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Did you know?
  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.

Eric Adem

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About Eric Adem

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    Thousand Oaks, CA
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  1. I used plastic hardware cloth (like a plastic version of chicken wire), attached the snowflakes using cable ties and hung it from a hook. Simple. It's not anchored at the bottom and I don't think I'll need to but if it starts blowing around I have several options for anchoring it.
  2. Since I don't really do anything for Halloween (too busy setting up for Christmas), I thought I'd share this idea so someone else can try it out. But if you do, please, please post a video! I'm dying to see it in action... So, I thought about mounting an arch in the front yard or any other kind of effect, it doesn't really matter. But somewhere on it, you'd have an extra female plug just sitting there, waiting for something to be plugged in. This would be on a dedicated channel with nothing else plugged into it. And you'd have your sequence set up so that the channel turns on at certain points in the music, and you'd memorize when those points are... Second, you'd have a couple strands of lights hidden under your clothes, up your sleeves, down your pants legs, etc. Nobody would realize it's there because it's all under your clothes. The male plug for all those lights would come to the end of one of your sleeves and would be secured there with a cable tie or whatever. Of course, make sure the lights you use are ones that don't get hot... I wouldn't suggest C9s for this. Finally, when you know you have a bunch of people looking, you calmly walk up to it, pretend you're adjusting something, but you're actually plugging yourself into that extra channel. Then when the right moment comes and the channel starts flickering on and off, jerk your body around like you're getting electrocuted! Fun for the whole family! Anyway, if somebody tries this, please post a video!
  3. Yes, thank you thank you for the idea with the plastic. I hated working with chicken wire and it didn't seem like storing it after December would go very smoothly...
  4. Sure, give me a few days to get a section of the hardware cloth wired up with lights and I'll post some pictures. I just bought a few rolls this morning and haven't started on it yet. It has the same basic holes as chicken wire and can be cut much more easily with regular scissors. The number of holes you cut through is only limited by the length of your scissors and you won't get blisters in the process. So I'll post more photos in a few days.
  5. vkjohnson mentioned using the black plastic hardware cloth and after working with the chicken wire for a bit, I decided to start over with the plastic stuff. The chicken wire was tough to cut. You had to use wire cutters and could only cut one square at a time. So it took forever and I kept scraping myself with the sharp edges. So I seriously recommend the plastic hardware cloth instead. I got it from Home Depot. Good luck!
  6. Hey, I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to keep organized with this crazy hobby of ours? One thing that I do is keep a spreadsheet of all my lights, along with their unit and channel numbers, total channel count, number of white/green/red strands, the status of the effect (design, build, light, mount, etc.). This helped me to have a total number of lights I needed to order this year. I also keep this spreadsheet on Google Drive so I can have access to it when I'm out and standing in line, pumping gas, whatever. Those extra few minutes here and there are helpful... Anyway, let's share some tips on how to stay organized and if you maintain a spreadsheet, what info you keep in it. Eric Adem
  7. Could be painted, sure, but I actually like the reflection of the color off the metal, and paint would diminish that. So I'll stick with it the way it is, but others would probably want to paint to camouflage it. Good idea!
  8. Okay, here are the photos I promised. I just finished wiring up the first section of lights that has two channels, one red and one green. First, the supplies used. Chicken wire, lights and zip ties. The chicken wire was previously measured and cut using wire cutters: One section wired up: A close up of where the lights are attached to the wire using a zip tie: The view from the back once installed on the tree, using bigger zip ties: How it looks during the day. Yep, you can definitely see the wire during the day: Finally, the view at night with both red and green channels turned on: Sure, the photo is only ten feet away or so but I tried taking it from across the street and while it looks good in person, the photo didn't do it justice. Anyway, I'm pleased with the results and in fact, some of the color is reflected off the chicken wire as you can see in the photo, a side effect I didn't expect. So I'll be busy the next few days measuring, cutting, and tying!
