Gene provides so many reasons for doing repairs yourself. You never know what you are going to get from the local handyman.
A MyBadPad original feature. Read more
Do THX subwoofers and 18-inch floor standing speakers make your heart race? Does the thought of watching T’Pol or 7 of 9 on a 140-inch wide screen HDTV give you shivers? Is there anything better than watching the Death Star blow up while being nestled between a surround sound system powered by 8 amplifiers?
What if it were in your very own home theater? Any video junkie can dream but these people are living proof that hi-tech, out-of-this-world home theater happiness really does exist. Try not to drool too much.
1. The Next Generation
Designed by: Acoustic Innovations
4 years of planning and six months of work resulted in this impressive Star Trek home theater complete with ready room and private bar. Yeah, you heard right - private bar. The main attraction, the theater, was modeled after the NCC-1701D Enterprise from ‘The Next Generation’ series and is chalk full of realistic sound effects, motion-activated air-lock doors and can even simulate a Romulan attack.
It was also named the Top Theme Theater in 2007 (we’re not surprised). If that isn’t enough to get your pointy ears tingling check out these juicy photos.
- JBL S100IO Synthesis Interconnect Kits
- JBL S800 20Channel THX Power Amplifiers
- JBL SDEC2500A THX Digital EQ/Crossover
- JBL SDP-40 THX Digital Surround Processor/System Controller
- JBL K2 Synthesis Hercules System
- Algolith Mosquito HDMI 3D MPEG Noise Reducer
- Gefen EXT-HD-441 4 HDMI x1 DVI HD Switcher
- Key Digital KD-MSW8×3 Component & RGBHV Matrix Switcher
- JBL K2S1000DG 3-way Dual 10-inch Hercules Center Speakers
- JBL K2S9800DG 3-way 15-inch Hercules Floorstanding Speakers
- JBL S1A Dual 8-inch Dipole Ambient THX Surrounds Speakers
- JBL S1S-EX 18-inch THX Subwoofers
2. The Matrix
Designed by: Genesis Audio
Morpheus said you must see it to believe it, and in this 33 x 19 x 11 ft home theater, seeing it will be no problem. Genesis president, Bill Anderson (Mr. Anderson… coincidence?) and interior designer Lezlie Trujillo created this futuristic Matrix home theater that’s packed full of acoustical products to achieve optimum performance.
This theater was also the winning entry for Cedia’s Electronic Lifestyles Award for Best Home Theater Level V: over $900,000.00. That’s right, this baby cost nearly 1 million dollars to make, but you know it’s totally worth it.
- Runco DTV-1101 Video Projector
- 4-way Screen by Stewart Filmscreen
- Faroudja DVP-5000 Video Processor
- Escient Power Play DVD Management System
- Revel Surround Sound Speaker System
- Linn Klimax Mono-Block Power Amplifiers
- RPG Class A QRD Formedffusor
- RPG Diffsorptive Binary Amplitude Home Theater Panel
3. Star Wars ‘Death Star’
Designed by: Dillon Works
Arguably the best Sci-Fi film series ever, Star Wars inspired this awesome home theater that looks like the control deck of the Death Star. Any Star Wars fan will tell you it looks pretty accurate and that’s probably because it was designed by Doug Chiang, the lead designer of Episodes I and II.
Also helping to add some authentic touches were the owners, Vic Wertz and Lisa Stevens, who used to run the Official Star Wars Fan Club. It wasn’t hard for them to get their hands on some Star Wars memorabilia, considering they have a 3,000 square ft museum filled with items like the Millennium Falcon model used in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and the lightsaber used by Ewan McGregor in Episode I. Yeah, we’re jealous too.
- Hans Solo in Carbonite Door
- CinemaTech Valentino Chairs
- DirecTc HR10-250 HD TiVo
- Extron SW4 RGBHV RGB Switcher
- Extron RGB468XT Gaming Interface
- Creston Theater Remote
- JVC SR-S365U S-VHS VCR
- Lexicon RT-10 Universal DVD Player
- Meridian DSP8000 Front Speakers
- Meridian DSP6000 Side & Rear Speakers
- Meridian DSP5500 HC Center Speaker
- Meridian 861 Reference Preamp
- Meridian 800 Reference DVD Player
- Meridian Audio & Video Cables
- Pioneer CLD-D704 Laserdisc Player
- Runco VX5C LT Anamorphic Lens
- Runco VX5C 3-Chip DLP Projector
- Runco VX5 Outboard Processor
- Sony SAT-T60 TiVo
- Spaun SMS5802NF HD Multiswitch
- Stewart VeLux DeLux ST130 Screen
4. Kipnis’ Outer Limits
Designed by: Kipnis Studios
It would be impossible to talk about the most amazing, high-tech, out-of-this-world home theaters without salivating over Jeremy Kipnis’ $6,000,000 Outer Limit Home Theater. The grandeur of this elaborate theater isn’t just a reflection of what money can buy but rather a love of video and painstaking attention to detail.
When creating his home theater, Kipnis wanted the “absolute best picture and sound” and refused to compromise on vision. He used only the best, state of the art equipment to create what he believes is the ‘greatest show on earth’, and we have to agree.
If you’ve ever wondered exactly what $6 million can buy, the answer is one ground shaking, ear shattering, kick ass home theater.
- Sony SRX-S110 Profession Video Projector
- Stewart 18 x 10 foot Snowmatte 1.0 Gain Laboratory-Grade Motion Picture Screen
- Pioneer HLD-X0 Hi-Vision HDTV MUSE Laserdisc Player
- Mark Levinson N° 51 DVD/CD Media Player
- SATA Drive (72 HDTV Hours Total)
- JVC HMDH-5U D-VHS Recorder
- Toshiba HD-Xa1 HD Player
- Sony PlayStation 3 Gaming Console
- Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Player
- Theta Digital Generation VIII 32-bit 8x Oversampling Dual Processors
- Mark Levinson N° 33h Amplifiers
- Crown Macro Reference Gold Amplifiers
- McIntosh MC-2102 Amplifiers
- Snell THX Music & Cinema reference LCR-2800 Center-Channel Speakers
- MuRata ES103A Super Tweeters
- Snell THX Music & Cinema Reference Towers
- Snell 1800 THX Music & Cinema Reference Subwoofers
5. Star Trek USS Enterprise
Designed by: Cinema Design Privee
Gary Sekulow and his wife are two people any trekkie will envy with a deep, fiery passion after seeing their realistic and authentic Star Trek Home Theater. With technical advice from Rick Sternbach, senior illustrator on Star Trek, the Sekulow’s didn’t just throw some paint on the walls and a few buttons here and there.
They actually used real props from Star Trek including two original consoles, backlit graphic panels, wall panels from the USS Enterprise and, probably the most coveted, the Captain’s Chair, to deck out a theater that would make James T. Kirk proud. To really help set the mood, they even added a customized Stardome overhead complete with the Milky Way galaxy and shooting stars.
- Runco 1100 Ultra 1080P Projector
- Stewart Curved Micro-Perf 100” screen
- Denon THX 4800 Receiver
- Lumagen Vision HDQ Video Processor
- Monster Reference PowerCenter Line Conditioner HT 32500
- Motorola DCT 3412 HDTV Receiver
- Lutron Grafik Eye Light Controllers
- Toshiba HD-DVD HD-XA2
- Sony PlayStation 3 with Blu-ray
- Sony 300 DVD Changer
- Adcom GFA-2532 Amp
- Atlanta Technology 378 THX Center Left Right and Sub
- Triad Surround Bronze in Wall Speakers
- Crestron 1700 Touchscreen and Controllers
- Dell Media Center with 5 17-inch LCD Flat Panel Monitor Screens
- Buttkicker Tactical Sound/LFE Motion Producers
6. The Bat Cave
Designed by: DC Audio Video Systems
Aside from Bruce Wayne and Alfred, who else would want to have a bat cave home theater? Why, a retired naturalist, that’s who. DC Audio Video Systems President, Nick Mark, was hired by the retiree to design and build a home theater that looked like a real bat cave.
After spending time researching caves in Vermont, the client thought her theater, already located in her cellar, would be a perfect fit for the nocturnal theme. Complete with fake bats and stalactites hanging from the ceiling, this theater is about as unique as it gets when it comes to home theater themes.
But don’t let the title of ‘retired naturalist’ fool you. She pulled out all the stops and decked this gothic lair out with a $36,000 projector, 8 black, motorized leather recliners and 110” Electriscreen.
