Condom Nation

Parents, get ready to welcome new grandchildren home for spring break

Civilization's first line of defense against a baby boom of college spawn is cheap contraceptives. It used to be that a sex-addled liberal arts student at the University of Minnesota could swing by the school's pharmacy and pick up a month of birth control pills for a 10-spot.

That was before the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2006, which dropped campus health services from a list of providers entitled to drug discounts. When U of M pharmacist Steve Cain heard the news, he panicked and crunched some numbers. He looked at the expiration date on a popular birth control pill and projected how many packs he would go through before they went bad. He called up Ortho, the drug's manufacturer, and ordered enough to fill a closet.

The American College Health Association has appealed to the federal government for help—to no avail. "The relevant agencies are staffed by the current administration and they have no sympathy for issues like this," says Cain.

Time is running out. Cain's bargain contraceptives expire on August 1, after which pill prices will quadruple. Parents, when your kids head back to school in the fall, you might want to pack some condoms along with the chocolate chip cookies. —Jeff Severns Guntzel

Bird food fight

Inver Grove Heights-based CHS, whose birdfeed has been known to the paying public for more than four decades as "Feathered Friend," says that its good name is under attack by a hostile seed seller.

In a recently filed federal lawsuit, the company charges that Sun Country Farms, which agreed in 2004 to stop selling its seed under the moniker "Feathered Friends," is up to its old tricks again. Its current brand of birdseed: "Feather'd Frenzy."

Alleging that the names are "confusingly similar," the lawsuit asks the court to put an end to Feather'd Frenzy. Sun Country Farms, which has yet to respond to the complaint, didn't return a call for comment. Jonathan Kaminsky

Svelte neighbors

As reported in December, Minneapolis residents regained bragging rights to living in the "most literate" city in the nation. But lest you think our bookish proclivities have rendered our arms flimsy and our midsections flabby, hear this: Minneapolis residents are also among the fittest in the country.

In its 10th annual list of the fittest and fattest cities, which hit newsstands Monday, Men's Fitness magazine christened Minneapolis the second-fittest city in the nation behind Colorado Springs. (Damn you, Colorado Springs and your U.S. Olympic Training Center!)

"Despite the weather, the citizens of Minneapolis are more physically active and motivated to participate in sports than the average American," says Roy S. Johnson, the magazine's editor in chief. "And not just the obvious ones like skiing and ice skating. Tennis and basketball are quite popular."

Our Midwest brethren didn't fare as well, particularly Chicago, which appeared on the list as the 20th-fattest city. Maybe they should rename it "the Winded City." Matt Snyders

Nunsense

There is a menace afoot in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul. Since last February, six young women enrolled in a volunteer program run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet (a religious order affiliated with the Catholic Church) have been engaging in such questionable activities as providing health care to the uninsured, assisting battered women, and educating immigrants.

"They also pray together and attend shared evening activities such as 'community night' and 'Sharing of the Heart' night on a weekly basis," according to a city report.

A vigilant neighbor finally brought the presence of these miscreants to the government's attention in September, pointing out that city code permits only four non-related individuals to share a home. Upon learning that this housing arrangement might run afoul of city rules, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet had the temerity to apply for a waiver. The group argued that the communal residence was similar to that of a monastery or convent, and therefore not subject to residency restrictions. In December the city's planning commission sided with the sisters.

But a neighbor appealed this decision to the full City Council. "I welcome and enjoy the presence of the St. Joseph Worker program volunteers nearby, but feel that six occupants at that site is too many," Winston Kaehler bravely wrote in the appeal.

Sadly, the City Council didn't see the wisdom of his argument. Last week they voted unanimously to allow this dangerous living arrangement to continue. Paul Demko

 
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