Donate to Celiac Research - get listed on the Christmas Lights Web Site

Make a tax deductible donation to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research (UMBF) and I'll list your name/company on the main Christmas page and the Christmas webcam which were seen by bazillions of people last year. As of mid-December, total hits are over 5 times for the same time period in 2004, and here's some of the media coverage so far for 2005. Media coverage last year included: I'm not a lawyer/PR/marketing/whatever person, but lets make this real easy. Contact Pam King at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research and tell her the secret password - "I like Alek's Christmas Lights." Or better yet, just donate online at that URL (put that phrase in the comments) and forward me the confirmation Email. I'll add your name/company (must be family friendly and no more than 3 words) to the two web pages listed above and it will stay there until November/2006. No promises on number of web hits (who knows what will happen), but as mentioned above, traffic is noticeably higher so far this year. Donation levels are: $100 (individual), $1,000 (company with link), $10,000 (company with link and same-size logo). Contact me with any questions/comments, but THAT is the "deal" - i.e. it's real simple and don't bother me (or Pam King at the Celiac Research Center) with your lawyers, 50-page contracts, or any of that crap. I reserve the right to decline any ad and/or change these terms and conditions ... but I doubt that will happen. $3,731 was raised for Celiac Disease Research in 2005.

And check out the charity eBay auction of the "The Christmas Lights Webcam that Fooled the World - 100% of proceeds for Celiac Research. I figure since the Virgin Mary French Toast sold for $28,000, this well constructed (!) piece of history ought to be worth something, especially as a charity fundraiser! Update: Turns out the non-gluten-free 'Virgin Mary' French Toast was more valuable - oh well, it was worth a try.

kids with hulk My kids (that's Dirk, Kyle, and their Big Green Buddy in the picture) have Celiac Disease which is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the protein gluten found in wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats. Similar to diabetes, you don't grow out of this ... and there is no cure short of going on a strict gluten-free diet. So while low-carb diets are the rage these days, it's a bit of a challenge when the kids go to events such as birthday parties (cake is a no-no unless made with rice flour) or after school/sports gatherings at a pizza joint. There's a LOT more I could write (spending 4 days at Children's hospital for "failure to thrive" is no fun), but the kids are doing great now, mostly thanx to the great efforts by my wonderful wife Wendy. Recent breakthoughs like this is good news and hopefully when my kids grow up, they will be able to go out with (old) Dad not only for (corn chip) Nacho's and Margarita's (Tequila is OK) with them, but also Burgers (with a real bun) and Beer! ;-)

The Christmas Lights Webcam that Fooled the World in 2004

I have had thousands of Christmas lights on my house for the enjoyment of friends and neighbors since 2000. In 2002, I added a webcam and webcontrol, so people on the Internet could not only view his lights, but turn them on & off and see the results on their computer screen via the christmas webcam. It got increasingly popular each year, and in 2004, a media frenzy erupted over it and the story went around the world on the Internet, in print, on radio, and on TV - one of the more entertaining segments was when Denver ABC-7 took me up in their helicopter for a live report on the 6:00 News of the "blinking" lights.

There was only one problem - it was all a fun little Christmas hoax. The lights were real, but a sequence of still images were used to provide the illusion that people were changing them on their computers. My wife was made the lights blink when the news chopper was overhead, but the rest of the time they never changed! Concerned that my prank had gotten out of hand, I approached the Wall Street Journal to fess up, and when the WSJ broke the story after Christmas, it again got international coverage and people around the world got a good post-holiday chuckle.

But there really was a ... uhhhhhh ... webcam in 2004. As shown in the pictures below, I cobbled together something and duct-taped it in a tree across the street. This way, if someone "looked" for the webcam, well gee-golly, there it is! It had a long extension cord that ran under the neighbor's garage - needless to say, it wasn't plugged into anything ... ;-)

This obviousely was completely non-functional and I didn't spend a lot of money on it ... but it's argueably a piece of history ... so maybe I'll eBay it one of these days to raise money for celiac disease research since my kids have this malady.

All cobbled together on my sofa - Larger resolution Image


View from the upstairs balcony - also see grass grow! ;-)


200mm telephoto close-in shot


An 800x600 crop of the above image