April 24, 2022 AsktheBuilder Newsletter
Issue #1179 - Shelters, Ledge-Talker, Rusty & More
Are you kidding me? Well I'll be, this is your first issue, isn't it? You picked a great week to start, I can assure you of that.
This newsletter is quite long, but it's packed with some sound advice. I've even got a new feature!
Wait until you see what Yolanda sent me.
It's that time of year again here in the USA.
Wretched twisters and tornadoes are roaming the landscape looking for food. They have an insatiable appetite for 2x4s, roof sheathing, cows, cars, trucks, train boxcars, and semi-tractor trailers to name but a few things they munch on.
Have you wondered what I think about having an above-ground tornado shelter? How about an underground tornado shelter? These both work for hurricanes too.
It would be worth a few minutes of your time to read this revised past column of mine about Above-Ground Tornado Shelters - and underground ones too!
Tim Bakes a Cake From Scratch
My grandfather and grandmother operated a neighborhood bakery in the early 1900s in Clifton Heights in Cincinnati, OH. Surely I've got some of their genes, right?
That's the bakery in the photo below. My grandmother is on the left with her hand on her left hip and the young woman on her right is her oldest daughter, my Aunt Clara.
I decided to do something two days ago I've never done before - bake a cake from scratch. Kathy's birthday was just hours away and I had to do something. Store-bought cakes are out of the question.
She had printed out a recipe for a Root Beer Chocolate cake weeks ago. I guess she intended to make it, but the paper was collecting dust.
In the past, she's always dissuaded me from cooking or baking because when she was back home from the hospital with our firstborn, I made spaghetti one night and didn't fully drain the noodles. She's never let me forget the tiny puddle of water on the plate.
She's always told me she doesn't want to be poisoned by my culinary experiments. Well, those days are over.
I had to pull this mission off in secrecy as best as possible. Days ahead, I made sure I had all the ingredients. I scanned the steps in the recipe. It really didn't look that hard to do.
Since I'm up in the morning hours before Kathy, I knew that was the time to make the cake. The best part is there was no need to use an electric mixer. Everything was done by hand. I could do this being very quiet
Once I was deep into blending the ingredients, I panicked. It said to fold in the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. What the heck is FOLDING?
I immediately texted a very good friend of mine who's an expert baker. It took her a few minutes to respond and I was impatient. While waiting for her response, I used the whisk in this photo to slowly blend the ingredients.
I knew from a past family baking disaster that too much air in batter can cause dryness. So I was really careful.
My dear friend got back, but a moment too late. "Use a spatula and lift and fold over the batter."
Oh well, now I know!
Forty-five minutes later, the cake was out of the oven. I had chickened out and didn't use the Bundt pan because the recipe warned rookies like me that using the wrong one could result in the cake sticking in the pan.
I could not afford a mistake and went with two 9-inch round pans. That turned out to be a mistake because I didn't know about ganache icing!
In the past, I slathered on thick icing to make nice smooth sides to layer cakes.
Looking at this photo, you can see why it pays to use a Bundt pan. I'll have the courage next time, grandfather - I promise!
I know, I know ... You want to know how it tasted. I can tell you the small morsels from the pan were dreamy delicious. I'll share a taste report next week as the cake has not yet been eaten as I type and upload this newsletter.
NOTE: Wow, star anise - what an interesting spice and STRONG!
Watch This Video!
Did you know you can get ELECTROCUTED screwing in a simple light bulb? Pay CLOSE attention at 1:15 in the video! Click on the image below to watch the video. This is a mocha-chip moment if there ever was one!
NOTE: The following two back-to-back stories are a valuable teaching moment. Keep that in mind as you continue to read.
The only reason I devoted so much space to this topic is to save you enormous amounts of money, frustration, and a possible lawsuit you may or may not win.
Yolanda, who hails from the great state of Indiana, sent me the following photo.
That's a stunning and expensive waterfall countertop she just had installed. But she was stunned by a comment the granite installer said as he was walking out the door:
"You're going to have to install a center support under the top to prevent it cracking and falling to the ground. Be really careful what you place on the top."
It's no wonder he said it while crossing the threshold!
My guess is Yolanda's face looked something like this:
Yolanda lamented, "...I am really upset because if he had told me that ahead of time, I've would have never done it. What can be done now?"
I responded to her letting her know I had a viable solution that would strengthen the top. It required one of my simple consult calls because there was far too much to type.
It's now days later and regrettably she's not taken me up on the offer even though I offered to record the call, and even transcribe it to a text document she could share with the contractor should she want.
What do you think Yolanda's stone top cost? Can you imagine your heartbreak had you been in Yolanda's shoes, flip flops, or Crocs?
Most importantly, what simple things could have been done ahead of time to ensure Yolanda got the waterfall top she dreamed of having?
