Friday, July 30, 2010

Eye for Eye

Since the 1982 movie, Gandhi, a version of a quote attributed but never actually sourced to Mahatma Gandhi has been floating around:

"'An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth' leaves the whole world blind and toothless."

I pretty well ignored it, feeling that it was mocking God, until I saw an episode of a TV series recently that had a Jewish man say that scripture is about money.

"It is?" My attention was caught.

I looked it up and to my surprise, of the four references in the Bible, only one is about justice in general.

The first reference, Exodus 21:22-25, is about being careful around women, specifically a pregnant woman. It's saying that men can't cause harm to an expectant mother either on purpose or inadvertently.

It says that an unborn child is precious and the father will determine the amount of the fine as punishment for causing the miscarriage and judges shall determine how it shall be paid.

It also says that should the mother be injured, the person who injured her will receive the same injury. He will have to endure the result of the same injury he caused her to bear.

How good God is to have a law ensuring an expectant mother and her unborn child won't be harmed by instituting consequences if they are.

How sad it is that men were so disrespectful of women and children that such a law had to be written.

How sad it is that after all this time, there are still people today who don't value women, motherhood, or unborn children.

The second reference, Leviticus 24:17-20, says that someone cannot kill or physically harm someone else without being put to death or receiving the same bodily harm as punishment. I believe this is the scripture used for general retribution. However, I see it not as leaving the whole world blind and toothless, but as a deterrent. How many people would purposely kill or injure another person knowing that they will be put to death or receive the same injury? That's like putting out your own eye. It simply isn't believable that people would do that to themselves.

The third reference, Deuteronomy 19:16-21, is about a false witness who lies with the intention of causing harm to someone else. The harmful judgment the victim was meant to get is to be the liar's punishment. This scripture is to discourage people from framing others and to discourage lying.

The fourth reference, Matthew 5:14-16, 38-48; is the most interesting because Jesus tells His followers that we are no longer like everybody else, but that we are the light of the world. In our new position, we are to treat everyone as God does, with love.

Do we do that?

If we do, with the wisdom that the Lord gives us, don't some non-believers, and so-called Christians, too, misinterpret our obedience and trust in Him as weakness and try to take advantage of us? After all, they don't know God or understand that our turning the other cheek or going the extra mile is done out of strength.

Because we already know how the story ends.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wal-Mart to Put Radio Tags on Clothes

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to roll out sophisticated electronic ID tags to track individual pairs of jeans and underwear, the first step in a system that advocates say better controls inventory but some critics say raises privacy concerns."

For the rest of the article, please see the Wall Street Journal.

I remember there being a huge squawk several years ago because of privacy concerns when Wal-Mart embedded e-tags into other, non-clothing, soft goods.

These sound better because they're removable, if they're removed at the checkout counter.

If Wal-Mart refuses to remove them before we leave the store, I think shoppers should remove them at their cars and toss them into Wal-Mart trash cans to avoid taking them home.

A keychain knife or multitool such as the 2.25 inches long (closed) Classic model of Swiss Army Knife and Leatherman Micra, Squirt, or Style include a pair of scissors that might be ideal for this purpose.

The Classic SAK is available in several colors and designs from Amazon from US$9.50 and in red at Wal-Mart (US$9.97). The Leatherman keychain multitools which have more tools and, as a result, weigh more than the Classic SAK, start at about US$21.

Definitely get an RFID-blocking wallet if you have a driver's license, credit cards, or other personal information with RFID chips attached to protect yourself from snoops and the bad guys.

Journal Excerpts Online

Finally! I put a baker's dozen worth of excerpts from my travel journal of my Road Trip 2006-2007 to The Reading Room of my website and invite you to read them.

One reason I wait is to get some distance to make it easier for me to see the glaring rough spots so I may edit them out. This time, other factors including the theft of my laptop in 2007 while I was in San Ysidro, CA, made the length of time several years longer than intended.

While reading them to select which journal entries to add to my website, I was surprised by the number of details I had already forgotten. One, a man telling me that he and his friends were in a local establishment during a storm when a tree fell on another patron's car, brought back the memory of my waiting in the lobby of that particular Motel 6 in Oregon so vividly, it was as though I was there right after the man finished his story.

