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Christmas Cheer

Christmas Lighting in Abundance 210

gral writes "My boss really gets into setting up Christmas lights. He has been interviewed by a couple TV stations, because of his displays. He usually has them setup at his house. This year he has moved to a Church Yard for more space. For 2003, his display sports over 200,000 lights, each string is controlled by computer to light to the tune of a Radio Station playing christmas music. Check out his website at Planet Christmas. Some pictures of this year's display can be seen as well. Have fun and Happy Holidays."
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Christmas Lighting in Abundance

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  • Yep (Score:5, Funny)

    by pheared ( 446683 ) <> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:01PM (#7780025) Homepage
    Further proof that Management is useless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:03PM (#7780033)
    Sorry, forgot this in the writeup, but there are some Gentoo packages out for lighting for your Christmas trees and houses.

    Check out [] for more details.

    You may need a 3D card to view demos though.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:03PM (#7780034)
    I highly doubt that you will get anymore money out of him. Your Xmas bonus is going to more lights and your co-workers are going to start calling you Rudolph the Brown-nosed reindeer.
  • Last year... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anaphora ( 680342 ) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:03PM (#7780035) Journal
    I had a friend who did something like this. He hooked 8000 (yes, eight thousand) lights up and made one continuous string across the entire yard, then set it up as a chaser. It looked REALLY good.
  • by dapuk ( 603973 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:03PM (#7780042)
    As soon as he finds out that it was you that slashdotted him...
  • Around me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:05PM (#7780052)
    Here is the house [] about 5 minutes from mine which is by far the most decorated house in the area. It is actually some Elvis impersonator, so his display always has an Elvis theme and usually has Elvis music playing. The display requires the police for traffic control, and it's been said that the gentleman has worked out a special agreement with O&R (or maybe PSEG), the local energy company. I haven't been to the house in about 5 years. They say he adds more lights every year, so I have no idea if it still looks like the pictures.
  • Too much TV (Score:5, Funny)

    by rainer_d ( 115765 ) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:07PM (#7780063) Homepage
    I guess, he watched too many episodes of "Home Improvement".

  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:14PM (#7780093)
    Planet Christmas knocked out of orbit by asteroid Slashdot122103

  • the /. effect hits again
  • by Skavookie ( 3659 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:14PM (#7780100)
    Do we really want to encourage this sort of behavior? It may be cool and pretty, but not cool and pretty enough for the resources it consumes (both in electricity and also manufacturing, etc). Not to mention less explicit costs like the impact on traffic, wildlife, neighbors, and stargazers.
    • I don't know, are you our collective intelligence now? :)
    • by Daoenti ( 552606 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @03:03PM (#7780357)
      I agree... What exactly does 200,000 lights have to do with "Christmas" anyway. Call me a grinch, scrooge, (troll, which I know I'm sure I'm getting here), whatever. I fail to see how this type of display really has much to do with the spirit of Christmas.

      And besides, sure this guys display may be nice to look at, as long as you're not the guy that has to live next door to him. Most of us will just look at it and go "Is that really necessary?" Do people really like looking at the house Christmas threw up on?
      • I fail to see how this type of display really has much to do with the spirit of Christmas.
        Don't be dense. You know as well as anyone that lighting displays have been associated with Christmas for more than half a century. This doesn't mean they're a good idea, or a good use of resources (or vice versa), but acting like you don't understand why someone would put up lights as Christmas is just being silly.
      • The lights actually are a carryover from pagan traditions just like the christmas tree. It was a sort of observance that the shortest and darkest day of the year was past and as the days grow longer from there, spring and the warmth of the sun would surely return.

        As for the feast, if you had the resources to have a feast at yule, you had enough to make it to the first harvest, a hopeful sign for sure.

        And besides, sure this guys display may be nice to look at, as long as you're not the guy that has to

    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @04:31PM (#7781086)
      The worst part is that these displays are rarely creative, they're just massively extravagant.

      Where is the guy working on a kick-ass animatronic reindeer or someone setting up a fund to buy decent trees or presents for the needy? They don't get the TV time (or slashdot time) these guys get. Any why? Because an almost obsessive-compulsive attempt to string up as many lights as possible is impressive?

