The Amateur Amateur: Counter-Helpful

By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
November 2020

basement workshop
radio shack
Radio Shack
holiday stuff
Holiday Decorations
laundy 1
Laundry, part 1
laundry 2
Laundry, part 2
Gardening and Overflow Storage

I want to rearrange my shack. It was fine to begin with, but now, years later, it has too many items in it crammed too close together. It has numerous other problems as well, but right now my focus is getting everything spread out. Once I solve the everything-in-a-too-tiny-space issue it will be easier to work on the other issues.

Only, I don't know where to start.

Let me explain. My shack is in the basement of my house. Functionally, the basement evolved into six vaguely defined “sections” of roughly equal amounts of space. My workshop occupies a section. So do gardening items, general storage, and holiday stuff. The laundry gets two sections. And my radio shack gets the final one.

I need to expand the shack somehow. That means intruding into either the adjacent workshop or the holiday stuff sections. And that means moving or throwing away a lot of stuff. And we all know how hard that is.

I did make a start a few months ago. I moved some items from the holiday stuff section into the laundry area and sold one bulky item on Craig's List. But then I got stalled.

I have ideas about what needs to be done, but every task seems interconnected and I don't know where I should start.

I need help. I really do. But having had a lot of experience with “helpful folks”, and also having a vivid imagination, I know pretty much what will happen.

Asking a knowledgeable ham for help

Me: What do you think?

Knowledgeable Ham: What kind of coax is that?

Me: Ummm, I don't remember. But, where should I start? Should I move the...

Knowledgeable Ham (ignoring me): Those transceivers are much too close together. You're going to get a lot of intermod.

Me (frustrated): I know! That's why I want to spread out...

Knowledgeable Ham: You'd be better off using a headset with a foot switch rather than that original microphone.

And so forth. Alternatively....

Asking a less experienced ham for help

Me: I need to figure out where to move things so that I have more space.

Newer Ham: What's in this box?

Me: Administrative stuff, forms and so forth...

Newer Ham: Wow! Is this really a key to the Emergency Operations Center!?

Me: Please put that back. I need you te help me decide where...

Newer Ham: Can I have this old copy of the ARRL Handbook?

Me: Uhh, I suppose so. Listen, can you help...

Newer Ham (sitting down at the computer): How do I call up the packet modem program?

See what I mean? Other hams would probably be too distracted to help. So perhaps....

Asking a non-ham friend for help

Non-ham Friend: You sure have a lot of lanterns down here. Are you expecting a major power outage?

Me: No. I used to collect lanterns as a hobby.

Non-ham Friend: Are they valuable?

Me: Some of them probably are.

Non-ham Friend: You need to take better care of them. Set them up in a proper display. Get rid of that radio junk to make some space.

Nope. That wouldn't work. How about...

Asking a neighbor for help

Neighbor: You have more square footage than I do. How did you let it get so junked-up?

Me: Well, I didn't plan to, it just sort of happened...

Neighbor: Oh! You have a power washer! Does it work?

Me: Not at the moment.

Neighbor: Let me know as soon as you get it working.

Me: Umm, about moving stuff around...

Neighbor: This is a completely unfinished basement. We turned half of ours into a den.

Me: That's nice, but...

Neighbor: Wood paneling, premium, of course. Got it at a discount.

Me: Fantastic. But could we just...

Neighbor: Got the biggest TV they had at Mister Eye-Mazing. Practically takes up the whole wall.

Me: Back to the matter at hand...

Neighbor: When do you think you'll have the power washer fixed?

It also occurred to me to go to professionals. Such as....

Asking an interior decorator for help

Interior Decorator: Lots of potential here.

Me: As I explained before, I'm not interested in redecorating, just shifting things around so that I have more room for the radio equipment.

Interior Decorator: But the potential!

Me: No! More room for the radios, that's all.

Interior Decorator: Could I speak with your wife?

Asking a moving company for help

Moving company: How far are you planning to move?

Me: I'm not going anywhere. I just need to move things around within the basement.

Moving company: Oh.

Me: Will that be a problem?

Moving company: I guess not. But we'll have to charge you the same rate as if you were moving across town.

Me (sighing): Okay.

Moving company:So, what do you want moved and where do you want it moved to?

Me: (Groan!)

Looking for a handyman through HomeAdvisor

Handyman #1: Thank you for contacting Randy the Handy-Dandy Handyman. We are booked up for the next three years, but....

Handyman #2: Thank you for your interest in Very Professional Home Repairs. Our entire staff is on holiday at the moment, but when they return we may or may not get back to you.

Handyman #3: Thank you for selecting A Guy With a Pickup Truck. Our professional service engineer will get back to you as soon as he retrieves his vehicle from the police impound....

Handyman #4: (no response)

Handyman #5: (no response)

Handyman #6: (no response)

Handyman #7: (no response)

It looks like getting outside help will be highly unlikely. That being the case, I guess I will revert to my old standbys:

  1. Making lists
  2. Drawing diagrams
  3. Procrastinating

I don't expect a solution anytime soon.

E-mail Gary Ross Hoffman

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