- Faroudja DVP5000 Video Processor
- Rane THX44 for Equalization
- Triad Silver THX Speakers
- B&K Reference 50 Audio Processor
- B&K Reference 7270 Audio Amplifier
- Motorized 110” 16:9 Electriscreen
- Extron Matrix Switching and Distribution
- Pioneer DV79 DVD Player
- Sony G90 Projector (1080p 2500 x 2000 CRT projector)
- Crestron STX-1700 Control System
- Aprilaire Remote Temp and Humidity Sensors to HVAC Control
- LiteTouch LC5000 System for Lighting Control
- BTX Custom Manufactured Drapes
- Active Thermal Management Push-Pull Units for System Cooling
- Monster Cable UPS and Surge Products for Power Management
- Monster Cable Custom Patch Cords with Compression Connectors
7. Revenge of the Sith
Designed by: CDGI
The Force is definitely strong with this ‘Revenge of The Sith’ inspired home theater designed by CDGI in partner with DreamSpace. Owner Steve Simon had originally wanted to convert his garage into a theater themed with his Star Wars memorabilia but soon realized this would not do the epic saga justice, and decided to go to the dark side.
Inspired by the climatic moment when Chancellor Palpatine invites Anakin Skywalker to his office overlooking Imperial City, Steve decided to recreate that infamous red office complete with a 3D rendering of the Imperial City backdrop that can be seen through one of four ‘windows’.
Everything was designed to precise detail and the project became a labor of love that took a year and a half to build. Now that’s a dedicated fan!
- Anthem Statement D2 Processor
- Anthem P5 Multichannel Amplifier
- RTI T3 Universal Controller
- Lutron Grafik Eye Lighting
- Middle Atlantice AXSX Equipment Ravck
- Marantz VP11S2 DLP Projector
- Vutect 103-inch XFH Screen
- Velodyne DD10 Subwoofer
- B&W HTM2 Center Channel
- B&W 802 Front Channels
- B&W DS8 Side Channels
- B&W SCMS Rear Surrounds
8. DIY Star Trek
Designed by: Gary Reighn
It’s pretty easy to design and build an incredible home theater homage to one of the greatest sci-fi series of all time when you’ve got millions of dollars to blow on top-of-the-line equipment, memorabilia and theater designers. But what if you’ve only got $15,000 and your own two hands?
That’s just what Philadelphia homeowner Gary Reighn did when he designed and built this home theater inspired by the Star Trek command bridge. Although this theater isn’t the biggest or the most expensive Star Trek-themed theater out there, it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive considering Gary built it entirely from scratch all by himself.
He crafted all the space-view ports, used $50.00 office recliners (that he customized with cup holders) and even made the 102-inch screen using matte white screen vinyl and steel framing painted black. By building this Star Trek theater, Gary truly went where no man has gone before.
- High Definition Sony LCD Projector (720p resolution)
- Polk Audio Speakers
- 12-inch Velodyne Subwoofer
- Yamaha Received
- Bravo DVD Player
- Phillips Pronto Remote
- Bass Shakers
- 102-inch Screen.
9. Sci-Fi Tribute
Designed by: Escom
Affectionately described as a ‘spaceship transporting dangerous aliens’, Dr. David Winn’s $100,000 home theater is a tribute to all things horror and sci-fi. After collecting movie memorabilia from his favorite horror and space flicks, David decided the logical thing to do was build a 25 x 35 ft home theater to showcase them all.
With portholes to gaze out over the galaxy and a 144-inch screen, there’s certainly a lot to please the eyes, but what makes this theater so unique is the way David recreates a real life horror movie using his full-sized alien killers. With homages to the Predator and the Creature of the Black Lagoon, David has creatures emerging from the ceilings and the couch to give his movie-goers a scare.
He even uses some special effects to make things really chilling, like when the room suddenly fills with steam and an alien lurches out of the wall. This home theater is a blood-curdling, sci-fi wonderland that would make any space junkie drool.
