Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lighten Up

Long ago I saw an old black and white Stepin Fetchit movie - actually it was a Will Rogers movie, but Fetchit stole the show - where some children slipped a pair of dark glasses on him while he was napping.  Then they woke him up.

"Whut?  Where?  O my God, I've gone blind!  No, wait, I must've overslept.  Where did I put that flashlight?"

He then did an extended schtick finding the flashlight, shaking it when it didn't work, pointing it this way and that, fumbling around in drawers looking for batteries, stumbling into and over things, etc.

I also have had sufficient reasons to cuss a flashlight from time to time, but I'm always buying more.  And rather than blame my glasses, or my mind's eye, I'm more than willing to blame the fact that I just don't have the right gadget yet.  Walmart is the motherlode of easy gadget solutions for me, mainly because they take back readily all the ones that don't seem to work. On this trip I've been on a quest for just the right light to shine on things, and I've had my ups and downs.

I installed a number of fluorescents in the Daze:  one large one above the Reading Room, a couple of battery units in the trailer, and a small battery powered one in place of the dim DC light in the hood above the kitchen stove.  I also found a clip-on LED number that attaches to the visor for map reading, etc.  And one of my neighbors had an LED flashlight that clipped to the bill of his ball cap, leaving his hands free.  Five dollars at Walmart.  Of course I had to have one, and ended up with the $15 model with 3 LEDs.

But the most aggravating problem with light has involved the light from inside the Daze that shines outside.  The eyes may be the window of the soul, but I don't want any souls out there in the dark watching me take a shower.  I really don't want to be responsible for what that might do to their mental health.  The usual thing is to have curtains or mini-blinds for privacy.  The Daze has efficient blackout roller shades in the rear, and they work well.  But there are mini-blinds in the kitchen, and the bath has only a vinyl curtain.  It makes for an unpleasant clutter.

In particular, I hate mini-blinds.  They are near impossible to get clean without damaging them, and to have them behind where you cook really exacerbates the problem.  And any curtain that extends into the tiny shower just cuts down on your turnaround room.  I determined to get rid of both for a utilitarian, cleaner, no-nonsense look.

I used Contac paper.  I got the "Frosty" pattern from Home Depot, which is impressed with small squares that diffuse the light, letting in plenty during the day, but making things inside completely obscure to anyone looking in during the night.

Here's the two fixtures before:

Kitchen Miniblinds

Bath Window Curtain

And here is how they look after the Frosty treatment:

The "Clean Look" Kitchen

And the same in the shower.

The view from outside is righteously obscured, even when all the inside lights are on.

I call this modification a success.  It was easy to do, the contac paper can be removed and/or replaced, and it is easily cleaned with a swipe of paper towel and Windex.  As for looking outside, all I have to do is slide open the window.  Both these windows are inconvenient to look out of anyway, and as far as I am concerned are there merely to admit light, or, in the case of the bath, ventilate.  They still readily do that.

This suggestion, which came from Andy Baird, gets the Bob Housekeeping Seal of Approval.  Your mileage may vary.

I also got a little carried away with this idea when I applied Frosty to the bottom 2/3 of the Coach entrance door window.  It did make it impossible to see in, but I didn't reflect how much I used that window in driving.  It is right behind the passenger seat.  I depend on looking around to see who is coming up to the right as I turn left, and without it would find turning into a 4 lane street a problematic thrill, like a blind corner on a mountain road.

I prefer not to run good ideas into the ground, so I took the contac paper off that window.



Jennifer said...

I'll admit, I was thinking, "No, you did not....!"

But, now that I see the pics...

I might have to try this.

Bob Giddings said...

Hi j,

The hardest part was getting the screens off and back on again. Different screens may enhance or alleviate the problem.

On the first one I tried cutting to fit, then I realized the easy way to do it is to just cut it a half inch or so too large, and then trim along the glass edge with a razor blade. Try not to cut into the rubber much, your window might fall out. :o)


Bob Giddings said...

Well, heck, I don't think I made myself perfectly clear.

I cut the pattern large, glued it to the window, smoothed out the bubbles with a bath squeegee, and then trimmed off the excess with a razor blade.

Capiche? Easier to do than to describe.


TiogaRV said...

Hey Bob,

This morning I cleaned MsTioga's kitchen mini-blinds. These blinds are directly behind the gas range. It took about 15 minutes to clean them. Right in place too. No taking them out. And they came out shiny white. Clean as new! Wanna know how? Hmmmmmm?

I used Turtle Wax "Big Orange" Auto & Shop Cleaner Degreaser. Spray it on, and wipe it off with a kitchen towel. Easy as pie!

I think that I bought Big Orange at an AutoZone store. Let me know how it goes for you?

Su amigo,

Bob Giddings said...

Thanks for the tip, George. I just used Windex, and they required too much scrubbing. Nonetheless, I've done the contac paper now and I like it. I'll keep the blinds, and if something proves disatisfactory about the job I'll try the big orange. Is that the same stuff as the orange hand cleaner?


Bob Giddings said...

Let me explain what I mean by "impossible to clean". It depends, I suppose, on what sort of cooking has been done near them. If you use grease, and I do, that stuff settles on everything. Each blind must be cleaned individually, and you have to get up in the fragile threading, and do both sides. Blinds are easy to bend in the process, and if creased while rubbing away at a stubborn spot they will look bent forever.

No, it is not literally impossible. But it is sufficiently fraught with labor and possible damage that it is a real PITA to clean them.

In addition, I don't care for the way they handle the light, and require adjusting. I either carry them all the way up or all the way down, and in that case I might as well have a roller shade.

I just chucked them in favor of a window covering that is no harder to clean than the glass itself, and passes plenty of diffuse light. To each his own.