Fair Weathered

IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SP… — As a friend of mine has researched, there have been 172 days with snow on the ground in Minot. & being that, in the winter at ol’ N48’24″°, the sun usually rises around 0830 and sets around 1630, we get a grand total of eight hours of sunlight in the peak of winter. In fact, we received another couple of inches of snow this morning. Seasonal Affective Disorder knows no bounds in its cozy home of North Dakota.

Rent-a-RN — With my squadron out of country with me a few stragglers left behind, there has been a shortage of radar navigators for use in training missions. Since my upgrade to an experienced Radar Navigator, I have had two flights: one with an inexperienced navigator who was having a terrible day with their timing, and the next I sat in the instructor seat and watched two inexperienced navigators to make sure they didn’t eject themselves out of the aircraft or fly us into a mountain. When did I become the babysitter/rent-a-radar? Whatever, it sure beats being almost-experienced and people treating you like a n00b. Feels good, man.

Oh, and get this: the other day I had a flight and the next day I was flying the exact same flight in the simulator. Yeah, right. Because of sequestration, some of the new guys aren’t getting the flights and hours they need. So I asked a few of them if they’d like to have the simulator time I was scheduled for. They were already scheduled for a bunch of shit work, like duty officer (man a desk) or vault guard (stand around). So, out of the goodness of my heart, I swapped the vault guard duty so the n00b could get some training. As I was letting him borrow my flight operations check lists, he said, “Well, I actually don’t really need this simulator. I did one a few days ago and have all my requirements.” I gave him the nicest butt-chewing possible and this happened:

WCMD. — This week I got to drop two by CBU-103s, or Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers (containing a bunch of tiny bombs inside it). Hardly anyone in our squadron has had the opportunity. No big deal, right? I even got a video of it, but can’t post it here. Sorry, ladies and gents. Just had to brag about it, though. Watch an extremely similar YouTube video from the Military Channel here. Yeah, get some. Ladies bringing the cluster bomb hurt… Twice. I told all the aircrew that it looked like “a glitter bomb went off.”

Way Down Upon the Swanee River — I had an epiphany the other day. I was thinking that I haven’t done much in the way of community service in Minot; no real “giving back”. I was kicking around the idea of volunteering at the animal shelter, helping the pets that might have run away like Cammie did a few months ago. Then I was thinking about how when I lived with my Grandma for a short time in college, how much she enjoyed hearing me play piano.

Yes! That was it! I first called The Parker, an elderly home community downtown and asked if they had any use for a piano player in the evenings, but preferably weekends (50 hours a week jobs and evening activities don’t necessarily mix). They hesitantly replied evenings. Phooey.

Next, I called Trinity Health, a local hospital with a Special Elderly Care/Alzheimer’s Annex literally across the street from my home. They informed me they have numerous upright pianos, and even a baby grand piano in the main (gigantic) foyer. So, for the past three weekends, I’ve been starting out in the Alzheimer’s wing for an hour at 1000, then moving to a lunch area at 1100, then the main foyer before bingo at 1300. I’ve already met a few repeat listeners (fans?), including Will, Walter, Myrtle, and Mr. Alan Boat. This past week, unbeknownst to me, $3 Bingo was moved to earlier and I wouldn’t have my usual grand piano crowd before the games begun. I wheeled ol’ Walter down there with me and just sat playing. Within fifteen minutes, the audience had grown right behind me to seven or eight. “I heard a piano tinkling and I’m glad I found you!”

I play everything from Gershwin to Sinatra to musicals. It’s super fun and it sure beats practicing at home.I may have the events coordinator put me on the community center schedule since a few have been sad they missed me play or didn’t know I was going to do a program. If you’re in the Minot area, come out to Trinity Place Saturdays! I know volunteers are always needed to help score Bingo cards, get members to events and just sit and chat. I saw the bubba who I gave the aforementioned simulator to this week there helping out. Good first impression, mate!

Two Countries Strong — Last weekend was the International Military Ball in Minot. The Canadians come down with their kilts and drums and bagpipes and play some music. A very glamorous older lady walked up to me, pulled me aside, and complimented my gold silk deco-style gown. Little did I know, it was the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. No big deal…

Anyway, the food was awful but it was nice to see everyone in their best. I will pick up the professional photo this week from the photographer. By the way, on the photographer’s table, front and center was a print of Me, Larry, Devin, and Stephanie from last year’s event. I told the lady working the table I wanted to look just like HER (and pointed to me). I’m not sure she got the joke. My hair looks like Agyness Deyn now instead of Angelina Jolie. Trade ya faces.

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