Nebraska Work Trip: September 2021

With a large core switch replacement project on the docket for my workplace, I loaded up to head back to Lincoln/Omaha Nebraska to be onsite for the big move. As a side tangent, this also gave me a chance to check in on the city I left behind three years ago when I left for Indiana.

A lot has changed, but under the hood, there are familiar lines of the Lincoln I knew.

For starters, Lincoln is back under a “mask mandate” after months of freedom without any restrictions whatsoever. Many residents are outright ignoring the mandate, and most businesses won’t even enforce it.

A very interesting dynamic has developed between those who willingly go along with the government-directed rules on COVID, versus those who maintain their own course of action in life regardless of external direction.

For me personally, I won’t put on a mask again – especially if it’s between the entry door to an establishment and the five seconds I’ll be inside until I get to my table/seat and am legally “allowed” to take the mask off.

Heaven above… how much farther must they take this idiocy? Good mercy.

The most surprising instance of this while in Lincoln was when I was formally asked to leave my favorite old cigar bar – Jakes – because I refused to put on a mask between the front door and a seat at the bar.

I mean, seriously – you’re going to allow me to sit in a chair, and breathe secondhand cigar smoke into your bar for hours on end, but God have mercy on me if I dare to stand up and walk to the door. At that point, I’d have murderous intent and wouldn’t be “trusting the science”.

These people are dumber than the dirt they were born on.

The Grata Bar and Lounge (my former neighborhood favorite) took the complete opposite stance. They publically stated that they were going to ignore all mask and vaccine mandates, and keep their doors open for business to any and all. If the government tried to stop them, they’d be met with fierce resistance.

You know what? From talking to the staff, they’re crammed full every single day with customers of like mind to them. Business is booming for them to such a degree that they’re actually in the process of opening up their second location. Go figure.

This is their parking lot at 10:30AM on a Saturday morning. Completely full – with a line out the door.

Many businesses have felt the impact of everything going on in our country, and been on the devastating receiving end of it.

This shopping center was completely full of local businesses three years ago – including my favorite Indian food restaurant in town. Now, it’s completely closed down – and most businesses here are also gone. Only the corporate chains with big corporate money behind them were able to survive.

This tends to be a recurring theme for many of the small “hole in the wall” Mom and Pop shops that I used to frequent.

My current employer, Nelnet, is also gearing up for their round of COVID policy enforcement. These “Vaxx Pass” cards were found in large quantities in the now-deserted cafeterias and meeting rooms.

I don’t doubt that they’ll try to force meeting and room restrictions on the unvaccinated once they try to initiate a large-scale return to the office from the remote workforce that we currently maintain.

Then again, this was all before Mr. Biden stated his “larger than 100 employees” vaccination mandate last week. It’s unclear yet at this time as to how the company is going to respond to it.

I may not be working here much longer.

At least the corporate money flowing in and out of Nelnet can buy a pretty nice sunset view out of my 7th Floor office. This was taken the night before the big cutover I was in town for.

As for me, getting set up in a cushy hotel room with company expense account money is something I can’t personally bring myself to partake of.

I’m content with far less in life; I can’t bring myself to needlessly spend others’ money on undesired comfort. It simply isn’t me. Never has been.

After talking to my uncle, I received permission to camp out on his farm ranch out near the countryside town of Waverly, NE – not too far from Lincoln. This gave me a peaceful camping opportunity out in the woods, a moderate ways away from people and the city.

This gave me an excellent opportunity to practice some of the on-the-road self sufficiency tactics that I’ve been learning for months now. Bushcraft living, combined with leveraging the land to provide food, fire, and shelter.

Funny how the woods give me greater peace of mind these days than any human conversation seems to be able to. Maybe that’s the way it ought to be.

Overall, it was an interesting trip. Probably not one I’d care to repeat, and thankfully won’t have to repeat for years.

I need to begin more heavily fortifying my position out in rural Indiana. With more totalitarian policies for COVID lockdown being pushed by the White House, it may only be a matter of time before an Alternate Economy needs to be constructed in full force to protect local jobs. Protect local families. Protect the livelihoods we’ve built for ourselves.

When that time comes, it’s going to require a wide blend of different skills and resources from the local populace to be able to weather the coming storm. “Grid” independence needs to be created on multiple fronts, and agricultural and livestock supplies need to be sustainably installed to ensure local resource availability.

It’s a daunting task, but it’s a task that I MUST rise to the occasion on.

The time for rest is later. The time for hardened action is now.



Caleb Huggenberger is a 31 year-old systems engineer, old-school guitar and amplifier builder, and Eastern culture enthusiast. Outside of long work days, he enjoys electronics engineering, cast iron campfire cooking, and homesteading on his acreage in the Indiana countryside.

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