Is Your Relationship Doomed Too?

8Bringing the 2016 tally to 43 celebrity relationships that have ended, yesterday Angelina Jolie shocked the world and filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.  Damn real life intrudes on the wealth and the seemingly carefree lives of a beautiful high-profile couple yet again!  Hmmm

If you read the headlines on the covers of the magazines that line the check out lanes at the grocery store, you’d think every relationship, celebrity or every day Jane & Joe, ends up doomed to failure.

Today the Huffington Post ran an article warning women to watch out for signs that their husband has become “emotionally disconnected,” but you can search the internet and find similar headlines in one women’s magazine or another nearly every month.  I just googled, “have you lost interest in your relationship?” and Google returned 9,230,000 results!  Headlines on these articles range from blaming, “What you can do to fix your broken relationship,” to therapeutic, “Signs you (or your spouse) are losing interest,” but all circle back to the same things:

  • Relationships are hard
  • Day-to-day stresses of life wear equally on both parties in a relationship
  • To make a relationship last takes work, love and understanding

So, because I love all of my loyal Extreme Blonde Moments followers, I’ll summarize the latest articles so you can:

  1. Troubleshoot your own relationship
  2. Figure out if problems you have are minor or deal breakers
  3. Decide if you’re in a relationship worth salvaging and either:  A) Cut through the bullshit and get back on track; or B) Stop the bleeding and get out

First, there are some universally agreed to signs that you or your partner have disengaged from your relationship:

  • Do you dread spending time together, prefer time with friends instead of time with your significant other, feel like it’s an obligation, feel exhausted or mentally drained after a day together? Do you start fights to avoid plans together, do you fight more often than not?
  • Does your relationship lack intimacy?  Hugs and kisses, casual touches, hand holding, and other small intimacies are the first thing to go when a relationship is dying, the absence of these things is a big warning sign.
  • Does your relationship lack sex?  This is a huge problem!  Dry spells of a week or two, even a month happen with the everyday stresses of life, work separations, illness, etc., but when you go months at a time without one (or both) of you desiring the most vital of intimacies, you have a serious issue. If the thought of making love to your spouse stirs NOTHING in you, and you don’t miss or desire an immediate change (as in take steps to change the status quo) then your relationship has very little hope of survival.  This is especially true if it is only one partner that is disinterested in maintaining the sexual relationship.
  • Are you withholding everyday stuff, sharing conversations, concerns, stresses with someone else, seeking someone else’s opinions instead of your significant other’s?  That’s a death blow for your relationship.
  • Do you not care what your significant other is doing?  If hearing the details of their day, their opinions, stories, or even their voice is of no interest to you….I think you get the picture.  Doomed
  • Are you losing your self esteem?  If you have become unhappy, feel unwanted, undesired, and so unimportant that deep inside you know you should get out of the relationship, you can start feeling trapped, angry with yourself that you’re still there, and wondering how you ended up with this person.  This can lead you to start questioning your own judgement which leads to increasingly negative feelings about yourself.
  • Do you hate coming home, spend extra time at work, at the gym, in other activities, anything to avoid being in the same place as your significant other?  Do you complain about unimportant things, are you passive aggressive, or have you become verbally or physically aggressive toward your significant other?  Get Out
  • Are you fantasizing about others or acting like you’re single when you are not with your significant other?  Do you daydream about what life would be like without your significant other, are you reaching out to old flames, do you use “I” statements instead of “We“: “I am going to Costa Rica next week” vs “We are going to Costa Rica next week.”  You are testing the waters to see what the response would be (and how it would feel) to you being single.

