Dare Greatly, Think Boldly: An interview with Ed O’Keefe

The Grand Forks Foundation for Education works hard every day to provide students and educators with maximum opportunities for excellence through granting, scholarship, and alumni programs. One of those programs is a quarterly publication called The Red Cent, which I am happy to say I am able to contribute to on a fairly regular basis.

In the latest issue of The Red Cent, I had a hand in an interview with Grand Forks’ Ed O’Keefe, CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum board, and I wanted to share his comments because, as we know, the Library will be a pretty, pretty big deal.

The Red Cent is a print-only publication available to members of the Grand Forks Foundation for Education. To become a member for a very reasonable $33 a year, click here or email them here. You can check out how the Foundation uses those membership dollars for good by following their Facebook page or checking out their website. (And thank you to the Foundation for kindly allowing me to publish this interview here!)

Ed O’Keefe has been doing great things since he graduated from Red River High School in 1996.  A graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Ed spent much of his career bringing award-winning multimedia to the masses – from a radio role with ABC News, to an executive producer for ABC News Digital, to vice president of CNN Money and CNN politics, to CNN’s senior vice president of content development.  Today Ed is the CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum board, and he graciously sat down to answer a few questions about the Library, life in Grand Forks, and what he would like to tell future graduates:

Can you provide an overview of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library?

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will celebrate the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. The pillar principles of the project are Leadership, Citizenship, and Conservation. We will situate the library in the 193 acres of US Forest Service land that was purchased from the US Forest Service as a result of a federal act in 2020. The landscape is the library, and we are investing in the Native Plant Project, a habitat and species restoration project. We’re working with the Medora Grazing Association to show responsible conservation practices in a burning grace plan. The site and the building itself is designed by Snøhetta, a regional and US architecture firm that has gracefully designed a building which almost disappears into the landscape and frames of view of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the only park named for a person in the National Park system.

What is the timeline for the completion of the library?

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library hopes to begin construction in the spring of 2023, and we anticipate a substantially complete building by the summer of 2026. We hope to celebrate the 250th anniversary of America on July 4th, 2026, which, like the bicentennial of 1976, will be a nationwide patriotic celebration with the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library being a star in that nationwide constellation of celebrations.

What role will the library play in preserving and promoting the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt?  How will technology play a part in that?

Theodore Roosevelt is a remarkable U.S. President. He was the first president to fly in an airplane, the first President to drive a car, the first president to be submerged in a submarine, and the first president to use a telephone. He ushered in what we now refer to as the American Century. He was a thoroughly modern president, and in many ways dramatically expanded the US’s role in the world. He’s the first and only president to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He is credited with having saved football and created what now is the National Governors Association, the first meeting of governors in the White House. Conservation is a big part of what we will do to promote the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. We will focus on our pillar principles of leadership, citizenship, and conservation, with conservation being foremost amongst those three. In celebrating conservation, we will be a fully sustainable library. We will achieve zero energy, zero emission, zero carbon, and zero waste alongside North Dakota’s goal to become the first carbon neutral state by 2030. So, we plan to be a living library and celebrate not only the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, but encourage visitors and participants to think about their lives, how they can dare greatly, live passionately, think boldly, and care deeply, just like you.

What role will the library play in elevating western North Dakota (and North Dakota as a whole)?

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be situated in Medora, North Dakota, which is already the state’s number one tourist attraction. It is home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which receives 800,000 visitors a year. And of course, home to the Medora Musical, which between Memorial Day and Labor Day, sees upwards of 125,000 visitors in just that summer swell. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be a remarkable addition to this already incredibly successful part of the state and will be a hallmark for what we’d like to think of as the T.R. triangle. Families on road trips who want to travel to western North Dakota and be inspired by the landscape that inspired Theodore Roosevelt, could potentially visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota or travel west to visit the Yellowstone Glacier in the national park system. We really think that this will be an incredibly impactful project across the entire state. Just as in South Dakota, there is an impact from Sioux Falls all the way to the western part of the state and the location of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. So, we think the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will have an impact in Fargo, in Grand Forks, in the eastern part of the state as well. And, of course, a big impact on the tourism in western North Dakota.

