Young Lincolnites Go to Washington

By: Mr. Wilson on December 29, 2009
Many many moons ago -- probably 1990 or so -- I gathered with several other youngsters from around Lancaster County and their parents to plan a trip. The trip would be a two-week journey from Lincoln to Washington D.C. and back. Preparation for the trip would take years. We had to raise money -- lots of money -- and make travel arrangements. We even took dining etiquette lessons. Finally in the summer of 1993 we left in a charter bus, a couple dozen 14 to 18 year-olds, many of whom had never before been away from mom and dad for so long. We went to Chicago, Detroit, Niagara Falls, New York City, Philadelphia, and, eventually, Washington D.C, where we attended Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). It was an incredible experience that left me with many happy memories. We even won the CWF talent show that year with a hilarious interpretation of a tune from Sister Act, complete with nun getup. I'll have to see if I can dig out the photos... Why do I bring this up? It seems five slots have opened up (PDF) for the next CWF in 2010:
Five spots have opened up for the June 2010 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) group. Any Lancaster County youth age 14-18 can join CWF, a summer citizenship program which culminates in a nine-day, intensive trip to Washington D.C. and New York. CWF delegates learn about the democratic process and their role as citizens. Youth who sign up now are able to start earning funds through organized fund-raising. A $100 deposit is needed to reserve your spot. For more information, contact Deanna Karmazin at 441-7180 or
If you know any area youths who might be interested, please encourage them to give the opportunity a serious look.

Too Cool

By: Mr. Wilson on December 29, 2009
My son thinks he's a teenager. He's three. A conversation this morning: The Missus: Here, wear this new sweatshirt you got for Christmas. Robbie: I can't wear that. TM: Why not? R: The kids will laugh. TM: They won't laugh, it's a nice sweatshirt. R: Uh huh! They'll laugh cuz it has Cars. TM: I thought Cars was cool? R: No, the kids will laugh. Nobody wears Cars any more. They laugh at kids that wear Cars. He's three years old and he's already worried about peer pressure associated with his wardrobe. Yikes.

Money Money Money

By: Mr. Wilson on December 29, 2009
I should have done it. Yesterday I almost posted the following:
So how long will it be before the Journal Star publishes their annual "the City's snow budget is running low on cash" article?
The answer: today.

Go Big ... Knights?

By: Mr. Wilson on December 29, 2009
It sure does stink that the Cornhusker Marching Band didn't make the trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl this year. But how cool is it for the Southeast marching band that they'll get to fill in? The coolest Husker-related thing we ever got to do when I was at Southeast was we once played at a Husker women's basketball game. Well, good luck, Knights. Make us proud!

What Did You Get for Christmas?

By: Mr. Wilson on December 28, 2009
I feel like I haven't sat down at the computer in ages. And I haven't, really. I turned off the computer on Thursday morning and haven't been back until now. That's a pretty darn impressive break for me. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you all had as great a long weekend as I did. My biggest and best Christmas present was a gift I got myself. I bought several heavy-duty shelving units from Menards, assembled them, and totally reorganized the storage area of our basement. What once was an ugly series of piles has become a thing of beauty. And there is storage space to spare! There are two related perks, too: I was able to clean up other areas of the house; and I discarded a whole bunch of junk that isn't even of garage sale quality. I still have a little more housecleaning to do -- about one more weekend day's worth -- but I feel so much better about the house right now. Next project for The Missus and me: remodeling our bathroom. A reminder to all you Lincolnites: If you or somebody you know does minor electrical, plumbing, and/or general remodeling work, drop me a note. It isn't a super-complicated remodel, but it is a full floor-to-ceiling job that we want somebody's help with. If the price is right, you can have the whole job. Robbie made out like a bandit this Christmas. Trains and cars and Legos and books and games ... sheesh. The Missus and I tried to keep Christmas small and reasonable, but family and friends pretty much blew that out of the water. The thing I'm most excited about is Robbie's new playroom in the basement. It's not fancy -- far from it! -- but it's all his, and it's a great size for a kid his age. Oh, and I scooped a lot of snow. Darn snow drifts in front of the garage. Sheesh. How was your holiday weekend?

Ain’t That the Way it Goes?

By: Mr. Wilson on December 23, 2009
Last night at 8:00pm I purchased some heavy-duty shelving from Menards for my basement. This morning at 7:00am I found an advertisement in the newspaper. Menards is having a sale on shelving. I could have saved $45. ::sigh:: I hope Menards has a price guarantee policy. Most places do these days.

Stephen King, Eat Your Heart Out

By: Mr. Wilson on December 23, 2009
I wish I would have grabbed a screenshot of the forecast last night. It included the phrase "freezing fog". That may be one of the coolest forecasts I've ever seen. Freezing fog. Doesn't that sound like the heart of a Stephen King novel?

Teaching Lincoln’s History

By: Mr. Wilson on December 22, 2009
Even though I spent the entirety of my K-12 years at LPS, I can't for the life of me recall if we ever spent any significant time learning about Lincoln's history. (I know we didn't talk very much about Lincoln's present.) Whenever I read Jim McKee's columns I think about how I wish I knew more about Lincoln's and Nebraska's history. I mean, have you ever heard of W.H.B. Stout? I sure haven't. Does LPS have any sort of a "Lincoln history" component to any of their social studies classes? Should they?

20 Questions: Winter Solstice Edition

By: Mr. Wilson on December 21, 2009
I'm in the mood to play a game. How 'bout Twenty Questions? We haven't played that one in a while. Here are the rules:
  1. The answer is related to Lincoln.
  2. The questions should be worded so they generate a yes/no answer.
  3. Each person may ask one question at a time. After your question has been answered, you may ask another one.
  4. Ask your question as a comment to this blog post. Do not ask your question as a reply to another comment (i.e. a "nested comment")
Ask away! Check inside for a list of the questions asked so far.

Read more…

Reminds Me of My Paper Route Days

By: Mr. Wilson on December 21, 2009
Ahh, ice. An icy forecast brings back fond -- yes, fond -- memories of my days as a Lincoln Journal / Lincoln Journal Star paper boy. I can't help but smile at the memories of me sliding down hills on my butt with sixty newspapers strapped to my chest and back. It was even fun at the time, in a twisted sort of way. But I bring up this week's forecast for a different reason. Lots of you will be driving this week, or you'll be hosting people who are driving in from out of town. Please don't be stupid and play some sort of macho "No little bit of weather is going to stop me!" game of chicken with Mother Nature. If the weather requires it, grin and adjust. No hamster is worth fighting a tenth of an inch (or more) of ice. And thus ends my nagging for the day.

8 Inches? Sissies!

By: Mr. Wilson on December 18, 2009
Lincoln's students are a bunch of weenies. LPS called off classes for three days -- three days! -- over a paltry eight inches of snow. Contrast that with Valdez, Alaska, where not even five feet eight inches was enough to keep students out of class. I'm impressed.

Looking for Old Carpet

By: Mr. Wilson on December 18, 2009
I am looking for some old carpet for what will soon be our son's play room. We don't need anything fancy, but obviously since kids will be playing on it we want something that can reasonably be cleaned. Ugly is not a problem! Size-wise we're looking at approximately 10' x 12'. Do any of you have some old carpet laying around you want to get rid of? Barring that, which stores in town could make us a good deal on this sort of carpet?

For Whom the Toll Calls

By: Mr. Wilson on December 17, 2009
After my trip out to Boulder to watch the Huskers take on the Buffs back in November, I got to thinking about which roads in Nebraska would do well as toll roads. (A toll road outside Denver got the topic rolling in my mind.) Two candidates I came up with were Lincoln's mythical South and East Beltways. Coincidentally, not long after that The Platte Institute made some noise on that very topic. My gut suggests that Nebraskans generally don't like the idea of toll roads. I don't see why not. I think it has something to do with taxpayers' collective delusion that roads ought to be "free". But roads most certainly are not free -- just like health care isn't "free" in any country in the world. Toll roads charge the users of a road for the construction and maintenance of that road. A gas tax, in contrast, disproportionately affects drivers of low-mileage vehicles and drivers who primarily stay within city limits (because of lower fuel economy in city driving). Each type of tax makes sense in particular contexts. I wonder what you Lincolnites generally think about the concept of toll roads. Could a toll road work in Lincoln? What would it take for you to buy in to the idea? Edited to add: If you're curious about traffic volumes in Lincoln, check out this map (PDF) and this list of other traffic volume data.

Lessons Learned on the Rink

By: Mr. Wilson on December 17, 2009
I learned three important lessons last night:
  1. I was never a great roller skater. Age has not improved my skills.
  2. Helping a toddler learn to roller skate can be very rough on one's back.
  3. Robbie is a surprisingly good skater. The little turkey hardly seemed to flinch with wheels on his feet.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Skate Zone hasn't changed a whole lot since I was last there over a decade ago. There are a few more coats of paint on the walls -- and some of those walls have many coats of paint on them -- but beyond that it's basically the same place. They still do the limbo, they still play the number game, and skaters still dance the YMCA. A good time was had by all.

Rolling Along

By: Mr. Wilson on December 16, 2009
We were invited a party at Skate Zone (48th & Q-ish) recently, and that got me thinking about the skating rinks of Lincoln's past. Can you help me remember the skating rinks that have come and gone? Two perished relatively recently:
  • The one on West Van Dorn
  • The one in the former Hy-Vee location at 40th and Old Cheney
I remember the interior of at least one more -- they had Kangaroo -- but I can't for the life of me recall where it was located. Up around Gateway somewhere? What other skating rinks of Lincoln's past am I missing?
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