As a result, I encourage all travelers to take the time to record their travels in a journal. Even if you're not a writer, or find writing difficult, whatever you write will bring back precious memories of your trip for you to savor years after it's over.

While I email mine to myself and other travelers may blog, all you need is a pen and a journal. Nobody else has to read it unless you want to share; it's up to you.

The benefit is immeasurable.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wonderful Seatbelt Ad

Thanks to my dear friend, Roxie, I've just seen the "wear your seat belt" ad the UK started doing in January. From the news articles I've read about it, it's being hailed across the world as a beautiful commercial and is so popular, it's gone viral and has its own fan page on Facebook.

If you're behind the curve and haven't watched it yet, here's the link.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Week

It's another brief post as I'm working on new pages to add to my website.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More LED Flashlights & Conversion Kits

Getting that 2-AA Mini Maglite LED flashlight for my friend last week prompted me to order more LED conversion kits for my incandescent Mini Maglites and finish this post I started working on last year.

My requirements for a mini flashlight are that it's affordable, costing less than $30, and is powered by one or two AA cells because they're inexpensive and widely available, a consideration for foreign travel since cells we're used to getting here are not always available elsewhere.

My intended use is general preparedness, household, auto, travel, and outdoors such as hiking, geocaching, and waymarking.

My research taught me that the best of the high output LEDs are made by Cree, Philips Lumileds (Luxeon and Rebel), Nichia, and Seoul Semiconductor (SSC). Lights that use these LEDs are likely to mention them on the packaging to assure you of getting a quality product.

The flashlights with which I've gotten familiar since posting "Let There Be Light" are:

1. 2-AA Coleman Max (Cree XR-E): 115 lumens, 5 hours runtime - This is the same length as the incandescent Mini Maglite but for the slightly protruding push-button on the tail cap that prevents it from standing on end. Unlike the push-button on the Duracell Daylite (below), the push-button on the Coleman Max is easy to operate. The Max weighs slightly more than the Mini Maglite LED (below) and has a really good feel in the hand.

However, the light is significantly warmer (yellow) from the hotspot throughout the corona.

If I didn't like the next generation Mini Maglite LED flashlight so much because of its white light and features plus the Accessory Pack or the incandescent Mini Maglite with an LED conversion kit, this would be my favorite.

Comes with lanyard. US$24.88 at Wal-Mart.

2. 2-AA Duracell Daylite: 80 lumens, ? hours runtime - The housing is attractive with a textured surface to enhance grip and the diffused beam is a nice white.

I didn't bother to look for nor test the runtime because I really don't like the flashlight. The adjustable focus doesn't vary much. The corona of the light doesn't really exist because it's so dark, it's not useful. It's marked by rather attractive circles at the narrowest focus setting and strangely-shaped light rings at the widest adjustment. You have to provide your own lanyard to attach to the hole on the tail cap.

Considering that it isn't comfortable in the hand and is more unwieldy being longer, larger around, and heavier than the next-gen Mini Maglite LED or the Coleman Max, and that the recessed push-button on the tail cap is significantly more difficult to use than that on the Coleman Max, in addition to it costing more than either of the other two, it simply isn't worth buying.

Not recommended. US$26.88 at Wal-Mart.

3. Next generation 2-AA Mini Maglite LED (Luxeon Rebel®): 69 lumens, 18 hours runtime at 100% setting, 31 hours at 25%. The one I bought last year didn't have ratings on the packaging and not finding any online for the next-gen Mini Maglite LED flashlight, I did my own runtime tests using new Duracell alkaline batteries for each test that performed considerably longer than what the package now says.

At 100% power, it dimmed and started flickering at 116 hours (4 days 20 hours) until it went out at 117 hours.

At 25% power, it started flickering at 192 hours (8 days) and went out some time during the next 6.5 hours while I was asleep.

As far as brightness goes, at full power it's definitely brighter than the 50 lumens of the TerraLUX TLE-5 conversion LED (below) and the center hotspot is brighter than the diffused beam of the 80-lumens rated 2-AA Duracell Daylite (above). It looks a bit brighter than the Coleman Max (above), but that might be because the Max is warm (yellow); it's hard for me to judge between the two.

