Illumination

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It was an assignment I didn’t see coming.  The General had tried and failed. Calf rope – hands down – she was done!  She wasn’t going to try it again. As she explained the directive to me, it was apparently non-negotiable on both her part and mine. Whether it went on the “Honey-Do-List” or the “Do-This-Or-Else” list, it was now my responsibility.  How’s that for passing the buck?

Surely some of you guys know what I’m talking about? I’d hate to think I’m the only guy in the universe who experiences these kinds of issues. Of course, some of you may be more adapt at strutting your stuff than I am and be inclined to offer some advice.  I imagine that you’d suggest that I should react by providing encouragement to the General.  I could gently remind her, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  If that is your wise counsel, I’m going to play the “I was born in Missouri card” even though I wasn’t and tell you to show me how.  If I can’t do it, I bet you can’t do it either.

There were two reasons I didn’t offer a rebuttal to the General.  First of all, “How hard could it be?”  Secondly, I’ve been buying light bulbs for years.  There is no reason to get stressed out over burned out light bulbs. When it comes to lighting, nothing lasts forever.

Perhaps there is one exception; better yet two.  We have two floor lamps the General purchased that look terribly out of place with our traditional home décor.  Several years ago we visited in a friend’s home that had modern furniture.  The General saw her lamps and subsequently determined we needed two like them. One is now located in the in the front room that serves as the library and the other is in the room that serves as a quasi-media room and bedroom located upstairs.  We never turn them off. They are LED lamps with paper shades and they reportedly last forever.

Obviously it is a question for a later day, “But why is it when something looks like junk, you can’t wear it out?”  Regardless of whether I like them or not, both lamps will withstand the test of time.  For one thing the General likes them.  If the General likes them, you don’t need anything else on the list.  They are here to stay.  Fortunately, they are not located in rooms I frequent often.  On the bright side (pardon the pun), the light from the study does spill over into the entry hall and living room at night, so you aren’t at risk to bump into anything when you’re walking in a quasi-darkened room.

Like I said, it was a “honey-do” assignment over which I had no recourse. Of course, even when the General is subtly making an assignment by asking: “Would you like to do this or that?”, by nature of the fact that she’s asking indicates her intent for me to do it.  Since only two people live where we live, she obviously doesn’t consider herself as a candidate to orchestrate the outcome if she’s asking me.

The light bulb directive wasn’t subtle.  She had tried and failed. Consequently, she was turning to me.  I’d like to think that she sees me as someone who can do anything. Isn’t that great?  Trust me, if she had the passing thought that I could do anything, she’d still have the presence of mind to know that she was being delusional.  She passed the light bulb issue on to me because she wanted to cross it off of her list.  She is a list keeper and removing the assignment from her list gives her a sense of accomplishment whether it got accomplished or not. She was washing her hands of buying light bulbs.

Thoughtfully, the General showed me the burned-out bulb. I’d never seen one like it in my life.  For one thing, it was a Cree brand.  What happened to General Electric? I asked about the box it came in. Back in the day when I was doing the Home Depot runs for replacement bulbs, I always saved the boxes.  Without even a sense of remorse, the General said: “I threw it away.”  Well, I guess that is that.

Not to worry, I’d get the bulbs.  The General said we had three that needed replacement.
We also needed flood lights for the outside.  I’m not sure how long we’ve been in the dark, but according to the list of things the General was identifying, it would have served me well to make a written list.  I can’t remember what else she told me, but I assured her the task was as good as done.  Well, at least, so I thought.

Looking at light bulbs at Home Depot was like an out-of-body experience for me.  Nothing looked familiar.  I was looking at light bulbs, but I didn’t see anything that even looked vaguely familiar. I guess I forgot that along with reforming health care in this country, the government has also mandated changes related to lighting.  I won’t render a value judgment on either, but there can be a world of difference between theory and practice.

Instead of carrying the burned out bulb with me to Home Depot, I took a picture.  After all, “Isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?”  I quickly scanned a full aisle of light bulbs and didn’t see anything that looked like the ones we have.  Finally, I caved in and asked a sales representative for assistance.  She wanted to know if I was looking for soft white light or bright white light?  I wasn’t being a smart aleck, but I asked: “What’s the difference?”  She showed me a display and I said: “I don’t know.”  She replied, “Most people use the soft white light.”

I then showed her a picture of the light bulb I was looking to purchase. She said: “Great, that is a LED bulb. They last forever.”  I responded by asking, “Can you then tell me why I need to buy another?  This bulb is only about two years old.”  At least, that is what the General had told me.  I didn’t share that part with the sales assistant.  She responded, “You should bring it back. These things are supposed to last 23 to 25 years.  She missed my attempt at humor.  I responded to her suggestion that I bring it back with, “I just did”, but really I hadn’t. I only had a picture.

Not finding anything exactly like the bulb in the picture, we started from scratch.  “I’ll take two boxes of these.  There were three lights in each box.  I also need flood lights for outside.  I took whatever the sales assistant recommended. I then made my way out of lighting and went to pick up charcoal for my cast aluminum grill.  We were out last week when I needed it.  I also picked up Weber Lighter Cubes to use on the Ceramic Egg that I cook on.  It uses lump charcoal.  I ran out of the lighter cubes last weekend when I had to ditch the cast aluminum grill in exchange for the ceramic egg.

It didn’t dawn on me until I was standing in line to check out that it appeared I had done shopping with a theme in mind.  In looking at what was in my basket, I started laughing.  I had two bags of regular charcoal, two boxes of lighter cubes for the grill that requires lump charcoal, six LED light bulbs for use indoors and a flood light bulb for outside.  I said to the lady at the cash register: “Look at this stuff.  Just look at it!  I don’t care how you add it up, it is clear that I’m already lit”.  We both laughed.  However, I have to tell you, she got the last laugh. When she totaled up what my soft-white-lighting experience with charcoal and lighter cubes cost, I guess you could say that: “I truly saw the light”.  I told the clerk that I’d be taking out a second mortgage on the house.  Again, we both laughed, but I sense she got the last laugh.

Actually, there is more to the story.  While I was at Home Depot, I decided the next stop would be H.E.B.  After all, I now had regular charcoal for the cast aluminum grill at home.  That was the combination for a perfect steak.  I picked out a ribeye at the store and headed homeward.  After sorting the charcoal into the grill, I went inside the house to get the charcoal lighter.  Guess what?  I was  out of charcoal lighter.  I guess you could say, “I’m not all that bright.”  However, I subsequently discovered the lighter cubes for the lump charcoal work just fine for the regular charcoal.  The steak was delicious.

All My Best!

Don

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