Posts Tagged 'LEDs'

A Christmas Nightmare/Miracle

So I was in Target tonight- Friday nights are pretty bumpin’ these days as you see- and they’ve got the Christmas stuff out already.  It’s not even hidden behind the Halloween stuff.  I see no Thanksgiving stuff?  That’s weird, I guess I wasn’t looking.  Anyway I was going to be horrified about rampant consumerism eroding the true meaning of our cherished traditions but then I started looking for adorable penguin cards and forgot about being outraged (only had trees and doves on the recycled content ones, bah).

But!  They had out the LEDs!  I got some a couple years ago, but every other time I’ve tried to find them at Christmas they’ve already been sold out.  So I stocked up, and now I’ll tell you about it so you can beat the rush.  It’s cool, go ahead, I got the ones I want.

Of note:  Philips and some other companies have a whole bunch of different LED bulb types and colors for about $14.  Nets and Icicles and strands and ropes and stars and everything.  There is an off-brand version now, same amount of lights for only $7-cheapest I’ve ever seen them, plus they’ve got the UL and EnergyStar ratings.  All the brands of LEDs now have white lights in both the bluish color I don’t personally like and a new ‘warm white’ option.  I snagged 4 boxes.  My tree is gonna be so amazing.  Oh and I found a strand of solar LEDs to put on my balcony with the other solar lights.  Those were $15, but that’s a small price to pay to spread Christmas cheer to my parking lot.

Anyhoo, Target, has LEDs, get them while the getting’s good.  Is it seriously still September?  Really, Target? September?  Ah whatever worked for me.

LEDs All Over

This year, the Capitol Christmas Tree and all 56 trees representing states and territories in the White House display are lit entirely with LED lights for the first time.

I’ve got my LEDs up, too, and I’ve solved the blue problem by getting a string of multicolored twinkly lights:  instant efficient holiday cheer.  You can see that the blues are still pretty powerful, though.

colorful LEDs

More pictures (and the Restaurant Eve review!) to follow!

Oh, the monthly goal:  I am grateful for my gym membership in this season of delicious foods.

Up in Lights

Al Gore is publicizing the environment again. This time, it comes with professional ad-people and $300 million dollars, instead of a small documentary about the little Power Point that could, but hey, green’s come a long way since 2006. Gore wants to push that momentum into a popular movement that will convince politicians to actually maybe please pretty please do something sensible? Like, we’ll be more energy efficient if you dudes stop ignoring the problem. How about that? The group’s name (and motto, too, I guess) is “We Can Solve It“, and some of the first few spots are airing now on a tv near you.

In an NPR story on the new campaign, Al Gore’s own carbon footprint was brought up again. If you recall, it was reported last year, right after his Oscar win, that his personal energy use at a TN mansion was some ridiculously high number- though even Fox News reported on his solar panel installations and carbon offsetting plans. Not bad, considering their regular columnist on environmental matters thinks global warming is a vicious myth. And yes, the column is named “Junk Science,” and no, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean it to be funny that way.

The NPR story highlighted an important part of what Gore’s message is going to have to be, though- to tackle the environmental problems we’re creating, we’re going to have to think and live differently. And the man who’s fronting and financing a campaign to tell us to do this, and write our congresspeople while we’re at it, needs to set a squeaky-clean tech example.

John Tierney over at the NYT wrote a piece last week on how to remind people to be green- nudge them into making good “abstract” and “long-term” choices by tying their carbon footprints, or resource use, or what have you- into a real-time display, like a mood ring or changing LED jewelry. He argues it would instill a sense of connection to our choices- plus, it will facilitate some public green-upmanship backed by facts, not hype. It’s an interesting read. I’d like Al Gore to start the ecomood ring trend- him and everyone else who argues for the environment. I’m in, of course- mood rings are sweet, almost as sweet as living up to your own standards.
Speaking of sweet, and environmentally sound, and things that light up, here’s the Gentleman Friend’s flower from this weekend, made from old cds, circuit boards, and flashy lights:

cd flower detailcd flower

Nicely done, sir!

Update: Tree at Last

LEDsFirst, to establish how dire the LED situation was, this photo of my tree in regular incandescent bulbs and my garland in LEDs:

As you can see, they are decidedly, icily blue. I decided to wrap them around my garland, since they actually look nice there, and to reuse my regular lights for the tree this year. Next year, I know to look early and often for yellow-white LEDs. They come in lots of bulb colors, too, and some have happily tacky shapes, like candy canes or whatever, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find some yellow or gold ones.

garlandSo, my LEDs are now at peace. Christmas TreeAnd my tree is decorated! I forget, every year, how excited this makes me, and how much I always want to just stay home all day and sit with my tree. She’s got red and white glass balls and some gold spangly wire I saved last year, and almost everything else on it was given to me by my mother from our family’s tree- a starter kit. And all the presents you see waiting under it are recycled or fair trade or made from organic ingredients- I did pretty well following my own gift guide this year, and ended up saving worlds of time and money, since I found everything I wanted online or at Ten Thousand Villages. Giant actually had a decent selection of fair trade/organic (FTO) coffees- in their specialty foods aisle, not the coffee aisle- and Whole Foods has a passel of FTO hot chocolate. Thus, my shopping is nearly done, too.

Ok, I’m going to go sit with my tree and drink some FTO hot chocolate, and yeah, turn on Christmas music.

Update: Concerning Light

I keep promising tree pictures, and then letting you down. I’m sorry. A combination of Indiana, two violent colds, and final exams are going to prevent the tree from being fully dressed for at least another week. We did put up the LED lights, though, so I could at least have something besides a naked tree to look at, but that’s actually caused me a dilemma.

The LED light strings are a very bright, blue-white light. It’s very sterile, and completely unlike the cheery yellowy glow from the regular strands of lights I have used on trees and in classier dorm-room decorating all my life. By the by- the BBC has a helpful story on what LED lights are and some of their promising applications, and they mention this problem of cold, blue-based light. Now, I’ve heard the same complaint about CFLs- they don’t give off the quality of light people are used to from regular tungsten bulbs, I hate the way they look, wah. I used to think these people were whiny. It’s the future! Get a decent lampshade! The white translucent shades and the vaguely yellow tinge of my walls make my CFL glow pretty homey, actually. Lighting designers are working on this, slightly reluctantly. Apparently the bigshot design people love incandescent bulbs– their shape, their glow, their iconic status- and hate the way CFLs shine.  But more and more are playing with ways to make the compact fluorescents appealing (hey guys:  try Ikea lampshades and “apartment complex off-white” walls).  Plus, since they don’t get as hot as incandescents, the designers can put materials closer to the bulb and not worry about combustion.  So that’s exciting for them, right?  Moving into a brave new well-lit world?  Anyway, LEDs are supposed to solve all this because their light comes in lots of colors, depending on the chemicals used (see the BBC article).  My problem now is, they use blue for almost everything, including “white”, and I hate the way they look.  Wah!

I like my gold and red tree decorations, and the old lights made it look so nice.  The LEDs will make it look awful.  Granted, they’d look great with silver ornaments, and blue decorations (Hanukkah people, LEDs are perfect for you!).  And if you mix lots of colors on your tree, then LEDs work fine.  All the stuff I have is red and gold, though.  I don’t want to buy a new set of ornaments just to make my lights look not sad.   Maybe they sell non blue-tinged white LEDs?

So now the guilt sets in.  Use LEDs on the tree and suck up that they’re stupid-looking, or use the older lights and suck up some extra power? I won’t have to buy any new sets of lights- I still have them from last year, and they’re not too tangled.  And there are plenty of other places I can put my LEDs- on the balcony, or the bookshelves, or in my garland.

This is going to take some time to mull over.  Fortunately, I haven’t got time to decorate the tree now, anyway.

Update: Food Drives and Bunnies

First, I have a request to make of you. There’s a massive food shortage at food banks around the country. The Capitol Area Food Banks can use all the donations they can get for this holiday season (and all the time, really). They’re having a non-perishable food drive December 14th (next Friday), so if you can stop by one of their truck locations in DC/MD/VA and give, or get something to one of their drop-off centers at that website some other day, it would mean a lot to a lot of hungry people. Best way to make your holiday sustainable is to help make sure other people have a good one, too.

Second, I have a Christmas tree. After a Christmas Treecouple (or maybe 4…) wrong turns, we located Oak Shade Farm, which is somewhere out near Rixeyville, VA- a little over an hour’s drive from where 66 and the Beltway intersect. It’s actually not that hard to find, we just had a few difficulties involving signs and reading them and such. Anyway, I found my tree. There it is, in its live, organic glory. It’s a white pine- very fat and fluffy, and about seven feet tall. The finding and cutting and tying-on-my-car’s-roof didn’t take very long, which is good, because I hadDrowsy Bunny some important bunny-holding to accomplish. Yes, they fit in one hand, and they were so soft it was difficult to determine when one was petting them. As an additional benefit, adorable children were also attracted to holding the adorable bunnies, so there was this perfect storm of cuteness hovering over the tree farm. If you’re looking for a tree, head to Oak Shade: free hot cider, bunnies, mountain vistas, and big nice-smelling organic trees for $40 and under. Even with the cost of gas, that makes them less expensive than the scrawny, sad trees in lots around here.

My tree is now up and watered, and is waiting for its trimmings. I picked up a couple of strings of LED Christmas lights today. Target had a small selection of them, but it looked as though the lights had already been picked over. I have a few strands of regular Christmas lights already, but LED lights use about 1/10th of the energy of the regular lights, last years and years longer, and emit much less heat, so there’s very little danger of them igniting your tree if it gets a little crispy. Regular light strings tend to use much more energy precisely because they lose so much of it to heat. So LEDs are more expensive to begin with, but they’re safer and last longer. Well, actually, from my experience people give up on light strings because they balled them up the year before and can’t get them untangled the next year, and LEDs aren’t going to solve that particular issue. So wrapping them up neatly is just as big a deal as having a good set to begin with. Maybe the extra up-front cost will be an incentive to treat them more carefully? I’ll post pictures when I get around to sprucing her up (it’ll be hard, she’s such a pine…).

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