- Devon AVR 4306 7.1 Receiver
- Monster Power HTS 3600
- Microsoft Xbox 360
- Optoma DLP HD2+ Projector
- Polk 6 Speakers
- Polk Center-Channel Speaker
- Sony PlayStation
- Proficient S12 Subwoofer
- Toshiba HD DVD Player
- Yamaha 400 Watt Amplifiers (Side, Front & Center)
- Yamaha MX55 4-Channel Amplifier
- Ethernet Hub
- Laptop with 3Planesoft Screensaver
Are your lamps looking outdated and worn? Have they gone from a once stark white to a dark, butter cream? Give those tired looking lamps a mini makeover and a new lease on life with just a few craft supplies and a little creativity.
For a funky look, use beads and string to create a fun fringe around your lampshade.
Or use scrapbooking appliqués to create your own unique pattern.
You could also opt to purchase your own fabric like this animal print to cover the shade entirely and then paint the base for a total 360 makeover.
Get creative with ribbon, jewels, buttons, stamps, stencils, paper, seashells, bows, fur, paint and more.
You can also get the kids involved in creating special lamps for their bedrooms!
Your lamps will never be the same again! This is a great idea for old lamps picked up at yard sales or an inexpensive way to update your lamps after redecorating a room.
Gone are the days of dropping $100s of dollars on expensive artwork to decorate our walls. Now we can adorn them with artwork we made with our very own hands and just a few basic tools.
Better Homes and Garden has several tutorials on DIY artwork so easy anyone can be a Picasso - even if you don’t think you’ve got a creative bone in your body.
It can be as simple as peel stickers, one solid, accent color, your own photography and so much more. Almost anything can become an eye-catching art piece, so show off your personality and style with some homemade art!
Society today is full of consumers who buy stuff and then forget about it. They believe that if something breaks you should just replace it.
The thing is, appliances are pretty expensive to replace at the first sign of wear and tear. A little care and upkeep can actually add a few years to the life of your appliance. Take 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to do one of these 10 quick and easy maintenance tips that will help your appliances last longer and work more efficiently.
Check Your Oven Door Seal:
More than 20% of your oven’s heat can escape from a poorly sealed oven door.
- Open the oven door.
- Feel for any torn, broken or deformed spots on the rubber gasket that goes around the perimeter of the door.
- Close the oven door and visually check for leaks.
- Replace the rubber gasket if needed.
Clean or Replace Grimy Oven Vent Filters:
- Wash metal-mesh grease filters in soapy water or put them in your dishwasher.
- Replace paper or charcoal filters; they cannot be washed.
Clean Dirty Stovetop Drip Bowls:
- Wash your drip bowls immediately after spills for easier clean up. Burnt on spills may not come off.
- Remove drip bowls from your stovetop.
- Soak the drip bowls in soapy water or a cleaning solution for 5 minutes. Wash, dry and replace.
Clean Your Refrigerator Coils:
- The coils can be located on the back of your fridge or behind the kickplate.
- Vacuum up any loose particles.
- Repeat every 6-12 months.
Change Your Refrigerator Water Filter:
Dirty filters may not remove all impurities or contaminants and can potentially expose you to unsafe water.
- All water filters are different depending on their model, so be sure to read the instructions for your brand. However, most filters can be removed by turning the filter ¼ inch and popping it out. Turn the new filter ¼ inch in the opposite direction to lock it in place.
- Replace the filter every 3-6 months depending on usage and water condition.
Fix Rusty Dishrack Tines In Your Dishwasher:
Rust can stick to and damage your dishes and silverware.
- Check to see if your dishrack has rusty tines.
- Buy a tine repair kit.
- Fasten new tips over any rusty or chipped tines with a sealant.
- Refrain from using your dishwasher for at least 24 hours to let the tips dry.
Deodorize and Clean Your Garbage Disposal:
- Turn your garbage disposal off.
- Visually check the drain for large, stuck items. Do not put your hand in the disposal.
- Remove items with tongs or some other similar tool.
- Mix ice cubes and salt (or vinegar) and then pour it down the drain.
- Run cold water down the drain for 10 seconds and then turn the garbage disposal on.
- Deodorize by dropping a handful of citrus peels into the disposal, run cold water and then turn the unit on.
Clean Your Dryer Exhaust:
Dryer lint in the exhaust is a fire hazard; clean the exhaust once a year.
- Loosen the clamp so that you can pull the exhaust off the back of the dryer.
- Remove large clumps of lint from both the tubing and the hole in the back of the dryer.
- Use a wire to carefully remove any large clumps in the exhaust tubing that you cannot reach with your hands.
