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Clark: Rage against the dying of the light

Today’s the day when we all crawl out of bed and realize that we forgot to set our clocks back an hour.

But this year I have a suggestion. Take a notebook with you while you’re scuttling about trying to remember where all the flipping clocks are.

Jot down how many light bulbs you have in your home. Once you have a bulb tally, you will be ready to join me in my newest environmental crusade since stockpiling outlaw phosphate dishwasher soap.

Get ready because now, we’re HOARDING LIGHT BULBS!!!

Allow me to shed a little light (har) on this.

Friends, a diabolical plan is in the works to rid America (and the world) of incandescent bulbs.

The eco-nannies who love to regulate the way we all eat, breathe and wash dishes have determined that our cheap and reliable light bulbs are not green enough and therefore must go.

To me a more practical way of saving electricity would be to simply encourage people to switch off their lights when they aren’t being used. But that would be too reasonable.

So a law was passed to stop incandescent bulbs from being sold for general lighting. It all begins Jan. 1, 2012, when the 100-watters will be phased out.

The following year will target 75-watters, and in 2014, the 60- and 40-watters will start going the way of the Graphophone.

Sure, American jobs will be lost. Last September, for example, the Washington Post reported that GE was closing its last big American factory making regular incandescent light bulbs.

But the eco-nannies don’t care about that stuff.

The government wants all of us to replace the outmoded bulbs with foreign-made curlicue compact fluorescents (CFLs) or much pricier LED lights. (I saw one LED bulb selling in a store for 60 bucks.)

All this chaps my contrarian fanny for several reasons.

First, I don’t like the harsh light thrown off by the alternative bulbs. If I want to be lit up, I’ll go sit in a dentist chair and open wide.

True, some of the long-lasting, energy-efficient CFLs have come closer to replicating the yellow glow of the incandescent.

But it’s still a long way from being right.

Second, my home was built in 1909. It is filled with beautiful, authentic fixtures. Screwing spaghetti-twirled CFLs into antique light fixtures is as aesthetically ridiculous as sticking rabbit ears on my flat screen.

Third, I really hate sanctimonious do-gooders telling me how I should live.

And so I came up with my own energy plan. And that is to buy enough light bulbs to keep my home emitting that warm Thomas Edison ambience until I’m lowered into the Bone Orchard, where I hear the lighting is quite bad.

(Hey, I’m not against progress. I am writing this on a MacBook Pro, after all.)

On Friday I drove my gas-guzzling ’67 Vista Cruiser to Carr Sales Co., Spokane’s venerable downtown lighting store since the 1940s.

I shelled out $152 for 3 cases of light bulbs.

I bought a case each of 100-watt, 75-watt and 60-watt, for a total of 360 bulbs.

These bulbs last much longer than the light bulbs generally found in grocery stores. The filaments are thicker, which gives each bulb a lifespan of about 5,000 hours.

By my calculation: 360 bulbs times 5,000 hours equals one major butt-load of luminosity.

For those playing along at home, use your own bulb tally to calculate how many light bulbs you might want to stow away.

I realize not everyone will join in on the fun.

But Rod Barnett of Carr Sales told me I wasn’t the first consumer he’s seen on a bulb hunt. One guy, he said, wandered in a few days ago and left with 6 cases.

My home inventory was quite illuminating. I counted 104 light bulbs from basement to attic. Of course many of these bulbs are dark most of the time.

So do I have enough light bulbs?

I don’t know. I may have to make another bulb run just to feel safe.

Or to sell them at a huge profit 10 years from now on the light bulb black market.

Sure, I realize incandescent light bulbs are energy wasters. In fact, 90 percent of the energy burned by an incandescent bulb is tossed off as heat.

But here’s the thing: I like the glow and the look of the incandescent bulb. I’m willing to pay for the power.


Plus I’ve got space in my home to store my new boxes of bulbs. They’ll go down in the basement, right next to all my boxes of evil dishwasher soap.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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