2012.01.25 “Free” bulbs start of fun with electricity

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

 There’s an old saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. A more modern version might warn against reading the fine print accompanying free light bulbs. But as far as I’m concerned, fine print almost demands you read it. And those bulbs could be overpriced, even at free.

Last summer, I took advantage of Toledo Edison’s offer of six free compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). I found the ordering process rather entertaining. My first two calls to the program’s toll-free number were disconnected. The third attempt put me in contact with Edison employee “Bruce,” who soon proved himself to be a bit of a comedian.

Bruce asked several questions, then wanted my account number. I asked if he would like to hold while I looked up an old bill. Bruce agreed, saying “If you take too long to find it, we’ll just penalize you a bulb or two.”

Luckily, I found the number pretty quickly, and Bruce informed me that “You beat the clock and will get all six bulbs.”

After a wait of about three months, the CFLs finally arrived. I read the enclosed instructions, including where to obtain information about cleaning up a broken CFL. That left me wondering if I wanted to use them at all.

The EPA suggests turning off your heating and air conditioning systems for several hours and allowing the room where the bulb broke to air out. After you’ve cleaned up the pieces and visible powder, store them in a sealed container outdoors in a protected area until the materials can be disposed of properly. Do I need to wear one of those hazardous materials suits?

Remember when you could just sweep up the pieces of an incandescent bulb and throw them in the trash? Once, I even used the old tip of forcing a potato into the base of a broken bulb and using the potato as a handle to unscrew the base from the light socket. I’m thinking those days are gone.

 One way or another, those CFLs aren’t going to be free. Even if they don’t break, they need to be recycled properly after they burn out. If you can’t do it in your local area, the EPA says there are companies that will sell you a postage paid kit to mail the bulbs in for recycling, adding: “Bring it to the post office or leave for your postal carrier.” Don’t they already have enough problems?

In November, I purchased a new hair dryer and once again, the fine print was pretty entertaining, especially warning #7, “Never use while sleeping.” I’ve been known to have strange dreams now and then, but I don’t recall ever drying my hair in any of them.

Warning #9 advises against using the dryer outdoors. I guess I’ll have to save my old dryer for outdoor use. The instructions for that one are long gone so I’ll presume it’s safe for that purpose. But the warning that really confuses me is one concerning the power cord.

The instructions, in four different places, warn against wrapping the cord around the dryer as excessive bending is bad for the cord. The company must think I have a short memory. “Allow the cord to hang or lie loose and straight” is the suggestion for storage. 

So why did the cord come direct from the factory folded back upon itself several times, then tied with a twist tie to ensure it would not hang loose? The cord came straight out of the box wrapped tighter than I ever would by merely winding it around the dryer.  Maybe I should send a copy of the instructions to the attention of their packaging department.

Lastly, I bought a small flashlight just before Christmas that is still a bit scary. I figured putting two “AA” batteries in a flashlight was a snap, until I opened it up and saw a paper label instructing me to install them upside down, that is, with the positive end on the bottom.

I then consulted the instructions, which said to “Insert batteries according to the polarity drawing indicated on the product.”  That made me think they really did intend for the upside-down battery placement-except the handy drawing accompanying the instructions shows the batteries in positive terminal at the top position.

There was only one option left—trial and error. It turned out no drawing or instructions were needed as the flashlight works no matter how the batteries are installed. That’s handy if I ever have to change batteries in the dark, but a violation of the safety information. Of course, if the batteries ever explode, I have my instructions for broken bulb disposal to consult. It’s all electricity, right?

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016