Monthly Archives: March 2022

Fish Fry, Zoo, and Jordan B. Peterson

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Spring has sprung! We had some gorgeous weather for the first day of spring on Sunday, so right after church, we got some burgers and headed down for some quality time at Halleck Park. Hannah made a few new friends on a see-saw, and I got to do some swinging with Aaron over on the swings. We also got to check out the stump where a giant tree had gotten torn down during the wind storm last July (with Vivian counting its rings). Then I walked down to Dairy Queen with Hannah to get some ice cream before we headed home.

The weather was so nice that I decided to go for a bike ride with Hannah a little later in the afternoon. The rode the South Papio Trail for a couple miles West until we got to Eagle Ridge Park, so Hannah got a little more park time before we started heading back. Then I took her for a second round of ice cream at Culver’s, just because. (Don’t tell Aaron.) In the meantime, Aaron helped Vivian made dinner by glazing up some chicken legs with barbecue sauce, which he and Vivian baked for us.

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I had an exciting evening on Tuesday as I made a two-hour trip to see Jordan B. Person at the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. I’ve been an avid fan of Peterson’s for a couple years, having read both his books and listened to his podcast (and even gotten a t-shirt). I missed the chance to see him live in Des Moines a couple years ago, so this time around I snatched a ticket back in December as soon as they went on sale. (The show was now sold-out.)

Peterson appeared with his wife “Tammy,” who introduced him at the beginning and then gave him a list of pre-screened questions at the end for Q&A. Peterson also talked for a little over an hour about a few of his 12 Rules for Life (getting to only 2 or 3 of them). I was quite familiar with his material already, but seeing him live certainly made things interesting. The audience would laugh and applaud at various parts, and I could see Peterson was using some kind of presentation slides via trio of screens on the stage (and a clicker in his pocket). We weren’t allowed to take photos in the theater (which was painful for me, as you can guess), but I did sneak a couple blurry shots with my cell phone to commemorate the experience.

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Friday was a fairly busy day, which I kicked off with some waffles, since it was apparently Waffle Day. Then once Aaron was off at school, Vivian and I took Hannah down to spent a good portion of the day at the Omaha Zoo. Vivian got to see the sea lion exhibit at long last and watched the playful, barking things both above and below water. We got to see some gorillas, rhinos, tigers, elephants, and a cheetah, as well as some odd creatures we’d never heard of, including okapi, bongos, takin, reeves muntjac, and Père David’s deer.

Hannah and I got to pet (and feed) some stingrays at the Stingray Beach exhibit, and we got a selfie with a giraffe. The Lied Jungle unfortunately closed just as I got there at three, but then we got to watch them feeding the penguins in the aquarium before calling it a day.

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Then that evening, we celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation by gorging on fried fish at St. Charles Borromeo after a long day of walking. Our friends the Simpsons and the Dougans joined us for pizza, fried cod, tilapia, mac and cheese, and tater tots together. The line was relatively short as well, so most of us went back for seconds. It felt good to be back at a “normal” fish fry after things had been shut down for a year or two, particularly since the last time we’d been to this place was right before all that started back in 2020.

Herbster, Biking and St. Patrick’s Day

Spring is right around the corner, making it warm enough for Hannah to take her dolls for a “swim” in the backyard and even for the kids to have some ice cream on the porch after dinner.

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On Monday, Charles W. Herbster paid another visit to Omaha, this time speaking at the Pachyderm luncheon at the Garden Café. I’d seen him twice before and almost didn’t go, but it was easier than packing a lunch for myself. The place was packed, with extra tables being hauled into the party room and overflow guests relegated to chairs (or standing) on the periphery. In addition to Herbster, who gave a stump speech on immigration, critical race theory, and accepting Christ, there were a dozen or more candidates and other folks giving 45-second pitches for their own campaigns or other issues. Though I’m still on “Team Lindstrom” for the time being, I found Herbster as charismatic than ever.

I was also reminded how much he likes to “name drop,” talking about a conversation with Mike Huckabee in addition to endorsements from Donald Trump and Gov. Kristi Noem. He also recently got an endorsement from my old friends Don and Sue Stenberg, and he was introduced by former Mayor Hal Daub, which seemed to suggest more local support. Of course, he also got a recent endorsement from Mike Foley, which naturally ruffled feathers with the Rickets/Pillen crew.

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I’ve been making more and more visits to Wildewood recently. In addition to a Wednesday night study on “Counter Culture” (with Hannah coming along for their youth group), I went on Tuesday for the Men of God dinner, having some chicken strips and chili while listening to one member talk about his work with local youth at a juvenile detention center.

