Stinkhouse wisdom

I have worked in construction for the past 18 years or so; even when I pastored a church I still did plenty of side-jobs to make ends meet. I have learned a lot in those years, and it is time to pass along some of my acquired knowledge for the new generation of workers.

One of the fixtures of a job site, no matter what trade one works in, is the Port-o-john, which I affectionately call the “stinkhouse.” What follows is 18 years of wisdom learned by experience–the squeamish are forewarned.


1. Do not: sit on anything, touch anything, or even breathe inside the stinkhouse.

2. Remove all items clipped on belt or pocket–cell phones, car keys, etc.–unless you like fishing in poop water for valuables.

3. Always lock door; always knock before entering.

4. Be prepared for various tricks of on-site mischief-makers: tipping stinkhouse over, dropping rocks down the vent pipe, bumping stinkhouse with vehicle, barricading the door, and slamming the sides of the stinkhouse with a 2 x 4 are common events. (There is no way to prepare for such an event–just remember, payback is sweet.)

5. Remember that the side urinal and air-freshener disk ARE NOT sink and soap.

6. Stinkhouse service-persons ALWAYS arrive at lunch or break–take care to locate yourself upwind.

7. Always check stinkhouse for wasps, snakes, frogs, and other native wildlife before fully entering, or at least before beginning your business.

8a. Always check for clean toilet paper before starting your business.
8b. Because one cannot control when Nature will call, it is wise to keep old gas receipts or Quick-crete bags on hand for emergencies–shirt pockets have also proven to be a life-saver.

9. Keep in mind that stinkhouse seats are scientifically designed to allow for maximum splash. It is best to carry a couple of 2 x 4 lift blocks, since the difference of a few inches is everything. (The blocks also allow one to fulfill Wise Saying #1)

10. Always keep a pen handy–you never know when a more creative moment will occur.

11. Always correct the grammar and spelling of the ill-schooled stinkhouse wall poet.

12. And finally–please, for the sake of all that is virtuous, CLOSE THE LID when you are done. When I go in to do Number 1, it is extremely unpleasant to have to see your Number 2.

Leaping lizards

The boys and I were in the backyard yesterday trying to catch up on some yard work. Well, I and my oldest son Jeff were working, while the younger guys were catching bugs. All of us like bugs and other critters and we are always on the lookout for some exciting new find.

We have a large, rotting tree in the backyard that will come down soon, and as we were determining the best way to cut and land it we noticed a large skink living inside. I have observed some big skinks in my time (Jeff caught a 6 or 7 incher a few weeks ago), but this is really big–I would guess a good 11, maybe 12 inches long, and fat as a garden hose. I’m not scared of snakes or lizards, but this fella gave me pause. I put my finger right next to his head, and he didn’t even flinch; in fact, it looked like he was contemplating whether he was hungry enough to attack this strange worm suddenly thrust in his face. He certainly wasn’t scared, so I backed off. Very cool. If you’re interested, the particular skink is known as a Broadhead skink (Eumeces laticeps)–well, you can check it out for yourself here.