No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –

Thomas Hood 1844

Babies grow up. Technology advances. Dreams become memories. But November in the northern climes is always November.

The Best of Things, and Turtles

A late night nattering with wine and tea and the following challenge put forth: Tell your ten favorite moments. Rather trite, yes? Well, maybe not. I thought of a few and in thinking of those moments my self-pity, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy evaporated in a small, foul-smelling puff of steam.

Those moments of joy I discovered rattling around in my memory made me fond of myself! They even came in categories, these moments of joy: nature, which is the source of all random acts of beauty; childbirth and one’s children, the most amazingly inescapable responsibility there is; performance, when  you know you have communicated something special; performance again, when you are enchanted by the performer; art, the moment you love your creation and the moments you spend adoring another’s creations; friend; and family; and the sweet feel of childhood when ignorance and wonder kept you safe and warm.

My number one, most amazing experience was watching sea turtles lay their eggs. It was a beach on an island off the coast of Georgia and I was with a local lad who knew just where to be and when. I’m sure he would have told the Park Rangers, if they had thought to ask. So while they waited on a beach around the bend, we sat behind a large rock not more than 8 feet away from where the turtles would come.

The moon was full and the seaside was bathed in gentle white light. We waited for hours until suddenly and slowly six  large magical creatures emerged from the shallow water. In synchronicity the powerful and independent creatures were driven by the same ancient instinct as they moved slowly and persistently across the sand.

They all stopped and dug at the same time and the same distance from the sea. Their flippers carved nesting places in the sand. Then they were still for ages it seemed. Then they all covered their nests, turned back towards the sea and lumbered over the sand into the water and went away. Only the moonlight was left, and six little mounds of sand with a trail of flipper marks leading into the sea.


I was brought up to understand that you were never to speak ill of, and you were never ever to judge, the Jewish people.

I dated a Jewish boy in high school and one evening his grandmother told me she would never let her grandson marry a dirty shikse like me. I knew she was right because even though my dad was a first generation German Jew, my mom was an Episcopalian. And of course my boyfriend’s grandmother had been in a concentration camp so she was allowed to say anything, especially to me who was not a member of the tribe.

A number of my dad’s friends had been hidden children or in concentration camps, and Ellen was one of them. She came over, like most of his friends, every Saturday for dinner, a grand cooked-at-home-by-everyone dinner, the apartment full of arguments and food smells and people sitting around reading books or talking.

My girlfriend lived down the street and her dad was German. One Saturday he came by for dinner but Ellen was very unkind to him, berating him for not having done something to stop the Nazis. Finally it got so bad he simply had to leave. There was nothing else he could do.

The next day I was at my girlfriend’s house and her dad brought out a big picture book. He opened it and showed me images of German cities after the war. There were ragged fields of walls standing tenuously at different heights and lengths. The spiky remains of corners higher than the lengths of stone and plaster. Piles of rubble stood among the building remains and the landscape was dotted with familiar household objects. My friend’s father pointed to a stone wall with the remains of a window sill in it. He told me that was where his bedroom had been. He had only been a boy during the war and his father was a postman, who didn’t vote for Hitler.

Until that moment it had never occurred to me that there were any casualties of World War Two other than the Jews.


A Hairy Topic

Curly, thick, dark hair that makes ringlets and frizz, tangles and brushing and pain.

When I was very young my father avoided brushing my hair, so after a summer with him it was hours before my mother got out all the tangles.

When I was older my best friend braided me and said girl you don’t have white hair, you have bristly, nappy hair, feel it, it’s nastier than mine, feel how soft my hair is. Her hair was soft, so soft.  I loved being braided, the feel of my hair being pulled so hard my eyes watered, and the cool air on my scalp, and the fingers and wrists pressing my head and the closeness of another person.

When I grew up I got an office job and straighten my hair, every day with a heated round brush. But when it was humid the tell-tale frizz formed by my scalp, and I was not the only one. In the women’s room we took turns waiting for the outlet so we could touchup our hair.

One day a man came into my office. The Clinton campaign was coming to town and my boss was a big supporter, so I was to help this advance man arrange things. He was a small pudgy young man who was very sure of himself. He sat across from me, looked at me, and asked if my family still owned slaves. I paused and wondered at his nerve, but answered that no they didn’t and what makes you ask. The hair he said, one can always tell from the hair.

