Friday, September 30, 2011

Fun Friendly Phobic Fact Friday!

Houseflies enjoy dining on garbage, manure, or rotting flesh. They vomit on their meal and suck it up like a vacuum to ingest it. Then they seek out their next meal, vomiting again (including bits of their last treasure), on whatever they land on. Then they eat it again. They leave behind bits of their last disgusting meal wherever else they land (your table, your arm, your sandwich), along with tiny housefly bum-bum germs. Also, the dirty spots you see on windows? Those are often the fly's vomit, which can carry germs that spread diseases.

So the next time your darling child decides to "clean" the windows, you might want to rethink it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Things I Do, Strawberry Edition.

As recently mentioned, you know that one of the Things I Do is to wash all my produce with not just water, but soap and water. Well, some things are tougher to wash with soap, like strawberries. I mean, I guess I could, but it would take an awful lot of elbow grease and a decade and a half of rinsing the suds off. I'd have a rather sudsy sitchyation.

So instead I go the saltwater route.

Saltwater, you say? You're either thinking, "Wouldn't that make your fruit taste like salt?"* or you're thinking "How can that clean my strawberries thoroughly?"

* But then you're probably the same people who think that washing produce with soap makes them taste like soap. :)

Well. To you naysayers, let me first tell you that actually, the salt enhances the sweetness of the strawberries. I mean, I guess if you soaked them for like three days in a super-saturation of saltwater, sure, they'd be a little on the savory side. But a 15 minute soak or so and they're delicious.

And second, does saltwater clean strawberries? First of all, salt acts as somewhat of a disinfectant. Further, let me just say--well, no, let me just show you. Pictures speak louder than words. Recently, I prepared some strawberries for the eatin', and documented it just for you, fair reader.

First I thoroughly rinsed my strawberries in a strainer under running water, giving them each a little hand scrubbing. Then I soaked them in saltwater.

(Note the Lysol Wipes in the background. Snorf.)

Then I took them out and rinsed them off again. This is what was left.

Pretty grim.

Those were all the bum-bum germs that were still on those berries after a very thorough rinsing.

In summary, mama's little Strawberry Shortcake says, for the love of God, people, pretty please soak your strawberries (all berries actually) in saltwater before consuming! Do it for the children!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things I Do, Cont'd.

We have't done one of these in awhile. Let's continue the non-exhaustive list of Things I Do.

  • I always wash my hands before I unload clean dishes and put them away.
  • I also always wash my hands after loading up the dirty dishes.
  • I always wash my hands after putting a dirty load of clothes into the washer.
  • I also always wash my hands after putting a clean, wet load of laundry into the dryer, as previously covered.
  • I wash the top of pop cans, soup cans, veggie cans, well, all cans, before opening them. Especially tuna lids, because you use that lid to squeeze all the water out, and all the germs that were on that lid now find their way into your tuna.
  • If I take my shoes off at another person's house for whatever reason, I change socks upon coming home.
  • If I wore flip-flops that day and had to go barefoot at their house, I use alcohol-wipes on my feet when I come home. I know right?
  • Hey, I didn't say I was proud of this.
  • At least I don't go the Howard Hughes route.

  • I wash my hands after cracking eggs.
  • If I have to Have At my nose (scratching, rubbing, whatever), I wash afterward and then use hand sani too, and I scrape my nails across my hand-sanied palm to get the sani under my nails.
  • On the advice of a friend, I use tea tree oil shampoo in Maya's hair to hopefully ward off lice from preschool.
  • I Clorox-wipe all the items I receive in the mail, including sanitizing my sanitizer, and I order from Amazon constantly, so I am getting things like every day.
  • And let's wrap up today's list with this gem: I always, always shake and flap my towels vigorously before using them to dry my body. I step out of the shower, grab my towel, and shake it. This comes from growing up in a house full of cats, who loved to lounge upon the clean laundry, so I always had to shake the cat hair off (GROCE). My husband and I have had cats at one point, who of course similarly lounged upon the clean laundry. But the thing is, we don't have cats now, and haven't for quite a long while, and I also was sans le chat for years and years in my young twenties, but the shaking of the towels is so, so ingrained that I will do it forever.

More Things I Do to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dirty Melons Kill 13 and Counting.*

Worst listeria outbreak in a decade.

* Bear with me, they're changing the number around as new information is gathered.
"[Cantaloupe] is susceptible because of its rough, porous skin and soft, succulent interior...knives can carry bacteria from the outside of the melon into the flesh when they slice through."


