[This is the executive summary. Titilating details can be found by reading the whole shendangle.]
Rick was born in Postville, Iowa, on August 3, 1951 (he's 65 and will still be 65 when he wins the election), the second son of Bill and Helen Stewart.
His family moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, when he was 8 years old.
He attended Iowa public schools through eighth grade, then won a scholarship to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1969, in spite of a fair share of authority problems encountered along the way.
He attended Menlo College in Menlo Park, California, for one year, then came back to Iowa for a summer session at Clinton Community College, where he failed to excel. His mother enrolled him at Iowa State University without his knowledge, but it turned fortuitous when the summer ended and Rick had no other plans.
He lasted for one mind altering semester before dropping out and taking an extended mind expanding trip to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. We're being somewhat frivolous - the foreign trip involved only hashish, getting progressively better as he moved from Morocco to Lebanon to Afghanistan, where the freshly hand pressed Afghani black cost two cents a gram (later the War on Drugs gave the Afghans the opportunity to get into the heroin business, with which they financed the Taliban, and you know the rest of the story).
Returning to Maquoketa after two years on the road, Rick sought profitable employment and found it as a member of the Maquoketa Police Department. His Chief of Police Buddy Olson became a lifelong friend, but Buddy was forced to execute the onerous demands of the Mayor to fire Rick when he refused to shave off his beard (extremely short, well trimmed, quite unlike any of his various other beards).
Rick took a job as a carpenter's helper for a few months before moving to Cedar Rapids. He owned a van, he owned a motorcycle, he had $5,000 in cash and he planned to make a five year South America run, but he wanted to learn how to fix the innards of the vehicles before he took them out of the country and subjected himself to shady mechanics.
He never made it out of Cedar Rapids. Two years later he had a degree in Agricultural Mechanics from Kirkwood Community College, a van, a motorcycle, a wife and baby, and $5,000 of very non-liquid inventory - herbs and spices (the legal kind). Frontier Cooperative Herbs had been born (a few days before the baby).
Frontier consumed the next 24 years of his life, but it was a joyous ride. From just a hobby in a cabin to a $40 million business with 300 employees Frontier never rose to the number one spot in Rick's life, however, which was occupied by raising his four children. And at times Frontier was only a poor third behind getting a BA from Coe College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
In 1999 Rick called it quits and started travelling the world again. A year and a half in Paris, a summer in Spain, a permanent apartment in Guatemala, four months studying Chinese in Beijing, four children married (and two divorced), visits to Burma, Cuba, North Korea, and quite a few other countries filled his time to the brim. Somewhere in there he hiked the Appalachian Trail, and he was planning to ride his mountain bike the length of the Mississippi River this summer until this election thing came along.
You see a funny thing happened in 2012. Rick's favorite presidential candidate was neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but a Libertarian - Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. It didn't take a crystal ball to see Gary's chances wavered between slim and nil unless he were included in the presidential debates, so Rick decided to take on that project. He moved to Washington DC, opened an office in a local coffee shop, and within a week had been banned from the entire building where the Commission on Presidential Debates had its tiny little office. Too much sand in the works, you might say.
After six weeks discovering Washington DC really is a viper pit Rick came back to Iowa with a different set of tactics. Shortly thereafter three of the 'National Sponsors' (who never actually put a nickel into the pot) withdrew their 'sponsorship' (note the three blank spaces in the sponsor list), and news was made. It was the first time any sponsor had ever pulled out of the presidential debates. The wall had a crack in it. In the end Rick was unable to persuade any of the remaining seven 'National Sponsors' to withdraw, but the thrill of the hunt, coupled with his disgust with the prey, persuaded Rick there was a lot more to be accomplished if he just put his mind to it. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were particulcarly clever, they were just entrenched. Deeply entrenched, but not unbeatable, if voters are given an alternative.
So, after an Iowa senate seat became open to the best wo/man standing, he knew there was no way he could ride his bicycle for 3,000 miles on the Mississippi River Trail without driving himself crazy worrying about what the Republicans and the Democrats were going to do next to ramp up America's hate affair with their politicians. He knew he had to stop them. He decided to ride his bicycle 3,000 miles around Iowa instead, giving Iowa voters a unique opportunity to change our state and the world, for the better, by voting for an Independent.