100 Skills Everyone should know

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Since it’s from Popular Mechanics, you can probably guess that some are not standard Totebagger skills. What do you think should be added or subtracted from their list?



119 thoughts on “100 Skills Everyone should know

  1. Some are great. Others look like they ran out of ideas trying to get to 100. #82 replace a broken window pane. How many people still have single pane windows?

  2. The last time I parallel parked was when I was 15 and taking my drivers ed class. And now cars will do this for me.

  3. At first I thought maybe this assumed very basic life skills, until I read all the way through it. I think it makes some leaps – such as going from sewing on a button to using a sewing machine, when maybe making simple sewing repairs (button, hem, repair small hole) is a step they assume is in the middle?

    Left off the list – prepare simple meals (how to cook the fish you filleted on the charcoal fire you built), understand basic finance (checking vs. savings, debit vs credit card, simple interest, etc.), gun safety vs shooting straight (IMO even people who are very anti-gun should know about gun safety).

    While some of the repair skills I may never PERFORM myself, I think it is helpful to understand what they involve so you can talk intelligently with the person doing the work. In addition, the understanding extends to things on the list that are not available to you (snow in my case) or you will not do willingly (no mountain biking down a hill or shooting a gun), but if faced with the situation are at a complete loss.

  4. It’s way too heavy on the woodworking and car repair end of things. Those constitute almost half the list, it seems. Here’s what I’ve never done:

    bleed car brakes

    find potable water [in a difficult place to do so]

    fillet a fish (when my boss took me out fishing, I opted to clean the boat instead of doing this.)

    change oil and filter

    frame a wall

    patch a radiator hose

    tape drywall

    stick welding

    build a shelter

    check engine light diagnostics

    read the electric meter (although this list made me curious to try it)

    hang food in wild

    solder wire

    use a spade bit (don’t even know what that is)

    chisel wood

    frame a wall (setting a pretty high bar here for basic essential skills)

    whittle wood (THIS is essential??)

    sew a button (I save this for when MIL visits)

    homebrew beer (yawn)

    fan belt


    handle a blowout (I was six the last time this happened. A truck driver stopped on the NJ Turnpike to help my mom)

    replace a window pane (what Rhett said)

    use a grease gun

    air impact wrench (not exactly your standard suburban garage toolbox)

    brick trowel (how often are people building brick walls??)

    offroad (only as a passenger)

    escape rip current

    snakebite (his essential skill is get to a hospital for antivenin)

    frostbite (skill: get inside and get warm)

    hypothermia (see “frostbite”)

    Heimlich / CPR (know it, haven’t used it)

  5. And while there are 50 things about woodworking, chopping wood, whittling wood, etc., he throws in “change a diaper” for some traditional gender balance. But, and this is gross, when he wrote about wiping to “*keep* the genitals clean,” I had to wonder how many dirty diapers he’s actually changed.

  6. Interesting list but I haven’t done very many things even in the first fifty. The positive thing I have going for myself, is that I have realized that I am not that picky nor do I suffer much discomfort in different surroundings. I am also the person called upon to do animal control as in “Mom, I saw a snake” can you do something about it.

  7. These skew really “male”. While some of the skills are gender neutral (such as parallel parking which I can do, thank you very much), I had to get to 35 – iron a shirt- to find anything as female as say waxing a car is male. I guess that since the source is Popular Mechanics, it makes sense. But where are skills like “bake bread” or “decorate a room”, which are certainly no more esoteric than “make homebrew” (which I also can do)

  8. check engine light diagnostics

    Autozone has code scanners you can borrow for free. Enter the code and there will most likely be a youtube video on how to fix it. There is a show you may or may not like called Hoovies Garage on youtube. He buys the cheapest Ferrari, Rolls, 12 cylinder S-Class and fixes them up. In the case of the Rolls, he bought it and among other issues it had a check engine light. He plugs in the scanner and it says it’s misfiring on cylinder #9 and it needs it’s #9 coil pack replaced. Turns out all BMWs use the same ones and it’s $25. Click, clunk and the coil pack is out. Clunk, clink and it’s back in. Problem solved in 5 min for $25.

  9. “The last time I parallel parked was when I was 15”
    Really?? That is an essential driving skill around here. I have to admit I am not good at parallel parking our minivan when it has the bike rack on the back because that thing sticks way out.

  10. I would also include “how to interact with a doctor so you get the essential information you need about your diagnosis in the allotted 5 minutes of consult time”

  11. “Do people really wax cars?”

