The end of the year seems like a fine time to phone in some updates:
Pirelli Building. In my January article for Connecticut Magazine about historically designated but otherwise derelict buildings, I reported that passers-by of the Pirelli Building in New Haven could see “shattered windows and Venetian blinds askew.” I interviewed the sales manager of IKEA New Haven, which owns the building, for the piece so he knew it was in the works. It seems to have had an effect: Since then, the windows have been repaired and the blinds removed, making the building appear less forsaken.
Megafauna Extinctions. This story in SciAm has a good summary of the latest research to pinpoint when mammoths, mastodons, and other large American Pleistocene animals went extinct. It leans toward the overkill hypothesis at the end but I think the Clovis mystery just underscores the complication of the extinction question: not only are we not sure just when various species vanished (this much shallower article, for example, lumps them all together but it’s not clear if humans ever laid eyes on American lions or sabercats), but we really don’t know when the first immigrants arrived in the New World.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. I’ve been using CFLs throughout my house for over two years now and my love affair with them is devolving into spiteful asides and unflattering comparisons to previous partners. The biggest sore point is their unreliable lifespans. “CFL makers claim the bulbs have lifetimes of 10,000 hours each,” but I’ve had bulbs die in a matter of weeks. This may be an issue of poor QC rather than with the technology itself but it certainly offsets any savings accrued by buying more-expensive-yet-longer-lasting CFLs over incandescents. Not to mention that CFLs’ dim glow when first switched on in cold temperatures — and by “cold,” I mean 65° F or lower — often compels me to leave lights on in rooms I’m not occupying so I can see what the hey-hey I’m doing if I go back in there. A major criticism of incandescents is that they waste much of their energy on heat rather than light, but having experienced the alternative, I’m not sure it’s a waste after all.
Photo above taken at Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, Connecticut.