Lincoln

Thought of the Day – 7/24/2012

If it is illegal to text and drive (or otherwise use a smartphone while driving) then why does the county sheriff have their url on the rear bumper of the patrol cars?

Driving School

Lincoln is completing construction of their second multi-lane roundabout* intersection.  To help local motorists navigate this strange new world of multi-lane roundabouts, the city is offering an open house to answer questions and provide tips on how to get from Point A to Point B without replicating a classic scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation:

*Everytime I hear or read the word “roundabout”, the classic rock song by Yes gets stuck in my head for an hour.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I hope this class is well attended by Lincoln drivers who – and let’s be brutally honest here – need all the help they can get.  My sources at City Hall tell me that they are planning other similar classes, including:

  • What a yellow light means.
  • What a red light means.
  • What a green light means.
  • Yes, you can drive the speed limit.  Really.
  • Turn signals:  What they are for, and how they work.
  • Yield doesn’t necessarily mean Stop.
  • How to drive on ice and snow without spinning your tires.
  • How to stop on ice and snow without sliding sideways through intersections.
  • Traffic signs:  What they really mean.
  • Right turn on red and you.
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles:  Why you can’t run them off the road.

 

Biking is Good Exercise

The other day, I was walking back to the office after lunch through downtown Lincoln.  I was in a blissfully unaware state between food coma* and lost in my thoughts, when something in the corner of my eye made me stop and do a double-take.

*Thanks to the deliciousness of the cheesy pulled pork sandwich (with the Spicy Thai Chili BBQ sauce) at C. Berry’s.  Crazy good.

I turned and saw a bike rack on the sidewalk.  That is not terribly uncommon for a college town like Lincoln.  What got my attention was what was on the bike rack.

This:

I stood there for a minute and just laughed at the absolute absurdity of an old-school exercise bike on a bike rack*.

*And locked up, at that.  I guess you can’t be too careful on the mean streets of Lincoln, NE. 

What has stuck with me is a) how this bike got there, and b) why?

I can definitely see some college kids doing it as a semi-sober prank / stunt.  I’m pretty sure the College-Aged me would have found this idea hysterical after a few Busch Lights*, and would have participated.

*Don’t judge – I was not flush with cash in college, and Busch Light was the official cheap beer of choice at the University of Nebraska.

And I can also see it as some sort of public art piece / social commentary – reflecting upon the need for many Lincolnites to drop some pounds and/or recognize the bicycle as an acceptable form of transportation*

*Prior to kids, I would commute to work via bike, and I can tell you that a stationary bike on the sidewalk is usually the safest option for biking in downtown Lincoln – and the one that most motorists would prefer you to use.

Heck, maybe some benevolent soul thought downtown Lincoln could use a public workout facility.  I know several downtown Lincoln employers who do not have this level of exercise facilities in their workplace.

Regardless of their intention, whomever did it made my day.

And for that, I thank you.

Rejected Slogans for Lincoln’s Rebranding

The City of Lincoln (Nebraska) kicked off a new branding campaign today.  The goal is to show that Lincoln is a place where “you can be successful, comfortable and have fun.”

The campaign will include traditional methods (signs, concerts, corporate involvement) as well as things that are a little more outside the box (social media, unique contests, and “guerilla gardening”*).

*No, Lincoln will not be raising primates or militant rebel forces.  Guerilla gardening refers to citizens planting flowers in places the city does not take care of – like most city parks, side streets, and the Pershing Center.

The slogan they came up with is “Life is Right”, which was described as “meaning things are good,  authentic, balanced and fun here.”  Personally, I think that slogan is a) rather generic, and b) hints a little too closely at the highly conservative nature of Nebraskans (and their political leanings).

But mainly, I’m bummed that my suggestions were vetoed….

