Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once in a blue moon…black helicopters and missing money

When I was growing up I thought the phrase “once in a blue moon” meant something very special and very rare. Now I understand that not only is the moon NOT blue, but that a blue moon occurs, on average, every 2.7 years. It can even happen twice in a single calendar year.

Still, the occasion of a blue moon seems an appropriate time to reflect on a couple of things that happened this past week, both of them surprising and rare.

First, I experienced black helicopters. Okay, not the silent stealth helicopters that figure in conspiracy theory. These were fairly loud, quite visible, and announced in advance: U.S. Special Operations Command would be carrying out urban training exercises all week in St. Paul and Minneapolis, using Black Hawk and Hughes 500 helicopters as part of the maneuvers.

Still, sitting outdoors at a minor league baseball game, it can be jarring when three military helicopters in perfect formation to come flying over the stadium from beyond the right field line before moving off toward downtown Minneapolis. Six more sets followed, alternating in groups of three and four. It was an odd sensation. They looked serious, loaded, ready for business. Some people seemed to react, as I did, with a little chill. It reminded me a bit of walking out my front door in Milwaukee in 1968 to see a National Guard tank rolling down the middle of the street. There had been rioting, the Guard was there to keep the peace, and I had not felt comforted. Seeing the Black Hawks overhead this week, I thought for just a second what could happen now, if society broke into open fighting or if an occupying force, foreign or domestic, moved in.

It was only a momentary chill, and quite clearly not everyone shared it. Many were simply surprised, and some smiled and waved as each helicopter went over. I could understand the impulse, because today in America we are very much into saluting and thanking our armed forces. But these special ops teams were not out for a sight-seeing tour. They were in serious training, and somehow it seemed wrong, or at least odd, to wave.

I learned from comments on a web site that the helicopters spent a lot of time in downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul, buzzing the tall buildings and landing on rooftops. Reactions ranged from “Cool!” to “What’s happening—I’m scared!”

I think it’s fair to say this will happen only once in a blue moon.

My second rare and surprising experience: I got back some “unclaimed assets.” Have you seen the long lists of names in the newspapers, where the state says these people have money coming to them? I gave up checking them because I never saw my name there, and really, why would it be?

A few weeks ago my brother Allen, who works for the State of Minnesota, told me he saw my name, with an old address, on, the website that Minnesota now uses in place of the names-in-a-newspaper system. Sure enough, it was my name and my address, and it said I was owed “More than $100.” The party owing me money was an insurance company with whom I’d had my first life insurance policy. When I saw that, something clicked. I’d seen a notice about policyholders being owed money in a distribution of assets, but I had dismissed it.

All I had to do now was enter some contact information plus, ahem, my Social Security number. That gave me pause. I began checking the authenticity of the site. I could find no complaints online, no mention of scams. In fact, reputable financial writers referred to this service as useful, and recommended checking one’s own name as well as older relatives who might have a forgotten old savings account or a distribution that couldn’t reach them because a company that owed them money only had an old address. Wait, that sounded familiar.

So I filled in the online form, which was submitted to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and I said to my husband, “Wonder whether I’ll ever hear from them.”

This week I got a check from the state. For nearly $800.

That, too, will probably only happen once in a blue moon. But I am encouraged by the fact that blue moons aren't as scarce as I once thought.


Grandmother Mary said...

I can hear the uneasiness as you write about the helicopters. I share your ambivalence about military maneuvers over downtown. But the money? Nothing but great! Good for you- enjoy!

Wayne said...

Wow - care to send more blue moons my way? :)

Red said...

Two great stories in one on the blue moon thing.
You hear about these happenings where people get back long lost money but you're the first person I know to actually get money. Love it!

Ms Sparrow said...

I know some people were uninformed about the helicopters and were really freaked out. I only saw one small news article in the paper about it so they could have done a better job of spreading the word. With terrorism popping up all over the world, lots of folks have raw nerves. Congratulations on your windfall!

Linda Myers said...

I saw the blue moon from the deck of a schooner in Maine. But being there was the only good thing that happened. Lucky you!

DJan said...

Nice to get $800 you didn't know about! And I agree with you regarding the Black helicopters. Our country is doing a lot of stuff that I am a little bit glad I don't know what it is, since there's nothing I can do about it anyway.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I would not have liked seeing the helicopters downtown or near downtown..but I suppose they have to practice. How nice to have an unexpected check! The blue moon was lucky for you! :)

Jeanie said...

I have heard the phrase "once in a blue moon" all my life but never knew what it meant until I was grown. Your "blue moon" experiences are interesting. The helicopters would have been a sight to see and a little scary without a warning ahead of time.
Congrats on the "found" money!

Teresa Evangeline said...

Earlier this summer, as I was standing in my garden, two military cargo planes flew low and slow, right over the treetops along the edge of my property. I suppose they came from Fort Ripley, but it was a surreal scene, and gave me the chills.

Let's hope those black helicopters continue to be a once in a blue moon occurrence.

I've checked the money link, but so far nothing... :)

Nancy said...

Gotta love the money from heaven! yay!

As for the helicopters - I am not at all excited to see them. I get the same feeling from them that you do.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Nancy! 800 bucks? That's great! But black ops copters? Hmmm, not so much. Say, can you lend me a ten-spot til payday? Indigo x

Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

Oh, I'm sure the helicopters caused hearts to skip a beat or two. My city boasts NORAD, Fort Carson, Peterson Field and the Air Force Academy so we actually see a lot of odd aircraft at various times. Loudest and most unnerving is when the USAF jets practice for flyovers they do during Falcon football games.
The money? Woo-hoo! Always search our name when such things are published, hoping to come into some unexpected cash. Never have I come up with anything. You hit the jackpot, for sure, a worthy blue moon bonus!

troutbirder said...

Special ops landing on rooftops in my downtown St Paul. Whoda thought. My dad was a banker and worked most of this life at the 1st Nation there....


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