Friday, September 10, 2010


When we moved into this neighborhood twenty-some-odd years ago, there were no street lights. The neighborhood association -- curses on their unholy name -- required that the residents have a pole lamp in each yard, but didn't specify lumens, so those ranged from gas mantles that were pretty bright, to 7-1/2 watt electric bulbs, which were considerably dimmer.

My own lamp, still required, is a solar-powered itty bitty sucker that might put out 2 lumens.

So, back in the day, if you wanted to walk your dog at night, which was my preference, it was dark. You can get used to that, especially where there are nice paved sidewalks, but sometimes there were things off the path I needed to see.

So I got a pocket flashlight for when my pup, often off-leash at midnight, might wander into the bushes. Having been a scuba diver as a boy, and knowing I was apt to be walking in the rain as often as not, I went to a dive shop and found a mini-diver's light. Ran off four-AA batteries, was waterproof to a hundred meters, and cast plenty of light. Stuck this in my jacket pocket and it, or one of a couple others I've bought like it to have here and there, is still there.

Years passed. There are a lot better flashlights out there now. Some of them the Russian spysats can pick up, and that's cool, but I didn't really see the need for carrying a light that would blind somebody who chanced to look at it -- whilst they were standing on the moon ...

Plus they put in streetlights and the need was less than it had been.

The habit of carrying a flashlight stuck, and while iPhones and iPods can serve, I still have at least a keychain light pretty much anywhere I go. I was in a hotel once when the power went out, and happy to have a way to see when I was forty yards from the nearest window, and the emergency lighting system croaked ...


Anonymous said...

I dunno. One of those powerful suckers isn't too bad for self-defense if you strobe it in an aggressor's eyes. Then, if he still comes at you, you can hit him with it.

For everyday use, though, I have an old pocket-Maglite (2 AAA batteries) which provides all the light I need for navigating uneven ground at night.

Oh, and regarding neighborhood associations, I echo your curses. They are one of the reasons I still rent an apartment instead of buying a house.

- J.M.

Todd Erven said...

Good man, Steve. It amazes me how much time people spend underground in subways or in buildings with no windows and they just assume that the power will stay on.

The power went out in my condo building once and all the emergency lighting failed. I pulled out my flashlight and headed down the stairs, listening to all the cursing and stumbling from people who were trying to feel their way down.

There's a 100% chance of darkness tonight, at least where I live.

Brad said...

If there isn't a light in my pocket, there is one or two within arm's reach. I carry a small tactical light in my pocket for self defense purposes, and maglight in the glove box, along with one of those hand pump self powered ones.

And +1 on the HOA.

Steve Perry said...

Those of you interested in a flamethrower might click on Todd Ervin's link on the blog page and see what he can whip up for you. He did a dynamite light for my son one Christmas, at a very reasonable price.