Posts Tagged ‘Time/Life Books’


Time/Life Books’ Amateur Handyman Series: Vol. 3

June 25, 2010
[You know what people say they “just love” about Fancy Plans and Pants to Match? The lack of new content. I’m sure they say that, like, all the time. Here’s one from the archives in lieu of one from the forebrain: originally posted on September 10, 2009. Sorry about all the dust…]

This latest edition in the Time/Life Amateur Handyman Series is Birdhouses & Shit: Hundreds of Ways to Waste Your Children’s Summer Vacation and Make the Best Use of Your Inadequate Tool Selection. This selection features the expertise of Paul Macguire, a finish carpenter with over 40 years experience, last seen teaching shop at Devry. Despite feeling “incredibly over-qualified,” Paul’s expert skill and surly manner promise to be a potent combination that will have you up and running in no time.

Previous volumes can be found here: The Time/Life Archives

Keep dreaming, rookie. Yours is going to look nothing like this.

Keep dreaming, rookie. Yours is going to look nothing like this.

Project #1 – Birdhouse

Let’s get started. A birdhouse, huh? Well, why not.

Don’t kid yourselves. No bird will ever get within 50 feet of this thing. They build their own. If, by some odd chance, some lazy bird stumbles into this thing, he’ll soon be having his ass handed to him by the nearest blue jay, nature’s homeowner’s association president. That, or you’ll spend your free time evicting squirrel after squirrel. Your choice.

First, the “joy” of building it, followed by the tedious micromanagement of being the landlord for the world’s smallest, stupidest and whiniest tenants.

What You’ll Need

  • Pine or Cedar Board (Overall dimensions: 12″x36″x1/4″)
  • Saw (table or hand) – Note: this was not an instruction, Nimrod. Please stop sawing your table or hand.
  • 1/2″ Nails
  • Hammer
  • Wood Glue
  • Sander (belt or hand) – Note: That’s a pretty tender spot for an abrasion. Let’s do this like a game of “Simon Says,” since you clearly need some indication as to when you can jump in and start things up.
  • Paint/Varnish (Optional: But if you really dig that “unfinished” look so much, why don’t you just lean the uncut board against the tree and save us all the trouble?)

Step 1:
Provided you haven’t already disfigured yourself with the saw/sander, go ahead and cut out four pieces matching these dimensions:

  • (2) 8″ x 6″ (front/back)
  • (2) 8″ x 6-1/8″ (side)
  • (1) 6-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ (base)

Remember the old adage: “Measure twice, cut yourself.” Let’s be careful with thumb placement, people. You’ll want those opposable thumbs for holding up the “Will Work for Food” sign. I notice it’s not listed, but unless you’re some sort of dimensional Rainman, you’ll probably want a tape measure or ruler.

Once you have the pieces you need, lay them out in two stacks and the smallest piece separately. Notice that the two stacks should only have 1/8″ difference. If you notice a larger variation then all you really have is some wood to toss in the dumpster or hammer over very small windows during hurricane season.

Uh huh. Well, let’s try it again, only right. 1/8″ is roughly about the size of my patience.

OK, now that we presumably have the correct pieces, let’s continue. Pick up one side piece and the base. Apply a thin line of wood glue to one side of the “side” piece. Not that side. No, really. Go ahead and stick it on there.

Awesome. Now, I’m no rocket surgeon but 8″ is way more than 6-1/2″. I’m sure the birds will love the offset funhouse you’re trying to build, but maybe you could do a little thinking on your own. Put your hands down. I’ll talk. You listen. Any other combination is turning this project into a complete abortion.

Just wipe off the wood glue and try again. It’s not like it’s Wacky Glue or Crazy Glue or JB Weld or anything that actually adheres something to something else. The glue will wipe right off. You’ll notice this effect soon enough. Like when your side wall piece falls right over because wood glue can’t hold shit.

You’ll have to either hold it until a bond develops (30-45 minutes, just like with your makeup-wearing son) or find something to prop it up with.

Even this one may be a bit of a stretch...

Even this one may be a bit of a stretch...

You know what works great for this? Going to the store and pulling a $10 out of your wallet. Bingo. A professionally made birdhouse, just like from the factory. It’s not like this is a deck or an addition to the house, where you could conceivably save some money by doing it yourself. You’re not saving any cash or aggravation by banging this out at home. Christ, it’s a fucking birdhouse.

OK. That side has finally set. Go ahead and repeat these steps for the other side.

Beautiful. The 8″ side again? Jesus. I ran a shop class for a truckload of amputees with OCD that went smoother than this. And that includes the dipshit that somehow nearly lathed himself to death after failing to stop the “crazy train” when he ran out of wood. Substitute teaching is always one catastrofuck after another. I swear, you turn your back for one minute and someone’s got the reciprocating saw halfway through their femur.

