Friday, November 19, 2010

Wear Safety Goggles at Your Desk

The other evening, as my daughter was up late studying in her college dorm room, the light bulb in her desk lamp suddenly exploded. (I know, things don't ever "gradually" explode...but I'm trying to make a melodramatic point.) Fortunately, aside from some tiny scratches in her face, she wasn't injured or blinded. But that was lucky.
After ascertaining that she wasn't hurt (the paramedics actually came to her room to examine her), I immediately went to work on the web to investigate the possible reasons for this bizarre accident. Because, after all, I'm a guy, and that's what we do. Moms are there to comfort; dads figure out what happened.

So, one possible explanation offered was that cold liquid might have come in contact with the hot light bulb, say, when my daughter involuntarily sprayed out her Juicy Squeeze in response to some hilarious comment her roommate said. But no, she assured me, while a laugh riot, her roommate had made no spray-inducing witticisms. There was no liquid anywhere near the lamp, involuntarily aerosoled or otherwise.

Another could have been that the bulb was a higher wattage than the rating of the lamp. But my daughter's not dumb; she said it was a 45W bulb in a lamp that was rated for 60W. So that couldn't have been it.

Still another idea could have been a power surge from her dorm, built, I'm pretty sure, prior to any safety regulation enacted by our current Nanny State. But she said the lamp had been plugged into a surge protector. And besides, she correctly pointed out, wouldn't the surge have effected all electrical appliances and lights? So it wasn't that.

Finally, it could have been faulty wiring in the lamp itself. But it was a brand new lamp, purchased just weeks before from a reputable purveyor of lamps, Target...for $5.00.  Ah, there was a clue. I asked her to look under the base and see where the lamp was made. Yup; China.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Do you expect me to suspect that something as simple as a lamp, when made in China, could have less than the UL seal of approval?" You're thinking, "Are we supposed to think that QA standards in Chinese factories employing teenage girls for pennies a day without health care or benefits, forced to work long hours under appalling conditions, are less than standard?"

No, I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm just saying that, Wow! $5.00 for a desk lamp is really a good price.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Passing it Backward

I was at the grocery store yesterday, a big chain (not important which), standing in line behind an elderly woman. When they rang her up they asked he if she'd like to donate to the Thanksgiving food drive they were running. The woman said, "No, I'm having enough trouble affording to feed myself."

So it occurred to me how backward this supposed promotion was. Here was a huge corporation hitting up their customers for donations to needy people, when some of their own customers might be those very people. I don't know whether this company donates some of their own profits to these charities, or if they just look on it as a self-funding way to get PR credit. 

But it backfires. "Why," someone behind me asked, "doesn't Albertsons just donate themselves instead of asking us to do it?"

Ooops, I revealed the chain.