Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Acrylic Goeth Before a Fall


It is with mixed emotions that I report to you my constant battle with the basement has taken a turn for the worst.

As many of you know; my experiences as a homeowner have ranged in effect from dangerous (even disasterous) to quite pleasant at times. Sure, we have had some good parties, a few laughs, more than just a few quirky mishaps, and perhaps an occasional slip with the beard trimmer (resulting in a rakishly cut eyebrow or sideburn). I have fallen off a few things, dropped some heavy stuff on some fragile stuff, slammed my fingers a few times, bumped my 'ol head hard enough to knock myself out in the driveway (twice), punched some holes in some drywall, dug up things that ought not be dug up, buried things that ought not be buried, and improperly installed a whole host of gadgetry, but it is only recently that I have turned my deft hand-of-disaster towards fumes.

And I do mean fumes.

Perhaps it is not until you have found yourself in an enclosed space clad solely in boxer shorts, black socks, goggles, and a WWII gas mask; standing in a puddle of rapidly-curing acrylic exterior concrete sealer that you will appreciate my meaning.

Sure, the indications on the jug loudly advertise such (clearly) alarmist suggestions as "outdoor use only" and "proper ventilation required", but in today's litigous society can one rely solely on the indications lithographed on a metal container as a source of proper direction? What about expertise and real world experience? To what extent might conditions and weather dictate usage?

In a world where coffee must be clearly marked as "hot," wet floors must be designated "slippery," and forklifts "beep" in both forward and reverse; is it safe to assume fumes might cause drowsiness, dizziness, unontrollable vomiting, blurred vision, asthma, shingles, central nervous system disorder, rickets, vitamin C deficiency, shortness of breath, angina, and death? Am I really concerned that I might drown in this five-gallon pail? Will my head even fit in there? What is "adequate ventilation" anyway? Adequate for me might well be inadequte for the average homeowner, mightn't it?

These are the questions that plauge a mind not to be troubled with direction books, instructional videos, and cleverly-printed pamphlets designed to ward off misuse by lesser men. It is a question of ethos. Do I really need Big Brother to dictate my application of household products? Ha! I scoff at the mere suggestion.

MY will shall never bend under the onerous burden of product liability. I will blaze my trail of personal responsibility and reliance on individual wisdom and ingenuity. I will throw away directional booklets and remove safety valves. I will mix Clorox and Lysol. I will store shaving cream above 78 degrees…I will be getting out of the emergency room on Monday.

Memorial services for Seth, Matt, and Andrew J. Waters will be held Wednesday afternoon in front of Home Depot.

Devil, Thy Name is Basement.


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