Knowing I wasn't going to pay much attention to the recently passed Home Improvement Act (congress somewhat influenced you might say by the generous contributions of Wal Mart and Home Depot never reluctant to add a few more congresspeople to their deep pockets: "Always room for one more . . . "), my son Eli and his wife Marni decided they better grab the old bull by his tail and take him for a swing around the funky kitchen counter before the meter reader turned him in as a homeland risk and he got jailed for indeterminate time without recourse to lawyer, family, friends or executive pardon.

Stripped down to the bone, old sink rudely ripped, dumped in the recyclable bin of history.


Hands on job with Eli's hands cutting the wonderboard goes on top of the old wood, then start cutting the tile to fit, first the edges.


Marni is the pro. She does this for a living so what's a weekend spent doing what she does all week? No comment. Each tile perfectly laid, just the way we love it.


All tiled up, now what about that sink? Using a used sink, not quite the same size as the old one but close enuff for gov't home improvement standards. Ever get under the counter and look at that lashup? Now you know why everyone has a door so you can't see in there. After lengthy discussions, eager tries with recalcitrant plumbing parts, all hooked up and ready to go.


Final wipeup, two day job, one to lay the tiles, another to grout and install the sink. After number one best job ever to grace the house, the workers are ready to head home and get some rest.

Did you know that a skypilot is also a little purple flower in the Sierra Nevadas? "Polemonium Eximium"

I have a hand held cassette tape recorder I keep by the phone and when one of those solicitors starts his spiel I hit the play button on the cassette and put it by the phone and he hears a bloop bloop beep beep interrupter signal and then a computer weirded voices says, "You have breached a secure phone line and the homeland security act has authorized shutdown of your phone system unless you remove this number from your list and never call it again." More bloops and bleeps and sound of phone hanging up and dial tone.

This came from clear across the country, via email:

"3 and a half years ago I got fired and I was walking down the street and I decided, "I think I'll start remodeling houses." Never really had a tool job. Didn't have any tools. All I knew is that I didn't want any hassles and that I definitely wanted to work alone. Since that April morning almost 4 years ago, I learned how to cut corners. Corners such as:

How do I get tools without money or credit?

Beg,borrow and ...(just kidding,but seriously,it never hurts to ask for help)
I trade labor for almost anything;a Happy Hour beer,a weekend at someone's beach house,the use of a trailer or a chain saw.
No lie, it will take some money to get tools but not the kind of money they charge down at the Home Depot. Got my first step ladder from Amad down at A to Z Pawn. My first Skil Saw came from a garage sale. Home builders let me have their cast off items. You can not even imagine the stuff I have found cleaning up deceased people's houses after their families have finished their plundering. Tools look too much like work. Most people ignore them.

How do I avoid getting a business license?

Thousands of business licenses are issued every day in this country. Does that mean I have to buy one? No way! In most cases,you can usually work under someone else's license.When confronted with a license inspector, pack what little you can, snap into the "No hablo ingles" mode and get the hell out of Dodge.

How do I avoid paying taxes?

It's a whole lot easier to avoid taxes if you never start paying them in the first place. Once they got your number, they got your number. A "Just Visiting" policy is a good one even if you've been living in the same town for 30 years like I have.

How do I avoid building permits?

Some folks use building permits like they were status symbols. They'd tack four or five in their front window if city hall would issue them. A sure cure for building permits is to work in neighborhoods where nobody gives a rat's ass what you do as long as you chase off the geek monsters and keep the wheels of progress turning. This is especially true if your business is upgrading crack houses to Section 8.

How do I get employees without paying them any benefits?

In the words of the Fabulous Thunderbirds,"How do you spell Love: M-O-N-E-Y!"
There is one employee benefit you should always provide: health insurance. I provide the DGS-DGH Health Insurance Policy for everyone who works with me.(Don't Get Sick-Don't Get Hurt)

How do I avoid building inspectors?

A sure way to avoid building inspectors is to work down on the lower end of 25th Street near the junk yard.You don't see too many building inspectors down there.Folks on 25th be shooting at them.
Also: No permit means No Inspector.

Where do I get building materials, paint, appliances, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, doors, trim, etc. for next to nothing?

Condemned houses(doors,trim,wood,fixtures) Temporary Emergency Services and the Salvation Army(paint,caulk,Liquid Nail,appliances) Garage Sale(everything!) Off the Side of the Road(everything!) houses and apartments under remodeling(windows,cabinets,fixtures,appliances) Dumpster Diving at Building Supply Stores(everything!)

Where do I store my plunder?

I started out stashing my stuff in a prefabricated building in my backyard. After it was full, I filled up three old vans in my backyard and built a privacy fence around them. Now I have The Shack. I have filled eight rooms in The Shack with all manner of plunder. I can store my stuff in every room of The Shack except the two bathrooms. That's because there is no roof over the two bathrooms.

How do I fight vandalism?

#1 After every incident of vandalism, take photograghs and walk the neighborhood, knocking on doors and showing everyone your misfortune.

#2 If you suspect that one of the neighbors makes their money by some sort of black market activity, suggest that he or she discuss your misfortune with the local thugs who frequent their abode. Suggest that there are consequences for such destruction.

#3 Call the cops and ask for an extra patrol.This will take some time because the dispatcher has to put all of your information into the computer. Be ready with your information, spend the time on the phone and you will be pleasantly surprised at the results. Cops have umpteen ways to make life miserable for little wannabe gangsters without ever having to arrest them.

How do I tell civil servants, "I'll have your job!" and really mean it?"

Now we're getting sophisticated. If a civil servant is abusing you while they are abusing their authority, it's a sure bet that they are doing the same thing to other people in your situation. You are not alone. These jokers will treat everyone in the same way because they think they can get away with it. Document your story. Discuss your story with other people who have to come in contact with your bureaucrat. Use professional associations like Home Builders to gather evidence and collect similar stories of abuse. City and county commissioners frown upon civil servants who routinely place their constituents requests in File "13". A stack of legal depositions documenting abuse will generally result in someone having to clean out their desk.

If anyone should doubt the wisdom of the answers to the questions I posed on your website, they should talk to a friend of mine: a 70 year old black man named Hugh Taylor who has lived his entire life in Tuscaloosa County. Yesterday I spent the last hour of my workday talking to Mr. Hugh in his front yard. I brought up one of my favorite Mr. Hugh stories.
Mr. Hugh's property forms the boundary between rival gangs in Kaulton, a T-town neighborhood that was once a sawmill town. The gangsters once painted a boundary line in the middle of Beech Street, right in front of Mr. Hugh's house. Well, one day a thug walked past Mr. Hugh and dropped his knife in the street as if by accident. The boy spit and then picked up his knife off the pavement, opened the blade and gave Mr. Hugh a mean look.
Mr. Hugh chuckled and said," Aw, boy, I know'd you ain't mean cause all the mean folks in Alabama is dead and in the cemetery." The knucklehead closed the blade and continued on his pathetic journey.

-- Double Aura from the Big Bama

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