Monday, May 24, 2010

Get Your Facts Right About Tanning

image by arki, sxc.hu

Don't Convert Your Beautiful Skin Into Leather

Given our craze for that perfect skin tan, we tend to make presumptions about what kind of tanning is and is not good for us, which presumptions most of the time turn out to be fallacies. These fallacies are perpetuated and exploited by commercial vendors to sell their wares, which we buy and lap up and use, leading to the abuse of our body. The moral? Be aware of the right facts on skin tan, and remain healthy. This is the message conveyed by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) during its month-long campaign to spread awareness of melanoma and other skin cancers.

AAD Seal of Recognition

Fact #1 worth knowing about sunlight is that it has two types of UV rays - the first type is the UVA rays which pass through window glass, and they also pass through our outer sheath to reach to the innermost layer of the skin known as the dermis. These rays can cause skin cancer. The second type is the UVB rays which cannot pass through the window glass, and they have the power to cause sunburn. Ultimately, all types of UV rays are harmful; benign ultraviolet is a myth that you ought to discard into the dustbin the soonest.

Athlete - AAD

Fact #2 about tanning is that the very concept is unnatural and harmful to the body. By indulging in tanning activity, you are deliberately and consciously damaging your own skin, which damage cumulates as time goes by. Not only do you, ugh, age faster, but you are more susceptible to skin cancer in the twilight days.

Before You Tan - AAD

Fact #3 about tanning relates to the wares sold by vendors to give that extra special glow and color and feel to your skin, all of which reflect on their bank account to impart it a special glow. The indoor equipment used to acquire a skin tan emits both UVA and UVB, and they are in some cases stronger than the natural sunlight, strong enough to cause melanoma, which is the worst form of skin cancer. Studies conducted by the AAD suggest that this form of skin cancer is now being found in more and more females in the age group of 15 to 29. The reason could be their lifestyle: spending an hour or so lying under the quartz lamps every other day in the convenience of their home, just so to impress peers in the social circle - does have its hazards.

Tanning beds - AAD

Fact #4 about tanning relates to the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) figure that sun creams come with. There exists no sun cream in the world that can protect the skin from UV by 100%. However, periodically applying sun cream with a higher SPF on the skin is a guarantee that a corresponding percentage of UV (A or B) will get blocked by the application and will not penetrate the outer coating provided by Nature.

Losers and tanning beds - AAD

The next time you head to the tanning salon to get that special tone and color to the skin, because everybody says it looks beautiful and hep and you look so different and warm, and also because everybody is doing it and you don't want to be left out but be part of the crowd --- you may pause to consider how you are playing into the hands of the tanning industry folks whose sole interest is to fatten their wallets at the cost of your skin. (This is with no malice towards the tanning industry folks, of course.)

image by lotushead, sxc.hu

[It is not through ignorance or following-the-herd alone that gets us into trouble. Calamity can strike in innumerable ways, leaving us shocked and rattled. Some of these calamities change the contours of our life forever: witness the numbness in the relatives of the passengers who died in an airplane crash that happened in your country, or the blank stare in the eyes of those whose houses were washed away by hurricanes with exotic names. We have come to take such incidents as given while journeying through life on this planet Earth; there's nothing new about them, today it is the victims who we see on television, tomorrow it might be you or it might be me. It is not the severity of calamities that matters however. It is how we handle ourselves while we are going through such incidents that makes the difference. Here is an article that talks about the different dimensions of appropriate conduct, howsoever be the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in: "Handling Adversity".]

image by rknds, sxc.hu
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Belief In Haunted Houses

image by night_fate, sxc.hu

It Could Just Be The Environment Playing Tricks On Our Brain

You went to a party with your family, securing the door with lock and key. After returning back, you notice that the newspaper that was placed on the mantelshelf is now lying on the sofa. And you distinctly remember that the milk pouch hadn't been opened before you left; but now here it is, the entire milk poured in a vessel, and the vessel on the gas burner.

