03 January, 2012

LED Bulbs

In an attempt to decrease my usage of Golden Valley's $0.25 kilowatt-hours, I began, late last year, investing in and switching over to LED light bulbs. While they are expensive, they have many advantages over compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.

  • They last (essentially) forever, with MTBFs in the tens of thousands of hours (50,000 is common--more than five and a half years of constant operation).
  • They use less energy than CFL bulbs, and substantially less energy than incandescents.
  • They do not contain hazardous mercury.
  • They are not affected by cold temperatures.
LEDs have some limitations, notably they usually cannot be used on dimmer circuits (note, there are a few that can).

I have installed and tested a number of different LEDs over the last few months, and I have some recommendations.

First, and most important: Do not buy any LED lamp labelled "accent" or "decorative" and expect to get any useful light. These are nothing more than Christmas lights or indicator lights, are generally poorly made, and what light they do produce is usually a harsh bluish tone.

For a general purpose, non-dimmed  light fixture, I recommend three of the EarthLEDs line, depending on how much light is required.

The EarthLED ThetaLux 9-Watt Warm White LED Light Bulb is about equivalent to a 75-watt incandescent; while its smaller cousin, the EarthLED ZetaLux 2 Pro 7-Watt Warm White LED Light Bulb is about equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. For applications where less light is desired, the EarthLED ZetaLux 2 - Standard 6 Watt LED Light Bulb - Warm White (2700K) is also available, equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent. All three of these bulbs emit a warm white light, at 2700 Kelvin. Cool white bulbs are available as well.

A couple important notes on the EarthLED bulbs; they are substantially heavier than an incandescent, and somewhat heavier than a CFL, so be sure their intended fixture is sturdy enough. They cannot be used on a dimming circuit--they will function, but only when the circuit is all the way open. They are a directional light, radiating about 190 degrees centered on the top. This makes them ideal for downlights, but they are not suited for most floor lamps where the bulb points up. They are idea for torchiere style lamps, because of this. Finally, the manufacturer recommends that they not be installed in fully enclosed fixtures.

If the directional limitation of the EarthLED bulbs is a problem, or if a dimmable bulb is required, I recommend the Philips 409904 Dimmable AmbientLED 12.5-Watt A19 Light Bulb. This bulb, while it looks bizarre, is an excellent performer. They are equivalent in brightness to a 75-watt equivalent, and despite the yellow cover, it emits a very warm white light, also 2700K, and is fully dimmable. These bulbs are ideal for fixtures where the bulb is not readily visible, and can be used in enclosed fixtures.

LEDs can be ideal for outdoor fixtures as well. For PAR38 lamps (most motion sensor lights are this size), the EarthLEDs PAR38 is ideal. Despite it's high cost ($39.99 at this writing), it replaces a 75-watt incandescent with only nine watts, and, unlike a CFL floodlight, illuminates instantly even at -40F!

I have replaced nearly every light in our house with LEDs. While this is not necessarily a profitable investment, it has reduced our electric consumption substantially, down nearly 65% from one year ago. While LEDs aren't a panacea, they can, especially when installed in frequently used fixtures, cut household energy usage significantly.

01 January, 2012

What's Wrong with this Country

As we approach another election, Congress has thrown a monkey wrench into our justice system, with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. This act, which nominally funds our military, contains a very troubling provision: Section 1021 allows the President, via the military, to detain, indefinitely, any person “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces, under the law of war, without trial, until the end of hostilities.”

If this is not immediately alarming, consider this: there is no provision excluding American citizens, you know, those people who were “endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights…” Yes. Them.

This is in clear violation of virtually every civil liberty enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; because, while those who throw in with our enemies ultimately deserve to be punished, even the worst of Citizens is entitled to their day in court. Who, then, supported this travesty? Sadly, virtually everybody. It passed the Senate 86 to 13, and the House 322 to 96.

Nearly the entire GOP Primary field were supporters.

Mitt Romney said “...if necessary to defend the country, I would be willing to authorize the use of deadly force.”

Newt Gingrich said he would authorize the killing of a US Citizen “…under wartime circumstances.”

Jon Hunstman attempted to get around “due process” by redefining it: “The Fifth Amendment’s protection against the taking of life without due process does not mandate the use of judicial process in all circumstances.”

Well, did the Democrats fare better? Sadly, again, no, because, in addition to the overwhelming majority vote, the bill was signed by President Obama.

Shame on all of them.

Except, perhaps, Ron Paul, who, when asked under what circumstances he would authorize the killing of a US Citizen, responded, simply, and correctly, “None.”

As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." We should heed his advice.

