Saturday, March 29, 2008

Light bulbs

I'm a little cranky.

I have a friend who calls himself "Grumpy" and who has a little Elf doll that looks like "Grumpy" in Sleeping Beauty strapped to the back of his motorcycle to prove it. But the fact is that I am much more deserving of the title than he is. Here is an example....

A few years back.. say three years, I bought some of these high dollar fluorescent light bulbs to replace some standard incandescent light bulbs in my house. Now I didn't just buy a few, I bought about 20 of 'em. And you gotta know that these bulbs are not cheap. You can get a 4 pack of standard Soft-white incandescent bulbs for about $2 and these fluorescent things cost me around $10 each. So here it is, a couple of years later and some of these high dollar bulbs have burned out. Now keep in mind that I have been in Bangkok for a full 12 months of this time so don't be thinking that I should be happy with three years out of a bulb. I have had regular bulbs last for YEARS and they don't cost $10.

So I start looking around for info on the true cost of light bulbs.... and you, because you chose to read my BLOG have to put up with this resulting rant.

Here's the deal.

Standard Incandescent 60 Watt bulb - cost $1.50 for a pack of 4
LONG SUPER LONG LIFE fluorescent GE 60 watt equivalent - cost $14 (that's right - $14 per light bulb - see why I am grumpy!!!)

Now, A standard bulb is supposed to last about 1000 hours. You can verify that from any number of sources with a simple web search. One of these super duper long life fluorescent bulbs is supposed to last 10 times longer... HA!!!!! In your dreams. Maybe some of them do, but not the ones I got... so I went to figuring how much I overpaid for my crappy fluorescent bulbs. Here is the result.

Paying $1.50 for 4 standard bulbs means I pay about 37 cents per bulb. That bulb is supposed to last 1000 hours, but alot of mine seem to last longer... maybe 2000 hours right.... am I right???? You know I am! And I am supposed to be happy spending $14 for a stupid fluorescent bulb... I don't think so.

Anyway, the $14 "long life" bulb is supposed to last 10,000 hours. HA! Even if it does last ten times longer, I am paying $1.40 for the same amount of time that the cheap bulb is supposed to last. Man am I getting grumpy.

So this standard bulb is a 60 watt bulb. I pay about 15 cents per Kilowatt hour for electricity, so to operate my bulb for 1 hour costs me about 1 cent. A little less. But that high dollar bulb only uses 15 watts, so it costs alot less. But so what. A lot less than a cent still ain't much. Actually it is about 0.2 cents. Too little to count.

Lemme figure this out a second. A standard bulb costs $0.37 plus $0.01 per hour to run and it lasts 1000 hours. That's a total of $10.37 over the life of that bulb. Wait a second. The whole bulb and the energy it takes to run it is cheaper than just the bulb when you buy that expensive one! MAN am I getting grumpy!

OK, just for the exercise, I'll look at the fluorescent bulb. It cost $14 (crap!) and it uses 15 watts per hour so that costs hmmmmm.. 0.2 cents per hour. OK, that's pretty cheap to run. The standard bulb cost 1 penny - 5 times as much. But still, we are talking pennies here.

OK this fancy bulb is supposed to last 10,000 hours. HA!!!! so over the "supposed" life of the fancy bulb it would cost me $22.50 in electricity costs PLUS the $14 that the original bulb cost, that's a total of $36.50. That's TOO MUCH to run a light bulb.

Hmmmmm, what would the standard bulb cost I wonder. Let's see. 37 cents per bulb and the bulb lasts 1000 hours. That's $3.70 for enough bulbs to last 10,000 hours. And each bulb takes 60 watts per hour at 14 cents per KWH so that's $90 in electricity... WAIT JUST A SECOND HERE!!!! $90 to run a light bulb.. That's TOO MUCH! Lemme check that again

60 watts X 10,000 hours = 600,000 watt hours = 600 KWH
$0.15 per KWH X 600 KWH = $90.... hmmmmmm

Ok, lemme think. The high dollar bulb cost $14+$22.50 for electricity. That's $37. And the cheap bulb cost 37 cents plus 1 cent per hour, but for 10,000 hours that adds up to $90. CRAP!!!!!

