Twentyfive Skills

Over on O’Reilly, Rick Jelliffe took Popular Mechanic’s 25 Skills Every Man Should Know quiz.

I eagerly read through the quiz and I noticed two things. First, I eagerly read through the quiz. Second, I have smirked—on occasion—at women’s magazines that have similar quizzes. It’s all relative to what you believe is important.

How did I do on the quiz? Let’s say simply that I felt rather smug. We all like to score well on tests, right?

25 Skills Every Man Should Know

[✔] 1. Patch a radiator hose

I’ve been driving since 1975 and have owned some really crap cars. Patching a radiator hose was not some esoteric, useless skill. It was a real, honest-to-goodness life skill.

By the way, patching the hose is only temporary. You really must replace it. Right away.

[✔] 2. Protect your computer

The quiz didn’t specifiy but protecting your computer can mean physically, environmentally, electrically and operationally.

Physically, you can lock the computer down.

Environmentally, you can keep the temperature and humidity within range. Running your server in detached garage can press your luck.

Electrically, you can use a power conditioner to protect against spikes.

Operationally, you can be rigorous about ‘no spyware’ and ‘no viruses’.

[½✔] 3. Rescue a boater who has capsized

I’m a sailor. Well, I’m a portsmouth class sailor. That’s a pretentious way of saying dingy sailor.

If you sail a dingy, you will eventually capsize. I’ve helped people who have capsized their dingy. I wouldn’t call it a rescue.

However, I’ve been rescued. Dave and I were sailing in weather beyond our skill in a boat that needed a third crewmember. We capsized and could never get boat “unswamped”. A power boat towed us in.

I’ll give myself half a check as I’ve never had to save someone who was about to die. I believe I could but it hasn’t been tested.

[✔] 4. Frame a wall


[✔] 5. Retouch digital photos


[✔] 6. Back up a trailer

yep. Boat trailers, utility trailers, tandom trailers. It really is easier when no one is watching.

[✔] 7. Build a campfire

yep. Cub Scout, Webelo, Boy Scout.

[✔] 8. Fix a dead outlet


[✔] 9. Navigate with a map and compass

yep. Cub Scout, Webelo, Boy Scout, US Army.

[✔] 10. Use a torque wrench


[✔] 11. Sharpen a knife

[½✔] 12. Perform CPR

Only half a check. I’ve taken training coursed by the Red Cross and the US Army. I believe I could but it hasn’t been tested.

[✔] 13. Fillet a fish

Growing up on the Gulf Coast gave me a head start.

[✔] 14. Maneuver a car out of a skid

yikes! More often than I care to remember.

[✔] 15. Get a car unstuck

Snow, mud, sand, ice.

[✔] 16. Back up data

Just not as often as I should.

[✔] 17. Paint a room

It’s not my favorite.

[✔] 18. Mix concrete

Read the warnings. Some mixes cause cancer.

[✔] 19. Clean a bolt-action rifle


[✔] 20. Change oil and filter


[½✔] 21. Hook up an HDTV

How hard could it be. I have successfully hooked up home theater, cable, vcr, dvd, blah blah blah.

But not actually having an HDTV, this skill hasn’t been tested.

[✔] 22. Bleed brakes

yep. messy.

[✔] 23. Paddle a canoe


[✔] 24. Fix a bike flat

yep. haven’t done it in years but I just bought a bicycle this year. The company moved the office within 2.5 miles of our house. I sometimes ride to work.

[✔] 25. Extend your wireless network


So there it is. A score of twenty three and one half.

I think I will have a second cup of smug this morning.

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