Light Switches and Rocket Science

The Island King and I were talking about one of his jobs the other day, trying to decide how many hours he'd put in on that particular job.

He was adding up drive time, shoot time and processing time and then threw in his standard "and it took almost an hour to turn all of the lights on and off."

He complains about turning lights on and off almost every time he gets home from a shoot and naturally I can't help but tease him about it.

They're lights. It's not rocket science. How hard can it be to turn lights on and off?

It's gotten so that I tease him about the lights on a regular basis. He'll come home and I'll ask if he needs to rest after wrangling those pesky light switches and then I fall over in a fit of laughter.

He doesn't laugh. He just shakes his head and tells me that I just don't understand.

And of course that makes me laugh harder and tell him how worried I am about him driving an automobile when he hasn't even mastered light switches yet.

So the other evening he came home, complained about the lights and after I stopped laughing he said "That's it. You're coming with me tomorrow and we'll see just how fast you can get those lights turned on and off, Miss Smarty Pants."

I couldn't wait. I planned on zipping through the house, turning all of the lights on and then laughing until my sides hurt. Because unlike my husband, I mastered turning on and off light switches years ago.

The next day on the way to the shoot I was being sarcastic and told him that he should be afraid because not only did I master light switches when I was two but that I'd practiced a little before we left home just to make sure my flipping finger would be in top form.

He smirked and said "We'll see."

We pull up to the house he's to shoot and it was spectacular. Almost 10,000 square feet of stunning Bay front home. And we both agreed that I needed to walk around and gawk a minute before getting to the light switch challenge.

After all, I don't spend a lot of time in mansions on the water and a little gawking is in order.

We wandered around, gawked over everything and then it was time to begin.

Every light has to be turned on for the photos, lamps, overheads, floor lights, all of them.

I started at the front door. Time 1:20.

Hmm. There are no light switches but there is a control panel of some kind on the wall. But it has no writing on it. NONE.

I looked at the Island King but he just smirked at me and looked at his watch.

I realize that this is taking too long so I decide to come back to this one.

Into the living room I go.

Lots of light switches. Scattered all over the room. And lots of lamps.

I'll start with the lamps. I reach under the shades and start switching them on but nothing is happening.

I'll come back to them.

I start pushing light switches and a few lights come on but most of the switches do nothing.

I've been at this for five minutes now and have only turned on about 4 lights.

Around the corner I spot another control panel - with not one word or diagram on the thing.

What are these? I thought maybe the one by the front door was an alarm system of some sort but now I see they are scattered around the house.

So I start pushing buttons.

Which is a horrifying thought. This is a five million dollar home and I'm just randomly pushing buttons on a panel that controls who knows what.

I took a second to make a mental note that we might need more insurance.

As I pushed buttons lights started coming on. Whew. It's a light switch control panel. Too bad there isn't a diagram or something on here to help out.

By pushing all of the buttons I managed to turn on about a third of the lights - in that room.

But there are still several spot lights and lamps that aren't on.

I'll come back.

Into the kitchen I go and it starts all over again. I push switches on the wall and a few but not all the lights come on. I find another control panel (hidden in a cabinet for Pete's sake) and more lights come on.

I need the stove light on too so I walk over to it but there is no switch. I can see the light but where is the switch?

I'm really starting to burn time so I decide to come back to that.

Down a hallway and into a bathroom. More switch pushing, control panel wrangling and amazingly every light in the bathroom is on. Yes! I've got the hang of it now.

Off I zip into a bedroom and get the overhead light on but the lamps won't light.


The Island King is following me around and by now he's grinning from ear to ear.

"Sooooo. It's 1:45 which means that you've been in light switching mode for twenty five minutes now and you're not even close to done."

At this point I had no choice but to admit defeat.

I have never seen so many lights in my life. Those control panels? Worthless without a diagram. And what is wrong with the lamps? Good grief.

"Dude, I am so sorry that I've been teasing you about this. I don't know much about rocket science but this is some complicated stuff."

After he finished gloating - which I freely admit he was entitled to - he told me that it's taken a while but that he's got a lot of it figured out.

All lamps are turned on by remote controls. But the hard part is finding the remotes. Most of the time they're next to the lamps but often they get put in drawers.

As for the control panels he said that only about half of them have diagrams and with the rest it's a hit or miss thing. Push the buttons and hope the lights come on.

You also have to turn on all wall switches because for some reason those lights aren't wired into the control panel.

Good grief.

Working together it took us twenty more minutes to turn the rest of the lights on.

When the shoot was finished we had to turn all of the lights off. And even though we now knew how to turn them off it still took both of us another twenty minutes.

If I had a big house with lights like that I'd want one master control panel or remote control that did everything. I found out later that the control panel by the front door only turned on the lights out front.

He said that some houses have better control panels than others but that he's only shot one house that had a true master control.

It's a Microsoft smart house and he says that control panel does it all. And has a touch screen with every option and directions for making things happen.

So I've learned that I can't tease the Island King anymore about the hour he spends turning lights on and off because it's as close to rocket science as you can get without a rocket.

And if I ever buy a mansion I'm going to have to hire someone to be in charge of the lights.