Thursday, March 31, 2011

"C" is for Contamination

NOTE: This post reflects my personal views and opinions.  It does not represent the views of my employer (NRC) or any organization with which I am associated.  Furthermore, I am not an expert on nuclear reactors.   I have a degree in nuclear sciences, and my full-time job involves writing policy to protect public health and safety.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, it wasn't the missing persons or death tolls that made headline news shortly after--it was the status of the nuclear power plants.  After several days I could no longer tolerate watching the news, reading Drudge, or even looking at posts on Facebook regarding the events in Japan.  The sensationalism from the media and overreaction by the general public was too much for me to handle.  To say the stories reported by CNN, Fox News, and many, many others were absurd is an understatement.  I'm not saying the nuclear situation in Japan isn't serious and doesn't require attention, but the media has taken the nuclear scare to a whole new level.  By the way, the purpose of this post isn't to discuss the status of the reactors in Japan or the response in the U.S., so if you'd like to read about these things, I suggest the following sites:

International Atomic Energy Agency Alert Log
U.S. Government website
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website

What I would like to address is the most recent nuclear scare with "radioactive milk" in Washington and California.  If you haven't heard about this yet, here's the first article that came up from a Google search: Radiation ‘Far Below’ Risk Levels Found in U.S. Milk Samples.  A friend posted a witty remark regarding the radioactive milk on Facebook earlier today.  The post wasn't meant to promote fear or spread inaccurate information--it was funny, and I took it as such.

"The fact that we are finding radiation in our milk supply in the states doesn't alarm me--what alarms me is why exactly are we needing to get milk from Japan in the first place."

The responses that followed were not funny and insinuated that acceptable radiation levels, as determined by the EPA, were not, in fact, safe.  Here was the first response:
"It is a little more scary than that. We aren't getting milk from Japan, the radiation has traveled that far. It is in levels 5000 below what the EPA deems safe though, so it shouldn't be too bad......"

My response:
"Every food has a small amount of radioactivity in it. Common radionuclides are potassium, radium, and uranium. So while the iodine found in the milk is unusual, the amounts found do not pose a health risk. If anyone is that concerned about the milk, they should probably stop flying and sleeping next to others too, as these activities also increase your exposure to radiation. The media is doing a poor job putting these types of issues into perspective."
A short time later, a second response appeared from an individual with the initials, D.A., which was fitting IMO:
"What is disturbing to me is that the people that tell us how much radiation we are being exposed to are the same people that determine what "acceptable" levels of radiation are... And there is really not a way of us knowing any different, so we just buy it. Lame."

The insinuation that a level of radiation 5000 times below what the EPA allows is something to worry about is totally uncalled for.  The amount of radioactive iodine found in the milk was reported as 0.8pCi/L.  The fact that we have the ability to detect such low levels of radiation is impressive.  To put that 0.8 number into perspective, a banana has approximately 3,520 pCi/kg of radioactive potassium.  The conversion from pCi/L to pCi/kg is essentially 1/1 for milk, so the banana I had for breakfast this morning was over 4,400 times more radioactive than the milk on the west coast.  Nearly the same numbers apply for carrots and potatoes, which also contain radioactive potassium.  Also, the iodine in the milk will be almost completely decayed away in a few weeks, and the radioactive potassium in bananas, carrots, and potatoes will stick around for billions and billions of years.  Why isn't the media reporting on the insane amounts of radioactive bananas sold in the U.S. every day? And at over 9 months pregnant, if anyone should be concerned about radioactive foods, shouldn't it be me?!

I don't typically do political or religious debates or debates in general, especially not online, but there is plenty of science to back up this milk thing, which just set me over the top.   

Here's the moral of the story:
1) Yes, they detected radioactivity in milk in the U.S.
2) No, you are not at risk of being harmed from the radiation.
3) Don't try to contradict someone and end your argument with "Lame."  You lose all credibility.
4) If you don't want to "buy" what the government is "selling" you, there is plenty of information available to do independent research to make your own decision.
5) Don't believe everything you read or hear in the news.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"C" is for Connecting

I started two other posts this week, but neither one of them developed into anything interesting, so I'm scrapping both and linking up with other bloggers for "What I'm Loving Wednesday."

