The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

THE POLISH DOG

As you may know, Chicago has the largest population of people of Polish heritage, outside of Warsaw.  This makes the city a good place to live if you happen, as I do, to like kishka, kielbasa and pirogues.  The smells that emanate from the  various Polish grocery stores are noticeable a city block away.  What a treat for one’s olfactory senses.

And the neighborhoods in which people of Polish descent live are amazingly clean and crime free.  Perhaps that is because the residents make the effort to keep them that way.  On any given Saturday, taking a drive down the side streets that radiate from Milwaukee Avenue, the heart of the Polish community’s business district, you can see diminutive old Polish ladies on their hands and knees, scrubbing the sidewalks in front of their little bungalow homes.

Of course, having such a large ethnic community it is not surprising that people arrived at stereotypes for this group of people and began constructing jokes about them.  One of those stereotypes concerned itself with the intelligence level of members of the Polish community – which the joke creators determined was rather low.  And they made up their stories accordingly.

( It was not my experience in my dealings with the many people of Polish extraction whom I knew that there was any truth to this presumption).

But here’s a typical Polish, or in the parlance of Chicago, “Pollack” joke:

“Why did the Polish dog have a flat head?”

“Because he kept chasing parked cars.”

Of course, the dog in this two-liner is a canine and is not to be confused with a “Polish” that comes on a bun.  And if you are wondering, ordering a wiener or hot dog, the correct pronunciation and spelling is “dawg”.

If you should be exceptionally gauche and were to order a Polish dawg, which is both an oxymoron and a verbal abomination, you will undoubtedly be confined to the nethermost place in Hell after your demise and fed a diet of nothing other than Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup through all eternity.  This would be a just and fitting punishment.

Now the reason that I thought of this old canard about the Polish dog was that this morning on my way with Gracie to the dog park, I was behind a man driving a late model car.  I happened to notice that his passenger brake light had burned out.

As it happened, we both were going to make a left turn at the same street and there were two lanes assigned for that purpose.  We were stopped at a rather long light and both of our windows were rolled down as at 6:15 a.m. it was only about 78 degrees outside.  (We had a rather extensive thunderstorm last night which cooled things off considerably).

As we were waiting for the left turn arrow, I said to him, “Excuse me sir – I don’t know if you’re aware of it but your passenger side brake light is out.”

Gracie pushed her head out of the rear window to see if there were any dogs in the other car whose acquaintance she might make.

The man (whom I took to be in his mid to late 40’s) responded, “Yeah, so what’s it to ya?”

I had expected a response more along the lines of, “I didn’t know that.  Thanks for telling me,” so this took me by surprise.

Before I had an opportunity to formulate and offer a response, the light changed and we both made our turns.

It’s an interesting society in which we live.  Fortunately or unfortunately I was raised to assist others when the opportunity presents itself – and I thought I was doing this guy a minor service by pointing out his car’s problem.  But apparently he felt that this was some sort of intrusion into his affairs.

The habit is so ingrained in me after so many years, that I guess, like the flat-headed Polish dog, I’m going to keep chasing parked cars.  Or maybe it was people like me whom Einstein observed when he formulated his definition of Insanity:  “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get a different result.”

So I guess there are a couple of things you should take away from this story:

1)  Never order a Polish dawg unless you’re really fond of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup;

2)  Be a nice person and you’ll get your reward;

3)  You better check your own brake lights because the next time I see that one of them has burned out I might not bother to mention it to you.  (Nah, I will).

THESE FOOLISH THINGS

Let me be the first to admit (before you take the time to point it out) that I am not the smartest person on planet Earth.  But I still think that in a fairly administered IQ test, I could hold my own against your above average hedgehog.  Let me further admit that there are certain warning labels whose meaning or intent I simply do not comprehend.

Let me offer you an example.

I had decided that the walls of my office were looking a little dingy and so I decided to wash them down.  This was a few days ago.  Because I try to act in an environmentally friendly way, I was using a product manufactured by The Clorox Company called “Green Works” whose contents are supposed to be completely bio-degradable.

