Don’t Do Everything Yourself Part 2 – Why I Hired Gutter Gurus Victoria

You may remember a previous post where I stressed the importance of not doing all the house renovations by yourself, and the reason was because I almost let my house slide down the side of a hill! Even if you’re a true Canadian handyman who dabbles in every construction trade, if you’re doing serious renovation work on your home and there’s no one within yelling distance to hear you and come to your aid if you get injured or screw up so bad you need a hand to hold something quickly then you’re doing it wrong!

Us old guys (you’d be surprised how old I really am, old enough to get back pain when I used a tape-measure) often forget that today the first thing a young person learns about any trade in college is SAFETY REGULATIONS!

And because many of us old guys aren’t 21st-C-savvy enough to carry a super-high-tech phone in our pocket at all times (knowing me, the damn thing would break anyways), it’s extra important that we don’t go and do something stupid when no one’s around to help us. Now I think I made that point quite clear enough, and now it’s time to get surprised because that’s not the reason I had to hire some professional auxilia the other day.

I really am older than what a lot of you might expect, and after a baseball injury with my grandson last week, I find that onetime simple tasks are now some of the hardest tasks in the world, like gutter repair for instance. If you don’t do it often, now’s the perfect time of year to get your gutters cleaned before all the bad weather comes and if you have leaks in your gutter system, now’s a good time to get those fixed, too. That’s usually what I did for myself all the years of my life, and now for the first time ever I’m finally calling someone else to do it. I didn’t even know who to call but I found a company I liked–Gutter Gurus Victoria. It was quite a depressing moment for me actually, and even my wife understands why. It’s hard for a guy who loves to never ask for help suddenly succumb to weakness.

A little off topic: I heard about an old folks home that got investigated for having a fight club for seniors. Now at first I thought this was funny but now I know why these old guys are still fighting in their senile years. Just like when you suddenly move your bedroom into a different room of the house and you find yourself walking into your old room by accident, so do old people find it hard to subconsciously forget their younger personalities. Some minds, even if their bodies are decrepit, won’t let a thing like age stop them from believing they’re hardy, tough sons-of-guns.

I suffer from this but unlike these old fighters I have come to accept this change in my life and no longer lift heavy things. My wife’s 13 years younger than me, so I let her lift the groceries. Well, so I guess there’s some good qualities to it, haha. But back to my point, DON’T DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF!

If the rule isn’t drilled in your brain deep enough, here’s a list to drill it just  a bit deeper:

  1. You’re lifting a book shelf up the stairs and no one is there to help you when you come tumbling down and break your neck.
  2. You’re working on the roof alone and no one is there to run over and help when you fall off and break your legs.
  3. You’re moving boxes down into the basement and no one is there to call an ambulance when you slip, fall down the stairs and hurt your back.
  4. You’re hanging drywall and no one is there to hold up the other end so you install the whole thing wrong.
  5. You’re installing a wall-hanging TV and no one is there to hold up the other end so it falls and the screen shatters.
  6. You’re painting and drop falls on the new fancy rug and your wife isn’t there to smack you across the face!

I might be able to think of some more but I’m sure that will suite my purpose. If for some reason you think you’re still godly enough to work alone, at least carry a phone in a protective hard case with you at all times. Don’t leave it in the truck, don’t leave it in your bag by the front door. Carry it in your damn tool belt if you have to, because some day you might need it in an emergency, when you don’t have means of moving and the closest person who could help is a kilometer away.

With all that said, don’t worry too much because bad things like this rarely happen. Have a productive day the Bob Allen way!

Why Construction Trades Aren’t for Everyone

A good friend of mine thought he’d become a welder until he surprised everyone and became a lawyer. When asked why he made such a dramatic shift, he said, “I enjoy welding, but not welding for 8 hours a day on projects I don’t care about.” As a lawyer he gets to work on cases he cares about, and doesn’t have to sit in a shop using tools all day.

You’d be surprised how many people come out of highschool believing they’re going to be in trades only to end up in office jobs or customer service. These people are a lot happier being as far away from trades as they can. For some of them, frankly, it’s because they have high intelligence and I may be dissing a lot of my own people here when I say their minds would be better use to the world in the office than it would be hitting nails into wood. Some trades take lots of intelligence, too, but not the kind you need to write a good book or solve a good detective case.

Some trades, like architecture, get pretty mathematical, but even that is far from the kinds of science you find in the lab. The reason why some people just can’t stand seeing themselves ever getting a job in trades is because they believe they’re worthy of something better. That and they don’t like working physical jobs. They prefer mental jobs. I know this enough to ramble about it because many of my friends went in and out of construction, and I saw some of them take off to great heights in the entertainment industry. I think we can’t blame the next hit pop star for not being a carpenter just because his daddy wanted him to be one.

If you know any young people who are considering getting into trades, you should do them a fine service and remind them of this question: “Do you really want to do this for 8 hours a day for the next 40-60 years?”

As someone who’s loved working in trades all my life as a carpenter among many other things, I don’t want to deter anyone from pursuing something they might be interested in, but I also don’t want to see kids growing up to become men they regret.

Life in the construction trades is tough. After a long day in the sun swearing every 2 words you can’t blame a fellow for drinking his sorrows away. A lot of people in trades don’t like to read. They’d rather watch sports. And you can’t blame them because after working physically to the bone, lifting, pulling, screwing and hammering, the first thing you want to do it just relax–mentally and physically.

Once again, for the young people in your life who might be considering a physically demanding life, if they can truly see themselves being happy doing the same thing everyday then the next question to ask  them is which trade is best for them. I already wrote a post about that to assist anyone in the decision. I just wanted to talk about this today because some people I know are rather ignorant toward white collar ways and thinking. They need to understand that not everyone is a tough, smoking, beer drinking tradesman who can operate a chainsaw and lift a stack of wood. So thanks for reading!

 

The Ironic Evolution of the Nail and Hammer

The hammer, a modern tool for hitting nails, has its roots in history where people often don’t like to realize, but will understand as soon as they’re reminded–and I use the word “reminded” because it’s obvious and we all inherently know it already.

Long before we had metal nails, blacksmiths needed a tool to pound out such a thing. Aye, isn’t it rather funny and ironic that the hammer was used by ancient and medieval blacksmiths to pound out nails? I was thinking about this while camping in Tofino BC the other weekend, a place where many people find intellectual inspiration, and, yes–don’t judge me–I was philosophically analyzing my understanding of the hammer, the tool I use most often around the house (not to kill my wife).

I wanted to share this self-discovery, if you can call it that, on my blog because I still think it’s rather funny. Today we use hammers to hit nails into wood, but before we had nails a rudimentary version of the early hammer was used by blacksmiths in smithing metal objects of odd sorts. And oddly enough, the very first nail was molded into place by the battering of a ye olde hammer! Remember that next time you need something to talk about with your construction buddies around the campfire.

I know my readers aren’t used to short, snappy blog posts like this, but every once in awhile I’ll find something small and unique to say, and with all that said I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

Don’t Make Summer Chores into Bummer Bores!

It’s 2018, and summer is practically here. All year you’ve been contemplating all the chores around the house you would do as soon as the weather turned around. Am I right? Now if you already have a lot of those chores done, then this blog post isn’t for you. This is here for the people who saved up so many laborious to-do tasks on their planner that they frown and want to rip out their hair whenever they look at it. In other words, their summer chores have become massive bummer bores.

Let me tell you I’m exactly the kind of guy you want to listen to when it comes to this stuff, because I just looked at my to-do planner of things to get done now that summer’s here and, well, PIECES OF MY HAIR ARE ON THE FLOOR! I’m not joking, ladies and girls! I pooped up big this time, but all is good. I’m trying to stay positive, remembering my training, my many years of experience and have come up with a solid plan to knock these “bummer bores” off the list.

Now this won’t be some tough guy who gets everything done perfectly giving you the best advice in the world; this is us working together, because we’re both in the same pickle. Throughout the year I’m usually a labor intensive guy, and I don’t sit around lazily that often. Now, staring at my wall of chores, sitting around lazily with a beer petting my dog is all I want to do. The wife would hang me in my sleep if I didn’t get this list done though, so let us begin.

