By Richard A. Joyce
Redstone Review VP
LYONS – This Valentine’s Day, as happens every year, I face the same question: What gifts shall I give my loved ones to properly express the deep and abiding love I have for them?
The one to my wife should be romantic, to my daughter appropriately daddy-ish, even though she’s in her ‘30s, to my granddaughter cute and funny, if possible, or grandfatherly doting. The cards sometimes are difficult to find, but there are enough places to look that ensure near hits, if not direct ones, in finding just the right expressions of love. What is much more difficult is finding just the right Valentine gifts for those women. I don’t really have the time to shop, even online, for three separate gifts, so I’d like to find just one kind of gift that will say “I love you” to them all in the respectively appropriate way.They ought to be something special, something each will cherish, something tailored to my individual relationships with them. Even the Valentine cards I select should mirror those relationships.
In my search for such a gift, I found an article online that quoted a Business Insider survey of 350 women, that “87 percent of women said a gift is not important to them, and they would rather their partner just spend time with them on Valentine’s Day. Only 23 percent of women surveyed said they would like a traditional Valentine’s Day gift (e.g. flowers, candy, perfume, chocolate, etc.). More than one-third of women said they would like to receive a gift related to their personal hobby or passion, and 97 percent of women said they would prefer another type of gift over lingerie.”
While I might apply those suggestions to my wife’s gift, my daughter and granddaughter, who live in another state, just fall outside most of those parameters. I felt depressed, as if I didn’t deserve the endearments “dad” and “grampa” anymore. What was I to do? I resolved to send them the cards I picked for this year and just get past my low feelings until the whole problem surfaced next year – but what then?
Just when I thought my situation was hopeless for the foreseeable future, the answer came to me in a flash – from the U.S. government, of all places. And the best part is that it’s the gift that really does keep on giving. Yes, it seems the Energy Department is about to rescind a ban, originally issued by the department in 2000 under Secretary Bill Richardson, that prohibited recycling scraps of radioactive metals (remnants of bomb-making and other U.S. nuclear activities) for use commercially, as in the making of consumer products, according to an article on the Reader Supported News website.
The article cites a Scripps Howard News Service report in 2009 that said the records of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission showed “18,740 documented cases involving radioactive materials in consumer products, in metal intended for consumer products or other public exposure to radioactive material.” Many of the radioactive products came from other nations, such as China, Brazil, France and Sweden. The products included cheese graters, handbags, chain link fencing, buttons and furniture.
Of course, the metals in them were included in the ban – but soon won’t be, as long as it can be shown, the Energy Department proposal says, that the release “will result in less than 1 millirem (a tiny amount of radiation) above background to a member of the public in any calendar year.” That sounds good to me, even though there’s no agency to measure and enforce that standard.
I trust my government and the nuclear power industry when they tell me, as they did in a Jan. 16 Wall Street Journal article, that the initial recycling of 14,000 tons of such radioactive metal could lead to annual recycling of even more, and bring in revenues of $10 to $40 million a year, and that would “at worst expose a person to very low levels of additional radiation.”
Besides, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates there are already 500,000 unaccounted for radioactively contaminated metal objects in the U.S., about 20 million pounds. So what’s a few thousand pounds more, I ask?
The answer to my Valentine’s Day gift problem, I reply: radioactive metals recycled into new metal blends in the manufacture of necklaces and earrings and rings (not to mention belt buckles, dental implants, surgical staples and pins, and on and on). I may even start my own company.
For what more appropriate gift of love could I find than one literally vibrating with energy, one that will warm the very cells of the people I love for years and years and years, bringing them the kind of glow that only long-term exposure to low levels of additional radiation can?
So, thank you, my government, for the great gifts you may soon make available to the people in their pursuit of happiness and for possibly making next year’s Valentine’s, Christmas, birthday and other gifts so easy for me to choose. Unfortunately, the public comment period for the proposed ban-lift ends on Feb. 11, and there may be enough radiation-phobes out there to stop it. But I think radiation will win in the end.
Richard A. Joyce is an associate professor in the mass communications department at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He is an award-winning journalist who served as managing editor, and subsequently editor and general manager of the Cañon City Daily Record from 1988 to 1994. The opinions he expresses in this column are strictly his own, and do not represent in any way the views of anyone else at the Redstone Review or at Colorado State University-Pueblo. He can be reached at email@example.com
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