Some people might gag at the accomplishments of Jerry Osteraas, but he's proud of his claim to fame. The full-blooded Norwegian has managed to consume more than 8 pounds of lutefisk in a single sitting, which has earned him a place in the record books.
The appeal of lutefisk is lost on the non-Scandinavian masses, but it thrives in Osteraas' hometown of Madison, Wis., the self-proclaimed lutefisk capital of the world.
``I've always said it tastes like lobster when you put a little butter on it,'' Osteraas, 45, said of the lutefisk. ``But there isn't any sweetness to it.''
But Osteraas' accomplishment put somewhat of a damper on this heavily Scandinavian community's recent three-day Norsefest, according to the Associated Press.
This year's lutefisk-eating contest had to be canceled because no one stepped forward to challenge Osteraas. Last year, he faced only one brave challenger, who gagged after managing to down barely a pound of lutefisk.
``No one can out-eat our champion,'' says Donna Ventrella of the Madison Chamber of Commerce. ``We did have a fellow who tried to stay with him one year, but he got sick.''
Osteraas is casting his eyes on a contest scheduled next May in nearby Benson, where competitors will face one another across plates piled high with potato dumplings.
``I like them,'' Osteraas says of dumplings. Consumer rights update
When you buy something at a store and later change your mind, you may be stuck and unable to return the merchandise.
But if you buy an item in your home or at a location that is not the seller's regular place of business, you do have the right to change your mind, cancel the purchase and get your money back, according to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
Minnesota's Home Solicitation Law covers sales made away from the seller's normal place of business, like motel rooms, county fairs or your own home. Under the state's cooling-off law, you have three business days to cancel in-home purchases of $25 or more.
To cancel the contract within the three-day period, you must give notice of any cancellation in writing. Because proof of the mailing date and proof of the receipt are important, give notice of any cancellation by certified mail with a return receipt requested. Keep a copy of the cancellation form for your records.
Some sales cannot be cancelled even if they occur in your home. These include those less than $25, or those that involve real estate, insurance, securities or motor vehicles.
One of the best safeguards against problems with at-home buying is to take your time and make sure you really want what you are being offered. Don't be afraid to say ``no,'' and don't be pressured into buying something you don't want.
Small town to dissolve
White Rock, South Dakota's smallest town just across the border from Minnesota, may not show up on maps much longer, says the Associated Press.
The town had a population of seven in 1990, but after three people died and a family moved out this year, the municipal clerk decided to begin the legal work to dissolve the town.
``I've had the job for a year and a half,'' said Viola Ehlers. ``The reason I have it is that I was the only one left around to handle the process of dissolving the town.''
White Rock, located in the extreme northeast corner of South Dakota, north of Rosholt, is only a mile from North Dakota.
Fifty years ago, White Rock had filling stations, grocery stores and a high school. Now, even Ehlers has forsaken the community and only one man actually lives there.
Ehlers still owns a house in White Rock, which qualifies her to be the clerk, but she said she's tired of the job. A nearby Hutterite colony has expressed an interest in buying the property.
``It's hard to believe there's only a few houses there now and a church, but at one time White Rock had seven elevators and seven saloons,'' said Roberts County Commissioner Cyril Westby of Rosholt. ``Then the railroad came through Rosholt and New Effington, and the Milwaukee Road quit running through White Rock. It's been a downhill slide since.''
Bob Miller of nearby Pierre, S.D., executive director for the South Dakota Municipal League, said towns can dissolve in two ways.
A majority of property owners can petition to dissolve it, or 15 percent of the voters can ask for a vote. Ehlers doesn't know what she'll do.
``I don't know if I could find any registered voters,'' she said.