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By Harold Henderson

Bulk-mail envelopes we held gingerly as we dropped them into the recycling bin: "Yummm!! Open fast...it's melting."

With family planning for some. "While nearly 635,000 [Illinois] women of reproductive age qualify for subsidized family planning services because of their low income, only 155,146 women in this age and socioeconomic group are actually served by government family planning services," according to a new Chicago Abortion Fund report. As a result, "the young women calling CAF [for information, referrals, and monetary help] typically wish to delay additional childbearing, space their births, limit their family size or are simply economically unable to care for another child."

Da Boss. Percentage of aldermanic support for Mayor Daley in roll-call votes: 1991 to '95, 59; since the 1995 municipal election, 78 (Illinois Politics, June).

If you see any hitchhikers, please "remove and crush them"--that is, if they're velvety, light-tan egg masses one and one-half inch by three-quarters of an inch attached to your car or camping gear after a visit to Wisconsin or Michigan. According to the Wheeling-based group Hendricksen the Care of Trees, they belong to gypsy moths. If transported to Illinois, they can defoliate oaks, willows, alders, and apple trees down here when they hatch into caterpillars in spring.

What does "plenty of fluids" mean in hot weather? According to Healthbeat, the Illinois Department of Public Health's newsletter, it's at least a quart and a half a day of water, fruit juice, or carbonated drinks. Caffeine and alcohol don't count.

"You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that CTA is more crowded at some times than at others," transit gadfly William Wendt Jr. told the Metropolitan Conference on Public Transportation Research June 7. "If you ride at an uncrowded time you are not an additional burden. The extra cost of hauling you is very little, if anything. If you ride at a crowded time, however...you are requiring CTA to plunge fortunes into capital and labor, most of which sits idle the other 158 hours of the week." In that case, he asks, why does the agency charge people who ride trains and buses at times other than rush hour the same as rush-hour commuters?

Department of understatement, from the city's fact sheet about sister city Casablanca: "The majority of Moroccans are Sunni Muslim, which is deeply rooted in Islam."

"In principle, the process [of getting a cancer blood test right away] was simple," writes Stewart Massad, gynecologic oncologist at Cook County Hospital, in Discover (July). "But no one had been treated for trophoblastic malignancy at Cook County Hospital in recent memory. Getting the hCG test done on the same morning as the chemotherapy injection meant that a resident [physician] had to deliver the blood specimen to the ER lab by hand--no telling when it might arrive if we relied on the hospital messengers, who sometimes left specimens in hallways while they crossed the street to get coffee."

If vouchers come, will the schools be there? U. of I. economist Shane Greenstein coauthored a recent study of California's quick jump in private-school demand, from 7 to 11 percent in just a few years. In this case new private schools opened relatively quickly. But the author cautions, "It's very hard to tell what would happen if 100 percent of the school-age population had that choice."

The triumph of commerce: $99.95 for a sunrise substitute. Hammacher Schlemmer's summer catalog includes an alarm light that "slowly starts to shine a half hour before your set wake-up time, gradually illuminating the room and becoming brighter until it's time for you to get out of bed."

Eastern Europe needs conservation, not nukes, argues Colin Woodard in the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May/June). "By subsidizing energy and raw materials, and driving for increased industrial production, communist planners created a system plagued with waste and inefficiency. Poland uses two to three times as much energy for the same output as West European countries; Romania, three to five times as much. Electricity is produced, transmitted, and consumed in a wasteful manner--homes lack thermostats, buildings and heating ducts are improperly insulated, and antiquated machinery and power plants squander vast quantities of energy."

"The ACLU does not trumpet its involvement in the [campaign-finance] issue," writes Joel Bleifuss in In These Times (June 24), because on this issue it's definitely not PC. The civil-liberties group officially agrees with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1976 decision holding that mandatory campaign spending limits interfere with freedom of speech.

Yep--flying from Meigs to O'Hare is 89 times safer than taking the Kennedy. From the Metropolitan Planning Council's Aviation Fact Sheet #4 (June): "In 1992, the rate of death per 100 million passenger-miles for air travel was .01, compared to .02 for both buses and railroad passenger trains, and .89 for automobile and taxi travel."

Send tips to cityfile@chireader.com

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Carl Kock.

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