Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Our pool cover kept the pool at tolerable temps (mid-high 70s) until a few days after Halloween. Then the nights got cold fast, and we finally removed the cover, cleaned it off, rolled it up, and put it in the shed. Water temp is now 62 degrees. I’m sure I’ve been in water that cold, but as a successful retired person, I reserve the right not to do things I did gladly when I was in seventh grade. As for when it goes back on in the spring, well, I’m working on that. We’ll see.
  • QBit is still with us, though he’s a little grumpy and not moving as fast as he used to. He does not appear to be in pain, but we’re having the mobile vet check him again at the end of the month.
  • We’ll be watching fistfights about this for years still, but ongoing research is pushing consensus strongly toward the hypothesis that low-carb high-fat diets accelerate metabolism. This happens to me almost every day: Twenty minutes after my nearly zero-carb breakfast (two eggs fried in butter, coffee, sometimes bacon) I feel warmer and start to sweat under my arms.
  • From the Things-Are-Not-Working-Out-As-We-Were-Promised Department: When we bought our house here in Phoenix in 2015, we immediately replaced nearly all the interior lighting with LED devices. Three years later, they’re dying like flies. (Several died within the first year.) Probably half of the incandescent bulbs we had in our Colorado house survived for all the 12 years we lived there. More efficient, yes. Long-lasting, well, I giggle.
  • The Center for Disease Control warns Americans not to eat Romaine lettuce in any form. A particularly virulent form of e. coli has been found in lettuce sold in 11 states, but since the CDC doesn’t know where all the infected lettuce came from, it’s advising consumers not to eat romaine at all.
  • The Dark Ages began with real darkness: In the year 536 a massive volcanic eruption in Iceland covered Europe in volcanic smog. Crops failed, famine was everywhere, and soon came Justinian’s Plague, now thought to be bubonic plage. By the time the plague faded out, half of Europe was dead. I find it fascinating that we can identify periods of prosperity by looking for lead dust in ice cores, meaning that people were mining precious metals. After nearly vanishing after 536, lead levels didn’t reach the norm again until 640.
  • “Reading is like breathing in and writing is like breathing out, and storytelling is what links both: it is the soul of literacy.” –Pam Allyn
  • Statuary in ancient Greece and Rome was not always blinding white, but was often painted and sometimes gilded, and restorations of the colors are startling to moderns. Here’s an excellent long-form piece on how old statues likely appeared when they were created–and why many historians reject the idea of painted Classical statuary.
  • Too much caffeine triggers the release of cortisol, which in large quantities over a period of time leads pretty directly to heart disease. Modern life is cortisol-rich enough enough without downing 6 cups a day!
  • Some ugly stats quoted by Nicholas Kristof: “38 colleges, including five from the Ivy League, had more students from the top 1% than from the bottom 60%. Over all, children from the top 1% are 77 times more likely to attend Ivy League colleges than children from the bottom 20%.” Legacy admissions have got to go.


  1. Regarding LED lightbulbs – I’ve seen some really bad reliability on those as well, but it seems to be strongly linked to where you got them. In our house and in those of several relatives the Costco sourced lamps have been particularly unreliable, while the IKEA lamps have been holding out for much longer. If you’re one to watch Youtube teardowns take a look at some of those done by bigclive – he loves digging into the details of LED lamps (and other electrical equipment) and you’ll quickly learn that there are many ways to skin that cat – not all of them equally reliable (or as efficient, etc…)

    1. Ha! Nearly all of the bulbs we used in the Big Bulb Sweep were from Costco on Hayden. We’ve been getting bulbs from Home Depot on the recommendations of our friends, and although it’s too soon to tell, I don’t think a single one of the Home Depot bulbs has failed.

  2. TRX says:

    Once “warm” (ie “not blue”) LEDs became reasonably priced I started replacing incandescents with them, not so much for saving electricity as to reduce the load on our woefully-undersized air conditioner.

    I’ve not had one last more than a year. Sometimes they just quit; often enough the failure mode involves the smell of burning plastic. I disassembled the first half-dozen to salvage the LED strips from them, and found the tiny power supplies inside had vented their magic smoke. After collecting more LEDs than I might reasonably use, I quit taking them apart…

    No matter what brand name is on the package, they were all so identical that I’m sure they came from the same factory.

    The other problem is the rated light output. There are all kinds of ways to measure light; enough that I suspect there’s some industry collusion involved. Four 20 watt tubular LED lamps don’t even come close to one 60 watt incandescent. The “corncob” lights do better, but given their short life they’re a bad deal.

    From my disassemblies of dead lights, the LEDs themselves don’t seem to be the problem; none of them ever failed. It was always the tiny power supplies that died.

    FYI, besides my recent purchase of a dual-fuel generator and some Coleman lanterns to handle our ever-more-frequent power outages, I bought some USB-powered LED lights. Why feed AA cells to a camp light when there are a couple of laptops and a UPS with USB ports with way more battery power? One of the little 4-inch USB lights sucked the fully-charged UPS down to zero in about two hours. Makes me worried about plugging one into a laptop, given our old-style laptops don’t have high-currrent “phone charger rated” ports…

  3. Larry Nelson says:

    The data behind the college admissions article got my attention about a year ago. You can even look up your alma mater by adding it to the list in this article:

    My alma mater (Whitman College) is “merely” 55th in the nation for bias toward admitting the wealthy. I’ve nothing against 1 percenters but the lack of economic diversity is stunning given the fact that they employ a well paid “Chief Diversity Officer”.

    My college just built a new dorm to house 150 students. It cost $30 million. That is $200,000 per bed. Colleges are completely out of control in the race to provide luxury accommodations to attract high income students with paying parents. The accompanying new dining hall is an upscale restaurant that cost $100,000 per table to build. I am grateful for the scholarships 40 years ago but am asking whether should be giving my money to some other college in the future.

    1. Mithral says:

      Attracting top 1 percenters has less to do with the immediate return and everything to do with turning them into contributing alums. The all-mighty endowment fund is rapacious, no matter how much is already in it. I cringe when I see yet another multi-million donation has been made to one of the prestige schools. The don’t need the money and aren’t likely to any time into the future .

      Choose one of your struggling state universities if you’re of a mind to donate. They’re the ones doing the heavy lifting and most in need of the support. If you’re concerned how your money will be used, make a restricted donation, specifying how you want your money allocated. The bottom 60 percent will be forever grateful.

  4. paul says:

    Other than the under cabinet light in the kitchen which seems to be immortal and a few more around the entire place, it’s all LED here.

    I’ve had one failure. A 20 or 40 watt equivalent vanity light in the hall bathroom. Mystery brand from Lowes. They changed the bulb to have a white base that blocks your view of the socket. At $9 a bulb, hey, look over here! I have a compact spiral sitting on the shelf! With a big fat base! My work here is done. 🙂

    I put Cree 60w equivalents in the bedroom ceiling fixtures. With one of each in the fixture, the color and brightness are the same. The only difference is the incandescent turns off a tiny bit slower. Plus 120 watts of light for 20 watts of juice!

    The rest of the house is Phillips. I have several of their flat bulbs. “Slimstyle”. The tracks are Phillips floods. I changed the LED floods in the living room tracks for Phillips made to change color a bit when dimmed. More “incandescenty”. The replaced LEDs went into the recessed lights in the dining room and the track in the hallway and this room…. none on dimmers.

    As for load on the a/c, I’m running a ceiling fan and that keeps the air stirred up. I do notice the lack of heat in the winter. It was a mystery why I’m so darn cold and all of a sudden the light came on. (groan)

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