Surviving progress: Let there be light

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Remember when you didn’t need an advanced degree to buy a light bulb? All you really needed was to know your wattage and you were, quite literally, golden. Now, there is such a vast array of lighting choices (or lack of choice where LED and CFL bulbs have been declared mandatory) that it’s difficult to get it right.

The other day I stood in the light bulb aisle with no less than three other confused consumers as we puzzled, as a group, over lumens, wattage and which bulb could or would give a soft glow versus a bright blue light.

One guy mentioned needing to work out financing on the cost but I think he was kidding. Probably.

Pricey

Has anyone yet recouped the cost of an $11 light bulb? Spending hundreds to replace a house full of light bulbs in hope of saving $13 over the next decade holds no allure for me. When I can replace all my bulbs and save $20-plus a month on electric I’m in.

Changing light bulbs is also not exactly rocket science so going years between changes isn’t exactly a brisk selling point either. Still, I’m willing to be convinced.

I’m a team player. I love Mother Earth as much as the next gal. I wanted to embrace the brave new light bulbs. I tried. I did. Then I turned one on and waited what seemed like a week for the darned thing to flicker to full light and all love was lost.

I have a walk-in pantry. Imagine how useless a bulb that takes up to five minutes to light up really is? Am I supposed to hang out by the flour and canned goods just waiting for the light to get really good so I can differentiate sauce from paste? More importantly, do I really feel safe having one of these bulbs around our food?

Safe

You mark my words in a generation the homes with new light bulbs will be treated like homes with asbestos or lead paint. Why vilify those hazards of old and then turn around and willingly bring something into our home that contains mercury and is prone to breakage?

It doesn’t seem smart at aal. Just take a look at the EPA‘s instructions on what to do when one breaks. In a nutshell: “Have people and pets leave the room, Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.

“Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder. Promptly place all bulb debris and clean up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H/AC system shut off.”

Let me translate for you: “Run! Run for your life!” P.S. You’ll want to throw out your broom.

I can already imagine a day when an employee can claim they need at least a week off work because a light bulb broke in the workplace and they can’t possibly return to that toxic environment (paid leave of course) until the “hazard” is gone.

Color

Nonetheless, being a devotee of form over function I could be sold on these things if they were prettier. Instead, we’ve already found that the new style seems to offer hideous light.

Mr. Wonderful, in a bid to save us a bundle on energy costs, brought home a box load of new bulbs. Unfortunately he purchased the “blue” light type and turned my beautiful olive green dining room walls a sort of elephant hide gray that instantly ruined the appetite of all who entered. Not exactly the look I was going for.

I now have an entire box of pricey light bulbs I cannot imagine ever using unless I decided to install my own personal interrogation room.

Nonetheless I will continue to attempt to embrace the new ways. I don’t want to be some dinosaur chuckling over my hoarder’s closet of incandescent bulbs. I accept the future is now. The future is bright. Unless I purchase the wrong bulb, then the future might be sort of blue-gray with just a bit of delay.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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