Prepping: Keep Your “Perishable Skills”

A major part of prepping is “keeping sharp” on those skills that you have earned over time.  Like any set of muscles, they are guaranteed to deteriorate over time.

You have three skill areas to be concerned with:

  • Mental skills:
  • Physical skills
  • And mixed skills

Let’s run through some of them and see how fast they may deteriorate.

Perishable Mental Skills

Mental skills get lost over time because your personal information database between the ears keeps getting bigger.  When you’re a child, it’s easy to have lightning-fast reflexes.  That’s largely because – as with any computer  – the “smaller the program, the faster it runs.”

By the time you pass 60, or thereabouts, every time you learn a single new fact, you need “integration time” because the brain and mind work cooperatively to tie-in all the possible connections to past knowledge.  This is why it’s so rare to find genuinely great young writers.  They simply haven’t lived long enough to have a humongous (almost limitless) fount of knowledge from which to draw.  Oh, sure, they can be good, but outstanding?  Seldom.

So, that’s one way to keep the brain limbered up…something as simple as a bout of Trivial Pursuit against Alexa if you’re using it as extensively as we are.

That only handles the recall portion of the mind’s operation.  Elaine recently decided to get back to the top of her game and since we’re both in our 70’s, she knows that puzzle and problem-solving are key, as well.  As a result, she has been doing everything from “hidden picture” puzzles to “find the word” puzzles and is eyeing crosswords as another exercise.

The last point to touch on is interpersonal mental skills.

My (enjoying his two weeks of fame) son, George_the_Uber_driver explained it recently after coming back from  a four-day stretch of mid-winter outdoors adventuring in the snowy Cascade mountains with friends up in the Leavenworth, Washington back country.

You know, dad, it’s interesting when I get back on the grind after taking time off…takes a couple of days sometimes to get back to being able to instantly tune-in on people’s feelings and moods…”

Which is exactly right, but it gets us to a skill that most people don’t focus on too much:  Listening is a skill.  There are all sorts of levels to it, but it’s a continuum that runs from the barest of word comprehension all the way up to the finely-honest listening arts employed by symphony conductors and top-of-game mental health professionals.  Even expert cops get that way because they hone their inputs by listening and looking in unexpected, differently framed ways.

Physical Skills

Because I’ve been working on a product launch this week, ijt’s been non-stop, back-to-back work bouts.  10-minutes an hour of walking around, but no hour-long sessions in the gym.  Surprisingly, I can already feel the decline in physical prowess.  It materializes as a tense shoulder, an arm ache there, and missing the release of hormones that comes with a good workout.

Endorphin addiction is a healthy thing, as all fitness buffs know.  And once they’re loosened up, the other physical skills become easier.

Take shooting, for example.  Not enough workout time, too much coffee, and not keeping my “head in it” results in a terrible grouping at 100-meters (peep sight).  On the other hand,, when I’ve been working out for a while, not so much coffee (I’m on a “half-caf” blend of several brands now) the grouping tightens up.  An interesting phenomenon, to be sure.

Mixed Mental/Physical Skills

The F.A.A. requires all pilots operating with non flight crew passengers aboard, maintain currency.  Three take-offs and landings in the type aircraft being used to carry passengers.  The reason is accident records show after 90-days of getting stale, piloting skills deteriorate.  Interestingly, though, it’s in the “mixed-modes” perishable skills that people are hugely different.

For example, when we bought our airplane what’s now seven or eight years back, I needed to “get current” and so I went up in a small plane of the same sort I’d flown before.

“It’s been so long, why don’t you do back-to-back 180-degree turns.  Give me 45-degrees of bank and hold your altitude as best you can.”

Did my “clearing turn” and then rolled left and went around counterclockwise and then rolled out, then right into the clockwise turn.  And held altitude within 50-feet.  Needless to say, my instructor was impressed.  One of my personal strengths (offsetting a much longer set of weaknesses) is that once I do something, I don’t forget.

EXCEPT, that since I’m busy and don’t always have my head in the game, there were many times over the course of aircraft ownership where those 90-day currency landings were not as perfect as I would like.  And that’s the point.  Even though we may be technically competent, we are losing the “sharp point.”

Another place where it comes up is in ham radio with Morse Code.  No, code is no longer needed to bag a license, but at my peak I was able to copy (using a mill/typewriter) at 40 WPM and send that fast as well.

Over the past 54-years since I was a speedster, the pace came down to only about 25 words a minute, with a pencil.  And surprisingly, the challenge at 25 WPM isn’t catching the letters and decoding them.  It’s the art of writing the received letters down on a piece of paper.

