Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Extra Breaks for Smoking Fakes

Smoke, Pray, Slack

Non-smokers need the same work breaks smokers get.

In this modern era of rabid irrational anti-drug hysteria, why do nicotine addicts still get those extra breaks for their fix? Cheap Dude, ex-smoker, missed them.

It wasn’t the nicotine; it was seven or eight minutes of restful staring into space, or assessing work/self/life, or talking nonsense with a co-worker/addict, or praying. (Who says you can’t pray while smoking?) Now that junkies are forced outdoors, sunshine and fresh air too!

In the slightly-less-bad old days, when everyone smoked, the boss’s habit often decided the number and duration of breaks. Convincing everyone to quit smoking may be a corporate ploy to make us all get back to work.

Better not to smoke, Cheap Dude agreed. But he has a plan for everyone who wants to bring back those extra breaks: pretend to start smoking.

Buy just one pack. Watch the known smokers. When they sneak off, waltz out with ‘em. If the boss gives you the evil eye, flash that pack, it’s your "hall pass." (Never open the pack, or they will be bummed and smoked, one by one.) “Secondhand smoke” is a delicious bonus with the extra goof-off time.

Cigarette smokers are an energetic bunch. A trash can is a few feet away.


If cigarette butts were made of gold, we’d all be praising god.


Martin Wartstew’s Hideously Cheap Hovel Decorating Abuse

These are a couple chunks of pine knot, broke off while being split. They are redolent of resin, perched snugly on a metal candleholder that almost never has a candle in it. Hopefully the fresh pine odor will mask the wood smoke back-drafting into the living room. Time to clean the stove pipe—but not right now.

Behind nature’s potpourri, family photos liven up a $10 (splurge!) painting when stuffed in the edge. Under it, a speaker, part of an antique oriental music system coated with an enticing grey dust. A dusty hut is a sure sign the inhabitants are happily doing something much more pleasant and/or important than “dusting.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

If I Wanted To Do It Myself, I Wouldn't Have Asked You

The concept is ancient.
“Darling, will you groom the yak?”
“Do it yourself!”

Isn’t an adult supposed to do everything for themselves? Does the so-called “Do It Yourself” movement in the U.S. mean we’re finally grown up?

“DIY”: Rhymes with die, which many folks would rather do than commit labor. “DIY”: not enough time to write or speak the complete phrase, but plenty to re-roof the house.

If you pay someone to do anything, it simply means you are rich. The rich only “do it themselves” as a hobby, and to stay rich. Through history, regular folks always did things themselves. The DIY revival means we’re getting back to normal: too poor to fix every broken whatnot, too cheap to keep furniture and other needless junk “nice.”

However, Cheap Dude did most things himself because he hated to give anyone any money, for any reason.

To be a successful modern do-it-yourself-er, first lower your standards. Does the kitchen floor really need replaced, right now? Heck no! If more linoleum than plywood is showing, forget it. Wow, that was easy!

A roof leak needs attention right away. Easy fix: get up there, in the rain, with a can of black roof goo and a putty knife or whatever. Swab the goo on the roof above the leaky area. Once the leak stops, the excess roof tar on ladder, fascia, front doorknob, water glass, clothing, and hair, doesn’t matter.

A bargain toilet seat is never the “wrong” color; just be grateful the cheek pinching will desist. (Ha ha, a toilet seat “the wrong color.”  Do people not know what they’re used for?)

No matter the project, Doing It Yourself is a matter of sheer determination. First you want It, by pretending It is important. Then you figure out how, by reading at the library and asking people. Then you beg, steal, and borrow the tools and materials. “Flea markets,” “yard sales” and “park ‘n’ swaps,” are piled with used, leftover, and pre-stolen stuff, at great prices.

Next, keep screwing up the project, over and over, until It looks acceptable. Or, until you are so tired of redoing It you don’t care if It looks like the work of a four-year-old. Simple!

Remember, everything in and of your house was designed and manufactured by a human, one way or another. So you as a human can usually figure It out, if you take enough time.

