I Am The Anti-Bob Vila

I’m not an unintelligent person, at work I have root access to the UNIX machines, I’ve outfitted my desktop Mac with RAM and Video upgrades. I even installed a SCSI card and drive and was able to make it work in OS X. Some of you may know that I’m an accomplished public speaker and can speak in front a live audience, without notes even! I’ve written and been published here at MyMac.com. I can discuss the philosophical possibilities of quantum physics, find extension conflicts in Classic Mac OS as well as hack OS X at the root level. But if you ask me to begin a home improvement project you had best not even be in the same county ’cause the odds are, it’s going to blow!

I had a vacation recently. Vacations that leave me more exhausted than when they began don’t make any sense to me. I decided to spend my vacation leisurely catching up on sleep, reading, surfing and finally tacking some home improvement projects. You see, I recently became a first time homeowner and figured it was time to fix up a few things around the house.

What could go wrong? I thought. Besides, my house included an extra safety feature that even Tim Allen could appreciate. It resides directly across the street from Fire Station #4. If all else failed, I could always pick up my thumb, run across the street and they’d rush me to the hospital, I joked inside my head.

Through this experience, however, I discovered that I am in fact evil. Like the Wolf Man, I have a side of me that loved ones and the public at large must be protected from. In the end, most likely, someone is going to have to hire Buffy to slay me with a Stanleyâ„¢T-Square driven through my heart with a genuine Craftsmanâ„¢ hammer. Read on, you’ll see what horrors lurk deep within me.

What follows, is a100% true story. No names, dates, or places were changed to protect the innocent.

Act One: “A Bright Idea.”

After a few days of leisure, I finally thought I might actually try to at least begin some simple projects around the house. The first thing I contemplated was what color to paint a bookshelf I have. While I was considering that I remembered some white oak stain that I had picked up for the wood walls in my living room. (With a house built in the 50s, there’s plenty of “Blonde Wood” around. UGH!) Well last fall I bought the white stain to hopefully do something with those blonde wood walls. It has been sitting in the garage ever since. I wanted to see what the white stain would look like.

That was a bIIIiiiiggg mistake, huge mistake, nothing bigger. Think of the ominous music that plays just before someone opens Pandora’s box or before the Nazi’s opened the Ark of the Covenant in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” If only I had left that wood stain alone.

Picture the handiest person you can think of, the absolute most “Mr. Fix-It” kind of man on the face of the earth, someone who can make any home improvement project look easy. Maybe you’ll think of your own father, or your grandfather, possibly even a neighbor. Maybe you have cable and you think of the guys from “Furniture to Go” or anyone from the Home and Garden channel. The first person that comes to my mind is Bob Vila.

Now imagine the complete and total antithesis of Bob Vila, completely inept with a tool, a brush, sander, power tool or absolutely anything suburban. Seriously, imagine that if that person were to touch a power tool that had been sprinkled with Holy Water, it would literally burn their fingers.

I am that person.

Honestly, I believe that I’m the “Anti-Bob Vila”! I’m sweet, kind, intelligent and maybe even eloquent at times but I can destroy a home faster than a wrecking ball!

Act Two: “I’ll Just Test It.”

Before tackling the bookshelf color question, I went out to the garage. Innocuously, all I did was pick up just one can of the white stain that I had bought. I shoooook it up real good! Really! or so I thought. “I’ll just test it.” I thought to myself. Then I set the can on the edge of my fireplace and dipped a brush into the stain. Picked out a small section on the wall and dabbed on some stain.


It was like there was no color to it at all! Which was strange because the stain was obviously white when I dipped my brush into it. Soooo… I dipped my brush in again and I spread more on in a bigger area. Like covering more area would make a difference.

Still, nothing!

Narrowing my eyes, I set my jaw and the wheels begin turning inside my head. I hammer the lid back on the can. I SHAKE that bad boy for all I’m worth!

I open up the lid, dip my brush again and still,


My left eye begins to twitch.

Knowing at least a little better, I go out on the patio so I don’t spill white stain all over the floor, dinning room table or on the rug. I diiiiiip deeply! Ahhhhh Haaaa, there is all the pigment. I dip and stir, dip and stir, dip and stir; then I take one last deeeeep dip.

I go back into the house, spread liberally then involuntarily yell, “OH SHIT!!!!!”

Now I can’t see any Wood Grain! It’s SOLID WHITE! I frantically begin to spread the stain, using the brush to puuuuullll the stain away, covering yet more and more of the wood as I try like heck to thin this out!!! Spreading for all I’m worth to try to get down to some wood grain.

