Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dr. Helen kicks off her new advice column at Pajamas Media

She discusses what things all adults should be able to do, starting with the famous list by Robert Heinlein, and continuing with additions of her own.

(from Heinlein) A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Dr. Helen's additions, drive a stick shift, be able to swim a reasonable distance, surf the web and answer an email, understand and be able to use a basic handgun, give a good backrub.

My abilities as compared to these lists are,

Change a diaper. With three biological children (and several infant foster children who have come through our home) this one is a natch! Ability includes changing both cloth and disposables.

Design a building. I've done stage design and do a lot of historical architectural research. I'd want someone to check me against the codes, but I could do a reasonable job for normal sized wood framed homes or farm buildings.

Build a wall. I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire. Fixing and building stone walls came with the territory.

Comfort the dying. Unfortunately, I have experience in this.

Take orders, give orders. Many years as a boyscout and a few in leadership positions. Believe it or not, but working on the tech side of theatre covers this as well. Check.

Cooperate, act alone. Trained in the theatre, including some acting training, so this one is both literally and figuratively true.

Pitch Manure. Again, farm country boyhood. It didn't happen often, but enough to know I didn't want it for a career.

Cook a tasty meal. The wife and kids think so, most of the time.

Drive a stickshift. Have, will, want to buy something with one (preferably large, overpowered, and from the 60s!)

Surf the web and answer email. Uh, Dr. Helen? You posted this on a new media site. The number of people who will read your column in Pajamas Media who can't do these two is a number aproaching zero.

Understand and be able to use a handgun. Haven't done it much, but yeh. Paraphrasing Tom Selleck's character from Quigly Down Under, "I said I didn't like pistols, not that I can't use them." I'd rather have one of these.

Give a good backrub. Hey, my wife didn't marry me for my looks (or money).

Of the rest, hmmm....

Fight efficiently. Not so much, unless we back up to be able to use a handgun.

Plan an invasion. No miltary training. I could take a stab at it, but this would probably best be left under be able to take orders. I'd rather follow somebody who knows what they're doing, and live, than think I'm capable by myself, and die.

Analyze a new problem. That essentially used to be my corporate job, doing stratigic sales research. Now I spend my time thinking up new paintings and new symbolism.

Balance accounts given a little more enthusiasm for bookkeeping... Nah, that's not gonna' happen.

Solve equations, write a sonnet, not since college....

Swim a reasonable distance, yeh, my doctor would like me to be able to do that as well.

Butcher a hog, conn a ship, program a computer, not yet - probably not likely.

Die gallantly, don't know yet.

If you have any additions for the list, drop a comment at Dr. Helen's column.

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