Christmas visits with friends

I've been fortunate enough to be able to visit a few of the Christmas light people I've become friends with over the Internet.  The following are some pictures and a brief recollection of what was discussed.

Gallery of all pictures

I would love to visit more of my Christmas light buddies if possible.  Of course you're always welcome to stop by my house for a visit, too.  Just contact me ahead of time so we can work out the details.  Thanks!

Chess Fraczyk

The tiled background image on this page is a bunch of clear C9 bulbs that my friend Chess F. works with up in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  I happened to going to some training up in Vancouver during the summer of 1999 and learned that Chess lives (and works) there.  I asked if we could get together while I was there and he said "Yes!"

When I arrived I called up Chess and he invited us (a co-worker and myself) over to the shop where he works and gave us directions.

Talk about the ultimate job!  Check out these pictures!  Chess gets to work at a company that goes around and does Christmas displays for businesses, malls, etc.  I've never seen so many lights!

Pictures of the shop where things are worked on and stored:

Chess told me that the big snowman gets hung from a crane!  COOL!  He has also worked on various Christmas movies (adding lights to sets, etc) such as Disney's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and others.

He was also involved in making those lighted Coca Cola trucks that we see every year in commercials.  He showed us pictures of all of that work.  It was pretty neat to learn that only 3 trucks were physically made and then just digitally duplicated.  Also, each truck carried it's own generator and only the front, back, and one side of each truck was decorated.  The side of the truck was made out of plywood and had holes drilled into it.  Then they just put a florescent light behind each column of holes and from a distance it looks like light bulbs.  Pretty tricky, Chess.  The lights on the rest of the truck were bulbs and they just used red tape to attach them to the trucks and hide the wires.

Chess, if I've gotten any of the above information incorrect, please let me know and I'll fix it.

Thanks for the picture opportunities, Chess!  It was a great pleasure meeting you and talking about Christmas lights.  Keep up the good work!

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Mark Obermiller

Mark originally contacted me first, asking questions about the Dasher software I was working on.  It took me a while to realize that he lives about 30 miles north of Louisville, KY.  I have some relatives that live there and so I go and visit them every once in a while.  I mentioned to Mark that I was going to be in his area when we had a trip planned to the Louisville area and he invited me to his house.

It's always so neat to actually see a place that you've only seen on a web site.  The physical layout becomes clear and everything falls into perspective.  Such was the case with Mark's house.

He showed me his computer and how everything was wired up in Control Central.  He also showed me how he makes his wire frames and then attaches lights to them.  He's got a wire bender attached to his basement floor that makes it very easy to form shapes.  He showed me the huge roll of extension cords that gets used every year.  I also got to meet Mark's wife, Donna, and get her opinion on Christmas lights.  She's into it as big as Mark is!  That's great!

I brought along a beta copy of Dasher (always a work in progress) to try it out on his machine.  It worked for the most part.  At that time I was still working on it quite heavily.

Check out the following pictures:

I really enjoyed meeting you, Mark.  The time seemed to fly by as we talked about things and shared ideas.  Thanks for the invitation to your house and yes I'd like to get together again sometime.  Keep in touch!

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Doug Lawrence

One day Doug decided to take a trip like none other!  He decided to visit many of the Christmas light display folks he had met via the Internet and help them assemble their displays.  So he packed up his tool belt and did lots of driving!  Fortunately he wanted to stop by our place and help me with my display.  I couldn't have done what you see in the pictures below without him!  Check out his website (http://users.rttinc.com/~sylvanlights) for more details about his road-trip

Here are some pictures of the yard while we were programming the display:

and of course we had to get a little bit of time in on the games....    

Here are some pictures of Doug and I together:

and some pictures of Doug programming Dasher:

Here is an animated picture that Doug and I set up while outside programming the display.  They are both of the same thing.  One is simply bigger than the other.  Don't move, Doug!

Doug, I hope you get a chance to stop by again sometime and I really would like to visit your place as well.  Let's see what we can arrange in the future.  Thanks for stopping by!  I really enjoyed it.

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Last modified on 02/06/02