21 December, 2011

A Lineup For Philadelphia

A Lineup for Philadelphia
with apologies to Ogden Nash

A is for Alex
The Great Alexander
More goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander

(bear with me here)

B is for Bull
The two Luzinskis
They gave us ribbies
And damp poetry

C is for Chooch
Carlos Ru-iz
He calls a great game
And iguanas he eats

D is for Daulton
Dutch filled in for Parrish
His knees gave us fits
But brought us a Series

E is for Ed
Big Delahanty
He was but a third
Of the outfield so dandy

F is for Philley
David Earl Philley
He wasn’t an All-Star
Just one of the Phillies

G is for Gavvy
Cactus Cravath
With all his homeruns
A poor man’s Babe Ruth

H is for Halladay
The Doc himself
He may not go to the Zoo
But batters’ faces, he melts

I is for Inky
Ruled the NCAA
He got his own rule
And always swung swung away

J is for Jimmy
The Mets didn’t like him
“The Team to Beat”
He said, that showed ‘em

K is for Klein
The Hoosier Hammer
He did his damage
In the Bowl called Baker

L is for the Leftys
Grove and O’Doul
There was Hoerst, Taber, Weinert
And Carlton was cool

M is for Manuel
Red Devil of Nippon
Heed his advice
Hit, like, we gon’

N is for Nolan
Edward Sylvester
No, not Ryan
The best nickname ever

O is for Ozark
He led us from the cellar
Flirted with 100
And led again, downstairs

P is for Puddin’ Head
Whiz Kid Willie Jones
Why he was called that
Nobody knows

Q is for Quantrill
Paul John Q
He was not terrible
But nobody knew

R is for the Rynes
Sandberg and Duren
Not Phils for long
An unconventional pairin’

S is for Schmidt
The great Michael Jack
He was our best
Thought we cut him no slack

T is for Terry
Terry Francona
He’s managed all over
Including Alaska

U is for Utley
He closed out the Vet
And at the Parade
Gave the best thrill yet

V is for Vic
The Flyin’ Hawaiian
His W.A.R.
Is very excitin’

W is for the Whiz Kids
Robbie and Richie
Andy, Dick, Del, Curt
And Jim Konstanty

X is the last of
The letters in Maddox
Covered one third of the Earth
And read lots of books

Y is for the Youngs
Bobby and Michael
Dick and Del
No, not that Michael

Z is for Zenith
The summit of fame
These men are up there
These men are the game our team.

13 December, 2011

The Good Phight Bloggers as Awesome Rock Anthems, and Other, Lesser, Forms of Artistic Expression, Part II

By [somewhat] popular demand, Part II of my award-winning* series in which The Good Phight bloggers are compared to Awesome Rock Anthems, and other, lesser, forms of artistic expression.

*winner of and nominated for zero awards.

LizroscherBlonde, Bad, Beautiful, Airbourne. I'm taking some artistic license with this one, as I don't know Liz personally, nor do I know if she's blonde, but if wit is anything to go on, this is a perfect fit. Plus, it's a rockin' drivin' song, and the band's name is in a foreign language.

TheOrangeCone - Orange Barrels, Heywood Banks. No really. How much more apt can you get.

Actually, this may not be as funny as I'd hoped, so I'll have to try again. How about this?
Blaze of Glory, Bon Jovi. Because you don't burn the Werth jersey your Dad gave you. Yeah. Plus, it's solidly in rock anthem territory.

David S Cohen - Put Me in Coach, John Fogerty. For the guy who makes this catch, well, there's really nothing else to say.

Doubleh - Holy Diver, Ronnie James Dio. This may be a bit of a stretch, but, hey, Wildcats are kinda like Tigers, right? Also, because awesome. Not enough cussing, probably, but whatever.

LeepinLizardz - Sigh, Praful. Bear with me. Watch the video. Yeah. "He might be 35 years old, but boy can he still fly. #FreeScottPods" That guy. He may not be the best player on the roster, and he may not be the Dread Pirate Roberts, but the dude loves the game. And I guess he's kinda hot. Or something.

Cormican - Dinosaur, Ke$ha. Sorry, Cormican. No really, it's outta my hands, here. You brought this upon yourself. There's really no other reason than that. Also I'm lazy. Also you're a man to figure. Also I thought this would be funnier than it probably is. But goddamn, I don't like that song. I owe you one, Cormican. Really, I do. Have an Internet Beer on me.

Jose and the Contrarians - La Candela, Yerba Buena. I don't know anything about this song, and I don't speak whatever language that is, but I'm assuming it's about how his truck broke down, his wife left him, and his dog died. Well, the Phillies' Truck may break down from time to time, but he's still our truck, and by God, we love him.

EREX21 - Danger Zone, Kenny Loggins. Bear with me. I'm not sure what to say about this, except that Giant Space Bears are probably one of the biggest dangers of life in Alaska. Unless you're a hockey fan like Rex, in which case, rock on, cause you survived on an asteroid! Unless unless you root for the wrong team, in which case the entire Earth was destroyed. Go 'Nooks! Note: I know you're probably not a Nanooks' fan. I forgive you.

