Monday, November 18, 2013

Lost Skills

My friend Marilyn posted a link to this interesting article on her Facebook page yesterday: 13 Skills Your Grandparents Had That You Don't, by Justin Abarca. It's not just interesting, but funny and scary. Here are the 13 skills, with my commentary ...

1. The ability to write legibly. I've written about this in my blog before ... nowadays, almost no one knows how to write legibly in cursive script. We type our letters, text our SMSs, send short e-mails full of weird abbreviations ... but we can't write. It's a shame.

2. Memorizing more than two phone numbers. This is very true. We enter all the numbers into our smart phones once, and then just select them with a single stroke of the finger. Lose the phone, and we have no idea how to reach all the people whose numbers we've carefully stored.

3. Knowing how to use a phone book. If we need a particular service, we Google it and find the number online. Nobody knows how to figure out the best description of a service and find it in the Yellow Pages*.

4. The most basic of auto maintenance. When something goes wrong, we deliver the car to the shop or call the AAA to come and save us. I can change a tire, do a jump-start, and change the oil and filter (assuming the auto maker has put the filter in a place I can reach it without removing the engine). Beyond that, forget it. Many years ago, I actually replaced the ignition key unit in Agnes's car after a clueless colleague had broken off the key in it (!) ... I even amazed myself.

5. The most basic of home maintenance. I admit it ... I'm the most inept of handymen. I can do very simple electrical things like replacing a switch or an electrical outlet, and simple plumbing things like fixing a leak in a standard faucet or replacing the flush unit of a toilet ... beyond that, forget it. I once actually replaced our garbage disposal (although it took two days and nearly led to Agnes leaving me).

6. The ability to read and use a real, handheld, paper map. This one, I can do. But where do you get a paper map any more? Every gas station used to hand them out for free, and we all knew how to use them. Nowadays, if the satellite navigation device craps out, you'll end up as the 21st century version of the Flying Dutchman.

7. Knowing how to tie multiple types of knots. I think this one may actually be making a comeback, thanks to the 50 Shades of Grey stories.

8. Writing a check properly. Who writes checks any more? I use my debit card and online bill payment for almost everything except the mortgage payment and the monthly rent on our storage unit (that one is a long story).

9. Knowing how to sew more than a button. When I lived in Berlin, I knew a fellow who made his own shirts and was a wizard at repairing damaged clothes. For my own part, I can replace buttons and fix minor rips and tears. Agnes is very good at sewing ... she made many of her own competition dance gowns, and has made me several shirts. Most other women and virtually all men I know can't sew a stitch.

10. Knowing how to raise crops and livestock. I'm a pretty good amateur gardener, particularly for herbs (I gave up on most vegetables because I couldn't keep up with the rabbits and other animals that viewed my garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet). I would be lost if I had to raise an animal for food or butcher it properly.

11. Socializing like a human. Very few people can carry on a wide-ranging and interesting conversation any more unless it's done via handheld device. This is sad. A few years back, I went to a blogger's happy hour at which eight of us sat around the table and seven of the eight were almost constantly thumbing their Blackberries or smart phones. Who actually talks any more? My daughter asked me the other day what I thought makes a person a good conversationalist ... it was an interesting question, which I will address in a future post.

12. Being creative. This post is, sadly, an example. I took someone else's idea and built on it. I do think, though, that I'm essentially a pretty creative person. At the very least, I have a very vivid imagination ... which can be both a blessing and a curse.

13. Partner dancing without being gross. Think Miley Cyrus. One of the wonderful things about ballroom dancing is that it allows a socially acceptable level of intimacy between friends, and helps cultivate good manners, coordination, and musicality. If all you can do is the basic American male clutch-and-shuffle, you're missing out on something grand.

Are there any other lost skills you can think of? Leave me a comment. And consider trying to recover some of those lost skills ... you may enjoy them, and who knows? - they may well come in useful.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* And this means the the Yellow Pages Game will soon disappear. If you don't know what the Yellow Pages Game is, ask me.


Amanda said...

I think we may be losing cooking skills soon. Some of my younger cousins seem to take pride in not knowing how to cook anything!

Wabbit said...

I am happy to say that I have most of the skills listed. Uh oh! Does that make me as ancient as you always claim to be (since we are the same age)?

1. Handwriting - mine is barely legible but I do know how to do calligraphy and therefore I know it is just a matter of practice.