The Huffington Post article pointed out gender specific indicators that a spouse has checked out of a marriage:

Men:

  1. Hypercritical of everything his spouse does, less generous of mistakes
  2. He stone walls or is in constant “Silent Treatment” mode: closed off body language (crossed arms, pursed lips, turned back) and/or zero verbal feedback or engagement, even when a response would be appropriate and expected.
  3. Visibly angry when tasks aren’t done, impatient and short
  4. No playfulness, not visibly happy hanging out with spouse, appears distant or to be just going through the motions, or to be putting on a show of attentiveness when others are present
  5. He confides in others or has more intimate talks with others than he has with his spouse

Women:

  1. Men complain to therapists that “she seems to have changed overnight.”  He fails to recognize warning signs like requests to improve the relationship have been ignored or belittled and she’s finally become fed up, stopped seeing him in a romantic light and become disillusioned with the marriage.
  2. He starts hearing “Nothing” or “I don’t want to talk about it,” when he notices she has withdrawn or changed her behavior.  She’s tired of tying and given up hoping for change.
  3. You barely touch anymore.
  4. It feels like you are living two separate lives.
  5. All you talk about is the kids and household logistics (or jobs, etc.).
  6. Your wife speaks brutal truths instead of being kind, considerate and accepting of your quirks and idiosyncracies.

If you feel a kinship to any of the behaviors you have two choices, talk about them and reolve them, or resolve to move on.  None of the behaviors are healthy for any romantic relationship, especially if it’s a marriage and there are children involved.  Children observe and learn what you are living, so give them the best chance of having healthy, loving adult relationships by living them yourself.

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Um, Yuck!

rumpledimagesI’m not sure about you, but now that I am a grown up, I really appreciate crawling into clean, fresh-smelling sheets.  When I was young, my mom used to threaten us with the teenage horror of getting acne if we kept going to bed without showering and not washing our sheets weekly.  It didn’t always result in us getting them to the hamper every week, but at least I remember her threat.  Hmmm

I have heard the nightly news headlines about how gross hotel bedding can be, but never really thought much about it in terms of my own bedding because I assumed the problems that happen in hotels had a lot more to do with the large number of people staying there than anything else.  From what I’ve been learning, apparently I was very, very wrong.

sweatWhen we sleep most of us sweat, I know I do!  Think about the kinds of things that we leave behind on our sheets & pillow cases when we’ve been sweating, tossing and turning all night:

  • hair, skin cells, body oil, saliva, bodily fluids (if you aren’t wearing any clothing), lotions, deodorants, perfumes, hairspray, makeup, dirt, anything chemical you might have encountered during the day (especially if you didn’t shower before bed), etc.
  • pets in/on your bed are leaving behind much of the same plus traces of fecal matter (their own plus that of any other animals their faces, paws, and coats picked up from sidewalks, grass and other places they were during the day), urine, fur, dander, pollen, etc.  Hmmm

A very unscientific poll was conducted by a Colorado radio personality, just in his office, and his results were about what I’d expect to find if I conducted the same poll among a random group of people.  He shared that, ” It was funny to see their reactions as they looked at me and said, after giving me their answer, is that bad?  I found it funny how many people had similar looks on their faces and how one, who will remain unnamed, really had to think about the chore and when the last time it was done.”  For the record, I wash mine once a week.

bed_sheets_chart-630x424

Things that might cause me to wash them more frequently:

  • I am having frequent overnight visitors and my guest room is getting a lot of use;
  • A visiting child spills juice or some other icky stuff on the comforter;
  • Said visiting child has an unfortunate accident on the bed;
  • A pet (or 3) sleeping with us, comes in from the outside with muddy paws;
  • One of said pets has an unfortunate accident (grr!) on the bed;
  • It’s shedding season and I can’t keep up with the daily fur attack;
  • One or both of us has been sick, feverish and/or sweating at night;
  • Close your ears and eyes boys, “Aunt Flo” comes calling in the middle of the night; or
  • Action starts heating up more frequently in the bedroom. 😉

Otherwise, I generally stick to a weekly machine washing of the sheets, blanket & comforter, but, because I allow my labs and cat on the bed, I also maintain a pretty strict daily routine of:

  • Shaking and thoroughly pounding together of the decorative bed pillows, then using my Shark Pet Perfect II to suck out as much dust as possible;
  • Vacuuming the fitted and top sheets (I recommend the Shark Rocket Deluxe Pro);
  • Shaking off the comforter;
  • Brushing the comforter (The Evriholder Fur Remover is a GODSEND!) to remove as much remaining dog & cat hair, dander & dust as I can before also giving it a quick vacuum;
  • After all of that is done, and the bed has been remade, I then sweep the hardwood floors of the bedroom where I can reach, and run our Roomba at least once before mopping our hardwood floors to grab anything I might have missed.

