Friday, December 23, 2011

There's Electricity in the Air ...

...and not because Christmas is so close, although that might be a factor elsewhere.

Our "Pottstown" has a record shop, pet shop and Welsh pub, where I should be now.
But in my house, which is fast giving the home of Clark W. Griswold a run for its "Christmas Vacation" money, there is electricity in the air because I put it there -- when I blew up the ancient used model train transformer we use to power the blinking lights in our little Pottstown-like Christmas Village we set up every year.

For those who have had the painful experience of following along in my travails as my family and I try to prepare for the holidays, you may have realized that my lesson for the year is that nothing worthwhile ever comes easily.

Whether or not setting up a train set and attendant buildings and train station is "worthwhile" is of course in the eye of the beholder.
Karen and Dylan painted and decorated the trees by hand.

My eye likes to behold it.

It's a tradition we started when my son was an infant and we have added to it each year, some years with more than others.

This year, the money we might have spent for a new building (I was pushing, unsuccessfully, for the purchase of the offices of Dr. Benjamin Dover, colo-rectal surgeon) was instead spent to purchase a new transformer.

The old one was sold to us under the explanation that we use it so little and require it for so little power, that "old" and "used" were not adjectives which should worry us.

The old transformer, built in Lincoln's time, gave up the ghost.
That was before I the plug shot sparks and was blown off the power cord. Not to mention tripping the circuit breaker.

It's all good. The new one will let us sleep a little sounder at night because it has an "off" position and does not require me to climb under the table on which the train is set up and unplug it every night.

I had help.

The good folks at Ye Olde Train Shoppe off Route 100 in Douglass (Mont.) were also quite helpful when I explained the lower back pain I engender when I try to get all four of the sets of wires to bend just right onto the positive and negative transformer posts -- and to get them to stay there for tightening.

For but a pittance, they sold me wondrous "U"-shaped plugs I could attach to the end of the wires and simply slide them onto the post for easy tightening and hours of back-pain-free holiday locomotive enjoyment.
Let us hope this new device is more problem-free.

It was a great plan that would have been all the more successful had the plugs only been the right size and fit over the posts on the new transformer.

After a few more colorful expletives and some work with the pliers, we have blinking lights.

Ah well, live and learn.

I'm on vacation until January folks, so if you visit the Digital Notebook only to find this same, stale old post, you'll know everything else is going fine.

But since misery loves company, I'll be sure to share the next bungle with you all so you can say "well hell, at least we're not having Evan's Christmas..."

Here's hoping you don't.

Off to write Christmas Cards.

What could go wrong?...

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