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A very short diversion -- an answer to a challenge




First, Two Explanatory Notes:

a)    Omaha Poker is played as follows: Four cards are dealt, followed by a betting round. A three card "flop" is turned over as a common board for all players to use. After a round of betting,, another card is revealed. After another betting round, a fifth card completes the board. Each player's  five card hand is now created by using exactly two cards from a player's hand, and exactly three cards from the board cards. Even if there are five spades on the board, you must have two spades in your hand to have a flush.

b)  We submitted the following story after experiencing a ride on the Goodyear Blimp. Authors were told to write a short story that began with the sentence: "An hour after sunset, as the Milky way emerged above the horizon, pilot Dan Truly raised the nose of the Spirit of America and was astonished to see…"

Flight 52 to Omaha
by A.A. Wolfner
  • An hour after sunset, as the Milky Way emerged above the horizon, pilot Dan Truly raised the nose of the Spirit of America and was astonished to see…
  • a flock of geese passing back and forth across the blimp’s path; first three went to the left, then two went to the right
  • He heard a shuffling behind his back. Passengers cut a path in the aisle when the steward walked down from the upper deck and dealt with  unruly passengers standing in a pack at the back of the compartment. 
  • As he called them by name, all faces turned toward him
  • I could not sleep, and knew this would be another all-nighter, but towards morning all hands fell into a calm silence.  
  • Seven large black birds climb high to catch up with the rising fuselage. 
  • After eight or nine minutes, the all but the highest of the birds had dropped out of sight. 
  • All of them flew behind a large fluffy cloud floating ten hundred feet high over the diminished landscape below. 
  • For myself, I could not picture a more impressive vista, high over the tallest hills. 
  • The ace pilot of the craft probably no longer appreciated the mystery of flight high above the ordinary world. 
  • A pair of stars seemed to twinkle in the distance, but fog had obliterated the night sky more than two hours ago.
  •  The stars grew larger; soon and a pair of three-winged vintage airplanes approached slowly through the sparse white clouds. 
  • The airplanes each had two four-foot long stripes on each wing.
  • raised a pair of dry hands to the window and pressed both sets of five fingers against the window to clear sparkling condensation spreading along the glass.
  • pair of six-packs of soda interrupted my enthralled viewing as they passed among the passengers.
  •  I saw the soda but asked for a seven and seven. Alas, there no alcohol on board to stimulate my already energized imagination. The steward was a tall, lanky fellow with thin glasses that sketched an almost comical figure-8 across his eyes. 
  • He had another pair of eights in his pocket, just in case.
  •  I assumed he would be one for dry conversation, so I suggested he lead us in singing “99 bottles” to pass the time and avoid a cold, intellectual chat. 
  • Nobody agreed, and I later realized that I approved of that decision. It was only ten minutes to ten o’clock. I regretted not having eaten breakfast. Lunch was too far off. 
  • I scouted my back-pack for snacks and came up with a pair of candy jack-o’lanterns left over from Halloween. 
  • I also found a pair of Queen-sized chocolate bars and two copies of an old recipe for King Crab stew.
  • I kept looking, and when I found a pair of boxes containing my favorite mints I shouted, “I’ve aced this test!” before realizing how foolish that sounded. 
    • Within a few minutes, I ate three of the two-toned mint chocolates. 
    • It took another three minutes to eat three more. People were watching me devour the treats. 
    • All four nearby passengers asked me to break a fourth mint into four pieces.
    • The boxes of mints were five inches long, five inches wide, and five inches tall, and held a lot of mints.
    • Still, I had a devilish idea, and scrawled “666” on the frosty window to amuse my less friendly inner self.
    • I eventually gave in, but then ordered three 7-ups and passed them around knowing that mints made a poor accompaniment to the drink. 
    • While people drank the soda and I chomped on more mints, the intercom squealed out an announcement that an eight-minute long piano tune would be played, because the captain loved the old “88’s” and expected everyone to enjoy the rag-time tune.
    • Nine times out of nine, I would have loved to hear the music, but within nine seconds I realized I was too tired to pay attention. 
    • When I yawned for the tenth time I decided that a ten-minute nap would be better than paying attention to old piano music. 
    • I had just dozed off when three guys started talking loudly, and someone yelled, “Hey, Jack, keep it quiet while the music is playing.” It was obvious none of the passengers went by that name, because they kept talking.
    •  “More like three Queens,” I thought, and conjured a gaggle of women talking at a restaurant table without restraint. 
    • Then, to my surprise, three King-sized guys jumped from their seats, looking quite angry.
    • “I hope that complainer is an ace boxer, an ace wrestler, or an ace fast-talker,” I mumbled when I eyed the menacing trio. 
    • The complainer stood up, and headed straight for the lavatory. It was doubtless a very wise maneuver. Everyone, however, was now watching. 
    • When the complainer emerged from the lavatory and they stared at him, he flushed with embarrassment.
    •  I felt badly for him. It was not often that people had to make an obvious trip to the bathroom in front of a full house
    • The guy sat down, but things got worse as another brute joined the others. Now there were four of a kind for the complainer to worry about. They headed toward the complainer’s seat. 
    • The intellectual steward came straight down the aisle, flush with anger. 
    • “Sit down,” he said in a firm whisper, “or your Royal backsides will get flushed down that lavatory bowl!”
    • There was a hush over the whole compartment. Then another steward came from the upper deck where the crew had their break-room. 
    • He called out to the passengers, “Don’t be concerned. We have our foolishness upstairs as well. There’s obviously a joker on every deck of this craft!”

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