I’ve been in the work force for 38 years, and I have always had a cubicle with full-height partitions or an office of my own. As a computer programmer, I’ve always needed to concentrate intensely for most of the work day. That requires a certain amount of freedom from visual and auditory distractions. I need to focus.
This week, the work environment I have had throughout my career is being taken away from me, forcibly, as it is for all of us where I work. We had no input. No explanation was given. The decision was made at the highest levels of our company’s management. We are moving to open office.
We still have cubicles—if you want to call them that—but no partition is higher than eye level when sitting in an office chair. No more upper shelves, no more book shelves. Only a work surface and a meager amount of drawer storage underneath. No more physical barriers between rows. Just one big, noisy, overilluminated room. Everything and everyone exposed for all to see from anywhere in the room.
Speaking of illumination, as part of the office “improvements” they have also replaced the warm white fluorescent lights we have used for decades—with a correlated color temperature (CCT) around 3000 to 4000 K—with significantly brighter and bluer LED lights having a CCT of 4000 to 5000K or higher. It provides a cold, harsh, clinical illumination, not at all like the natural daylight they are trying to emulate. LEDs are, of course, readily available in the warmer color temperatures of 2700K to 4000K.
I am not alone. Many of my coworkers—some much younger than me—do not like open office nor the bluer, brighter lights we now have to endure.
This just adds additional stress to an already stressful job. When is management going to learn that one size does not fit all?
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Who hasn’t tried to replace an article of clothing when it finally wears out, only to find that it is no longer available? When I find something I like, I like to stick with it—or at least something quite similar. Increasingly, I am having a harder and harder time finding clothing I like. Is it my age?
Take, for example, long sleeve shirts. I like button-down dress casual shirts, but if you’re looking for a pattern shirt that doesn’t include blue, good luck. Look at the shirt below. It goes well with tan or brown pants, but I can’t find anything like it anywhere! For such a basic style, this really surprises me.
Here’s a close-up showing the pattern:
So, the moral of the story is if you find an article of clothing you like, purchase another two of them right away, because there’s no guarantee it will be available (or of the same quality) in a couple of years when you’ll be wanting to replace it with something comparable.
For many of us, winter in the Upper Midwest means dry, cracked hands and nasty splits at the ends of our thumbs and fingers. The only way to avoid or at least mitigate this is to apply lotion to your hands after every hand washing, because soap removes too much of your skin’s natural moisturizing oils (lipids).
I’m not a big fan of pump dispensers when it comes to lotion. When the pump has pumped all the lotion it can, there is still a lot of lotion left behind in the bottle. And most of us don’t want to go through the extra effort needed to get to the remaining lotion, so we throw the bottle out rather than utilizing the remaining lotion and then recycling the bottle.
Recently, just to see how much lotion was left in a Gold Bond® pump dispenser (excellent lotion, by the way), we used a razor blade to cut all the way around the midsection of the lotion bottle, separating it into roughly two halves. Then we used a spoon to scoop out all the remaining lotion in the two halves and put it into a clean plastic tub—formerly a sour cream container. The amount of leftover lotion is substantial, as you can see in the photograph below. A many-days supply, to be sure!
We consumers need to put pressure on pump-dispenser lotion manufacturers to package their lotions in containers that make it easy to extract all the lotion. Some lotion manufacturers are already doing this, and we should purchase their products. O’Keeffe’s® Working Hands® is one good example.
Sometimes, lotion manufacturers package their product in both types of containers—pump dispensers and tub containers—but your local grocery store, pharmacy, or big-box store only carries the less environmentally-friendly pump-dispenser type of container. Do your research, and meet with the store manager to ask them to carry the tub container alternative instead of—or in addition to—the pump dispenser.
Each and every day we can make choices that are better for our environment. This is yet another example: use all the product and make it easy to recycle the container.
The catastrophic flooding in Houston brings back terrible memories of the flood I experienced during the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 26, 2015 when my apartment in the Meyerland area of Houston took on three feet of water and I lost most of my belongings including my car. There was no warning that the Brays Bayou would leave its banks that night. My Meyergrove apartment has flooded again twice since I left Houston in September 2015: once on April 18, 2016, and again this weekend. This frequency of flooding is unprecedented in that area of Houston.
Everyone with a ground floor apartment lost most of their belongings in my apartment complex during the Memorial Day Weekend 2015 flood. No one I talked to had flood insurance, and everyone had renter’s insurance that did not cover their flood damage, so they lost a lot.
Which brings up an important point. Why are there not laws to require lessors to disclose to renters when the apartment or house they are renting sits in a flood plain? If the lessor has flood insurance on their property, then they should be required to inform their tenants of that fact and clearly communicate that the tenant should purchase flood insurance in addition to their renter’s insurance. After all, when you are buying a house, you cannot get a home loan unless you purchase flood insurance if you are living in a flood-prone area. Why do not renters have the same protection?
Perhaps there are other areas of the country where landlords have to disclose to their renters if they will be living in a flood plain, but there appears to be no such protection for renters in the state of Texas.
Back when I had my astronomy-friendly outdoor lighting business, I used to sell yellow-LED flashlights that I bought from Robert D. Mantell in North Hollywood, California, under the trademark Lo-Glo™.
The Houston flood Memorial Day weekend 2015 wiped out the remaining inventory I had and, sadly, these wonderful flashlights are no longer available.
It is not rocket science. You need to start with a well-made flashlight, replace the regular bulb with a yellow LED and the appropriate current-limiting resistor, and voila!
Yellow may be better than red. See the article by Robert Dick, “Is Red Light Really Best?”, in the June 2016 issue of Sky & Telescope.
There’s a great business opportunity here. It wouldn’t take much to make a better astronomy flashlight than what Orion and others sell. Besides, I have found these yellow-LED flashlights to be most useful for moving around the house after bedtime (such as a bathroom trip) to avoid being exposed to any bright light at night which would affect your night vision and even your circadian rhythm.
If you know of any astronomy-friendly yellow LED flashlights or would like to manufacture some, please post a comment here or contact me directly.
Have you ever reached for a beverage in a plastic bottle and found that you can’t twist off the bottle cap? Wrap a rubber band (the wider the better) twice around the cap and then try again. You’ll have the bottle cap off in no time!