Somewhere along the way it became taboo to talk about certain types of hair.

But yesterday I was in a bookstore when a woman said to me that she wished her granddaughter had hair like mine, and she began to describe her granddaughter’s hair. I said that yeah sometimes the mix works out and sometimes it doesn’t. The woman agreed enthusiastically, and then her granddaughter came in and her granddaughter’s hair was just the way my daughter’s hair had looked at that age. So I was able tell her not to worry the curls would probably come at puberty.

It made me feel safe and comfortable to be able to talk about hair with someone who understood.

Past Tense

I walked comfortably along in today.
It was the continuation of yesterday.
It led to tomorrow.
It was orderly and serene.
Logically built out
of all that happened.

Before it was the past.
Until the past
was there before it:
Out of order, in today.

When you left,

you brought yourself,

but when you stayed,

you never left,

the past behind you.


It’s really an honor to be short-listed, especially if you were short-listed from a cattle call and you don’t actually know anyone on any of the committees and have no history with the organization. It means you have managed to be one of the 5 or 10 percent of the applicants whose work actually caught the attention of a bunch of strangers.

Then you are down to that last presentation and you give it your best and wham, one of the other 5 or 10 percent get it. Well the trouble is, particularly with large institutions restricted by legislation, you just don’t know why there was a cattle call. Did they really want the best of a wide range of folks and not have a clue who they would  pick? Did they need to be sure before they hired from within and rewarded someone who had worked really hard to get the gig? Or were they just going through the motions to fulfill a legislative need knowing full well who they wanted?

And if the institution was simply being sure of themselves or going through the motions, would you have done the same if you were on the committee? Would you have worked hard to get the gig for someone you cared about, or whom you thought deserved it, even if they were not quite as good as someone else? Would you have been loyal to the person or the system?

My aunt and uncle were staunch anti-war socialist, so much so that they were conscientious objectors during World War II, even though they were Jewish–can you imagine the stigma! Anyway it always seemed to me that they, and other socialist-liberals types I knew, were very much about the bleeding masses, but rarely about a friend in need. And it frustrated me. Why did it seem like the hard core capitalists, who were so uninterested in the bleeding masses, where so much more helpful to friends in need?

Perhaps is is because that type of staunch socialist believed that to have a society that was truly inclusive and fair, spreading wealth and opportunity evenly, everyone needed to act in the best interests of the group not their own intimate circle. Perhaps the capitalists believe that if everyone simply looked after their own, there would be no need from the greater good?

Is it possible for people to be altruistic, putting the greater good before their own? Players on a sports team might be willing to give up their individual moment of glory so their team can win, but what about giving up something and not getting such an immediate reward? What about adhering to the intent of a piece of legislation, perhaps paying the tax, rather than creating a situation that allows you to keep that extra money? And then in time your municipality has enough money to fund schools or health care?

Of course your small sacrifice is not worth much unless it is accompanied by many other people’s sacrifices. Can you trust them to do that? Or should you just look after your own?

The A… of A Vocabulary List

Last fall I took, and passed, the Lighting Certification exam offered by the NCQLP ( I even got a handsome little lapel pin!

Preparing for the exam involved a good deal of memorizing, as it is rather broad in scope and replete in detailed questions. So while studying I created a vocabulary list, which grew to 76 pages of words related to the physics of light and various techniques for describing light, measuring light, and determining how much of what kind of light to use where and when.

The list included a lot of words with descriptions that ranged from well-worded and informative to seemingly nonsensical phrases, which actually did made sense to me. So I decided that being as how I is a a certified technical writer, having all the learnings needed and what not, I would go back and edit the vocabulary list and make it available to anyone who happened upon my internet presence. This proved to be more time-consuming than I imagined, although I have made it through to D after a few days work spread out over a month.

Yesterday I sat down to convert the Word document into a .pdf, but wouldn’t you know Windows 10 and Adobe have to work out some relationship issues. So rather than a nice .pdf of letters A through D, I am posting letter A, right here in this post.

Oh, BTW, for any technical writers who might glance at this, I have not yet decided the format I am using for citations.



