Category Archives: Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights 2022 – Stupid Smart iPhone

The iPhone giveth and the iPhone taketh away!

With an older smart phone there wasn’t as much logic in the phone, not as much computational wizardry on call with every photo, so if, for example, you took a picture of Christmas lights at night and moved the phone during a longer exposure of several seconds, you could get some interesting light trails. If you wanted nice, pinpoint lights with perfect Normal Rockwell focus, you needed a tripod or a miracle.

Now, with the camera smarter than you are, if you wiggle during that five or ten second low light photograph, the camera will turn it into dozens of much shorter, sharper, in-focus pictures and then align the bits and integrate and stack it all, giving you pinpoint lights.

But if you should WANT to get blurs and trails and foggy focus and something that might be more fun, more different, more froo froo, more artsy fartsy? That’s a problem, since you’re not in control any more and you can’t override most of those settings. So it might take a dozen or two photos before you get anything like the effect you want.

It occurs to me that, while I love and use the crap out of my iPhone 13 Pro Max and am yet disappointed with this facet of its design, I do still have my iPhone 8 and my iPhone 6 which may not have SIM cards to turn them back into phones, but they’re still perfectly functional as cameras. Most importantly, stupider cameras. It might be necessary to pull them out and charge them up for some ‘sperimentin!

In addition, while the world may be moving toward little bots and devices with “FULL AUTO MODE!” everything, the DSLR world, while containing modes in which the smart camera does most of the work, still has “off” switches for almost every one of those modes. More ‘sperimentin!

For tonight, enjoy a couple of quick shots of the lights on the rose bushes next to the driveway.

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A Wall Of Green

While putting up Christmas lights on Saturday I had the most odd visual experience. In order to run an extension cord from the garage roof across a sidewalk and over to the tall, thin, Italian cypress trees that line the yard, I was right up against the trees, reaching in for the extension cord that I was threading down through the branches.

I looked up…

…and my perspective switched 90º, gravity be damned. I would have sworn that I was floating or hovering two inches above a horizontal bed of kelp or some sort of sea grass, looking off above it into the ocean – not looking straight up, vertically, at the sky above the wall of tree branches.

Even just looking at this picture my brain snaps back to that other viewpoint, like one of those optical illusions where you can either see an old woman with a huge nose or a young girl with a scarf.

Maybe I’m just having a nervous breakdown. It would explain so much…

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Christmas Lights 2022 – Second Light

Another busy day with the lights – probably at about 80% to 90% of what I would like to do at this point.

I’ve got three places where I would like to get a set of lights up, and another two or three spots where I can add another set to fill in, if I can find working sets of lights.

We’ll see. At this point part of the problem is that a lot of the light sets I have are years and years old and they’re starting to fail, with 1/3 or 2/3 or 1/4 of the sets being out. I won’t put those up, but I can’t quite figure out how to repair them, either.

There are little gizmos out there that are supposed to help you identify where in a light set it’s broken so that you can repair that part – I’ve never been able to get them to work. For now, if I can get a couple of sets, great. If not, well, at a certain point, good enough is good enough. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. It’s already better than I did last year, so a couple more quick sets and I’ll be fine if that’s all we get done this year.

Outside.

Then we have the inside decorations and the tree.

And the cards.

I do love the holiday traditions!

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Christmas Lights 2022 – First Light

The Younger Daughter was nice enough to come over today, as she is wont to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving, to help with the first round of Christmas lights and we got a lot done.

We got probably half of them up – still need the lights over the garage, the icicle lights along the gutters, the lights along the driveway and in the rose bushes, the lights at the end of the house in the hibiscus bushes.

But, as always, a lot of the first day is also spent running extension cords and setting up timers, so all in all it was an excellent day.

And, as always, it was way too much lifting, twisting, carrying, climbing of ladders, and so on, so my stumpy, slightly chubby, desk-ridden, sendentary body is twitching and cramping tonight. Ah, the things we do for our art!

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Routine

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found that there are more and more routines, daily or regularly scheduled activities that define the days and get done the things that need to get done, while also sucking up time and smothering the creativity and joy in life.

It’s a conundrum, a balance that is leaving me both confused and comforted. Lots of yin and yang, opposites that define each other.

Some are fairly important. Medications, for instance. As you get old and start falling apart (ask me how I know!) there are more and more meds that get taken in the morning, or at meals, or in the evening. They’re important (and in some cases critical) for controlling or preventing some serious conditions such as heart problems, diabetes, cholesterol, and so on.