  1. One of the Top 10 Cities in the U.S.*    (*named after the 16th President)
  2. Life is Right – Just ask Mikey!
  3. Lincoln – No four lane north/south roads between 10th and 84th Street!
  4. Home of the 2nd (and 3rd) largest cities in Nebraska!
  5. The same gas found in Omaha, but 12 cents more per gallon!
  6. Unabashedly against abortion, gay rights, taxes, and immigrants!
  7. Where a three-week street project takes six months to complete!
  8. We wanted “Price is Right” to showcase the relatively low-cost of living, but that idea was spayed and neutered.
  9. Omaha’s Awkward Baby Brother!
  10. Come for the football, stay because of the unsynchronized stop lights!
  11. Smothering humidity, freezing cold, tornadoes, rain, and snow – sometimes on the same day!
  12. It’s like a small town, but with three Wal-Marts!
  13. Did we mention that we’re getting a Whole Foods?
  14. We guarantee you’ll know somebody who works at Bryan, UNL, Fiserv, Ameritas, or LPS.
  15. Lincoln – Stove pipe hat and beard optional   (but strongly recommended)
  16. More orange construction barrels per capita than any other city!
  17. Come see where the State Fair used to be!
  18. Where 30 minutes is considered a long commute
  19. Lincoln the automobile is a fancy Ford.  Lincoln the city is a fancy Fargo.
  20. Lincoln – Much more than Logs and Assassinated Presidents!

Top 10 Rejected Names for the New LPS Development

I see that the Lincoln Public Schools board is tasked with naming a new retail development  being built on the land where the district office once stood.  The land became available after a disgruntled LPS employee set fire to a box of papers on her boss’s desk.  This caused the building to burn to the ground, which is bad.  But, Lincoln will be getting a Whole Foods, which is good.

For some unknown reason, my suggestions were rejected.  But I’ll share them here in the hopes that public opinion (from my tens of readers) can help one of these become reality:

10.  Arson Flats

9.  Profitting From A Felony Mall

8.  If this is what it took to get a Whole Foods, we would have burned this sucker down years ago.*

*Admittedly, a tad long, but I think it speaks to the mood of the community.  On a related note, what needs to burn down so we can get a Costco?

7.  Blazin’ Business Park

6.  Whole Schools

5.  LPS District Offices (Now with 100% more fire sprinklers!)

4.  Pyro Place

3.  The Shoppes At Smoldering Hill

2.  El Centro del Fuego

1.  Stop, Shop, & Roll

In all seriousness, I think something incorporating “Phoenix” makes a great deal of sense, if for no other reason than it would set up some dynomite cross-over marketing opportunites with the University of Phoenix.  Hey, whatever needs to be done to help the schools bring in some money to keep my taxes low, and pay our teachers a wage they deserve.

Mustache Mustache Challenge

Some seemingly unrelated facts:

  • I have been sporting a goatee since the first of the year.
  • I look absolutely ridiculous with a mustache.
  • I am participating in the American Heart Association Heart Walk on April 28.

How do things tie together?

As a participant in the Heart Walk, I am raising funds to fight cardiovascular diseases (including those that are prevalent in my family).  Instead of just asking my loyal readers for a simple donation, I have decided to give you something special for your tax-deductible donation:

My public humiliation.

You see, the Feit men share several genetic traits.  Among them are the ability to grow a great mustache and heart disease.  At least two of my dad’s cousins have rocked amazingly awesome handle bar mustaches.  And several of my relatives (including my dad and grandfather) have lost their lives to heart disease.  As you can see below, I did not inherit the quality mustache DNA, but there is a damn good possibility that I will have heart disease at some point.

Therefore, I am going to trade my dignity for donations.  I will unleash this sorry soup strainer on the world in exchange for your change.  Every $50 dollars donated (over my goal amount) equals an extra day of mustache-y goodness.

The details: 
When I signed up for the Heart Walk, they suggested a fundraising goal for $250.  The morning of the Heart Walk (Saturday, April 28, 2012), I’ll shave the goatee down to a gloriously hideous mustache.  For every $50 over that $250 goal, the mustache sticks around for an extra day.  If I raise a total of $500, the ‘stache sticks around for 5 extra days.  Total donations of $1,000 means over two weeks of mustachery.  As you can see, my shame can (and likely will) be purchased.

No, that is not a dead mouse on my face

So very glorious!

If you would like to support the Mustache Mustache Challenge, you can donate online at http://share.heartwalk.org/sU992BG using a credit/debit card, ACH, or PayPal.

I thank you for your support.

A Blaze of Stupidity

One of the nice things about living in Lincoln, Nebraska is morning “rush hour”.  I put that in quotes because while there is a peak of traffic in the am hours, it is a far cry from the stop-and-go gridlock that other cities experience.  On an average day, my 8 mile commute takes 25-30 minutes – and that includes dropping my daughter off at daycare.

