AND WE HAVE A WINNER: I’ve been testing out compact fluorescent bulbs in my house, with not very good results even though I started with high-end, expensive bulbs. But my latest test involved the G.E. “soft white fluorescent 75,” which is fairly cheap. I test these in a fixture over my kitchen table — it’s a pretty severe test because the light shines straight down onto a table with a white tile top, with no shade, etc., to soften it or improve the color. Most bulbs look bad there, but the G.E. bulb looked great — the Insta-Wife, who’s even pickier about light quality than me, couldn’t tell the difference. Actually, switching back to the 60 watt clear incandescent that’s usually in the fixture, you could tell that the fluorescent bulb, despite its claim to be as bright as a 75 watt incandescent, isn’t really quite as bright as the 60. But it’s a minor difference, and the quality of the light is good: warm and natural. By contrast, a Sylvania “soft white 100” that I bought at the same time is absolutely ghastly. I don’t know what makes the difference, but it’s quite dramatic. Anyway, I’m going to start replacing bulbs around the house with the G.E., because it looks fine.

UPDATE: Various people ask where I got these: I bought mine at Target. Reader Nicholas White says they’re available on Amazon — I bought a four-pack, but these look to be the same. And reader Matt Fisher emails: “I went to Sam’s club last week and bout 2 five packs of GE soft white 100 CFL’s and think they are great. Plus they are only a little more than $2.00 a bulb.” Now that I know where to look, I found those on Amazon, too.