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Do-it-Yourself Guides

Updated on January 16, 2016

How to Guides

That's me holding up a copy of Our USA Magazine, featuring one of my stories in their premier launch at all Barnes & Noble and Book World stores.
That's me holding up a copy of Our USA Magazine, featuring one of my stories in their premier launch at all Barnes & Noble and Book World stores. | Source

Arts and Crafts

An outhouse birdhouse I made.
An outhouse birdhouse I made. | Source


Years ago, when my daughters were young I wanted to build them a sandbox with corner seats. Where was I to begin? For you see, as a young dad I didn't have any carpentry skills and probably the extent of my toolbox consisted of a hammer, saw, and some screwdrivers. My options on crafting a masterpiece that would earn me a place in the “good dad” category were fairly limited. In an effort to find plans I could go to the library, the bookstore, and a home improvement center with do it yourself magazines, or ask someone for help. I most likely opted for the library with pen and pad in hand to write down the instructions, measurements, and supply list. Being a novice, I found the process to be much more time consuming than I had imagined. However, by following instructions, the sandbox I built withstood the test of time and gave my girls years of enjoyment. I can only imagine how fast my project could have been completed if only Al Gore had invented the Internet earlier.


Hard copy dictionaries and encyclopedias are all but lost and forgotten in this modern day of technology. Am I dating myself when I ask whether or not you learned the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Card Catalog System? Does anyone remember the salesman who came to your house in an effort to sell your parents the Encyclopedia Britannica? Of course, if you were fortunate enough to have encyclopedias then you also had to continue paying for the updates that were mailed to your address. How many times did we venture to the library to research a school project, going from one resource to another and asking the librarian for assistance along the way? I recall the laborious effort of reading scores of newspaper articles stored on microfiche. Our notebooks were jammed with copious amounts of notes and references. The whole process of putting together an essay was mind-boggling and time-consuming and who really knew whether or not your teacher checked the sources listed in the footnotes?


The Internet has given us an opportunity to streamline our time, efforts and curiosity when looking for solutions to questions which have stymied us. All we need to do now is enter some keywords, phrases or questions…hit “enter” and voila a treasure trove of data appears before us in an instant. However, things aren't always as they seem. We now have the ease and accessibility of information literally at our fingertips. My personal dilemma is deciphering what is fact, hypothesis, opinion, or some fluffy piece of writing designed to lure readers just for the sake of page views and hits on advertising. It appears many feel they have a story to tell or because they built a birdhouse once they have mysteriously become experts attempting to get their “Do It Yourself” e-books published. Of course, the harsh reality knows that many of our “clicks” leave us disappointed and we merely “back arrow” out and move on to something else.


So, what happened to prompt me to write this article? The answer quite simply can be found in microwave potatoes. The heat wave experienced by many this past summer has caused a lot of people to forgo using their ovens and I am no different. While preparing skinless boneless chicken breasts in a panko, breadcrumb, and cheese breading, along with steamed broccoli, I additionally wanted to serve a baked potato but forgot how long to microwave it. I sat in front of my laptop laughing hysterically when I read the Internet post on 9 steps to nuking a potato, complete with photos of washing, poking holes, wrapping it in wet paper towels, all the way to the last picture of instructing us on cutting it open and serving with various garnishes. I guess a writer can’t be too detailed anymore. Do you have a hammer and nail question? No need to worry because there is a post with 10 steps to safely using a hammer and nail. If you would like to make coffee, look no further than the “net” and you will find a 6 step tutorial with pictures and countless videos. You are in for a treat when you sit mesmerized watching a 2-minute video on learning the ins and outs of clipping your toenails. Finally, a young man has graced us with sportsmanship and wonderful entertainment encompassing the easiest way to pick up dog poop and it is summed up in a 3-minute video involving a golf club, a nice swing and the waste matter landing on a neighbor’s front lawn. Well, isn't that creative? I most assuredly never found anything like teeing off dog poop in either my school or public library.


In the sandbox of life, we have choices. Do you want to build a castle based on knowledge and technology or are you content to just plow through the dunes of time leaving only monotonous paths that have no beginning or ending? There are abundant resources at our disposal to expand our brains and grow as individuals. “Yes” the old standards are still present, but if you want to weed through 18,000,000 results on how to mop your floor, then I suggest you pour a favorite beverage and sit back while exploring the “Web.”