The way this is done – and it takes practice that is “perishable” is to “copy behind” a bit.  While one part of the brain is actively decoding the letter (and word) coming in, another part of the brain is writing down what came in a second (or 2) earlier.  Hence the old brass-pounders will talk about “copying behind” to keep things rolling..

The physical side is the sending and there, I’m stuck in the 30-words per minute range.  My sending error rate goes up much over 30 WPM anymore.  That’s a far-cry from flawless at 40 when 17-years old.

What About that Bike-riding Saying?

Oh, you mean the nonsense about how you “never forget how to ride a bike?”

That’s one of those convenient urban myths that people pass around that’s only partially true.

Here’s the no BS, take it from me facts:

When I was young and could ride a bike 50-miles a day as no big deal, I also evolved an acute sense of balance.  I could roll my old three-speed English Racer to a stop, balance for 3-4 seconds and then pedal off.

I tried the same thing on my 10-speed mountain bike recently.  No way in hell could I do it.  What  I could do was come to a full-stop, and then instantly resume.  But unless I make getting good at balancing on a bike something I’d have to practice for a while, that ship has crashed onto Perishable Shores.

Which Skills Are Your Losing?

Everyone loses skills over time.  Elaine played a violin once-upon-a-time in high school.  But, since they require “keeping up callouses” she let that skill go a long time ago and has never looked back.

On the other hand, we have a few other musical instruments around here (piano, synth, drums, guitars (more callouses!) and so forth.  Yet, for now, we’re not devoting the time to keep any of the beginner-level talent active because we’re both engaged in writing books and “imagineering” our home so it does a better job of “transporting” us to new mental realms while writing.

Even things like the pending kitchen make-over will require my getting my “woodworking eye re-calibrated.”  After not doing anything finer than a chainsaw (“close enough!”) for several years, getting back to setting up jigs, wood stops, and how to align the laser guide just so to the line on the 12″ miter saw requires frequent use or my projects turn out poorly.

Just this week, I began my “tuning up” process by building a putter rack and antiquing it as we turn our sun porch into a “golf clubhouse.”

My personal list of perishing skills is long (and depressing!)..

Two days after Skip[ Barber racing school at Laguna Seca, was I a better driver than now?  Truth?  Yeah, not as sharp on heel and toe now…haven’t needed that skill in how long?

In 1984 it was “no big deal” to go scuba diving with friends in the Cayman Islands.  Would I do a reef dive down to 100-150 feet today?  What?  Am I nuts?  Perishable skill.  Can’t remember the dive tables..but remember don’t come up faster that Ure bubbles…

Language skills?  The smattering of Spanish learned in 8th grade was long-ago lost to the mental sands of time.

Art?  Elaine’s art of today is different than that of past years.

But that’s how we’re all built and wired, you see?

And that’s why even if you can’t buy 23-tons of freeze-dried foods, you can still up-armor your personal perishable inventory.

The muscle groups and the storage yard between the ears.

Write when you get rich,

14 thoughts on “Prepping: Keep Your “Perishable Skills””

  1. Dats why i have an on-line daya base. I have stored through out web on many different platforms. Examples of mental and intiutive skills. Takes a moment to, refresh but its like riding a bike.

    I am currently being “schooled” ny a new friend who is delighted to instruct me on numbers associated to letters and word counts as such and how to predict the “future” through data as such.

    He linked over 50 witnesses to account and verify his skills. Showed where he predicted me even and a few things i would say to him. So I/eye/aye am (1-am) playing a-long. Then thing intense and another 30 or so witness were provided. So i called one/I/eye/aye of my own. Just one. He replied “I just farted” so, sow Aye replied “objection?! Badgering the witness?!! Sustained!

    He went to explain that A = 1 and how some words have sevar meanings and how things work and he was a “profit” of sorts.

    I kid you not George. So eye gave him,/hymn/hem enough rope to run and right/write/rite before he got tooo full of himself, Eye grabbed the rope and gave it a yank. Lol

    I spoke deeply into his mind. Swithced it up and told him to be nice. The guy has skillzzzzzz. Ill give him that and a ton of followers.. something about portals, sacred be precise!

