Tips for the Visitors Bureau

By: Mr. Wilson on May 21, 2009
I was browsing the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau website this morning and I came across an annoyance: when I went to the calendar, it was difficult to tell what is happening today. It is difficult for two reasons. First, a whole bunch of the events have already ended. Don't show me those! At least, not by default. Second, ongoing events are listed together with one-day-only events. Although that makes to some degree -- both types of events are happening on any given day, after all -- I've always preferred the two types of events be listed separately, or at least be visually distinctive. Ongoing and one-day-only events tend to be very different types of events. Thus, separating the two is a valuable service for the user. Actually, that brings me to the LCVB's Friday Fast Facts document.. I don't know about you, but the name "Friday Fast Facts" is pretty meaningless to me. As it turns out, it consists of two parts. The first page is a very handy summary of "big" events happening on any given weekend. The rest is a chart of all the other events going on. Who knew? I get the feeling whoever named "Friday Fast Facts" was more worried about alliteration than actually telling the user that this is a really handy service. Naming aside, the user shouldn't have to download a PDF to get the weekend summary. That stuff should be available right on the website. Speaking of the calendar of events, is that data exportable in any way? It doesn't appear so, but it should be. Anybody and everybody should be able to pluck that data directly from the LCVB and insert it into their own website, or their calendar, or wherever they want. Along another line, I don't think I have heard of Lincoln 101 but now I want to attend. The purpose: "The mission of LINCOLN 101 is to educate front-line employees on what there is to do and see in Lincoln, that they can in return, inform visitors to Lincoln of the great attractions our city has to offer." I'm not exactly the target audience, but I'm close. I'll have to get in on that next time around. What tips or requests do you have for the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau?

No Friend of Mine

By: Mr. Wilson on May 20, 2009
I know I shouldn't feel this way about a locally-owned business, but I can't help but feel a tinge of schadenfreude any time something negative happens to Amigos. In this case, the Downtown Kopeli Coffee is closing. That follows last year's closing of the 33rd & Highway 2 Amigos et al. location. Why the enmity? Part of it has to do with what I perceive as a series of bizarre business and management decisions over the years. The chain has virtually no brand identity thanks to the gradual schizophrenic dilution from Lincoln's most popular Mexican fast food to Lincoln's most mocked place to get a burrito, donut, haircut, and oil change. Rather than focusing on what they were good at -- and Amigos was good at something, once -- they have tried to be mediocre at a lot of things. Sorry folks, success doesn't work that way. And to be honest, I'm still ticked about the disappearance of the candy ladies who used to walk around and socialize with diners. Anyway, thus ends another of my periodic "what happened to the Amigos of the good ol' days?" rants. Thanks for putting up with me.

Mr. Contrarian

By: Mr. Wilson on May 20, 2009
I realize we aren't given a lot of context, but Gene Carroll's response to a question about the 2-to-1 match for city employees’ retirement plans seems a little odd:
I cannot respond until I see what the Republicans are saying.
Is he saying that the only opinion he can form on this controversial issue must be relative to whatever the opposing party says? That sounds an awful lot like "I don't know what I believe in, but I know whom I disagree with".

Gas Parity

By: Mr. Wilson on May 19, 2009
Not long ago Lincolnites were pitching a fit about how much cheaper gas was in Omaha than in Lincoln. You could often fill your tank for at least ten cents per gallon less in Omaha than in Lincoln, and frequently for 15 or 20 cents less. Having made several trips to Omaha recently I've noticed that prices are now more or less equal. The price near my house is the same as the price at the stations I passed in Omaha. And am I mistaken, or is there less price disparity between north and south Lincoln right now? Speaking of gas, I just realized I forgot to fill up my wife's car after all but emptying the tank. I hate it when that happens.

Meet the New Boss(es), Same as the Old Boss(es)?

By: Mr. Wilson on May 19, 2009
Lincoln's newest City Council members were sworn in yesterday. Jayne Snyder, Gene Carroll and Adam Hornung pushed out Dan Marvin, Robin Eschliman, and Ken Svoboda. What does that mean for us? We now have four Democrats and three Republicans on the nonpartisan Council, rather than the previous three and four, so in theory there may be a shift in trends in local public policy decisions. Practically speaking, however, I don't anticipate any huge changes. The new Council's first big task will be figuring out the City budget. Good luck with that! Hopefully they don't spend too much time fighting about libraries and are instead able to deal with the larger challenges presented by this and subsequent budgets. Other big upcoming decisions include: the proposed arena, toward which we have already invested many community resources; and major core infrastructure needs, sidelined too long in part by the Antelope Valley Project. What changes do you expect we will see under this City Council? What will be their largest challenges over the next four years?

A Wild Wilson Weekend

By: Mr. Wilson on May 18, 2009
image We love the Lincoln Zoo, but sometimes you've just got to get out of town. Yesterday the full Wilson clan headed up to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. We usually make the trip once or twice each year. The big hit of the zoo for Robbie was the train. He loves trains, thanks in large part to Thomas & Friends. Yesterday he got to ride in the caboose. Other big hits were the polar bear and the sharks. We didn't make it onto the Skyfari, which I think Robbie would have loved. Oh well, maybe next time. That's not all that happened this weekend. On Saturday, Robbie turned 3. We kept the celebration relatively subdued because he's having a party next weekend. Still, he got to open presents from some family members. They included a scooter, games, a computer, and the surprise hit of the day, a baseball and bat. Time to clear out some old toys to make room for the new. Saturday also marked my last two high school soccer games of the season. Nope, no finals for me this year. No worries, though; the folks doing the games today and tomorrow are very deserving. I'm down six pounds over the last two weeks of the season. I think I'm going to use that to my advantage and try to run a couple road races this summer. I wonder if I could break 19 minutes in a 5K? I haven't done that since high school. It sure would be fun to try. How was your weekend?

Play Ball!

By: Mr. Wilson on May 15, 2009
Summertime is almost here, and that means there's a very good chance you will soon find yourself on one of Lincoln's many baseball and softball fields. Can you identify these ten ball fields?
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Hint: Up is north!

And Then There Were Two

By: Mr. Wilson on May 15, 2009
Lincoln began the State Soccer Tournament with seven teams. Now two teams remain (PDF). Lincoln Southwest beat Westside in the first round on the Class A boys side of things. The Pius X girls play this morning at 9:00am in their first match of the tournament. Game summaries from the Journal Star:

Intelligently Designed Nature

By: Mr. Wilson on May 14, 2009
I know what they're going for, but I still think it sounds funny that there needs to be a planning open house for a "natural" play area in Belmont Park. Can you plan a natural space? In any event, there's some validity to the notion that most kids don't spend enough time interacting with nature. And no, picking a lone dandelion in an otherwise immaculate yard doesn't count. The Wilsons don't need a "natural" play area. We live very close to Beal Slough, the creek that runs along much of Highway 2. It's a perfect play area, and it has the benefit of not having been planned as a play area. What other areas in town are excellent "natural" play areas? Wilderness Park and portions of Pioneers Park are obvious candidates, as is Tierra Park. Any others?

In the Cards

By: Mr. Wilson on May 12, 2009
Last night we had some friends over to play pitch (10-point). That got me started thinking about how people play different card games in different pockets of the country. And unlike differences in pop vs. soda usage, which tend to be regional, local differences in preferred card games seem to vary quite a bit down to the community level. When I think about card games that I identify with Lincoln, the first that comes to mind is 10-point pitch. That's probably because that's the game that dominates my family's gatherings. What other card games are associated with Lincoln or southeast Nebraska?
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