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Fix Your Washing Machine With a Paper Clip (and other DIY Challenges)

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by Arlen Kane

How DIY (Do It Yourself) took over my life

Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t fix your washing machine with a paper clip, everybody knows that.  But what if I could?  What if it were true?  I’d be a genius, and save money, and be a genius, and save time, and be a genius.  You get the idea.

And that, dear readers, is how I find myself spending countless hours on YouTube with men – and women – who bravely take apart things with “WARNING” signs all over them.  I shudder with fright just watching them work on their DIY challenges at a safe distance – from my computer screen.

After a while I understood their bravery.  They have gadgets and doo-dads that keep them from going up in smoke.  These are the brave “Do It Yourselfers” who work without gloves, smear on chemical agents with their thumb, and never put the safety lock back on the drill.  Why not, you ask?  I wondered too – the answer is because they plan to use it again.

diy challenges

The DIY Club

I feel as though these men and women are my friends.  After all, they guide me into territories unknown to the urban writer, like a workroom dominated by a rugged and scarred long wooden table – the better to spread out their thinga-ma-jigs, and cans of toxic cleaners, and epoxy.   I proudly stepped into the world of self-sufficiency, aided and abetted by a club of accomplished fix-it-yourselfers.

Most videos begin with a list of what you need to accomplish your repair.  There’s almost always a dog barking in the background.  I know that the dog isn’t necessary to the work at hand, but it probably helps to have a loyal canine around to lick your face after you whack yourself with a two by four.  Or maybe it’s just a non-judgmental presence while you experiment with pollutants.  Nonetheless, I noticed that the compulsory DIY dog must be a breed you can leave alone with your infant but would tear the face off of a stranger.

diy challenges

Courage Helps

I begin by studying the list I need for my project, the products and tools carefully displayed on the video.  One by one I remove the ones I prepared but that the instructor didn’t think I would need.  They include band-aids, Neosporin, surgical gauze, both slanted and straight tipped tweezers – a cuticle scissor, a paper scissor – along with shipping, scotch, masking and painter’s tapes.  I remove the alcohol, the hydrogen peroxide, the abrasive cleanser, five sponges, and the chocolate bar. All I need is a long-handled screwdriver, my drill (yes, I own a drill but I’m afraid of it), a wrench, needle-nosed pliers, and courage.

What I also learned is that if you don’t have the exact tool, you can fashion something to perform the job.  And that, my friends, is why I keep the corks from my wine bottles.

My Dream Machine

You may be wondering what I actually fixed after spending half my Covid-isolated life glued to YouTube.  I began with my Sony Dream Machine clock radio and dual alarm.  This little beauty saved me more than once from missing a flight.  For some reason I can’t get to bed at a decent hour the night before I travel.  I check that I notified everyone, paid every bill, and stopped newspaper delivery.  Then I re-check the weather at my destination, and make adjustments to what I already packed.  In short, any hope for a bit of REM sleep is gone.  And this is when I rely upon my Dream Machine to wake me in time to make my flight.

Sony Dream Machine
Vintage Sony Dream Machine

It allows me to set Alarm A to morning news, which seeps through my slumber, frightening me into wakefulness.  But if that doesn’t work, Alarm B, set for ten minutes later, begins a relentless buzz that escalates like a wildebeest falling on its frantic prey.  If that still doesn’t wake me, I need a coroner, not a flight attendant.

Now I’m sure you’ll understand how upsetting it was for me to notice that my Dream Machine was gaining time.  First it was only five minutes, easy enough to make the adjustment in my head.  Then it scooted ahead to nine minutes.  I don’t do well with odd numbers, it was becoming a problem.  When it reached thirteen minutes, I knew that I would have to buy a new one.  To my dismay I discovered that Sony had replaced their perfect product with a newer model.  I reacted like someone who is offered a cute new puppy to replace their dear old dog.  I could never love it as much.

So I looked to YouTube’s intrepid fixers to find a solution to my Dream Machine’s fondness for picking up time.  It wasn’t easy, they tried tricking me with fixes of look-alike models.  After an exhaustive search I found someone who taught me how to re-set my model to its factory settings, and I got that old boy on the right time.

To say I was ecstatic would be somewhat overkill, but not too far off.  Now at last, with my Dream Machine working again, I could start dreaming about traveling when Covid lifts.  Aptly named, I’d say.


About the Author:

Arlen Hollis Kane

Arlen Hollis Kane is a Manhattan-based award-winning healthcare writer, who turns over every rock to help find the road to well-being for her readers.  She writes a regular column for  50PlusToday called Memos From Manhattan. After reaching 50 Plus years, she pursued a childhood passion and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology.  She is now a designer and maker of handbags, scarves and jewelry.  Her design work in fashion blends perfectly with her art.  Juried shows in New York featured her photograph,”City Birds”, and her abstract acrylic, “Big Bang,” Her one-woman show, “Off The Wall,”  that featured both her photography and art was a major exhibit at the Gallery of the Borough President of Manhattan.

2 thoughts on “Fix Your Washing Machine With a Paper Clip (and other DIY Challenges)

  1. This hits home!! Right on point…and I might add…I get it!

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