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West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

Just a bunch of garbage

City services, Things that bug me

What I have to say here is just a bunch of garbage…literally. I think we have it pretty good here in Tosa, where garbage is concerned. We have convenient and reliable garbage pickup.

But what I’ve found lately is that you have to really be on the ball…or the cart…in order to get optimum pickup.

For instance, our “new” recycling program, featuring bumblebee-colored recycling carts, has been in operation for a little over a year now. From my point of view, I’d say it works fairly well. I only have two minor complaints: The first is that it’s imperative that you get your recycling cart out on the street early. In our neighborhood, the recycling truck comes pretty darn early – sometimes 8:00 or 9:00 am. That’s fine, but judging by the number of full carts I see on the streets mid-day on garbage day, some people still haven’t figured that out. I still remember watching a neighbor run down the street wheeling his recycling cart to catch up with the recycling truck. Funny for me. Annoying for him.

Secondly, I can’t help it – I miss weekly recycling. Since it’s every other week, and since more plastics than ever are recycled, my black and yellow cart is pretty darn full on recycling day. In fact, some weeks, I can’t fit everything in it, which means that it’s working, but sometimes means that I have leftover recycling that has to wait two weeks. (Yes, I know, I could drive it over to the dump, but that would require far more effort than I’m willing to put forth.)

As far as the regular garbage is concerned, I only have two tiny complaints: The first is that I wish our garbage carts weren’t so appetizing to backyard critters. I’m not sure if they’re manufactured with peanut butter or something, but the squirrels and raccoons seem to LOVE to gnaw on the corners and, inevitably, squeeze in and snack on my garbage. Ick. (And yes, my carts have been “repaired” but apparently the aluminum strips and silver tape are just as yummy.)

My second garbage complaint is so small that I wouldn’t blame the guys on the truck if they thumbed their noses at me on the next pick up day. Here it is: Just once, I’d love it if my garbage cart didn’t end up dead center at the end of my driveway after the garbage has been collected. It’s a minor irritation, but an irritation nonetheless. Sometimes I have to park the car, get out, move the cart and then drive into the driveway. It’s almost as if they’re mad at me about my garbage. And if they are, sorry! I put the cart away from the end of the driveway, but it never ends up there.

Oh well. If that’s my biggest problem, then life is pretty good.

Lamenting land lines lost

Technology, The Online World

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Yes, it is pretty impressive. Mostly because it’s hard to imagine that there’s someone on earth that’s been willing to put up with me for that long. All I can say is that he’s a saint.

Anyway, that also means that we are also celebrating the silver anniversary of our telephone number. We got it a few months after we moved into our first house, just a stone’s throw outside of Tosa.

I’ve always been attached to our home phone number. You see, the first three numbers just happen to be the same as those in my phone number while growing up on the north side of Chicago. To me, it seemed like fate and therefore, I will have a hard time letting go of what is now referred to as our “land line.”

And yet, that’s exactly what more and more people are doing – getting rid of their land lines. The days of the home phone are becoming extinct. In our house, we’ll probably hang on until they rip it out of our wall. But our kids, well, that’s another issue.

When our son went away to college, one of the first things that I noticed was that nobody in college has a dorm room phone. And when they move off-campus, they don’t have an apartment phone or a house phone. Everybody has a cell phone, which is great, because you can reach your kid anywhere and everywhere. The bad thing is, in four years of college, I have NEVER spoken to my son’s roommates on the phone. NEVER. I don’t really know those guys. They seem nice from what I’ve been told.

Why is this a problem? Well, when I went to college (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), my parents would call my dorm room phone and slowly build a relationship with my roommates. “Karen, Donna seems like such a nice girl. Where is she from again?” And so it would go. For me, although I like instant access to my son, I miss the idea of a backup plan. Just try reaching your college kid when they forget to charge their phone.

So although our land line seems to rarely ring anymore, I’m hanging on to it indefinitely. It’s one less set of numbers to memorize, which is a blessing for my aging brain. And I like the fact that until we move out of Tosa (a.k.a. never) we’ll always be reachable at that same old reliable number.

Now, my new quest is to figure out a way to make our home phone number work with this really cool thing. I may be attached to an old school phone number, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give it an upgrade.

I leave you with a video from Louis CK who has a great way of putting everything in perspective and making us old folks feel a little better:

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Tree Stumps and Vigorous Lawns

City services, Neighborhood

Dear City of Wauwatosa,

Recently, the card shown below was left on my front walk. I believe that it was supposed to be left on my front door but the seasonal winds must have blown it away.

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The Great, and Now Digital Outdoors

Technology, Traffic, Community

Pardon the pun, but I have a passing fascination with billboards. My husband used to work in the “outdoor industry” and in college, we were taught a bit about how to write a good billboard. (Hint – 7 words, max, something most advertisers ignore.)

Lately, we’ve seen electronic billboards move into our area. It’s an idea that seems like a natural – printing and changing a billboard are expensive. Why not sell the space to multiple advertisers and allow them to change their message as often as needed?

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