If not, you also have the right, at any time, to take a large hammer, and beat on It. This renders some projects pointless and others irreparable. Cathartic. Failure is always an option.

Procrastination is another. Whenever a reasonable project is suggested, your first response must be “why?” If you can’t talk your way out, say you’ll get to It “as soon as you can.” Try not to laugh.

Everyone’s new self-reliance may have a bonus: gender role redefinition. “Darling, will you make dinner?” “As soon as you get some food, my love.” Answering “do it yourself,” no matter who is asking or answering, has society-altering ramifications.

Once household tasks are evenly distributed, it will be plain that too many people try to do too much, most of which doesn’t mean squat. Quit church, sports (kiddie and pro), TV, and all non-critical driving. Stop trying to do everything, and forget perfect. Then take a deep breath, relax, and pick a project!


Aftermath of an Epic DIY Failure

The kitchen faucet wasn’t right from the start. It was loose, but it worked. At some point it started leaking. The leak grew until it became like a little freshwater spring, running through the dilapidated trailer, at which point his lazy tenants (his sons) finally noticed it. Cheap stopped the leak, secured the faucet (see blog of 11-13-11), and caulked and duct taped a narrow section of water-damaged counter.

Within a few days the kitchen floor started disintegrating/sinking, due to water damage to the ultra-cheap fake wood floor. No way was Cheap going to replace a section of floor in the dead of winter; instead he cut a piece of old plywood (former shed wall) and placed it strategically and scientifically over the sagging area. In theory he will rip out and replace the floor, someday warm. That, or his lazy tenants will get used to the splintery new kitchen.

 If you look carefully at the sink edge, you may notice that the caulked/duct-taped section is gone. That repair failed, and Cheap eventually broke it the rest of the way off and trashed it. A classic look!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Listen Up, Snappy Whipsters!

Cheap Dude’s cry for cheapness in all things is not new. Necessity has been the mother of extreme thrift since we came out of the forest.

Thus today’s guest editorial, from the pages of the Journal Extra, which freely graces Cheap’s dirt driveway each Wednesday.

Dedicated to all the kids out there who passionately want to “save the earth,” yet can't seem to turn off the lights.

Photos by Jones

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Drink Irresponsibly?

Alcoholic beverage advertisements now exhort us to “Drink Responsibly.” Booze vendors hope we will thus think more kindly of their industrial drug-dealing. When an addict wrecks his or her car, beats spouse, barfs, and misses work brutally hung over, the dealers’ hands are clean.

Knowing that alcohol destroys livers, brain cells, and lives, how is it responsible to drink any alcohol at all? What is meant by this ubiquitous new slogan? Does anyone ever plan to Drink Irresponsibly? Does anyone take responsibility for anything anymore?

No matter how the evening begins, folks become less responsible with every drink. Rules aren’t made to be broken, but they are anyway.

If you are going to drink, kids, slow down and drink like an adult addict. Eat often and plenty. Pace yourself, no need to drink your 80 years’ booze allotment before you’re thirty. Drink glasses of water between drink drinks. 
Outliving your liver means unpleasant death.

Some folks count drinks. However, 24 drinks in 24 hours won’t get you drunk if you eat well and nap occasionally. So is that responsible?

If you buckle your seat belt, and your son in his car seat, then drive home one eye closed so you don’t see double, is that responsible?

How about if you smoke a grip of weed but don’t drink at all, in order to be the “designated driver?”  Or stay slightly sober so you can drive the really drunk people home?

Drinking responsibly surely means not enough to make you barf. If you do, outside is easiest to clean up, use the water hose. Head for the toilet if indoors, or the nearest trash can if sudden. Other irresponsible excretions should be handled similarly. Always barf, dump, and whiz before going to bed, not after.

Don’t keep drinking until you want to fight everyone. The next day you won’t remember why you fought, only the painful fact that you did. Same goes for unprotected pre-marital fun; a fertilized egg and cooties are also painful facts, even in love.

Do nothing quickly. Leave the white powders be—well, maybe a little taste for the careful drive home. Know where the cops hide their cars; if you don’t know the area, assume they’re everywhere. It’s not paranoia; they announce they’re out to get you.

