Cumberland Times-News

February 27, 2011

Their days are numbered

Jan Alderton, Managing Editor
Cumberland Times-News

— Incandescent light bulbs and mercury thermometers — long staples of everyday life — are nearing extinction in the United States.

The light bulbs are being replaced by compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) because of a U.S. phaseout of the incandescent bulbs. The 100-watt bulbs will be banned next Jan. 1, then 75-watt bulbs will be phased out in 2013 and 60- and 40-watt lights in 2014.

Some consumers are unhappy about the ban and are stockpiling the traditional bulbs.

They say the CFLs, while using about 75 percent less energy, are dimmer and do not come on right away. Some are also worried about the disposal requirements because of the small amount of mercury in the bulbs.

As for mercury thermometers, those have been banned in Maryland since 2002 because of mercury’s hazard as a powerful neurotoxin. Seventeen other states also have banned the thermometers.

More states are expected to follow suit and there are predictions the mercury thermometers will be a thing of the past in the entire nation in another five years....

Freezing temperatures in Florida, Texas and Mexico have hurt tomato crops, according to USA Today. Experts say supplies will be limited, quality may be lower and prices will be higher in late March or mid-April.

Look for some restaurants and sandwich shops to remove tomatoes from their offerings. The same thing occurred in our area last year because of weather problems down south....

Our area lost an open meetings and Sunshine Law advocate earlier this month with the death of Frostburg resident and landlord Bill Russell at age 75.

Russell repeatedly prodded local officials about closed meetings and non-compliance of Maryland Sunshine laws. He twice won Open Meetings Compliance Board decisions against the Frostburg mayor and council. He also frequently wrote about the need for transparency in government in Times-News letters to the editor....

The flap over lack of Washington and Baltimore TV stations serving Garrett County reached the Federal Communications Commission several days ago, thanks to the efforts of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the Republican who represents the 6th District of Congress.

Bartlett filed a complaint with the FCC stating that county residents can only watch broadcast programming from neighboring Pennsylvania.

“The situation is unfair and rightfully frustrating to my constituents who I believe should have the right to see broadcasts from their own state of Maryland,” he said.

The FCC is working on a report regarding in-state broadcast programming, according to a report by the blog The Hill....

Seat belts for older rear-seat passengers in Maryland are not required — yet. But legislation is pending in Annapolis requiring seat belts for all passengers, with a fine of $25 imposed for violations. At present, the state requires seatbelts for rear-seat passengers only if the rider is under age 16.

Thirty-five other states already have a rear-seat law....

A statewide poll asking whether Maryland should allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes found 72 percent of respondents in favor of its use. That is similar to a Times-News poll that showed 58 percent of 806 respondents favoring use of the plant as medicine.

The issue came up in Annapolis last year and passed the Senate 35-12 but stalled in the House of Delegates. The measure has been reintroduced this year, but supporters fear the same House Judiciary Committee that delayed the bill last year will do the same thing this session....

Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament fans can look for a special Times-News tourney section to be published on Wednesday, March 16, the day of the tip-off dinner. The tourney will be held March 17-19 at Frostburg State University — the 51st year for the premier Catholic high school basketball event....

Seen on the Internet — Actual Country-Western song titles from Downstream Pictures:

• It Only Takes One Bar (To Make A Prison)

• I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling

• I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well

• I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim’s Gettin Better

• It Ain’t Easy Being Easy

• You Can’t Have Your Kate And Edith Too

Jan Alderton is managing editor of the Cumberland Times-News. His email address is jpalderton@times-news.com.