Posts tagged "Mini Home Improvement"

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I really enjoy the way that word sounds. It's like a discount version of decadent, except that it hasn't been soiled by rampant overuse in chocolate commercials. I was curious as to its etymology which, as you'll see above, isn't nearly as exciting as I'd hoped. I had never even heard of the word until a reader, known only to me as "BoscoBob", brought it up in an email.


Let me tell you a little bit about Bob (which he will henceforth be called for brevity), not that I know much about him anyway. Bob also spent quite a bit of time living in a vehicle, five times as much as I have as of this writing in fact. In my eyes, this makes Bob a Wise Truck Elder™. So when Bob came to me with advice, I took notes. Diligent notes.* His advice was this: it's going to get cold out, and human beings do a lot of breathing and sweating. If you can't control that moisture, every eligible surface in the truck will be covered in mold, which is undoubtedly going to make you an unhappy camper.

Luckily for me, as Bob noted, there exists a magical technology that requires neither fire nor electricity to operate, and yet its mere presence can suck the moisture clear out of the air and trap it within, like a genie in a lamp. Bob was talking about desiccants.

The Prophecy

And sure enough, Wise Truck Elder Bob was right. As we creep further and further into Fall, unwaveringly towards Winter, I've found that my mornings are becoming increasingly…moist. Every non-porous surface: ceilings, walls, and even my phone** and battery pack, are uniformly damp, almost like the morning dew on a grassy field. Except this field is me and everything I own. It's gross to think of it as though everything is coated in my own sweat and breath though, it's more like when your windshield fogs up on a cold day. The air in the truck is warmer (because of me) and more moist (yes, also because of me), and this warm, moist air meets up with the cold metal of the truck and subsequently condenses. I mean I'm not a meteorologist or anything, but that's my understanding of it.

So I did what any self-respecting truck person who doesn't like bathing in their own breath would do, and I went to Home Depot, where they sell industrial-sized tubs of this stuff:

DampRid®, which I can only assume is concentrated cat litter

I got a 64 oz tub, which is supposed to be enough for a space far larger than my 128 ft2 truck, but I like to live by the credo "Better Safe Than Sorry" when it's convenient to me. The process for getting it setup was pretty complicated though, and took longer than I'd have liked. I'll painstakingly detail the steps out here, but be warned, it's a pretty arduous process and I wouldn't recommend someone begins it unless they have a substantial amount of time on their hands to see it through:

  1. Take off the lid.

Yeah okay I lied, that's all you have to do. Seems suspiciously simple, I know, but it definitely did fulfill its end of the bargain. The area around my bed was much drier the morning after opening it; my phone and battery pack weren't in any danger of short-circuiting either. The tub of re-branded cat litter DampRid® says it'll last six months, which isn't bad at all for a $10 investment. I suspect it'll have a shorter shelf life because the truck isn't an entirely closed system, but I'll need a bit of empirical evidence before I can say for sure. In the mean time, I'll enjoy being left high and dry thanks to the definitely excellent existence of the desiccant.

*I didn't actually take any notes. This was an email, after all.

**My phone is waterproof, so this isn't as concerning as one would thing. Still definitely not ideal though, thus the desiccants.

Source: Snipped straps and super glue, combined with a little (accidentally) dramatic and gloomy lighting

It's been a while (six months almost to the day) since I did my last big Home Improvement post, and I think it's about high time we changed that. Not only because a lack of Home Improvement posts signals stagnancy on the front of truck-progress, but also because there is much to be improved upon truck-wise, and I should be more proactive and motivated to work on it. This, as is likely evident from the title, is just a "Mini" Home Improvement project, but there are two fairly large ones that I've yet to write about, so expect those soon eventually.

Meeting Michael…'s

In a shocking turn of events, a home improvement project didn't land me at Home Depot. Instead, I found myself ambling around the aisles of Michael's, a fairly ubiquitous craft chain store. I'd place Michael's pretty far down on the list of places I'd expect to find myself at, right there with "an apartment showcase", "grad school", and "a Homeowner's Association meeting". And yet there I was, shopping for leather wristbands and Super Glue like a pre-K camp counselor.

This strange shift in shopping proclivities came about as I attempted to solve a problem that has been plaguing me since before I moved in. I detailed it at the end of this post, but as a refresher, my problem was thus: I have a house on wheels that I drive sometimes, how do I properly secure dresser drawers so I'm not launching them (and pretty much everything I own) across the truck every time I take a turn too hard? My initial solution, Velcro, had failed spectacularly (and very audibly from the driver's compartment). As a stopgap solution so that I could, you know, drive, I wrapped the corners of the drawers in painter's tape, the only reasonable adhesive I had available. Naturally, this had a few problems of its own, like how it's annoying to un-peel and re-peel tape every time I want to grab a pair of socks, or how the heat during the day means that the tape loses adhesion pretty quickly and I have to reapply it, etc, etc. I got a few suggestions from strangers on the Internet readers on using childproof drawer locks and a few other ideas, but they didn't seem quite robust enough for my use case.

Leather and Bondageing Glue

Eventually (read: two weeks ago), I had a bout of divine inspiration during which I realized that some combination of buttons and snaps would suit this situation well. The aforementioned trip to Michael's happened, and then I applied the following process to save my dresser drawers from my dubious driving abilities:

  1. Remove the ineffective Velcro squares from the drawers by wedging your fingernail under them and peeling them off. Make sure to break or otherwise bend at least three fingernails in the process.
  2. Cut the male end off of the leather straps into little squares.
  3. Cut the female end of the strap to 3 (ish) inches.
  4. Measure the vertical midpoint of the drawers and mark them with a pen.
  5. Measure out where the longer straps should be glued down and mark those with a pen too.
  6. Glue those little square suckers down to the rolling-drawer-handle-part with some super glue.
  9. You glued your fingers together, didn't you?
  10. Use the acetone you bought for a different home improvement project to unstick your thoroughly bonded fingers.
  11. Apply glue to the last inch and a half of the longer straps, leaving room so that the snappy end can move around a little bit.
  12. Definitely don't immediately test it out, wait like 8 hours (at least) for the glue to fully cure.

Boom. Successful strappage.

How well does it work?

It works really well…when I remember to snap them shut. On more than one (read: three) occasions, I totally forgot to snap them into place before driving off, which, as it turns out, makes them Totally Ineffective™. But when I do remember to use them, they work swimmingly. Super glue fares especially well when the force is parallel to the surface, I just have to be careful to not tear the leather straps off like a Band-Aid® when I unsnap them. Overall, it took about hour to do all the measuring/cutting/gluing, which isn't bad in the slightest, especially when it means driving around is less like throwing my belongings in a tumble dryer.


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