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Monday, January 19, 2015

Mad Skillz

I read an article a few weeks ago about all the skills we should have by the time we're thirty. They were simple things like how to change a tire, paint a wall, or sew a button. But it had more challenging skills like how to administer CPR--and (gulp) swim. Something I will never be able to master.

I suppose their list was all well and good, but it could be better. Every generation loses valuable life skills. Unless we make a concerted effort to learn them on our own, that information could be lost forever.

You can argue that kids today are so computer literate they can create entire apps that will show you how to do CPR--or call the auto club when you have a flat tire, but what would you do if your smart phone was dead?

Copyright: <a href=''> / 123RF Stock Photo</a> What if you were without power/communication for days? Weeks?

And don't think it can't happen. It happened to us. 21 days of pure apocalyptic agony.

Here are 10 things every person should know by the time they're thirty.

• Cook an entire meal from scratch...and from memory.
• Know where your electrical, gas, and water main is located--and how to turn them off.
• Start a fire. Then try it without matches.
• Splint a leg.
• Navigate North, day or night.
• Know how to bring a child's temperature down.
• Recite one poem by heart.
• Recognize and identify poisonous plants like poison ivy. (Learned that one the hard way!)
• Grow one edible plant. Extra points if you grow staples like beans or potatoes.
• Write at least one love cursive. (Neatness counts!)

What other skills do you think we should have mastered by the time we're adults?

If technology stopped working today, how long would you last?


Marianne Arkins said...

Using my biz account because I'm too lazy

If technology stopped working today, how long would you last?

I could last years and years barring cancer or some other medical issue. I lived without electricity for several years as a child, so know how to do all kinds of weird things, including identifying medicinal plants and shooting a gun.

I wouldn't LIKE it ... living without electricity made me very much appreciate the luxuries in life like a flush toilet... but I could survive.

Cooking without a microwave and boxes of ingredients is definitely first on the list of things you should be able to do. Also gardening and hunting/butchering animals -- if you don't eat, you die. Period.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: You're my idol! :)

Other than that 3 week period, I've never had to live without electricity. If you plan for it, it's livable, but if your whole life revolves around flipping a switch...not so pleasant.

I wouldn't mind losing electricity as much as I would running water. That's what I depend on most.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Let's add, distinguishing truth, feeling empathy, disregarding rumors. Just to start *wink*

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: I've always felt these were things to be learned when we were children.

Children are remarkably adept at feeling empathy and knowing when someone's trying to pull a fast one.

It's only as adults we begin to lose those abilities.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I know how to change a tire, I've just never done it. Paint and sew and cook - those things I have down pat. (Okay, so sewing more than a button by hand isn't pretty, but I could do it.) There are a lot of things I could do if pressed - hunt, make a fire, etc. I just don't ever want to be pressed. Thank goodness for electricity and running water and technology!

Maria Zannini said...

Re: I just don't ever want to be pressed.

Me neither. Sadly, life doesn't give you that option--or at least it's never given me that option. :)

Power is always going out. Bad storms hit us yearly, and I've gone without water more times than I'd like.

These things don't last long, but they suck for as long as they do.

Angela Brown said...

Someone already mentioned gardening. I would agree with that one as both and an add on to the list of things you should know by thirty and for the no electricity scenario. Even f you don't have the skill down to a science, it wouldn't be foreign to you once you need to do it.

That swimming skill? Uh...yeah, I'd be in trouble.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I swim like a rock. And it's just plain fear that keeps me from mastering it. God knows I've had enough people (some professionals) try to teach me.

You and me can stay on dry land. :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

I can't swim, either. I panic if I can't stand in a pool with my head above water. This from a person who grew up in Southern California, 5 miles from the beach! Haha!

As for the cursive writing, would you believe the students attending school in Ohio won't learn that any longer? Now that's sad.

Lynn Viehl said...

