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Glad You Asked: Why and when did Wisconsin stop requiring blood work before issuing a marriage license?; Who owns Miller Park? ; How long can beer in a can or bottle be stored at room temperature without affecting the quality?

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Why and when did Wisconsin stop requiring blood work before issuing a marriage license?

Wisconsin stopped requiring a blood test in 1981 for couples desiring to get married.

According to Jane Krause, a supervisor with the Registration and Statistics Unit at the Wisconsin Department of Vital Records, the blood work requirement for issuance of a marriage license ended 91 days after July 30, 1981.

That's how she gave it to me, folks - sounds weird to me, too.

Bob Bagley, lab director and clinic manager for the Racine Health Department, shed some light on why the blood work requirement ended.

"It used to be all states required a Rapid Plasma Reagin - an old test for syphilis," Bagley said. "To be hospitalized, you needed one and to get married, you needed one."

Bagley said RPRs are still done on people in STD clinics. Expense and ineffectiveness, along with a dramatic drop in syphilis, spelled the RPR's end for blushing brides and nervous grooms.

"You couldn't have anything done without a RPR," Bagley said. "It wasn't cost-effective and it didn't find all that many syphilis cases."

Bagley said the RPR used to be common as a belly button, so common a 70-year-old male would receive a RPR if he went to the hospital with pneumonia.

Who owns Miller Park?

Miller Park is owned jointly between the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Laura Goranson, associate director of the SWPBPD (how's that for a snappy acronym?), said the district owns 70.93 percent and the Brewers own 29.07 percent.

Documents from the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau, specifically Report 99-10l issued in June 1999, say the following about the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District:

"Wisconsin Act 56 created the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to oversee the design and construction of a new stadium for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club. Construction of the stadium, which will have a seating capacity of 43,000, is scheduled to be completed by April 2000. To finance project costs, the District is authorized to issue revenue bonds and to impose a local sales and use tax in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha counties."

Miller Park didn't open until 2001, because of the July 14, 1999, crane accident that took the lives of three iron workers. Miller Park's first regular-season game occurred on April 6, 2001 - the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4.

How long can beer in a can or bottle be stored at room temperature without affecting the quality?

It depends on the beer.

"I usually tell people about six months, for our beer," said Russ Klisch, founder /owner /president of Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery.

Klisch said temperature is crucial and that beer stored in a warehouse in Arizona won't last as long as beer stored in a warehouse in Wisconsin. The warehouse in Arizona will be much hotter than the Wisconsin warehouse and the beer will break down much quicker.

It also depends if the beer is pasteurized. Lakefront Brewery beers are not pasteurized and are hand-crafted from the finest ingredients with no preservatives.

Klisch said a can of one of the big boys' brews will likely last about four months at room temperature. Again - what do you define as bad beer?

Give a can or bottle of beer about six months at room temperature. However, there is no reason to let beer sit for six months without drinking it.

"It's like I tell people on the tour," Klisch said. "If you've still got beer of ours sitting around after six months, give me a call."

The Lakefront Brewery is a fun place to kill a Saturday or Sunday afternoon; their tours are outstanding. I hear you can no longer slide down Bernie Brewer's slide, but don't let that be a deterrent.

Learn more at: http: / /

Take a designated driver if you take the tour - trust me.

Was "Uncle Sam" a real person?

He was, but not in the fashion in which we picture Uncle Sam.

You envision a lean, tall, strapping, fellow with a gray beard and hair and a red, white and blue suit when thinking of Uncle Sam. He usually looks ready to get ugly on someone or something.

The most popular image of our national uncle is from the Army's famous World War I recruiting poster, created in 1916 by James Montgomery Flagg. It depicts an obviously intense Uncle Sam pointing his finger and declaring "I want you."

Truth strayed pretty far from fiction in this case, and it did so back in 1812.

Businessman Samuel Wilson - the short, pudgy, beardless Samuel Wilson from Troy, N.Y. - provided the Army with barrels of beef. The barrels were labeled "U.S." for the United States, but, as soldiers often do, they came up with a nickname.

They decided the U.S. stood for Uncle Sam, and Uncle Sam soon became a slang phrase for the U.S. government.

Wilson obviously looked like nothing like the tough, determined national guardian of popular lore. The Abe Lincoln look and that jazzed-up suit are a product of political cartoonists, most notably Thomas Nast.

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