    I did this as a neighborhood business in high school. $100 per car. Made a good business for a while.

  12. Do people really wax cars?
    I used to have to do this twice a year on my parents cars. It was part of the semi-annual chores.

    No need to parallel park in fly over country. I just drive around until I find a lot or parking ramp (more likely), and yes this means that I have to walk further, which I’m okay with.

  13. “I weep for your poor long suffering Subaru.”

    I hope she means “at home by themselves, rather than taking them to a professional car wash/detailer.”

    When I started doing it for money, I was 16 and newly licensed, and I picked the cars up and took them to my own driveway. Our neighborhood was actually two neighborhoods with a common HOA, but to get to the other section, which was close as the crow flies, involved a roughly 7-mile drive on main roads.

    So, this one couple from the other neighborhood calls me up immediately, having never met me and only receiving my flyer, and tells he that they want me to detail both their new Grand Cherokee V8 Limited, and their Lexus LS400. I was dumbfounded.

  14. So what I’m learning is that I should treat my Tuscon a bit nicer, eh??

    I found some of the list interesting, some of the list “only in an apocalypse,” and most of it not gendered balanced at all. I was bothered by the picture for #58 – putting out a fire. I’m not sure that would be the easiest/most effective way. Grab a pan lid and smother the flames is far easier and less messy. I’m confident that the pan lid is closer and more accessible that most people’s fire extinguishers.

    I do agree with starting a fire, and knowing some basic knots. But why tell people to grow your own food, but then not prepare it? Everyone should know a simple meal and be comfortable in a kitchen. They also mention sharpening knives, too, and carving a turkey. But they missed the step of cooking said turkey. I guess that’s the “little woman’s” job…

    I do agree with reversing a trailer, parallel parking, driving out of a skid, and handling a blowout. But I spend a lot of my time in cars and trucks towing boats. Can you get by in life never having towed a trailer? Sure.

  15. I was kind of surprised at the number of things I can actually do, like use a soldering iron. I don’t even remember which class taught it.

  16. In my imagination you reply with, “Snake? You call that a snake? Back in the home country…”

    Guilty of saying that but for bugs. The black garden snakes look scary so I am more sympathetic.

  17. “It’s way too heavy on the woodworking and car repair end of things.”

    ITA. It’s like a list of “things your Grandpa Mike thinks these kids today need to know — oh and we threw in a few for Grandma, too, because see we’re gender-balanced.”

    Things I am seeing that people around me need to know that aren’t in that list:

    Computer and Phone 101 — things like understanding the difference between an operating system and an app, setting up an account at the app store, etc. (yes, I’m looking at you, mom — her whole life revolves around her phone and laptop, but she couldn’t download an app or understand how to update the OS so it could handle with the app she wanted).

    Set up online billpay and link various accounts (me: I still haven’t managed to link my CC accounts to Quicken so I can keep track of things).

    Cook some basic meals — I mean things like check the ingredient list before you start, measure/chop things before you start cooking, plan out what to do when so you can manage the time so things are ready at the same time, etc.

    Wash dishes in both the sink and the dishwasher.

    Do laundry — understand what the different settings on the washer and dryer do and which are useful for which types of clothes, basic stain removal/pre-treating, washing a few things by hand in the sink, etc.

    Fold sheets for storage; fold laundry easily and efficiently.

    Change a watch battery.

    Fix eyeglasses.

    Fill out tax forms.

    Track spending and develop a basic budget.

    Set up and troubleshoot a printer/scanner, replace ink cartridges, etc.

    Understand unit pricing.

    Lift heavy objects properly to avoid injury.

    Turn off/bleed outside hose bibs/irrigation systems every winter.

    Stain/seal/reseal a deck and/or minor patio repairs.

    Patch drywall, remove/fix areas with peeling paint, etc.

    Basic cleaning skills — toilets, tubs, sinks, tile/wood floors, carpet, dusting, polishing, etc.

    Proper tipping etiquette for all the people who now do the other things on the original list that you don’t know how to do anymore or just don’t bother with. ;-)

  18. “Change a watch battery.”
    Except if it’s Fossil… that requires a special tool to open the back… $10 to my local jeweler every ~5 years it is…

    “Set up and troubleshoot a printer/scanner, replace ink cartridges, etc.”
    The best training for this was an office right out of college. I still am the local IT person in my office.