It’s been sunny and warm this week, so I went for a few lunchtime bike rides on Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping by Trader Joe’s for some treats for St. Patrick’s Day, and then taking a trip up to the silos by the Field Club Trail. I even managed my first bike ride to work this year, though it was cloudy and windy and cold and not nearly as pleasant on Thursday.

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Then on St. Patrick’s Day, I wore a green shirt and tie to work and got to have some Irish soda bread with Kerrygold butter in the break room. There had been plenty of treats for days beforehand, including some cute St. Patrick’s Day donuts and pots of “gold” brought by some of our vendors.

Of course, we also had a veritable Irish feast at home that evening, with corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes made by Vivian. Donna also came by with some nut butter cookies and green Jell-O from Donna (and also Bella). Then after dinner, we watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People with the kids while eating some St. Patrick’s Day ice cream afterward. The movie was strangely more enjoyable for me the second time around. Aaron also cracked up at some of the scenes with the leprechauns but got a bit scared at the Cóiste Bodhar toward the end.

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Friday was Uncle Jonny’s birthday, so our kids colored up a couple birthday cards and brought them over to say “Happy Birthday.” Then on Saturday, we had some lovely weather for a walk over to my parents’ house again for a proper celebration. (Hannah even got to ride her bike over.) Uncle Nathan joined us all as we had some Casey’s pizza for lunch and then played some video games. We briefly tried playing an eight-player round of Pico Park together, but it proved to be a bit too difficult to get everyone to cooperate and complete more than a couple levels together. Hannah tried playing a game called “Heave Ho” with Uncle Jonny before we turned over to watching a few home movies to finish off the afternoon.

Musical, Museum, Fish Fry & Parade

It seems this last week has been jam-packed, with activities every night and a few during the day. I’ve also given up coffee for Lent and have been running on Postum the past few days, which I had to special order online, as they don’t tend to sell that sort of thing in local stores.

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On Wednesday afternoon, Aaron’s class had a music performance for us, where he and his little classmates sang a few songs from Seussical the Musical and Disney’s Coco. Vivian and I stood up in the crowd and Aaron’s face broke into the biggest smile when he saw us. We also liked being able to see Aaron and all his little classmates, some of whom we only get to hear about on occasion.

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Then on Thursday evening, Aaron’s first grade class got to spend the evening at the Children’s Museum. It gave Aaron the chance to interact with his friend Nico as he colored spaceships and cars to add into a virtual world on a projector’s screen. The kids also got to see the traveling exhibit upstairs about wood, which included a tiny house they could help “build,” along with model trees and a tree house.

The most adventurous moment of the evening came, however, when someone pulled the fire alarm. We got to stand outside in the damp cold for 10-15 minutes as the kids played on the playground while the fire department rolled up to inspect and clear the building. It was the first time Hannah had actually experienced anything like a fire drill at home, making me think we ought to practice this sort of thing more often.

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On Friday, we went over to Phil and Jen’s house for our a family fish fry. We were joined by a few friends, including Jenny and Kody, who had a cluster of kids among them who kept ours busy running around the house for a few hours. Phil and Kody breaded and fried fish (as well as cheese and some shrimp), which we ate throughout the night with such things as macaroni and cheese and some funky Taiwanese fish snacks. while having some hilarious grown-up banter as the kids kept themselves busy.

There was also some birthday cake for Gabriel (and a few presents). I was mostly just happy to see our mutual kids getting along so well, running in circles around the house as the grown-ups made hilarious banter with one another at the big table.

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The next day, Hannah and I braved 12-degree temperatures and went to downtown Omaha to march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade with my friend Brett Lindstrom. He’s running for governor along with a few other people (like Jim Pillen and Theresa Thibodeau), but I’ve finally decided to put my support behind him this season. There were many other politicians in the parade, including Mayor Jean Stothert, and I saw a bunch of familiar faces with Don Bacon’s crew, though the congressman himself was still in Washington DC.

The parade went from 16th and Harney down to the Old Market and back along Howard Street. Hannah emptied multiple buckets of candy handing them out to kids along the route, and I got a nice little workout walking along, taking photos, and jogging to the pickup truck and back to refill Hannah’s bucket. The cold wasn’t even that noticeable once we started moving, and it felt good to be back in the swing of parade season once again.

We had a family movie night that evening watching The Love Bug (1968) with the kids over pizza. Then we spent Sunday covering as we turned the clocks forward and lost an hour of sleep for no good reason.

People’s Convoy, Eating with the Candidates, and Getting a Clue

It’s been another busy week having fun with the kids, and also having lunch and dinner with a couple guys running for governor.

