How putting up shelves got me down

My wife always thinks that the very next shelf I put up will, once and for all, end clutter as we know it. She sincerely believes this—until about three minutes after the shelf is up.

She admires the shelf—brimming with things, (many of which would have fit ever so neatly into the trash), then she looks back at the room and in a split second of horror, realizes even she can't even see a difference. Somehow we have filled yet another shelf and yet made no dent in the room's clutter quotient.

A few weeks later, after the shock's worn off, she'll see another sliver of space on the wall and announce, "That would be perfect for a shelf. It would really clean up this corner."

I have stopped cringing (though not sighing) because it does no good. The cycle has begun again, like the seasons. It's always the same. We go to the hardware store. She has me move dozens of very long and heavy pieces of wood until she finds one that has just the "right" grain. She exclaims, "I can't believe how expensive wood is!" as if she hadn't just bought another $25 board a few weeks earlier.

She says, "Should we put it in the trunk?," like our trunk's made of rubber and can expand to fit it. I say, "It won't fit," and she says, "I can make it fit," and we try and it won't. She'll then get it to fit into the car, because she can get anything to fit into the car, which probably explains her confusion about the trunk. I'll sulk while driving home, because I know that one end of the board is sticking into the padded panel behind the back door where it will create a permanent dent.

The board comes home and "ages" in the garage for a few days or months or as long as I can stall. One day she'll remember and stain it. Then she'll say "Put it up now—I've already done everything else!"

Some people say they have two left feet. When I do home improvements I feel like I have two left hands. I rarely find the studs in the walls, even with the help of an electronic stud finder. So I make a lot more holes than should be necessary and if I was smart I'd buy stock in a spackle company.

Then I struggle. I curse. I fear that I've driven a screw into an electrical cable that will light me up like a flashbulb and launch me airborne off the ladder, my skeleton glowing as if in a cartoon.

I inevitably realize I've put the brackets on upside down, or in the wrong place and have to rip it out and start again. If I do ever find a stud, then it's guaranteed I've put the screw in the wrong place and won't be able to get it out because the head is stripped.

If she's nearby she'll give me helpful hints to which I generally scream, "If you know so much why don't you get up on this ladder and do it!" It's never pretty.

Lest it get routine, each shelf has it's own surprises. Last week I put up an especially difficult shelf which had those hateful keyhole hangers in the back so everything has to be measured correctly (who's bright idea was that?). I finally got it up and put everything on it, then I made the mistake of closing the back door. This minor act apparently sent tremors down the hall which released the shelf from the wall, sending its contents flying.

To me, this just made the point I had been trying to make to my wife—it's time to hire someone to do these things. To her it just made the point that I needed to do it again—right this time.

Since there was no stud in the exact position required by the hateful keyhole hanger I'd used a molly bolt which either had neither molly'd nor bolted, but had managed to make a hole in the wall large enough stick your tongue through (I'm not saying I did).

Fixing this airy new addition to the wall took two entire days. I managed to lose three toggle bolts to the hungry wall; they were swallowed whole. I finally realized I needed a big toggle bolt and a washer the size of a saucer, which I actually found at the hardware store with the help of three clerks. I assembled the toggle, a hex nut, the washer, then the bolt, and voila, I now had something on the wall that could have passed for modern art in the 80's. If I'd remembered to put a stop nut at the end it would have been really good, but I figure it will stay up at least until it doesn't.

And now I just wait for the cycle to begin again. I'm seriously thinking about removing all the wallboard in the house and just using the studs as shelves. It'd save a lot of time.

Daniel Will-Harris

Make a page automatically go to another page

Sometimes you want people to go to one page and have that page automatically take them to another. You might want this for a splash page (a page people see before your home page). You'd use this if you changed the URL of a popular page, or if you want to put a short URL in print or your e-mail newsletter and have it take the visitor to a page with a longer URL.

Having one page automatically lead to another is called a "redirect" and it's easy. You can add a redirect to any page with a very little piece of HTML. If you use an HTML editor, just add it to the HEAD area.

If you're using HTML, click on the page (make sure you're not clicked on a graphic, text block or MasterBorder), then right click and choose "Layout HTML"

Choose the tab that says "Between Head Tags" and add this:

<meta CONTENT="0;URL=http://www.SchmoozeLetter.com" HTTP-EQUIV="Refresh">

Make sure to replace the URL above with the one you want to go to, and the number after "content" with the number of seconds you want the browser to wait. That's it!


I've just discovered that Palm Pilot is a real computer—not the calendar/address book toy I thought it was). It runs lots of programs including full word processors and makes a reasonably priced e-book reader. Add a remarkable folding keyboard and you get laptop-like power in a fraction of the size and weight. I'm very impressed.

So far the best program I've seen for e-books (or sites in e-book format) is the www.mobipocket.com reader. The reader is free, and the creation tools are inexpensive. You easily convert MS office documents, (which also means web pages, since you can easily import them into Word) complete with graphics into a compact, and easy to use e-book format for Palm, Epoc, Franklin eBookman—even the Pocket PC—complete with graphics.

The conversion software is just under $20, and the converted e-doc files are compact yet contain all headings and links used in the original document. In my tests Mobipocket was much faster, more efficient and produced vastly superior Palm files than Adobe Acrobat.

So now you can save important info from your site and let people download it for their Palm in a convenient, easy to read format.

You can download this SchmoozeLetter in Mobipocket e-book format here:


Make sure to download the free reader first at http://www.mobipocket.com


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One more thing:

Wallboard tastes funny.



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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.