It's so tragic. I mean, this is exactly the kind of thing that made me a complete basket-case the entire time I was pregnant. I was convinced at all times that the very next food I ate was going to contain listeria and I would have a miscarriage or stillbirth. I was constantly paranoid. (And thus, my diet was awfully limited, and I actually avoided a lot of fresh, "healthy" food--you never know who handled your salad ingredients or if the tomatoes rolled in manure that will kill you, and I am telling you, I was Terrified. Of. Listeria. This is why I stuck to potato chips and bagels, which don't often poison people, and this is why I gained 89334783 pounds.) 

It's bad enough thinking you're going to eat at a potluck and come home with a raging case of the trots because someone let the mini-weenies sit out too long in the crockpot. But listeria? From a little old fruit salad? It's so awful.


See, this is what goes through my head when I read something like this: I immediately enter panic mode and think, "Nothing is safe. I can't eat anything, I can't eat anywhere. You never, ever know when this is going to strike. It could be any food, at any moment: spinach. tomatoes. peanut butter. cantaloupe. lettuce. sprouts. ground beef. chicken. anything. anywhere. anytime. I can never ever ever ever ever eat at a restaurant again. I can't ever buy a salad mix at the store ever ever ever ever again. I can't chance eating any prepared food. Nothing is worth the risk." Most rational people probably think, "The risk is low. I will continue eating my restaurant-prepared salad with confidence. The pleasure of eating at a restaurant is worth the risk to me." And my internal dialogue counters your internal dialogue with, "Yes, but the one time--the ONE TIME your loved one eats tainted sprouts and dies--was it worth it then?" That's just how my mind works. It's impossible to control or stop.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yo Shake That Thing Yo Jo-Anna.

I'm sitting here in a quaint, local little wine bar, all by myself, drinking a little pink sparkling champagne, with my constant companion, my laptop, wrtitng my next bum-bum blog. A stranger just approached me. And I mean approached me, child. Know I'm sayin'? It doesn't happen all that often, but when it does, I know.*

* I also got checked out by a chick who sounded like Shelly from Big Brother 13.

This middle-aged gent quite literally was all, "What's a beautiful girl like you doing all alone here on a Friday night?" I was writing a blog, so I said, "I'm writing a blog." Because I'm clever like that.

He was instantly intrigued. Oh yeah, I still got it, I thought, mentally shaking my booty.

Who am I kidding, this is the only booty I'm familiar with:

Nom. Nom nom nom.

"Oh yeah?" he says. "A blog? What about?"

In a split second I decided to take the honest route.

"Um," I said. "Actually, embarrassingly enough, it's about my OCD."

His stricken face looked like I had just told him I was singlehandedly responsible for 9/11. 

"Oh," he said. "Oh."  And he backed away slowly, never to be heard from again.

I snickered a little. I mean, it's not like I'm looking for dates.

But I know somewhere deep down I still got it. Oh I still got it. Except for this debilitating mental crisis. Whatevski.

Anyway, the whole thing was all manner of LOL. Since I scared a growed-ass man like you off so bad, next time you're looking for a fine young thang on a Friday night, mister, try a personal ad, but please make sure to mention: MUST LOVE GERMS.

. . .

To make this entry fit with the theme of this blog, let me tell you that I am currently as of this very secong watching the owner of this little wine bar wash the wine glasses by hand. He is giving each and every wine glass the most cursory of spooge sponge-washes I have ever seen. There is no autoclave dishwasher in sight. That explains why I continue to see lipstick and herpes simplex crawling all over every drinking glass I'm ever presented with.


Does he think that flippant swipe of a dank sponge kills germs? That a swirl of sudsy water washes away the horrors of the human gob?  Do YOU? Are you OK with that?? Tell mama, child. Are you OK with a filthy sponge being swiped over your glass? And don't give me any of that "alcohol kills the germs" bullshat. It would have to be Everclear, and it would have to be lit on fire or sit for like 8 days in the Sahara for it to kill some of the shit found in the mouths of humans.

Fuck. I am now totally side-eyeing my glass of delicious pink champagne.


Anyway. We now return you to your regular bum-bum blogging.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Friendly Phobic Fact Friday!

On facial hair:

"A Parisienne allowed herself to be kissed by a clean-shaven and then by a bearded man. After each salute her mouth was stroked with a sterilized brush. The microbes thus collected were deposited in a test tube and allowed to incubate for four days. It was shown that the clean-shaven man had deposited a small quantity of harmless particles. His rival's kiss had colonized the lady's lips with the bacilli of tuberculousis, diptheria, pneumonia, and numerous other unpleasant microbes."

