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Quality of life? Look to Midwest

OMAHA, Neb. – Hi, Nevada County, hope things are going well. Just thought I’d drop you a quick note before I get home Saturday.

Now, I realize that doesn’t give you much time to work on this stuff, but it’s food for thought – and maybe you could have one or two of these things taken care of by the time I get back.

OK, wait, sorry, I’ll back up. The thing is, I’ve been visiting the Midwest this week – Minneapolis, Fargo, and now Nebraska – and it is awesome here for a number of reasons.



So, since you’re always going on about “quality of life,” I thought I’d just give you a quick rundown on said awesomeness. And then you could just change a little bit, and we’d all be happier.

Drink prices. Obviously, this is the best. The other night, we were drinking pints of beer in a hotel bar – good beer, not, like, Miller Lite – for $2 apiece. There was no special going on; this was not happy hour. Two dollars.




Also: While we drank said beer, no one felt any deep and abiding need to play Clapton, Dylan or Dead covers nearby. Instead, we watched sports and could hear ourselves talk!

Gas prices. I recognize that you don’t have any real control over this, Nevada County, but I thought you should know: $1.09. Kid you not.

Traffic. Yes, yes, yes, I know many of you have moved up from the Bay area or L.A. – nobody walks there, I’ve heard – and I can see how you might think traffic in Nevada County is light. But maybe you don’t realize that it takes less time to get from one end of Omaha – what we call a “big city” here in the Midwest – to the other than it does to get through the Brunswick basin.

Mowed lawns. With all your concern over land use, Nevada County, it always surprises me how shabby so many yards look. Is the grass near downtown Nevada City historic, and protected from being cut? Is there some environmental reason for this? My dad, who reminded me this weekend how lazy I was when it came to lawn care as a youth, will snort when he reads this, but truly: A man’s heart is only as true as his front yard is trimmed. I’m pretty sure a famous poet once said that.

Now, don’t get all in a tizzy, Nevada County. Like I said, the above is just food for thought. I don’t want to see a bunch of letters saying, “If Josh Wimmer doesn’t like it here, why doesn’t he just move back to the Midwest?” One of the reasons I moved away in the first place was because I hoped to acquire, if you will, a more thorough appreciation for home. And clearly I have.

That said, I’ve found that my time with you, Nevada County, has affected me more than I maybe realized. The other day, I made fun of the “health food” cafe we ate breakfast at in Minneapolis – I’m not sure they even know what hummus is – and although I didn’t volunteer to cart all of our empty beer bottles back to California to be recycled, I thought about it quite seriously.

Anyway, I’ll be home soon after you read this, and I guess I’ll be very surprised if any of my suggested changes have been made, in spite of how good I think they’d be for everyone. Given that, there’s not much for me to do but see how much of this beer I can polish off. Such is life.

(Two dollars …)

Josh Wimmer, a copy editor at The Union, writes a column on alternate Fridays. He can be contacted at


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