Although there are many types of window blinds, all blinds have some basic anatomy in common. Blinds are primarily slats (sometimes called louvers) that can be made of aluminum, plastic, wood, vinyl, or fabric. These slats are connected by a ladder of thin cords or cloth tape. Usually, blinds have a rail at the bottom to anchor them. At the top, a headrail contains the tracks that the cords controlling the blinds run on. A wand and/or cord connected to the headrail can be turned or pulled to control the tilt of the slats of the blind and the opening and shutting of the blinds. The headrail is usually mounted by brackets to the wall, ceiling, or window frame.

According to my father, the first rule of installing blinds is to throw away the screws they come with. He told me too late. I spent a couple of hours trying out every screwdriver I could find on the screws my new set of mini-blinds came with. The screw-heads, which were a Phillips-and-flathead combination, worked with neither type of screwdriver. My father managed to finish the job I had started, but when I went to fit the headrail into the brackets, I realized that I'd placed the brackets too far apart. Although they would hold the blinds up, any tug at the controls would bring the whole thing crashing down again.

I threw the screwdriver across the room. Next time, I go straight for the tried-and-true hardware we already have, even if it isn't as shiny and pretty as that provided in the assembly kit.

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