Weekly Wave: Newsroom rabbit trail leads to ‘gool’

I retired from competitive tag over 40 years ago, so I don’t recall what we called the safe zone in tag — if there even was such a thing — but I know for sure that we didn’t call it gool.

Rick Lubbers is the executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune.
Rick Lubbers
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DULUTH — Until Wednesday, I had never heard of a “gool.” But thanks to a newsroom rabbit trail conversation that started on the topic of roundabouts (of all things), I now know what a gool is.

Prior to the pandemic, these conversations took place in person in a full newsroom. Now, most of us telecommute and there isn’t a water cooler to be found at DNT HQ, so we “gather” around the direct message platform Slack.

We even have a Slack channel dedicated to nonessential conversations. It’s a “self-care” channel where we can post fun things and taper the stress level a bit. Stop chasing deadlines for a few minutes.

So after Barrett Chase, our web editor, edited a story about roundabouts, he asked, “When you were a kid, what did you call the safe zone in a game of tag?” Chase continued that when he came across the term “center refuge islands” it reminded him of what he called that safe zone during tag.




I wasn’t the only person confused by the term.

DNT Managing Editor Katie Rohman agreed that she hadn’t heard of it either.

But Regional Editor Jennifer Zettel-Vandenhouten said, “Gool for sure.”

Others chimed in with “base” or “home base.”

DNT reporter Jimmy Lovrien then described how you could just yell “forcefield” or “I’m not even playing” right before getting tagged, adding that that tactic often led to a “big fight over the rules of tag until all the neighbors go home mad at each other.”

Glad I never played tag with him.

I retired from competitive tag over 40 years ago, so I don’t recall what we called the safe zone in tag — if there even was such a thing — but I know for sure that we didn’t call it gool.


Photographer — and Minnesota native — Jed Carlson finally provided some clarity. He said, “In the ‘gray duck’ section of Minnesota, ‘gool’ was used, but not as much as ‘home base.’ It depended on the block you were on.”

Ah, this finally made sense. The “gray duck” contingent of Minnesota strikes again!

Fortunately, this comment didn’t lead to a raging debate about “Duck, Duck, Goose” vs. “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.”

There was work to be done, after all.

I hope you all have a great weekend and can retreat to your own personal gool, home base or whatever you call that safe zone in life.

Here are some DNT highlights from the past week:

Four years and counting

Douglas County Highway W bridge.jpg
The Douglas County Highway W bridge over the Nemadji River has been out since 2018, leaving residents near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border frustrated with alternatives to getting around the area. The bridge abutments were washed out when log debris blocked the river's flow during heavy rain in June 2018.
Shelley Nelson / Superior Telegram

Four years is quite a long time to wait on repairs for anything, let alone for a washed-out bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin that nearby residents depend on.

They’ve all been wondering what the holdup is. So has Superior Telegram reporter Shelley Nelson, who dug into the issue and published a detailed, in-depth story on the Douglas County Highway W bridge that crosses the Nemadji River near Foxboro, Wisconsin.


Well, it is supposed to cross it anyway. That’s not possible at the moment.

Nelson explains the ongoing effort to secure the necessary funding to repair the bridge in a way that will withstand future flooding. You can cross that bridge here.

Duluth braces for winter

A worker clearing snow from in front of Duluth's Laura MacArthur Elementary School is enveloped in blowing snow following the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend blizzard.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

“Weekly Wave” apologizes to our winter-averse readers for running the snowblowing photo above while fall is still in full bloom, but it’s already the middle of October and it’s time to locate your snow shovels and make sure your snowblower will fire up readily to clear your driveway and sidewalks. Plus, there’s snow on my lawn this morning!

The city of Duluth is bracing for winter, too, as City Hall reporter Peter Passi reports this week. It’s packed full of useful information for Duluthians who know the season’s first blizzard is not that far off the horizon.

Passi’s story includes the timeframe the city will use to declare snow emergencies, when cars need to be moved off city streets, where the “amnesty lots” will be located and how much sidewalk shoveling will be enforced.

While you are fishing out your winter gear to prep for the annual battle against Old Man Winter, you can read Passi’s story here.

Dance challenged

A bowtie and suspenders frame a certificate reading: "MOST INTERPRETIVE, awarded to Jay Gabler, Minnesota Ballet's Celebrity Dance Challenge, September 30, 2022, Fregeau Auditorium, Marshall School, Duluth, Minnesota" with three judges' signatures
A certificate awarded to the most interpretive "celebrity" dancer at Minnesota Ballet's annual fundraiser.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

Journalists don’t consider themselves “celebrities,” but that hasn’t stopped us from participating in the annual “Celebrity Dance Challenge” when invited.

The DNT has produced a long line of “Celebrity Dance Challenge” alumni, and A&E reporter Jay Gabler joined that conga line recently. The local event is a fundraiser for Minnesota Ballet that features local “celebrities” being paired with professional dancers and performing a two-minute dance during a public performance.

And, like other DNT dance alumni, Gabler shared his experiences with our readers.

No spoilers here, but I loved this bit from his column: “Are you a celebrity, or a dancer, or both?” a friend texted when I told her about the upcoming event.

“Great questions,” I responded. “I believe that in ‘Celebrity Dance Challenge,’ I represent the ‘challenge.’”

Put on your dancing shoes and find out how Gabler fared with his dance here.

Catch a wave

Here are a few more stories from the past week I thought you may enjoy:

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Editor's note: Weekly Wave is a newsletter that I publish every Friday morning. Please consider subscribing — it's free — and hits your inbox just once a week. You can sign up here.

Rick Lubbers has been in his role since 2014 and at the News Tribune since 2005. Previous stops include the Superior Telegram (1999-2005) and Budgeteer News (1997-1999). Prior to that, he worked at the St. Cloud Times and Annandale Advocate in Minnesota, and the Greenville Daily News and Grand Rapids Press in Michigan. He received his journalism degree at Central Michigan University.
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