Department Of…Uh…What Was That Again?
Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, circa 2:30 pm, driving to the grocery store. I turned on my car’s radio; the local NPR station was airing The World (“a public radio program and podcast that crosses borders and time zones to bring home the stories that matter. “). I caught the tail end of one story being covered, wherein I heard host Marco Werman say something about “…the mighty beaver or beavers who broke the Internet.”
I muttered to moiself about why a respectable news outlet would waste time covering the woes of an oversubscribed porn site. When I got home I looked up The World’s website, and discovered that the actual subject of story about which I was…uh…mistaken…was about how the small town of Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia was without internet and phone service for 32 hours after beavers gnawed through some fiber cables.
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“‘A ‘detoxifying’ cleanser or face mask can remove dirt from your skin, like soap, but it’s not pulling toxins out of your bloodstream,’ (Gregory Rauch, MD, Rush University Medical Center) says. ‘That’s a mischaracterization.’
Similarly, juice cleanses might temporarily bring your weight down or make your stomach feel empty, but that’s simply because you’re consuming fewer calories. They don’t actually cleanse anything, though they can prevent you from getting needed nutrients and interfere with the workings of your metabolism.”
( “The Truth About Toxins: What to know before you try any product that promises to rid your body of toxins.”
Rush University System For Health newsletter )
I saw this question posted recently, on Facebook: “What word or phrase do people use that you can’t stand?” This got moiself thinking about my own semantic pet peeve – a certain word and its adjective form, which are over- and/or misused:
toxin, and toxic
Moiself actually thinks the adjective form can, sometimes, be useful (read: descriptive), in terms of its metaphorical application to extremly harmful relationships, interactions, and situations (think, “a toxic work environment“). However, I still think it is overused and hyperbolized (your father-in-law giving a less-than-flattering review of your husband’s new tattoo does not make their relationship toxic).
As for the word toxin…ay yi yi.
This week, in a yoga class on YouTube I tried out (after I missed my regular streaming class yoga class – which I had to skip to let the pest control guy into the house…a long story  which fortunately did not involve Canadian beavers chewing on anything), I was hoping my eyerolls could be detected through my laptop screen when the yoga teacher said that a certain asana helps “…cleanse the toxins from your body.”
From juice fasts to purifying diets to colon cleanses and salt baths and homeopathic remedies and exercise regimens and even types of guided meditation, there are people peddling products and regimens which purport to “rid your body of toxins.”
Such claims either promise or imply a solution to a problem– the idea that we have “toxins” lurking in our bodies – that is, essentially, horseshit made up. 
It can be an effective scare tactic/snakeoil claim lure, to get people to think, “Gee, I’ve got poisons in my body, I should probably get them out.” However, have you ever encountered, in the descriptions of such products, the products’ makers explicitly naming *what* toxins their, say, detoxifying tea will rid you of?
Of course not. Because :
(1) there aren’t any poisonous substances in your body that these kinds of products could actually remove from your body;
(2) most people making or repeating such claims seem not to know what a toxin is.
(3) there is no #3. Aren’t (1) and (2) enough?
I don’t think the “helps eliminate toxins” claims are always, or even typically, done maliciously or with intent to deceive. Such assertions have just become a part of the health/wellness lingo, wherein proponents of products and services use the vocabulary of science without actually knowing what they’re talking about. It’s analogous to all the people who do not have Celiac disease but chose gluten-free products because they think such products are “healthier,” but, when asked, cannot give an accurate definition what gluten is (watch late night talks show host Jimmy Kimmel take hilarious advantage of this phenomenon with this on-the-street interview segment).
A poison is a substance which “…can cause death, injury or harm to organs, tissues, cells, and DNA usually by chemical reactions or other activity on the molecular scales, when an organism is exposed to a sufficient quantity.”  A toxin is a specific type of a poison. Most commonly, toxin is used to refer to a chemical poison which has a living source (‘biotoxin‘ or ‘natural toxin‘). Toxicology is the branch of science which studies the harmful effects of chemicals, whether synthetic (manufactured) or natural, on living organisms. Examples of synthetic chemical toxins include dioxins, pesticides, and nerve gases; naturally occurring toxins (biotoxins) include belladonna, botulinum, and tetanus.  Almost everyone has experience with one class of naturally occurring toxin – the venoms produced by living organisms which are injected via a bite or sting (snakes, spiders, bees, scorpions, wasps….).
We now pause for this public service announcement: You can find a good/basic primer about poisons and toxins at Science Learning Hub
Many well-meaning (or at least naïve) people seem not to know that the human body evolved organs which are very good at getting rid of substances that don’t belong in the human body. These organs are the lungs (which filter airborne contaminants), the liver and kidneys (which filter the blood), and the colon (described by one doctor as the body’s “self-cleaning oven.”) . Should these organs be damaged, via actions/accidents or disease (say, the lungs via smoking, or the liver via hepatitis), or you have symptoms indicating that your body’s organs aren’t working well, y’all need to stop chugging your thermos-ful of raw juice detox-cleanse and get y’all’s selves to an ER.
I’ve had a home yoga exercise practice for almost 40 years; moiself thinks that literally everyone – save for infants and toddlers and Vladimir Putin (you know if he were in your yoga class he’d insist being in the front/center row and removing his shirt) – can benefit from having a yoga practice and/or attending yoga classes. A regular yoga practice can boost your strength and flexibility and help you cultivate mindfulness, all of which contribute to your physical and mental well-being. These benefits are backed by scientific studies and are not just the claims of a gym owner trying to sell you a package of yoga classes. But when I come across a yogi, be they a teacher or a practitioner, who says things like, “Try these easy yoga poses to detoxify your body!” I…well…
…which isn’t very yoga of me.
Fortunately, in my four years of attending yoga classes at a local studio, I can only recall – praaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaise de lawd!! – hearing the word “toxin” used twice. I cringed both times, and considered asking the teacher (after class) to clarify her usage and understanding of the term…but decided not to rock the boat.
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Department Of The Wisdom From Experience Which No One Wants To Experience
“Grief has slowly become integrated into my body and my art. Sometimes it still hurts enough that I gasp for air. Less often, grief curls me into a ball and renders me blind to anything outside of my shape. Other times, it moves into my chest as a wave, and with my hand to my heart and a deep breath, I sway with it until the intensity passes. The end point on the chart of grief is, for me, the beginning of knowing how to live with it; the understanding that the intensity passes and will return and pass again.”
( Christa Couture)
Moiself recently finished reading Canadian singer-songwriter-musician Christa Couture’s memoir, How to Lose Everything: A Memoir about Losing My Children, My Leg, My Marriage, and My Voice. Her book’s title is not the hyperbole employed by an eager agent or publicity-pushing publisher. Couture really did lose all of those things:
* her two sons (one died within hours of his birth, the other at age 14 months from a congenital heart condition);
* her leg (amputated, to cure the bone cancer which could not be cured by chemo and radiation treatments, when she was 12 years old);
* her marriage (via divorce; the pain of losing their children was too much for the relationship to survive);
* her singing voice (thyroid tumors, likely the result of the radiotherapy treatments for her bone cancer).
For a person with that life resumé, the book’s focus is, not surprisingly, on her experiences living with grief and loss. However, this memoir is not all lamentation and devastation. Couture did go on to have a daughter and recovered her voice, and she has a distinctive, understated, wry sense of humor and outlook on The Human Condition ® . Also, if you read this book (and I hope you will), you’ll get her take on such topics as why you should not refer to a disabled person as “inspirational” ( unless they are, at that moment, actually doing something inspirational, like using their prosthetic limb to stamp out a wildfire or free golfer Tiger Woods from a car crash ).
I found the closing passages in her book to be lyrically profound as well as wise (if not…uh…inspirational?):
“Some days, you will see grief coming, and you will be able to say, ‘Now is not a good time.’ And it will listen. Sorrow can be a stubborn friend, but also a patient one.
Know that sorrow evolved from joy—that she knows and remembers happiness as well as she understands where tears come from. For that, sorrow is a powerful and wise emotion, and you will be wiser with her. You will be tender in new spots and harder in others. You won’t be the same person as before—I’m sorry, that, too, is a loss.
I will not tell you that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I will not tell you your loss is for the better. You will lose everything, and it will be different. Remember: you have the right to honour. To honour the memory of the person, place, time and potential you lost. To remember, as often as you need, what you love, what you miss, what still brings you joy, what still hurts your heart.
And—you have the right to forget. Truly. The most painful memories are yours to let go of, when you’re ready. You are not dishonouring those memories by letting them go. Trust me. If you like, find a place for them, for safekeeping. Tell a person close to you and let them know you are telling them this story for them to remember and you to forget. Write a letter and drop it, unaddressed, in a mailbox or into the flames of a fire or under a mound of dirt at the base of a tree. Walk into the woods, dig a hole and cry or sing or sob or tell your most painful memory into the earth.”
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Department Of Remind Us Once Again Why He Married This Person
And Had Children With Her?
Dateline: late last week. I was out of town; MH had been hearing strange noises seemingly coming from from (what we hoped was) the roof, and investigated. The following are excerpts from a dialog on our family messenger site (son K weighed in at the end of this thread). BTW, this is the bedroom our family calls the cat shelf room:
I went in the attic behind the cat shelf room and there were squirrels in there. I’m going to Home Depot to get some traps (live.)
Yikes! I suppose we’ll have to figure out how they got in…
I know exactly how they’re getting in. Or at least a couple of ways.
Well don’t leave me in suspense.
(He sent a picture of a corner of the roof, where squirrels had been chewing a hole)
This morning there are wood bits all over the roof near there.
Holy crap. They need to die.
We gotta get you one of them flamethrowers.
Good idea! If your house burns down, then squirrels can’t break into it.
Mom can reenact the ending of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
BTW, Happy anniversary, MH!
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Puns For The Day
Wedding Anniversary Edition
MH and I look forward to celebrating our 200th wedding anniversary.
It’ll be our bison-tennial.
When I asked MH if he’d like me to get him a new Mini Cooper convertible to celebrate our
anniversary, he exclaimed, “Nothing would make me happier!”
So I got him nothing.
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May your relationship with squirrels and other pests be non-toxic;
May you take a yoga class and try rocking your boat pose (trust me; it’s fun);
May you be loving and forbearing with those who lose “everything” (and remember, all of us, eventually, will lose something);
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Which moiself will not relay in great detail. Suffice to say while I do *not* have bats in my belfry, MH and I do have squirrels in our attic.
 Or at best vastly misunderstood and misinterpreted.
 Also, there are substances which occur naturally in the ground (e.g. asbestos and lead), which, to humans, are poisonous if ingested/inhaled.