Honorable Mention:

Jason Brannon - Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen. Well. Being a Birther but for Pujols kinda lends itself to this. Sorry, Jason, I like your writing, but you're kinda a moran when it comes to EVIDENCE!!!


The 2011-2012 Philadelphia Eagles - I Hate Myself for Lovin' You, Joan Jett. I been dreamin' about the lovin' you do winnin' you [don't] do." Seriously. 5-8? The fuck is that?

The Rest of TheGoodPhight.Com - We Are the Lonely, John Prine. 'We are the Lonely all together. All together. We're all alone." I love you guys. We're all together.

01 December, 2011

The Good Phight bloggers as Awesome Rock Anthems

So, if you'll forgive some creative interpretation of the term "rock anthem," I hope you'll find the following a good summarization of some of TheGoodPhight's more notable bloggers.

WholeCamelsParadise City, by Guns and Roses. “Take me down to The GoodPhightCity, where the field is green and the bloggers are witty.” Those might not be the lyrics, but they should be.

Taco PalThunderdome, by Pink Cream 69. “You’ve got the right to win or lose… IN THE THUNDERDOME LOGICDOME.” Taco’s gonna win. You must be the other guy.

Wet LuzinskiDiggin’ on James Brown, by Tower of Power. “Ah! Piggy wiggy!” Ok, it’s not a rock anthem, but it’s still awesome. A homage to the hardest working man in show business meets the hardest working man in the sportsblog-poetry business.

Remember The PhitansThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Iron Maiden. “With my crossbow, I shot the Albatross.” The greatest musical composition of all time. Based on one of the greatest written works of all time.

JReedThe Call of Ktulu, by Metallica. Enough said.

Veni, Vidi, ViciThe Body of an American, by The Pogues. "What to say about this piece of work... natural po-lice... at five o’clock in the evening, every bastard there was pesky." So, it’s not really a rock anthem either, but whatever.

Of course, the real song is pretty good too.

SchmenkmanScatman, by Scatman John. “I’m the S(t)atman!.” Not a rock anthem. Not rock at all, really, and has nothing to do with baseball. But, if you excuse the misspelling, it’s right on. “I hear you all ask about the meaning of s(t)at, well I’m the professor…”

 JoecatzPassion Rules the Game, by The Scorpions. “When passion rules the game, I ain’t got no control, when my heart’s in flames.” Between Grandpa and Joecatz Jr, there’s some obvious ‘passion for the game’ in that family. Props. Plus, “Good luck is everywhere,” so sayeth Catztradamus.

Fuqua ManuelMTA, The Kingston Trio. “Well let me tell you a story of a man named Charlie…” Not really rock, and it’s about the Boston MTA, but it’s a damn good toe-tapping song, and it’s about a man named Charles Fuqua Manuel who goes round and round and round…

LeQuan Rock the Casbah, by The Clash. Stop the cashbox. Clean the catbox. Lock the taskbar. Lequan don’t like it. What the whatwhat?

Honorable Mentions:

Phrozen - Happy Boy, by The Beat Farmers. Take Me Out to the Ballgame? Pssh. During the Seventh Inning Stretch at the home games of the Fairbanks Goldpanners, this song is played instead. Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba!

ZooWithRoyBuzz Saw, by The Turtles. A bit of a throwback, but still awesome. Who uses organs in rock any more. Or listens to LPs. Or goes to zoos. Great stuff.

Ruben AmaroBreakin’ the Law, by Judas Priest. $50 million for Jonathan Papelbon? Plusses and minuses, ups and downs; but that's just not right.

Chase UtleyKashmir, by Led Zeppelin. Enough said.

27 November, 2011

The Gearhead Index

In the May 2006 issue of the Ester Republic, CP McRoy penned an essay about the Ester Gearhead Index, inspired over drinks at the Golden Eagle Saloon. In short, the EGI seeks to measure the "Tim the Toolman Taylor"-ness of the individual in question, by counting the total number of cylinders in internal combustion engines. CP and company compared notes and reached totals in the 30s, with the exception of a particularly Esteroid 138!

Having said all that, I suppose I should measure my own EGI.
F-250 - 8
Escort - 4
Subaru - 6
Honda and Kawasaki generators - 2
Honda and Tecumseh lawn mowers - 2 (yes, I have two lawn mowers)

That adds up to 22, so evidently I have some catching up to do. I wonder if my wife will mind some extra junk cars on the lawn...

25 November, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim

The fifth installment in Bethesda Softworks' acclaimed The Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim was released on 11 November. Having spent several hours playing over the last week, I can now thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a good cRPG.