How do you turn your bummer bores into summer chores? The tactic I’m going to be using is a mixture between delegation and getting my butt motivated by seeing the end result. Delegation is a wonderful thing, and I already wrote a post emphasizing how it can actually save your house from sliding down a hill!

Besides this, delegation can also help get that heavy to-do list done quicker, and I’ll be using another great example to prove this. When you’re choosing which chore you want to delegate, choose the BIGGEST one. Trust me, because you’ll save more time to knock off all the small ones that way. For me this year, painting the exterior of my house is the biggest chore on my list, so I reached out to a local painting company tonight before writing this and they’re happy to come and do the work that I’m definitely not happy to do myself. It’s a win-win. Hooray!

Part of repainting a house, especially a house like mine with wood siding, is scraping off the parts of the old paint that aren’t smooth so that the new coats of paint will look even. Another big bummer bore of a preparation is putting tape on all the things you don’t want paint to get on like windows, gutters, mailboxes, etc. Now I’m a shy man and don’t like to post photos of myself where internet surfers can judge them, but you can still probably imagine how a sore retired old man like me would hate getting up on a ladder to do all that finicky shenanigans. ‘Tis exactly why I’m delegating this stuff, and I implore you do the same, kids!

I reached out to my local painters Victoria BC because my arms start to ache just thinking about painting the whole exterior of my house all alone! And that’s just half of my strategy… I still got over twenty other bummer bores on the list, and, when I’m not dreading them, I’m imagining the scowl my wife’s gonna give me when they’re not completed before the weather turns sour again. I got to build a chicken cage, dig a hole for a pond, repair the fence and, oh, you get the point–I got to do a lot of stuff!

Now it’s time to see the end result in order to get my old butt motivated! Imagining the end result has been a strategy that works for me when I seek the energy to do something I don’t feel like doing even though I know it’ll be mighty good for me if I do it. And I’m not the kind of spiritual guy who reads all those law of attraction books. I just know this works. Seeing the end result in your mind makes achieving it a lot easier. But like Jesus said, faith without action is dead. So I actually have TO DO the work, hence my whole bloody “to-do” list in the first place.

Now I set my alarm clock nice and early because, as a retired man, I have the whole day of tomorrow to do whatever. And now I’m envisioning exactly what I’m going to do as I write this, and I suggest you do something similar if you also have a to-do list that’s way too big. Perhaps you’re a young man and painting your house is just one of the small things you got to do. Well, good for you if that’s the case. Me, well, I got to pull one of my old “recruit yourself” techniques and, despite all my complaining, I’m pretty damn sure tomorrow’s going to be an excellent and productive day, because I see the end results!

My fence is going to be beautiful–a nice red color to match the house–and the pond will be perfect for the neighbors’ ducks, because they like to come over and say hello sometimes. The chicken cage will be perfect, a friendly home for our new friends and the dog house, oh, the dog house, it’s going to … to … be beautiful, too!

What do your end results look like? See them nice and clear and know that your bummer bores have just magically turned into motivating projects once again!

 

 

Finding the Trade that’s Right for You! (Construction & Labor)

If you’re fresh out of high school or looking for a hobby and you’re still struggling to find the trade that fits your personality and character, then I will supply a list of questions to assist. By the time you’re done reading this blog post, my hope is that you’ll either know what you want to do or you’ll now what you DON’T want to do, which is a great start!

  1. Do you like working indoors or outdoors? This is the first question you should ask because if you’re an outdoor person then you definitely don’t want to be welding deep down in the bilges of a navy ship, and if you’re an outdoor person then you definitely don’t want to be on rooftops installing HVAC or roofing tiles. Maybe you want a balance of the two and so something like carpentry where some days you work outside and some days you work inside is perfect for you.
  2. Do you like to stay physically active, or do you feel comfortable conserving your energy for after work? If you’re someone who likes to get up and go, go, go then something physically demanding like laying concrete or chopping down trees should be more suitable than plumbing or welding where you’re more often than not sitting in one spot for long periods of time.
  3. Do you like the freedom of working alone, or do you like working with a team? This question may not pinpoint the exact trade you want, but it will give you an idea of where you may want to work. For example something like welding can be both independent or team-based. If you work in a metal shop with others, you’ll have company throughout the day. But if you’re a mobile welder you may find yourself working alone a lot, and that’s what a lot of people look forward to. Some trades require teamwork, like installing railings. Others don’t, like plumbing and electrical work.
  4. Do you want to travel with your work, or stick to your hometown? Many people come out of high school dreaming of a career where they get to travel around the world. Others simply love their city or town so much they’d never dream of leaving. If you want to stay where you are then you need to look at what kind of trades flourish in your area. For example if you live in an urban area, you can say goodbye to being a lumberjack. If you live deep in the mainland away from bodies of water, you can say goodbye to underwater welding. But something like underwater welding is perfect for someone who wishes to travel with their work. Other careers enable traveling, too, especially when you become a master at what you do and people abroad seek your services. Being a specialist race-car mechanic who can do what no others can may have you travelling to all kinds of places.

Take the time you need to make sure you answer these questions thoroughly, and you may find that something out there is just right for you! If at the end of this exercise you’re feeling unmotivated and doubtful, learn how to recruit yourself the Bob Allen way!

Not Taking Care of Tools is like Designing Technology to Break Down

Major manufacturers of cars, phones and many other devices are known to release new models of their products every year because they’re hoping customers will see the older models as obsolete and spend more money. Just think of how many times your friends or children go through new I-phones. This is called consumerism, and many products in stores are designed to malfunction over time so that you’re forced to spend more and more money down the road. This is a scary idea to wrap your head around, but it’s true. Car makers make more money by making cars that are NOT built to last, and the sad truth is that this concept can be directly related to our construction tools and the philosophy many of us have about them.

For direct contrast and comparison think of the old pioneers and settlers of America who lived 200 years ago. Did you know hours and hours of work went into the blacksmithing of a single shovel and never would you see one of these pioneers abusing a shovel because he knew he could just buy another one for $10 at the store!

Children today are so used to the idea that its no big deal if something breaks because it can be replaced so easily. In fact, they EXPECT things to break and not last long! I worry about this because today’s consumerism culture is putting a heavy strain on certain resources and also all the malfunctioned junk we replace ends up filling our landfills, which causes further problems for the third world countries that have to deal with our garbage.

Now I don’t want to make this some liberal speech about saving the planet, I just want to make a good comparison between abusing tools and today’s consumerism philosophy because I believe when you buy a tool it should stick in the family. I was raised using all the tools my grandfather used and it just disgusts me to see young men today going through 4 models of the same tool when I’m still using one that’s over 100 years old. I think if the planet could talk it would agree with me when I say today’s consumerism culture is SO WASTEFUL!

So what is my advice? I suggest that when you go to buy tools for yourself or for your children that you spend the extra money to get the best quality tool because then it’ll last forever with a warranty and you’ll end up saving more money down the road when you consider never having to replace it twenty times, and also you can feel good knowing that you’re combating this disgusting philosophy in our society that says “being wasteful is okay.”

I often think about what archaeologists must think about ancient Rome when they’re digging up ridiculous technology we consider obsolete. I think about this because it makes me laugh when I wonder about archaeologists thousands of years from now who dig up all of Canada and America’s garbage and say “Oh my gosh, these cultures were so stupid!” Frankly, I would have to agree with them.

So don’t be one of those blind consumers, and take good care of your tools! Thank you!

Don’t Do Everything Yourself – Even If You’re A Jack-of-all-Trades!

Today’s lesson is important for old retired jack-of-all-trades who like to do EVERYTHING themselves around the house–you know who you are! Tough men who build houses for a living usually like to stay tough right until their senile years. Well, perhaps this tip of the day will help you become more efficient at completing your projects, and to illustrate I am going to use one of my own projects as an example.

I’m working on one of my houses in Langford, British Columbia, Canada, specifically working on rebuilding the deck because the original one was rotting under our feet–literally!

Not only was the deck rotting, but much of the support structure under the house was rotting as well, which is why I got this corner of the house on stilts, which you can see in the picture below.

