Monday, July 19, 2010

Something new in lighting

The group campout in the previous post was the 4th annual such, held in various locations. But this year I've noticed a change in camp lighting. Three years ago it was all "fire": other than flashlights the lanterns were all white gas or propane. We still had our early-60s traditional Coleman white-gas single-mantle lamps that I've always loved (indestructible, or nearly so) and hated (fragile mantles, sometimes hard-starting).

One of those died that year so the next year we took an LED lantern. I hated it; uneven light pattern and sharp bluish light that hurt my eyes. Not as nice but handier and sturdier than the two-lamp fluorescent lantern bought many years ago. (I liked the latter because I was never comfortable having fire in the tent.) The LED lantern has finally found its place beneath the tent ceiling where the objectionable elements aren't a problem and the fluorescent is used elsewhere.

But this year I noted that across the camp there were only two "fire" lanterns: my white-gas Coleman and chef Drew's propane, hooked up to his large propane kitchen tank. Everyone else had battery-powered fluorescent lamps, and they weren't all cold white lamps anymore; some had a pleasant orange tint to them. And they were no longer put up carefully out of reach of little fingers that could get burned. Some were strewn across the ground to illuminate paths or areas. (I will have to look into the safety of this.)

And all the flashlights were LEDs.

Creating useful illumination by the simple (if inefficient) means of heating materials until they're so hot they glow... it could well be that the generation that will grow up thinking that to be odd is already among us.

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