It’s an age-old question: how many Ph.D.s does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  I haven’t figured it out yet, so if you have the solution please let me know in the comments.  It’s like this—I’m a short person living in a tall house.  Even while living in apartments I had bought a six-foot ladder and an eight-footer, to reach various things.  A bit of an acrophobe, I tend not to use the latter ladder unless it’s really necessary.  Then the landing light went out.  It’s a dark time of the year and a light over the stairs is really a matter of safety.  The stairs continue up from the landing and this particular ceiling light is eleven feet above the ground.  Given how far I can safely (debatable) climb an eight-foot ladder, I can’t reach the ceiling with what I’ve got.

We had to buy a 28-foot extension ladder to reach the roof.  In its collapsed position it’s 14 feet and requires two people to carry.  I’m not sure we could get it around the corners in the house, and even if we did the math doesn’t work out to fit it in an eleven-foot space with stairs every direction.  I decided to ask YouTube.  The solution there is to buy several two-by-sixes and some heavy-grade plywood and build yourself a temporary platform.  With the pandemic-induced shortages, and therefore price increases, such a platform would cost about $100 to build, and then I’d need to unbuild it after screwing in the light.  Or we could buy another ladder.  Maybe a different house while we’re at it.


The thing about ladders is they come in standard lengths.  Around here, anyway, a ten-footer isn’t an option.  The best bet is a multi-position ladder.  Retail cost somewhere upwards of $150.  To someone afraid of heights it feels like the safest of many less than optimal options.  Apart from perhaps carrying flashlights in the evenings that come so early now.  Still, that raises the specter of cost.  How much does it cost to screw in a 5-dollar (LED, of course, to help the environment) lightbulb?  It seems to be a $100 repair, no matter how you do it.  I could try custom-building my own ten-foot ladder.  Or I could try making some tall friends.  Apparently you can rent ladders as well, but of course we’d need to rent the truck to get it here as well.  Or we could learn to live with a shadowy stair this long winter that’s just getting started.  How many Ph.D.s does it take?  I don’t know, but the answer will be more than one.

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