"Whatever you are, be the best you can be."

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dangerous Energy Saving Light Bulbs Are Hazardous to Health

Today I made a shocking discovery.  I found out that "energy-saving light bulbs can trigger migraines, exacerbate skin conditions and lead to other serious health problems." (See Telegraph article).  This was further confirmed when I visited Wikipedia's article on Energy Saving Light Bulbs:   
"A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also called compact fluorescent light, energy-saving light, and compact fluorescent tube, is a fluorescent lamp designed to replace an incandescent lamp."

"According to the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) in 2008, CFLs may pose an added health risk due to the ultraviolet and blue light emitted. This radiation could aggravate symptoms in people who already suffer skin conditions that make them exceptionally sensitive to light. The light produced by some single-envelope CFLs at distances of less than 20 cm could lead to ultraviolet exposures approaching the current workplace limit set to protect workers from skin and retinal damage."
"A 2012 study comparing cellular health effects of CFL light and incandescent light found statistically significant cell damage in cultures exposed to CFL light. Spectroscopic analysis confirmed the presence of significant UVA and UVC radiation, which the study's authors conjectured was attributable to damage in the bulbs' internal phosphor coatings. No cellular damage was observed following exposure to incandescent light of equivalent intensity."
Another website article, entitled 'CFL Bulbs Can Fry Your Skin', states:  "In addition to having a potential negative impact on your skin, these bulbs emit toxic chemicals. In fact, only months after it was found that energy saving fluorescent bulbs release carcinogenic chemicals into the air, a new study has found that these harmful chemicals are continually released from the bulbs over a period of weeks to months. In addition to releasing these cancer-causing chemicals, which are far beyond the “safe” level set by the EPA, these bulbs also release levels of mercury which also exceed the “safe” levels for humans." 

I personally cannot believe I have been using energy saving light bulbs, when I am already an eczema and migraine sufferer.  My eczema has become worse over the last few years, and is now light-sensitive.  I easily get sunburn now, and instead of healing normally, it turns into eczema.   Is having these energy saving light bulbs in your house the equivalent of sitting under a small sunbed?  Only we are exposing ourselves to them more and more every winter. 
Don't forget, with these bulbs containing Mercury, if you break the bulb it will expose you to the Mercury in the form of vapour, which can cause brain damage and seizures.  You should never throw these bulbs in household rubbish, as the electronic components, as well as the Mercury, will contaminate the ground it is dumped on.  Possibly harming animals and getting into water supplies too.  And the UK Government pays into schemes so we can be given these poisonous bulbs into our homes for free?

I suggest we boycott the energy saving light bulbs, buy the 'heavy duty' industrial use incandescent light bulbs (which are labelled "not suitable for household illumination" to comply with European Union legislation), and put them in our ceiling lights.  The only difference between these heavy duty incandescent light bulbs and the original normal use incandescent light bulbs they no longer manufacture, is that they have "slightly thicker glass envelopes and extra filament supports."  They are designed to be able to withstand shocks and extreme temperatures, as their original intended use would have been in warehouses and as garage inspection lights. 
Failing that, I would use candles.  I am all for energy saving and being good to the environment, but not at the expense of our own health.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Never Be Afraid To Live

Last night I watched the movie Into the Wild for the second time.  It still has strong emotional resonance for me.  Without wanting to give too much away, you hurt for his loss, you hurt for his family's loss, and yet you feel his joy, enthusiasm and excitement too.  This movie is inspiring and uplifting as well as a cautionary tale.  Many of the things he did could have ended in disaster (hitch-hiking, sleeping rough, kayaking down the rapids without a helmet or any experience).  Yet he experienced so much, saw so much beauty, and learned so much about life, in such a short space of time.  During his journey, he said something like: "the spirit of the human heart is discovery."  Meaning the path to happiness lies in discovering new things.  

He tried many new things, discovered new hobbies, adventure sports and skills, met new people and explored exciting new places.  Yet in the end, he discovered that "Happiness is sharing."  I think his journey, which has now been made into a film, is a great lesson to us.  The happiness and joy in his adventure, of being in the wild and discovering new things, was equally exciting as meeting new people, making friends and sharing experiences along the way.