      Not to be a grinch, but I would love to see someone try something new like LEDs instead of incandescent lights. Wire them up to a sequencer or a computer and display messages, graphics, etc. Now that would be geek-worthy.
    • Yet you post this from a device that has dozens of semiconductors made using some of the most toxic manufacturing processes know to man.

      Please improve your own life before you preach to others.
  • And time.
    • ...and money. If he want's to throw away money he should give it to a charity.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        That's not throwing away money. That's buying a product made by a company. The money goes from the company to raw materials businesses, labor, office workers, owners of the company and the gov't, who all, in turn, spend that money on other businesses.

        If the people who spent their money on Christmas lights would not have otherwise spent that money on anything else, it would have actually hurt the economy.
      • by Odin's Raven ( 145278 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @04:17PM (#7780965)
        Genghis9> What a waste of power
        Genghis9> And time.
        skinfitz> ...and money. If he want's to throw away
        skinfitz> money he should give it to a charity.

        I suppose the FAQ [] could've been better written on the monetary point, but if I'm reading it correctly he's expecting the electic bill for the display to be about $156 [1]. Not per day, not per week -- $156 total. This is not a lot of money, nor an outrageous amount of power. An interesting point in the FAQ is that the lights are never all on at the same time, so it's not as extravagent (at least not power-wise :-) as it might appear at first glance.

        Waste of time? The guy does it because he likes doing it. Some folks spend their free time rebuilding old cars, or tinkering with homebrew computer rigs, or smacking around a golfball. Any hobby probably looks like a waste of time to those who aren't interested in it, but if you're having fun doing something then it's not wasted time.

        The "shoulda given the money to charity" point is a slippery slope. The PlayStation in Little Timmy's stocking costs a pretty penny -- should he get his toy when there's starving people in the world? That's a moral question, and different people will have different answers -- and I for one couldn't say which answer it "right". (And just so I don't sound too terribly pompous, I know that I'd keep the PlayStation. :-)

        But isn't there something to be said for giving to your community? By all reports, a whole lot of people come by to see the display. It might not be your cup of tea, but there's many in his area who truly enjoy what he does.

        [1] Total based on the 2003 portion of the FAQ that estimates the cost will increase by $100, combined with the 2002 portion of the FAQ where he estimated the bill at $56.

        BTW, Google cache [] of the PlanetChristmas FAQ, since the original page is Slashdotted right now.

      • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @05:35PM (#7781535) Journal
        If he want's to throw away money he should give it to a charity.
        Preferably a charity dedicated to teaching people how to correctly use the apostrophe.
      • Actually, he's giving to a charity just like the rest of us who have jobs.

        Every paycheck, the government takes a percentage of your hard earned money and gives it to people who are too disinclined to go out and get jobs of their own and conribute to society.

        Yes a percentage of our money does go to help truely needy people. However, there are plenty of people who do not deserve the money and are just here for the free ride.

        If this guy wants to spend his own money putting up and lighting christmas lights,
    • What a waste of power and time.
      Says the guy while posting on /.
    • I'm always surprised when nerd types (which I assume you are if you're posting on Slashdot) have this attitude about anything, since nerds are usually the biggest "waste"rs of time and power.

      Most hobbies consume time and energy without producing anything useful. The point of a hobby is not the end result, but the amount of work and love that was put into it. If the guy loves decorating his house, who are you to say it's a waste of time?
    • Anytime some nerd spends countless hours and thousands of dollars on some useless feat of technology Slashdot goes "oooh" and "ahhhh"

      Some guy spends equally as much time and money on decorating his house in a way that masses of people want to see, you whine about how much time and money it cost.

      Sorry nerd boy, the world doesn't care about the fact you wasted a pile of time and money on getting your C64 on the internet.