I like the 25% power level for reading and, as a result, eliminated my formerly ideal, incandescent 2-AAA book light from my packing list because the 6-8 hours runtime for it is much too short by comparison to warrant taking it along anymore.

The strobe and SOS features make it ideal for preparedness for situations ranging from natural disasters like Katrina to getting lost in the great outdoors. Being shock- and water-resistant, it's just as good as the incandescent Mini Maglite that was the standard by which other flashlights were judged for many years prior to LED flashlights coming out.

Available in black, red, silver, blue, gray, and camo according to Maglite, I've seen only black and gray at the two Wal-Mart Super Centers I've visited. If you want another color, please be careful of buying online as some don't have the lanyard hole on the tailcap and, as such, may be the previous version that the Mini Maglite Accessory Pack doesn't fit instead of the next generation that does have a lanyard hole and for which the items of the Accessory Pack do fit.

My guess is that online stores such as Amazon are selling existing stock of the first version before getting the next gens.

Still my favorite LED mini flashlight, the next gen 2-AA Mini Maglite LED is US$21.88 at Wal-Mart.

For those who may have a hard time getting used to the twist on/off of the Mini Maglite, there are rear clicky conversions available. The best seems to be the TerraLUX TCS-1 Tailcap Switch for the AA Mini Mag for US$5 at Amazon.

If you already have an incandescent Mini Maglite (12 lumens, 5 hours 15 minutes runtime, currently US$8.88 at Wal-Mart), there are several LED conversion kits offered by Nite Ize and TerraLUX. These are excellent for giving new life to the outdated incandescent Mini Mags. At first glance, the conversion kits may seem expensive but what you'll save in batteries and/or gain in brightness will more than make up for the purchase price plus you'll never again have to change a light bulb.

Also, since LEDs are not to be shined into someone's eyes because doing so will cause retinal damage, you could give your children incandescent Mini Maglites for their own recreational use or preparedness kits and upgrade their flashlights with LED conversion kits when they're old enough to use LEDs responsibly.

Other than for children, there's probably no reason to buy a new incandescent Mini Maglite and an LED conversion kit unless it's to get a color finish like purple or pink or the American flag that isn't available (yet?) on a Mini Maglite LED flashlight. You're better off simply getting the next-generation Mini Maglite LED flashlight unless you want to assemble your own tactical flashlight (see TerraLUX #4 below) or need a specialty LED for another purpose such as a UV LED for hunting scorpions or inspecting hotel rooms.

Just be sure you're getting the next generation version that has a lanyard hole instead of the first version without the lanyard hole unless you're 100% absolutely sure you will never want to attach a lanyard or want to use the rubber head cap that is a great anti-roll device, a colored lens, or replacement clear lens of the Accessory Pack. A quick way to tell the difference between the two versions is that the packaging for the first version has three colored circles on the front while the packaging for the next generation has four colored circles.

Nite Ize:

1. The Nite Ize 3-LED Upgrade Kit is approximately 8 lumens and runs up to 20 hours. I bought one of these when I first saw them years ago at a local Gibson's and was disappointed because the incandescent Mini Maglite is brighter. My disappointment was such that I held off converting my other Mini Mags until last year when I found out about other LED conversion kits. However, using it as a map-reading light with the red lens from the Mini Maglite Accessory Pack to preserve my night vision redeemed its purchase. From US$4.50 through Amazon.

2. The Nite Ize LED Upgrade II is approximately 30 lumens and has a runtime of about 25 hours. About $9 through Amazon.

3. The 1 Watt Nite Ize LED Upgrade Kit is approximately 55 lumens with a runtime of 15 hours. About US$19 at Amazon. With the IQ Switch, the kit is about US$25.

TerraLUX offers the following Luxeon LED conversion kits for the Mini Maglite:

1. TerraLUX MiniStar3 TLE-3: 15 lumens, 50 hours runtime - This has 3 LEDs. Because this is about the same brightness as an incandescent Mini Maglite and because of the long runtime, it's ideal for your preparedness kit if you don't want to buy a new flashlight. Other than that, I recommend getting one of the others that produces a brighter light because they're so nice. From US$5.99 through Amazon.

