Monthly Archives: May 2022

String Beans, Bacon, and Memorial Day Weekend

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Hello, summer! We had a nice last week of school with the kids as another academic year came to a close. Aaron and I had breakfast on the porch a couple times, and then he literally had a field at school on Thursday. In the meantime, Hannah got a few patches from her troop with American Heritage Girls, and I got to attend a little end-of-year ceremony with all of them.

In other news, I got to have a free gyro lunch at work thanks to a friendly benefactor. Then on Thursday, I hung out with my friend Stephen for his birthday at Herbe Sainte with a few of our mutual political friends. It was nice to catch up after the primary with a handful of people involved in the Lindstrom campaign (as well a Congressional candidate I voted for). I also heard a rumor that a certain Governor may be running for Senate in 2024, whether or not the incumbent Senator is running for re-election or not. You heard it here first!

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The weather went from cold and rainy to sunny and warm just in time for the Salute to Summer parade in La Vista. Hannah came with me to help hand out handfuls of candy for Don Bacon, and got the chance to introduce her to the Congressman as well as Mike Flood, La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig, and Governor Ricketts. I also saw Judge L. Steven Grasz, who was there with Miss Nebraska Volunteer Aubrey Grasz (who I’m guessing is related).

It was a hot little walk down Park View Boulevard, but Hannah held up with me as we walked along with the crowd. Then we caught a ride back to our car on the Sarpy GOP bandwagon before heading home.

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Then that evening, we went to the opening night at the SumTur Amphitheater. We try to visit the little outdoor “movie park” at least once a year, and this time they had some special guests performing. First was a magician named The Amazing Lindy, who brought a few kid volunteers up on stage to do various tricks with cards, lemons, and a plush Herbie Husker (in various colors). He also had his grandkids “Dinky and Stinky” doing various goofy tricks beforehand.

Then came The String Beans, a trio from Lincoln (who we’d seen previously at the Eclipse). They sang songs about Nebraska, goofy dances, and beans, and they seemed to be a big hit with the gaggle of kids in the audience. They had several moments of audience participation, inviting dads up to “air guitar” and moms to do the “Nebraska Hula.” They also had a limbo line for the kids and a giant tarp to make a giant “pizza.” Vivian and I got some tacos from the Papillion Taco Guy for dinner along with popcorn and ice cream sandwiches for the kids, and then we watched the Pixar movie Soul to make for a very late night.

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Sunday was relatively low-key by comparison. We still made it to church despite sleeping late, and Hannah made a birdhouse in her Sunday School class. I broke out our tiny wading pool for the kids in the afternoon as I spent some quality time cleaning our gutters (and getting exercise going up and down the ladder).

Then that evening, I drove by Tap Dancers Coffee for a “wake” for their coffee business. I’ve been drinking Maxine’s coffee ever since I started at the Institute some nine years ago, and it’s been a part of my workday ever since, so I was a little sorry to see it go. They had plenty of food for their goodbye party, and Dan Wondra came by for a dance or two with Maxine. I also got to learn about Tom’s new post-coffee adventure, which apparently involves traveling the country in an RV playing music before heading down to Puerto Rico to retire, all of which he plans to livestream on YouTube.

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Then came Memorial Day! I put up an American flag and took a lovely bike ride up and down the Keystone Trail in Bellevue. There were some scattered thunderstorms, so I got a bit wet, but it was a lovely little ride. I’ll be enjoying bike riding a bit more that Aaron is out of school and I can take off early for a ride to work nearly every weekday.

Then at lunchtime, we headed to my parents’ house for some smoked burgers, potato salad, and baked beans, which we ate in the backyard picnic style while trying to keep the wind from blowing things away. Grandpa also got to measure our kids to see who was taller. It’s still Hannah by 2/3 of an inch, but that will likely be changing soon.