Facial hair can harbor some nasty shit, yo. Scrub those beards!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So as promised...

The comments to offbeatmama's post contain some absolute gems themselves. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, some made me dry-heave, some made me have conniptions. Without further ado:

"As for the baby wipes, we use Earth First natural wipes. They're thicker – so I don't feel like I'm wiping poop onto my hands every time she messes her diaper."

Oh really? They feel thick, so that you feel like you aren't getting fecal matter on your hands, so you feel like you are exempt from washing after changing a poopy diaper. Nice.

"My mother still remarks on the difference between my cousin and I healthwise when we were growing up. My mother had too much life going on to much more than once a week laundry day and give the house what she referred to as 'a lick and a promise' Not an actual lick you understand, though the photos of me as a baby licking the floor might dispute that. I was a remarkably healthy child, I was off school sick once in eleven years ( several times with concussion having fallen out of trees etc) 
"My aunt on the other hand sterilised everything she could and cleaned, polished, vacumed every surface every day. Outdoor clothes and shoes had to be removed in the hall and exchanged before entering the rest of the house and hands had to be washed every hour on the hour (yes really) as well as after going to the lavatory etc. 
"I've never known a house smell more of cleaning products and air fresheners. My cousin had incessant colds, coughs, chest infections, ear infections and to this day having left home some 10 years previously still has almost no immunity to germs. Of course she could just be predisposed to be particuarly prone but my mother maintains it's because she was never allowed to build up an immunity."

Doesn't this...doesn't this go against the Hygiene Hypothesis* itself? I mean, don't people love to spout off how "good" it is when kids get sick, that getting sick now means fewer illnesses later? So really, this person's cousin was doing her body good by the "incessant colds, coughs, chest infections, and ear infections"? But wait? Why didn't they build up her immune system? Oh yeah because the HH is p. much bunk. We covered that already.

* Edited to clarify: The HH as wildly misinterpreted by so many. lol.

"True Story: A professor of medicine at Oxford University, where I used to work back then, once told us that when his son & dil came by with their young infant, he was very worried by their sterile approach to child-hygiene. Whenever they would leave the room and he was alone with his grandchild, he would quickly get the pacifier, rub it on the carpet, and stuff it back in the infant's mouth. With his knowledge of immunology he knew that a child NEEDS to 'eat dirt' to build up a good immune system."

WHAT the FUCK? I don't even have words for this. A young infant needs to ingest germs that are on the carpet of a house like I need a hole in my head. Babies re BOMBARDED by germs and infectious agents from the second they enter this world, germs that cannot be avoided, many that you don't need to avoid, but plenty that you should try to. Nobody needs to fucking LICK THE CARPET (especially a tiny infant), which this amounts to. Unreal. If I found out my relative had done this, I would KILL THEM IN THE FACE.

"I remember my parents telling the story of my oldest younger brother (try saying that three times fast!) eating a roach when he was a baby. Our mother was like, "meh." Our dad? Complete freak out. He was convinced that Michael was going to get dysentery from it. Of course he was fine and ended up with the strongest immune system of the four of us.

Hear hear! Roaches for one and all! Clearly it was the roach that gave him the immune system of steel. There can be no other explanation.

Let's continue:

"LOL! So true!!! A little dirt never hurt anyone!"

LOL! Except when there's listeria in it and the mother ingests it through one of several ways and it kills babies in utero! LOL! Or when there's tainted manure in it and it gets on our cantaloupes and causes E. Coli outbreaks and kills thousands! LOL! But a little dirt never hurt anyone! LOL!

"We are a pretty natural family. My daughter has had bad ear infections in the past, and thanks to countless antibitotics she doesnt respond to treatment like she once did. Letting it run its course as long as she is not deathly ill has become the better option."

Letting...letting ear infections "run their course"?? Up until the moment the kid is"deathly ill"? Am I reading her correctly? Is she fucking insane? Yeah, because ear infections "just go away." And I'm sure the kid wouldn't mind being in excruciating pain and having a ruptured ear drum or two. Screw antibiotics. Let's let infections just do their thang. We're natural like that.

I can't even go on. Some people. The stupid burns.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nice to Meet You, Offbeat Mama. I Think I'll Hold Off On Shaking Your Hand, Thanks So Much.