What type of educational programs and events will the library offer?

The library hopes to do all kinds of inventive and innovative programming. We aspire to create a K12 education initiative, which will invite every 8th grader in the state of North Dakota to come to the library, get a civics education inside the library, and have an outdoor adventure in the National Park. We hope to do quite a lot with the indigenous tribal communities in North Dakota. We are very fortunate to have had representatives of each of the tribal nations come to Medora and have met with those tribal nations to talk about programs that can be inclusive, innovative, and understanding with the history and relationship with our native communities in North Dakota and beyond. We are talking about doing quite a lot of programming with the National Park. Having a 75,000-acre park as your backyard opens all kinds of opportunities in biking, hiking, outdoor recreation, and horseback riding. This would be the only presidential library you could walk, bike, hike, or take a horse to. There is also a lot of programming we are interested in with regard to veterans as well. Looking at the course of conservation and sustainability initiatives, these are all the types of programs and events that we can continue to build for many years and decades after the opening of the library.

How has the library collaborated with other organizations and institutions in its planning and development?

Ninety-nine-percent of Theodore Roosevelt’s archive is scattered throughout the United States and the world. The collection is primarily with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian system, the American Museum of Natural History, and Harvard University. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library is working with each of these institutions, hoping to develop relationships. Particularly with the National Park system, which has the Sagamore Home and the boyhood home in New York in its National Historic sites. We hope to work with these organizations and institutions to develop loan agreements so we can bring this part of the archive that has never been on public display into the library and public view for all to see.

How will the landscape play a part in the experience of the TRPL?

We like to say that the library is the landscape. Theodore Roosevelt was our greatest conservation president, and it’s arguable that his greatest legacy is the protection and preservation of 230,000,000 acres of public lands, the creation of the US Forest Service, and his creation of bird and wildlife reserves. He really used the power of the Presidency to set aside land both for protection and development. As Theodore Roosevelt said at the dedication of the Cornerstone of Yellowstone National Park, these parks and places are for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. We take that legacy very seriously at the TRPL and are working on the surrounding landscape. The building itself will include a transversal roof and the frame of the east and west wing provides a viewshed into Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the only park named for a person, let alone a president. On the 93 acres, there’s a walking pathway where you can encounter different destinations or pavilions, an outlook from which you can get a perspective of 360 degrees around the Badlands that so inspired Theodore Roosevelt, a stargazing pavilion to look up at the dark night sky, and a look at ecology and conservation in practice. We’re working with the Medora Grazing Association to do responsible grazing of the land to imitate the bison migration and grazing pattern. And then having a responsible, controlled burn plan every two to three years so we can restore the native habitat and native species and ultimately show what conservation means, not just tell what conservation means.

How can people get involved and support the library?

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library wants everyone in the arena for T.R., North Dakota, and our nation. If you’d like to get involved in the T.R. library, please go to www.trlibrary.com. Or if you’d like to donate to the library, you can go to www.trlibrary.com/donate.

How has growing up in Grand Forks influenced your life?

I loved growing up in Grand Forks, ND. It was, as I like to say now, a big-small town. I always felt safe, I always felt like I had a community, and I always felt like everyone was there to help and support me. I had wonderful teachers; Gene Martin, who recently passed away at Trader Middle School, Mrs. Sanford, my third-grade teacher, was a wonderful influence on me. I’ve talked about Dean Opp and Brad Sherwood, two of my teachers at high school. I of course was a Red River Roughrider, which might have influenced some of what I’m doing now for the T.R. library. But it’s just a wonderful place where I felt like I was loved and supported by the entire community in Grand Forks.

How do you feel that being a North Dakotan has shaped your perspective and values?

