Is Spring Around the Corner? Or Is It Just a Cobweb?

Eds Note: This just occured to me.

Bill CoadyBy Bill Coady

After a couple of weeks here in the Wisconsin deep freeze you start to go a little stir crazy, and the mind turns to anything that might be a harbinger of spring. It has been so bad lately, this need for spring, that my fancy has turned to mopping. Yes, even spring cleaning has some appeal to me if it will break the below zero parade currently passing by.

Having my mind turn to spring cleaning is certainly a sign of complete desperation or perhaps even the apocolypse. Anyone who has known me for more than a couple of weeks knows I am a complete slob. Saying that I am a “pig trough slob” is a no-brainer on the order of saying Dubya is “A little slow on the uptake.” Or saying that his “Dick shoots prematurely.” Even a knuckle dragging Neanderthal emerging from a cave freed from the ice by global warming after 30,000 years would recognize these simple truths.

I don’t know even where to begin to describe my lack of housekeeping prowess. Perhaps one example might suffice. Most people might occasionally get a dust bunny or two. I have dust dragons. Winged fire breathing creatures, with thick scales, razor sharp claws and teeth. Dragons that mainline Dragon Chow directly from Chernobyl. Dust dragons whose seething sulfurous emissions (much to my chagrin) actually improve the smell of the room. These are the kind of dust dragons I have. Creatures that it would take the amazing powers of Harry Potter to dislodge from under the bed or davenport.

Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to use that kind of language on a family blog here in Wausau. See, where I come from, “davenport” is not a city in Iowa. It is a “sofa” or a “couch.” In fact, having been born in New Jersey, I didn’t even recognize that Iowa was a state until recently. All the geography we needed to know was contained in the Philadelphia Phillies schedule. If they didn’t play there, it was obviously foreign soil. As far as I know, the Phillies never played in Iowa, so it must not be part of the United States. Occasionally, the Phillies roster would feature someone who had been born in Iowa, but we always figured that it was an island in the Caribbean, like the Dominican Republic or Jamaica. And if the player’s birthplace was listed as “Davenport, Iowa” we assumed this was sad commentary on the lack of hospital space on the impoverished island. But I digress. Ummm, where was I?

Oh yes, spring cleaning. I really, really need some of that around here. To be frightfully honest, my house looks like the Munster’s – and they have been dead for some 40 years. At this point I am pretty sure that the cobwebs are actually keeping the molding around the ceiling in place. Did I just say “molding?” Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, some people have sensitive stomachs. I hate to think of the image this conjures up in my kitchen.

I have thought seriously that since I am so resource limited when it comes to actually swinging a mop or broom, that I should engage someone who might have a special talent in this area. Unfortunately I am also resource limited — financially speaking, that is — that it would have to be a direct trade of services. But then I ponder, what could possibly be a fair trade for taking on the dust dragons? Perhaps getting a few pomegranates at a Baghdad market? Listening to Bill O’Reilly for five minutes? Disarming a live nuclear device blindfolded? Hunting with Dick?

None of the same seem to hold the same dangers or excruciating pain that I am sure would entail from opening my closet unarmed. I don’t even want to think about what is there in the back, way back, in that dark corner. Whatever it is, I think it is drooling.

I guess I better get back to mopping the kitchen floor. At least it is out in the open where I can keep an eye on it. Unlike the dust dragons. And whatever it is that is drooling.

Advertisements

64 responses to “Is Spring Around the Corner? Or Is It Just a Cobweb?

  1. Don’t go dissing Iowa.

    And go to Best Buy and pick up a hand-held Dyson. It changed my life.

  2. Best Buy??? Never!!!! I would rather go tooth to claw with the dust dragons than shop there.

    And me? Diss Iowa? Naahhh. How could I diss a place that I barely know where it is? Next to Nebraska? Right? Just to the right of Kansas maybe? Can anyone help me out here? I know it’s flat or something.

    Or maybe that is just the residents there….

    OK, I’ll shut up now.

  3. Bill, I’ll let Lisa take care of your comment about Iowa residents, but I want to provide you with a free spin to help bail you out in advance of what could otherwise become a bad situation here. I’m sure you meant flat STOMACHS, right? So it was really a compliment! And it’s a significant accomplishment, since the Hawkeye State is famous for having the biggest and best breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches:

    http://www.allenbukoff.com/wildBPTiowa03/

    So now you’ve got your story and all you have to do is stick to it. 🙂

  4. Having commuted through IA a number of times in treks to OK to see the Mrs (but since Phillies haven’t played there.. OK is also probably not in the US)… I have observed this:

    1) The speed limit is 70 on the interstate, which makes getting through it a little better (though I vote for the old Autobahn if your car can do it.. go for it)

    2) Some of the rest areas have WiFi internet, which is pretty cool. I have yet to check my email or this blog at a rest stop in IA.. but it is nice to know I can in case of some blogging emergency.

    3) The worlds largest truck stop is in IA on I-80 between D’s (Davenport and Des Moines)

    4) Even if you hit Des Moines at the peak of the busiest rush hour, you won’t have to tap the brake if your cruise is set at 74.

    and MOST IMPORTANTLY
    5) If driving past Osceola after dark, don’t look directly at the Terribles Casino sign (exit 35 on I-35) if had hoped to be able to see anything else for the next 50 miles.

  5. Here’s two good things about Iowa. The best ribs are in Ames at Hickory Park. Also Iowa is the home of Maytag Blue Cheese. Its really worth seeking out.

    Don’t fear, Bill, you can get the Dyson handheld vac at Fleet Farm.

    Finally, we’ve been battling clutter at home for quite some time. Probably the best thing that happened to us was when the drain backed up in the basement and caused us to throw out a bunch of water damaged junk. Ebay’s also a great place to get rid of things you don’t need. Who would’ve thought you could unload a seldom used breadmaker for $20.00.