A few weeks ago, I read this entry by "offbeatmama." (Yeah, I'm a year and a half too late. Bygones.) I've been stewing over it since. What follows is my horrified reaction to her quotes.

She says:

"Yes, I'm trying to teach them to wash their hands after they pee, etc."

1. "Trying" to teach them to wash after peeing? Really. How hard is it to teach them? How is this an "effort"? Sorry to go all Yoda on  your bum-bum here, but there is no try, offbeatmama. You just fucking teach them. We wash before we eat. Period. We wash after playing in the dirt. Period. We wash after we use the bathroom. Period. How is this a difficult lesson to teach? Why do you have to keep "trying"? You observe that shit. You keep an eye on it. You make them wash. The end.

2. Now what exactly do you mean by "etc."? Like, how do you wrap up "oh and the rest of the things you need to wash your hands after" by "etc." Like, do you mean, "after they pee, and after they touch heaping steaaming piles of dog shit"? Or do you mean "after they pee, and after making mudpies"? Or do you mean, "after they pee, and before eating," like we were taught in kindergarten? How do you summarize your hygiene program with "etc."?

Next up:

"...because substances with names that have numbers and hyphens and are virtually unpronounceable do not belong in children."

Really? God forbid our children ingest substances with numbers, hyphens, or that are difficult to pronounce, like beta-carotene, B-12, or D-3, which are vitamins; or galacto-oligosaccharides, cytidine 5-monophosphate, disodium uridine 5-monophosphate, crypthecodiniium cohnii oil, pyridoxine hydrocloride, cyanocobalamin, or phylloquinone, which are ingredients in infants' formula; or Isoleucine, Threonine, Selenocysteine, or Pyrrolysine, which are amino acids.

"Hell, now that I've taken the time to write all of those ingredients down, I'm quite certain they don't even belong on my kid's asses."

I wish you'd taken as much time to Google them as you did writing them down. OH SNAP!

Case in point:

"I, for one, would rather my kids ingest a little park dirt (even dog poo tinged park dirt) than have them ingest say: Ethyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Myrisate, which are the main ingredients in Purell. Or Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Propyl Paraben, Disodium Cocamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, and last but not least 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, which are commonly found ingredients found in baby wipes....commonly found ingredients found in baby wipes."

And that is where you and I differ, offbeatmama. That is where you and I motherfucking differ. Sweet Jesus.

Let's break this shit down, shall we? I've taken the liberty of Googling almost all of the ingredients in hand sani or baby wipes that terrify you so.

Ethyl Alcohol is also known as pure alcohol or drinking alcohol. It evaporates after rubbing it onto your skin.

Polysorbate 20 is a nontoxic agent and is used as a wetting agent in mouth drops.

carbomer is simply an expanded molecule. lol.

Tocopheryl acetate is also known as vitamin E acetate and is a common vitamin supplement.

Glycerin. Come on. Do I really have to fucking Google GLYCERIN for you? It's used in a billion foods and pharmaceuticals. COME ON.

Isopropyl Myrisate is safe and nontoxic and is used in certain mouthwashes.

2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, or Bronopol, is fairly ubiquitous in our diet and the environment, and is even produced within the stomach from various foodstuffs.

Methylparaben is produced naturally and found in several fruits, primarily blueberries, along with other parabens.

Propylparaben, as mentioned above, occurs as a natural substance found in many plants and some insects.

..."etc." Snort.

Next time, you can g'head and Google these yourself instead of just letting the big words scare you.

Another quote:

"I'll take my chances with the dirt and grime and grossness from nature (and, I will admit somewhat sheepishly, from my house), thank you very much."

Nature? Oh boy. You're probably one of those people who freaks out that OMFG ascorbic acid is in some of our foods, aren't you?

Another favorite quote:

"Call me crazy, but I'm feeding my kids dirt and pond scum and yes, even dog poop, before I'm feeding them 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol."


And one of the quotes that had me shaking my head the hardest:

"I also feel compelled to admit that I (and consequently my children) are lackadaisical hand washers."

WTF? Who so lackadaisically admits that they are lackadaisical handwashers? It's just so...I mean, at least pretend. For fuck's sake, at least pretend you wash your got-damn hands after you touch your bum-bum. Or don't admit to thousands of people that you don't.


A germy affair, indeed.

Aaaaannnnnd with that, I'm off to go let my child eat a handful of dog-poo-tinged dirt wipe my kid's ass with some Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, and Propyl Paraben.

(Next up: My reaction to some of her commenters. Hooooo boy.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pediculus Humanus Capitis. *scritch scritch scritch*

OK. So. Lice.

