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Story Tools

Date of Issue: May 20, 2009


Sun warnings for our summer season; a mystery, too

Sun, sand and surf season has begun.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, what sometimes appears to be the world’s population deluges Anna Maria Island to enjoy the beach, the water, the shops and the restaurants.

It always hurts to see lobster-red visitors, and sometimes even residents, after forgetting that sunscreen while out in the open air for a day.

We all know the rules. We also sometimes break them, breaking our skin in the process.

Also breaking the Sun Protection Factor rules is a new push by sunscreen manufactures. As The New York Times reported last week, bigger SPF numbers are the rage by sunscreen makers, with a mythical SPF 100 attained by one manufacturer and more expected any day.

For the SPF-sunburned uninitiated, the numbers on the sun goo indicate the amount of sunshine that is blocked by the sunscreen. As the Times put it, SPF “measures how much the product shields the sun’s shorter-wave ultraviolet B rays, known as UVB radiation, which can cause sunburn. It used to be that SPF topped out at 30.”

There are several manufacturers that are marketing SPF 80 or 85, with Neutrogena offering a 100. More is better, right? Well, not quite.

“If adequately applied, sunscreens with sky-high SPFs offer slightly better protection against lobster-red burns than an SPF 30,” according to the Times. “But they don’t necessarily offer stellar protection against the more deeply penetrating ultraviolet A radiation, or so-called aging rays.”

The higher numbers are being called “crazy” by some skin doctors. The Times cites some weird formula whereby going from SPF 50 to 100 works in some diminishing square. As the Times puts it, “The difference in UVB protection between an SPF 100 and SPF 50 is marginal. Far from offering double the blockage, SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. (SPF 30, that old-timer, holds its own, deflecting 96.7 percent).”

A fear voiced by some dermatologists is that people will be lulled into a false sense of security with the higher SPF sunscreens. Put it on in the morning, good all day. Wrong.

Call it 30, or 50, or 100, the sun blockage factor is only as good as its application.

Early, a lot and often is the key.

Slather sun goo on at least a half-hour before you go outside. Put it on everywhere.

You need to use about an ounce per application. That amount is about what you’ll find in a shot glass, which is a lot of sun goo. You need it.

And repeat the application every couple of hours, more frequently if you’re in and out of the water a lot or sweating a lot, i.e., on the beach in summer on Anna Maria Island.

Failure to apply enough sunblock and absence of frequent applications pretty much totally absolves the use of the creams in the first place. In other words, you’re burned.

Please be safe in the sun.

Mystery Florida coming up

If you’ve decided to spend Memorial Day in the air-conditioning reading a good book, you may want to pour through your Florida mystery collection and bring them down to Sarasota in early June to meet your favorite authors.

Going into its fifth year, the 2009 Mystery Florida Conference will feature a line-up of Florida’s most wickedly successful authors of mystery, suspense and thrillers, sharing secrets and tricks-of-the-trade on craft, technique, plot, character development and publication.

Also, this year’s conference will explore the connection between books and movies by hosting Lara Khajetoorians, a Warner Bros. literary scout who has worked with legendary Hollywood producer and Tinseltown titan, Joel Silver (“48 Hours,” “Die Hard,” “Lethal Weapon,”TheMatrix”). 

The conference runs June 5-6 at the Lido Beach Resort, 700 Benjamin Franklin Drive, on Lido Key in Sarasota.

Mystery Florida is a favorite among mystery readers and future writers, who share quality time with authors in a casual and intimate environment. The writers themselves also consider this conference as a favorite.

This year’s lineup of authors includes Wayne Barcomb, James O. Born, Don Bruns, Blaize Clement, Tom Corcoran, Tim Dorsey, Mary Anna Evans, H. Terrell Griffin, Pat Gussin, David Hagberg, Jonathon King, Ward Larsen, James Macomber, Kristy Montee (P.J. Parrish), Bob Morris, James Sheehan, James Swain and Elaine Viets.

Khajetoorians will participate in a panel with Sarasota Film Commissioner Jeanne Corcoran and author James Swain discussing how books become movies.

Another highlight is a session exploring the connection of present day authors with the late John D. MacDonald, considered by many as the father of Florida mystery fiction.

The Mystery Florida Conference has expanded from a Saturday event to two days. A Friday workshop focuses on “getting it written and getting it published,” featuring best-selling author David Hagberg. He has written more than 70 thrillers, garnering multiple nominations for the Edgar Allen Poe, American Book and Best American Mystery Awards.

A Friday night “Mystery Mingle” is open to the public and will feature signings by conference authors. More than 50 authors are planned to attend the event.

Saturday features a full day of panel discussions and lunch. A poolside cocktail party sponsored by Mystery Writers of Florida will be offered to conference participants.

For those who become conference “Patrons” there is additional access to participating authors. “A Dinner to Die For” will be held on Saturday night at Café L’Europe on St. Armands Circle and is only open to authors, sponsors and patrons.

Full conference registration is $175 per person for both Friday and Saturday, or $125 for Saturday only. Saturday lunch is included in either case. Patron tickets are $250 per person, and include the full conference, plus the patron’s dinner on Saturday.

Mystery Florida is a local not-for-profit institution established to promote literacy and Florida’s iconic relationship with the art of mystery. Proceeds from the conference are donated to Tingley Memorial Library in Bradenton Beach and the Longboat Key Library.

The full conference schedule and list of authors, as well as registration information, are available at www.mysteryflorida.com, or through Circle Books, 478 John Ringling Blvd., 941-388-2850.

Sandscript factoid

An average T-shirt has an SPF ranking of about 15. A shirt doesn’t block out all the rays, simply mutes them. A little.

When you use sunscreen, be sure to use it on all of you. Remember that different parts of skin react differently to sun — some folks have noses that burn easily, others foreheads or knees.

And don’t forget those weird places, like the top of ears or toes or, heaven forbid, a sparsely hair-covered pate.

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