You want privacy?
See us, not Mark Zuckerberg

Is it my imagination, or did millions of Americans just update their “Facebook Status” to “Demand Privacy,” after years of telling anyone who would listen how much more exciting their lives were than yours? No wonder Mark Zuckerberg had that deer-in-the-headlights look in front of Congress.

Fortunately, we at Fix St Louis are not Mark Zuckerberg, because OUR “community” of home-owning folks acts a whole lot more rationally. It’s true many of you live in homes with unfortunate “HELLO WORLD!!” features, if you know what I mean. Flaws that allow total strangers to publicly view what really should be private moments of indecent exposure, intimacy, or any other activity that should stay in Vegas. But once they realize something can be done about it, they run to Fix St Louis who will fix it, rather than Congress, who will just blather on and use it to raise campaign money.

Here are the 3 areas for increased privacy our customers request most:

  1. Front Doors– Some believe homebuilders must be the creepiest people on Earth, at least those who design front doors like they’re the windows at Macy’s Department Store. What’s with all this clear glass that allows strangers knocking on your door to get a better view than Peeping Toms would at your windows, without even looking like they’re doing anything wrong? Fix St Louiscan replace your doors with those with solid panels and obscured (non-see-through) frosted or textured glass. We can also help you with those new RING doorbells that allow you to view the person at your door from your smartphone, and maybe even pretend you’re not even there.
  2. Bathrooms– It’s common for bathrooms to have windows with non-see-through glass, but it’s not universal. For instance, we’ve seen plenty of homes with huge picture windows made of clear glass DIRECTLY ABOVE BATHTUBS with neighbor’s windows WITHIN SIGHT! We can help by installing blinds, curtains, or replacing the clear glass.
  3. Privacy Fences– If you don’t want your neighbors to watch your backyard life, you can install a so-called “privacy fence” – a fence made of wood or vinyl that has no gaps between its pickets and rises at least 6′ off the ground. The dirty little secret is that most people want these fences not for their OWN privacy, but so they don’t have to look at what their NEIGHBOR’S yard looks like!

Hey, you’re all grown-up now, and you made it! You’re living in a HOUSE. Not your parent’s basement, or some dorm, commune, hostel, or refugee camp. You’ve EARNED your privacy. Let Fix St Louis help you keep it.

 

Dr Steve

Fix St Louis

314-434-4100

So you can name the Final Four.
How about the VINYL Four?

I must confess that I have not followed the NCAA basketball tournament, and won’t be watching the Final Four this weekend. Frankly, it hurts this old handyman’s eyes to stare for hours at hardwood flooring made of unstained maple (with a tasteless high gloss finish, no less!) when these high-tuition institutions could EASILY afford an upgrade to a nice matte-stained oak.

But just because colleges no one in St Louis ever talks about never do anything to improve their properties, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Could these so-called institutions of higher learning be so busy preparing liberal arts grads for careers as Starbucks baristas that they haven’t noticed what’s been happening the last 50 years in plastics?

So, please allow Fix St Louis to serve as your higher learning institution, as we proudly present to you our answer to the Final Four – The VINYL Four. Below are the four best uses of vinyl in home repairs and remodeling, with “vinyl” loosely referring to any material made out of petroleum resin.

  1. Vinyl Shutters – If you have wood shutters that need painting or are falling apart, replace them with vinyl shutters. They generally cost only $50-100 per pair, come in a bazillion different colors, never need painting, and last “forever.” And I’d challenge any effete snob to determine they are not made of wood without touching them. And if they did, you’d be justified to scream at them for walking in your flower beds or being a peeping Tom on a ladder at your 2nd-floor windows.
  2. Vinyl Siding – I don’t care what those builders of higher-end homes say, many of whom claim that the best siding is made of cement reinforced with cellulose fibers, commonly referred to as “Hardie Board” or “Fiber Cement”. Handyman Science has never made a better siding material than vinyl. Unlike fiber cement, vinyl does not chip and it never needs to be painted. Yeah, every once in awhile vinyl breaks, cracks, or gets blown away, but Fix St Louis can always find very close matches and, if need be, paint to match the color. Incidentally, Masonite siding was also a breakthrough in its time, but only if you happened to be a product liability lawyer.
  3. Vinyl Decks – The use of vinyl in decks comes in 2 different forms, and honest people can disagree on which is better. Fix St Louis‘ deck refinishing preference is to neither stain nor paint a deck, but to COAT it with Sherwin-Williams’ Deck & Dock elastomeric coating. Unlike painting or staining, your deck won’t need to be refinished every couple of years – it ought to last 10-15 years. The other vinyl alternative is replacing all the boards in your deck with “composite” material, i.e. boards that are entirely synthetic. With today’s technologies, these look great, many exactly like wood, and they ought to last pretty much forever.
  4. Vinyl Flooring – You know how vinyl flooring, sometimes referred to as “linoleum”, was once considered downscale? I challenge you to visit your local Home Depot and look at the display of “vinyl plank” flooring. Yes, its wood-like or other appearance is totally fake, but it looks pretty much real and in the future will look even better. This flooring is waterproof, relatively indestructible, inexpensive to install, and has other good features like built-in padding.

So, there ladies and gentlemen are the Vinyl Four. Four home improvement products that last much longer than the materials they’re replacing – and much, much longer than the lousy brackets you chose this year. Next time, if you insist on trying to predict the future, think vinyl!

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

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).

Summary

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
314-434-4100

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.

THIS JUST IN:

 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

314-434-4100

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.

Sitzpinklers

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
314-434-4100

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
314-434-4100