Make the mustache go: De-hair Blair

Mentor Duluth says about 400 people will celebrate 75 years of mentoring in Duluth by attempting to make Blair Gagne shave off his mustache Friday.

Gagne, community services director for Mentor Duluth, has had his mustache almost half as long as formal mentoring programs have existed in Duluth. He says he’ll shave his mustache if participants in the 75th anniversary event raise $7,500.

Mentoring began in Duluth with the formation of the Fatherless Boys Association in 1938. The name was changed to the Friendship and Brotherhood Association in the 1980s when girls were allowed into the program. Mentor Duluth was formed in 1997.

If you’re not signed up for Friday’s event, you still can support Mentor Duluth by donating or signing up.

Say no to Novak

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, no, you are not the rightful heir of Andrew Novak and his lost millions.

It’s a scam, and a weird one, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Apparently someone’s been sending e-mails telling people that the Commerce Department has money for them in the Unclaimed Property Program. The weird part is the e-mails aren’t even in English.

“The e-mails reported to the Commerce Department use the subject line ‘Heritage’ and are written in Slovenian,” the department said in a news release.

The e-mails urge relatives of “Andrew Novak” to claim their inheritance and, of course, to provide personal information that you’ll regret sending.

Just remember, government agencies don’t send e-mails out of the blue requesting personal info. If you get something like that, be very suspicious.

How to spot a fake

The Commerce Department provided some good advice on how to spot a fake e-mail or Web link:

  • Look for suspicious typos and grammatical errors.
  • Hover your mouse over the sender’s address to see if the real address is different.
  • Copy and paste the text into Notepad (not Word). Notepad does not support HTML, so if a link is fake, the real link will show up.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Look up and log on to the official website instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Contact the actual business or agency that supposedly sent the e-mail to find out if it’s genuine. Look up phone numbers or e-mail addresses rather than using contact info provided in an e-mail.

This otter be fun

Anang, a female otter, gnaws on a carrot, one of her favorite treats, while painting his next work of art at the Great Lakes Aquarium in this 2012 file photo. (2012 file, Bob King / News Tribune)

Cheesecake we can understand, but fish cake?

Zhoosh and Anang the river otters really are getting on in years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy birthday cake. And when we say “cake” it means birthday cake-shaped ice with fish packed inside of it and fish on top.

A birthday party will be held for the Great Lakes Aquarium resident otters, both celebrating milestones, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Anang turned 16 in January, and Zhoosh turns 13 in March. Each guest who brings a gift from a wish list for the otters, famous for their artistic abilities, gets $3 off admission.

The wish list is at the Great Lakes Aquarium website.

Sheet cake (fish-free, we think) and punch are available to everyone at 2 p.m. when the otters eat their fish cake. Other events run throughout the day, beginning with a dive show at 11 a.m. and ending with stingray feeding at 4 p.m.

Books on wheels

The Duluth Public Library hopes to bring back the literary equivalent of Meals on Wheels, but it will take volunteers to make it happen.

The library’s home-delivery service is a way to bring books to and from residents who can’t get to a library because of physical limitations. Budget and staffing cuts forced it to drop home delivery in 2008, when it had nearly 100 participants. The library now is at the point where it can consider restoring the service, said Renee Zurn, digital and outreach library supervisor.

This is where you might come in. Volunteers are needed to select and deliver books and can expect to serve from four to six hours per month. Training will be provided.

Contact volunteer coordinator Cheryl Skafte at (218) 730-4334 or cskafte@duluthmn.gov to request an application.

The service is expected to start in late spring.

Program helps get car seats to kids

A number of kids are safer on the roads, thanks to a program administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety.

The program, which began in 1994, has provided 4,591 child car seats to low-income families over the past two years. Families who receive a car seat also receive a demonstration session from a trained child passenger safety technician.

When used correctly, child seats reduce the chance of death by 70 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for kids ages 1-4. A belt-positioning booster with a lap-and-shoulder seat belt reduces a child’s risk of injury by 59 percent.

The program, working with local partners, distributes car seats at more than 100 locations across Minnesota. It’s paid for with fines from violations of child passenger safety seat laws.

Keep those feet off ski trails

We’re begging for some courtesy. Help keep the city’s cross-country ski trails in good condition by taking hikes and walks elsewhere. Footprints and other impressions (even angels) ruin the trails, so the Duluth Parks and Recreation staff would like to remind you that it’s prohibited to use them for non-skiing activities.

It’s one thing to walk on them when there’s no snow and conditions are dry, but now the trails are packed and tracked for skiers, not for walking with Fido (and who names their dog Fido these days, anyway?)

Here’s how to keep ski trails in tiptop shape:

  • Ski in the direction indicated
  • Try to fill any holes and smooth the track if you should fall
  • Don’t let pets anywhere near trails
  • Don’t hike on groomed trails

For ambulatory excursions, use the Lakewalk and other clear-of-snow paths. Skiers will thank you.

Ness to address political zoo

Duluth Mayor Don Ness will return to his alma mater Tuesday night to reflect on the sorry state of American politics.

“I’ll talk about the brokenness of American politics today and what I see as some potential steps we could take to improve the situation,” he said.

The mayor concedes there’s no simple solution, but he’s encouraged to note that many like-minded voters seem fed up with partisan politics-as-usual and the toxic atmosphere they’ve produced.

“We need to focus on solving problems, rather than the zoo-like political atmosphere that continues to consume all our energies in Washington,” he said.

Ness will share his thoughts on politics and effective governing from 7-9 p.m. today at UMD’s Montague Hall, Room 80. He will appear as a guest of UMD’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy. The event is free and open to the public.

‘Glass’ on TV

“Celebrating Stained Glass in the Northland — Its Beauty, Its Story — St. Scholastica Monastery” will get multiple airings on Duluth Public Access Community Television.

It’s the second in a series celebrating stained glass filmed and edited by Jack Salmela of Duluth. It includes the stained glass windows at St. Scholastica and interviews about the history of the windows.

The show will air at 8 p.m. today, 8 a.m. Wednesday, 4 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. March 22.

Ice fish Fish Lake ice

Looking for another chance to ice fish this winter?

The Kiwanis Club of Cloquet hosts the 11th annual Last Chance ice fishing contest from noon to 3 p.m. today at Hi-Banks Resort on Fish Lake.

No luck catching fish? No problem. There’ll be a raffle and a chance to win prizes, too.

All proceeds go to the Salvation Army, area food shelves and the Special Olympics.

Call (218) 390-7556 for more information.