04 October, 2007

Manly Man Meme

Alright, I'll play a meme. It's from Popular Mechanics and is making the rounds. I think it's called the "he-man" meme or some such.

Before I start my bragging, I have to tell you that no one has ever accused me of being a man's man. In fact, I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as something of a pantywaist. 75 million peers can't all be wrong, right? I have to admit that taking this little meme was something of a pleasant surprise to me (or I wouldn't have shared it - I'm as vain as the next guy.)

1. Patch a radiator hose
I can tear the whole engine down to bones and rebuild it to spec within probably double the time requirements guideline without purchasing any new tools (though I'd have to borrow back my torque wrenches from Dave.) Or I can get you home with some 100-mile-an-hour tape.

2. Protect your computer
Without wrapping it in thin rubber, I assume? While doing it using your choice of my recommended tool cost/performance solutions, I can why explain worms and trojans are more dangerous than viruses, why Microsoft should be known as the Buffer Overrun birthing grounds, and how WinAntiVirusPro self-replicates to defeat Norton and McAfee, but falls to Kaspersky in one patch.

3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
If they mean how to right a capsized canoe or sailboat, I can do that. If they mean uprighting some boater's feet that happen to be sticking out of the water, I'm not sure righting him is needed so much as sobering him up.

4. Frame a wall
Does digging the footings, laying the foundation, plumbing, wiring, framing, roofing, and finishing our house with my father count? I was just weekend help, but I still know how to inset the windbrace in every wall, which a lot of people that know what "24 inch center" means have never heard of doing.

5. Retouch digital photos
I only know how to do this with the old manual blur/sharpen/etc stuff in Paint Shop Pro. I don't know how to use the "one-button fix" tools that are so popular these days.

6. Back up a trailer
I used to blind-side 50 foot trailers into 10 foot wide slots with a 55 foot approach area (yeah, that means I had to come in sideways, and whip the front end out 40 feet while sticking the backend in the slot blindly). I still have my CDL with A classification. So, I can legally drive anything with rubber as long as there are no hazmat certs or bus certs required.

7. Build a campfire
One match in a steady drizzle without fluids. Proved it repeatedly last summer during a week long trip with no amenities but water.

8. Fix a dead outlet
I've already covered this, but I have pulled wire through existing walls without gutting them and added circuits to my box without killing anyone. I did ask for help to wire up 220v. In my experience, asking for help when you need it should be counted as a manly point, too, but I don't think that will ever fly. Maybe I should also mention that I've worked 440v 3-phase electricity hot 1 inch away while a diesel generator mechanic. A year of that was enough, and went back to working on trucks.

9. Navigate with a map and compass
Through two trips at the National Training Center desert at night and in daylight. I can still get you where you're going with the stars alone, given sufficient motivation. I got pretty badly lost my first night, but I got us all into our beds after a couple extra hours and never turned too soon again.

10. Use a torque wrench
Well, they're on loan.

11. Sharpen a knife
You'll think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I was too embarassed to ask for a razor, and my parents were too ... something ... to admit that I needed one, and I was being laughed at for the fuzz. There was only one answer. So, for the first two years of my shaving career I shaved with my pocketknife. Give me any stone, and I'll give you a blade with which you can strip your face - even if it's not the closest, most comfortable shave you'll ever have.

12. Perform CPR
I did not have to actually perform the 15/2 exercise, but while out in the desert I did correctly diagnose my motor sergeant's congestive heart failure and get him to medical attention without him ever knowing anything was wrong. I figured if I told him he was having a heart attack, he'd have a heart attack, so I quietly came up with one excuse after another to get him back to the unit medics and called the shot correctly. I've had all the classes, including knowing that they no longer recommend the rescue breathing.

13. Fillet a fish
Why would anyone do this to a perfectly good knife? Still, I have dressed just enough fish with someone else's knives to prove I can. Namely, I dressed out several hundred grunnion(?) running out at the beach one night for smoking. Fillet, though? Nope. They've got me there. Ain't gonna fillet no water-breathers.