  6. Don’t worry Jim, I am an expert at sticking to a story. Once I think of one anyway.

    And I don’t know about those Dyson things, they just look evil to me. Maybe I’ll just have an out of town expert come in.

  7. You know I started reading this blog a while ago. At first I was of the opinion that it was merely a Dino loves Bill, Bill loves Jim, Jim loves Dino and everybody loves Wausau site. Then you actually got into an interestin disucssion about graffitti that involved other people with real and thoughtful opinions. Now you’re back to creme brulee and what’s under the bed at your house. Is this as good as it gets? It could be better. Doesn’t anyhting of significance ever happen in Wausau?

  8. This is a nice website, I have been in here a few times, I like it. It is linked to a fun, silly little wausaufriends blog. Anyway I think this will be quite interesting if anyone is interested.

    Friday Night 2/23, Mike Wallschlager is debating Kevin Hermening at UWMC 07:00 PM, Room 233. Put on by the support the troops group as before.

  9. Man, nobody loves me. Lets not get that one confused.

  10. ok, everyone- I thought this was supposed to tell the glories of Wausau- I think Iowa sounds pretty good- Wifi at rest stops- Yippee! Great ribs! Speed limit 70? Whoo hoo!

  11. Iowa has amazing silos. Marcus and I drove across Iowa one day.

    Silos, everywhere

  12. “frd” is absolutely right…The potential of this blog seems limitless, but I’m beginning to wonder if the interesting (even fascinating) writing and discussions that I’ve seen on WausauBlog are the exception, not the rule.

  13. As far as FRD’s comment, I have no idea how to make it better. I wrote the lip balm thing to counteract the sort of public policy big govt corporate hootie hoo(a master p referance for those who care) that was happening.

    I think that the voices have been sort of drown out by that sort of talk. I know that Bill leaves this thing wide open, and I think that might be an okay model.

    I wish that Jim told us more personal stories, and Phyllis and Leah. I think Jim uses it well, but I think that many people are literally sending press releases.

    I like personal stories. Why Timmy did this, and who was Tommy’s third grade teacher?

    Why I think Mike Close was the best basketball player I ever saw?

    Mrs. Thoreson was the one teacher I sought out after I left high school.

    Being friends with Bill Heeren and Scott Blanchard as an adult freaks me out, and why?

    Will Fleischman and his impact on Wausau

    So much stuff.

  14. Everybody need to get a life We need to get more serious about saving the countrry of ours . If we thought R. Nixion was a crook, well look at what we have now, an almost police state! Well it is a police state. Sorry abount the rant but it is only people like you who can take care of this.
    Bill get the dust drageons out of there please.

  15. I have … for the most part.. tried to make posts about Wausau issues, specifically those issues that have an impact on investment real estate… or just real estate in general (smoke detectors, fire pits, University Ave, Wausau School’s long term planning, etc).

    I have already started on next week’s blog.. which is not a press release per se, but does draw attention to a new business opening soon that will help answer that teenage “there’s nothing to do issue”

    I contribute because I was asked too… if my contributions are counter to the vision of this blog, just say so.. Dr Rent knows how to shut up

  16. Lots of stuff happens here in Wausau. I just don’t get out much. I am trying to change that.

  17. These comments bring up something that has been a bit of a struggle to figure out over the past few weeks for me. Conventional wisdom in politics is that participating in a blog where people can anonymously lob grenades for whatever legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons they may have — (and who truly can judge motives?) — is not necessarily a wise thing to do for folks like me. On the other hand, I think that a free-ranging discussion on various issues is healthy. It’s a great way to gain insight for everyone involved and I enjoy the interaction as much as anyone else.

    In my own blog, which you can reach by clicking on my name, you’ll find commentaries and they are not about creme brulee’ — (at least not yet.) I write about things that are often connected to me by some personal experience or background knowledge, but the subjects do not necessarily have any other local tie-in other than that I live here. Most therefore probably do not belong in a venue like Wausaublog. But I’m entirely in favor of substantial discussions on substantial matters.

  18. John,

    I do not think that is the case at all. For me, I want to hear more about you in Wausau. I know for a fact that there is more to you than fire pits.

    I want more than just that. I want Dr Rent in Wausau.

  19. It’s nice to provoke some feedback. I hope that the discussion can continue to grow away from the kind of topics that Aunt Bea would put on the Mayberry blog. (But then maybe Dino would not be able to represent the Otis Campbell persona and try to spike the lemonade until he locks himself up for the night.)

    I was talking about this with a friend of mine and he proposed what I think is an interesting question. Can a person who owns a downtown business building close the business, gut the building, and then let the shell stand there indefinitely? Would the city permit that? Maybe the owner plans on selling the site merely for the land and can see no reason to put another dollar into the building. But others might see it as an example of blight and an eyesore. There are regular contributors who would have expertise and insight into this.

    By the way, in Mayberry they would probably discuss the relative merits on Mt. Pilot instead of Iowa.

  20. I amy be reading too much into your comment, FRD, but in this case it is more akin to radio or television, not a city block. A city block you cannot avoid. If you don’t like TV or radio, there is the channel switch or the off button.

    WordPress allows the the ability to fire up your own blog for free. You can follow your own vision if you like. I am following mine.

    And, John and Jim — if I have a problem with a post, I will certainly tell you in advance. And I haven’t really, I think what each of you have written have certainly added the the discussion. And I like whimsy, so I don’t mind creme brulee either.

    Comments are another matter. I basically have no control over those and only see those after everyone else does. For the most part I am loathe to edit or especially, remove a comment.

    I have posted everything that the contributors have submitted. Generally unedited. And I intend to do so.

