See You On The Flip Side, 2009!


2009 is nearly done.  2010 is about to make its debut performance.  What are you doing tonight?

One thing is certain – I’m glad to be starting a new year, fresh and with the potential for great things.  I have many things on my plate right now, and I hope to turn every one of those things into a success.  I hope that you have the same kind of goals too – and I wish you the best in rocking the freaking house!

2010 is already shaping up to be a great year on – I have some big interviews in the next few weeks, video, and some new stuff we’re rolling out pretty soon.  One thing is certain, and that is the fact that readers rock! From the deepest part of my heart, thank you so much for reading the site, and for making the site need to have a private server to handle the amount of traffic gets every day.  Please keep sending me tips on articles I would like, please keep sending me your questions, and please keep letting me know when something gets messed up with the website.  I appreciate it all!

I hope that you have a great New Year’s Eve with friends, family, and loved ones.  Let’s set our goals high for 2010 so when we look back on New Year’s Eve 2010 and say “man, we kicked some butt in 2010!”

Remember, like I said last year and will continue to say this year – eat some bread or pasta or something with carbs in it to soak up all of that potential 2010 hangover!

Thanks, Wikipedia!




I was unable to get home to see my parents this year for Christmas, so I hope you are all having a great Christmas Day with your families and significant others.  Take this day to just…  breathe.

To all my new friends from my experience in Sweden – thank you all for the opportunity to see beauty and intelligence from parts of the world I have never visited.  To my friends in Iran – keep your head up, we believe in you.  To my US Marine, US Army, US Navy, and US Air Force friends sitting in Afghanistan and Iraq this Christmas, we’re all thinking of you, be careful, and we can’t wait to see you when you get home!

Merry Christmas, world!

A cool dude, Brad Peterson, sent me a few links to some awesome Christmas lighting videos – thanks Brad, and check this stuff out!  Go to High Voltage Productions to see these videos – but first, get some PIE!

(and don’t forget the Cool Hhwip)

Happy Birthday, James Prescott Joule!


Hey, is that James Prescott Joule?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DUDE!

You guys probably know Jimmy here – he’s responsible for the SI unit of energy (the Joule, duh), and for Joule’s Laws, which deal with the transfer of energy from one form or another.  What else was the guy to do?!  I mean, his birthday was on Christmas Eve – now tell me that he didn’t get jipped on birthday presents!

Good ol’ Jimmy Joule figured out some stuff that had a lot to do with theorizing the Law of Conservation of Energy – and if you’re older than 15 and don’t know that one by heart, then you need to memorize and understand the following:

Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change forms.

That’s Jimbo Joule for you!  He also figured out the relationship of current travelling through a resistance and heat generated (one of his Laws), hung out with Lord Kelvin and helped him invent the absolute temperature scale, and also, according to that beard, played bass for ZZ Top.

Joule’s findings can be paired with other units, almost directly – from Wikipedia:

The work required to move an electric charge of one coulomb through an electrical potential difference of one volt; or one coulomb volt (C·V). This relationship can be used to define the volt;
The work required to continuously produce one watt of power for one second; or one watt second (W·s) (compare kilowatt hour). This relationship can be used to define the watt.

Joule’s calorimeter:


Happy Birthday, James Prescott Joule!  Thanks for figuring out all that stuff you figured out so we don’t have to do it!


For fun – one joule is equal to:

  • the energy required to lift a small apple one meter straight up.
  • the energy released when that same apple falls one meter to the ground.
  • the energy released as heat by a person at rest, every hundredth of a second.
  • the kinetic energy of an adult human moving at a speed of about a handspan every second.
  • the kinetic energy of a tennis ball moving at 23 km/h (14 mph).

Also, did you know that dude brewed beer?!  Sweet.

Thanks, Wikipedia and NNDB!

Christmas Lights in Perth, Australia

Christmas lighting is still in fashion, at least until the New Year, right?  We always took ours down sometime after the first of January, so take that as a hint, all of you “leave them up until April” people!

I saw an interesting post on CNN’s iReport site about a family in Perth (Australia) that has a massive Christmas lighting display – they also made a bunch of bread on it that they donated to a local children’s hospital.  This Christmas light display raised $22,000+ last year!  They’re shooting for $30,000 this year. (ps: I would have embedded the CNN video, except there was no way to turn off the autoplay feature – which would have annoyed you all. Cnn, don’t you want people to embed your videos?)