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On Thursday last week, Vivian and I went to a parent/teacher conference for Aaron (where we got locked out until a friendly teacher let us in). We learned he’s doing very well in math, scoring in the 99th percentile (and 88th for reading). Since he had Friday off as well, I rode my bike down to the park and met up with the family for a little lunch and quality time on the swings together.

Then that evening, I stopped by the 13th street bridge to cheer on the “People’s Convoy” as it made its way through Omaha. I saw a few familiar faces there waving signs, such as our friends the Mills and Tim Davis and Allie French from Freedom Rally USA and Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, respectively. I just barely missed the actual convoy, which came through a bit earlier than expected (and at full speed), but I did get to hang out with a few patriots for a bit, with plenty of friendly honks both on the bridge and the Interstate below.

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On Saturday, my dad wanted to have time with his three boys going through some of his old books in the office, clearing off a shelf for mom to put more of her things in the office space. I discovered that my dad has kept the brochure for every single new car he’s ever bought, including the old Ford Fairmont and Chrysler Grand Voyager I grew up in. We watched a few embarrassing home movies together and had some tacos for lunch, and then later I went and brought Aaron by to have some fun playing video games together as a whole family. Uncle Jonny had a Nintendo Switch game called Pico Park, which let all six of us — Aaron, Nathan, Jonny, Grandma, Grandpa, and me — all play together simultaneously. That was fun.

That evening, the kids broke into the game of Clue Jr. they’d gotten for Christmas, and I showed them how to play it and played a round with them. They seemed to enjoy it enough to set it up for a second game the next day, but I preferred the original enough that I showed it to them as well. Then I decided to take Hannah for a walk down to grandma and grandpa’s house, where we played Clue with them and Uncle Jonny on the dining room table. Of course, Hannah also wanted to get some help with Pokémon Go from Uncle Jonny, and then we played some Pico Park together again before I headed home.

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Monday brought in some freak snow, making a mockery of the “Hello Spring” yard flag I’d just put out. School was cancelled, so I made some coconut toast to celebrate, but the snow melted away quickly enough that none of my events for the day were cancelled. That included having lunch with Jim Pillen down at the Pizza Ranch. Pillen is a former Nebraska football player and born and bred in the hog industry (meaning he’s a fan of both Bacon and Don Bacon). He gave us his life story and told us his plan for being Governor, though it was light on specifics and heavy on stories about the family farm and football.

Then that evening, I got to have some pizza and wings down at E’z Place with Brett Lindstrom. He had a fairly good crowd of friendly folks there to hear him talk about his plan for governor and engage in some Q&A. Lindstrom is a stark contrast for Pillen, displaying meticulous knowledge of governmental agencies, committees, and various bills and organizations that tend to make my eyes glaze over. He’s likely got my vote for one particular reason — I wasn’t wearing a name tag, but he still greeted me with a “Hi, Matt!” That means something.

Mind Polluters and Feeling Like Spring

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We had a few cold days last week, with temperatures dropping into the single digits during the week, but that didn’t keep me from running a 5K every weekday. I actually managed to make some of my best times, even with perspiration freezing into icicles on my face. It also made for some quality time indoors reading with Aaron and having apple pie.

It warmed up by the weekend, and the kids got to break out the sidewalk chalk before we took our first family walk of the year together. Hannah also got some quality time on her bike (more on that later).

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On Sunday evening, I dropped by the Judah Kingdom Center in North Omaha to see the documentary film, “Mind Polluters,” which dealt with sex education curricula in public schools. The event was hosted by Mark Bonkiewicz from Nebraskans for Founders Values, who also happened to be one of the guests in the film itself (something I didn’t learn until after watching it). There was an interesting mix of attendees, including my friend Jon Paper, a couple from Wildewood Church, and another couple from the Freedom Rallies I’ve attended.

Half the attendees were black, including Pastor James Patterson, who I’d seen at the Back the Blue rally in Memorial Park in 2020. One woman who ran a local daycare said that she wanted to see more “people of color” involved in issues such as this. “It’s not a Democrat issue or Republican issue,” she said, “it’s about our kids.”

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On Fat Tuesday, Vivian and Hannah stopped by the office and had a little Mardi Gras lunch upstairs with a few of my co-workers, sharing in the abundance of food (including King Cake). Then, because the weather was so gorgeous, Hannah and I went on a little bike ride up and down the Keystone Trail together as Vivian did BSF work at Stinson Park. Then we got a little ice cream from Coldstone before calling it a day.

Then that evening, we had jambalaya at home to finish off the day.