Pounding a Point Home with a Sledgehammer

2014 is the year we say “good bye” to incandescent bulbs.  Here is a paper I wrote in 2012 concerning the adverse conditions breaking just one of these bulbs can cause.  You tell me, does it really seem worth it?  And, seriously, how many people do you really think will take the precautions listed in the following paper?  Read on…

We tend to concentrate on the small picture, yet expound upon and speechify about the big picture, when it comes to the environment.  The blackout of 2003 should have taught us that our electric grids are outmoded and inefficient.  Repairing our energy infrastructure might make it more efficient and less polluting to our environment while we are working on other, better ways to power our homes, etc.  Recycling should not require a Ph.D. in “little triangles you can’t read on the bottom of a container”.  Some states do not do any kind of vehicle inspections, and if they do, some do not test emissions.  The cost of environmentally-friendly products and systems are sometimes out of reach to the average consumer.

Small things can help – like recycling, driving energy efficient vehicles, or riding a bike to work or school.  Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are a suggested small “solution” to reducing our carbon footprint that could have been investigated further.  They contain mercury, and unless you read the package you might be unaware of the method of disposal of this hazardous waste material.  According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are safety procedures you must follow (as an individual citizen – different laws apply to businesses) if you should break one.  The following are just three of many steps:

  • “Prior to cleaning up the spill, put on old clothes or disposable coveralls, old shoes or disposable booties, and disposable rubber, latex or nitrile gloves. These items may need to be disposed of after you have completed cleanup of the spill.”
  • “Place clean clothes, shoes and a trash bag just outside the room where the mercury spill occurred.”
  • “After cleaning up the spill, carefully remove your gloves by grasping them at the wrist and pulling them off inside-out. Place the gloves in the trash bag for disposal.”

It is also suggested that you air out the room for 24-48 hours before accessing it again.  (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 2009)

“On average, CFLs contain about four milligrams of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury – an amount equal to the mercury in over 100 CFLs” (EPA.gov, 2012). So, it is not a great amount of the poisonous heavy metal.  “The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for mercury is a ceiling limit of 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m³), which is currently enforced as an 8-hour time-weighted average” (OSHA, 2012).  An average bulb contains 4mg of mercury.  If it breaks in a 10’x12’x8’ room containing 27.18 cubic meters of air your maximum exposure should be 2.72 mg of mercury during an 8 hour time period.

You will have used a plastic trash bag (petroleum product), latex gloves (petroleum product), fuel to get to a recycling facility (if you do not have hazardous recycling in your neighborhood), plus the cost of the clothing you had to discard.  The above information does not include the steps necessary to dispose of bulbs that have just burned out and are not broken.

Personally, I would rather our government had put money into our Universities and research facilities to thoroughly examine the costs and benefits (financial, environmental and health related) of “environmentally-friendly” products before items such as Compact Fluorescents were put on the market.  I would also like to see more of these products manufactured in the United States.



OSHA Fact Sheet.  Protecting Workers from Mercury Exposure While Crushing and Recycling Fluorescent Bulbs.  June, 2012.  Web. http://www.osha.gov/Publications/mercuryexposure_fluorescentbulbs_factsheet.pdf Accessed November 26, 2012.


Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.  Compliance Bulletin Solid Waste.  Broken Thermometer and Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup. Guidance for Households reviewed/revised September 2009. Web.  http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Broken+Thermometer+and+Fluorescent+Bulb+Cleanup+Guidance+for+Households.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251813336777&ssbinary=true Accessed November 26, 2012.

Scientific American.  The 2003 Northeast Blackout–Five Years Later. August 13, 2008.  Web.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=2003-blackout-five-years-later Accessed November 26, 2012.


What are the Connections between Mercury and CFLs? November 08, 2012. Web.

http://www.epa.gov/cfl/cfl-hg.html Accessed November 26, 2012.


Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.  Compliance Bulletin Hazardous Waste.  Small Mercury Spill and Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup. Guidance for Businesses reviewed/revised September 2009. Web. http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Mercury+Spill+and+Fluorescent+Bulb+Cleanup+Guidance+for+Businesses+.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251813173513&ssbinary=true Accessed November 26, 2012.

Air Sickness Bags are Located in the Seat Back in Front of You…

Have you noticed that things are pushed through Congress so fast that the G-forces are messing with your stomach?

You know, Barack, why don’t you just get it over with?   Why don’t you cram all your wishes, hopes and dreams (along with those of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) into one HUGE, “America, bend over, put your head between your legs and kiss your a** good-bye” piece of legislation.  Stop the slow trickle of agony you are putting us through.

To stand there in the Rose Garden and say “THIS WILL HAPPEN!” like some little child throwing a temper tantrum was quite unbecoming.  Why is anybody bothering to debate any bill his administration puts before Congress?   Barack says “This will happen!”

Now our benevolent government has added Landlord to their list of gifts to the unwashed.  Okay, we are taking your house away from you because unemployment in your state is through the roof and many of the jobs you can do just to get by are taken by illegal immigrants, BUT we will let you live in your house for 5 years.  Oh, gee, thanks…I think.

I think I have administration overload.  I am simply watching all of this crap being wheeled in at the last minute, unread, and voted on in 2 or 3 days.  Then I see the unemployment numbers rise, the deficit grows larger by the second, businesses closing and I wonder why?  I will ask the same question I have been asking for months…

Why are the American people not allowed to vote on our own future?


Computer Blues

I have downloaded the Cap & Trade bill, Health Care Reform proposal and Stimulus Bill.  My laptop sent me an email yesterday that reads as follows:

“I feel that you don’t appreciate me anymore.  You expect me to do all of the work, yet I feel that I am unappreciated.  I thought we were a team.  Now, you can’t even remember my “Back-up Files” anniversary and my “Spyware Renewal” date went by unnoticed.  What does a Compaq have to do to get your attention?  If you keep piling more on my hard drive without so much as a passing scan, I feel I will not be able to continue this relationship much longer…”

My reply was as follows:

“I am sorry you feel unappreciated.  Without you I am lost.  However, Compaq darling, since no one in Congress seems inclined to read anything other than the Net Income on their paychecks, “We the People” are left to do it alone.  Hang in there and I promise there is a full defrag, scan and back-up in our future…”


“I’ll give you one more chance. But, if the government sneaks in another bill and you download it, I’M GOING HOME TO HEWLETT PACKARD!!!!”

When a computer can’t take it anymore, you know the government has crossed the line.

He’s a Magic Man

In 1961 unto the world was born a child.  And God claimed this child as his own, bestowing upon him special gifts.  Amongst these gifts were great political savvy, eloquent speech and the power to lull the masses into a false sense of security.

Through many trials and tribulations, the child grew to manhood.  He used his gifts to organize communities so they could be, well, organized!  He penned mighty tomes extolling the virtues of, uh, himself. He gifted the State Senate of Illinois with his “Present”s and gathered Acorns with which to grow mighty.

Under God’s watchful eye, the chosen child walked upon the waters of Lakes Michigan and Erie (and, honey, we aren’t talking about the old Lake Erie upon which mere mortals could traverse by foot, either), eventually heading southeast to the waiting arms of the United States Senate.  Here he gave birth to the Mission of Hope and Change, sharing his vast wisdom and experience with those less knowing than he.

Sensing that God desired him to reach even higher, he sought a larger constituency.  All but abandoning those whose Hope gave him a Change of address, he traveled the far reaches of our great land seeking believers willing to support his cause.  And God was pleased.

But, being a wise God, he needed to test his chosen child one more time.  He commanded that the ambient temperature of the planet be reduced by 3 degrees.  And so it will be done…

Worth Repeating…

I know some of you have already read this, but in light of current events I felt it might be even more relevant today.


A short story by


Dew had settled on the grassy meadow, reflecting the fiery orange of morning sunlight.  An ant pushed his way between the blades in search of food.  He sensed something in the distance.  It was quite cool beneath the cover of the overgrown meadow.  The earth was very soft and difficult to traverse.  Yet, the ant kept his pace and trudged onward.

Lily had been watching the determined insect for a while now.  Occasionally she would place her finger in his path to see if he would turn back, or find a new route to his destination.

Behind her stood an old farm house badly in need of repair.  The porch had sagged almost to ground level, the shutters long gone.  Tattered curtains waved from the windows in sync with the morning breeze.  Lily heard the muffled sounds of people coming to life.

