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November 26, 2003

Crown Molding

Many people are absolutely mystified by the geometry of crown molding. Crown molding is that elegant trim lumber you often see where a wall meets a ceiling. These moldings add enormous amounts of character to a room.

But the process of cutting crown molding has caused massive amounts of frustration. I would be willing to bet that it has even been the final straw that led to a divorce or two.

It isn't hard at all to cut crown molding. You simply hold it in the miter box as it will rest in the corner between the ceiling and the wall. The most common mistake people make is to place the crown molding in the miter box saw as they might place a window or door casing(flat on the saw table) or as they might a baseboard(back of trim against vertical saw fence).

Crown is not placed in the miter saw in this fasion. You place it upside down, backwards and at the same angle it rests in the ceiling/wall corner. Perhaps it would be easier to understand this if you had some photos. Of course!

Posted by Tim Carter at 8:16 AM

November 20, 2003

L.L. Bean

What a company! L.L. Bean is simply first class - top drawer. Two weeks ago I sent them my 5-year old wrist watch. In their catalog it is called their Field Watch. It is a handsome watch that keeps the best time of any watch I have ever owned. It loses perhaps 4 seconds a month.

Several months ago the locking stem stopped locking. I didn't think it was a problem as the stem was still in the closed position so the watch hands would not move if I rotated the stem. But three weeks ago I noticed moisture under the crystal. Water and the inside of watches don't mix well.

I shipped the watch back to L.L. Bean and asked them to repair it. I just wanted that watch to keep on ticking. I have purchased so much stuff over the years from them that they know my credit card number by heart. In fact, I have an L.L. Bean VISA card.

The watch arrived at my doorstep today and the repair folks at L.L. Bean totally overhauled it. Believe it or not they installed the watch works in a new brilliant gold case with a new crystal. No doubt they also cleaned and oiled the interior works of the watch. It looks like a brand new watch.

It was no surprise to me that the repair would be done the right way. But the "No charge" on the paperwork was a pleasant surprise.

I strive to make my business like L.L. Bean. They have the best products, best warranty and the best customer service of any company I have ever dealt with. I am also very partial to their flannel shirts and winter coats! If you want quality, there is just one place to go: L.L. Bean

Posted by Tim Carter at 3:17 PM

November 18, 2003

Kraut Boats

My son Tristan loves history and especially anything having to do with WW II. He plays computer games for hours on end that simulate different WW II battles. The realism of the software amazes me. When I walk by as he plays, I must admit that I have game envy.

I had nothing even close to what he has when I grew up. I do grin from time to time thinking that his son will undoubtedly have something more realistic than Virtual Reality. Perhaps Tristan will then experience the same game envy I do.

Anyway, his love for history and WW II comes with him to the dinner table. Over the years I am sure he has watched me mix up the different foods on my plate into a goulash of sorts as I was eating the last few bites of food.

Kathy, my wondeful wife, is a fantastic cook. One of our favortie meals is a German dish where she simmers pork and sauerkraut in a large pot. The flavors blend together and the sauerkraut gets as tender as a one-day old grass shoot. Kathy also makes her trademark mashed potatoes that contain sour cream and some other secret ingredient. The final touch to the meal is a batch of fresh crescent rolls that are moist and delicious.

One evening, while eating this meal, we saw Tristan's mind start to work. He was looking at one of the crescent rolls and started to push down the center. The next thing we knew he was loading in some mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Tristan then tore up some of the tender pork and stuck the pieces of meat into the mashed potatoes.

Kathy asked him, "Tristan, what in the world are you doing?" He replied, "I just made a battleship. A Kraut Boat!"

Need I say more? Well, yes I will. I can tell you kraut boats are delicious. He and I now have a competition each time this meal is made. We have since graduated to the large-sized crescent rolls. Several days ago I made a magnificent aircraft carrier. Taking a bite of one of these boats is simply fantastic. I keep telling Tristan that we should open up a food booth at our annual Oktoberfest. These unique creations would be a huge hit!

Posted by Tim Carter at 7:26 AM

November 16, 2003


Several years ago the folks who make Hershey's chocolate syrup introduced a new flavor - chocolate malt syrup. Ooo La La! I was in heaven. I love chocolate malts and this syrup made a wickedly good glass of chocolate malt flavored milk.

So I was reading the label and I saw an 800 number you could call for comments and suggestions. I decided I would call every day and tell a different story and try to disguise my voice. It was a foolish attempt to get them to continue to make the stuff. Ha Ha! As if their sales figures wouldn't dictate that business decision!

In all honesty the point of this post is to get all of us to call companies when we like something, not just when we are unhappy. Those testimonial calls can make the difference to a smaller company that does not have the marketing muscle of a giant publicly held corporation.

