Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stuff I don't really want to know. . .

And maybe you don't either!

Recently the squeeze and I discovered a channel we've apparently had on cable for four years and didn't know it. BBC America. And on this channel there are numerous interesting, bizarre and creative programs. And some you really don't want to have on during the dinner hour.

Like "How Clean Is Your House?" Which sounds innocuous enough. You might expect a couple of tony British ladies to be going around with a white glove and pursed lips, tsking and tutting. You'd be wrong. These two gals, Kim and Aggie, climb into human-inhabited hovels and slag pits all over the UK. . . with cameras. After the initial vapors and gasps of horror at the filth and unsanitary conditions, they and a crew of strong-stomached cleaners get down to it, while dispensing much needed advice and teaching the hovel-dwellers how to actually clean. Toilets, kitchen stoves, beds, bathtubs, and yes, refrigerators. Ackkkk. (Like I said, NOT to be watched at dinner time. REALLY.)

Now, a special feature of this program is Aggie's bio-swab kit. She goes around kitchens and baths taking swabs and samples and sending them off to bio-medical lab for analysis. What she gets back is nothing short of horrifying. Salmonella, shigella, pneumococcus, staphylococcus, lysteria, clostridium, e coli . . . all manner of fungi and spores. . . trace amounts of all manner of poisons and toxic metals. . . not to mention the rodent and pest droppings and carcasses. These places are like covert breeding labs for biological warfare!

But the worst thing is she always gives the "normal" values before telling the hovel-dweller how much he/she has exceeded the maximum allowable human tolerance. (And usually it's astronomical.)

Normal values? It's normal to have 10,000 bacteria per square inch of countertop? !!!!! I did not need to know that! 2/3 of the weight of a five-year-old pillow is dust mites and dust mite carcasses? I did NOT need to know that. Pictures of dust mites with their BITING mouth parts. . . I did not need to SEE that. The worm eggs, insects, and feces that cling to dog hair-- ewwww! PLEASE don't make me look!

Call me reactionary, call me an ostrich, call me a luddite. But these days I'm content to rock along without having to face imminent biological disaster at every turn. Life is just so much more bearable without thinking about all the creatures that lurk on every available surface waiting to breed in me or on me. . . or in my food, air, and water.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Especially when it comes to bacteria. And UFO's. What, you haven't heard the latest? That the government is suppressing information confirming that we've been visited regularly from extraterrestrials? That the government (or certain black ops units therein) has captured several crafts, and studied and appropriated their advanced technology? They're hiding anti-grav and zero-point energy technology from us. . . because it would upset the oil companies. . . not to mention unhinging the rest of the human race. . . and most of whom are down to a single hinge already.

If we're being visited and probed, I don't want to know about it. I'll wait for that cute Anderson Cooper at CNN to do a special.

And then there's the whole cholesterol/diet/genetics thing. . . and the sugar substitute thing. . . and the immunizing young children controversy. . . and the "don't go out in the sun thing". . . and the "social security is collapsing" scare. . . oh, and Paris Hilton's latest trauma. . .

I think I've spent way too much of my life watching and reading "news" and believing it. If history teaches us anything, it's that today's "knowledge" is tomorrow's "chuckle at the absurdity of it." So if that's true (and I said it, so I think I believe it) then a lot of what I'm being told today as "truth" is probably garbage. Stuff I just don't want to know.

That's a sobering thought. But also a freeing one.

What about you? What could you live without being badgered about? What stuff do you wish the media would just give us a break on? What stuff don't you want to know? Have you just quit listening to some arguments/advice and decided to make your own way?


Kimberly L said...

you would be surprised by what you learn. I'm taking infection control and bacteriology classes right now. I absolutely hate it. So gross.

Debra Dixon said...

Okay, so while I read every horrifying word of this blog, I'm not sure I needed to know that my moderately (stress the word moderately) clean home is just a haven for disaster! I have a dog. Two cats. And until recently old pillows. I thought I loved them because they fit my head perfectly. Not because I apparently molded dust mite carcasses to fit my head perfectly. LOL!

Betina Krahn said...