I hadn’t started with a full bottle of the stuff (it comes in one of those spray top containers) and mid-way through the project I ran out.  As I was tired, I decided that I would finish the next day after going to the store and buying a new supply.

So the  following morning I went to my supermarket and there was a nice supply of Green Works on the shelf.  But it was all in those spray bottles and I didn’t see a refill size available.  I asked customer service if they carried a refill quantity of this product.  They looked it up in their computer and said that was the only size in which they carried the product.

So I thought, “Surely Clorox must offer this product in a larger quantity.  After all, it is supposed to be an environmentally-friendly product – and offering a larger size would reduce the amount of plastic waste.”

I went home and called the 800 number on my original bottle and spoke with a friendly young lady at Clorox.  I explained my quest for their product and wondered if she could tell me if there were a larger, refill size available.

She put me on hold for a few minutes and said, “I’ve checked.  We do make a gallon-size in Green Works.”

I asked if she would be able to direct me to a store that carried it.

She responded, “Well, Lowe’s and Home Depot carry it from time to time (she also mentioned several other retailers which were unfamiliar to me), but I couldn’t tell you if they currently have it in stock.  You’ll have to check with the stores.”

Well, I had accomplished something.  I at least knew the product existed.  So I thanked her and ended the call.

I went both to the Lowe’s and Home Depot web sites and typed Green Works in the query box.  Neither store carried the specific Clorox product (in any size) but they both offered a similar product called “Simple Green” which had like attributes and was also environmentally-friendly.  And it was available in a gallon-sized quantity for $9.99 as opposed to my original spray bottle which contained a quart and was priced at $4.69.  This was a terrific savings if you know that there are four quarts to a gallon.  (Well, actually it’s a terrific savings even if you don’t).

It did occur to me briefly that pouring Simple Green into a bottle which once contained Green Works might, in certain parts of the country, be construed as miscegenation.  But other than sharing this with my readers I am not going to tell anyone and I have total confidence that you will keep this between us.

So this morning after the dog park, Gracie and I headed over to Lowe’s to track down the Simple Green gallon jug.  I didn’t anticipate any problems because the web site said this particular store had 18 of them in stock.  I put on Gracie’s lead and she leaped from the station wagon in anticipation of going on a new adventure.

When it comes to grocery shopping, I am very efficient.  I don’t overly enjoy the experience and I try to make it as brief as possible.  I know the layout of all the different stores at which I purchase groceries and I organize my list in such a way as to take the shortest path to complete my shopping based on the store’s configuration.  Not so with Lowe’s – at which I shop only infrequently.

I have learned from past experience that rather than wander around the store trying to find a particular item, it is more efficient to stop at customer service on the way in and ask where I might find something.  This is especially true if I have Gracie with me because she likes to browse and explore.  And while she is well-behaved, I sometimes give in to her impulses to shop ‘till she drops (or I do).

So customer service directed me to Aisle 12 where they said I would find my Simple Green refill.  Gracie and I started in that direction but en route, several Lowe’s employees stopped to admire and pet her (which she appreciates) and ask the usual question, “What kind of dog is she?”

I used to respond to that question with the one word answer, “Big.”  But I thought that was a tad impolite.  So now, I simply say, “You know I’m not completely sure.  I found her as a puppy in front of a Lane Bryant store.  I think she had gone there to buy a new ensemble.”

For some reason people seem to think that answers the question.

Gracie and I arrived at Aisle 12.  It was indeed the aisle where cleaning products of all sorts and descriptions were sitting on the shelves.  I thought, “Oh, good.  This will be easy.”  But it wasn’t.  We walked up and down the aisle but nowhere did I see a one gallon-sized Simple Green refill jug.

After three tours of Aisle 12 I threw in the towel.  I wanted to be absolutely certain that the product wasn’t there before I went back to customer service and inquired whether they had it in the store or had run out of stock.

So there we were, back at customer service.  I had brought a one quart spray bottle of Simple Green with me to show them the product I was seeking.  Meanwhile, I could tell that Gracie was getting a little bored as she had already seen what there was to see on the main store aisle all the way to Aisle 12.

The helpful young lady came from behind the desk and walked us back to Aisle 12.  Much to my relief, she also had trouble finding the product.  But then she spied it.  The container itself wasn’t visible but in the very back of a seemingly empty space on the bottom shelf there was one gallon jug left.  She got down on her hands and knees to retrieve it for me, for which I thanked her.  And the best news was that it was on sale for only $8.99.  Such a deal.

She left us to return to her post and I was preparing to pay for the Simple Green and leave – but Gracie had other ideas.  Rather than allowing me to return to the front of the store she must have realized that there was a lot of unexplored territory in this Lowe’s and she wanted to do a bit of browsing.  And as I will often humor her, I allowed her to take me on a little jaunt.

I’m not quite sure why but we ended up in the aisle that sells stepladders.  She seemed to feel that these were exceptionally interesting.  I don’t know the reason that she was fascinated with them as I have two at home and she’s never seemed overly interested in socializing with either.

But as I was standing watching her gaze at these metal contraptions I couldn’t help see the warning label which had been attached on their sides.  It said, “Danger.  Do not stand on the top step of this ladder.”  As I recall, the two ladders that I have at home also contained that warning, but I removed them.

So here’s where my confusion comes in and if any of my readers can help me out, I would truly appreciate it.

If it’s dangerous to stand on the top step of a step ladder, then why do they build a top step on the darn things in the first place?  I think we can fix this problem simply by removing the top step – and then we don’t have to worry about putting those little stickers on the ladders.

But wait – I missed something.  If we remove the top step, the second highest step would become the top step.  So we’d have to remove that as well.  And then the next and the next until there would be no steps at all – just a metal frame.

True, the step ladder would no longer have any usefulness – but at least we’d be safe.

I think it’s a plan.  The only people who I think might object work for  OSHA.  But I hear they’re working on a new sticker for screwdrivers which says, “Danger.  Ramming the pointed end of this screwdriver into your eye might result in blindness or death.”

ART, TREES AND STUFF

This morning I was thinking about the many considerate and wonderful people I have known in my life.  I have had perhaps more than my fair share of those relationships (though in all honesty I’m not sure that one can ever have too many).

And I thought to myself, “Self, you’re a lucky person.”  I truly believe that.

It all started with my family.  Sure they were nurturing and provided me with the security that every child deserves, but through their example they taught me in a mostly unspoken way the “rules of engagement” which when I grew up seemed to be both generally expected of each of us and practiced by most.

The genesis of this post all began when I gave Gracie her morning treats.  I am always overwhelmed at the quiet dignity of this gentle giant.  How she doesn’t need words to say, “Thank you,” because the gratitude she feels is so apparent in her eyes.

Gracie

It’s as though she and all the other dogs who came before her somehow intuitively know how to act in a civilized and loving manner – a skill which we humans have to acquire through parenting and the example of others – and far too many of us have skipped this class entirely or at least need to take a remedial course.

But there was a second reason for this post.  I was thinking back a few weeks to one of the children down the block who graduated from high school and how her house had been TP’d.  Until I moved out west, I was unfamiliar with this apparently common practice which involves unrolling a great quantity of toilet paper and catching it in tree branches at the matriculating senior’s place of residence.

Now this bothers me in several ways.  The first is that, for whatever reason, I have always had a great deal of admiration, respect and love for trees.  Obviously they are the source of this toilet paper and I earnestly feel hurt that we consider their lives and importance to be so trivial that we can can wantonly discard their sacrifice in this manner.  The second is that this wastefulness seems so unfortunately characteristic of our ever-consumptive and under-productive view of our world and our respective roles in society.  The practice, other than for the two reasons given above seems harmless enough and, I have learned, is almost expected.

