Ah, another tune bound for the timeless collection of treasured FIXmas classics. Perfect background music for the current pre-Christmas season when homes get repaired for the holidays.
Gone are the happy golden days of yore, when a roaring fire could keep the family together in rapt attention for hours. Thankfully, there’s still 500 TV channels, so they can occasionally turn away from their texts, Instagrams, Snapchats, and Tweets, and gaze up in awe.
But until big screen TV’s hover like drones, or science invents a cure for gravity, you are probably going to need some help getting that formerly-named “boob tube” mounted on a wall. Tapping nails into walls won’t do it, even if you use those fancy-schmancy j-shaped picture hangers. And what if the wall surface is BRICK, like above a fireplace?
Beyond that, so let’s say you DO have the wherewithal to get that TV mounted on a wall. What about all those wires? Do you really like the way they drop down to the fireplace mantel shelf, snake off to one side, then down to the floor?
This is how we at Fix St Louis get to play Santa. We don’t perform the magic of delivering gifts to all the world’s children over a single night, but we do perform the magic of mounting TV’s to any wall surface. And while we might not be able to slide our handyman bodies down chimneys, we do know how to hide wires by fishing them through walls.
So imagine waking up to this on Christmas morning. There’s a TV above your fireplace, and hidden behind it are two things the TV is plugged into – an electrical outlet and a jack for the audio/video wire. Now look to the table, shelf, or cabinet to one side of the fireplace. There’s that cable box to which you point your remote, and behind it are two things it’s plugged into – an electrical outlet and a jack for an audio/video wire that is connected behind the wall to the jack behind the TV. See? No wires are showing!
At least in this one area, your life can be as perfect as the lives of the characters in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Your home can be as perfect as theirs, too! In any event, it’s a start.
So as the clock ticks down to the time your guests arrive, keep Fix St Louis in mind for those repairs you hoped to complete in the nick of time before St Nick arrives.
Now, let’s go for a big ending on our song:
Though there’s things to fix, in less than twen-ty days…
Merry FIXmas, to you!
Merry Christmas and Many Happy Repairs from Fix St Louis!
We now know that Russians have been getting involved in our elections to sow confusion, division, frustration, and anger. So tell me, WHAT does a handyman have to do in this town to get Bob Mueller to investigate the OTHER AREA where Russians may have been practicing this – the light bulb aisle?
If you’ve shopped for light bulbs lately, you know EXACTLY what I mean. The answer to “how many homeowners does it take to change a light bulb?” has become “TWO, the homeowner plus an illumination engineer.” Am I crazy to suggest this has the fingerprints of former KGB agent Vladimir Putin all over it? So, let me explain what has happened to light bulbs, and how to survive the newest front in the Cold War (aka the DARK War).
You are now paying 10x as much for light bulbs that allegedly last 10x as long and use 1/5 as much energy because the federal government says so. Now, it’s hard for this simple handyman to figure out exactly why if not for Soviet infiltration they would mandate this, but possibly our government just decided they’re smarter than inventor Thomas Edison, and at least one person sent out a Tweet claiming incandescent bulbs are sexist and racist.
First Generation Bulbs (CFL) – Soon to be Gone
The first bulbs released after the new law were called “CFL”, which either stands for Compact Fluorescent Light or Commie Fluorescent Light, depending on your choice of conspiracy theory. Think of them as fluorescent tubes re-shaped to fit into bulb sockets, so the quality of their light is as lousy as you would expect, which actually might be considered quite GOOD if you were unfortunate enough to live in the former Soviet Union. They look like a Dairy Queen vanilla ice cream cone, although if you were tempted to EAT them you might die of mercury poisoning. For these reasons and others, it will soon be lights out for these bulbs. Don’t let the lampshade hit you on your way out.
Current Generation Bulbs (LED)
Thankfully, American ingenuity rescued us from the above Soviet-style bulbs by introducing LED bulbs, which either stands for Light Emitting Diode or Lenin Extinguishing Device, depending on your choice of conspiracy. As it turns out, wire’s not the only thing that glows when you run electricity through it, good old American semiconductors do, too, and for whatever reason that’s just fine with our betters in Washington. At least for now.
While these bulbs started out looking strange, being hugely expensive, and had packages labeled in ways so no one could understand how bright they were compared to 60 and 100 watt bulbs, all of these problems are being addressed, as discussed below.
What You Need to Know and What You Need to Ignore
Meanwhile, as you navigate your way through the LED bulb aisle, stay focused on the 3 things that you also would have thought about in your incandescent bulb past: brightness, dim-ability, and color.
But be aware that a walk down the light bulb aisle is still like flipping through the pages of the former Soviet Union’s propaganda newspaper, Pravda. The packages are full of lies.
There are packages marked “incandescent” that are actually halogen lights made to look like the old bulbs. (BTW, you’ll also see some REAL incandescent bulbs that somehow escaped the government’s grasp by their low wattage or special design).
And while I praised the use of phrases on packages like “100 Watt Replacement” above, if you hold-up 2 different brands labeled that way, don’t be surprised if there’s as much as a 30% difference in brightness as measured in “lumens.” (Don’t waste your time learning the lumen system — it’s unlikely to catch on here among us proud metric-system-refusing Americans.)
So nice try, comrade Vladimir. When it comes to lighting our houses, guess we Americans are brighter than you think.
On Christmas morning, many St Louis families will be gathering in their Family or Great Rooms to open presents and celebrate the holidays. And, it’s a pretty safe bet that when they look toward the heavens, nobody is going to see a bright star in the East or anywhere else, because they’ll be indoors and it will be daytime.
But it’s also a safe bet that those in rooms with vaulted ceilings will see one or more burned-out bulbs. Part of the reason is that, as far as we know, no one has ever granted light bulbs the gift of eternal life. But the bigger reason is that many builders don’t have on their staffs so much as one Wise Man to ask the question of how in the world a homebuyer is going to change light bulbs that are 18 feet off the ground.
While we at Fix St Louis are quite humble about the contributions we make to mankind, and for good reason, we must confess that on this one very worldly issue we can function somewhat like your personal savior. For instance, we would guess you don’t own a step ladder tall enough so that you could touch a vaulted ceiling. We do. We would also guess that you are not crazy enough to climb to the top of said ladder to do something as trivial as change a light bulb. We are.
And while we’re up there, we can do other useful things. Like replace your old light fixture with a new one. Or add can lights whether or not there’s electricity up there. Or install or replace a ceiling fan. Or maybe even replace those standard light bulbs with new-tech ones that, while never the same each time you visit a hardware store, always claim to last much longer, so you won’t have to call us as often to change your bulbs.
You might want to think of Fix St Louis as your home repair angels who can slip the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of your ceiling. No, actually even better. Angels won’t repair your toilets!
Whether it’s an encouraging sign of American innovation, or a distressing sign of cultural decay, there’s no question something has been happening lately to the great American front lawn.
Seems like overnight we jumped from bird baths, small statues of Mary, and an occasional pink flamingo to gigantic, holiday-themed, animated characters, with no noticeable regard for what might be considered “good taste.”
Maybe Fix St Louis shouldn’t be enabling these developments, but we’re guessing you’d rather listen to Martha Stewart than this humble handyman on matters of taste. So, whatever you need from us to realize your front yard dreams, no matter how provocative, questionable, or ambitious, we’re in.
Think of Fix St Louis as the folks who can make the things in your front yard light up, move, or make noise. We can make that dragon flap its wings, get that skeleton to sit up and lie down while its coffin door opens and shuts, get a cackle out of that flying witch, and cast an eerie glow from anything anywhere.
We can make all this happen by installing new, weather-proof electrical outlets wherever you actually need them, rather than where they happen to be now. We can even install timers and dusk-to-dawn sensors so you can set-up decorations once, then leave them alone, without adding tasks to your daily to-do list.
Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have an outlet in your flower beds? Or on the side of a porch column right near the lawn? Or on your front wall? Or even on the ceiling of your front porch for Christmas lights and other hanging decorations? Sure beats buying & storing long cords, then stringing these trip-hazards throughout your yard, across your porch, then through a window or door you must now keep open to plug-in the wire inside.
Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t create this monster, even though we’re willing to feed it. We’ll let you and Martha fight it out.
We are pleased to announce that Fix St Louis has teamed-up with the Sun and the Moon for an unprecedented daytime test of your outdoor security lights. The test will begin next Monday, August 21st at 1:17 p.m. and end about a minute and a half later.
To prepare for the test, at about 1:15 p.m. walk around the inside of your house and flip every light switch that might control an outside light to the “on” position.