Some are less important. Yeah, buying groceries every Sunday morning is routine (adverb) and a routine (noun) but will the world end if it gets put off until Monday, or even later, or pushed to Saturday if the Chiefs are playing the early game on Sunday. Hardly.

One of the things I find a bit exhausting is finding the balance every day with the routines vs. spontenaity. The big joker in the deck is “work,” a routine which can really harsh spontenaity’s mellow big time. But let’s not forget how even “fun” stuff can get to be a routine.

For example, this weekend, right after Thanksgiving, is when the Christmas lights go up. And with so, so many other things on the calendar, that time really, REALLY needs to be used for that if we want to put up lights. There just aren’t a lot of other times. And I *DO* want to get the lights up for the season!

But then there’s the humongous Christmas card list. Last year things piled up and we actually didn’t send out cards for the first time in almost 20 years. And I’ve felt bad about it all year.

So this year getting the cards out, while an annual routine, will be a priority. Which is a long, roundabout way of saying, if you’ve gotten cards in the past and you’ve moved in the last two years, let me know ASAP. And if you haven’t gotten cards but want to get on the humongous list and get one, ditto, let me know ASAP.

It’s all coming at us like a freight train. It does that every year.

It’s routine.

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Countdown To Christmas

The Hallmark Channel on cable has a little promo icon in the lower left corner that’s constantly telling me today that it’s “Three Days to the Countdown to Christmas!

Okay…

Can I start putting up Christmas lights on Friday?

Normally, of course, being a sane and reasonable person (shut up! I heard that!), I wouldn’t start putting up lights until the Friday after Thanksgiving. And normally, if I broke that rule and jumped the gun for some reason, a few of my neighbors might politely inquire what the hell I was thinking.

But, hey! A multi-billion dollar, multinational megacorp says that it’s okay! We’re gonna blow straight by not just Halloween, but Thanksgiving as well! It’s time to start pushing those trees, ornaments, inflatable 12′ skeletons, cards, presents, gift cards, and inedible fruitcakes!

Who am I, a simple pawn in the game of life who happens to have a garage full of Christmas lights, to argue with that kind of authority?

Where’s my ladder?

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No Context For You – January 25th

It’s only eleven months to Christmas!

It’s only ten-ish months until we can put the Christmas lights back up!

I’ve got a feeling that by the time we get there, we’ll have earned the right to a little joy.

On the one hand, WOW! How in hell did it get to be almost the end of January already?

On the other hand – wait, it’s still January? Wasn’t Christmas, like, six, maybe seven months ago?

Or is it just me?

I don’t think it’s just me…

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Last Light – Christmas 2021

As usual, we’re the last house on the block with our Christmas lights still up. There are a couple around the area, but not many. So the time has come.

I don’t know if I’ll actually get the lights down tomorrow, although they come down a lot faster than they go up. But the power needs to be cut tomorrow.

So, here’s last light for this year.

Let’s see what happens in 2022. Ten and a half months from now, will we even be in this house?

If so, I’ve got some ideas on where to add even more lights. Perhaps fewer commitments in 2022 will allow more time to do a more extravagant job.

If not, well, let’s just say that in the great Zillow hunt of 2022, one set of considerations includes how the roofline would look all lit up, how much roofline there is, how many other trees, bushes, and yard structures there are to cover in lights, whether the house is on a street where everyone within ten miles will see the glow on the horizon… You know, the usual things!

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Christmas Lights In The Rain

No Comet Leonard tonight for SoCal. But the lights on the ground are still lovely.

The rush is on to the year end. It’s yet another “Nantucket sleigh ride” as we head toward the event horizon of 2022 and beyond.

Yee-hah!!

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Christmas 2021

I hope it was a wonderful holiday for you and your family if you observe, and a wonderful normal day of the usual 365.25 if you don’t.

It was a little odd for me, the timing of our family celebration last week, the disrupted schedule, the big family event at the football game last week, this morning’s highly anticipated and highly successful rocket launch of JWST, life, life, and more life…

Thank goodness we have electronic devices that can tell us what day and date and time it is at a second’s notice. Even then, it’s been just…disorienting.

But the presents have all been opened, JWST is on her way, and stability, as much as it can be treasured, is probably a bit overrated.

At least, that’s my story. I’m sticking to it.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

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