May 1, 2022 AsktheBuilder Newsletter
Hold it right there. Is this your first issue? It's great that you're here. Thanks for your trust. Did you by chance happen to bring any dark-chocolate pecandes?
This is a pretty long issue, but I feel you'll really like it.
But you, you might have subscribed about seventy-eight new moons ago. If so, you might remember this series of three videos. Earlier this past week, I asked Peter to watch them.
He reached out to me about an interesting radiant-heating floor project at his retirement community home.
Are you remodeling a bathroom soon? You may want to do what Peter's doing. I urge you to go here and watch the THREE SHORT videos down on the page.
My Past Week
Last week went by faster than the two juvenile squirrels who chase one another up and down the trees just outside my man-cave window.
Several new friends of mine on my LIVE video streams have been pounding on me. "Tim, when will you have some Ask the Builder merch? TAKE MY MONEY - I want ATB merch!!!"
One of these friends suggested I join a golf league this year so I can try to improve my game. I'm one of those golfers that requires a special scorecard that has bigger boxes on it to record my score for each hole. He sent me an email one morning:
"Why don't you get some cool Ask the Builder logo balls inscribed with your one favorite saying that you spew at least three times during each LIVE stream? That saying would make any future golfer chuckle when he finds your ball in the woods!"
Hmmmmm... That's a good idea! I love introducing happiness into your life and that of others. I never get angry when I hit a ball into the woods.
Why? If you've ever found a golf ball in good condition while searching for yours, it's like Christmas morning!
I've often said after watching my ball soar and slice into a forest, "Well, I just paid it forward and made someone really happy."
I ordered some custom golf balls a few days ago. Look at the design just below.
Do you have ANY interest in owning one of these golf balls if I autographed it for you? Or maybe you want one sans autograph.
Please RESPOND to me if you might like an impish autographed golf ball so I can gauge how many I might need to order in the future. You can also order a sleeve of three.
I promised my new friends that t-shirts and hats are in the works. I need help from my good friend Amy who lives in Canada with this effort.
Just a few days ago, when I came down early in the morning from my man cave to answer Mother Nature's call, she had a surprise visitor sleeping on my front porch!
Kathy made it crystal clear to forget about shooshing this yearling away. "Call the Fish & Game people RIGHT NOW. Don't you dare open the front door. I don't want you to startle it and have it charge indoors responding to its fight response."
I made the call and they were here within 90 minutes. In fact, the Moose Project Leader for the entire state of New Hampshire was part of the three-person team that showed up.
The poor creature was on death's door suffering from an infestation of blood-sucking winter ticks. Once the team arrived, I brought them inside through the garage as the sidewalk leading to the front door is a box canyon. The last thing you want to do is pin a 300 to 400-pound moose in a confined space.
Just as Henry Jones, the NH wildlife biologist, reached for the front door handle to slowly go out and check on her/him, the moose got up and sauntered down the sidewalk.
It left behind lots of blood-engorged ticks on the porch that Henry subsequently collected for study.
"In a week, this moose will either be dead or it will make it. The ticks are indirectly consuming the fat and muscle the moose had stored last summer and fall. In the next few days, it desperately needs lots of new green leaves full of nitrogen." Henry proclaimed.
Once on the driveway apron, the yearling started to munch on some tender small green lilac-bush leaves. Let's hope this young moose makes it.
Never a dull moment at the Carter house. Maybe next week, I'll share the story about the bobcat that pounced on a tasty gray squirrel lunch on our rear patio about ten days ago. The circle of life...
Staining Your Deck, Fence, or Cabin?
If you're getting ready to clean and seal any outdoor wood, you may want to know what product I'm using that has done really well the past two years and counting. It's possible I'm going to get FOUR YEARS of service out of the penetrating wood sealer I've been testing.
Replacement Window Cost SIT DOWN!
Are you thinking about getting new replacement windows? I BEG YOU to read this BRAND NEW column.
What would you say if I told you I might be able to save you $10,000 or even $25,000?