So how can this adventure be applied to my own life?  I think life is an adventure, or a series of adventures, but you don't have to travel far and wide in dangerous situations to discover them.    You can have an adventure at home, discovering new knowledge, music, books, trying new hobbies, skills, walking and discovering new places to explore around your own home.  Perhaps get on a bus and go for a day trip, it isn't too expensive to do.  Just choose somewhere to go.  "Go out there and experience life!"  Don't just stay hiding away in your house, which is so easy to do when you're afraid to live.  Never be afraid to live.

  • Discover new words (books, novels, music, art, food, drink, exercise, games)
  • Explore new places (where you've never been before - take photos, walk around, discover the unseen)
  • Learn new skills (crafts, techniques, hobbies, art, writing)
  • Meet new people
  • Make friends
  • Share experiences (joy, emotions)

Then you will have discovered happiness along the way.

Never be afraid to live...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Book Review: Prince Harry - Photographs by the Daily Mail

Prince Harry - Photographs by the Daily Mail
by Alison Gauntlett
ISBN:  140540311X
ISBN13:  9781405403115

I really enjoyed this book, it covers Prince Harry's life from birth right through to young adulthood in 2002 when the British Royal family celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee. It is beautifully illustrated throughout with high quality photographs, each image has a description telling you where the picture was taken and roughly when. This book works it's way chronologically through his life, with a very pleasant narrative. An absolute pleasure to read, which I found very informative and very relaxing to read.

What's also nice is that although the text makes a brief light reference to some of the not quite so pleasant elements of Prince Harry's life (namely some things that were plastered all over the tabloid press), these are not illustrated. Making this a book you can be proud to own, showing the best of Prince Harry in his best light. And I really enjoyed it.

My only complaint? I wonder if they might do an updated version to include his life and photos from the last 10 years to the present. I loved it so much I want more!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

I am Happy and Grateful Today!

Inspired by a forum thread on the Nanowrimo website, to post every day something that you are grateful for today, and something that has made you happy today.  So here is what has made me happy and grateful for today...

What I'm grateful for today:
For some reason I woke up bouncing happy today, wide awake, full of energy, and happy to accomplish many things. This has not happened to me for a really long time!
What makes me happy today:
Sitting down this afternoon with the warm sunny weather, and starting to create a colour pencil landscape art piece that I really enjoyed doing. (I don't usually enjoy landscapes, but this one is fun).  Now all I have to do is plan my novel for CampNanowrimo and I'll be all set with my Art and Writing Goals! :)

Monday, 7 May 2012

New Music Monday - Discovering Rhythm & Blues

This year I've decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery, I love anything to do with reinventing your life and I am currently feeling inspired by Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project.  She says that what someone else finds fun, is not necessarily what everyone else finds fun.  I think it's important to try new things, and discover what you like in life.  Today, I'm starting with music.

I don't know a lot about Blues music, so I've stumbled across BBC Radio 2 's Rhythm & Blues show, with DJ Paul Jones.  On first listen, this reminds me of Jools Holland's style of music, which I've liked what I've heard.  There's a lot of harmonica which I like, and it has a laid back, honky-tonk kind of feel to it.  It's pleasant, and gives me images of a dark smokey bar, where you can just recline on a couch, drinking whiskey, with a smile on your face. 

On tonight's show Dani Wilde was the featured artist in session.  I liked the last song she sung, 'Falling', and this one I've just found on Youtube:

I don't know much about Rhythm & Blues, but I know enough now to know I want to know more.  I found a couple of interesting links from the BBC Radio 2 show website, two magazines that seem to cover modern Rhythm & Blues music.  They are:  Blues in Britain - an independent magazine writing about the best in British blues music, and FRoots - The essential folk, roots and world music guide. 