At 1:17 p.m., take a position outside your front door. Next, we need to do SOMETHING to keep you from being distracted by the thing everybody will be talking about the next day or two. I’m a humble handyman, not a licensed ophthalmologist, but geez, I’d think you could safely take a good, hard, short 5-10 second look at the Sun at this point without squinting through a red piece of cellophane that looks like it’s straight out of a Happy Meal. But, what do I know? As they say at the end of virtually every TV ad these days, “ask your doctor,” but not Dr Steve.
Now, turn your attention to your front wall lanterns and lamp post. If their lights had been off in the morning, but are now on, they are functioning properly. This means they are being controlled by dusk-to-dawn sensors, which have earned the Fix St Louis seal of approval as the correct light controls for the front of your house.
Dusk-to-dawn controls are the right ones for your front lights because they make your house look best at night, make would-be burglars think someone might be home, assure your neighbors that you are not a recluse, and avoid mixed messages between a doormat that says “Welcome!” and a lighting scene that says “Scram!” Timers are wrong because they go out of sync with the seasons and power outages, creating an additional maintenance task you don’t need. Manually turning your lights on and off every morning and evening is wrong because this is the 21st century.
There are only 3 known ways to get your front wall lanterns to do dusk-to-dawn. The first is to install outdoor lanterns with built-in dusk-to-dawn sensors, the second is to screw-in an aftermarket sensor between the socket and the bulb (if it doesn’t make the bulb too tall to fit), and the third is to install an outdoor, standalone sensor somewhere in that light’s electrical circuit. Fix St Louis can help you with all of these options.
In what’s left of the minute and a half that began with Test Phase II, we’re going to do a lap around your house to see which, if any, outdoor security lights turn on when you walk past them. But be careful — remember, it’s dark. Those that DO turn on pass the test. They’re controlled BOTH by motion detectors and dusk-to-dawn sensors, so they only turn on when it’s dark AND when creepy people and large animals might be lurking about. For those that DON’T turn on when you walk past, Fix St Louis can often fix them, or replace them with fixtures with the appropriate built in sensors, or sometimes just add sensors to them. Oh, and we can ADD outdoor security lights pretty much anywhere.
For those who can’t be at home for the test, you’ll be happy to learn that we’ve already booked the Sun and the Moon for an encore test on June 3rd, 2505. But, why put it off? Call Fix St Louis today!
Hey, your Great Room with the 2-story vaulted ceiling looks really great and all that, and I’m sure your home builder boasted about how spacious it made your house seem. But now that your builder is long gone and has cashed his check, you begin to wonder. How on God’s green Earth am I going to change a light bulb that’s 17′ up in the air?!
No problem, you figure. The last time you were in Home Depot, didn’t you see a light bulb changing kit that included an extension rod with all sorts of nifty light bulb grabbing attachments you could put at its end, like a suction cup, a basket, and a wad of used bubble gum? But if you had actually BOUGHT it and tried to use it, you’d know that you might just as well be a circus performer spinning plates at the end of that rod. And also that you forgot to buy two more things needed to change that bulb — a 10′ step ladder and a crash helmet to protect you from aerial bombardment by kamikaze bulbs that refuse to get suctioned or leap gracefully into the basket.
Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of more things builders do to make a house more showy, but leave homeowners helpless to do normal maintenance. How about climbing onto one of those modern, ultra-steep roofs that even a mountain goat isn’t crazy enough to get up on? Or that cedar deck whose boards will soon start fraying at the edges unless you stain it every 2 years? Or asking the crew from Merry Maids if they would kindly clean that window above your front door two-stories up?
Now I know that some of you are too young to remember this. But, I think it was maybe, oh, about two weeks ago that there was something called the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. And they had parades of elephants that were quite a spectacle. Now, think of your builder as the ringmaster, and think of those huge beautiful creatures as the houses he was showing-off, that captured your attention. Now, think of those men with the push brooms at the end of the parade. That would be us, Fix St Louis.
So, call Fix St Louis whenever you need to perform one of those impossible maintenance feats the builder didn’t warn you about. We can even make some of them go away, e.g. by staining that cedar deck with a deck paint that you would only have to re-paint as often as you would have to re-paint a house, not every couple of years.
Let’s finally talk about those maintenance elephants in the room. And don’t worry, we’re actually quite good at cleaning-up after ourselves.
Fix St Louis