“THIS ISN’T WORKIIIIIIINNNNG!” echoes repeatedly around my befuddled brain.

Quickly, I run out to the garage, grab a second can of the stain that hasn’t been all shook up. I quick open it. I then dip my paintbrush in the unstirred stain. Hoping that as I spread this thinned stain over the solid white pigment I can the pullll the solid white across the wood that hasn’t been touched by my Evil brush strokes. My logic is by evening out the solid white, I’ll be able to see wood grain again. The ‘test area’ grows exponentially now.

I step back to survey what I had wrought. I slump and involuntarily find myself saying (in my best Forest Gump voice), “Sometimes there just isn’t enough unstirred stain.”

By this time though, my confusion, my complete lack of experience and finally the whole series of missteps hits me and I’m laughing myself silly. It is jiggling my paintbrush; stain and solid pigment alternately dribble all over the floor in front of the test section. Which only makes me laugh more!

Believe it or not, not a single drop lands on my leather loafers. I have absolutely no idea how this is possible. Maybe it’s an indication of how deep my evil extends. I can only destroy what is around me and yet some how I remain protected.

Act Three “RTFM!!!”

Still, working more and more of the wall, nothing is thinning this stuff out. Panicky, I decide to run into the garage and grab a third can. Why grab a third can!? This I learned from my computer experience. When all else fails, Read The Fucking Manual. That’s why! Or in the words of doMESStic bliss, to finally read the Gawd Damn directions!!!

That still doesn’t explain why I have to grab a can out of the garage; there are two cans on the fireplace, right? At least I have retained at least enough awareness to realize that in my current state of near total hilarity and desperation (it’s actually kind of a fun state, you should try it some time) that if I pick up either of the cans on the fireplace I’ll undoubtedly somehow end up dumping the entire contents on the floor as I try to read the directions!! Neither lids is on tight. Undoubtedly what I find in the directions will probably make me go limp and drop the can.

So, I run into the garage yet a third time. Grabbing the can I run back into the house while SPEED-reading the directions. It was like being interrogated by the Home and Garden Channel Police. The spotlight bears down one me unrelenting. I feel the heat; it causes me to sweat clammily as I hold the can.

The Home & Garden Police: “Mr. McCormick, did you stir the contents thoroughly?”

Me: Muttering under my breath, “Yes, I did. Well, finally that is.”

The Home & Garden Police: “Did you bother to use a synthetic brush?”

Me: Answering angrily, “Yes, I did that right!”

The Home & Garden Police: “Did you only apply to a small section no more than two feet by a few feet square?”

Me: Exasperated, “YES! Well, originally it was! I mean.” I start again, “Well, at first is was no larger than couple feet square!” My voice trails off, “It just kinda got out of hand after that.”

The Home & Garden Police (tauntingly): “And did you let the small section dry no more than THREE minutes before wiping off excess with cloth dampened slightly with a small amount of stain?”

Me: Finally Breaking, “HOLY SHIT!!” (It had been at least 10 minutes since the first brush stroke.)




Me: LAUGHING MY ASS OFF as I bend all the way upside down to reach the bottom of the wall, while running back and forth between kitchen (for more paper towels) and the fireplace (to lightly moistening paper towels in the stain) and once again WIPING THE WALL LIKE CRAZY!

Me: Repeating the above paragraph at least three times.

The Home & Garden Police (smugly): Watching me the whole time, knowing they’ve got their man and reaching for the phone to call Buffy.


I finally give up. I understand my fate, my miserable lot in life. There can be no other explanation for this. I AM THE ANTI-BOB VILA! Save yourself. If I were you, I’d move to a different hemisphere.

The only thing that can save me from this state is if Apple will finally release a whole new compliment of digital hub products. See, I understand drag and drop. I understand cut and paste and WYSIWYG. Heck, I’m even getting really good at the command line. Seriously, wouldn’t it be great? Just think of the whole new line of iHome iMprovment products there’d be; Final Roof Pro, AppleHandiWorks, of course my favorite, iWalls (with a choice of file formats, iStain and iPaint). Apple could even release another line of digital hub products for the automotively challenged beginning with iTuneup.

But if Apple fails to become the true digital hub of our homes, there is no hope. One of these days my house will end up a steaming/smoking pile of rubble with me standing in the middle of it holding only a can of wood stain in one hand and a paint brush in the other with the apocalypse shooting out of the end. Surrounded by all the trucks, firemen and equipment from Fire Station #4 backing up Buffy.

Oh! Oh how I wish Apple made home iMprovement products.

Bob McCormick

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