Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Dangerous to Be a Working Mother

I've worked in an office environment for more than two decades. What we do hasn't changed much over the years, the job has its basic requirements and objectives, but how we do it has changed greatly due to newer and better technology finding its way into the office routine. When I first started there were state forms we had to file in triplicate. These were typed on triple forms with layers of carbon between. In this day and age of online PDF forms and Microsoft Word, carbon paper seems messy and prone to mistakes. It was.

Over the years, I have often joked that one day they will determine that the green light inside the copy machine causes cancer. Imagine my suprise when I read today that a new study suggests that the dust particles from laser printers are as hazardous to your lungs as cigarette smoke!

According to this article at the American Chemical Society website, a study conducted by Australian scientists concluded that office workers are regularly exposed to pollution in the form of ultrafine dust particles from the toner cartridge. These ultrafine particles are easily inhaled into the deepest airways of the lungs. Larger particles also pose a health threat as they carry more toxins.

The study finally motivated me to do a little research on photocopiers. Sure enough, there's a warning about the green light, but only to keep the lid down so you won't burn or irritate your eyes. The real dangers from photocopiers come in the form of toxins like decane (carcinogenic), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (can cause skin irritation), iso-octane, toluene (causes fatigue, drowsiness, throat and eye irritation, xylene (can cause menstrual disorder and kidney failure) and benzene (carcinogenic and teratogenic). Oh and did I mention nitrogen oxide, selenium, carbon monoxide and ozone?

Add to the list such occupational hazards as carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive typing, back problems and deep vein thrombosis from poor ergonomics, as well as obesity from being sedentary and you can say goodbye to the idea of a nice, cushy desk-job.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Blues

Once again, Monday happened and I was totally unprepared for its arrival. I don't think there is such a thing as a long weekend, weekends are all heartbreakingly short. So many plans and schemes and so little accomplished...

Even this past weekend, with its extended peace and quiet, slipped by me. Rather than seizing the moments and exerting control over them, squeezing productivity into every second, I sifted the hours like sand through my fingers, gazing dreamily as the moments fell like worn and smoothed grains, amounting to nothing. The few things I managed to do were as footprints on the beach, blown by new winds until unrecognizable or washed away by the next wave of life. Definitely washed away by the tidal wave of the returning offspring.

My entire list of "Things To Do" was left undone. Two days of doing nothing and I am still exhausted.

Maybe because one of those undone "Things To Do" was to take a nap.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Weekend Reprieve

When you have children, there is a certain noise level to which you become accustomed. Even when they aren't fighting or trying to wrest the remote control for the TV from one another, there is never anything akin to quiet. Children make noise, even when they are behaving well.

And yet, give a mother just 48 hours of peace and quiet and she quickly adjusts.

This weekend the children were away at their cousin's house. A pair just made for my pair - a slightly older boy to play video games, discuss Pokemon card collections and pass on outgrown clothes for my son to hang with and a slightly younger girl for my daughter to adopt as her little sister/doll/plaything.

It was the first quiet time my husband and I have had since our brief honeymoon. We were married in May and since then our time has been spent working and blogging and listening to the sounds of children who unfortunately don't go back to school until September.

The children arrived home this evening in typical fashion, each trying to out-talk the other, first through rapidity of speech and then through volume. It didn't take long for them to tire of us though and within minutes they had recruited the neighbor children to take part in their mission to re-acclimate us to noise.

What I found interesting is my initial reaction to what was basically very minor noisemaking for four children. It was like a volcanic eruption of words and sounds, screeches and squeals. But two hours into their homecoming and I realized that I am already learning to block out the titters and teasing and listening only for sounds of dangerous mayhem.

I often wondered how my mother dealt with the noise and confusion of five children, I can barely handle two. I do now know why my mother gave up on fastidiousness in housework, however.

Upon arriving, my daughter remarked "Oh, the house looks so clean".

Yeah, that lasted about as long as the quiet.

Friday, July 13, 2007

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