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Our bus takes us to the Eastern part of Istanbul and from the window, I catch this picture of a Henna dyed sheep. It has some significance in weddings, and I can’t remember what. I thought it was a pet, but instead it is a tradition of some type.

Independence Statue

At Taxsim Square stands the Statue of Independence. Behind is a green area where the city decided to cut down the trees and build a shopping complex and new apartments. The people of Istanbul have very little green area and people protested the idea of cutting down their park and people organized a protest in May. The City sent troops to pepper spray and teargas the crowds that reached 10,000 people. Four people were killed and the citizens are still aligned against the project. The anniversary of the protest was imminent, and the statue was taped off with yellow tape when we were there. The government is expecting trouble, but the trees remain. People hated the imperialistic manner in which it was done. The problem is still not resolved. Usla believes strongly in speaking up for what you believe or you will soon have everything taken from you. Thus he spoke loudly that folks around the square could hear him.

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The square is an important cultural part of the city with an opera hall and a place to gather and hold huge outdoor events and meetings. The nearby park is treasured and the people do not want to give it up.

This section of the city is where a lot of the Kurdish people live. Renovated buildings show a layer of history built during the European Art Noveau movement and the area is central to transportation throughout  Istanbul.

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Pigeons seem to define places like this all over the world.

We walked to the Tram Station then fanned out to pick a place to have lunch on our own.DSC04751 (Copy)

Owen had chicken shish, the rest of us tried various dishes, pizza, and an eggplant salad for me. DSC04749 (Copy)

They offered a special sticky rice type pudding with cinnamon that was quite good.

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Usla warned us to line up for the tram ride to the funnicular or we wouldn’t get a seat. Our group practically filled the tram which is an old fashioned electric trolley similar to San Francisco’s famous cable cars.DSC04753 (Copy)

A grandmother got on holding a heavy toddler and I offered to have him sit on my lap, which she gratefully accepted. He rode to our stop on my lap without any hesitation. Other’s of our group gave up their seats to others.DSC04759 (Copy)

Joan Zucker, from our group, and Maria and Owen in front of the colorful street cars.

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We walked and admired the art noveau buildings.DSC04762 (Copy)

A little grafitti, no city escapes its taggers.

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Beautiful wrought iron balconies.

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Beautiful carved facades.

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Though European influenced, a blend develops,  window grates with the Turkish tulip motif.

traffic control

Traffic control is amazing. Lighted pillars electronically pop up or retreat with the press of  the engineer’s button.

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We waited for the funicular.

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Owen likes to challenge his balance. It was the longest tunnel I’ve ever ridden through.

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Beautiful tiles in the station, with the tulip design that resembles the Moslem writing of the word Mohamed.DSC04775 (Copy)

Beautiful tile mosaics of the street cars and other scenes around town decorate the station.

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We got off next to the river where a tobacco salesman was hawking a device to make loose tobacco into a filtered cigarette, instantly.

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It was very clever, but we Americans are so anti-smoking and we see most Turkish men smoke cigarettes or cigars.

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At least the Turkish Government makes them label their tobacco products clearly.

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Our intended destination is the fish market, which also has a smaller vegetable market with it.

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There were many kinds of fish.DSC04786 (Copy)

Right next to the river, they keep the fish freshened with buckets of water and ice.

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Like Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco, you can pick what you want, someone will cook it for you and you can eat on the spot.DSC04798 (Copy)

The only fish I recognized.

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The gulls and this ibis aren’t choosy about the kind of fish they eat. Just bring it on.

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We walked over this bridge to another section of town. This boy was picking up mussels.

Usla took us to a district where various members could buy walking sticks quite cheaply for hiking. They fold and fit into a suitcase. Then we went to what Usla pointed out is the only baklava restaurant in the world. They only serve baklava which is considered the best baklava anywhere.

This is a dessert

This is the size baklava you order for a party or wedding.

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A glag motif.

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Different types of baklava.

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Some traditional, but for me, I find it too sweet for my taste.

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I skipped but for a tiny bite of two pieces. Owen, of course, loved them, but even he couldn’t empty the plate shared between six of us.

Before leaving Istanbul, we told Usla we wanted to try the Turkish bath. Of course, you can’t bring a camera to the baths. But, this is a description. You are given a key to a locker room where you undress and leave all of your belongings except the key on a board. Then you are escorted to a sauna which is a huge marble, heated round dais where you place your towel and lie on it and people come and splash you with warm water. Faucets are around the dias and mother’s with their young children are seated, bathing them and getting them used to the public bathes as a treat.