North Dakotans are good and decent people. I think that Theodore Roosevelt meant what he said when he said, “I would never have been president if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.” North Dakotans are full of common sense, decent, respectful, and kind people. I feel like the whole state has a no-jerks policy, and I just always enjoyed the commonsense practicality of Midwestern values. I tried to carry forward in my life with humility, gratitude, and respect for all people and their perspectives. Those are certainly lessons I learned in particular as a North Dakotan.

In what ways do you think that growing up in Grand Forks prepared you for your future?

Grand Forks prepared me for my future in many different ways. I’ve talked about how much I enjoyed living in the big-small town of Grand Forks, where everyone felt familiar, friendly, helpful, and supportive. But I think it also grounded me with the values and perspective of a Midwesterner who enjoys and values hard work, resilience, responsibility, and just doing the right thing and being a good person. Grand Forks was a dynamic, interesting community. When I say that I’m from North Dakota, I think people have the vision of a rural community without many people. Grand Forks is a vibrant, active town. We have a big military base. We are an hour-and-a-half from the Canadian border, so we see a lot of Canadian tourists. We’ve got the University of North Dakota, which of course has 10,000 students of all different backgrounds and perspectives. We are right across the Red River from Minnesota, so we had opportunities to spend time in other cities and places. I felt like I had a small town with all the access and activity of a big town. To me, growing up in Grand Forks prepared me for my future by giving me the best of both worlds.

Can you share any specific memories or experiences from your time at Red River High School?

I have a lot of fond memories of Red River High School. I think mostly about my time in the summer performing arts company, SPA, as well as student government. I ran for and won student council president while I was in high school. That was my first experience with leadership. I really enjoyed thinking about what issues were important to my classmates and being able to represent their voices with the administration in school. I was involved in every musical and play that Red River High School produced during my years there. I just had some impactful teachers and people who care deeply about me and made it clear that they were always interested in seeing me succeed. It was just a wonderful place to go to High School.

Do you have any connections or relationships formed at Red River continued to play a role in your life?

Yes, I really enjoyed Dean Opp and Brad Sherwood as my teachers at Red River High School and I’m very fortunate that throughout the rest of my life I’ve stayed in touch with them. When they take the biannual trips to New York City, I would give tours and greet the students from Red River. When I was at ABC News and at CNN Studios, I gave a backstage behind-the-scenes look at media, journalism, and broadcast news. I’ve continued to stay in touch with a number of classmates over the years through Facebook and social media. But you know, really, it’s the lasting memories, the values, and the impact of the teachers that I’ve carried with me the longest throughout my life. Bob Kulak was a teacher at Schroeder Middle school and then became an administrator at Red River while I was in high school. He wrote one of my college recommendations and I’ll never forget that, he said I was a “puckish purveyor.” That has always stuck with me that Bob Kulak had that impact on my early life, and probably that phrase got me into college. So, thank you, Mr. Kulak.

If you could give one piece of advice to a Grand Forks graduating senior, what would it be?

I like to say that you should never underestimate an underestimated person and one of the greatest advantages you will have after graduating Red River High School and being from Grand Forks, ND is that you will be underestimated in your life. People will, from other parts of the country and other parts of the world, believe that you can’t do it, and you can. Being underestimated is a gift, use it to your advantage. I would also say that the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life have not been when I’m talking, but when I’m listening. Be curious and ask good questions. I became a journalist and worked in media for nearly 20 years, and that entire industry is based on a pretty basic premise, which is asking questions, wondering, and being curious about the world around you. I would say in general to do good work, work hard, and be kind. Those are the things I’ve learned in Grand Forks and in North Dakota, is that, you know, you can be a great, enormous success in life, but if you are a jerk or someone that people don’t want to be around, it’s not worth all that much. So be curious, be kind, work hard, and enjoy the fact that you are probably going to be underestimated.

“I have always said I would not have been President had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.”

