01 May 2008

News, Plus Bonus Twin Pics

I can be a a news snob. I used to regularly read The Economist and Le Monde. I refuse to watch any local news, especially FOX. I like to get my daily news from NPR. I like the variety of their programming and the depth of the stories. I've been listening so long that the various hosts and reporters feel like friends.

That said, I often spend ten or fifteen minutes in the morning drinking my latte and watching Today. By 7:00 a.m., I'm done with my shower, the car is loaded, and, with any luck, the kids are either still sleeping (ha ha ha, rarely) or are awake but happy to hang out for a few more minutes. Those few minutes in front of the TV give me a chance to pull myself together at a time when I'm not naturally at my best, and I get a taste of breaking news and the main headlines, albeit often with a bit more sensationalism than I'd really like.

It's "Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?" week on Today. As I've watched Matt jet-set around the globe—The Netherlands yeseterday, Istanbul today—it has occurred to me that he has a seriously cool job. I'm sure it's not all wine and roses and that it involves long hours and a lot of hard work, but I still think it would be a really great job to see all the places he gets to see, meet the people he gets to meet, and be constantly keeping up with the world's happenings. Not too shabby.

Here are a couple of things that are in the news a lot lately that I just can't seem to get worked up about:

1. Bisphenol A. I'm not seeking it out or anything, but I drink from a Camelback that is a #7, and I don't have any plans to replace it. When I need a new bottle, I'll get a Sigg or something else, but I just don't feel like I need to panic about this. My kids drank out of Avent and Dr. Brown's bottles, and I have no worries about how that is going to affect their future well-being. Were I to have kids now, I'd get some other kind of bottles, or use glass, but what's done is done and I'm not losing sleep about it. Am I alone?

2. The cost of gas. Yeah, it sucks. A lot. From an environmental standpoint, I feel like Americans have been living in low-cost gas fantasyland for a long time now and we need this kick in the pants. Granted, it's easier for me to say this than it is for some; I can walk to many needed services and do so whenever possible, my car gets decent mileage, and while the increased prices hurt, I can still make ends meet.

I can't say that I'm totally blasé about gas prices, but it's not the actual number that is making me hot under the collar. It's the global politics. I heard a story on NPR (and we come full circle) about global petroleum supply, speculative buying, ethanol, and other reasons behind rising costs at the pump that gave me pause. My consolation is that perhaps the high prices will make people think a bit more about how much they drive and what kinds of cars they buy. I'm such an idealist.

In a completely different kind of news, the twins and I met some friends at one of those paint-your-own-pottery places on Saturday morning. I had hoped to make a bowl with the kiddos' handprints on it, but M&R had different design ideas. That's cool. I was not together enough to take pics, but my friends did. Check out my budding artists here.


Julie said...

I'm with you on the plastic bottle stuff....though I spent a few minutes worrying because not only did Monkeyboy drink milk from the avent bottles, I heated the milk up inside them in the microwave. For about 2 years. Which might not be such a good thing. But since then, glass only for heating. I try to stay away from the plastic, but it's just not realistic. I now just avoid drinking any water from plastic bottles that have been left in the car.

Aunt Becky said...

Snick, you read my mind. Thank you for saying this.

Cate said...

Oh, I am so not interested in the plastic bottle thing. There's danger around every corner, if I reacted to every dire warning I'd never leave my bed.

caramama said...

I wasn't concerned about the BPA thing at first, but then I started looking into it. My biggest concern is about it in baby bottles. Too late for my current little one, but not for future children. Did you hear about Canada moving to ban BPAs in baby bottles? Interesting story, if you are up for reading a Canadian paper: http://www.thestar.com/article/415959

As for the gas prices... What really ticks me off about the whole thing is that those big companies who are providing the gas to the average consumer are still raking in huge profits! That just gets me all riled up!

Arwen said...

1.) I was lucky in that my Medela bottles don't have it (and neither does Ikea plasticware). I'm not horribly worried about it because every other darn thing in the grocery store probably has it since there are no "natural" grocery stores a la Whole Foods in my area (without an 1 hour drive).

2.) I too know that we've lived in a fantasy world where gas prices are low. However, most places that have high gas prices were due to the taxes and tariffs. Gas prices now are entirely due to the greed of oil companies with the present administration being a co-conspirator. The problem is that most people I know are making less than they were 5-8 years ago when gas prices were around $1.50, housing has gone through the roof, something has to give.

amber said...

i think the gas prices are definitely a wake-up call. we only have one car payment right now (and are thrilled about it), but when the time comes to replacing my car, we'll definitely look at hybrid models. and i don't think that is something i would have really considered even a year ago.

Sarah said...

Some cw screamed at me today for microwaving a styrofoam cup for 10 seconds. He thought he'd have to take me to poison control. I still consumed what was in the cup. I'm still alive. Eh.