      5 people give a shit about your uesless little Linux running toy. Thousands of people
  • I can't imagine wrestling with that many strings of lights trying to find the loose bulbs and replacing the dead ones until they light. I only put up a handful of strings each year but by the end of the the exersise i'm ready to hunt down and kill the bastards that figured it was a good idea to wire christmas lights in series.
    • Wow, you have either really old light sets or really cheap ones. Every string I've bought in the last 5 years or so was in parallel. You may want to consider an upgrade. It's only about $5 a string...
      • Try pulling a bulb and see if it still works (small lights not big ones)
        • by ZxCv ( 6138 ) *
          Try pulling a bulb and see if it still works (small lights not big ones)

          I have several strings of small lights strung all over my house, and I know of a handful of bulbs that don't work, yet everything else is fine. I've even intentionally bought the cheapest light sets for the past 3-4 years, and not a single one has been wired in series. However, my parents did have a couple strings several years ago (~8yrs) that were wired as you say. The cheapo lights I got this year were something like $8 for a bo
  • I mean such a cruelty, slashdot his "christmas" web site just a few day before christmas...
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by lrt512 ( 695689 ) <> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:22PM (#7780140)
    He didn't happen to test those out on August 14th this year, hmm?
  • to get a bigger christmas gratification out of your boss
  • by DeepRedux ( 601768 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:30PM (#7780180)
    Virginia Postrel has an article [] about the booming business of professional Christmas lighting installation. One franchise company installs lights for 300,000 customers each year. The business grew through the recession. Most customers earn over $400K.

    As a source of mass employment, we have moved from agriculture, to manufacturing, and now into aesthetics. It is not that agriculture has disappeared from the US, but it is down to about 3% of the economy.

    • This is a good point. I was talking to my friend the other day who does a lot of heavy consulting for the govt. biotech industry and I asked him something similar: If we've lost past manufaturing jobs to China, automotive jobs to Japan, and now, a lot of programming/IT jobs to India, what is the U.S. to do for now and the future to keep our 'edge' and people employed?

      His response (shortened): We need to focus in invention, innovation, and entertainment. The first two make sense. But entertainment wasn't r
    • Agriculture may employee less then %3 of the workforce but it accounts for a hell of a lot more then that in output. (How much dose the government spend in farm subsidies?) We [ADM] grow more food now then ever before.

      The pro lighting story is interesting (CNN is playing the story in rotation) but I hardly think that aesthetics are going to be the next "Big industry". There has always been cottage industries performing limited-use services for the very rich. These people probably have a skilled craftsmen w
    • I'd say that the amount of money in agriculture just might be the same, but productivity gains have allowed people to branch out, in short, nearly everything else grew faster than ag.

      I'm really not sure if agriculture will be "farmed" out to other countries totally either. I don't think perishable supplies can be cheaply transported either, you'll probably always have milk and egg production near where it is needed simply because the substitutes are unacceptable to too many poeple.
      • in short, nearly everything else grew faster than ag.

        Not really. Agriculture benefits from economies of scale, and improvements in technology have made growing, harvesting and distributing more efficient and profitable. Consequently, less people are required to farm the same amount of land, which frees up people to work in other industries.
  • "For 2003, his display sports over 200,000 lights, each string is controlled by computer to light to the tune of a Radio Station playing christmas music..."

    So what happens when you stop feeding in traditional Christmas stuff and pipe something like Bob Rivers 'Twisted Christmas' [] into it?

    I wonder if it would act anything like a Teddy Ruxpin with a 'Metallica' tape (appropriately encoded [] on the animation data track, of course) installed?
  • by pergamon ( 4359 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:35PM (#7780205) Homepage
    One light goes out, THEY

    --Bob Rivers Comedy Group []
  • They light to to songs playing on a radio station? Do they light to the commercials too?
  • I get it (Score:2, Funny)

    by soccerisgod ( 585710 )
    So that's why they need to build that fusion reactor.
    • In related news... 1/3 of San Francisco without power

      And the power went out just 20 minutes before the end of Return of the King.
      Now I'll never know how it ends!
  • Waste of power? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by $exyNerdie ( 683214 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:44PM (#7780257) Homepage Journal
    Holidays are meant to be enjoyed and celebrated and normal use of lighting etc. is part of the process.

    But 200,000 lights ?? Well, If they are LED's it's okay. I didn't STFS (see the freaking site)because it is slashdotted already but if they are not LED's it is a little waste of power.

    The precious energy that humankind dearly needs sometimes goes waste. Wars have been fought over it and thousands of people wait in lines for fuel/gas etc. So while some might be just burning away that energy in 200,000 lights, others are starved of that energy!