image from wiki, Catrinas

Is your house haunted? Or have you watched one ghost movie too many, the previous night?

image by deirdre60, sxc.hu

Depends on how much you believe in ghosts and ghostly apparitions. In an interesting experiment conducted by two Illinois-based psychologists, a group of 22 people was taken around a disused cinema complex. Before they stepped into the complex, the group was divided equally into two teams: A and B. Team A members were told that the complex's ownership has changed hands, and the new ownership is renovating it (which incidentally was a fact). Team B members were told that the complex has fallen out of use because of a very strong belief amongst the locals that the place is haunted. So much so that even the ownership has abandoned it. The two teams were then asked to take a tour of the complex and return.

image by br0, sxc.hu

Let me ask you a question here. If you were a member of team A, would the thought ever have crossed your mind that this place could be haunted? To you, the place indeed looked like it could do with some nice pumping of funds, didn't it? However, if you were a member of team B, would you ever have let go of the thought that this place is infested with ghosts, poltergeists, and the like; and there is somebody or something behind the drum there or a strange smell wafted by your nose as you passed through a vestibule in the right wing? You would swear that you saw somebody wearing a hat rush past you in the vestibule, as if in great hurry. Why did the figure remind you unexpectedly of a childhood friend's father, you wonder? And as you walked out of the complex, you shuddered and shivered, relieved that the experience was over.

image by svilen001, sxc.hu

This is precisely the outcome that the psychologists came up with; here is the paper, published in 1997: http://www.worldcat.org/issn/00315125. Team A members came out with an indifferent look; perhaps they were even wondering what purpose was served in getting them to roam the place. Of the team B members, the majority came out with experiences that will be recounted to the grandchildren with great dramatic effect. The conclusion? That our perceptions about the environment are colored by the contextual information that we hold about it.

image by parium, sxc.hu

Let's take a look at the Hampton Court Palace, a royal palace located in London, UK. Built more than five hundred years ago, it is a set of majestic buildings housing many works of art and furnishings, panoramic gardens and beautiful views. The palace is open to the public, and you and I can go take a look at the palace any time we want to. The Hampton Court Palace is indeed a major tourist attraction. But people go there to also experience for themselves the apparitions that swoosh past them in the semidarkness of the interior rooms. The HCP is considered the most haunted location in the whole of England. Interestingly, believers do come out of the palace with their body shivering. The reason they perceived the apparitions is that they entered the palace with knowledge gleaned from others, or by reading pieces like this article.

Hampton court palace, wiki_*

* Hampton Court Palace, wiki

There is now a considerable body of research that points to some highly-active environmental factors in the vicinity of such places, which factors play tricks on individuals who are especially vulnerable and susceptible. The tool that operates on our brain are extremely-low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) emanating from the earth. The emanation may be due to the earth's own magnet, or the movement of tectonic plates against each other, or the presence of minerals or rocks that possess magnetic properties. While EMFs are all-pervasive and omnipresent, the EMFs are unusually high in the places that have been designated as "haunted". In fact, neurologists have managed to simulate the haunted presence right in the laboratory by subjecting volunteers to these EMFs for about 20 to 30 minutes. Even non-believers have reported seeing ghosts and sentient beings, including smelling very odd smells in the laboratory sessions.

image by ninci, sxc.hu

That does appear to resolve one mystery, doesn't it? Now that you have rid yourself of the belief of certain places being haunted... how about enquiring with the owner of that house that has been lying abandoned for so many years because the "haunted" tag has been attached to it? You might get the property at a throwaway price, you know. In fact, the owner will be grateful to you for taking the property off their chest. After buying it and moving in, you just have to will yourself that the wispy figure floating before your eyes is just an illusion created by the brain... no, it is just an illusion... look away, it is not... no, honest ...