    The Wausaublog is what it is. And it is what we make it. And FRD, if you would like to write posts, you are more than welcome. Send me an email: wausaublog@badgers.com

    Thanks!

  21. I had already started my post for next week, talking about the soon to come Vertigo gaming center on 1st Ave.

    Some of Jim’s comments put another potential topic in my head. As someone who not only works with politicial figures on a daily basis, but also has political asperations himself.. how wise is it for me to be as active on both this blog and the daily heralds blog? Is that bulls eye I have put on myself a good or bad thing.

    The comment here about the shell of a building.. hits close to home and I can give you real examples of what I have personally done in that situation…

    Now.. even I don’t know what I will be submitting this weekend.. so stay tuned

  22. Every blog needs to develop a personality which defines it and engages its readers. It seems to me that WasuauBlog is going through growing pains now. We haven’t truly defined who we are and how we relate to our community — or even who our community is. Some of us were asked to blog on a specific topic or from a particular point of view. It’s nice to be able to go off on a rant now and again, but we need to decide if that is who we are.

    Perhaps it’s because I’m a relative newcomer to the community, but I really don’t care who Timmy’s third grade teacher was. I don’t have a clue who Timmy is (was). The story of why his teacher is memorable is perhaps worth the space.

    My vote goes to posts of substance with touches of personal interest, with an occasional sidetrips into whimsy and nonsense.

  23. I absolutely believe in the personal voice of the city. The personal voices are the only ones that really matter, if we need more corporate news, I think Gannett handles that just fine.

    But do they? Does Gannett really cover the city council at all?

    There are intricacies(sp) to the city that are enormous. Internal politics, cool committee decisions, and the general personailities of everyone. But heres the thing, I roam the halls of City Hall, and I attend City Council Meetings, and honestly I have no idea what they are talking about.

    I have always hoped that Jim would teach us about that stuff. I think that there are quite a few committees for the city, what do they do? Who is on them? Why should I care?

    For example, Rick Mohlinetsky, and the snow plows…what a cool thing. We should get Bill a ride along in some snow storm, let him shoot picutres. The plows are cool.

    What about swimming pools? WHo takes care of that? Is that Duncanson…if so what does he do?

    I think it would be nice to have a primer on City Government, and that would be something that Jim Rosenberg could do, as he has sat in that chair longer than everyone, and he has a little bit of teacher bent to him.

    I say this…if we are to embrace this open forum if you will…we need to embrace things like posts about lip balm, and posts about educational referrendum.

    What about Little League…we should post the scores of little league, or youth soccer, or youth hockey…whatever your into.

    I do not mind being the Otis the Drunk guy, but I hope I have written things that were up the substance level people want. I am getting the feeling that the class clown should go. The smart kids want to talk about student government.

    I think I will go hang out in the band room, the girls there are prettier anyway.

  24. Bill,

    Perhaps you do read too much into my post, perhaps not. A blog about Wausau could serve a vital niche in cyberspace. I agree that an occasional trip into whimsy is appropriate but the balance seems tilted too much that way.

    And you are right about the ability to go somewhere else. There are for example 241,790 hits on ‘creme brulee’ on my search engine. That’s sort of beside the point. I originally responded because I recieved an email from someone who had received it from one of your regular contributors who asked that people respond with suggestions on how to make the WausauBlog better. That’s what I did. Your suggestion that I can go somewhere else if I don’t like it doesn’t seem to help much, does it?

    You do have contributors that offer topics that I think are interesting and helpful. Jim does, Dr. Rent does and Dino does. By the way Dino, Otis is way more than a town drunk. He forces the residents to confront their own standards and beliefs. They like him but disapprove of what he does. He is an catalyst. Even in the discussion of creme brulee Dino tried to make something out of it. Jim tried to respond and so did Dr. Rent. Unfortunately the others wanted to talk about dessert. Issues get raised, but rarely discussed. The graffitti discussion seems to be the one exception. There are plenty of people interested in Wausau and the surrounding area, and they are willing to talk about it. But sometimes sorting through the chaff to get to the wheat isn’t worth it.

  25. It seems to me that the problem here – and maybe how to fix it – comes through the dual goal that Bill’s previously expressed for the WausauBlog.

    On one hand, Bill’s tried (and succeeded) to create a forum for important and interesting local folks to write and discuss their perspectives on Wausau, some of which (naturally) tend toward the thought-provoking, and potentially controversial.

    On the other hand, Bill seems to want to direct this blog toward issues that won’t create controversy, either by posting repeated versions of the “this is why I love Wausau” post, or with writing that tends towards the “whimsical,” as he called it. While I admire his intention, and credit him with the effort, I find the posts about actual *issues*, or the promotion of local events/programs, to be much more substantive and interesting.

    Anyway, these two goals seem contradictory: it can’t be both ways at once. The contributors to this blog include a City Council member, an engaged local businessman, a Marathon County Public Librarian, the head of Wausau Area Events, and a local arts/media maven. Given that impressive personnel, it’s absolutely inconcievable to think that their posts or the discussions they provoke will remain non-controversial, or maybe (God forbid) *critical* of something about the city or one of its prominent citizens. Nor should they…

    And, frankly, I resent Bill’s suggestion that those of us who come to this page seeking something more substantive than dessert and inside-joke stories about third grade should go somewhere else. If this is going to be called the “WausauBlog,” and claim to be an open forum for a vibrant discussion of the city’s issues, then that’s what it ought to be. (If this was called “Bill Coady’s Blog,” I wouldn’t have a problem with him directing it however he wanted to.) I’d much rather have Jim, Dino, Dr. Rent, Bill, Phyllis, Christine, Leah, and all the denizens of the comment boards engage with events, issues and questions of significance to the city, whether positive or negative. Whimsy’s fine, and I certainly don’t think this page should be humorless, but – as “frd” so accurately points out – it seems way too high in the blog’s overall mix.