Biking, Life Runners, Gardens, and Mules

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It’s been a fairly quiet week, as spring slowly makes way for summer. It’s been nice enough for me to take out the bike for a couple rides at lunchtime, spotting wildflowers in bloom all along the South Omaha Trail and then trying to outrun a thunderstorm on my way back from Trader Joe’s one day.

I also dropped by the Garden Café for a luncheon with Dr. Pat Castle from Life Runners. If you travel in pro-life circles, you might have seen his blue merchandise before, with “remember the unborn” and Jeremiah 1:5 printed on it. I got to have some chicken fried steak with a few co-workers and hear his story while also trying to live-stream his talk via my Facebook page, a little experiment I wanted to conduct before potentially trying it again in the future (perhaps with some Presidential candidates next year).

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In other news, Aaron had his first sloppy joe and later decided to try his culinary skills in assembling peanut butter crackers for mommy and me. Some baby birds hatched at my parents house, and I got to take a peek at them when coming over to borrow the tiller, which Vivian and I used to plant our garden tomatoes for this season.

I also dropped by the Twin Creek Theater with my friend Richard to see the new Dinesh D’Souza movie “2000 Mules” on Saturday night. I’d seen several of D’Souza’s films before, and this one seemed similarly heavy-handed in talking about election fraud. It did present a compelling case against the use of mail-in ballots for future elections and had some interesting segments on geolocation data on mobile phones. They could have made a whole film about how you can simply buy petabytes worth of user data that the common smart phone user likely doesn’t even know if available for sale to the general public.

Return to the Ren Fair

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May has been unseasonably warm this year, so much so that the Bellevue Mayor decided to turn on the city spray-grounds a month early. I spent my Saturday getting a few chores done, such as hauling some things to the dump, mowing Jack and Donna’s lawn, and then helping my dad with some tilling in the garden.

I also drove down to Louisville to drop by Sydney Folken’s graduation party. Her father Ryan, our old pastor from Twin Valley Church, had moved his family down there a couple years ago, so I thought it’d be nice to drive down to see their new church, which was decorated for the party with such things as a meme wall I also got to visit for a bit and graze at the “popcorn bar” before returning home.

Later on, I took Aaron for a walk to my parents’ house, where he was able to climb a tree and floss his teeth. Good times.

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Then on Sunday, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska down at the Bellevue Berry Farm. It had been about a decade since Vivian and I had gone, so we were overdue for a visit. The place had grown significantly since we’d last been there, with additional attractions like castles and forts and play areas for the kids to explore having been built. They had a bunch of live performers as well, like Oops the Entertainer (who ate fire for our amusement) and some Irish dancers. We also got to meet the queen, see other bizarre costumed characters, and watch a parade that came through the fairy village (which included a few familiar faces in its procession).

Our kids seemed to have more fun on the bouncing pillow, exploring the pirate ship, or just swinging on a two-seater swing. They also got to take turns riding the War Horses before the big Joust at the end of the day. We also got them a bit sugared up with some suckers (which I got while bumping into the Libertarian candidate for Governor) and homemade root beer before heading home.

We spent the evening watching Disney’s Treasure Island (having been inspired by the pirates at the festival). Then once the kids were in bed, Vivian and I went outside to check out the lunar eclipse, which gave us a lovely Blood Moon before heading off to bed.

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Happy Ren Fair

Mother’s Day & Election Daze

It’s been a busy couple of days getting ready for Mother’s Day with the family and covering the lead-up to a primary election on Tuesday.

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During the past week, I worked covertly with the kids to decorate a card for Mommy on a day or two when she was out of the house. I also managed to get a few Mexican treats for Cinco de Mayo, grabbing some tamales for dinner and also getting some Taco Bell for lunch (just to troll the snobs who are all about “authentic” Mexican food).

Then on Saturday, I spent a little time with dad sorting through another bookshelf, finding such treasures as a book of weird old ads. and combing through a folder of papers from my childhood. This included an old paper I’d written in high school that somehow got a 50/50 grade, despite being completely satirical. It gave us all a good laugh, some 27 years after it was written.

