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  • 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.


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About Carsten

  • Rank
  • Birthday 11/29/1965

Profile Information

  • My favorite Christmas story
    Do I have to pick one? Okay, here it is...
    About twenty years ago I put together a lighting display on our house that was music-synchronized. This was before LOR, and I achieved it using X10 controllers for each color for each 'zone'. The programming was arduous using mouse and click tracking software and programming was completely manual, taking dozens of attempts to sync to music, because any screw-up required me to start all over! The capabilities were limited: on, off, fade-in or fade-out. That was all, but it still made the cover of the Ann Arbor News and drew the attention of the manager of the (now defunct) Domino Farms holiday light display. He was extremely interested in how I achieved the effects and offered me the opportunity to come and set something up for them the following year. Alas, work obligations made it impossible for me to accept, so my career in lighting displays never materialized...
  • Location
    Allen Park, MI
  • Biography
    52, married, with a daughter in college
  • Interests
    Model Railroading and Travel
  • Occupation
    Digital Marketing for Ford Dealerships
  • About my display
    16-channel LOR controller, moving up to 32 channels in 2017

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  1. Tom, thanks, that is exactly what I was looking for! - Carsten
  2. Greetings, all! Call me a fanatic, call me crazy, call me Ishmael, whatever. But as I was programming my 9th song for the upcoming Christmas display it occurred to me to look in the forums and see if there was a thread around "how many songs do you sequence?" Sure enough, I found one on PlanetChristmas, and was amazed to find people with 50+ sequences! I can see how it happens- do a half-dozen sequences a year and in nine years you're over fifty sequences... But the question is, how does a visitor to the display get to enjoy their favorite song or sequence? If they had coincidentally been to your display at some other point and watched it, they would have to wait around for it to run. Otherwise they might not even know it existed. That got me thinking. I have built websites for fun, and I bet some of you have websites around your lighting displays. It would be easy to build a website that listed the statistics surrounding your display and maybe even contained a playlist, but has anyone taken the next step, and actually set up a website that shows a list of songs and allows a visitor to select the song they would like to see & hear? The logic would be fairly simple- take the form submission (aka selection) off the website and run a script on your PC depending on the item selected. The part I struggle with is connecting the online component (selection of a song) to the offline component (run the show that is comprised of the one song the visitor has selected). And if you were able to make that happen, how could you 'stage' other songs behind it depending on what else was selected? Just curious if anyone has thoughts around how this could be achieved. Thank you for indulging me in this investigation! Carsten Ramcke Allen Park, MI
  3. Hi everyone, I have admired the white evergreen-type trees (I think they are known commercially as 'Winterberry trees') that are used by several prominent lighting display enthusiasts for their lighting displays (Rich Holdman, for one). I have found them for sale at several of the big box home / hardware stores as well as online, but I only find them with white lights, and yet I see several people with multi-color versions. I'm assuming those of you using them are stringing the lights yourselves, but I can't seem to figure out how you have strung the additional strands without just ending up as a jumble of lights. I think the secret is to string out to each branch end and then back to the trunk, but that seems like an insane amount of work. If anyone has experience using these kinds of trees for their display and would be willing to share how to wire them as tri-color light show elements I would really appreciate it! Thanks, Carsten Ramcke Allen Park, MI
  4. Hey Russ, I have a modest 16-channel setup (growing to 32 channels this year) and focus primarily on traditional or 'slower' Christmas music with a light show that has less of a 'Techno Dance Party' feel to it. Like you I really enjoy seeing them, but I like to keep my own show toned down a bit. Here are three of the sequences I put together in 2015... Carsten Ramcke Allen Park, MI
  5. Carsten