    I say this as a fan of Wausau, and the WausauBlog…

  26. Correction: the sentence at the end of my fourth paragraph should read:

    “…it’s absolutely inconcievable to think that their posts or the discussions they provoke will remain non-controversial, or that they won’t be (God forbid) *critical* of something about the city or one of its prominent citizens.

  27. I enjoy the whimsical posts. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at. The only thing I don’t enjoy much are the inside jokes and the “wink, wink, say no more, say no more.” type of comments.

    This city has a lot of good things going for it. Despite its conservative exterior, its really quite progressive. Wausau is the home of Workman’s Comp insurance; a progressive idea in itself. We built at downtown mall in 1983 when everyone else said that malls should be placed on the periphery. The current downtown development and revitization stems from some radical ideas the mayor had back in the early nineties (in case you forget, his name is emblazoned on the Jefferson St. pedestrian bridge).

    I think this blog embraces that progressive notion. I enjoy the controversial and critical articles. I also enjoy the lively discussion in the coments. I don’t agree with what everyone has to say, and I think we tend to take ourselves a little too serious. But lively discussion is good and important. Let’s keep the town hall atmosphere and debate the issues of the day. But lets also not forget the whimsy and humor; lest we forget why we choose to live in this great city.

  28. That mall cost my father and his best friend the start ups of there businesses.

  29. I don’t know that I’d call downtown malls “progressive,” since (correct me if I’m wrong) a great number of them across the country have either closed down or been greatly reduced in scope and occupancy.

    The Wausau mall is probably my least favorite part of downtown Wausau…

  30. Michael’s and Charles’ comments about the downtown mall may both be right. I don’t have any idea what the situation of the downtown area really was in 1983. (I’m not sure I had even heard of Wausau WI back then.) I do know that when I moved here, the mall was pointed out as the feature that had kept the downtown from turning into a “ghost town” like many downtown areas.

    Now, many independent businesses seem to be thriving in that area, while the mall has several vacant spots. Perhaps the time has come for the independents to take over.

    An on-going discussion at MPOW is how our business differs from what it was in the 60’s, 80’s and even the 90’s. What worked then, doesn’t necessarily work today. The same may be true of downtown. What kept/brought people then might not be what they want now.

    BTW, I shopped at the Downtown Grocery today for the first time. It definitely won’t be my last visit. Bread made with some of their cracked wheat is baking now. Is there a better aroma than fresh baked bread?

  31. The smell of a baby. Babies smell good. Even the poopy smell is good.

    I also like the smell of just about any shampoo in a girls red hair. Red haired girls and Italian guys.

    Oh I am swooning.

  32. Charles Hughes makes very trenchant arguments. This Blog could be a very special addition to the Wausau Community. But the tendency to validate anti-communal bad habits instead of criticizing them mars the actualization of the blog.

    Take for example the recent Daily Herald story that noted 38% of Wausau school children qualify for free/reduced meals. This is an abomination that deserves the harshest rhetorical assault, but the triviality of the discourse on this blog prevents the negotiation of this kind of subject.

    The quality of any blog is a function of the insights of the people who contribute to it. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks and engage in critical debate about what is good/bad for this community.

    Barry

    ps: hey Charlie, remember me? I backed you up on congas at the gig for Inner Sleeve at UWMC. Looking forward to playing with you again.

  33. I did not see the article in the paper on that, I don’t read the Herald. But I did mention that shocking number of people that get food assistance at the Neighbors’ Place each month and there was no “rhetorical assault.” Although I did make a contribution and volunteer to help there.

  34. I am curious as to why you don’t read the local paper Bill? In spite of the paper’s flaws, it’s an invaluable resource. The story noted a 5% increase in children qualifying for meals over the last year. That should give all of us pause.

    I do remember your post on the Neighbor’s Place, Bill. I am not suggesting that these important topics don’t come up. Along with Charles, my sense is that they are stifled by less relevant themes.

    The increase in the number of people seeking food-aid is a clear sign of social deterioration that belies the drum-beat of the ‘all is wonderful’ theme. Very troubling. Along with it there will be an inevitable spike in crime (as evidenced by our exploding jail population). As well, the number of people defaulting on their taxes and heating bills will increase. Local businesses will become increasingly insolvent…

    A community blog needs to critically negotiate these timely issues.

    Barry

  35. Negotiate away Barry.

  36. While I do appreciate the interest in more serious and pressing social issues, I do think we can rest a bit and laugh at Bill’s messy house, Dino’s apparent weakness for redheads or that I’m fond of creme brulee.

    With that said – the debate about what to do with the 400 Block is worthless, in my opinion, as long as people are hungry in Wausau. In 2007, people are hungry in Wausau. A wealthy community like ours is cold and starving. If we could put our time and energy into important issues like health care, the war and hungry families, imagine what else we could do. Yet, people spend their time complaining/debating about trees, fountains, whatever.

    My challenge to all of you is if you are truly interested in becoming a part of the solution, The Neighbors’ Place is looking for board and committee members. Of course, we are always looking for donations of money, food, clothing and household goods. But your passion and talents are priceless to a community agency who serves so many with such limited resources.

    I’m on the board of The Neighbors’ Place. If you want to get involved, e-mail me at stahl@charter.net. We need people like you involved.

    Lip service will not get us to where we need to go. I see Bill there. Jim Force is there. Wausau needs to see all of you there.

  37. Thanks for putting it in perspective, Lisa.

  38. As always, Barry knows *exactly* what the rhythms are. (Good to hear from you again, Barry, and I look forward to playing with you in the future.)

    I’m sorry, but I must admit that part of Lisa’s comment makes little sense to me. Why should understanding the significance of the hunger/poverty issue in Wausau render moot any discussions of the 400 block, but *not* discussions of creme brulee, Dino’s love interests and Bill’s household clutter?

