Russians hacked the light bulb aisle

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.

  • If you want the equivalent brightness of an old 100 watt bulb, look for packages that read 100 Watt REPLACEMENT.
  • If you want to be able to dim your bulbs, look for packages that mention this feature. Also, make sure your dimmer switches at home are compatible with LED bulbs. Fix St Louis can swap out your light switches if you need to.
  • If you prefer the yellowish light of old incandescent bulbs, the harsh white used in police interrogations, the look of old soft white bulbs, or light that simulates daylight, look for WORDS on the packages that say this. And, unless you’re a geek, try to ignore the “K” ratings that are actually temperature measurements based on the Kelvin scale, which apparently provide some indication of color.

Ongoing Propaganda

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.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis

Why so few US gold medals?
A handyman’s view

I know many of you are disappointed, or perhaps even embarrassed, by America’s low medal count in the Winter Olympics. You’re perplexed how a nothing-burger country like NORWAY could end up with TWICE as many medals – a country with a population not much bigger than greater St Louis, and whose primary economic output isn’t human essentials like Bud Lite, Puppy Chow, and Weed-B-Gon, but slow-moving garage sale items like garden trolls.

But we at Fix St Louis, as keen observers of homeowner nature, know EXACTLY why our nation earned so few gold medals. It’s that Americans DON’T LIKE gold anymore. So, we have lost our motivation to “go for the gold.”

How do we at Fix St Louis know this? Because we spend a lot of time in other people’s bathrooms. And we can tell you, gold-colored fixtures are out, out, out! If you don’t believe us, just ask your nearest realtor. When listing agents spot gold fixtures in bathrooms, they act like Superman suddenly realizing there’s kryptonite in the room.

Sad to say, but if we are going to make America competitive in the Olympics again, we are going to have to bring about a new world order, with medals that reflect America’s more sophisticated tastes:

First Place: Brushed Nickel

Among our design-conscious customers, this now seems to be the preferred finish for all household fixtures, including faucets, shower doors, door knobs, and even kitchen appliances, where its equivalent is called “stainless.” These fixtures are silver-colored with a dull, matte finish. It has a soft look that doesn’t call attention to itself, even if there’s a lot of it around. BONUS: It hides water spots and fingerprints, and doesn’t have to be shined to look good.

Second Place: Chrome

This classic, original style of bathroom fixtures is still very popular, even among the design set. It’s a shiny silver color and gives off a sparkling clean look. But it does need to be cleaned more often than brushed nickel to avoid looking dull and spotted.

Third Place: Oil-Rubbed Bronze

This finish is now “hot.” It’s a dark color, anywhere in the range from deep chocolate brown to dark gray, with thin highlights of bright copper. Yes, it would make a cool-looking Olympic medal, but this handyman’s take is we may be looking at a fad that may not last to the next Olympiad. But, what do I know? I’m just your lowly handyman, not some celebrated designer.


 I’ve just been alerted the US Men’s Curling Team has won the gold medal! Still, I’m not sure this changes anything. As an American, I look at that 40 lb granite stone sliding down the ice and think it’s a waste of what could have been a perfectly good kitchen countertop, and that a vacuum cleaner works much better than their brooms, no matter how fast they sweep them.

In any event, we’re America, so we don’t need no stinkin’ medals, anyway. Norway, you can have your 15 seconds of fame once every 4 years – we’ll have ours in all the time in between.

Dr Steve

Fix St Louis


Super Bowl Highlights: The continuing battle of Toilets vs Men

Sure, you hear a lot about the war on women. But for those of us who spend a lot of our time with our heads in toilets, you’d swear there was a war on men. Let me bring you up-to-date on some developments in toilets that the mainstream media refuses to cover.


It’s been said the purpose of NATO in post-WWII Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. So, I think that must be behind the politically-correct movement to turn German men into “Sitzpinklers”, those who assume the seated rather than the spraying position in the bathroom. Unfortunately for women everywhere, it appears this cause has been lost, as “Sitzpinkler” in Germany has come to mean a man who is hen-pecked or is a wuss.

2-Button Toilet

More recently there was an attempt to force men to hold the future of the planet in their hands by introducing the two-button toilet. To preserve our precious water resource, which only covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, men were being asked to push the smaller of 2 flush buttons. This button releases the smaller amount of water needed to handle the unique, all-liquid toilet contents possible only by men. This experiment has also failed, as men who cannot be trained to lower the seat also cannot be trained to press the smaller of 2 buttons, no matter how good the cause.

The Bidet

Another idea bound to fail in America was the attempted incorporation of the European bidet into toilets. One of the latest attempts by Kohler introduces a system that seems more like an inverted car wash. It has a water-spraying wand that pops-out during the rinse cycle, followed by an air dryer that pops-out as a finale. But since American men are generally repulsed by thinking about lady parts this way, and queasy about getting this type of ambush from below themselves, this battle has now shifted to the shower with the emergence of hand-held showerheads.

