5 DYI Weekend Projects

My wife loves HGTV. In every show, the cast transforms a house in the course of a half hour. Being a man that is not afraid to take action (via SCV’s in Starcraft II), I will roll up my sleeves and write about five home improvement projects someone else (I’m playing Starcraft II) can do on the weekend.

1. Paint – While easy in theory, the actual process involves about three hundred various steps, which have about twenty different grades of tools. I always thought paint involves a brush and paint. Aside from moving the furniture and placing paper on the floor, there is about three different types of chemicals to clean the wall, fifteen different putty knives to seal the holes, five hundred varieties of sandpaper to smooth the wall and that’s all before the primer.

For the uninformed person like myself, choosing the right tool for the job usually involves calling my wife (to find the variety of tool), then calling my wife’s father (to find the grade). I always thought sandpaper was merely sandpaper. Of course the process is repeated when I forget scraper, “The 2 inch, 5 inch, 7 inch?” Lucky for you, because you’ve read this column, you’ll know to call someone more knowledgeable than you ahead of time. You’ll have saved a lot of trips to the hardware store and have more time to stare at the tools confused about what to do next.

2. Laminate Floors – Most laminate floors (looks like wood, made from discarded Gobots) snap into place with a simple click. Unlike paint, the laminate floor has the alluring quality of seeming simple. Don’t believe it! It’s a trick! They do not snap into place so easily. The simple solution is paint a picture of Tony Danza, Che Guevara, and Judy Blume on the pieces of flooring. The frustration of “easy snap” pieces will be diffused by giggling when Judy wears Che’s hat (That’s not her hat! Hee! Hee! Ho!).

3. Cabinet Refitting – Why look at those cabinets made for Donna Reed in the fifties? New cabinets are simple. Replace the cabinet door! This project not only involves paint but also power tools. Most humor writers will warn of the limb thirsty drill in the hands of an amateur. I think power tools are actually very safe to use. Most people are fairly aware of how to not drill a hole in their palms (unless they are practicing for stigmata).

What they don’t realize is the humor potential of overpowered drills. Fun tricks are simple matter of setting up the scene. Simply place ketchup behind cabinet door, drill, and scream. Tricks like these usually work better with fake body parts. You’ll get extra bonus points if the doctor in the emergency ward actually considers reattaching the thumb.

4. Pet Doors – Unrestricted access to the outside is like tearing down the Berlin Wall of the pet world. Installing a pet door may seem a little scary with the giant hole to the backyard. However, making the hole is fairly simple and is achieved with various methods. The easiest is buy lots of booze, bowling balls, and invite the local touring Punk Speed Metal to sleep at your house. The downside is you won’t be able to choose the location of your pet door. Another option is antagonize your Civil War Cannonade Rein-actor Neighbor.  However, for those “hands-on” types, use a chainsaw. Wait till your children are home by themselves for extra laughs.

5. Doors – Replacing doors is pretty easy. Remembering the keys is the hard part. Explaining to your wife why the children ate each other while she was gone for the weekend is even harder. She won’t be impressed by your ability to survive in the backyard via the neighbors fruit tree. On the upside, you will be more attune with nature and you’ll finally be able to run freely with the wolves.

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Other Fun Pass Throughs

A while back, I mused about the idea of building a pass through in my bathroom in a post entitled: The Manly Bathroom. I’m honored by the sheer scale of readership for that post. For every four visits to the website, at least one of them is an unsuspecting DYI-er looking for either bathroom pass throughs or manly bathrooms. Of course my site has no helpful advice for either. However, since the public has demanded pass throughs, I shall offer more fun locations in the house for pass throughs.

The Children Bedrooms:

Most sibling rivalry is seeded in jealousy of the other sibling. The easiest way to solve disputes is a pass through in two adjacent children rooms. Rather than having Big Sister play with her My Little Ponies secretly in her room, Little Brother can stage a G.I. Joe sniper with a tranquilizer gun via the pass through. In order to get rid of pesky Little Brother, Big Sis needs to toss one of the ponies over. Little Bro can now feel like he is part of the herd and Big Sis can spend her youth free of a murder rap.