– President Theodore Roosevelt

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The Haunted House | October 19, 2022

As you’ll see in the news, the Williston Herald is running a kid’s ghost story contest.  When I read it, I thought, “I want to write a ghost story.”  The last time I wrote a short fiction piece so many of you lovely people sent me the nicest notes and I’m like a gremlin when it comes compliments (and food) – feed me and I won’t leave you alone.  So, in the spirit of Halloween and contests that I’m too old to do, here you go.

The Haunted House

by Amanda Kosior

“Don’t go over to that house, Coop, you hear me?”  Natalie Schanz’s sunshine smile had darkened to a thin grey line.  Around her feet, the autumn leaves swirled.  “Pretend like it’s not even there.”

Coop looked at his mother, who had only moments before been laughing with her childhood friend.  Her mother gave him the look that said that he shouldn’t even think about it.

“Don’t even think about it,” Laura Rooney said.

Natalie’s son, Sawyer, shifted his weight to the other side of his bicycle, and stared at the ground.

Coop was pretty sure he was going to like his new house.  He was pretty sure he was going to like his new school, and his new neighborhood, and his new town, and North Dakota in general, because they were all like his house, school, neighborhood, and town in Wisconsin – only now they were closer to his grandma and grandpa.  He was pretty sure he was going to like living across the street from Sawyer, because Sawyer was also eleven, played hockey, and rode a bike.  But he wasn’t sure what to think about that old, rundown house at the end of the block.

“Sawyer will show you all the good places you can go; won’t you, buddy?”  Natalie’s smile returned.

Sawyer nodded, his eyes still downward.

“I see they still haven’t done anything about The Olson’s,” Laura had said to Natalie five minutes earlier when she had brought over a meat tray and Sawyer to welcome the Rooneys to the neighborhood.  Laura had tilted her head to the house – which had probably been bright purple once, although now the few flecks of remaining paint were more of a dusty violet – and, as she did, the rickety screen door flapped open and closed a few times.

“They put up a ‘No Trespassing’ sign a couple of times, but you know how it is,” Natalie had said.  “Ardie Jean set up that trust to pay the taxes and keep the lawn and sidewalk clear, so it just goes on and on.”

“Still?”  Laura had scoffed.  “She died, what, fifty years ago?”

“At least.  My dad said it was haunted when he was a kid.”

That’s when Laura and Natalie had remembered that their boys were standing there.

“Don’t go over to that house, Coop, you hear me?”  Natalie said.

Later that afternoon, after the moving van left and the pizza man called, Cooper took his dog, Gunner, for a walk.  He thought about going left, towards the park, because that’s where his mom told him to go; but instead he casually strolled to the right, in the direction of The Olson’s.

Earlier, the street had been busier with cars and neighbors but now it was just Coop, Gunner, and the wind – which pushed him along until he found himself in front of the place he had been warned not to think about.  He studied it.

Cooper had assumed all haunted houses would look like something a person would find at Disney World, with a big spire and a gargoyle or two.  This was just a regular old falling-down house.  The porch tilted so low forward that the weeds had started to wind up the siding and most of the boards covering the windows were long gone.  But still, slap a coat of paint on it and it wouldn’t be too far off from their old home in Wisconsin.  In fact, he was pretty sure his mom had that exact same planter by the door, except this one had pieces of broken glass where the flowers should have been.

Gunner pulled on the leash, bored with the normalcy of this forbidden abode.

“Bye, house,” Cooper said.

The front porch light came on.

Cooper stared at the light.

“Must be a prank,” he said to Gunner, trying not to be scared.  He also tried not to be frozen in place.  Neither seemed to work.

“Stay away from this place, buddy,” a voice called out behind him, and Cooper jumped out of his skin.  He flipped around, grateful that he was at least able to move again.

The voice belonged to a mom pushing a baby in a stroller.  The baby chewed on the ear of a stuffed elephant, holding it out to Cooper as they approached.

“It’s probably about suppertime, isn’t it?”  She asked, patting him gently on the shoulder.  “You’d better get home.”

He nodded, and flipped Gunner’s leash.  She stood in front of The Olson’s until he turned into his driveway.

Cooper didn’t sleep a wink all night.  He got up twice to peek out the window.  In the darkness, The Olson’s front porch light burned brightly.

The light was still on the next morning when Sawyer rode up on his bike.  Together, the boys turned away, towards the park.

They rode until they ran out of runway at the baseball field, where they joined a game of 500 already in progress.  They played until lunchtime, when they, with a few new friends in tow, rode back to Sawyer’s for hot dogs.  For the rest of the day, they rode and played and played and rode until one of the kids – a boy named Jack – said, “I’m hungry,” and, without discussion, all of the boys turned down the road one block behind Cooper’s street.

They parked their bikes behind some tall bushes, and army-crawled to the back door of The Olson’s House.  The back porch light was also on.

“What are we doing?”  Coop whispered.  His voice shook, and he played it off with a cough.

“Shh,” Sawyer said.

A moment passed, and then the back door to the house creaked open.

“C’mon,” Jack whispered, and Sawyer grabbed Cooper’s arm, dragging him forward.  The boys ran up the stairs, through the door, and into the kitchen.

The condition of the kitchen mirrored the outside of the house.  Cobwebs hung off of every surface, from the dented ice box to the shredded polka-dotted window curtains.  Inside the doorless oven, a squirrel chirped.

“Hello, Mrs. Olson,” Jack called.

Once again, Cooper found himself unable to move.  He wished he had listened to Natalie.  He wished he had listened to that lady with the baby.  He wished they hadn’t moved out of Wisconsin.  He wished and wished, but those wishes still didn’t stop the fact that a real-life ghost was floating right up to him.

Except, Cooper realized, his legs loosening up a bit – like the house, this ghost wasn’t very…ghosty.  She was see-through, to be sure; but more of a pinky see-through.  She wore an apron embroidered with hearts and had tied a little bow on the top of her fluffy hair.  Cooper sniffed, and realized the air smelled like chocolate chip cookies, which were his favorite.

“Hello, boys!”  The ghost said in a twinkly, twittery voice.  “Sit down, sit down, I baked too many cookies!”

The boys sat down at the table, which Cooper noticed was not only completely devoid of dust, but polished clean and covered in a lace tablecloth.  Mrs. Olson puttered about the countertop, and when she turned around she was holding a platter of actual, non-transparent chocolate chip cookies. 

She held the platter out to Cooper.  He took one and bit into it.  It was warm and gooey and perfect.

“Now who are you?”  She said, as she pushed the platter to Cooper to make him take a second.

He told her his name the best he could with a mouthful of cookie.

“Cooper Rooney,” she said, tapping her finger on her lips to indicate she was thinking.  “Cooper Rooney.  I don’t know any Rooneys.  Are you from around here?”

“No,” Cooper said.  “But my mom’s family is.  My grandma’s name is Ginny Thompson.”

“Ginny Thompson!”  Mrs. Cooper threw her head back and laughed.  “So you’re Laura’s boy?”

Cooper nodded.

“She loved chocolate chip cookies, too,” Mrs. Olson said, handing him another one before giving the other boys three cookies of their own.

“You can’t tell your mom about this,” Jack said, shoveling two cookies in simultaneously.  And then, in his best mom voice, “Too much sugar.”

Sawyer nodded.  “Always ruinin’ supper,” he sang, and the boys laughed.

Okay, in all honesty, I don’t know where the photo above came from. I didn’t take it. I had it on my phone picture roll with all sorts of other photos that I downloaded that I thought were funny, like this one:

I was going to get a stock photo of a spooky house and saw these skeletons and thought they were much better. If it’s your photo or your skeletons and you want me to take it down, please message me (and I’m sorry).