Gas prices do kinda freak me out, but I'm only thinking of summer days of 103 and needing to use precious gas on AC. Plus I live in LA. I need a car.

Goddess in Progress said...

I'm right there on the plastic bottles. My kids still use Playtex VentAire bottles, which are certainly "offenders." Whatever, I'm not going to try to get them to drink out of different ones at this point. I happened to have gotten the Born Free sippy cups one day, so maybe I'll work towards transitioning all the way to those, but that's totally it.

Nina said...

I'll admit the whole BPA thing freaks me out a little bit. Arwen, how do you know that your IKEA plasticware doesn't have BPAs in it? I've been thinking about replacing the stuff we use for Caius.

I breastfed Caius for awhile so he didn't use all the Avent bottles we were gifted with very much, but I'm planning on buying glass or BPA-free plastic bottles if we need any for this next one. And I've stopped microwaving things on plastic.

Maybe I'm overreacting? =)

The gas gets to me out only bc we live in Los Angeles. But I worry more about the price of food internationally than I do about domestic gas prices. It scares me that so many are going to go hungry. Maybe gas prices will finally put enough pressure on elected officials to get a comprehensive subway system up and running in LA.

I love NPR. But as far as print goes I just read CNN, NYT and LA Times online.

And, oh! the twins are so cute!

L. said...

I think the focus on BPA is kind of misleading. It's much easier to worry about one particular thing, switch to a different plastic, then forget about it all. It allows us to consume our way out of the problem. I suspect there are many other BPAs we don't know about, if you see what I mean. That doesn't mean we live in a plastic-free household, and I'm not freaking out too much, but frankly I think the fewer plastics we have in contact with our food and drink, the better.

For instance, the Sigg. It has a liner which, from what I can tell, is some sort of plastic. Sure, it doesn't release BPA, but what else is it releasing? That's what they tested for (and something else, maybe phthalates, can't remember). There could be a million other things they didn't test for, known problems or unknown ones.

Re gas, I am totally with you there. It's easier for me to say because I'm not close to the bone like some, but we need prices to keep on going up, because it's the only thing that will bring about change on the massive level that we need. (A change that has to happen sooner or later, and will be all the more painful the later it comes.) It just sucks that the big corporate guys are getting rich while the little guys, especially the people without alternatives, are the ones that get screwed.

I'm not one of those peak oil freaks but I'm beginning to think that's maybe what we're seeing.

Sorry, that was like my ten cents, huh?

Heather said...

Eh. Plastic'll kill you. That and 100+ other things in my kitchen. I'm with cate -- if I wanted to be afraid, there would be plenty of places to look.

I, personally, am a fan of rising gas prices. We have one car, but we rarely drive it -- true, we live in an area where we can walk places, but we also choose to bike (the commute to work is 45 minutes for the hubby by bicycle). In a capitalistic economy, we'll see no changes to alternative fuel options in cars until it hurts the average consumer enough. So, pain now, or pain in X years when we can't find the sun. I'll go with now.

What A Card said...

I'm with you about the gas prices...I think high gas prices are the only way there will be meaningful change in our habits. However, on the flip side, I don't think the change will come easily or without suffering, and that makes me sad. It seems especially unfair that the people who will suffer most are the ones who can least afford it. I doubt the folks driving around in their $50K Hummers are really all that worried about feeling the pinch of rising gas prices.

Keen said...

Oh, I hear you. I love my Camelbak water bottle. I think I love it as much as Charlton Heston loved his guns.

And I've been meaning to write about how we've raised twins as a one-car household, and a two-door car, at that. People (okay, my in-laws) kept nagging us about needing a second car, a BIGGER car. I must say I don't feel particularly deprived.

Adam said...

Listening to NPR on one of the rare occasions that I get to drive our one car, I was listening to a story on one potential solution to high gas prices: Cut the federal tax during the summer. McC. and Clinton are advocating it; Obama does not. It seemed to me that it was the wrong way to go -- lowering prices that amount doesn't help that much (compared to the amount of increase we've seen in the last few years), and then we lose all that tax revenue. Then, an economist said it was just that much worse: If we lower the prices during peak demand for gas, prices will naturally go up, back to the level they were when things were taxed, except that the money would go straight to the oil companies (boo) and not to the federal funding.

Thanks for swirling the memory together for me.

I miss NPR's Bob Edwards . . still. And Daniel Shore is my hero. BPA . . well, I suspect we're more likely to be undone by the extra car exhaust caused by cutting federal gas taxes.

Inkling said...