Would that put your head on a swivel? Go here, read, and tell me what you think.
Inflation & the R Word
I try to stay tuned to economic news because it directly affects you and me. I do my best to try to share what I know in an effort to save you money.
If you're like most, you might want to improve your home. Perhaps you want to build a room addition, remodel your kitchen, or just put a new roof on your home. You need sweet moola to do that.
Each day the money you store under your rug, in a mattress, or in a savings account is eroding in value like the Vishnu Schist succumbs to the flowing waters of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Lately, the erosion rate of the value of your money is out of control
People that know me, especially Kathy and other close dear friends, know I'm the eternal optimist. I'm a the-glass-is-overflowing-and-flooding-the-kitchen-floor person, not a half-empty-glass guy.
That said, I'm deeply concerned about the future. Just a few days ago, I got my propane tank topped off for the rest of the year. I negotiated a great price last June of $1.99 per gallon for a total of 2,500 gallons.
I wanted to fulfill my contract and get the final 159 contract gallons put in the tank. However, it took 190 gallons to top it off.
The current market price for the overage propane I purchased was $4.34 a gallon. GULP!
It seems the price of everything is going up faster than a jack-in-the-box pops out of his dark creepy lair.
The single-digit inflation rate being reported in the news is a half-truth. Remember what I said last week about STOP TRUSTING what you hear from people/leaders/authority figures? That number is baked more than Kathy's root-beer chocolate cake last week.
The actual inflation rate is much worse for goodness sake. I peg the actual year-to-year number this past March to be kissing 17%. Heck, it could be as high as 20%. You know this to be true as you look at the double-digit price increases you're seeing in the things you buy.
Just a few days ago, I went to get materials at the grocery store. The price of North Country smoked turkey breast is only up 40% in the past nine months. Nothing to be concerned about, right? WRONG!
Do you follow stock-market news at all? Did you see the news about Amazon? Their shares dropped 9% a few days ago when they reported much lower earnings due to high fuel costs and increased costs to operate their distribution centers.
Did you see the news about the drubbing the one stock-market index suffered in the past few days? If you're not skimming stories like this each week, I recommend you consider doing it.
With energy and food prices taking more of our disposable income, we have less to spend on other things. As the sales of all those millions of products drop, the economy contracts or recedes. That's the R word - Recession.
I'm convinced we're going to experience a severe recession beginning in the next few months. This means you shouldn't overextend yourself. It means you need to be prepared to hunker down for months and months.
Another news story confirmed what I suspected. It contained the sobering news no one wants to hear. If you're to believe the report, the US economy contracted an annualized 1.4% rate in the first quarter of 2022.
Now is the time to stockpile dry foods and have three or four months of actual cash on hand. If you do all your finances electronically, there could be disruption in that system. If that happens, how will you buy anything?
The forces that are about to shake your personal economic snow globe are strong. Don't underestimate the severity nor the length of this looming financial event. You MIGHT be doing home repairs yourself because you can't afford to hire it out. If that happens, never forget I can help you save thousands of dollars.
I just bailed out Angel a few days ago as she got deeper into her attic-dormer project. Several days ago, I helped Mark save thousands of dollars coaching him over the phone with his DIY septic tank installation project.
Mark opted for my transcribed coaching call. Within an hour of the call, I sent him a recording of the actual call plus a transcription he can print out to read.
GO HERE if you want to see a FREE SAMPLE of a typical transcript.opens PDF file This sample is just the first few minutes of a call.
A transcribed call is the only way to go. Mark was so happy with the result, he scheduled a second transcribed call about building an underground shelter I mentioned in last week's newsletter.
Using my transcribed-call service, you don't have to take notes wondering if you forgot something I said during the call.
What About Gutter Guard Cost?
I've been seeing more smarmy TV commercials preying upon folks like you. I'm talking about a national company that sells gutter guards.
Did you know I did a survey on what they cost in different cities across the fruited plain?
Do You Pay For Offsite Storage?
