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tool time


i don't know a whole lot about home renovations or building maintenance. being a lifelong renter with no immediate urge to change limits my ability to effect major changes in my habitat (landlords tend to get a little annoyed when a tenant removes a wall). that said, there are a few things that i've picked up over time that have served me well. i'm very familiar with the perils of measuring windows to fit blinds (you only think they're rectangular). i can accurately locate studs in the walls (yes, we all have them). i know how to attach ceiling lamps.

and another thing that i've learned is that hardware stores have products specialised to meet the needs of most jobs. so as long as you know what it is that you're doing- what you're drilling into, what surface is being painted, what voltage plug you're working with- the tools for the job are pretty idiot-proof.

if i know these things, i assume that people who actually have some financial stake in building maintenance should know at least as much and, hopefully, a good deal more. after all, they're the ones people like me are going to call when they hit the limits of their knowledge.

which is why it surprises me that much of my weekend was spent acting as an assistant while my boyfriend stripped paint off our bathtub. i don't mean that we were removing it because it was ugly. i mean that whatever genius decided to cover up the wear on the tub's enamel opted to do so with standard issue, exterior latex paint in a high gloss finish. for the last months we've been watching as the completely inappropriate medium cracked, flaked and peeled. we've also been holding on for dear life, since the paint surface made the bathtub rather dangerously slippery.

ironically, it's not like the enamel underneath is in bad shape, but even if you wanted to cover it, there are products specifically designed for the purpose. it worries me a little that i routinely trust the maintenance of my home to someone who has yet to discover that there are different sorts of paint, clearly labeled, all suited to different applications.

this isn't purely a renter's dilemma, either. we all feel the need to consult experts in this area from time to time and we do so with the understanding that they have some, well, expertise, that makes them better qualified to judge what needs to be done. a former boss of mine once discovered that the new roof he'd just paid for was comprised partially of leftover pieces of aluminum siding the roofers had found in the garbage next to a neighbour's house.

it makes me feel like i should skip the middle man and just learn how to do all of this stuff myself, the downside being that, if i did, i'd have little time for anything else. i'm not sure how far i have to take this mistrust of professional expertise (i already rarely go to the doctor), but it seems like it could be an endless cycle. at least if i'm doing everything for myself, i won't need to worry about what idiot screwed things up when they go wrong.

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