Pre-F5: Necessary Skills?

Back in September 2003, long before I joined the Friday Five, I noticed friends doing it. I even answered a question, ages ago, and then saved it to my drafts and left it.

I saw this on my friend Adam’s site, a violently executed plan blog, and I figured that in the 20 minutes before my next class, to the sound of a classroom of men singing what sounds like some sort of religious sea shanty across the hall.

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

What are the top 5 things that every adult should be able to do?

I’m going to assume my answer can be tech-level-specific, and answer in a way that reflects adults living in industrialized places. My answer would be different if I was giving a general humans-everywhere answer, of course.

1. Reason an argument. The most infuriating and dangerous person in the world is one who cannot for the life of them explain why they think other people should agree with them.
2. Exercise a balanced degree of self-restraint. It’s amazing how many adults cannot do this… they splurge all their money on something, or lash out at other people, or what have you. People need to have some restraint. Conversely, some people live far too self-limited lives.
3. Be able to diddle with, take apart, and repair all of the little bits of the technoscape that surround us. The plumbing, the PC, the cgi software on your server, the latch on the door, whatever it is… you should at least be able to figure out what’s wrong with it when it doesn’t work (and maybe sort of fix it too), if it’s something you depend upon day-to-day.
4. Be honest with himself or herself and with the people around them.
5. Maintain basic cleanliness around one’s house. I’m working on the last one, but doing a lot better than in my younger adulthood.

Besides Adam’s answers, you can also see responses to this question on the pages of Melissa, Dave, Will, Merideth, Colleen, Chris and Gina.

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