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April 19, 2011 AT 12:00 am

Rewiring an Old Lamp

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Wow, the NYTimes is posting how-to guides now!

SOMEHOW, everything I fix ends up far uglier than it was when I started. It’s my zero-sum approach to handyman projects: what you gain in functionality, you lose in beauty.

But recently I thought, what if I start with ugly? There would be nothing but upside, right?

I tested this theory last week with my first task in the realm of electrical repair, the rewiring of an old lamp. My local secondhand store had some beautiful old lamps that, with some new wiring, might not burn down my house. But I spared them, and chose something that, no matter what damage I inflicted, couldn’t possibly be uglier.
At the checkout counter, I presented the lamp to the clerk. Her reaction was telling.


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