You’ve seen those cartoons in which a light bulb with rays bursting outward appears above someone’s head.
It represents an idea, usually a new and brilliant one! And sometimes we hear certain people described as “dim bulbs,” meaning they’re not terribly bright.
But can such metaphors work once the gaudy, porcelain-white glow from today’s halogen, fluorescent, and LED (“light-emitting diode”) bulbs lights up the globe? How can you fit a bright, new cartoon thought into a spiral-shaped CFL (compact fluorescent) idea bubble? And I thought the CFL was a football league.
These new lights, pasty-white in the main, have all been created by something called “opto-electronics.” Scary.
How many (fill in here) does it take to change one of those day-glo-white CFLs? If you’re talking about me, the answer is one — as fast as I can. Give me the warm, yellowy glow of an old-fashioned, Thomas Edison-inspired incandescent, not something that gives your office the ambience of an emergency room.
Cheapskate motel chains have gladly replaced cozy bedside bulbs with chalky high-tech ones. The room has all the warmth of a crypt. But the housekeepers still put a mint under your headstone. Or stand beneath one of today’s pallid street lights — humming menacingly — and watch cats and children run screaming. No wonder. They make you look like an extra in “The Night of the Living Dead.”
Like those street lights, many new and “improved” bulbs take their sweet time turning on. They’re not “warming up.” The bulbs are cool — clammy, if you ask me — to the touch. Prodded by Carol, my efficiency expert, I put one in a socket next to our garden and turned it on at dusk. Roosters were crowing before the thing gave off enough light to reveal the possum eating our petunias. Made him look ghastly, too.
I guess you can tell by now that I’m not a fan of these cool, pale lightbulbs. And I see from news reports that I’m not alone. With a mandated phase-out of incandescent bulbs, beginning with 100-watt varieties next year, people across America are stockpiling the things!
Incandescents’ days are numbered because governments around the world have ordered manufacturers to get with the CFL and halogen program in the name of efficiency. Compact flourescents are said to use as much as 75 percent less electricity than the old filament bulbs. Or is it 125 percent? 2,900 percent? All kinds of data have been marched out to promote the new lighting technology. Unscrewing the old and screwing in the new saves energy, we’re assured. You’re helping the planet cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s funny, the only bulbs I’ve seen in greenhouses are fluorescents or heat lamps.
I’m so not getting with the program. Above my head in my VOA office loom four opaque-glass rectangles beneath which stretch 16 long, fluorescent tubes. Not a one of them works, because I got up on a chair and twisted them out of their sockets after bringing in three lovely desk lamps from home. (Don’t tell.)
“I can’t see a thing with the new bulbs and can’t afford them anyway,” Sue Larkin of Tulsa, Oklahoma, told the USA Today newspaper. A CFL typically sells for three or four times the price of an incandescent. Supposedly, though, it lasts for 10,000 hours or something.
Of course, I’ve never met anyone who added up all the hours that a given lightbulb was on find out if this is true or promoter baloney.
“I have stocked up on enough incandescent bulbs to last for the next 50 years,” Susan Drake of Marietta, Ohio, informed USA Today. You go, girl! I’d do the same thing, but I can’t bring myself to throw out the 1,900 beauties in my beer-bottle collection. There’d be nowhere else in the house to stash all those 100-watters.
“Unless you prefer paying higher electricity bills, there’s no reason to hoard old incandescent bulbs,” scolded the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Noah Horowitz.
Right, like anybody prefers higher utility bills. But tell the truth. Who likes reading or typing or applying eyeliner under bluish-white blobs of CFL illumination? You can talk CFL, LED, “green” to be trendy, but these creations can’t, um, hold a candle to the warm — all right, sometimes hot to the touch — lightbulbs of old.
After years of experimenting, Thomas Edison was quoted as saying, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a lightbulb.”
He’d have a thousand more if he’d walked out of the lab with a twisty CFL.
KIO (Knock it Off)
Speaking of initials and modernity, I read a newspaper story about the spread of texting lingo — “OMG,” etc. — from handheld devices to our day-to-day speech. We’re starting to actually say “LOL,” for laugh out loud,” out loud!
