The Short List


I have always loved to learn.  I looked forward to school.  It was the one area of my life where I felt like I could excel.  Outside of intellectual pursuits, I was the school outcast, picked on all the time, not cool to anyone, etc.  We’ve all seen the high school angst movies.  lol  I identify completely with the kid getting a wedgie.  And while anymore, I see how the pain of that stage in life has actually shaped me into a strong and much more centered person, I do still love to learn.

Now that I’m a few blog entries into this project, I feel I must begin the research phase of this overall master plan to save my life.  What does that mean, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

I have always, as in my entire life, wanted to learn a WIDE variety of skills.  My interests are so all over the place that I started to ask myself why that is, a couple years ago, namely when I turned 30.  I want to look back on my 30’s and think, “Damn, Matt, you made up for your 20’s and put yourself ahead for your 40’s.”

Of course, my slightly paranoid side (yes, I’ll admit SOME paranoia) is highly hesitant to even post this list, much less the entire blog.  I wrestled with this for a while.  Why?  Well, frankly, I feel like in our day and age, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING can and will be used to fuck you over.  I can see someone reading this and playing a little identity theft, then pinning some shit on me, tying something to a skill I learn.  And what about authorities?  Would they suddenly think I’m a danger, even though I want to learn these things to save myself and those I love, that I’m not some crazy person trying to learn how to be the next crazy whoever?  Ugh.  But you know, that’s a fear.  And I can’t be afraid.  I don’t believe we really have a complete right to free speech, but I can’t let that shut me up I suppose.

So until some sorta shit hits someone’s fan out there, here’s a short list of skills I would like to attain, which means researching them:

  • a form of martial arts (possibly Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, or Jiujitsu)
  • swimming the different styles (front, back, side, breast, butterfly, etc.)
  • distance swimming
  • CPR/First Aid training
  • marathon running
  • gun shooting
  • rock climbing
  • white water rafting
  • boat . . . driving? (not in terms of leisure sailing necessarily) lol
  • plane flying
  • search and rescue (for natural disasters)
  • urban defense/escape
  • knowledge of edible plants
  • hunting with follow-up food preparation
  • fishing with follow-up food preparation
  • tracking
  • wine knowledge
  • locating sources of water
  • defensive/offensive driving
  • building housing to survive the elements
  • knife wielding
  • medicinal uses of naturally occurring life forms like herbs
  • EMT training. . . . . .

Like I said, this is a short list, by no means exhaustive.  As I think about the crap we could end up in just in our daily lives much less if a natural disaster happened, I think about more things I want to learn.  I mean, what if I were in a mall and some idiot started shooting people?  God knows that’s happened!  I want to be able to save myself if I were shot, which means knowing what to do.  Right now, I’d stand there (or fall over I should say) and wonder what to do and hope someone around me has a clue.  What the fuck is that?  Leaving my life to such chance?  No grazie no mas.  Yo necesito learn all I can.  AS WELL, what if someone with me, my Mom for instance, or a close friend, were shot.  I’d wanna know precisely what to do so save his/her life!  Or even if it were a stranger.  I wanna be someone who was able to help.

Beyond all that low probability and randomness, I have other things I want to learn, too.  Such as languages.  Now, admittedly, I have been speaking Spanish for my whole life.  I grew up in Southern Cali, and remember learning Spanish in grade school.  While I was fluent then, rattled off with the best of them, I lost a lot, ironically, in college, a center of knowledge and education.  lol  Hardly anyone there spoke the language, and frankly, I didn’t take an active role in retaining my skill.  So, now, while I’m remembering more and more each day, and can now have a conversation again in Spanish, it’s nothing like it was.  I need that back.

Also, I have been studying French.  I have improved a lot in the year I have studied.  It has helped that I have a couple French friends with whom I can practice.  Mostly, I need help hearing it.  I can muddle through saying it, and I’m told my accent, while present, isn’t as noticeable as most Americans speaking French.  And writing and reading it are generally no problem, less idioms, of course.  While there are 80 more lenguas I’d love to learn, including Icelandic and Norwegian (Bokmal), I know for practicality’s sake, English, French, and Spanish would cover me just about anywhere I went.  And I like both languages.  So I guess I need to be even more active in studying.  I have taught myself French mostly, with input from friends.  And since fluency I have found is defined as knowing actively about 8,000 words in a language and actively using at least 2,000, then I feel being fluent in both of those languages is totally possible even though I’ll be learning them the rest of my life.