1.  I'm loving that the high school softball team in my hometown is doing a dinner fundraiser on Sunday, and the food they are serving is from Taco Hut.  Taco Hut was THE place to eat when I was in high school, and they were famous for their cheese sanchos and tacos.  Sadly, the restaurant closed shortly after I graduated, so it's a really big deal that they're making tacos and sanchos just for this event.  I have a feeling it's going to be a massive, multi-year, high school reunion.  I live an hour away, and I'm willing to drive back just for this, which is unreal. 

2.  I'm loving that we've made major progress on the house to-do list.  We're down to a few minor items like putting boxes away, changing air filters, hanging some wall art, and steaming the curtains (yes, they're still wrinkled from when I wrote about hanging them in January.)  John worked really hard on the yard, so we have all new mulch in our flower beds.  If you live in the Tulsa area, you should check out the Greenwaste Site!  Tulsa residents can drop off tree branches, grass clippings, and leaves for free, AND you can get free mulch.  They'll even dump the mulch into your truck bed for you.  It's great.

3.  I'm loving that I figured out The Pioneer Woman (PW) lives just up the road.  Okay, not like one mile up the road...more like an hour away, but it's THE Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I tried to explain to John how famous she is, and the first people that came to mind were Rachel Ray and Oprah.  Now I know Oprah is in a league of her own, but PW is a big deal too with her blog, books, etc.  How did I not know she lived in Oklahoma?!  Two other Tulsa bloggers I follow, Marie @ Pouty Pink Princess and Katie @ It's in the Details, wrote about PW's local book signings, and all of a sudden I started making these connections.  My parents grew up in a small town called Hominy where many of the Drummond family members lived, and I've heard my mom talk about the Drummond home, which is now a historic site.  A quick Google search on the Drummond family let me know the original Drummonds had roots in both Hominy and Pawhuska, which is where PW lives now.  I don't know why I find all of this so intriguing, but it really is a small world.

4.  I'm loving that in a few short weeks (days?) my sweet baby, Tully, will arrive.  His bag is packed for the hospital, and I started my bag too.  It's kinda hard to pack when you only have three or four items that fit though.  I need to wear them now--they can't be in a bag!  I can already see myself frantically doing laundry when it's go time.

5.  I'm loving that my work Inbox has zero, count, emails.  I do a pretty good job keeping emails sorted into folders and/or moved to the task list, but at the end of the day I always have a few that require special attention and must stay in my Inbox for a while longer.  After my paper is finalized and submitted to the Commission on Friday, I consider myself home free, as far as work is concerned.  I can't believe things are winding down enough for me to feel comfortable taking off work for the baby.  The feeling is surreal, and I am SO looking forward to these next few months.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"C" is for Ceiling Fan

John checked off a major project on the "honey-do" list this weekend: hanging the fan in our living room.  I think I purchased fans for the house in 2009, but it's taken a bit of time for us to get around to this particular one.  We actually had a running joke that the goal was to have the fan hung before all of the lights on the existing chandelier burned out.  Out of 16 lights we were down to three. 

Now I know hanging a fan sounds like simple enough task, and more than one person told us to just lean a 24 foot ladder against the ceiling--but if you've ever seen our living room, you know you'd have to be certifiably crazy to attempt the installation with just a ladder.  Even a contractor that bid the project wasn't comfortable with a ladder setup for our 18-foot ceiling, so John rented scaffolding from Home Depot.  It was 45 bucks for a week, which isn't too bad for a DIY project.  My dad came by to help too, since I'm pretty worthless when it comes to heavy lifting or climbing.  Although my nurse midwife hasn't specifically prohibited these activities, I'm going to make a reasonable assumption that they are are off limits at 9+ months preggo.

So here's how the project went.

First tier of scaffolding.  I helped with this one.

