Humor by Greg Schwem

All dads need to be keenly aware of a very ominous phrase:

Do It Yourself or "DIY" if you are texting.

I'm warning fathers everywhere because many of us, instead of choosing to spend the day playing golf or taking the easy road and WATCHING golf, may opt to tackle that home improvement project we have been putting off since 1987. Maybe it's something as simple as trimming the bushes or painting the porch railing.

Or maybe it is something a little more expansive, a project that will cement our status as the coolest guy on the block because we did it all by our lonesome, saving hundreds of dollars in the process. Neighborhood wives will look at our handiwork, glare at their husbands and say, "Why can't YOU do something like that?"

The DIY label is dangerous because it lulls us into thinking we can actually accomplish something on our own. Usually it is something we have no business attempting. Over the years, I have gone to hardware stores and seen DIY slapped on brochures telling us how easy it is to build a backyard deck. I've seen it on satellite-dish installation kits. Several of my neighbors have dishes, allowing them to receive whatever sporting event is currently occurring on the planet, including senior citizen cricket matches. I thought installing my own dish would be relatively simple until I Googled the subject and realized I could not proceed until I first calculated my azimuth and elevation coordinates, both of which were necessary for aiming the dish toward a satellite floating somewhere in space.

Last September, a 6-ton satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean. At least that's where NASA thinks it fell. No evidence has actually been found. If the space industry's brightest minds can't locate a satellite, how am I supposed to find one? That's why I chose cable instead. The toughest thing to locate when you are a cable customer is the repairman.

When I purchased a swing set for my kids, the salesman said I could hire a three-person crew to install it or I could do it myself. Choosing the latter meant that a truck would dump a large load of lumber and some screws on my driveway and then speed away before I could ask, "Is this the top beam or the bottom?" I wisely employed the crew. Looking back it was probably the best 300 bucks I have ever spent. Defending myself in a lawsuit from an irate parent whose kid was unlucky enough to be on the slide when it collapsed due to my swing set installation ineptitude would have been significantly more expensive.

I found the ultimate DIY project last week while doing some online shopping. Dads, if you wake up on Father's Day and decide this would be a perfect day to become more eco-friendly, then fire up eBay and search, "Wind Turbine Installation Kit."

There, for just $649, a seller will provide you with everything you need to erect one of those oversize windmills in your backyard. According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind currently provides 2 percent of the United States' electricity. But that number could swell to 2.0000001 if a few of us dads put down our Budweisers and exercise a little initiative. Say goodbye to those skyrocketing electric bills, gentlemen; all we'll need keep our beer cold will be a nice steady breeze.

The kit included the following: reinforced fiberglass wind turbine blades, some quadruple layer neodymium magnets, 11-pound magnet wire, a heavy-duty bridge rectifier, some crimp-on ring terminals and a few splice connectors.

Any questions so far?

Oh, sure, we might encounter a few hiccups along the way. But that's what neighbors are for, right? Just walk across the street, find another dad and say, "Jim, can you spare a few minutes to help me align my wind tower?"

Don't count on it. I once asked my neighbor to help me install a ceiling fan and I could almost see the gears spinning in his brain as he struggled to concoct a reason to say no. He relented and helped but it took five hours and I still have yet to experience two of the speeds on my alleged three-speed ceiling fan. Suffice it to say that neither of us have decent wiring skills.

So, dads, before you embark on some technical mission that could result in, at best, a steady stream of profanity and, at worst, paramedics being summoned, remember that some things can be accomplished in solitude more easier than others.

Speaking from experience, I know it takes very little effort to lie in a hammock all day.

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

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