Toxic Chemicals and Blog Content

by Sandy L on January 22, 2011

So, I just passed my 6 month blogiversary and I thought I’d write a quick post on a few things I’ve learned about my own writing. Now that my blog is starting to get a kind of identity, I’ve decided that there are a few subject areas that I will continue writing about, but there are also a few that I will keep off this blog.  What prompted this post is that as I’m learning this blogging etiquette thing, I realize that sometimes, when a well meaning person writes about a topic of interest but doesn’t know a lot about it, the article can be downright maddening to someone who’s an expert in that area.  For example, anytime I write an article about government programs or economics, I think Nicole and Maggie’s blood pressure goes up a few notches when she reads them.  She’s always very diplomatic about saying that I have no clue about certain things and I do value and listen to that input.

Toxic Chemicals

Similarly as a chemical engineer, when people write about chemistry and have a bunch of facts wrong, I go a little bananas.  Almost always, it’s a well meaning mom trying to go green for the sake of her family. Usually the person’s understanding of science and toxicology is limited and on more occasions that I can count, they confuse which chemicals are in which materials and/or site other blogs or news articles that also have the information wrong. It just perpetuates the cycle of bad information.  I was even at a green products conference at a design firm a few years back and one of the keynote speakers was getting their “toxic” chemicals confused.  And I use toxic in ” ” because environmental exposure is all about weighing the risks and exposure levels. You can’t eliminate all chemicals from your environment and even if you lived in the woods as a hermit, you’d still be exposed to a variety of naturally occurring toxins. A chemical is a chemical whether mother nature makes it or factory.

High levels of exposure to just about anything is bad for you so the key is to manage and minimize your exposure to the obvious bad actors.  That’s why a low doses of medication can be fine and even helpful, but if you take too much, you’ll OD and it can kill you.  When someone publishes a scientific study about how something causes birth defects if you take 1000 times more than someone’s normal daily exposure level, I question how valid and relevant that is to my own life.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.  If anyone wants me to go more into detail about chemicals, I’d be happy to because I can go on and on about it. So, back to the topic as hand, here are the things that I think will be off the blogging topic list for now:


Despite being surrounded by a ton of outdoorsy animal lovers, I do not have any.   I never thought about writing any crazy cat lady stories because I don’t come from a pet lover’s perspective. I’m sure it’s as annoying hearing about a non-pet person talk about pets as it is for a non-parent giving you advice about how to discipline your children.  However,  I also probably shouldn’t have written about chasing seagulls with my car in the parking lot of Walmart either.  I don’t have a kin-ship to them like a long time dog or cat owner, so I should just shut my pie hole. I blame it on Babci. To her animals are either food or have a job to perform (like horse, or sheepdog), so I’ve kind of inherited that opinion that pets are luxuries.

The Government

Although I know government is complex and there’s a ton of things that could possibly be done, my editorial opinion isn’t based on any real knowledge of the inner workings of politics. It’s based on my outside view of waste and people gaming the system time and again.  That’s skewed my opinion quite a bit.  I like to debate about what could be done in a utopia world, but I am not the authority on the subject.  I should just keep my observations to myself or actually read books about the topic first before I write about it.   Right now, I’m not itching to go read a textbook on the government, so I think I’ll just table the topic altogether.


I have a very jaded opinion about the establishment of religion. It might have started around the time my family priest scolded my mother after church and made her cry. He was telling her my sins that I confessed in privacy and yelling at her for being a bad mother and in front of all the exiting parishioners no less (I think that was the must humiliating part for her, cuz you know what church ladies are like). I’m pretty sure that was supposed to be some sacred thing that you’re not even supposed to do even if you confess to murder, but churches are run by humans and unlike God, they fallible.

I know religion helps a lot of people and I absolutely adore the communities that some churches create, but I really don’t want to debate God and his place in my life on this site.

Things I love and will continue to Blog About:

  • Crazy Stories about Babci
  • Crazy frugal things people do
  • All things slow and home makery
  • Do it yourself ideas
  • Business Stuff -how to build teams, project management, cost cutting, growth, etc…
  • Ways to Save Money and Spend Less than you Earn
  • Ways to dig out of poverty
  • Stories of triumph, hope and perseverance

So in summary, I’m going to commit to improving my content and write about things that I have a lot of experience in.  Oh, and if you notice that I have no clue about something, or want more about a certain topic, I’m all for getting that feedback. Thanks.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Moneycone January 22, 2011 at 7:56 AM

Sandy, that’s a natural progression of a blog… it assumes a character a personality of its own that slowly reflects – you! You start realizing you can’t please everyone and that’s ok.

Very nice post! I agree with you on religion. Religion has its place, just don’t mix it with everything.


