Let There Be (New) Light


To give you an idea of just how much of a dork I am, for the last two weeks I’ve been impatiently waiting for the light bulb in my desk lamp to burn out so I could put in this bulb, a compact fluorescent bulb whose manufacturer (you know, the one that builds defense systems — and airs Will and Grace!), declares that it will last at least ten times as long as any normal bulb. Well, we’ll just see about that, I thought. But I had to wait until the then-current bulb burned out because unscrewing it and putting in a new one when this old one hadn’t popped its filament was just wasteful and wrong. Now, for a moment, let us consider the sort of magical-yet-entirely-insane thinking that occurs in my brain that allows me to buy a new, $1,800 computer because I’m bored with looking at the old one, yet forbids me to throw out a 60-cent light bulb because it’s not used up all the way. Honestly, why the hell I’m allowed to spend anything more than pocket change is totally beyond me.

Be that as it may, today was the big day — at around 5pm, that most recent example of Edison’s Big Idea finally gave up the ghost, and with precipitate glee I removed it from its post and screwed this new one in — my first alternate lighting choice. And indeed, it works as advertised; despite being fluorescent, the light it gives off is about as "warm" as any incandescent bulb you might choose to think of, and when the lampshade is on the lamp the office is bathed in the same generally mellow glow I got out of wave after wave of 40-to-60-watt lightbulbs (this one, by comparison, uses a mere 13 watts). Naturally, it’s too early to tell whether it will last ten times as long as a normal bulb, but I’ve got the stopwatch on it. We’ll see, won’t we.

One of the things I find deeply amusing about this bulb (aside from its appearance, which is in fact decidedly un-bulblike) is that GE guarantees the bulb for five years, and if the bulb does burn out before then, why, you can get your money back. Just remember to stash away the bulb’s UPC code and register receipt, so you can mail them to GE. I’m trying to imagine the universe in which I of all people keep both of these things at the ready, waiting for the merest hint of product failure before November 18, 2010. I imagine in this alternate universe I also have a thick mane of wavy chestnut hair and a giant talking puma named Jo-Jo, whom I ride sidesaddle in my job as Chief Leprechaun Catcher for the state of Ohio. Those damn Leprechauns and their stupid pots of gold. They’re a plague, I tell you.

I am in fact passing curious as to how many people actually take up GE on the offer, and how many of these people genuinely have the bulb go out early. The five years guarantee is based on four hours of usage daily, which seems a little skimpy to me, since I clicked on the new light at five and it’s 1:30 am now, and that’s a not unusual work day for my lamp this time of year. I can just imagine some thrifty fellow using the bulb six hours a day and then sending back his UPC and receipt three and a half years in, and thinking he’s gotten away with something. Naturally I find this sort of warranty abuse appalling. I shall set Jo-Jo upon him. Then we’ll see who is clever.