This Week Alone

blue soapbox  “At the beginning of the new year, I resolved to leave off writing ‘old grouch’ columns, columns that chronicle my inability to negotiate modern life.  But resolutions rarely stand in the face of provocation, and so here I go again.” – Stanley Fish, New York Times, 1/11/10

Oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, and on Facebook, there’s talk that the leak should be plugged with the works of Ayn Rand.  Frankly, the idea seems no worse than any other, though I might substitute Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

How to live, while preventable messes pile up all around us?

I read this week that 92 percent of canned foods, from generic to the fanciest brands, are contaminated with BPA, an estrogen-like chemical that’s absorbed into the food from the lining of the can.  As for me, I’m having way too much fun on the roller coaster known as The Matterhorn (pronounced “Matter-hormone” over here) to require additional endocrinological chaos at this time.  Whee!

So here’s what happens.  Eschewing supplies like tuna and crushed tomatoes, I bring home some dry black beans from the bins at the produce store, unaware that the contents of the green-twistie-tied plastic bag apparently bear an uncanny resemblance to chocolate chips.  Inevitably, there is that one scary moment when my husband puts his hand in to have a nibble, requiring me to explain, in between paralyzing yet therapeutic fits of hysterical laughter, that while quite healthful, these particular goodies are more easily ingested having first been soaked and cooked.

See?  One day off canned foods and I feel better already.

Oh, but there are plenty of other preventable messes with which to contend.  A certain form of Vitamin A found in 41 percent of sunscreens causes skin cancer, something the FDA has known about for ten years and apparently forgot to disclose to the public.

And commercial photocopy machines, whose hard drives permanently store all images, including those with personal information, are routinely being purchased second-hand by identity thieves.

Did I mention that babies are dying from ingesting lithium cell batteries, and there are toxins in both the liquid and the powder types of protein drinks?

But wait, there’s great news in the Dropped Phone Call department!  That’s right—in areas with crummy reception, your cell phone has to emit more radiation to get a signal, so you see, it’s a good thing when you get cut off.  Another fun fact: talking on a cell exposes you to more radiation than listening does.  Who knew you could practice conversational consideration and reduce your exposure at the same time?

True confession:  notwithstanding the hilarity of rescuing loved ones from rock-hard legumes, sometimes writing is the only thing that gives me a little relief.  And writing is probably no good for me, either.  At this very moment, the heat from the bottom of my laptop is no doubt interacting with the titanium rod in my femur and slowly cooking my left thigh.

Published in The Piedmont Post, June 9, 2010

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6 Responses to “This Week Alone”

  1. Erica Says:

    OMG, too, too funny! No more canned food for me! No more sunscreen, either! I anxiously await your next column. Keep writing, keep writing!

  2. Margo Says:

    Witty! And you didn’t even mention all the anxiety that the Helen Thomas incident brought up…

    I enjoy all your pieces so much!

  3. Michele Says:

    That last line especially– AHAHAHAHA!!! The imagery of titanium rod as poultry skewer– the idea that it is a preventable mess!

    Why is it that the first thing that comes to mind when I think of preventable messes– and you of all people know I’m a dedicated, cuddly, neo-1950’s, stay-at-home mom– the number one preventable mess is… our children? Oops, did I really say that?

    Indeed, if one does not learn to live with preventable messes by laughing, then it’s time to lie down on the therapist’s couch or to start writing a column for Mother Jones. OK, didn’t mean to imply that those of us who laugh a lot might not need therapy, but anyway.

    I had already joined the FB group suggesting the BP oil gush be stuffed with Sarah Palin, but I just LOVE the idea of using Protocols of the Elders of Zion instead (can’t find an italics option on this reply window, forgive my grammar?).

    –written indoors sans sunscreen on a laptop perched on the dining room table while drinking coffee made from fair-trade organic beans stored in a cardboard (maybe BPA-lined?) can. Safe for now!

  4. BB Says:

    BPA is in everything including the sealant they put on YOUNG kids- read my kid’s- teeth!

    Maybe we should all just stay in bed. But there’s probably some chemical in the mattress that harms us too….

  5. Margo Says:

    Yes, the mattress has very bad stuff in it: flame retardant. That crap is so pervasive (e.g., it’s in the dust on your computer screen) that it is measurable in breast milk. Flame retardant is in almost all mattresses by Calif. state law. We were able to purchase a mattress without it, but needed a note from our doctor…
    I’m sure the original law was passed by some very well-meaning legislators.

  6. Lisa Braver Moss Says:

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments. BPA in dental sealants, toxic flame retardant in mattresses, what’s a girl to do?? The problems are so big and so pervasive, the only thing to do is figure out how to enjoy the ride. Which is why I just love my own personal roller coaster.


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