Rep. Michele Bachmann has proposed a bill that would repeal the ban on normal light bulbs. They're scheduled to be phased out by 2012 AD, replaced by compact fluorescent bulbs, which are either Godless Death Coils or Sensible Joy Spirals, depending on your opinion. Those of us who prefer incandescently salute the attempt. Oh, I wish I liked fluorescents - they bring your electricity bill down to $1.95 per year, you get to shake a fist at OPEC, and those curly pig-tail tubes look cool. But I detest the light.
I put a few in closets and as I turn on the switch, the clothes burst into tears and confess.
It's an aesthetic preference, and so there isn't a correct position. It's OK to prefer incandescent. It's OK to prefer CFLs. But some curious form of moral authority has been applied to CFLs, and when I'm at Target stocking up on Reveals I get the sense I might as well be wearing fur, pushing a cart full of veal and foie gras -- and that makes the issue rather contentious.
Then there's the mercury issue. Supposedly each bulb contains actual Alien blood that eats through the floor if you break the bulb, but that doesn't worry me. Heck, we played with mercury when I was a kid. We gargled mercury. We'd rub it in our pants so we could go down the slide twice as fast. Mom made us mercury omelettes, in fact. Dad used to sit down at night with his pipe and smoke up some mercury.
Never did no one no harm, except for all the hair falling out and the fact that I still pass silver kidney stones 'round about noon on a daily basis. Yes, I've warm memories of the stuff; we called it Slippery Fun Putty, or would have, if our jaws hadn't gone numb after playing with it.
Admission: it had been a year since I bought CFL bulbs, and supposedly they've improved the light. So I went to Home Depot, where there's a big wall of curly bulbs in three flavors; I tried them all at home. First up: Soft White, or Suave Blanco. (This is my new Mexican nightclub identity.) The light was the color of smoker's teeth. Tried the "Day Light" model, recommended for "reading and detail-oriented activities." They weren't kidding; with that light you could perform a circumcision at arm's length with your eyes full of Vaseline. But it wasn't bad, and if the bulbs had fit the sconces and some of the lamps, I would have used them. Tried the "Bright Light" bulb, which earned a call from the International Space Station: Could I dim it a little? Because I was making the Hubble overexpose its shots.
But that's the problem. The bulbs weren't dimmable. I did buy one 15w dimmable CFL; it exuded a sickly, apologetic light when dimmed, and made the radio in the next room buzz like a bag of itchy hornets. I turned it back up: nothing. It had broken after 15 seconds of use. It had a nine-year guarantee. This is like cheating on your spouse during the " 'til death do you part" segment of the vows.
I'd be an idiot not to switch to a superior, cheaper product, and I will -- as soon as it's just as good, and every bulb size is available at the local store. I will also stockpile and hoard my sinful Reveals for parties, the way you bring out a good bottle of wine to share with connoisseurs.
Where did you get these? I know a guy. He brings them in from Mexico. They call him Suave Blanco. Here's his card. But you didn't hear it from me.
I suspect the bill will fail. Passions run bright on the issue, yes, and debate is good - but 16 watts of pro-CFL passion are equal to 60 watts of incandescent-advocate enthusiasm. And they can argue for up to seven years.
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