Keep in mind making multiple calls is probably a bad thing to do in this day and age of Caller ID. Gosh, I can just hear those operators now, "Hey Sally, that Carter guy is calling again. Everybody listen in and hear what he says this time!"

Posted by Tim Carter at 2:48 PM

November 13, 2003

Free or is it Fee?

Have you ever stepped back and thought about what your cable TV bill, those loooong Blockbuster video receipts hanging from your car's center consule, your newspaper bill, movie ticket stubs, concert ticket stubs and your magazine bills have in common? So many of us have paid for these things for so long we have forgotten what we are actually buying.

We are buying content.

Yesterday I announced to my weekly - well, more like whenver-I-get-around-to-it - newsletter subscribers the birth of the new Ask the Builder website. For perhaps six years the look, feel and under-the-hood mechanics of had stayed the same. But that all changed radically with the launch of the new website.

All of my archived weekly syndicated newspaper columns as well as all new columns are available for free at In fact, finding these columns is now much easier thanks to sophisticated software that powers the new site.

But I had to warn my subscribers that some of the things they were used to seeing were simply not going to be at the new website. They were told about the upcoming Premium website that will contain all of my past Builder Bulletin resource guides, my New Home Construction weekly tips, my radio show archives, my :90 second TV vignettes, and more. But they were also told they would have to *pay* to see all of those goodies.

Well some people went nuts. I got very angry emails from people telling me I was a slug. The emails were so fantastic that I am using them, and my responses, as fodder for next week's newsletter. The best part is that some of the things brought up are powerful tools that will show people that paying for content is the best thing they could possibly do.

The point: The Internet is changing. The old business models where websites survived on advertising income are not working. Websites that have vast amounts of high-quality content are discovering a certain percentage of the population is willing to pay for such content. People do so because they can rely on the source and they know they will find what they need most of the time.

The Internet as most of us have experienced it is just ten years old. Can you imagine what it is going to be like in the year 2015? Personally, I can't wait!

Posted by Tim Carter at 2:00 PM

November 12, 2003

The Whole Truth

Yesterday I was in a grueling 6.5 hour depostion. A very persistant attorney was asking me hundreds of questions about a lawsuit I am working on as a Forensic Construction Expert. Several attorneys in the Greater Cincinnati area hire me on a much too-frequent basis as far as I am concerned - yes, I know I should say "No" more often - to help them prevail in legal actions. The work pays well and I enjoy certain parts of it, including depositions.

A deposition is simply an interview. It is a wonderful tool that the legal system offers to attorneys. A deposition allows attorneys to probe the knowledge base of any potential witnesses that may testify in a court or arbitration appearance. Knowledge gained by attorneys in depositions often allows lawsuits to be settled before the trial date. This is a good thing as it ultimately saves the parties in the lawsuit some money.

But I write this because I want to focus on the few words spoken by the court reporter who records every spoken word at a deposition. The reporter is often the first person to speak and she/he says, "Please raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"

The whole truth. Think about it. If you want to put a spin on a topic, just tell part of the truth. In fact, the court reporter said yesterday during a break that a half-truth is the same thing as a lie. Wow, is that ever an understatement!

Where am I going with all of this? If you are ever involved in any situation where you are asked about what you saw, heard or know, tell the whole truth. The words you speak can be the salvation of someone's reputation or they can punish a person who deserves to be punished. Never, ever underestimate the power of what you might say.

Posted by Tim Carter at 9:21 AM

November 11, 2003

Veterans Day

If you live in the USA as I do with my family, you possibly know that we are among the luckiest people on the planet's face. We have tremendous opportunity here and the personal freedoms we all enjoy are unmatched.

We owe all of this to current veterans who are still alive and those veterans who have passed. Today we honor those veterans who are still alive today. Those that have passed have their own special day - Memorial Day.

Pick up the phone, send an email do whatever it takes to thank any veteran you know. They sacrificed part of their lives so that you and I can be free.

Posted by Tim Carter at 7:56 AM

November 10, 2003

The Building Code

So you are thinking of buying a new home that has been built to "code". Do you think you will have a well-built structure? The answer is maybe and maybe not! The Building Code is a published set of standards that builders must follow. It is law in almost all municipalities across the fruited plain.

But the truth is, it is a set of minimum standards. If a house is built so that it just passes the building code, it is the same thing as your child bringing home a 70 percent on a test. Sure, he passed but in essence he got a D minus. Are you satisfied with that as a parent? I think not.

If you want an A plus on the new home you will be buying, you must find a builder that constructs things that exceed the building code and even exceed higher standards published by many construction industry associations. It is fairly easy to find a builder who will do this type of work. Simply read many of my past columns on Contractors - Builders.

Posted by Tim Carter at 5:38 PM

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