Hey Everybody, I’m Awake!

By: Mr. Wilson on September 28, 2006
Fellow parents will agree with me that one of the best ways to wake up in the morning is to a happy, babbling and squealing baby. I just love the look on Robert's face when I walk into his room, look down in his crib, and he seems to say, "Hey dad! It's a GREAT day!" It is not possible to have a bad morning after a greeting like that. I sure wish it wouldn't happen at 4a.m., though.

The Bubble Bursting Isn’t All Bad

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2006
There seems to be at least one positive side to the slowing of home sales in Lincoln: homes for sale that are in need of a facelift are getting just that. I can think of three houses just in my neighborhood that, thanks to a couple weekends' worth of work, now look like they're worth thousands more than before. I don't know what shape the insides are in, but hey, I'm just glad the yards look groomed and the exteriors have been fixed up.

Southside Seafood

By: Mr. Wilson on September 27, 2006
The Missus pointed out to me yesterday that Midwest Seafood is moving in at 48th and Highway 2. I haven't been on North 27th lately; is that location still there?

It Looked Great on Paper…

By: Mr. Wilson on September 26, 2006
This year, Lincoln Public Schools ditched many of their schools' copiers and printers in favor of a centralized printing and duplication system from Xerox located at the District Offices. The marketing premise is what you might expect: save money, keep track of resource usage, and so on. Two things come to mind. First, when government bodies try to maximize efficiency through grand schemes like this -- orchestrated, of course, by allusions to utopia from slick salespeople -- they almost always fall flat on their face. Indeed, the LPS personnel I know have feelings on the issue ranging from reluctant tolerance to heated disapproval. The system has failed more than once already this year, and early projections of the capacity the system would need to serve were, of course, too low. But that brings to mind the second thing: often, government bodies can't win in these sorts of situations. The prior decentralized system was expensive, difficult to maintain, and impossible to audit. The current system is just slightly less expensive, difficult to maintain, and prone to catastrophy. Thus, my question: is there any way LPS could win on this topic? How can they find the least expensive, most maintainable and scalable, easily trackable printing and duplication system? Is there such a thing? [Link changed at noon, 9/26/06, since the LJS website is stupid.]

On the Road

By: Mr. Wilson on September 25, 2006
I had one of those weekends that makes me glad to get back to work on Monday so I can rest. I spent over 12 hours on the road, plus several hours in Sioux Center, Iowa, and Wayne, Nebraska. On the plus side, all those hours will help add to a nice check, but working seven days a week is still awfully draining. Saturday was especially tiring. I reffed two games up at Dordt College -- one center, one line -- almost entirely in a constant cool rain. I was never chilled to the bone, but standing in the rain for four hours sucks more energy out of you than you at first realize. At least the two games were interesting, despite the blow-out score of each match. Yesterday's match at Wayne State was gorgeous. Does it get any better than a 1-0 game among two well-matched teams, played under a beautiful blue autumn sky? Although I missed a lot of Robbie time this weekend, I did get to experience one milestone: he finally rolled over (front to back) for me. He had already rolled over for his mother, but I was never around to see it. On Saturday morning he finally decided to let dad in on the festivities. Thanks, kiddo!

The Blight Train Rolls On

By: Mr. Wilson on September 25, 2006
City officials want to declare yet another big chunk of Lincoln blighted, this time over 1,200 between West O and Corhusker, Sun Valley and Capital Beach. The sarcastic "Why don't we just declare all of Lincoln blighted?" jokes are quickly losing steam, so instead, some exciting bullets:
  • Is Lincoln spreading its resources too thin? By declaring so many large chunks of Lincoln blighted, are we decreasing the effectiveness of each individual blight designation?
  • Blight carries such negative connotations. "Prime Redevelopment Zone" sounds so much better. If you were bringing a business to town, would you rather locate in an area officially described by the City as "One of our crappiest!", or would you rather locate in an area "Ripe for economic expansion"?
  • The tax benefits that go along with a blight designation are all well and good. But when property taxes from huge chunk after huge chunk of the city are suddenly turned inward, what strain, if any, gets put on property tax-dependant bodies?


By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2006
Costs for new roads over the next 25 years are estimated at $2.43 billion. That's an incredible chunk of change, and as I've said before, these big projects almost always cost much more than expected. Is $2.43 billion doable? Well, let's break it down. $2.43 billion over 25 years is $97.2 million per year. Lincoln is expected to grow to around 350,000 people by 2030, and we're around 250,000 now, so let's assume an average population of 300,000. That gives us a cost per resident of $324 per year. That doesn't sound completely unreasonable, does it? Except that the Wilson family of three now owes nearly $1,000 per year for new roads alone, and we haven't even begun to pay for road maintenance, schools, or any of the hundreds of other things our taxes need to cover. This is obviously just a simple analysis and it leaves out a whole bunch of variables. But it's a starting point, and I think it illustrates nicely that we need to start planning soon for these costs. This is not a discussion Lincoln can afford to put off.


By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2006
Critics have suspected it from the start: expected costs for the proposed arena are exploding. What once was estimated in the $85 - $100 million range is now estimated at $160 million. A word to the wise: don't expect the costs to stop there.

Friday Five

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2006
For something a little different, here are five Lincoln businesses I couldn't live without:
  1. Hy-Vee. I know Hy-Vee isn't locally owned, but I have always preferred their stores to other options available in town. And when I travel out of town and need to visit a grocery store -- such as when The Missus and I were in Boston for nearly two weeks this summer -- I always feel lucky to have such a good store here at home.
  2. Avant Card. I purchase almost all of my greeting cards at Avant Card, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Why buy Hallmark when you can choose from Avant Card's eclectic collection? Plus, their people are very helpful. Case in point: I was the first to know that we were getting Robbie, so I went down to Avan Card and asked if they had any Mother's Day cards. Except, it was a couple weeks after Mother's Day. But they came through and gave me a huge box of cards to browse through. I found the perfect one, and it made telling The Missus about Robbie so much more fun.
  3. Lincoln Running Company. Ann Ringlein's store on P Street is the place to buy running shoes if you're a local runner. But it isn't just the shoes. The people are always helpful and knowledgeable, and Ann is, well, she's Ann, and who doesn't love Ann?
  4. The Mill. Well, actually I could go thorugh life just fine without The Mill, because I don't drink coffee. But the thought of putting up with The Missus in a world without her coffee fix from The Mill is downright frightening. (Just kidding! Please don't change the locks!)
  5. Ivanna Cone. I brag about Ivanna Cone all the time, but seriously folks, can you imagine if we had to go through summer without Ivanna Cone? I shudder at the thought.
What Lincoln business(es) could you not live without?

In the Year 2030

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2006
The Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission has released a draft of its 2030 update to the Comprehensive Plan. I encourage you to check it out, not only to see where Lincoln is going (not too many surprises), but also to see how well Lincoln has followed the plan so far (I give the City a D).

Fly High This Weekend

By: Mr. Wilson on September 22, 2006
I'm crushed. Ever since I heard about the upcoming Lincoln Air Show several months back, I've been looking forward to going. But I'm out of luck, since I have been assigned to referee soccer matches out of town on both Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully you aren't so unlucky. Gates are open from 9:30am to 5:00pm, and admission is free. Let me know how it is. In fact, if you take photos, send them my way and I will post them here on Lincolnite.
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