- Vacuum the small lint.
- Reattach the exhaust.
Examine Your Washing Machine Hoses:
Washing machine floods are typically caused by leaks in the hose.
- Remove your washing machine panel.
- Check for any leaks, cracks or weak spots on your hoses.
- Replace washing machine hose if necessary.
Clean Your Air Conditioner Filter:
Your air conditioner filter should be cleaned every 2-4 weeks.
- Remove the front panel of your air conditioning unit.
- Vacuum re-usable filters or replace disposable filters. .
As the popularity of do-it-yourself repair grows among homeowners, so has a disturbing rise in serious DIY injuries. From decorating and renovating to remodels and repairs, homeowners have been taking on the roll of Bob Vila and opting to tackle home projects themselves rather than hiring a professional. While this can save time and money, homeowners don’t realize the real and present dangers of do-it-yourself home repairs.
In the US, home repair injuries are growing at an alarming rate. The most common repair injury is a ladder fall, which has risen 40% in the past decade becoming the leading cause of DIY death.
Power tools are also responsible for a large number of injuries with nail-gun related injuries up 200% since 1991 and angle grinders and power saws both causing between 15-20% of all injuries.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK, 200,000 people a year are injured in DIY accidents – that works out to almost 4000 per week.
Half of those are injured seriously enough to need hospital treatment and an unlucky 70 are fatally injured. Another 50,000 people managed to treat themselves at home without a visit to the doctor.
Surprisingly, power tools and heavy machinery aren’t the only things to worry about. Turns out even seemingly harmless items can be accidents waiting to happen such as glue and wallpaper, which collectively injured 4500 people.Other injuries include broken or fractured bones, eye damage, loss of fingers, burns, electrocution, sprains, and the list goes on.
If that doesn’t make you think twice, how about the fact that per year, do-it-yourselfers cause millions of dollars in damage to their homes from botched repair jobs. Homeowners can even risk invalidating their home insurance coverage if repairs or remodels aren’t done properly or may not be covered at all for the damage if they don’t add accidental insurance to their plan.
The most surprising part of about the rising number of DIY related injuries is that most are 100% preventable. 55 % of homeowners admitted to starting a DIY project without the proper tools and almost 50% said they started a project without knowing how exactly to do it.
If homeowners wore the right protective gear, made sure their equipment and tools were functioning properly and safely, took the time to educate themselves and were realistic about their own abilities, many of these injuries would never happened.
So, next time you’re weighing the pros and cons of doing a DIY home project, ask yourself a few questions and be honest about the answers. Is this something that is within your ability to do? Do you have the proper tools to perform the project? Do you have all the safety gear required and do you have the time to make sure the project is completed properly? If you have any doubts, ask for help. In the end, consulting a professional could actually save you time, money, and a few limbs.
Brightly wrapped presents, colorful lights and a sweet-smelling turkey dinner fill everyone’s thoughts and dreams as Christmas quickly approaches. However, no one considers the aftermath until all the festivities are over.
The fact is that every Christmas we generate thousands of tons of waste and use more energy then at any other time of year. Christmas lights increase our energy bills, wrapping paper is discarded by the roll and unwanted presents sit on shelves until eventually they are thrown away.
Small changes can make big differences and do a lot to help our environment. A “Green” Christmas doesn’t mean we all have to turn into the Grinch, it just means thinking outside of the box and doing things a little differently then we have in the past. Below are 40 simple ideas that you can do to give a gift to Mother Earth this year.
- Use LED lights to decorate your home and tree. They use 75% – 90% less energy than traditional Christmas lights and they last up to 10 times longer.
- Use solar Christmas lights to decorate the outside of your home. They cost a little more but there is no electricity bill at the end of the holidays.
- Decorate with pinecones and evergreen boughs instead of store bought décor. They are completely biodegradable and give off a wonderful, natural scent.
- Turn your Christmas lights off when you go to bed. You can’t enjoy their festive glow while you’re sleeping anyway.
- Organize a carpool for your Christmas party. People will not have to worry about drinking and driving plus you are keeping a few extra cars off of the road.
- Turn off the TV. Christmas is a time to socialize with your family and friends. Commercial breaks just aren’t long enough for that.
- Go treeless. Maybe you have a large indoor plant that would look beautiful all lit up.