  19. So what I’m learning is that I should treat my Tuscon a bit nicer, eh??

    I’ll have to check. Automotive coatings have improved dramatically over the years so it may not be as much of a thing as it used to be.

  20. May be it is all the home remodel/repair and my dad and SO’s general affinity for DIY, but many of those things have been done in my house, including the window repair (before we got new windows). And, we have like 4 different sizes of spade bits.

    Agree with a lot of things on LfB’s list.

  21. This is so weird but I had to tell my kids teacher that I would provide cupcakes for the communal birthday celebrations but they wouldn’t be homemade as she was suggesting that they be. She is an older lady so I guess cupcake bake and decorating was a skill one must possess. I don’t want a dozen kids to end up with bad looking cupcakes, so store bought they will be.

  22. I might have to spend my time distressing those great looking cupcakes to make them look homemade.

  23. Everyone should know how to “throw a spiral”. Please. A lot of this list is “use this tool, use that tool, use this other tool.”

    I too can do more of these than I realized.

    The list is surprisingly light on first aid – take out a splinter, deal with a minor burn, bandage a wound, give mouth to mouth, recognize signs of a heart attack and stroke, etc.

    I’d add – recognize a dangerous situation and avoid it (e.g. drunk friend wants to drive).

  24. Didn’t read all 100 but would add “know how to use public transportation” to the list of essential skills, if it’s not already there.

    College drop off yesterday went very well. DS looked happy. Roommate seemed very nice and first indications are that they will likely get along. No tears from mom or dad.

  25. I would replace “throw a spiral” with “throw a ball” in general — I mean, you won’t die if you don’t know how to, but it can be embarrassing.

  26. I didn’t read thru the whole list. I think I stopped after the campfire starting. Needing to use a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline to start a fire during a rainstorm seems to indicate a series of really bad decisions.

  27. “know how to use public transportation”

    This is important. Last weekend, I met a professional sports player. He’s spent all of his adult life (and probably childhood) being shuttled around or told where to go and what to do. He had no idea how to use Amtrak. I ended up sitting with him for part of the trip (I got off the train before he did). Totally smart, capable kid, but never had to do that. I live in a bubble that includes high school indoctrination into the local public transit system, so meeting a grown adult unable to navigate Amtrak was a shocker for me. My week-long journey included multiple train rides, quick transfers between Amtrak and local transit, and a Lyft ride because the train couldn’t get over a river. That poor kid would have had a panic attack.

  28. Headslap, how could I forget? Is swimming further down on that list of 100? My pseudonym is an essential skill. It can mean the difference between life and death.

  29. What about riding a bike?

    I know a few people who can’t… not sure if it caused embarrassment or not, but I think it’s just one of those things.

  30. By my rough count, I can only do (or have only ever done) about 15 things on that list. And yet I have managed to live, somewhat successfully, for over 51 years.

    And how ’bout those Popular Mechanics bros add “treat a woman right” to their list of essential life skills?

  31. “Needing to use a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline to start a fire during a rainstorm seems to indicate a series of really bad decisions.”


    Swimming and public transportation (including things like, please please please take your shoes off and your phone out of your pocket and your liquids out of your bag BEFORE you get to the scanner in the airport security line) both deserve to be high on the list.

  32. “Needing to use a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline to start a fire during a rainstorm seems to indicate a series of really bad decisions.”

    I guess I make bad decisions….this is our go-to method for starting fires (charcoal or wood).

    Some of these are dependent on where you live. Our public transportation is so limited it is almost useless as is anything snow related, but swimming here is critical, as are knowing signs of heat stroke.

  33. Needing to use a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline to start a fire during a rainstorm

    Step 1 – Find cotton ball
    Step 2 – Find Vaseline

  34. when we were camping in the Smokies, we went tubing in the river adjacent to our campsite. after a few runs down the river, DW wanted to go back and I stayed with the kids. While DW was trying to start the fire with bits of kindling and building a pyramid, and having a rough time of it, the old guy from the neighboring campsite — the kind of guy who would really love a list like this — wandered over with a propane blow torch and held it to our fire pit for 10 seconds, after which we had a roaring fire for the rest of the night.

  35. “Step 1 – Find cotton ball
    Step 2 – Find Vaseline”

    Lint works just as well… if you have a bit of waxed paper too. I wrap old/mostly spent candles in waxed paper and throw them between kindling and lint. Works like a charm

    Milo – LOL!!! That’s DH’s kinda guy! (DH is notorious for making ROARING fires that break all the laws in our city and require me asking him “so how long you gonna be out here tending the fire? Or are you planning on tending it all night so I can roast a chicken out there?”)

