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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wed
Hi: 47
Lo: 38
Thu
Hi: 52
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Fri
Hi: 44
Lo: 32
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Waukesha's Nikol Hasler hosts the "Midwest Teen Sex Show." Wish this was around when I was a kid.
Waukesha's Nikol Hasler hosts the "Midwest Teen Sex Show." Wish this was around when I was a kid.

Memories of sex ed

Earlier this week, I posted an article about “The Midwest Teen Sex Show,” a funny and brutally honest podcast providing info for teens about many aspects of sexuality. The podcast is controversial because of its unconventional, tell-all nature, but for some kids, this is what really works. And I was one of those kids.

Writing the article inspired me to reflect on my own sex education, and it turns out, I remember very little. Probably because most of it was really boring.

I recall in fourth grade the boys were separated from the girls, and a health teacher handed out a pamphlet on menstruation called something like, "What Every Girl Should Know."

Also, I  vaguely remember that in fifth grade, there was a “sex question” box in the corner of the room that kids could write anonymous questions for the teacher to answer. Unfortunately, everyone was too embarrassed to be seen actually putting a question in the box. (I did, however, finally break down and write one. I was so nervous about writing it and dropping it in the box, that I wrote it way too fast. This caused the teacher to misread my sloppy handwritten question which was “What is porking?” as “What is parking?” She went on to explain that sometimes people kiss in cars which I already knew and had to wait until sixth grade to find out the definition of this non-kosher euphemism.)

However, what I vividly remember from my sex education is when the health teacher -- who was actually a social studies teacher that must have lost a bet -- dressed up as various forms of contraception. One day she came dressed in a garbage-bag-based “condom costume,” anther day she was “Diana Diaphragm” and later she wore a white, round sandwich board type thing embossed with the name “Polly Pill.”

This experience was way less sophisticated then “Midwest Teen Sex Show” -- and nowhere near as funny  -- but it made a lasting impression on me. It was outlandish first and informational …

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There are lots of different rain barrels on the market.
There are lots of different rain barrels on the market.

What's the deal with rain barrels?

If things look a little greener around here this April, there's a good reason. Our editorial staff is busy expanding the ideals of Earth Day into a month-long celebration of energy conservation, alternative transportation, recycling tips and about a million ways you can be a better friend to the planet. Welcome to Green Month, Milwaukee.

I caught up with Joe Wilson, executive director of Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, and asked him a few Q’s about rain barrels.

OnMilwaukee.com: Why should someone use a rain barrel?

Joe Wilson: Citizens who have the opportunity to install and use a rain barrel to collect rain water will be using water efficiently and help reduce storm water runoff. They will not only be helping the environment but also saving money by using rainwater, which is free.

OMC: How much rain does a rain barrel hold?

JW: A rain barrel holds 50 gallons of rain water. If we had 40,000 homes installing rain barrels that would divert the million gallons of water from the storm water system.

OMC: Where / how can someone find one?

JW: Rain barrels are now easily accessible. Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful sells a complete rain barrel with an overflow hose for $45. KGMB rain barrels are constructed locally from used commercial plastic barrels that once contained food products like soy or canola oil, pickles, syrup or other edible items. MMSD also sells rain barrels to citizens that reside in the district. You can also find rain barrels on the Internet from commercial companies but they are much more expensive.

The pros and cons of bamboo floors

If things look a little greener around here this April, there's a good reason. Our editorial staff is busy expanding the ideals of Earth Day into a month-long celebration of energy conservation, alternative transportation, recycling tips and about a million ways you can be a better friend to the planet. Welcome to Green Month, Milwaukee.

About two years ago, we installed a bamboo floor in our kitchen. Surprisingly, we had exactly enough left over to cover the floor of our VW camper bus, too. We bought the flooring at Lowe’s, and although it was more expensive than Pergo and other fake wood floors, it wasn’t exorbitant.

We choose bamboo because, at the time, we believed it was an environmentally friendly choice. Although bamboo is a highly renewable resource that reaches maturity far earlier than trees, we now know that, like so many seemingly “green” choices, there’s a flip side. But more about that later.

Overall, I am really pleased with our bamboo flooring, both in the kitchen and the camper. It is a very hard wood, so it holds up to the potential wear-and-tear of two active little boys, and it’s really easy to clean. Basically, we just wash it down with hot water and maybe a drop of Dr. Bronner’s for that extra-clean smell.

Also, I love the way it looks. Instead of the wide planks in a wood floor, bamboo flooring -- which comes in natural or a darker “oak” -- has very thin planks. You can see where the knobs were, which gives it a very distinctive look. Actually, it looks just like what it is: bamboo shoots that were split, flattened, dried and laminated.

The lamination is one of the areas where the eco-friendliness of this product is questionable because most laminates have carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde. Also, the recent hyper planting of bamboo creates deforestation, and because most bamboo comes from Asia, it requires less-renewable resources to ship it to the United States.

So many eco-frien…

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Jenny, this poem's for you

 Thanks to Bobby Tanzilo’s blog this morning, I now know it’s National Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I am a big fan of the poem, in fact, it was one of my majors in college, so here's one that I wrote.

It’s called “The Jenny Conspiracy,” and anyone who grew up in the ‘70s and / or ‘80s knows at least one -- possibly six -- girls named Jenny or Jen or Jennifer. Personally, my grandmother, sister, sister-in-law, high school best friend, Cabbage Patch Doll and college roommate are all named Jenny, which drove me to write this poem.

The Jenny Conspiracy

Before Watergate,
a weird thing was under way.
Millions of moms
named their munchkins
the same moniker:
Jenny,
short for Jennifer.
A curious spelling, really,
with the "f" instead of the "ph"
as in Christopher and Stephanie,
also popular names of the day.
I, a Molly,
was jealous of the Jennys,
who were always able
to find a little plastic license plate
or a rubber stamp
with their name embossed.
Classrooms were crammed
with jumbles of Jennies:
Jenny S., Jenny A., Jenny M., Jenny E.
They joined forces,
started their own societies-
sub cultures of super-cool schoolgirls.
While girls called Blair and Sunshine Rose
pined for a normal name,
the Jennys secretly dreamed
of being different.
In a desperate attempt to differentiate
they started twisting the spelling:
"J-e-n-i," "G-e-n-n-y," one girl
even added a silent b: "J-e-n-n-y-(silent) b."
Then, suddenly they blossomed
into these new creatures
who only answered to "Jen."
Jen was the girl with
the new wave tapes and the cigarettes
and Judy Blume's "Forever"
stuffed in her Army knapsack.
If you accidentally called her "Jenny"
she firmly reminded
it was "Jen." And then,
just when you got it down and
finally remembered,
she changed to "Jennifer."
OK, this girl you knew since first grade
is no longer Jenny, not Jen,
but Jennifer,
and you say "Jennifer" over and over again
until it isn't a name anymore,
rat…

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