    I'm greener than the Grinch with envy! No snow here in Michigan (formerly known as America's Winter Wonderland), and no good prospects for a white Christmas...
  6. Gary, Can you give me the link to the map? I may make some stops this weekend going to/from the train show in Novi... - Carsten in Saline (power is back on at my house, but I'm afraid to see what the winds did to my lights!)
  7. Carsten from Michigan here. I feel for all of you for the damage you took! I'm sure I lost a bunch of light strings in the wind blasts the last 24 hours, but as we are without power since yesterday afternoon, I can't say with any certainty what has been lost! I do know that the wind was strong enough to push my grill (a very large and heavy one) across the deck and nearly down the steps! I hope you all can get your displays repaired. Fingers crossed! - Carsten
  8. Hey Joe, Was there myself last weekend- first ever LOR display. Bill V is DEAD ON. That feeling when it first runs- it really is an unbelievable feeling. My display has been running for nearly a week and my daughter still loves to go outside in the Michigan cold and watch the sequences. Bill also mentions working out the kinks, and he's right. Since the first light-up I have made a few adjustments to both lights and sequencing, and plan to add a few hundred more lights to round out the display this weekend. There's time, my friend! I have written a couple additional sequences (not that hard when all you have is 16 channels) and will probably write a few more before the season is over. Don't rush it, enjoy it, and yes, 99% of the time the only one to notice the imperfections will be you. - Carsten Ramcke, Saline, MI
  9. Must... Have... More... Channels... Must... Buy... More... Lights... Must... Make... Arches... Must... Build... Mega... Tree...
  10. The Ramcke Haus also went through shake-down last night. We're in Saline. It might be neat to have everyone list where they are located so we can come out and see your displays! PM me for my address if you want to come see my meager yet attractive 11-channel synchronized show! - Carsten
  11. Folks, Last night I launched my first ever LOR synchronized Christmas light display. I spent a good portion of Friday running all my power cords to the LOR1602 located under the deck. I was amazed at what an effort is required just to get the power to a central point- the time required almost exceeding the time I put into getting the lights on the house! I also went way over budget with extension cord purchases, but by Saturday afternoon everything was hooked up. Well, everything but the PC. So Sunday I ran out to Best Buy and picked up some CAT6 cable (50'). After fishing it through the window into my home office, I was ready. I had written a couple of simple 11-channel (all I'm using right now) sequences and yesterday afternoon, with baited breath, hit the 'play' button. Imagine my amazement when, on the first try, everything worked perfectly! With my old X10 set-up I had to fiddle with the communications port, make sure I had signal to both sides of my 220V line, pray I didn't lose signal by the time I got to the back of the house, etc. It was a real pain. But this worked great! And the first time! When evening fell I assembled the family out front and launched the first sequence. My daughter laughed with glee, and even my wife, who I had expected to give me the "that's nice, dear" platitude, stayed until I had run through every sequence, made some suggestions, and asked me to make a sequence for her favorite Christmas song! No fewer than three neighbors stopped by to admire the display. One commented, "You have definitely raised the bar! I hope to GOD my wife doesn't see this!" I myself was awestruck with how INCREDIBLY COOL a sequenced show looks when it's on your own house. I was up most of the night making a sequence for my wife's favorite Christmas song ('Mele Kalikimaka' by Bing Crosby) and can't wait to get back to it this evening. My Belkin Tunecast II is on order so I don't have to have audio blaring outside and I hope to have everything finished by this weekend, with enough sequences for an hour of lights. For those of you who have held off because the work seems intimidating or you think you can't get away with just a few channels, FUGGETABOUTIT! Go, install, wire and play! You won't regret it. Even with a meager 11 channels, I am delighted by the outcome. Rich Holdman I ain't, but I'm still tickled pink with the results. I do have one issue with the show scheduler in LOR. If I schedule a nightly show in the week-view and then pull up the regula calender, the show I scheduled doesn't appear. Does that mean it isn't scheduled properly, or does the calender view only show the special events programmed into the calender, not the ones programmed into the weekly schedule? Any help with this programming would be appreciated. Finally, many thanks to all of you on this forum for your inspiration and support. Until last night I was amused by the fervor with which many of you support your 'addiction' to this hobby. I mean, c'mon, it's just Christmas decorations, right? Right? Well, now I consider myself, for better or worse, as one of you. I have tasted the sweet fruit of music-synchronized festive illumination, and I may never go back to a static display again. My name is Carsten Ramcke, and I'm a synchronized light show addict. - Carsten in Saline, MI (already thinking about arches...)
  12. All, After serious consideration, I decided that, financially, I just couldn't afford to upgrade to LED this year. I wouldn't categorize myself as being pro- or anti-Wal-Mart, but I did need some replacement lights this weekend (why is it that the green ones have the worst paint job on them??), and Wal-Mart was the second closest to my home. The plan was to check prices at ACO Hardware (local chain), then Wal-Mart, then Lowe's, then Target. I got to Wal-Mart and discovered 100-count strings for $2.38. That was good enough for me. When the person at the register rang them up they came up as $2 even per strand. I immediately went back and picked up another dozen boxes. In all, I ended up buying thirty boxes to completely redo all the lights on the roof. I replaced all the strings, and have nice deep greens and no more 'pink' reds. I had zero failures during wrapping and installation. Let's hope they last the season! Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't argue with the prices. At $60, I don't feel obligated to keep these 3000 lights for another two or three years (if they last that long), and can still dream of upgrading to LED next year... - Carsten Ramcke, Saline, MI
  13. All, The Ace Hardware Black Friday ad includes the following: List Product Price 10 Ct LED Snowflake Dangler Lights $8.99 200 Ct Mini Light Set $4.99 24" Arrow Pine Wreath $5.99 36 Ct LED Light Set $4.99 4" Pre Lit Christmas Tree $19.99 Flickering LED Candle 4/Pack $8.99 LED Twinking Snowflake $5.99 Standing Or Feeding Deer Lighted Sculpture $9.99 In addition, it looks like they'll have some extension cords and adapters: Outdoor Extension Cord Combo Pack $4.99 Outdoor Outlet Adapter 2 Pack $3.99 For the life of me I can't find the length of those extension cords, though... - Carsten
  14. Carsten

    Cheap Lights!

    What cracks me up is that the discussion topic is "Cheap Lights!" and in the last 5 hours since the first post went up there have been 111 views! I guess we're all interested in finding CHEAP LIGHTS! Big surprise there... - Carsten
  15. Hey everyone! This will also be my first LOR Christmas. I put up a few of my window frames (lights mounted to PVC that frames the window) and hung my new 60" wreath yesterday in seventy-degree Michigan weather, much to the amusement of my neighbors. One of them stopped as he was driving home and commented, "A little early to be hanging the lights, isn't it?" I replied: "The less I have to do when it's thirty degrees out and windy the better!" Thirty minutes later he was outside with his box of decorations, too! Am I worried about my first display with LOR this year? Nope. If I'm not happy with the sequences I can always create something non-musical and random, which is the direction I'm headed, anyway. If I have time for some elaborate (well, 16 channel) sequences to music, then I'll see what I can do. My rule #1 is that I don't want my upgrade to LOR to stress me out! - Carsten (crushed that he had to work today instead of stringing lights)
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