I had been waiting to post until I had something with a theme, but it's apparent that isn't happening anytime soon. At the risk of falling way behind, I will present in note form.
1. I found a place to live in Pipestone. I hate renting.
2. The cottonwood trees are blooming, as are a few prairie wildflowers. It gets greener outside every day. No pictures to prove it right now. Weather has been pleasant if a little bit of spitting rain now and then.
3. The chipping sparrows are back in force, as are grackles. No warblers yet, but any day now. I heard a white-throated sparrow last week, but never saw any. Frowny-face.
4. I spent about 6 hours laboring over a projector swap-out at the visitor center. Without getting into the details, it involved some extremely tricky work to get the lenses swapped out. It was tedious, I had to find the right tools at the maintenance shop, and until I got that one pesky last screw out, I didn't think it was going to happen. Just knowing that it had been done once before kept me going as much as the superintendent's encouragement that it was wrecked anyway and it didn't matter if I made the old projector any worse. I think I had 31 screws on the table at one point, and somehow only 29 of them found their way back in. They were redundant anyway. Next time, the park will just have to buy a projector where the lens snaps in, like in our new projector setup at the campground. I probably saved the park - and the taxpayers - $10,000. Take that to the bank, crybabies.
5. I participated in karaoke night at La Playa Mexican Restaurant in Beach. I hold the distinction of being the lowest score on the opening round of that new tradition. It wasn't because I didn't know the words to my selection of "Fat" by Weird Al Yankovic, but because the karaoke machine was all wrong. Whatever. Valerie won the contest, achieving a lifelong goal and a $50 prize. If it took me coming in last to enable that to happen, I can live with that. My "consolation" prize was a free drink token, as if to say, "Yeah, you might have done better if you had downed a couple margaritas before attempting that."
6. The panic over swine flu is ridiculous. Some statistics: There have been 985 cases reported WORLDWIDE and only 26 deaths. For comparison, an average of 100 people die in automobile crashes in the United States alone EVERY SINGLE DAY. History Lesson: in 1976, the U.S. Government required mandatory inoculations against a swine flu outbreak; one person died of swine flu and 25 died from the inoculation. Get real, people.
7. Twice this week I have answered questions about concealed weapons in the park. Federal law prohibits concealed weapons in national parks. Period. "Yeah, we were thinking of backcountry camping in the park and were wondering about taking our handgun with us." What do you think you are possibly going to use it for?
8. Ranger Mary Ellen and I put together a chart of the low temperatures in Medora in the starvation winter of 1886-1887 in which Theodore Roosevelt lost 60% of his cattle (some ranchers lost up to 80%) and the unusually severe winter of 2008-2009. The results are fairly interesting, and are illustrated below. The blue line is 1886-87, and the temperatures were measured not far away in Glendive, MT. Some of the data was missing. The red line was this past winter. The dashed line is the freezing point.
Most interesting is the trend from January to February. In 2009, it gradually trended warmer, but in 1886-87 is stayed about the same or even trended slightly colder. Brutal. Hopeless. Endless winter.
I mention endless winter again because it has been chilly, wet, and cloudy a lot lately. I can't complain because my nose hairs don't freeze on the way to work anymore, but I guess I kind of miss that.
9. I'm headed to Bismarck on Thursday to finish up my CPR/AED and First Aid training. I took the classes online, which was slick and easy, but I have to go do the practical part. CPR for the Professional Rescuer was not available in North Dakota, which is what I originally learned for lifeguarding when I was 15, and the relatively easy regular CPR/AED is a breeze. No bag valve masks (BVMs) or two-person CPR in the standard course. It's interesting that in a decade, several things have changed about CPR, such as the compression ratios (relatively more chest thrusts now) and how to deal with active choking. Spending the day in Bismarck presents restaurant opportunities. I had assumed we would automatically be going to Famous Dave's but Amber doesn't want to do that. I think that's more insane that not using a breathing barrier when you do CPR.
20 days left at Theodore Roosevelt... For now.