Target: Ben Nelson

By: Mr. T on July 31, 2009
Woke up this morning to see this ad (on CNBC of all places), targeting Ben Nelson for his stance on health care. Yikes! They don't mince words here.

Up, Up, Up!

By: Mr. Wilson on July 31, 2009
image UNL continues to make progress in increasing its research funding, this year hitting a whopping $122 million. That represents a 13% increase over last year and an all-time record. Good work, UNL folks. Now on to your next goal: $200 million by 2015! Well, that might be a bit ambitious. But it's worth a shot.

The Post Office is Closing. Do You Care?

By: Mr. Wilson on July 31, 2009
Do you care that three local post offices may close before the end of the year? I can't say that I do. I haven't been to a post office in years. We do our postal business at Hy-Vee. Besides, I'm torked at USPS right now; twice in the past couple weeks we've checked our mail to find an envelope open and contents of value missing. Grr.

Testing, 1, 2, 3

By: Mr. Wilson on July 31, 2009
A "trial run" for next year's Special Olympics will be going on in Lincoln this weekend. The Special Olympics National Invitational Golf & Softball Tournament will take place at Mahoney and Highlands golf courses, and Fleming Fields. I will be volunteering as a "logistics assistant" at Fleming starting around 7:15am on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It might be a long weekend! This tournament is being used as a warm-up for next year's event. Organizers will take a look at everything from transportation to volunteer management to hydration to trash pickup. Then they will have the next year to evaluate it all and to fix what needs to be fixed. Coming at it from the volunteer side of things I have several suggestions for them, and I will make those known after this weekend. I want next year's event to be "perfect" just like the organizers do, so I'm going to do what I can to help them reach that goal. If you haven't already signed up to volunteer for next year's event, please do so. As many as 8,000 volunteers will be needed. That's a lot of volunteers. Please show your support for Special Olympics and Lincoln by offering a few hours of your time. Are any of you signed up to help this weekend? Where are you stationed and what is your job?

Drunker Than We Used To Be

By: Mr. Wilson on July 30, 2009
Last year Lincoln broke a 34 year-old record for most drunk driving arrests in a year. Now, Tom Casady says we're on pace to break the record again, with DUI arrests sitting at 10% higher than last year's numbers. My question: Why all the drunk driving? Is drinking inversely correlated with economic health? Have we gotten lazy about assigning designated drivers? Are police getting smarter about impaired driver identification? I'm really curious why we're seeing such a spike in DUI arrests. Any guesses?

How Much More Would You Pay For That Burrito?

By: Mr. Wilson on July 29, 2009
Jack Mitchell posted an interesting tweet earlier today:
Mayor Beutler revealed on our show that the arena financing plan will likely include a city-wide restaurant tax. Uh-oh.
He followed not long ago with:
Being told now by city insiders that the restaurant tax is nothing new. I'm pretty sure it wasn't public knowledge though.
Just how "new" is the possibility of a restaurant tax, and how widespread is public knowledge of it? I decided to do a little research.

Read more…

Chance vs. Skill

By: Mr. Wilson on July 29, 2009
We really need to come up with some objective measures to determine if a game is one of chance or skill. That way we won't have to leave people hanging for ages while state officials bicker about a game's legality, as with Bank Shot. The basic test is this: if you can get good at it, it's a game of skill. If practice is pointless, it's a game of chance. Can those simple rules be turned into a fair and reasonable objective test? Maybe you take 15 people and give them the equivalent of 100 plays of the game in order to learn and practice. Then you compare those 15 people against 15 new people over 100 more plays. If the first group consistently outplays the second group, you've got yourself a game of skill. If not, it's a game of chance. What kind of test would you use to determine if a game is legal or not? That's really just half the issue. The next question is what we should do about taxing games like Bank Shot. It isn't being taxed like a gambling game even though it competes with gambling games. Should we fix that? How might we fix it without lumping it in with Ms. Pac-Man or those claw games?

Should We Take It?

By: Mr. Wilson on July 29, 2009
Here's the scenario: Your budget is tight tight tight. You could use a new car, but there's no way it will fit into your budget. Somebody comes along and says, "I will cover the first 36 months of a 48 month car loan, but you have to pay the final 12 months". You don't know what your budget will look like after three years. You assume it will be better, but there's just no way to know. Taking the deal may put you in financial distress three years from now. Not taking it seems foolish because, well, who turns down that kind of a gift? What do you do? Now you're the City of Lincoln. The Feds want to pay for four police officers for three years, as long as Lincoln covers year four. (We also have to fund them beyond year four if we want to keep them, but at that point it's up to us.) Do we take the cash (and the cops)?

Porch Spam Makes Me Fume

By: Mr. Wilson on July 28, 2009
image I found this brick of porch spam in front of my door last night. Why oh why does anybody think I want 15 different phone books each year? This particular phone book was deposited directly into my brand new recycle bin from RecycleLink. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Advertisers, take note. Is there a way I can get on a list to stop this litter? I'm guessing not. I've seen the folks delivering these books. They aren't stopping to check if an address is on some sort of Do Not Deliver list. Ugh.

