The Amateur Amateur: Counter-Helpful
By Gary Ross Hoffman, KB0H
Laundry, part 1
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
I have ideas about what needs to
be done, but every task seems interconnected and I don't know where I
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.
a knowledgeable ham for help
What do you think?
Ham: What kind of coax
Ummm, I don't remember. But, where should I start? Should I move
Ham (ignoring me):
Those transceivers are much too close together. You're going to get a
lot of intermod.
That's why I want to spread out...
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
I need to figure out where to move things so that I have more space.
What's in this box?
Administrative stuff, forms and so forth...
Wow! Is this really a key to the Emergency Operations Center!?
Please put that back. I need you te help me decide where...
Can I have this old copy of the ARRL Handbook?
Uhh, I suppose so. Listen, can you help...
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
You sure have a lot of lanterns down here. Are you expecting a major
No. I used to collect lanterns as a hobby.
Are they valuable?
Some of them probably are.
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
Asking a neighbor for help
You have more square footage than I do. How did you let it get so
Well, I didn't plan
to, it just sort of happened...
Oh! You have a power washer! Does it work?
Not at the moment.
Let me know as soon as you get it working.
Umm, about moving stuff around...
This is a completely unfinished basement. We turned half of ours into
That's nice, but...
Wood paneling, premium, of course. Got it at a discount.
Fantastic. But could we just...
Neighbor: Got the biggest TV they
had at Mister Eye-Mazing. Practically takes up the whole wall.
Back to the matter at hand...
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
Lots of potential here.
As I explained before, I'm not interested in redecorating, just
shifting things around so that I have more room for the radio
But the potential!
No! More room for the radios, that's all.
Could I speak with your wife?
Asking a moving company for
How far are you planning to move?
I'm not going anywhere. I just need to move things around within the
Will that be a problem?
I guess not. But we'll have to charge you the same rate as if you
were moving across town.
what do you want moved and where do you want it moved to?
Looking for a handyman through
Thank you for contacting Randy the Handy-Dandy Handyman. We are
booked up for the next three years, but....
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.
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....
It looks like getting outside
help will be highly unlikely. That being the case, I guess I will
revert to my old standbys:
I don't expect a solution anytime