What Do You Do, BePa?

Feb 22, 2024
Written by: Rod Wilson

It was President’s Day weekend, and my grandkids were lucky enough to have Monday, President’s Day, off from school. The decision was made to head for their home in West Fargo and spend a couple days with them. Yeah, I am BePa, and that is a story for another day. We have 4 grandchildren ages 12, 10, 7 & 3. After supper the kid’s kind of fell into their normal routines. Note: Normal routines. What does that truly mean?

The oldest, a grandson who is in 8th grade hooked up with his buddy and started to play a video game. Later he explained to me that there can be several players sharing the game, but tonight it was just him and his good friend Jordan.
The next grandson grabbed the virtual reality headsets and was instantly sent to the world of working in some type of service industry. Both grandma and BePa were just amazed at the reality of what he was doing. Pushing at buttons, shaking his head, yes, and moving about a small area doing his job.

Then there is our 7 year old granddaughter, the only granddaughter (so far) who was sent to her room to do some cleaning. A quick tour allowed me to ascertain that this job was not going to be finished anytime soon, especially when putting away one toy allowed to 3-4 to be pulled out of the various toy storage areas in her bedroom.

Then there is the youngest grandson, and my best description for him is “the Energizer Bunny”, because he is pretty much on the go, consistently. He pretty much leaves a wake of toys anywhere he goes. There was a strong suggestion that he, too, spend some time cleaning his room. I have to applaud grandma for wading into the room and finding the floor as she put away about 50% of the toys that had been left strewn about the room.

So, what’s the story, Rod? Kind of sounds like most normal millennial families, right? Grandparents in total amazement of the technology available to their grandchildren. But it was a follow up conversation with my 10 year old grandson that opened my eyes.

So how are things going in school Charles? What class do you like the most? Congrats for being the student of the month! Small talk to get on the same page and find some common ground. And then: “Hey BePa, what do you do for work? Dad says you are a writer. What does a writer do?”, and before I could start to answer the first questions “and what do you write about?”

Where do you start? I decided to ripple the waters a bit and talk about B 52 bombers. “What are they?” And then another suggestion “about the Minuteman missiles, and the Minot Air Force Base “that got us absolutely nowhere. There was a bit of a spark of interest in the B 52’s, but I can’t really say we were on a fast track to anywhere.
We had a chat about how many B 52 bombers the United States had, and where they were located. Then we talked about the missiles and how they were a deterrence force and how many missile silos were located around Minot, and how the Northern Sentry was a newspaper dedicated exclusively to covering the activities on Minot Air Force Base.
And then…off he went with his virtual reality glassed to play another game and transform his world into one skillfully created by a skilled graphic artist.

As much as I was ready to help my grandson understand “what it is that I do”, I am thinking I fell short.
And then in a moment I thought “well what if there was a way to do a tour of Minot Air Force Base, or any other military base for that matter, and my grandkids could take the tour on their virtual reality glasses? Would that be possible, and of more importance; what would make my grandkids want to take the tour.”
Charles did say that he could fly a helicopter, or a spaceship in his virtual reality world. Why not teach the younger generations about the military missions through virtual reality glasses. Heck, it is probably already being done.
Maybe there needs to be a role reversal and BePa can put on the glasses and be sent to a virtual reality world? Hmmm……

The Whirl A Whip machine.

Best Kept Secrets
A friend told me that his son’s 3rd Grade class was going to ride Amtrak from Minot to Williston one day, and then spend a day at Fort Buford, the Yellowstone Confluence and Fort Union. Wow is that going to be a neat trip! First, all 3 of the destinations listed are kind of best kept secrets. And then, time allowing, they are going to stop in Stanley, at Dakota Drug and have a Whirl-A-Whip…another best kept secret. In my research, it appears that Dakota Drug may be the last of the Whirl-A-Whip (worth a google search) locations in the United States. “A Whirl-A-Whip is an ice cream treat that has candies or other ingredients mixed in. Just a few items you can mix into the ice cream are peanut butter, dill pickles, watermelon candies, and Oreo cookies.”
It’s certainly worth a family trip, although I am not sure dill pickles would be tops on my list.

Today’s Chuckle
Silicon Valley is always looking for disruptive technologies, but here’s the most disruptive technology of all: pressing the “off” button on your cellphone once in a while.

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