The Night I Fell in Love with La Paloma’s Chips

By: Mr. Wilson on July 27, 2009
I love New Mexican-style food. My in-laws live in Albuquerque. Every time we visit them I gorge myself on green chile. It is very difficult to find anything similar around here. The closest I have found -- both in style and distance -- is Cristina's in Crete, located in the former Wanek's building. Every time I go there I try to talk them into opening a location right near my house, but no dice so far. When I heard that La Paloma offers New Mexican style green chile on some of its menu items I got pretty excited. For one thing, located at 139th and O Street, La Paloma is closer than Cristina's. And the possibility of having two New Mexico-style options was pretty intriguing. My father and I visited La Paloma on Saturday evening. The restaurant sits in a strip mall on the north side of O Street between Lincoln and Eagle. Not quite as alluring as its former 8th Street location in the Haymarket, but it'll do. We walked in to find a pleasant, single-room atmosphere. The register is near the door; the small bar, server prep area, and kitchen window are near the back; booths line the wall and tables fill up the space in the middle. We were warmly greeted and, upon being seated, were told about the night's special: a fajita-like dish featuring fire-grilled pork loin for $11.99. The rest of the menu was smaller than what you will find at a lot of Mexican restaurants, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Why stuff the menu when you can focus on what you're good at? Especially when a couple of those items feature New Mexican-style green chile! image Like almost every local Mexican restaurant, La Paloma offers diners a complimentary basket of chips and salsa. The salsa was a well-blended red, with just enough kick to keep a spice hound like me from being bored. The chips ... what can I say about the chips? They were awesome. I haven't had chips like La Paloma's anywhere else in town. They were served warm and fresh, and they were thick and flaky, almost cracker-like in some ways. I had to pace myself lest I fill up on chips before my meal came. Two big thumbs-up on the chips, though I do have a suggestion. They could be offered with honey in addition to the salsa. I think they would work very well with honey. image My father ordered the special, and it didn't disappoint. The pork loin was served with sauteed onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes, all of which my dad wrapped up in the tortillas served with the dish. He practically licked his plate clean. image I went with the Rio Rancho burrito ($8.99), a meat and bean burrito topped with New Mexico-style green chile and cheese. I'll be honest, I was a bit disappointed. The green chile was New Mexico-style, as advertised, so that's good. But it wasn't nearly as spicy as I like my chile, and it was overwhelmed by the heavy, non-New Mexico-ish contents of the burrito. The style of chile used at La Paloma would be excellent on a breakfast burrito (i.e. eggs, potatoes, black beans, chorizo), however. Don't get me wrong. That the meal didn't live up to my unfairly inflated expectations doesn't mean it wasn't good; it was. It just means La Paloma won't be able to compete with Cristina's on my green chile list. In the end, I left with a strong desire to return. And not just to try more of the menu items. The restaurant gave off a very warm and friendly vibe. I want to support that. If you haven't already OD'd on Lincoln's myriad Mexican-style restaurants, take a short drive east on O Street and give La Paloma a try.

The Dark Side of Southpointe

By: Mr. Wilson on July 27, 2009
So the Wilsons are sitting around SouthPointe minding our own business on Friday evening, listening to a little music. Robbie got himself a nice bit of body art: image And then something quite unexpected happened. Several Storm Troopers and a couple other Star Wars characters appeared. And Robbie, not one to be shy, decided to say hello: image Who were those guys, and why were they decked out in costumes from a 30 year-old movie on a hot summer night?

That’s Still an Awfully Big Hole

By: Mr. Wilson on July 24, 2009
Even after a few budgeting gimmicks, Lancaster Manor still faces a $1.8 million hole. Ouch. The two proposed solutions at this point? Chop staff by approximately 45, or raise taxes. I find it really difficult to believe that a joint like Lancaster Manor can axe over 10% of its workforce and still run a good operation. For example, how many of the Manor's indicators [health | staff | quality | fire] are going to improve with a smaller, more stressed staff working with a tighter operating budget? (See more information about all Lincoln-area nursing homes. But always take U.S. News rankings with a grain of salt. They rate crime in Lincoln as "high", for example, which any reasonable analysis will prove to be false. Sometimes numbers lie.) I suspect we're looking at a tax increase. Are we OK with that? Are we OK with Lancaster Manor inching up our property tax rates, rather than letting a private company take on the task? I'm not loading the questions at all. I'm really curious where Lancaster County residents want to draw the line, if we want to draw one at all. I, for one, feel like we still don't have full information about exactly why Lancaster Manor is hemorrhaging cash, and if anything can be done about it. I want more data, and hopefully somebody (Mike Foley?) can provide it.

Coming Soon: Two Twins and a Hotel

By: Mr. Wilson on July 23, 2009
The Wilsons went to Gateway last night. On the way home I noticed that the hotel near North Cotner and R appears to be nearing completion. In addition, the neighboring strip mall looks to be near the end of its major renovation. Coincidentally, friend o' Lincolnite Nikkidemas dropped me a note late last night to let me know that one of the tenants of the remodeled strip mall -- Two Twins Cafe -- plans to open "in early August". She said she had a chat with the owners, and that "everything is homemade, they'll do breakfast & lunch, & the baker is the old baker from Garden Cafe". To which I have to concur with her summary: "YUM!" I'm still curious about the new hotel's placement, but with three restaurants just outside the front door -- Two Twins Cafe, La Paz, and Patty's Pub -- guests certainly won't go hungry.
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