It Ain’t Over ‘Til Its Over, Pt. 2: “State of the Art 1940s Technology” – The Future of Light Bulbs?

Count me among the LED- compact flourescent haters for home lighting, so it was fascinating to read a story in today’s Boston Globe  (cribbed from the New York Times) about two startup – get this – light bulb makers right here in Massachusetts.   Yes, the demand is there:  As the story relates,

Incandescent bulbs — whether leftover store inventory of standard lights or halogen models that meet the new regulations, which went fully into effect in January — outsell other types by far at big-box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, lighting executives there say.

One of the new bulbs is called Finally, created by a Babson College grad named John Goscha who also came up with Idea Paint, the dry-erase whiteboard-type stuff that permits you literally to scribble all over the walls – and recently installed in many a ‘GBH conference room.  Turns out Goscha was a hater too:

Unhappy as a consumer with compact fluorescents and LEDs, he said, he decided to pursue making an alternative.  “I thought, ‘I don’t really want those, and there have got to be other people who don’t want those either,’ ” he said.

The Finally folks have term their bulb “Acandesence,” to explain their use of a hepped-up nano-sized version of old-fashioned induction technology found in your common long-running electric motors.  According to a review in the tech blog Gigaom today,

The big upside of the Finally bulb is that the company says its quality of light is similar to an incandescent — a warm solid glow — but without the crazy-high LED prices. Many consumers hate CFLs, because the light can be such a low quality, and until very recently LEDs have been in the two-digit dollar prices. The Finally bulb is 75 percent more efficient than an incandescent and lasts 15 times longer.

But before the Finally bulb hits the stores (still waiting, it seems to clear a plethora of regulatory hurdles), it may be beaten to the punch by another new bulb type – the VU1, which according to the Times article,

uses a technology like that of cathode ray tubes in televisions, a “state-of-the-art 1940s technology,”  …in which electrons hit a cocktail of phosphors on the glass, which then glows.

The Vu1

The Vu1: Coming Soon to a Big Box Near You?

‘Course, they have their own name for this new-old technology “Electron Stimulated Luminescence™, or ESL.  Whatever.  Here’s hoping these better bulbs-in-theory open to, er, glowing reviews.   Time to cue the Hank Williams...


Red Dress’n’ Red Sox

Red Dress: Belongs to Julia Fischer, soloist last night in an absolutely transcendent performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, with Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the Ken Cen. She managed to be noble, elegant, energetic, engaged, even playful…and at all times serenely musical.

In my Concert Preview for her performance I quoted liberally from the review in the IonArts blog from Fischer’s performance with Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in May of 2006. It all pretty much applies to what what we heard at the Kennedy Center, too…

What Julia Fischer chose to play with the BSO was no less a work than the Beethoven concerto: not a razzle-dazzle piece, the flash of which is to blind the audience and stun them into happy submission, but a work that demands foremost a thinking player’s approach, lest it fail to take off. Technical perfection and bravura playing can still produce a dud (as Anne Sofie Mutter has been happy to prove with two recordings) – conception and a sense of the complete work at every instant are more important. With her ability to place emotional peaks into refined playing, with her nicely developing tone – never shy, not too big – Ms. Fischer gave this concerto both: the nobility and excitement it needs without veering either into aloof coldness on one side or showy gypsy fiddling on the other. And while the “Beethoven Concerto against Violin” can take any number of approaches, it is especially allergic to the latter.

Cutting a dashing figure in a very red dress as she did, it was not enough to detract from the sternly delicate, searing Largo, where she made the otherwise middle-of-the run, broad rendition of the work sound very special; nuances well placed called attention to the music, not her. Grace and purity abounded. Under Temirkanov’s caring hands – here was something he visibly cherished doing – the BSO performed this and the cadenza-linked last movement splendidly, even with delicacy when called upon to do so. The ripping finale topped it all off in great style. This was an example of 45 minutes of music-making as it should be – and the audience sensed it…

Fischer has yet to record the Beethoven concerto, but you get a glimpse of her in action in a YouTube video of a live television broadcast of the Brahms Violin Concerto from the Schleswig-Holstein Festival with the North German Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas:

Red Sox: You’re going to have to bear with me for the next few days, while the Sawx are in the Series. But, especially given tonight’s pasting of the Rockies, there’s an on-point article in today’s Boston Globe (which is invariably an entertaining read in times like these) about the sudden Loss of Angst in the Nation:

Jim Lonborg, the star pitcher of the 1967 Impossible Dream team, was on the phone yesterday. He’s a dentist on the South Shore now, just about the nicest guy who ever played professional sports. Asked if anyone ever complains to him about his team not winning the heart-breaking seventh game of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he replied without hesitation: “No, never.”

“You know that old cliché,” he added, “it’s all about the journey, and that was something that was always special about any Red Sox season – what it took to get there, the different cast of characters involved.”

Nobody, especially not Lonborg, is disputing that this team is great. Pedroia and Papelbon are riotous to watch. Lowell and Varitek are two of the more thoughtful players in the game, Ortiz and Ramirez two of the most exciting.

But here’s the problem with the 2007 edition of the Boston Red Sox: There is no narrative arc. They started the season as playoff favorites. They finished the season as playoff favorites. There will be a whole lot of stunned people if they don’t win.

They don’t, in short, have a story. Maybe that’s how the Yankees do it, or the Dallas Cowboys, or the old Montreal Canadiens, but it’s not generally how we do things on Yawkey Way – at least not in 1967 or 1975 or 1986 or 2004.

Thought-provoking stuff for us grizzled vets for whom those years will always have special, and bittersweet, meaning. Interesting to note that this article was one of the most e-mailed of the day. Not that I’m complaining or anything….

PS – discovered a great website of long-time Sox fans:, including a comprehensive list of all-time uniform numbers. Strange but true: Certified oddballs Jimmy Piersall and Bill “Spaceman” Lee wore the same No. 37 uni for the Sox. One of my favorite of the many great lefty’s quotes: “You have two hemispheres in your brain – a left and a right side. The left side controls the right side of your body and right controls the left half. It’s a fact. Therefore, left-handers are the only people in their right minds.

The Huckabee Band-wagon?

Huh. Little did I realize that when I posted about Ark. gov Mike Huckabee actually putting music and arts education on his campaign agenda, that he was becoming the It Guy among Republican candidates. The Boston Globe editorialized enthusiastically the other day, saying “when the former Arkansas governor starts talking about the importance of the arts and education, he’s practically Maria von Trapp harmonizing about the power of music and metaphor.” And guess who gets the big Style section treatment in the Washpost today?
Sample grab:
Huckabee has been seen as the cuddly antidote to what has been an awfully tough-talking Republican field. He’s the affable, compassionate, good guy and rock-and-roll evangelical who plays guitar and wants to hang with the Rolling Stones.

‘Course, it just might be that music is a far more interesting subject for reporters to cover than, say, Middle East geopolitics or subprime mortgage lending rates.

Or maybe this is a rare case of a political candidate with authentic knowledge and passion for a subject, and not the usual focus-group posturing. I’d like to believe that voters can tell the difference. Regardless, it’s fascinating to watch Huckabee ride this horse on the Iowa campaign trail as reported by the Daily Iowan:

“You’ve probably never heard a presidential candidate talk about music and art and the importance of it,” Huckabee said. “But if I don’t get to do anything else running for president, I want to make sure that this country hears that this is a vital part of future and a critical part of our education system.”

Also worth noting: the Post story was one of the paper’s most e-mailed articles today. I’ll be curious (and amazed, frankly) to see if any other candidates pick up this thread….