14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
I've maneuvered a street motorcycle on pavement out of a two-wheel skid (among other, less-interesting types). I also laid the bike down three times, but only once showing off for a chick. Car's are child's play. I've driven for blocks without ever letting car come back out of a skid. My son has gotten to the point of saying, "You know, this NEVER happens when I ride with my sister or mother." Last time, it was because I was in a little bit of a hurry in the rain and dished the rear end out coming off the freeway. That could happen to anyone, of course. The thing that rattled him was that I was paying no attention when it happened, and my immediate, instinctive reaction on feeling the fishtail was to floor the gas. It was, of course, the right reaction but not a lot of people do it. FTR, it works in bobtail tractors, too. I got stuck 4 times the first weekend I drove in snow, and never have been stuck again.

15. Get a car unstuck
Well, here we are revisiting previous points again. I've "unstuck" Hummers (military version, not the civilian toys), Deuce and halfs, and a 10 ton+ Goer using nothing but a rope. Yeah, I can get my rig out of anything it can be gotten out of.

16. Back up data
Some people think this is too easy, but do you want it backed up to tape, disk, USB, SAN, NAS, or optical WORM? Do you want it backed on or off schedule? Full backups or deltas only? Error reporting? Or do you really want RAID striping and redundancy or maybe high availability clustering? Are you talking about disaster recovery or business continuity with failover? People who think this is easy just aren't thinking hard enough.

17. Paint a room
Presumably they want the drywall mudwork finished and the sheetrock taped, the surface primed, and the fixtures removed as opposed to just slapping on some paint. I can go either way.

18. Mix concrete
I didn't really mix the concrete for our house, I just helped pour it. But, I mixed the concrete to rebuild my front steps when they crumbled under the Columbus freeze/thaw cycle. I learned a couple things in the process, but don't remember what they were now. I guess I'll have to learn those lessons all over again when the next opportunity comes around.

19. Clean a bolt-action rifle
Hmmmm. I can armorer strip an m-16 and field-strip an m-60 machine gun, and clean both to IG standards. I wonder if that counts? Because all I own is a muzzle-loading rifle, a lever-action rifle, two revolvers, one semi-auto pistol and one cap and ball pistol. All but the semi-auto pistol were inherited (no fetish here) but I grew up shooting and probably always will enjoy it, even if I don't live in a place where it is cheap any more. I qualified expert marksman with an uncorrected astigmatism in my shooting eye. I will always wonder whether I would have qualified for the base shooting team had I known there were not really *supposed* to be 2 front sights to aim with.

20. Change oil and filter
If I'm nervous, I'll cut open the filter and read it like a CSI to tell whether my engine really has anything serious going wrong inside it.

21. Hook up an HDTV
Wouldn't know where to start, except by reading the manual. I'm probably going to use the mandated conversion to HD as my excuse to fall off the television landscape entirely.

22. Bleed brakes
Lot's of car stuff in this list. Anyone can bleed brakes with a partner. I can bleed them alone with a stick or with a pressure or vacuum bleeder. I'd have to read the procedure on any antilock brakes, but most people don't even know the procedures can be very different.

23. Paddle a canoe
Hehehe. For amusement, I have been known to drift down a lake in a 25+ mile-per-hour blow, and spend the next half-hour paddling back. If your nose drifts more than 5 degrees to the left or right, the wind will catch it and throw you around facing the wrong direction again. By the time you muscle your way back around, and get a good head of steam built up again you've lost 50 yards. River canoeing is a lot more exciting, of course, and I've done both. The J stroke is the only one I can call by name.

24. Fix a bike flat
Yeah. And car flats and truck flats, too. Though getting the split-rim apart on a truck tire has to be one of the most physical jobs around. Inflating a split rim after fixing it can actually be death-defying, too. But in a pinch, I know how to re-inflate a truck tire using ether and a match. I've never done it, and I'd hide behind a concrete wall if I did, but I know how.

25. Extend your wireless network
I assume they mean buying a repeater. This makes you a man? If they mean anything more interesting than that, then I fail in this criterion. More interesting would be to ask how many men know which wireless security protocol to use, and where to set up the password so your neighbors can't sniff out everything you're browsing or use your connection for free.


So, as long as being a man does not involve fish or TV, I can keep up with most of them according to Popular Mechanics. But I'd like to fire back.

For starters, Robert Heinlein had a MUCH better list of things a man should be able to do. I'd like to see how many of their macho men can keep up with this list.

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.

Heinlein was a sinner's sinner, but he was a man's man, too. He'd make my shameless bragging above look like amateur hour, and I'm cool with that. He impressed me because he knew everything that mattered was warm and tender. If a man doesn't know that core fact, he's just a paper man - even if he can bench press his car.

Looking beyond even Heinlein's man, the warmest, tenderest, most precious thing on earth is the bride of our Lord. A brother in the Lord should also be able to:

Comfort the broken hearted
Resist sin
Mortify his own evil desires
Strengthen those who are tempted
Bless those who mistreat him
Submit himself quietly to the discipline of the Lord
Mourn with those who mourn
Laugh with those who laugh
Speak always with grace

May the Lord bless His sons and daughters


Milly said...

What do you dudes have against fish?

If you fly in this weekend I’ll show you why we fillet a fish. You’d get an ear full of religion, politics, football, and my strange and loud family and friends plus a tummy full of good food.

Weekend Fisher said...

Too cool, Kevin. Thank you.

Patchouli said...

CP, I posted the same list the same way...and, considering your profile, I would never have described you as a "pantywaist!"

Kansas Bob said...

I can do 19 out of 25 and detailed in response to your great post CP ... even though I don't like Heinlein's list :)

salguod said...

Wow. I thought going into this that this would make a cool post o my site.

Then I read the list and your answers. Nope, no way I'm posting this. I can only do about half of this stuff. I bet I could figure out how to do the rest, or at least figure out how to figure out, but that's it.

preacherman said...

This is a great post!
I am adding your post to my favorites. I really enjoyed reading your blog.
Great list! :-)

codepoke said...


Thank you for the kind words. I haven't felt so nervous about a post in a long, long time. To be thanked for shameful bragging is still irreconcilable for me. I count it a kindness.

And as for feeling like a pantywaist, let me wax thoughtful for a second. We young men are a fragile, nervous lot. We're most likely to die single for fear of talking to a girl, for crying out loud! We're scared of our own shadows.

We need a father to tell us it's OK to be scared, as long as we overcome our fears a little bit more every day. And we need a mother to ooh and ahhh us when they see us being brave. And we need to be taught how to fight bullies. Really. Somehow, and in this culture I don't know how, we need to practice social courage with the wisdom and encouragement of our parents.

Without those things, a boy sinks under the pressure of common mob mentality. Those other boys aren't evil, but they aren't good either. If you want your man to stand up to abortionists, then let him practice standing up to someone when he's young.

I think it's necessary.

codepoke said...

Oh, and Salguod -

It's amazing what cool-sounding stuff you can get done when you waste your actual talents dropping out of college, joining the army and supporting your literally poor family as a mechanic for 10 years at an average of $11 an hour.

I'd have done less "popular mechanics" stuff had I been better grounded and wiser. I enjoyed KB's list, and look forward to yours.

Lynne said...

well, I'm totally awed! Not only can i not do those things (well, I'm non-American, urbanised and a girl)quite a few of them my very capable husband couldn't do and has never needed to! and I'm not sure I exactly know what some of them really mean .. never mind, if there was a corresponding list of traditional girl-stuff I probably couldn't do half of that either -- I guess the word for my talents is "eclectic"! :)
Kudos where kudos is due mate, you sound like a very useful person to have around

karen said...

WOW. You're handy! Ever come to the Dallas/Ft.Worth area? I have some chores. . .
Love this post, I feel like I know you better. You sound like my Robert..a lot. I hope he matures into a "you."

(and your dry humor rocked!)

Kansas Bob said...

About #21: You really should see Wimbledon and the US Open on HD ... you might head out to Walmart and buy one of the flat TVs ... of course you will aslo need a cable box - for now :)

Megan Del said...

I love Heinlein's list. If you combine your list (which I love too) with his, your got yourself a pretty dang good human being.

Weekend Fisher said...

Funny. I should clarify. I thought it was too cool that you knew that everything worthwhile was warm and tender. Lots of people miss that. I missed that until somewhere in my mid-30's, myself.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

codepoke said...

You know, KB, I'm thinking about giving up on televised tennis. When they handed Federer a $2.4 million check after the US Open, my heart kind of broke. For the past 3 months tennis has been under the gloom of a gambling scandal, and that check kind of stamped "Delivered" to the whole affair.

I may never really enjoy watching the spectacle again.

We'll see.

codepoke said...

Thanks, Megan, for even knowing about Heinlein's list. I first read it when I was about 13, and it has had a hand on the tiller of my life ever since.

codepoke said...


> I should clarify.

That helps, and is a little more what I expected. So, thanks just for reading the whole post. :-D