The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 7 late again

Or why we won’t have self driving cars, now or maybe forever.

Yesterday I needed to connect a radio to a software program. No big deal, I had done it before. But that was two software updates ago.

The software won, I didn’t get the radio to talk to the software. I feel like a failure. I worked so hard to get it working. I’m not a programmer, I don’t have the tools to find out what is wrong. I read the manual, I dig through Google looking for help. The stuff in Google is so out of date, I push the buttons and then I find they don’t match the version of software I have. There is no runbig button in the current software. The programmer of the software is so busy he won’t read your email. He has to get improvement to the software out. So I go to the forums and get laughed at or told to read the manual.

If you have read this blog for long you know I’m not a fan of programmers. Why? Two reasons. Programmers are paid to write software. They wont document what they write. Documentation, that’s work for peons. They don’t care if the program kills the user. They wrote the program to the specification they were given and if they complain about the spec they know they will be placed on the list of the next person to be laid off.

So they write the program that confuses the pilot and crashes the airplane, killing several hundred people. They write the program that accelerates the car and won’t let you turn the engine off.

So the next time you press the button in an elevator just think. The programmer that did the software for the box you’re standing in got paid, is off on another job, and won’t go to court if the elevator drops to the bottom and kills you. He was part of a team and the head of the company is worth so much more, they’ll sue the company or the head of the company.

The next time you are about to cross a street, even at a light, remember you are one step, one software glitch or one bit that should be a 1 not a zero form having a self driving car run over you.

They tested the software you say. Well the first thing they teach a budding software writer is that you can not test all the ways a program will fail. So a smart programmer knows that if he is late with a program because it fails a test he will only test the software in ways he knows it will pass. His bonus for getting done on time depends on it. If you can’t do something why brother to make life hard on yourself.

I’m pounding my head on the desk trying to get the radio that use to work working again while the Christmas lights outside whisper “fix me”, “put more lights up”.

So every hour or two I get out of my chair after working fruitlessly. I go outside and fiddle with the lights for a couple of minutes so I don’t go looking for a greedy, soulless programmer.

I should be glad that nobody reads these posts. Why would anyone believe them? The web is full of stories of Putin, the Russian president, telling his people that America is about to attack them and that’s why things are so bad and why he should remain in office. The Chinese have refused 60 ship loads of coal from Australia because someone in the Australian said something the leaders of China don’t like. Even while the power had to be shut off in major Chinese cities because they ran out of coal. The Chinese leaders blame the young people for the outages. Maybe that’s what happened in this country in the 1960s, It’s all the young people’s fault.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 6

Other good day for working outside. Still needed to wear a jacket, but the sun felt good. Just a bit of a breeze today.

Stated to throw together a couple of extension cords to clean up some of the displays. Ended up taking longer than it should. I didn’t need to go to the hardware store, so that was a plus.

Stated to clean off the living room coffee table to set the Christmas tree on. I have a small living tree that I use. In a couple of more years it will be to big to lift, but for now on the table it goes.

With the big display done I started to box up the odds and ends and put the boxes back in the shed. There’s room in the living room for a change. Shed two, the Christmas shed is packed again. I did throw away some old lights so there will be a little room when take down the lights and re-pack things.

I finished off another 250 foot roll of wire. I still have three rolls to go.

The rebar Christmas tree lights are a problem. The blue lights only 1/3 of the lights would light up of the lights. My fix, I had planned on using, did not work out. If anything it took out more lights. I replaced the whole string of lights. The new string does not have as many lights on it as the old string. I will have to adjust the lights tomorrow, but I have all the blue lights on the rebar Christmas tree working.

I pulled a lot of weeds and grass today. I wore gloves so my hands are not as tore up as they can get. I leveled some gardening soil so things look nicer. Almost got around to laying some pavers, just not enough time.

I have some blue lights around the eves of the house that I need to get working. I must have gotten a bad batch of blue lights years ago. The new lights have a different spacing between the lights than the old light so I can not just plug in a new string of lights.

I rebuilt a four wheel roll around stand so I could put my soldering gun and heat gun on it. Keeps me from having to bend over so much and it’s nice to have a work station for fixing the lights.

Tomorrow I have to get to work on the antennas.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 5 late

Yesterday was a long day and it got late so this post is late.

I got the HO, HO, HO display done and it works. I had to re-wire the lights on the last part twice. And I think I figured out why the blue lights on the rebar Christmas tree don’t work. The controller uses Silicon Controlled Rectifiers (SCRs) to turn the lights on and off. The lights are LED which are also rectifiers. Rectifiers only let electricity go one way. If the SCR and the LED or connected against each other the current (moving electricity) can’t get through and nothing lights up. Reverse two wires and the electricity is moving.

I’ll flip the two wires on the blue lights tomorrow. The sun went down and it’s cold. The day was good. Not too much wind. We have a high pressure system off the coast that’s pushing the low pressure system up north and giving them snow and rain. We could use the rain down here. With the warmer weather I get more done, but it seems there is so much more to do.

I did not get the Christmas star up. The displays I am working on are home made. The star is one I bought at the store. Home made items are unique, no one else has one like it. Where the store bought ones can be found down to block, unless they are like mine and are so old no one has them any more.

The gate is finished for now. It needs new wood to cover it, but that can wait until summer and when I can get help. The gate is heavy and hard to move when it is not on its hinges. It also needs painting,but that is going to have to wait until the Christmas lights come down.

Many of the plants in the garden have gone dormant, but the orchid are about to bloom. The paper whites or narcissus are blooming along with the geraniums.

With the big display done after all these years I need to work on the antennas tomorrow. I may make up a couple of extension cords for one more run of lights.

I have some tow by fours left over from the gate project. How can I made a Christmas decoration out of them?

The Garden needs watering. Not as much as during the summer. And the weeds and grass need pulling before it rains and they take off. I have to dig deep to get the grass roots out or it just springs back with the first rain.

Stay strong, write on and stay warm.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 4

It’s been a long day. I got the second third of the HO, HO, HO display done and I got all the light on the first two parts to light. It was hard work, but I got it done. Now to get the last part done. When I do, I will have completed a project I’ve worked years on.

I still have to build two more extension cords for the HO, HO, HO display. That’s straight forward and I can do it inside the house. It’s cold outside. Well, I mean it’s cold for me. The wind is coming off the ocean and it got cloudy today. The air felt like rain. Then the clouds blew away, but the wind stayed cold. I had to go inside every hour to warm up.

I also worked on the big gate, the one I let cars into the back yard with. During Thanksgiving I sat a new gate post in the ground. It replaced the old one that was way too small in diameter. The wind made working on the gate hard. The force of the wind against the gate made it a fight to work on it. Got the holes drilled in the gate and the top bolts in. I had to go to 1/2 inch bolts. I couldn’t find 7/16th inch bolts in stainless steel. I used 1/2 heavy galvanized bolts. It is a big gate and it needs big bolts and I don’t want rust all over the place.

I didn’t get the Christmas star up yet. It’s taking forever to put it up. I don’t think I will get to it tomorrow. I figured out why some of the lights on the other displays don’t light up. It will require soldering to get them working. Soldering in the cold wind is hard. It’s either solder outside or disassemble the display and take it inside. That would take all day for one display. Soldering with heavy gloves on is tricky with the small wires that are connected to the lights.

I made progress, yet I’m down.

I get that way when I don’t get done what I wanted to finish and it should have been easy to do. That and I have three friends going in to the hospital for operations. One of them may not make it. It’s a small chance, but always a chance. I can’t go see them before the operation or for a time after their operations. I can only offer what help I can. But my offer feels like it’s so little, I want to be there for them, but I can’t. Not even their wives go see them. It’s so lonely in the hospital room all by yourself, with all those people around you that are so professional. Kind, but they can’t let themselves care.

I’m so lucky. But I’m still down. And it’s cold.

I got a compliment on the script I wrote. It was just one page long. I would like to get it made, but where would I find the time? So much to do, so much to write.

Stay strong, write on, stay safe, be safe, buy yourself a little present. Smile, even if it hurts.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 3 late

Short cuts or time savers? This blog is late because I had to take my car in for a repair. They found a wire was bad. They missed it the first time I took it in and had to bring in a specialist. Over 200 dollars to replace the wire and it only took them 15 minutes to replace it. It took them two hours to find the problem on the second try. This time of year money is short, but I bit the bullet and got it fixed.

I sat in the dealership for over two hours and the dealership is a 30 minute drive from Castle High Voltage. That three hours I could have spent working on Christmas decorations.

It’s been getting colder each day this week. But I don’t know nothing about cold. If you want to know about cold ask someone living in the Northeast. If it snowed here they would declare a national emergency.

I feel guilty about doing a Tee twist solder joint when making new runs of Christmas lights. A tee joint isn’t as strong or durable as a Western Union splice, but it’s faster. In the cold, I need faster and Christmas is closing in.

Last night I got part of the Ho Ho, Ho display repaired. I’ve been working on that display for 20 years. I’ve had to remove the lights I had on it and replace them, the lights were so old. The new lights have to be cut to length and spliced to fit. These displays are made to last and I need good solder joints. The Tee joints should last 20 years, but I will be kicking myself if they don’t.

The big gate repair is going slowly to. But now I don’t have to worry about the gate blowing over in the wind. It will look a lot better when I remove the two by four braces.

I still haven’t got the Christmas star up.

I am making a Christmas meal shopping menu. Got to do that today. I was going to do that yesterday.

More neighbors are putting up lights and displays that have never had lights before. That’s a good thing. The world needs all the good cheer it can get.

Now excuse me, I have to open another 250 foot roll of zip cord and make up six new extension cords for the displays.

Stay strong, write on, and join in and put up a string of lights.

Professor Hyram Voltage.

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 2

Got a late start on the decorating. Not a good sign.

The wind is cold and off the ocean. I’m running around chopping dead grass and dead heading flowers. I stop to take a load of grass to the trash can. Opening the gate I realize that I must fix it, so the displays will look their best. Run to the fence supply place and buy two heavy duty hinges. Race back and an hour and a half is gone.

Wipe down the hinges and start installing them. Look around and find the battery to the electric hacksaw. How did the battery end up in the kitchen? Saw bolts to the hinges to length. Find wrenches for bolts. Pry the big gate over and line it up. Get the battery operated drills (one for pilot holes and the other for the big drill bit) and punch holes for the gate.

Go inside for lunch and write a script. I should be writing a book.

Back to the gate. Brace, drill, bolt and do it again for the bottom hinge. Run into a road block. Go move some pavers. Check mail. Clean some weeks out of the garden. Things are looking better.

Start to wire up another tomato cage tree Christmas display. Stop and go back to work on gate.

The sun is down and it is getting colder. I see a sliver of the moon about to set. Jupiter and Saturn are so close.

Tomorrow I will get the star with all the blinking lights up.

Stay strong, write on, and enjoy.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Merry Christmas to All the Special People

Merry Christmas to the mail carries that have to work Christmas eve.

Merry Christmas to those that have lost friends and loved ones this year.

Merry Christmas to those who have to work Christmas eve and Christmas day and night. We need you. And thank you paramedics, doctors, and nurses.

Merry Christmas to all of you, like me, that didn’t get that book finished. It’s so close.

Merry Christmas to all of you that let me take your picture. I hope next year we can take more pictures. Please smile it makes you look so much better.

Merry Christmas to all those that helped me this year. May I be able to help you or pay it forward. May we all be able to pay it forward.

Merry Christmas to all that don’t have someone to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Stay strong, write on, and keep the spirit of the season it your heart during this hard time.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Twelve Days of Obsessive Christmas Decorating day 1

It is not Obsessive to start Christmas decorating before Thanksgiving. It’s good planning. Now starting Christmas decorating in July when they start putting out Christmas items in the big box store, now that’s obsessive. Besides it’s not as cold around Thanksgiving as it gets around Christmas.

I do not buy Christmas lights by the case. I have bought them by the 3/4 case, after Christmas when they were on sale. That’s being thrifty, and that’s all they had left.

It’s not being obsessive when you throw away old lights to standardize on one type or style of lights. That’s keeping your theme stylish. Besides, the 20 year old lights were getting faded. Some people throw away their Christmas decorations every year. They say it saves space.

