On Wednesday, I got to travel with Vivian and a car full of lovely young ladies to the Nebraska State Fair (putting up with plenty of “single girl talk” along the way). This is likely going to be the last year they have the State Fair at the location in Lincoln, where it’s been held for the last 109 years or so. The air was thick with the smell of farm animals and greasy funnel cakes, and the sounds of carnival barkers and nauseous rides. It all brought back memories of my trips to the Nebraska State Fair in years gone by. They had plenty of bizarre fair food to enjoy, from deep-fried peaches to a hot beef sundae made with scoops of potatoes and a cherry tomato on top. I was almost brave enough to try that. I didn’t try to win any giant stuffed animals, but we did get to watch a couple pig races before heading on to the main event.
The whole reason we came to the fair was to see a free concert put on by Third Day. It was allegedly going to start at seven, but a late start and a long opening act pushed it back to well after eight. Every seat in the arena had been taken hours in advance, so we were forced to peek at the stage from the perimeter of the theater, where it seemed all the guys over seven feet tall were trying to do the same. Vivian and I were able to squeeze between some of them to watch the concert. Then, when the band pretended to be done for the night (right before an encore or two), several people took them seriously and started to leave. Vivian and I were quick enough to grab some second-row seats with fifteen minutes of concert remaining. That was great.
Vivian and I took a trip on the Ferris wheel before heading back to Omaha. The funnel cake in my stomach had barely digested, so I was feeling a bit queasy by the time we got off. It was loads of fun, though. I’ll have to remember to get all my rides in before even trying to eat some of that fried grease again.
It was a fairly quiet weekend for both Vivian and me. We got to see our usual gang of Jitterbug friends at JNO on Thursday and again at Waypoint Church on Sunday. The most exciting event of the week came on Thursday night, when we got to see the premier of I.O.U.S.A. at the Holland Performing Arts Center in downtown Omaha. I was able to get a couple free tickets through a connection at work, so Vivian and I were able to see both the film and the lively discussion panel afterwards (which was beamed to over 400 theaters nationwide). The panel included such financial hot shots as Warren Buffett, Pete Peterson, David Walker (one of the “stars” of the film), William Niskanen, and Bill Novelli. I hope the discussion is included as an extra on the DVD for the film, once it’s released, because I enjoyed it just as much as the film itself.
The movie was a very well-presented explanation of the national debt, the budget deficit, the trade deficit, and the pending problem Americans have in not saving money for the future. It was a fairly non-partisan presentation, which was a relief, though some members of the panel clearly had some different political leanings. I liked Dave Walker’s comment best when he said that Americans have to realize that “the government has no money.” They can tax it from us, they can borrow it, but they have no none of their own until they take it from somewhere else. If you haven’t seen the film, and you can’t see it in a theater near you, watch for it on DVD. And check the special features. You might even get a glimpse of Vivian and me in the balcony.
The rest of our weekend was fairly quiet. Vivian and I met up with a couple friends for a Friday night binge at Jim & Jennie’s Greek Village, and then eventually headed down to the Eagle’s lodge for a night of swing dancing. They had the electronic dart boards fired up for some reason, meaning we could sit and read the witty one-liners that scrolled across their screens, waiting for someone to insert some cash and start throwing darts.
I spent Saturday and Sunday putting together a set of wooden file drawers I got from Office Depot. I’m not a particularly handy person, especially when the printed instructions I get are missing half their pages, but I eventually got the little thing put together. Some of the wooden pieces still seem to pull apart a little too freely for my own comfort, but it’s nothing a little wood glue won’t fix. I hope.
On Saturday, Vivian and I got to enjoy a day on our day on the Offut Air Force Base in Bellevue checking out their air show. It was my first time at such an event, and it was fun exploring the exhibits on display. We got to our the Virtual Military Experience, which was like a giant video game with model Humvees and model assault rifles, complete with simulated recoil as they fired at enemy targets on giant projector screens. We also got to walk inside a some giant cargo jets and peek at a few other models on display. A number of pilots demonstrated their skill in the skies above, including the Thunderbirds. They topped off the day doing a number of formation routines for the crowd below.
Afterwards, Vivian and I met up with a couple of friends to have some enormous hamburgers at Stella’s in Bellevue. Vivian and I had both heard people talking about this little diner, and it was honestly the epitome of what a hamburger restaurant should be: big burgers, fresh-cut fries, and nothing frozen.
Vivian and I have been getting settled into married life the last couple of weeks, which is treating us just fine, thank you very much for asking. The new job’s been going great, and even the weather here during the dog days of summer has been fairly tame.
On Friday night, Vivian and I went out with some of our Jitterbug friends to Burger Star on 72nd and Pacific. It’s a rockstar-themed restaurant, complete with a working version of Guitar Hero 3 avaiable to play on a giant flat screen TV. Your order burgers with custom toppings on a little checklist that they send to the kitchen on a pulley, which is fun. We had a good time stuffing ourselves silly before heading on down to JNO. The Jitterbugs had booked the Grand Marquis, so we got to enjoy some great Kansas City swing music at the dance, which was terrific. Dan Wondra also entertained us by drawing an impromptu caricature of our friend Jessica on the paper tablecloth. She like it so much that she cut it out and took it home with her.
On Saturday night, Vivian and I had our first group date with a couple other couples, including her longtime friends Dennis and Kara. We gorged on a giant pizza down at Zio’s and then dropped by Dave & Busters to splurge on a bunch of video games. It was quite cool hanging out with a few couples for a change, since most of our friends seem to be single. On Sunday, I was finally able to bring Vivian back to Lindy in the Park for a little dancing downtown. We were only there for about an hour Lindy Hopping on the pavement, and when it was all over, Ben amused us with some swinging of his own… on a tree branch.
On Monday night, Vivian and I dropped in at GAMe to see some of our other single friends and check out the progress on finishing the basement of 1314 Jones Street. We went out for martinis afterward, having just enough alcohol to get us to play on the slides on the Gene Leahy Mall. It was quite the fun little date to start off the week.