That doesn’t mean that I grieve less for the trees.  I wanted to share an image of a painting done by Friedensreich Hundertwasser (born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna) entitled “Conversations with a Tree.”  But while I could find the work cited in his catalogue raisonné, I couldn’t find the image itself.  All, however, was not lost as I had purchased a print, which hangs in my home,  of his painting “Noah’s Ark” which bears the admonition, “You Are A Guest Of Nature.  Behave.”

friedensreich-hundertwasser-arche-noah

Whether the artist had the practice of TPing in mind when he executed this work is doubtful.  I’m not sure that the kids in New Zealand, where he moved and accepted citizenship, engage in the practice.  But his words speak to more than one impish prank.  They address an attitude toward life in general.

While the practice of TPing a neighbor’s house is relatively harmless and not yet construable as a Federal offense, this lack of respect (whether for Nature or for our kindred humans) has taken a nasty turn.  Apparently, some of our kids think it’s fun to create their own incendiary devices, housed in plastic bottles, and leave these on their neighbors’ lawns.

This was brought to my attention by a friend who sent me an email on the subject, and while he is someone whom I trust implicitly, nevertheless I thought I had an obligation to check out the facts (as any good reporter should).  Unfortunately, it took me less than 30 minutes to verify the information.

I am not going to list the three ingredients which combine to make this sort of “homemade Molotov cocktail” but they are items which may be found in virtually any American home or are easily purchased at our grocery stores.  When the container is picked up, the movement shakes up the contents, causing them to chemically combine and the result is that they heat up and can either cause severe burns or worse.

So my suggestion is, should you see a near empty plastic container which holds anything more than liquid in it, you should not try to dispose of it but call your local Fire or Police Department and have them handle it.

Having given you that unsettling information, I think it’s time to get back to the sense of tranquility that trees have always afforded me.  And what better way is there than with one of my favorite of the Impressionists, Paul Cezanne and his painting of “A Large Pine Tree and Red Earth.”

paul-cezanne-large-pine-tree-and-red-earth-1890-1895

I wish all of you a wonderful day.

THE SQUIRREL AND THE CAT

There was once a common gray squirrel who made the acquaintance of a beautiful Angora cat.  They lived in the same area, although the squirrel made his home in a very old elm tree and the cat lived in a ritzy garden apartment.

Come rain or shine the squirrel could be seen scurrying about the neighborhood, looking for acorns or anything else that looked nutritious.  The cat had no such concerns as his mistress put out his meals on a regular schedule and provided all that he wanted to eat.

The cat found the squirrel’s constant comings and goings to be not only dizzying but quite inexplicable.

“My friend,” he said.  “Why do you go about in such a constant frenzy?  Your continuous scurrying is causing me to have a headache.  Settle down for a bit and let’s have a nice chat.”

“I would love to,” said the squirrel.  “But if I did, I would not have enough rations to make it through the day.  So I need to keep foraging to stave off starvation.”

The cat thought this was very peculiar.  He had never known a moment when his food was not provided for him and so, naturally, assumed that was the way it was for all creatures.  In his heart of hearts he thought that the squirrel was making a joke at his expense.  But being a polite sort of creature, he did not mention his suspicions to the squirrel.

The cat sauntered outside one day after his mistress had just finished brushing him.  He always enjoyed a good brushing and looked absolutely glamorous.  So when he saw the squirrel hastening by, he couldn’t help comparing his appearance to that of his friend’s.

“My goodness,” the cat thought to himself.  “My poor friend is looking rather shabby.  His coat has got little parts of plants stuck to it.  He really should take better care of himself.”

Well the squirrel, pre-occupied with the necessities of gathering food, had little time to try to look chic.  In fact, the concept never even crossed his mind.  He was totally focused on his mission of surviving.

Things went along in this way for quite some time until something unexpected happened.  One morning when the cat went into the kitchen to get his breakfast there was nothing in his dish.

He went into his mistress’ room to find out why there was a delay but when he jumped up on her bed he found only her lifeless body.  He began meowing as loudly as he could, hoping this would revive her.  But nothing he did could bring her back to this world.