After years of performing autopsies on similar situations, I know exactly where Yolanda went off the rails.
Had Yolanda talked to me early in the process showing me a photo of what she wanted, I could have shared with her how to get the exact top she dreamed of having.
It would be so strong a spry young dancer could perform on it without it splitting in two during a the-parents-are-away-for-the-weekend party.
You need to know that I offer you my protection no matter what you're planning to do. Just schedule a call.
I'm happy to record our call AND transcribe it into a text document you can read after the fact, hand to your contractor, or send to your attorney. If you want to save money, you can transcribe it yourself in minutes.
BTW, have you thought about Yolanda's FIRST MISTAKE?
She failed to jump on a call with me in the PLANNING STAGE. It often costs 5X or 10X MORE to retrofit a mistake after the fact. Most homeowners reach out to me screeching for me to throw them a life preserver as they flail about in the icy-cold deep I-trusted-the-contractor waters.
Don't be Yolanda. Be like Greg.
Who is Greg? He's a fellow Granite-Stater I met about six years ago. He had the exact same wretched IKO asphalt shingles on his roof that I had on mine before I wrote my Roofing Ripoff expose' book.
This is the short book where I shared, in my opinion, HOW you and millions of others were/are being RIPPED OFF by most of the asphalt shingle manufacturers. You can read the first few chapters for FREE.
It appears everything I said in the book was right because I've NEVER heard a peep from the attorneys who work for the unethical manufacturers!
Now, back to Greg.
Several days ago, Greg jumped on a call with me. He was on the brink of both financial and psychological suicide. He was seriously contemplating suing the roofer that put on his new metal-shingle roof.
He emailed me after the call sharing, "Thank you so much for talking me off the ledge today. You’re absolutely right that my emotions were more centered around retribution than a solution."
I saved Greg probably $25,000 and many months of untold psychological pain. You tell me what that's worth...
Yes, be like Greg. Consider talking to me before you make a grave financial error.
Very Tasty Bait
Tell the truth. Would you click this ad?
You wonder, how could a chain saw SO SMALL Save Hours of Work? That miniature saw and your curiosity seduce you. With the evil hex cast, your defenses drop like leaves falling from autumn trees. In a haze, you CLICK the ad.
Over the past week, I've seen several different versions of this ad. The text to the right of the photo says, "This mini chainsaw is just as powerful as a normal-sized one but makes cutting 2X easier."
As powerful as my NORMAL gas-powered STIHL 18-inch saw?
Put your crack pipe DOWN!
I decided to go to the website. I should have clicked the ad to inflict some pain on the lying and dishonest seller.
Once there, the saw that's for sale is not what's in the ad photo but a probable knockoff of a small chainsaw STIHL sells.
I tested the small STIHL battery-powered saw three years ago. That tiny black blob with the orange tab at the end of the handle in the photo below is the sum total of the power.
Here is what this wonder saw looks like. The one that claims it's as powerful as a normal one:
Trust me, a small saw like this, while convenient, is NOT as powerful as a normal chain saw.
Not by a long shot. Not on its best day. Not Ever.
Note: Barnum was a soothsayer. There are millions and millions of suckers out there, indeed!
STOP TRUSTING everything people tell you for God's sake. Stop being played by people and hucksters.
Note: Tell me how far you can see with your own eyes when you're not blocked by trees or a hill. Did you answer 5, 10, or 15 miles? Good, that's about right.
Now look at this ad aimed at those who succumb to sensational ad copy:
If you're not honing your critical-thinking skills each day, it might be a good investment of time.
From Tim's Digital Sack
I've decided to introduce a new feature. Think of it as Ask the Builder Letters to the Editor. From now on, I'm going to try to include at least one email reply I get from something you want to bloviate about.
Maybe I made you happy saving you money. Maybe I poked you in the eye with a sharp stick. Maybe I blew the dust off a fond memory that was stored away in your tiny gray cells. Don't be bashful.
It's your chance to shine like a star.
I'll share both brickbat and plaudits. Rusty's reply last week provided the inspiration.
I am a 90-yr-old woman who learns for the sake of learning, and you have plenty to offer the world! So I do enjoy your ideas on HOW TO! Have considered your thoughts on many things as common sense... and COOL!
Thanks, and Happy Easter Tim!
BTW, kudos to Rusty for remembering her grammar hyphenation rules. I didn't put those hyphens in for her! Some of us should have been like Rusty and paid more attention in our freshman Algebra and Latin classes!
That's quite enough for a Sunday.
Do It Right, Not Over!
P.S. What can you do if you clog a toilet and don't have a plunger handy? You should have paid attention in your high school physics class! Go here, scroll down, and watch a video that will save you in your time of need.