There’s a new streetlight in front of my house. It really isn’t hard to miss. I mean, they replaced those old sodium-burning lights for the harsh glow of the white LED’s.

It used to be that they would have to send energy into this little container of sodium, vaporizing the poor little container (hooray for anthropomorphizing atoms!) and turning it into a gaseous state. From there, the sodium was shot full of energy until those valence electrons began to jump, one by one, up the orbitals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay up there very long, and it crashes back to its original state in a fit of glory, releasing just one itty bitty photon along the way.

That one atom’s journey is repeated tens of hundreds of thousands of millions of times in this little sample, as the sodium just keeps on doing this over and over and over. Result: A yellowish light shining down on any poor passerby trying to get out of the infinite Seattle rain or that one lonely cat that stares at you in the dead of the night.

But now, that is all over. The new light is brighter, and probably safer, but the harshness of it overrules any other observation.  It is definitely providing a better field of vision, but is that what we really need in our lives? Do we need to see the harsh reality outdoors, or would we rather have the soft sodium glow paint the world amber and shield our lives?

This new streetlight may be shining in the dark, but it is casting a shadow in my heart.

What on earth is English and Chemistry doing to me.

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