A seasonable Autumn day is as good a time as any to reflect upon a few aspects of my home state of Nebraska. A websearch for information about this state will bring up the usual list. Statehood began March 1, 1867, state flower is the goldenrod, state bird the western meadowlark and the state motto is “Equality Before The Law”. Besides being geographically located in the middle of the lower 48 states, Nebraska’s per capita income is smack dab in the middle of the list ranking 25th at $31,339.
Political science professors in Nebraska like to toot the legislature’s horn. Our state has the only one-house legislative body in the U.S. It’s called the “Unicameral”. Officially the body is non-partisan, but if you inquire about nearly any senator, you’ll find a staunch Republican.
The Unicameral, The Governor and the Supreme Court meet in the state capitol building famous for being one of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings in the world. Locals lovingly refer to it as the penis of the plains.
The attractiveness of the building is more than skin-deep. Inside, you’ll find artistic and architectural treasures worth the guided tour.
Aside from agriculture, Nebraska started some common consumer items. They include Cliffs Notes that were developed by Clifton Hillegass from Rising City, Nebraska. Of dubious note is Kool-Aid which was invented by Edwin Perkins in 1927 in Hastings, Nebraska. I never touch the stuff, though. We have the home offices of ConAgra, Mutual of Omaha Insurance (of Wild Kingdom fame), InfoUSA, Ameritrade, Union Pacific Railroad, and Cabela’s sports outfitters. The famous “Vise-Grip” wrench was invented and manufactured in DeWitt, Nebraska until the entire operation was outsourced to China, of course. The Japanese have their Kawasaki Manufacturing Plant in Lincoln. They make Jet-Skis, ATVs and “Mules”.
Our most famous contribution to sports is Cornhusker football, go big red, the team of the University of Nebraska. Aside from football, U of N is a very fine school.
In case you’ve only flown over the state in an airliner, you might have wondered about the climate here. Or maybe not. Here in eastern Nebraska, we have what is euphemistically known as “humid continental climate”. Translated, that means miserably sultry, hot summers with destructive thunderstorms along with frigid, windy winters featuring various forms of frozen water precipitation.
Out in western Nebraska, they’re more fortunate to enjoy a “semi-arid” climate. They get the heat of summer with much less humidity. Winters feature the same mixture of frozen precipitation, but usually less of it than in the eastern half of the state.
Record temperatures, statewide, have ranged from around minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit to around 120 degrees Fahrenheit as extremes. Usually, the temperatures are much less radical than those numbers indicate.
If you plan a visit, bring plenty of sunscreen and light clothing for the warm months. A heavy coat, preferably a parka, with cap, gloves or mittens and boots for the cold months. If you plan on walking in the winter, mittens are best for the hands. You may need a face mask and ear coverings to protect yourself from lung damage and frostbite.
If you’re driving, make sure your mobile phone is charged, you pack some emergency food rations (blizzard kit), and the aforementioned clothing should you get stranded.
The political climate is likewise often a bit chilly, too. Even though the state motto, “Equality Before The Law” is chiselled into the capitol building and is emblazoned upon the state flag and official seal, there seems to be a bit of a problem instituting said equality. Like Wyoming, the Equality State, there is still plenty of resistance to the concept of full equality for each and every citizen. But us progressives are working on it. You can’t say we don’t like big challenges!
Overall, folks here are pretty nice people and are outwardly fairly decent. New York, California and Hawai’i might be famously fabulous states, but Nebraska has its bright spots, too. If you’re tired of hype and overcrowding, Nebraska is a nifty place in the heartland of the Great Plains. If you’re progressive, we could sure stand to have a few more like you around here.
The Blue Jay of Happiness is right at home in Nebraska.