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Then on Saturday night, I drove up to the Lindstrom family farm in Oakland, Nebraska to attend a “victory rally” with Brett Lindstrom and his family. Around 75-100 people came by for pulled pork and beef brisket, including family members, friends, and campaign volunteers. Former state senator Paul Schumacher and Oakland Mayor Ted Beckner introduced Dave Rippe, Lindstrom’s running mate, who then introduced the gubernatorial candidate.

After a brief stump speech, guests headed outside for a hay rack ride around the family farm. “Uncle Bob” drove the tractor and pointed out such things as the barn where great grandpa Lindstrom used to milk cows and the center-pivot irrigation system. A little guy got to take a turn driving the tractor around a bit afterward before Lindstrom and Rippe came out to take the hay rack for another ride as the sun went down.

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Mother’s Day was particularly busy as I got up early to make some bran muffins for a nice little breakfast in bed for mommy. We went to church together, and then Vivian went to have lunch with her mom as I spent some time putting things together for a Mother’s Day dinner that evening. I made up some red potatoes and Brussels sprouts while warming up a ham, which my dad helped glaze once I took it over to his house.

Around six o’clock, I walked over with the kids as Vivian drove the food down in the CR-V, and we had a big family dinner with my parents and my brothers (and Nathan’s girlfriend Cheryl). Afterward, we had some apple pie for dessert. Hannah made portraits of everyone with my dad’s Changeable Charlie. Then I gave a few gifts to my my mom and Vivian, and Cheryl wound up taking an impromptu family photo before we headed home. Before calling it a night, I had Aaron find the little gift he’d made for Vivian at school earlier in the week, and I found a special gift of cheese I’d been hiding in the fridge.

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Then came Tuesday, which was election day for primary candidates. My polling place moved this year to just up the street from me, so I was able to walk there with Hannah and Aaron before school to give them a glimpse of what voting is all about.

Then that evening, I attended Brett Lindstrom’s election night event down at A View on State in northwest Omaha. I arrived just as Brett and his family arrived (and got a few photos out front), but they stayed “backstage” most of the evening as guests gathered and election results came in. Brett was up about eight thousand votes to start, but that gap closed quickly as Pillen and Herbster caught up and took first and second place, respectively. It was a lively crowd for the most part, despite the disappointing end. I also got to see Brett’s mom and dad again as they watched their son give a teary-eyed concession speech. I stuck around until the very end so I could shake Brett’s hand and tell him that he did well. If he had to lose, he lost with dignity — and not covered in mud.

A rally in two parts

I got to have a massively fun three-day weekend packed with activities with family, friends, and some political candidates. I took a whole day off on Friday just to make room for it all, but even still things seemed to spill over into Thursday and Monday nonetheless.

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I kicked things off on Thursday by riding my bike down to Chick-Fil-A (during a brief non-raining moment) to have lunch with Vivian and Hannah after BSF. We’d been planning an outing to “eat more chicken” and wanted to do it before BSF ended for the year. I also wanted to give Hannah the chance to use the little playground area one last time before she had completely outgrown it (as she’s a fraction of an inch away). I even had enough points in my Chick-Fil-A app to get us all ice cream cones for dessert, so it was just about perfect.

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I took Friday off and got to have some more quality time with Hannah by taking a bike ride around the lake at Walnut Creek. It had been gray and raining earlier, but it was dry and sunny enough for a lovely little ride. We got to see some of the tulips in bloom and explore the park a little bit in-between rounds of pedaling around the bike path. The best thing about visiting the park on a Friday is how quiet the whole place is, with only a handful of pedestrians sharing the trail with us.

Then at lunchtime, I took my dad down to the Treragon Golf Course’s clubhouse to meet Brett Lindstrom, the guy I’m hoping will be our next governor. Around four other constituents showed up, along with a writer for the New Yorker named Peter Slevin. It made for a very small gathering, and a great opportunity to ask direct questions on issues like critical race theory, an endorsement from the NSEA, and abortion — with time for detailed answers afterward (and a photo with the candidate, of course).