Better yet, keep a sleeping bag and foam mattress rolled up in the car, and sleep it off, anywhere, before you drive. Think of it as camping. If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not drunk yet. Pick-up truck beds and Cadillac back seats are more comfortable than plenty of folks’ regular beds.

Drinking responsibly finally means showing up for work the next day, even without sleep and half drunk. Shower, eat, guzzle a pot of coffee, and gut it out. Got to show up and make money for next time!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Not Live In Your Car?

It’s As Much Fun As It Sounds!

Warm, Dry, Cheap, and Mobile

Sometimes tragedy changes the world for the better. The Banco-Terrorist theft of half the world is a great opportunity for unemployed soon-to-be home-losers. What better reason to begin living in ones automobile?

The larger your vehicle, the more positive this life-changing event. Even in a tiny car you’re dryer, safer, and warmer than half the world. Cleaner, too, if that means anything. If you own a trailer or motor home, consider yourself rich.

After you get laid off from your crappy job, and your finances rapidly dwindle (since, like most working people, you never could save a nickel,) start decorating your clunker’s interior. Trade for a bigger one if you can. Old Cadillacs are roomy and almost free. If you have any ‘available credit’, “borrow” the biggest vehicle you can find. The dealer doesn’t have to know you hope to park it in your cousin’s back lot, and never make a payment.

Car living means total freedom. When life sucks, and everyone is out of work—move! When your neighbors are noisy jerks, get new neighbors--or no neighbors. “Home-owers” can’t drive to a quieter, less-bankrupt town until they miss enough payments. 

Life “on the road.” Impose on relatives, especially that cousin with acreage. Crapmart allows the dispossessed to camp a night on their parking fringes; a nice gesture, since relentless pursuit of “crappiest” sent so many jobs away. In many National Forests you can camp “at-large” for 14 days at a time. Find a job in a nearby town and you’re set, if you don’t mind the six mile dirt (/mud) road, and pitching camp every two weeks.

Parking in the city depends on your house/wheels. If new-ish, park late, on a quiet street, in a “nice” neighborhood. Get out early; rich neighborhoods aren’t often friendly. One late night Cheap Dude street-parked his hammered truck/camper near his cousin’s place by the ocean, and slept in back. An angry flab-wrinkle woke him early, angrily beating the metal bed, “You can’t sleep here!” Too late!

If your mobile-mini-mansion has been “t-boned," “rolled over," or had a window smashed, park in a “rough” neighborhood. You’ll be safe; folks don’t figure such cars in such places worth robbing. Don’t park your glistening Killawinnebago by the homeless camp under the overpass, unless you are lonely and brave. Skip all areas with plywood windows.

If you find work you will need to shower sometimes. This is why, throughout life, it is best to be nice to everyone. Years later they will be glad to see you, sniff, and gladly offer their shower. Clean the sink and toilet while you’re at it, and they’ll make the offer semi-permanent. Otherwise show up to work early, and take a “spit bath” as Pa used to call it. Brush teeth, shave face, dab of stink-pretty for civilization, and you are just another worker.

Without mortgage payment and power bill, you will be able to skip your second job, and spend lots of time at the library, park, or in the revolutionary amusement known as “sitting and thinking.” Quite a lifestyle change, but you’ll adapt.

For thousands of years, humans lived in tents, or mud huts. So what’s the big deal? Somehow, in the States, living in your car means poverty, not freedom. But cars are sturdier, with comfier seats, than any tent or hut.

Moving constantly to find work is normal human behavior--unlike mortgaging your life thirty years for a palatial mud hut. The world is your home, no one ‘needs’ a house. Mankind thrived for millennia without indoor plumbing, fancy mattresses, or color-coordinated kitchens.

Some people move into their cars out of desperation. Why wait until then? Move out now, to hell with the Psychotic Pursuit of Unattainable Happiness. Plan ahead, and be comfortable and stress free. As the empire circles the drain, you’ll be meeting lots of new home-driving friends. Perhaps together you can find a more Meandering Pursuit of Reasonable Contentment.