Monday, September 14, 2009

Banning the Lightbulb

So, have you seen those goofy new twisty lightbulbs?I guess that's probably a dumb question by now, and the question's more of, have you started using those goofy new twisty lightbulbs yet?

We have. We jumped on them right away when we heard you didn't have to change them as often. (It's not a laziness thing, it's more that we were constantly going through lightbulbs.) And hearing that they give off less greenhouse gases and thus reduce global warming makes them quite welcome in our house.

They do have day-to-day down sides: they take a while to warm up. I'm afraid to put them in a lamp where the lampshade grips the bulb. And of course they mess up the "vanity mirror" look, so I still use regular old incandescent bulbs for those.

Then I discovered I couldn't just throw them away because they have mercury in them. So now I save all of them in a box and drop them off at the county Hazardous Waste Household Collection Day... which is five hours once a year in September. This year's is next week (Sept. 22), and I have a lot of lightbulbs for them because I forgot about it last year.

Now, I don't mind having a "burned out lightbulb" box in my closet, but I can see how a lot of people wouldn't know or just plain wouldn't be willing to go to the effort of having to drive somewhere to dump off their old lightbulbs once a year. So realistically speaking, I know a lot of these lightbulbs are just going to get thrown away, resulting in more mercury poisoning of the ground and water.

So I have mixed feelings about this article I read today:

Backlash Over Light-bulb Ban Continues to Build in Europe

In case the link doesn't work, that's at:|welcome|dl3|link7|

Now on the one hand, I totally believe this change is necessary. The Earth is hitting its point-of-no-return thresholds, and we need to do something, and if this will help and you're just whining because you don't like change, well, you'll just have to deal.

But on the flip side, the mercury poisoning risks are a serious issue. I hate to not give people credit and call for things to be dumbed down, but the basic truth is without a simple, convenient way to safely dispose of these, most people are just going to toss them in the trash when they go mandatory.

And this is going to be mandatory in the US starting in 2014. And I'm sure there will be lots of complaints of government interference and we have the right to use whatever bulb we want and the world's not really dying and blah blah blah. And I'm sure many people will jump on the mercury risk as why they don't want to use this bulb, but y'know, I think a lot of these people are really just going to be more bent out of shape that their lightbulbs now look funny and cost more and that the change is being forced on them. Well guess what, the bottom line is something has to be done NOW. That's going to mean some forced changes are necessary, and really, as long as we can all be responsible grown-ups and dispose of these correctly, this is a pretty painless change to have to make.

Thankfully, it looks like people are starting to step up to provide national drop-off points to make it easier. Ikea, ACE Hardware and (most) True Value hardware stores are now accepting the burnt out CLF bulbs for recycling.

And lastly, here's a link to the EPA's page on the subject, which has a link to where you can find a drop-off near you in all 50 states.

Or failing that, if you can get your bulbs to me by September 21, I'll drop them off myself! :P

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I remember Spy

There used to be a female graffiti artist around Greensburg and Jeannette named Spy. I know Spy was female because she would sometimes sign her work "Female Graffiti Artist" with asymbol. And she did some really creative stuff. Once there was a Sprite billboard that she altered "Obey Your Thirst" into "Obey Your SPY." Another billboard had the numbers in an odometer altered so the only thing they read was S P Y vs. S P Y. A local stop sign had been altered so it no longer said STOP, it now said SPY. They were always clever and well thought out, and it made Joy and me start looking at all the signs around town a little closer to see what else she would come up with.

Then she started doing regular old graffiti of her name on bridges and stuff, which I thought was disappointing. Then it stopped altogether.

I saw one of her old logo-on-a-building ones in Jeannette today, and I thought how ironic it was that the boring, uncreative ones are the ones that lasted, and the creative ones-- by their very nature of often being on billboards-- are gone forever. I wish I'd taken a picture of at least one of them at the time.

I also have to wonder what her story was. What led her to start doing this in the first place? What caused her to quit being creative and just be a vandal? Did she just quit altogether, or did she move out of the area? Was she normally level headed and this was her means of expression, or was she troubled and moved on to worse things and got arrested? Has she become a professional artist, or is she working in a warehouse or a Burger King or something?

I'll never know, of course, but when I found my mind wandering down this road this afternoon, I thought how amazing it was that someone who I'll never know anything about was able to make me wonder so much about her by using just a spraycan.