During that drive, I flip between a few morning radio shows in an attempt to a) avoid commercials, b) hear the news/weather/traffic, c) catch a decent song, d) listen to a conversation that is appropriate for three-year-old ears.  Since I detest country music, and cannot bring myself to convert to AM, that means I’m going between four stations playing the rainbow of rock music (classic, hard, modern, and minivan).

Of those stations (104.1, The Blaze), one featured a morning duo (Tim & The Animal) that I truly enjoyed listening to.  On the others, the on-air “talent” was something I tolerated between songs or until the news came on.  So I was disappointed to hear that Tim & The Animal were recently fired.

I guess I can understand why it happened.  Apparently their ratings had dipped quite a bit over the years, and my opinion (having never met either of them) was that the brash, opinionated personas that made them worth listening to might not have endeared them to management (or so I speculate).  Regardless, management (Three Eagles) is free to run their station however they see fit, and if that means cancelling a morning show of almost 20 years, then so be it.

But then The Blaze went and did something completely stupid and idiotic:  they replaced Tim & The Animal with the Todd & Tyler Radio Empire, a syndicated radio show based out of Omaha’s Z-92.  To be clear, I’m not saying that Todd & Tyler are stupid*, I’m saying the decision is stupid.

*Todd & Tyler are egocentric jerks who enjoy making raunchy (and unfunny) jokes, talking about drugs, and mercilessly beating down anybody who disagrees with them.  I listened to them for a few years in the late 90s, and got tired of their schtick.  I gave them another chance last fall and was not impressed.

No, the brain-numbingly stupid part of Three Eagles’ decision is this:  I can already hear Todd & Tyler on the radio in Lincoln.  Z-92’s signal comes in loud and clear throughout town.  So if I’m a fan of T&T, why oh why would I bother going to a different station to hear the same thing?  The analogy I use is this:  ABC’s “Good Morning America” sags in the ratings, so instead of trying something different, they cut their losses and simulcast NBC’s “Today Show”.  It just makes no sense.

Personally, I think this move is an attempt to sabotage the ratings enough for a full-scale format change, but I’m not sure if the station’s management is smart enough to be that conniving.

Regardless, I’m going to be using my CD player a little more often in the mornings.

Snowmaggedon

Local meteorologists (and Pennsylvannia-based rodents) are predicting a big winter storm this weekend.  Forecasts are calling for anywhere from 1 to 20 inches of snow, which means the storm could be the snowpacolypse or a snow-show.  The radio is describing the storm as “snowmaggedon”, although when a storm receives this much hype it turns out to be snow big deal.

Right now, it is just raining, which I guess could be considered the snowverture to the actual storm.  I have heard of a weather phenomina known as “thunder snow” (which is exactly what you think it is), but is there such a thing as a snownado?  Or a snowicane?  Or a snownami?  If the wind picks up, we could have a raging infersnow (aka a blizzard) causing hazzardous driving with snow visibility.

If it snows enough, the city might declare a Snow Emergency, which means there is snow parking on some streets so the snow plows can remove said snow.  Everyone is expected to snowbey the law, otherwise your car may be towed – or worse, snowed in.

Since it is the weekend, schools won’t have to worry about snow days, but don’t be surprised if some place are not snowpen for business.  Should anybody die as a result of the storm, we can read their snowbituary in the paper.

Is all of this a snowverreaction?  I don’t snow.  I think it is best to be snowverly cautious, without going snowverboard.  That is my personal snowpinion.

Occupy Lunch

Today, I took advantage of a very warm January day, and ate my lunch outside.  I found a bench in a sunny spot on the Centennial Mall, near where the Occupy Lincoln folks have set up shop.  I was a little outside of their campground, between their tents and the capitol building.

During my lunch, I witnessed an interesting dichotomy:  on my right were three Occupiers.  One had a guitar, one had a congo drum and they were playing music and singing (kind of a bluesy, John Mayer sound).  The third was dancing along with a hula hoop.  They all had a rather stereotypical “hippie” look to them – scraggly hair, tie dye shirts, etc., and the hula hoop girl was barefoot in a sun dress.  They played off and on, usually starting up when a group of suits walked through the mall on their way towards the capitol.

