Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Unkind Lighting, or An Invitation to an Electrocution

A while back I wrote about the If-It’s-Broke-Don’t-Fix-It Lamp, a floor lamp that is a good 80-years-old and, although technically broken, could still be coaxed into working with a lot of patient jiggling and twiddling of the cord at the point where the cord entered the plug. Yeah, I know, an electrocution waiting to happen.

Well, about a week ago, the doddering and decrepit old plug came off right in my hand (while the lamp was off, thankfully). Damn. That lamp gives off 300 watts of blistering luminosity. I love it for that. Why don’t they make lamps that actually shed a decent amount of light anymore? There’s nothing I detest more than a lamp with a simpering, weak-ass 60-watt bulb unless it is a harsh, glaring overhead light. As far as I’m concerned lightbulbs of a wattage less than 100 (minimum) and overhead lights should never be used. They should not even exist. I turn them off as fast as B flips them on and hasten to the nearest high-wattage lamp for relief. Just to be clear: I am a lamp person. I like warm, incandescent light and plenty of it.

Anyway, the dining room is now all dim and shadowy because I’ve had to recruit this lamp to pinch hit.

Sadistic Lamp with Fugly Shade

I like the lamp, but I cannot find a period-appropriate shade for it, so I’m stuck with the fugly ill-fitting thing that my dad plopped on it some years back. To turn the lamp off, you have to reach in precariously close to the burning lightbulb to get to the switch. The other day I went to turn it off and my hand brushed the bulb—a paltry 100-watter—and the bulb burned the crap out of my wrist.


My wrist couldn’t have been in contact with the bulb more than a quarter of a second, but it hurt like the dickens—just goes to show how much energy is wasted as heat with an incandescent bulb, I guess. I had to walk around with a cold compress on it for an hour afterward. And I’ve been keeping it bandaged so that when I’m typing the open wound doesn’t become more irritated and festering from rubbing against the edge of my desk.

Anyway, that mishap provided a powerful incentive to see if I could replace the plug to the If-It's-Broke-Don't-Fix-It Lamp (something I should have attempted to do long ago). I bought this little plug kit thing and tried to do it this evening. I figured one of three things could happen: A) It would restore the lamp to A-1 working order. B) It would all go wrong and I’d be fried to a cinder. C) Nothing.

Guess which happened? Obviously, not B. Nothing happened. I don’t know if the plug kit is just a piece of Made-in-China rubbish or if the ancient cord just has a zillion shorts in it and needs to be totally replaced. Probably the latter. I’ve heard that rewiring a lamp is easy. Is it? Or is it an invitation to an electrocution?

Today’s NaBloPoMo blog: The Ugly Green Chair


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