The Bellagio

If I didn’t know better, I’d think a new innovative toilet by Kohler is designed to simulate the experience of straddling the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to the under-chassis car wash bidet mentioned above, it features – and I am not making this up – ambient colored lighting with 8 colors and 3 programming options, a heated seat, a foot warmer, and wireless bluetooth music sync capability. Maybe what happens in Vegas ought to stay in Vegas.

Finally, a Victory for Men?

When I recently visited the Kohler showroom on Clayton Road in Ladue, I got a glimpse of the future, and surprisingly it may be a good one for men. When I walked by a toilet, I could swear the thing saluted me, and for a fleeting moment thought this old handyman was finally getting the respect he always craved and deserved. But actually, this toilet was just showing-off its motion-activated, hands-off opening capability. Then, when I walked away, it lowered the lid all by itself, shielding future generations of men from accusations of negligence. Further endearing itself to men, it even came with its own REMOTE! Clearly, America is back!

So, you women out there who think that being a man is all about flouting our privilege, think again. In any event, we men are certainly not leading from behind.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis

Contingency plans now in place for next government shutdown

We know many of you are understandably concerned about how you will keep your home in good shape without the help of the federal government, in the event of another shutdown. Please be assured there is no need to panic. All of our handymen here at Fix St Louis have now been reclassified as “essential personnel,” so will be on-the-job. We have also put together this contingency plan to keep up with the federal government’s priorities.

Draining the Swamp — We will continue to drain the swamp, or more accurately fix the drain leaks that create the yucky swamps at the bottom of your kitchen and bath sink cabinets. BTW, did you know we can repair or even replace the deteriorated floors of your sink cabinets?

Building Walls — For whatever reason, our work building walls and fences has never been questioned, and we continue to build (or remove) them based upon Executive Orders from our customers.

Wetlands — We’ve heard that some of your bathroom sinks and tubs drain so slowly that the EPA has designated them “wetlands,” banning you from further remodeling projects. If true, we’d like to hear from you, and get this work done before the government reopens.

Regulations — Regular readers know I am a regular whiner about what the poopy-heads in our federal government have done to the great American toilet, reducing tank capacities by more than 75% to a piddly 1.6 gallons today. A government shutdown could only HELP, slowing down the inevitable march to — what? A tank capacity of 2 water drops? Then, you’d need to call Fix St Louis every time you needed your toilet flushed!

Climate Change — Believe me, with these recent cold temperatures, if we could do ANYTHING to change the climate, we would. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to keep up with your home repairs through a combination of your patience and our frequent schedule shifting of inside and outside jobs. In a rare bipartisan consensus, 98% of climate scientists now predict that our area will be warmer in the Spring, although many still claim the sky is falling.

Dreamers — We love working with those who dream of more beautiful kitchens, walls without cracks, and toilets that flow like the River Jordan. We will ensure that the fulfillment of your dreams will not be impacted by the shutdown.

Hey, did you hear about the big endorsement we got from Washington the other day? At least one Member of Congress declared that the cost of most of our jobs is so small that it can be considered to be “CRUMBS!” So, why suffer through the shutdown, when you can fix the crummy things about your home for just crumbs?

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis

Is there ANYTHING Oprah can’t do? Well, yes.

So now the latest thing is Oprah should run for President because, well, because she’s Oprah. You can almost imagine her packing her Cabinet with real and kind-of doctors, like Dr Phil and Dr Oz. And yet, it seems unlikely she’d anoint THIS faux doctor, Dr Steve, even though I’d be only one who knew anything at all about REAL cabinets. That’s because, unlike Oprah, we at Fix St Louis must live in the REAL world.

Unlike Oprah, when things break we can’t just go out and buy all of our customers’ new houses. When our customers have broken toilets, no amount of Oprah-empathy is going to get those toilets to heal themselves. You also can’t fix a toilet by reading an Oprah-promoted bestseller that suggests that, if you think enough positive thoughts about that toilet, there are laws of attraction that will deliver the fixed toilet you’ve always yearned for.

So, let me humbly offer this partial list of home repair items that Oprah (and possibly, you) really can’t, won’t, and maybe shouldn’t even try to take on – those that might be best left to the REAL PROFESSIONALS at Fix St Louis, even though we don’t happen to be REAL DOCTORS.

  • Fix that window that drops like a guillotine when you let go.
  • Install a ceiling fan in a room without wiring on the ceiling.
  • Make a running toilet stop.
  • Repair that difficult door that doesn’t quite click shut.
  • Deal with that ominous water stain on your ceiling that you’re trying not to think about.
  • Replace the rotted boards on your deck floor.
  • Get that doorbell to work.
  • Replace that dirty, cracked, once-white goop around your tub ledge or shower base.
  • Repair a light fixture that’s at the top of a vaulted ceiling.
  • Get rid of those dings on your walls.

Hey, maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe Oprah’s long-term partner relationship is all about things like having someone always there to unclog her toilets. Still, if she didn’t have Stedman, she’d need Fix St Louis.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis

Are you losing the Cold War?

It’s been awhile 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.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis