After-School Special

By: Mr. Wilson on January 24, 2008
Take a moment and think about what time of day you think kids are most likely to get into trouble with the law. Got your answer? Now compare your answer with Chief Casady's graph. Were you close?

Adventures in Customer Service

By: Mr. Wilson on January 24, 2008
I've written in the past about some poor customer service experiences. Here is a recent good experience. For various reasons, The Missus and I are re-evaluating our insurance coverage. One thing we swapped was our car insurance. Formerly we were with Geico. We didn't have any problems with Geico, but we found a better (read: cheaper) deal elsewhere. When The Missus called, the telephone rep was courteous and she came across as genuinely disappointed to have us leave. But here's the kicker -- she didn't grovel or mope or kick into high-pressure gotta-get-them-back mode. She said, basically, "we're very sorry to see you leave, and we wish you the best with your new company". A couple days later we received a letter confirming the cancellation of our service. The letter, too, was written in a "sorry to see you go, we wish you the best" sort of tone. I really appreciate that Geico didn't launch an all-out assault to try to beg us back, and they didn't try to make us feel like we had made a poor decision. Quite the opposite: they made us feel like we had made a good decision. Now, that might seem backwards to you, but I think it's great. Rather than leaving Geico with feelings of doubt, uncertainty, confusion, and even anger, I'm leaving ... pleased. That's exactly what they want. Because when it comes time to review my insurance options in the future, one of my first thoughts will be "Those Geico folks sure were nice...". Have you had a good customer service experience lately?

Four in Four

By: Mr. Wilson on January 24, 2008
In a city like Lincoln, four domestic violence deaths in four months should raise some eyebrows. I doubt it signals any sort of a trend that we need to panic about -- after all, with numbers as small as Lincoln's, a spike in the data is as inevitable as it is noticeable -- but it still offers the sort of "window of opportunity" that local anti-violence groups will probably want to take advantage of. Here's hoping four is the end of it.

Take a Note

By: Mr. Wilson on January 24, 2008
Jurors can't take notes? I had no idea. That's stupid. Of course jurors should be allowed to take notes, except perhaps in very limited circumstances*. Shouldn't they? * I can't think of any such circumstance right now, but I suppose there are some.

Beltway News

By: Mr. Wilson on January 23, 2008
Finally, some news about the East Beltway. Unfortunately, it's mostly non-news: the City and County have agreed to split the costs of right-of-way acquisition. When it comes to Lincoln's long-term health, we need the South and East beltways to be completed, and soon. I posit that the beltways are far more important to Lincoln's economic vitality than any other project -- Antelope Valley, the arena and convention center, and so on. And yet the beltways are treated mostly as an afterthought, as "someday" projects. I don't have any idea how we'll pay for the beltways, but more importantly, I cringe at the costs we'll pay -- both in terms of actual costs and lost opportunities -- if we act later rather than sooner. I suppose some news is better than no news. I just wish we could start laying some pavement.

Will We Escape the Blow?

By: Mr. Wilson on January 23, 2008
Two local economists interviewed by the Journal Star say Lincoln and Nebraska will fare better than the nation in a recession. That's good news. Unfortunately, one of the reasons cited for Nebraska's ability to escape the worst of the storm concerns me:
"Biofuels and ethanol production have underpinned the state’s economy for industries such as transportation."
I am very uncomfortable with Nebraska's booming reliance on corn-based ethanol. That industry feels very fragile and temporary to me. We may escape the worst of this recession, but if we aren't careful, Nebraska could be in a world of hurt in the not-so-distant future. Or maybe I'm just playing Chicken Little.

Lincoln’s Favorite Houses

By: Mr. Wilson on January 22, 2008
I have long been in love with this house in Near South. I have never been inside so I have no idea what the interior is like, but something about the outside really interests me. When The Missus and I were looking at houses, we looked at a few in Near South. That one was out of our price range (and not for sale), but we enjoyed walking by it anyway. Which are your favorite houses in town?

What is Fit?

By: Mr. Wilson on January 22, 2008
The Missus and I are going through some insurance stuff right now. According to the insurance company's charts, I am the perfect man. I know, most of you are saying, "But we already knew that, Mr. Wilson!". Well, now there's even more proof. Actually, my supposed perfection is just based on my height and weight, combined with my medical history over the past five years. Based on that, I probably do seem pretty healthy. (Had they gone back much farther than five years they might have come to a different conclusion.) But wait, what's this? The feds say I'm overweight! How can my insurance company call me "super-preferred" if, according to the feds, I'm unhealthy? The BMI is crap, that's how. I trust my insurance company's assessment of my health infinitely more than I trust the government's take on it. After all, my insurance company's existence is on the line. The feds? No matter how wrong they are or what harm they cause, they'll still be around. In fact, the more wrong they are, the more easily they can claim they need a bigger budget so they can get things right "next time". Bah. Problem is, now I feel like I'm under all sorts of pressure. What if I gain 10 pounds? What if I lose 10 pounds? What if I stub my toe? Oh, the stress! Well, no, not really. Actually, I feel quite unstressed. Finding out the insurance company likes me was a nice confidence booster. I know that my body fat percentage is a little high. Before, I just worried about it. Now, I'm actively trying to convert that fat into lean muscle. I have begun a strength-training regimen. I even ran a six-minute mile on Sunday. I haven't done that in years. Now that I have to take care of all of my insurance on my own, this is becoming obvious to me: American obesity is, in part, driven by employer health plans. Since the costs of health care are "hidden" to most consumers, the financial incentives to stay healthy are all but lost. Many companies are catching on to that and are starting to change, but the damage has been done. If Americans had to pay more out-of-pocket for their chubbiness, there would be far fewer chubby Americans. Financial incentives wouldn't make everybody cut back on the donuts, and that's fine. But millions would step up their weight-loss (or anti-weight-gain) efforts, and the effect on health care costs for everyone would be dramatic.

Street Finder

By: Mr. Wilson on January 22, 2008
There was a time I was pretty good at being able to tell you what part of town a street was in. You could tell me a street name, and more often than not, I could tell you its approximate neighborhood. Not any more. Lincoln is too big, and the proliferation of similarly-named streets (Woodland, Woodlawn, Woodlane) makes it even more tricky. Street finder to the rescue. You feed it the information you know, it gives you the street's location. It'll even give you a map. Very handy.

I’m Back. What Did I Miss?

By: Mr. Wilson on January 21, 2008
This is just a quick "I'm back" post. I'm too tired for much else. I'll get back in the posting groove tomorrow. I spent the weekend in the Fort Lauderdale area, where The Missus's cousin got married. The service at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El was my first Jewish wedding. The wedding itself was pretty standard. The reception? Well, let's just say that side of The Missus's family has more money than we'll ever see. The post-ceremony "cocktail hour" alone would have been impressive. The four-course meal that followed was just that much extra "wow". The photographer -- a veritable Franck Eggelhoffer -- was a hoot, and the DJ was one of the best event DJs I have ever seen. Add in the fact that everybody danced throughout the entire night, and you've got yourself a pretty darn nice party. I did make it to the beach, briefly, on Saturday. I'm not a big beach guy -- long story -- but I love people watching. We walked and gawked for about an hour. Since we were only in town for two days, I wasn't expecting to have a whole lot of free time to check out the area. Still, I was hoping to get some Cuban food. There were even two Cuban joints within a mile of our hotel. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. I guess I'll just have to go back. We did, however, manage to find one of those classic inexplicably popular restaurants at which the food is terrible and the service is lousy. It looked like a great little restaurant. So much for trusting looks. That restaurant happened to be next door to a small puppy store. The puppies were in decent-sized wooden cribs, two or three to a crib. It was way too easy to pet and play with the puppies. I can't believe we made it out of there without rescuing one. Not that it needs to be said, but commercial flight still sucks and airport security is still a joke. (But don't point that out, countless signs and recordings remind you. Joking is a criminal offense.) We flew Continental through Houston. Honestly, the four flights all ranked above average. But considering that "average" is about 3 on a scale of ten, the experience still only ranked about a five. In fact, I'd probably even give Continental a six, but the score got pulled down by the flight attendants on the last hop home taking their crankiness out on the passengers. OK, time to get to work. See you tomorrow, all.

The Fastest Way Across Town

By: Mr. Wilson on January 18, 2008
Let's say you need to drive "across town" for some reason. We'll say that "across town" means a journey of at least 3 miles (probably more), from anywhere in town to anywhere else in town. Think about some of the trips you take "across town" -- maybe to go to the mall, to eat at your favorite restaurant, or to go to work. With those trips in mind, think about how long it takes you to get from here to there, and from there to here. Is your travel in one direction faster or easier than the other? If so, which direction is fastest? I ask because I've noticed a trend when I travel from my place (South 48th and Highway 2) to Abbott Sports Complex (North 70th and approx. I-80), a trip I make often. Driving one direction seems to consistently take less time than driving the other direction, regardless of the time of day. The trend is the same on two different routes. Based on your experience with north-south trips across town, can you guess which direction is faster for me?


By: Mr. Wilson on January 18, 2008
Brrr, she's gonna be a cold one this weekend. I had better remember to bundle up. Oh wait. I'll be at the beach, where highs over the weekend are in the 70's and 80's. Time to show off those pasty white legs!

Let’s See Some Hands

By: Mr. Wilson on January 18, 2008
More fun times from the always-exciting Lancaster County Jail debacle. This thing is already a disaster and we haven't even gotten to the construction phase, where no doubt we'll see rampant shoddy work; the use of poor materials that don't meet specifications; and cost overruns that push the price up at least 50%. I can't wait.

Teenager Driving You Nuts? Drop Her Off At a Hospital

By: Mr. Wilson on January 17, 2008
I'm a little confused about LB157, the proposed "safe haven" bill now working its way through the Unicameral. An agreement currently being worked out would amend the legislation to allow a parent to drop off a child of any age at a hospital without fear of abandonment charges. If that's the way the final wording ends up, that would mean a parent could dump his annoying 14 year-old and come away with no responsibilities to the child. I can imagine a host of odd situations and ugly complications -- some realistic, some unlikely -- that could arise from such a broadly-worded law. Senators are still working on changes. It'll be interesting to see how the bill looks when it enters the second round of debate.
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