My first day back to work went great.
Even though I called our computer help desk six weeks ago to inform them that I would be coming back to work, and then called them again four weeks ago, and again two weeks ago to make absolutely certain that they had received all the necessary approvals from management to activate all of my computer accounts ... when I drove three hours to Los Angeles yesterday, upon my arrival, nothing had been done to prepare for my return to work.
"Well, yes, we do have a record that you called on three separate occasions to inform us that you were coming back after a 10-month leave of absence and that your computer was not operational, but you didn't specifically indicate that you needed to have your main LAN account activated. From our records, it's been disabled and needs to be re-enabled and in order to do that, we need to have management approval. We'll mark it high priority."
"Well, yes, I suppose even though I called and told you that ALL of my accounts needed to be reactivated on three separate occasions, this is my fault. It kind of reminds me of that time I went out to buy a car and I didn't specifically indicate that I wanted to have TIRES to go with it. See, without having the LAN account re-enabled, my computer is nothing more than a piece of useless plastic. My mistake for thinking that the people in the IT department would know that. Here, let me have it back so I can SMACK myself a few times over the head with it."
Thankfully, I had zero expectations going back to work that anything would be accomplished, so Charlie and I met with my friend Lorie and we spent a glorious day at the Long Beach Aquarium.
Meanwhile my computer sat on a technician's desk waiting for the "high priority" approval to reactivate my account to be processed. Thirty two hours later, it is still sitting there.
This just proves my theory that if you go in to something with lowered expectations, you're less likely to suffer from increased disappointment. It also proves my theory that the larger the company you work for, the more bureaucracy there is to deal with.
We returned home late last night. But instead of going straight to bed, I decided to detox from spending six hours on the road, by browsing through various blogs and headline news.
You know what I saw?
Several posts about the concerns surrounding plastic water bottles. Word on the street is that toxic chemicals are leaching out of plastic (and canned products) and this can have detrimental health impacts on people, particularly children if they are exposed during critical stages of their development. The culprit, bisphenol A, a developmental, neural, and reproductive toxicant which is commonly used to make clear polycarbonate plastic for consumer products.
Armed with this information, people around the world are tossing their reusable water bottles (i.e. Nalgene) in to the trash and buying aluminum or stainless steel varieties. They are feeding their babies with glass bottles. They are ditching all things plastic.
I read a few articles on this topic and could feel my heart start to beat out of my chest.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found bisphenol A in the urine of over 95% of people they tested and, alarmingly, the median level of bisphenol A in humans is higher than the level that causes adverse effects in animal studies.
OH MY GOSH!
Our triplet babies were all fed with plastic bottles. They eat off of plastic plates and drink out of plastic cups. Their vitamins are in a plastic canister. I feed Henry fruit puffs and on occasion baby food, that are packaged in plastic containers. Our apple juice comes in a plastic container. So does our milk. And our vanilla. And all of our condiments. And my Trader Joe Peanut Butter Cups!!!
For a moment, I imagined throwing out everything plastic in our house. I was prepared to spend a small fortune on new water bottles and plates and bowls and cups and mugs. I even found discount codes, although I don't know if they are still valid, for purchasing SIGG water bottles at 30% off, and Klean Kanteens for 20% off. Then, I went to bed wondering how many more days I had left on this planet and what kind of irreparable damage I have inadvertently done to my offspring?
Today, I've come to terms with the fact that we just aren't safe.
Because we drive vehicles that use gasoline which contaminates our air and water; run our homes with electricity that is contributing to global warming; and purchase food that is grown somewhere other than our backyard, we are negatively impacting our land and our bodies.
If our microwave ovens don't give us brain cancer, our cell phones will. Toxins or suspected toxins, are bio-accumulating in our body. Among them, C8 from the teflon on our pans and dioxins from the lumber industry. Harmful pesticides and herbicides and hormones are used in, on and around our food.
There's groundwater pollution and air pollution. There's thimersol in vaccinations that may possibly be linked to autism. There are additives and preservatives in food that lead to attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. There's high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity, infertility, early onset of menopause, and erectile dysfunction - which have all been linked to the food that we eat.
Unfortunately, bisphenol A is a key ingredient of that bubble I have been living in.
Sometimes, I allow myself to buy in to the hysteria. Then, I come to my senses because I work as an environmental engineer in an industry where hysteria over contaminants are common and because I know that there are entities and "studies" out there that hype up everything, just to get the masses in to a frenzy.
The truth is, at some point, you need to draw the line. To exist in this world, in this day and age, without driving yourself constantly insane about what is harming us - or might harm us - you must draw the line.
I believe that our children are more at risk of becoming ill from not receiving a vaccination than from receiving it. I believe that eating organic is overall, a more environmentally friendly way to live, but I don't believe it is saving me from cancer. I don't live wholly organic because I can't justify spending $4.00 on a bag of cranberries, when I can spend $1.00 on the same quantity, and apply the $3.00 savings towards Montessori school.
I believe in recycling. We recycle at least twice as much as what we throw in the trash each week. But the reason that we recycle so actively, is because our City has appealed to their citizens laziness. They have provided us with huge recycle bins and do not require that we separate paper from plastic from glass.
I believe in wearing your seat belt and driving a vehicle with air bags; eating fruits, vegetables and drinking water as opposed to soda; and wearing adequate sun protection coverage and clothing when in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM. I do not believe that my tap water will hurt me. I have a carbon filter on my refrigerator for taste and a water softener so I don't have to deal with hard water spots in the shower.
I believe that we should all do our part to pick up trash where we see it, walk or ride a bicycle whenever we can, turn off lights if we're not using them - and every so often, turn off all the energy and use candles. I also believe in turning off the television and getting outside. I believe in reducing clutter and living within your financial means. I believe in having meals together and reading books to your children. I believe in beautiful wooden toys as opposed to cheap plastic ones. I believe it is much more important to shower your child with your time and your love than to shower them with gifts and objects.
I believe the things that save us today, will be the subject of the things that kill us, tomorrow.
I believe in consumer advocacy. I've met Ralph Nader twice and sat next to him once on an airplane. I believe that there are things in this world that are bad for you and I believe that knowledge is power. But I believe that the knowledge shouldn't solely come from research on the internet which may or may not be accurate. I also believe that the mass hysteria that sweeps the world regarding things like lead in children's toys ... methyl tertiary butyl ether in gasoline ... boycotting items made and exported from China ... and now, plastic in water bottles is probably more harmful than the objects themselves.
I believe that lack of exercise, poor dietary habits, lack of sleep and the stress exerted over political matters, financial matters, environmental matters, neighborhood matters, family matters and questioning if the safety of the water we drink, food we eat, air we breathe and plastics we use are more to blame for attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity, infertility, early onset of menopause, and erectile dysfunction.
I believe that Charlie has a stronger stomach than me.
He just came in the house to tell me that he dug a snail out of Henry's mouth. Apparently, my baby gummed it to death. Charlie walked in to the house with an outstretched hand and what remained of a shell and slimy mass. He told me that he was wondering what Henry was chewing on about the same time he saw his mouth start to foam.
I must end this post now.
For I believe I'm going to barf.