M. Giant's
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Thursday, December 05, 2002  

First of all, a big shout-out to my coworker T. Rex who did me a big favor today that saved me from being stranded at the office. I’d tell you the whole story, but it’s embarrassing to me.


Ha! Hee, hee! Sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face there. I’ll try again: I’d tell you the whole story, but it’s boring.


Wouldn’t want to be boring.

…Bwah ha ha!

Okay, moving along.

* * *

I strung the Christmas lights on our house last night. When we got back from our weekend in Wisconsin, we noticed that pretty much everyone who was going to light their houses lit them while we were gone. I can understand why some people might think Thanksgiving weekend is the ideal time to take care of this task. You have a couple of days off and four full hours of daylight. Personally, I don’t see it. Hanging lights in the dark is the way to go. I’m not just hanging decorations; I’m painting pictures with a palette of light, and the darkness is my canvas. You might just as well ask me to write these entries in lemon juice so I don’t know what I’ve said until I hold it up to a candle flame.

(Those of you who think that’s what I do already can shut up.)

Also, all of our weekends are been full between this past Labor Day and the next Winter Olympics. And since I work until 5:00 on weekdays, roughly three hours after sunset this time of year, this close to the Arctic Circle, I was stuck.

So there I was last night, in full dark and nine-degree Fahrenheit (-13 Celsius) weather, scrambling up and down ladders and using gutter clips, a staple gun, and duct tape to try to affix lengths of wire that had frozen to the consistency of raw vermicelli. I alternated between working with gloves that reduced my manual dexterity to that of seaweed, and with my fingers exposed to cold that reduced my manual dexterity to that of algae. My digits became nerveless stumps. How nerveless? When I came inside and reached into the refrigerator, my hands warmed up. When I accidentally brushed two exposed contacts on a broken bulb, I saw the rest of the string light up; I saw the spark coursing across my flesh; I heard the nasty buzz; I felt nothing. My hands were less responsive to galvanic stimuli than those of a freaking cadaver, okay?

But I got it done. It’s not quite up to my normal standards of Griswoldian excess—Trash didn’t want me scrambling around in the dark on that 75-degree-sloped skating rink we call a roof—but there are over a thousand tiny bulbs illuminating our front yard. And it only took me two hours.

That’s primarily because I streamlined the light testing and fixing process that gets so time-consuming. You know the drill: plug in the string, get nothing (or worse yet, get half the string lit), spend a half hour going along the length of the string looking for the bum bulb, fail to find the bum bulb, start unplugging each bulb one at a time and replacing it with one you know works, find one bum bulb but still have a half-dark string, check the fuse, change the fuse, drop the fuse, find the fuse, go through the string again until everything’s lit or the string is in the trash. I skipped a couple of steps last night; namely, everything between “get nothing” and “trash.” Electrical diagnostics seem so unimportant when a string of Christmas lights is cheaper than a Big Mac and one is rapidly turning into a Jack London protagonist two feet from one’s own front door. Life is short, and so became the flow chart: Lights? Up it goes. No lights? To the trash. Half the lights? Into the bushes.

What? The duds will be invisible at night, and during the day, nobody will know any better. Aside from the people I just told, that is, but if you’re all driving past my house every day then the dim bulbs I stuck in the bushes aren’t the ones I need to worry about.

The main thing is that the task is done, the house looks pretty when the lights are plugged in, and I have a lot fewer strings to reel up when it’s time for them to come down.

Of course, I won’t be in such a hurry to get back inside when it’s late May, but still.

posted by M. Giant 3:40 PM 0 comments


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