A fond farewell to the incandescent light bulb


I’ve had bad memories of the incandescent light bulb ever since third grade, so the recent news that the 40- and 75-watt versions of the bulb will be phased out in 2014 didn’t upset me in the least. It all began with my science fair that year. I was at a loss for a project idea. At dinner one night I made the mistake of asking my father for suggestions. Dad, a lighting engineer for GTE Sylvania, suggested I do a project on the incandescent light bulb. That’s when the figurative light bulb should have gone off in my head to steer clear of such an uninteresting topic for 9-year olds. But I ignored that inner voice as my dad waxed poetic about the bulb. Dad suggested he lecture me each night after supper on the topic and together we would build a working electrical box to power the bulb that reduced and expanded the brightness as we turned the dimmer. Life lesson No. 1: Pay attention to that inner voice. And so we began. With a pad of paper in hand, my dad and I sat on the couch...

Turkey basters: an endangered species


This November, for the first time in 25 years, my husband and I traveled back east for Thanksgiving. It’s not that we don’t visit family a few times a year, but it always seemed that traveling from Los Angeles to Boston on one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year was a recipe for disaster. But this year, since my mom decided she and my dad could no longer make the trip to her brother’s for their normal celebration, my sisters and I decided to bring Thanksgiving to my parents. Paula, my sister from Connecticut, brought a 26-pound turkey and 12 pounds of roast beef. Carla, my sister in New Hampshire, made enough desserts to fill a football stadium. We had 14 people for dinner, ranging in age from 17 to 83. Observing the differences in the thoughts and activities of three generations during a full-day celebration was like watching three genres of movies simultaneously. At one point, I noticed my 17-year-old niece and her cousin sitting next to each other on the couch,...