    Pl excuse the typos, grmmer etc, typed it in haste, gotta go shoppin'

    • complain about waste of energy and resources and you gotta go shoppin'
    • Right (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZxCv ( 6138 ) *
      The precious energy that humankind dearly needs sometimes goes waste. Wars have been fought over it and thousands of people wait in lines for fuel/gas etc. So while some might be just burning away that energy in 200,000 lights, others are starved of that energy!

      Yah, because if I don't run my Christmas lights tonight, the energy situation on the other side of the globe is going to improve. Right.
      • Yah, because if I don't run my Christmas lights tonight, the energy situation on the other side of the globe is going to improve. Right.

        No, didn't mean it that way, but moderation is the key... better to have 20,000 or 2,000 lights instead of 200,000. The numbers multiply pretty quick even in a small town of few thousand people.... and wastage is wastage... But for the accident of birth, you could have been in that gas line on the other side of the globe!

  • Repercussions (Score:4, Informative)

    by bezuwork's friend ( 589226 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:49PM (#7780281)
    Well, the National Ornament and Electric Light Christmas Association, Inc. should be proud (yes, there is such an organization).

    Personally, I don't decorate for Christmas or other holidays - it seems too commercial for me. But I enjoy driving around with my family to see what others do.

    However, being somewhat of a geek and in lawschool, I had to search to see if any people like the good boss here were ever sued for being a Public Nusiance. I came up with the following:

    Osborne v. Power (Ark, 1994) - guy ordered to reduce his amount of lights so as to not attract the large numbers of sightseers coming to the neighborhood.

    Rodrigue v. Copeland (La., 1985) - from the case: "Defendant is enjoined from erecting and operating a Christmas exhibition which is calculated to and does attract an unusually large number of visitors to the neighborhood." The court also spent some time arguing that this limitation did not infringe his rights of free speech.

    Klein v. Copeland (La., 1986) - followup suit from the previous - the guy apparently didn't comply.

    • by bdkives1 ( 673414 )

      No, the guy still didn't comply.

      The Copeland mentioned above is Al Copeland. Has anyone ever eaten at a Popeye's Fried Chicken. Al Copeland started Popeye's. []
      He then bought Church's Chicken, and wound up loosing them both. He still owns the company the supplies the spice for Popeye's.

      He also owns the more upscale Copeland's Restaurant, which is actually quite good. []

      And yes, this is the same Al Copeland that had Anne Rice sending out th

    • That Osborne guy is a real character here in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has a light show 365 days a year. His house is prominently located on a very busy street called Cantrell Rd. Right now, he has a gigantic american flag in full red, white and blue, with 50 stars on it, and at the top, it says "GOD BLESS AMERICA AND GEORGE W.". On his daughter's lawn, next door, there is another american flag with an eagle on top. The lights on the wings alternate off and on so it looks like the eagle is flapping it'
      • Hahaha...yeah, always loved driving by there. Was funny that his two neighbors were complaining about the lights and, he bought both their houses...and started putting up lights on them and their yards....
  • nice plan (Score:2, Funny)

    by nsebban ( 513339 )
    I have to admit that posting your boss' website on the slashdot homepage is an easy revenge for whatever he did to you...You must be LOL, seeing his webserver melting down :)
  • Geek Lights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:59PM (#7780332) Journal
    ok how about a string of lights where each was individually controllable - each socket contained a simple switch that would look on a serial data bus for its individual code and switch its light on or off accordingly. To set it up you would drape the lights around randomly and then point a camera at the tree/house/bush etc. A computer would use the camera to calibrate by switching each light one by one and noting the position on the camera until it built up a rough pattern of light positions (this would take anything from seconds to minutes depending). Then you could use the lights as a crude dot-matrix display. The light detection routine wouldn't be that hard to do, and you could even have the lights pulse at a certain frequency to make detection easier for the computer. A step further would be to place the camera more than once to build up a 3D model of light positions. I think there are already mass produced components that can respond when they detect their code on a serial interface, imagine the possibilities given enough lights and cheap production?
  • You Slashdotted your boss' website!
  • PLEASE, stop this. When your boss is using all this power, don't forget that he's using from the resources that's probably non-renewable. Even nuclear power is considered non-renewable!