Then I got one of those humor messages that races around the Internet, announcing that we SENIORS now have our own texting codes with which to express the indignities of old age. For example:
ATD At the Doctor’s
BTW Bring the Wheelchair
CBM Covered by Medicare
COC Coffin or Cremation?
CUATRH See You at the Rest Home
DWI Driving While Incontinent
GG Got Gas
NPA Not Prunes Again!
SWS Say What, Sonny?
WIA Where Am I?
WYNA What’s Your Name Again?
And there was a good one that may need a little context. The person referenced was an older North Dakotan of Norwegian descent. He directed a television orchestra and singers who lilted through sentimental ballads and accordion-accompanied waltzes while bubbles billowed to the bouncy tune. He was a favorite among the older set. Here’s the text code:
LWO Lawrence Welk’s On!
But I believe texting shorthand can be a helpful tool for bridging the communication gap between generations. No need for the wise family patriarch to prattle on when it’s time to pass along stories from the olden days or helpful tips to guide a young sprout through life. Instead, toss out a few of these useful texting codes to replace tired clichés that make the young’ns’ eyes roll, and you’ll be done in no time:
AAAAL An Arm and a Leg
ABB Age Before Beauty
ABNB All Bark and No Bite
AOME Apple of My Eye
ATCF As the Crow Flies
BIAB? (Were You) Born in a Barn?
BIMD Back in My Day
BSTS Better Safe than Sorry
BTA-HTF (The) Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall
BBT-TTR (It’s) Better to Give than to Receive
BOB Bottom of the Barrel
BTH Bury the Hatchet
BTSSB Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
CBH Cart Before the Horse
CBNC Close, but No Cigar
CGYT? Cat Got Your Tongue
CBT-JT (If you ) Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
CNG Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
DAD Dime a Dozen
DIAR Ducks in a Row
DITB Drop in the Bucket
FIF Fit as a Fiddle
or Forewarned is Forearmed
FOCB Fish or Cut Bait
HF Horse Feathers!
HOTH High on the Hog
HYH Hold Your Horses
IR I Reckon
LBYL Look Before You Leap
LIB Love is Blind
LS Last Straw
LTSO (You Don’t Have a) Leg to Stand on
MDGGOT Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
MHHC (A) Man’s Home is His Castle
MHWSS Make Hay While the Sun Shines
MO Midnight Oil
MPQ Mind Your Ps and Qs
MU (A) Monkey’s Uncle
NB-DFI (If it’s) Not Broke, Don’t Fix it
NRTW No Rest for the Weary
OBTS Once Bitten, Twice Shy
OOF-ITF Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire
OOS-OOM Out of Sight, Out of Mind
OSTD (Waiting for the) Other Shoe to Drop
PCTS (When) Push Comes to Shove
PFYT A Penny for Your Thoughts
PIAV Patience is a Virtue
PIAP Pig in a Poke
POC (a) Piece-o-Cake
PSPE A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
PWPF Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
PWYP Practice What You Preach
RCD (It’s) Raining Cats and Dogs
RKS Real Knee-Slapper
SC Spring Chicken
SOL (Variety is the) Spice of Life
SS Straight Shooter
TCW (My) Two Cents’ Worth
TISTF Truth is Stranger than Fiction
THAW Time Heals All Wounds
TIC Talk is Cheap
TLY That’ll Learn Ya!
TOKO Takes One to Know One
TFP (I Wouldn’t Touch that with a) Ten-Foot Pole
TRTH Tough Row to Hoe
TTC Third Time’s the Charm or (It’s the) Thought that Counts
WBTE Wet Behind the Ears
WWBWB What Will Be Will Be
WNY (The) Whole Nine Yards
WPNB (A) Watched Pot Never Boils
WYS Worth Your Salt
Can you give us GAs (golden agers) some more helpful abbreviations? Or send me texting codes that a young person might use to reply to Granny and Gramps.
Ted's Wild Words
These are a few words from this posting that you may not know. Each time, I'll tell you a little about them and also place them into a cumulative archive of "Ted's Wild Words" in the right-hand column of the home page. Just click on it there, and if there's another word that you'd like me to explain, just ask!
Diode. In electronics, a two-terminal component that passes electrical current in one direction between them.
Incandescent. Containing a filament that turns white-hot and gives off light when electric current passes through it.
Persnickety. Fussy and demanding about every little detail, often in a snotty or snobbish way.