The benefits in their teenage years are clearly when Little Bro is feeling left out of the Big Sis Sleepover Party. Her friends will be thrilled to know Little Bro is watching them sleeping, making sure they are safe during the night. Big Sis will benefit from the pass through when she tosses her bag of pure black-tar heroine into Little Bro’s room during an DEA raid of the house. The parents really should think about building another pass through from the bathroom to Little Bro’s room as well to dump the Meth Lab equipment. Lucky for Little Bro, he has a very caring family and they will visit him in federal prison.

The Living Room:

Most homeowners usually build pass throughs from the kitchen to the living room. Very few think about the benefits from the living room to the outside. For the family in the previous example, they can use the quick access to outside during the DEA raid. Even for families that don’t make their income on illegal substances, the outside is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.

The homeowner doesn’t even need to leave their home to get a dose of the great outdoors. Of course by “Great Outdoors,” I mean hunting. Imagine sitting on the couch watching Hitler invade Poland for the 467th documentary when a bird flaps by the window. BLAM! Diner is ready tonight. That pesky dog who always poops on your lawn. BLAM! The neighbor who always tries to convince you to join their church… BLAM! Those FBI agents telling you that your house is not legally Bobdonia and still accountable to the laws of the US. BLAM! BLAM! THEY WILL NEVER TAKE YOU ALIVE! What’s that tear gas can doing on your floor? That’s YOUR pass through! From YOUR country! They’ll need to show you a passport before they can swing through the opening…

The Office:

Even if your family doesn’t make their living via any illegal activity, the office is a great place for a pass through. Imagine, the President is over to visit and you have an idea that will innovate the oil spill clean up: Bob’s Giant Vaccu-suck. You casually leave the screen saver off, and make little remarks about the office pass through. Obama glances at the screen. “Brilliant,” he exclaims and hugs you for your innovation. You are a true patriot and American.

Except he is not looking. He keeps remarking on the quality of the craftsmanship. The plans are RIGHT THERE. HE WILL LOOK. Time to a take a hostage…

On second thought, maybe you should stick to just a bathroom pass through.

10 Ways to Help the Environment

In today’s world of choking on poisonous air in a sweltering heat bath, anyone can save themselves from dying and maybe some birds too. Here are 10 ways to help the environment from the comfort of your own home.

1. Recycle, Reuse, Reduce

Why flush human waste when you can reuse it? Take your unwanted poop, place in used paper sack, light on fire, set in front of Old Man McCrummi’s door, and ring doorbell. Recycle by using the bag again and again! Reduce the prep time for the prank by having several ready to use “poop fires.”

2. Use Less Heat and Air-Conditioning

Always turn on your air-conditioner and heat at the same time. Teamwork means everybody wins when the utilities don’t have to work as hard!

3. Use Those Trippy Spiral Light Bulbs

Whoa, those blow my mind! Like that “acid trip” screen saver program. I’m totally going to have a room full of computer monitors running all the time with the “acid trip” program and maybe five hundred spiral light bulbs. I’ll call my room “The House of Love and Light.”

4. Drive Less and Drive Smart

This one is pretty simple. Don’t drive your car. Always use your roommate’s car. Say winter has come and you want a cigarette. Rather than stand in the cold, you turn on your roommate’s Chevy and stay warm while you smoke. Your carbon footprint is zero because you didn’t use your car!

5. Buy Energy Efficient Products

Be cautious! Energy bars don’t actually have the most energy! Soda has way more. Energy equals calories. Most energy bars: 130 calories. A bottle of soda: 280 calories. Even if you only want a sip, dump the rest. You can always buy another bottle later.

6.Use Less Hot Water

Another easy solution. Use all the hot water when you take a shower so your roommate won’t use any. Sometimes you really need to crack that environmental whip.

7. Use The “Off” Switch

Your roommate is playing that god awful music again? Use the “off” switch. He’ll appreciate your caring attitude toward power efficiency.

8. Plant a Tree

Plastic trees are pretty cheap! Tear out all the plants in your yard and replace them with fake ones. You’ll use less water and look way cool because you can have skull pattern leaves or something.

9. Report Card From Your Utility Company

High numbers on the report are always good. Try and get the highest number ever on the power meter fixed to the side of your house.

10. Encourage Others to Conserve

Totally kick your roommate in the nuts if he tries to throw away your “poop fire” bags. A good prank should always be conserved.

Manly Paint Jobs

One of the distinguishing features of our relationship with my fiancé is my lack of domestication. I am able to preform basic functions such as use the toilet, close doors (sometimes), and dress myself (the last one is questionable). Other duties, such as painting the house, come from a mystical realm of wonderment and awe. When we decided to paint our living room, I envisioned a paint can, a brush, playfully slapping paint on my fiancé, passionate kissing… The reality was a shopping cart full of things I didn’t know even existed, taping everything short of the cat, hours of work, playfully twitching my nose, and a suggestion to leave the smelly house while it dries.

Most of the actual brush to wall work was done by Felicia, my fiancé. Anything in the category of “crafts” is usually mangled by me. For example, we bought a DVD shelf that came in a box. Time for my manliness to shine! I will construct a shelf that can be assembled by a second grader. CRACK! A screw though the wood and a gash in the shelf. Another project, reassemble a table from my grandmother. Called the neighbors on that one. When we were deciding on colors, my fiancé had to cover up the paint sample I put in the wall. Somehow I managed to mess up paint we were planning to paint over anyway! Needless to say, my painting day duties were centered on providing lunch, buying supplies, and making sure the pets did not step in the paint.

The color on our wall is called Arizona Sunset. Felicia jokingly exclaimed, “We should paint a real sunset on the wall.” Lacking sophistication in the humor arts, I thought she was being serious (if she said “Let’s paint poop on the wall!” I would have got the joke). Sensing my hesitation, she laughed at my folly and explained her jest.

Because of my deficit of anything manly with paint, all my man points will come in the form of manly painting ideas. A sunset can be really manly. Simply place a cowboy riding into the sunset. Bonus if there is a buxom woman on the horse. Any number of manly objects can be brushed on the walls: swords, motorcycles, and chainsaws. Your partner will be ready to sleep with you after they see the fighter jet in the living room decor (after the paint thinner of course). For the really hyper masculine schemes, make a mural of the every Manowar album cover. The manliest of manly paintings, however, was one from real life. My friends bought a house with a mariachi band mural on the back wall. Painting is one of those acts that really personalizes a house. For my friends, the Viet Cong greeted them every morning. They changed the guitars into machine guns and sombreros into Nón lá. Thus proving once again that men shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near paint.

Grilled To Your Satisfaction

From my book Free Advice: Just Add Money: (Now with better editing!)

I recently bought a grill for my father. He loves the grill for its ease of use, light the gas then start grilling. Before the gas powered grill, every Sunday my father bought enough lighter fluid to burn down a small country and used it to coat a tiny pile of charcoal. My family had to hide in an underground bunker while my father lit the charcoal. After explaining to the Air Force that the “napalm attack” on our residence was my father lighting the charcoal, we sat down to enjoy nice home grilled burgers. Of course, it became too expensive to feed the fire department, and Air Force. We decided to buy a gas grill. In 1812, if the British owned gas powered grills, they would have never burnt Washington D.C. during their victory celebration.

British Soldier: Sir, I think we have a problem.

British Officer: Yes I know, all they have is this “BBQ” sauce. I am sure the crown will send us a fresh shipment of Worchester sauce.

British Soldier: Worse, look.

Washington D.C. is burning.

British Officer: Stupid charcoal grills.

