Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Where children roam

Kids, Wauwatosa, Stevens Point, healthy communities

I spent the last week in Steven's Point, standing outside restaurants or sitting on barstools inside, to get the pulse of eaters there. Well, their opinions, anyway.  

If you haven't been there, the downtown main stretch has an idyllic smallish town feel. Most of the storefronts are occupied, and by local businesses. The library is right there. At one end, a town square hosts farmers' markets and, with a fountain meant for play, kids and moms and lunchtime sunners.

Alone and in groups, people walk to work and lunch. They stop to make plans, laugh, sit on a bench and chat. Some are students, but most are folks attending to other parts of life.

Somewhere nearby is a swimming pool. Wet-headed kids wrapped in towels, on foot or on bikes, escorted or not, make their way home from morning until dusk.

It's the unescorted ones who interest me. Knots of kids, a little scruffy from outside revels, collect here and there. They are old enough to get around but not old enough for power vehicles. Mostly, they ignore the adults, which is a fitting thing for kids not causing trouble and summer-free. And while they get a little noisy, it's just exuberance. They move along soon enough.

Isn't this the measure of a healthy community? One where kids are welcome and have as much business as adults do? Where they develop their skills and confidence, negotiating with each other and occasional grown-ups they care to encounter?

If you search the Net, you'll find equal numbers of articles touting cities as great for kids and  warning of dangers lurking there for and by kids. I guess we all pick the ones to read that fit our own vision.

But I'm thrilled to see more wet-headed kids, wrapped in towels, on foot or on bikes, making their way to and from Hoyt Park and around Wauwatosa. These canaries are thriving, a sign that the community is, too.

Wild Babies Expeditionary Academy

Kids, Wauwatosa, no child left inside

On colder days, about the only people you encounter on the streets of western Wauwatosa are Hearty Old Broads (HOBs) Out Walking Dogs (OWDs), along with an occasional younger or male counterpart.

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Home from the wedding


No matter how beautiful Colorado is, some things make you appreciate Wisconsin. The ease of getting through airport security here is one. And skin loves the moisture in our air.

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Lamenting the loss of land lines


It's almost time for school to begin again. Son Geo is moving out of the dorms and into a house in Madison with 7 or 8 other guys. The house also happens to be right across the street from Camp Randall.

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Let's really confuse 'em

Kids, Bristol Palin

What we see has more influence than what we hear. And who says the words matters as much as what she says.

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Tired ground

Kids, Marilyn French

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New school-based technology prevents obesity

Kids, Wauwatosa

 A study in the journal Pediatrics has found a new way to prevent obesity in school-age children:

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Art snark: moms and the Milwaukee Art Museum

Beauty, Kids, Milwaukee Art Museum


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Impluse purchase

Fluff, Kids

I almost never spend money on anything but essentials these days. And I'm absolutely not interested in collectibles. But today, while wandering the aisles at HOBO looking for a bathroom vanity, I found something that tickled my fancy. And along with the $1.99 I spent for blue painters tape, I plunked down $14. 95 for a cookie jar. 

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Catalog porn makes me feel old and cranky

catalog soft porn, Kids, Sex education

This entry contains quoted language that may offend some people. If you're one, you may want to stop reading now.

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Let's talk about sex

It isn't easy, Kids, Sex education

Neighboring New Berlin's high school drama of deceit and sexual predation via Facebook has the whole nation abuzz. A male student posed as a girl (or girls) in that online community, convincing boys he knew to send naked pictures of themselves. Then, using threats to expose those pictures, he blackmailed the boys into sex acts. The whole thing seems to have gone on for some time, until one boy stepped forward to protect his younger brother. I'm sure you've heard all about it.

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Longest night, beautiful night

Christmas, Kids, Solstice, Spirituality

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Single--and simple--tasking for the holidays

Christmas, Kids, Wauwatosa

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White Christmas, green

Economy, Environment, job hunt, Kids

Coming in from shoveling (and I do mean shoveling, as opposed to walking behind a snow blower), I found a pleasant surprise. Liz, home for the weekend, had chocolate chip buckwheat pancakes, strawberries, bacon, and coffee waiting. With the exception of the strawberries, which were of the frozen variety, and the chocolate chips, a consession to modern taste and decadence, it was a moment my father and grandfather might have  recognized. (Their wives worked hard, but show shoveling wasn't part of the divided-labor routine for women.)

