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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Resenting Duck Tape

I have wondered if "Duck Tape" or "Duct Tape" was correct; they both are! Or so say the sources that google referred me to.

So I've never been much of a Duck Tape person. Case in point, I majored in mathematics (a far more abstract, I-don't-care-if-there-is-a-practical-application-because-isn't-this-cool!? field) rather than, say, engineering. (I remember in school joking about how much the engineers drove us nuts with their duct tape solutions, because they didn't care if they could prove mathematically what was going to work - they were happy to slap duct tape on it and be done with it! And really, who wants to do things that way?) Lately, though I've increasingly needed to fix things, and repeatedly I have found that a neat, could-have-come-out-of-a-box fix hasn't really been possible. I like things to be pretty and exact and measurable and... maybe I'm a bit of a perfectionist. It's not so much that I care what other people think or see; I want it to look pretty for myself!

For example, I was very pleased a few months ago when I figured out how to install hardware-mounted baby gates on our stairs without actually mounting the screws into the ballisters at all. I used 1x4 boards and heavy duty zip ties.
Our cat goes under these gates in well under 3 seconds by lifting them on the end by the hinge. Though sometimes frustrating, that is mostly good, because this is the kind of gate we use to keep Wiggles from playing in the cat box.
Other solutions have been far less pretty. I needed to keep Wiggles from being able to drag his shoe on the tire when he was in the toddler seat on my bike. I solved that problem using a 2 liter bottle and regular zip ties.


I needed baby gates to keep Wiggles out of the kitchen, because I find far greater peace in my life when he simply can't wander in there any time I'm not watching. In fact, it's really best if he can't get into the dining room either. I solved this one using the play yard (which is a set of 6 baby gates that can be used individually or together, and as a row or a closed unit) with a 1x2 board and some more zip ties, combined with a baby gate that was hardware mounted to a nearby wall. Right now a chair is keeping Wiggles from just pushing his way into the kitchen... sometimes... and sometimes it doesn't keep him from doing it, but it's so much better than it was before that it has been worth it.
I don't like how bulky this solution was, and it's really not particularly pretty - but it has been effective at improving my life, so I continue to use it.

Wiggles loves to get into the diaper bag; perhaps this would be okay, except that I keep my wallet in it and he loves to dump my wallet and spread the contents far across... fill in the blank: the house, the store, the car, the park, etc. So I built a shelf to keep the diaper bag easily accessible but out of his reach. Tux Man wasn't even home when I put it up; I was very pleased that the first two screws I put in went directly into the stud. Then I discovered that the stud was 16" from the corner, and the shelf was only about 14" deep. I ended up taking a tiny shelf that was laying around in the garage and mounting it behind my new shelf. The project took 3 or 4 times as long as I expected, and was many times more complicated than I had planned on, but in the end I got it done.
It's harder to see in this picture, but there is a white shelf behind the wooden shelf. At least they are mostly level, and mostly level with each other.
It's not as pretty as I would have liked, but it worked. That's the bottom line. I kind of don't like it; I'd rather my solutions be the kind I could box up and hand to someone else and say "Here, this is an awesome way to do it!" instead of "Heh, yeah, it worked but don't look too close." I feel, though, that these duck-tape-approaches - or rather, the willingness to take a duck-tape-approach - is a necessary skill and it's about time I developed it. Hopefully as I keep going I'll get better at it, and thereby it will become less frustrating and more enjoyable over time.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds to ME like you have developed zip-tie skillz.

    The solutions look great to me! I remember when Beloved Cello Mother's child was just younger than Wiggles, we would use two bar stools to keep him out of the Living Room while cello lessons were going on; when he got older and more capable, we stuffed the bean-bag chair into the breach, and that worked pretty well. But that was just a regular, single-door-sized opening; your room-sized entrance is much more challenging.

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