From UHN’s Talkin’ Trash News Headquarters in Toronto – Talkin’ Trash, February 2015

(a paean to writer’s block – and Jon Stewart – in three takes)

Take 1 – my couch, one winter’s evening not too long ago

So, I’m working away on my tablet one evening, catching up on things, streaming some music…a little bit of reminiscing, a little bit of new stuff the kids are listening to these days.  I decide to turn up the volume on my headphones a bit when all of a sudden a dialogue box pops up on my tablet warning me that listening to loud things on headphones can damage one’s hearing and that I’ve just cranked things up a bit too high.  I’m still digesting this when an email pops-up from my intranet provider warning me that I’ve almost used up all of my bandwidth for the month and I’d better buy some more so I can continue streaming music and catching up on things.  I’m still mulling this over when another dialogue box pops-up on my tablet warning me that the battery is almost drained and I’d better plug in so I can continue streaming music and catching up on things and stuff.  And naturally, because I’m the environmental guy, all of these warnings and stuff getting me thinking about…why, chemicals and drugs, of course!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia…got your attention, didn’t it?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia…got your attention, didn’t it?

You see, all of the chemicals and drugs we use come with warnings…you know, skull & crossbones, product monographs and stuff.  And while those warnings are good and important, when it comes to disposal, the one warning that’s missing is “if you’re dumping it, you’re drinking it”, because…

(sound of tablet being crumpled into a ball and thrown into recycling bin, mutters something like “I can’t believe Jon Stewart’s leaving the Daily Show”)

Take 2 – walking to work from the subway, one winter’s morning not too long ago

So, I’m on my walk down Bay Street one morning, taking advantage of commuting time to catch up on some podcasts.  On this day, the one I’m listening to (NPR’s Invisibilia since you asked) is exploring the topic of “categories” and how it seems like humans have a hardwired need to always categorize things.  And naturally, because I’m the environmental guy, all that podcasting and stuff gets me thinking about…why, chemicals and drugs, of course!

You see, people have a tendency to categorize chemicals as good or bad…but things aren’t always so clear…it’s not like a bright orange cloud will just appear in the sky one day, or the river starts running red all of a sudden.  I mean that super disinfecting stuff is great when you’re super disinfecting a patient room, but it’s not so good in your free range beverage of choice.  And drugs are great if you’re meant to be taking them, but if they’re unintentionally ending up in your free range beverage of choice, well that’s not so good (which is why UHN’s set-up all of those drug disposal bins throughout our hospitals, so that drugs can be safely disposed).  And sometimes, when it comes to disposal, it’s not so clear if that left-over super disinfecting stuff or drug should be in the good or bad category when it leaves UHN, which is why we at Energy & Environment like to say “if you’re not sure…ask”…because…

(sound of podcast catcher being crumpled into a ball and thrown into recycling bin, mutters something like “I can’t believe Jon Stewart’s leaving the Daily Show”)

Take 3 – sitting at my desk, about five minutes before this was sent out

Warning, sure, we got warnings.  And policies…we have lots of chemical and drug disposal policies.  But basically…if you’re dumping it, you’re drinking it…and if you’re not sure…ask!

(sound of desk being crumpled into a ball and thrown into recycling bin, mutters something like “Thanks, Jon” and turns on Daily Show)

-ed

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