2. Strangely, I do still remember many of the phone numbers I had memorized before I had a smartphone. And if you are smart enough, your phone has been backed up to your computer and/or your phone provider's cloud so you don't lose the numbers. Mine put them all on my new phone last week and I only had to turn the thing on!

3. I know HOW to use the phone book, I'd just rather not have to FIND the thing! Plus, I get lots more information from the internet!

4. I do know how to do lots of things on cars and Dan knows even more. But then I'm a car person.

5. Thanks to HGTV and DIY following in the footsteps of This Old House and other shows of that ilk that made up the bulk of my Saturday television schedule in the past, I know how to do MANY things around the house, including installing windows and doing drywall. I helped my friends build their house when I was unemployed once. I would totally go ahead and start building a house. Thanks to Mike Holmes, I even know how to do it right!

6. I love maps. I use the map on my smartphone or GPS rather than the directions.

7. I can tie all sorts of knots, but that might just be my past as a weaver showing up. But I do know at least one from using it to lace up my figure skates!

8. I know how to write the check. I just haven't seen my checkbook in a couple of years. Gotta love online billpay, Paypal, and the debit card. I no longer have to snail mail things!!!

9. I can sew anything you can imagine and probably have. I started out with making Barbie clothes for my sister's doll and went on to make my own clothes, men's suits (three and for different men!), slipcovers and curtains, and of course I quilt. I also, spin, knit, and crochet and know how to make baskets.

10. I love gardening but have to agree that I could never raise an animal to butcher. Eeek. I could raise hens for eggs and cows for milk though. It's kinda too bad that pigs can't shed bacon without dying though. I'd miss it.

11.Socializing like a human. OK, this is the one that stumps me!!! ;-)

12. I can be creative. OK, I used to be creative. Now, I can't focus long enough to be creative. When I worked, every time a boss said they wanted me to be creative, it actually meant that they wanted me to do it precisely how they told me to do it. No creativity was ever involved. EVER. I think I was effectively stifled!

13. I can do the clutch and shuffle without grossing anyone out. But I leave the beauty and artistry of couples dancing to you and Agnes. I'd rather watch! ;-)

And to Amanda, I also can cook. In fact, I delight in cooking. Thanks to Food Network and The Cooking Channel, I think this one is also on the upswing.

Because people use computers and smartphones so much, I see a real decline in spelling and grammar. :( Writers like us may be at a premium if we can live long enough, Bill!!!

Love what you did with the post I shared from a friend who shared it from a friend, etcetera!


eViL pOp TaRt said...

We may not remember as many phone numbers; but we have a load of passwords to remember for using certain internet sites.

Mike said...

I can do a lot of those things. How old does that make me?

Bilbo said...

Amanda - I love to cook, as do Agnes and my daughter, and the grandchildren love to "help" in the kitchen. Sadly, not too many other people - particularly young people - do.

Marilyn - you have just won the prize for the longest comment I ever received. You and I need to sit down together sometime and solve the world's problems.

Angel - that is 100% true! I have to remember six different sets of passwords alone for the various networks we use at work, plus all the passwords for sites on all those networks, plus all the passwords for things at home. Telephone numbers are easy.

Mike - I'm seeing the words "than dirt" ...

Edwin Frownfelter said...

I remember when I was about 13 reading a column by oldtimer newsman Robert Ruark, in which he harumphed about youg people who thought they knew everything about foreign affairs, but didn't know how to train a bird dog. He seemed to think that was a shameful state of affairs. Fifty years later, I've found my knowledge of foreign affairs was quite an important part of my adulthood, and I would never have had any reason to train a bird dog (although I would like the secret to getting a Sheltie to stop barking).

Old skills fade away, and new skills take their place. My children never used a dial phone, but they know of new skills and adaptations of which I am struggling to catch up. This is how life evolves, and it has always been so.

Bilbo said...

Ed - your point is well-taken, but I think overreliance on modern conveniences isn't necessarily a good thing. And maybe that bird dog might have made a better foreign policy advisor than some others I could name.

Anonymous said...

At 21 I might be out of step with my peers. I can do all of the things on the list except sew. Mom did try to teach the basics of that skill prior to my leaving home as a college freshman, but the only thing I can do well is... sew on a button.

I have discovered that people, especially of my parent's generation, are very impressed when they receive hand written thank you cards.