    BELIEVE ME, I understand the difference in significance between the poverty problem and questions over the 400 block. Still, doesn’t the 400 block issue – which is not only important in itself, but also is pertinent to the larger direction of the city and its communities – have more bearing than dessert, personal narratives or Spring cleaning? Moreover, we haven’t talked AT ALL about issues like poverty or the crime rate, and little about issues like the 400 block, graffiti or local business interests. On the other hand, there are a preponderance of dessert/cleaning/personal narratives, so it seems a false comparison.

    If that comparison represents “perspective,” as Bill calls it, I don’t get it. The 400 block thread was one of the most worthwhile discussions on this blog. If creme brulee and discussions of one’s third grade experience take precedence over them, then my belief in the potential of this blog as a vital, vibrant community forum is firmly shaken.

  39. In my opinion, not every posting needs to be a dissertation.

    Feel free to filter what is not important to you. I do that when I read the Wausau Daily Herald. I’m interested in the opinion page and the local news, but hardly read the sports or the comics. Doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile to some people. I respect that. I don’t call the Herald to tell them to quit wasting my time.

    Feel free to correct me, Bill – but I think if you have a direction you want to take the discussion, then submit an essay to Bill. I think he has said that he’d be happy to post what people send to him. He is only one person. I think he’s done a heck of a job so far.

  40. Lisa, loyalty is admirable but Charles is dead on. It’s clear to me that your consumption of creme brulee is more important to you than a discussion of the 400 block. Fine, put don’t lecture the rest of us and tell us it should more important to us. I will reiterate that I entered this dialog on the request of one of the regular contributors. If the blog as it exists is just fine for you so be it. But if you request thoughtful criticisms and suggestions why are you so defensive when you get them?

    Michael, did you read Barry’s post about 38% of Wausau’s school children qualifying for free or assisted lunch. The way they qualify is by being poor. I not so sure that a city that is doing so well by the standards we see reported here and still allows 38% of its children to be poor and hungry is such as “great city.” I don’t see humor and whimsy in that.

  41. Frd, since you feel that you have to engage me in the poverty discussion; I went back and reread the Daily Herald article you referenced.
    http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007702230523

    The 38% statistic is a valid number. Its true, 38% of the school district students are taking part of the reduced or free school lunch program. But, I think that it is little bit of a stretch to say that 38% of Wausau’s residents are poor. As a parent with grade school children, I’m familiar with the reduced fee lunch program, and its qualifying levels of assistance. The way it works, if you receive the earned income tax credit, you have a pretty good shot of also receiving lunch assistance. Does that make you poor? Poor is a subjective term and good many people do quite well with less. Others find it a struggle to meet daily needs.

    The newspaper article talks about the importance of understanding the needs of ‘poor’ families and how to approach the students so they can be successful. My son attends a Wausau school that consists of students with a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. I think the teachers and administration do an admirable job in reaching out to all of the students regardless of their social standing.

    Of course there is no humor or whimsy in being poor. Poverty is a terrible condition. For some of these kids, free breakfast and lunch at school may be their only two substantial meals of the day. Its proven that kids perform better when they receive a balanced breakfast. That’s why Wausau Schools offer both breakfast and lunch. If we look at this statistic another way, its great to see that 38% of the school students are receiving reduced cost nutriuous meals at school. So we aren’t letting our children go hungry. Assistance is available to those who need.

    I think the greater discussion should be centered on our eroding manufacturing base. Fiskars is closing up shop and Graphic Packaging just announced a massive layoff this spring. If you think people are hungry now, what will happen when all the unskilled and semiskilled jobs disappear.

  42. Being the one that asked for the encrouagement from the crowd of eyes on the blog…I shall say this…and god knows I do not agree with Bill on a lot of this…

    but

    If you want to see the Blog write about something, maybe suggest it. Send an email that says, How about someone look at obesity in children in Wausau? Or something.

    Or, you can always do that yourself. I mean it, I think that people are smarter and much better writers than I am, but I would love to take a shot at the poor or the hungry, or the downtrodden.

    I would love to get an interview with Mel Luebbe, but his boots were made for walking. And thats just what they will do.

    We bring to the blog what we seek. We read and search out what we want, and when we find something less than that we are dissapointed.

    I know that I am.

    When I decide to sit down and spew something, I try to make it at the very least interesting. In a Butch Walker sense of interestingness. Avoidning that clever gun.

    I do not fancy my voice on this blog to be Chuck D, the CNN of Wausau. I might have to reevaluate that whole thing, but you never know.

    Think FRD, and Barry, and even John…are welcome voices.

    Each of you should email me, and help me out with some items…

    radiofreegeneral

    at

    gmail

    dot

    com

    Its the nature of the blog, in the 2007 world.

    I brought up Creme Brulee, so that is on me.

    And I think that the City Fathers are not listening to anyone about the 400 block.

    And I think the city fathers are far more interested in helping build new and exciting(seriously I like both the Dudley Brothers thing, and the Paladian or whatever, I think they are both important additions), but I think more emphasis should be made to assist the social service agencies in the city. If you go to a Council meeting there is no one there from Neighbors Place, Slavenation Army, Social Services…nothing. I think it is because our city council has forgotten about them.

    And I think Funhouse by The Stooges is the greatest album ever recorded.

    Now, I return to drinking. Otis out.

  43. frd – uhh, no it isn’t. You don’t know anything about me.

    The arts community and the downtown community both have a place in my heart. But hungry kids and elderly – that’s what keeps me awake at night – not the 50th plan for the 400 Block . Yes, I think a discussion about the 400 Block is worthwhile. I cannot wait until the next installment of the Graffiti discussion.

