FOR THE HELL OF IT
MY GUIDE TO DIY: DDIY
BY JOHNNY HELLER
SEPT. 10, 2021
As many of you know, I am not anyone’s first choice when it comes to tech help. In fact, I know next to nothing about anything “tech”. If a thing requires more than being plugged in and switched on, I want nothing to do with it. In fact, I fear all things tech.
And yet, here I am to tell you about DIY.
DIY means “Do It Yourself.” You likely already knew this. I didn’t. I looked it up. In this world of ever-increasing specialization, somehow the idea of doing things yourself has become popular. It doesn’t matter that we don’t necessarily have the tools, skills, or desire to do anything ourselves –it’s just somehow important that we be self -reliant. Even if we aren’t.
If this makes any sense to you, let’s switch places right now.
I remember when I was growing up, there seemed to be a universal understanding that certain things were “jobs for men”. I realize that this is a negative sexual stereotype and utter nonsense, and certainly not the way one would think today, but there you have it. When I was growing up, no one was “woke”. We were mired in old-fashioned trite tropes. The idea was that men did the “heavy” work, it wasn’t meant to be offensive to women, but men were generally the ones who picked heavy things up and then put them back down again. Men hammered things together and welded things and if you needed your roof tiled or your car fixed, well that’s what men were for. I am not praising this stereotype; I am only reporting it.
I always wondered about this. I never understood why I should be able to hit a nail with a hammer any better than a woman could. I understood the lifting stuff bit – men, in general have dense bones and muscles and very little intelligence, so we were the natural choices to move a couch or a piano or a DeSoto or even a Danny DeVito. But we were not to be trusted around breakable items in shops or classy homes and we were frequently to be found in our downstairs or garage “shops” where we kept our collection of nearly never used tools.
I admired various neighborhood tool sheds/garage shops where everyone’s Dad had a lovely corkboard thing with tools hanging in perfect alignment and when you picked a tool from off its spot on the board, you’d see an outline of the tool so one would always know where to put it back. (This system also let tool owners know if a tool was missing but did little by way of leaving room for tool upgrades or updates.)
I thought hanging tool boards were wonderful. But I had no admiration for the actual tools. They all looked quite dangerous. I saw each one as a new and interesting way to cut off my fingers or lop slices off my arms or legs. I wanted nothing to do with any of it.
And when I learned to drive, I discovered that I was supposed to have some innate talent for car mechanics by virtue of my gender. What in the world does my gender have to do with automotive engine comprehension?
When I am in a car and the car doesn’t behave as a car should, I do what every man in history – since the invention of the automobile anyway – does. I get out, spread my legs far apart like a farmer looking over the crop fields, twist my mouth to the side and nod. Then I open the hood, pull out the thingamajig that holds the hood open, look around a bit -even though I am familiar with exactly nothing I see, and, after a suitable length of time, I will check the oil.
That is the extent of my automotive skill and knowledge. I know where the dipstick is. And that’s only because I relate to a dipstick as I frequently am one.
I do object to the notion that my gender somehow makes me an automotive guru. The last time I rented a car, I had no idea how to make it go. There was no key. I had a fob. A fob I tell you! I sat there for half an hour with zero idea what the fob was for. The car rental guy came over and told me what to do. I would likely still be there today if he hadn’t told me about the recent updates to automobile engine starting.
In my limited experience, most men, tasked with fixing something or building something, will know of one person who can actually do such stuff. That talented man (back then, it was always a man but today, a man like me will welcome any gender orientation at all as long as they don’t ask me to help or give any opinions whatsoever) will come by to help- because this is his glorious mission in life and in spite of his salty language and protestations that he really isn’t that handy, he will come and he will do the job and it will be wonderful.
Interestingly, his arrival in the garage will send a signal to the other men in the neighborhood and they will come as though called by Aragorn, Son of Arathorn – like bees to their queen. They will come, starry eyed and armed with beer, and they will stand around in a circle watching the one with actual talent and knowledge and skill and they will cheer him on with whispered comments like: “yep.” “I thought that was it” “Just give her one more twist” “Now you’re gonna wanna be extra careful with this part” – this last comment made by the really fat guy who nods sagely throughout the procedure as though he has done this exact repair hundreds of times even though he has never done ever it even once.
All the while, our hero, will work. Slowly and steadily and breathing very heavily through the nose – something that still happens whenever anyone does intricate tool work. I don’t get it at all, but I’m generally not much for loud nose breathing. And when the job is complete, he will walk around the thing, nod once, wipe hands on his pants and say: “That’ll do her.” And he will accept a cold beer and everyone will feel as though they spent the night working instead of what they really did – spent the night drinking while watching a talented person work.
Here’s the truth: There are certain humans who are very talented with engines, and parts, and machines, and sound engineering, and science, and math, and chemistry and there are certain humans who simply are not, and gender has nothing whatever to do with it. Nothing. I have never, ever, ever used my penis to hammer a nail or fix a car or tile a roof. (This would be an excellent place for you to think about a funny penis joke!) Talent is talent, it’s not gender specific, or gender ordained, and to ever have thought it was or should be is utter madness.
THE JOHNNY HELLER DIY METHOD: DON’T DO IT YOURSELF – DDIY
Here’s my rule: When it comes to DIY – NEVER DIY. DON’T DO IT YOURSELF (DDIY)
I recently upgraded my booth. I did. Me. What I did and how I did it has zero to do with my gender. I will tell you the story and try not to digress. Too much. (All that stuff above this was a rant about idiot gender issues and moronic misconceptions that irk me.)
The stuff that follows is the actual point of this blog:
BACKSTORY: We were coughing a lot and feeling uncomfortable in our whisper booth. We researched and decided the problem was the acoustic foam, which I had stuck everywhere, was old and – to use an industry term – “icky”. So, we decided to upgrade to acoustic panels. Real DIY folks build their own acoustic panels. DIY folks like me employ the DDIY method.
Don’t Do It Yourself means that you have to have someone do it for you or, at least, have someone help you. This is where having friends and recognizing their talents comes in very handy.
I called Bill Lord. He had extra acoustic panels that he built because he can DIY. He had me measure my booth and he made a template/map showing me where to put the acoustic panels in my booth to guarantee a great sound. He and the wonderful Joya Lord packed the panels and sent them to me, and they included the Velcro and glue I needed. It was perfect. Jo Anna and I took everything out of the booth, and we cleaned and vacuumed it and I called Bill and asked him how to put the Velcro on the panels and he told me. And I did it. I absolutely rocked it.
Except for one part. Remember how I told you that Bill had me measure my booth? I couldn’t even do that right. I mis-measured. Bill designed the panels to fit in a bigger booth than mine.
Did I cry? No. Did I admit that I was a failure at DIY? You bet! Did I call someone to help? Yep! Because DDIY! I called Bill. He laughed at me and then told me how to use the panels in a way that would work. And it did!
Then he told me to buy some baffles. And I said, baffled, “what’s a baffle?” And he told me, and I bought the ones he told me to, and I cut them down to size and I shoved them in the baffle place, and all was wonderful.
Then, we got a new mic. How did we pick the mic? Michael Kinsey of Learning Ally posted that he had some AT 4047s for sale. I had heard good things. But was it a good mic for us? I had no idea. I used DDIY and called Stephen Jay Cohen and he told me that the AT 4047 would be a good mic for us. He was right. It is.
All was wonderful in the world. The new sound booth sound was approved by Apple News, and they started working with me. After a short time, Jayme Mattler discovered I had a buzz in my sound system. She and her crack team worked with me to find the problem. They were amazing and they didn’t mind that I knew next to nothing about anything. They were patient and they understood my DDIY philosophy. Turned out I had a sound processor and an interface. I was using both for years and now the processor was dying and buzzing as it croaked. Following Jayme’s direction, I unplugged the stuff in one gadget and plugged into a different gadget and then I forgot which buttons needed to be pressed on the interface, so I had to send a bunch of pictures of it to Jayme until it looked right and sounded right and now all is well in our booth.
And then we got a new super-duper mac mini. With an M1 chip and a million TBs of giga something. I had no idea how to import stuff from my old mac. Did I do it myself? Of course not! DDIY!! FB friends told me what to do and Hillary Huber cautioned me not to do it the way I did it because then all my pictures and stuff I didn’t need would get transferred too, but I didn’t think that would happen as it made no sense that it should happen, but it did happen and I should’ve listened, but I didn’t, and that’s something to keep in mind. If you’re gonna get good advice, follow it.
Our booth is still hot as hell, but it sounds great!
What did I learn? Nothing. I am as confused and dazed as I was when we started the update. But the update is done, and I did it by not doing it myself. I recognize that I don’t know what I am doing, and I am happy to enlist the help of experts and I am willing to pay them for their expertise. (Happily for me, none of the experts mentioned charged me a dime!)
And that, dear friends is how you DIY. Just DDIY.