redroanchronicles: (chronicles-shipsbell)
A few weeks back I told you about my newfound ambition to become more well-rounded, and to make myself useful as well as decorative, by learning 101 life skills in 1001 days. The first skill I should've put on the list was "learn to finish writing lists," because it took an unholy long time to do this. In any event, I've finally compiled a list to begin with, and I'm sharing it here in the hopes that you will all peer-pressure me into staying on top of it. It also sounds like I've inspired a few people to take on similar projects of their own (including my roommate, who ever time I mention one of the goals I'm taking on says, "I want to learn that too!"), which is freaking awesome. If you're doing something similar, or even just learning a few new things, I hope you'll comment (or blog about it and then comment to point to your blog, or whatever). I'm really stoked about this project and I've gotten started already, which is why I'm setting the official start date for my project as December 4th, when I actually crossed the first task off my (non-existent) list. That makes my deadline Saturday, August 31, 2013.

As I continue to tackle the list, I'll blog about my exploits and tag them all with 101 skills so you can keep on top of it a little easier, if you're interested.

In any event, here's the actual list. I don't have 101 items on here at the moment, as I'm leaving room for things that just come up later on in the project; I expect to have much more to add as I go along.

Learn to...
1. Make eye splices in yacht rope (to make my own lead ropes)
2. Tie a rope halter
3. Snowshoe
4. Cross-country ski
5. Skijor with my dog
6. Build one basic piece of furniture
7. Build one more complicated piece of furniture
8. Do a balanced trim of my horse's feet
9. Drive a manual transmission
10. Throw pottery
11. Safely handle and shoot both a rifle and a handgun
12. Change a tire
13. Pitch a tent
14. Tie ten different knots that are useful for horsemen
15. Put on snow chains
16. Harvest firewood (from standing tree to stacked and finished wood)
17. Dance (in at least a very basic fashion)
18. Darn socks
19. Sew or create some sort of article of clothing
20. Develop knife skills for cooking
21. Carve wood and/or antler
22. Paint on fabrics
23. Build a campfire in an actual wilderness situation
24. Recognize poisonous and edible plants in my area (learn at least 5 of each)
25. Repair a bike (at least how to patch/replace tires and chains)
26. Learn another sort of knitting stitch and how to use it (learn to make something other than scarves!)
27. Change the oil in my truck
28. Change out the lights in the instrument panel of my truck (they are dying! so sad!)
29. Start a plant from seed
30. Hem clothes, and any other basic sewing that seems handy
31. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity
32. Crochet
33. Use 5 new kinds of tools
34. Refresher on orienteering, map and compass reading, and figuring out where the #@$! I am when in the wilderness
35. Do three new sorts of crafts of any kind (making candles, Christmas ornaments, stuff with old horseshoes... whatever)
36. Do basic wiring for home repair (wire a new plug to a lamp, wire a lighting fixture into an existing box, etc) and how to safely work with wiring/electronics without electrocuting myself
37. Tread water
38. Change spark plugs
39. Catch, clean, and cook a fish
40. Canoe and/or raft
41. Properly use polo, standing, and other leg wraps for horses, and learn when to use which wrap
42. Do three different kinds of braids for horse manes or tails
43. Carve, burn, sew and otherwise work with leather
44. Fold fitted bedsheets so they're flat (seriously, that takes major skill)
45. Juggle (not necessarily a useful skill, but you never know...)

I'm still taking suggestions on things I should learn, so if you've got a great idea, pipe up! I'd also recommend for those who are doing something similar to look for classes in your local area, and talk to the folks around you to see who's got some skills they could teach you. I've crossed off my first two items, learning to cross-country ski (which was awesome!) and learning to skijor with my dog (well, we've learned, but I'm not a good enough skier to have jored yet), thanks to free workshops from my local nordic ski club, and I've already had offers from coworkers to teach me to snowshoe, operate a chainsaw, and build furniture. Hopefully I'll emerge from all of these projects with all of my limbs intact... I think I'm off to a good start, since I only fell down on my skis like four times. :D
redroanchronicles: (chronicles-sailaway)
Recently I have been forced to come to a depressing conclusion: my strongest areas as a person are the ones that are the most useless to my survival.

Here's a case in point. Recently I was out to dinner with the girls, and we came upon the subject of a coworker's recent collision with a deer, and I mentioned that he was lucky it wasn't a moose, and then... well, that got me going on the moose thing, you see. I had to tell them about how moose like to get drunk on fermented apples, and how they sometimes get brain parasites that cause them to stagger and run around like crazy until they die (sort of like the moose version of a zombie! But with more sadness). And I didn't even get to the parts about how the Soviet Union tried training them as riding and driving animals, and when that failed, they started in on the idea of dairy moose. Dairy moose.

I am so fun to go to dinner with, you guys. Seriously.

Anyway, while my skills of random ungulate facts are sure to make me the life of any dinner party, I've realized lately that the price to be paid for this cornucopia of amazing and useless facts is that my life is lacking in other areas. Like, say, knowledge that is useful in practical ways. My roommate and I have just moved into a great rental house, and I had to be taught how to build a fire. And I'm not talking how to build a fire in the wilderness using only the lenses of my glasses and a pile of kindling painstaking shaved from the back of a wild marmot. I'm talking about building a fire in a fireplace, with a bunch of kindling and logs already prepared. Oh, and a box of matches. And a lighter. Three lighters.

By not knowing these things, by lacking these essential skills, I'm letting myself down. And worse, I'm letting MacGyver down. MacGyver, who has taught me so much, like how to repair a radiator with an egg and how to escape from East Berlin in a coffin/jet ski!

Actually, now that I think about it, it's entirely possible that my reliance on MacGyver as a role model might be why I don't know how to do anything handy that actually works.

I've been working recently on a new 101 things in 1001 days list, because all of the changes my life has undergone lately have rather invalidated my last one, and as part of that I decided to make a list within a list. One of my 101 goals will be to learn 101 useful things and practical skills in the next 1001 days. I'll be counting both big things and small things, and I'll be making the list up as I go along, but a few of my goals include learning to build some furniture, snowshoe, cross-country ski, train my horse for driving, tie a rope halter, splice yacht rope, correctly trim my horse's feet, drive a manual transmission, use a map and compass, dance, throw pottery, jump start a car, chop firewood, safely handle and shoot a few kinds of guns, change a tire and put on snow chains, camp without being eaten by a bear... or maybe I'll end up learning how to wrestle bears in defense of a chocolate bar. It's hard to say.

As I work my way through the list, I'll be sharing my trials, tribulations and triumphs with you... and hopefully it'll be more of the latter. As you can tell from this list, I've got plenty to learn, and in addition to all the butch and outdoorsy stuff I've listed, I'll also be attempting to master new cooking techniques and recipes, create some new crafts and whatnot, and generally embrace any opportunity that comes up to learn something new. I only have a few requirements: the thing I'm learning has to be something at least moderately useful in my every day life (so I guess I can put off "perfecting impression of moose mating call"), and it has to be relatively cheap and not involve acquiring too much equipment. So while I might, say, be interested in learning to weld, it won't do me a lot of good if I can't afford a bunch of welding equipment to put those skills to use.

So, I'm dying to know, what are the skills you think everyone should learn? What do you wish you'd learned before necessity forced you to sink or swim? What simple things do you feel like everybody else has down pat but you're just mystified? Maybe we can all brush up a bit on our knowledge base, so when the inevitable zombie moose apocalypse arrives, we'll be well-prepared.

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redroanchronicles

August 2011

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