Christmas Light Display Rating System

On car trips, my wife Nancy and I enjoy playing games that involve watching for something or another and keeping a count. One game that we play in construction zones that have orange barrels with detachable bases is to keep track of the difference between the number of barrels and the number of bases. We start the count at zero, and add one for every base we see without a barrel, and subtract one for each barrel we see without a base. Usually, the count runs positive until the end of the construction zone, at which point we see the scattered barrels that were dragged by trucks and detached somewhere at the end of the construction zone. The final count is negative more often than not, indicating that there were more total barrels visible than bases. (I.e., some of the barrels had been replaced.)

We had talked for a while about ideas for a game for rating Christmas light displays. We needed a reasonably universal rating system, that was consistent from house-to-house, and that could be applied while driving by. After a few tries, we've finally settled on a ten-point rating system that's similar to the APGAR system for rating the health of newborn babies based on the presence or absence of ten different characteristics (such as breathing, presence of a heartbeat, etc.) As a result, we've nicknamed our Christmas Light Display Rating System the "AckBarf" scale.

Score one point for each of the following:

The Results:

Quick scoring:

Nancy and I generally start from a base score of "4", assuming multicolored lights on the house and in the yard. That way, we can subtract points if the display is in only one color, or if there are lights on the house but not in the yard (or vice-versa). Similarly, we can add points for blinking, "IPOs", brightness/coverage (usually obvious from up the street), and the bonus point.


[1] this is a slight change from previous years. The "multi" point used to apply only to blinking lights.

Copyright © 2000-2006 by Jeff Bigler and Nancy Gilman. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

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Last modified: Tue Dec 5 21:05:45 2006 by Jeff Bigler.