With our new grill, we can enjoy a family meal without breaking any fire laws. During our family meals, my dad would always give me advice about the importance of college so I won’t be flipping burgers the rest of my life. Yet on weekends we always flipped burgers. Of course, I have a degree in theatre so I will have no choice but to flip burgers. Update: I have a Masters Degree in Theatre now, though the statement above still applies. This piece of advice is very valid because without a degree you will be so sick of burgers that once the weekend rolls around you will not want to flip burgers.

However what if the youth today did not want to be doctors but wanted to flip burgers? College education can still play a vital role in the burger career choice. In effort to give accurate advice, I did some research. I called a few universities to find out what burger-flipping curriculum they offered. They usually hung up on me or referred me to the theatre department. Since most people wouldn’t want to go through all those theatre classes to be a professional burger flipper, I decided that once I can raise enough funds (through careful placements of mints in restaurants), I can start my own burger flipping school.

In the school, we will teach all sorts of interesting material about not only flipping burgers but about the business as well. For those who want a life long career in the field, we will teach you how to keep your zits for the rest of your life. We will also teach how to let your voice crack when you say, “would you like fries with that?” My school will also provide night classes to fit the schedule of people who need to get mugged at midnight on the shady end of town when they leave from work. I think I will call it the University of Albuquerque so I can locate it in Phoenix.

We will also reveal the big secret to burger flipping that is used by fast food chains around the world. Since I trust all of you to keep it a secret, I will tell you it for the first time in print. Before I tell it to you, I must stress that this is a secret kept for generations of burger flippers dating back to a Neanderthal named Granorak. He invented the McMammoth. Trust me, not telling anyone the secret will help you later on in life. For instance you can use this secret when you apply for a job at a burger-flipping joint:

Manager: To begin this interview, I must first ask you one question. What is the secret for flipping burgers?

You: There isn’t one.

Manager: Your hired.

The secret to flipping burgers is: not to actually flip burgers. It is that simple! Ever wonder why you at home with your Char-Broil grill do not get paid to flip burgers while corporate fast food chains get paid millions to do it? You can microwave them, steam them, boil them; use a flamethrower, and even flame broil them (a combination of all of the above), just so long as you do not actually flip them! Please take this information to the heart for I fear for my own safety. With that I have go, I think I hear the McPolice coming.

The Manly Bathroom

Felicia’s (my fiancé) dad (Mike) cut (sawed) a (an indefinite article) hole (a void in the space time continuum) through (a preposition) our (OURS NOT YOURS, QUIT BEING SO SELFISH!) living room (we die if we exit the room, it’s very inconvenient) and (a conjunction) kitchen (the place where we have Wolfgang Puck tied up and forced into servitude, I mean… the place where we… um… have carrots. Lots of carrots.). In case you missed that first sentence, we have a pass through from our kitchen to our living room cut by Felicia’s dad. Not only did the pass through open up the kitchen but should ninjas attack while say for example, I am cooking carrots, I have an opening for a quick black flip to freedom.

I learned that a pass through is traditionally from the dining room to the kitchen. The food is passed through the kitchen to the dining room. The concept of a pass through can be used for many purposes like for example in the bathroom. Picture this, you’re in the bathroom after a cheeseburger eating contest, you set down Guns & Ammo and reach for the toilet paper. Empty! You reach into the cabinet, fifteen extra tubes of Tolnaftate cream, Old Spice, and that pizza you lost last week. None of those will be able to take a man like you. Waddling to the doorway, you call into the house “Honey, I need more shit catchers!”

“Why don’t you call it toilet paper?” Your wife inquires.

“I am a man’s man dear! I use shit catchers, brush my teeth with steel wool, and cut my hair with a buzz saw.”

Then of course you have to stand in the doorway, pants down, waiting for the toilet paper roll. Not very manly.

Imagine that transaction with a bathroom pass through. You put down Guns & Ammo, and yell “Honey, I need more shit catchers.”

Minutes later, a roll comes flying through the bathroom pass through. You catch it and weep remembering that touchdown you made in high school. Seventy five yards to fame baby. Yeah that’s manly alright. Because the bathroom pass through is a very manly concept. The house doesn’t tell you what to do, you tell the house what to do.