So the cat jumped through the open window of the garden apartment and happened to see his friend the squirrel engaged, as usual, in looking for his own breakfast.  The cat couldn’t help but notice that the squirrel, while still sporting the vestiges of plant parts all over his fur, was quite plump and seemed to be doing an excellent job of providing his own food.  By contrast, the cat’s stomach began to growl and he was feeling a little faint.

The squirrel greeted the cat as he raced by.  He had just spotted what appeared to be a very choice acorn.  And the cat began to wonder what he would do for food since his mistress was no longer there to set out his meals.

Suddenly, it occurred to the cat that his pampered life was over and he would need to fend for himself.  The thought of that sent a terrible shiver down his spine.  And he began to think how fortunate the squirrel was that he had enough to eat.

When the squirrel came back with his acorn and began to munch on it, the cat, in a moment of self pity said to him, “My friend.  All the time I’ve known you, I have always thought how fortunate I was that I didn’t have to do anything and yet my food magically appeared.  In honesty, I looked down on your abject need to have to provide for yourself.  But now things have changed, and I must admit that I envy you.  You are, indeed a lucky creature.”

To this, the squirrel made a reply which is the moral of our story:

“There’s something I’ve noticed in going through life.  It seems as though the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

LIVING IN AN IDIOTOCRACY

If we’re fortunate enough to be born, it isn’t long before we discover that our world is full of rules.  The ones who make up the first ones are our parents and right on their heels come our teachers and our schools.

“Eat your peas.”  “Hold still while I wash behind your ears.”  “Make sure you’re seated at your desk before the bell rings.”  “No talking in class.”  Those sorts of things become the music that is always playing in the background of our personal soap operas.

Fortunately, most of those rules, based on the love and experience of our elders are there for a reason.  They protect us so that we can survive long enough that we can start making up rules for the next generation.

All rules are not created equal.  A child who refuses to eat his peas might be toying with his personal health but his refusal to bathe for months has an impact on all those with whom he comes in contact.  And the child who talks and disrupts a classroom impacts his fellow students but being late to attend school mostly affects his own opportunity to learn.

So we see that, even among those rules which are designed by those who make them out of a loving motivation, some are more consequential than others.  And that brings us to the larger question of rule making to which we become exposed as we take our places as adults in society, written by those who are elected to govern us “for our own good”.  We call these rules, laws.  And there are a lot of them – more than mom and dad or the principal of my grammar school ever concocted.

This became abundantly clear to me yesterday as I took Gracie and the three golden retrievers to the dog park.  It was turning out to be a warmer day than we have been experiencing lately, but for some reason, when we arrived for our second visit we were there by ourselves.

After a short bit of ball throwing as we walked through the fairly large area, I saw one of the Park Marshalls pull into a parking space.  He stepped out of his car and entered through the gate.  I didn’t think much of it until he approached me and asked, “Are those four your dogs?”

I explained that Gracie and I were together and that I was taking care of the three goldens for a friend.  After checking to make sure that they had all the right paperwork on them (in their case it was tags on their collars) he gratuitously informed me that, “You are only allowed to have three dogs if you live in Las Vegas.”  I told him that I knew that.

So he then said, “Other than your saying that these three dogs are a friend’s, how do I know that is really the case?”  The gross stupidity of that question stunned me.  He had just checked the dogs to make sure that each of them had one of the required “documents” – a name tag with the owner’s name and phone number on the reverse side.  I pointed that out to him.

“You will notice these three have one owner’s name on their ID tags and Gracie has mine on it.”  He thought for a moment as the profundity of that statement sank in.  “Oh,” he responded.  “Well, have a nice day.”  And with those words he returned to his vehicle.

I wasn’t sure, as I thought about this brief encounter whether I was more annoyed at the stupidity of rules like this or the people whom we pay to enforce them.  I don’t know what city councilman thought up this rule or which other members voted to pass it – but it makes little sense and has almost nothing to do with the public’s safety and well-being.

In fact, it is somewhat counter-productive in a municipality which needs money and charges for each dog license which is issued.  You would think that from a strictly economic standpoint, the city would view having dogs as a source of revenue and would encourage a philosophy of “the more the merrier.”