  36. We have actually been trying to think about skills our kids need before they leave home. Basic cooking skills, except I can’t get DS #1 even remotely interested. He would rather eat cereal for dinner every night than turn on the stove. (DS #2 is really interested and quite a good little cook – I stay within shouting distance but he pretty much does everything when cooking an easy meal.) What skills would you specifically put on the list for a totebagger kid?

    Off topic – is it crazy cost prohibitive to have a car repainted?

  37. Does anyone know why so few companies offer Roth 401ks? Just an assumed lack of interest on the part of employees?

  38. For the vast majority of people, I don’t think ROTHs are a good idea. You make most of your contributions at your top marginal tax rate during your peak earning years all so that you can avoid taking distributions at your much lower effective tax rate when you’re older and living on less, anyway.

  39. For the vast majority of people, I don’t think ROTHs are a good idea.

    I think you’re forgetting how little average people pay in income taxes. If you’re “average” family with 2 kids and two wage earners and you’re making $60k, you’re paying some tiny percentage of your income in federal income taxes.

    I also think your answer may be the right math answer but not the right Dave Ramsey answer. Let’s say you have a family making $120k. They are putting away $12k a year. If they go with a traditional 401k they save maybe $2400 which gets pissed away. When they retire they have, let’s say, $600k in their traditional IRA and they are taking out $24k a year to go with $24k a year they are getting from SS. On the $24k they will be paying 3200 in taxes? They would be a lot better off if they could take that $24k out tax free.

  40. At 60k with 2 kids and 15% into your 401k your effective tax rate is 3.97% federal 2.52% state. At retirement at $48k your tax rate is 4.6% federal and 2.9% state.

  41. I would point out that your contributions are generally taxed at your marginal rate, but distributions, if they’re the bulk of your income, are at the effective rate.

  42. For a totebagger at 270k with 2 kids and 36k a year into your IRA your tax rate is 16.45% federal and 4.99% state. At retirement with $150k in income out of that IRA and SS you’re at 15.85% federal and 5.32% state.

  43. Milo,

    Again, you’re math may be right. But in terms of what you’re going to do with the initial tax savings and the fairly minor savings overall the “average” person is better off with a ROTH.

  44. Right, but Rhett, it’s not your effective tax rate that you’re worried about with contributions. It’s your marginal tax rate, or closer to it.

  45. I would point out that your contributions are generally taxed at your marginal rate, but distributions, if they’re the bulk of your income, are at the effective rate.

    How does that matter? What matters is the amount paid overall, right?

  46. Well, Dave Ramsey makes your argument that people will choose to save $5k one way or the other, so they might as well save it in a Roth

    [Dave acknowledging that they’re actually saving the equivalent of $6k or so.]

  47. “What matters is the amount paid overall, right?”

    Yes, and so you’re weighing which option avoids the most taxes. Let’s say you have a $500k income now, and you’ll have $500k in annual distributiions throughout retirement. Choice is ROth or traditional.

    With traditional, on the $36k you contribute, you’re avoiding 39% top tax rate.

    With Roth, you’re avoiding only the effective tax rate, so maybe 30% at $500k, when all the money is coming out in distributions.

  48. This is so weird but I had to tell my kids teacher that I would provide cupcakes for the communal birthday celebrations but they wouldn’t be homemade as she was suggesting that they be. She is an older lady so I guess cupcake bake and decorating was a skill one must possess. I don’t want a dozen kids to end up with bad looking cupcakes, so store bought they will be.

    Our kids elementary/middle school required all treats to be store bought so they could verify the ingredients.

  49. We keep cotton (not synthetic) balls and vaseline in our camping box. Lint works, but not when it is synthetic. Also, small bag of doritos is a good fire starter.

  50. With traditional, on the $36k you contribute, you’re avoiding 39% top tax rate.

    Do try and keep up :-P

    10%: $0 to $19,050 for married joint filers
    12%: $19,051 to $77,400
    22%: $77,401 to $165,000
    24%: $165,001 to $315,000
    32%: $315,001 to $400,000
    35%: $400,001 to $600,000
    37%: Over $600,000

  51. we’re not in those brackets.

    What do you mean? And you’re original point was about average people.

