P is for Popular Mechanics

I suppose I could have done a piece on politics or Presidents. I’m still processing (a good P word) on that concept of President-elect Obama, which makes this only the second time I’ve voted for a Presidential candidate who actually won. Maybe next time through the alphabet I’ll expound on that.

Meanwhile, there was this list in Popular Mechanics magazine back in September about 100 Skills Every Man Should Know: 2008’s Ultimate DIY List, which noted that “Brains and charm are fine, but a real guy needs to know how to do real stuff.”

There were lots of comments about should and should not have been on the list, but I won’t go there except that it tended to be carrist, i.e., automobile-oriented. This quiz does push some buttons for me, though, in that I am not what people would consider “handy”. What they used to call Shop in 7th and 8th grades, dealing with wood and ceramics was a disaster for me.


1. Handle a blowout – I suppose no
2. Drive in snow – no
3. Check trouble codes – what does this mean? Look at the gauges? That I can do.
4. Replace fan belt – no
5. Wax a car – this I’ve done, but not in a long time
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle – I don’t even know what that means, but I’ll say no
7. Use a stick welder – if I knew what a stick welder was, that would help
8. Hitch up a trailer – have done, though not lately
9. Jump start a car – have done this, but not lately

Handling Emergencies

10. Perform the Heimlich – I’ve actually successfully done this
11. Reverse hypothermia – I could do that
12. Perform hands-only CPR – I’ve actually trained to do that
13. Escape a sinking car – I had a recurring dream as a child about a sinking car; I think I could

14. Carve a turkey – have done it
15. Use a sewing machine – not well
16. Put out a fire – yes, actually
17. Home brew beer – disinclined
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric – seems as though I’ve done this
19. Move heavy stuff – I’ve helped on over 100 moves, including a piano
20. Grow food – done this a few years ago
21. Read an electric meter – actually one thing I used to do all the time as a kid

22. Shovel the right way – I don’t know what that means. But I do have an ergonomically correct shovel, so I’ll say yes.
23. Solder wire – have done it
24. Tape drywall – have done it, did not enjoy
25. Split firewood – have done a while back
26. Replace a faucet washer – did this a while ago
27. Mix concrete – for some reason, did this, though not lately
28. Paint a straight line – not really, unless I’m using a straight edge
29. Use a French knife – don’t know
30. Prune bushes and small trees – actually think I’m good at this; did it this summer
31. Iron a shirt – I can, but I don’t enjoy it; that’s why God created permanent press
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper – one of those things I was curious about as a kid and actually figured out
33. Change a single-pole switch – no
34. Fell a tree – never have even tried
35. Replace a broken windowpane – never tried
36. Set up a ladder, safely – I assume so
37. Fix a faucet cartridge – I’ll say no
38. Sweat copper tubing – have done
39. Change a diaper – this I absolutely have accomplished
40. Grill with charcoal -yeah, but not lately
41. Sew a button on a shirt – I’ll say no. I’ve actually done it, but it always takes me so long doing and redoing that I feel peevish.
42. Fold a flag – I’d need the manual, but I used to do it in Cub Scouts

Medical Myths

43. Treat frostbite – yes
44. Treat a burn -yes
45. Help a seizure victim – yes, on a city bus in Albany
46. Treat a snakebite – I’ve read how
47. Remove a tick – yes

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes – I was actually good at this at one point
49. Make a drum-tight bed – absolutely not
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup – define “perfect”

51. Run rapids in a canoe – no
52. Hang food in the wild – ? let’s just say no
53. Skipper a boat – no
54. Shoot straight – no
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike – no thank you
56. Escape a rip current – I did this once, but I don’t know how

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness – probably not
58. Build a shelter – maybe
59. Find potable water – possibly

Surviving Extremes

60. Floods – haven’t yet
61. Tornadoes – ditto
62. Cold – yes
63. Heat – yes
64. Lightning – hasn’t been an issue

Teach Your Kids

65. Cast a line – no
66. Lend a hand – I try
67. Change a tire – she’s not even five
68. Throw a spiral – ditto
69. Fly a stunt kite – what’s “stunt kite”?
70. Drive a stick shift – no way
71. Parallel park – no
72. Tie a bowline – ?
73. Tie a necktie – maybe someday
74. Whittle – I don’t whittle
75. Ride a bike – eventually; she has a trike

76. In
stall a graphics card – I don’t do
77. Take the perfect portrait – trial and error
78. Calibrate HDTV settings – not yet applicable
79. Shoot a home movie – no
80. Ditch your hard drive – no

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver – no
82. Grease gun – no
83. Coolant hydrometer – ? no
84. Socket wrench – possibly
85. Test light – ?
86. Brick trowel – no
87. Framing hammer – ?
88. Wood chisel – we have one
89. Spade bit – ?
90. Circular saw – we don’t have one
91. Sledge hammer – have used one
92. Hacksaw – had one
93. Torque wrench – have used
94. Air wrench – ?
95. Infrared thermometer – no
96. Sand blaster – no
97. Crosscut saw – have used one
98. Hand plane – used one and ruined perfectly good items in shop
99. Multimeter – ?
100. Feeler gauges ?

Obviously, my very manhood is threatened.

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