Stephanie passed away almost two weeks ago. I didn’t think about, until afterwards, how profound of an impact they had on my life.Continue reading “Remembering Stephanie Ye-Mowe”
Lumenators are a piece of folk technology from the rationalist subculture. In short, it is 10+ lightbulbs on a string, to make your living space much brighter than it would otherwise be. The lights are generally cooler toned than your regular yellow bulbs, to emulate sunlight better.
I first made one in January 2019 (I have a pic in this old post), after a disastrous first term of third year, in which I’d failed half my courses and narrowly scraped by the other half due to a really intense bout of antidepressant-resistant SAD.
I’ve had them for 3 years now and my opinion is that literally everyone should own one.1
Listen, when I first made the lumenators, I lived with two guys who were completely functional human beings who weren’t depressed in the least. Idk how to convince you how non-depressed they were – they were doing sports, taking insane courses that required like 40 hours of labs a week, going to, volunteering at, and running major hackathons, putting effort into steadily improving at competitive video games and then road tripping out to tournaments… Living their best university lives, tbh.
These dudes thought that it was overkill that I was shelling out $400 for an assload of bright lightbulbs, command hooks, wiring, and other shit instead of just buying like, two more floor lamps from ikea. Which, fair enough tbh, if you haven’t been lumenated, you probably would think the same.
Two years later we graduated and went our separate ways, and then within like a month of moving into their new apartments they were constructing lumenators of their own because they had SEEN THE LIGHT and realized that standard lighting sucked fucking ass.
Lumenators are good mostly because for 4 accursed months out of the year, the sun sets at a ridiculously early time. When you have lumenators, that sucks a lot less. It genuinely helps, a lot, to have the space you’re in be really bright for an additional 3 hours a day, and make your “sunset” 8pm even though it’s been dark outside since 5.
It also is a great supplemental source of lighting on days where it’s raining or snowing or just heavily overcast. The days where it’s day but the light doesn’t make it into your windows anyways. When you have lumenators, those days become vastly more cheery. When I turn my lumenators on on those days, I get a jolt of happiness.
I actually turn my lumenators on every day. Even when it’s fully sunny outside, my lumenators still manage to brighten up my space appreciably, and I think that’s incredibly sexy of them.
Some miscellaneous tips for creating a lumenator setup for after you read the linked article, if you’re interested in building one:
- If you’re dripping with cash, get zigby/hue bulbs or other programmable bulbs! It’s a lot more convenient to control them through your phone.
- Look for high CRI bulbs – they emit a broader spectrum of colours which is what sunlight does. Cree bulbs are high CRI and available at home depot online. Don’t get them on Amazon – they have sketchy bulbs that are old. Get them directly from home depot.
- A more optimal bulb ratio that has been suggested to me for traditional bulbs is 3:1 for 5000k bulbs to 2700k bulbs. Unfortunately I do like the warmer 1:1 ratio, although I’ve also had a good time with 2:1 ratios.
- 25 or 30 bulbs is ideal, but I think 15 is sufficient for a basic setup, and that’s what I started with. I have a setup of 10 bulbs in my bedroom that wake me up in the mornings by blasting my face with light, but I think it’s a little dim for everyday use.
- It’s a lot better when you can hang them up a lot higher than eye level. I was living in a low-ceilinged basement apartment for a while, and the lumenators did not work super well in that space 🙁
- You can make them look a lot nicer by buying some fake vines on Amazon and draping them around the wires and stuff
- Ideally, you want the lighting to be fairly well distributed across the ceiling, so that the shadows are more diffuse and it tricks you brain into thinking that it’s daylight better. Practically however it will look a lot tidier and be much easier to set up if you do line them up against a wall. If you’re someone who owns your place and can do more permanent things, recessed recessed br20 or br30 lights spaced at regular intervals across your ceiling is the way to go.
- There are apps you can download to check the lux of your space, and they give readings consistent with physical lux readers (if you have an older phone, you may get a notification that your phone isn’t supported). You want it to be at least 1000 lux (for comparison, a normal office is around 300), but really the goal is to get it as high as possible without hurting your eyes.
Anyways, in conclusion, lumenators are great and you should make one. Here’s some pics of mine:
- related: that post about shower chairs!
For context, I mostly socialize in upper middle class and tech- and rationalist-leaning circles, and it’s likely that at least some of what I describe are just quirks of my local culture.
I have this pet theory that I’ve shopped around a fair bit, that it’s much harder for financially comfortable people to make deep friendships.
What do I mean by a deep friendship? I mean one where you can trust the other person to come through when you need them to. There’s levels to this as well, of course. You probably ask casual friends to help you move, but not acquaintances. Close friends could be people who will let you crash on their couch for two weeks without prior notice or who will lend you rent money for the month. People who live more marginal, riskier lives might think about this in terms of who is willing to bail them out of jail or smuggle them medicine.
The thing is, money exists, and can solve most of your problems better than your friends can. If you can afford it, it’s much less annoying to hire movers, book an airbnb, contact your doctor, or call your lawyer – get professional problem solvers involved, in other words. 1
So this dynamic emerges where my rich friends never ask each other for help, pay for services using money, and never do anything unpleasant for each other, whereas my poorer friends are always doing stuff for each other out of necessity and becoming closer knit in the process.
[This is a good summary of my thesis, you can stop reading at this point if I linked this to you in a group chat or something.]Continue reading “Rich Friend, Poor Friend”
- Money does stop working in catastrophic circumstances that we will face rarely in life – someone to comfort us when a loved one dies, or trying to mend a relationship that has turned into a horrible soulsucking mess, or your apartment burns down with everything in it and you’re too catatonic to start replacing your documents and things. For those things, you kind of either have close relationships that are already established, or you’re just kind of fucked.