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jbitzer

A Word to the Wise...

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This topic could have been posted in several of the topic discussions but it seems to be appropriate here.

As many of you may have noticed, I have sold my LOR controller and decided not to go with it this year. This is not to say that I dislike LOR or had any problems with it. In fact, just the opposite. I think LOR is the best product on the market for controlling lights, music with a PC. Dan is always available to help anyone with simple questions to the bizarre. I wanted to share with all of you why I made this decision and hopefully my experience will help everyone not to make the same mistakes I made.

I found PlanetChristmas in December of 2004 and obviously it was too late to do anything for Christmas 2004, my feeling was 'Just wait until next year'. In January Dan had his usual 'After Christmas Sale' which I eagerly purchased a CTB16D and the starter kit.

Over the next several months I planned what I was going to do, and found lights anywhere I could. I bought as many minis as I could get my hands on. I built my controller and tested it.

Once we got into the August-September timeframe, I built 8 mini trees with a lot of help from all of you. I spent hours in front of the computer tapping out songs, looking at the trees going on an off, making corrections. I never thought it would take this amount of time and effort to do a simple light show but I blazed on.

Christmas is coming fast and furious and we have been shopping for the kids and spending gobs of money all over the place. Last week I took an inventory and realized I did not have nearly the amount of extension cords needed. So off to Walmart I went! With shopping basket in hand I went straight to the electrical section and dropped 16 40 foot extension cords ($7.84 a piece) in my basket and proceeded to the checkout line. After they had scanned each one the total came to $125.44 for 16 extension cords.

Now this may not seem unreasonable to most of you, and I knew that this was a large expense of using computer control. But there I stood thinking to myself that these extension cords cost more than all gifts combined for each one of my children. What message does this send to them? "Daddy's extension cords are more important that me?" They never said that but basically that what I was saying to them in the example I was living.

Then what came to mind was the true cost of putting on the light show. All the time I spend in seclusion trying to get things just perfect. All the time having my wife and 2 kids spend time without me while I was immersed in getting it all together. It was then when I made this decision that I was addicted to getting the lights perfect and was not spending any quality time with my family. I decided that LOR can wait. My family is more important than this. I will someday go back to LOR but at a time when I can balance my family and the lights more affectively.

I shared this with you because I don't want to see any of you falling into the same trap I did (especially all the newbies). We can get overzealous when it comes to lights, which is not necessarily a bad thing. When our excitement and drive for more lights and more power and more _____ (fill in the blank) stands in the way and becomes more important than your family, wife, husband, kids, friends, etc. Then you need to take a step back and evaluate if this is for you.

This year I am going back and doing a simple display with what I have and what I have already purchased. I may not be the best looking house on the block or have exciting animation, but I can live with the fact that I have made the right decision and put my family first.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Jeff,

Bless you for your decision to put your family first! There will be a time, maybe when your kids get a little older, when all the work involved with LOR and animated lighting will be "together" time for you andyour kids. That day will come soon enough. Until then, it's good to hear that you won't be missing the moments in between. I know you will be richly rewarded for it.

Martha K

Edison Christmas

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All I can say is,

God knows you heart and actions, and he is probably looking down on you with a huge smile. I am very happy to see that your greedyness for the best didn't take over what you knew what was right at the time. I actually had to do the same thing this year. I really wanted to be on LOR this year but just didn't want to stretch us just for a light show. So I came to the conclusion to slowly work into it. I should be on LOR next year but I have already purchased a bunch of extension cords so that will help offset the cost for next season.

But may God bless you, and I know he provide a very Merry Christmas for you and your family.

JR

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I know the feeling.. Atleast though with LOR you can put the boxes near your display items so there is really no need to run out and buy extension cords unless you are putting your box inside the garage or something. Anywho I do not think I am going to do any after Christmas shopping this year. Atleast not near as much as usual. 1) I am in the real world now and have house payments and 2) I got stuff from three years ago still new in the box because have not had time to put it out. So I got more than I need now. I continue to collect blowmolds as that is something stores hardly carry anymore. No inflatables out there I really want and I got about 20 that I have not even put out of those this year. I got about 4 LOR boards that I have not used in two years since I bought them. I just haven't had the time to build the boxes. So glad you made the right decisions. It is tough but I am trying to also. Spent way too much on Ebay this year and maybe next year just do the reverse and sell sell sell.