The heat is intense. Five minutes was enough for me and I was up and splashing with cooler water.

In fifteen minutes we were led into the scrub room with our towel we lay upon a marble slab and the masseuse scrubs you with a sack filled with a foaming type of soap. Then they use a luffa to scrub you from head to toe to remove dead skin. You are rinsed and sent to the next room where you get a massage in olive oil. After that, wrapped in your towel, you relax and enjoy a rocking chair and some apple tea. Then you get dressed and pay and leave. Men are separated from women, of course, but you feel wonderful after leaving the bath.

Turkish people are very clean and they have ritual baths at time of wedding, funerals, circumcision, birthdays, engagement, graduation, for whatever reason. They are an important custom that formed from their own sense of cleanliness and a modification of the Roman baths. Wonderful. Owen resisted at first and then decided to go and was very pleased with the experience.  Me too.

More tomorrow.



February 1, 2014

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Yuma was the first place I stayed with Jim when my kids thought I’d taken up with an ax murderer. Well, not really, but they were very protective and worried about me taking up with a man they didn’t know. Thus the blog for me I started in December of 2008. I have happy memories of the green, green fields of Yuma, biking along the canals, and beautiful Bougainvillea growing like wild in this city. Right after lunch, we went in search and on the way found an Elks Club. We were astonished that they have 1600 members. Many of them are snowbirds. We stopped for a beer but the minute someone lit up a cigarette we hastily left.

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This is the Bougainvillea from January, 2009. I’m shocked at what  poor pictures I got from my little camera. When we drove by, the bush had been chopped to practically nothing with no blooms on it.

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And, green fields in Yuma are visible everywhere it seems. The big lettuces, cabbages, spinach and kale we didn’t find, except for this already harvested iceberg lettuce.


And, of course, this is what I was expecting to see, also from January 2009.

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There is still a lot of green.

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What appears to be a small lettuce of some type.

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I believe this is alfalfa. No denying the green, but the fields of memory we could not find. Ah, what the wise men say is true. You can’t go home again.

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We are parked at the Quechen Indian Casino and each day look up at the Mission Church associated with the Yuma Territorial prison.

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Last night, so typical of this part of the country, the scene turned to caramel.

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Then it darkened.

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And reddened, good night. Probably boring pictures but like a tv screen, the sunsets just attract your eye and we are so happy we get to enjoy them.






January 29, 2014

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It was a long slog from Murphys to the Sacramento Airport to fly to Yuma. I got stalled in commuter traffic and worried that I’d make my flight in time even though I allowed an extra hour. Something new called Pre-security where I didn’t have to take off my shoes, or put anything out in trays?  Fast and easy, I liked it. And, Finally able to relax, I had just enough time to enjoy a big bowl of Thai chicken soup for my breakfast. It was very good; plentiful and full of chicken.

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My flight was so full on both legs, they were removing carry-on bags and putting them in checked baggage. Three flights leaving at one gate within minutes of each other made for crowded conditions and a few snafus. An older man and his wife asked us to vacate our seats. They had the same number as myself and my seat mate. It turned out they were on the wrong plane. But, I arrived in Yuma, met Jim and we headed for a Mexican restaurant.

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As we crossed the bridge over the Southern Crossing of the Colorado River, I was reminded of our previous stay in Yuma in 2008 and my conversation with my seat mate on the plane. A young business woman, she asked me what there is to see and do in Yuma? I told her about the historically important southern crossing, the Yuma territorial prison, the vast green fields of produce grown here and watered by canals. Growers ship 20,000 container trucks of produce all over the United States from here during the winter months by train. Up to a hundred containers a day stacked two high leave Yuma.  With a brown winter in Murphys, I’m hungry for that green. Today, I want to drive by green fields.

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At La Fonda, I enjoyed a wonderful tasting tortilla soup.

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Jim had a sumptuous chicken tostada.  Ahhh! Mex and Thai in the same day. Sweet!

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We are boondocking at the Quechen Casino. There are probably 100 rigs in the parking lot. Jim laughed at my surprise and told me that last week there were about 12 rigs parked here.

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On our evening walk, we found one rig that looked like a derelict from the Slabs, where we will visit soon. I love the Slabs. Can’t wait to see the changes from 2008.


