Pandas, Bamboo and Total Cuteness

Pandas live almost exclusively on bamboo.We love the enthusiasm with which Great Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper can sometimes tackle subjects.

Recently, the Mail’s Tracey You and Israeli photographer Dafna Ben Nun visited a panda nursery in China where apparently both were overcome at the general adorable-ness of baby panda bears.

China runs several centers for pandas because pandas are a “vulnerable” species – there are only some 2,200 alive in captivity or in the wild.  (Habitat loss, a low birthrate in both captivity and in the wild are among the major reasons for the small numbers of the popular black and white bear.)

Another major characteristic of the giant panda is its reliance upon bamboo for the vast bulk of its diet. A wild panda eats between 20 and 40 pounds of bamboo every day which represents 99 percent of its diet.

And, although there are plenty of reasons to worry about the ultimate survival of these wonderful bears, diet isn’t one of them. Bamboo is fastest growing plant on the planet, in some cases growing three feet in 24 hours. In addition, bamboo releases 30 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere and absorbs more carbon dioxide than other plants. This means it decreases the amount of greenhouse gases and helps to clean the air. In addition to its role as a source of food for both humans and animals, bamboo can be processed into fiber for various uses including Unicorn Station luxury washcloths, and has a stronger structure than steel.

The Mail’s story on pandas, though, is definitely worth taking a look at…if only to enjoy the enthusiasm of the authors for these charming babies.







Textile Ratios and Titles

Bamboo Fiber
Bamboo Viscose

Viscose rayon is a fiber made from regenerated wood cellulose. With respect to bamboo, the term came into use when sellers of bamboo began to make product claims that the Federal Trade Commission (the government agency that regulates advertising) worried that consumers were being misled, that bamboo products somehow came straight from the farm into consumers’ homes. (We don’t doubt extravagant product claims were being made. We’ve seen some of them. We aren’t sure, however, that the use of “viscose rayon” clarified matters for the consumer.)

Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate that is the basic structural component of plant cell walls and is the most abundant of all naturally occurring organic compounds. It is processed to produce, among many, many other familiar products, papers and fibers, including bamboo fiber. The FTC ruled that manufacturers should identify bamboo fiber as bamboo viscose and/or bamboo rayon, meaning the fiber is produced from the cellulose of the bamboo plant.

Cotton production differs from bamboo production. Cotton is harvested and then ginned where lint is separated from seed. Lint is compressed into bales and then shipped to textile mills. Cotton is produced primarily in the United States while bamboo fiber is produced primarily in China.

Manufacturers of both bamboo and cotton fiber make “environmental” claims about their products the veracity of which can depend upon the degree of environmental purity insisted upon by a user. (That is, cotton supporters insist bamboo isn’t “environmentally friendly” because its pulp is broken down mechanically or chemically to produce fiber. Conversely, supporters of bamboo say that cotton is genetically engineered and, even worse, “organic” cotton requires 660 gallons of water to produce a single t-shirt compared with 290 gallons of water for a conventional cotton t-shirt.)

Bamboo fiber and cotton fiber have different strengths and weaknesses. Bamboo is extremely soft, but its fibers lose strength when wet. Cotton fibers, on the other hand, gain strength when wet, which is why they are used in so many medical applications to clean, protect and absorb body fluids.

Our formulation, developed here in the United States, now combines the strengths of both cotton and bamboo. Unicorn Station luxury washcloths are seventy percent bamboo viscose fiber and thirty percent cotton. We would suggest consumers be wary of products claiming to be 100 percent bamboo viscose.




Beards and Beard Preening

Beards and Beard PreeningI am perhaps not the most culturally aware person on the planet. I freely admit I didn’t realize we were in the midst of a facial hair revolution until all three of our boys (really, grown men) suddenly and simultaneously grew beards.

Now, somewhat more well-informed, I’m seeing signs of this revolution everywhere and in every context.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love beards and mustaches. My husband has worn a mustache for the decades I’ve known him. My boys, as noted, are bearded and in my opinion, they are just as handsome as ever, perhaps even more so as the beards add a certain je ne sais quoi. (I threw that in because I could.)

Beard GroomingBut the marketing gremlins that help sell beard products are ascribing nearly mystical properties to beards, including health and cosmetic benefits. (I won’t discuss the alleged enhancement of certain physiological abilities out of deference to my age and in recognition of my continued ability to make my children blush. The point – as you will have guessed — is that Romeo has nothing on a guy with a beard.)

All of this hype can go a long way toward making heads swell which in turn can encourage actions that are most unbecoming. Here are some tips to help you keep your head at its normal and most attractive size.

  • If an acquaintance compliments you on the appearance your beard, don’t enthusiastically agree. Accept the compliment with a simple “thank you” or a self-deprecating remark. You know you look great. Your pal knows you look great. No need to pound that nail.
  • Similarly, even if asked, don’t launch into a detailed description of your grooming and styling techniques, particularly if the person offering the compliment is female. Take my word for it. It’s off-putting. If the complimentor is male and genuinely interested, arrange a private chat to compare notes in greater depth. Like colonoscopies, it’s really not a subject for public discussion.
  • Mirrors have many, many uses, but do not stop and admire yourself every time you encounter one. Similarly, don’t cast loving glances at yourself when you see your reflection in a window. It says more about you than your beard when you do and, like prolonged discussions of grooming, is off-putting, especially to females.
  • Some men like to touch their facial hair, particularly when it’s new, but I’d advise you to limit this. Using your fingers to trace your mustache over your mouth and chin can cause you to involuntarily open your mouth in an unbecoming way. Stroking your beard is reminiscent of petting a cat or dog and, while those associations may be pleasant for the onlooker, I certainly wouldn’t want to remind people of a dog.
  • Sometimes friends and acquaintances will suggest that you remind them of a celebrity who sports a beard. Do not immediately agree and, most important, do not go on to mention that other acquaintances have said the same thing. This is called preening and should be avoided.

Remember, beards often do enhance your looks. That’s a good thing and can give rise to beard envy in friends and acquaintances. But beard envy and beard preening are different. You need to know the difference.

If you are so inclined, check out our beard and mustache grooming kit on Amazon.


Stuff and Nonsense

Poor Little ThingAn Australian “parenting expert” has recently offered an opinion we really cannot resist passing along.

Dr. Justin Coulson, the author of a parenting book called “21 Days to a Happier Family,” asserts there is no such thing as “teething.”

To which we say, “If the ankle-biter is whinging, there’s gotta be a reason. Right?”

Wrong, says this august personage. While admitting that some of his children have “really suffered through the teething process…I think, really, it’s just part of growing up.”

Say what?

He’s had kids who “suffered through the teething process” but we don’t.

He adds that parents who are responsive to children in discomfort, tend to have children who are less irritable.

Well, duh.

Coulson goes on to declare that “We need to get past the mindset that teething is some sort of nightmare…”

Then he adds somewhat condescendingly that “the idea of giving your child teething rings or crackers or ice cubes doesn’t bother me.”

Good onya, mate!

This nonsense was reported in the Australian edition of the Huffington Post along with an opinion from a Dr. Clay Jones on another matter which we strongly and will address in a second blog very shortly.

In the meantime, don’t be roiled by this stuff. If your baby is teething, and our twins did for months, use any remedy that seems to work…ice, cold towels, crackers, etc. Consider buying one of our teething necklaces for away-from-home relief. (We had to write that.)

New and young parents have too much on their plates to concern themselves with opinions that are manifestly absurd.