Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Circus Is Over

About eleven months ago, I wrote about the beginning of the not-very-entertaining side show that was the lead-up to the primary elections. At that time I never imagined that Donald Trump would, by any stretch of the imagination, become the President-elect of the United States. The thought never crossed my mind.

It's not that I was expecting Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to be the next President. I've been around a long time, and since George H.W. Bush succeeded Reagan, we've ping-ponged back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, with mostly two-term presidents. Having a Republican in the White House doesn't surprise me in the least.

But Donald Trump? That crude, loud-mouthed, unscrupulous, bigoted, unfiltered reality-TV star? The man who bankrupted four companies while enriching himself? The man who couldn't even contribute to the writing of his own autobiography in any meaningful way? That Donald Trump?

I honestly don't understand. Not that the Republican field was full of roses or anything, but at least one of the other candidates could have been somewhat trusted to hold his or her tongue from time to time. I don't trust Trump not to be impulsive, and that's something I don't want in a high government office.

This is not me being a liberal crybaby. I'm not a liberal anything. I voted for Gary Johnson, not because I wanted to "send a message," but because I honestly thought that, of the four candidates I could reasonably vote for, he was the one with the best track record. I don't think he was my ideal candidate, but the best I could choose under the circumstances. I always thought that's what I was supposed to do: attempt to elect the best person for the job.

I think, instead, we have picked about the worst person for the job. Not because he's a Republican. Not because he's a conservative (is he? I can't really tell). Not because he picked Mike Pence as his running mate. Strike that; that was really, really bad.

I think Donald Trump is the worst person for the job of President because he has absolutely no interest in serving anyone other than Donald Trump. This isn't supposition; it's been the pattern of his life for many decades. This is a man who can't concentrate long enough to read a book. This is a man who "negotiated with" (brow-beat) the architect of one of his grand hotels to take a fee so low that the man lost money on the deal, for no reason other than that Trump had the muscle to do it.

This is a man with no moral compass. For those of you who voted for Trump, I will not stuff you into some little category and berate you, I will not lump you in with him and accuse you of his behavior. But I will say that whatever it is that you think you voted for, you're not going to get it. Donald J. Trump is not looking out for you. He's not going to turn this country around.

Under Donald Trump, without some radical push-back from Congress (and both houses are now controlled by "his" party, if that actually means anything now), the United States could end up being just another Atlantic City. And no matter what debris Trump leaves in his wake, at the end of it all he will come out personally richer, perhaps parlaying his presidency into another reality TV show, and convinced of his own superiority, a legend in his own mind.

And the rest of us, as has always been the case, will be left to clean up the mess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Switching to LED

It seems like the obvious thing to do, replacing old, inefficient incandescent and even compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs with efficient, long-lasting LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. But even a year ago, it wasn't nearly so obvious. Because for all the amazing advantages we see in the diodes themselves, which have been all over our houses in our appliances and electronic devices, and even our TV screens for years, when it came to home lighting, LED bulbs had a few problems that made me stay away from them.

They were very expensive. Individual bulbs went for as much as $20. And they didn't actually save that much power or last that long compared with CFLs. So they weren't saving much energy or any money.

I started changing over a little at a time in two places in my home. I have two small can lights over my kitchen stove, in which I had been using halogen lamps. Those had two problems: they used a lot of power, and they also lost their lenses after a short time, spitting hot glass onto my vinyl floor and leaving the quartz bulb exposed to dust, which shortened its life.

So I tried LED substitutes, despite their expense, because there are no CFL bulbs that fit the small cans. They provided a very harsh, unpleasant (though bright) light. And they failed. Within weeks. The the LEDs themselves, but the power supply.

The store, Lowes, was very good about replacing the bulbs, but after the third round, I just gave up. We just did without those lights, in fact, for more than six months.

Meanwhile, I found a 7-watt replacement for the 13-watt light in the basement. I chose to replace that because everyone leaves it on all the time. Unlike the lights for the cans, though, that one has lasted very well. It was still very expensive, though.

But now things have changed, a lot. I can buy a six-pack of 60-watt-equivalent LED bulbs that cast a light much closer to the CFLs in quality for less than $10 a package, and they seem to last. No only that, but they use about half the power needed for a CFL, last quite a bit longer, and are so efficient that you can actually hold onto the lit bulb without burning your fingers. In fact, they generate very little heat at all.

So now, with very few exceptions (and those mostly because of available sizes), as my CFLs burn out, I am replacing them with LED. I even found a different brand for the can lights, and the stove area is once again brightly lit.

I can now, without reservation, recommend LED lighting in nearly all home applications. And it's about time.