LED Lighting Payback - It’s Time To Switch!

The Gadgeteer
It’s a man's job to be curious. Exploring and prodding the world to determine what is best, what is safe and what should be feared. In pre-history this man would be in charge of the stick used to poke maybe-dead things. Today, it’s Todd’s job to seek out the latest gadgets, gear and technology that could make all of our lives easier/cooler. 

I’ve been watching and waiting, biding my time, and it’s finally here. I’m so excited! Who wouldn’t be? It’s time to switch to LED lights! If you’re not quite sure about making the switch yourself, then read on.

I’m a lighting freak. I was in wholesale lighting sales back in 1995 and through that I learned quite a bit about lights. I care about lumen output and color temperature more than most people. I learned about light pollution and proper use of task and accent lighting. I sold every size and variety of light bulb and light fixture available.

Read, or Be Stupid: Ready to Kill by Andrew Peterson

Reading is important. It makes you less dumb, it improves your memory and it makes you less dumb. We want to encourage reading so we'll be posting book reviews here from time to time. Check them out and read, or be stupid.

Get it here
The Book: Ready to Kill

The Author: Andrew Peterson
The Gist: Bestselling author Andrew Peterson is back with a heart-stopping fourth installment of his wildly popular Nathan McBride series. When a mysterious note referencing a top-secret US operation is tossed over the wall of the embassy in Nicaragua, Nathan McBride and his old pal Harv are called out of retirement by CIA Director Rebecca Cantrell and sent to Central America. Cantrell wants the situation resolved quickly and knows that Nathan is the man to do it; after all, he has a history with the place. The jungle he and Harv are about to land in is the same one that Nathan barely escaped with his life decades before, an ordeal that left him physically and psychologically scarred. To make it out alive a second time, Nathan will have to face down his own demons and square off with a ruthless killer who learned from the best, Nathan himself.

The Review: The Nathan McBride series is one of those series that I pick up and read no matter what I have on my reading pile. I love this series and everything about it.

Eat, Play, Shove, WRITE

Big congratulations are in order for Danielle of our Eat, Play, Shove column. She has released her first book. Here's Danielle to tell you all about it. Be sure to give her a "way to go" in the comments.

I wrote a book. Okay you knew that. Let’s start again shall we. I published a book! There that’s better. Yup, I finally published my first book and it was a huge day! I never knew that publishing a book could be so exciting, frustrating, or exhilarating. I was torn between throwing my computer and hugging it on a minutely basis. In the end I hugged it. In fact I hugged everyone. I would hug you too if I could. I know I’m mushy, but releasing a book out into the world will do that to ya.


Now I know you want to know all the deets on the book so let me lay it all out there for you.

Title: Guided

Series: The Jade Ring Series book 1

Author: Danielle Young

Genre: YA Paranormal

About the book:
Jo is a descendant from the most powerful Wiccan family the world has ever known and is destined to be more powerful than those before her.

But she doesn’t even know it. As her powers awaken Jo discovers a threat to her family line.

Protected by her best friends, and GUIDED by her Angel protector, Jo must learn to harness her powers and discover her family secrets before time runs out.

More than her life hangs in the balance.

In case you were wondering I am currently working on a paperback copy, so it will be available soon.

Yukon Jackin’ with the C. Horse

Forget your weak music and worse drink, all dead taste and restraint soulless of force
Life is a fifth of Yukon Jack, 
-Neil Young and the eternal Crazy Horse

It was a well past midnight on a Tuesday night in the early/almost spring of 1996.  I was peacefully slumbering away when I was rudely awakened by the brazen ring of my newly installed, immediately hated telephone. Not opening my eyes or lifting my head from my pillow, I readied myself for the delivery of a first-class ass chewing when that great, timeless no-quite-in-time THUMP and THROB hammered through the phone and into my ear and rabidly waking, excited brain.  The reedy, quaking voice on top with some simultaneously choking and swinging guitar all at 120 decibels sealed the deal:  this was live Neil Young with the greatest garage band in the history of the universe, the one and only Crazy Horse, destroying some brain cells in the early morning air right now. I was immediately awake and absolutely crushed that I wasn’t there. 

Out For Vacation

There once was a time where the word “vacation” meant spending luxurious days in the land of rest and relaxation, where time slowed down and I was able to taste the Welch’s. This is no longer the definition for me.

“Vacation” might still be the term used on my timesheets, but the correct term is now “family trip.” Which I recently went on, and I was not able to take the time to taste the Welch’s.

This is not an anti-kids rant, merely an observation that what you get back from them in love and adoration, comes at the price of frenzied micromanagement and exhaustion.

CONVENTION HOW-TO: Risky Business – Surviving “Client Dinners” At San Diego Comic-Con

This is the third in an Ultra Mega Super series on attending conventions (part one, part two). As a nine-year veteran of San Diego Comic-Con, I hope to share some insight. Especially if you’re heading out to the Con next week for business.