Obviously, this week’s news has a writing contest. It also has sauerkraut and a perfect game. Read on.

Know a middle schooler or high schooler who loves to write ghost stories?  The Williston Herald is hosting a spooky writing contest! (Williston Herald)

Medora and Garrison have been named two of the coziest towns in America by MyDatingAdviser.com. (KX Net)

Once again, Wishek’s Sauerkraut Days are a stinky, delicious success. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of Wishek, here is a story of two random acts of kindness by teenagers Dominic Sayler and Gavin Wolf. (KFYR TV)

This is the non-obituary obituary for Arthur’s Joanne Iwen. (Fargo Forum)

Congratulations to eleven-year-old Tatum Lee of Bismarck, who bowled a perfect 300 game! (KFYR TV)

For the 42nd year, Williston is Tree City USA. (Williston Herald)

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Friendship is Magic | September 21, 2022

I had a pretty craptastic week last week.  There wasn’t anything that would be deemed an actual, real problem – I was coming off of a cold, Kyle went out of town for work just as both of our kids decided to have their own minor ordeals, my band didn’t get hired and then my nonconformist friend needed me to go back in time with him to make sure my parents fell in love at the school dance or else I’d cease to exist, etc etc – but combined made it one of those situations where my nightly routine was to get in bed and think, “Blech.”

Fortunately, though, there were a few bright spots (specifically, people) that ultimately got me back on the path to jollyville, and so I’m going to tell you about two (technically three) of them now.

The Cushman Classic is an annual football game between Grand Forks Central High School and Grand Forks Red River High School.  The first Cushman Classic was held in 1997; since then, it’s grown to a communitywide event with bouncy castles, dunk tanks, face painting, and, of course, chips-and-queso (Grand Forks loves queso almost as much as ranch dressing).  If that wasn’t enough fun-ness, this year, a bunch of my eleven-year-old’s friends were playing in their own mini-football game on the field during the half.

By the time gameday rolled around, I was so pooped out by the week’s suck that I only wanted to curl up on the couch in my “Fri-YAY” underpants with a bowl of ranch dressing in one hand and a bowl of queso in the other.  Since Kyle was out of town on his aforementioned work trip, however, it was up to me to feed and care for my children…and also to take my son (and, by lack of a babysitter, his unwilling younger brother) and his buddy to the Cushman Classic as promised.

You know how in Looney Tunes when a character is disheartened they drag themselves, weighted by their melancholy, through the motions while a mournful violin plays in the background?  That was me through the making and cleaning up of an uninspired soup-and-sandwiches supper, through the half-assed brushing of my hair, and through agreeing to absolutely whatever my children wanted so long as they ate eat some portion of their meal (“You want cotton candy at the game?  Sure.  You want a Coke at the game?  Sure.  You want cocaine at the game?  Sure.”).  I was begrudgingly tying my shoes when I heard my son’s friend pull up and his dad have a short conversation with the kids before popping his head in the back door.

“Hey, Amanda,” the dad said.  “Do you want me to take the boys to the game?”

Now, I’m sure he was doing this to be polite after my son probably told him that Kyle was out of town.  Also, I’m sure he had something to do after dropping off his son at my house that didn’t involve high school football.  So, my brain told me to say, “No, thanks, we’ll have a great time.”

Instead, my mouth said, “You know, that would be awesome.”

While my eleven-year-old went to the Cushman Classic with his friend and his friend’s dad and had a whale of a time (someone streaked across the field, so they could have cancelled the game right then and there and it would have been a major success to those boys), my seven-year-old and I got ice cream and popcorn and watched Minions: Rise of Gru (v good) in our jammies and the entire week turned around with the absolute nicest, most necessary-in-the-moment gesture.

