On light bulbs, oil companies, and planned obsolescence

Hundred Year light bulb (actually 111.) 4W, burning since June 1901! www.centennialbulb.org. :Cover image courtesy of Jay Galvin of Flickr by way of a Creative Commons license.

Last night’s useless dream: I was in Sam’s Club, and I got hot so I took off my costly NFL-themed hoodie and misplaced it, and somebody stole it. A security guard helped me look for it but it turned out he was simply following me around because he thought I was shoplifting.

Then I was at home, where I discovered the bathroom light switch wouldn’t work. This is not just any old light switch. This is a push-button light switch that has been in the house since Mom and Dad bought it in 1969. They replaced every other light switch in the house but not that one. It just keeps working and working and working – it’s the Methuselah of light switches.

Like the light bulb at that fire department in California that has remained continuously on for over a hundred years. If you paired my light switch with that light bulb you’d end up with a sucking black hole of planned obsolescence refutation.

It’s true. Light bulbs are designed to fail. I watched a documentary about the subject. Back in the 1800s or early 1900s, manufacturers were making light bulbs that would last for decades. They began to notice declining sales and got together with each other (commonly called “collusion”) and figured out that because their products were made so well, people were no longer buying them. They didn’t need new light bulbs because the old light bulbs were still working. So they decided to manufacture light bulbs in a way that would cause them to fail after a certain time, and when they did that their sales went back up. All hail capitalism.

Even the new LED bulbs don’t last very long. The packaging suggests they’ll go on for years, but that isn’t true. They don’t last much longer than a regular incandescent bulb. They cost 10 times as much – that’s the big difference.

I wonder if anybody has looked at the profit margins of light bulb manufacturers. It’s like the oil companies. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic and a near-recession, everybody is hurting, and oil companies are making record profits. It clearly shows they don’t give a shit about us. Not even a little.

Doesn’t that piss you off? It pisses me off, and that’s why I should turn off my brain at night – because I have these dreams that just piss me off! And then I get comments like, “Can’t you blog about something happy? Why are your blogs so angry or sad? I want to read something happy!”

This isn’t a happy blog. This is a pissed-off blog. If you want an ice cream cone you don’t go to Jiffy Lube.

You want a happy blog? Find somebody who doesn’t have dreams that piss them off!

(Cover image courtesy of Jay Galvin of Flickr by way of a Creative Commons license.)

About the author

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .