Anybody who has ever read this site undoubtedly knows of my recent home purchase, in which I recently purchased a home. With the low interest rates, booming house industry, and the fact that Washington state was gouging me for ever bloody red cent I owned for tax and rent money, it made complete economical sense for me to suck it up and buy a home. After weeks, months, or possibly years of negotiating and signing random papers thrust in front of me by the mortgage department and some bearded man named "Ed," I finally received the keys to my house and gave it a test drive at the beginning of May. I've mentioned hundreds of times in the past that becoming a homeowner completely skews your view on life, especially when compared to the mind set one must occupy when living in an apartment. Here's a quick chart showing the comparison and contrast of priorities when living in an apartment and house:

THE DIFFERENCE IN PRIORITIES BETWEEN OWNING AN APARTMENT AND HOUSE:

When living in a house, you value:
When living in an apartment, you value:
A beautiful, weed-free lawn that is thick and full of dark green grass.A full bag of Cheetos and enough carpet to wipe your hands on.
An excellent paint job on the outside of your home along with a meticulous trim.Walls that don't fall over and crush you when you walk near them at night.
Responsible neighbors with a family who will watch over your house when you travel out of town.People who live next door and fail to exchange volleys of automatic gunfire every hour.
A low water bill and electricity rate.Water that doesn't taste like a pinball dipped in garlic for a month and fails to spontaneously ignite when you turn on the lights.
Privacy and ample room for pets.The lack of dead animals or family members buried underneath the floorboards.

The "sign" of a good builder.

I'm not going to blabber on about the many, many differences between renting an apartment and owning a home, so I'll just instead point out that home ownership requires a lot of responsibility and time. It's like getting your first dog and realizing you have to feed and walk it every day; when buying a house, many people are surprised that you have to feed and walk it every day. I know I sure as hell was, and to be quite honest, I haven't really determined how to feed my home yet. I keep on shoveling coal and lumber and atoms into its chimney, but nothing seems to be happening. I'll just chalk that up to my own consumer ignorance and call Ralph Nadar in a fit one of these nights.

While I may not know much about feeding and walking my house, I have learned a whole bunch of "trips and ticks" regarding home maintenance. First off, I learned that bitch Martha Stewart doesn't know shit about home maintenance like I do. Oh sure, her little suggestions explaining how to covert a single beer coaster into a fully functional television stand with surround sound speaker brackets may appear to be good advice, but her suggestions only apply to people living in the Bizarro Dimension where black is white and up is down and nothing is as what it seems. Scientists have repeatedly proven that Stewart has never, ever, ever provided a practical, useful, functional homemaking tip in her entire life, and 98% of her show is simply computer-generated graphics disguised by smoke and mirrors and a complex NASA laser light show. How else do you think her studio engineers are able to cover up the raw evil alien power coursing through her veins behind her reptile face? It sure as hell isn't makeup, as Stewart's got pores the size of kiddie wading pools. This is just one of the many secrets that "they" don't want you to know. Do you know how Martha Stewart really decorates her house? I'll tell you: Mexicans, and lots of them.

The rest of us who can't afford supercomputers and foreign kids to help us disguise our home and trick people into thinking it's not a complete trash dump have to depend on realistic, cheap solutions to solve our problems. Martha Stewart and her ilk seem to believe that we all inhabit a fantasy world where we crap out jewels every night and live in houses built on a platinum foundation. I sure as hell know this isn't true, as I spent a good two hours looking through my shit last night and didn't find one single diamond, although I did determine that I somehow ate a rubber band the previous night. This is where average homeowners like myself come in; I'm not afraid to reveal to you, the average homeowner, some of the top secret tips I've discovered while puttering around my house like an injured stork. Here's just a few of the many, many practical discoveries I've come upon in my vast two months of home owning experience:

What this place needs is just a bit of 409 and it'll be as good as new, I tell you.

