A couple years ago, I decided to put some Christmas lights on the outside of the house. Nothing crazy, just some multi-colored big bulb string lights. I don’t remember why, exactly. I am not a holiday person in any other way. I think I just like being on the roof.
I didn’t grow up with holiday lights. At least not outside. We had a tiny cabin in the woods, which was usually covered in snow. Lights seemed impractical. But as a little kid, I didn’t get that. The kids in the suburbs had lights—I saw that much on TV—why couldn’t I? All we had was a tiny plastic tree that was so small it had to sit on a booster box to fit presents underneath.
So maybe it was that childhood yearning that took me to the store some random weekend to purchase lights. I don’t know. But in any case when I put them up this year, half the lights didn’t turn on. A whole string of lights, dead.
But I should back up.
When I first plugged them in, I learned the exterior outlet was totally dead. No power. The GFCI breaker didn’t even click. It just felt mushy, like an old toy. Stick a fork in there and you’d be fine. Turns out the outlet had fried and took the breaker with it. I called an electrician to fix it, even though it wasn’t a terribly difficult project. Better not to burn the house down to save $50, I figured.
But once that was fixed, the lights still didn’t turn on. They’re LEDs, and when I bought them, I thought they’d be more reliable than incandescents (alongside more energy efficient, of course). It turns out that while the entire string will work if a bulb or two or three goes out, that doesn’t mean a bulb can’t be a point of failure. After I went through every bulb on the string, I found one that had lost a piece of metal. The little bit of missing metal took the whole line down. What an engineering marvel.
In any case, they’re working now. They look nice. Just a single string of lights on a flat roof. I got a low-tech light sensor that flicks them on automatically between dusk and dawn. I almost never leave the house after dark to appreciate them, but hopefully the dog walkers, coyotes, and occasional roof rat appreciate the troubleshooting effort that went into it.
Currently reading: The Stand by Stephen King
Currently watching: The Stranger, Mr Robot (Season 4)
Recently watched: Mank (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️), Tombstone (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Currently listening: Elvis Costello Armed Forces