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Have Yourself a Solar-Powered Little Christmas


Last week, bigwigs in California's electricity industry warned that holiday light displays could zap the state's feeble electricity grid, causing rolling blackouts.

This week, residents began contemplating the frightening ramifications: TV news anchors with un-blow-dried hair, Angelyne billboards turned off at night and--in a worst-case scenario--unplugged latte machines at Starbucks.

Already, several stage two power emergencies have been declared. But there's no reason for panic. We've devised strategies for reducing Christmas power consumption:

* Require Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to switch to an energy-efficient fluorescent nose bulb.

* Use California's vast, untapped reserve of hamster power. Connect Christmas tree lights to the exercise wheels inside hamster cages.

* Synchronize all twinkling lights so that when Northern California bulbs flash on, Southern California lights flash off, thereby slashing peak electricity consumption.

* In public creche displays that feature characters illuminated from the inside, reduce the number of Wise Men from three to two.

* Glow-in-the-dark tree ornaments.

* Relax emission standards on reindeer-powered vehicles so Santa won't have to switch to an energy-guzzling electric sleigh in order to comply with EPA pollution rules.

* On holiday decorations that include an electric train set circling the Christmas tree, remove the caboose so less power is needed to pull the train around the track.

* Ration Christmas light usage on an odd-even basis. For example, residents whose addresses end in an even number can only operate Christmas lights on even-numbered days. Addresses ending in fractions cannot use Christmas lights at all. And, in holiday parades, every other float must go dark.

* Burn leftover Florida chads for heat.

* Outlaw Christmas trees taller than 5 feet, thereby reducing the number of lights.

* Urge Christians to convert to such tree-free religions as Islam, Judaism or the worship of Zeus.


Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is

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