The rise of the twisty light bulb

As of January 1 the 100 watt incandescent bulbs that I grew up with are banned with lower wattage incandescent bulbs phasing out over the next two years, a truly expensive ideology for the Average Joe considering that the old bulbs cost about 43 cents.  I am environmentally conscious and invested in a couple of twisty high-efficiency light bulbs that cost a bit more than $4 per bulb and give off a bright bluish light that most women, especially those over 40, try to avoid.  A softer golden light can be found with the more costly LED bulbs.  I myself am opting for candlelight in the bedroom where I undress.  At the top of the chain are the super-long-lasting LED diode light bulbs which cost between 25 and 50 dollars apiece.  If I replace 7 incandescent bulbs with twisty CFL bulbs we will have monthly energy savings of $5 and should break even in 6 months.  If I replace 7 bulbs with $25 LED diode bulbs we will break even in 2 and a half years with an energy savings of approximately $6 per month; double that to 5 years if we buy the softer $50 bulbs, which every woman needs in the room where she applies makeup.  If you have ever gotten dolled up in fluorescent lighting you know that once you walk outdoors it looks like clown face paint because fluorescent light washes out color.  Considering fluorescent lighting will be prevalent in all indoor environments, you may want to ignore the stares in lieu of looking good once you step inside.  Consumer Reports cites a 37% increase this year alone for the twisty bulbs, due in large part to China’s control of rare earth resources, namely europium oxide.  The arguably good news is that a mining company has discovered a supply of rare earth elements buried beneath 500 feet of overlying rock right here in Elk Creek, Nebraska, population 112.

I love the outdoors, but we have seen that green initiatives touted as making our world a less polluted place are typically driven by greed and laced with cronyism while the public only receives the sunny side of the story.  A perfect example is the construction of wind turbines that will destroy wildlife habitats if not strictly monitored.  Part B of the equation is Wind Capital Group, who received a 107 million dollar tax credit and later held a $25,000 per plate fundraiser for President Obama.  Such is the case with the twisty compact fluorescent lamp bulbs which contain mercury and will need to be recycled as hazardous waste.  I have not encountered anyone who knows exactly where we should dispose of the new bulbs, not even online, but I bet there is a member of Congress who has a friend…  Until I find out I’ll just keep the burned out bulbs in the garage next to the old oil and paint.

Deck the jail cell with filet and whiskey

Throughout the world cheese is the most popular food item to shoplift, but in the states steak rules the hearts and minds of one in eleven who walk out of a store without paying for an item.  To deal with that pesky conscience, Jameson whiskey comes in second as the most stolen item this holiday season.  I know, I know.  Everything gets blamed on the Irish, but keep in mind that there are a ton of wannabes in the U.S. that think drinking Jameson makes them Irish.  That is simply how Jameson operates.  Daniall Ashley, a Florida man caught this week while attempting to steal four steaks and 2 candles from a grocery store, may have had a jig or two before he stumbled upon his romantic notion.  While police blame drug addicts for meat thievery, the majority of carnivorous shoplifters caught pinched enough meat for a meal.  One would assume that people are stealing because they are in need and/or young and stupid, but it is estimated that 75% of shoplifters are adults with jobs.  Perhaps they are hard workers that do not have enough money left over after paying for necessities to afford these luxury items that used to be their rewards.  Steak is termed “luxury meat” and while many of us cannot afford filet mignon, a 15% increase in the price of cattle has lassoed all steak cuts of beef into the luxury category.  I understand loving steak and Jameson, but I have never met a steak that was worth jail time.  Jameson on the other hand…let’s just say “stuff happens” when he is on board, but once in a while it is worth the risk as long as I’m not running a tab.

Occupy Wall Street “News”

The majority of the 99% watched from our couches and computer desks as the Occupy Everywhere protesters had a very busy and contentious week.  About 50% of the 99% do not agree with or simply do not understand what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about.  Although we live in an age of information overload, I believe that much of what we are fed is bullshit. If I care about something I have to go to several sources to collect different views and then do background searches on the veracity of stated “facts”.  This is how I know that they feed us a lot of bullshit.  We also have a tendency to ferret out information that supports our beliefs and reject any news that contradicts those same beliefs, so we must take some responsibility for media catering to a captive audience eager to be validated.

I can easily find slanted news reports  to support either my dislike or empathy for the Occupy movement.  The media and Mayor Bloomberg tell me that Zuccotti park along with protest sites in Portland, Oakland, Denver, and Salt Lake City were rife with health and safety concerns.  Protesters were unhygienic and even urinated and defecated in the parks, despite the availability of  portable johns a few blocks away.  In order to avoid a confrontation, a coordinated police effort raided protest sites in the middle of the night.  Mayor Bloomberg graciously offered Occupy protesters readmittance to the park once it is cleaned, but they will not be allowed to camp out because this whole thing has a hefty price tag for already financially strapped cities.  I use the term “graciously” because it is how he is portrayed in the news of the eviction, along with being unerringly reasonable.  The movement in our neck of the woods is Occupy Grand Rapids, which was never allowed to camp in the park where they protest daily because we have a city ordinance against it.  Grand Rapids prefers to keep our homeless safely tucked away in shelters and under overpasses, out of the public eyes that are spending money in the downtown hub, especially visitor’s eyes.  We also have a church on every corner, one of which offered up their parking lot to the Occupy Grand Rapids protesters for overnight accommodation.  I hope that the Occupy movement is here to stay until we see big changes like job growth, fair trade, and regulation of trading and speculation that drive prices and fleece retirement funds.  Judging from the solidarity protests across the country yesterday, it seems like a good possibility, but winter has not arrived full-force yet.

The media also gives me plenty of fodder for my angst on these issues with new unemployment numbers each month.  The good news is that unemployment decreased in Michigan by half a percentage point in October.  The bad news is that it still stands at 10.6%.  National Public Radio gives me plenty of news on the state of the top 1% and even told me this week that the top 5% hold 40% of the nation’s wealth.  I believe that these reports are not necessary information, but are related with a transparent incendiary purpose.  My personal experience requires that I consider that some of the wealthiest Americans extended their post-college education to attend graduate, medical, and law schools, while others launched successful businesses.  I do not begrudge them their fruits, only wish that the Bush-era capital gains tax breaks would be allowed to expire.  It is harder to not react to these reports of surplus while I am unemployed, but I hold onto my beliefs and keep reminding myself that they are not situational.

The media is feeding the fire of those that sympathize with the Occupy protesters by giving us stories of police brutality such as the Marine who was attacked by officers and suffered a life-altering head injury and 84-year-old Dorli Rainey who received a face full of pepper spray in a Seattle Occupy protest on Tuesday.  I would love to meet this gal, who stated the next day that she will continue to participate in Occupy Seattle protests because, “I’m pretty tough, I guess.”  Images of conflicts between police and Occupy protesters show us what the punishment is for civil disobedience and likely influence many supporters to stay home and search for safer means of aiding the movement.

My measuring stick of Occupy Everywhere’s impact is whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended by the Super Committee tasked with cutting the national budget by November 23 and the subsequent congressional vote.  I keep hearing the old Kent State memorial song, For What its Worth, “There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear, There’s a man with a gun over there, Telling me I got to beware, I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound, Everybody look what’s going down”.  Today I am grateful for the Occupy protesters fighting for our American Dreams (in my not-so-humble opinion), their focus uninfluenced by the media coverage on any given day.