  9. I wanted an easy and quick way to test all my units (all 16 plugs on all of my 13 units) that wasn't terribly time consuming and didn't require going back and forth between the units and my computer. So I put together a test sequence that can be used to test every channel on any unit number. Actually it goes up to unit 16, but can easily be modified to accomodate more units with a little copy and paste. Basically it works like this: Connect your unit to your computer or MP3 Director, whichever one you use, and start the sequence running. Then plug a light into channel 1. You will hear my voice saying "unit number 1, 2, 3, etc." and all 16 channels will turn on for a given unit number when that number is spoken, and then they turn off immediately as the next number is spoken. So you can verify that your unit is set to the number that you expect it to be. After I get through the unit numbers, I read off "channel number 1, 2, 3, etc." and the corresponding channel number will turn on for ALL unit numbers. So during the first section, expect the light to turn on when the correct unit number is spoken, and during the second section, expect the light to turn on as its channel number is spoken. And yes, I do count fairly fast so the whole process goes by quickly. You have enough time after the channel number is spoken to unplug the light and plug it into the next channel number. This saved me a lot of time, and honestly, I used to not even test my units at the start of each season because it was too much of a hassle. I hope this can benefit somebody out there! I've attached a zip file with the sequence and my annoying counting. You may have to move the mp3 to wherever your default audio folder is. test sequence.zip
  10. Also, another point concerning wiring up the lights: If you're doing multiple colors, connect them to the chicken wire at the same time so you can share the zip ties between them and use only half / third / whatever as many. And don't over-tighten the zip ties. The only need to secure the light to a certain point on the chicken wire and you want to leave enough room to get a pair of wire cutters in there later on, if you want to swap out a strand. Also, label your plugs with color coding labels so even the process of plugging everything in is much easier! I found these 1/4" diameter color coding dots for only $2.38 for a box of 450 (that's per color). And they have red, green, blue and white, as well as other colors. http://linton.stores.yahoo.net/1dipeaddibox.html
  11. I love the idea of using the plastic hardware cloth instead of metal chicken wire. I assume that's probably available in different colors too, so you can match the color of your tree, column, etc. I've already started building mine so I'll stick with the chicken wire for now. I'll try to get those photos posted in the next few days!
  12. Just wanted to share an idea I'm trying out for the first time this year. I wrap my palm trees, porch columns and balcony columns with lights and they're divided into several colors and several vertical positions (5 for the palms, 3 for the columns). Every year I get up on a ladder and hand-wrap everything, and it can be very tedious and I tend to procrastinate about doing it. Also, taking it down at the end of the season, I always wind up with a big ball of lights that gets thrown into a box because by that point, I don't want to put any time into it. So, I figured out an easier solution. I'm cutting chicken wire into rectangular pieces that have a height matching the height of an individual section of the lights and a width equal to the circumference of whatever I'm wrapping the lights around. Then I lie it flat on the ground and attach the lights in a zig-zag pattern using the cheapest zip ties I can find. Then when it comes time to put the lights up in November, I just wrap it around the tree, tie it in the back with a zip tie (at the top and bottom), and do something to keep it from sliding down, which depends on what you're wrapping it around (tree, wood column, etc.). Also, when you wrap things the manual way (without chicken wire), you actually waste the back 25% of the lights because nobody can see that from the street anyway (although you can see it from inside your house). Attaching it to chicken wire makes it much easier to budget your lights and make sure that you're only attaching it to the part of the chicken wire that will be visible from the street. Also, this technique facilitates being able to add things later likes strobes, etc. If anyone wants to see photos, let me know and I'll be happy to do that...
  13. We raise money for Make-a-Wish and we got a simple money box from Home Depot, the kind with a flap you lift up and you can drop money in, but you can only get the money out by unlocking the lower part with a key. I make sure to empty it every night and I even check it a few times during the day just in case someone comes by then. It's mounted on a simple stand I made out of PVC and has some lights wrapped around it. Twice throughout the song list I have a message telling people about the donation box, and right at that moment the lights on the box start flashing. If you have an extra channel to spare, it's definitely worth it and we've done pretty well for Make-a-Wish the last few years. Good luck! Eric Adem www.NewburyParkChristmas.com
  14. I built firework lights out of coroplast and minis. They turned out really nice and use only 4 channels each. I originally had them mounted on the roof, but due to high winds in our area I had to bring them down and use them on our front porch. Sort of defeats the purpose of them being fireworks, but still... I'm going to re-build them this year using chicken wire so the wind goes right through, unlike the solid coroplast. Let me know if you guys are interested in photos, instructions, etc.
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