"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

morris mn - This site is seven months old!


We can take pride in two giant wind turbines churning away on the east edge of our community. They provide a majestic backdrop in this photo. The photo was taken from the "spur" along the bicycle path on the west side of Pomme de Terre River. The turbines are an object of pride for the University of Minnesota-Morris (UMM) and the West Central Research and Outreach Center, not to mention the whole community. (B.W. photo)

This site had its start in the dead of winter. It was New Year's Eve, not by design but by coincidence. I had been encouraged to do this by a lifelong Morrissite acquaintance who said it wouldn't be as difficult as I seemed to suspect.
I didn't own a computer and wasn't planning on getting one. It has been on the corner of my mind, but there is a cost factor along with a confusion factor. A computer seems to have endless possibilities but that's the problem: learning to harness all of them.
Another big consideration is the rapid path to obsolescence for all of that stuff. It was bad enough being active in photography, where obsolescence was a constant annoyance. And this stuff costs real money!
When I was a kid, buying a reasonably fancy 35mm camera (something other than a Kodak Instamatic) might have been considered a one-time purchase. As the years went on, the new generations of cameras (with "must-have" developments like auto-focus) came on the scene at a frantic pace. And then we arrived at digital cameras, which wiped out the whole previous model for picture-taking.
Digital cameras were primitive at the start, which meant - guess what? - that the whole process of "new generations" was going to start churning again. Where do people get the money for this?
We're told that we're in the grips of a serious recession. But look at the big league baseball parks - quite full of humanity, even though the total pricetag for a family might be $200.
So I guess people can keep stocking up on all the tech stuff. Discard a digital camera and get a new one. Get a new computer. Or move on to a laptop, or why not a netbook?
I can't keep up with it. And I'm sort of attached to my money so I don't want to part with it. So I use the resources at our local public library and senior citizens center. The Morris Public Library has six computer stations along with Wi-fi. I don't have a laptop so I use one of the six computers, where on any given day you'll find some interesting people situated. I'm sure they have different needs and different dreams.
Sometimes they are immersed in what they are doing and sometimes they're talkative. Some play games and some seek news.
The chief librarian is Melissa Yauk who is quite in command and insightful. I overheard her say recently that the library computers were set for an "upgrade." There is always potential for an upgrade with this stuff. I sometimes see Ms. Yauk wearing a very wide-brim hat which I suspect might have a story behind it.
I asked Karen Berget once if we'd ever reach an end point with all this technology (i.e. where we had progressed as far as we could) and she laughed and said "no."

Salute to 4-H
Sharon Ehlers of the Morris Public Library staff is someone who I associate with 4-H. She and husband Doug have been pillars with Stevens County 4-H and I was delighted to have my own long-time association through media work.
I'll be thinking about Stevens County 4-H when I visit the fair this coming week. These days my fair experience consists of going to the rest cottage area and, well, resting - sitting on a bench and watching the people go by.
Everyone comes to the fair. There are no socio-economic divisions.
I have had zero contact with Stevens County 4-H since my days in the "dead tree" newspaper industry. I miss the association (with 4-H, not the "dead tree" industry which is deservedly being run into the ground by the Internet).
Speaking of that industry, since there is a major boycott of the Target chain of stores, due to that company's big financial push behind Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, maybe the boycott should extend to newspapers that include the weekly Target advertising circular. Sounds reasonable to me.