Above finished Floor (AFF)

Is the area of a room that is above the finished floor. It is a concept used in determining the room cavity ratio for lumen method calculations.

Absorptance (A or α)

Is the effectiveness of a material at absorbing light, or the extent to which a material does not reflect or transmit light. The formula for absorptance is the amount of absorbed light divided by the amount of incident light:


Describes a substance that responds to light of short wavelengths, usually in the UV category causing a photochemical reaction. The retina, rods, and cones of the eye are actinic and can be damaged from prolonged exposure to UV wavelengths.

Action Spectra

Is the rate of a physiological activity plotted against wavelength of light. It shows which wavelength of light is most effectively used in a specific chemical reaction. (Wikipedia 2-18-2016) Action Spectra is a term used when discussing the effects of various electromagnetic wavelengths on the circadian rhythms in humans, that is blue light versus amber light.

Adaptation Luminance

Is the range of luminance of and background objects in the field of view. The adaptation luminance affects the threshold at which changes in brightness are perceived by the human eye. High adaptation luminance is when the range of luminance in the field of view is small, so very slight changes in light level are registered. Low adaptation luminance is when the range of luminance in the field of view is large, so only more extreme change sin light level are registered.

Adaptation luminance is measured and considered in lighting for tasks areas, roadways and other places where performance of vision based tasks is important.
(IES Handbook Ver. 10)

Aging Vision

When the eyes age the following things happens:

  • The cornea yellows, so that at about 50 years old there is a 40% reduction in transmission.
  • The pupil gets smaller, letting in less light.
  • The lens loses resiliency and cannot be focused as easily.

Ambient Light Layer

Is the light layer that provides illumination for walking around a space and recognizing people and things. The ambient light layer is often a combination of direct luminance and reflectance.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Is a standards organization.

As the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) empowers its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. marketplace position in the global economy while helping to assure the safety and health of consumers and the protection of the environment.

The Institute oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector: from acoustical devices to construction equipment, from dairy and livestock production to energy distribution, and many more. ANSI is also actively engaged in accreditation – assessing the competence of organizations determining conformance to standards. (, 2-18-2016)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Is a federal statute that ensures provision of certain accommodations for disabled person, such as that light switches and sconces at certain levels.

Ampere (Amp)

Is the unit of the flow rate of electrical charges in terms of the number of charged particles passing a point, or the amount of charge of each particle. If the number of charged particles, or the amount of charge in the particles, passing the point increases there are more amperes and therefore higher amperage.


Is a process that uses a combination of chemical baths and electrolytic processes to develop an oxide layer on the surface of a metal, thus increasing the metal’s durability and resistance to corrosion.


Is the standard energy code for all buildings except low-rise residential buildings. It is a set of standards agreed upon by the three ANSI, ASHRAE and IESNA.

Arc Tube

An arc tube is the inner bulb in gas discharge lamp. It houses the two cathodes which, when connected by voltage, create a light source.

Architectural Lighting

Is lighting that is part of the construction of the building itself and is incorporated into the other building systems, as opposed to portable lighting installed by occupants.

Architectural Lighting Design

Is a field within architecture, interior design, and electrical engineering that is concerned with the design of lighting systems, including natural light, electric light, or both, to serve human needs. (Wikipedia 8-16-15.)

America Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today. ASHRAE was formed as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers by the merger in 1959 of American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE) founded in 1894 and The American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE) founded in 1904. (ASHRAE website 2-18-2016)


Is a general term that describes reduction in the strength of a signal, whether digital or analog. Attenuation is also referred to as signal loss and extinction. It is a natural consequence of signal transmission over long distances. Attenuation is considered when planning power and control cable distances for luminaires.

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)

Is the agency or person with the authority to approve electrical installations and construction. The AHJ could be the fire marshal, the electrical inspector, the building inspector, or a party designated by the building team. The AHJ inspection is part of commissioning.

Average Exitance

Is the mean surface density of emitted luminous flux (light) passing through, or reflected off, a material or surface. Exitance is measured in lm/ ft2 or lm/m2. NOTE: There are also Radiant Exitance, Spectral Exitance.

Average Illuminance

Is the mean surface density of incident flux (light) onto a surface. Illuminance is measured in footcandles (lm/ ft2) or lux (lm/ m2).