image by red-queen, sxc.hu

[The electromagnetic field generated naturally by the earth does more than merely distorting one's sensory perception. It goes subtly deeper in your brain and changes your thoughts, "inserting" its own thoughts into your mind without your knowledge, and you think that the thoughts you are thinking are your own. You do not even get to know that the earth's magnetic field is playing such sinister tricks on you. This phenomenon doesn't happen in the vicinity of haunted areas alone; this happens all over the planet, wherever you may be. An article here gives you the full account of how Nature controls all living beings on Earth: "Ownership Of Thought".]

image by fangol, sxc.hu
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Are You Able To Get Back To Sleep After Waking Up?

image by lampelina, sxc.hu

Nocturnal Awakenings May Point To Deeper Malaise

Depending on age, we all reach the point when our sleep gets broken deep in the night or early in the morning. It could be nature's call, sudden shortness of breath, or some other underlying cause - or even an external stimulus such as the milkman's footsteps - that can break it. All of which is fine. The question is, after having resolved the reason for waking up, do you get back to sleep? Or do you keep staring at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to come, which it seldom does?

image by hoefi, sxc.hu

There is a subtle difference between general insomnia and nocturnal awakenings. You are in a different physiological state when you lie down in bed at the usual time, after a hard day's work, and sleep eludes and you keep tossing and turning. But when you wake up in the night, you have physiologically passed the sleep process already. The brain still wants sleep, there is still some quota of sleep left, there is an existing demand in the body to complete the balance sleep, and yet there is something that prevents the brain from fulfilling its own demand.

image by trublueboy, sxc.hu

It is no comfort that about 35.5% of the population has episodes of nocturnal awakenings at least three nights per week, and that the ladies encounter this experience more than the gents. It is also no comfort that this tendency tends to increase as you grow older, especially after 65 years of age. It doesn't help to learn that about 13% people wake up for four or more times in the same night. Nocturnal awakenings invariably translate into feeling drowsy and sleepy the following day, significantly impairing productivity and the general quality of living during the waking hours. Those who can afford can get by with naps during the day. Those who cannot, have no other choice but to take sick leave whenever possible. Don't we all resort to sleeping pills when the frequency of nocturnal awakenings within one night or across several nights increases? And then after some time, we discover that the pills are proving inadequate in their job, and so we either increase their potency or change over to some other brand.

image by porah, sxc.hu

The key finding of the paper that reported on nocturnal awakenings is that not being able to return to sleep after waking up in the night is associated with underlying malaise such as:

- overweight and obesity
- large alcohol intake
- hypertension
- gastro-esophageal reflux
- heart diseases
- bipolar disorders
- depressive disorders
- chronic pain
- restless legs syndrome
- obstructive sleep apnea

image by nelso47, sxc.hu

The direction of the association is still unclear: whether the disorder leads to the difficulty in resuming sleep, or vice versa, is not known. Unfortunately, most of the time we find it too trivial to report to the physician about our inability to resume sleep after waking up. However, if we do report, there is a chance that any problem that has remained undetected so far will come to light.

image by shawnisa, sxc.hu

Working back, therefore, and in a very simplistic way without getting into the nitty-gritty, if you have any of these issues which you may have been largely ignoring or overlooking, you might consider paying attention to them and bring them under control, first and foremost. This should bring down the episodes of nocturnal awakenings. So, the next time you meet your physician, tell them how you cannot go back to sleep after visiting the bathroom in the night.

image by paulmt, sxc.hu

[The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It is a cyclic rhythm that the earth completes in tango with the sun and the moon, and this rhythm is synchronized with our wake-sleep cycle in inextricable ways. Call it the geometry of motion of these celestial bodies, but time appears to us to be circular, even if it moves forward in the direction of the future and never touches a point which it has once traversed and crossed. So we have the chronometer on our wrist and the calendar on the wall to give us that comfort of the deja vu, even if in reality there is no deja vu. An article dwells on the philosophical dimension of time as we perceive it in the reality of our particular universe: "The Cyclicity Of Time".]
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