On my left were three city employees from the Parks and Rec department.  They were dressed in working clothes – jeans, boots and long sleeve shirts.  They spent the time meticulously trimming branches from two smallish trees in the middle of the mall.

For most people walking through or driving by, the reaction to the scene would be something along the lines of knocking the Occupiers for being good-for-nothing drains on society who should get a job and become productive members of society like the city employees.  Sure, some may question why it takes three people to trim two trees, but that is beside the point for a lot of people.  Heck, I’d probably think the same thing myself if I was driving by.

But today, I found myself being more appreciative of the Occupiers than the city employees.  Not because I have a kindred connection with the Occupy movement – while I am definitely in the 99%, I still have no idea what Occupy is truly hoping to achieve, nor do I have a clue how a bunch of tents near the Nebraska Capitol is going to accomplish it.

Instead it was the differences in the moment:  the folks working, while appearing good, were actually a big waste of time and resources.  You see, Centennial Mall is going to undergo a long overdue renovation starting on March 1.*

*A date that (not so coincidentally) will also mean the end of the Occupy Lincoln camp on the mall.

I overheard one of the city workers saying that those two trees, being lovingly trimmed like full size bonsai trees, are going to be removed when the renovation work begins (in four weeks).  Awesome.

Meanwhile, the Occupy folks were providing some pleasant music and some much-needed color for those passing by.  As the city workers were packing up, they thanked the Occupy musicians for performing for them.

When I walked back to the office, I made sure to thank them too.  Because they reminded me that sometimes things are always as simple as they seem on the surface, that music is a great tool to bring people together, and diversion from the norm (such as a barefoot young lady spinning a hula hoop around her neck) can have an impact on an otherwise mundane Monday.

Non-Believers Unite! (and attack Al Gore)

Today’s Lincoln Journal-Star has a classic Letter to the Editor, where the writer tries to debunk the concept of global warming.  These are the sorts of letters that both amuse me (ignorant people are funny) and scare me (there are a lot of ignorant people out there).  The writer of this letter follows the Global Warming Non-Believer Checklist pretty thoroughly:

  1. Attack Al Gore.  Check.  Here is an inconvenient truth:  having Al Gore as one of the main voices of climate change does as much damage as it does good., due to his political history.  Side question:  Do you think these folks would still disbelieve if “An Inconvenient Truth” has been produced by Dick Cheney or Dan Quayle?
  2. Cite a Nobel Prize winner who does not believe in global warming.  Check.  Fortunately, our writer cites a Nobel winner who won for science (physics, in this case) as opposed to somebody who won for literature, peace, or something else not related.  That said, a quick Google search will tell you that this particular winner did not win for anything related to the global climate.  While our Nobel Laureate is likely a very smart man, his denial of global warming is a little like a neurosurgeon arguing with a mechanic over why the car won’t start.  You may know, but I’m going to trust experts in the field, thank you very much.
  3. Cite a scientific sounding study/poll/website.  Check.  The writer cites an online poll of 31,487 “scientists” who all say global warming is bogus.  Gosh, that sounds might definitive until you look at the criteria for signing – “formal educational degrees at the level of Bachelor of Science or higher in appropriate scientific fields”.  Those “appropriate scientific fields”?  They include Mathematics, Astronomy, and Political Science (that last one is made up).  I’m guessing that if the internet had existed in the 1400s, tens of thousands of scientists would have “signed” an online petition stating the world was flat and you could fall off the edge if you got too close.
  4. Make reference to unseasonably cold weather/lack of extreme heat.  Nope.  I’m guessing the writer would have loved it if it was 10 below and snowing when he wrote his letter.  Instead, it’s 50 degrees in the middle of December – which means the inch of rain we have received in the last 24 hours should be a foot of snow.  Now don’t get me wrong – an unseasonably warm day is not a signal of global warming, but I’m still guessing the writer was bummed by the forecast.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if you believe in global warming or not.  The bigger question is:  do you think the amount of pollution, waste, and reliance on fossil fuels is a good thing for the long-term health of our planet?

Look:  I’m not scientist – even by the standards of the online petition (Bachelor of Journalism) – but it doesn’t take a scientist (or even a college graduate) to know that a couple of hundred years of burning fossil fuels in ever-increasing amounts is going to have an impact.

Surely, it cannot be good.

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