Sorry Deb-- didn't mean to spread gloom and disaster! I feel the same way about my pillow. . . it's just now getting comfy!

And I hate to tell you-- I adjusted downward on the # of bacteria on the counter top. . . the real number was too staggering to believe.

And Kimberly, I had several Bac-T courses in college and it made a much more careful food handler. But over the years I've put a lot of that aside. . . and ick. . . had to drag it out again! Good luck in your studies!

Michele Hauf said...

I can live without the entertainment programs STILL reporting on Larry Birkhead and the baby. Please, will someone finally put Anna Nicole to rest!

As for the pillows. I've been an adamant pillow switcher for years. There ain't no dust mites in my pillows. No time! I get new ones at least two or three times a yeat. And I don't make the bed in the morning. If you pull the sheets back, it not only lets the bed air, it also cools the sheets so the dust mites can't have a party in the remaining body warmth. I also pull back the inner workings (I have an air bed) and wash out with vinegar to prevent mold (and probably kill off a few thousand dust mites in the process) at least once a year.

Okay, so now you know. I"m a freak about dust mites!

And yet, the bedroom is the only place they bother me. Don't want to be snorting them in the middle of the night. BUt I can let dust sit on my windowsills and coffee tables for a VERY long time.

Countertops? Eh.


Helen Brenna said...

I'm a definite follower of the ignorance is bliss theory, although I will be getting new pillows.

Thanks, Michele, for a great new excuse for not making the bed!

Diane in Syracuse said...

I think it's time to relax about bugs and bacteria and things. We're not alone on the planet! This is not news, so, as long as the other species keep themselves to reasonable levels inside my house, I'm not going to worry about it.

Excessive cleanliness leads to a frail immune system, anyway! And, possibly, allergies and autoimmune diseases (I guess immune systems get bored).

Not to mention the fact that something like 10% of our own body weight is bacteria. Many of which are, by the way, beneficial. It's a tiny fraction of the bacterial world that are bad actors - many of them are positively beneficial.

Which is not to say that I don't make every attempt to usher the occasional bat out of my house. And I'm mildly paranoid on the subject of Salmonella (enough to rigorously sterilize cutting boards, knives, etc., and to cook all the ingredients to my xmas eggnog; not enough to not eat cookie dough!).

But all the frantic antibacterial efforts are just leading to waterways contaminated with antibiotics and other such compounds and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

So, I wouldn't want too permissive an attitude in commercial food-preparation zones or operating rooms, but so long as I'm not allergic to them, the dustmites are welcome to my pillow.

Keri Ford said...

Yep, I'm with diane on this one. all that bacteria is good for the immune system.

Just the other day my DH and I were talking about how he gets sick more often that I do. He even takes Vit. C, cause according to his mother, that's supposed to help. I think it's the dumbest thing I ever heard, cause I don't get sick and I don't inhale Vit. C.


Hubby grew up in a germ freak house according to the way I did. I'm talking home from town and they had to wash their hands. He thought I was nutty when we left the hospital one night and I ate my fastfood on the way home without washing first.

When I grew up, I mostly likely sucked on the buggy handle when mom wasn't looking. So I think eating all those germs and letting whatever feast on my body when a tiny tot is why I don't often get sick.

That said, I do sterilize in my kitchen. But, like Diane, that doesn't stop me from eating raw eggs out of cookie dough, brownie, or cake mix.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Irving Dust Mite here. Living in your bed. I don't have much time because, well, I'm a mite, so you should appreciate the sacrifice I'm making here. You should know that one of the blessings of this life is the limitations of the human eye. You don't have to see us. We, on the other hand, can hardly miss seeing you. Imagine what you look like to us. You throw back that sheet, and the alarm goes up. "Here she comes!" We don't need a microscope to see what your skin really looks like. We suffer millons of casualties every night, and do you care?

Ironically, we can't survive without you. You need bacteria and bacteria needs you. It's a strange world. See you tonight!

Candace said...

I could really live without all the "mights" and "maybes" and "could happens" in the newscasts. News presented that way isn't news, it's a blatant attempt to boost ratings by scaring people silly.

