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Monday, December 31, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club 2012 Year In Review

No. 1 Annual Year In Review Winner.
On Jan. 1, 2013, with the stroke of midnight population-we™ (pop-we) celebrates its third year in business. To commemorate the occasion, the annual pop-we Dinner Club restaurants rankings of 2012 were unveiled. The list is a culmination of reviews cast by pop-we Dinner Club members in 2012. Throughout the year the dinner club visited various establishments in the Omaha and Lincoln Metropolitan areas. Each month a member picked a restaurant to visit. The dinner club did put on some miles in 2012 and traveled in Nebraska to South Omaha, Ponca Hills, Lincoln as well as across the river to Crescent, Iowa. This year there was a tie for the number seven spot by two Italian restaurants. They both are uniquely different: one a chain the other a family-owned South Omaha restaurant.

Here’s our 1-11 ranking with No. 1 being the highest:

#1 Bonefish Grill: 
Goal is to introduce people unfamiliar with having fish to a unique dining experience. Tip: Free samplers while you wait. Earned 4.45 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#2 Brazen Head Irish Pub: 
An Irish pub steeped in tradition of providing good food, Irish music and authentic drink. Tip: To dine by a true Irish hearth ask for the Emmett Room for a private party. Earned 4.42 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#3 Longhorn Steakhouse:
This steakhouse has been serving fresh, never frozen and well-seasoned: steaks, chicken and fish for more than 30 years. Tip: The décor offers a rustic feel with everything country. Earned 4.3 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#4 Jaipur Brewing Company: 
Indian eatery that offers authentic dishes full of extreme spice and flavor. Tip: Also, a brewing company -- so try the Jalepeno Ale. Earned 4.28 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#5 7M Grill:
A hip and very contemporary eatery that offers daily specials and wine pairings with meals. Tip: Come in for half price wine night. Earned 4.23 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#6 Biaggi’s
Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano offers a taste of Sicily. Tip: Go for Biaggi's bread with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Earned 4.20 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#7 Malara’s Italian Restaurant:
This family-owned Italian restaurant is known for its homemade sweet marinara sauce. Tip: Order the ravioli appetizer. Earned 4.18 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#7 Grisanti’s:
Spun off of Mamma Grisanti this chain has won popularity for their hospitality and made from scratch Italian food. Tip: Go for the unlimited bread that is kept warm on a candle-lit pedestal. Earned 4.18 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#8 Johnny's Cafe: 
Johnny’s is the oldest steakhouse in town! Stop in the bar to take in the rich history of this original Omaha steak house. Tip: Meals come with complimentary cottage cheese spread, liver pate, and steaks come with mushroom wine sauce. Earned 4.07 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#9 Finicky Frank’s:

Nestled in the hills of Ponca, this Ponca Hills gem has daily specials, craft beers and wine. Tip: Reservations are encouraged since it’s such a small, popular place. Earned 3.975 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

#10 Buzzard Billy’s: 
This Cajun spot in Lincoln includes an eclectic décor with alligators galore, as well as a menu full of Louisiana cuisine. Tip: The hush puppies are delish. Earned 3.95 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more.

#11 Pink Poodle Steakhouse: 
This Iowa steakhouse has been open since 1964 and offers steaks to crab legs. Tip: They offer two soups of the day. Try the potato soup! Earned 3.53 star average on a pop-we scale of 1-5. Read more. 

Thanks for reading pop-we Dinner Club's year-in review. To view last year’s review go here.  If you want to do this yourself? To learn how to start your own dinner club, visit our January 2011 post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.

Best wishes for a new year full of great food, health and happiness from all of us at population-we™!

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown & Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012-13 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, December 24, 2012

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Brazen Head Irish Pub

The Emmett Room's Hearth.
Slainte! Is an old Irish drinking toast meaning "health." In November, Sue and the population-we™ (pop-we) foodies headed to the Brazen Head Irish Pub located at 319 N. 78 Street in Omaha, NE. Irish pubs have a long tradition of providing good food, Irish music and most importantly authentic drink. The Brazen Head Pub is no exception to being authentic down to the bar that was built in Wexford, Ireland, and then shipped over and reassembled under the supervision of Irish joiners.

