Taken To The Cleaners By Abe's Detailing

    I read a nice newspaper story a while ago about Abe’s Detailing in Norfolk, NE. When I wanted to have Jen’s minivan detailed as a present, I thought I’d give Abe’s a try and made an appointment for the $45.99 “express detail”. When we picked it up later, the van looked nice, but they wanted to charge us for the $159.99 “presidential detail” that they performed instead.

    I told the employee that I’d ordered the cheaper package. He said I must have talked to his brother and that his brother wrote it down wrong, and still wanted me to pay the full price for the wrong job.

    I will never darken the doorsteps of Abe’s Detailing in Norfolk again. If you choose to do so, I highly recommend you get a written estimate in advance.

    Shades Of Green

    In Nebraska’s May 13 election, two Green Party candidates ran for Douglas County Commissioner, District 3. Between them, they received one vote. How stoned do you have to be before you forget to vote for yourself?

    At least neither can accuse the other of splitting the election.

    Sue For Mayor

    I’m voting for Sue Fuchtman for mayor of Norfolk. I know her personally, and she’s the sort of intelligent, decent, detail-oriented person we should have making city decisions. The other candidates might be alright, but I’d rather see someone elected that I’m genuinely excited to have in office.

    Vote for Sue. I will.

    Nebraska Wants To Adopt Your Kids

    Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha has proposed criminalizing the act of keeping your kids home from school. This is abhorrent for many reasons, and should be withdrawn from consideration immediately.

    Deputy Douglas County Attorney Kim Hawekotte and Ralston Public Schools social worker Steve Snodgrass, both active in truancy prevention in the Omaha area, said the proposed language change will make it easier for schools to identify students who are being improperly excused.

    “By taking that sentence out,” Hawekotte said, “the schools have to react when a youth isn’t in school, no matter what the reason. You want the system to kick into place to make that determination.”

    No, Ms. Hawekotte: you want the system to kick in. Our kids rarely miss school for non-medical reasons. However, sometimes we take advantage of educational opportunities that require a day or two of absence. As parents, this is our privilege and responsibility. It is not your job to second-guess our decisions.

    As introduced, LB 1159 would get law enforcement, including the county attorney, involved earlier by making it an infraction to be the parent of a truant child. The first offense would prompt a $50 fine, the second, $100. The third would be considered a Class III misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months of jail time and a $500 fine.

    We are considering taking a long weekend to Mt. Rushmore or Yellowstone National Park near the end of the school year. For various reasons, we might possibly have to make that trip while class is still in session. Mr. Ashford, your plan would require our school system to investigate us as criminals and fine us for teaching our kids first-hand about our country’s history, geology, and geography. Will you be passing a bill to take our kids on an equivalent field trip? Or will they simply miss out on that experience because likeminded senators deem themselves better parents to our kids than we are?

    “If you’re not in school, you’re not learning,” said Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

    Mr. Ashford, that’s one of the most offensively ignorant things I’ve read in a while. Formal education is critically important, but I assure you that my children learn outside the classroom. From teaching my kids to write computer programs, to learning French together as a family, to taking trips to national monuments and museums, they are learning.

    I don’t want to downplay the need for kids to attend school as required, but completely reject your asinine assertion that their education ends when I pick them up from school.

    The solution is simple: don’t fix what’s not broken, especially when the fix would cause even more problems. If a child is suspected of truancy, investigate that child. If a school system is unable or unwilling to do so, then address that problem. Don’t create an assumption of guilt every time a child misses school, though. You are not my kids’ parent. I am. Irk you though it may, I know more about what’s best for them than you do.

    This bill puts State above Parent. Kill it.

    Down To The Uptown

    As our anniversary dinner tradition, Jen and I drive to Stanton to eat at the Uptown Brewery. Each year, we ask each ourselves if we really want to go all the way down there. Each year, we decide that we’ll have a nice meal and that it’s not that far anyway. Each year, we wonder why we don’t go there more often. I don’t want to disparage any of the wonderful local places, but it really is true: the best restaurant in Norfolk is in Stanton.

    The building itself is interesting and the service is always top-notch, but it’s the food that brings us back. We started with the seafood-stuffed mushrooms and moved to amazingly good tomato bisque and cream of chicken noodle soup. The entrees, though, were exceptional. Jen loved the seafood crepes, which were very similar to the stuffed mushrooms but so large that she could only eat one of the two. I ordered the steak Johannesburg, which is a thick cut of angus beef covered with chopped lobster in Madeira cream sauce, and remembered why it’s my usual.

