Turn the Dark Back On!

There’s a subset of women’s history/environmental history that holds that electric light was not entirely a good thing for women. With brighter, steadier light, dirt could be seen more easily. Thus cleaning became more intense and time-consuming. This in turn led to further devaluing of women’s labor and deprived women of the free time they’d previously had.

I’ll wait for those familiar with pre-vacuume-cleaner house-keeping to finish laughing and catch their breaths.

And then the kitchen light died.

A fluorescent fixture provided light for the kitchen. The kitchen is narrow, a very 1950s galley design. The middle bulbs of the four worked intermittently. On Tuesday, they quit all together, and the outer two decided to go on strike as well. It was not the bulbs, so DadRed called an electrician.

The gent came this afternoon, looked at the fixture, and grimaced. Age and hard usage had taken their toll, and while he could replace and repair the old fixture, it would be better in the long run to swap it out for LED tube lights. They look just like the old fluorescent bulbs, and fit into the fixture with a very few modifications (remove ballast). DadRed approved and the new lights installed.

They are… bright. Brilliantly bright. Shockingly bright. No dark corner remains anywhere, not even under the cabinets.


You have no idea how much gunk was on the kitchen floor, countertop, and back of the stove.


We did a crash cleaning before MomRed came back from the hair salon.

I think I intensely dislike these new lights.

22 thoughts on “Turn the Dark Back On!

  1. Pre-vacuum-cleaner housekeeping…?
    Wait, didn’t they have steam-driven vacuum cleaners?
    (Visualizes housewife shoveling coal into steampunk Hoover.)

    • Actually, one of the early vacuum-cleaners looked a bit like a Dalek, and required three people – one to work the suction pump, one to handle the hose attachment, and the third to help carry it from room to room. It stands about as tall as my waist, so three feet/one meter tall. It was in an old hunting palace in the Czech Republic.

  2. In the liyrics from
    Trial by Jury
    ARTIST: Gilbert and Sullivan
    TITLE: When I, Good Friends, Was Called to the Bar

    there is the unforgettable

    She has often been taken for forty three
    In the dusk, with a light behind her

    This is, of course,a very dangerous line to quote. Probably even worse in these times.

  3. I did the same thing for my mother, after replacing a kitchen fixture some years back. Lot’s of scrubbing in corners, around ceiling, and on counters. She did and didn’t appreciate the help, because of severe arthritis, but it was something I needed to do for her. Eventually got the crud out of my fingernails.

    • It’s not just the light, it’s also the crud that accumulates on the glass fixtures. One time, I was visiting my parents in their apartment, and I happened to wash my hands. The spray of the faucet was set too high, and I splashed a portion of the wall.
      The wall wasn’t yellow – that was the oily smoke residue of many months. I used a sponge under the sink to clean it, and just one pass turned the sponge almost completely brown.
      I ended up cleaning the entire room that day, and finished with cleaning the fixture.
      At that point, I had to go back for another pass at the rest of the room

  4. For those who want to go LED and don’t have the pressure of a failing ballast, there are LED tubes that run off the ballast. I think it was Philips who brought out the first ones a couple years ago. They work with either transformer or electronic ballasts. Not cheap, but probably worth it.

    • I’ve used both. The works-with-ballast LED’s are nice in the garage as there’s no fiddling around and even when well below freezing, the lights light up right away. A couple smaller fixtures in the kitchen (over sink, under cabinet) required bypass or removal of the ballast, but wasn’t any big deal. The most annoying there was discovering the dolt who did the original install switched the neutral wire. I was rather unhappy about that and very glad I didn’t discover that the hard way.

      • BTW, the National Electric Code now requires that a neutral wire be run to the switch. That means a three-wire cable if you have the switch on a separate wire run. I don’t recall the color arrangement required.

          • No, they want the neutral to power whatever fancy electronic ‘switches’ come down the pike (with us in their headlights).

            • I can see that as being sensibly prepared for the future in an electrically safe manner. But I still want a genuine full manual over-ride. Old school? Perhaps. But it’s damned hard to ‘hack’ (crack, damnit!) copper.

  5. From my experience with neurotic women, I have known some who would have slept much better before electric lights. After all, it’s harder to obsess about something you could be doing when you couldn’t be doing it.

  6. Ah yes, those pesky ‘nooks and crannies’ that one never sees… Obviously one has never ‘field day’ed’ a kitchen after feeding the troops… sigh… When you wear out an SOS pad EVERY meal, and there are 5-9 people cleaning, it’s no wonder everything in military kitchens is stainless steel! 🙂

  7. With LED bulb replacements there are options that provide different ranges and intensities of light.

    One of my old LED bulbs burned out, and the replacement was too bright and hurt my eyes.

    Looked into it, and found that replacing with a pair of a specific type was more comfortable in a range of ways.

    • LED lights have gotten good enough that I rarely break into the big box of incandescents I have stashed in the basement.
      I’m pretty sure I’ll never have to buy a bulb for my reading lamp again.

  8. We just replaced the fixture in the den and in the hallway with new LED bulbs – it’s ok in the hallway, but the light in the den is now this harsh white, intense light … which would be OK in the kitchen, I think … but the den is a space more oriented towards a mellow golden glow …

  9. That subset is also a subset of that part of the Left that’s bound and determined to wipe away every trace of Western civilization.
    I wonder if they know that the dishwasher was invented by a woman: Josephine Cochran. Patented in 1886. The story of what led her to do that is worth looking up.

  10. “Harsh, white, intense” …
    You can get (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc) LED lights that are switch-selectable for an overall color of 2700/4000/5000 Kelvin: think Warm White/Cool White/Daylight.
    Further: those small square type LED panels which can be installed over ceiling can-lights are dimmable, using a standard wall-switch dimmer….
    There is no reason to suffer, just because we now have something more efficient and more flexible than the classic Incandescent or those Compact Fluorescent (curly) bulbs!
    Or you could get those LED imitation Classic Edison bulbs, with the LEDs arranged in a filament-like zig-zag: rather dim, definitely orange in color…

    …personally, I like bright, Daylight lighting…

  11. Almost all the people whose homes I have been to, sit mostly in the dark. Seriously. 20 watts should be more than enough for anyone…

    A friend and I were out early one winter evening, after dark, about 7PM. I noticed that almost all the houses we passed were completely dark, though there was the telltale blue glow of television in some windows.

    Later I spent a year as a delivery driver, starting in the late afternoon, so I saw a similar pattern all over the state. And when a house *was* lit, you could almost always see right in, because if they had curtains or shades, they didn’t bother to close them after dark. So I’d drive along observing people sitting on the couch watching TV…

    My parents always drew the curtains when it got dark. I never thought much about it, I did it once I moved out. And all the rooms in my house have enough light to do surgery by. Because WTF sit in the freaking dark?

    At least the “sit in the dark” thing explained why there were so many desk lamps and reading lights for sale; if you’re not going to turn the overhead lights on, it’s either work lights or a flashlight if you want to see anything…

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