This Weekend’s Sporting Event of Choice

By: Mr. Wilson on May 21, 2010
If you're looking for a good sporting spectacle this weekend, the State Track Meet [pdf] -- today and tomorrow at Omaha's Burke High School -- is the place to be. It's a huge event that's a joy to watch (and participate in). I just have one question for this year's 800m athletes: What's with the slow times in Class A boys? Nobody has even broken 1:59.5! Class B has four guys under 1:58, with one at 1:56 (Connor Gibson from Blair). Come on, gents. I know at least a couple of you can crack a solid 1:56 now that you've made State. How many of you Lincolnites competed at the State Track Meet? How did you do? I competed in the 800m twice. My best 800m time at state was 1:58, good enough for 5th in Class A in 1997. Today I could probably crack 2:30, then puke and pass out. I also competed in the 3,200m relay twice. We placed 5th in 1996 and 3rd in 1997 at 7:59.

So Long Lucy, Welcome Pancho

By: Mr. Wilson on May 21, 2010
When did Lucy's (58th and Cornhusker) close up shop? I never made it there myself. It seemed to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of joint. Plenty of people raved about it, while a common complaint among others was that the food was a greasy, cheesy mess. Regardless, now a new joint has opened in Lucy's former location. Pancho Villa Mexican Grill is run by a couple from Phoenix. Have any of you given it a try yet? It's pretty far out of the way from my usual dining circuit so I probably won't get there soon unless I make a special trip out that direction. And even then it'll be hard to pass The Isles in order to get there. Yeesh, I'm in such a rut.

Tell Me About Adventureland

By: Mr. Wilson on May 20, 2010
We came into some dirt-cheap tickets for Adventureland in Des Moines, so we're going to head there this Sunday. Robbie just turned four so we aren't going for the "big" stuff. We'll stick with the simple kid stuff. We haven't been to Adventureland before. What do we need to know?

An Enchanted Evening. Mostly.

By: Mr. Wilson on May 20, 2010
I always have to be careful when commenting on local soccer matters. As a referee I have to walk within certain ethical boundaries; as "Mr. Wilson" I want to promote Lincoln. It's not always easy to find the right balance. In this case, I think Lincoln needs to be aware of a few things. First I want to give a hearty congratulations to both Lincoln Pius X and Lincoln East for their victories in the Class B and Class A state high school soccer championships on Tuesday evening. Good work, boys! Now then, about the games themselves. The Pius vs. Hastings match was pretty straight-forward. Pius won 1-0 with little (if any) controversy. Hastings was an unexpected title contender and they put up a good fight, but they just couldn't find the net. Then there was the East vs. Omaha South match. The atmosphere was electric. Morrison Stadium was packed on all sides. I think the Journal Star estimated 5,000 spectators. I don't know the actual number but it sure felt like a lot more than that. I happened to be one of the referees on the match. It was one of the coolest game atmospheres I've been a part of. The game itself was wild. A tie score at the end of regulation; three red cards (one was a high school-specific "soft" red); several yellow cards; 56 fouls. The spectators were active, to say the least. Some Omaha South spectators took the low road a couple times with chants of "Cu-ler-o! Cu-ler-o!", which means asshole and was roughly equivalent to the chants of "Bullshit!" you sometimes hear from college student sections. Not a huge deal, but not appropriate in a high school venue. I couldn't understand most of the chants from the East spectators so I don't know if theirs were worth talking about. Not that it matters. The East student section saved their best low road actions for after the game. Some of the students threw mock "green cards" as confetti as they rushed the field. It hasn't been much of an issue in Lincoln until today, but it has been a huge story in Omaha. Long story short, thanks to a handful of individuals, in Omaha -- and beyond, particularly among Latinos -- Lincolnites are perceived as racist yokels. Doesn't that make you proud? Some of the students have been suspended. I'm sure the repercussions will continue for a while. It could have been worse. We referees received word prior to the match that students were planning some kind of green card stunt. Apparently East's administrators caught on as well and they at least prevented any in-game troubles. The last thing a referee crew wants to worry about is spectators getting themselves into trouble. Needless to say, East did not win the sportsmanship award this year, and Lincoln has a new black eye. It should be interesting the next time I go ref Omaha Latino Soccer League matches.