Doing all of that generally keeps the fur, dust, and dander under control in our bedroom, as well as the rest of the house, and helps to keep my allergies and asthma from flaring up.  Speaking of “Dander,” did you know that dander is the primary food source for dust mites?  Oh wait, we haven’t talked about dust mites yet, have we?

Here’s a quick Dust Mite Primer:

  • House dust mites are microscopic bugs (Not Bed Bugs) that live primarily on dead skin cells that regularly shed from people and household pets;
  • Dust mites are generally harmless to most people;
  • Dust mites don’t carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces;  Um yeah, their poop.  When they eat our cast off skin they naturally poop it out, and that gets left behind in your sheets, on your pillow cases, on decorative throw pillows, blankets, and anything else that gathers fur, hair, dust and other environmental cast off in your house.  DISGUSTING!

In addition to dust mites, www.diply.com highlighted a couple of other gross things that can gather on your pillowcases if you don’t wash them frequently:

  1. Mold:  Most household pillows contain mold spores.  Mold exposure can cause a potentially fatal lung infection called chronic pulmonary aspergillosis;
  2. Bacteria:  Bacteria on your pillowcase can result from leaving it unwashed and can lead to…yep, ACNE!

The best way to avoid mold, bacteria and dust mites on your bed linens is to avoid spikes in humidity.  If you keep your room cool you will reduce the likelihood that you will sweat while you are sleeping.  Wash your face (and your entire body when you can) before you go to bed, to remove the bacteria and dead skin from your face and lessen the chances that you’ll be sleeping in the day’s accumulation of environmental contaminants, microscopic bacteria, along with a big build up of sloughed off skin cells, vacuum your mattress when you change your sheets every week, invest in good zippered pillow protectors to keep dust mites, mold and bacteria from getting into your pillows, and keep your room as dust free as possible by sweeping, vacuuming and dusting your bedroom every day or two.

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A Few Reasons to Skip Your Workout

teenybikiniNobody with a serious fitness goal in mind, or who’s just days away from having to wear that TEENY TINY BIKINI on vacation, likes skipping a workout, but there are a few times that skipping it is exactly what you should do.

otcThis is especially the case if you have taken some specific over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for routine ailments.  Hmmm….

  1. Did you take any type of decongestant or “cold and flu” medication?  I’m talking about a very broad range of OTC here: Zicam, Theraflu, Mucinex, Sudafed, Tylenol Cold-Max, etc.  Because the entire class of cold and flu remedies has some sort of sedating effect, there is a risk of injuring yourself  while exercising due to a foggy feeling from that sedation or, at the other end of the spectrum, the decongestant can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, putting you at a slightly elevated risk for stroke if you work out when taking some decongestants.  In both cases, it’s better to just ride the treatment out and take a few days off to recover.
  2. Did you need to take a pill to get some shut eye last night?  If you took a sleeping pill after tossing and turning most of the night, it’s better to a) not try and work out while the effects of the sleeping pill could still be retarding your muscles response and, b) not try to work out unless you got a full 8 hours of sleep after taking the pill.
  3. Are you an allergy sufferer?  If you plan to work out, take a non-drowsy allergy relief pill like loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra), or cetirizine (Zyrtec).
  4. If you’re hacking like you’ve just gotten off of a subway train full of smokers and need to take a swig from your handy bottle of cough medicine, you might need to consider a couple of things before you jump into your workout clothes and take off for the gym:  Does your cough medicine have a decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine or dextromethorphine in it? If it does, it can make you groggy and could increase your injury risk when working out. Cough medications without dextromethorphine should be safe to workout after taking, but if you are coughing enough to need to take it regularly, you could be suffering from some other ailment, like asthma, and should see a doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough to continue with your current exercise routine.