I think the first time we got lice--and you know this is gonna be a good story if it starts with "and the FIRST time we got [a plague]"--was when I was about seven and I went to after-school daycare at the Young Men's Christian Association.

We suddenly had a mandatory "lice check" one day, and lo and frickin behold, I "tested positive." I was stunned. Lice? What? Me? I got sent home. We treated the situation the best we could. It was all new to us, but my poor single mother dealt with it in between working 8 billion jobs and shit.

I remember that the YMCA had a couple more random checks as well, and I got sent home another time too. Talk about humiliation. You go into the nurse's office and you don't return. HMMM. WONDER WHY. WHERE'S JO? LICE MUCH?

When I caught The Lice (and I will forever blame this one girl Gwen and her licey ways), my family did everything that we should have done. We repeatedly shampooed our hair with Rid, we sprayed the carseats, the hairbrushes, and combs, we froze the cloze, we bugbombed the house while we stayed in a Travelodge motel (forever after referred to as The Lice Motel). But if you recall, our house was the Pit of Despair, and we had clothes and laundry and mess and junk and crap and bullshit everywhere; i.e., plenty of places for those crafty lice to hide.

At some point, through heroic efforts, we kept the lice at bay, but only temporarily. It seemed a battle we were, battling.

The next major lice war I remember, it was when I was in 5th grade. I had newly discovered boys, a certain boy in particular. I was in love with one Mitchell Marchant. Love, I tell you. Young young love.

I had also discovered the phone. (This was before my phone phobia.) I was on the phone all the time with Mitchell. I would hide in my mom's room for some semblance of privacy, since that was the farthest that the phone cord would stretch. This was before cordless phones, child, and long, long, long before cell phones. We would talk until the wee hours. And by that I mean 8 pm.

Well, one day at school, the nurse was doing her rounds, and it was time for one of her mandatory lice checks. Got-damn those mandatory lice checks. One by one, she took everyone into the back of the room and carefully combed through their hair with a pick and a magnifying glass.

My turn came.


I was sent home in the middle of the school day. I was mortified. Because that only meant one thing. And worse, Mitchell knew it only meant one thing: His 5th grade telephone girlfriend had lice.

Well, my family did the old routine lice treatment: shampoo, spray, bugbomb, Lice Motel. Rinse, repeat. RINSE, REPEAT. After a few bouts of it, we were done. Again.

Then came 7th grade. And gym class. After (sooooo not) sweating it up during gym, all the girls wanted to share my awesome Sassy hairbrush, since I was the only one who ever thought to bring one. I obliged, wanting desperately to be cool. And like Gwen in those YMCA days of yore, Megan Hughes proved to be my downfall. One day, I noticed how good it felt to deeply brush my hair. I kept brushing. And brushing. Scratching, if you will. And the next day, Megan Fucking Hughes was sent home with lice. And guess who had shared my brush the week before, in gym class? Megan F. Hughes.

That day I went home and looked at my scalp up-close-like in the vanity mirror.

Wham. Lice.

SHITBALLS AND A HALF.  Would it ever end? Fuck you forever, Megan Fucking Hughes.

And this was particularly bad timing. My brother was being baptized that very night. We had found out like two hours before that we had lice. That's right, he was about to become a CHILD OF GOD and here I was, realizing we had a PARASITE OF SATAN on our very scalps. And I was the one who had to tell him. I have to say, he took the news graciously. You can't very well accept the bread of life and the salvation of God and the peace of the Lord and then flip the fuck out on your little sister for catching lice for the 84936584378th time. We treated our hair, prayed to the Patron Saint of Bloodsuckers that headlice couldn't be transmitted via baptismal font, and hoped that we were done with this shit.

Thank you sweet tiny God, we were.

It never happened again.

Finally, victory. Headlice? GTFO!!

Anyway, it may have taken 84936584378 times, but it was at this moment at the age of 12 that a phobia was born. From this point on out, every request to borrow my hairbrush was denied. DE-MOTHERFUCKING-NIED.

People hated and resented me because of it. I was a veritable gym class pariah. It was mortifying at such a tender age. But I stood my ground and said no, you may NOT borrow my hairbrush. I was as afraid of lice as I was of someone vomiting. If I saw someone scratch their head, I was instantly on red alert. But because of that, we never caught lice again.

But that doesn't mean I am not still paranoid to within an inch of my life, especially now that Maya's in school.

And no. You may not borrow my hairbrush, EVER.

I leave you with this: