Sunday, September 30, 2007

actually, it's the cosmos that's adrift in you

three projectsIt's been a fairly busy and productive week since last we spoke and kitties were (hopefully) saved. Paige took the week off so we could make headway on the home improvement projects du jour...
• Cleaning up the wall in the diningroom (removal of a shelf, patching divots, priming to get rid of the heinous yellow paint) and giving it a couple coats of fascinating purple paint to make it an accent wall;
• Changing out the old chrome tap handles and escutcheons in the tub with brushed nickel models, which is the only thing we didn't do a year ago when we renovated the bathroom;
• Removing the big lighted fan from the diningroom ceiling, then putting in a fixture box a couple feet toward the wall and hanging a new lamp from it.

I could babble about the minutae but you prolly don't care about all of it. So I'll just relate some of the dumber details as a cautionary tale:
• Paint project: Since the rest of the room is still two shades of yellow, this accent wall is really quite a bold statement. [LOL!] It's being handled by my bride and I haven't kibbitzed so I don't have any editorial comments to make. I will say that the purple is one that's not in the chit chart at Lowe's because we'd bought three little sample cans of varying shades to see what we liked most, then wound up mixing them together to come up with something I call "cran-plum". Came out pretty nice!
• Handles project: Previously I was buying brushed nickel items online because they could not be found in the stores (or cheaply, or individually). This time it was more easy than it seemed, because Lowe's had some great handles and the escutcheons in their "zomg brushed nickel!!!1!" display... these parts of which are not found on their website. Seriously, I stayed up until 5 a.m. Googling for the things that go between the handle and the wall, and no one offers them other than as part of a whole-tub renovation set ($65-$110, but you know the unneeded showerhead is $50-$90 of that price). Turns out that Danco, maker of those tub kits (for Ace Hardware), sells the parts separately (at Lowe's), woot!
• Light project: There are only two real beefs, since getting the old fixture out and unwired and the new fixture in and wired wasn't that tough (and I no longer consider itching for two days from the blown fiberglas insulation a beef because it's my choice to not protect my arms). First, there's a big freaking hole in the ceiling from where the fixture was -- partially due to the crackheads that put the fan in, because they did a bang-up job (they used the right fixture box for a fan, but they cut the hole too big and they tried to hide the mess using bathtub caulk!! around the top of the decorative sconce), and partially due to my attempt to remove the fixture using the prying end of a hammer (apparently the drywall was not as sturdy a fulcrum as I had expected, so the hammer sunk through the ceiling). I'm learning to drywall so I'll fix the hole soon. Second, once the new light was in and working, that's when we realized the glass bells around the lights are, shall we say, "nicotine yellow" when lit (which doesn't work well with "cran-plum" but almost fits with the old room colors, eek!), and we're having a hell of a time finding replacements of the right size (the standard is larger) and in clear glass (the ones in the right size either look fragile or are all opaque-deco or milk white), but we haven't been back to IKEA to see if they offer alternatives.

I do have one real stupidity tangental to the lighting item: As you may know, I'm all about energy conservation -- halogens and fluorescents and dimmers are my friends, even though I prefer incandescent for any room I have to sit and read in (I can indeed detect the 60 hertz flicker if I look long enough). The fixture holds three incandescents in candelabra size with a maximum wattage of 40 per bulb. Fluorescents are lower wattage with higher light, so I think I can get more light by going that path. Now, next time you're in the lighting aisle of a store, I want you to look for fluorescent candelabra bulbs. Home Depot has one -- 3 watts for an equivalent of 15 watts' worth of light. Thhhpt. Lowe's has one -- 7 watts for an equivalent of 40 watts' worth of light. Nice but the point is I want more light. But a couple companies do make 14 watt bulbs with an equivalence of 60 watts of light. Where are these? Mail order through,, and so forth online or by walking into Seattle Lighting or Lighting Universe (the suckers are not on their websites) to request them. Why are energy-efficient solutions like these so hard to find? I will say that if you order fluorescent light bulbs, you get more choices as to what color of light they produce -- warm white, cool white, full spectrum -- for the same price, where stores only offer you one.

To conclude the post on a more tolerable note, I received a bunch of pictures from my friend who moved to Alaska the other day, and (with her consent to share on Flickr) there are a couple that bear sharing. The night before she left the state, she was driving around her rural hometown and tried to take a picture of rain coming in front of the sunset. In a word, they took my breath away. She also told me something I didn't know... she Googled her full name, and the first and third of the five things that came up were things I'd written about her. (The other three were from geneology sites where it just happened the first and last names existed on the page.) Since I don't want to take up all my Blogger storage space with the full images, you can see them through these two links: this one and that one. The update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul is up, and it's got cute furry things in it. Until next time, hope all is well in your universes.
sunset in Ephrata WA, Aug 21 '07

Speaking of energy conservation, are you opposed to LED arrays?
I find the light from high-brightness LEDs to be very unpleasant to use, but I suspect that with proper filtering they could produce a soft, warm light more akin to an incandescent.
Here's my feeling on LED:
• First, being a diode it should be powered by DC. The biggest annoyance about seeing most LED lighting is that it's getting AC -- and the 60Hz flicker drives me batty.
• I love the long life (~100,000 hours) of LED but hate that manufacturers will charge a premium for their product not requiring frequent replacement.
• I have to agree with you about the spectrum produced. I mean, consider those "white" LEDs used in new Christmas strings and reading lamps. It's blue, for gawd's sake. It's awesome for flashlights but I can't picture reading... especially when powered by AC. Yes, with proper filtering it could be as tolerable as fluorescent.
Strides have been made in increasing the brightness of LED bulbs -- like a few years ago there was a breakthrough to double the intensity, ergo the popularity now, and within the last year someone found a way to nearly double the present degree.

I suspect that when consumer LED bulbs that screw into existing sockets hit the market, they'll have some coating to try to soften the light and control the spectrum, same as fluorescents have to control the mercury blue and half the incandescents have to trim the tungsten yellow. As for full-spectrum (using iridium coating)... oh, we shall see.
I have LED nightlights at various locations throughout our house.
I do not have any fluorescent lights in the house. We have some in the garage though.
Cran-Plum - pretty. I plan to do our bedroom in cream, green and plum - using magnolias and maybe pineapples somehow, somewhere. Unless, I change my mind, which may very well happen before there's money for me to get into that project.
Your dining light looks really good.
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