I decided to join the compact fluorescent bulb revolution this weekend. I was at Home Depot, looking for a washer. The previous owners of our house put in custom faucets everywhere, and normal washers don’t fit. We need special washers hand-shaped by European craftsman in a tradition handed down from father to son, apparently. Hardware stores don’t have them, so I tried Home Depot. They didn’t have them. I understood; no reason a hardware store the size of three counties in Montana would take up precious space on washers. Heck, if you decided to carry every washer in the world you’d have to put a whole wing on the back. This ain’t the House of Washers, kid. Now, peanuts, you want peanuts, we got those.

I stopped at the bulb department, and beheld a new line of fluorescents. They came in four different levels of brightness, from Blinding Vision of The Face of God to a dingy yellow that glowed like the dentures of an old vampire. I chose the second level, “Daylight,” and congratulated myself: they would last NINE YEARS (av. use 4 seconds daily) and save me $56 dollars each. Minus the cost of the bulbs, I’d made almost $100. If I bought 20 I’d be up a thousand dollars.  Is this legal? Do I have to report it on my taxes?

Once home I replaced the bulbs in my studio, which heretofore shed a soft golden glow. The old bulbs were Reveals, which I preferred to the antonym brand that wrapped everything in shadows. Reveals are bright and white, but the sconces have a yellow tinge. Plus, the walls are yellow / gold / whatever. Not my first choice for color, but I’ve gotten used to it, and the studio has a warm, mellow tone I’ve come to love.

The new bulbs were . . . bright. Wow! What a difference! It’s like a new room! Specifically, an operating theater! I left and went outside, where Gnat’s Brownie troop meeting was winding down - and that’s another story: 12 girls in full pack mode, running and screeching and shrieking nonstop. Twelve. I had to make the fire so they could do s’mores – the event was originally scheduled as a backyard sleepover, and I’d put up a tent for all 12, but it was called for cold weather. Just as well: twelve. Oy. They would have ended up inside, all of them. Twelve. I made a fire and premade the s’more material. It runs counter to normal parent instincts – here’s a sharp stick, go stand by the fire – but it went off just fine. They finished their s'mores and had a sing-a-long on the lawn. As the dusk fell and the backyard darkened one of the moms noted the light pouring from my studio window.

That’s bright,” she said.

“I put in new bulbs,” I beamed, proud new member of the fluorescent bulb society.

I went upstairs a few minutes later, and now I could see the room in the evening. It was hideously bright, the light unsparing and loud; it was like an airhorn for the retinas. It was like wearing contact lens soaked in Freon.

My wife stopped by to look.

Oh no, she said. Oh no no.

I replaced the bulbs with the old ones. It was a good experiment. But now I’m out $100.

I went to the Apple Store to trade in my $100 coupon on a Nano. They’re the latest thing, after all. I have one of the slender metal Nanos, which I like because it fits the color of my car. Yes, such things matter. Life should be endlessly customizable. The new Nanos, however, have video. But doesn’t my phone have video? It does, but this is really tiny video. This is put-in-your-pocket video. This ensures you will never find yourself stranded without an entertainment option. Your phone could run down, and then where would you be? Reading a magazine? Who carries those around?

I used to. One of the things I regret about adulthood, or at least my attempts to behave like one, was the end of the backpack habit. I always carried a magazine and a book in my backpack – usually several of each. College: six dog-eared New Republics, Plato’s old one, a journal, pens, a newspaper. Every day I’d stop at the coffeehouse, let the backpack slide off my shoulder,  pull out the pile, and start reading. Nowadays the laptop serves that function, I suppose, but it’s not the same. You come home after a hard day, let the laptop case fall to the floor – no, it’s not the same.

Anyway. I looked at the Nano, marveled at the screen, played with Cover Flow, held it in my hand, said a silent hosannah for the miracles of modern technology, then left the store without one. Because I don’t like it. I should check the tank to see if the Kool-Aid level is low, but I’ve never liked the new Nano. It’s too squat and stubby for my tastes. Naturally, this means that people who do like it are wrong and have no aesthetic sense and I sneer at them, preferably from behind a pseudonym on a gadget-blog comments section where I tout the virtues of another player that weighs six pounds and has an interface that makes a wall of Egyptian heiroglyphs look like a Dick and Jane primer.

On the other hand, I have learned – and proved today at the grocery store – that Windex Multipurpose (with Vinegar) has been renamed Windex Vineger (for multipurposes). It all balances out.

The weekend was full of small frustrations – and yes, I know that not being able to convince yourself to buy a Nano does not really qualify as a frustration, or at least shouldn’t. I’d requested the sequel to that vampire movie with Kate Beckinsdale; it arrived, but without Kate Beckinsdale. I mean, she’s in the film, but it’s not the same. I usually don’t like vampire movies at all, because the whole romantic-undead bit does nothing for me. They’re leeches with a thick coat of bad Byron. (“Near Dark” is different, probably because the vampires aren’t swanning around looking like petulant lower-tier nobility from a defunct Middle-European kingdom or playing the old woe-is-me-I’m-undead-and-immortal card for the impressionable young ladies. The first movie was enjoyable, except for the interminable last reel, and I thought I’d see the sequel. Well. I watched about 15 minutes of it and realized I no idea what the hell was going on. Is that monster the guy who’s supposed to be dead but isn’t although he might be? Whatever. . On the other hand, it had Derek Jacoby in a rare non-stuttering role. I saw him in another movie recently, and sure enough: out came the old Claudius stammer, tongue jammed against the roof of the mouth, vowels fed up the nose.

Otherwise, a grand weekend. Had an amusing little spam-battle Sunday afternoon on buzz.mn; check the thread. New Matchbook and of course buzz.mn throughout the day. Looks like a fine week: enjoy. Oh, and there's a new matchbook. Remember Norge Laundromat? Dig it. You can smell the Duz.