Basic first aid, CPR and the Heimlich are skills I think every adult should possess. You can usually find free or low-cost classes in all three from the Red Cross.
I also went 21 days without electricity (my stretch was during 2004's ferocious hurricane season) and we weathered it fine because we were prepared for it. Water was a big deal because we were on a well, which did not work without electricity, but I had stored enough potable water to last a month -- and ended up having to share it the first week with neighbors who hadn't prepared, which was something I hadn't factored in. You also need to know how to bathe regularly without running water; we heated pans of water on our gas grill and rigged a gravity shower for once a week full baths, and used baby wipes and washcloth (sponge) baths in between.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

The only thing I don't think I could do is start a fire without matches or a lighter. The longest we were without power was a little over two days. I grew up on a farm and can do all the other things you mentioned but I know my children can't. They've all had some experience growing food but that's about it.

Mike Keyton said...

You're talking to someone having trouble changing an ink cartridge. Grrr

Rebekah Loper said...

I'm slowly working hubby toward surviving off the grid. I want to have access to things like electricity and internet, but I also want to be able to survive without it. And that means using those things for luxury only.

To be truly independent of technology, though, we first have to find a piece of property with a spring, and that's pricey and rare in Oklahoma.

And I'm ashamed to admit that I cannot start a fire, not even with matches, unless it's just simply lighting a candle. I'll be learning that skill as soon as we build a pizza oven and/or fire pit in the backyard, whee.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I'd heard many schools weren't teaching cursive anymore. I think it's a terrible shame. One more thing lost to the ages.

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Ours was Hurricane Rita. Unfortunately when the trees were ripped from their roots it took out our water lines. We managed on bottled water, but I was so happy to finally flush a toilet.

What surprised me is that we had a steady trail of dogs and cats, left behind by their owners, that found our house. We fed and watered them all.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: At least they can come home to mama if things ever get bad.

I wish schools would offer some basic first aid and wilderness training--just enough so kids can manage on their own if they have to.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I'll start the fire and you can do the cooking. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: The trick to starting a fire is to start small. Hair, dryer lint, and dry leaves make excellent kindling.

Water is an issue for us too. We've been discussing drilling a well or at least digging a small pond. Until then we have quite a few 300 gallon totes we plan to turn into a connecting cistern.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I always said that if zombies attack, I plan to die in the first wave. I am a very good shot, though. I think I'd trade that skill for food.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: I have to channel Scarlet from Gone with the Wind.

"I can shoot straight if I don't have to shoot too far." LOL!

I'm pretty sure zombies will have to work very hard to kill me.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

If your farm, Maria. I will guard you with my sniper rifle.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: LOL! Deal!

Jenny Schwartz said...

Know how to say "no". I'm still working on that :)

Sewing is on my list, too. Hemming especially since I'm short ;)

Shelley Munro said...

Oh, dear. Know which way is north? I'm direction challenged. Just ask my hubby. I'd fail that one for sure.

Anne Gallagher said...

I can honestly say I could live without electricity and power. Back in my crazy 20's, I had this place in the woods without either, (thank you Henry David Thoreau) and hiking to bring back buckets of water, and chopping my own firewood was an experience. I'm glad I did it, but I like modern conveniences way too much.

Although, I do think every person should live without a television for at least 6 months. It's a challenge.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: You can only do that kind of stuff in your 20s. :)

It's way too hard on an old person.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I used to hem clothes a lot when I was younger, but stores are better about stocking clothes for short people now. I haven't had to hem anything in 20 years.

Maria Zannini said...


At night, look for the brightest star, the north star. During the day, see which way the sun is moving. If it's in the east, north is left of it, etc.

Diane Carlisle said...

I think I got maybe 3 things on that list under my belt, but I have a gun and ammunition. lol

Raelyn Barclay said...

I don't think I could quote a poem, LOL. And starting a fire without matches, well, I have done it...once.

I would miss my online connections and the ease I do things with electricity but I could keep my family feed and clothed with out it if push came to shove. I did spend a month in a cabin with run down to the lake for water and just the fireplace for heat. Of course I was a kid at the time so it was more of an adventure than a hardship.

As for things one should know...definitely first aid and CPR. Basic cooking, laundry, and sewing.

Oh, and must have access to paper books...

Maria Zannini said...


Re: poem
I always remember: There once was a man from Nantucket.

um...never mind that one. :D

Re: wilderness living
Why is it always an adventure for kids but hard work for adults?

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: I leave gun and ammo to hubby. I'll do the grunt work of cleaning and cooking. :)