Archive for September, 2009

LED Lamps

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Two styles of LED lamp

I’ve been searching for some LED lamps to test since I have been less than impressed by the very short lifetime of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). The CFLs do not last anywhere near the claimed 5,000, 8,000, or 10,000 hours. I think they might last that long if I turned them on and never turned them off, but that is not exactly my home lifestyle. So, I’ve been watching and waiting for some Suitable LED lamps to test. That day arrived when my wife said she was sick and tired of those CFLs in the kitchen that took 30+ seconds to get bright first thing in the morning. The problem was bad enough that I had switched one CFL back to an incandescent bulb months ago. When you want/need light you pretty much need it now. So I went to LEDtronics.com and bought a couple of R30 and PAR30 lamps.

I bought two completely different styles. One used five high power dimmable LEDs with a narrower 25 degree beam width and a 3000K color temperature. The other uses many lower power LEDs to produce a 5500K beam with a width of 40 degrees and could not to be used with a dimmer. I planned to use the latter in the kitchen where the distance between the lamp and the counter top was about 5′. The high power lamps are going in the ceiling of my family room 16′ above the floor. I selected the specific lamps based on their total lumen of output and their candle rating (includes the effect of varying beam width). My goal was to select a lamp that appeared to result in the same candle rating of the incandescent lamps I was replacing.

LED lamps are very intense, but not all that bright. These lamps in particular have clear lenses and produce a very direct light. The 40 degree spots did not work in the kitchen. We wanted a more diffuse light there. They do, however, work very well in the bedroom and the bath over the spa where they provide a delightful ambiance. Before I installed the high power spots in the ceiling fixtures I ran a quick test by putting them in a work light fixture. They produced a nice bright spot that was easily visible during the brightest part of the day on a wall 25′ away. I have since installed them and am very happy with the intensity of the light when I’m sitting at the computer underneath one of them and very pleased with way the light looks from across the room. It gives the room a completely different look. I’m planning to get two more for the other pair of corners in the family room.

I have to give these a thumbs up so long as they last their predicted lifetimes. The nature of the illumination is quite different from either incandescent or CFLs, so you should not expect that they will perform exactly the same way. In the right situation they perform better. In the wrong one, they can be worse. Given their current cost it will be an expensive experiment.

DeGlobalization

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Here is another timely article on the state of the global economy. This time the subject is deglobalization. It is a good quick read that gets right to the point. Go ahead and read it first. If you still are skeptical about whether this is at all possible – read this too from today’s news (20090914).

Capitalism is broken, perhaps fatally (as is mindless consumerism), and the lack of sufficient quality jobs in the US runs the risk unrest. See my earlier post on the subject of jobs. Globalization has failed mostly due to the inability of the market to raise the standards of living of those countries supplying the workforce and thereby create new markets for US produced goods (exports and the related jobs at home). There are a few exceptions though free trade has, for the most part, made a just few people in those countries very rich. I am a proponent of some of the 11 pillars, but there are a few that (appear to) run too close to neo-socialism (I was going to use neo-communism, but that term has been usurped by the Right to hurl at the Left ever since the term Liberal has lost its impact). Hopefully, if we go this route, we will not end up like France – or worse.

I suspect that as climate change begins to disrupt water and food supplies, degloblization will rapidly take hold. International trade will become more strategic. China is already ahead of the game here as they have been buying up rights to strategic natural resources worldwide for some time now. Whether those rights can be enforced (peacefully) remains to be seen. One thing the article does not address is what deglobalization does to the huge, internationally-held US national debt. If ‘they’ cannot buy/import stuff (like food) and are not allowed to invest in the US, then the debt becomes worthless/uncollectable, the international currency/credit markets collapse (might not be a bad thing in the near-term with a return to something like the gold-standard). International trade will revert to a barter system (goods for goods – not a currency).

No matter how I look at this, the word ‘stability’ does not seem to apply. We need to replace the for profit motivation of the capitalists with something more sustainable (and perhaps even moral) for the post-capitalist system that will replace it.

Innovation, Jobs, and the Economic Future of the US

Friday, September 4th, 2009

I’ve been wanting to write about the economy again, but just could not get my thoughts together when I had the time to write. A friend at work sent me a link to an excellent article that captured most of what I was thinking. You can find the article here at Business Week. The article missed one of my points though. Without innovation defining new products that drive exports, jobs, and investment in the US, the US will become the economic equivalent of an oil well. The rest of the world will maintain/grow the current trade imbalance and pump money out of the US until we run dry. Then they will abandon us and move on. Rather than legislating band-aids, like health insurance reform, the congress needs to be worried about the education of our people (not foreigners), and investing in long-term fundamental research. Growth, jobs, and economic stability will return eventually.

More on Health

Friday, September 4th, 2009

… as opposed to “moron health.”

I have not really sat down to outline my thoughts on how to make health care affordable. The current debate in congress is primarily about Health Insurance – not Health care. As I have stated previously, we do not need another, bigger government program that gives a special interest direct access to the government coffers. We need legislation that actually addresses the cost of health care. The bills before congress basically set up an expanded Medicare/Medicaid system. It expands the number of participants without doing much, if anything, to address the long-term costs of health care. It is a new liability for taxpayers without any hope of cost containment. What we need is legislation that controls the costs and cost growth of health care services. Making health care affordable is the best way to making health care universal. Since being healthy and living a long life are priceless – they do not respond well to market forces. This is especially true when the system seeks to limit availability of services by artificial means – controlled scarcity.

To that end I suggest that we need to expand the capacity of the existing system by doing some/all of the following:
Electronic records that follow the patient,
Use computer diagnosis – with RN verified symptoms,
Increase the capacity of the medical education system,
Limited liability against lawsuits,
International market for prescriptions,
Zero advertising for pharma,
Greater role for RNs & NPs,
Exclude MDs from owning Med Labs,
All hospitals should be non-profit,
Pay for college and require a 4-year post grad service in the industry – just like what is done for ROTC,
Require specialist MDs to serve 25% as general physicians – forever, and
Treat health care like any other regulated utility by regulating a service fee schedule nationwide.

We need to reinstate compassion for the profit-motivation when it comes to health care.