The package promised that these Christmas lights would last 20,000 hours — most of them in a landfill?

Life in the World Economy

Elvis reports: “Elvis got the Christmas lights out yesterday, and two of the strings wouldn’t work. These are the fancy LED lights that cost a pretty penny, and the boxes they are packaged in make a big pitch that the LED bulbs will last over 20,000 hours!

“Unfortunately the folks in China still seem to manufacture them with cheap plugs and wires, since they die about as often as the old-style ones.

“Today Elvis sat down with the strings that weren’t lighting. Elvis had his pocket knife and electrical continuity tester out. He ran through the strings, trying to see if there was a loose wire or connection. Those little fuses in the plug were still good; in fact, he’s never had to replace one even though several always come with each set. Then he spent a couple minutes prying off the plastic decorative cover on one of the bulbs, then spent another minute prying out the bulb and tested it. It was good, too.

“He looked at the other 99 bulbs lying there that would have to be tested and maybe replaced, thought about the 30 minutes he had already spent on these, picked them up off the floor and threw them in the trash bin.

“So there were a bunch of those 20,000-hour bulbs that probably had about 19,000 hours left, but the cheap components they are built with lasted only two seasons. Disgusting!”

See world

Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Go find another hill.


“I felt bad for the muskrat. First, four geese encroached into his front yard. He tried to be tolerant. But then one of them decided the muskrat house would make a fine perch to watch the sun come up over White Bear Lake. Well, that was just too much. The muskrat came out and chased the goose away.

“But it was a losing battle. While the geese somewhat respected the muskrat’s feelings (for a while), the coots you see in this photo had no qualms about desecrating the muskrats’ private dwelling. Seriously? Out of the 2,416 acres of White Bear Lake, this was the only place they could find to play King of the Hill?”

Fun facts to know and tell
Leading to: Till death us do part

IGHGrampa: “In the ‘Science & Health’ section of that other paper, there is a story about a unit of measurement that scientists can use to measure how long it takes for things to happen in an atom. Someone gave it the name ‘zeptosecond.’ It’s one trillionth of a billionth of a second, 10 to the minus-21st power of a second. This thing (this little word processor) doesn’t have what it takes to properly represent that small a value, but it’s a pretty short time, even shorter than an attosecond, which is a pokey 10 to the minus-18th of a second.

‘It’s always nice to learn something useful — like when the wife is calling me, I can reply: ‘I’ll be there in a zeptosecond.’ ”

Fun facts to know and tell
Roger Angell Division

The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill: “By the time Roger Angell was 12 or 13, he had memorized every cartoon caption The New Yorker had published to date: eight years’ worth. See”

Our times

Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “Subject: What everybody needs.

“Now I’ve heard of everything . . . well, maybe not EVERYthing.

“Imagine my surprise when I opened Sunday’s Pioneer Press to the Homes section and discovered that Americans are ready to update their toilets. Well . . . I thought . . . sure, my toilets could probably use an update . . . so I read on. Like home models, these toilets have names: the Veil, C3 230, and Puretide. The Puretide is billed as the perfect entry-level cleansing system, but if you want a step up, get the Veil: ‘an ultimate, one-piece intelligent toilet with integrated cleansing functionality that provides a suite of features to offer optimum hygiene and individual comfort, from personal cleansing to an LED nightlight to hands-free opening and closing, and flushing — all of which are easy to control on a touchscreen LED remote control.’ And someone gets paid to write this stuff?

“Apparently, ‘once you try one, you won’t be able to live without it.’ I wonder if it’s too late to add the Veil to my Christmas list.”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: Fun with verbs. . . or, to ‘had’ or not to ‘had.’

“People occasionally criticize the English language for eccentricities, but it works fine with just a little logical thought.

“One of my pet peeves is misuse of the verb ‘had.’ Being the past tense of ‘have,’ it shouldn’t be so commonly misused, as it was in the Pioneer Press story about the Duluth lighthouses’ being added to the National Register of Historic Places (Dec. 3).

” ‘Both lighthouses had their beams replaced with LED lights in 2014,’ reads the story.

“I suppose the conversation went like this:

“Hardware store clerk: ‘Hello, this is Acme Hardware, how may I help you today?’

“Lighthouse: ‘Ah, this is North Pier Light calling. I want you to replace my beam.’

