Tag Archives: Pizza Ranch

Election Night & the Morning After

Another Election Day has come and gone, and I’m still busy recovering from it. The Red Wave we’d been hoping for didn’t happen, but pretty much all the candidates I voted for on my own personal ballot did quite well. All politics is local, at least for me this time.

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On the day before Election Day, I got to hear from Eric Underwood, the new Executive Director of the NEGOP, down at the Pizza Ranch over lunch. He was elected in the tumultuous convention this summer that ousted the previous Executive Director, Dan Welsch. I got to ask him personally what that was all about, and he talked briefly about the kind of top-down authoritarian nature of the previous NEGOP, which notoriously refused entry to five duly-elected delegates ans even had one of them arrested for “trespassing” when they showed up anyway. He talked at length about building relationships with voters and having the new NEGOP adhere to such things as a written Constitution and Robert’s Rules of Order rather than dictating to the grassroots from the top.

I enjoyed hearing his talk, which you can watch in its entirely on my political blog. Toward the end, he said “most Nebraskans aren’t moderate are just trying to live our life devoid of politics, not be a part of any of this, but there did come a point where we said all right, enough is enough.” That definitely summarizes where I am most of the time.

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Then came Election Day! I donned my patriotic tie and walked up the hill (with Hannah) to vote for a handful of candidates and a few resolutions on the docket. I even went so far as to put a sign out for my friend Doug, who was running for the Learning Community.

Then that evening, I went down to the Regency Marriott for Don Bacon’s election night party. I’d been hoping for a “Red Wave” and a short evening for the District 2 Congressman, but it unfortunately didn’t materialize. I still had a good time hanging out with a bunch of my political friends. Some of the candidates I’d gotten to meet personally down at the Garden Café or the Pizza Ranch, such as Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine and Douglas County Assessor Walt Peffer, gave victory speeches once their races were called. The race between Don Bacon and his opponent was ridiculously close throughout the night, with only 20 votes separating them for about an hour. Toward the end of the evening, Don began pulling away and gave a “thank-you” speech sometime after eleven, even though the race hadn’t been called. I got to shake his hand (and get a selfie, of course) before heading home for the night.

I spent most of the next day recovering, having planned ahead and taken the entire day off. I got a little laundry done and was able to surprise Hannah down at her school when it was time to pick her up. I also leafed through more of Jordan Peterson’s book when I took Aaron to Royal Rangers that evening. Then I turned in early to get about nine hours of sleep before preparing to head back to work on Thursday.


I’m still not sure what to make of the Midterm results, which I’d expected to be a whole lot better for Republicans than they turned out to be. I’ve heard a lot of people online and elsewhere blaming weak candidates, Trump’s involvement, and decidedly left-wing youth voting bloc, but I’m waiting for the dust to settle before thinking much more about the future.

What I am interested in a 2024 election season that will look a bit more like 2016 — with several Republican candidates making the rounds in Iowa doing meet-and-greets, which I enjoyed doing so much six years ago. Even better, this time Hannah (and maybe Aaron) will be old enough to better understand what’s going on they they did back in 2016. We’ll see.

On to 2024!

Branched Oak Lake & Pop-Pop’s Birthday

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We’ve kept fairly busy in the days leading up to our annual camping trip. I had a random lunch date with Vivian at Chick-Fil-A and had a lovely lunchtime ride on my bike to Towl Park first the first time in a while. We also celebrated Pop-Pop’s birthday by getting gas for all our cars in a caravan down at Baker’s — saving an actual celebration for the following Sunday as we got busy packing for our camping trip. I wound up shopping at three different stores looking for a new pump for our air mattress, finally nabbing the last one at the Bellevue Walmart.

Then on Friday, we hurriedly packed everything up and headed on our to Branched Oak Lake for a brief camping trip just west for Lincoln. We got there just as the sun was setting and had to make a bit of a mad dash to set up our campsite. Then once we had a place to sleep, we lit up a fire and roasted a few s’mores together while looking at the stars. Jupiter was clearly visible in the Northern sky, and we had some fun identifying visible constellations like the Big Dipper (and the little one).

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The next morning, we were greeted by a lovely little rainbow as we lit some coals to fry up some breakfast. Then Vivian and Lexi cooked up spam, ham, and some of the Mills’ own homegrown eggs for us. Nate drove the kids and me down to the Marina to get some fishing rods and check out some of the cute hay bales they’d decorated up there for Halloween. Hannah and Sammy went on a nature walk in the meantime and came back with a few little bouquets for their moms, which was very sweet.