Yea, but wait a second. The thing that ticked me off was that some of the bulbs I bought didn't last very long. I don't know how long, but it didn't seem very long. So what if the fancy bulb only lasts half as long as it says it will? Yea, what if it only lasts 5000 hours and then I have all that money tied up in an expensive bulb that crapped out. Let's see.... $14 for the bulb, and 0.2 cents per hour for 5000 hours is $14+$10 so that's $24. The same deal for the regular bulbs would be 5 bulbs (1000 hours per bulb) at 37 cents per bulb... that's a buck 85, plus 1 cent per hour to run them that's 5000 cents or ... .wait a second.... 5000 cents is $50! So even if the fancy bulb only lasts half as long as it is supposed to, it is still twice as cheap overall as the cheap bulb. Hmmmm

Hey, but what happens if my cheap bulbs last twice as long as they say they should? OK, at 37 cents per bulb, and it lasts twice as long.... Oh crap so I save 37 cents.. so what, I am spending $50 to keep the stupid thing running.

I think I am less grumpy than I was a little while ago.

Here is the chart. The green line is the cost of the "fancy bulb" as it lasts longer and longer. It dips below 1 cent per hour at a life of 2000 hours. At 10,000 hours, it costs 1/3 as much. There is a similar red line that shows that the cost of the "cheap" bulb is basically 1 cent per hour, no matter how long it lasts. This chart stops at a bulb life of 3000 hours. Imagine how it would look at 10,000 hours.


Nice day trip to Carmel and Point Lobos State Park

Today we took a little drive down South, mostly to take in some of this new scenery, but we ended up at a place called Point Lobos. If they haven't filmed movies at this location, I don't know why. It is beautiful.

We headed South in the most efficient manner possible until we got about 90 miles from home. We then ventured off the beaten path to some twisty roads that included Laureles Grade Drive, a nice little stretch with 10% grades, up and down the pass. We even got further off the trail when we took a side trip off the pass onto a 1 lane road that my GPS said would be even more interesting but ended up dead ending. Oh well, it was still interesting.

After the pass, we pretty much just found the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and headed about 5 miles south to Point Lobos. It takes $9 to get into the park but I could have spent a week there just watching the waves. It was a little cold and very windy so we didn't stay long, but take a look at my pics to see some of the amazing scenery.

When we left Point Lobos, I had noticed a road called 17 Mile Drive that looked interesting. Well, it is so interesting that the residents have decided that they can charge a $10 toll just for driving through. It's pretty worth it though, at least if you are just visiting. We paid the man and drove along the shaded road with the Pacific Ocean on our Left and amazing houses and golf courses like Pebble Beach, Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill along with some less notables as well. It was a great drive. Brenda thinks that this is where Clint Eastwood probably lives but we didn't see him jogging so we don't know.

After the 17 Mile Drive, we just returned to the PCH and headed homeward. We got pretty far along and heard that our planned route was suffering from a Semi accident earlier that day on the bridge that we planned to use to cross the San Francisco Bay. We backtracked about 10 miles and took a more direct route home having had a great drive.

If you look closely at the map you will see a little box about midway down on the right that says "Lick Observatory" on Mount Hamilton. That's where I am headed Tuesday.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

A little Catch-up

Ever since coming home from Thailand in October last year, I have let this Blog sit idle. There are a few reasons for that I guess, but none of them are because we have quit doing fun stuff. Let's see... I went diving in Honduras in October 2007, and took a great trip to Big Bend National Park shortly thereafter. We got a little tied up trying to find a place to live in San Ramon, CA while maintaining our place in Texas, but even that was adventurous in the "something different" sense of things. One reason I like blogging is because from time to time, I review the posts here and recapture some of the fun I had on these trips. And that's why I am going to pick this blog up again and keep it pretty current.

Since we now have a foothold in the far west of the US, we are using it to great advantage. Last weekend was functionally our first in CA. We have been here a few other weekends, but those days were consumed with apartment hunting or moving chores. But this past weekend we ran off from our remote base here and hit the trail to Yosemite National Park. What an amazing place. Even the drive there and back is amazing. We went out on Hwy 120 and came back on Hwy 140. Hwy 140 follows the Merced River all the way down the mountain so it is just spectacular.

Yosemite itself is pretty crowded, we thought we were rushing the season a bit since there is still snow in the higher elevations, but even this early the accessible parts of the park are packed. But we were able to basically drive up to Yosemite Falls and then take a couple of short hikes to Mirror Lake and Columbia Rock. Not back country hiking by any means. The trail to Mirror Lake is paved (for crying out loud) but the trail to Columbia Rock is far more severe.

Columbia Rock is only 1 mile from Yosemite Lodge where we stayed, but it is also 1000 ft higher in elevation. That is a average grade of 34% and that can wear on your legs. Still it was a great walk and left me wanting more. I came home and started looking for a good back country hike for when the snow melts.

We have other trips planned and we are looking forward to seeing this different part of our country. I'll keep you posted.