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In July, Chuck wrote about the looming end to incandescent bulbs 40 Watts and higher. Unfortunately Congress has yet to act to repeal any of these bans. However, many debates remain on whether the newer CFL or LED bulbs will really offer a savings over time in relation to incandescent bulbs. With 2012 and the first phase-in of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act inching closer, some entrepreneurs have decided to play the futures game and stock up on the soon-to-be-banned bulbs.

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Tools mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, they’re just things. But to others they’re priceless heirlooms that carry memories of owners past. Or a favorite work buddy that’s been along for the ride through tough times and good. To some, though, they’re simply stuff one has to have to do one’s job. When you steal tools from a professional, you might just be stealing that person’s ability to make a living.

I stumbled across this article about a Russian man named Ilya who legally immigrated and then struck out for the American dream in a way I think we can all respect: He got a job working construction, and he busted his ass doing it — at least until some dickhead came along and stole $3k worth of stuff, including the nail guns, saws, and drills he depended on for his livelihood. Thinking he was screwed, he headed home, only to be greeted by his mother who’d found the tools already listed on Craigslist.

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If you’ve been following the whole compact fluorescent craze, you’ve probably heard about a bill designed to slowly force manufacturers to make light bulbs more efficient. It’s a serious issue — considering that each and every person in modern nations has at least a couple of these burning a few hours a day, this is fertile ground for big worldwide energy savings. But it could be a serious pain in the ass, too. The law’s “higher standards” have pretty much set the stage for traditional incandescent bulbs to become unavailable over the next decade, but CFLs (and LEDs) haven’t yet reached fully comparable price levels.

Whatever your politics, I’m guessing you can see how this could become a charged issue, especially in times of governmental (and personal) financial duress.

This week CNNMoney ran an article giving us a taste of the battle that’s forming around this legislation — and the possibility of voting it out before it takes effect. You can head over there via the link below to read about the politics, but honestly that part of it doesn’t interest me much. What does interest me are the arguments for and against the law.

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CNN is carrying a story today about a jackass who chased his girlfriend down the street with a knife and then barricaded himself in his house. During the six-hour standoff with law enforcement, he came out once for a commando-style attack on police with — get this — a cordless nail gun. Note that the cops aren’t afraid (for themselves) or amused. Sadly I’m betting that they were more concerned about trying to shut the guy down without hurting him.

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So a knife shop blog posted the tale (originally mentioned in a local newspaper story) of a a guy who stopped at a standard DUI checkpoint and was arrested for possessing a pocketknife. According to the (definitely not unbiased, mind you) knife shop blog, the guy wasn’t drunk and was on his way home from a remodeling project. You can read all the various rhetoric for yourself.

As the original newspaper story author points out (and the blog cites):

The fact is that the laws about carrying a pocketknife in New Jersey are so vague that they defy reason. The section in the state Code of Criminal Justice that talks about knives is brief and open to interpretation. While outlawing some knives outright — like gravity knives, switchblades, daggers and stilettos — the law never specifies what is legal.

Which seems to be true. But the next paragraph goes on to lay out some of the guidelines:

  • “a person under 18 can’t own a knife with a blade longer than five inches”
  • “the law can’t be used to prevent a person from transporting a knife for the purpose of hunting and fishing”
  • and “any person carrying a knife for ‘unlawful’ purposes is guilty of a crime in the third degree”

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You may have noticed a sharp spike in the number of limo-riding, formally-dressed high school kids in your locale a while back. But not all of them are wearing expensive custom dresses or rented tuxedos. The once-original idea of fashioning prom wear from duct tape has taken off — with the help of the Duck brand.

(A quick moment’s rant: While I can’t deny the marketing genius of naming one’s tape business after the most common mispronunciation of “duct,” I do get a little riled every time I see it. It was bad enough when folks called it “duck tape” because they didn’t understand its original application. For years now they can also head down to the local big box and buy some by that name. Doh!)

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Ever find yourself at the end of a day/job loading up crap on a trailer, thinking “Oh hell, it’ll stay. Do I really need a strap over it?” Short answer: Yes. Yes, you do. I saw the above video on the Today show the other day and tracked it down to post it here because I know I’m guilty of sometimes leaning a little on the hopeful side when securing a load. This video reminded me how stupid that can be.

Thankfully, it turns out the woman driving wasn’t injured. But seriously, folks. Pay attention to what you slap on a trailer or in the back of your truck haphazardly. Almost anything becomes an unpredictable missile when it ends up bouncing down the highway at 70 MPH.

 

Scientists have known for at least a century that the human hand has unique characteristics designed for gripping and manipulating objects, as opposed to the locomotion-designed hands of our closest ape relatives. Recently, Dr. Stephen Lycett and Alastair Key of the University of Kent, England, published an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science showing an important breakthrough: Darwin was right — about our hands, that is.

Lycett and Key’s study measured how hand size affected users’ ability to cut rope using stone-flake tools similar to those discovered in Africa and used by early humans 2.6 million years ago. To sum up, hand size did prove to be a significant factor in how well different people could manipulate different forms of stone tools. The experiments support the concept that natural selection favored cave-folk with the correct “biometric variation” (i.e. more modern and less ape-like hands) — and therefore, those better able to use tools were more likely to live on and reproduce.

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I love when style blogs take on the subject of tools. I suppose if you write about “men’s issues” enough, you’ll eventually work your way around to tools. Not that tools are at all a “mens only” game. But it’s a subject that “men’s magazines” or blogs will eventually stumble upon — usually with pretty scary results.

Score one for Valet, however. Their recommendation for “the modern man’s” toolkit: a tape measure (“buy a durable one”), a hammer (“look for a lightweight fiberglass handle and a curved claw”), an adjustable wrench (“you don’t need a bulky or fancy set of socket wrenches”), a 4-in-1 screwdriver (“again, no set is necessary”), a utility knife (“three-position retractable blade”), and Vise-Grips (“think of these as pliers that won’t give up”).

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When I was a kid, the local museum sponsored day programs where we’d gather to build kites from sticks and paper, paint them garish colors, then fly them. Kids in Grand Rapids, MI, do something a little more practical: they learn to build snowshoes and birch bark canoes with simple hand tools thanks to two local men, Kevin Finney and Patrick Cronan.

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