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How Old is “Old Enough?”

kidbabysitterWhen I was growing up my friends and I were given a lot more freedom than kids today are.  I began babysitting my younger siblings when I was just 8 years old.  My siblings were 6 and 1.

At first my parents felt that they could safely leave me alone with my siblings for a few hours while they went across the street to play cards and have some cocktails with the neighbors.  They knew once my 6 year old sister was asleep she wouldn’t wake up, and that if my 1 year old brother awoke, I could competently change his diaper and/or give him a bottle and put him back to bed.

As time went on, i.e. I turned 9, my parents began having dinner out, going to high school football games, and making other trips out for a few hours knowing that I could safely hold down the fort.

About that same time I began sitting for other families on the street, even one that had 3 kids under the age of 3.  No one worried about the safety of their kids because they knew that I was competent enough to call my Mom a few doors down and then dial 911 if there was an emergency.

By the time I was 10 years old, my parents began spending all day and even entire evenings (until last call) out confident that I could take care of both of my siblings, prepare meals and get everyone into bed.  All of the neighbors were doing the same with their pre-teen children, except for my friend Shawna’s family who had a live-in.  Unless our parents were going to be gone over night, none of us had babysitters.

There are nosey neighbors in every neighborhood.  Most people know who they are and avoid their snoopy interference in their lives with tall fences, thick foliage, dark drapes, window tinting or blinds drawn (lol) so that they can’t be reported on.  In lieu of that kind of precaution, the woman behind the blog at Thirty Handmade Days, made a chart based on the state-by-state guidelines (if they even have them) for when it’s acceptable to leave children without adult supervision.

1468264593-kidshomealoneguidelines30days

Had this chart been around as a reference in the late 1970’s my parents, and those of many of my friends, would have been reported and hauled in by the County Sheriff’s Department regularly!  Hmmm

Even without an official legal requirement in most states, in today’s overly intrusive, judgmental, busybody, litigious society, I’d recommend you leave the following on a laminated sheet secured by magnetic clothes pin type clamp on the refrigerator (just as a precaution of course) for when you decide your little darlings are ready to be left on their own:

  • Identify your child (ren) by name(s) & age (s) and which has been left in charge
  • State that the instruction has been given to call 911 in case of Fire or any other Emergency and that the second call is to be made to parents
  • In non-emergency, put the name of a neighbor or nearby relative that is aware the child(ren) is/are home unsupervised
  • State that you judge this child to be perfectly capable of the responsibility for the time that you are away from the home
  • Put your name, cell phone number as well as the other parent information
  • Sign the document.

Should there ever be a neighbor complaint that you have left the children unsupervised this will give whatever authority that is sent to investigate the information they need to reach you.

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Big Moving Problem Solved!

narrowstairturnI saw a video from an episode of This Old House on Life Hacker this morning and just had to share a great idea for moving a Full, Queen or King sized box spring up a narrow staircase, around hallway corners or through tight doorways.  I can’t believe I didn’t know about this simple fix on any of my moves before!  Hmmm

You’ll need these tools:
– Slotted screwdriver
– Handsaw
– Bungee cord
– Hammer
– Cordless drill with 5/32-inch-diameter drill bit
– Cordless impact driver/screwdriver
– Staple gun

TIP:  I’d also get out your vacuum cleaner and put the hose attachment on and take this opportunity to get rid of any dust that may have accumulated on the springs through any small tears or holes in the fabric at the bottom of the box spring.

If your fabric has any tears this is a great time to replace it.  If you need to replace any, you don’t even need to know how to sew, using the supplies I’ve linked to below!

I would look at the undersides of your mattresses at least a month before your move to determine if any need to be replaced.  If they do:

  • Measure the bottom of the box spring, adding an inch all the way around.
  • Either go to your local fabric store or go online and order your fabric  (The one I prefer comes in 119″ width) at: www.joann.com.

You can buy your fabric anywhere, but I find the best deals and most to choose from at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  They always have some kind of coupon to use in stores or online and they deliver quickly so your project isn’t delayed.  I don’t work for them, I just shop here.

Once you’ve ordered the fabric for as many beds as you’ll be doing, all you have to do is wait for it to get there then you can get to work on making your new box spring under coverings.

    1. Double check the measurement of the bottom of your box spring + 1″ per side (top and bottom, left and right)
    2. Cut your fabric to your measurements.
    3. Using your iron, press down the edges of your fabric so you have a clean edge to staple when you are re-assembling your box spring.
    4. Make sure to mark each finished piece you do with the name of the bed and bedroom so that your pieces match the bed they are supposed to.
    5. Fold the pressed pieces down into a size that fits into a large zip bag (I buy the 5 gallon size for projects like this – at Bed, Bath & Beyond or on Amazon.com – so I can put of them in one)

How to Move a Box Spring In a Narrow Area:

  1. Lay a large tarp on the driveway, then place the box spring facedown on the tarp.
  2. Use a narrow slotted screwdriver to pry up the staples that secure the fabric to the bottom of the box spring.
  3. Peel back the fabric to expose the wood frame.
  4. Pry up and remove the metal support bar.
  5. Fold down the fabric on each of the long sides of the box spring.
  6. Use a handsaw to cut through the 1×3 wood strapping on each side.
  7. Fold the box spring in half, then secure it with a long bungee cord.
  8. Carry the folded box spring up the stairs and into the bedroom.
  9. Unhook the bungee cord and flatten out the box spring.
  10. Use a hammer and a 2×4 block to straighten out any badly bent box-spring wires.
  11. Drill 5/32-inch-diameter pilot holes at an angle through the strapping cut in Step 6.
  12. Reattach the cut strapping with two 2 1/2-inch-long screws; repeat to secure the cut strapping on the opposite side.
  13. Replace the metal support with a 1×3 cut to length.
  14. Screw the 1×3 to the wood frame of the box spring.
  15. Staple the fabric back onto the underside of the box spring.

GENIUS!

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Build an Elliptical Desktop in 30 Minutes

xcx_1050I moved my elliptical machine into my guest room/office this week to make room for the new rowing machine I just “had to have” but had no room for in the workout portion of the garage.  I had the space available and, after adding some component shelves to the walls beneath and beside the “extra” TV I gained this week when my husband insisted the spare bedroom needed a 40″ high def TV, (Don’t get me started, at least it was a daily deal on Amazon) it might spur me to get off my ever expanding backside more during the day.

The only rub was that I have always disliked the magazine/iPad tray on this Nordictrack CX 1050 Elliptical that caused heat to build up on the touch screen beneath.  So, lightbulb! I’d get a desk to stretch between the stationary arms so I could use my new favorite tech toy: Logitech k480 3 device Bluetooth wireless keyboard to use my laptop via the nifty screen mirroring app that came on the Sony DVD player that I attached to the old TV so, when I wasn’t striding and working on my blogs, I’d be able to watch videos & Netflix, etc. while spending hours on the elliptical.  Let’s not all fall out of our chairs at the same time laughing hysterically.  Hmmm

ellipticaldeskOf course, the desktop I ordered came nowhere close to working.  Undeterred, I gathered up scrap wood from some of my other “projects of desperation,” as I call the things I build when I can’t find what I need to suit my purpose, and set about making a desk that would work for me.  The best news for anyone who doesn’t have power tools, or isn’t comfortable using them, is you can go to Home Depot (or Lowe’s) and they’ll cut your wood for free and the whole thing can be assembled with wood glue if you don’t want to use screws.

Parts:

  • 1 Piece 24″ x 12″ wood sanded  (I glued & clamped 2 scrap pieces together)
  • 1 Piece 1″ x 2″ x 26″ wood sanded
  • 1 Piece 1″ x 2″ x 30″ wood sanded
  • 1 Piece 1″ x 8″ x 24″ wood sanded
  • 1 Piece 1″ x 2″ x 12″ wood sanded
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Lay the piece of 1″ x 2″ x 30″ wood (on it’s 2″ wide side) on your work surface.  Measure 15″ across and mark the enter point of your wood.  This is the cross member that will lie underneath the desk across the widest part of the stationary side arms of your machine.  The portion of the arms that are furthest away from the computer / screen of the machine.
  2. Measure 6″ away and lay down your 1″ x 2″ x 26″ piece of wood (sitting up tall on it’s 1″ skinny side) to begin to form the slope for a better viewing and working angle – this is where you will see the piece of leftover closet rod I used.  Measure 13″ across and mark the center point of your wood.  This piece is the piece of wood that will be sandwiched between the two pieces of wood that create the angle of the desk that will be closest to the front of your elliptical machine’s moving handles.  My machine handles move in a very compact movement, so these measurements work for my model (shown above).  You may need to adjust the measurements at this point to make sure that your arms have enough room to move once the desktop is glued down in step 4.
  3. Apply a line of wood glue to both of these pieces of wood on the portions facing up toward the ceiling.  I use Gorilla Wood Glue.  It dries in about 30 minutes and holds tight.
  4. Mark the center point of the piece of 24″ x 12″ wood at the top and bottom and connect the points with a solid line on the side that will be underneath (facing the floor and glued to the cross members).  Mark a point down from the top at 7″ at both ends and in the middle and draw a line connecting the marks and crossing the middle line.
  5. Lay the piece of 24″ x 12″ wood with the line side facing you, then lay the top cross member (1″ x 2″ x 26″) glue side down, matching the center point you marked at 13″ with the center line on the desktop underside, and make sure the cross member is in perfect alignment with the edge along the top.  Clamp the cross member to the top firmly.
  6. Match the center mark on the 30″cross member with the intersection point on the lines you drew on the underside of the top, line the top edge of the cross member up with the line all the way across, then firmly press the glued side down, clamping at the ends. There will be an excess 6″ that is not attached to anything beyond the 30″ cross member.
  7. With the bottom of the desktop still facing up, make sure that you can see the center point marking at 13″ then mark a point 2″ in from each end of the top cross member.
  8. On the bottom cross member make sure the center point is clearly marked at 15″ then mark a point 3″ in from each end.
  9. Remove the clamps and run a line of glue across both cross members between the marks you made.  Do not run the glue all the way to the ends.
  10. Take the piece of 1″ x 8″ x 24″ wood and mark the top and bottom edges at 12″ (the midpoint width-wise).  Line up with the center points you marked on the cross members and press the 1″ x 8″ x 24″ firmly in place.  Open the clamps up a bit and re-clamp the sandwiched cross members in place.  Allow the glue to dry for 30 minutes.
  11. Turn the desk over and allow the clamped ends to overhang your work surface (I put it in place on the elliptical so I could finish the last step while it dried).elldesk1
  12. Make sure you can clearly see the marked center point at the bottom of the desktop.  Take the remaining piece of 1″ x 2″ x 12″ wood, mark the center point at 6″ about 3/8″ up from the bottom of the wood when stood up on it’s end.
  13. Run a line of glue along the edge of the desktop facing you 6″ out each way from the center point.  Spread it with your finger so it won’t drip while you are placing the 1″ x 2″ x 12″ with the edges aligned at the bottom so that the 1″ x 2″ stands above as a lip or edge that guards against your keyboard, iPad, Book or Magazine slipping off while you are striding.  You can secure it with a expandable clamp, or strap clamp meant to stretch for this purpose, or do like I did and, using 1 1/2″ trim screws and my power screwdriver, sink a couple of screws in from the front and fill with wood filler to hide the holes.

TIPS: 

  • I used 2 1/2″ wood screws driven up from the bottom through the closet rod because the round surface against the two flats didn’t adhere as well with the glue.
  • I used 1 1/4″ trim screws from underneath to secure the 30″ cross member to the desktop so that everything was extra secure.

Yours will be more “finished” looking than mine because I was utilizing scraps and you’ll be cutting to exact measurements with new pretty wood.

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10 Signs of Skin Cancer

This article comes courtesy of Self Magazine.  Skin Cancer is far too important and potentially deadly to ignore the signs and symptoms.

Along with outdoor happy hours and weekends at the beach, summertime calls for an important reminder of skin cancer risk. Since you’re probably spending more time in the sun wearing less clothes, it’s important to take note of any new or different growths on your skin.

“Most skin cancers really are not symptomatic,” Aleksandar Sekulic, M.D., principal for Stand Up To Cancer’s Melanoma Research Alliance Dream Team and Mayo Clinic dermatologist, tells SELF. That means a cancerous spot won’t hurt, or even itch most of the time. “Occasionally people will say a red and scaly spot has become more red and tender, but most true cancers are asymptomatic.”

So how can you tell if a spot is suspicious? “What to look for depends on which skin cancer,” Sekulic says. Here, he lays out the biggest signs, so you can be wary of any potential red flags.

Melanoma

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is usually pigmented and will resemble a mole. “What we really look for is change, that’s the most appreciable thing,” Sekulic says. The American Academy of Dermatology uses the acronym ABCDE for how to recognize a melanoma—any time you notice a new mole or that an old mole looks different, look for these signs:

1. Asymmetry: If you cut it down the middle and one side looks different from the other, it’s asymmetrical.

2. Border: In a normal mole, the border should be smooth. If it is irregular, scalloped, or ragged? “That may be a warning sign,” Sekulic says.

3. Color: If the mole is three or four different colors instead of one uniform color, you should be suspicious.

4. Diameter: “If it’s larger than 6 millimeters, basically the size of a pencil eraser, we tend to look at it a little closer,” because melanoma is found disproportionately in larger moles.

5. Evolution: “Any change in an existing spot or mole is something that should be looked at further,” Sekulic says. That includes a change in size, shape, color, or if the mole bleeds without being provoked. “Sometimes the spot may even start disappearing.” The rate of change is very relative, so it’s important to know what’s normal on your skin and when things change.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer; SCC is the second most common. “Many start as small, unsuspicious spots, and if they’re not treated they get bigger,” Sekulic says. Luckily, they’re both very curable and can be removed with surgery, though removals can cause scarring. In rare cases, they can grow deeper and spread. Though some signs are more typical of one or the other, the general symptoms are the same. Keep an eye out for:

1. A red scaly patch: A red, itchy spot of skin that doesn’t resolve in a few weeks with moisturization is most likely SCC. These might itch, but oftentimes do not, and can be easily confused for eczema.

2. A bump that won’t stop bleeding: This can look like a little bump or pimple that begins to ulcerate. A sore that continually bleeds, heals, and splits open again, is a common sign of BCC but could also be SCC.

3. A shiny bump: This nodule is usually pink, red, or white, but can also be tan, black, or brown and look like a regular mole.

4. A pink growth: The border will likely be slightly elevated and the center indented and maybe even crusty.

5. A scar-like spot: This can be a sign of an aggressive form of BCC, so if you notice a white or yellow scar-like spot that appears shiny, see your derm ASAP.

Be proactive about your skin health by visiting your doctor for regular skin checks. Many dermatologists recommend getting a full body scan once a year or more frequently if you have certain risk factors or a family history of skin cancer. If you ever see anything suspicious, go get checked out sooner rather than later. Early detection is key.

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Rare Treat: paid iPhone apps for FREE

I’m always on the lookout for technology I can run from my iPhone or iPad that will make my life easier, safer or more fun.  The apps listed below will help me free up space on my devices, help me find my way to safety if I’m lost without a signal or in an area unmapped by traditional navigation apps, capture an entire website in one screen shot, and will help me get back into 5K form in just 7 weeks.  The bonus is that, for a limited time, the apps are Free!  Hmmm

Free Up Space Normally $4.99   It recovers wasted space on your iOS device by:

  1. Finding duplicate photos: If you take a lot of photos/selfies you should use this feature often. This helps you find duplicate photos of all levels ranging from least similar to exact duplicates.
  2. Resizing Photos: You can save a lot of space by resizing large photos. Quality is maintained while reducing the size.
  3. Compress Photos & Videos: You can save storage space by compressing large photos & videos. Once you’ve compressed them, you can easily share them with your friends via attachments, messaging apps etc.