For a lot of people in geeky industries, SDCC is simultaneously exhausting work and glorious boondoggle. In my case, I spent almost a decade working the two booths of a major toy company, which I will refer to as Shmasbro to protect its anonymity. The Shmasbro booths take up a huge amount of space in the San Diego Convention Center and require a lot of people to operate, so many that they would invite people from their advertising and production partners to help out. A few coworkers (who were required to go) dreaded the idea of mingling with nerds, while fun coworkers volunteered every year. (You all know who you are!)

For me, it was 5 special days out of the year to spend amongst my own kind.

Light Bulbs and Dinosaurs

Superman has Lex Luthor. Idiots have Reason. I have light bulbs. For eight years in our new home it seems I never changed a light bulb. For the last three years it seems I’ve changed one everyday. So when it came time to replace the light bulbs in the living room, I upgraded to LEDs. If they last 25 times longer than a normal light bulb, these should last me until next Tuesday.

As I folded the ladder, my wife came in to the room, fresh out of bed and stared at the lights. “Those are really bright.” 

Having spent 40 dollars on 4 light bulbs, I immediately went on the defensive. “They’re 60 watts. I had 40’s in there, but I went back to 60’s like before. Remember?”

She didn’t remember. “They were never that bright.” 

Want a Taco…. Salad?

The kids are at it again. This time we made tacos… or something like them. Actually we made taco salad. Which since my kids end up with all the taco stuffing all over the table, chair and themselves we might as well start that way, right? Right.

My assistant for this dinner was my 9 year old. He seems to be the one that enjoys this the most. For this meal he was in charge of chopping onions, cutting tomatoes and making the refried beans. He did a great job. Now I’m going to warn all you parents out there. It can be really hard to watch your children cut things with a knife. Ok it is really hard to watch, but as long as you teach them how to properly hold the knife and their other hand (we call this the guide hand in the culinary world) everything will be fine and there will be no digits lost.

Gardening 101: Trouble in the garden

Ugh. This is not going to be a fun story to tell. While I have had moderate to great success with perennials around the house, I have had more problems with what should be a simple vegetable garden than I think is normal. Yet, I am determined to get this thing working so I’ll tell you about what I’ve done, what I’ve lost and what I’ve learned.

Ok, where to start? How about at the beginning, that sounds reasonable, huh?

A few years ago when we lived in another house, I built a flower box for my wife. She planted roses and they grew lush and beautiful. We didn’t do much to the soil either. We threw in vegetable scraps and dug them under and watered occasionally and we were rewarded with some really pretty flowers.

One year we tossed our jack o’ lantern in there to rot and feed the soil. I didn’t really think about removing the pumpkin seeds or anything, just chopped it up and tossed it in. A few days later we had several pumpkin sprouts. Intrigued, I left them alone to see what would come of them, and within a few weeks we had a couple of strong, thick vines running along the bottom of the bed and throwing up feelers to catch on the rose bushes. A couple months after that came the flowers letting us know that soon there would be pumpkins. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, we never got to see if any pumpkins actually grew because we sold the house and moved before any would have come about. But I was both inspired and encouraged. If I could grow pumpkins just by tossing a rotten one into a flower bed, what could I produce if I was actually trying? The answer, so far, is not much.

I built raised garden beds and filled them with a nice mixture of garden soil and compost. There’s a good solar aspect, meaning they get a good mix of light and shade, and theoretically everything should be growing like gangbusters. Instead I’ve been met with wilt, rot, pests, depleted soil minerals, and spontaneous death at every turn. Every time I find a solution for one problem, another pops up. I’m only just now getting a decent survival rate, much less food production. This shit is frustrating.

On first planting, seedlings came up and everything seemed pretty happy. Then one morning I came out to what looked like the aftermath of an epic battle in one of the beds. Seedlings were stomped and scattered, there were holes all over the place; the whole thing was wrecked.

Weighing Comedic Merit vs Boobies

Maybe I'm just the old guy looking back fondly, but it seems the greatest comedies came out in the 80's. Not just one or two but almost every classic funny movie hit around that decade. Yeah, I'm probably just playing the "kids these days" game but they really were the best. Alex seems to agree. 

I’m trying to remember how old I was when I watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” for the first time. I remember trading most of the dialog word for word with my older/wiser cousin. Some of the most body rattling belly laughs of my life.

As the father of a tween (I hate that word) who wants to see it, I find myself debating the merits of its spectacular hilariousness versus the dirty language and unclothed lady bits. Why was it okay for me to watch but it’s not quite right for my kids?

Café Muy Dulce!

I've always been against putting things in my coffee. Mainly because it wastes time that could be used for more coffee. But, Jason makes an interesting case here.

