Flag…Christmas tree…Flag

In 2002, AutomationDirect erected a 100 foot tall stainless steel flag pole to show our support for our country. A 30 foot by 60 foot flag was raised to wave beautifully at all the passersby. Over the years, we’ve received letters from some of those passersby telling us how inspiring it is to see the flag and our patriotism. We’ve even had some of them stop by to thank us personally.

The flagpole, which has become a focal point when assembling for holiday celebrations, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day, has found another use as well. During the Christmas season, the flag is carefully stored away, and long strands of Christmas lights are attached to the pole in Maypole fashion. Being in the automation industry, we couldn’t let the lights just sit there all aglow. We put our PLCs and other products to use and created a musical light show.

The first few years we used 32 strands of lights, with 3,250 green and 3,250 white incandescent bulbs, with cables and wires totaling over 3 miles in length. When illuminated, they consumed as much as 46,000 watts of power. In fact, the power company had to install an additional power transformer near the tree to handle the demand.

In 2006, we switched to LED bulbs, using 3,250 of each in red, green, white and blue. There are now 64 strands totaling over 7 miles of cables and wires. Since LEDs draw less current, we are using less energy than the previous design. The tree is topped with a man-sized star. Also, some of the outdoor lights located on the building near the tree have been replaced with colored LED lights.

As a final touch, we place a life-size hand painted fiberglass manger scene at the base of the tree each year. Year after year, the manger scene is the subject of many letters of appreciation from our neighbors.

At the annual company Christmas event, employees and their families gather around the flagpole Christmas tree, each holding a battery-illuminated candle. The Christmas tree lights begin to blink, the music begins to play, and the tree comes to life. This past season the show was synchronized to “Carol of the Bells” by Mannheim Steamroller. This annual event adds a special dimension to everyone’s holiday season.

After the New Year arrives, the lights are taken down and the flag is returned to its honorary position, until the next Christmas season.

1. What’s the largest US coin that can pass through a hole cut in a piece of paper that is exactly this size without tearing the paper? This circle can be re-created by cutting a hole the size of a nickel (0.835 inches in diameter) in a piece of paper.


2. Can you grasp a handkerchief by two opposing corners and tie a single knot in the center without letting go of either end?

3. The machine shop in Puzlandia currently has 22 machine tools on the shop floor arranged as shown below (top view). The shop foreman wants to re-arrange the machines into rows of four to increase the efficiency of the shop. How many rows of four can you provide given that he will only allow you to move six of the machines? He claims he can achieve 19 rows of four. Can you find a way to re-position just six of the machines and get 20 rows of four machines?


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