Of course, the inherent foolishness of this rule is rather obvious.  A household is limited to three dogs.  Where this magic number comes from is anybody’s guess.  But the law doesn’t stipulate what kind of dogs, so one household might have three Chihuahuas and be in compliance and another might have three Bullmastiffs and also be in compliance.

Frankly, I’m surprised that Chihuahua owners throughout the Las Vegas Valley haven’t screamed discrimination and sued the city.  Even the more obtuse members of our judiciary would probably notice that you need a lot more than three Chihuahuas to come up with the weight-equivalent of three Bullmastiffs.

If you drive around Las Vegas, you will see a variety of billboards posted by attorneys.  One for people who are experiencing marital issues reads, “Call us at (702) D-I-V-O-R-C-E.”  Another, for those who enjoy drinking and driving and speeding offers help at (702) T-I-C-K-E-T-S.

How long can it be before an ever vigilant city, faced with tremendous deficits, begins doing house to house searches for contraband, excess dogs and we will see a poster from a new law firm that offers help at (K-9-P)-R-O-B-L-E-M-S?

As I was writing this I remember the old saw, “Good things come in threes”.  I also remember hearing that about sneezes.  Perhaps that is the thinking that also limits our dogs to three per household. And it does suggest a thought.

What if we were to limit our elected officials to passing no more than three laws during their term of office or restricting the President to the same number of Executive Orders during his four years? This might have the effect of requiring them to focus on what is really important and addressing those issues in a serious manner.  Or at least one could hope.

Otherwise, we’ll just have to adapt to living in an idiotocracy.  I suspect most of us have gotten kind of used to it already.

ON BUYING INSURANCE

If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you’ve heard constant references that I make to the dogs with whom I’ve shared my life.  There was a dog in our home when I was born and I hope there will be one by my side when I pass from this earth.

Dogs have brought me so much joy with their simple ways and honest behavior.  They have in many ways been my guide – as important as any spiritual advisor.  It was not through their words but their acts that I learned.  So if you’ve concluded from this summary that I have a passion for dogs, you are certainly correct.

And that brings me to what I have learned from my companion dog Gracie.

Gracie doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.  She is one of the gentlest creatures who has ever walked this planet.  She interjects herself between other dogs at the dog park if she feels the playfulness is getting a little too contentious – acting as hall monitor.  I have often worried that, if there were a dog who was truly vicious while she was busy interceding and who attacked her, she would have no idea how to respond to this assault.

I’ve met a few dogs in my life who were, indeed, vicious.  Their number is far less than the people whom I could categorize thusly.  Those dogs, like many of those people, were unfortunate victims of their upbringing.  And as we look at our world today, it seems to me that our general abandonment of principle and love (other than the self-centered kind), has loosed far more vicious people on the world than it once knew.

We are now about to embark on a discussion on “gun control”.  The media, already bought and paid for, will show us scenes of horrible tragedies, mass shootings and stories about the helpless victims and the toll their deaths took on their families.  We should all bow our heads in prayer and reflection over what caused these tragedies and mourn those who died in them.  That is the very least we should do – and it is probably all that most of us will do.

Soon the rhetoric will begin on Capitol Hill and from the White House.  It will sound good if you fail to listen closely to the underlying emptiness of the conversation.

It will talk about the number of violent deaths caused by weaponry – and will totally ignore the walking deaths caused by welfare.

It will address itself to the undeniable tragedies of Newtown, CT and Aurora, Co and will lay the blame squarely at the feet of guns, while ignoring the fact that there are mentally ill people in this country for whom we provide limited assistance or help.

It will necessarily re-write history and ignore the reasons that the Founding Fathers incorporated the Second Amendment of the Constitution to uphold the First – Freedom of Speech.

It will ignore the facts about areas which have allowed gun ownership and have among the lowest crime rates and that areas which have restrictive gun control laws have consistently had more murders committed due to the use of illegal guns.

In essence, it will be a lie – as much that emanates from Washington has proven to be.

