R Home Improvement

THIS CHAPTER HAS A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: BRAND-NEW

parents, resourceful mothers-in-law, engineering students from Canada, rodent hunters, asthmatics, and so on.

Broadly, though, the stories fall into two categories. If your idea of a perfect Saturday involves several hours at the Home Depot, I recommend:

• "Brilliant from the Heat," a story about constructing a makeshift air conditioner from twenty-four dollars worth of parts

• "How the Father Fixed the Motherboard," in which the author, a brand-new dad, applies a low-tech fix to a hightech problem

• "All Jacked Up," an inspiring tale of a father, his sons, their sweat, and the miracle of leverage

These three stories illustrate one of the most fundamental ingredients of a quality MacGyverism: an utter lack of fear that, in the process of trying to make things better, you'll only make things worse. It's Dave Murphy's father sizing up seven hundred pounds of crippled deck and refusing to be daunted. It's software designer Matt Wood staring into the guts of his iBook and seeing something other than the abyss. It's college student Geoff Milburn deciding that if he can't afford an air conditioner then, well, he'll just have to make one.

It's guys like these who made me want to edit this book in the first place, mainly because, as I mentioned in the introduction, I am the exact opposite. I completely lack the MacGyver gene. When I see a problem, all I see are more problems— problems that can be avoided by simply calling a professional.

The other stories in this chapter are about home improvement in the broader sense. Maybe they wouldn't necessarily impress Tim Allen's uber-handyman character from Home Improvement (ABC, 1991-1999), but they do lead to a saner, more livable domestic life. A few of these stories are:

• "The Chuck-it Bucket," Rachel Snyder's story about restoring some semblance of order to her daughter's chaotic kitchen

• Katherine Sharpe's "Exhaling with Maria," in which the author didn't just save the day—she may have saved her roommate's life

• "The Night Dad Dressed in Drag," stay-at-home father Vincent O'Keefe's (admittedly) emasculating story about nursing his daughter

And then there's Chris Kaye's "Sic Transit Rodentia," which bridges both categories. Kaye's story describes a situation we can all relate to (especially the New Yorkers among us), and it's one of my favorites in the book. One caveat: If you like mice, do not read this story.

Brilliant from the Heat

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