Unorganized Territory

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Life in unorganized territory
Updated: 1 hour 59 min ago

Where are we in June?

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:56pm

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

Where are we? Give us a guess!

We had many guesses in May—all correct. The waterfall that appears on the upper side if Highway 61 near Five Mile Rock is a familiar site to many. The waterfall has slowed to a trickle now and a winner has been drawn from the correct entries.

Congratulations to Don Hill of Lakeville, Minnesota who recognized the waterfall near 2021 East Highway 61 in the Colvill area.

Try your luck! Take a look at the June photo. If you think you know where we were when we took this picture, send us your answer.

You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers.

Whoever is drawn from the correct entries will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!

Return answer by mail, e-mail or fax to:

Cook County News-Herald

PO Box 757

Grand Marais MN 55604

Fax: 218-387-9500

Answer to the June WHERE ARE WE? must be received by July 13, 2015.

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Buried by technology

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 11:44am

I received a great email from someone recently, apologizing for taking so long to get back to me with an answer to a question I had asked. She stated that the email “got buried” in her inbox.

I can so relate to this! We get hundreds of emails every day at the News-Herald. The majority of them are junk or not relevant to our community. But each and every message has to be perused to make sure it’s not important.

There have been many times when I’ve been set to “trash” a message and at the last moment realized that the text of the email included the name of a local business or individual being recognized—or included a link that led to some exciting news for our readers.

For every 500 or so emails that claim to have a “local” connection, there is one that truly does.

It’s overwhelming at times and sadly, as my friend noted, sometimes things do get buried as new messages push the old ones further and further down the inbox list. I try to reverse the order in which I retrieve my messages occasionally, but that’s risky as then some get missed in the middle.

It used to be said that the number of keys a person carried was a good indicator of how busy his or her life was. Now I think it depends on the number of electronic methods of communications an individual has to deal with.

It’s hard to believe that email, which was relatively new in the 1980s has become such a vital tool in our everyday lives. And it’s hard to believe that what was once cutting edge technology is becoming passé. Now there is Facebook, Facebook private messaging, Messenger, Twitter, blogs to follow, forums to frequent, chatrooms, Skype and Facetime and so much more.

Just a few of the ways information reaches my desk these days!

It’s a bit mind-boggling keeping track of it all. Especially when you add in telecommunications—a few decades ago most of us had only two telephone numbers to share with others, work and home. Now with the omnipresent cell phone we all have three and along with it, text messaging.

It wouldn’t be so difficult if everyone was on the same page, but no such luck. I recently wanted to send out a message to a group of friends and found myself typing and then cutting and pasting the same message into a Facebook message, an email and a text.

Keeping track of the preferred method of communication for different friends and colleagues can be complicated. So, I could empathize with the friend who found my email message days after it had been sent. It made me feel better about the many times the same thing has happened to me.

Maybe we’d be better off just writing a letter and dropping it in the mailbox!


Your email inbox is a bit like a Las Vegas roulette machine. You know, you just check it and check it, and every once in a while there’s some juicy little tidbit of reward, like the three quarters that pop down on a one-armed bandit. And that keeps you coming back for more.

Douglas Rushkoff

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Unorganized scouting territory

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:44am

As I’ve mentioned in the past, sometimes I take a detour while writing Unorganized Territory. I start out with a certain subject and veer off to another, completely changing the topic and the tone of my weekly column.

That is exactly what happened last week when I started with a mention of being a Girl Scout leader. I meant to write a column about the joys and frustrations of being a leader and I somehow ending up commenting on the school board meeting that I missed because I was being a Girl Scout leader at the Court of Awards.

So this week, I’m back on the Girl Scout path. We’ll see if I can stay on task.

I really do want to share some thoughts on Girl Scouting, as our local group really needs more leaders and co-leaders. I’m hoping to entice some women who want to have an impact on the girls of tomorrow to join us.

One of “my” Girl Scouts, Kylie.

Leaders grow with their girls. The little ones that start with us in kindergarten get a new troop number that they keep through their years of scouting, along with their leader. I started as co-leader when “my girls” were first grade Brownies. I’m now the leader of the soon-to-be fifth grade Juniors of Troop 4109.

Leaders eventually work themselves out of their volunteer jobs. For example, Leader Arvis Thompson has had her troop members graduate high school and go off to college and other great adventures. Sandy Stover and Laura LaFavor’s girls are getting closer to graduation.

It’s a nice system of mentorship through the years. But it also creates a void. This year’s kindergarten troop of Daisies becomes next year’s first graders with the same leader. So we need leaders to step up for the next group of girls. We need moms or grandmothers or aunts to join them on their journey.

It is kind of scary. There are Girl Scout rules and regulations and a few financial forms to complete for dues and cookies. The established Girl Scout leaders help out as much as they can with meeting templates and activity suggestions and so on, but when it comes down to meeting time and keeping a bunch of energetic girls engaged, it can be challenging.

There have been more than a few meetings that I felt as if I spent the entire time barking orders. “Don’t tip your chair.” “Wait until it’s your turn to talk.” “Please put away your cell phone.” “If you can’t get along, you won’t get to sit next to each other.” And so on…

There have been weeks when I am scrambling to come up with an idea for a meeting activity to fulfill a badge requirement. My co-leader daughter-in-law Michele and I try to plan ahead, but let’s be realistic. We’re talking about unorganized territory here.

I don’t share the downside of scouting to dissuade someone from becoming a leader. On the contrary, I just want to be honest. Sometimes it is downright hard.

But, it is so worth it. For example, my troop has embarked on a wonderful community project with which to earn the Girl Scout Bronze award. I will not give away their secret, but I will say a lot of work is involved.

Just before school ended, we had to make an appointment to talk to Principal Gwen Carman and Student Success Coordinator Anna Sandstrom about the project. I told the girls when we would be meeting— at noon on a Tuesday, not our regular Girl Scout day or time.

The meeting date arrived and after an extremely stressful morning, I entered the school in a not-so-cheerful state of mind. I thought surely the girls had forgotten and the office would have to page them to Ms. Carman’s office.

I should not have doubted these delightful young ladies. Not only had they not forgotten, they had reminded Ms. Carman of the meeting— several times.

They arrived outside the office at the appropriate time, all smiles and ready to explain their project. I couldn’t have been prouder. After our discussion in Principal Carman’s office, I said goodbye to the girls, but not before some high fives and hugs. I exited the school grinning, the crummy events of that morning forgotten.

It’s days like that that make it all worthwhile!


Ours is a circle of friendships
united by ideals.

Juliette Gordon Low

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