The creator is a guy named Kym Illman, the CEO of a company called Messages On Hold.  This beast is 176 channels of control, over 6 kilometers of cable, and 50,000 LEDs.  Watch this video of Kym Illman on Perth’s “Today” show:

Here is their display video – can you believe how much stuff is in that rig?!

Thanks, MoH!

Happy Holidays from

To every person I know, to every person I’ve met because of blogging about light, and to anyone out there on the road over the Holiday season or struck in a desert dealing with that crap – Merry Christmas from!

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas season!


Incandescent Traffic Lamp Manufacturers, Here’s Your Chance


When you live in a place that sees a lot of snow per year – let’s just say somewhere like Chicago or other places in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio – you would think that dealing with snow is something that is just accepted. Sometimes it snows sideways in the Midwest.  I remember being a kid and walking home from school covered only on one side with sticking snow, and having our house covered on one side with snow 6″ thick.  Snow fills up anything in its way when it’s blowing like that – stop signs, traffic lights, store signs, billboards, you name it.

There’s one thing that seems to have been forgotten when designing LED replacement lamps for traffic lights – snow. This is one time when incandescent traffic lights win over their energy-saving LED opponents.  The incandescent lamps melt the snow that accumulates on them for the most part, whereas the LEDs do not generate enough heat to clear themselves enough to be seen.  What is happening right now is that in order to clear the traffic lights of snow, a person has to go out and clean the snow off by hand, and as they do that it’s like the theoretical savings of  having “green” traffic lights goes out in the wind like a well-placed fart.

Several accidents and one death has occurred due to this “new” phenomenon of snow covering up traffic lights that have been converted to LED sources. Places in the Midwest (and around the world, I assume) are having to send teams of men out to remove snow from traffic lights.  I mean, what are you going to do, install heaters?  Do they even make heaters for that?  Again, kiss the energy savings goodbye.

Is this a huge “oh my GOD” kind of issue, sending people out to remove the snow? I don’t think so. It’s the accidents and death that bother me more than anything.  Most motorist, however, have treated the situation of snow-covered traffic lights with caution, which means that human beings are still at least a little intelligent.  From an article at Huffington Post:

In Minnesota, where authorities have upgraded hundreds of traffic lights to LEDs, the Transportation Department occasionally gets reports of an obstructed light. But by the time a highway crew arrives, the wind has often knocked out the snow and ice, said traffic systems specialist Jerry Kotzenmacher. Minnesota is experimenting with weather shields.

One reason there have been so few deaths is that drivers know they should treat a traffic signal with obstructed lights as a stop sign, traffic experts say.

“It’s the same as if the power is out,” said Dave Hansen, a traffic engineer with the Green Bay Department of Public Works. “If there’s any question, you err on the side of caution.”

What exactly does this LED traffic light epic fail mean?  I think this is a really interesting area and time where incandescent lights have basically lucked into a way to completely change everything about themselves and gain a little reputation back.  What needs to happen now is that incandescent lamp engineers and LED manufacturers both need to hit the drawing board and figure out how to make their products better.  Let us not forget the energy consumption factor of LED traffic lights compared to incandescent light expenditures:  nearly 89% savings by using LED lamps.

Look, I am a fan of light.  I am not going to pick sides completely against one source, whether it’s LEDs or incandescent lamps, or plasma lamps, or my freaking dry yard on fire to provide a source of light.  I criticize and celebrate what needs to be criticized and celebrated.  Right now (actually years ago), LED traffic lights have given a nice Christmas present to incandescent lamp manufacturers and allowed them a chance to redeem themselves.  So, incandescent lamp manufacturers, here’s your chance to shine.  Take a few moments at least to talk about that in a board meeting somewhere.

For the rest of us, treat a snow-covered traffic light as if there were an outage at that intersection.  Learn from other people’s misfortune to avoid it from happening again.

Thanks, Reuters, for the photo!

Progress: Jeff Waful and Umphrey’s McGee on the Mantis Tour

I posted a while ago about a lighting designer to watch – a guy named Jeff Waful.  Jeff is the lighting designer for the band Umphrey’s McGee, a great improv rock band that falls into the Jam Band category in my head.  You know me and the jambands, I love it.

Jeff’s work with Umphreys is full of energy – it’s quick, changes rapidly like the music of Umphrey’s, and gives the audience a real visual sense of the music itself.  The UM website has a bunch of images from recent shows, and I grabbed some of my favorites for you to see.  The shows are October 9, 2009 at The Orbit Room, October 28 at McNear’s Mystic Theatre, and November 11, 2009 at the Opera House.