- Get a potted Christmas tree and replant it after Christmas is over or decorate one of the trees in your yard (and you don’t have to worry about the replanting).
- Buy a live tree. Artificial trees last much longer but are not biodegradable. Live trees can be recycled and turned into mulch.
- Sending Christmas cards is a long-time tradition but all of those cards just end up in the trash. Start a new tradition and send out e-cards to all of your online friends and family.
- If you must send out actual cards, make sure to buy ones made out of recycled card stock or natural fibers.
- Re-use old Christmas cards to make ornaments, gift tags or new Christmas cards. These family craft projects can be the start of new Christmas traditions in your home.
- Get romantic and serve Christmas dinner by candlelight. The soft glow of the candles will contribute to the dreamy mood and turning off the lights will lower your electric bill.
- Use real dishes and napkins for Christmas dinner. Disposable plates and napkins may make clean up a little quicker but throwaway dishes are bad for the environment.
- Serve local turkey and vegetables. Homegrown produce and poultry will be fresher as it didn’t travel long distances to get to your dinner plate.
- Take the time to package up your leftovers properly. Put some in the fridge and freeze the rest. This will result in less cooking for you later on and less food being thrown in the garbage.
- Use cloth gift bags or even cloth shopping bags instead of wrapping paper. You’ll be able to re-use these again and again instead of throwing the paper out after one use.
- Wrap your present in a scarf, towel, pillowcase or other type of usable item and it can be part of your Christmas present.
- Wrap presents in old newspapers or magazines. Or if you have a budding artist in your household use some of their artistic masterpieces as wrapping paper.
- If you must use Christmas wrapping paper, save what you can and re-use it on other gifts.
- Save ribbons and bows. Most of these look just as good as new even after the gifts are unwrapped. Ribbons and bows can be reused for other gifts throughout the year or for next Christmas.
- Shred your old junk mail to cushion any breakable gifts instead of using bubble wrap or foam peanuts.
- Don’t exchange gifts. Christmas is about spending time with family and friends so organize a gathering and forgo the gifts.
- Plan your shopping trip. Try to run several errands all at once. One stop shopping or visiting several shops in the same outing will result in a better use of your time and consume less gas.
- Buy fewer gifts. Instead of buying for every extended family member, gather folks together and draw names. This way you can give a meaningful gift to one person instead of breaking the bank and buying frivolous, last minute gifts for many.
- Make a wish list and give it to your significant other. They will most likely be purchasing something for you anyway and this will cut down on their stress, their need to drive from store to store and the need for you to return unwanted items. Plus as an added bonus, you will get things that you like and want for Christmas.
- Take re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping.
- Buy gifts that are not over-packaged. Many kid’s toys are bolted in by plastic, ties and wrap that has to be thrown away once the toy has finally been released from its captivity.
- Buy local gifts. It keeps the money you spend in your community and you’ll feel good knowing that your gift did not need to be transported thousands of miles.
- Buy gifts made out of recycled or re-used materials or make your own.
- Re-gift last years Christmas presents that you didn’t use. And if you don’t feel comfortable re-gifting, then donate them to a local charity.
- Hold a toy swap with your friends and neighbors. This keeps the old toys out of the landfill and the toys are still “new” to the latest receiver.
- Everything old is new again. Find something at the local thrift store or antique shop that still has lots of use left in it. Those vintage earrings may be the perfect addition to your daughter’s retro wardrobe.
- Shop online and have things shipped through the postal service. You will save on your own transportation cost and the mailman passes your house everyday anyway.
- Buy toys that do not use batteries.
- Buy rechargeable batteries for all the electronic gadgets being purchased this year. Rechargeable batteries will keep regular batteries out of the landfill.
- Buy gift certificates or tickets as gifts this Christmas. Who wouldn’t love a day at the spa or tickets to the hockey game?
- Homemade gifts show the receiver that your gift really comes from the heart. And nothing says “I love you” more than homemade cookies or pie.
- For the person who has everything, donate money to a local charity in their name. If you prefer larger charities you can buy a goat for a family, help save some animals from extinction or anything else that helps the planet.
- Give gifts of your time and experience. Help your sibling organize their kitchen, run errands for your elderly neighbor, teach your niece how to knit, offer to babysit for your busy co-worker, you get the idea.