Now before I tell the embarrassing story about how I tried to do everything myself and paid dearly for it, let me tell you that blessings come in all shapes and sizes and, well, sometimes getting the right help exactly when you need it is the best blessing of all.

So what is my embarrassing story?–the perfect example of why you shouldn’t do everything yourself? Well, I nearly had the biggest scare in my life as the entire corner of my house started to sag and droop before my eyes like an excited little boy on the end of a teeter-totter. I was by myself as I took out one of the most important structural beams holding my house up and I swear an angel must’ve come down from heaven to hold the house in place for just long enough for me to get a jack in there. You can see the jack in the picture, the black one … it looks cute but remember that thing was keeping my whole house stable for a few hours until I managed to get that one support beam in place.

This experience nearly gave me a heart attack and when I looked in the mirror that night I promised myself I would never again try to do everything myself. My project requires building a new deck and fixing up all the landscaping around this side of the house so I was wondering what kind of business in Langford I could hire to see the job done. Not often will you find a deck building company that also does landscaping but I managed to find the perfect one. These guys at All In One Landscaping & Curbing Ltd. do everything and more than I needed, which is why I think they call themselves “all in one.” Now I know what you’re thinking, if you think anything like I did a few days ago: “what kind of coward asks for help!”

Well let me tell you that it actually took a lot of courage to ask these guys for help and now that my project is swinging quickly toward completion I don’t regret it one bit! Look at how far I need to extend the deck around the house and ask yourself how fun this would be to do all on your lonesome.

unfinished project

Now as a jack-of-all-trades don’t get me wrong. I know HOW to do all the stuff my auxilia is doing but I must admit it’s a great relief at my age to have younger helpers who also know what they’re doing. I forgot more than these guys know but that doesn’t mean their useless. I can sit back with a beer and watch as they do everything for me. Ah, now this is retirement!

I guess the lesson I’m trying to teach here is … just imagine what could have happened if I wasn’t quick enough to get the jack under the house when it was sagging. My whole house could’ve started sliding down the hill! Now that I have help all those worries are gone. And now that I’m a little used to asking for help it won’t be so hard to do again when the next project comes along. If you enjoy neat lessons like this related to construction trades then keep in touch with my blog for posts in the future!

And remember, it takes courage to ask for help!

Stay Motivated this Weekend!

We’ve been getting a few more readers than expected here and we must be grateful. This weekend I just want to make a brief post to help remind anyone out there who’s struggling with motivation to know that more often than not we each have a lot more energy than we realize and the only thing we must do to tap into it is give ourselves a positive attitude.

Having a positive attitude and making encouraging thoughts will tap into your reserves of energy. Just face it! You know it will be harder to get motivated if you’re constantly trying to make yourself believe that you have no energy.

never give up

Since most of us here work demanding physical jobs we might not have as much energy as someone whose been sleeping all week but if we make the decision for ourselves and our bodies we can surprise ourselves to know how much extra energy and motivation we really have if we can only think good thoughts that help to push us forwards!

How to Quit Smoking when You Work with Smokers

As someone who’s worked on countless construction sites I can vouch that construction workers, over all, like to smoke more than your typical person. I’m not saying that all construction workers smoke but it’s quite evident that you’re much more likely to find a smoker working in trades than you are to find one working in other fields of work like doctoring, nursing, police work, et cetera.

I managed to quit smoking many years ago while I was working full time with smokers. Now my friend is wondering how I did it and I thought maybe there’s others on the internet who could use some advice as well. So now let us begin!

How do you quit smoking when you work with a crew of smokers, and you always see them smoking everyday?

The answer is different for everyone, as some people have developed their willpower more than others, but there are still three universal tips that I believe could help anyone!

Tip 1: Be honest with your co-workers and let them know you’re trying to quit smoking cigarettes. If they’re unaware of your struggle, they may try to offer you a smoke or smoke in front of you more often. Now this tip may not work in every situation because some co-workers can be pretty immature and they won’t take you seriously. They may say something like “No one likes a quitter” or something worse like “You’ll never succeed!”