Visit the UM website for more images, and where to see them live.  I highly recommend the show, it’s a lot of fun, and you leave without your face because it will have been rocked off.








Technicolor Tesla Tannenbaum

Okay, I like Tesla coils just as much as the next lighting geek, but this is just too cool for school.  Aron Altmark on Twitter (@aronaltmark) sent me a link to these amazing shots by the Tesla Down Under people of their Australian Tesla Christmas Tree.

WAY COOL!  Check them out!  You also have to check out the Tesla Down Under page to see how he made this display, and to see how it compares to his past years’ efforts.  Well worth your pre-Christmas work time!




Genielux is Taking Flight – Beta Testing Now!

Mike Zinman just sent me an email saying that his new venture, Genielux, has hit the ground running – and he needs people with equipment for sale or rent to sign up, for free for a limited time, over at the Genielux website.  This thing is gonna be pretty darned snazzy, methinks – we’ve been needing something like this for a while now.

The site is in beta right now, and Mike’s looking for people with available equipment inventory to sign up, for free again (see, I used the keyword free, so that’s twice now).  Go over to Genielux and list your sale or rental equipment!

Mike sent me this info – a promo and info on signing up:


Imagine – your entire inventory on demand around the world, 24/7.

This is Genielux.
Genielux is a new breed of search. A smarter, quicker, easier and much more accurate search engine for the entertainment market. You may manage a company with a large inventory, or own a small boutique with specialized inventory, or you might be an individual that owns and operates a single piece of gear. No matter how big or small your inventory is, there’s a place for you on Genielux.

The website is
Click on Sign Up Today

Your coupon code is: 48635836
This code expires 1/1/2010

After you have entered the promotional code and completed the registration, you will receive a confirmation email. It will say “You will be billed $2 USD monthly for your order (ID# xx).” But you will be charged nothing with this coupon. You won’t even have to enter your credit card information. The $2.00 charge per month is what the cost is to join without the code.

It’s very important that I get your feedback on your likes and dislikes about the signup process. If you have any suggestions or comments, I’d love to hear them. After all, this is what testing a product is all about.

What Is Genielux?
Genielux is a comprehensive resource for producers, designers, and industry professionals to easily find rental gear and to purchase entertainment equipment anywhere in the world. Vendors can create an online company profile which includes their sales and rental inventory. Visitors can search for a specific piece of gear by model and geographic location. Genielux searches the extensive database and displays a list of companies by location matching gear for hire or sale.

Gifts? For a Lighting Professional?! Oh my.

Yeah, oh my indeed.  I think one of the hardest things to do is to buy gifts for people working in the lighting industry.  I mean, it’s like anything technical, really – if it isn’t related to gaming, clothing, or nerdiness, then it’s something like a $16,000 spectroscope or a $3,000 dollar oscilloscope.

What?  Who asks for that for christmas?  Can Santa’s elves make that?  Do they just contract that out or something?

The other hardest thing about buying presents for a lighting professional is when you forget to get them until the Monday before Christmas!! I went through Amazon this morning and grabbed some stuff that I think lighting people would like, and I listed some of it below.  I picked stuff that I thought I would like to either give or receive – so good luck, and hurry up!  Christmas is on Friday! AAAA!  Two day shipping!
Gift ideas for lighting professionals

Did you pick something out?  Time’s a wasting!

  1. 10-LED USB light bar
  2. Kensington “Flylight” USB light
  3. Black and Decker “Ready Wrench”
  4. Crescent brand adjustable spanner with thumb slide (I have 2 of these!)
  5. 8″ Stanley brand “crescent” wrench (adjustable spanner)
  6. Cooper Lighting 80-LED rechargeable folding worklight
  7. Amprobe LM631A digital light meter
  8. Gerber Pro Scout needle-nose multitool
  9. christmas ornament earrings!
  10. christmas light earrings!
  11. Gerber’s Legen multitool
  12. Victorian-era Edison replica lamp, 25W
  13. 1890 Edison lamp replica, 40W
  14. 1910 squirrelcage filament replica lamp, 40W
  15. 1920 double-looped filament replica lamp, 30W
  16. 28-piece Klein tools Electrician set
  17. Leatherman New Wave multitool with leather sheath
  18. Lava Lamps!
  19. USB charm light
  20. christmas lights necklace
  21. Mastech 20-200,000 lux meter
  22. Sekonic L-358 Flash Master
  23. Sekonic L-398 light meter