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A (minor) Christmas miracle December 7, 2007

Posted by brianlatimer in Fun, Home.
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I enjoy putting up our outdoor Christmas decorations every year. I usually do it in late November, or early December – so I have enough time to enjoy them before the holiday itself. And every year, I convince myself I’m going to allocate enough time so that I can actually verify all the lights work before stringing them up on the house.

Of course, I never do: When I eventually do start putting up lights, there’s only a few hours before dark, so I just rush headlong into stringing them up. Then, when lighting them, I get frustrated at how many “gaps” there are in the coverage – sub-sections of strings which remain dark, due to bad bulbs.

This year was much the same: I actually took a day off of work on Dec 3rd (we were planning on going on a trip that weekend, but didn’t end up going), and wanted to spend it working around the house. As always, though, I ended up screwing around until nearly 4 PM, meaning I only had an hour or so left to put up the lights. Grrr.

So, I madly pulled the lights out of storage, and began putting them up – trying desperately to remember the stringing pattern I’ve worked out over the past few years, to avoid overloading any one run, and blowing fuses (yeah, I documented it … somewhere). Once up, I turned them on – to find seven (seven!) sections which were out (out of only fourteen strings total). Since each section has 50 lights in it, that’s around 350 lights I’d need to test to see where the problem was. One-by-one. While they were already hanging on the eaves, requiring a ladder to access. Some of which were affixed to our roof gables, requiring actually climbing on the roof itself to reach them. Double-grrr.

Our neighbor came home as I was finishing, and commented on how much she liked the lights and other decorations I had put up, but pointed out that I had a few sections which weren’t lit – thereby depriving me of any possible way I could feign selective blindness and try to ignore them (sigh).

This was Monday evening, and after evaluating the results on Tuesday evening (Tricia like the work I’d done, so that was nice, at least), I also noticed that one of the timers wasn’t shutting off: It would come on around 5 PM, but never shut off at Midnight – leaving them lit even on Wednesday morning as we left for work. Triple-grrr.

(Aside: “On” at 5 PM? Wow. I really can’t stand it getting dark so “early”, primarily due to the screwed-up schedule we get on because of changes due to that stupid concept we call “Daylight Saving Time” – have I mentioned that?)

I disconnected the timers (again, multiple – due to the need for separate circuits), and figured I’d try to address the myriad problems whenever I had time. Translation: Probably 20 minutes after “never”. Therefore, Thursday morning, I simply re-set each timer, and plugged in all the strings again, hoping the lights would at least come on and shut off at the correct times going forward. I figured I’d find out specifics when returning home that evening.

So, Thursday evening, we returned from work, and evaluated the status. Not only were the lights on (yay!), but all but two of the strings were lit.

I had done nothing to address the problem strings at all. They simply … worked again. 7 problem areas, down to 2? That’s a pretty nice update, IMHO.

Yes, it was probably simply a set of loose connections, which their movement in the wind “fixed”. Do I know for sure they will stay fixed? Nope. But, am I going to question it, and over-analyze the situation?

Not a chance.

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