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The real reason I took Friday off, however, was to drop by a rally with Donald Trump that evening at the I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb. Trump was scheduled to hold the outdoor event with Charles Herbster, but some bad weather had been predicted for days, and at the last moment it was postponed until Sunday.

The event itself was still fun, and I got to hang out with some of the VIPs, including Matt Schlapp of CPAC and David Bossie from Citizens United (who was there to promote a new film). There were a few other familiar faces in the crowd, including Allie French from Nebraskans Against Government Overreach, legislature candidate Julie Fredrickson, and Beard Vet, who had his own tailgate party with burgers and coffee. I also got to meet Steve Rhodes, a young Trump cosplayer, who led the crowd in chants of USA before the event and then stopped to get a photo with Herbster afterward.

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The line of storms that cancelled Friday’s Trump Rally spawned tornadoes and hail in the Midwest, so postponing until Sunday was the right call. We mostly got wind and rain in Omaha, some of which blew open the window in Aaron’s room and made some a bit of a wet walk with him the next day.

Then that evening, we celebrated our friend Kody’s birthday. He smoked a variety of meats for dinner, which we ate with a handful of friends. We had about three pairs of kids among us, so I got a kiddo group picture to mark the occasion of our little ones growing up together. Then we finished off the evening with some lemon meringue pie and tres leches cake for dessert, along with the obligatory blowing-out of candles.

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Sunday was May Day, so Donna dropped by with some flowers for us and a few treats for the kids, which was a nice little surprise. The kids also got to give Bella a couple walks up and down the hill.

Afterward, we headed downtown to the Holland Center for “a Sensory-Friendly Omaha Symphony Concert,” sponsored by the Autism Action Partnership as a part of the Common Senses Festival. Aaron got to have an up-close look at a cello prior to the show, and then the orchestra played a medley of songs from composers like Aaron Copland, who I was happy to tell Aaron he shared a name with.

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Then came the Trump Rally. The weather was just about perfect (especially compared to Friday), with temperatures in the 70s and clear, blue skies. I wound up arriving very late around 3:30, right in-between speakers David Bossie and NFL star Jack Brewer. I squeezed through the crowd, getting close enough for a few snapshots of Brewer praying over Charles Herbster before Herbster gave a brief stump speech. The crowd was smaller than other Trump rallies I’d attended, around 2000-3000 or so, but it was just as energetic, with people dancing to a familiar playlist of songs. I also saw many familiar faces, including Ian Swanson from KFAB at the media deck, where RSBN was interviewing Mike Lindell. Other VIPs in the crowd included Lt. Gov. Foley and Matt Innis up at the front.

Around 5:15, Donald Trump took the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and talked for nearly two hours (which you can watch here in its entirety). Much of his speech was about the 2020 election and his poll numbers looking at 2024 (complete with slides). He pointed out a few of his special guests in the front, including Jack Brewer and Mike Lindell, and he let Herbster take the mike for a minute or two halfway through. I was quite happy to get close enough for some terrific shots up close, including a few of a friend or two in the stands behind Trump. The event wrapped with YMCA by the Village People as Trump danced his way off stage, and then I hurried back to the car to rush home and share some of my 600+ pictures.

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As if that weren’t enough politics for one week, the next day I had a luncheon with the River City Republicans with four guest speakers — gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau, her running mate (and talk radio host) Trent Loos, Secretary of State Bob Evnen, and State Treasurer John Murante.

Thibodeau and Loos gave brief stump speeches and has some Q&A with the audience (which included Thibodeau’s dad and sister). Evnen talked about election security and John Murante spoke about the Biden administration pressuring states to enact his “build back better” agenda and spy on citizens’ bank accounts. It was a nice, informative meetup, and I got to have a little extra time chatting with some of the same folks who had been to the Trump rally the previous day.

The state primary is next Tuesday, so I expect things may calm just a bit before we head into November — and then the race for 2024 will kick off.