I'm with you on the plastic stuff too. I knew things were getting bad when MEC (Canada's version of REI) went from displaying an essay as to why it was safe and why they would carry it to completely getting rid of it and refusing to sell it. It was just a matter of time before the whole country followed suit. According to my husband and his mountaineering buddies, the problems showed up primarily from folks microwaving nalgene type bottles, or pouring boiling water in them. It was then that the plastic was leaching chemicals. I don't know if that's true or not, but I happen to like that version because I want to keep drinking out of my nalgenes and camel back #7's.

What I find kind of funny (in an ironic sort of way) is that non-mainstream science has been talking about this stuff (xeno estrogens, hormones in our drinking water, etc.) for a long time now, but mainstream science and media are just recently picking it up and running with it. Maybe if Fox news anchors listened to NPR, we'd get there faster.....

Rachel said...

Ah, the Economist. I just started reading it, and it rocks.

Like you, I can't get worked up about the plastics.

Okay, the big news thing on my mind right now is the food crisis. There was a big series about it in the Washington Post. It sickens me that our farm subsidies and ethanol rules are causing poor people in third-world countries to go hungry.

Christine said...

On the baby bottle BPA thing: My son drinks out of Dr. Brown's bottles, and I was freaked. I took him to the pediatrician this week to check his ears, and I asked her about it. She said if it were a real danger, they would have pulled them from the market, so she's telling parents to use their judgment. I feel like every week they say something else is bad for you. I did dump my Nalgene bottle, but it was old anyway.

Sandi said...

If you don't mind I'm going to write a bit about your blog on my blog.

I have to tell you that when I read "A Wee Bit of Anger" I couldn't believe how similar our experiences are.

My in-laws had a memorial for my husband in his hometown a month after the funeral that I planned for him without ever consulting me. He only grew up an hour away. Needless to say I didn't attend.

The line about your in-laws not respecting your grief is perfect.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Love the painting pictures! So cute!!

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Dorcasina said...

I have too many other worries to get too upset about the plastics, although it makes me wish we had better product safeguards in place generally. I worry more about all the things we deem too "unsafe" for pampered American babes getting passed on to poor children elsewhere, whose parents may not have access to the chemical-scare-of-the-week. I've always been neurotic about microwaving in glass only...

Gas prices are hideous, but as you say, we've been living in a fantasy world. I *should* have to make conscious decisions whether to drive or not, rather than just hopping in the car while the rest of the world's suffering subsidizes my cheap fuel. I am *much* more worked up about the global food crisis; yes, we might pay more, or give up rice for potatoes, but thousands elsewhere are going to starve to death.

Your artists are fabulous. When are you coming west?

Finally, in response to your previous posting about therapy: my one thought, my friend, is that you be wary of those perfectionist tendencies I *know* you and I share. I know what it's like to want "results," but it may well be that you need space to be vague, unfocused, and just sad. The rest of your life, I know, is filled with activity, projects, goals...sometimes you need to trust that what you are getting may, in some weird and intangible way, just what you need. (Obviously, if you are feeling frustrated after your sessions, things need to change. But my experience has been that I need to build in spaces for grief--if not through therapy, then during walks, in the bath, etc.--and to not have any expectations of what they will look like or accomplish. My own helplessness in advancing the process of grief has been a real struggle for me--to know that I cannot consciously "do" things to make this emptiness better.) I'm not saying this is what you are doing, just raising it as a possibility, from down here in the trenches of widowhood.

Sending love, as always.

twennytwo said...


I'm with you on the plastic bottles. I reuse normal plastic bottles anyhow. Something's got to kill me.

I am of a different opinion on the gas, however, and it's because it's Not easy for me to say, oh, well, they need to go up. I was an international affairs major, so I knew the hike was coming during my youth, but at the same time I'm still trying to pay for my bachelor's degree. I live with my parents and just bought a car made in the '80s (that consumes gas in accordance with 80s bulk and 80s fuel economy standards, even when I drive right) cash because of my low-paying job. As much as I want to sock it to those who make foreign policy, the higher prices aren't touching them as they are me and those like me. I wish I could afford to buy a hybrid car, but it won't happen in the next 5 years. I live 20 miles from my jobs (plural) in an metropolis with underdeveloped public transport. Heck, I've never owned a computer (and not many who graduated after 2000 can say that). I worry about those going hungry outside the country, but I can't help but face a very real anxiety about my own situation when I feel so squeezed by gas prices.

I ramble. Thanks for posting and making me think.

Eric said...

Another point on the proposal to eliminate the federal gas tax over the summer...much of the revenue from those taxes goes to road maintenance programs. Cut off their funding and they have to cut jobs. Eliminating thousands of jobs in order to make a token gesture that mainly puts more money into the oil companies' pockets (and middle eastern pockets) doesn't seem to make sense at all.

Watercolor said...

Your camelbak is fine. Go to their website and read their statement. Today was mistaken in their report that all #7 plastic is bad - that is simply not true.