She was almost always the first to awaken.  At 12, she was considered old enough to start the cooking fire and put on coffee, when the government included it in the ration packages (or “rat packs”, as most Commons called them).   The breakfast skillet was warmed on a grate next to the coals inside of the fire ring.  Most days, breakfast included liquid eggs, veecon (a tofu product formed to resemble bacon) and soft corn tortillas.  Lily did not prepare the meal.  That chore was left to her older brother, Lyle.

“How long you been up?”, her mother asked as she walked toward the fire ring.

“Oh, about an hour or so.  The ants were in our cooler box again.”

“Damn!  Did they ruin anything?”

“Nope.  Got ‘em before they could do much harm.  Wish we could find a better spot for the food, Mom.  Why don’t we put it in the house?”

Her mother sighed and looked to the sky.  “Lily, I TOLD you if we put it inside, the ants will be INSIDE.  I don’t particularly like sleeping with ants, do you?”

“No.  I just hate fightin’ ‘em every day.  It gets to be a real pain.”  She reached into the cooler box and retrieved a glass bottle containing their weekly supply of soy milk.

Lily was not old enough to know the taste of cow’s milk.  As a matter of fact, the only cows she had ever seen were in picture books.  That might not have been so odd if she lived in a big city, but she did not.  Lily lived on her Grampa’s old dairy farm.  Thirty-five years ago it was the Number One dairy in the state.  Their milk was distributed all over the country.

Then  came the Great American Clean-up.  In Two Thousand Fifteen, the Government mandated zero-methane output nationwide.  Cows, pigs, sheep and other “ranch animals” were rounded up and sold to Canada or Mexico.  Meat products were purchased from those countries, if you could afford them.

The Clean-up ruined her Grampa financially.  The only reason they still had a house to live in was that a parcel of the dairy farm had been paid off long ago and her Grampa had never borrowed against it.  He was “asked” to do the Patriotic thing and donate the balance of his land to the “Corn Co-Operative”.

Fossil fuels were available only to the Protectors, Techies or the Government.  The traditional Military had been dismantled in Twenty-twenty and replaced with an organization consisting of former members of some of the larger private security firms.  The borders were policed remotely via monitors, only a few actual Protectors were needed to respond to escape alerts put out by the Techies.  America no longer sent troops to foreign lands.  The largest national security issue was citizens who wanted to leave without special permission or a work Visa.

Windmills crowded the landscapes from Coast to Coast.  Solar panels popped up like ugly dandelions.  Television and radio were obsolete, as were laptops and PC’s.  All communication was regulated by the Fairness Commission and transmitted via cell phones.  Every citizen was issued a phone when they turned 5-years-old.  It was to be carried with you at all times.

Lily did not attend school.  She had Vid-Ed for 4 hours every day.  The Education Commission had been nationalized and all children received the same education in every part of the country.

Lyle called the family to breakfast and they gathered around the picnic table to eat.  This was Lily’s favorite time of day.  Sometimes, Grampa would tell stories of the days when he would attend automobile races with his father.  Or when he went to a place called Iraq so that America could be safe.  He spoke of the 50 states that made up his country.  Alaska had long since become a nation unto itself, and Hawaii had been lost to North Korea in Twenty-Ten.

Three other states – Michigan, Maine and Washington – had been traded to Canada for gold.  California became a part of Mexico in a deal with the Mexican Government that was never clearly explained.  “No one cared”, said Grampa.  “They were a pain in the ass anyway.”

“Good Lord, Dad!” said Lily’s mom.  Suddenly, a large hand clamped over her mouth.  It was Lily’s father.  He held his wife close and whispered in her ear, “Do you want to go to jail, Susan?”

He loosened his grip and Susan took a deep breath.  “It just comes out sometimes.  I mean, it’s just a saying.  I wasn’t, you know, praying or anything.”

“We don’t want to take any chances, Susan.  So far, we have been left alone.  I don’t want to risk that.”  He reached for her and held her tightly.  “I’m sorry.  I love you.”

Soon, it was time for Vid-Ed to begin.  Lily’s father, grandfather and brother left to work in the Corn Co-Op.  Their hybrid hummed as it went down the dirt road and disappeared into the horizon.  Her mother retrieved some water from the rain catcher and began to clean the breakfast dishes.

Lily moved to her makeshift desk on the far end of the porch and turned on her phone.  Class began with a salute to the New America as a circular sunrise over a red, white and blue horizon appeared on the screen…