A 2022 Christmastime Blathering

As the year comes to a close, it is often filled with mixed emotions about my personal evaluation of my performance for the year. Many things were advanced, some things didn’t advance far enough and others may have even regressed a bit but I would say, over all, I am in a better position today than I was at the end of last year.

It’s easy to dwell on the mistakes I made, especially about what I prioritized but very often those things are observed with the benefit of hindsight. I do what I can to take my various decisions, regardless of outcome and learn from it the best that I can.

Some of my great successes of the year has been with finally getting the solar electric system installed. The problem was, the company that installed it went out of business before finishing it. I spent a lot of time finishing it myself which set me back on the other important tasks I had to do but the job is done. The mess left behind on that whole thing is not fully cleaned up and that is still an irritation but I’ll get done. The big takeaway from the process is that I learned quite a lot and I also know so much more about what it takes to design and install a solar electric system. I will, undoubtedly, be applying that information in the future.

With a new year brings new challenges and the opportunity to realign priorities and make some of the outstanding goals that didn’t get done, will be top priority in 2023. The big thing I have to remember for myself is to not dwell on the mistakes but rather the various successes and build from that. No matter what, I must count my blessings and be grateful for the good, and really, the not-so-good as there are lessons to be learned from that as well.

Christmas Light Upgrade

The best part about winter is Christmastime. I don’t like the cold or the dark but I do like brightening up my little slice of this world and spreading a bit of Christmas cheer. Although I have programmed four songs to music, three of them are slightly upgraded reruns from last year. Even though I added a flat “pixel tree” to the mix that clocks in at 890 individually addressable RGB lights (2,670 channels), I decided that it wasn’t quite good enough to make a video out of it.

Here is my Christmastime light dance to Candy Cane Lane by Sia. It is such a fun tune I really wanted to do it. I did have a had time “seeing” it initially but with the help of my kids, they gave some suggestions that really helped out. I DO think that my 48-pixel Chromacanes are not big enough anymore, next year… next year.

I am not actually all that happy with my Pixel Tree. It is a great addition to the display but I did make it flat due to time restrictions and my desire to make it out of scrap materials from other projects. The tree part itself is 800 lights which is made up of 16 strands of 50 pixels. The star on top is made up of 90 pixels. On either side of the house I added two faux bushes for my bush lights I used on my previous home. That was another scrap wood construction and I like using them for helping with the swing feel with the light show.

Over the course of the year, the lights around the windows had a failure which required me to pull the right side down, and perform some surgery on it. I ended up removing a bad pixel and soldering in a replacement of like kind. This is to be expected as nothing lasts forever but it seems odd that these lights which are not that old are already having some failures.

Another disappointment for this year was my in ability to integrate the DMX lights that were to be on the interior of the front room. I wanted to use some various flashing of light on the interior to give a kind of additional pop or some “mood” to the sequences as well. That is another next year item.

Overall, I am quite happy with how the display has shaken out. I have many thoughts about what to do next year. I do enjoy this very much but I also know that this is a hobby that has a zero return on investment, outside of spreading a little Christmas cheer for others and driving away some of the darkness of the long winter’s nights.

I have been asked, somewhat frequently, how my light display system works. I would not consider myself an expert… at all… but I really think I need to make it a point to do a “zero to 55” reference guide on getting started with it. Not being an expert, but a good bill of material and step by step guide both written and video form before the next holiday season approaches. The lights on the house, minus the snow flakes, are there all year long celebrating the various month’s holidays. It’s fun and provides just a bit of electric joy to my home. I’d like others to be able to do the same for themselves.

In the wise, wise words of Doctor Emit Brown, “the future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one.” Those are words that, no matter what happens to you, it is incumbent upon you to do the best you can with the cards you have been dealt in life.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and make the new year a good one!

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