else going on as well. Surely cost alone isn’t responsible for keeping the signs away for this long.

There’s another alternative solution, though one that few of us would enjoy. LPD could step up enforcement and go on a ticketing barrage. Me, I prefer a little preventative medicine.

Mars Attacks

September 10, 2013 at 1:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Aliens invaded Lincoln the other day. Did you notice? The folks at KLKN did. They spotted a flashing light on their TowerCam on September 4th and watched it for about 45 minutes. It didn’t move or do much of anything really, except blink.

It would be easy to dismiss the object as some kind of reflection in the camera lens, except at least one other person caught the object on video. We can rule out a meteorite because it lasted so long, and a comet is out because of the blinking (not to mention the fact that astronomers would have known about it). No airplane could have stayed in one spot so long. Clearly the only option left is aliens. QED.

My guess is that the aliens mistook the Pinnacle Bank Arena for some sort of spaceport. They came, saw that they were wrong about our capabilities, and left. But they’ll be back. After all, one of their kin is playing at the arena on November 23.

Where in Lincoln is this?

September 9, 2013 at 12:27pm By: Mr. T Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

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EDIT: Solved!

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