Skin Cancer what they don’t tell you

Skin Cancer risk from sunbathing tanning and beachesI’m switching gears here for a public service announcement about Skin Cancer.

I had a 10 mm spot of basal cell carcinoma removed from my left temple near my hair line last week. After two rounds of a Mohs procedure and 12 stitches later the spot was cancer free but I was sure I found about four more spots like it for next time.

Everyone knows you should wear sunscreen when you are outside. Everyone knows that pale light haired people with blue eyes have the most risk. Most people also know the Ozone layer has been thinning and disappearing over most cities so the amount of sun radiation getting through is much higher than it was 20 years ago. And lastly, never tan at a tanning salon with those horrible tanning beds.

Most people don’t know these things I learned at the Dermatology Institute where I had my Skin Cancer removed:

1. You can still get sun damage through windows of your house and car. They mention that men usually have spots on the left side of their face and left arms while women usually do on their right from lengthy car rides with the sun. There is some sun blocking coating on automotive glass but not nearly enough to protect you from damage, although you won’t get a burn immediately like being outside. It is kind of deceiving because you don’t feel the damage and assume none is happening at all.

2. There are two kinds of sunblock. The chemical kind (liquid) and physical kind (powder).

3. The liquid (chemical) kind of sunblock doesn’t start working until it is absorbed by your skin. About 20 minutes. So put it on 20 minutes before you go outside.

4. The physical kind (powders) stick to the skin and have facets that reflect the sun’s rays away from your skin. This is the kind of skin spf they recommended for me to use daily rather than an oily lotion.

5. Skin cancer can look like anything but be particularly wary of spots that are bumpy and growing. My spot had a raised texture that differentiated it from my freckles and spots.

6. People catch most of these skin cancer spots themselves, the yearly full body skin check is too quick to notice most things and people being aware of the changes in their skin every day are better observers, yet you have to go in for the skin check to get them removed.

7. After you have skin cancer removed like this the scar will turn discolor permanently (for me that would be a bright white color) if it gets sunburned even once. So daily SPF is just going to be the way I roll from now on. They recommend a SPF 50 in summer and SPF 30 in the winter.

8. It takes about 20-30 years for your skin to show the cancer damage that happens. Most people get the majority of their skin damage as kids and teenagers playing outside. The results show up for the first time in your 30’s-40’s.

9. People are getting skin cancer earlier and earlier now. Most of the people in the Dermatology Institute getting the Mohs procedure were older, over 65. But they did remark that I was the second 35 yr old appointment in a row the day I got the stitches out.

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How do you lower your cholesterol? With what foods?

I heard from my doctor on Monday that I have high cholesterol, it is 243 at the moment. The good cholesterol is at 71 and the bad is 146. Yikes! I am only 33 so this is a bit surprising. We really took the test on a whim, not expecting it to be that bad yet. Yes I have a family history of heart problems (my maternal grandmother died at 50 with a heart attack and my paternal grandmother died at 55 from a stroke) but I never knew it started this early.

I do feel like I have time to work on this, at my current age I can make changes now and hopefully reverse some of the issues. There are some suprises though that lead me to believe my genetics aren’t that great. Not only am I a lot younger than most people with this cholesterol score, I also don’t eat the things they say are causing it. I am not someone who eats red meat every night, cheese, whole milk, butter or eggs. I think there are some sneaky causes to high cholesterol though that may not be as straightforward as the advice they have given me.

The causes I think are:

1. I am completely sedentary. I get less than 1K steps a day because of my job and where I live. This isn’t really changeable which sucks.

2. I eat out a lot, because we work a lot and I am a pretty bad cook. I really don’t know how to make anything besides grilling it, boiling it or the nuke it in the microwave method. I also grossed myself out on healthy choice and lean cuisine frozen meals in the 1990s so I can’t really eat them anymore. So I need another option besides skim milk and fat free cereal for dinner.