Alright. Assuming you now have all four sides on, let’s shore this up with a few nails. Grab your hammer.
That’s a screwdriver.
That’s your leftover wood.
That’s your screwdriver again.
Here’s a picture of what we’re looking for:

While you’re playing Scavenger Hunt with your only clue, let me just tell you what is wrong with the carpentry/shop class field. No. You will listen. No one has a sense of perspective. One reckless endangerment charge and suddenly you’re out of the sweet Devry gig and caged with a half-dozen other parolees cranking out How-To’s in the Time/Life paper mill.

Back to the birdhouse. You’ll need to put the nail pointy-side down and hit the flat side with your hammer or screwdriver or wood glue bottle for all I care.

Oops! That’s going to be tender for awhile. Swing carefully, you’ve got those always-in-harm’s way thumbs all over the place.

Wow. That’s going to be tender-to-useless for a long time. Take your time and aim for the nail.

Nice. That’s going to need some medical attention. The surprising amount of blood is a dead giveaway. Hey, bright side: at least you had the nail pointing the right way so you won’t have to entertain the ER with your Jesus impression.

Man. Another ER trip. This takes me back. I remember one of my first supervisor positions in construction. A simple translation error led to a misunderstanding with the Mexican migrant workers, who responded alarmingly quickly by beating me severely and making several cement-related threats. I think it was pay-related. Or a lack of payment. Something along those lines that was taken badly after I insinuated that they take the issue up with the Border Patrol. That and they kept mispronouncing my first name as “Puto.”

How’s your hand? It looks bad. I’m not going to lie to you. That sucks. I don’t think that you’re going to be making a sudden jump from manual labor to white collar pro anytime soon.

Bingo. There's your birdhouse, benchwarmer.

Bingo. There's your birdhouse, benchwarmer.

You seriously want to go on with this? I mean, I’ll drive you to the goddamn mall myself. It’s like 10 minutes away. We’ll pick up a birdhouse and some bird seed. Maybe some lunch. You should eat. You look a little pale.

No. I can drive. You’re maimed. Hold your hand out the window when we hit the parking lot. Just wave it around and I think we can score some handicapped parking.

No. I can drive. Just because my license is suspended doesn’t mean that I forgot how to drive.

Why do want to keep going? What are you trying to prove? That you can keep me sober for 6 hours in a row? Who the hell do you think you are? My sponsor?

Besides, your neighbors will start bitching about “line of sight” violations and there will be birdshit everywhere. Blue jays fucking with squirrels at all hours. The Homeowner’s Association will have your ass. They bitch about everything. “18 feet is too high for a privacy fence.” “You can’t arrange your Christmas lights into the shape of a penis.”

Chapter 2: Sweet Jesus and Mary Chain! A Picture Frame??!! Why in Holy Fuck Would You Not Go Buy One??!! The Dollar Stores Even Carry Them, for the Love of Godsmack!



Excerpts from the Time/Life Books “Amateur Handyman” Series: Vol. 2

July 31, 2009
Not covered: When property lines run through the middle of your living room

Not covered: When property lines run through the middle of your living room

This <choose appropriate time period>’s selection from the Time/Life Amateur Handyman Book Series comes from The Guide to Settling Homeowner Disputes. As with all Time/Life books, the information contained within may be out of date, factually incorrect or harvested from more knowledgeable book series.

In fact, you may find some pages that contain that little “Idiot” guy giving you some boldface advice. If you are not the copyright owner, please ignore and continue reading. If you are the copyright holder, please note the hand-drawn moustache we added which makes him an entirely original creation.

Time/Life editors also recommend that these books be enjoyed in much the same way that they were purchased: late at night in impulsive, drunken bursts. Be aware that the book will not erase the aching loneliness of your life in quite the same way that our Bengali operator did during your 2 a.m. phone call. Time/Life cannot be held responsible for any “buyer’s regret” that may result from your perusal of this volume, which contains nearly 90 pages left blank for notes or doodling while fielding calls from our collections service.

Settling Homeowner Disputes by Mark Shultz, Attorney-at-Law

About the author
Mark Shultz, a graduate of the Upper Dayton, OH Night School of Lawsmithery and Remedial Legalese, has over 15 years experience in real estate law and homeowner disputes. He currently operates out of his law office at: (c/o Mr. & Mrs. Schultz), 4231 Willow Ave., Dayton, OH. He can be reached between 9 AM and 4 PM, Monday thru Friday. Schedule may vary due to Everquest guild events.

A fireman prepares to crush the dreams of yet another home owner

A fireman prepares to crush the dreams of yet another home owner

While it is the American dream to own your own home and burn it later for the hefty insurance payout, home ownership can be a perilous journey down a path filled with faulty city water lines, inept and expensive contractors and litigious neighbors.

The disputes can happen at any time for nearly any reason: erecting a privacy fence, harvesting from the “communal” garden or even during your weeklong bender during which you mistook the neighbor’s living room for your garage.

