Saturday, October 03, 2009

Something New!

As I mentioned last week, I'm not really a creature of habit. That's not completely true, of course, but sometimes when I find myself in a rut, I try to crawl out of it, especially if it's not too deep.

I've been maintaining this blog for quite a while now, and even though each post is filled with insight and wry humor and astute observations, the format seems to be getting a little stale. That's why starting this week, instead of writing long meandering essays, I've decided to express my thoughts in short poems.

Although today's poem has the formal structure of a Limerick, they won't all. For example, future poems might might follow some of the rules of Haiku. And some poems may have no formal constraints at all. As a matter of fact, the only thing they'll have in common is that they will be short. And they will all fall under the general rubric of doggerel, so they won't be very good. (Bad poetry, in my opinion, is an under-appreciated art form. What I like the most about it is that it doesn't have to be very good.)

So without any further delay, here is today's poem.

I thought I would try something new.
(After such a long time, so would you.)
So I'm writing in verse
And this post will be terse.
After only five lines, I am through.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Labels, Old and New

I'm not really a creature of habit, but there are certain things I do out of habit just because I don't want to think about them. That's how I ended up using the same brand of shampoo for years and years and years.

I started using it because the list of ingredients didn't contain a zillion and one chemicals. I don't know if anyone's ever gotten sick from all the chemicals in shampoo, but that's not even the main reason I buy it. I buy it because it's also fragrance-free and I don't want my hair to smell like a fucking herb garden.

A little while ago, I realized I was running out of shampoo, so I bought some more the next time I went shopping. I still have both containers in the shower because the first one's not empty yet.

I must have felt like reading in the shower yesterday, because for some reason I took the two containers and compared the labels. I noticed that they differed in small but significant ways.

On the front of the old label, it read "Safe for the Chemically Sensitive" but on the new label it read "Safe for the Fragrance Sensitive." That concerned me a little, since being chemically-sensitive seems more serious than being fragrance-sensitive and I was worried that the shampoo was no longer safe for the chemically-sensitive, possibly due to the addition of new ingredients.

So I looked at the back of the labels and saw that the only difference was that germaben had been replaced with propylparaben.

Just as an aside, I should mention that they've changed the ingredients before (which, by the way, is one of the reasons I wrote "the same brand of shampoo" instead of "the same shampoo" in the first paragraph of this post). The last time this happened, I saw that they had added either sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate -- I don't remember which, but neither of them is particularly good for human flesh. So I wrote the company about it and they assured me that it was no longer an ingredient in their shampoo. To allay any fears I may have had, they also sent me a new label, which I could peel the back off and stick over the existing label.

Anyway, if you've never heard of germaben, don't feel bad, because neither have I, despite the fact that I've apparently been pouring it onto my head every day for I don't know how many years. There are some safety concerns with it, since it contains parabens, which are known carcinogens, but whether germaben itself causes tumors is, at this point, anybody's guess. The new ingredient, propylparaben, also contains parabens, so it's probably no better than germaben. And I'm not a chemist, so I don't know, but somehow I doubt that one ingredient is safe for the chemically-sensitive and the other is safe for the fragrance-sensitive.

That wasn't the only difference between the two labels, by the way. The new label advertises that that shampoo is gluten-free, although for consistency with their other punctuation errors, they wrote "gluten free." Why do these people hate hyphens so much? The new label also informs us that the shampoo contains "no tree nut or peanut oils." I don't want to get too picky about this, but as far as I know, all nuts other than peanuts are tree nuts, because all nuts other than peanuts grow on trees. And as we all know, peanuts aren't even nuts; they're legumes. But the real question here is, are there some shampoos that contain nuts or peanuts? And if so, why?

As another digression, not too long ago, you used to hear a lot about children being allergic to peanuts. The media treated it like it was practically an epidemic, but I never believed it, even before I found out that the statistics were based almost entirely on anecdotal information, such as a mother telling a doctor her child was allergic to peanuts and the doctor simply believing it without ordering any allergy tests. That was about the time we started seeing labels on everything warning us that some product or another was either made with peanuts or made on equipment that was also used to process peanuts. The thing is, nobody ever asked why so many children were suddenly allergic to peanuts, so I came up with my own theory: I don't think they're allergic to peanuts in general; I think they're allergic specifically to GMO peanuts. I forget what the statistics are, but I think something like 90% of peanuts are GMOs. So, in short, kids haven't changed much, but peanuts have. And if that sounds like the rambling of a paranoid lunatic nutcase who reads the labels of his shampoo bottles, then try to come up with a better theory.

But returning again to today's topic, I decided to visit the shampoo company's web site, to see if they had any explanation as to why they switched ingredients, but I didn't learn much other than that I can buy the shampoo directly from the company in gallon jugs for a little over half the price of the equivalent amount in 16-ounce containers. As far as I know, I've never bought shampoo in a gallon jug before, so maybe I'll start doing that. After they tack on the shipping costs, it might not be such a bargain, but that's not the point. Remember when I said I'm not really a creature of habit? I guess I just feel like trying something new.