All Of The Lights

At long last, the power to light your home like a German disco is in your hands.

As much as I love my new apartment – spacious, affordable, bug free, in an awesome neighborhood, with a private bathroom so I don’t have to be sociable every time I have to pee – it is not without its shortcomings. Namely, there are no overhead lights in my room, so the only way to light it is with a bunch of lamps. This means that whenever I want to turn the lights off, I tragically have to walk around my small room turning off each lamp individually, a monotonous task that can take up to ten seconds on a bad day.

To understand why this is so upsetting, you have to recognize what a big role sloth plays in my day-to-day routine. As I’ve mentioned before, I put in ten hour days at the office – I leave the house a little after 8:00 AM and get home around 7:00 PM, and I have to be in bed by 11:30 PM to get a full night’s sleep. I only have four and a half hours to myself every night, and over the past year I’ve started calculating the usage of those four and a half hours down to the second.

Naturally it was unacceptable that I should be wasting up to 30 seconds per night walking around turning lights on and off – time that I could be spending feeling guilty for not writing something, or watching that Django Unchained shootout scene again. So this weekend I went to the Apple Store in Santa Monica and bought a set of Philips Hue lightbulbs.

Philips Hue are energy efficient LED bulbs that use 80% less electricity than standard lightbulbs and can replicate any shade of white, as well as any other color in the visible spectrum. What’s more, they come with a wireless bridge you can plug into your router which allows you to use an app on your phone to turn your lights on and off or set their color depending on your mood:


If you’ve got white people problems, I feel bad for you son – I’ve got 99 First World Problems but my lights aren’t one.

Maybe, like most of my friends, you’re shaking your head that I’d buy something so frivolous and unnecessary. But look at it from my perspective: I love science fiction. Blade Runner is my shit. And now I can tweak the specific color and brightness of the lights in my living space to my exact preferences, save those settings, and then turn my lights on before I even get out of my car every night.

What I’ve realized recently is that a lot of recent technological developments aren’t so much entirely new inventions; they’re inventions that modify existing inventions to make them better. My car is old enough to get married in Alabama, but because of a miraculous tape deck adapter someone invented I can command my miraculous phone to play music and I’ll hear it through my car’s ancient speakers. Likewise, my lamps are either old, cheap, or both, but because of the bulbs in them they now put Captain Jean Luc Picard’s quarters to shame in the futuristic luxury department.

So my enjoyment of my new lighting setup isn’t strictly personal – I enjoy it both because I can turn my lights on without having to get out of bed, and also because every time I do I’m reminded of the true power of human ingenuity. (I try not to think about how we should probably be using that ingenuity to stop global warming instead of making fancy lightbulbs for lazy douchebags.)

Now that the lights are installed, though, I don’t know how much of a timesaver they really are – for every ten seconds I spend not having to walk around my room turning each light on or off individually, I spend another five minutes giddily fucking around with the color and brightness settings on my phone. I was trying to reduce the amount of time I spent illuminating my room; now I spend entire evenings turning the lights on and off.

What’s more, in less than a week it’s made me a total lighting snob. With my phone I now have access to a bunch of preset color and brightness configurations such as READING, CONCENTRATE, ENERGIZE (?) or RELAX. According to the website, each of these settings is scientifically proven to make you more effective at whatever it is you’re trying to do. I’m 80% sure that’s bullshit, but now I find myself hating the bright fluorescent lighting at the office because it isn’t the optimal color for concentration. All I need is a yoga mat and a bottle of Fiji water and I’ll be the most insufferable LA person ever to have lived.

Hue lightbulbs are pretty new, so there’s still kinks being worked out of the system. Sometimes, for example, the wireless bridge goes offline and needs to be reset. This is problematic for two reasons: One, my lights can only be controlled via the phone, so if the router bridge isn't working when I get home that means I don’t get to have lights that night. Two, the bridge is plugged into the apartment’s wireless router, which is in my roommate’s room, which means that if the wireless bridge breaks while my roommate is sleeping or masturbating, I’m up shit creek until he’s done.

I took the first world problem of not wanting to get up to turn off my lights and replaced it with the decidedly third world problem of sometimes simply not having lights – although it’s balanced by the extremely first world problem of being a lighting snob. In the end I think it averages out to a second world problem, and I’m okay with that.  

Truman Capps has already named one of his light settings 'Morning Mist.'