About my short list of interests/skills, does anyone have thoughts on them?  Ideas maybe for figuring out how to go about finding information?  I can contact the Red Cross I think for CPR training.  EMT I could find out about through schools I’m sure, but I wonder what the time input is, and the cost.  I have always wondered in movies how people track, and I think there is a school for that in New Jersey, which is just a state over.  Martial arts, I think it’d be best to find the schools that teach the different forms, and discuss with the teachers and watch a lesson or two to see which form is best for me.  Frankly, I think becoming a ninja would rock after growing up watching the old movies, haha, but it isn’t a really practical art form for my life. Now, about urban defense/escape, I know it’s another preparation for low probability events, I have always been worried that maybe I’d be the victim of something like kidnapping or stuck in a city if something bad happened like an earthquake.  When that shit happens, what do you do?  How do you escape a city?  What if I lived in the conflicted parts of Los Angeles during the Rodney King beatings and ensuing riots?  How would I dart and dodge to get out, get to safety?  Or if I wanted to visit Mexico City, what would I do if I were kidnapped?  I know this shit is random, and I probably come across WILDLY PARANOID, but stuff happens.  Bad stuff happens to good people, and while I might not win the award for Humanitarian of the Year, bad shit can still fly up my nose.

And while it’s not a skill to learn to take cold showers only, it is an endurance builder!  Wow, first thing in the morning, with slits for eyes and morning brain, a cold shower is a stunner.  But what if something happened to the ability of a city to heat water?  Random and unlikely I know.  More likely something happens to the water heater in the apartment and we only have cold water for a couple days.  A man needs to shower!  So, I might as well be ready.  Even more though, I have learned that cold showers are better in many ways than warm/hot ones.  Apparently, with the onset of winter soon, if I take cold showers, I will not feel the cold outside as much.  That means less need for heat in the apartment, which means using less energy.  That and cold showers rather than hot ones is all pretty green of me I think!

Anyhow, these are things I am thinking about, what I’ll start to research now.  Of course, WHEN is a factor I am battling.  With the afore-blogged two-job lifestyle I’m leading quite unsexily right now, I am not sure when I’ll have time for anything.  But who knows unless I try, right?

If you (whoever you are reading this, and thank you for doing so) happen to have a lead on anything here, or on another skill you think I might like, please let me know!

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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~ by Matt Lawrence on September 14, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Short List”

  1. It sounds like you need to join the military. No joke, I’m sure they teach a lot of the skills you hope to acquire. Aside from that, I think you’re very ambitious to try for all these things. I, too, have a list of things I’d like to learn but time and cost seem inhibitive many times. I’ve always wanted my pilot’s license!

    • haha You know, I’d totally go work toward being a Green Beret or Navy SEAL, except I don’t want to take more years of my life pursuing a goal I know isn’t my end-all desire. I want to write books, and that’s my focus now. However, you are right. I could probably learn all that there. As for ambitious, true. I guess not much has changed since college when I always had too much on my plate! lol And go get that license!

  2. I’d say learn everything that James Bond does in the movies except the womanizing part. We don’t need another one of those on the scene anywhere. I know the JB reference is rather shallow and that BN is a much better and practical learning source but it is an idea.

    When I was formerly certified in CPR (or maybe it was nursing school), we were taught that if we came across an unconscious person that we checked the ABCs: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Anytime I watch shows or movies I checked to see if the characters do that. It is practically ingrained in me for checking vital signs. Now, I have never come across a person in such a state but if I did I know what to do (in that situ). If you want to know what to do after ish happens to the human body ask me…seems some of that info is coming back to me now. Haha. I think it is our responsibility to know even little things like CPR, Heimlich Maneuver, and heat stroke. Seizures, too. Those things happen commonly and there is a greater change of such incidences occurring in a public gathering (heart attack, too!). Last thing any sick/injured person needs is a group of people staring at them screaming “911!” and “Are they okay?” instead of DOING SOMETHING even if it is just to comfort/reassure the person til help arrives.

    You might want to check up on city plans for escape, say, if a earthquake did hit or the random hurricane did go way up there like that last freak one tried to do couple of years ago. Yesterday I was watching local emergency officials talk about hurricane Katrina and what they learned when they went to the devastated areas. They came back and revised transportation routes and methods of grand scale communication.

    Though FEMA has seemed to fail many people this last time around (though can it be a pin-point failure if no one had ever worked in a situation of that magnitude, so wide spread, dealing with stubborn authorities and self-serving insurance companies? ) I’d recommend in looking into what type of training and crisis management FEMA people have to know and do.

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