SwiPartyNormally $1.99

  1. Easy-to-use music map.  Swipe to stream your personal party playlist!
  2. SwiWorkout classifies and recommends workout music for you.
    Fast tempo on the right, slow ones on the left; New on top, old on bottom.
    SwiWorkout gives you a playlist immediately!
    You can suggest/add workout music you love by contacting Swibeat directly: http://www.swibeat.com/Contact.p

Run 5K ProNormally $1.99   Train to run a 5K in 7 Weeks!

EASY TRAINING PLAN

  • 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week – and you’ll be able to run 5K in 7 weeks;
  • Effective training plan from professional coaches;
  • Use outdoors and on a treadmill;
  • Audio cues during all workouts to keep you focused;
  • GPS maps saved for each training session;
  • Apple Watch support.

NEVER GET BORED

  • Gradual increase of workout intensity for best result;
  • Inspirational quotes keep you motivated while running;
  • Motivational tips on running with each training session;
  • Listening and managing your favorite music from the app;
  • Sharing results with Facebook & Twitter friends.

MUSIC TIMED TO YOUR WORKOUT

  • Unlimited access to the best running music right from the app;
  • Music tempo adjusts to your workout rhythm – music plays faster as you run faster;
  • New mixes from talented DJs are available every day;
  • All genres – from Classical and Oldies to Rock, Hip-hop and R&B;
  • Convenient search and suggestions to find perfect mixes.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

  • Calorie counting;
  • Detailed statistics: pace, distance, time and other parameters;
  • Synchronization of your stats & logs with an upgrade from the free version;
  • Synchronization with Apple Health app;
  • Integration with Runkeeper, Fitbit, MapMyRun.

WebpageShotNormally $4.99   

  • A simple tool to convert a webpage into an image.
  • It captures the whole web page not just what you see on the screen.
  • It also provides a screenshot extension for Safari on iOS 8.

iarrowiArrowNormally $1.99   iArrow provides navigation where there are no roads. The app will lead you back to your car, campsite or hotel and help you reach the nearest settlement if you get lost. This app features a built-in database of 2,000,000 localities around the world and does not require internet or cellular connection.

Unlike navigation systems that show a blank map, iArrow instantly launches and very clearly indicates the direction and distance to the destination. The app consumes little energy and saves battery power.

Great for travelers, fishermen, hunters, extreme or off track athletes and anyone who works in remote locations. You can save the coordinates of key points along your route to your clipboard to share via SMS, Email, Twitter, Airdrop, etc..

APP FEATURES

  • User Guide
  • You do not need an Internet connection *
  • 2,000,000 settlements in the database
  • Built-in online map
  • Ability to search for objects by address
  • Automatic detection of the address of the current position
  • Indication of GPS accuracy
  • Determination of direction using magnetic compass
  • Determination of direction using GPS coordinates
  • Radar mode that displays Favorites, History and settlements
  • Displays full information about position, speed, altitude, etc.
  • Lock screen
  • Settings
  • Metric and Imperial Units
  • Low energy usage
  • Support for iOS8 and iPhone 5/5s/6/6+

WORKING WITH COORDINATES

  • Support for the latitude/longitude, UTM and MGRS coordinate formats
  • Support latitude and longitude as decimal degrees, degrees/minutes/seconds etc.
  • Easy input of coordinates – special keyboards for each format
  • Setting destination using azimuth and distance
  • Convert GPS coordinates between degrees formats, UTM and MGRS on the fly
  • Viewing coordinates on an online map
  • Sending and receiving coordinates via SMS
  • Import and export coordinates via SMS, Email, and Airdrop
  • Import and export list of coordinates
  • Import and export links to Google, Apple, Yandex, and OSM maps
  • Import coordinates from the clipboard
  • Automatic determination of format of imported coordinates
  • Easily add, delete, or edit coordinates
  • Automatically save the coordinates in History
  • Search in Favorites and History
  • Sorting Favorites/History by new and nearest points
  • List of nearby settlements

I am not anxious to need the iArrow app, but I am going to load it in the off chance I ever get lost and need to find my way out of the wilderness. You can find all of these in your App Store.

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