PLEASE NOTE: “As an Amazon Associate, [Need Coffee] earns from qualifying purchases." You know we make money from Amazon links,
and I know you know this, but they make us say it anyway. More info, click here.

The English Major Home Fixit Show: The Lost One Tusk Site

The English Major Home Fixit Show

Explanation: So before I decided to collapse everything back into Needcoffee because the idea to start up a bunch of different sites simply Wasn’t Working and was a Pain in the Ass, one site I never had a chance to launch was called “The English Major Home Fixit Show.” It basically stemmed from me owning a house and being positively useless at doing home fixit stuff. So it was like the website equivalent of a reality show, a home fixit show, and Jackass. I wrote up the opening spiel and a couple of stories but, as I said, never was able to do anything with it. So just for the hell of it, here’s what you would have seen on the site to open it up. If this amuses you, I might write up more of it. If this doesn’t amuse you, We Will Never Speak of This Again.

Welcome to the English Major Home Fixit Show.

I’m your host, The English Major.

Now, you might well ask yourself, why in the world would a guy with an English degree host a home fixit show? Well, as you might have noticed, this is actually a website and not a show. The DIY Network or HGTV aren’t exactly beating down my door. And there’s a really good reason for that: I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing. Because, of course, I have a degree in English.

[ad#longpost]What’s wrong with a degree in English? Well, nothing, as long as you don’t mind having very little in the way of job prospects apart from possibly going on to teaching. And I have no intention of teaching anybody how to diagram a sentence. In fact, about the only thing I’m good for, honestly, is identifying a typo at fifty paces.

So why am I fixing up a home and telling you about it via this site? Well, the first part of the answer is simple: I recently bought a house. It’s a nice house, but it’s forty years old. And it’s needs some help with certain things. And while I am an English major, I do recognize that in order to pay somebody to do all the stuff my house needs done to it, I would need a shitload of money. Being an English major, I do not have a shitload of money. It’s a vicious cycle. Thus, by necessity, I am having to learn, sometimes the hard way, how to fix up my house. Because I can’t afford to do otherwise.

And why a website? Because I figure if I’m going to gain all of this dubious knowledge, I might as well do something with it. While there are few people as clueless as I am in the world (I can barely work a hammer without self-injury), they exist. So for those of you who need basic help with this sort of thing, I’m here for you. And believe me, I will explain what the deal is in one syllable words wherever possible.

As for those of you who know what the hell you’re doing, be you professionals or hardcore DIYers, feel free to be entertained as you watch me fumble around like a moron.

Now, the deal is this: there are things on this site I shouldn’t be doing. Which means, if you’re like me, neither should you. If you decide to follow in my footsteps in any shape, form or fashion, then I can’t be held liable. So caveat emptor, folks, and also this is not a step and cape does not enable user to fly. You follow? Good.

Oh, and also I curse ever once in a while. Because I think anybody who has ever done DIY work has cursed in some form or another, so I’m just carrying on a fine tradition.

And now…let’s begin this festival of pain we call The English Major Home Fixit Show.

Basic Safety

There are certain things even an English major knows. If you don’t know these things, then you really, really, really shouldn’t be on this site. Or anywhere near a power tool. Or unsupervised. Ever.

So while these are basic common sense things, there always people who lack common sense. Otherwise, we would never have Darwin Award winners. So before I undertake anything, I always remember the following:

1. Houses have plumbing and wiring in them. This can spell trouble for you if you ever, ever forget that Electricity + Water = Bad. You wouldn’t cuddle a plugged-in toaster while in the bathtub, so neither should you be unconcerned if you suddenly find water trickling into a lighting fixture. I say this as someone who has.

2. Bear something in mind: you are mostly water. So for various reasons, too numerous to mention, and as an expansion of the above rule, Electricity + You = Bad.

3. As an auxilliary to the first rule, if you don’t know where your breakers are, you might want to go find them so you can turn them off before you start screwing with anything. Let me clarify: anything electrical. Don’t turn your breakers off just because you’re putting together an IKEA table. Don’t laugh–think for a second, you know somebody who would be confused. If you don’t know how to turn off the water supply to your house, you might want to find it too before you start screwing with anything. If you wouldn’t know breakers or a water shutoff if they bit you on the arse, then stand by, because I’ll introduce you soon. But in general, Starting Something + Not Having a Way to Stop if You Get Too Far In and Get Lost = Bad.

4. Houses have plumbing and wood in them. So you don’t need water running about willy-nilly without taking care of it. Because Water + Wood + Time = Bad. If something’s leaking, take care of it. Or turn off the water. Or do something. Just don’t let it persist.

5. Here’s something else that can happen with electricity: shit can blow up. Your house probably has a great deal of wood in it. And Fire + Wood x Not in a Fireplace = Bad. So if you’re screwing around with anything that could potentially, you know, catch fire, have a fire extinguisher handy.

6. There are certain parts of your body you need to protect. If you’re a guy, I don’t need to tell you to keep a table saw away from your testicles because if you weren’t born with that knowledge it’s probably best that you do something terrible to your crotch so you can’t reproduce. No, I’m talking more about your eyes. Simple rule: You Need Your Eyes. And Anything That’s Not Supposed to be in Your Eyes + Your Eyes = Bad. Wear goggles or safety glasses of some sort. Because you never know. And if you’re like me, you’ve got Murphy working against you every step of the way. And, also, if you’re like me, you’d look like crap with an eye patch.

Now that we’ve got some basic safety rules down pat–and these aren’t the end-all, be-all (what would you add?)–then it’s time to start breaking shit. I mean fixing shit. I mean…probably both.


  • Looking forward to some more of this if you ever get around to it. I did find a couple of ways to avoid the English major trap, one of which involves cheating.

    1. Technical writers get paid much better than teachers, and (usually) don’t have as many immature people screaming at them all day.
    2. Apartments are a good bet if a) you lost your shirt on a house/condo in the market; b) you need to move suddenly (a risk for tech writers) and c) you have no repair skills whatsoever. The landlord comes and fixes it for you, or sends someone. I think that’s in the rule book.

    Happy(?) repairing,


  • BD: Thanks for the comment…actually, I was an apartment cliff dweller for…what was it…14 or 15 years? Very happy to be in a house. And thanks for enjoying this…if I do go forward, for example, you’ll read about the hilarity of me trading out a toilet.

  • This is great.

    Another rule of thumb as an Artist who works on her house is,
    stop any project that the first thought in your head is “This shouldn’t take that long”

    I have fallen into this home improvement trap time and time again. Think about the project, not like me I plunge ahead then call for help.

    Never hang ceiling fans at night. Electricity must be off; see reason 2. When the electricity is off you have no lights. Therefore someone has to hold the flashlight, hold the ladder and help with the very heavy Hunter brushed metal ceiling fan. Also, do not move the light around as this will blind the person who is closest to the ceiling and the connection.

    Did I say you would have a funny story later on? You will.