Don't tell me there "might" be secret terrorist cells in the U.S. What am I going to do with that information except worry? Tell me when an actual terrorist cell is uncovered.

Don't tell me that "maybe" this will be the worst tornado season in recorded history. What can I do with "maybe" except worry? Tell me when that sucker is about to touch down. That's information I can use.

Don't tell me I "could" be in the path of a raging wild fire. Again, all I can do with "could" is worry. Tell when I'm in real danger so I can get out of the way.

Anyway, you get the idea. The "news" as it is presented today is one of my hot buttons.

As for dirt and germs... I grew up on a farm. Pulled carrots out of the ground, wiped them on the seat on my jeans, and ate 'em. Kissed my dog on the lips. Shared my sandwich with my horse. Drank unpasturized milk. Engaged in a wild game of tossing dried cow pies (yes, they are exactly what you're thinking) at my siblings, hoping a juicy one would split open on the back of their heads--and then dug into my pocket for the lint-covered peppermint Lifesavers and popped them into my mouth without ever thinking about washing my hands.

I laugh at dirt and germs. And I'm one of healthiest people I know.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm with you on all counts, Candace. I didn't grow up on a farm, but ranched in my young adulthood when the kids were little. To this day they seem to have pretty good resistance. (Plus, I was suspicious of ampicillan when it was being prescribed every time a kid sneezed.)

Oh, my. Apropos of nothing, two wild turkeys are hanging out under my window at this very moment.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm so glad you guys are as sick as I am of the "infotainment" being passed off as "news." I wish they'd give us separate programs on all the networks that dish out news. I want truth in naming/titling. Entertainment stuff should be so named. Gossip should be called gossip. New Rule: you can't call it news if it isn't news. And real news has to be gathered and reported by journalists--people who respect the profession and adhere to some basic standards. Absolutely no maybes or rumor-has-its. Facts must be checked and sources corroborated.

And important news MUST be reported. People must not be fired for reporting the truth. Editorializing must be labeled as such. Oh, I could go on. Hot button for me, too.

Betina Krahn said...

Diane of Syracuse-- 10 % of the human body is bacteria? By that count I'm toting around have 17 pounds of bacteria!!! Aghhhh!

I know many of the bacteria are beneficial and necessary. The Dannon Yogurt people are making a killing selling their "DanActive" line of yogurt with BENEFICIAL bacteria! I drink the smoothies (yum) and eat the yogurt. . . they advertise that 70% of your immune system in in your guts. I hope that's true, but I won't shrivel if it's not.

Candace, I ate my share of "dirty veggies" and dusty strawberries in the summer as a kid. . . and I'm pretty healthy, too.

I am very concerned about the antibiotic resistant bacteria-- MRSA contributed greatly to my dad's death. It's interesting to see that my daughter-in-law, who is quite a cleanliness buff, lets my grands play and eat dirt and snuggle with the cats and puppies and share toys generously with other kids. They're sick a lot now but I think they'll be healthier for it in the long run.

And Kathy, I howled at the note you passed along from Irving the Dust Mite. What a hoot! Okay, I'll try to be more sensitive to the eight-legged in my bed. And I'll be sure to turn out the light before I climb in so I won't give any of them coronaries!

LOL. You guys are the best!

Christie Ridgway said...

I hate knowing about those creepy dust mites. They show pix of them on commericial for mattresses. I lived almost all my life without knowing about their pinching choppers. And I admit, I have old pillows. To the mites like feather pillows? They're expensive to replace.

I still kiss my dog. On the cheek, the "hand," and even on the lips. So there.

And I think it's okay we eat cookie dough because these days the eggs we buy at the store are pasteurized.

I do wash my hands a lot, though.

lois greiman said...

BBC could do a program on my house. Do you really think ANY press is good press? Cuz I could shock the nation.

But I'm with Hauf. Let's put Anna Nicole to rest. And how about Paris. Oh...Britney Spears anyone.

Okay, I guess they're not as disgusting as microorganisms and germs and...well...let me think about that for a minute.