  52. I wonder if that list started with a working title of something like “Mechanical Skills Every Guy Should Know” and as people started adding things like parallel parking and campfire starting someone was like, “We should just call it skills, to cover those other things,” and someone else said “We have women readers, let’s say “everyone” instead of “every guy,” which then led to “Well maybe we should throw in a few domestic skills then, like ironing and sewing a button.” And that’s how they got to the published list!

    It reminds me of a Heinlein quote that’s always bugged me, “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. Specialization is for insects.” While many of those are general skills, some are pretty specialized and have a steep learning curve to do well so suggesting that you’re somehow lacking if you focus on mastering building design at the expense of military strategy, butchering, or writing poetry seems unfair. I don’t necessarily want to be part of an invasion planned by a dilettante who’s splitting his/her time among all these other pursuits.

  53. So Rhett, do you wax your car? I can tell you I have never waxed any car in my life. My current car has been through a automated carwash maybe once or twice – is wax part of that? . We keep our cars for a long time, and finishes/rust have never been an issue, so I don’t think our lack of hand waxing has been a problem

  54. So Rhett, do you wax your car?

    I do. It’s 11 years old and looks great. But, the more I look into it, it seems like the need to wax is a holdover from old days when some cars would come from the factory already rusty. With modern clearcoats it’s not really needed unless you’re very particular about it looking its best.

  55. This is a useless list as far as I’m concerned, for reasons already given. Frame a wall??? It would be a waste of time for most people to spend time learning many of these skills.

    However, recently I did learn about that engine light scanning tool that made me curious and want to buy it. And recently I’d thought I’d be clever and try changing my watch battery instead of throwing out my Timex watch and getting a replacement. Who knew it would take two people, several YouTube videos, a powerful magnifying glass, and a special teeny tiny screwdriver to change the battery!. That’s an hour or more of my life I’ll never get back. (I hate doing stuff like that.)

  56. Rhode — well let’s see how I do:

    change a diaper – Yes! Have considerable experience here!

    Plan an invasion – I don’t suppose Civ counts. Because that’s pretty much my relevant experience. Oh, and I once read How Great Generals Win.

    Butcher a hog – Can I watch a few YouTube videos on this first?

    Conn a ship – I have been left in temporary charge of the rudder of a maybe 30 foot sailboat, does that count? And I used to be able to competently dock a small powered craft. Surely that’s as good as a few years’ experience in marine navigation, right?

    Design a building – You mean, including plumbing, ventilation, and other systems, and meeting code, and in general actually a decent, functional building worth the building? Hmm, not sure about this one.

    Write a sonnet – Yes! This I have done! And it didn’t say it had to be a good sonnet.

    Balance accounts – If this involves double-entry bookkeeping I need to get a For Dummies book or something.

    Build a wall – What kind of a wall are we talking about? Does it have to be high? Does it have to be strong? Does it have to be sturdy? Because if cardboard-and-yard-bag construction counts, or a stage set “wall” counts, I have done this!

    Set a bone – Can I watch a YouTube video? Or am I stuck giving the victim a bullet to bite while I clumsily try to jam his/her arm back into something that looks like a straight line and then go hunt out some cloth and boards for a splint?

    Comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone – These are all more general ones. Comfort the dying is the most specific, and although I have attempted to do this on occasion I have not received feedback on the adequacy of my efforts.

    Solve equations – Up to a point, yes.

    Analyze a new problem – Yes! Although only problems where I have sufficient background knowledge to understand the nature of the problem!

    Pitch manure – I kinda do this when cleaning out the bunny cage.

    Program a computer – Once wrote a game in Apple Basic

    Cook a tasty meal – This one I do regularly

    Fight efficiently – I am not at all convinced I can fight efficiently, and I can’t say I’ve had a lot of opportunity to test or develop this skill

    Die gallantly – TBD

  57. try changing my watch battery instead of throwing out my Timex watch and getting a replacement.

    A watch / jewelry store will do this for you. I pay $5 usually, $10 if it’s some weird specialized watch / battery.

  58. Set a bone – Can I watch a YouTube video? Or am I stuck giving the victim a bullet to bite while I clumsily try to jam his/her arm back into something that looks like a straight line and then go hunt out some cloth and boards for a splint?

    My question for that one is, can the victim have laudanum? How about me? Can I have laudanum too? Actually that’s kind of my response to all of those except cooking dinner and maybe changing a diaper.