It’s not obsessive to buy a drafting program to lay out the arrangement of Christmas lights. It’s good planning.

Let’s not talk about buying 1200 feet of wire to make more extension cords for the Christmas lights. I was going for the price break.

The Holidays, 1,200 Feet of Extension Cords and More

I started to write this blog entry on Monday, but WordPress said I needed to update a bunch of stuff.

Several themes needed updating, so I deleted five themes that I was not using and never planned to use. So far so good. Then I started to update WordPress, the program that runs this site. WordPress said I should make a backup the site before I update. Bad move. I start the plugin named upload (they have to change the name of that plugin, you try and search for help with the plugin and you find tons of stuff on uploading images or the problems with uploading images in WordPress, but nothing on the plugin upload).

The upload program has a problem and my web site blows up. A critical error message pops up on the screen, but not my web site. It’s not a blue screen of death, but the site is useless and I’m not going to get the blog written until the site is back online.Tuesday lots of research on what a WordPress critical error is. I tried to reload the backups (yes, I had more than three) that I meticulously made at set intervals. It didn’t help and the site remained locked up. I turned off plugins, I was about to change themes when the site went really bad.

I Googled and watched a lot of Youtube videos and learned more about WordPress than I want to know and it’s stuff I will never use, because when I need to use it the stuff will be out of date and I will have to learn a bunch of new stuff.

All that Googling and YouTube watching is worthless and does not fix the problem. Wednesday I hired someone to fix the web site. Thursday they fix it and I write the blog entry I was going to write Monday.

If you have followed this blog you know that people have accused me of having a Obsessive Christmas Decorating Problem. I am still putting up Christmas decorations on New Year Eve.

So this year, I started putting up decorations before Thanksgiving. I even had a friend help me for three days. In California that is risky. I am still putting decorations up. Five years ago I bought a box of five, 250 foot rolls of ‘zip’ wire (sometimes called line cord). I have been using that for wiring the lights up. Before that, I used 20 gauge white single strand wire. I’m still using a lot of the old single strand wire harnesses I made years ago. They still work and do not need replacing. Before Halloween, I use up the last of the five 250 foot rolls of wire. The Halloween harnesses are also used for Christmas. So I ordered another case of five rolls.

Each string of Christmas lights has three colors. Each color is addressable, individually addressable. That’s three extension cords per light string. I put up six new sets of lights yesterday and the lights were as far away from the controller as any of the lights. I needed long extension cords. So I made new cords out of the wire I just got.

I have plans for six more lights sets tomorrow. This is on top of all the lights I had put up last year.

Thankfully, the lights are LEDs and don’t consume as much power as the old incandescent light strings I used to use. The total power I’m using now is less than the five 120 light strings of incandescent lights of the past used.

Also there is work going on in the back yard, so I’ve had to make emergency set ups for this year.

Today I had to hold off stringing up lights so I could get the computer fixed.

Tomorrow I may need to go get a couple of plug strips (multi outlet boxes) to plug in the new strings of lights.

I haven’t decorated the tree yet. I have a live tree in a big pot that I use year after year.

It’s December and the Gladiolas are blooming. The yucca plant is about to bloom. There are apples on the apple tree. The apples are green and have a lot of growing to do. The strawberry plants are still producing and they’re getting snow on the east coast. Oh well, Elon Musk is moving to Texas and most likely taking a lot of jobs with him. He can pay the employees less in Texas. Besides, his tax bill will be way less in Texas. Good going governor. Maybe it’s worth putting up with snow if you get to pay less in taxes. Next thing you know there will be a snow tax in California, it snows and you get taxed. The state will be seeding the clouds to raise money.

Maybe I should put what little money I have in gold so they can’t tax it. Gold may not earn much, but it will keep up with inflation.

So backup your writing, your web site and everything else. Also make sure the backups are good and you can use them. Use more than one backup hard drive. Backup media can fail. It does, it happens to me. Web sites and cloud computer center fail. Just look at AWS and Microsoft cloud failures. A lot of work did not get done on those days. As a contractor they can elect not pay you if the cloud goes down.

Stay strong, write on, and backup, backup and backup some more.

Professor Hyram Voltage