It starts earlier every year! The deluge of holiday promotions and retail advertising geared toward Christmas shoppers is in full force now, a full five weeks before friends and families begin gathering around the tree to exchange gifts and well wishes. It used to be that turkey with all the trimmings were served before that process took center stage, but those days are long, long gone. Now Black Friday rings the bell as the official start of the Christmas shopping season, followed by the online Cyber Monday phenomenon. Indeed, the retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. This year the starting line is being pushed back further still. At least one major big box retailer is trying to beat the pack with pre-pre-pre-Black Friday specials, which of course means that all the others will follow suit.
This past week has served notice cold weather is more than just around the corner. The prior week the betterhalf and I took advantage of a spring-like day to do some outside work getting pre-cold weather chores done. Actually, our earlier efforts probably drew some questions from our neighbors about the sanity of this couple and if the neighbors didn’t question our sanity, our outside actions had to bring some amusing entertainment to the old neighborhood. While I was busy raking up leaves the betterhalf engaged in her annual endeavor of stringing her Christmas lights on a tree in the front yard and one in the back. I became aware of the light situation when she passed through the family room lugging boxes of Christmas lights just as I settled in my easy chair to take in a televised football game. Her movement was all a conspiracy she has used before to cast that guilt feeling on me.
Planning efforts to renovate and expand the Hamilton County Law Enforcement Center ended this time around in unanimous frustration. Law enforcement officials, especially, have to be scratching their heads, wondering how such a needed project ran off the rails. Anyone who steps foot in the existing facility, built in 1972 to accommodate one-fifth of the people it houses today, will conclude that changes need to be made, sooner than later. The existing facility is terribly overcrowded, inefficient and not as secure as it needs to be in today’s world. County commissioners are also understandably frustrated, though their angst is tied more to a horribly misleading planning/bidding process than the need for the project itself. In the end, it wasn’t totally surprising that the county board rejected the bids on a 3-2 vote.
I assume nearly everyone wishes he could go back to his childhood years if it was only for just a minute or two. That wish crossed my mind after I read where researchers have cast doubt on needing that extra glass of milk. A new report basically came to the assumption that if you are drinking milk to prevent bone fractures and to boost your overall health you may be gulping from the wrong glass. After tracking more than 100,000 Swedish men and women for up to 23 years, the report’s authors saw no link between milk consumption and fracture risk. During my younger years it was pretty much a daily one-way conversation at breakfast, dinner and supper when my mom would address me, “Drink the rest of your milk before leaving the table.” Oh, how I wish I could look at my mom today and say, “See Mom, all that milk drinking was not really needed!” Of course even if I could come face-to-face with my mom today I would never have the courage to tell her she was wrong.
How do you feel about your health care, America? Understanding our nation’s new health care system is a indeed a challenge these days, no matter what your perspective. The health care landscape has changed dramatically with implementation of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Much has been said and written since this historic legislation was passed in 2010, though the actual result of how it is impacting families and businesses is still a work in progress. This massive reform came too fast for Congress to digest the details, let alone anxious Americans who want and need to know how their families will be covered in the years ahead.
Reading is a natural part of my life and it’s even more natural I would select a spouse who also liked to read. I must be honest, reading wasn’t among the criteria list when I chose to make her my wife. My betterhalf certainly is one of the Aurora Library’s better customers while I manage to read a couple of daily newspapers, some weekly newspapers and a book or two as well. The betterhalf, I would guess, consistently checks out a couple of books at a time and can still manage to watch her favorite TV programs, cook a couple a meals daily, clean house and still not stay up half a night reading a great mystery. Talk about “mystery,” it’s puzzling to me how she continues to churn through book after book. A few weeks ago the betterhalf left me wondering if she hadn’t hit her reading capacity.
The time has come to fill in the oval and let your voice be heard. Election day is Tuesday in Hamilton County and throughout Nebraska, though many area voters may have already done their civic duty with early voting and mail-in ballots now a popular option. Regardless of how or when you vote, the most important thing is that you do cast your ballot, participating in an election process that lies at the core of our democratic form of government. There are some interesting races in the 2014 General Election, though it’s not nearly as full a slate as a presidential election year. The last two months have been relatively void of the negative campaign ads and media blitz we have become accustomed to, which was a refreshing change.
The betterhalf and I headed to Texas to visit the grandkids this past week. Naturally, we both tried to find some one-on-one time to spoil them. That time came on a Sunday afternoon when we suggested going to a movie of their choice and emphasized it must be a movie that was appropriate for a couple of boys ages 9 and 11. When making the movie suggestion we had in mind a Disney flick, a comedy, or an animated film. Two of three themes were eliminated immediately when no Disney shows, or animated films were available. Subject matter number three -- a comedy -- proved not appropriate in our estimation for our young viewers.
Hamilton County’s rich history in ag-based innovation and record-breaking production was on display again last week with the grand re-opening of Syngenta’s new $63 million expansion project. Though the facility was essentially completed in time for last year’s harvest, the company took some extra time to celebrate the finished product, which is indeed a shining star for Hamilton County. This is a success story that continues to evolve, and will for generations to come. On a site that has been producing seed corn since 1943, Syngenta continues to build on a legacy of success. What started with a 2-acre field named Prairie Valley Farm by the Heuermann family has since grown to a sprawling 60 acre complex with some of the most cutting-edge technology on the planet. Fittingly, Keith Heuermann was in attendance last week, as were many of the growers who have dedicated their land to growing seed for many years.
Over the past few weeks I’ve made some observations. Noting that the world is changing you are welcome to take what those observations are worth. I was always thankful that I felt the Midwest was exempt from the troubles of the metro areas of the East and West Coasts. Apparently those troubles have entered our Midwest. The Omaha Public Schools budgeted $1.1 million for its share of Omaha police officer employment on OPS sites based on a 50-50 cost split with the law enforcement agency. The Omaha Police Department counted 844 arrests at OPS middle and high schools this past year – 42 felony arrests and 802 misdemeanor arrests. *** Now for other observations how our world is changing: It takes someone older than most people now living to remember why 10-cent stores were so named. But, wait a minute! We still have those stores. Counting inflation factors they are now called “Dollar General Stores.” ***