I'm looking forward to finding some new music to like!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

New Sketch - Car Battery Charger

I am currently studying an Open University course in Design, called U101 Design Thinking: Creativity for the 21st Century. This is my latest piece of work on the course, where I have to produce a detailed sketch of an old work tool. I chose an old car battery charger my Dad has, Dad's are great for keeping old bits of junk! I think I may have stumbled across a minefield of old and unusual bits of junk to draw! Here is a photo of the item for comparison:

After this initial drawing, my next task is to do two more drawings of this object, but to make them less detailed and more abstract each time, so as to create my own design from this object. This will be an interesting challenge for me! In the next few weeks I will be practicing this technique further, by designing my own T-Shirt for this module!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Remember Me

I just watched Remember Me, the beautiful movie starring Robert Pattinson and Pierce Brosnan. There is a line in this movie, a quote from Ghandi, it says: "Whatever you do in this life will be insignificant, but it is important that you do it. For you leave fingerprints on the people you touch in your life." And I think this is very true of the characters in this movie. Especially Robert Pattinson's character, Tyler Hawkins, who teaches his father to show his feelings and do right by his family. He brings his family closer together. This is ironic seen as another character in his life tells him he is going nowhere, with no career prospects, nothing big going for him. His own father tells him he has nothing, he pedalled on a bicycle to his office. He owns nothing, and not making anything of himself. Tyler sums it up when he says he is "Undecided... about everything!" He doesn't know where he is going or what he is doing.

I'm sure all of us have felt lost like this at some point in our lives. Having watched this film it has reminded me of how all the people I have met at some point in my life have left an impression, or a fingerprint, on my life. Some people are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. But they all leave an impression on your life, and manage to enrich it in some way, often teaching us lessons in the process. I used to think the only way to make a difference in the world, and to leave an impression, would be to leave behind art, writing, or even a movie, as those are the people who are recognised and remembered. But we also remember if someone has been especially kind to us, a smile, a pleasant comment, these things we remember. So perhaps if we are all a bit nicer to one another, passing on a pleasantry, then perhaps we can leave a pleasant impression, and be remembered in other people's memories.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

2012 - Serious Writing Year

I have a New Year's Resolutions list a page and a half long, so many things I want to do this year. But most importantly, I want to take care of myself. Often when striving to achieve this or that, we neglect ourselves. I want to make sure I have some 'me time' - some time to myself, to relax, unwind, and follow my dreams. I have dabbled more with my fiction writing and art goals this last year, but never for very long. I want to become a serious fantasy & science fiction artist and writer.

The big thing I need to do this year? Practice my skills. To actually sit down to write and draw daily. The only way to actually improve my skills is to sit down and use them, often. I often get all excited when Nanowrimo comes up, and the same with scriptfrenzy. But if I don't actually get much writing done that month, and don't complete my novel or script by the end of the month, then I stop writing. Why? There is no rule that says you must only attempt to write a novel in November. The amazing thing Nanowrimo has taught me, is to actually sit down and write. I learn so much simply by doing that. Personally I struggle to reach my word count targets each and every day, but I do manage to hit half my word count targets each day quite successfully. So I should be able to write a 50,000 word novel quite easily in 2 months.

I want to spend this year honing my craft, writing scenes and practicing writing challenging scenes. Scenes with action in them, description, dialogue, drama, suspense, everything. I want to improve and write something I am really proud of. Only then can I reach the stage of writing something worthy of publication. And that is my ultimate aim. Probably next year, or the year after, depending on how I get on. I want to be able to call myself a writer at the end of this year, knowing that I have improved my skills and made progress. These are my main writing goals/tasks this year:
  • Write daily, 15 minutes one day, 60 minutes the next.

  • Write 100 word Drabble's (as part of the Writeaholic's Blog's weekly Drabble challenges).

  • Write short scenes from movies and tv (practicing writing prose).

  • Learn new vocabulary - a new word from the dictionary each week.

  • Research Science and History, for use in novels and short stories (for Space Opera and Time Travel fiction).

  • Plan a short story / Write a short story.

  • Plan a novel / Write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel.

  • Learn how to edit and rewrite a novel (and short story).

  • Read 10 novels from start to finish this year.

Here's hoping for a productive and well written 2012!