Spending the Holidays Three Houses Down from America’s Christmas Lights Display Winner – #sonyholiday

Whitis Family Christmas House in Tallahassee, Florida. Winners of the GMA Contest.

Semper Fi Christmas House, Tallahassee, Florida

I’m spending the holidays in Tallahassee, Florida, which happens to be the town from which the Whitis family, the winners of Good Morning America’s “Our Lights Are Better Than Your Lights”, hail. I’m not only in the same town as this Christmas lights attraction, but approximately three doors down from it. When my family and I arrived after a very long drive yesterday, we had to get a police escort to stop traffic so we could get down the street to my sister’s house. Cars were lined up for at least a mile to get a chance to drive by the GMA winners’ home.

So what does it take to earn bragging rights for the best Christmas lights in the nation? Apparently, it takes 17,000 LED lights and a patriotic, red-white-and-blue light show set to the techno remix of Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American.” I can’t say it’s a beautiful display – the word “tacky” comes to mind. But it certainly took a lot of effort and the winners have asked visitors and online admirers to contribute to the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that provides “immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.”

I took a few photos* of the Whitis’ lit-up home, but you can’t really appreciate the audaciousness of this light display until you watch the video complete with music. Thankfully, for the neighbors’ sake, the family has purchased some radio spectrum (92.3 FM) for the duration of the Christmas light show so the neighborhood doesn’t have to endure techno music repeating on a four-minute loop for five hours per night. (I understand there’s currently a lawsuit against the family because of the light and music display, which is probably one reason why the radio spectrum was purchased.)

Here’s the full video of the Whitis’ family’s Semper Fi Christmas House, which will be on display through Christmas night. I promise you this is real:



*All photos (except featured photo) taken with the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-WX9 camera, which was provided courtesy of Sony.

On Republic Day, A Sad State of Affairs

Today’s a day off from work, so I can’t complain. Nevertheless, I thought I’d “celebrate” Republic Day by following up on the BMC demolition drive. It seems that the BMC wants to delist slumdwellers from the voter rolls because, in essence, once their homes are destroyed they no longer have addresses. And, without an address, you can’t vote. Sounds pretty democratic to me…

BMC wants evicted slumdwellers delisted
[from Times of India on 1/21/05…full text follows in case link ceases to work]

Not Much New in the New Year

Several weeks and a new year since I last wrote, the tsunami has wreaked unimaginable havoc in Asia, though, luckily, not in Mumbai. Many of my friends and family, as well as many people I’ve never met before, have gotten a good lesson in geography, which has resulted in many more emails and calls than I got in the past couple of months. It’s nice to know people pay attention to the news every once in a while.

I’m also happy to see that the Tsunami Help blog, the address of which I posted on December 28, has gotten more than one million hits! The site looks really polished now, and has a wealth of information about everything related to the disaster. It’s amazing what the contributors have been able to put together in a little under two weeks.

I wasn’t affected personally, but I have been apprehensive about random blogging in its wake. A sort of survivor’s guilt. I am reminded of the headlines of the satire paper, The Onion, a week of so after 9/11: “A nation longs to worry about stupid sh** again.” So I took a little break.

However, there have been some interesting developments on this side of the subcontinent that may or may not have been a result of the tsunami. Over New Year’s weekend, Mumbai was *gasp!* a bit chilly and windy (we’re talking maybe 70 degrees), perhaps an effect of meteorlogical disturbances. And, speaking of disturbances, some strange objects have washed up on the beaches here. We were near the shore on New Year’s day, and saw that a whole pig had washed up. As this area is populated with Muslims, who don’t eat pork, and Hindus, who don’t eat meat, we were slightly concerned about where this pig came from. Even when we’ve traveled around the countryside and passed farms, we haven’t seen anything resembling a pig. Could it have come from Southern India? Thailand? Who knows.

Even more depressing was seeing dozens of pairs of flip-flops – mostly children’s sizes – on the shore. I’m hoping it was just a coincidence. Alas, it was a grim reminder.

Despite all of that, New Year’s was nice, as we had some friends visiting from out of town. The weather, as I mentioned, was right pleasant and January’s climes have been very enjoyable. I should be back in better blog form soon.

In the meantime, a quick rundown of what I’d be writing about if I thought the time was right:
1) Amitabh AND Abhishek on Karan
2) Klum and Seal?!?
3) The Hooch Train
4) India’s fascination with Bryan Adams and Richard Marx
5) The pleasures of Indo-Chinese food (definitely more on that at a later date…)

Seriously, back to the tsunami…I have really been annoyed by the fact that India has, for the most part, refused aid relief from NGOs and other countries. I can understand it’s a pride thing. But, this tripe is coming from a land that has yet to eradicate polio, and is currently facing a jaundice epidemic in cities and in villages. There’s no shame in asking for (or accepting) help, India. If you ask me (and I know no one is), there’s more shame in being stubborn.