3. Healthy food is expensive! And Complicated! Yuck, or it’s raw which isn’t that great. I really can’t afford salmon or a fancy salad every night. I have to look into some low fat/cholesterol options.

4. Carbs may play a role in this. Both because many carb-licious items have butter/iol/fat in them and because carbs get eventually turned into and stored as fat. I am a carb addict. I would much rather come home and eat a pile of pancakes or muffins than meat any day. But then again I’m polish and we do carbs like nobody else. (and I like the serotonin from them too)

5. I have to get reading labels again. Both with packaged groceries and in restaurants. Hmmm an iPhone would help with looking up nutritionals at restaurants. I really have been lax in looking into that and keeping track of what the heck I put in my mouth.

6. I am consistently surprised that I gain so much weight from just a few calories extra and how little I work off. I think part of the equation is also loosing weight, but I’m not morbidly obese either. I am bout 20 lbs heavier than I should be, which definitely needs to go since its a cholesterol making machine, but it’s not like I have done anything drastically bad yet and I’m already in trouble.

The man-foods we usually have at home that I am no longer allowed are:

1. Brats (duh, we’re mid-westerners and they are really cheap)

2. Pizza (again a cheap fast food with a huge amount of cheese and most of the time Steve also likes meat)

3. Bakery (sob!) I love any kind of baked goods and I just got a kitchen aid mix master for a wedding gift. Sigh… I have to do things like angel food cake (egg whites, no fat) and light bread and limit carbs generally.

4. Hamburgers (again cheap food that is freezer friendly and fast to make)

5. Ice Cream – I usually eat light ice cream and not all the time, but this is probably best left off limits.

6. Snacks – Granola bars are really formulated to taste like cookies and bakery these days, and they have the bad stuff to match. Candy of all kinds can’t be good either.

New Media and New Information Paradigms

I have been hearing about the demise of the newspapers, the rise of search/social networking/new media and the internet fragmentation concept for years now. (almost a decade?) And I just read about it again today with the newspapers secretly meeting to try and sort out monetization methods to save their business. At the same time I am a Guinea pig living through this time of change/shift in how people find information, use information and consume things. Here are some of my observations although not in a concise dissertation format yet. 