    I have very little respect for those who passively express their discontent but do nothing to make it better in our “great city” or on this blog or whatever.

    High and mighty is fine. Social commentary and debate is welcome. Whimsy is good in my book too.

    What are you doing about hungry children? Tell me about that.

    I’ll start. I’ve adopted two minority children who were abandoned by their abusive, drug-addicted mother. I’ve been a foster parent. I taught sexuality education. I’ve raised money through grantwriting and events for AIDS awareness and education. I have taught adults to read. I have given time, money and more to community agencies. And I have a family and work and go to school and clean my house. So if you are offended by some of the steam we blow off here then so be it. I don’t owe you a thing.

    Please share your stories. I would like to hear them. Meanwhile, I’m headed to the store to pick up some canned goods for the food pantry.

  44. I want to take a moment to respond to some of this discussion. To begin with, I think we have a very nice city with strengths and weaknesses — just like the individuals who make it up. With 40,000 people, there are plenty of individuals to work on multiple priorities. Like this blog, there is plenty of room to deal with everything from creme brulee to grinding societal issues.

    You just never know what will turn out to be productive. As an example, this discussion started out as some musing about dust bunnies. 🙂

    With respect to some of the comments, I think some people need a better understanding of what the role and responsibility of city government really is in some of these areas.

    County government addresses many social issues and there is really quite a comprehensive effort in areas of hunger, aging, justice, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, public health, etc. I’m a member of the county board and I really feel that is a far more appropriate venue for these things because county government is really a delivery arm of state and federal governments in many of these matters. It allows for a more comprehensive effort that extends over municipal borders.

    As some have pointed out, the school districts also work with some of these things to the extent that certain unmet needs have an impact on education. The responsibilities that school districts have assumed over the years has grown significantly.

    I don’t think our city council has forgotten about social issues and I certainly haven’t. I meet with people from various social services agencies every month, as I have for years. I currently chair the Marathon County Community Planning Council and one of our most well-known products of that group is the bi-annual LIFE report, which you can see here:

    http://www.unitedwaymc.org/lifereport.html

    It’s not something that just collects dust. We use it to identify areas of work and improve the manner in which we address needs. There are a lot of caring, concerned, qualified and dedicated people from throughout our community who put a lot of effort into trying to resolve difficult problems on a continuing basis — some as professionals; some as volunteers like Lisa working for the Neighbors Place; some contributing to the United Way and other worthy causes, etc.

    It’s legitimate to ask what government is doing when there are legitimate expectations to address common issues. It’s legitimate to point out areas where we can do better and there will always be many. I take exception to pronouncements about “not caring” or “not listening” because it just flat-out isn’t true. We’re not always going to agree and things will never be perfect, but if people will approach things in a collaborative, problem-solving way, we can accomplish a lot.

  45. Lisa,
    First you suggest that FRD and I have both mischaracterized you. Your comments, remember, were as follows:

    “While I do appreciate the interest in more serious and pressing social issues, I do think we can rest a bit and laugh at Bill’s messy house, Dino’s apparent weakness for redheads or that I’m fond of creme brulee.

    With that said – the debate about what to do with the 400 Block is worthless, in my opinion, as long as people are hungry in Wausau. In 2007, people are hungry in Wausau. A wealthy community like ours is cold and starving. If we could put our time and energy into important issues like health care, the war and hungry families, imagine what else we could do. Yet, people spend their time complaining/debating about trees, fountains, whatever.”

    How is it wrong for us to assume, from this comment, that you find the discussion of dessert, or housecleaning, more appropriate than the 400 block, which you call “worthless?”

    Then, after you chastise FRD (and, once again, me) by suggesting that he/she has mischaracteried you, you go about spending the rest of your post essentially claiming to know the motives/actions of FRD, as well as all others here who are critical of your stated opinion. No one suggested that your admirable work (and perspective) as a volunteer, foster parent and community member wasn’t supremely valuable. Yet and still, your series of assumptions about those who “passively express their discontent” reveals far more about you than I think you meant it to. (Your words: “I have very little respect for those who passively express their discontent but do nothing to make it better in our “great city” or on this blog or whatever.”)

    Regardless, this is a public, community forum (I thought) for the discussion of Wausau-based events and issues, and it seems like all voices – including, of course, yours, Lisa – ought to be welcomed. You really haven’t answered any of anyone’s initial questions, beyond veiled, unwarranted attacks on our respective characters. All we have ever done is discuss, in a generally constructive way, ways to better make this blog a reflection of the dynamic community that it claims to represent.

    I refuse to believe that Wausau cannot support a blog (called the “WausauBlog,” I remind you) that actively, substantively discusses community events, identities, experiences and issues – whether positive or negative, humorous or serious. As someone who admires the intent of – and much of the writing on – this blog, I certainly hope it can.

  46. when i contribute.. its about things that I know about.. that i understand…

    I also think that comments I make about the future Mrs. Rent are relative because she is someone who soon will be calling Wausau home, her comments to me are from eyes of someone new to this area.

    She sees things here that I never noticed or considered important.

    my posts are about things that happen to me that I hope will give some insight to thinks happening here from someone not from here.

    The fire pit discussion, the vision of the Wausau School District, smoke detector laws, they are window into Wausau as I see it…

    If you see something different out your window… talk about that.. that is why there are so many differing views.. we all see different things

  47. Michael,
    First of all, according to the article you cite, the district itself labels students as living in poverty if they require lunch assistance. That seems a non-issue to me, or at least only partially relevant to the question of poverty (or maybe “economic disadvantage” would be a better way to put it) in Wausau. Whether or not students/families consider themselves “poor,” they are considered so in at least some important calculations.

