Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Nibble Of Luminosity

Good ideas don't have to be simple, but simple ideas are easier to explain. Simple things are easier to use. And simple things made from simple ideas have a nice symmetry.

Humans are lucky. We have lots of grabby bits. No tentacles exactly, but we do have five of these wiggly things on each hand, and some more on our lower appendages, though those others are not as useful at dinner parties.

Even though each of our upper extremities has a mop of flexible grapplers there are times when we could do with more of them. One of our design failings is that fingers can't be used independently of our arms. Think about it for a bit.

What is the point of having a hand with five fingers on it, but to use any one of those fingers requires you to use not only the whole hand but also the whole arm that it's attached to?

This is why it can be frustrating to wiggle out of a sleeping bag in the dark of night and hobble off into the bushes while trying to manipulate a flashlight. Or a pen light. Or a button light. Any light. We simply don't have enough hands to deal with all the technical issues involved.

Maybe this one case is easier for women. I am not one so I can't say. I haven't even tried to think through it from a woman's engineering perspective. That would be awkward at best.

I do know, based on several years of right hand experience, that, for a male, stumbling around in the dark trying to whiz off into the darkness while not tripping over a log, falling into a hole, or wetting my own pants is fairly hard to do with only the two upper manipulators.

My firing hand is fully occupied with issues of traversal, elevation, range, trajectory, and dispersion. One slip brings disaster. My left hand (and all of its fingers) is busy meanwhile keeping pants and shirt tails out of the line of fire. Both feet are completely booked with support services and the need to remain nimble in case of sudden side spray.

That leaves no way to handle the lighting, except for two lips and some teeth. Drooling interferes with this. Even a waterproof light ends up as an unfortunate slime dripping lump.

It might be time for Mr. Cord Lock Light.

The Cord Lock Light is a cord lock with an LED light built into it. At first this seems like a great idea. Then it seems like a greatly dumb idea. Then it seems like an idea for something that might be useful at the right time, in the right place, and it might be great if you are the right kind of person.

The Cord Lock Light is made by Black Crater LLC, of Portland, OR. It weights 0.25 ounces, or 7.5 g. Its plastic case is bright yellow, though some pictures hint at red or orange. It is water resistant, has a stainless steel spring, and uses two lithium CR1220 batteries. Rated battery life is 12 hours on high beam, 20 hours on low, and 50 hours of flashing. That's a lot of whizzing time. The switch is on/off, so you don't need to keep squeezing the little sucker.

Granted, standing there in the dark with one of these dangling from a swinging neck height drawstring wouldn't be the best way to get light on the ground but it might be good enough, and you could simply leave the dang thing permanently attached, for just those midnight trips. Never leap out of bed and find yourself SOL on a sudden blind urine soaked commando mission in the deepy dark woods.

I happen to have enough lights at the moment, so I won't be checking into this one, but it looks like an option. We all need options.


Black Crater LLC
Doug Ritter on the Cord Lock LED Light
Women's back country issues: Backcountry Betty
Cord Lock LED Light at Mountain Laurel Designs
Cord Lock LED Light - 3 Pack at