Do you rent one of those offsite storage rooms or spaces? What are you paying each month? $125, $150, $195?
How would you like to STOP paying those bills?
How would you like a material list to build your own shed? If you price out the materials today, you may be STUNNED to discover you can pay for the shed in less than two years based on what you're paying the storage-locker owner.
Men and Their Tools
Less than two years, after transforming from a full-time builder to a work-16-hours-a-day-to-stay-alive writer, my editor, Ms. Ann Haas, at the Cincinnati Enquirer called me up. Ann had a delightful light southern drawl and I loved hearing her voice.
"Tim, I've got a special assignment for you. Write a story about the love affair men have with their tools. It's going to be on the FRONT PAGE of the Tempo section. I need it in two weeks. Good luck." CLICK (phone hanging-up noise)
Ann was the Cincinnati chapter president of the Less-Said-is-Better Society. Her phone number was 513-222-2879 (BUSY) I believe. I may have that wrong as it could have been a past school teacher's number. But I digress.
I recently transferred this first-ever special-assignment story to my website. As I re-typed each word once more, I was stunned to see how my writing style has changed over the years. Oh my, I used to suck at writing - hells bells, maybe I still do and have gotten worse!
There's no doubt you're going to love the surprise ending to the story. I was unprepared for what the college professor told me as I feverishly copied his quotes word-for-word in my fancy official reporter's note book that day sitting in his office.
I feel the story I wrote is a great example of what journalism should be: gather all the facts, present all of them, and let the readers decide what they want to take out of the missive.
Let me know what you think of the story. Here's one of my reporter's note books. I still have a few from all those years ago with their special double-spaced lines on the pages. You may like one.
From Tim's Digital Sack
I thought I'd get more input from last Sunday's newsletter - especially the part about the first-ever cake I made. It's a good thing I didn't bet a box of dark-chocolate Aglamesis pecandes on my hunch!
At least I avoided being inundated with brickbat.
Kate found favor with my cake story and shared:
"Love the cake story! Most of my cakes turn out like that. A little short on the looks, but great on the taste."
I'm glad you liked my baking story, Kate. I'll bet your cakes look swell. Tell any brickbatters they can go buy a pack of Twinkies and stuff those wretched tubes of preservatives in their pie holes.
Beth, a very good friend of mine from California, offered me her protection the next time I reach for the Crisco shortening:
"Tim----Happy belated BD to Kathy! Next time you have a baking adventure, please feel free to call me. I've been baking and cooking all my life. People have said my food is good---but I don't like my own food."
Beth, are you sure you want me to call you at 4:30 AM? :-O If you don't like your own food, you may like a few cheese coneys I'd make for you! Or, we can meet in Cincinnati and go to Mr. Gene's Doghouse for the spicy cheese coneys. Yum!!!
OFFICIAL Root-Beer Chocolate Cake TASTE REPORT:
Kathy and I ate small pieces of the cake last Saturday night, hours before I had put the newsletter to bed and queued it up for sending. That's why last week I couldn't tell you how it tasted.
"The cake tastes great! It's moist and I really appreciate you making it." Kathy said.
SCORE! I did it - I made a cake from scratch - and didn't poison her!
The cake was moist, it was a little dense, and the star anise overpowered any root-beer flavor. The ganache icing was excellent. The cake looked horrible though. Go here to see a few photos and to get the recipe I used.
We're going to make the cake again for my birthday. I'm going to cut back on the sugar by 1/3rd and the star anise by 1/2. We're also going to try to locate a great craft root beer that contains no high-fructose corn syrup.
Try making the cake yourself and see what you think.
That's enough for a Sunday.
Do It Right, Not Over!
P.S. Do you think your deck might collapse? I mean detach from the wall at the house? I know someone who broke her neck and ruptured her spleen because this happened. Are you building a NEW deck? Do you know the RIGHT WAY to flash the ledger board to prevent it from rotting and to prevent leaks in your home? I'm sure you don't - no offense intended. Go here and become enlightened about all things deck ledger.