Category Archives: Christmas Lights

Christmas Day 2019

I hope that everyone had a Christmas Day that was as calm or exciting as they wanted or needed, with as much or as little drama as requested, and that everyone had been good (enough) this year so that Santa brought them what they wanted.

If you didn’t get everything you want, it’s never to early to start planning for next year.

Here’s a short video of our lights turning on:

And a picture of what it looks like after dark:

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, y’all!

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Christmas Eve 2019

It was a new Christmas Eve tradition – Chinese dinner

The tree and presents are ready.

I hope you and your family have a most happy holiday filled with laughter and love, no matter what your celebrations entail.

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Full Of Holiday Cheer Yet?

Someone at the office who will remain nameless (it wasn’t me, really – I wish it had been, it was brilliant) brought in an inflatable, life-sized figure from a popular Christmas movie. It was set up where it stared at me all day. (Brilliant!)

Then I was staying late to get something finished up and came around the corner to find it STILL trying to scare the crap out of me even when deflated.

So, are YOU full of holiday cheer yet?

No? Better get your ass in gear, Bubba, it’s Christmas Eve in twenty minutes!!

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Solstice 2019

Contrary to what the Evangelicals might want you to believe, the solstice really is “the reason for the season.”

It’s the longest night of the year. Our ancestors, whose most advanced technology was that newfangled “fire,” knew what today was. Their lives depended on it. Millennia of hard-won wisdom had taught them when to plant, when to harvest, when to hunt, when to store, all based on the cycles of the stars and the sun.

Orion’s bright these days (well, except for Betelgeuse, but that’s another story), the days are short, the nights are long, and those who didn’t understand the wheres and whys of it all had to have wondered every year if this year might be the year that the days just kept getting shorter and shorter until they disappeared altogether.

But it wasn’t. From here, over the next weeks and months, the days will get longer and warmer and the world will turn green again.

Either as an offering to the unseen, unknowable gods or as a celebration of having made it to the day alive, celebrations centered around the solstice go back to the dawn of time. Myriad tribes, nations, and religions have all appropriated the occasion time after time for their own celebrations (looking at you, Christianity!), mainly to avoid standing out like a sore thumb and getting killed for their beliefs.

Today it’s all about the commercialism and that portly dude with the white beard and red suit, our own appropriation of the time for our own true religion. Well, that and Hallmark Christmas movies. Which might be the next wave of appropriation.

It’s parties, year-end pressure, the pressure to find the perfect gifts, all topped off with maybe a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

And lights. To fight the darkness, even when we lived in caves, we fought off the darkness with light. If the skies couldn’t provide it, we would make our own and light the path for the warmer days to find their way back to us. That tradition carries back right to the strings of lights covering our yard, house, and bushes. I’m not sure that our prehistoric ancestors would have understood the 20,000 tiny, colored LEDs, but they would have appreciated it.

Tomorrow the day will be a little bit longer.


Filed under Astronomy, Christmas Lights

Northern-ish Lights

No aurora in sight, especially this far south, ESPECIALLY with all of these city lights (hey, if it gets to the point where I can see aurora here under these conditions it will probably be a “bad day” – google “Carrington Event”) – but I did put some Christmas lights up on the north side of the property. Does that count?

Along the driveway there are some of those “big bulbs” that are just a little white LED inside a 3″ colored, lightbulb-shaped, plastic shell. The bushes there aren’t much more than knee-high at best, but they look great in this shot from low to the ground. All of those little rose bushes are there in between – maybe I’ll get another set or two of lights in there before we’re done.

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Up On A Ladder Again

It was sunset (nice), ten days before Christmas (coming at us like a freight train), during one of the very, very, VERY few chunks of time per week that I have as discretionary or recreational time, so what am I doing?

Putting up MORE Christmas lights, of course!

Some of these aren’t exactly what I thought I was ordering, but they’re not too bad. I think they’ll grow on me.

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That’s A BIG Ornament!

I got home tonight just in time to put the biggest & brightest ornament up at the peak of the garage roof!

It looks gorgeous up there. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a cent to light up like that!

Perfect placement, right there at the peak!

Wait! Wait! It’s floating away!

It got away from me. Too bad, it looked perfect there.

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Friday Night Lights

Well, the pictures are from last Friday. We didn’t see the moon or any clear sky here for the last couple of days.

After a long day of putting up lights, while I was starting to put ladders and boxes and extension cords and tools away because it was getting dark, I spotted the crescent moon and bright Venus off in the west.

I like my Christmas lights, but it’s tough to compete with the light show in the sky some times.

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What’s Up With ATC Tonight?

As I’ve mentioned, we live pretty much right under the extended centerline for Burbank runway 8, which leads us to have 737’s and the like overhead at about 4,000′ all day long. Since I’m an airplane nut, this is not a problem.

It also means that I’m pretty used to which direction planes are coming from 99.99% of the time. So when I’m busy on the computer but I hear one coming from an odd direction, it makes my ears prick up.

When a second one follows, I pull out FlightAware to see what their flight paths are.

(Image from FlightAware)

That first plane (a United flight) came in from the northwest (not so unusual), then did a big 360° turn over Hidden Hills (pretty unusual) before he got lined up and had just exited stage right toward final approach. (For reference and scale, from our house at the blue dot, the 405 Freeway and Van Nuys airport there are about half way to Burbank.)

The second guy (a Southwest flight), currently over Tampa Avenue, came in a bit more normally from the north over Simi Valley, looped a little wide, but was now on final.

Then the third plane (Alaska Airlines Flight 1150) followed the second plane and made an even bigger 360° out over the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu!

What’s up with Air Traffic Control (ATC) tonight?

Let’s step outside and look toward the southwest and Malibu, shall we?

Yep, there he is!

And, yep! There he goes!

A weather-related issue? Possibly. You can see a storm cell over Topanga State Park to our south. There’s a front moving in and some of the showers were supposed to get severe, but that wasn’t supposed to happen until tomorrow morning.

Spacing? ATC maintains minimum separation between aircraft and if there are a few coming in all at the same time, someone might get told to take the scenic route and linger for a few in order to not crowd anyone else.

Whatever. I got my own personal mini air show! The day got better!

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Fiat Lux 2019

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the first day of the Christmas lights going up. This year is the latest that Thanksgiving can ever be, November 28th, so there’s no time to delay.

After years of putting up massive numbers of lights at our old house, we moved about eighteen months ago into a much smaller place. So last year was a bit of a learning experience. This year, having one Christmas worth of experience, it went a bit better on day one.

While the lights often look like fine spider webs of colored or sparkling luminescence, there’s a blob over the garage door that defies that.

It’s more like a black widow spider web in form rather than one of those gorgeous, symmetric, orb weaver webs. Just a weird blob of lights in a glob or a clot.

Blob. Glob. Clot.

Might have to do something about that.


Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography