Tanning Light, Beer vs. Soda, 420


If I replaced the fluorescent bulbs five feet above my head at work with bulbs from a tanning bed, would I give myself a nice year-round tan or a bad case of cancer?

— Some guero, Poway

Well, as one guero to another, here’s how it shakes out. We’ll ignore the fact that you couldn’t easily swap your fluorescents for tanning bulbs. Although they look the same in general, the tanners need a different hookup. But suppose you figure out how to get a couple of tanning bulbs shining down on you eight hours a day. Can you say skull cancer? Unless you regularly work supine on your desk, of course, your dome (and maybe your nose and hands) would be the only parts to benefit from the rays. Considering that the maximum time anyone spends in a tanning bed is about 20 minutes a session, with at most one or two sessions a week, you’d be a slab of burned bacon after eight hours, five days a week, in spite of the fact that the bulbs are five feet away. And you might consider wearing a bathing suit to work, since the temperature around your desk will be in the high 90s.

Tanning bulbs tweak the ratio of UVA and UVB rays as compared to the sun. UVAs penetrate deep into the skin and oxidize the melanin granules in the cells and turn them brown. As they rise to the surface, you look tan. Considered “safer” than UVB rays, tanning bulbs emit about 90 percent UVA, three times the relative amount cranked out by the sun. UVBs work mainly on the skin surface and are generally to blame for sunburns and broken capillaries. Most bulbs emit only 40 percent of the UVB generated by the sun. Ergo, tanning beds are safe and sound, claims the tanning community. You’ve all been out in the sun too long, say physicians.

Based on considerable research into tanning beds, UVA is now considered as responsible for skin cancer as is UVB. Tanning in general certainly damages the elastic tissue in your body and promotes wrinkling and “aging” skin. It also can damage your eyes and immune system. The general opinion of the medical community is that there is no such thing as a safe tan. But what do doctors know?

So go ahead with this plan if you want a dark brown, wrinkly dome, sweat stains all over your paperwork, and no future with the company, I’d guess. Instead, how about a spray-tan session with the Olly Girls — a little sticky but safe. And entertaining to boot.


My friend is a big beer nut. My preferred quaff is ice-cold Pepsi. I’m trying to convince Friend to quit drinking since it’s not doing him any good. Can you back me up in my fight for sobriety?

— Stone Cold Max, via email

I’m afraid there’s no easy answer to your friend’s beer nuttiness. He’s got to get sick of it himself and want to stop. But let’s look at the situation a different way. When Friend downs a beer and you slug a Pepsi, who’s better off? Unfortunately, all the smart money is on your friend. Nutritionally, Pepsi is a desert. Water and a heap o’ sugar. Look at the nutrition chart on the back of the can. See all those zeroes? Actually, the sugar content should probably read minus eight or so, not a measly zero. Promotes obesity, tooth decay big time, and fills you up so you don’t much want any food, some of which might be healthier than the fizzy stuff. Childhood obesity? Too many sodas.

Beer, on the other hand, is water and grains and hops. Now we’re talking. The grains contribute B vitamins and some minerals. The hops donate antioxidants, which help prevent heart disease. And even physicians will say that people who drink a moderate 12 ounces of beer a day are more protected from heart attacks and strokes than their teetotaling friends.

I gather that Beer Nut is just warming up, getting his molars wet with a mere 12 ounces. The only thing we learn from this is that when he finally wraps his car around a eucalyptus along the freeway, he’ll be nutritionally more sound than you.

Hey, Matt:

I’m stumped! I’ve done my research but came up with no intelligent or believable answers.… I’m sure just about everyone has seen or heard the term “420,” but where did the reference originate? [People] try to disguise it into various paraphernalia, tattoos, etc. It takes a semi-trained eye to spot it sometimes, but I’ve even found it in unexpected places, like the beadwork hanging from Grandma’s rearview mirror. Who would have ever guessed!

Your #3 Fan, In Search of the Truth in Escondildo

Well, go, Granny! According to High Times, 420 was an insiders’ code for the time at which a group of Marin County kids gathered to smoke a little weed after school. Once the story hit HT, of course, the code went global.

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To the editor Matthew, about "420", That is not the real meaning. You are a writer for the sd reader, do your research! That is false information, "420" comes from earth day (4/22), the day people were supposed to start growing outside, usually after the first frost..but San Diego wouldn't know frost! About the time of day students chose to smoke, that was concurrent with the day of year people planted so in accordance it was 4:20 pm.--get your fasts straight-encinitas

Goinfar, why isnt it 422 then if it is supposed to be after earth day???

Matt DID do his research, and his answer is fairly plausible.

See www.waldo420.com they are the original Marin county kids.

or go here for a VERY detailed answer to the question...


BTW, pepsi is nasty and beer is tasty : )

MA is correct! I wrote an article in college and this info is correct.

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