  59. There are 15 items on the list that I’ve never done.

    Well, maybe 18, depending on whether you consider any photo I’ve ever taken to be a perfect portrait (I’ve taken a bunch of photos, I’m thinking at least one fits their criteria), what you consider an off-road obstacle (does about a 6″ diameter tree count? 1′ diameter rocks?), and whether you include removing a tick from a dog.

    OTOH, I’ve been trained in CPR and Heimlich but never done them IRL, and as a Scout also learned about dealing with snakebite, frostbite, hypothermia, and finding potable water.

  60. “But, the more I look into it, it seems like the need to wax is a holdover from old days when some cars would come from the factory already rusty.”

    Wax, or now clay bar, is still essential if you want to keep the finish looking good. It’s less about preventing corrosion of the actual metal, like in the old days, but it’s important as an abrasive compound to remove that microscopic layer of oxidation/grime on the clearcoat and get it smooth and shiny.

  61. Mooshi, is your car in covered parking most of the time?

    For our first cars bought new, DW and I were able to keep the finish looking good for quite a while by garaging them at home, and covering them most days in the parking lot at work. I think the sun is what really fades the paint and necessitates waxing.

  62. Still thinking about the “fight efficiently” one, I think my biggest problem would be not letting my shock at realizing I was in a physical fight prevent me from reacting and fighting back. Hopefully my early training as one of three siblings would snap in!

  63. “escape rip current”

    This is apparently something at least a few tourists a year don’t bother to learn. I think the actual number is a lot higher, but we typically only hear about the ones who the lifeguards didn’t rescue.

  64. “handle a blowout (I was six the last time this happened. A truck driver stopped on the NJ Turnpike to help my mom)”

    The important part is being able to safely bring the car to a stop. After that, call AAA or whoever is your roadside assistance provider. A lot of cars these days don’t have spares, and run-flat tires or the emergency inflator won’t help in the case of a blowout.

    Of course, being able to handle the other sort of blowout is also an important skill.

  65. “Turn off/bleed outside hose bibs/irrigation systems every winter.”

    On Ask TOH they showed a type of hose bib that doesn’t require bleeding.

  66. Of course, being able to handle the other sort of blowout is also an important skill.

    You mean this kind, of course.

    And actually I can’t do that either.

  67. They forgot the jack studs to support the header over the door opening in the framed wall.

  68. “You mean this kind, of course.”

    That didn’t even enter my mind.

    I was thinking of the sort associated with item 59, change a diaper.

  69. “Dave acknowledging that they’re actually saving the equivalent of $6k or so.”

    For many, the advantage of the Roth 401k (and also the Roth IRA) is that it allows effectively putting more money into a tax advantaged savings vehicle.

  70. “Many” is an arbitrary term, but I wouldn’t necessarily choose it to describe the proportion of Americans who are maxed out on traditional 401(k) contributions and need ROTH options to bump their effective contributions even higher.

  71. Finn and RMS – so how many definitions of blowout are there?

    Car tire
    windows (as in blown out)

    (I haven’t googled… just laughing at the very different definitions you two thought of…)

  72. 1 : a festive social affair

    2 : a bursting of a container (such as a tire) by pressure of the contents on a weak spot

    3 : an uncontrolled eruption of an oil or gas well

    4 : an easy or one-sided victory

    5 : a valley or depression created by the wind in areas of shifting sand or of light cultivated soil

    6 : a hair style in which the hair is blow-dried while being styled with a round brush

  73. diaper, tire, and windows fall under #3.

    I might add a grand retail sale with low, low prices on something like mattresses or Kias, or they might fall under #1.

  74. For our first cars bought new, DW and I were able to keep the finish looking good for quite a while by garaging them at home, and covering them most days in the parking lot at work.

    When SIL was visiting a few weeks ago, she commented about how good my car looks for being 7 years old. Then she said “Oh, you keep it in the garage, no wonder it still looks good.”

  75. I don’t think I heard the word blowout in the home country. Blowout sale was grand sale, blowout diaper was messy/very dirty nappy, tire blowout was tire burst and hair blowout was hair styling.

  76. I actually don’t throw out all my watches with dead batteries since I’m a bit of a hoarder. I have a bunch in a drawer. I know jewelry stores replace batteries but it’s one of those errands that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list. I should just bite the bullet and get them all done at one time. The nearest Walmart is in a neighboring state about 1 ½ hours away so that’s not happening any time soon.

    Happy September, everyone! I’m already missing summer a little.

  77. I like to wear Swatch watches to the pool and beach. I have a few from different cities, and I was happy to learn that Swatch will now replace all batteries for free in their stores for any Swatch watch.