Second tier.  You're on your own, John.

Third tier.  Please excuse my fat feet in the bottom left corner.  I had some swelling issues.

Wiring for the fan

Ta-da!  The remote and fan work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"C" is for Convex (cont.)

I'm nine months pregnant, so it's time for another belly pic update! 

I wish nine months pregnant meant the baby was about to make his debut, but it's looking like he's happy in his home for now.  Without going into the details, my certified nurse midwife expects I will carry to full term, which is 10 months.  [Note to other moms-to-be: No matter how important you think your cervix stats are, very few people want to read about them online, especially on your blog or as a Facebook status update.]  Besides being significantly larger around the midsection, I'm not feeling much different than I did at seven or eight months, so I'm mentally prepared for another 4+ weeks of toting him around.  I also have a huge project due at work April 1, so I told Tully if he stays put for at least the next couple weeks, I'll let him stay up past his bedtime one night or buy him a new toy.  We'll see if he goes for it.

Tully spends most of his time stretching, punching, kicking, and hiccuping, so he's a very busy boy.  He especially likes to do these activities when it's time for bed or while I'm writing my paper for work, which is due April 1.  (Did I mention that already?  It really has me stressed...ugh!)

Outside of work, John and I have been busy attending childbirth classes, going to doctor appointments, and preparing the house for the baby's arrival.  I'm very happy that we changed from my original doctor to the certified nurse midwife, Kim.  I feel really comfortable at our appointments, and we had a chance to visit both hospitals where Kim delivers.  Based on our visits, the decision to deliver at St. Francis South was an easy one.  They don't really have a nursery where they keep the babies, so it's pretty much a given that the baby will room in with you, unless you call the nurses.  Also, they were able to walk us through a typical labor and delivery in their hospital without saying things like, "Once you get here, you'll pretty much be hooked up to everything while you're in bed," or, "When you get your epidural..."  So I feel like we can easily follow our birth plan with their support and resort to Plan B (or C...or D), if needed.

Tully's room is almost finished, and although I'm sure most boys don't have chandeliers hanging from their ceilings or in their armoires, I think it turned out beautifully.  I figured by the time he has an opinion, we'll be moving on to a big boy bed and redecorating anyway, and I'm the one who has to look at it every day until then.  I didn't have a theme per se, so there's a crazy mix of stripes, plaid, dots, gingham, and paisley prints with celery green, aqua, slate blue, black, cream, and pewter.  Basically, if I saw something I liked, I bought it and made it work in the room.

Tully's room
Crib detail.  Love, love love.
My rocker/glider.  I've already fallen asleep in it once.  It. is. glorious.

Chair detail.
Gutter bookshelves.  Thanks to our family and friends for filling them with books!
I got the idea for gutter bookshelves from another blog I follow, A Teacher at Heart, and the step-by-step tutorial can be found at Raising Olives.  We bought a gutter at Lowe's, cut it to the sizes we needed, and painted it green to add some color to the room.  Sadly, we didn't use a primer coat, so the paint comes off really easily.  I'm sure we'll be sanding and painting them again soon, but they work for now.  Lesson learned.

The artwork in Tully's room, which I absolutely adore, is from Mary Jack Studios.  The canvas prints have hand embellishments, which show up better on their website than in any photos I took.  Click the images or links below the images for details.

The Tree

My favorite helper decided to join me for the nursery photo shoot too.  He actually posed like this on his own, perky ears and all.

On the nanny front, we found a good match for our family and hope to have the contract signed in the next couple weeks.  We're planning for her to start in June while I'm still on maternity leave, and I'm really excited to see if working at home with a full-time nanny turns out OK when I go back to work in July.

Stay tuned for next month's update.  It's either going to have a photo of me with a HUGE belly or pictures of Tully from the hospital.    His official due date is April 11.  Any guesses on what date he'll arrive?! 

