Wednesday, December 8, 2021

That Isn't An Astronaut Up There When You Are Putting Up Holiday Lights, It's A Monarch

I'm a big guy, tall and fit.  In fact I am just back from a workout around town making a spectacle of myself in red, black, and safety orange spandex.

Yeah, let that stew in your mind for a bit.  A wall of Moose approaching at up to 17 MPH and over 7 feet tall on a bike in the Bus Lane.

But while I am very active, I also plan things out.  

The tradition in town for the holidays is to put lights on the house so you can be just about like the neighbors.  We don't have anyone here trying to be insanely bright on this block, most of us have something tracing out the lines of the house and call it done.  

I'm sure that the whole lighting thing will fade as carbon correctness gets more ingrained with people, at least it isn't long strings of 9 watt incandescent bulbs making way more heat than light.  It's now LEDs.

That is if you have them.

The conversation was: 

"What do you want to do about lights?"
"I don't really have time, I'm trying to get ready for the trip."

Yours truly has been researching high end inline skating parts online for a while and I found a truly insane set of lights for a minimal fee, and used my workout sponsorship money to get it.  Well, ours, but who is counting.

It got here, all 403 feet and 100 lights that were semi-addressable, and had ten "shows" and ... but it has to get on the house.

"I Don't Have Time"
"Where are the tools, I'm putting these up"

Hmmmm, 122 and a bit meters?  The Chinese must be using Imperial for this not a round number amount.


I got started and realized that I needed a ladder.  My reach was not quite far enough for all of the hooks I had to put in the house.  When I need a ladder, lesser men might need a crane.

Yeah, I know, stop patting yourself on the back big dude, others can do it and not need anything more than a "Six Foot Step Ladder" too!  That's 2 Meters give or take a few CM.  Help every last one of my 193 CM see over the roof and ...

I climbed up there and immediately got sun-blinded for a second and began muscling these strange stainless steel hooks into the soffits on the house when I was distracted.  I was about 10 feet (3m) in the air and I felt something trying to land in my ear.  Yes, in public someone was tickling my ear.  I expected to have the MTV Astronaut floating around me, not what I saw.

It was a Monarch Butterfly and I started doing some math.  They were back to lay eggs on the one milkweed plant that I have here that somehow manages to be in plain sight but ignored by the little queens looking to start the next generation.

Monarch Butterfly "Queens" have no spot on the wings where the "Kings" have a spot.  Yes the spot would be a dangly bit on a bull, and no I do not care if King and Queen are inappropriate, I rather like the words in this case.

There I was like a "Disney Prince" on a ladder about 3 yards/meters off the ground, trying not to fall on my Jeep Wrangler or the Orange tree.  I didn't want to break a leg, that would be a career ender and I am only 1900 miles from being able to say I skated around the world in career distance since 1993.

I got off the ladder, the Queen flew off my shoulder and went back to find my lone milkweed.  I watched as she laid one or more eggs and flew off to another piece of the plant.

"You are going to eat yourself out of house and home with your kids you silly bug!"

The plant already had a couple caterpillars on it in various sizes and was looking Moth Eaten.  Monarch Eaten to be more accurate.

Never mind that.  As I went to the next portion of the roof, I screwed in some more hooks and watched her and others.  It's been a dry day, the winds are light, and they kept flapping around me and the lone plant.  There had to be a good five or ten of them coming and going and looking like an approach pattern for an airport.

Eventually I got all the hooks in, then started threading LED wires through the hooks.  The same time it was Caterpillars Crunching, Monarch Moms Multiplying, Monarch Dads Drinking.  I had another one land on my free hand, just like the "Disney Prince" I was that day.

All in all I decided that 80% of 403 feet and only 80 LEDs of Holiday brightness would be sufficient.  It all looked reasonably nice on the house, not too showy, kind of subtle.

I could just be belaboring a point.  Read into it what you like.  I enjoy my weirdly random in phases lights coming and going.

I did read someone near here came around a corner once and spotted someone's display of red and blue lights and thought it was a Police Car.  She nearly wrecked her car by running off road towards a Gumbo Limbo.  Instead of looking at them and reading too much into it, remember, Speed Kills and Drive Alert, Stay Unhurt.

Enjoy your holiday, which ever one you choose to celebrate.  We'll leave a hundred lights on for you.  Now do let me go and nibble on some carbs.  I'm hungry and I am post-workout crashing.

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