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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, April 18, 2014

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I give this bubbler a 9 on the Public Hydration Scale.
I give this bubbler a 9 on the Public Hydration Scale.

Milwaukee's best bubbler

I've slurped water from hundreds, maybe thousands, of Milwaukee bubblers, but every time I take a drink from the one in Back Bay Park I think to myself, "This is a damn fine bubbler. Perhaps the city's finest." (Or something like that.)

So, if you, like me, are a connoisseur of the bubbler, this is worth noting.

Back Bay Park, on on Terrace Avenue on Milwaukee's East Side, has a small-but-mighty bubbler that's a popular stopping place for runners, rollerbladers and playground kids and their parents. In my experience, it is always cold -- but not too cold -- and just the right amount of pressure. (I hate wimpy bubbler dribble or when it arcs too high and blasts you in the face.)

This town has other bubblers worth bending over for, and perhaps you know of one. If so, enlighten us via the Talkback feature.

Super small cars are best if you don't have regular backseat passengers.
Super small cars are best if you don't have regular backseat passengers.

Are kids safe in the backseats of tiny cars?

I am hoping to ditch my gas-glugging Jeep Cherokee and buy a smaller, used car this summer. Initially, I thought I wanted a Honda Fit, Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix (which is basically The Vibe), but after doing a bunch of research, I'm starting to reconsider these tiny cars.

Sure, the gas mileage is amazing, but because I have two kids who would ride in the backseat, I am questioning the safety of driving something with so little junk in the trunk. (Even though I joke with friends that my mothering motto is "safety last," I am hyperactive when it comes to their well bring.)

If I didn't have kids, I would be all over these small cars, because they make sense on so many levels, and they are affordable, too. However, although the safety rating for the driver and front passenger are excellent -- especially in the Fit -- the rear ratings for most of these  small fry rides received a "poor."

For me, it's difficult to gage how much of a risk it really is to drive a very compact car.  Are Americans brainwashed by the belief that mammoth cars mean safety? Could it be that some of the warnings against driving small cars are so we'll consume more fuel? Europeans drive much smaller cars, but then again, I have not researched their death rates compared to ours.

Despite my posed questions, I am actually feeling very solid in my thoughts. It boils down to the fact that, as a parent, you do what you can do to keep kids safe. Common sense tells me that if one of these clown cars got rear-ended by an SUV, it wouldn't be pretty.

Sure, saving on gas is important, especially for families like mine who feel the impact of the rising costs of food and fuel, but, obviously, sparing a few bucks at the pump isn't worth it if something happens to one of my kids. It would be just another example of trading blood for oil.

I am not exactly going to buy a mini van, but now, I'm researching the slightly larger vehiceles, like the Subaru Impreza. Any thoughts on …

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Does it feel like summer to you?
Does it feel like summer to you?

It still doesn't feel like summer to me

It’s the end of June, but I still don’t feel like we’re experiencing summer weather yet. Most likely it’s because I live relatively near the lake, where the temperatures are lower than they are "well inland."

Hopefully, a stretch of 80 degree days is in the forecast. Today was certainly beautiful, and served as a good start to sizzling summer weather, but there is still a chill in the air reminiscent of the end of summer, when fall is on the way.

I am the last person to speculate why our weather is changing -- I got a B- in my college meteorology class -- but if memory serves, by the end of June, summer weather in Milwaukee is usually in full swing.

Milwaukee sweet Milwaukee.
Milwaukee sweet Milwaukee.

The problems with being a lifelong Milwaukeean

Most of the time, I love the fact I have lived within 1 square mile my entire life. Often it feels like I dwell in a small town inside a medium-sized city, which, for me, offers the best of both worlds. I get to enjoy both a strong sense of community and metropolitan amenities.

However, there are down sides to living in the same place your whole life. Perhaps you've noticed, too.

For one thing, sometime I want to go out and grab a beer or a coffee with a friend and not run into a half-dozen people I know. Most of the time, I'm a chatty gal, and I dig running into all different people from various corners of my life, but when I'm feeling mellow and not completely "on" there's nothing worse then having to force the small talk.

Another bummer about living in the same place for so long is that --  if you're like me and you're nostalgic -- the nostalgia can be painful. Take the Shops of Grand Avenue for example. It bothers me to walk through the quiet mall today and remember when it opened in the early '80s and was packed -- PACKED -- with shoppers. (I blew my entire savings that day at San Rio Gift Gate on a bunch of Hello Kitty trinkets.)

Also, I find driving by the house I grew up in slightly ghostly. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to be reminded of childhood all the time. There are a lot of good memories, don't get me wrong, but even the happy ones are heavy in their own way because they remind me of a place and time -- as well as  people -- that no longer exist.

Plus, I  still refer to the U.S. Bank Center as the First Wisconsin Building and the afore-mentioned Shop of Grand Avenue as the "Grand Avenue Mall." The Fifth Ward is still Walker's Point in my book, and very occasionally, I'll say "County Stadium" instead of "Miller Park."

By far, one of the most annoying aspects of living in the same town your whole life is having to run into an ex. Granted, I've been married for a decade, but prior to the nuptials, I had a "special …

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