The Mills’ boys did a little fishing in the afternoon, and Lexi spent a little time showing Hannah how to cast a line. It also seemed warm enough to break out the swimwear and go wading in the lake for a little bit. The water proved to be absolutely frigid, but Aaron in particular didn’t seem to mind. We’d seem someone swimming in the icy lake earlier in the morning, but most of us weren’t quite ready to get more than our legs just a little wet.

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Later on in the afternoon, Hannah and Sammy took us on a walk through an unmarked trail they’d found earlier, which wound its way through a wooden area behind all the camping areas. We returned to the campsite and then drove down to the playground to let the kids play for a little bit, and then Nate took us back to the Marina to get some ice cream. Then when we returned to the campsite, we got to say hello to a lady and her horse, who came down just to play in the water by our campsite before dinnertime.

That evening, Vivian made up some chili, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese for dinner while Lexi baked some cornbread. I got a few family photos as the sun went down (and a closeup of a passing blue jay), and then we made a few more s’mores around the fire, this time using some chocolate marshmallows (which Donna found at Menards (of all places).

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The next morning, I lit the campfire one last time so we could warm a few cinnamon rolls for breakfast (as I make an actual s’more). We got to see a couple flocks of geese as we finished eating and started packing things up.

We gave the kids a little time to play together before packing up our campsite. Aaron, August, and Gabriel had some massive kind of excavation going on, digging a hole in the side of a cliff throughout our trip. Vivian also broke out some sketch pads so the kids to draw together as the grown-ups started taking down tents and packing things up for the trip home. Hannah made herself a camping journal, which she hopes to continue on her next camping trip (next week).

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We had an hour or two to recover when we returned home before heading on our again to celebrate Pop-Pop’s birthday. The kids made a few birthday cards for him, and Vivian helped to grill a couple steaks and some burgers for the kids.

We ate together out on the front porch as the sun set, and Hannah and Aaron both got to take turns taking Bella for a walk up and down the sidewalk in front of Grammy’s house. Then we had some decadent chocolate peanut butter cup cake for dessert (along with peanut butter cup ice cream).

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It was back to work (and school) the next day on Monday, of course. I did get to have a last bit of fun hanging out at the Pizza Ranch with the River City Republicans for their monthly luncheon. This month, they brought in Rod Edwards, who was Charles W. Herbster’s right-hand man during his campaign for Governor, who was now heading up Herbster’s new Nebraska First PAC. I had wondered what Herbster would be doing with his time and money since losing his bid for governor earlier this year. Among those is pushing for more transparency in the legislature, where leadership votes are held by secret ballot, among other things.

It was a busy little weekend, and fairly late in the year for our annual camping trip with the Mills, but we lucked out in a major way when it came to the weather. It was definitely worth waiting for!

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Luncheons, Days Off, and an Apple Orchard

I got to enjoy a fairly short work week in-between back-to-back three-day weekends here at home, and I also got to have lunch with some of my favorite people in the middle of the week as well.

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First up came a lovely little lunch with Vivian on Wednesday. Vivian has gearing up for another year of BSF with her lady friends, and she had an hour or so in-between her first meet-up with them an an appointment with an eye doctor, so we decided to drop by Maharaja for some Indian food down by 114th and West Dodge Road. I’d coincidentally first learned of the place from an Indian friend from my own BSF class several years ago, and it was nice to sit down for some authentic Pork Vindaloo and Chicken Tikka Masala together along with some fresh-made naan.

Then on Thursday, I had some lunch with my parents and a couple dozen others down at the Pizza Ranch on 84th Street. The River City Republicans had invited Sgt. Aaron Hanson, candidate for Douglas County Sheriff, to stop by and chat about crime, drugs, and using guns for self defense. My folks also got to chat with Marilyn Asher, who is running for state legislature against Megan Hunt. It was an informative little luncheon, and you can read more about it in detail (as well as watch my live stream) over at my political blog.

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I had taken Friday off since we’d planned to go on a camping trip over the weekend, but those plans fell through (and there was rain in the forecast anyway), so I had a lovely personal day instead. I went to the dentist for a cleaning followed by a tasty Taco Bell breakfast, and then I stopped by the Shadowlake Hy-Vee to say hello to Scott Voorhees, who was doing his show on KFAB from their entryway. I spent the rest of the day tidying up the garage and unearthing some of our camping stuff a few weeks ahead of our trip. I also uncovered some previously lost items that I was happy to find again.

It rained most of Saturday, which was just fine by me as we spent some quality time cleaning house, doing laundry, and emptying out the fridge. Once the rain stopped, I walked with the kids over to my parents’ house, where they spent some time with Uncle Jonny as I rummaged through my dad’s closet, taking a few shirts off his hands such as one stylish T-shirt from Dreamland BBQ, the best barbecue joint in America.