  • We are at an odd time in internet evolution, on pause between big developments. We got email, IM, web sites, RSS feeds, Blogs, social networking and now Twitter. We don’t need more services or ways to interact on the web. We need better all inclusive ways to connect and consume all in one. Ways to make the experience more relevant and more inclusive of many kinds of content at the same time. Not wasting our time.
  • I can’t help but notice that at 33 I have never really “read” a newspaper. This indicates to me that newspapers were not that important back in the 1980’s to my generation when their profits were healthy and the internet was but a dream for most of us. (Except being something to line litter boxes and bird cages with.) I hate the size format, I hate the ink and I always have. I actually like the ads though, especially the Sunday fliers. 
  • Weeks go by without my watching any TV. This started about 3 years ago when I got high speed internet. It’s not that I don’t like TV, I just don’t have time to sit for 2 hours plus and I know if i sit down I won’t get up and get anything accomplished in the evening/weekend. And I don’t like overly repetitive things. I was watching the sell that house shows on HGTV to get ideas about how to sell mine and after about 3 I got it and didn’t need to watch any more. Reruns aren’t nostalgic to me really, more just boring. And reruns is all Cable TV is about.
  • The only TV I will drop everything for is Top Gear UK. When it is in Season we trek over to my parent’s house and watch wwith extended family weekly. Everybody drops everything to watch that show. It makes you laugh, it makes you dream of fancy cars and it inspires you to take grand adventures regardless of what the outcome is.
  • This leads me to a general cluelessness about a lot of local and newsworthy (?) events. Things like buses that are Hijacked and what the weather will be tomorrow. I also find that these things weren’t essential to me in the first place. I carry an umbrella, what’s the big deal?
  • I find myself focusing on things I’m interested in. Maybe this is the political polarization people speak of? I read my marketing emails/newsletters/blogs as well as home design blogs and write my own blog as well. I check status on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr and maybe update if I have something interesting to say. And I work a lot. I also am always investigating 2-3 new directions for my work/career. Not all of them pan out, but they help me figure out what is evolving that I need to know about.
  • I do still use the phone (yes the land line). It is the best way to reach my parents and Steve’s parents. Steve’s parents email but mine are not really into it. And we try and go visit once a week in person. In person time still matters.
  • I am a book reader because I am a train commuter. I have been for years now and it has created a small library of business/marketing/analysis books. I order from amazon when I see something I like and then go consult the pile of books for something new.
  • And that is all I have time for. Now with a husband (fiancee really for one more month), 3 cats, 4 litter boxes, a yard, wedding planning, condo selling, house hunting, family organizing, laundry, food shopping & cooking I am overbooked. I don’t even get to skype/call my friends very often. A party invite seems really daunting these days with the schedule we keep.
  • I wonder about new media uses and if we will really care about anything not personally relevant to us in the future? Will a police chase matter to everyone in Chicago or just the people who live by the highway where it happens? Will we be less distract-able by sensational news and distracting entertainment? Will we be able to channel the news, information and analysis we really need into our lives and ignore the products/content we really don’t care about?
  • On the other side of the coin, how will we ever discover new things? I find myself looking to find out what is happening on the internet a few times a week and look to Google News and the Yahoo home page. Not the Trib. Yet somehow the list at these sites is always limited and not really anything relevant either.
  • There has to be something in-between a completely open fire hose of information and one select rss feed with just content from one niche area. There has to be some middle ground between being hijacked by ads for 20 minutes of a 60 minute program on TV and not knowing at all where to find a dress for my rehearsal dinner when my usual 5 clothing websites didn’t pan out. (who has time to go to a mall?) ((and why does Google shopping suck when the main search is generally good??))
  • People won’t pay for news. Period. They will pay for some kind of extra relevant cool service though. They will pay for innovation, new products that are noticeably better for some reason. Things that simplify your life.
  • Ads should not be integrated more with content as if they were the content. It blurs the line in what is really true and what is marketing speak. And although they may pay the bills for a while, people will eventually figure it out and abandon that medium that does this.
  • We need another search player. Google is not enough and although they do some things well, I am not a fan of everything they create. I would like more companies to work on real time indexing of information as well as historical archiving to keep information accessible if anything happens to Google’s accessibility. At some point people will be so hooked they will be able to charge for a (low cost) subscription to the search engine itself. 
  • More people need web enabled phones with internet use active. I just read yesterday that out of 57 million people in the US with internet capable mobile phones only 18 million have internet enabled! (netpop stat comparing us to China) 31.5% of the people with internet use phones don’t even pay for internet access? (only 13% of all the cell phones total) This is a huge hurdle to making info more relevant and accessible because people carry their phones everywhere. Things like bigger screens, flatter profiles and easier software app use on these phones will help the adoption rates improve. 
  • Identity management and security is also a problem. We might like something like OpenID but only if sites still allow anonymous comments too. Privacy and being able to say something important without being hunted down in person for your opinion necessary for getting people to adopt this identity management software and make our lives easier between all the hundreds of web sites and e-commerce activities we do in a day and consolidating that information for our own personal use.   
  • Data mining is going to have to improve. If statistics are wrong 25% of the time like stated in the Numerati book, we really need to combine automated data crunching with human decisions about data more often. Numbers are meaningless without someones explanation. This completely changes what and how data is configured, crunched and reported and can determine/undermine your results even if you manage to collect it perfectly.
  • All this plus the only way out of a recession is through innovation. We’re waiting.

Google is not making us Stoopid in the Attention Crash Its Productivity Stupid

This article by Nick Carr in the Atlantic last month brought up some interesting points about the attention crash and Google in regards to whether these innovations are hurting us more than helping in productivity. This article on marketing brought up some more points today.  I have been through this internet addict cycle and back again and maybe some of my experience can help those looking to prune back the hedges of web information overload (or overlord) in their life.