Okay, the second story: Kyle and I have been good friends with this (now) married couple for almost as long as we’ve known one another.  They are the type of good friends who stick with you even when you become terrible friends.  For example, we were some of the first of our group to become parents – thereby going from SUPERFUN Kosiors to REALLY BORING WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS WITH THEIR BABY Kosiors.  Because they are good friends, this couple would organize movie dates by selecting the film with the lowest possibility of an audience, and then sitting there with us and our baby in an empty theater watching movies like Cowboys Versus Aliens (which was undeserving of its universal panning, by the way).

In addition to being good friends, this couple is really smart.  Kyle is also really smart, so when the four of us get together at least once during the gathering I will think to myself, “I am the dumbest person here.”  Before you’re like, “Aww, Amanda, you’re smart, too,” listen: we all have our interests and skills.  For Kyle and our friends, it’s historic, scientific, and world-based knowledge.  For me, if there was a Jeopardy series solely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and quotes from the movie Back to the Future THEN I WOULD CLEAN UP, I REALLY WOULD.

Our most common get-together with this couple is to go to lunch, during which we do the “Tidbits” trivia.  “Tidbits” is a free newsletter in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks that is basically everything great about a newsletter – in its own (accurate) words, “[‘Tidbits’ is a] non-controversial, weekly paper dedicated to publishing entertaining morsels for the mind, food for thought as it were: trivia, fun facts, amusing stories and oddities.”

There are two trivia segments in “Tidbits,” one for sports, and one for general trivia, which is usually on the same theme as the week’s newsletter topic itself. One of the reasons why “Tidbits” is so charming is because of its fast-and-loose attention to detail in the trivia.  For example, this past week’s theme was “Four-Letter Words” and one of the questions was, “What’s the largest country in Europe?”  The answer was “Russia,” and Kyle and our two friends spent the rest of the lunch discussing how much of the Russian population was actually IN Europe and what role the Urals played in that population spread.

(In case you were wondering, my guess for that question was, “Asia.”  Obviously, I knew that Asia is neither a country nor in Europe – but it was the only four-letter place I could think of; I’m the dummy of the group, anyways; and, most importantly, the answers in “Tidbits” often require a bit, “Well, whatever”-ing…like how “Russia” being is in Europe and spelled with four letters.)

In addition to enjoying lunch with our friends, I like doing “Tidbits” trivia with them because I can be the information deadweight and still answer like 40% of the questions correctly.  In fact, the writers of “Tidbits” must anticipate dumb-dumbs like me needing a little nudge in the right direction (I guess “Babe Ruth” for every single sports question) because my friend shared this gem from one of the past issues and I haven’t stopped laughing about it:

If the image didn’t show up, the question is this: “How many NFL teams do not have an official mascot? (hint: 5 teams)”

Anyways, those three people (and “Tidbits”) helped right my ship, and this week started off about much, much better than the last.

The photo above was taken at the hospital gala this past weekend.  Last year, I had gotten rid of all of my fancy dresses in the move and had to wear a pink-sequined ice skater number that I had originally purchased as a Halloween costume (I think it’s on my Instagram if you feel like scrolling, which I do not).  For my birthday this year, Kyle got me a real dress so that we could look like a normal couple, and not like a normal Kyle and his pretty-sparkle-unicorn-princess wife.

This week’s news has Family Feud and Chateau Nuts. Read on.

In “These people are living out my childhood/adult dream” news, the Meyhuber Family of Fargo will soon be contestants on “Family Feud.” (KVRR)

Grand Forks County’s Shane Rothenberger – the only drug recognition expert and the first cultural liaison officer for the GFCSO – is the third North Dakotan to be named to the International Association  of Chiefs of Police’s 40 Under 40 list. (Grand Forks Herald)

In “News we all knew was happening but in true North Dakota fashion kept it a secret,” two North Dakotans got married a couple of weeks ago. (Facebook)

Linton Public School, Larimore Elementary School, and Roosevelt Elementary School in Bismarck have all been named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education. (Valley News Live)

If you are thinking of visiting Medora anytime soon, you should probably check out Chateau Nuts in Medora. (Fargo Forum)

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