Salute to countryside
I have some special rapport with Tammy Smith of the library staff because we both reside amidst the pastoral, peaceful country north of Morris. Tammy lives along County Road 5, where her family's dune buggy is a sight that might greet you. I live on Northridge Drive which is a short jaunt from getting on County Road 5.
You will stamp yourself as a true Morrissite if you call County Road 5 "Yankee Ridge Road." We once had a contest for naming the neighborhood where I live, and one of the nominations was "Rebel Ridge." Another, I might add, was "Snob Hill." The irreverent suggestions lost out to Northridge Drive.
I am surprised that Northridge Drive has not been paved all the way to County Road 5.
Anyone who feels stressed out should hop on a bicycle and get on County Road 5 going north. There's no better therapy. Eventually you'll reach the intersection with County Road 18 and you can go east to Pomme de Terre Lake (or is it Perkins Lake?). Official county maps use the "Perkins Lake" name. But when you arrive at the public access there you'll see a big sign welcoming you to "Pomme de Terre Lake."
I once brought this confusion to the attention of a Stevens County Historical Society staffer. But I'm not sure any probing or clarification has been done. I know that "Perkins" was a prominent name out there. But that's not the point. The lake should have an agreed-upon name.
The Pomme de Terre West neighborhood, on the shores of the lake in question, might be another candidate for the "Snob Hill" name. Just teasing, people, but this is a neighborhood that seems to appreciate a feeling of seclusion. It's understandable in this world of connectedness built up through new media and tech.
Media writer Jeff Jarvis observed recently that whereas privacy was once the norm, and we had to take pains or pay to achieve connectedness, today connectedness is free and plentiful and we must take pains to achieve privacy! So a secluded residence along the peaceful Pomme de Terre Lake shore seems like quite the prescription.
The road leading out there is a washboard-like dirt road not consistent with the quality of the neighborhood. There's a dead end eventually that isn't designed for easy turnarounds. The Pomme de Terre (Perkins?) Lake access is a stone's throw away but there's no connection.
In the past I have parked my bike at the access and walked through a couple blocks of weeds, undaunted, to come out on the dead end and then enjoy a stroll along this attractive neighborhood. I actually didn't want to subject my bike (a low-end Huffy) to the "washboard" that was presented via the direct route (coming off Highway 59 North).
The powers that be threw a curve at me last spring when they repaired a barbed wire fence at the access. Previously an opening had been carved out, suggesting that other people like me wanted unfettered movement in the area. I can get over the fence with some exertion, and take care with the crotch of your trousers!
Everyone should get a glimpse of the Pomme de Terre West neighborhood sometime.
Just to the north you'll find Luther Crest West, which was once known as Perkins Resort. The defunct Perkins Resort had a roller rink that was absolutely legendary. Many young couples found each other there. I have heard that swimming in the lake was common then. The water must have been cleaner.
Even today, though, water recreation is common there: fishing, along with kids getting pulled on inner tubes behind boats. I have often suggested to people that the Pomme de Terre Lake chain is one of the most overlooked resources of the Morris area.

morris mn - getting the accent going
I am proud of how my website, "I Love Morris," has developed in the seven months since its origination (on New Year's Eve, when I always watch a DVD of a 1954 Jack Benny New Year's TV special).
We're in the dead of summer now. Reflecting, I think this site has been an eye-opening experience in terms of all the ways it can be enhanced, even without owning a computer.
Inserting my own photos has been a big step forward. I still take photos on a 35mm (non-digital) camera. The photos are put on a CD.
There's one big unresolved question: How big an audience do I want? There are at least a handful of people who visit regularly. I appreciate that, you guys, but I'm totally unsure of how many people might have stumbled onto the site beyond that.
I was hoping that search engines would facilitate. I have discovered, though, that search engines only connect people to specific posts on my site and not directly to the site itself.
I'm hoping that people are sophisticated enough to make the leap to getting directly to the site (to see the current post etc.).
If you're reading this because of linking to this post, and want to go directly to the site, I'll make it easy: Just click on the line below!

http://www.ilovemorris73.blogspot.com/

The "73" denotes my year of graduation from Morris High School (not Morris Area, just Morris).
I was hoping there might be a "viral effect" attracting high school sports fans to some of the youth sports coverage here. But I'm disappointed to have discovered this apparently hasn't happened.
My late friend Delmar Holdgrafer, who left a void with his death that hasn't yet been filled in the Morris area, had a favorite saying: "Patience brings all things."
These are words I ought to heed as I continue trying to sharpen "I Love Morris."
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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