Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What are Your Useful Skills

Today sems to be just chock full of posts inspired by the Nation of Riflemen (as many of my posts often are), where reader 1991a1 asks "Any other tradesmen or experts out there willing to offer their tricks of the trade".

Basically he was aksing folks whet their useful skills and experience amounted to, and I thought it was an interesting topic, because my interests and experience are all over the damn map. When people ask me what I'm into, I usually say "everything".

As a 12 year old my first job was as a professional office cleaner for one of my uncles (I have 16 aunts and uncles; Irish family). There are actually a lot of things to learn to do the job well, and a lot of basic tricks to do the job quickly without injuring your knees and back.

Next I worked in an antique furniture restoration and refinishing shop where I learned carpentry, cabinetmaking, and finishing. I also learned some luthiery, and shipwright skills (I built or repaired, and finished or refinished a couple of guitars. I helped build a 32 foot wooden ocean sloop with my uncle, and I built and restored a few small wooden boats, a small aluminum boat, and small fiberglass boat), and of course I had to move a lot of expensive furniture.

Then I worked in a small custom bicycle factory where I learned to weld and fabricate metal. This would also be the first time I deliberately violated ATF regulations (gee, it's really amazing what you can do with the materials in a bicycle factory, and some manuals from palladin press).

I've been flying since I was 13, and I got my private pilots license on my 17th birthday. I'm also a licensed amateur radio operator (KB1DXJ), an International Radiotelephone Operator (all pilots are), and a High Frequency Radiotelephone Operator (all pilots who fly trans oceanic flights have to be).

My mother was not enthusiastic about my flying... not in the least actually (she's deathly afraid of airplanes, she flys, but she gets... mental). I'd been cooking since I was a little kid (during one of her bouts with cancer I tought myself how to cook, at around age seven), and I was pretty damend good at it. Well I wanted to be a pilot, and she wanted me to be a chef, so we compromised. She would help pay for my flying lessons, if I would take professional cooking classes, so I did both.

I headed into the Air force, and went to college for aerospace engineering.

I also had side jobs as a nursing assistant in a nursing home, an oil change and brake job mechanic, a security and audio installer, a convenience store and gas station clerk, and an autoparts store manager.

Since the Air force and college I have worked as a body guard, a driver, various physical security work, a self defense instructor, and I also played semi-pro football (not a useful skil that, but fun). Unfortunately I aggravated a training injury a few years ago, and I can't really do that work anymore.

My primary job since the re-injury of my knees has been as a security consultant, for both physical security, and electronic and information security (computers, networks, and communication systems, policy and procedure, and investigation and forensics). In connection with that, I design and implement high performance and/or large scale networked computing architectures.

I also develop training and educational materials for security (both kinds), and during the dot com boom I used to write for some technology and internet magazines and websites (the only one still around that I was a regular contributor to is techrepublic)

I've used all of these skills in my hobbies.

I have always built lots of stuff out of wood, metal, and leather as a hobby.

I've been into the martial arts since I was 5, and I've collected swords and knives since I was 13. I have other hobbies like the SCA, shooting, and R/C cars, boats, and aircraft.

I build some of my own furniture, I do chess sets, I've made bondage and fetish gear, I've made LOTS of armor.

I've done some gunsmithing, and made some siege weapons, bows, crossbows, catapaults (and other weapons of the type, ballista, mangonel etc...). I've also done some amateur bladesmithy (a blacksmith trained me on the forge while I was in college after some creative begging), and some bladecrafting with premade blanks.

I'm a transportation nut, and I've built or co-built boats, cars, airplanes, motorcycles, and Karts. I've done a LOT of tuning stuff on cars and bikes.

I also make little electronic gadgets and I've built a couple of robots.

I play guitar (badly), and I sing, (pretty damned well), mostly classic rock, blues, and soul; also some folk and Irish, and of course filk (an SCA pre-requisite). I was in a showband varying in size from 8-16 members depending on the week, and the gig, and we had some fun. I was the lead singer, and we did a lot of blues and soul classics, a couple of classic rock hits, and even a few hard rock and metal tunes, rearranged for our guys to have fun with (I do a mean set of AC/DC).

This is why I say my interests are pretty much everything. A lot of these things Im barely a journeyman at, but I'm an odd sort of fellah. When I get interested or involved in something, theres jsut some drive in me that forces me to gecome an expert at it or to absorb as much info I can, or to be the best I can. It's amazing how much of that crap is still floating around.

Of all the things I've done, the only one I wouldnt feel confident doing again without retraining is the medical work. You jsut dont mess around with peoples lives. That said, I still remember a hell of a lot of it, which helps when I'm dealing with my mothers illness, and especially in dealing with doctors, nuses, and recalcitrant peristaltic IV pumps thatmy mother keeps fouling and that the nurses dont have time to fix.

I should also mention that I'm an insomniac with eidetic memory, which is NOT photographic memory. True photographic memory is total retention with total instant recall. I have the total retention part, but I have something called highly associative recall. Its not instant or total, but it's still pretty damned useful.

I also read like a maniac, and obsessively watch history, science, and trivia shows (I love the 70, 80s, 90s etc..), and the hitler channels (history, discovery, military, biography etc...), so I have a truly vast store of useless knowledge in my head.

Fun stuff eh? How about you post your lsit on your own blog, trackback to me, and/or leave the permalink in comments, and spread the meme.