Monday, December 02, 2013

Dead Lights

"Hulk smash!" "Don't tell me the odds!"
"You all float down here."
I love the term 'dead lights' ever since I encountered it in Stephen King's IT. This isn't, however, a post about King or IT or even what you think 'dead lights' are based on that.

I've been out of my parents' house for over twenty years. That means I've had that many holiday seasons on my own. In that time I've collected lots and lots of Christmas Stuff: lights, ornaments, stockings and all kinds of assorted junk. Stuff. No, junk.

There are three rather large containers that live in the attic above the garage during the year that come down over Thanksgiving weekend to spill their guts into my living room. Last year I acquired enough lights to encircle the entire house. Nothing fancy, just some white lights along all the gutters. Something I always wanted to do and now I can. Achievement unlocked. Leveled up.

As much as I loved having real trees, they were a colossal pain in the ass. Getting over to the Breakfast Optimists, loading the tree onto the car, sawing off the bottom of the trunk and dunking it in the cast iron tree stand. The smell was always worth it.

But several years ago the wife and I decided to switch to an artificial tree. Now it can go up earlier and stay up longer. Sort of the holiday version of Viagra, I suppose. Still, it keeps the house cheery for quite a while and doesn't require water. It doesn't drop needles on the floor, either. And the cats don't climb this one. Plus I don't have to do any searching for just - the - right - tree.

This year I got all three containers down as usual, and broke out the lights that've been on the tree for the last seven or eight years. Maybe longer.

They didn't work.

Well, there were a couple empty sockets where the Millennium Falcon and a couple other ornaments plugged in, so I put some lights in to ensure the string worked. Dammit, it still didn't light up. Maybe it was a fuse.

Except the control box was held shut by four screws with triangle heads. What the hell? I've got Phillips head, flat head screwdrivers, I've got Allen wrenches (AKA hex wrenches) and other things in various socket sets but not one implement that will turn a screw with a triangle-shaped head.

So I tried the other string. Same luck. Okay, I've got other lights. Other strings even though they didn't do all the fancy patterns and dances. They were older. Some of them left over from my first marriage. Of course they were non-LED so they had some nostalgic value despite their energy inefficiency. Plugged in one string, only half of them lit up. Maybe it was the fuse.

These I could get to and swapped out the fuses. Still only half of them lit up. Same with the other string.

Dammit. Dammit. A total of five strings of lights that either didn't work at all or only partially worked. That's a lot of space in one of the boxes. They're now in a pile in the garage, waiting to go out to the trash.

When I acquired the lights to go around the house last year I also bought some new lights. Because it's an artificial tree, it needs to have a TON of lights. It ends up that the tree is just fine with three strings of lights - two brightly colored LED strings and one string of white lights. It looks pretty despite not being as animated as it's been in the past. I can live with that.

But the dead lights have to go. Not sure if they should be recycled or just trashed. In the old days I would probably think about how to use them for an art project that I would never do. Or I'd keep them for the bulbs to use in the other strings that were still viable.

As I overcome my hoarding instincts, it hurts to see them go. Surely they could be useful in some other way?

No, the dead lights are dead lights. I just can't leave them in the garage. They have to go.

Beep Beep.