1) The solution to almost any problem is a bottle of Formula 409. I cannot stress this enough: buy as much goddamn Formula 409 cleaning solution as you can. 409 is like god's magical elixir, brewed by angels and put into plastic bottles by Saint Somebody himself. A few days after I moved in, I noticed a few troublesome stains near my bathtub. My highly trained brain revealed that these stains were the result of some mystery chemical like "Coca Cola" or "blood" having been spilled across the tiles. Since I was naive to the world of home owning, I futilely attempted to splash some water on the stain and scrub it off with a brush. Guess what? Nothing happened. I continued to pour more and more water onto the stain until I was soon worrying about water warping the floor beneath it and didn't have any time to worry about the stain itself. Then, in a last ditch effort, I decided to spray some 409 on the area... and the discoloration magically vanished like the Cleveland Indians from the pennant race! I soon learned that 409 could counter any chemical anywhere and in any form, no matter if it's solid or liquid or that other form which is like a gas only it starts with the letter "g." To make things even better, 409 can be used to kill the 14 hundred million zillion flying wussy bugs that try to break through your windows at all hours of the day and night, sometimes by using very tiny lock picks. I swear to god, I literally cannot leave my house without a pickup truck full of these generic Wal-Mart bugs swarming in. I don't even know what the fuck kind of insects these are; they look just like a cross between a wussy fly and a feminine mosquito, and apparently serve no purpose except to breed and then fly into a spider web to die roughly 19 seconds later.

A few days ago, I got sick to death of walking outside and instantly having every orifice of my body plugged full of generic flying wussy bugs, so I armed myself with the bottle of 409 and ventured outside. Before I knew it, I was blasting clouds of bugs left and right, like when Jessie James fought all those Indians at the Alamo back in the 1700s. Clouds of cleansing poison were floating throughout the air like toxic cotton candy balls, reducing entire generations of generic bugs to twitching piles of nerves and yellow goo which leaked from their bug anuses. I literally nuked a few thousand of these annoying little bastards and I probably would be enjoying my sweet victory right now if I wasn't worried that there was a "boss" insect waiting for me later tonight. As a person raised entirely on an unhealthy diet of video games, I know for a fact that when you kill 30,000 identical weaker units, you eventually have to fight a much larger, stronger representation of the aforementioned entity. This creature is known as the "boss" enemy, and usually begins to violently flash red when he's been sufficiently injured. I'm preparing for this epic battle by getting a Costco card and purchasing one of those industrial-sized 409 bottles which are the size of a Russian ICBM, only more deadly.

The hammer is as natural as Mother Nature herself.

2) If you can't fix a problem with 409, then you can fix it by smashing something related to it with a hammer. When mankind was nothing but a bunch of dimwitted monkeylike primates way back whenever the fuck that was, the first tool to ever be invented was a hammer. Do you think some caveman like Grog or John Kruk initially used a dinosaur bone as a socket wrench? No, the first implementation of the dinosaur bone was used as a "smashing device" which caused something (the bone) to hit something else (something else besides the bone). Mankind still wields these tools to this very day, although recent advances in the metallurgy field have allowed us to create steel that is somewhat stronger than 500,000,000-year old bones which, if I remember my high school biology correctly, are full of delicious caramel and creamy fudgy nougat. If you want to be a responsible homeowner, you must carry a sturdy hammer in your side pocket at all times, ready to bash and beat any problem into submission. Due to the cold air inside colliding with the hot air outside, my central air ducts were expanding and contracting at a very rapid rate, causing the metal to creak and make horribly obnoxious noises at all hours of the day. It sounded like a very small child was trapped in my basement and trying to escape by constantly tapping out morse code on a slab of sheet metal. This made me quite upset since the sound of the air ducts creaking were drowning out the noise that the very small child trapped inside my basement was trying to make by banging on a slab of sheet metal I installed down there for some reason I can't exactly recall offhand. Oh little Jimmy, will you ever learn?

Since I don't have any knowledge of my central air conditioning system and lack the patience to dial seven telephone digits of somebody who does, I decided to take it upon myself and repeatedly bang the air duct with a hammer. This plan didn't initially appear to work, as the metal sound didn't go away and I was still unable to locate another small child of any sort. Since drastic times require drastic actions, I upgraded my "banging" plan to a very detailed "beating the unholy hell out of" plan, and soon found myself venting all my frustrations on the target vent. It all eventually paid off, and soon the tapping sound was gone forever, although I think I inhaled about 50 pounds of airborne dirt and insulation in the process. That will work out in the end though, since I heard insulation provides you with the necessary amount of vitamin L required to produce sperm that aren't blue, radioactive, and shrieking nonstop.

The builder MIGHT take a look at your house if the water pipes get this bad.