Most of these expensive disputes can be defused or avoided completely through a combination of “worst case scenario” preparation and lying like a motherfucker. Let’s take a look at some common homeowner disputes.

Property Lines
This dispute will normally rear its ugly head once your fence construction is nearing completion or when a tree falls onto your neighbor’s addition. As these become more and more common, some clear delineation of your property lines is needed, meaning phrases like, “a little past the mailbox,” “as the crow flies…” or “just before the leaking water lines…” are no longer acceptable.

As a property line dispute is the most common homeowner issue, multiple solutions to this problem have surfaced over the years. Rather than battling it out in court or dragging those assholes from the Homeowner’s Association into this, consider these options for dispute resolution:

  • Slap fight
  • Race around the world
  • Pistols at dawn
  • Jarts
  • Internet flamewar
  • Thunderdome
  • Trivial Pursuit: ’80s Edition
  • Facebook Friend-Off
  • Agreeing to disagree
  • Compromise

(Note: These last two are not recommended.)

Resolution Role Play
In this section, we will present a variety of common disputes. Please choose the best resolution.

1. The City calls to inform you that you will be held responsible for the power lines chewed up by your tiller. Your response?

  • “Well, send someone down to help me transplant the bodies.”
  • “No habla engles.”
  • “Tell your crew to stop vandalizing my yard. There’s frickin’ orange paint everywhere.”
  • “I really think the responsibility lies with the Troy-Bilt Corporation’s incredibly powerful and smooth handling roto-tiller.”
  • “Hold on a second, I have a call from the water company on line 2.”

2. The homeowner’s association has informed you that your choice of mailbox is not acceptable. Your response?

  • “Have I shown you my extensive handgun collection?”
  • “No habla engles.”
  • “Why? Because the flag is shaped like a penis?”
  • “I need someplace to test out my pipe bombs.”
  • Sucker punch the representative and ask for a pro-rated refund of your dues.

3. During a fierce storm, a branch from your tree knocks out your neighbor’s windshield. Your response?

  • “Well, that answers the whole “if a tree falls in Parkview Terrace, who starts whining immediately” question.
  • “Here’s a number for my insurance agent. Unfortunately, he doesn’t speak English.”
  • “I would imagine this falls under “act of God.” Like your slashed tires and your daughter’s pregnancy.”
  • “Could I ask you to hold this pipe-ish, bomb-ish looking thingy for a minute while I run and get my checkbook? I’ll be back in 7-10 minutes.
  • Sucker punch him and ask for his insurance information.
To aid in retention of this information, here is an easy-to-follow flowchart having absolutely nothing to do with our subject

To aid in retention of this information, here is an easy-to-follow flowchart having absolutely nothing to do with our subject

4. An electrical fire discolors the outside of your neighbor’s newly painted house. He wants you to pay for repainting. Your response?

  • “No. I’m OK. Thanks for asking, you douche.”
  • “Are you familiar with the phrase ‘water, water everywhere/not doing a goddamned thing'”?
  • “Perhaps my powerful urine will clean it off… although it really didn’t do much to the fire…”
  • “Can you break a $10?”
  • “Remember that time when you asked if I’d seen anyone ‘strange’ lurking outside your daughter’s window? And I said I hadn’t seen anyone ‘unfamiliar’…”
  • “Have you met my insurance agent? He’s not to good with the English but he throws a hell of a sucker punch.”

5. Your neighbor’s daughter is pregnant and all evidence points to you. Plus the homeowner’s association is none to pleased with your choice of exterior paint. Your response?

  • “Look. The plan is to paint the town red and name it ‘Hell.’ I’ll get to the rest of the houses eventually… weather permitting.”
  • “Are you sure it wasn’t the mailbox?”
  • “Sure, it’s easy to point fingers at a time like this. But what are youall doing about the real issues? Like the environment? Or our state’s regression to a pre-Roe v. Wade legal climate?”
  • “It’s not so much like you’re losing a daughter, but rather, gaining an uncle.”
  • “My choices are white, off-white, bone, eggshell or blanco?”

6. Your neighbor calls the police with a noise complaint about your houseparty. Your response?

  • “Look. His daughter is safely at home. If you’ll join me in the shrubs, you can clearly see her through the window.”
  • “Officer, can you break a $10?”
  • “Call my lawyer, whom I have put on retainer due to recent events.”
  • “Ah. So you do speak Spanish. Well, ignore most of what I just said, Officer Vasquez.”
  • “So you can see where it all went wrong. IED, IUD… it all sounds the same in the heat of the moment.”
  • “It’s not a real penis. Oh, fuck it, I’ll head to Spencer’s tomorrow and exchange it for something equally as obnoxious.”
  • “Have you met my neighbor? The insufferable prick? And proud grandfather?”

We hope you have enjoyed this preview of the Idiot’s Guide to Settling Homeowner Disputes. Please remember to keep your window areas well lit and free of bushes or shrubs.