Sunday, August 31, 2014

The last straw

Straws collected on Bondi Beach in Australia.
For some reason my mother never bought straws for our home at the regular store.  I am not sure how many straws we went through or any other reason why we needed to buy them in bulk but once in a while she would journey to a place in Buffalo, New York, that made straws and there she would pick up a huge box of them.

I went along on one occasion and while she was discussing her purchase with a clerk, I chanced to open a door that led to the factory floor where the straws were being produced. Actually factory floor is kind of a misnomer because what I saw was a room which memory now tells me was not very big.  Machinery filled almost every available square inch of floor space except for narrow passageways the operator used to access the apparatus. A fairly loud mechanical hum added to the feeling of congestion in the room along with the slight odor of warm lubrication oil.

Overhead and between various machines one long strand of straw material hummed around spinning pulleys and guides on the way to being cut in lengths and pushed into boxes. Suddenly out of this mechanical array, a man emerged. My recollection says he was short, perhaps even a little person, grimy and oily from head to toe as he tended the machines and their supposed clean path to market. I noticed his hands with oil pressed into every available crevice, dirty back and front.  I also recall greasy hair and a large nose, its pores also black with oil. He shook his fist at me indicating I should get out and close the door. I stood there shocked for a moment then quickly backed away and shut the door behind me.

By then my mother had completed her purchase and we left the store. But, I never could erase the image of that factory floor from my mind. Since that time I have never been able to see a straw without seeing the filthy conditions and the filthy man responsible for its manufacture.  Open and use one? Never. Won't do it. When people ask why I don't use straws I just say I saw the guy who makes them.

Today I learned for probably more than 60 years I have been on the politically correct side of the straw debate. Who knew there was a debate about straws? I should have. What I saw today was notice of a movement by an organization called the Ocean Conservancy to encourage people to stop using straws because they end up in the ocean killing wildlife, another senseless use of plastic with its enduring qualities. According to the conservancy, Americans eat out an average of four times a week and most of those meals involve at least one straw. If 25,000 people stop taking the straw, it will save 5 million straws over the course of a year, many of which could end up in the ocean.

Fine by me. I can now take sanctimonious pride in supporting yet another noble effort to save the oceans and their wildlife. As a matter of fact, because I haven't used a straw since the early 1950s,  maybe I can be held up as a hero to the cause. Probably not considering I did it without even being aware of it as an issue, an accidental environmentalist, at least in this context.

SKIP THE STRAW – The last straw challenge. Sign the pledge.

From Facebook

‪Carrie Ann Nash Lots of special needs people need straws, but there is a good alternative: my mom found safe acrylic, permanent straws that work well most of the time. (A bit challenging to keep clean...)

Pam Longobardi on the Ocean People Facebook page: there is NO challenge to keeping a stainless steel food grade straw clean, or tempered glass: see ‪ and ‪ is a toxic disposable nightmare from human lips to bird and turtle beaks

‪Carrie Ann Nash What she doesn't know is that many people with various issues simply CANNOT SUCK from a non-malleable straw. It is easy to be self righteous about this but your suggestions simply do not work for everyone. And depending on how far this is taken - should people stop using the plastic canulas such as the ones that keep my son alive and for which there is currently no alternative?!

‪Nikki Caputo i don't know that it's a self righteous issue as much as just gaps in takes a village...this is how we learn and grow.
            bottom line: it's about LOVE


                        ‪Tim Jones I think there can be a meeting of the minds here. Just like my not using straws didn't make any difference at all in the amount dumped in the ocean, I should think the people who need malleable straws should certainly have them as they are a relatively small number compared with the general population and can be disposed of properly. It seems if the rest of us gave up the straws, that is what would make the difference.

‪Nikki Caputo and with knowledge that malleable straws (etc.) are important tools for some people/situations, perhaps alternatives to what we are familiar with and/or to what is currently available may be shared/innovated/imagined

‪Carrie Ann Nash I appreciate the discussion. I'm sorry to Pam for name-calling. The toxicity and omnipresence of plastic is horrifying, but it is equally difficult to contemplate the medical world without plastic.

‪Pam Longobardi everything is about information, balance, thoughtfulness,responsibility and LOVE~ Carrie, apology accepted and thank you Carrie, Tim and Nikki for sharing the concern to come up with creative and beautiful answers to this most difficult of challenges. Its complicated and never have humans, nor the whole interconnected planet we call home- EVER faced a more difficult and complex time. Will we figure this out in time? All these discussions, large and small, are the evolution of humanity.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

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"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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