As a handyman, I just can’t help it. I notice when things are broken, or not working as well as they once did, and try to fix them. And, I’m sensing that Memorial Day has become one of those things.
We’ve got a holiday weekend on which we’re supposed to honor, reflect on, and be grateful for the many who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that the lives of our families would be better. So, most of us do – what? Watch fast cars run around a famous race track, eat barbecued meat, take a day off from work, and drink adult beverages? Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but – for real?
Maybe Memorial Day has become a victim of America’s own success. It’s been so long since the average American family has been personally touched by a war with mass casualties that, for many, there isn’t even a local cemetery to visit that’s the final resting place of someone we personally knew who died in battle – a suitable venue for us to honor, reflect on, and be grateful for their sacrifice.
So, on this Memorial Day weekend, please allow this grateful handyman to offer this step-by-step Memorial Day repair manual.
Step #1: FULLY understand how grateful we should be to them
Every country has, and will always have, their war dead. But ours are special – really. They didn’t just fight for land, or to protect people of their own blood. Coming from the only country ever founded based on an idea, they fought for enlightened principles, the shorthand version of which is “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Even to this day, NO nation takes liberty as seriously as we do. And, no nation in history has liberated as many as our armed forces have – it’s in the hundreds of millions.
Step #2: Honor their sacrifice by having a fulfilling weekend
If they died for our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, the least we can do is enjoy them. By pursuit of happiness, our founders probably did not have roller coasters, bar hopping, reality TV shows, Snapchat, or other “fun” things in mind. They probably meant the more serious things that give us a longer-term glow, like family, vocation, community, and faith. So enjoying your family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend in a roundabout way DOES honor the fallen.
Step #3: Recognize and be proud of your own contributions
Here’s an exercise that you can do that, if it works for us handymen, it ought to work for you, too. Think about how your family’s vocations contribute to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For you health care and legal professionals, it’s pretty easy – you’ve got life and liberty covered. Most of the rest of us are in the the pursuit of happiness business. Here’s just some of the ways Fix St Louis helps make happiness possible:
Memorial Day weekend. There, I fixed it. Now go forth and pursue happiness.
Fix St Louis
Well, well, well. It seems like the Royal family has its OWN problems with leaks – and that Fix St Louis has developed its own anonymous sources. We are proud to share with you these shocking, never-before-published pics of the Royal Family doing their own HANDYMAN work – fixing-up their house preparing for the upcoming wedding of Harry and Meghan. We know they are authentic because Buckingham Palace refuses to return our phone calls, or to even acknowledge that we exist.
We also have obtained possession of the much older video footage below, captured at the wedding ceremony of Wills and Kate, that shows the Royal Family behaving like mere commoners.
Not that there’s any shame in doing handyman work which, come to think of it, is the only thing that we do. But, let’s face it, unlike the Royal Family, you are VERY busy, and have more important things to do with your time than attending ceremonies commemorating this thing and that, that happened many, many years ago, while looking fabulous.
So, here’s 4 good reasons not to feel guilty about not following the Royals’ example, and joining the “Don’t It Yourself” movement instead.
It will get done sooner. Getting things fixed in your home is our FIRST priority, even when it’s not for the honey-doer in your home. This is not going to drag on for weeks or months.
It will improve your marriage. It eliminates the tension between the reluctantly nagging spouse and the well-intentioned procrastinating spouse. And it frees-up time and energy to fight about more important things, like who your kids are hanging out with, whether that 5-iron was really the best use of the family budget, and how much longer the in-laws should be allowed to stay.
It will be done once and it will be done right. A do-it-yourself job by definition is a job done by – no offense intended – an amateur, who is usually learning to do something new in the process. That means it’s likely to take much longer, mistakes may be made along the way, the result may not be perfect, and it may have to be re-done in the future.
No one will be hurt in the process. We know how to handle things like high places, electricity, and moving heavy objects safely. This may matter to you, if you happen to love your spouse.
You know, I really kinda feel sorry for Harry and Meghan, who will probably be forced to move into some very old house that will require a lot of maintenance. You should count your blessings, and keep our number.
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.
It’s been a while since we’ve felt threatened by the former Soviet Union, yet today’s temperatures feel like we’ve been exiled to Siberia. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit – it’s actually a balmy day here compared to 27º below zero in Siberia as I write this. But STILL, this is AMERICA where all of us get to live like oligarchs in dachas, not prisoners in labor camps.
So if your house is a bit chilly right now, it’s only because you’re not fully exercising your rights endowed by your Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of comfort. Or something that means about the same thing, according to this particular Constitutional scholar. So, let’s rat-out the Soviet-style saboteurs in your home and bring them to justice:
If you have any gaps at the top or bottom of your windows that are letting in cold air, Fix St Louis can eliminate them. We can realign misaligned windows, replace faulty “window balances” that create jams, and add weatherstripping. If you’ve got old-timey windows that have a single pane of glass, the kind often accompanied by separate storm windows, we can bring you into the late 20th century with new windows that have 2 panes of glass and an insulating space in between.
If you have cold air coming in from the sides or top of your door, Fix St Louis can replace your weatherstripping. If the cold air is sneaking in from the bottom, we can replace that broken door sweep at the bottom of your door, and maybe adjust or replace your threshold. We can also realign misaligned doors and repair rotted door jambs and trim.
If the ceiling on your highest floor feels cold, it may be making your whole house cold. We can add insulation to your attic to keep that cold air away from that ceiling. You’ll want to check to make sure you’ve got at least 9″ of that fluffy stuff on the floor of your attic, which yields an insulating value of ‘R-30.’ (Don’t feel bad – I don’t know what the ’30’ means either).
Fix St Louis is not in the business of selling furnaces, so this will be just another handyman’s opinion. From the ads you hear on the radio, you’d almost think the purpose of buying a furnace is to become ‘efficient’, not comfortable. But the basics are that your furnace needs to be reliable, the right size for your house, and have blowers that function properly. There are also some variations on blower features that may or may not make a difference. Personally, I’m skeptical that the highest efficiency furnaces (e.g. 95%) ever pay for themselves anymore given their higher cost, more parts that can break, and lower recent costs of petroleum.
It’s a shame that most of what our kids know about the Soviet Union they learned from Yakov Smirnoff’s show in Branson, and frightening to think about future generations now that Yakov’s theater features Acrobats of China. So, let’s just do our best to keep the torch of liberty lit and our pilot lights glowing.
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!
The tell-tale signs are all around us. Your favorite radio station just switched to Christmas music, Schnucks is pushing whole turkeys. Furniture stores are running semi-annual going-out-of-business sales.
This can only mean one thing – the FiXmas season is upon us. Sure, it’s the season of gratitude, joy, goodwill to men, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. But as you count your blessings, is it a crime to count among them a house that’s in good shape for you and your guests to enjoy?
So, it’s time for making a list and checking it twice, no time to remodel, so let’s keep it concise. Here’s our TOP TEN list for the simplest, most guest-noticeable repairs this FiXmas season.
The holiday season may be mostly about giving to others, but a house that’s in good shape is BOTH a gift to yourself AND a gift to your guests. Now, THAT’s the FiXmas spirit.