Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Light me up.

The other day I was realizing that between the two lamps in my bedroom that they collectively require six light bulbs. My bedroom does not have a main light, so one of the lamps connected to a light switch serves as my main light. Though this lamp can use three bulbs, it only has two that are currently functioning, taking the grand total of light bulbs for one bedroom to five. Then it hit me, five light bulbs?!?!? Now it's not that I ever have all five of them going at any one time, but five bulbs seems excessive. And as if five wasn't enough, I then realized that I have four florescent bulbs in my bathroom, one bulb on my balcony, and I even have lights inside my closet. The bathroom bulbs go on and off all day, but the balcony and closet lights are rarely used, if ever. Not only do I have like seventeen bulbs in my room, but I also use a 1500 watt space heater connected to one of six outlets in my bedroom walls, and have a rather powerful heater/exhaust fan in the bathroom(totally necessary). Am I some kind of electricity hog? I can't believe that I have so much potential to waste electricity.

We are a country that wastes the shit out of resources, which is clearly represented by the availability in my single bedroom. It got me thinking about when I was living in Guatemala. Oh let the comparisons unfold. In Guatemala, I lived in a three story open air house built out of cinder blocks, concrete, rebar, and a tin roof. The top level of the house was completely open air and was something of a lounge. We had a few light bulbs up there, but hardly used them. Most of the electricity of the top level was taken by the stereo system which consisted of a few speakers. The middle floor of the house was one bedroom and our kitchen. The kitchen had a tiny fridge and one light bulb. Our two burner stove was connected to a small gas tank and therefore required no electricity. The bedroom on this middle floor had one light bulb and a TV that was on sometimes. The ground floor of the Guatemalan house had three bedrooms and the bathroom. Each bedroom had one light bulb as well as the bathroom. And true to Central American form, the shower head was also electrified.

So if we add up the number of bulbs in the entire three stories of the Guatemalan house, the total comes to seven; one upstairs, two on the middle floor and four on the main floor. Due to the open air structure of the house, we didn't use the lights during the day and our house was well lit at night because there was a street lamp style light on the pathway in front of our house. Seven light bulbs in the entire house in Guatemala, and I have six between two lamps in one bedroom in Los Angeles. Sheesh.

Now here's the best part. At any one point in my entire home, there is probably something like twenty bulbs going, and likely more than that when we are all home. One night in Guatemala, I had the light on in my room, my housemate Gary had the light on in his room as well as his TV and space heater. At the same time, the light bulb was on in the kitchen and my brother Brady who was visiting was taking a shower, also requiring electricity. I was standing on the second floor chatting with Gary when all of a sudden flames and sparks started shooting out of the side of the house where the main electricity was connected to the wires passing overhead. I hollered at Brady to turn the shower off immediately so he didn't get killed, and then the house went dark. Four light bulbs, a TV, a space heater, and an electrified shower head caused a melt down. We had blown the entire house. Standing in the dark Brady whimpers, "But I'm all soapy". Poor Brady. Once we realized the electricity was out for good he had to finish his shower in the cold and in the dark.

All's well that ends well and eventually the crappy Guatemalan electricity was fixed. But to this day, I love to reminisce and make comparisons to that time in my life and this story is one that just came up when I realized what a bunch of electricity pigs we are in this country. Here's to excess. Now go turn off all of the things in your house that you aren't using.

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