When you walk through the two sets of double doors at Brazen Head you come to a frosted sign in which you either go right or left. Right is the Emmett Room that is a private room for parties (which is where they put our party of 12), to the left and around the corner is the main seating area. When you go around the corner is when you see the gorgeous two sided bar. Farther in the back is a small area where bands set up to play popular Irish tunes.

I have been to Brazen Head numerous times in the past and decided to try something different. Tonight, I ordered the Country Cottage Pie that is comfort food at its core. This dish is a very thick casserole made with beef, potatoes and cheese. This dense hearty dish was delectable with its spices and combination of flavors. I really enjoyed this dish even though I could not finish this heavy dish. Another foodie enjoyed the Corn beef and Cabbage while a couple others tried a Boxty. A Boxty is Irish potato pancake stuffed with various ingredients. You can check out their complete menu at .

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Brazen Head Pub: 4.42 star average on a scale of 1-5.

Country Cottage Pie.
Atmosphere/Decor – 4.75 

Cleanliness – 4.5 

Wait Staff – 4.33

Menu – 4.41

Food Presentation – 4.08

Food Portions – 4.41

Food Taste – 4.5

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 4

Noise Level – 4.48

Overall Experience – 4.58

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you’ve been to the Brazen Head Pub leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Brazen Head Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Spread the Word this Holiday Season about Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness Event

Nothing is more heart-wrenching than losing a loved one; especially, a child. It really hits home around the holidays. So, this season, population-we™ provides readers with a tool to battle the holiday uncertainties in the memory of a little girl.

"Love and speak now as you would wish to love and speak in the midst of loss. When that time comes, your past will speak through your presence, and being there will be enough," said Matt Hammitt, a heart parent and one of the founding members of Sanctus Real.

This time of year, loss hits home for the founders of Charley's Heart. The foundation was started by Kristen and Matt Ritchie in memory of their daughter, Charlotte (Charley). The foundation's goal is to help research for congenital heart defects (CHD), provide support to the CHD community, raise awareness, and above all, to celebrate the life of Charlotte. CHD is the most common type of major birth defect.

To channel her thoughts and share her family's story, Kristen started a blog ( She also began reading the blogs of other heart parents, becoming part of a CHD community.

The following is an account Kristen wrote on her blog when they learned Charley had CHD.

Aug. 15, 2011: The next pieces of the story are a blur. I retained little pieces of information…

“We can’t see a good view of her heart.”

“You have an appointment with pediatric cardiology tomorrow.”

“Termination is an option…You didn’t sign up for this.”

“Pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum…Hypoplastic right ventricle.”

“Surgery required within days after birth followed by more, which still won’t make her heart normal.”

"I just keep reminding myself that God has a plan for our brave little girl. She taught us so much in her short 12 months on Earth and the outpouring that we have had from all of you just shows us how powerful her story is," Kristen said.

Charley passed away on May 31, 2011. She was born on May 15, 2010. She had her first surgery at one week old and her second at two weeks.

Her sister, Jill Musil, said: "Many of you know the story of my sister, her husband and their little girl – my niece, Charlotte. Charlotte has been an angel for a little over a year and a half now…Some things have become easier for Matt and Kristen, but there are other things, like the holidays, that stir lots and lots of emotion. From day one, though, Kristen has chosen to channel her negative emotion into positive acts…"

In the spirit of the holidays Charley's Heart Foundation is hosting a Random Acts of Kindness event and we're calling on our population-we™  readers to participate.

Musil also rallies behind her sister's foundation and asks friends and family members to participate. She said, "Kristen is unbelievable! I wish I could be more like her…finding silver linings even in the darkest of times. So, it comes as no surprise to me that she’s still got more to give. During this holiday season, she’s asked her friends and family to participate and share a new event – Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness! This event will cost you nothing but will mean the world to her and her family!"

Want to help? Kristen outlines how everyone can participate below:

Charlotte AKA Charley
1.  This holiday season, COMMIT to doing something nice for someone…it’s really as simple as that. Seek out opportunities, become aware of the needs of those around you and open your hearts. It doesn’t have to be anything BIG…even the tiniest gestures can have tremendous effects. Leave treats in your mailbox for a postal worker, remove the snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk, hold a door open for a stranger…

2.  DEDICATE your Random Act of Kindness to our baby girl. What does that mean? Well, all that I really ask is that you think of Miss Charlotte while carrying out your Act.  Remember her. Continue to give her purpose here on Earth. Share her story. 

3.  DOCUMENT your Acts and share them with me! It can be a short sentence or two in an email, a long detailed explanation or even a simple picture…just something to let us know how you chose to brighten someone’s day this holiday season.  

Snail mail:  16424 Timberlane Drive, Omaha, NE 68136

4.  SHARE this blog post with friends and family. Help spread the word about Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness and encourage others to participate. The more the merrier!

"I hope you can find an opportunity to perform a Random Act this season…and if you can’t, I ask that you please send your thoughts and prayers to my sis and her family or anyone who may need a little extra TLC getting through the holidays!" Musil said.

Another component to this first-ever Random Acts of Kindness event it is a Christmas present of Kirsten's husband Matt. All emails she receives will be compiled into a book that will serve as Matt’s gift. Anything that comes via "snail mail" will be placed (unopened) into Charley’s stocking for Kirsten and Matt to open together on Christmas morning.  

"Just thinking of her stocking full of tributes to her is enough to bring me to tears. I am so in love with this idea and hope that we can make it a part of our family’s Christmas tradition for years to come,"  Kristen said. "I hope that you will consider helping with the first-ever Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness event. I pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration and find it within ourselves to do for others this holiday season."

As this Random Acts of Kindness campaign hopefully goes viral over the Internet as family, friends and strangers remember Charley's life, Kristen said, "I love you Charley Bear! Mommy is doing her best to keep your memory strong and your story alive in people's hearts."

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, December 10, 2012

pop-we Contributor Reviews Dr. Joseph Burgo's Book on Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Explorative therapy is not the type of therapy that HMOs traditionally prefer. Rather than delve into the why behind a condition, many therapies only treat the symptoms. While this may be the right mode of treatment for some clients, the unexamined life for some individuals may be a life sentence where arrested development keeps them in a cycle of unhealthy or destructive behavior. For more than 30 years, Dr. Joseph Burgo, a trained psychodynamic therapist, has been helping his clients discover the underlying reasons for their behavior. Overtime, many of his patients who do the work required for effective therapy make incremental improvements leading to a more satisfying life. For over a year, I have been an avid reader of his blog After Psychology where he shares his insights into human behavior.

In October Dr. Burgo released his much anticipated book, "Why Do I do That? Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways They Shape Our Lives." The book is a fascinating look at defense mechanisms aimed at teaching the reader how to disarm their own defense mechanisms.

I believe people outside of the field of psychology may routinely use the language of defense mechanism without always understanding what the terms really mean. How often have you heard someone refer to someone as a narcissist or to insults someone by saying they are passive aggressive? In reading his blog, I have gained more compassion for those who use narcissism as a defense mechanism. I think I have an even greater understanding of narcissism after reading excerpts in the book. I also have more insights regarding those who may exhibit passive aggressive behavior from my readings of Dr. Burgo’s works. Projection and displacement are also fleshed out in the book and frequently on the blog in ways that may not be as readily apparent to the average person. There are other defense mechanisms that are lesser known to the general population, but they also are important factors in why people do the things they do.

The book quotes Donald Meltzer’s definition of defense mechanisms as the “lies we tell ourselves to avoid pain” Dr. Burgo contends that everyone uses defense mechanisms to some extent. He writes, “Not every painful feeling must be acknowledged and felt.” He explains that there are times when “defense mechanisms help us manage the pain of life and therefore proves useful.” He certainly does not think everyone needs professional help. It is when the defense mechanism are making the pain worse instead of helping one to cope or have other negative consequences that a person needs to seek therapy.

Dr. Burgo explains how the defense mechanism denial may be normal and useful in some circumstances. At other times, it may cause harm to relationships. For example, he states that instances a person’s denial that they need other people may cause them to devalue and mistreat them.

Although the book is very comprehensive, I do think reading the blog provides important background information about Dr. Burgo and his expertise and world view. He has said that if there is an area that he considers to be his specialty that it would be borderline personality disorder treatment. A lot of therapists are not equal to the demands of treating these clients according to Dr. Burgo. Because he is able to bear a lot of the hate, rage, and anger that the clients may project upon him, he is able to help these clients to progress. Not speaking exclusively of borderline personality disorder, Dr. Burgo has explained that people can have trouble feeling empathy for others when they are too overwhelmed with their own emotional pain. Dr. Burgo credits his personal therapist for helping him develop empathy as he “was also good at tolerating hatred; he spent years helping me learn to understand and cope with my hostility…” He relates his experience with a client who went into a rage early in her sessions with him. She was too ashamed to return. As he has become more experienced as a therapist, he conveys to his clients that he can handle their volatile outbursts. Regardless of the different labels his clients may have, over time there can be much healing through the type of therapeutic relationship described here.

Dr. Burgo is not an advocate of using self-affirmations as the pathway to self-esteem. He speaks of authentic esteem that comes from the progress that follows the work. One of the examples in the book about a woman who believed she would be a lifer in therapy and was dependent on others touched me. In therapy, she wanted Dr. Burgo to solve problems rather than her working to solve them on her own. In work and personal life, she felt particularly deficient in Math and relied on others for this help. During treatment, she took courses to give her skills in Math. She further progresses in therapy as she worked to solve her own problems. Dr. Burgo feels that it is the satisfactions and growth that such clients experience that provides a real source of esteem.

Repression is a defense mechanism that has made its way into the common vernacular as the adjective, repressed. It too can be useful according to Dr. Burgo Once again, it is only a problem when the repression of an emotion is negatively impacting the person’s life or relationships.

The discovery of a repressed emotion or labeling of any other defense mechanisms is not an end in itself in psychodynamic therapy. There is not one moment when one arrives at closure and lives happily ever after from what I gather reading the book and the blog. As pointed out in the book, nobody is happy all the time and that is not our quest. While people will sometimes state that their goal is to be happy in therapy, Dr. Burgo will respond with the same question asked by his therapist when he was severely depressed and said he just wanted to be happy. He may paraphrase this response, “Are you interested in learning what you actually feel or in feeling one particular way?” The goal of the book is to help people experience the full range of emotions including joy. In the process, one needs to be exposed to negative emotions but not beyond your limits at the time or what you can control and balance. He is, in fact, straightforward in stating that it is a lifelong effort to continue to be aware of defense mechanisms.

The book is organized into sections and has exercises, which help a person to first identify their defense mechanisms and finally to work to disarm them. Although I have read some of the exercises and gained some awareness about myself, I plan to ponder the exercise more deeply when I have my print version of the book. I may not agree with all of the psychodynamic method or all the methods proposed by Dr. Burg as even those in the psychology profession tend to be eclectic in their approaches. I do find Dr. Burgo’s work to be substantive and his writing style at times to be quite poignant. He also has a way of breaking down concepts in a way a person who did not major in psychology may understand. This is an outstanding book for those who like to know what makes people tick.

- population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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Monday, December 3, 2012

This Season Help Support the Children and Families of the Ronald McDonald House

'Tis the season of giving, when we pause and think about those less fortunate. This season, area McDonald’s restaurants are hosting a tree of giving drive for the Ronald McDonald House. So, this year consider helping support the children and families of the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha, Neb.
77th & Dodge Giving Tree.

This tree of giving starts with a paper ornament. The Christmas tree is covered with paper ornaments, each bearing a necessity needed for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Secret Santa's choose an ornament and return the unwrapped gift under the tree at participating McDonald's restaurants by Tuesday, Dec. 11.

The following items are needed by the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha to provide a home-away-from-home for families that must travel to receive medical treatment for their children. They are:

  • Paper Towel Rolls
  • Liquid Laundry Detergen
  • Clorox/Disinfecting Wipes
  • McDonald’s Gift Cards
  • Tall Kitchen Trash Bags
  • Gift cards to Bakers, CVS, Food 4 Less, HyVee, Target, Walgreens, Walmart

To participate, I visited the 77th and Dodge McDonald's location and picked several items from the giving tree. Each population-we™ staff member has committed to buy something for the drive. To donate a gift in your area or learn other ways to help, visit

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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