Is Google Making us Stopid? I think not!

Is Google Making us Stopid? I think not!

First off, I don’t agree that Google makes us stupid (or stoopid) but I do think it influences how we consume information and creates a false sense of know everything because we are plugged in every day, searching on every idea that comes to mind and reading a million blogs, emails, widgets and feeds every day. If we have full Internet access at work, good luck getting any work done if your company doesn’t block perezhilton and facebook.

We live in an era of information overload and we skim everything and really read and absorb nothing. No one can consume at this rate. People are stressed out by the number of media sources they have to keep up with daily (and on weekends) and we feel constantly inadequate because of all the bragging that goes on about successful products launched, and big money made on the net.  It’s no surprise then that we are constantly driven to consume more information and media to fill the brain with more discovery serotonin and yet we feel that we aren’t getting anywhere since most of us aren’t paid to consume this information and analyze it for a living. It is very contrary to most of our life goals with our jobs and families.

I started blogging and consuming massive amounts of media in 2002 and was completely burnt out by  2005 from a mix of Scoble, MicroPersuasion and every social networking site available plus news, alerts and emails. (plus following every move of the google monster as it grew) I did not really get much done at work, luckily I was very good at my job so I could get it done in less than the time allotted and I tried to move my real job towards this social media category. I was consumed by all the feeds, blogs, feedbliz emails, IMs, regular emails, networking sites and Flickr. It didn’t get me anywhere I wanted to go though, except the inside track on some new things I could talk about socially before other people knew about them.  (big deal) I ended up looking for a new job instead. My job seemed uninteresting and unimportant compared to the new, exciting and really important things happening on the web. This despite being the one thing that paid my mortgage.

So,what’s an internet marketing girl to do when all this media does relate to your job somewhat but it is also crushing your life? 

1. I did find a job with greater flexibility and more use of my media knowledge. But I also turned a lot of the media off.

2. I abandoned RSS feeds. Too many to keep up with. Too little importance to my life.

3. I stopped blogging everywhere for nothing and just maintained a few blogs that really mattered and one that provides some small side income.  

4. I cut out radio, TV, papers and magazines with the exception of TIME Magazine (because I need something to read on the train) and Netflix (because I don’t have cable and like to have something decent to watch once or twice a week after work). (radio was cut out because of the train also, if I was still driving to work I would listen to NPR)

5. I won’t lifestream (too invading of my privacy) and dislike twitter (I don’t need another internet addiction). This means I miss a lot of info and some trends but I don’t get worked up about it because I found that most of these super mini-micro-trends never make it to mainstream anyway.

6. I unsubscribed to a boatload of emails and started a new email account that was less spammy.

7. I also stopped reading a lot of blogs. The only ones I read now are bookmarked as links in my browser and if I don’t find something useful there for a few weeks I delete them. (or if they are friends they get linked into LJ) And I can’t read the buzz building blogs of Forester, Scoble and Giga Om. Scoble is great but no one can keep up with that man. (he is a 24 hour blogging machine!) Forrester and GigaOm are always wrong. I am sick of being led astray into an area that doesn’t fit or benefit mainstream business. I did start reading PerezHilton though. Its quick, about 5 minutes, scan through what looks interesting/funny and skip the rest.

8. I also have kind of cut back on signing up for every site beta that comes up because there are millions of them and the purpose of these sites has gotten further away from positively influencing my life in the past few years and more about distracting me. I still sign up for some, but by the time the beta password comes in, I usually find it wasn’t that relevant after all.

9. I stopped checking in on social networks daily. Once a week is enough. And flickr gets updated maybe once a month.

10. Oh yea, I also got a boyfriend and found that being with him was much more rewarding than being online all the time consuming information about everyone else’s successes.