September 23, 2013


I’m looking back this morning. The address above is a blog I did on Teets Food Store in Ville Platte, Louisiana.  A wonderful family business with renowned smoked meats and sausages. We posted their website and Luke asked me if we could repost it since the website has changed. So, looking back at Ville Platte and Teets Food Store, here is their new web address:  www.teetsfoodstore.com

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Yesterday morning we woke to a beautiful sunrise at Cashmere. And we hit the road headed for Leavenworth.DSC01322 (Copy)

We passed through several smaller towns, but apples and pears are still crawling up the hillsides in this vast river valley.

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The drive to Leavenworth takes you through 10 miles of  beautiful rushing river. Not very photographable on Jim’s side of the motorhome. A Beautiful part of driving Highway 2.

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Leavenworth was bypassed by the railroads and was more of a ghost town when some enterprising entrepreneur thought, why not make it a Bavarian Attraction since it sits against a beautiful mountain background.

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It’s not the Matterhorn, but no one seems to mind.DSC01398 (Copy)

We arrived early, but in no time, the town was teeming with tourists.

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The Salmon Festival ended on Saturday. Sunday’s major activity-music and art in the park.

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We were looky-loos and none of the exhibitors wanted pictures taken of their work.

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The whole town is a work of art with its Bavarian style buildings and decorations, so we didn’t mind.

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We walked and peaked into shops to see what we could see.

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We saw a sign that led us to a nutcracker doll museum. She had thousands of them, but most were for sale. I like the Nutcracker story, but the figures don’t interest me. I know two people who collect them. I’m sure there are others.

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She also had little cuckoo clocks. My motorhome clock is on the fritz and Jim kept encouraging me to buy one. But they looked a bit fragile for the bumping and shaking a motorhome endures.DSC01337 (Copy)

The town boasts many murals, and this one shows a Maypole Celebration.

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The town has a Maypole. It reminded me that I was part of a Maypole Celebration while attending Longfellow school in Hardwood, MI. I remember it as a spring celebration of flowers. We each held a bouquet and the girls were interspersed with the boys, who didn’t like it and thought it was silly to walk around the Maypole. Maypoles have to be tall because the ribbons soon wrap the entire pole. Maypoles are a tradition of Scandinaviain Germanic cultures, from the 1600’s medieval times. You can barely crane your neck enough to see to the top of this one.

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It was only 10 A.M. when we passed this German Sausage, kraut and beer place. We caught the bartender sippin’ and a cookin’ and singing. But, it was too early for us to enjoy lunch.


As you can imagine you can buy just about anything here.DSC01404 (Copy)

From serious hats….DSC01360 (Copy)

To ridiculous, fun hats.

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There was certainly fine things, like these table runners, mats and cloths. DSC01406 (Copy)

Beautiful boots, shoes, jewelry and clothing.DSC01346

But, I like to amuse myself with humorous products.

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You think it’s the cat, but I really had my eye on that cannabis cookbook on the right. Fooled ya”

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This is how you judge someone’s character.  Right?

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We were able to resist the licorice ice cream at Scoop Du Jour.

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And all the yummy baked treats at Kondidorei’s Bakery

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The pretzels were just too big for me.

We walked the five or six blocks of Bavarian themed town and then walked to the river to see an exhibit of recycled art a challenge for the Salmon Festival just past. Since we are sitting out a storm over Steven’s Pass, I’ll post it tomorrow.


December 4, 2012

The giant squid is the largest creature without a backbone. It weighs up to 2.5 tons and grows up to 55 feet long. Each eye is a foot or more in diameter. For eons the shark has been considered the oceans top predator until the Seattle Aquarium found sharks disappearing.  One night they caught on camera, a common giant octopus, that had been moved into a larger tank with sharks and other big fish, gobble up a shark. Hmm!

The divers that have photographed octopus and giant squids now know what danger they have been in. Besides their unique ability to camouflage themselves and disappear before your eyes besides, a giant octopus or squid has the strength to easily gobble up a human.

check out the link below:

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We think we know what the top land predator is.  But do we? That’s something to think about.


April 19, 2012

Pictures I’ve been taking lately have been lousy. Since I have a brand new camera, an exact replacement of the one I had, I couldn’t figure it out. The pictures are mushy, slightly out of focus. I have one disadvantage. I can read the small booklet that comes with the camera, but I cannot play the CD that goes into the advanced features. I’ve held to auto-focus, which is what I use most anyway. I took test photos around the house and yard and I threw out most of  them. The one above is not enhanced in any way and turned out well.

Nor was this one of my newly cleaned purse enhanced. It occasionally turns into a rat’s nest, somehow.

This one was blurry-still is. I had to enhance it  by saturating the color and cropping.

