At 62, I have learned a lot. Unfortunately, about half of it is now useless. Sometimes I think I will spend my retirement at some sort of history theme park putting on live demonstrations of arcane skills used in the mid to late 20th century (this presumes I can ever retire). I've been going down the list and here is what I have so far:

Category: Automotive

I can still balance the two SU, oil-dampened  carburetors on a '60's MGB, but since there are only a handful still running, this is a useless skill.

I still know how to apply the two-step Blue Coral wax treatment to a car but I don't think they even make it anymore.

I know how to "four-wheel-drift" a rear-wheel drive car, but I don't own one. This was never a very useful skill, but it was a lot of fun.

Category: Photography

I know how to make a perfect 30x40" Ektacolor print from a color negative. It takes about half a day and they were nowhere near as good as a good Epson digital print that takes about 15 minutes.

I still have all the stuff required to mount my own slides in glass mounts. But I have no way to make or project slides.

I know how to take apart and repair a Packard shutter (remember the "squeeze bulb" your high school photographer used; that was connected to a Packard shutter).

I know how to make an Ansel Adams-like black and white print using two developers and lots of "burning" and "dodging' to extend the range of the print. Photoshop has buttons for this now.

I can load #120 roll film in a Hasselblad magazine in total darkness. I'll bet this is done 5 or 6 times a day on the entire planet now.

I know how to thread and run a 16mm sound movie projector.

Category: Flying

I know how to do an NDB (non-directional beacon) approach to a runway without being able to see out of the cockpit. Although there are still some of these approaches, there won't be very soon. They were never foolproof and never very safe. I did stay flying long enough to become adept at GPS, which is a miracle of applied science.

I know how to communicate with air traffic control using a cheap hand-held microphone and a crummy overhead speaker while a nearly-muffler-less engine and prop making noise like a hurricane just feet from my face. I attribute my partial hearing loss to this practice.

I know how to start a "flooded", 4-cylinder, carbureted, air-cooled, magneto-driven engine. Don't ask how I got this knowledge.

I can still read a "coded" FAA weather forecast (they were "coded" to save space on a telegraph system and persist to this day), TAF KOKC 051130Z 051212 14008KT 5SM BR BKN030 TEMPO 1316 1 1/2SM BR FM1600 16010KT P6SM SKC BECMG 2224 20013G20KT 4SM SHRA OVC020 PROB40 0006 2SM TSRA OVC008CB BECMG 0608 21015KT P6SM NSW SCT040 (for fun, decode at http://aviationweather.gov/... )

Category: Computers

I know how to set the "dip-switches" on a SCSI chain.

I know how to "zap the PRAM" on an old Mac.

I know how to land the pretend plane in Microsoft's "Flight Simulator" at Meigs Field, before it had version numbers, using just a mouse and key commands.

I can make a website using nothing more than a text editor. However, I can't sell it to anyone.

Category: Cooking

I still make my own creamy garlic salad dressing from scratch. (I know, I know)

I still make "fried dough" (or as my grandmother called them, "curliques") the same way my grandmother made it in the '30's.
(4 eggs, cup of milk, cup of flour; mix well by hand, drop 1/4 cup dollops into 1/2" of nearly smoking lard or Crisco; flip when edges turn up; plate and apply liberal amount of granulated sugar, eat).

Category: Ink on Paper

I can still run a copy camera and still have Secret Service approval to do so (I think).

If you gave me a few minutes, I could still set type using a "California Job Box".

I know how to "strip" various pieces of "film" together to make an entire page negative that could be "burned" into a press plate.

I know how to create a typeface using just a Rapidiograph pen, a french curve, a T-square and "KromeKote" paper.

I fully understand Gravure, Letterpress and Copperplate Engraved printing.

Category: Advertising

I still know that DDB stands for three guys' names: Doyle, Dane and Bernbach.

I still know that Don Draper said, "Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness".

I still know that everybody loves steak. Nobody likes dead cows.

I still know that nobody noticed body odor until a couple of people didn't have it.

Well, if you are still with me, thanks for reading. I'm sure many of you have dozens of useless skills as well. Let me know.


Your Email has been sent.