    Sigh…. i gave him a copy of A Back Channel Lemotive, something Eye Wrote years ago, using the Fibonacci sequence as a template. and math to create 4/for/four intertwining spirals with sphere [mathematically] (139 words a harmonic prime) to show him “skill”. See if he could see it, since i had enough of his Mocking me and experating my patience. Then eye, stepped in close, told him a few secrets about himself. I then, swhitched it up to Hebrew wrote a few things with numbers in them, switched to Arimaic more numbers, then sanskrit (even more complex numbers and loads of primes) and to latin and back to Arimac.

    He said and I quote, “You are the Real” “The Supreme Being” the “Fifth element” in which i replied, Nahhhh im just a man, yo!

    So, we shall see what he comes up with next? Probably take a few days to “think” first.

    I got the date write/right/rite for the stock market collapse. Its posted on this site, a while ago.

    I will be sure to point to it, as we get close.

    • Andy: have you traveled in time – past or future? DR. Michio Kaku says when you travel back in time & change something, you create another dimension. Are you able to visit these other dimensions? Based on this, there could be thousands of different dimensions. I am a firm believer that Bigfoot is a dimension traveler. He comes into our dimension, kidnaps people & leaves for another dimension. Sort of like the movie Predator with Arnold Schwartzenager.

  2. “…and don’t get too close to anything with your backhoe the first day you get it out of storage in the spring.” Don’t ask!

  3. Dude even had me pull out TICICIT, from back in the day. LMAO!

    He went as far as sayint in 2006 he took 21 pills and afer 61 days he returned to normal. 99% of humans would have died and brought out 4 witnesses to the account. Quite the Chap forsure.

    So I tagged a fella i known since i 15 and said rememeber back in 1988 when traded my car for 5 sheets of LSD and in 3 months ate 489 hits of acid (i sold 11 hits) and wound up in the Navy? Ha ha ha ha ha! True story! Note to self: “Dont drop acid and Join the Navy.” The quote in my oldsest sons Senior Year Book. And my friend did infact verify that to be TRUE. Good to be sober. :)

    Back 1995, when i had my first One year clean and Sober, you should have seen the Look my Fathers face when my buddy shared that story at the AA hall.

    He was LIVID! HA HA HA. My father looked at me and said, you told me you sold your car to pay your rent!!!!! Ha ha ha ha.

    Anyway, not much going as far as the Book deal as of yet, the Phd dude is super badgering me about a few insites, so i gave him another little piece and will let him stew some more.

    I got other HUGE things going for me.

    Have a wonderful day George and freinds.

    As all-ways, great article.

  4. Andy thanks for your updates. Just wondering if you have ever journed to Ruidoso NM. Was a very high energy area. Havent been back since the big fire so don’t know if still has the power. There through the years many energy workers came and went. I lived there 40 years and saw lots of woo woo happenings during that time. If you haven’t been there might be worth your time and even if non productive for your work its still a beautiful place to visit. Keep up the good work.

  5. Politics Up until yesterday the Dems thought that Mueller was the man. Today they want a new real Special Councel.

    • Fine. I propose Joe Arpaio…

      ‘So tired of this insanity. I have no problem with the actual top-level criminals of the 2016 Election cycle — 17 suits from Justice, three Senators, and several Congressmen, going to prison and being caged next to the Clintons. I’d bet Arpaio could accomplish all that on an under-$2mln budget, which is a helluva lot better ROI than the Mueller witch hunt…

      I’m watching (actually listening to) the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Barr’s summary release of the Mueller Report just went public, and because of which, I was subjected to several minutes of Major Garrett, as he attempted to spin the Summary, even though it was obvious it is

      a.) a complete exoneration, and
      b.) that he hadn’t read it.

  6. George, I think many of your readers are magic shroom fans and need to dry out or do what ever it takes to come back to reality.

    • Humans lapse in & out of reality; it is what makes life interesting & innovation possible. An open mind has no limits.

  7. Since the early 2000’s there has been some interesting work done with supplements alpha-l-carnitine (Alcar) and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) about improving brain function. One of the guys that has been studying this stuff in rats has been taking 5000 mg a day of Alcar, and is still working full-time at 85 years old in primary research. For myself, I find that 2000 mg/day of Alcar brought back the sharpness of mind, and it gets laggy again when I miss a few days. However, there is a linkage in the brain to long-term memory that slows down a lot as we age, and Alcar does not speed that up.

    George, any comments about the effectiveness of your supplements?

  8. “When you’re a child, it’s easy to have lightning-fast reflexes. That’s largely because – as with any computer – the “smaller the program, the faster it runs.”

    So true… The difference between impulse actions and one where you way out the end results and consequences.
    The military has boot camp just to retrain recruits to not think or question the consequences but act instantly without hesitation.

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