8/26/11 update: Since I have all of Tully's nursery photos in this post, I thought I should add this one.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"C" is for Cupcakes

Several of my friends hosted a baby shower for me and John over the weekend.  It was more like a big party, but it included gifts and yummy, perfectly-decorated cupcakes, so I can technically call it a shower.

The sweet hosts who went all out!  See the T's on the cupcakes for Tully?!

Highlights included:
  • delicious appetizers and desserts, including antelope sausage from New Mexico, pork sliders, my favorite chicken wing dip, fruits, veggies, cupcakes, and homemade oreo "lollliops";
  • a mad-lib game that had us all rolling;
  • an excessive amount of drinking (for the non-pregnant attendees, of course);
  • hangout time around the chimenea for the guys;
  • gossip time on the couch for the girls;
  • a very adventurous, yet extremely short road trip; and
  • rockband
Soon-to-be dad and mom.  Ahhhhhhhh!
Lacey and Jake
Lauren and Michael
The girls!
Although talking about and celebrating the upcoming arrival of Tully was probably the highlight of the evening for me, I think the most fun part of the shower was an unplanned, one-mile roadtrip to one of the host's previous rental houses.  They still had an active lease on the house for the month of March, even though they are already moved into a new place, and they had discovered a squatter on the premises the day before.  What do a bunch of intoxicated people want to do when they hear this story?  Go see the squatter, of course.  So we took the party on the road and piled into our SUV to visit the rental house.  The dude was still there and totally shocked to see a crowd of people.  The girls safely watched from the car, while the boys interrogated him.  Apparently he was "house sitting."  Riiiiiiiight.

In any case, I think everyone had a really great time.  Thanks, girls, for an AWESOME baby shower.  I can only imagine what's going to happen when we do a sip-and-see when Tully arrives.  Should I schedule to have Grams pick the baby up before we get out of hand?!

Friday, March 4, 2011

"C" is for Clean

I'm in nesting mode, so my theme today is clean--clean house inside and clean yard outside.  First for the inside.  I decided to wash my sheets, duvet, duvet cover, pillows, pillow covers, and mattress pad.  The sheets get washed weekly, but after seeing the cheese prank on Jersey Shore last night (video clip here), I figured I'd go all out.

Now onto the outside.  In 2009 we found a local service, Tulsa Clean Paw, to pick up the dog waste in our yard.  The guy showed up every week, and I didn't have to pick up poo, which was awesome.  Then out of nowhere, he stopped coming.  We had some crazy weather in January, so I thought he was just waiting until the snow melted, but several weeks went by, and the poo continued to pile up.  Literally.  When I called, the phone line was no longer working, and now the website is down.  Thanks for telling me you were going out of business.  So I found a couple other local companies that provide the same service and had them stop by for estimates.  We have Zach trained to only make messes along one side of the house, so I always ask for a discount, since they don't have to pick up the whole yard.  Doody Free Tulsa gave me a great deal ($3 off per pick up), and they do email invoicing.  I can't stand snail mail for bills, so this is really nice.  If you are looking for a dog waste service in the Tulsa area, I highly recommend contacting Doody Free Tulsa.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"C" is for Compression (cont.)

Last week I had my second prenatal massage at the Skin Care Institute.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Paul, the Ukrainian masseuse, does an awesome job.  I think I walked out with a full spine realignment this time, which was a relief, since I'm carrying a little extra in the front at 8 months pregnant.  The day after my massage I felt like I'd done a P90X workout.  Maybe I'm crazy for liking deep tissue massages, but the Swedish or regular ones just don't cut it.  What's weird is that even though the massage was intense, I still found myself drifting off to sleep and drooling.  My next massage is scheduled for later in March, and I cannot wait.

Oh, and in other random news, John and his dad fixed the dryer a couple weekends ago.  (Thanks, guys!) The vent line does some crazy turns behind the washer and dryer, and what looked to only be a small amount of lint build-up was actually limiting the airflow enough to cause the gas to turn off.  So it appears every three years or so we'll have to clean out the area of the vent line where it makes 90-degree turns.  At least it turned out to be a $5 fix and not a $500 fix.
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