Archive | February 2020

I am a Registered Sanitarian.

In fact, I’ve been one for about a month. On January 14th, I took the Registered Sanitarian exam, and I passed! I was surprised and amazed I did, because the exam had hardly any material on it that I’d studied.

Considering I’d been prepping for the exam for months, I should have mentioned it on this blog earlier. But there are times when I feel like I don’t deserve it. I’m still not comfortable walking into restaurants and grocery stores to inspect them, and telling the owners what’s wrong. I still get anxious when I do it. And so much of the job, like evaluating plan reviews for new establishments, is still new to me.

Normally, a Sanitarian-in-Training has to work for two years before taking the exam. Thanks to my Master of Public Health, I could take it in one year. But was it the right thing to do? Should I have worked as a Sanitarian-in-Training for one more year, despite my Master’s degree? Since I passed the exam, I guess I didn’t need to. But I still don’t feel like a proper health inspector; I feel like an amateur masquerading as one.

Has anyone felt like this, about their job?

Earth: In the Beginning, Part 5

Boring Billion

The ice melts, the planet warms up again.
Spores of bacteria reawaken
In a barren world of water and rock,
In an atmosphere full of oxygen.
Life evolves slowly for a billion years,
But the Earth’s surface undergoes changes.

Hail, Columbia, most ancient of lands,
Supercontinent of young land masses.
But far beneath the surface of the Earth,
The pieces of the crust, tectonic plates,
Crawl past each other, move towards each other,
Causing the planet to tremble and quake.

Columbia breaks up, land masses drift
Away from each other, sailing the seas,
Which steam as molten lava is released
By new volcanoes and rifts in the Earth.
Chaos reigns upon the planet’s surface,
But its life forms continue to hold on.

Colonies of breathing blue-green algae
Still huddle together underwater,
Releasing oxygen into the air.
Aerobic bacteria thrive in it,
While anaerobes underground hide from it.
Life survives, but does not change for eons.

But the surface of the Earth also lives.
What will later be North America
Is cracked in half: a rift splits it apart,
And rivers of lava flow through this crack.
Now Rodinia, a larger land mass,
Forms: continents come together again.

And so it happens for a billion years.
New land masses form, others break apart.
The planet warms and cools alternately,
As volcanoes release warming gases,
Or these gases are absorbed by the rocks.
No boring billion years for Earth’s surface.

Earth: In the Beginning, Part 4


Bacteria and archaea both live
In the planet’s oceans, on its young rocks,
Clinging desperately to the Earth’s surface,
Or floating freely with water’s currents.
They eat, drink, and breathe smaller molecules,
Unfazed by searing heat or toxic air.

In the long eons, new microbes arise,
Little people who bathe themselves in light,
Absorbing light in shades of red and blue,
Reflecting shades of green. Green-clad microbes
Make food and drink water like the others–
But what they leave behind is something new.

The microbes in green release a dense gas
As they break apart carbon dioxide
To feed themselves. They exhale oxygen,
A substance that is new to this planet,
An afterthought, a waste product, no more.
But it will change the course of life on Earth.

The green bacteria grow together,
Multiplying, clustering in layers,
In shallow water heated by the sun,
Soaking up the water and the sunlight,
Which drive them to release ever-growing,
Ever-increasing waves of oxygen.

More is released over millions of years,
Turning the crust of the Earth red with rust.
The planet-warming methane in the air
Decreases, and a global ice age starts.
Death descends upon the living planet,
As oceans freeze and glaciers slowly rise.

Some microbes die of ice or oxygen,
But others live or hibernate as spores.
The little green people are survivors
And still release death-bringing oxygen,
Awaiting a time in the far future,
When oxygen will mean, not death, but life.

Warm, Wet Winter

No snow drifts
No wind bites
No ice glistens
But fog rises
Rain soaks
Mist bewilders
Air pierces
Sky weighs down.
Me? I drown.