2. TerraLUX TLE-20 (Nichia Regel), 0.5 watt: 36 lumens, 15 hours runtime - This produces a nice, white light. To avoid going bump in the night, I chose this one to upgrade my bedside flashlight. Also for the 2-AAA Mini Maglite. From US$9.95 through Amazon.

3. TerraLUX MiniStar2 TLE-5 (Luxeon III?), 1 watt: 50 lumens, 6 hours runtime - This has a distinctly yellow tint in the hotspot but not as yellow as the Coleman Max. This is my favorite upgrade kit because it yields suitable brightness coupled with a decent runtime. I put it in my kitchen flashlight. I got mine last year through Amazon for US$9.70.

4. TerraLUX MiniStar2 Extreme TLE-5EX (Cree XR-E), 3 watts: 140 lumens, 4 hours runtime. I got it just to see and... Wow! It's bright! Use this kit and the TerraLUX TCS-1 rear clicky conversion to turn an excellent general purpose incandescent made-in-America flashlight into an LED tactical light for about US$35.

I couldn't find a runtime rating, so I did my own test using new batteries.

At 4.5 hours, the circle of light began to get smaller and smaller until it was so tiny it was useless at 6 hours. I turned it off at 6.75 hours.

The nice thing about alkaline batteries is that they tend to recharge themselves when they're not being used which is the reason alkaline batteries for any LED flashlight will last longer than the rated runtimes if the light is used intermittently instead of continuously as during tests to rate the runtime.

As a result, I was able to use it for another hour a week after the test. (It didn't quit. I was through using it.)

After another week, I decided to resume testing with the same pair of batteries. It ran for 1.5 hours before going out. I let it rest for 8 hours and turned it on for another 3 hours with it dimming and shrinking over the last hour.

This LED produces a nice, white light and cost me US$17.95 last year through Amazon.

If you have other styles of incandescent Maglites, Streamlights, or SureFires, TerraLUX has LED upgrade conversion kits for them, too, as well as a couple of universal upgrade kits that work with other brands.

Something to keep in mind is that there are no industry-wide standards for rating flashlights. As a result, a flashlight rated n lumens with a stated runtime may be brighter or less bright and have a longer or shorter throw than another flashlight with the same rating and may run longer or for less time. Your best bet is to check independent reviews such as those on CandlePowerForums Reviews.

Another thing is that, although I've listed the wattage as do several manufacturers, watts are not indicative of the amount of light produced like we're used to thinking when looking at incandescent bulbs. In fact, watts only indicate how much power an item needs such as how much power an LED needs to produce its best light. For an example of how we can't use wattage to indicate output, a 26-watt CFL bulb produces light equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

For more info, Flashlight Reviews and the flashaholics on the CandlePowerForums may be the most helpful sources.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Her First Solo Road Trip

This week, there was a three-day visit with a friend from high school I haven't seen in eight years because of the distance between us.

As a former flight attendant who married a pilot, my friend is, undoubtedly, an experienced traveler by air. She enjoys getting lodging through Priceline saying that's how she gambles.

Isn't she smart? She never loses money that way plus saves money by getting nicer rooms for less.

What makes this trip especially exciting is that it's her first solo road trip because her husband didn't want to drive from Texas to Nebraska and back with all the stops she planned along the way.

Among our sharing, reminiscing, and verbal battling caused by her pushing me to live my life as she sees fit (Yes, she lost points for that!), we discussed her preparations and the rest of her itinerary only changing her whistle for an extra Fox 40 Micro I happened to have because it's much louder and her keychain flashlight for one that's brighter that was leftover from a bunch I got to give out for Christmas.

(Isn't it interesting that I just happened to have them? Isn't God good?)

I also gave her a next generation 2-AA Mini Maglite LED flashlight because it has the SOS feature along with an accessory pack with a red lens so her night vision won't be impaired should she have to check a map at night.

Since I know many women who want to travel but won't go by themselves, I applaud her for not allowing her husband to deter her from pursuing her dreams.