If you find that your co-workers aren’t willing to make things any easier for you then maybe talk to your boss and suggest working different shifts, suggest working with a different crew or maybe even take some vacation time away from work to get by those first few weeks of cravings out of the way. Once you come back to work after taking a break you’ll hopefully find that you have no desire to smoke because you already sacrificed so much to get this far.

Tip 2: Bring extra light snacks in your lunch bag to munch on whenever you get a craving, and, if you’re a coffee drinker, consider changing your beverage of choice to lessen further cravings. When I was struggling with cravings at work, watching and smelling people smoke right beside me, I would pull out a small bag of peanuts and munch on them until my craving went away, and I took a break from coffee because, you know, smokes and coffee go together like bread and butter. I found myself drinking organic teas and I ended up feeling a lot better about myself overall. Today I still don’t drink coffee that much for the same reason. I find that I already have all the energy I need because I’m no longer smoking.

For other ideas of snacks you can bring to work to settle your smoking cravings, consider pepperoni sticks, five-cent candies, dried fruit, chips, crackers, bananas, granola bars, anything to keep your lips and fingers busy until the craving goes away!

Tip 3: Start a journal or a daily planner and write down all the reasons why you want to quit smoking. While doing this you may surprise yourself because, no matter what, there are always way more reasons someone should quit than reasons why they should continue smoking. I managed to come up with nearly one hundred reasons, one of them being I get my taste buds back. Ah yes, I get to enjoy the full flavor of pizza now! Another one of my reasons was to smell better in public; I no longer get weird glances from strangers who smell something they don’t like. And perhaps the most convincing reason for me was health! Ever since I quit smoking I’ve been getting sick less often, my teeth have gotten whiter and even my skin and hair look younger!

The reason why you want to write this down in a journal or daily planner is because you want to be reminded of these reasons as much as possible. I use my daily planner everyday and so before work I was always reminded of all the reasons why I’m putting myself through these struggles. Now I only get a craving once every few months and this list of reasons is still useful today.

say no to smokes

I hope these tips help you!

And who knows? You may find that you become the hero at work and find ways to motivate your co-workers into also quitting cigarettes. Wouldn’t that be awesome! For more tips on staying motivated, we have a whole page dedicated to it. Thanks for visiting and see you next time with more tips and tricks for trades workers!

Tools You Never Use – Turn Them Into Art!

If you’re anything like me, an aspiring jack-of-all-trades, then you probably have a bunch of old tools lying around that you never use or hope to use one day. Owning any kind of tool is useful and so I don’t blame you for keeping them, nor do I blame myself. In fact, I’ve discovered a very neat and fun way to make your tools useful, even that one you know you’ll never, ever use!

How do I make all my useless tools useful? By presenting them as pieces of art in your living room, kitchen bathroom, bedrooms and hallways!

Tools for me are like cars or dolls for others: I just looove looking at them! Instead of flowers in my vases I have hammers and screw drivers. Above the lintel of my hallway door rests a rusty shovel, shining brilliantly like a medieval coat of arms. On the window sill above the kitchen sink are old single nuts and bolts displayed in an artistic fashion, many of them from the early 20th century and looking like artifacts from a steampunk universe.

How can you tell me these old tools don’t look beautiful? I’d rather have these wrenches displayed on my coffee table than a bowl of candy any day!

Some tools are bigger than others and so you can think of creative ways to present them as art. For example even an old toilet you uninstalled years ago but left around can be painted purple and re-installed on the roof of your shed. Imagine what people would think as they drove by and saw that! I know what I would think: “Whoever did that is one awesome person!”

I often see stuff like that when I’m driving about, and I can’t complain. Some people like to leave old 19th-century farm equipment in their front lawn to give a country aesthetic. Others like to keep rusty old motorcycles on their backyard patio, almost as if it were a rocking horse for the kids to play on.

So why keep your tools hidden away in a tool box? Celebrate your love for being a tool collector and put them somewhere artful, somewhere you can see them everyday. Screw a bead curtain! I’m saving all my old broken tape-measures to make a hanging curtain out of them! Hmm. Or maybe that’s not the best idea . . . .

But hopefully you get the point! Thanks for reading and click here to go back to our homepage. You can look forward to more interesting posts in the future!