The new printer's devil

Took my lucky pen to the persuasive writing workshop at the Dallas Morning News today. So many pointers to record!

Yesterday the kindergarten students made styrofoam prints of their skeleton drawings--black ink on white paper. Bones made a perfect match for their ability and the linear necessities of drawing into Styrofoam. Alas, my choice was made because of my calcium musings and not brilliant teacher insight. Still, success is good!

Don't know when the pen began to leak. The ink on my hands seemed leftover from the printmaking, not fresh during the writing workshop. None of the editorial writers or volunteer contributors mentioned that I had odd, rapidly-multiplying black spots on my face. Maybe they thought I was going to a Halloween party as the bubonic plague, or else they were awfully polite.

This brings to mind the phrase, "printer's devil". A printer's apprentice was always covered in black ink from head to toe, like an art teacher. Wikipedia offers other explanations for the expression.

Looking in the mirror, I wondered what happened to our media-fueled obsession with black mold. Stachybotrys was the asbestos of the mid-Nineties, but when did it last make headlines? This is what the Center for Disease Control currently advises:

What should people to do if they determine they have Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) in their buildings or homes?
Mold growing in homes and buildings, whether it is Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) or other molds, indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem that needs to be addressed. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Mold in or under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once mold starts to grow in insulation or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement. We do not believe that one needs to take any different precautions with Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), than with other molds. In areas where flooding has occurred, prompt drying out of materials and cleaning of walls and other flood-damaged items with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. If a home has been flooded, it also may be contaminated with sewage. (See: After a Hurricane or Flood: Cleanup of Flood Water [external link]) Moldy items should be removed from living areas.

In summary, Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and other molds may cause health symptoms that are nonspecific. At present there is no test that proves an association between Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra) and particular health symptoms. ...

What should persuasive writing students with spotty faces do? The CDC recommends not worrying about it until after trick-or-treating.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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