As someone who appreciates the wonder and beauty of everyday life, flowers are easily something that catch my attention whenever I see them in somebody’s house or planted in a landscaped front lawn. What type of flowers are they? Where do they line up with the sun? Do the leaves look healthy? Does this person even know what a watering can is? I write articles week after week about the great things that internships and mentors in our community bring to the table, while my own experiences in the subject naturally relive themselves in memories during those interviews. Upon recollection, I remember my first few times working out at the greenhouse during my pre-teen years -- those same years where no one was right but me and I couldn’t produce a serious thought in my head without an immature joke mustering its way forward.
I always felt scientists were a strange bunch. They seem to get into too many details when studying their subject matter and then come up with an answer to questions I never even thought about. Making matters worse, some of their conclusions can scare a guy to death. Scientists also are courageous. They expose themselves to life-threatening bacteria searching for the causes of diseases; tromp through dangerous environments collecting samples; and even confront humans on subjects few want to acknowledge or can’t understand. Can you imagine scientists or a bunch more formally called entomologists who decided to find out just how many spiders, crustaceans and other creepy crawlers (aka arthropods) live in the average American home. Well, a scientific study was made in 50 North Carolina homes.
Hampton Public Schools and the community as a whole face a monumental decision regarding the future of an aging elementary school building. Should the district move forward with preliminary plans to build a new elementary school and connect it to the high school, or would it make more sense to renovate the old one? And what if the answer from district patrons to both of those options is no? That is a multi-million dollar question, which according to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal can no longer be postponed or ignored. While they are addressing the district’s future needs, should school board members and administrators also include plans for a new competition or practice style gymnasium? Is that truly a need, or more of a want? The lives of students and families are certainly impacted by early morning and late evening practices, but how has that changed over the years and how much are patrons willing to spend to have better gym access?
More than 35 years after Bill and Jan Whitney first created the Prairie Plains Resource Institute, their vision is coming into focus now, perhaps even clearer than they might have imagined in their wildest dreams. A nonprofit entity that long ago earned credibility for its ability to preserve, explore and share the diversity of nature here in the Heartland, PPRI has now reached a whole new level of maturity. The pending purchase of the Tom Sherman Ranch west of Marquette opens so many new doors, expanding the organization’s view as well as that of any and all who venture outdoors to what they hope and believe will resemble a national park experience.
A couple of weeks ago a friend in Minnesota told us she was wishing for colder weather because the lake ice was still pretty thin for this time of year. Of course she was conscious of ice thickness because ice fishing season is normally in full swing weeks before Christmas. The betterhalf warned her to be careful for what she wishes for. Just like the betterhalf had told me to be careful about my wishing for something, our Minnesotan found her wishes to come true. Over a 72-hour period this past week she experienced temperatures of 26, 32 and 27 below zero. We have no report the weather was cold enough for her to be happy with her fulfilled wish. *** I wonder what percentage of married couples enjoy watching the same TV programs together. I realize I am one of the few fortunate husbands whose wife watches sports and likes football best.
He was, in a word, presidential. Barack Obama rocked the house last week in Omaha, delivering a message that ignited a clearly pro-Democratic crowd while also reminding anyone and everyone how and why he got elected. He was genuine. He was funny. He was full of energy and optimism. And, even after acknowledging that he got “whupped” by voters in the Cornhusker state during the 2012 election, he said he loved Nebraska anyway, and it was hard not to believe that he meant it. Say what you will about Obama’s politics, and there is a lot to say on so many fronts, his visit to the UNO campus was a feel-good event. Not only does he command a presence, he comes off as a likable guy. That leaves a lasting impression, especially here in the Heartland.
I didn’t vote him, but I came home from Omaha last week with a new perspective on our nation’s 44th president. Barack Obama can’t leave office soon enough as far as I’m concerned, but what I witnessed last week made me understand how he got elected. He’s a sincere, likable guy, up close and personal, a persona he converted into votes not once but twice on election day. I’m glad I took the time to go see and hear a man I’d probably enjoy playing a round of golf with, though I’d prefer he not report for work in our nation’s most powerful office. I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of folks of all political persuasion who feel the same way. I’ve had the honor and privilege of seeing three U.S. presidents, each of whom made an indelible impression. I sat in on a Ronald Reagan news conference back in 1985 in Washington and covered Bill Clinton on his one and only visit to Nebraska in 2008. Each was an experience I’ll never forget.
I’ve finally reached the stage in my life where I feel society has overtaken me as it seems I fall further and further behind with technology and more specifically that thing called a “smartphone.” Of course it’s easy to criticize something you can’t operate. However, it makes it worse when you find the betterhalf has advanced in the tech world and now is a constant reminder of learning about those technological advances her new smartphone has brought her. In a sense she has become a madwoman in the way she commands her new phone. She now texts her grandsons (because that is the only way to since they no longer answer land-phone communication). Now when I question what the weather is going to do, the betterhalf can’t wait to punch a few numbers and tell me the hourly, detailed weather changes for the next 24-hour period.
Rising property taxes and roads funding. As the 2016 legislative session begins in Lincoln, those two issues should be among the top priorities facing state lawmakers. The can has been kicked down the proverbial road for years on these two fronts, though we’re quickly running out of road on a path that is simply not sustainable. Property taxes are talked about every year it seems, especially as it relates to K-12 education funding and the heavy burden placed on ag producers. That burden has grown exponentially in recent years, which is particularly painful when commodity prices are as low as they are.
Prior to Christmas the betterhalf purchased a new coffeepot. Since I don’t drink coffee I was not consulted about the purchase. But, because I am the first one up in the morning, it became my job to start the automatic coffeepot so she can stumble from the bedroom to the kitchen for her morning cup of java. This new coffeepot, I have found, is called by its formal name, “FLEXBREW.” I guess that title was selected because if you flip the brew selector to the left it brews a full pot and if the selector is turned to the right it makes only one cup. Of course like all accommodating husbands I never read the directions because the betterhalf had already demonstrated the “automatic” of the new brew pot. And again like all husbands by the next morning I was trying to recall what she told me.