Written By: Dennis L. Page

Creating a Workshop

My workshop where the magic happens.
My workshop where the magic happens. | Source


This is a circa 1890s Singer sewing machine I refinished for my daughter.
This is a circa 1890s Singer sewing machine I refinished for my daughter. | Source

Outdoor Crafts

This is a photo of the patio I built, the wreath I made, the hanging baskets I planted and finally the wood burning and painted heart shaped plaque I crafted.
This is a photo of the patio I built, the wreath I made, the hanging baskets I planted and finally the wood burning and painted heart shaped plaque I crafted. | Source

Do you still use the library system for research?

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    • profile image

      Larry Wall 2 years ago

      You are absolutely correct. Too many reporters have forgotten they have to be objective, and instead will look for something, often on the Internet to show why the idea was bad, why the plan would not work, why some would benefit more than others.

      I have used this example before, but in the city where I worked, there was a plan to turn an area of land that had waterway access into an industrial park to service the oil and gas industry. Some one was brought in to do a fiscal analysis.

      I liked the project, but there was only marginal support in the community. My last story on the issue, help to kill the project, because I finally got the full report of the consultant and not just the summary. The plan call for city personnel to be stationed at the park to facilitate permits, expedite road repairs, utility repairs, etc. That was not new information. However, the guts of the report show that these city workers would get a 15 percent hike in their pay. I could have left that out of the story, and the proposition may have been approved. I questioned the consultant, who remarked he did not usually talk to reporters. I explain I was going to write the story with this information, and I was giving him the chance to justify it. He replied with an answer, which I quoted correctly, and as I expected that piece of data, which had been pushed to the back, killed the project. There was no justification for the bonus payments to the city workers who would be located at the industrial park. The point is that I did not browse an Internet synopsis. I read the report and questioned the contractor hired to write it, then the mayor, who said "we can fix that later." Now this issue does not compare to the issues faced by many presidents, but it shows the importance of setting your own views aside and objectively writing about the issue and the circumstances surrounding the issue. The industrial park was a good idea. The details needed work.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 2 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Thank you for your comment. Now that the weather has improved I've moved my focus to my outside gardens. I love this time of year.

      Larry, sometimes I think our journalists did a better job of reporting before the internet. Reporters seemed to have been more vested in time and research before sending their copy to the editors.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 2 years ago


      I ran across this Hub today and it reminded me of something. There is an old saying about "measure twice, and cut once," referring to any type of building project, such as your sandbox. Does not work for me. I can measure four times and I am still going to cut that piece of wood too short. I am not a carpenter. Now, when it comes to using nuts, bolts and screws, I do pretty well. Also, term papers were my favorite part of college. When you are studying to be a journalist, you need to enjoy research and writing. I doubt the instructors read them in detail for us Undergrads. But, they were good practice when I was in the news business--and that was way before the Internet,

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Wow, you can do lotsof diy stuff that women do, admire your talents

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Your Hub is great. I don't know how many times I've gooten lost or sidetracked looking for information online that turned out to not quite be what I needed. I half expected you to tell me that the baked potato how-to came without cooking times! For the record, my grandmother used wax paper on her nuked potatoes. And I did learn the Dewey Decimal system, but dang if I can remember any of it now.

      You're a great writer. Thanks for this Hub.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ ImKarn23 - I knew sooner or later you would get around to reading my little story and it is mucho appreciated. Yes, I meant "mucho." Thank you too for the Tweet and a "like." Remember, a clean spud is the first step in a long detailed process of nuking your tater.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      i adore you, D! You get funnier every day, i swear it's true! Also true? that technology was supposed to simplify our lives, and yet - why does it seem it has only complicated it? NINE steps to bake a potat? (altho, i did not know to wrap it in paper Have GOT to try that 'puppy waste disposal' method! LOVE IT! 'liking' and 'tweeting'..