So today I made a decision.  I will admit that it was one at which I arrived after a lot of kicking and screaming.  I made a decision to purchase a weapon – not because I have any intent to go out and shoot up the town or rob a bank but as a matter of defense – for Gracie’s sake and well-being.

I am not thinking of it as a “gun” but rather, an “insurance policy”.  And while, as with all insurance policies, I hope never to have to call on the benefits for which I have paid premiums, I will be armed – and Gracie will be safe.

That is what responsible parenting is all about.  Isn’t it?

LIGHTS OUT

As we have survived the purported Mayan Apocalypse, seen yet another seasonal “Holiday” on December 25th and wandered our way into a New Year, I am sure that many of us hope for a better 2013 than what we saw in its predecessor.  I certainly find it difficult to imagine how it might be worse.  And then the light bulb in my head went on.  But, actually, the CFL light bulb in one of the lamps in the family room went out.

Although I began replacing the old incandescent bulbs in my home a few years ago with CFL’s, my cost analysis of their economic efficiency versus those old bulbs with which we all grew up, left me wondering if the reduction in energy consumption and the bulbs’ purported seven year life would ever overcome the original cost of the bulbs.  It was a close call if I factored in about a ten percent yearly increase in the cost my electric company charged for letting light shine in my home.

But, of course, there was also the worthwhile goal, on which I couldn’t place a dollar figure, of reducing my “environmental imprint” on planet Earth.  The bulbs are reputed to draw less electrical consumption thus reducing our demand for fossil fuel.

Now when I made my original purchase of these bulbs a few years back, I remember standing in Lowe’s and saying to myself, “How do they know these things are going to last for seven years when they’ve only been on the market for three years?”  I got the answer two years later.  They don’t.  Of course, this threw my total economic analysis on the “value” of these bulbs right out the window.

I also remember thinking, as I pondered my original purchase, “How is using something that contains mercury something that is good for the environment?”  We know that mercury is one of the most toxic substances to which animal and plant life can be exposed.  That’s why the old mercury thermometers with which we were diagnosed as children now exist only as an exhibit at The Smithsonian.  And that’s why The Mad Hatter was “mad” as in his occupation he was constantly exposed to mercury.

Notwithstanding these reservations, I did purchase a supply of CFL’s and as my incandescent bulbs went to bulb heaven I began replacing them.  Yesterday, one of these valiant soldiers of the advance army of technology lost it’s life and I started to replace it.

Fortunately, I had recently read a post on the wonderful blog Two Heads Are Better Than One which can be accessed at http://thabto.wordpress.com/  in which Mark Steyn explained the process of clearing up one of these contraptions in the event that it broke in the process of removal and disposal.   I present that here in case you are in need of similar guidance in this area.

Armed with the knowledge provided in the video, I prepared the area near the CFL containing lamp by stripping two beds of their pillows and placing them underneath the lamp.  I washed my hands thoroughly with lava containing soap to make sure than any slippery substance which might have adhered was now history.  I dried my hands thoroughly and shooed Gracie out the back door into the yard just to be certain that, despite my precautions, should a mishap occur in this process, she would not be exposed to mercury poisoning.  And with the deft hands of a skilled surgeon, I unscrewed the now deceased warrior of a better way of life and removed it from the fixture.  The operation went well and was concluded without incident.

I am jubilant to report that I also made my own contribution to advancing the cause of mankind.  I happened to find in my light bulb “stash” one of those old, warm incandescent bulbs which had snuggled its way into a corner and which I had overlooked.  I replaced the CFL with it, returning to the older, simpler way of doing things.  I think the reason the CFL’s draw less electricity is obvious.  They throw less light than their ancient counterparts.

When I drive over to Lowe’s the next time so that I can properly recycle my mercury-containing CFL bulb, I think I’m going to load up on a supply of the oldies but goodies before they become illegal later this year.  Who knows, a black market for these bulbs might develop and I may stand to make a small fortune.  Or at the least, I should check out whether I can find an incandescent light bulb manufacturer in China – which may indeed become the provider of light in this Brave New World.

Tag Cloud