I’m Half the Man I Used To Be

Popular Mechanics has a list of 100 skills every man should know. I don’t get why it’s not a list of skills everyone should know, but whatever. There are certainly things that I think everyone should know that aren’t on the list (change a tire, install a light fixture, barbecue a burger, and bake a pie using a recipe would all rank higher on my list than “fly a stunt kite”), but I guess that’s a matter of opinion. I thought it might be fun to go through the list and see what I can do.

Bold means I can do it, italics means I can to some extent, and regular type means DYI FAIL.


1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow — Duh, I live in Canada
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt — but I can change my air filter like nobody’s business
5. Wax a car — I’ve done it, though I did a lousy job (you could still see circles on the hood of my dad’s car months later)
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies

10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia
12. Perform hands-only CPR — I’m sure I knew how to do this at one point; I did get a St. John’s Ambulance badge when I was a Scout
13. Escape a sinking car — The very thought of this terrifies me.


14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine — I have done it, but only once or twice and not for many years
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way — Again, Canadian. Don’t hafta like it though.
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife — I don’t remember knives in France being all that different from those here
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal
41. Sew a button on a shirt
42. Fold a flag

Medical Myths

43. Treat frostbite — use warm water, not hot
44. Treat a burn — run it under cold water, and if you have an aloe plant, break off a leaf and rub it on the burn
45. Help a seizure victim — best I could do would be to scream “help!” and call 911
46. Treat a snakebite
47. Remove a tick — I’ve read about it, but never done it

Military Know-How

48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup


51. Run rapids in a canoe — I can steer a canoe pretty well, but I’ve never done it in rapids
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills

57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter
59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes

60. Floods
61. Tornados
62. Cold
63. Heat
64. Lightning

Teach Your Kids

65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand — Lending a hand is a skill? I thought it was just not being a dick.
67. Change a tire
68. Throw a spiral
69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park
72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike


76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait
78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie
80. Ditch your hard drive — Given the events of the last couple of weeks, don’t even go there.

Master Key Workshop Tools

81. Drill driver
82. Grease gun
83. Coolant hydrometer
84. Socket wrench
85. Test light
86. Brick trowel
87. Framing hammer
88. Wood chisel
89. Spade bit
90. Circular saw
91. Sledge hammer
92. Hacksaw
93. Torque wrench
94. Air wrench
95. Infrared thermometer
96. Sand blaster
97. Crosscut saw
98. Hand plane
99. Multimeter
100. Feeler gauges

Results: I can do 54 out of the 100 things on the list, plus a few maybes. I’m just over ½ of a real man. Sorry, gotta go; I’ve got a quiche in the oven.


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