I have come back from the attention crash and maybe some of these tips can help others. Yea, some of these blogs are going to see traffic drop but we will all be able to sleep better at night and work better during the day as a result. And when your family and mortgage are counting on it isn’t that really what is most important?

Some things I still do that have survived the internet pruning:

1. Subscribe to feedbliz emails for about 10 blogs directly related to the media I work with and personal finances. (frugal living type topics since we are in the middle of a recession)

2. I keep up with emails from work and friends.

3. Use IM to converse quickly and the phone (gasp!) for longer conversations.

4. Read TIME magazine weekly. It has evolved into a much hipper, savy, snarkier mag than you think.

5. Check the news on the yahoo login page for my personal email for news.

6. Keep up with google alerts on terms related to my work, friends and family. I guess this is super targeted and as behavioral as one can get. You would have thought they would have put ads in Google alerts by now.

7. Blog on my personal blog, marketing blog and other blog about once a week. That is about all I can keep up with.

8. Most weekends I am offline entirely. If I want to spend time with real people it has to be out of the house and therefore offline. Plus laundry and dishes need to be done sometime!

9. I have a cut off time whether all the stuff is done or not because sleep is more important to me than you might think. I try and got to bed by 10 or 11 but 12 is the cutoff for sure.

10. I remain anonymous and aliased online because I want to be able to say what I think when I want without the fear of someone’s difference of personal opinion affecting my professional or personal life.

So, in summary I think my findings indicate that it’s not Google that is making us Stupid (or Stoopid) it’s ourselves and the decisions we make about how we will spend our time (and money).

Cleaning out the Garage

The garage at my parent’s place is packed. It is so packed with yard related stuff that it is getting tricky to pull both cars into it and not hit anything. I normally wouldn’t notice but I was there over the thanksgiving weekend helping cook and syating there a while and I brought the garbage cans in and couldn’t find a place to even put them. The spot they had was taken within the time they were out for a day. Besides needing a cleanout of all the old pots, watering cans, hoses, clippers, rakes and shovels, it also needs a floor cleaning.  Garage floors get all stained from the cars over the years make them look gross even though they’re not in bad shape really. I guess they knew what they were doing with quality in home building in the 1960’s, we just have to clean it up a bit. But maybe I will leave that until it gets a little warmer outside.

Mailbox Drop

I noticed that the neighbors here have gotten a new mailbox and it’s on their house and not by the curb. I guess that is the old fashioned style rather than the suburban style. A lot of people in Oak Park like vintage stuff and I guess it makes sense with the age of the houses. I only noticed this because I rent a parking spot from them and the check had ot be dropped off in the mail the other day. It got me thinking though since I walk to work and see so many houses, about what the other people have too. And it looks like out here these residential mailboxes on the house with the address on them are pretty popular. I guess it makes the look of the house better if it’s all kind of the same era.

Housing Slump

I am getting more and more scared of this housing slump. Don’t get me wrong, I am in my place to stay and have not entertained any thoughts of moving to a more appropriate living space since this all started this summer and I will be in my current condo until it is most likely paid off. In fact I am trying to get to the point where I can double my payments to save a boat load of mortgage interest by paying it off early. 

This mortgage blog that says they have free mortgage quotes has news and articles about the housing bust and has a tough love view of the market. They say it is good that people are loosing homes that are not in a position to pay them off or make payments and that this is a natural adjustment process in the economy. I don’t agree with that.

I think that the Realtors and banks should have to deal with the penalty of not making as much money now that they pushed the boundaries so far and offering fixed rate refinancing to people who can’t afford these balloon payments is a good thing for the economy and helps them learn their lesson, because they created this problem. You cant plaster every surface with ads and run TV commercials 24/7 on every home makeover show there is and say it’s the consumer’s fault.

The Realtors, banking, finance and housing guys pushed too hard and got people to sign on to bad lending deals that are impossible for anyone to pay. And they thought they would get away with it? That it’s ok? They should be responsible for cleaning up the mess. It’s their problem.