Sandy L January 22, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Moneycone – Religion is such a vital part of some people’s lives that I don’t even want to debate it at all. It’ll be interesting to see what personality this site takes on over time.


Nicole January 22, 2011 at 8:19 AM

It is true… you should have seen me go off on Roshawn Watson (or rather, off on the other commenters, not the OP really) the other day. I can’t even go back to see responses because I know they will just piss me off. And I don’t need that kind of stress. It wasn’t very diplomatic. (Your posts always merit diplomacy– I don’t just give it out because I’m a nice person.)

If you do want to read a textbook on the government some day, I strongly recommend Public Finance by Jon Gruber. It’s very accessible and does a great job explaining the underlying framework about how governing is so difficult, even if we took bad politics out of the equation. The media necessarily simplifies things. (Btw, I’ve met Dan Quayle and he is incredibly intelligent!)

Chemicals work for me! Maggie has already scolded me on getting a few facts wrong on a post about sunscreen (that may never go up), of all things. I like stories about hope and perseverance a lot.

I don’t think we’ll be limiting our topics… heck, we’ve got an abortion post somewhere not entirely written yet!


Sandy L January 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Nicole – I had to laugh out loud when I read this. Sorry I missed the Watson article, but now I have to go look and thank you for the diplomacy. One of my resolutions this year was to start reading actual books again. Ever since I started reading/following blogs, I’ve gotten away from books and I’ve really missed the escape that getting deep into a novel can bring.


101 Centavos January 22, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Hi Sandy –
You’re right of course, nothing gets people’s emotions frothing quite like religion and politics, and emotions just get in the way of facts.


Sandy L January 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM

101 – most of the time it’s more fun writing about other topics anyway.


Linda January 22, 2011 at 10:12 AM

I thought that seagull post was just fine, and I’ve been a pet person all my life! Some people are just way too full of themselves.

Big digression, but here’s another example of that: I belong to a Google Group for folks keeping chickens in Chicago (or just supporting the idea). Some guy wrote this post to the Group about how we should all adopt our chicks from school hatching programs to curb overbreeding; as responses rolled in and he posted more, it became obvious he was supporting an animal welfare agenda. That’s not a bad thing, but when you start lecturing people who are self-identified as keeping chickens for eggs about how horrible it is to raise chickens for food purposes you’re barking up the wrong tree. Plus many of the folks in the Group are keeping chickens because they don’t like to support factory farming, and he started equating backyard chicken keeping with the same conditions in factory farms. Yeah, that didn’t go over well at all.

I’d love to hear more about chemicals in every day life. Recall that post on GRS about re-using plastic containers? There were some comments about reusing plastic that just didn’t seem to make logical sense (why would using a container once with the original product in it *not* be toxic, but using it again would be?), so it would be great to hear a chemist’s perspective on it.


Sandy L January 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Linda – Wow..yes, that chicken guy was definitely barking up the wrong tree. I live in small farming community and the people here take such amazing care of their animals. I’ve known folks that stay in the barn with their sick animal all night. I think it’s very ignorant to assume things about a group of people when you don’t understand the community yourself.

I just read the GRS article. I will plan on doing a post or two this month. Single use food packaging materials are generally lower temperature materials, so they’re not always suitable for the dishwasher which can warp or break down some but not all plastics. The sheer act of reusing packaging shouldn’t make a plastic leach..but I won’t get into the weeds today.


Everyday Tips January 22, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Sandy, I blog is like a living thing almost. It grows, it changes, it evolves. It is what it is. We learn as we go along. Take the birds thing for example. Had everyone said “I do the same thing”, you wouldn’t have thought twice about it. In other words, you never know what will strike a chord with readers.

I had to run over to Watson Inc to see if it was my comment that set of Nicole and/or Maggie. The thing is, the economy is a funny thing. I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer for everything, and people will have their own opinions and interpretations. I think it is great to share them.


Nicole January 22, 2011 at 11:09 AM

A lot of the economy comes down to morals and values (things that economists don’t like to opine on… or rather, most of us like to say, “here are the trade-offs and my opinion based on my value system for these variables is we should be here along this line, but someone with a different value system could choose someplace different on the line… what’s important from an economist standpoint is that we’re on the line” ).

BUT, the thing that bugs me is when people make black and white statements clearly showing either they don’t understand the framework of the trade-offs that are being made OR they make a statement that is empirically untrue. And that bugs me if it’s my uncle quoting Rush Limbaugh or my father quoting the Huffington Post.


Everyday Tips January 22, 2011 at 10:14 AM

I meant ‘A’ blog. By the way, I love your site, and keep on writing!!!


Molly On Money January 22, 2011 at 10:21 AM

I had to laugh because I’ve commented on Nicole & Maggie’s blog and gotten at least one reply from them that could only be summed up as, ‘you don’t get it’. It didn’t bother me cause I don’t think I whatever ‘it’ was!
I come from a family of scientists and, with the exception of my Dad, it drives them crazy all the mis-information that gets spouted out! When I see there blood pressure rising I throw out a malaprop just to send them over the edge….it’s the best part about being the youngest!
I love your list about what you will continue to blog about. I’m one reader that does not mind reading other views of religion and politics but in the same token I don’t write about being a step-parent, sex education or politics.


Nicole January 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Hey! That makes us sound like we’re trying to silence conversation which is totally not true!


Molly On Money January 23, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Nope- you were just being straight forward and responding to what I had written. I totally misinterpreted the article (I probably was reading it too fast!). I never felt shut down. To be honest trying to paraphrase what you said is not fair. I wish I could remember which post it was from.


Nicole January 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Oh good! We definitely don’t want to shut down conversation. (Unless it’s on something on something like marginal tax rates, in which case I might just not allow comments if I ever get calm enough to write that post. It’ll be like from God’s mouth to my blog… that sort of thing.)


Sandy L January 22, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Molly – there is definitely truth to “don’t believe everything you read”. WIth the world of the internet it’s getting even harder to sort out fact from fiction. PS. I wasn’t meaning to dis Nicole in my article. I’m glad when she acknowledges when I’ve crossed the line from conveying relevant life experience to BS.


Moneycone January 22, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Can someone please link to this controversial post? 🙂


Moneycone January 22, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Ah never mind… didn’t notice the link…


Terri January 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Thanks for your comments regarding toxic chemicals. All the posts I come across about toxic chemicals by scientists that graduated from Wikipedia University make MY blood pressure go up a few notches. LOL.


Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom January 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

What I don’t like with *some* blogs (not yours) is any kind of “this is the way it is – for EVERYbody”. No, it isn’t – that’s how it is for that writer. And even that’s a maybe because so many people act like they have all their shit together and their lives are so perfect (that’s another blog pet peeve of mine) and they’re not.

I used to read on the early retirement forum quite a bit but stopped because nobody ever talked about the downsides of early retirement. It came as a big shock to me that there even were downsides and I had to stumble my way around trying to figure out how to deal with them on my own. So I don’t like to just read the positives on things because there’s often negatives as well. In addition to the early retirement blogs, a lot of the lifestyle design and minimalism type blogs are also way too super-positive.

Problogger had a good article today on writing a post as exploration of an idea – not as an authority. I thought that was a wonderful concept as it opens up the floor for comments and sharing of ideas – and I think that’s part of what blogs should be about anyway – sharing a conversation among friends, not a lecture from the almighty. So I don’t think you shouldn’t talk about things you don’t feel like an expert in.


Sandy L January 23, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Jacq – that’s the beauty of blogs from a writer’s perspective. You can create a persona in the idealized version of yourself and edit out all the rest. I love hearing people’s opinions on a subject especially when I don’t have my own mind made about about a topic.

Along the lines of the perfect life people, my pet peeve is the “do what you love for a job” people. Yeah, you shouldn’t loathe your work, but every job has it’s paperwork and icky stuff.

I hope I show my flawed side regularly enough. Babci is a good buffer for me. The tales of her life can provide the inspiration for folks who want to be uber frugal. Then there are areas that I’m not frugal at all (like vacations) so my own take on her life can cater to the more mainstream crowd.


Nicole January 23, 2011 at 5:27 PM

But … some of us do have perfect ideal lives. 😉


Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom January 23, 2011 at 2:50 PM
Jacq @ Single Mom Rich Mom January 23, 2011 at 5:47 PM

LOL – or at least perfect, ideal husbands!


Nicole January 23, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Well, that part is actually true. I really lucked out there. I live in constant fear that he’s going to be hit by a car crossing the street or something.


Aloysa January 25, 2011 at 8:55 PM

I always believe that a blogger (or a writer) should enjoy writing, have fun with it. It doesn’t matter what you write about. As long as you enjoy it, do it. You cannot please everyone.


Comrade PhysioProf January 29, 2011 at 7:50 AM

I disagree 100% that bloggers have some sort of obligation to only write about things they are experts at. One of the great things about bloggeing compared to academic publishing is that no one can stop you from being totally full of shitte! I think you should blogge about anything that amuses you, and fucke anyone who is bothered by itte.


Sandy L January 30, 2011 at 6:34 AM

Aloysa and Comrade – I do like giving my editorial opinion on a variety of topics and will continue doing that. I just think that there’s too much bad information out there and I don’t want to be one of the people perpetuating that my granite countertops are emitting radon. First Eggs are bad for you and now they’re good for you again. Who the hell knows the truth, but I like eggs, so I’m going to continue eating and using them.


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