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We had some particularly nice weather in Sunday, so after church (and letting Harold run around a bit outside), we took the kids down to Ditmar’s Orchard for some apple picking. They had some fun activities for their “Fields of Flight” weekend, such as some bounce houses, an inflatable ax-throwing station, and a petting zoo with a bunch of goats. Our kids got a little time on the slides and the playground as well, which Hannah commented seemed to have “shrunk” since she’d been there last.

Of course, we also got plenty of time for applepicking, walking up and down a few rows to fill a ten-pound bag. We finished off our visit with a hayrack ride around the grounds and then some dancing atop some tractor tires before heading home. We’d missed out on the hot air balloons that had come by earlier, but it was actually nice to be able to let the kids explore without a massive crowd of people here for a change. Maybe we’ll do the same next year.

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Birthday Weekend and a Storm at Freedom Fest

I just finished up a long and fun birthday weekend, which included dinner and dancing and a Freedom Fest that was turned upside down by a thunderstorm. In short, it was unforgettable, and I’m still trying to recover from it all.

The kids and me in the pool.Kids at the table, ready to blow out the candles.

We had another brief, birthday to celebrate on Thursday evening. Our mutual friend Emmett was turning ten, so we joined him and a handful of our friends to cool off in a pool at an apartment complex and then have some pinwheel wraps and cake together afterward.

Our kids had the chance to play together for a while, and they also enjoyed pretending to “swim” in deep end of the pool with me.

Having dinner at Don Marlelo'sDancing at the Eagle's Lodge.

Then my birthday officially kicked off on Friday. After an intense day of cleaning house, we left the kids with grandma and headed down to Don Carmelo’s for some pizza with friends. I’d wanted to give them some more business since they hosted Jack Posobiec a few months earlier, so Vivian and I got a “New York’s Finest” to share and ate with our friends Phil, Dan Wondra, Nate and Lexi, and Jon Paper.

Then afterward, Vivian and I headed downtown to the Eagle’s Lodge for our first dance with the Omaha Jitterbugs since the Halloween dance of 2019. Covid shutdowns had kept us from any swing dancing (aside from the occasional speakeasy dance with Jared and Jordan) so it was very nice to be back. I saw a few familiar faces, such as Jessica Ritchie and a few of the Jitterbug organizers such as Billy and Merinda. The crowd was only younger kids I didn’t recognize, though — young enough to make my 44 years feel even older! I did stick around for a birthday jam, which was particularly fun before heading home.

Education panel.Alex Stein with guests as a storm approaches.

Then on Saturday came Freedom Fest down at the Sarpy County Fairgrounds, a kind of local CPAC for the “populist upstarts” here in Nebraska. Among their guests this year were Internet provocateur Alex Stein, Ali Alexander of “Stop the Steal.” #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka, and Dr. Ben Tapper, one of the “disinformation dozen.” I saw many familiar faces, including a former co-worker with Moms for Liberty, Outlaw Streamers, Turning Point USA, and Public Sq.

The day started off very low-key, with guests playing cornhole and kids jumping in the bounce houses. Others slowly arrived in the wake of a Husker Game that turned south in the last quarter. Matt Innis held an educational panel with candidates for the State Board of Education and local school boards, and VIPs mingled among the guests getting selfies. I was in my element, naturally, taking photos of nearly everyone in the meantime waiting for the show to get started. I also got photos for a few other guests, including the Boyle family, who drove nearly four hours to see Bryson Gray (again) this year.

Amanda and Malia run in the rain.Alex Stein performs with Nick Nittoli.

This year’s Freedom Fest was planned as an outdoor event, and to say things didn’t go quite as planned would be an understatement. The day started off dry and relatively cool, but a predicted line of storms started to roll through the Springfield shortly before six o’clock. Guests and organizers ran through the fairgrounds underneath umbrellas while others took shelter underneath one of the larger pavilions. The t-shirt tent was upended, soaking the merchandise underneath, and we held onto the poles of the larger tent as the wind kicked up.

But the show went on nevertheless. The Moms for Liberty had their raffle drawing as the rain came down in sheets. Then Alex Stein did some stand-up comedy for us in his half-soaked sportscoat (I commented that he should have worn a women’s bathing suit, as he famously did at a town hall Meeting.) He then performed with rapper Nick Nittoli, who did a few songs about Candace Owens and “Let’s Go Brandon” as the rain continued overhead. (I even got the chance to get something to eat from “The Laughing Boar” food truck during a lull in the storm.)

Dr. Ben Tapper speaks to the group.Alex Stein & Ben Tapper.