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Another understanding decorator here.

Most of our display was created when we were DINKs (dual income-no kids)-- plenty of free time and a whole extra income to have fun with. Even then, I was finding myself shopping the sales less because I wasn't sure what I would do with tons more stuff. I have no dreams or desires of ever having a 100,000 light display -- we're at 35K now and it will probably be slow growth from now on out. As for time and money, if it gets spread out throughout the year, it isn't nearly as bad. Sequencing can be done in June after the kids go to bed, for example...

After Christmas this year, I'm hoping to snag some LED's, and a few specific types of lights for replacement. Other than that, I probably won't snag anything unless it's 75% off or greater, and even then I'm going to use a lot of restraint. Like Brad, I have stuff in storage (including 32 LOR channels and some really cool display items) that I still need to deploy.

I respect your decision and your family will be better off for it. If you ever choose to do a bigger display, though, just know there's ways to do it without sacrificing too much family time.

-Tim

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tfischer wrote:

Another understanding decorator here.

Most of our display was created when we were DINKs (dual income-no kids)-- plenty of free time and a whole extra income to have fun with. Even then, I was finding myself shopping the sales less because I wasn't sure what I would do with tons more stuff. I have no dreams or desires of ever having a 100,000 light display -- we're at 35K now and it will probably be slow growth from now on out. As for time and money, if it gets spread out throughout the year, it isn't nearly as bad. Sequencing can be done in June after the kids go to bed, for example...

After Christmas this year, I'm hoping to snag some LED's, and a few specific types of lights for replacement. Other than that, I probably won't snag anything unless it's 75% off or greater, and even then I'm going to use a lot of restraint. Like Brad, I have stuff in storage (including 32 LOR channels and some really cool display items) that I still need to deploy.

I respect your decision and your family will be better off for it. If you ever choose to do a bigger display, though, just know there's ways to do it without sacrificing too much family time.

-Tim

I am actually looking forward to this next year when I start to make my Nativity Set. That may sound odd, but I have two boys a 4 and 5 year old. I look forward to being able to create a display as a family. Whenever I am doing something constructive they always have to be there by my side. So I guess doing a Christmas display doesn't have to take away from family time. But yes there does have to be a balance, don't want to burn me or the family out on only doing Christmas stuff. Because that is what it will become, just stuff. What good is a display to promote Christ if you loose your family over it.

JR

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Good luck, and I def understand the decision. Just to look at it from another side of things though you can have a great lightshow WITHOUT spending ALOT of money, and also without taking away from family time. As far as the cost my major cost is just 1 LOR controller. I use extension cords that I have SLOWLY added every year. Alot of my sequences are old ones, borrowed ones, and a new one here and there. This hobby can def take over your life, but just like anything you have to keep it in check. I will prob NEVER hit over 100,000 lights because it would just not be fun for me to do THAT much work. Many of the displays around here have 10,000-20,000-30,000 lights and look FANTASTIC. As the old saying goes it is not how many lights you have, but how you use them(family friendly version:])

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Thank you everyone for your overwhelming support! I posted this so anyone who is in danger of making the same mistake Idid can recognize the warning signs. Luckily I did not lose my family over this and to my knowledge there wasn't a packed suitcase somewhere.

One of the best thing about making mistakes (and we are all going to make them) is how we learn from them.

I have absolutely no regrets about my decision. I know it was the right one.

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I def support your decision! I would rather you kept the L-O-Rs, and did a scaled

down project! Thanks for putting family first!

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Guest

You know I understand what you are saying. However, it all becomes a time management issue. A money management issue.

As far as time my children are now older. Son is 17 an busy with is studies. Daughter is 13 and studies most nights as well. Wife is a speech pathologist with the local school board and has paperwork plus we all help when needed with the studies.

I have a unique abilitiy to operate for days and weeks with little sleep. My average nights sleep throughout the year is about 4.5 hours. I work outside all day in a fast paced enviroment that requires work to be accomplished in a timely fashion.

Concerning time. I grab an hour when I can. I involve my family in the Christmas decisions and make them a part of the planning. My daughter goes to bed around 10-11 and son is a nightowl with studies. So I will work on LOR from maybe 10-12. As a result all of my sequences were finished in July.