See You in Omaha Tonight

By: Mr. Wilson on May 18, 2010
Two Lincoln teams are competing for gold in the state high school soccer championships tonight in Omaha at Creighton's Morrison Field. First up, Pius X takes on Hastings at 5:00pm in the Class B boys final. Later at 8:15pm, Lincoln East plays Omaha South. East is playing for a perfect 24-0 season. I have lots I could say about these games but you'll have to get your pre-game analysis elsewhere. You won't catch this referee with loose lips. Hopefully some of you folks can provide some insight into tonight's matches. Are any of you making the journey up I-80? Come say hi if you're in the stadium. I usually sit toward the north end on the west side. Except when I'm on the field. If you don't make the trip, there's always the Journal Star's live chat.

Tree Trimming

By: Mr. Wilson on May 17, 2010
A man just came to the door asking about trimming our trees off the power lines. I said yes because we have several branches that could cause us headaches in a big thunder or snow storm. But after I told him "By all means!", I began to second guess myself. This isn't one of those situations where I'll receive an obscene bill, is it?

Lincoln’s Bad Drivers Aren’t THAT Bad

By: Mr. Wilson on May 17, 2010
I had the same initial reaction as Tom Casady to the report that Lincoln is the 10th most dangerous city for drivers. What a load of hooey! Chief Casady calls it junk research, and he's right. Its only purpose is to generate headlines. Casady notes that one of the things the "study" actually measures is truthfulness. Since the data are entirely self-reported, the overall truthfulness of a community's population will factor heavily into the results. We shouldn't automatically assume, however, that Lincoln is any more truthful than any other city. I have an alternate explanation for the results, one which I'm a little surprised Casady missed. After all, he has blogged about it several times. Simply put, LPD responds to non-injury crashes more often than police in most other cities. People will assume that if the police were there, a report was written; if a report was written, the accident "counts"; if the accident "counts", then insurance companies can find out about it; if insurance companies can find out about it, then people will report the accident when asked about it. In other words, I suspect truthfulness is involved, but Lincolnites are only more truthful because we are more likely to think we could be caught in a lie. For what it's worth, I don't think Lincoln's drivers are particularly bad, on average, despite their reputation to the contrary. We have our oddballs, sure, but that's true of every community. And I don't think our oddballs are all that odd. One complaint I hear often is that a driver was driving under the speed limit. What a maniac! I suspect that "bad" behavior can be explained, in part, by the fact that many of our arterials are still two lanes, whereas in many cities they would have been expanded to four lanes long ago. You are less likely to notice a slow vehicle if you can easily get around it.

The Coolest Thing You’ll See This Summer

By: Mr. Wilson on May 14, 2010
I can't imagine how difficult it is to make plans for the arrival of hundreds of airplanes at 90 second intervals throughout the day. But that's what will happen come July. The Lincoln Airport will see more traffic in one week than it normally sees in a year. (Actually I just made that up. I wonder how far from the truth it is?) It'll be interesting to see how many Lincolnites camp out at the airport to watch all the planes arrive. I wouldn't be surprised to see a line of lawn chairs all around the airport fence. Heck, we may be among them. Robbie will think it's awesome so I'm sure we'll take him out there for a little while. It's too bad the visitors' first impression of Lincoln is that chunk of Cornhusker. Can you imagine what you would think of this town if your first meal were at Great Scott's Food Court? Frightening.

Five Guys is Open

By: Mr. Wilson on May 13, 2010
In case you missed it, Five Guys has opened in Downtown Lincoln on P Street. That in itself is good news. They make great hamburgers and fries. But this story includes two perspectives that are better than just the food angle. The first is that Five Guys is located in what used to be a nasty little eyesore of a building. That's +1 new place to eat, -1 empty dump. In other words: a win all around. The second is that a growing, vibrant national chain chose to locate Downtown. That demonstrates a certain amount of faith in Lincoln's core that shouldn't be overlooked. They just as easily could have situated themselves out by the new Kohl's on South 27th, among other possible locations. Note the difference between where Five Guys located in Omaha versus where they located in Lincoln. And Five Guys isn't the first. Panera and Noodles & Co. are two other national chains that have made their homes on P Street. I think that's significant. Now before some of you flip out about the chains taking over, take a deep breath. Downtown Lincoln can have its local flavor (Spaghetti Works, Yia Yia's, Ali Baba's, et al.) and national offerings too. It seems to me we've developed a pretty healthy mix not only of local vs. national, but also of bar and restaurant options. Besides, Downtown's dining scene is awfully dynamic. If you don't like today's offerings, just wait a few months.

Chipping Away in Antelope Valley

By: Mr. Wilson on May 13, 2010
The stretch of Antelope Valley Parkway between Vine and P has now opened. The Antelope Valley Project may get completed after all. It seems like it has been in development forever. To be honest, though, the road interests me very little. I want to see some more companies announce their intent to build in the area -- or better yet, actually start building. Kudos to Assurity for being the first.

Looking Ahead

By: Mr. Wilson on May 12, 2010
Think about what looms for Lincoln over the next ten to twenty years: Newly-developable land in Antelope Valley invites hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction activity. Assurity has already begun construction on their new headquarters in the area. Newly-developable land in Innovation Campus opens up the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction and research activity. And now, thanks to yesterday's vote, we're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development in the Haymarket. Add it all up and, if we play our cards well, Lincoln is looking at one helluva burst of economic activity in the not-so-distant future. In a very short time span Lincoln's core has expanded considerably. Consider what's going on in the newly-formed triangle of the greater Downtown area: To the north, a dedicated research and education park; to the east, new commercial and recreational opportunities; and to the west, new commercial and entertainment venues. In the middle lie education, commerce, entertainment, and residential options. There's a lot of stuff to be excited about here. Of course we could play "what if" all day. Lincoln has involved itself in a number of risks all at once. One or more of them could crash and burn. Although that's a reality we need to keep in mind, it oughtn't weigh us down. Lincoln has a lot going for it as a community, and each side of this new triangle targets a unique enough audience that there shouldn't be much fear of one project poaching from another. There is enough room for all of this new activity to coexist. So congratulations to Lincoln and to the Yes For Lincoln Haymarket Arena folks. As for the No2Arena folks? You did good. I mean that. Somebody needed to step up in opposition, so thanks for taking on that role. Now, I'm going to go check out TicketMaster for tickets to Men at Work's 2013 tour. I hear there's this great new venue...

So There’s That Thing Going On Today

By: Mr. Wilson on May 11, 2010
So there's this little election today. You may have heard about it. I encourage you to vote. Don't know your polling place? You can use this handy tool to figure it out. In my case my polling place had moved and I didn't know it. Good thing I looked. I'm going to the polls to vote on two issues. The first is the arena. I'm voting yes. I hope you decide to vote yes, too. Don't worry, though; I'll still love you if you vote no. Whatever your vote, I hope it's an educated vote. Ignorant voters suck. I'm also going to vote yes on Amendment 1. Again, I hope you vote yes as well. Many states already have laws in place similar to Amendment 1. It's a tried and tested way to help nonprofits lower the cost of financing construction projects. Total cost to you: $0.00. And remember, choosing not to vote is an action in itself. If you choose that option, I hope you choose it for the right reasons.

The Sound of Silence

By: Mr. Wilson on May 7, 2010
Sorry for the decline in activity this week here on Lincolnite. It has been a busy time here in the Wilson household. Some blurbs to keep you occupied:
  • The Missus and I are in the midst of a massive research campaign. We've been presented with a life-changing opportunity. Right now we can't bring ourselves to say yes, nor can we bring ourselves to say no. It's heart-wrenching.
  • District soccer action was this week. State pairings haven't been announced yet. Keep an eye here for that info, which should be available soon. I have received and accepted an invitation to referee at the State Tournament. Be sure to say hi if you see me.
  • Nebraska's foster care system needs help.
  • Speaking of foster care, The Missus and I are next in line for our home study. If, that is, the Nebraska State Patrol learns to accept that I have no finger prints. My mom dug up some fingerprints from 1983 and 1987 to back up my insistence that I didn't recently remove my prints to cover up some sort of sordid criminal past.
  • Did you hear that gigantic boom at 2:15 this morning? That was one of the biggest thunderclaps I've ever heard.
  • Three. Three dollar. Three dollar gasoline.
Have a great weekend, y'all.
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