Freedom Fest organizers managed to find a backup venue in a local gym up the street owned by one of the events’ sponsors, so we headed up there in a caravan a little after seven. I wound up giving Ali Alexander a ride in my car after his ride, Brandon Straka, “walked away” and had dinner with his parents instead. Rapper Bryson Gray was already there when I arrived, greeting guests and getting selfies as staff members started setting up audio equipment for a few of our guest speakers. Dr. Ben Tapper took the mike first, talking about vaccine mandates and medical freedom.

Then gubernatorial candidate Breland Ridenour spoke, talking about grassroots activism and his experiences on the campaign trail. Three other gubernatorial candidates had been slated to speak but bailed — Brett Lindstrom appeared briefly but left before the rain came, while Theresa Thibodeau (and her sister Aimee Melton) left in the wake of the storm. Charles W. Herbster allegedly pulled out when he asked to speak for a full hour and was told he couldn’t.

The last speaker was Ali Alexander, who talked a bit about his “stop the steal” experience and transition from “moderate” to “radicalized.”

Security staffer Ben White sings with Austin MichaelBryson Gray

After the speakers came the musical acts. First up was country singer Austin Michael, known best for an appearance on American Idol. He hand a handful of country songs and even invited security staff member Ben White on stage with him to sing along. Then Nick Nittoli did an encore performance with a few more rap songs as Alex Stein performed at his side.

Then came Bryson Gray, who did an opening song with Alex Stein before performing a series of others, including “FBI RAID,” “Gun Totin’ Patriot,” and “Let’s Go Brandon,” which hit #1 on iTunes in 2021. Gray and Nittoli finished they performances by singing “Happy Birthday” to their significant others, whose birthdays were on Saturday and Sunday.

Things wrapped up sometime after ten o’clock, and I was impressed with how the special guests stuck it out through the entire chaotic event. By some coincidence, the owners of Don Carmelo’s pizza dropped by with a couple pies for them throughout the evening, and I got to tell them both I’d been to their restaurant the previous day.

Eating Beef Chow Fun at the Asian Market.Family at the Pizza Ranch.

Then on Monday came my actual birthday. I got up early and had some Beard Vet coffee (which I got from him at the Freedom Fest, of course) and opened a few handmade cards from Hannah and Aaron. I didn’t take the day off work, since I got to see Pinkie Pie greeting me at my desk when I arrived (an annual tradition courtesy of Dr. Keefe). I did, however, have lunch with Vivian down at the Asian Market, having some Beef Chow Fun and sushi before browsing some of the unusual flavors of potato chips to take home with us.

Then that evening, my parents took us down to Pizza Ranch to get stuffed with chicken, salad, and (of course) pizza. I’d hoped that the kids would enjoy some buffet-style dining, but they seemed to like the little game room even better (where I tried my hand at Ms. Pac-Man). Then we returned home to open a few presents before calling it a night and heading off to bed.

Now hopefully I’ll have a little time to recover before gearing up for another birthday (or two) at the end of the month.

Hannah, Aaron, and me.
Happy birthday to me!

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.

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.

Family time, taxes, and civic engagement

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We’ve had a relatively quiet week or two enjoying some quality time with family. Aaron helped me to make pancakes and ice cube tray orange-sicles in-between games of chess and trips to the Sandy Park. Hannah’s also been horseback riding down in Plattsmouth and roller-skating with mommy during the week. I even spent one evening just drawing with the kids while listening to 80s music. That was special.

Harold’s Mommy also came to visit, which meant plenty of time building obstacle courses in the living room. On Groundhog Day I made sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist (and added some bourbon, because I’m not a monster). Then on Saturday, I spent time with my folks and Uncle Jonny going through his library of old books and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to recycle. We had some Taco Bell and watched some embarrassing home videos before calling it a day.

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On Monday, the River City Republicans had Jim Vokal from the Platte Institute come talk about taxes at the Pizza Ranch. He specifically supported LB1264, which would focus on eliminating sales tax exemptions to increase tax revenue rather than the “EPIC” tax, which would replace multiple taxes with a single, higher sales tax.

In the meantime, we’ve had some delightfully warm January days, which meant I was out jogging nearly every day — and I didn’t even need a jacket.

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Then on Thursday, I attended a luncheon with Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and the Business and Professional People for Life. He talked about a handful of pro-life bills proposed by members of the legislature and answered questions about his future in politics. He had run for governor eight years ago and some thought he might try again, but he said there was simply too much money that would need to be raised (as the front-runners, Pillen and Herbster, planned to spend between $5-10 million).

My dad got to come along and personally ask Foley about his endorsement of Jeff Fortenberry over Mike Flood in the District 1 congressional race. One of the things I enjoy about living in Nebraska is how easy it seems to be to engage with our civic leader. Have a question for the Lt. Governor? Just go down to the Garden Café and ask him yourself (and maybe get some Salisbury Steak while you’re there).