Although I am a professor, I have a reasonable assortment of practical skills. Many of these were picked up during my youth: my parents fully endorsed the idea of character building through chores. These skills were refined and added to by my essential Yankee frugality (“why pay someone to do what you can do yourself?”) which is not to be confused with corporate frugality (“why pay an American to do what someone else will do for way less?”).
I will be the first to admit that my skills are not professional grade. My friend Ron thinks that there should be some sort of law against me doing trim painting (although I can do an adequate job using the right tools, namely someone else). However, they are good enough to get things done and, in some cases, are up to doing very good work (mostly in the area of computers and other such technology).
My latest project has been repainting my house. As with any DIY project, it has taken longer than anticipated. As a general rule, when I plan a DIY project, I estimate the base time and then double it. I always end up being wrong, no matter what. I suspect, but cannot prove, that there is some sort of quantum effect at work here: when you attempt to predict the duration of the event, the observation changes the duration (and might kill a cat or three). Less mysteriously, I have found that each DIY project almost always leads to other things that need to be done. For example, doing the painting involved removing all the fixtures and such from the walls. This caused me to replace these things, which now looked old next to the new paint. Mounting all this new stuff requires the usual effort-that is to say, twice what is expected plus the variable factor.
On the plus side, the major projects (like repainting the house) only occur every 5-15 years, thus making it manageable. However, as Ron and I agreed, when you own a house there is always something to do. Ron’s upcoming project seems to involve his backyard and a wall aimed at repelling the squirrel hordes. Or maybe it is just a retaining wall. Hard to say, what with the flame thrower mounts in the schematics.