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- Wednesday, Aug. 02, 2006

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- Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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- Friday, April 21, 2006

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- Thursday, April 20, 2006

Music of the moment
- Wednesday, March 1, 2006



101 in 1001
American Road Trip, 1998


Dancing Brave
Fugging It Up
Kitty Sandwich
Mister Zero
Sideways Rain


My crew
Our host

2000-12-02 - 02:59:51

"No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights"

Like Clark Griswold in "Christmas Vacation," I had a vision this year for how I would decorate the house for Christmas.

OK, maybe not to quite the same extent. But I had a picture in my head. I planned on using the little indoor/outdoor white lights to span the archways of the front porch, as has been the custom for years. And having found two sets of green lights and one of red, I planned on using the red to frame the front door, and the green to circle the two windows flanking the front door.

So today I dressed warmly for the cold day, put on my headphones to listen to a tape of Christmas music, and gathered up the lights, step ladder and staple gun and went out onto the front porch to deck the halls and all that stuff. I put up the white lights first, outlining all the arches of the porch, then used an extra strand to wrap the bannisters of the front steps leading up to the porch. That done, I tested the green and red sets to make sure they still worked, since I haven't used them since I bought them in college, a few years ago. They worked fine.

So I went about measuring out the sets, sure to arrange them so that the appropriate ends were where they needed to be so that one green set plugged into the red set, which plugged into the other green set, which completed the circuit by connecting to the extension cord that runs from the back, where the outlet is.

I then proceeded to staple these final lights to the outline of the door and windows, and when finished, plugged them in to see how it all looked in the midafternoon light.


Only there were a few red bulbs out here and there, four in particular that were paired off near the top of the door. But, since I had more lights than needed for this particular door, I had doubled the ends of the strand back at the bottom of the door, so that a few lights were coupled together. No problem: I just removed the four burnt out bulbs one-by-one and exchanged them with a working one plucked from below.

Until I got to the last one. I removed the final dark bulb, which cut the entire strand, as had each of the previous three. Then I plucked a working bulb and replaced each one into the opposite socket.

Only the lights did not come on again when I placed the final bulb back into the socket. The two green strands were still lit, but not the red one in the middle. I sat there for 15 minutes, crouched on the porch, checking each of the 15 bulbs in the section I had just swapped two lights to see if there was one in particular that was loose. But by the time I finished that, I had forgotten which two exactly were those which I had just exchanged. So I couldn't even switch them back to see if that had any affect.

I was so frustrated, I stamped my feet on the porch and whined as if I were 8. Nothing worked. I removed each of the 15 bulbs near where I had switched those last two, and replaced each one after checking the metal tips. Nothing. I jiggled them, fondled them, caressed them, told them they looked pretty, that they weren't fat, but nothing I did got them to light up again.

But maybe that was the plan all along. Maybe that is really what GE and all those Christmas light companies have in mind when they manufacture these sets. "Guaranteed to remain lit when one bulb goes out," they all promise. "For indoor/outdoor use." So many promises. But I have a feeling they make these things in such a way that if they remain dormant for, oh, 10 or 11 months, they lose 90% of their so-called reliability. That's why they come relatively cheap, even moreso after Christmas has passed.

Because they are cheap.

And they're going to win again, because I'm set on this display this year, and I'm going out to Sears tomorrow to pick up another strand of red lights, just to put around the front door and complete my vision.

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