    Most of the time, I wear a stainless watch from Ebel or Hermes. I’ve had both of these watches forever and I really like the watches. The only negative is it is more expensive to change the batteries, and only certain places will service certain watches.

    I don’t like Labor Day weekend. It feels like a long Sunday night, and this is especially true since school opens here on Tuesday.

  78. I don’t think any holiday gets less recognition of its original meaning than Labor Day. I was probably in college before I realized what it was about.

    We’re a nation of independently minded middle class people. Nobody is compelled to post rants on Facebook about honoring unions and organized labor the way everyone shares pedantic lectures about Memorial and Veterans Days.

    Memorial Day makes people say “while you’re out enjoying your cookout, take a moment to remember…”

    But nobody is like “remember Triangle Shirtwaist fire!!”

  79. Rhett et al – we started watching the new Jack Ryan last night and *several* times it got all pixelated and we had to stop and reload – that was even after prioritizing the Amazon stick on our Google Home. Curious if anyone else has experienced this – it seems to happen much more often on Amazon than on Netflix.

  80. Quite a remarkable lady.

    She’s really getting her money’s worth out of her husband’s admiral’s pension.

  81. Milo in my family we remember the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and bemoan the attacks on unionization by educated people otherwise of good will who have forgotten history and ignore the greed of the ownership class. We view with dismay the extension of the consulting gig economy from knowledge workers and supplental family incomes to a untenable way of life for people who need a steady job that does not require entrepreneurial savvy or high bandwidth financial decision making. I am the mother of a union member, too.

  82. @Milo – I always think the same thing. I really find the social media faux self righteousness on Memorial Day kind of eye rolling. I rarely seem to see it from those who actually served and know people who died in action either. Veterans Day doesn’t bother me as much because it’s not really much of a popular “BBQ” holiday if you will. I do occasionally see pro union things on Labor Day but mostly from current union members.

    Then again, I was taken aback last year when DS studied 9/11 in history class and talked about it with the remote sense of time that I would use for WWII. But…why wouldn’t he I guess? Its the same distance between me and the RFK assasination.

    We are enjoying Jack Ryan. I haven’t had pixelation issues with Amazon Prime. We watch all our streaming via the PlayStation. Thinking about getting a smart TV now that they are so cheap, but it just doesn’t seem that urgent.

  83. On Jack Ryan. I had the thought – why do TV terrorists always drive Toyota trucks? Is this a Hollywood thing or does Toyota actually sell a ton of white pickups around Asia, Africa and the Middle East? And apparently. It is a real thing. I had no idea.

  84. Toyota still makes non electronic vehicles with easily fixed engines for hot countries where labor is cheap and parts expensive. Land Rover no longer makes safari vehicles and the rangers trucks. They are all Toyotas.

  85. “Thinking about getting a smart TV now that they are so cheap”

    We bought an Amazon Fire Stick for about $20 on Prime Day, and it has been well worth it. Based on that experience, I’d be inclined to buy another one and a dumb TV rather than a smart TV.

  86. It is a real thing. I had no idea.

    For a while they had a bit on Top Gear where they tired to kill a Toyota Hilux (the pick ups terrorists drive). They did things like drive it into the ocean and leave it there. Pulled it back out and it started right up.

  87. I agree with Finn on the TV. I don’t see the benefit of a smart TV when we already have have other devices that have the apps and can connect to the TV.

  88. Ivy, if your current TV picture and sound are fine, then I’d definitely recommend just getting something like the Stick.

    The main thing I’ve found I don’t like about the Fire Stick is the remote; in particular, I don’t like the lack of a keyboard. I’m thinking about getting an aftermarket remote with a full qwerty keyboard

  89. The other benefit of the Stick or similar devices is their portability. E.g., we can take it with us on trips and plug it into hotel TVs.

  90. Our house in California came with two large smart TVs. They are too smart for me. I find the remote super irritating. My Roku in Denver works much better, and my Chromecast works well for the handful of things that I want to cast from my computer to the TV. I wouldn’t buy a smart TV.

  91. I don’t need a fire stick – the PlayStation works great for streaming. The benefit of the smart TV would be more the slightly improved picture, thinner screen, and slightly easier interface (maybe). But that’s why we don’t pull the trigger – maybe if the PlayStation gets moved into DS’s room someday in the future or our TV dies. It’s 11 years old and going strong though.