I did the same with this brave seedling starting life on a log, although, it could have stood alone. I liked it better cropped tighter and saturated a bit.

Then I got to playing around and turned this rather dull photo of plants against my brick wall with a reflective picture in the background into a pen and ink drawing. All with the magic of Picasa. It isn’t a great photo, either, but it is an interesting editing feature.

This tulip hadn’t bloomed in several years. It liked the strange rain pattern we’ve had this year. It turned out okay.

This Iris was gorgeous, not that the photo showed what my eyes saw.

This daffodil is a perfect specimen, but juxtaposed against a huge tree and distant background,  it seems to float as though it was pasted onto a drawing.  The light was weak and overhead and doesn’t illuminate the flower. Composition can make or break the photo.

In among the weeds, bright calendulas were hidden.

I concluded that the camera isn’t at fault. It is the photographer, that’s me,  who should  take  more thoughtful time to get decent pictures. Maybe the best part of my camera test was getting outside and enjoying my yard for a half hour. Or, as in the photo above,  just looking at everyday objects around the house from a different perspective.


October 31, 2011

I’d forgotten about Halloween until I saw the date on my computer. On our rural road, a trick-or-treater is a rarity. In 33 years, I’ve had six kids, three one year, and three another year, begging for treats. School parties are popular and safer anyway. But, those people living in a house-to-house neighborhood enjoy the fun. This weight guessing contest was set up at our local grocery store. I noticed yesterday it had been moved. I’ll have to go into town and see if I won the guess.

Happy Halloween to you and yours.  In its celebrated form in the USA, it has transformed to a  purely North American fun night without it’s original pagan dark side. My youngest daughter was an exchange student to France during her high school years and enjoyed teaching her French family how to carve a  jack-o-lantern.  With youngsters still at home, the carving, decorating, costuming and begging treats has become, for all of my grandkids, their second favorite holiday.

Yesterday, I spent time in the yard, enjoying the soon to be gone sunny days.

This fuji was past prime  by the time I got off the road. Some cling, looking soft and rotten.

This heritage  Northern Spy, is crisp and good. Keeping in tune with the autumn days, sunny and warm with cold nights.

Foraging in my neighbors garden, some fresh basil, tomatoes, one zucchini, and an eggplant. Enjoying what we can as long as it lasts.

I harvested my walnuts for the first time in seven years. A balance of nature took all the squirrels away. I expect red tail hawks got everyone. In the past, a woman asked me what was growing on my trees. She had never seen walnuts grow. They have a husk, which dries out and the nuts free fall to the ground.

Some primal feeling of comfort envelopes me when I harvest these portions of my own food.


August 22, 2011

Because the Bronco developed a transmission leak, we extended our stay in Mt. Vernon. Today, we haul it to Monroe  and settle in for Mike Coleman to perform his magic on it. I’ve enjoyed this park for its beautiful woods, great Olympic sized swimming pool and the hot tub.

Walking around the park reveals the forest’s past. Huge crumbling, rotting trunks that now sport a new tree with roots and branches twineing around them.

You soon realize as you walk from Motor Home to pool, or recycling, or just cruising the park, that everywhere you look is a transformed old stump.

We must have seen a hundred of them; remnants of a once majestic rainforest logged probably fifty or more years ago.

One day we opted for a walk through the deep woods on the property. It was quiet and peaceful. We found Lush moss on many huge alders.

Ferns four feet high and five feet wide.

Deep shade.

Light struggling through the canopy.

Downed trees.

This tree was obviously cut. The moss quickly takes over.

We seldom get to walk where you could use a machete to fight through the growth.

Out of the deep woods, we saw wild flowers seven feet tall in the undergrowth.

In an hour and forty minutes we traveled but  5 miles distance through the woods.

Jim hasn’t spent much time in this park; we know we will be returning just to enjoy this woods again.

The park also serves as a preserve. For us it was a look back in time.

I knew there was a reason I like to use Southwest Airlines when I fly. In fact, I always attempt to put my money where I sense corporate responsibility. Many companies, especially small companies encourage their employees to do community service, often giving them company time to do it.  But how does a huge corporation that does business in so many communities involve itself with people projects?

Several months ago, the Student Conservation Association, which coordinates young adult volunteers on conservation projects across the country, approached Southwest about a collaboration tied to Southwest’s 40th anniversary. Southwest was enthusiastic about the idea and both groups met and came up with  “Conservation in Action Tour: 40 Projects for 40 Years.”