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ tillsontitan - Thank you for stopping by and your vote of confidence. I had forgotten about World Book Encyclopedias, but you brought that memory back in a flash. This was a fun Hub to write and was one I hadn't planned on doing. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      OMG...this needs an Entertaining button! I remember all the things you mentioned...we even had our own World Book Encyclopedia (well my kids did anyway). I worked as a volunteer in my h.s. library so Dewey and I became well acquainted! BTW I have the same sewing machine though my cabinet needs some work.

      This was a great hub and written so entertainingly. Really enjoyed.

      Voted up, funny, and interesting!

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ always exploring - I appreciate your comment about my Hub. You are so right about not using a hard copy dictionary anymore. The encyclopedia salespeople were part of the old door to door sales force. If you owned a set of encyclopedias it was like having your own home computer before PCs were invented. Oh, and the Al Gore reference was only meant as a moment of levity because I actually voted for him.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ChristinS - I honestly never heard of the dry towel method. See, we learn something new everyday. Thanks again.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I can remember when i was a little girl a man coming to our house selling encyclopedias, my how time has changed. I don't even use the dictionary anymore, who needs it, we have spell check..Great hub. I like Al Gore..Hee

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      It's a dry towel folded up into a pouch, stick the poked and rinse potato in and microwave away :).

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @mperrottet - It's always nice to see my Pa. neighbor stop in and leave a comment. Our libraries are frantically trying to keep up with the advent of the Internet. However, people still use them and they do provide a service that affords everyone a somewhat level playing field in obtaining information. Obtaining credible facts on the "Web" can be a daunting task, but with little effort and plugging in the right keywords we generally find what we are looking for in a matter of minutes.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ Trinity M - I'm glad you dropped by and left a comment on my article. Seriously, I don't even know where my hard copy Thesaurus or dictionary are anymore. Let's face it, you can't go to the library with a glass of wine and wearing your bathrobe.

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ ChristinS - I appreciate your vote and super comment. So, is the dishtowel you wrap a potato in a damp towel or a dry towel? Yes, you probably should do a potato tutorial!

      Although I spend the bulk of my time reading information and stories online, to me there is no substitute to holding a hard copy book or newspaper in my hands. I completely agree that we have become "intellectually lazy."

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      @ Larry Wall - Thanks for reading and commenting. You are correct when it comes to what sources to trust most for accuracy. However, convenience dictates that most research is now done online and it is then our responsibility to weed out the junk in order to get to the truth.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      I no longer go to the library for research, but I do use it to take out books to read for pleasure. Although the internet is great for research, it can be just as time consuming as the old days when you used the library. It takes a great amount of time to determine good sources, and to weed out fact from fiction. There's a whole lot of garbage on the internet along with a wealth of knowledge. Great hub!

    • Trinity M profile image

      Trinity M 5 years ago

      I’m afraid the internet has ruined me… I cannot be bothered to go through pages and pages of old dusty books to find what I’m looking for when a click, click is all I need and hey presto! All the information I could ever hope for and I didn’t have to even leave the comfort of my home. Great hub Dennis.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      I had to LOL at the references to a baked potato as I sat and wondered to myself - I wonder if he read the trick where you wrap them in a dishtowel after poking holes in them. Unlike paper towels, the cloth towel holds in the steam and they come out very fluffy. Perhaps I should write a 15 step hub with illustrations on it ;) or better yet a video hub to go with it in gruesome, painstaking detail :)

      Yes, I do remember learning the decimal system and those pesky card catalogs where the drawer always got stuck in my local library. I remember actually doing my first research papers where you had to pick up the book physically and read and take notes. Today, the colleges allow you to sign into a database to read most research periodicals and such - you can print off what you need in a .pdf. Gone are the days where you have to carefully cite your sources correctly, now there is a website that does it for you for free!

      I like both ways. Internet for convenience of course, but there is and will never be nothing as satisfying as picking up a good book in the library. Sometimes it amazes me that in an age where we have so much information - too much arguably, that as a society we have become so intellectually lazy. That's a whole other topic though! Great hub voted up and across :)

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 5 years ago

      I admit, I do most of my research on the internet, but the sources I trust are those that are usually found in the library, so you could say I am using an electronic extension of the library.

      I heard that Al Gore was in the library trying to find the source that said he invented the internet. He will probably that some answers are not to be found.