Margaret's Musings: A light bulb moment — Merry ChristmasAs an avid listener of Minnesota Public Radio, in recent months a couple of stories have led to questions which I still keep pondering.
By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer
As an avid listener of Minnesota Public Radio, in recent months a couple of stories have led to questions which I still keep pondering.
The first was a story about the closing of the last incandescent light bulb manufacturing plant in the United States. The GE plant, nestled in Winchester, Vir., a town I drove through a number of times when I lived on the East Coast, closed for good in September.
Invented by Thomas Edison, the light bulb, as we know it, is on course to be phased out of American life completely. Ironically, GE engineers invented the compact florescent light (CFL) back in 1973 after the energy crisis. Due to the extremely labor intensive process it was not pursued as a mass-manufactured product. However, the original prototype did warrant a place in the Smithsonian.
In the early 1990s the CFL became a project for Ellis Yan, a Chinese immigrant-entrepreneur who already owned a lighting business. He took the time and the initiative to figure out how to make the lights and added automation to the process. Today, all of the CFL bulbs sold in the United States are made overseas, most of them in China.
I was an avid supporter of the CFLs from the beginning, buying the early models which left me in darkness, due to their lack of lumens, and despair, when faced with proper disposal. I know they have come a long way since then, but today, I wonder how, in the big environmental picture, replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs which create their own environment hazards (mercury) while simultaneously pushing the nation toward plug-in cars which run off of electricity generated largely by coal, balances the equation. Just pondering…. BTW there are over 7 million websites that can answer these questions.
Useful information when the inevitable happens:
How to clean up if you break a CFL
The most important steps to reduce exposure to mercury vapor from a broken bulb are:
1. Before cleanup:
a. Have people and pets leave the room.
b. Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
c. Shut off the central forced air heating/air conditioning (H&AC) system, if you have one.
d. Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb.
2. During cleanup:
a. Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
b. Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.
3. After cleanup:
a. Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of properly. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
b. For several hours, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the H&AC off.
This information was found on the www.energystar.gov website.
The other story broke after a Rutgers University student committed suicide following an embarrassing posting on the Internet. The aftermath discussion centered on the concept that schools at the university level should offer classes in the proper use of the Internet and its many options for communication, in this case for bullying.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. By the time students are in a university setting, it would be my hope they know right from wrong, i.e. their moral compass ought to be set in the right direction. Simply, I put to you the question: Where do morals come from? Think about your own compass and what influenced it: religion, parents, culture, peers and educators. For most people it is likely a combination of some or all of these and others as well.
The dictionary definition: moral — relating to, dealing with or capable of making the distinction between right and wrong in conduct.
As we are in the midst of the holiday season, which for many is more than a commercial adventure, we may want to ponder this very question and do what is now considered politically incorrect — wish someone a Merry Christmas.