Trina Machacek: A lightbulb moment |

Trina Machacek: A lightbulb moment

By Trina Machacek

Soon I will have to buy lightbulbs. This doesn’t seem to be a big deal. It’s just a light bulb right? Round on the top, screw in at the base. All the stuff in the middle is just glass and filaments. Light making stuff that when it is screwed into a fixture and a switch is flipped, my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night lights up. Easy as magic. 

Then, for some reason that I am sure makes good sense, someone with a higher IQ than I scored on an IQ test years ago, got a wild hair and decided for the rest of us that these wonderful, magical spheres needed an up grade. Like someone with gold status needs to be upgraded to diamond status just because there is a diamond status. No real reason to upgrade or change. But! Yes a brightly lit “but.” Somewhere some slot needed to be filled and we are all thrown into this bright light of turmoil. 

Some time ago I owned and worked in a store that sold many things. One section was lightbulbs and other light inviting instruments. It was a pleasant section. Tiny bulbs that fit into tiny sockets all the way up to huge bulbs that could light your way nearly all the way to the moon on dark and stormy nights. There was no question as to what bulbs did or where they should be stuck and used. The purpose after all is to brighten a spot and then at the flip of a switch or the insertion of a plug to let darkness fill the spaces that the light lit up. All very straight forward. Now? Oh my good gravy Gertrude. Let’s just take a quick look at the choices and try to decipher the new light bulb language. AARRGGHH

So all I need is a four pack of sixty watt light bulbs to put in my ceiling fixture in my spare room. You know the room where under an array of extra blankets, pillows, some books, a stack of old magazines, some clothes that need mending, ironing that just lays there because you don’t want to iron and an empty box from something you ordered because you might just need that box, under all that is a bed holding all those treasures. Yes that room needs a light bulb changed, so you can see the wonderful mountain created. But I have slid off the topic again.

Eventually I found myself in a “new and improved” light bulb aisle. What an eye opener. Now instead of just grabbing the friendly yellow corrugated open ended package that we all know and love, I now have to read about lumens and power factor and THD. I still don’t know what THD is but the bulbs I bought are rated at 150% THD. That must be pretty good. I mean come on if I were going to try to sell something I would want my product to produce 150% of something. Just saying. 

The light bulb industry is not, as they say, not your grandmother’s light bulb industry. There are instant on and delayed on, squiggly ones and ones with more sleek and efficient designs. I saw a bulb with a 12,000 hour life rating. Wow. A quick mathematical evaluation tells me that I may never have to change a bedroom ceiling bulb again. That can’t be right can it? It would be like everyone buying a Gobstopper from Willy Wonka. A candy that lasted forever. A bulb that lasts for 12,000 hours. How could a company do that? Make something that lasts forever. Never having a customer coming back to buy more just doesn’t make sense. 

Oh and the watts thingy? Well I noticed that the bulbs I was looking at were listed at 13 watts and 26 watts and even some little 9 watt-ers. How will I ever see to read with a tiny 9 watts? Then I see something that is LED. Okay so 9 watt, LED, 60,000 lumens, an enormous number of rated hours and instant on. How could I go wrong? Just at that moment I spotted a sales person. Had to be a sales person, he was wearing a name tag and comfortable shoes. So I kinda waved my arm his way to garner his attention to help me decipher all this new technology. Oh he saw me. He looked directly at me then at the array of bulbs I was standing in front of and then back at me and back at the bulbs—then scurried, yes scurried away in the opposite direction. Smart guy.

Just because new technology is out there doesn’t mean I’ll be brighter does it.

Trina lives in Eureka. Her new book They Call Me Weener is available at Or e-mail her to get a signed copy at