I'm not sure where I stumbled across this link to an article from December 2009's Popular Mechanics magazine, but I thought it was interesting, and that you might as well: 100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008's Ultimate DIY List. The link takes you to the complete list, which broken down into sections (automotive, home, outdoors, medical myths, etc), and each individual skill has an associated video. Very cool. Sort of a merit badge list for aging boy scouts. Or, as the introduction to the list says, "Brains and charm are fine, but a real guy needs to know how to do real stuff."
Oddly enough for as inept a handyman as I am, I'm able to handle quite a few of the skills on the list ... some better than others, of course. 23 years in the Air Force taught me to shine shoes very well (Military Know-How, #48), and growing up in Western Pennsylvania - the snow and pothole capital of the western world - taught me all about changing a tire (Teach Your Kids # 67), handling a blowout, and driving in snow (Automotive, #'s 1 and 2).
The list is interesting and comprehensive, but I think it does miss out on some important skills that every modern man (okay, woman, too) should know. My list would include:
Critical Thinking. Essential to separating the wheat of important information from the chaff of political bullshit.
Reading to Children. Most adults don't know how to read a bedtime story with flair, gusto, and multiple voices for the characters ... trust me - children love it.
Using Common Courtesies. Little things matter, and nowadays many people act as if simple acts of courtesy - like saying "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" are symbols of weakness or subservience rather than essential social lubricants.
Accepting that Others Might Have a Point. This one is one of the skills most desperately lacking nowadays, especially in the take-no-prisoners, I'm-right-you're-a-clueless-ass political shouting that has replaced sober discussion of serious issues.
The corollary to the last one is ...
How to Compromise. In today's overheated political climate, compromise has become a dirty word generally equated with selling out one's bedrock principles. Unfortunately, we've lost sight of the fact that nobody (except for every single religion) has a monopoly on truth, and that the best courses of action may come from combining elements of different approaches to solving problems. I don't see many people today earning this particular merit badge.
So, Dear Readers, what skills would you add to the Popular Mechanics list? E-mail me or leave a comment, and if there are enough good responses, I'll publish them in a follow-up post.
For now, though, it's time to finish getting Agnes packed and delivered to the airport for her trip to Germany. Although the weather is cooperating, it seems that the airport in Frankfurt many not ... there's an ongoing strike by some ground personnel that has caused flight delays and cancellations of all sorts.
What's life without a little drama, eh?
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.