    We all (EVERYBODY) own the resources at our planet, so even my thoughts should be considered highly when I set my foot down and scream this out to you "YOU F**KIN' LOOSERS USING THE POWER ON SUCH A LAME THING!"
  • I can't belive that you consider this to be cool when we live in a world where global warming is a clear and present danger and conservation of energy and resources is essential.

    This is just a display of total disrespect of the ecology and environment. Only in America.
    • The enviro-hippies have gotten to you.

      Jeez, who cares. It's his money to spend. If he wants to put 200kW of heating elements in his yard so people admire the pretty red glow, that's his perogative; he's the one paying for the power.

      I'm so tired of all this "reduce reuse recycle" propoganda crap. Get over it, people, as long as we drive cars and use our computers we're being hypocrites anyway. If you want to live in the stone age, be my guest but stop dictating what others can and cannot do.

  • Tip of the day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @03:09PM (#7780391) Journal
    each string is controlled by computer to light to the tune of a Radio Station playing christmas music

    Does it come with a tip of the day, too?

    <tip>Christ was born on Christmas day. That's why we have Christmas; not because Wal-Mart wants to sell you something.</tip>

    Merry Christmas to all. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then "happy holidays" to you. But let's not water down the real reason for Christmas with our Ho Ho Ho's and lack of mention of Christ our Saviour.
    • Re:Tip of the day? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Christ was born on some other day, but the wise and venerable from the early christian church decided it would be better to celebrate it over a pagan holiday, so they stole a very popular one, and in doing so smeared out the true meaning of christmas.

      <tip>If you subvert a holiday, don't get upset when it returns to it's true meaning: a celebration to bring joy in dark times, a feast, and the exchanging of gifts</tip>

      Merry Christmas to all. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then "happy holiday
    • The christ wasn't born on Christmas. Christians simply wanted to userp the existing pagan holiday of the people they were trying to convert.
  • They are a presumptuous affectation of those who style themselves too sophisticated to make a strong primal statement using color. Children, who's tastes are uncorrupted, prefer colored Christmas lights.

    Religion is a red herring. The Christmas star was said to be a single star in the sky, not a thousand stars in the shrubbery. The Christmas tree is a pagan custom from Germany, and there are no evergreens in the mid-East!

    The problem of white Christmas Lights originated when the producers of movies and tele
  • What kind of establishment is Slashdot, anyway? They seem to have a persistent track record of linking to stories on sites that are down.
  • by Tim Ward ( 514198 ) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @04:00PM (#7780820) Homepage
    They just don't get it, do they?
  • Than this giant waste of money on equipment and power?
  • Ugh. That's one of those hideous looking warehouse-churches!
  • Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by compwiz ( 21231 )
    Mirror up here [] for those of you who just can't wait.
  • Light Returns? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by annielaurie ( 257735 ) <(annekmadison) (at) (> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @10:05PM (#7783023) Journal
    My first instinct when I saw the website was that it would be wonderful if even half of all that electricity could be used instead to provide light, heat, and cooking to a family whose power has been turned off due to inability to pay. Every year in the city where I live, we have at least one terrible fire caused by a family using candles or an antiquated, non-working kerosene heater. Sadly, it seems that babies or young children are the ones who die in these fires.

    Whether we observe a religion or have a more secular mindset, the season is about light. We may be celebrating the birth of one who brought light, or observing the light of freedom from oppression, or noting the lengthening of days. It's certainly appropriate to decorate our homes or personal spaces. But I think it would make a more joyful and appropriate celebration to see the literal bringing of light to darkened homes and lives.

    • Every year in the city where I live, we have at least one terrible fire caused by a family using candles or an antiquated, non-working kerosene heater.

      I find it strange that my parents and grandparents managed to live for years without any electricity in their homes, yet nowadays we have political figures crying to rid our homes of the life-threatening scourge of the modern era - CANDLES!

      In my humble opinion, people too stupid to safely manage a candle deserve what they get. Darwinism forever - remove

  • would be insanely jealous.

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.