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Children get older. . .

It isn't easy, Kids

Yesterday was last minute get-ready-for-college shopping day with Liz. After breakfast among Harley riders and fashionable east siders at the Cafe Hollander, we headed to Greenfields to look for posters. In case you haven't been there, it's the kind of store where I'd have bought flowing skirts, incense, and posters for whatever Madison apartment I had in 1970.

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In transit

It isn't easy, Kids, Spirituality

With the trip meter on, it's easy to pretend I haven't just rolled the odometer over 100,000 miles on the dinged but reliable Nissan. But even the lower mileage meter's in the thousands, what with trips to campuses, family visits, and job interviews. Sometimes, you just can't get away with driving less. And even if you do, chances are your life isn't staying in the same place.

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Becoming a Badger: some things get better

Kids, Madison

Once upon a time, my high school friend Vicki, who'd gone to Brigham Young for college because it was the cheapest school with great skiing, called me and asked, "What are you doing next year?" I didn't have any good ideas, so when she said, "Let's go to Madison," I answered "Sure. Why not?"

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Sick of being sick

It's not easy, Kids

I think that last Tuesday was the only day in the past week that we've been free of a close encounter of the medical kind.

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Christmas interruptus

Kids, Spirtuality

At the dark table in the corner of Singha Thai last night, the fortune cookies arrived, as they always do.

It was my birthday dinner, and I was feeling blessed. The food was good, and I was in the company of a long-time beloved friend. George had arranged for an earlier surprise celebration at The Original Pancake House, where he works. Daughter Annie had flown home to Ft. Collins safely, even though the gale winds left our yard covered with a winter's supply of kindling. Earlier, she and Liz had done the Christmas shopping for everyone, and all I had to do was foot the bill.

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Gas and crass--the EPA and those Spears girls

Environment, Kids, Media

Wondering why the auto makers didn't make a bigger objection to the new energy bill signed into law yesterday? After all, it raised standards for emissions control.

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Get real. . . then again, maybe, don’t


From today’s (November 29, 2007) New York Times:

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The sex offender you know

Fear, Kids

While the city is mulling more restrictive ordinances controlling where registered sex offenders can live, Wauwatosa's getting some attention as the home of Joseph Hallows and Mark Lubinsky.

Hallows, a disbarred lawyer who looks like every mother's nightmare of a sexual predator, is facing charges for recent and past sexual assault and more. Lubinsky, a pediatric geneticist, was sentenced to 18 months for possession of child pornography.

Lubinsky is not so scary, either in looks or, I think, actions. He's a slight man with an odd gait who always seemed a little uncomfortable. I have a nodding acquaintance with him from my years of attending ethics seminars at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he talked with obvious concern about subjects like end of life rituals with families of dying patients.

While his access to children made him a greater potential threat than Hallows, who apparently got to kids mainly through their mothers, I'm willing to hazard that it's because Lubinsky knows right from wrong and feared going down the path to where child pornography can lead that he arranged to be "caught" downloading files.

But this isn't about trying to figure out why educated men, men who, despite their mug shots, are like the ones we are married or related to, work with, and live near, harm children or dream about having sex with them.

It's about reminding us that the creepy looking guys in the Family Watchdog are a very small percentage of the people who commit sexual crimes involving children. The ones on the map are easy to guard against, whether they're 500 feet or 5,000 feet away from your home or school.

Two things to keep in mind. All convicted offenders are not the same. A 17 year old boy who had consensual sex with a 15 year old girlfriend is not the same as someone who rapes infants. And a man who looks at child porn is not the same as someone who creates it.

Most important to remember is that, depending on whose statistics you read, 80-90% of child molestation is committed by someone the child knows, which means someone you know.  Someone who hasn't been convicted or even accused.

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Doesn't seem the same


The moon in the nearly bare walnut trees looked Halloweeny enough. But other than that, today didn't feel like Halloween.

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