    Secondly, while I concur with your point about the significance of the continuing loss of our manufacturing base, I fail to see how the two (loss of manufacturing jobs and the economic demographics of Wausau students) are somehow disconnected. Now THERE’S an issue worth discussing…

  48. Jim…

    Ed Gale is one Red Bull away from burning that damn report. And shooting anyone who mentions it again with a crossbow he keeps under his chair. You gotta watch him, he is a wiley veteran, and I think he is also a ninja. He is graceful, and full of the ancient arts of deception.

    But seriously, your pools for example. The pools when I was a lifeguard had swimming lessons, and Wausau Child Care would drop the kids and staff off, and it was a community center for the kids.

    Have you been to your pools?

    What about embracing your skatepark?

    Or helping to promote Big Bull Falls Blues Fest?

    And find someone to open a winery in Wausau. We need a valid wine shop, with some classes.

    And more wifi

  49. Dino, I don’t really want to have a discussion about me. I’ve served on the Park Commission in the past. I’ve dropped kids off at the skateboard park and yakked with the kids there. Memorial Pool is probably the Number 1 priority in my district and I was there when it opened, too. They still have swimming lessons. I’m on the board of Wausau Area Events and I work at the Bluefest as a volunteer. Check out the wine classes at Cherisa’s:

    http://www.cherisaswine.com

    I think I’ll take in the Australian shiraz class… Don’t worry about Ed. 🙂 The old city hall on Forest Street used to have a big sign on it that said: “Work for Wausau”. It’s still a good idea and many people are doing just that.

  50. Charles, there is a definite connection between the loss of manufacturing jobs and economic status of Wausau students. I believe that school lunch assistance is just a symptom to a larger problem, of which there are no easy answers.

    The National School lunch program provides reduced price meals to those who meet a 185% poverty level threshhold and free meals to a 130% threshold. A family of 4 making $37,000 per year would qualify for reduced price meals. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/.

    I think the article in the Herald mischaracterized the National School Lunch Program. In the context of the article, the school district uses the 38% statistic as a benchmark of the economic status of its students. The school sees the increase in students using the program significant enough that they are spending money to train teachers how to help economically disadvantaged students succeed in life.

    I agree with you that it is a nonissue and we should look at the bigger part of the picture.

  51. Jim,

    You just had a discussion about you.

    You do not want to personalize these discussions, because that makes it impossible to have…were all worried that any critical thought we might have will hurt your feelings.

    With all respect, your resume is not in question.

    Now Foley on the other hand.

    I believe many people are working for Wausau, I do not think it is any secret that I pretty much worship these people…Leah and Kari, Diane Terry(sp) the new President of Wausau Area Events, Anne Werth , and the lady whos last name is Fisch in the Development office, Mike Morrisseey is a GOD, Tom Fladland, Mr. Rau at Neighbors Place…etc etc, ad nauseum.

    But you must admit that the city politics and the machine that surrounds it is not very inclusive. There are several boards where members have been on the board since ther very beginning and are resisitant to change or inclusion of new idea.

    Jim O’Connel has quite possible the best board at the PAF in town. New, supportive, inclusive.

    But we live in a city with poor children, and the Childrens Advocates, and the administrators that do that sort of thing are not at City Council meetings, and for the most part not elected to City Council.

    Is it one former teacher on the council, and no teachers on county board?

    So I will ask this question…what is the City Council doing to support Leah Alters as she takes on her first full year of challenges? This is a woman who is a tremendous assett, and I have not seen her at City Council meetings. I think that the hiring of Leah was a great leap for the city, to bring in a young person full of ideas and new world experience.

    What will you as a City Council do to assure her success? Will someone mentor her in the politics of the position she gained?

    Did Amy leave behind the notes and materials for Leah to make her transition easier?

    And,

    Free the Bees.

  52. Charles and Micheal…thanks.

    I did not know anything about kids and meals.

    Thanks.

  53. Michelle Ostrowski

    Jim Brezinski and Duwayne Herning are both retired teachers. Jim also sits on the county board.

  54. You’re addressing questions and I’m trying to answer them. Rather than get into another soliloquy, I think you should ask Leah some of those questions. I agree with you. I helped select her. She rocks. I work with her on a constant basis. Main Street and Wausau Area Events each have volunteer boards of directors. We want to be supportive as a city, but it is no accident that Main Street/WAE are independent, non-profit agencies that work synergistically with each other.

    Seven of the 12 Wausau City Council seats turned over in April 2006, so I’m not sure about it not being inclusive. People choose whether to serve in elected offices and people choose who to vote for every other year. We also have a lot of people who serve in appointed capacities on various boards and commissions — both governmental and in non-profits, as you mention.

  55. Forgot about Duwayne.

    Good answer Jim.

  56. I think those that believe Lisa finds whimsical postings about creme brulee more important that social issues or the 400 block have totally taken her words out of context and meaning. She is simply saying that whimsical posts lighten up the mood on this blog and keep it from being nothing but a debate board. My understanding of this blog is to promote Wausau and bring the community together. Until the dust dragon post, that’s all I’ve seen. Comments on things taking place in Wausau and it’s surrounding area are all I’ve seen on this page. Some of it has been the personal observations of the contributers, some information shared about happenings, so to characterize this blog as mostly whimsical is unfounded.

  57. I don’t think personal arguments are conducive to a local blog. We can debate issues without getting into ad hominem.

    Hackles are raised because poverty is an important issue, the kind of subject that a vibrant community needs to discuss.

    I imagine that as long as serious issues are raised, lighter ones will be welcome too.

    Cheers,
    Barry

  58. Thank you Barry. Yes, ad hominem attacks are always most unwelcome here. The number of commenters here is still pretty small (and for the most part known to me, but that is beside the point) and consist of people who are, in fact, active in the broader Wausau community.

    It is safe to assume that they all are sincere in wanting Wausau to be a better place.