On the ground, that translates as  a circuitous nationwide trip in a painted Southwest RV, moving from city to city  to work on conservation projects.

Prior to each stop, Southwest organizes a group of its employees to participate in the day’s project and the Student Conservation Association mobilizes its own volunteers. They were spotted in Las Vegas last week at McCarran Airport.

The Las Vegas conservation project was scheduled for the Springs Preserve, a 180-acre center-of-town cultural center dedicated to the desert ecosystem. Organizers at the preserve and the SCA planned a morning of tree planting, mulching, weeding and general garden cleanup. But the night before the event, Mother Nature intervened with a flash flood.  The clean-up became a recovery project that included replacing some downed trees.

The 60 volunteers worked through the heat to get the place back in order in one day, a project that probably would’ve taken the area Springs Preserve volunteers many days to complete.

“They didn’t even want to take water breaks,” claimed Tyler Lau, an SCA project leader for the Tour 40 team.

A  midsummer outdoor project in the sizzling heat of Las Vegas probably had as much appeal as skunk grease, but  the  volunteers pitched right in. They have done invasive plant removals, habitat restorations and wetland and riverbed cleanups, but fixing up a desert garden after a storm was something new.

Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said the Tour 40 project was something new for the airline, but giving back to communities is something it has done for years. Last week, VEGAS INC chronicled the importance of corporate philanthropy, but imagine how tough that is for an airline that flies into 72 cities?

The company initiated a program called Tickets for Time in which for every 40 hours a Southwest employee volunteers for a nonprofit organization, the benefiting organization is eligible for a complimentary roundtrip flight for fund-raising or transportation needs. Southwest employees logged 45,000 hours of volunteer work in 2009, according to the company website.

On last week’s visit, the SCA crew got a day off from RV living to spend a free night at Bally’s on the Strip.

“I never thought  I’d ever spend a night in Las Vegas,” Lau says.

I’ve  blogged a number of times about bad corporate citizens so it gives me great pleasure to illuminate what happens when tourism, business and conservation work together for the benefit of all.

I just got a message from the League Of Conservation Voters about a new bill in congress to repeal the mandate for efficient light bulbs enacted with a lot of bi-partisan support in 2007. It seems Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck have been ridiculing them on their shows, and, in the process, distorting the truth about these new bulbs. That, then translated into a bill by a friendly congressman. It always amazes me when congress people listen to rumor and crap and disregard solid science when they make decisions. Kind of makes you wonder if candidates shouldn’t have to pass the citizens test given to immigrants before they run for office.

Truth be told, I didn’t like the new bulbs either, at first, because I’d purchased several of them at a high price only to have them fail. You can return, them, yes, but who keeps the receipt? What bulb did you buy where? I began keeping the cardboard backing and attaching the receipt to it and writing where those particular bulbs were inserted. All for naught. In the end, most of the bulbs work just fine and last a long time. And, the cost has come down, down, down. In fact, in Arizona second-hand stores (where Jim and I always look first for anything we need in the motorhome), the bulbs are subsidized by the state to encourage their use.

But all this talk of bulbs made me kind of reflect and chuckle because while working in the Bay Area at the Santa Rita Jail in the 1950’s, I was told about a light bulb still burning in the Livermore fire department that was over 50 years old. I eventually went to look at it and indeed the story was true. Just for kicks, I went into my search engine and asked for the longest burning light bulb, and sure enough, it’s still going. Here is what wikipedia has to say:

The world’s longest lasting light bulb is the Centennial Light located at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California. It is maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. The fire department claims that the bulb is at least 109 years old and has only been turned off a handful of times. The bulb has been noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and General Electric as being the world’s longest-lasting light bulb.
There are some other long-lasting light bulb stories on the wikipedia site if you want to check them out at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest-lasting_light_bulbs

The other reason I didn’t like the new bulbs is they didn’t fit into my lamps and my light fixture globes didn’t fit over the new bulbs. Bare, they are just plain ugly. But, I’ve dined at some pretty fancy restaurants and seen those same ugly bare bulbs and figured if they can do it. I can do it. And, they are going to transpose the  lighting fixture industry which translates into more jobs. The real benefit, as I see it, and the reason that the bill won’t pass, is because businesses that watch their bottom line already realize the cost savings of these new bulbs. They’ve already made a $12 billion dollar annual savings in this country alone. So, while Beck and Limbaugh claim the new standards are part of a “nanny state” governance, the reality is the bulb technology is getting much better because of the law and we (or our children’s children) may someday be reading about a rare thousand-year light bulb.


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