Sunscreen – Part I

The topic for today is sunscreen and sun protection in general and why it’s important, and of course an idea I have to protect more people from skin cancer.  There are a few important facts that everyone ought to know.

Let’s start with why we use sunscreen: sunburn (painful) and skin cancer (even worse).  Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet rays hitting the skin and damaging skin cells, much like a burn from heat.  The effects can be similar, with pain, blistering, and premature death of skin cells.

Skin cancer is also caused by damage to the skin, but usually it’s damage that builds up over time.  There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.  Each is named after the type of skin cell that’s affected.

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Smaller Lives

Two friends and I went sailing a few weeks ago and had a wonderful time.  We put the boat in the water from the marina and then sailed with the tide for about three hours to a lovely harbor town called Brightlingsea to camp the night.  Because of the timing of the tide, we arrived late in the afternoon, as it happened, at exactly 5:00 pm.  My friend, John, who owns the boat, knew that the overnight moorings were in the middle of the harbor channel and would require a ride on the water taxi to get us to shore and the town.  But he didn’t know that the water taxi went off duty at 5:00.

The harbourmaster told us that he could give us a ride, but he made us feel that he was doing us a big favour.  And he told us that he himself went off duty at 6:00 pm.  After that, there would be no one looking after the harbor and there would have been no one to take us to shore.

This started me thinking.  Here is this nice little village, isolated from London by meandering creeks and estuaries, a wonderful place to go to get away from it all, and historically it would have been even more isolated and necessarily self-sufficient.  They would have had a harbormaster who lived in a little house by the harbor, like lighthouse keepers lived in or by their lighthouses.  They wouldn’t leave at 5 or 6 pm, because they would live where they worked.  They would always be there, even of you arrived at 2 am.  Because people who arrive at 2 am may need help more than anyone.

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Visiting the Costa Concordia

Italian police are very good whistlers.  I could hear this one across the rocks and sea from about 100 yards, and I was pretty sure he was trying to get my attention.  I looked up and he waved me toward him.  “Oh good,” I thought, “the blasting is over and I can approach the ship.”  I walked over, but it turned out he was telling me to get farther away, not closer.  A small defeat, but I had already won the war.

I had arrived that morning on Isola del Giglio with a mission: to get as close to the Costa Concordia as possible, in her shadow if possible.  The site of her funnel almost hanging over the rocks drew me toward her, from London, from the mainland Italian port of Santo Stefano where I had found a hotel room, from the Giglio harbor where the ferry brought me.  I kept coming closer to see this broken giant at her resting place.

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