As far as the money goes it is a good little bit for sure. There is no question and I understand different situations. Having said that the spending requires planning. For instance one extension cord per month would have been easier than 16 all at once and at full retail price. I generally make my own and save dollars that way. I have gone to yard sales and bought cords. I knew from the beginning that cords are very big part of any display let alone an LOR display. Of course the other thing is that an 8 channel may have been the way to go for a first purchase.

The point is that in order to do any type of display, LOR or static there must be budgeting. You must budget your time, your money, and other items.

Please do not misunderstand this response. I just want all newbies to understand that doing and LOR or any major display is not something you start on in August. You start on it now. You purchase items for the next three months. Plan and build for the six. If you had followed my posts and others you would see new finds and builds in Feb.-June or so. We do this to budget our time and money.

As I said on my web site one of the reasons I do my display is so my children can see the results of long hard work and sacrifice. After I am dead and gone they will never look at Christmas lights without remembering the love he tried to spread through his lights.

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Im Sorry to hear that your LOR didnt get deployed this year. Its a true inspiration when someone realises themselves that a project or hobby is getting in the way of family life. Lights will be around for a very long time but your kid ages every year dont miss out on these years!

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Jeff, I would not abandon it all together. Remember most here stated small and built on their displays over the years.

Yes it does get costly, and it does take time setting everything up, not to mention the hours synchronizing the music.

Remember, it is a hobby, at least that is what I call it. You could spend hours on other hobbies and not realize it.

My other hobbies include maintaining a saltwater reef tank, and HO trains I build with my son.

I actually even have my kids help with my display. Running wires, straightening out lights, and also with the music!

Make it fun - not a task. I actually start in August to test my circuits, and rounding up new music for the new year.

My dead line this year was to have everything on by the 12/3 - and it went off without a hitch! Now, I'm bored...I don't want to start making a new sequence for songs the rest of the year, because it would tie up most of my time.

Next year - set yourself a schedule on what it is you want to have done.

It is actually fun.

I see your in Cherry Hill, I'm not that far from you.

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John I completely agree! I have had many replies with great suggestions and how to pace yourselves. My main problem was poor planning and lack of inspiration.

November was a bad month for me as I had too many projects on my plate and with the holidays I really didn't have time for all the work involved.

I am taking everyone's advice for next year. Pace myself - buy things slowly over the course of the year or many years.. By maybe next year or the year after I will have built myself the knowledge and equipment necessary to have the tools I need for a beautiful display.

I didn't follow Chuck's advice 'Crawl, walk, run'. I was trying to fly without learning how to crawl.

Maybe after the holidays we can get some NJ folks together and a small mini.

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Jeff,

Your realization at the register is part of the reason I posted the how much I spent in 2005 shopping list in another thread. Little expenses add up real quick in any hobby and I wanted to warn some of our newbies what they might experience for themselves.

I will check for the thing you asked me about as soon as I get home! Note pinned to my shirt like I am in elementary school!

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Jeff,

Not only do I commend you for realizing what is important in life (family) but I want to thank you for reminding those of us that may realize (I got a very late start this season with LOR because I would NOT invest until the extra funds were REALLY available) but I for one still appreciated the heads up.

I am actually hoping to get my display going THIS weekend, with our rough weather the past few weeks AND making time and keeping family commitments as top priority. My wife even commented yesterday that "you have done a lot of work to only have them up for a couple of weeks" and she has mentioned a few times the past few weeks "Aren't you going to work on the lights?" when I have decided spending my time with her and my daughters was more important at that moment.

I thought of your posting last night as I was bundling lights to prepare to deploy them on Saturday and my 5 year old daughter asked what I was doing and I stopped and explained to her I was getting christmas lights ready for outside. She smiled and then asked if I would read the book that she had in her hands to her (Cinderella).

It was at that moment I remembered that what it is all about is making memories....

I said "Sure I will!"

I stopped what I was doing... sit down and let her climb up in my lap and we read her book together and then talked and played the rest of the night until it was bedtime....

I am a lighting fanatic now....

But I was and always will be a father and a husband first!

Thank you again Jeff for helping ALL of us keep things in proper perspective!:)

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