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First Friday comment forum (giving it a try, anyhow)

Things are moving along like crazy on my new house! Contracts are signed. The home inspector is lined up for Monday. Roofers should be trooping by and giving estimates any day now. By Tuesday I expect to know whether it’s a go.

In any case, I’ll be packing and very shortly heading off on a cross-country trip. The very same Leslie who found the house and is handling most of the chaos also found me a Plan B — a super dog-friendly rental I can take if the sale falls through. So no matter what happens, I’m out of here and I’ll be busy.

Because I can’t blog every day, even in the best of times, I thought I’d take a page from Radley Balko and occasionally just open up a comment-thread discussion.

So to give it a try, let me start with a question. Three related questions, actually:

1. What is your #1 personal freedom skill?

2. What additional skill would you most like to have?

3. And what are you doing, or planning to do, to develop that other skill? (Or, if you feel that skill is out of your reach, why is that?)

Hope a lot of people will jump in. I suspect that the category of “freedom skills” is larger and considerably more varied than a lot of us imagine.


  1. -s
    -s July 30, 2010 3:30 am

    My #1 skill is that I am a generalist. I know a little bit about a lot of things. I know how things work, how take things apart, fix them, and put them back together. I know how to listen. I know how to learn. I’m curious and am always looking to learn new things.

    While being free has a lot to do with your state of mind, I find it much easier to be free when I can do most things for myself. I can decide for myself when it is a better deal for me to have someone else fix my car, paint my house, or upgrade my computer rather than doing it myself. No man is an island and I’ve always had reservations about the idea of gulching, because trade and commerce are essential parts of my idea of freedom. But I have both skills and goods to trade not because I am a specialist, but because I am a generalist.

  2. -s
    -s July 30, 2010 3:32 am

    Congratulations on the house! Good luck with the move. That’s a looong drive. Joel is losing a great neighbor.

  3. naturegirl
    naturegirl July 30, 2010 8:18 am

    Good to hear all that great news!!!!

    All came together for you ~ so it’s meant to be ;)….Have a safe move, too…..

  4. merccom
    merccom July 30, 2010 8:58 am

    1. highly cross trained. software devoloper, auto mechanic, class A truck driver, resterant owner, built my own alternative energy system includeing building my own windmill, been farming organically for years, can make beer/wine/soap/gunpowder, can cook pretty much anything from food storage for an individual or a group, been a professional salesman

    2. medical. i feel confident that i can learn it i just havnt taken the time.

    3. nothing yet, kind of got a lot of stuff going on right now. 😉

  5. Winston
    Winston July 30, 2010 9:56 am

    1. I’m not the first, and probably won’t be the last on here to say that “#1 skill” doesn’t really mean a thing to me right now; I’m a jack-of-all-trades-master of none type of guy. May change, but that’s the way I am right now.

    2. A skill I’d most like to improve on is computer tech. I know enough to do what I need when it comes to computers, but I’d like to know a lot more…about encryption & security, code, building my own machines…dare I say even getting around security from behind a keyboard.

    3. Working on it, a little at a time.

  6. Mike R
    Mike R July 30, 2010 11:29 am

    First Claire I would like to say congratulations and good luck with the new digs. It’s good to read that you are not going to wind up in the streets. Mind you I don’t think that as ever really going to happen but…

    I live up here in the Great White North and my #1 of personal freedom skills is making a study of how the system of laws, rules, regulations etc. work so I can turn things against them.

    For example one of my favourite laws is section 337 (Public servant refusing to deliver property). Under our criminal code if the offence is indictable (jail time over 2 years) a person is free to lay a charge. I the case of 337 it is 14 years in the slammer. For example if a police officer holds something back I simply ask under what law he has the authority and if he cannot show me in law I simply make the demand under 337 and watch him dance. The reactions that I have got in the past were nothing short of comical.

    The additional skill I would most like to have is a better understanding of bush craft. One never knows when bugging out will be on the agenda.

    What I am doing, or planning to do to develop that other skill is relearn the skills I was shown in the Canadian Forces a long time ago that deal with bush craft. I have booked training this September to get it done.

  7. Winston
    Winston July 30, 2010 11:42 am

    Mike, have you been here?:

    That’s a pretty good place to pick up bushcraft knowledge. People there are very helpful and the main focus of the site is skills rather than just gear. Another good site would be…more of a military focus there.

  8. Victor Milan
    Victor Milan July 30, 2010 11:44 am

    Congratulations on the new house!

  9. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal July 30, 2010 1:08 pm

    I think my greatest skill is my adaptability. I have my preferences, but I can get by just about anywhere under just about any conditions.

    The skill I would like to develop the most… anything to do with technical details and “stick-to-it-iveness”. I find it VERY hard to keep an interest in such things as reloading ammo, or encryption, long enough to actually learn it. I have this terrible tendency to do something once, and never have the urge to do it again. Unless it turns out to be self-destructive, of course. I can’t believe I have stuck with writing and blogging as long as I have.

  10. Ahab
    Ahab July 30, 2010 2:55 pm

    Once upon a time my No. 1 Skill was “Radio Communications.” I’d gained that skill while serving in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer which classified me as an expert in my field, and a professional in my career. That was a while back, and in another galaxy, where such expertise was held in high regard. In this galaxy however, my expertise is old technology, no longer in use, and overtaken by the computer age. In fact, the Radioman rating is no longer in existence within the Navy, is obsolete, and communicators are now “Information Specialists.”

    The modern age not-withstanding, sooner, or later, that skill will be desired once again. Not holding my breath, you see; but, the potential for the destruction of everything electronic containing printed circuits and/or integrated circuits from solar plasma eruptions is quite high, not to mention detonation of nuclear weapons over various places of the U.S. for the purpose of creating huge EMP. An EMP will do the same as gigantic solar flares will do, fry all electronic circuits, and short out, or burn out electronic components in everything that has them. Think your coffee maker, wristwatch, the computer in your car, your laptop, desktop, and everything else that is computer controlled. No more TV, no more anything we take for granted today.

    The only people able to communicate between any two points in America are going to be those that have old tube model radio transmitters and receivers. Even some of those old radios will get hit, too. Their power supplies are based upon wire-wound transformers, which will take big hits if a pulse comes through. So, readers, how best to circumvent the possible loss of critical pieces of your electronic and/or computer devices? Consider the “Faraday Box.” Essentially, that’s a metal chest that you’ve got lying around, sheet metal, aluminum, whatever, as long as it is a box. Put what you want to shield into the box, taking care that nothing touches the metal of the box, like placing cardboard inside so nothing touches metal, and short it to ground. Those are the extras of those items you consider critical, something you aren’t using every day, extra digital wristwatch, older model laptop, etc.

    Remember, if you are prepared, you win. Knowledge is king!

    That stuff was yesterday, so, what’s my No. 1 Personal Freedom Skill today?

    Gunsmithing, cartridge handloading, and ballistics is it for today!

    What do I want to build upon for tomorrow?

    First aid, homeopathic medicine, learning all I can about medicinal and edible plants and cast iron dutch oven cooking!

  11. Sam
    Sam July 30, 2010 3:32 pm

    #1 skill is I can fix about anything, like some others above. I get by spending very little on new stuff. Garage sales and such are my friends!

    I need to learn Linux. Mind you, its all I’ve used on my 3 computers for just about 5 years. I’ve just never taken the time fiddle with it. I use it like most folks use windoze, except I have yet to need to fix it. I still fix windoze on a few friends computers. Getting to know Linux well enough to handle other folks problems would have me converting a few to a bit of freedom. I’ve gotten several books on the subject. Need to crack them.

  12. Bob L
    Bob L July 30, 2010 7:30 pm

    I suppose my biggest skill is being flexible. Not letting stress or expectations or rules determine what I can do.

    Bob L

  13. Ellendra
    Ellendra July 30, 2010 8:21 pm

    I think my greatest freedom skill is what I call “deliberate stubbornness”. I consciously choose when to be flexible, and when to dig in my heels and not budge, damn the consequences! And when I decide I want to figure out something, whether it’s learning a new skill or solving a problem, I stick with it, and if I can’t find the answer within a reasonable amount of time, I’ll keep it in the back of my mind, sometimes for years, watching for that key bit of information that unlocks the puzzle.

    As for what skill I’d like to have, does good health count as a skill?

  14. Mike R
    Mike R July 31, 2010 5:12 am

    Hey Winston,

    That’s a pretty good site. I have bookmarked it and am going to explore it later. Thanks.

    The guys I am doing my refresher with this fall are:

    Wish me luck. I expect to enjoy the time away from work as I took the whole month of September off.

  15. Pat
    Pat July 31, 2010 6:26 am

    I think my # 1 freedom skill might be practicality-on-the-fly. As a nurse I’ve run up against many emergency situations, and it frequently becomes necessary to apply both knowledge and experience in a hurry——and apply it in a manner that gets the job done, even under imperfect conditions. When there’s no time for theory, no time to think a situation through step by step, you have to rely on a certain amount of “instinct” obtained over time from common sense and prior learning. This includes substituting and improvising, being thankful for what you’ve got and hoping for the best, and when to be compassionate or tough.

    As a result, I have trouble with patience in the trenches when dealing with others. It’s hard at times to understand why they can’t think and act as promptly as I do under adverse conditions.

    OTOH, my second best skill IS patience: I can wait it out to get what I want, no matter who’s in the way, or how long it takes. Given enough time, I can eventually find a way around the problem.

  16. Fred Aydelotte
    Fred Aydelotte July 31, 2010 8:44 am

    Like others above I take pride in being a generalist. I can cook, sew, garden, make things out of wood and metal, and fly. I can fix most things. Machinist work is my current major activity. Lots of people need lots of stuff repaired that parts are not available for. Some folks need parts made for machinery they are building for use on the homestead. Older lathes and mills are cheap and available. It’s a niche that is easy to fill and the skills are pretty easy to learn.

    I often wish I could speak a second language but so far it seems I’m not willing to make the effort to actually make it happen on my own. Maybe someday I’ll find someone locally who will teach me in exchange for some tractor parts or some such. 🙂

  17. Joel
    Joel July 31, 2010 3:46 pm

    I don’t have that many skills. I can kinda do a lot of things, but I’m not really good at anything practical. Used to be pretty darned good at fixing cars, since I did it for a living, but I’m thirty years behind the times now.

    I’d say my #1 freedom trait is adaptability and a willingness to wander pretty far out on that limb, coupled with a general refusal to let stuff get too deep under my skin with it goes bad. Out here stuff happens, and you need to roll with it or it’ll drive you nuts.

    #1 trait I wish I had is a capacity for hard work and perseverance. I don’t have that because I’m a lazy old bastard.

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