    Rhett – that video is nuts!

  92. We are waiting for Crazy Rich Asians to begin at Alamo. This is our first time in an Alamo theatre. It is much nicer than some of the other movie theatres around here.

    DD wasn’t interested in coming to the movies with us. She’s at home trying to finish summer reading. This was the first year that she had assigned reading during the summer and I am not surprised that she’s not done. She just doesn’t like to read books. I have no idea how she is going to read The Odyssey this year because she seems to get bored easily when she’s reading.

    It’s hot and very humid here. Mid 90s and no a/c for the first day of school. It’s been hot for a few days so I think it’s going to be nasty in the building.

  93. Lauren, at least if your DD finishes The Odyssey, she’ll have a step up if she decides to go to Columbia. Apparently all incoming freshman need to read that before the start of freshman year.

  94. I’ve talked to her English teachers and they told me that so many kids in her generation do not like to read books. The MS English teachers told me that it is very hard to compete with those screens and the kids don’t have to read when there is nothing else to do.

    For example, I read several books when we went to the beach. When DD wasn’t in the water, she was on her phone. I think she took a Suduko magazine, but most of her down time was spent on her phone.

    Our high school doesn’t offer any honors classes in 9th grade except for science and math. All of the 9th graders will read the Odyssey and To Kill a Mockingbird. I know that she has the ability read these books, but I just don’t think she is going to see the magic in these books.

  95. Ivy – that Hillux is now in a museum… they lit it on fire, dropped if off a building, left it in the ocean (actually, the mooring came undone and they really had to hunt for it), and a slew of other things. All they could do was clean the engine out and add gas/oil and restart. Nothing else. And that thing still started. Each time. Amazing.

    Milo – count me as a union member who remembers what Labor Day is for. Most people on my feed write something like they do for Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day. But I come from a long line of blue collar labor union folks. My mom still gets angry that Labor Day was the first holiday she lost when retail stores started opening on holidays.

    Tomorrow I take DS1 to preschool orientation at the new Early Learning Center in the city. They’ve been busy consolidating schools and shifting everyone around the last 3 years. Hopefully the school is nice and DS1 likes it. We know he’ll have his same teachers as last year, so we know he’ll make great strides.

  96. I remember reading The Odyssey in 9th grade and thinking it very odd that the fairy pronounced “sear-see” was spelled “Kirke.” Senior year, a fellow engineer wrote a hilarious commentary about how confused he was in that class. He must have gotten the wrong textbook, because everyone else had a character named Sear-see and his book only had a guy named Kirk.

  97. DS was never a reader so it’s a long slog to get him to read English literature. The school has done its bit to teach them how to go through the assigned novel, think about what they are reading, make notes, answer questions. It hasn’t made a difference for DS. I like that they teach those skills but for a reader like me, the analysis to death of a novel would put me off.

  98. “I’ve talked to her English teachers and they told me that so many kids in her generation do not like to read books. ”

    I get that screens are a powerful competition, but there were lots of kids in my generation that hated reading too! It’s funny because in 4-6th grade, a lot of DS’s classmates are big leisure readers. Including the boys! LOTS of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, various graphic novels etc. DS loves to read, and trust me – he also gets a lot of screen time. We’ll see what happens in middle school & beyond. I remember that I read the most when I was in the middle grades and junior high myself – that’s when I had the most free time. In HS, between sports, extra curriculars, homework, social stuff, and work – I didn’t have as much time to read, and I preferred hanging out with friends and big groups rather than reading quietly by myself.

  99. WCE – that’s hilarious (Sear-see vs Kirk). I recently read Circe by Madeline Miller. I definitely recommend it. Greek myths, a complicated heroine, and lots of adventure and drama.

    Lauren – I read To Kill A Mockingbird in 10th grade and liked it – but I enjoyed it so much more when I re-read it as an adult.

    8th grade DS still reads a lot. He’s halfway through the Crazy Rich Asians series –they’re quite addictive. DD used to read a ton but once she got a smartphone and the netflix app and her schoolwork increased significantly, her reading definitely decreased. Which makes me a little sad. She’s read 4 – 5 books this summer (and she’s had a lot of free time – so it’s not a time issue) – but she used to read 1 – 3 books a week.

    p.s. I did something similar along the Seersee/Kirk line – my high school history class kept talking about the “Proddestants” and I raised my hand and asked “what about the “Protestants?” In my head, the word “Protestant” had a strong emphasis on “Protest.”

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