Some Things Are Easier Than Others

Getting moved into an apartment hasn’t been the smoothest process.  The size and location of the one I’ve selected are great.  The price is reasonable for the market ($1200/month furnished).  But the landlord is difficult.  He believes the apartment was already “professionally cleaned,” but the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed let alone steam cleaned (which it needs even by my not-so-high standards).  In any case, I’ll be taking on a fairly dirty apartment and cleaning it myself.

The good news is that I should be able to move in tomorrow.  Dave and I will haul all our bags across town… somehow.  I’m hoping to arrange a large taxi.

Fortunately, most everything else about this move has gone much more smoothly than securing the apartment.  The people at the Kildare Street Hotel (most notably, Peter and Mark) have been absolutely the best!!!!  They are full of helpful information and insight.  They’ve helped step me through this move.

Vegetarian, gluten-free lunch

Vegetarian, gluten-free lunch.

My iPhone now has calling capacity and roaming Internet connection.  Today, the apartment management company and I were both paid.  That means I was able to apply for a bank account, since I can now claim to have a home address.

By Friday, I’ll have access to Euros instead of having to spend US Dollars.  That means I can buy things and pay in Euros.  I’ll be able to avoid paying the fees associated with buying Euros (due to exchange rates and international transaction charges).

Something else that has made all this easier: delicious food is readily available!

Lest you think all the meals here are laden with calories, I’ve attached a photo of the lunch I had at 4 pm today (after many meetings).  It was vegetarian and gluten-free.  There are many gluten-free options in the restaurants here. That’s because, unfortunately, Ireland has the highest number of people, per capita, who are celiac and can’t eat wheat proteins.  Many can’t even eat from a kitchen where wheat has been used.  I fear that we’ll see a rise of gluten intolerance in the States, because our standard American diet today is so high in gluten.  I think people are likely to reach their thresholds at some point — like I did with formaldehyde.

In any case, the open air market here is full of summer vegetables at amazingly low prices (5 red bell peppers for €1).

Restaurant food nation-wide is quite expensive, however.  My lunch (as pictured) cost about $12.  Looks like I’ll be eating at home a lot!

Nearly Formaldehyde-Free

Thank God for Environmental Working Group (EWG) which has been pushing to remove formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from the products we use everyday.  This family of chemicals is added to products to help prevent bacteria and mold from growing in them — so we can keep them on our shelves for ever and ever.

These compounds are not only irritants to many people’s skin, they are also known carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).  Unfortunately, in the US, they are not listed on the labels of many products that contain them.

They are hidden in lotions, cosmetics, soaps and cleaning supplies, building materials, fabrics, medical ointments, vaccines, and all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect (including some meat and milk preservatives).  I’ve memorized a list of more than 40 chemical names to watch for, but many product labels don’t bother to list their components.

Three years ago, I developed a severe contact allergy to formaldehyde.  As it turns out, the ointments I’d been given to treat a tick bite contained formaldehyde.  Applying these medications caused me to break out head to toe.  It took until this past February to identify the source of the problem.  My dermatologist didn’t even mention the availability of patch tests (that could be used to determine the underlying causes of my itchy rash) until I asked.

These compounds are not only irritants to many people’s skin, they are also known to be cancer-causing.

It seems that health care providers in the US are trained to treat symptoms by prescribing pharmaceuticals rather than to ferret out the source of a patient’s trouble.  How I wish we’d re-conceptualize health care as a public service rather than a prescription-writing industry.  Isn’t it time, America?

I should have realized sooner that environmental toxins were to blame.  They are a focus of a book I’ve been discussing for years with my students.

I highly recommend reading Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.  It’s written by an architect and a chemist.  It’s a definite paradigm-shifter that will hold your attention to the end.  (My architecture students at Hampton University and educational planning students the College of William and Mary frequently assert that everyone should read it.)  You can buy a copy for under $12.

I’m so glad that EWG and the authors of Cradle to Cradle have been researching environmental toxins and lobbying companies to make healthier products.  EWG has now convinced Johnson & Johnson to remove formaldehyde from its offerings in the coming years.  Maybe other companies will follow suit and ditch carcinogens and skin irritants from their products.

Here’s to hoping that the products I encounter in Ireland are better designed than the ones we use in the States!

Thanks to an AP Environmental Science teacher for posting this image. Visit his blog or read the book to find out why this book is submerged in water.