Abstract Academic: The Fix-It Kid is back

Howdy, y’all! It’s time for another week with me, the Fix-It Kid, your weekly guide for how-to-ing, do-it-yourself-ing, home-improving and, on occasion, guilt-free devil’s food cake recipes.

Last week, we helped Clark M. from Phoenix, Ariz., install his garage door, and we are proud to report that Clark was recently released from the hospital in stable condition, and has even regained some feeling in his lower extremities. Way to go, Clark! Make sure to check out my book, 50 Funky Fungi To Grow Inside Your Body Cast.

Our first e-mail this week comes from Dave in Buffalo, N.Y. Dave writes:

“Dear Fix-It Kid,

My wife’s father keeps giving me grief because I’m an English major and I don’t have any useful life skills, like carpentry or changing the oil in my car or doing long division. Just because I devoted four years of my life to learning the difference between John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, that doesn’t mean he can call me names like ‘Moby Wimp’ and ‘Dr. Wimpenstein.’ Or ‘Lord of the Wimps.’ Or ‘The Last of the Wimp-hicans.’ He’s a man of few words. Mr. Fix-It, what are some things I can do to look like more of a man?”

Great question, Dave! I think if I were your father, I would have gone with “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jekyll.” Get it? Anyway, try this: Next time your father-in-law comes over, ask for his help in doing something really manly and time-consuming, like moving all your college textbooks down to the basement. When he takes one look at all those cereal-box-thick tomes with names like The Complete Works of Every British Author Named John, William or Robert, he’ll make some excuse about being too old and you will have won.

“Dear F.I.K.,

We recently purchased a German shepherd puppy, and we’re now attempting to house-train her. At first, we thought her perky ears and alert gaze signified a deep intelligence and aptitude for learning, but 46 rug stains later, we have realized that this alert posture is just her way of saying, ‘What?’ Do you have any practical dog-training advice for us before we run out of paper towels?” —Susan in Orlando, Fla.

Absolutely, Susan! If I know anything about dog-training, and I really don’t, I think that your best option is what I call the “scout camp” method: Line your entire house with rubber sheets. I think it’s sold by the yard at places like Home Depot. Newspaper will work in a pinch.

“Dear Fix-It Kid,

I recently moved into a new apartment, and the shower drain is clogged. I stuck a wire coat hanger down there, and something grabbed onto the other end and pulled it in. What do you think I should do?” —Murray in Tampa, Fla.

You should move.

“Dear Fix-It,

I’ve been trying to hang our family portrait in the front hall, but my wife keeps telling me it’s crooked. I’ve tried measuring. I’ve even tried a level, but I just can’t seem to get things straight enough for her. Please help me before I say something I’ll regret.” —Mike in Sacramento, Calif.

Next time you’re going to hang it up, try shaving a few millimeters off the bottom of one of your wife’s shoes the night before, and I promise, the portrait will be hung straight.