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There's been a lot of talk recently about the decline of handiness among the greater American populace (including a great article by our own Francesca Clarke), and to that end Popular Science has compiled a list of 25 skills that everyone should know. As is to be expected, many of the skills reflect our society's increasing reliance on technology (especially dealing with personal computers and networks). Let's take a look at these skills, and see how we (and by we, I mean ME) measure up:

1. Patch a radiator hose - Radiator hose? No. Pantyhose? Yes. Although, I'm sure if you gave me a new one I could replace it without any problems. (0.5 points)

2. Protect your computer - Yes. I never let my computer go to parties without a box of condoms... too many viruses out there. (1 point)

3. Rescue a boater who has capsized - I certified for my lifeguard badge in Boy Scouts, and I swam the English Channel when I was nine, so "yes." (1 point)

4. Frame a wall - It might be a little wavy in places, but I've framed enough walls with my dad that I think I could pull this off. (1 point)

5. Retouch digital photos - Did you see my console TV embedded into the wall picture?! Come on! I should give myself two points, but I don't want to be greedy. (1 point)

6. Back up a trailer - I can do this, but I have to drive slowly... and reverse directions several times. (1 point)

7. Build a campfire - I am the master of building campfires. Last time we went camping, I built a raging bonfire in the middle of a downpour with little more than a wet sandwich and four broken NES cartridges! I'll write a post about it later. (1 point)

8. Fix a dead outlet - If by "fix" you mean remove the faulty outlet and replace it with a new one, then "yes." If you mean removing the outlet, opening it up, figuring out why it's broken, and then fixing it, then "no." I'm not Superman. (0.5 points)

9. Navigate with a map and compass - Yes. GPS navigation makes me laugh! (1 point)

10. Use a torque wrench - Oh, HELL YEAH! (1 point)

11. Sharpen a knife - Not only can I sharpen knifes, I can also sharpen scissors using aluminum foil! (1 point)

12. Perform CPR - I've watched enough episodes of Baywatch to do two things: 1) perform CPR successfully, and 2) tell you anything and everything you would ever want to know about C.J. Parker. (1 point)

13. Fillet a fish - You couldn't pay me to eat, let alone touch, a fish. If it's from the sea, it's not for me! (0 points)

14. Maneuver a car out of a skid - Here in Southwest Missouri, we having a saying about the weather, "if you don't like it, wait 15 minutes." I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but we've had enough freak ice storms, in which I've driven donuts in countless grocery store parking lots, that I can safely attest to being able to correct my car out of a skid (before hitting a light pole). (1 point)

15. Get a car unstuck - Stuck in snow? Grab some sand and cardboard. Stuck in mud? Wait a few days till it dries up... or use a rope. (1 point)

16. Back up data - If it's related to a computer, I can do it with my eyes closed. YES! (1 point)

17. Paint a room - In 2005, we moved into a new house and opened a movie theater. My wife and I (and several of our friends and family members) painted every visible wall in both buildings. Unbelievable the amount of time that took. (1 point)

18. Mix concrete - Bonus points: I can do it in a concrete mixer (obviously), or with a wheelbarrow and shovel. (1 point)

19. Clean a bolt-action rifle - Learned this little trick at Boy Scout camp, and have yet to use it to this day. However, if the gun were pointed at my head, I think I could clean it. (1 point)

20. Change oil and filter - I can change the oil, but I've yet to figure out where the filter is in our new car. RTFM, right?! NO! I REFUSE!!! (0.5 points)

21. Hook up an HDTV - Give me some HDMI / DVI / component cable, and I'll have that sucker up and running in no time. (1 point)

22. Bleed brakes - If this involves stabbing the brakes, then no... I can't bring myself to harm another living being. (0 points)

23. Paddle a canoe - Remember how I told you that I started a campfire with a wet sandwich? Well, that sandwich wouldn't have been wet had my paddling been anything less than amazing. I was paddling so fast, it looked like a Mark Twain-era riverboat was churning up the water. (1 point)

24. Fix a bike flat - Oh yeah! I even know how to find the hole or leak using nothing but water and my keen hawk-like eyes. (1 point)

25. Extend your wireless network - I can either convert an old router into a repeater, or use this fancy trick to boost the frequency coming off the broadcasting antennae. (1 point)

Ok, so let's add up my points... 21.5 out of 25... that's an 86%... not too bad! Of course, that's to be expected from a writer on DIY Life -- the most renowned do-it-yourself website in the universe! How well did you fare?

I think this is pretty good list to gauge a person's handiness, but it could've used some more rudimentary skills like: how to split wood, clean a chimney, or milk a rooster. Any others you'd care to add?

[via Popular Mechanics]

  • Anna Sattler

    Once again, Dan, you have me laughing so hard, I am about to bust a gut! I cannot do number 3, I can't swim. I can't do number 8, 21, or 25 either. But all the others I have done. Tomgirl, cowgirl all the way, and 85% of my life living on a farm. Helps to be raised with boys too, who'll call you a sissy if you can't do what they can do.

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