Tag Archives: DIY

When a Man Can’t Fix It

We at About Men Radio always talk about doing it yourself but I came across two things recently that I couldn’t easily do alone.

The first: My brother called me last month that he got the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” on his computer.

I thought, OK not a tough fix.

He was already on the phone with his IT people at work, who told him to just get a new computer.

He was a concerned about getting his files off the old computer though.

I told him that I had the device for the job and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Well I brought out my USB 2.0 IDE transfer cable and when I took off the cover knew that I needed a SATA Cable adapter instead.

Not a biggie, but Staples and Best Buy didn’t have one, so I took the computer home with me and stopped off at Micro Center for the adapter.  Yeah Micro Center!

I did notice something about how the hard drive was mounted in the computer.

The screws are situated to the left of the memory slots and to get a typical screwdriver or ratchet set in there you would need to pull the memory out.

Not wanting to do that and knowing that I had a screwdriver for the job, I just plugged the adapter into the mount instead.

I plugged it into my computer and voila! I was able to see all the files except “My Documents,” which came up blank.

I ran a properties search which yielded about 15GB, so there are files there, but I can’t see them.

I figured that there was a password feature that kept them hidden, so with a few magical keystrokes I was able to copy the files.

I think I’ll just plug in a new HD and reconfigure my new computer as a server.  Sweet!

A few weeks ago Pedro and I were coming back from Pennsylvania after seeing the Howard Jones concert when he noticed that my car’s daylight was out.

The headlights and high beams were working OK.

The bulb cost about $22. I drove to Advance Auto Parts and figured that I would unscrew the old one and bring it in with me just to make sure that it was the right type and size.

When I lifted the hood, I grabbed the light housing and noticed that I didn’t have enough space to get the light out.

My nephew is always going on YouTube so I figured that I would do the same.

I was floored.

You need to take off the front fender to access the light housing. Needless to say that I brought it into the dealer.

So much for doing it yourself. I’m batting .500 which in baseball terms is actually pretty good.


MacGyver and Other Tales of Improvised Engineering


AMR 07: Doing It For Ourselves

This clip from the fifth season of Mad Men perfectly illustrates what we discuss on the latest episode of About Men Radio.

In the scene Don Draper, Ken Cosgrove, and their spouses are having dinner at Pete Campbell’s new home in the suburbs. While the men are swapping stories over apéritifs, the woman break into giggles and shrieks in the kitchen. The men rush in and find the sink doing a great impression of a geyser. Pete scurries off to find his shiny new tools while Don leaps into action…

The women admired Don’s macho handiness while Pete looked like a complete schmendrick.

Being able to handle simple “fix-it” jobs around the house was a prerequisite for earning and keeping “man of the house” status as I grew up but is that still true in the 21st Century?

I am not ashamed to admit that much like Pete on the show if my kitchen sink busted the best I could do is scrape off the price tags from my lightly used wrench and wait for the superintendent to show up.

I was eager to find out which of the About Men Crew were Don Drapers and which of us were Pete Campbells . In true About Men fashion, the conversation took many twists and turns but, as always, fun was had every step of the way.

Don’t Try This at Home

So here’s an important home maintenance tip from yours truly.

I was replacing the propane tank on our home grill in preparation for dinner guests when I decided it would be a good idea to test the pilot lights.

Unbeknownst to me, the knobs were in the “on” position, which meant that as soon as I connected the line, gas was being pumped into the grill.

So at the moment I pressed the ignition…


There was a quick blue ball of flame as the gas cloud that had accumulated ignited, Wile E. Coyote-style. (I am told my eyebrows will grow back…)

It came and went in a second but it was loud enough to get the attention of my wife, who was indoors and on the other side of the room when it happened.

It might also have been my loud cursing that got her attention.

So against that backdrop, consider this:

I had bought what I call a “Fisher-Price” version of a chainsaw (it’s a pretty small power tool) to chop up some large logs so they could fit in our fireplace.

I figured I would be all manly and Paul Bunyan-like in tackling this particular chore. But Meg instead insisted on spending a hundred bucks for our local handyman to do the work instead.

Gee…I can’t imagine why…


Weaving a Tapestry of Obscenity

If cursing were an Olympic sport, my dad would be a gold medalist.

As my buddy Pedro has observed about “Mr. M” (as my friends call my dad): “He’s a first-class sweargarian.”

I attribute some of dad’s expansive profanity to having grown up in an ethnically mixed neighborhood and to having spent time in the Navy, where sailors cursed like, well, sailors.

Dad had slang expressions bordering on the profane that he would use as terms of affection toward me.

My favorites?

“Yo-yo nuts.”
“Putzula nuts.”
“Shmuckula nuts.”

Do you see a pattern emerging here?

Of course, there are other time-honored expressions like “No shit, Dick Tracy” (a cultural reference that would be lost on some generations) and its cousin, “No shit, Sherlock.”

Nowhere, though, was my dad’s vulgarity vocabulary on more display than when it came to so-called “home projects.” And it was during these episodes that his short fuse would be lit, much to my fright.

My parents were DIY types long before Home Depot made do-it-yourself a trend. Painting. Wallpapering. Carpeting. Paneling. Spackling. You name it, they did it.

When things would go awry is when my dad’s swearing would begin in earnest. (Think of the scene from “A Christmas Story” where the dad is dealing with the malfunctioning furnace.)

A moment seared in my memory was when dad was on a ladder painting the living room ceiling. Things were fine until suddenly the old paint inexplicably began coming off in flakes.

As a kid, it was a moment that teetered on the comical. I wisely suppressed any laughter, though, knowing that at any second, his volcanic temper could erupt as it often did when things went sideways.

It started out with a mildly profane, “A-ba-fungu!” and a thrown paint brush.  But then there came a purple streak of swearing that to this day echoes in my ears.

The cursing betrayed a white-hot anger that verged on out of control.
He was not mad with me, per se, but I was the sorcerer’s apprentice and the sorcerer was wielding a mighty damn angry wand at that moment.

Emotionally, I would be collateral damage as he lashed out in frustration.

Dad would eventually cool down, apologize for losing his temper and we’d get back to work.

The long-term effects of these episodes have been twofold:

One, at a young age, I vowed to keep my temper in check and not to lash out irrationally like that.

And two, those episodes made me severely allergic to home repairs.

So now when something needs fixing in the house, my response is not to lose my cool and to instead call a professional.

Because, when it comes to home projects, I don’t know whether to shit or wind my watch.