3) If you can't fix a problem with either 409 or a hammer, then you can fix it by calling the builder and claiming your water pipes are leaking. Generally speaker, home builders hate everybody everywhere. They'll pay some redneck slobs to glue together a few walls, attach a chandelier with a nail gun, and then try to cover up any highly obvious errors with carpeting that was stolen from a mall liquidation sale. If one of your walls is leaning in at a 70-degree angle, then the builder will "fix" that by bolting a whole lump of carpet together on the opposite side of the room, thereby providing a more noticeable distraction to prevent you from looking at the caving wall. To prevent the homeowner from complaining about the wad of carpet lump in the opposite corner, the builder will make it so when you walk to the living room, all the lights mysteriously dim and the floorboards creak as if they were lined with nails and pressing down upon your helpless grandmother. To distract you from the faulty lights and grandmother in the ground, the builder will often hire people to set fire to your lawn.

What the builders love doing in this day and age is the "fire and forget" process of home building. Once they're done stapling the final nail in your sheet rock, they'll peel out at 200 miles an hour, often fleeing so fast that they'll turn into a cloud of individual, filthy atoms. In fact, some builders leave so fast that they actually travel back in time, thereby ceasing to ever be born and exist! Good luck trying to get somebody to fix your lights when they haven't even bee born yet, chump! As far as I can tell, the only way to lure somebody related to the construction of your house into coming by and fixing the crap they broke is to claim there's a water leak. You could call the home office every damn hour to bitch about the 10-foot long nail protruding from your ceiling and they won't do shit except give you random dates and times when they most certainly won't show up. You'll call them up and plead, "please, for the love of God, fix my damn light sockets so they stop cursing at me in Latin when I turn them on," and they'll reply by just giving you a series of dates and times which aren't related to anything anywhere. They'll say, "9:32, Sunday, 11:03 PM, February, November, 3:56 AM, 1962, yellow, 11:32 PM" and then abruptly hang up. The only way to coerce somebody into coming by is to claim the water is leaking somewhere and your house is about to slide off its foundation and travel down the street at a speed above the legal limit. If that doesn't work, you can always go over to the main office and hit them with a hammer while spraying 409 in their face.

I may lack the tact and otherworldly deceit associated with Martha Stewart and her den of lies, but I do know a few practical things which separate my "common person" advice from her web of horrors. Next time you want real person advice from a real person regarding how you, as a person who is real, can maintain their filthy rotting home, you should seek out another real person to help you. Like me, only not me because I don't want to write about this stupid topic any more. Whoever you seek, make sure it's not Martha Stewart; I cannot over-emphasize how Martha Stewart is neither real nor a person, which will give the Federal government a real hard time trying to put her in jail. Have you ever seen somebody try to arrest and indict a computer hologram or reptile alien who can turn into light particles and pass through solid lead? I sure haven't, and I've been drinking all day! Please keep these handy homeowner pointers in mind at all times and you'll soon find that your keeping your house in tip-top shape can be easy and fun! Well, assuming your water pipes aren't leaking and your home is now located in the Mississippi River, which it might very well be for all I know or care.

[INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] the Vampire Slayer

Zack "Gggggg Eeeeeeeee" Parsons here with a spooky new Guide! Summer is in full swing which means it's definitely time for a first hand guide on destroying supernatural monstrosities. Head on over to the guide corral and check this new one out buckaroo!



Ghosts only rarely pose a physical threat to those in their immediate vicinity and even this is usually an indirect result of panicked behavior in the face of their spooky antics. Much more frequently they just turn your life into shit by being total freeloaders on your valued property. They'll float around through any wall at any time of day or night, levitate your books like they own them, leave ectoplasm all over the fucking place, and bleed out of your electrical sockets whenever they feel like it. If you tell them to get off their ass and earn their keep they'll float up into the attic and sulk for a couple days with those goddamn chains. They're just a serious pain to have around, especially the Indian warriors from the burial ground you built your pool on top of. They will just stand over your bed and point accusingly at you for hours on end and believe me, if you had trouble jerking off in front of the cat imagine how bad it's going to be with some Sioux warrior with two centuries of betrayal in his eyes. No matter how loud you turn up "Dirty Talkin' Blowjobs Volume 14" it won't be loud enough to drown out spectral pathos.

That sounds HOT! Cruise on over there now and check it out!

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@lowtax)

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