by Gary Torres
Okay, I am feeling close to you so I am going to open up here. We...”the too kind and loving wife and myself” have been fighting some.
It is the same old problem that men and women have been fighting over ever since that pesky little star appeared over a humble stable in Bethlehem. It is time we all admit that putting up Christmas lights on the exterior of our house is pretty darn silly.
First, I am not in the Christmas spirit just yet. It’s not even Halloween; Thanksgiving is a month away and I still have to help with one more wedding. When I say help; I mean, pay for. My opinion, thoughts, or views are not wanted, needed or even taken seriously.
Honestly, the old neighborhood voted me off the island because I wouldn’t put up Christmas lights. I don’t know if this new neighborhood has a Christmas light committee; probably not, as they are not that organized.
I doubt that my new neighbor, Bubba, can hang Christmas lights; maybe the sweet little missus will; but she does have five little kids and for the most part just treads water every day. Bubba might swing a golf club with tolerable consistency; but doesn’t swing a hammer or look like a guy that is nimble enough to climb a ladder and hook up lights. I can easily see him buying one of those display-like-globes with elves and reindeer with fake snow and an annoying song. And letting him loose with anything electrical might even cause Empire to panic.
I have been the hold out on the Christmas light decoration thing my entire life. My kids complain, my wife complains, Turbo complains. There have been a few times after getting sufficiently threatened (and the court order helped bring the gravity of the situation to my attention) I found the Christmas spirit and broke down and put up lights.
Of course if I am going to put up lights they have to be done my way (my too kind and loving wife quips, “Like there could be any other way?”).
Being an engineer makes me just a little too sure of my ability to do anything and everything. This “maverick” attitude has served me well many times; but also cost me lots of time and money trying to do things I had no business ever attempting. I think the worst thing I ever tried was the Do-It-Yourself Braces-for-Kids. But, if it would have worked, I could have saved thousands.
There are a few lessons I have learned hanging lights in years past that I should pass on. Just like a NASA operation, it is better to ground check everything first. Meticulously lay out the 20 miles of lights on the road while checking each connection, each light and plug.
Anticipate the added electrical needs that plugging in a billion lights will require. I don’t’ believe that anyone will notice the little problem of causing a brown out in the neighborhood when you replace the breaker with a copper penny. Eventually, the lights will flicker back on. These kind of set backs are to be expected on a mission as complex as a lunar landing.
Delay things as long as possible. Be a procrastinator, the joy of waiting equals the hassle it will cause later. Besides, you will have to climb a ladder... up, up, up... forty stories and hang by one hand while your wife directs things safely from on the ground. And soon you will be partially perched on a precarious ledge, touching an aluminum ladder, in a pool of water holding an electrical cord that is sparking connected to a line with a copper penny as a breaker.
Eventually, the lights will be up, when you plug them in and...THEY WON’T WORK! Even if you went through the NASA ground check.
Okay, I am an engineer, I can figure this out. Lets see they worked on the ground... they don’t work when hanging up. I got it. I’ll jiggle the wire. Jiggle. Jiggle. Jiggle. The lights flicker and the breaker goes out again and we get another brown out, but the Christmas lights go on.
Okay, the jiggling thing doesn’t appear to be all that scientific or a permanent fix. So we pull all the lights down and put them on the ground and plug them in. THEY WORK! I hang them back up...THEY DON’T WORK! Pull them down... WORK...put them up... DON”T WORK!
Okay, after swearing, start pulling out those little tiny Christmas lights one at a time. Since these are the icicle type lights, and there is roughly 20 miles of lights, and there are 15 lights per hecta-acre times the square root of your age; I calculate that there are roughly a billion lights and I should be done testing them by... say July.
Why is it that we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a Christmas light that works for more than a minute? And why didn’t Miss Alaska or Obama talk about this important issue. They would have gotten my vote.
“If elected to office, I will redirect NASA to work on Christmas lights.” But NOOO, instead one light goes out and the entire string doesn’t work. You can imagine if the Christmas light people were in charge of making cars, if the lock on the door doesn’t work... the entire car won’t start.
If the light in the glove compartment goes out so does the engine. So if you are out driving by in JULY come see my lights they should be working by then. Of course if you want to see Bubba’s globe, come by anytime… July would be fine also as I’ll bet it’ll still be up.