“No, of course the lighthouse didn’t ask to have its beam replaced. The lighthouse is nothing more than a passive — although very useful — participant in the story, which would have been written more accurately: ‘The beams of both lighthouses were replaced with LED lights in 2014.’

“We also see ‘had’ abused like that in too many other stories where it’s totally illogical: ‘The driver had both of his legs amputated in the collision.’ Oww! The reader is left to think the driver made that awful choice.”

Verbing of Great Britain

Gregory of the North: “I was listening to the BBC (on MPR at night, not directly from the U.K.), and they had some folks talking about the fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. An expert used the word ‘drone’ to denote elimination of a target by use of a drone aircraft. For example: ‘The Americans droned some Islamic State leaders’ or ‘Because the insurgents surround themselves with civilians, droning always results in innocent lives lost.’

“I know that ‘to drone’ is a perfectly good verb, but it refers to sounds or speech, as in ‘He droned on and on about his inability to go ice fishing this year.’” As far as I am aware, an unmanned remotely controlled aircraft is a drone (noun), but this was a commentator in England, in which the language developed — so who am I to say?


Everyone’s a (Band Name of the Day) critic! (responsorial, sort of)
Or: You are what you eat (responsorial)

Lola: “The story about sauerkraut [BB, 12/4/2016] reminded me of something that happened to my niece a few years ago.

“Her in-laws lived way up north, and she and her husband were visiting. The mother-in-law said to my niece: ‘I think we’ll have ribs for supper . . . or don’t you like sauerkraut?’ ”

See world (II)

Al B of Hartland reports: “I saw a coyote near the airport in the Twin Cities. Coyotes conquer more and more territory. The more they are persecuted, the more they prosper. The one I spotted in my early morning drive home looked big. A big coyote might weigh 40 pounds. It had likely been eating a lot of rodents.

“A coyote’s coloration allows the animal to disappear quickly. I’d surprised a coyote walking along a road in Alaska. The animal climbed a sheer, rock wall as it were a flat prairie. Sparse vegetation growing from the wall allowed the animal to gain a foothold. It quickly put distance between it and me. Wile E. Coyote couldn’t have done it any better with an Acme rocket strapped to his body.

“All living things are amazing. Coyotes are amazingly amazing.”

See world
Photography Division

More beauties from Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Three U.P. 2012 photos.

“Just two of us tried the U.P. in 2012, going up on the early side of the color season like we did in 2007. The water levels were suitable for cascades, so I tried one more time with the last waterfalls on the Presque Isle River. I have never put all my efforts at this location together, to see if there is one that I like best of all, but I do like this one. As I have written previously, it is late afternoon when we arrive, so we stay in this area until the sun has set to see if anything special will happen with the sky, sun, clouds and water.


“A previous visitor had built these little stone piles here and there, along with the gull feathers by this one, so I tried a photo using the setting sun behind it.


‘By waiting a little longer, the clouds drifted over to add an important ‘finishing’ touch.


“I would title this ‘A tribute to the gulls,’ since those are seagull feathers from the beach. I would think a Native American person would ‘get’ this in an instant, with their cultural respect for all creatures.”

The Do-It-Yourselfers

The Bitter and Disgruntled Guy from Andover: “I started a little project of hanging up a new coat rack on the wall of the laundry room. Well, I ended up patching holes and then painting where I patched, and then I noticed the paint did not match exactly, which is to be expected after seven years of distance between the paint jobs.

“Alas, I then went to the local big-box hardware store and bought paint, a new oak shelf, and then new hoses for the washer, since I would be moving my washer and dryer anyway. I readied the room yesterday and painted it, and it is now a lovely Caribe blue, instead of yellow. The color is vibrant and bright and should hide dirt better than yellow.

“I have to make another trip to the hardware store for a protector for the Sheetrock where my dog scratches like a mad man if there is a hint we will be going out to the garage. I also need a new dryer-vent tube, since the aluminum one I had is now mauled.

“I pick out all the colors in our house and usually have great taste. My biggest accomplishment, though, is I painted our garage door and our front door TARDIS blue, and my goal is to paint the rest of the door to resemble a police call box. I love it because it is bigger on the inside!”*

* BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: Apparently a “Dr. Who” reference. Search us!

Band Name of the Day: Optimum Hygiene

Website of the Day, recommended by Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “Kohler Veil Intelligent Skirted One-Piece Elongated Bidet Toilet.” 

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