    It may be true that each person’s vision of what a “better Wausau” is and how to achieve that is not going to agree with every other persons. We can disagree on the final goals and methods, at times even strongly so. But to attack people personally is both wrong and counterproductive.

    Thanks for joining in, Barry and everyone else.

  59. You know, when you post something on a blog like this it is important to remember that it is the most public knd of communication you can make. It is, literally, available to people all over the world. The reality is that most of the people who read will “know nothing about me”. So all that people will infer about me is the words I have written. And that, in a sense, is something. If you label something as “worthless” it is reasonable to infer that you don’t care about it. It is not reasonable to draw too many other conclusions. But is it reasonable to infer about people of whom you know nothing simply “passively express” discontent? Or are “high and mighty”? It is quite inconsistent to react to a statement by saying “you know nothing about me” and then proceed to draw a series of assumptions about others that you also “know nothing about”.

    I may be wrong but it seems to me that this string of comments is the longest and certainly the most passionate that has appeared on the blog. and that’s a good thing. If this didn’t matter to people, it wouldn’t matter to people.

    The comparison of the site to a newspaper is apt. For some of us, at least for me, there was a concern that the comics were the bulk of the paper, and the news and the editorials should play a larger part. And that’s it.

  60. I would just like to touch for a moment on the issue of hunger, poverty and helping the poor, and the 400 Block.
    In America there is a lot of social freedom, and people express that social freedom in many ways, one of which is by helping the poor. While not many people are going out and making a weekly contribution to the local food pantry, they are still going out and making a difference in a more indirect way. Wausau has a good quality of living, and that is something that needs to be maintained. We have all seen examples of what happens when a city or a neighborhood fail to maintain their quality of living, the core crumbles and all that is left is the poor; parts of Milwaukee are like that. While the discussion about the 400 Block does not particularly pertain to helping the poor, it is pertinent in many people’s eyes because it is about maintaining/improving the quality of living in downtown Wausau. While the 400 Block will never put food on someone’s table, it is still important. It has the potential to be another brick in the strong foundation of Wausau, and it can make Wausau a better place. People like to invest in quality, and a strong Wausau is better able to help and be beneficial to the poor.

  61. I thought I was done with this topic, but unfortunately no. Earlier on Bill suggested to me that I could leave if because “If you don’t like TV or radio, there is the channel switch or the off button.” Fair enough, actually I already knew that, but fair enough. I thought this was meaningful discussion and we could move on. Evidently others did as well: Jim “free ranging discussion is healthful”; Michael “Lively discussion is good and important”; Barry “Don’t be afraid to take a few risks and engage in critical debate about what is good/bad for this community.”, and Bill “Thanks for joining in, Barry and everyone else.” Now I find out that in a private email, Bill has informed Charles that he and I own Lisa an apology, and that Bill would not change the format of the blog, and Charles could start his own if he didn’t like it. He went on further to explain that Lisa was a friend of his and a fine person. So I went back and reread every post on this thread. Now, Charles and I were critical of Lisa’s statements that discussion of the 400 was worthless and that there was a place for a discussion of creme brulee. We, independently drew a conclusion that Lisa felt a discussion of creme brulee was more important to her than a discussion of the 400 block. If there was a place for it, then it had to be worth something, and if it is worth something then it is more valuable than a discussion that is ‘worthless’. It was evident to me then and remains evident to this point, based on the statements. Lisa’s response that I really don’t know her is, of course, true because I don’t. I think I covered that in the previous post. but, and this is important, I never made any claims or statements about her as a person. All I discussed, and all Charles mentioned, were her two statements. Frankly, I still fail to see what there is to apologize about. Bill evens suggests that it approaches slander. I still don’t see it. Barry, I thought, make a relevant statement about ad hominem attacks. If any did occur, I beleive that I was the target. Reread Lisa’s comments in a post addressed to me, condensed in my previous post. My criticism of Lisa’s comments never addressed her personal attributes, motives, honesty, etc.. They only focused on a reasonable conclusion drawn from statements she made. Her response never mentioned her comments, except to state that a discussion of the 400 block was worthwhile. She then listed her accomplishments, which were never in question, and challenged me with emotionally loaded words like “pasively express discontent” and “high and mighty”. So, if an ad hominem attack was launched it was, I believe, directed at me. In his email to Charles, Bill expresses that Lisa is his friend and he knows her very well. That’s great. But Bill, did you send a private email to Lisa telling her that she owes me an apology for what she said about me? Frankly, I resent that you can thank everyone for joining in in a public post and then threaten a person in a private message and tell them to go away. What’s up with that Bill?

  62. This has gotten to the point of silly…. can’t we all just play nice?

  63. Maybe nobody will see this but I’ll respond anyway.
    I guess I’m new to reading these postings, but it seems like this entire thread started off with negative political attacks like “a no-brainer on the order of saying Dubya is “A little slow on the uptake.” Or saying that his “Dick shoots prematurely.”” I guess I’m not surprised that everything digressed into world hunger, poverty, the failures of government, and personal attacks on each other’s integrity and lack of devotion to the City of Wausau. It would be nice to read a blog that focused on local Wausau politics and policies instead of hearing more of the same stuff I already hear on the national news everyday. There are already plenty of bloggers out there talking about global issues, do they have to hog this site too?
    I also agree with frd that Bill sending a private email and asking for apologies is pretty hypocritical when Bill’s opening post had its share of offensive jabs. I think if he truly wants this blog to be an open forum of discussion, he should be more “hands off”.

  64. GOOD POINTS AL.

    I thank you for that.

    I say this, I do not have the time to cover the city council meetings, and do not have any juce at city hall to get it done.

    I think so much of the work is done in committee, that all we see at Council meetings are votes, and only a small discussion.

    And Ed Gale is a Ninja.

    Burt is from the CIA

    Good points Al

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s