When I first started drinking coffee, the only way I could enjoy it was if it included a little half-and-half and a ridiculously large amount of sugar. You remember that scene in True Romance where Christian Slater’s character said he wasn’t satisfied with the sweetness of his coffee unless the spoon was sticking straight up? Yeah, add a few more spoonfuls and that was me. At the time I thought it insane for someone to want to drink their coffee black, because my palate and mindset wasn’t mature enough to appreciate the drink for its true flavor potential. Instead I opted for a beverage that granted me the necessary energy to start my day early, as opposed to my previous practice of just zombieing around until roughly 10AM. Then one day I was told by my doctor that I needed to make some major lifestyle changes, as I was teetering on becoming prediabetic (I’m sure it only had a little to do with my coffee preparation; it was more like I was getting older, and my stationary habits didn’t jive well with my preferred food and beverage choices.) So once I was successfully scared into compliance –“But Doc, aren’t we ALL prediabetic?” may have been uttered at one point- I started running around my neighborhood every morning, and eliminated oranges, potatoes, and white rice and flour from my diet.

And as for my coffee? Well, it turns out I’m not a big fan of the chemical taste of artificial sweeteners. But since I needed the pick-me-up in order to effectively do ANYTHING before noon, I started drinking it black. This led to two things:

The Technology of Faking It

While I was working on my boat engine this weekend I had a sudden moment of clarity, and I stopped to appreciate just how lucky I was to be a Dad right now. 

No, I don’t mean because of my kids, I mean because of the Internet! (And dear wife, please let me explain before you hit me…)

This Sunday started out with a plan: we were going to the lake, and the whole family was going to enjoy a day filled with sun and water sports. The plan started out just fine - we were packed, hitched to the boat trailer and on the road by lunchtime. My wife had packed a road lunch along with everything else like sunscreen and life jackets. Our plan was coming together, and we ate our lunch with zeal, knowing that we would need the energy for tubing and knee boarding.

It was only after we launched the boat and discovered that the motor didn’t want to start that we felt the pain of our wonderful plan starting to derail. It took another 30 minutes of futile attempts to start the engine before we finally gave up and pulled the boat out of the water, admitting that the plan was dead. The drive back home wasn’t nearly as exciting as the drive out had been.

After parking the boat back in our driveway and unloading all of the gear I opened up the engine cover and gazed at it for a while. I tried to start it again, as if transporting it back home would have magically fixed it. No, it hadn’t. Then I tried peering at the engine again, this time with much more focus. It still just looked like a dead engine to me.

Then I did what any self-respecting Dad would do: I searched the Internet for “boat won’t start”.

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

I’ve listened to Chris go on about fitness for years and I’ll admit that he has moved me from never going to the gym to one day considering possibly maybe going to a gym. In his post today, he addresses some apprehensions that may push me even closer. But, I doubt it.

There are some days when I find it pretty concerning that people are asking me for my advice about diet and exercise. I haven’t been eating right for very long and the appearance of my stomach muscles seems to come and go with every cheat meal I indulge in. There are days where I don’t feel like the model of fitness. But, another popular blogger recently said something like this; “Never forget, no matter where you are on your journey, there are others behind you. Sure, there are plenty in front, but the ones biting at your heels haven’t been where you are yet.” That bit of advice reminded me of all the folks that gave me (and keep freely giving me!) tidbits of their own advice, any of which I can take or leave. But, I’m really thankful for the folks who cared enough to take the time to pull me aside and make corrections or share tips. They knew something I didn’t know. And, I was able to take all those pieces and make my own way. It just takes a little humility to admit you don’t know what you don’t know.

Dystopia Inc.

The stories of Dystopia Inc will explore the effects of corporate culture becoming national culture. Think Office Space meets 1984. I hope to release a new story every month. This is the first one.

Welcome to the world of Dystopia Inc
The future brought economic collapse. Opportunistic corporations snatched up the world’s nations at bargain prices and now control every aspect of our lives. The stories of Dystopia Inc. will explore this future. A future where corporations reach into our very lives. A future where the CEO decides all. A future where some Fridays are Blue Jean Friday if you are so inclined.

 The War Room
War rages in southeast Asia. It is the least popular of those currently raging and public support is waning. It’s up to the Department of Marketing to rally the people and their wallets or all will be lost. For this task, they enter the war room. Someone brought bagels. Download it now      

The USA vs Futbol

Today is Thursday July 27th. For you, 12:00 PM (EST) will either mean “aw yeah, lunch time! Where’s my sammich and Little Debbie?” or “USA! USA! USA!

Our country seems to have finally tipped from flirting with soccer to potentially, maybe, I dunno – possibly having a one-night stand with the game. That or “we the people” just love a good bandwagon to jump on, especially if it gives us a conceivable reason to drink just one more beer and skip out on work. You know, for ‘Merica!