    I’m not a food critic, which you can pretty easily tell by my previous attempts at describing meals, nor have I read many restaurant reviews. I don’t know all the words I should use to tell you why you absolutely must take the trip to Stanton to see for yourself. Just trust me on this one, OK? Go. You’ll be glad you did.

    Fresh Sushi Better

    Jen and I took Jake and Ari to Omaha. I had joked with Jake that I was going to make him eat sushi, and to my surprise he loved the idea. There was a restaurant downtown within walking distance of our day’s destination and I thought we’d leave Norfolk early and have an early lunch. On our way in, though, we were running a little late. As we passed Yet Another Strip Mall, I saw a big “SUSHI” sign and asked Jen if she wanted to see if it was busy rather than getting all the way downtown and finding out we didn’t have time to eat. She agreed and we pulled in.

    What a surprise.

    We ended up at Hiro Japanese Cuisine (on W. Maple, near Borders), and I state without exaggeration that it had the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. My nigiri plate was superb. Jake’s California roll was far better than I knew one could be. Jen’s tempura was fresh, crisp, and varied. Ari’s teriyaki chicken was tender and delicious. The salad dressing was so good that I was only halfway joking about tipping my bowl up and drinking it. There’s really not much more I can say; it was awe-inspiring.

    The decor was elegantly cool, and I felt stylish simply for being there. Even the bathrooms were beautiful.

    Our waiter was exceptionally good. He was funny but not annoying, and helpful without being condescending. For example, Jen poked her chopsticks into her rice bowl and left them there. Our waiter came by and whispered to her, and she blushed and started laughing: that’s apparently a symbol of death. However, he told her this discreetly and politely, rather than making fun of us ignorant folk behind our backs (or at least hiding it well if he did). The service easily ranked among the best we’ve had.

    If you like sushi or other Japanese fare, you must try Hiro Japanese Cuisine. We will definitely be eating there whenever we visit Omaha from now on.

    Pre Packaged Sushi Not Bad

    I was buying groceries and saw a new display of pre-packaged plastic boxes of sushi. In the middle of Nebraska. Supermarket sushi. The idea kind of horrified me, but eventually my curiosity got the best of me and I had to try some. I settled on the spicy surimi roll and threw it in the cart. As I was checking out, I asked the cashier if anyone else ever bought these, or if I was the guinea pig. “Oh yeah,” she said. “We sell lots of it!”

    Later that afternoon, Jake was asking for a snack so I recruited him to help me try it. The package came with little packets of soy sauce and wasabi, and the sushi itself looked pretty good. Steeling my nerves, I tried it.

    The first bite wasn’t bad.

    Jake was digging in, and I took a second, less-timid bite. No, not bad at all.

    By the time we’d finished, Jake was loving it and I was pretty happy I’d taken the chance.

    It certainly wasn’t Haruno, but it was actually pretty decent and something I’d gladly buy again. It was made by Fuji Food Products, Inc., and had a blue-and-gold “Fujisan” logo on the dark red-orange tape strip.

    Decent sushi in Norfolk, from a grocery store cooler of all places. Who’d have thought?

    Tilden Days

    Last weekend, we took the kids to Tilden’s “Prairie Days” festival, a celebration that raises money for various local organizations.

    Events included:

    • Whiplash, the dog-riding monkey. We arrived about ten minutes too late to see him, which was unfortunate because he was the main thing the kids were looking forward to.

    • An officially-sanctioned cow chip throwing contest. I didn’t know there was an official governing body for such things, but there is. Winners were eligible to compete in the World Championship Cow Chip Throw.

    • The First Annual Drag Your Nag Contest. Men carried their wives or girlfriends through an obstacle course, and the winning team earned the woman’s weight (in pounds) in dollars. Jen and I had registered, but when we discovered that:

      1. All the other men looked like firefighters or bullriders and were in much better shape than me,
      2. Almost everyone else was in their early 20s, and
      3. The obstacle course included a mud pit and we weren’t wearing old clothes,

      we (I) chickened out and watched from the sidelines.

    We had a great time, though, and gorged ourselves on watermelon. Congratulations on another great year, Tilden!