Essential skills our children won't need.

Inspired by an interesting piece I spotted at the Houston Press today.

Among the things they mention are cassette tape surgery, NES cartridge blowing and scrambled porn deciphering.

I hate to admit that I could definitely identify with the latter as a teenager growing up in the Midwest in the 80s and 90s. Your options for seeing T&A weren’t many. Unless you had a friend whose dad had a stash of Playboys and XXX tapes in the basement, you were basically limited to catching brief glimpses of naked bodies in R-rated movies or trying to make out shapes on the PPV channels after your parents went to sleep.

So what are some other skills future generations will never have the pleasure of learning?

Using a bent coat hanger to break into a car.

Did anyone do a Google image search for “octopus” with safe search off after reading the linked article?

I did.

OP: my vote is setting a clock/programming a vcr. Hell, in a few years most kids won’t recognise a VHS tape.

Make a mix tape.

Remember phone numbers.

Read a yellow pages.

Handwrite a letter or lick a stamp.

(likely) drive a stick shift.

Let’s see…

Resurfacing scratched CDs.
Notching 5.25" floppies to write the other side.
Splicing film.
Developing film.
Weighting a phonograph needle with a dime to keep a record from skipping.
Manually optimizing your VHF/UHF tuner so that the limited number of channels on your set were tuned to channels you wanted most.

Starting a campfire with only one match.

Cleaning fish and/or small game.

Using a typewriter. The feel of cranking the paper onto the roller, using the return lever, making sure you left room at the bottom of the page for footnotes, using White-Out on mistakes. It all seems so prehistoric compared to word processing programs used now.

Agree on the scrambled porn :rolleyes:

My dad had a glorious stack of Playboys that I “used” from about age 11 to age 13. Then my mom caught me with one (thankfully, pants were on) and they got burned.

Scrambled porn on the “Spice Channel” - this was my and my peers only outlet from age 13-15. Yes, it was terribly lame. We’d watch this scrambled mess for hours. Maybe once an hour, you’d get a minimally scrambled tit. Never even knew the channel was hard “softcore” until I wikied it a few months back on a nostalgia whim.

Then we all got internet access, and the “Spice Channel” became moot.

But yeah, back in the dark ages, us poor adolescents watched scrambled garbage for hours just to see that brief, fleeting image of a breast.

Untangling a phone cord.

You don’t have to lick stamps now. They’ve been self-adhesive for years. Just peel one off the backing and stick it on.

Years ago I taught my son how to use a dwell-tach and a timing light to tune an auto engine.

I don’t know why I thought he might need this ability.
As proof of its obscurity, I tried to add a link, and there is no entry for dwell tachometer in wikipedia. :rolleyes:

Read a map.
Write cursive.

Use a card catalog. Heck, even go to the library.

Also, waiting till you got home to use the phone. No pay phones these days, too.

Organising your evening around the TV schedule.

Assigning an unused IRQ, uudecoding a file from usenet, troubleshooting your TCP/IP stack, optimizing your EMS/XMS ram, defragging your harddisk.

With the advent of electric cars: No need to change oil, transmission fluid, air or fuel filters. Likewise, repacking bearings, gapping sparkplugs, setting the choke.

Stacking cordwood. (I don’t miss that from my childhood)

Listening before dialing (we had a Party line for a bit)


My contributions:

*Learning how to use a card catalog

*Waiting til the next morning’s newspaper to know how your stocks are doing

*Calling Directory Assistance

*Calling a number for the weather and time.

*Doing the Long Distance sprint. (“Dad! Dad! Uncle Joe’s on the phone and it’s LONG DISTANCE!”)

*Keeping an emergency quarter in your pocket in case you need to call your dad at a phone booth.

*Mastering the timing of when to press the “record” button on your cassette player to capture your favorite song on the radio, but to exclude the d.j.'s intro.

*Making up nonsensical words because you have no idea what the lyrics are - “Don’t be a bustle in your head, you know, don’t be a long now. It’s just a sprinkling for the May queen.”

*Imagining all kinds of hidden meanings in album covers.

*Being able to play your music backward to determine if your favorite band are Satanists.

Yeah, you can tell what era I grew up in.

My daughter is 4 and started school 6 weeks ago. The school has introduced a policy of teaching cursive. I’m a bit conflicted about it - I think it’s quite nice, but actually I think I mostly agree with you. Children will surely be doing precious little handwriting in the future, I’m not sure how they’ll really use cursive so much.

There are no fireplaces in The Future?

Spanish ones aren’t self-adhesive. The labels the Post Office prints yes, but not the stamps. Mind you, people rarely use stamps any more.

Judging by what a lot of people have said on this board, it seems like DIY auto maintenance is becoming something of a lost art. I’ve seen a number of tales here about how common it was back in the day to see people in their driveways every weekend with their hoods up.

I guess the reason is twofold. For one, there’s the advent of onboard computers. Back in the old days, engines were simple enough that many laymen could figure out what was wrong if the thing went on the fritz. Nowadays, you need diagnostic equipment to get to the root of many problems.

And then there’s the fact that cars these days are simply more reliable. There’s no need to work on them very often, because they don’t break down very often. Even basic maintenance you don’t have to do as often anymore. On my current car, for example, the spark plugs are designed to last 75,000 to 100,000 miles. The first car I had when I was in high school, an '80s era Plymouth, the spark plugs were at least a once-a-year thing.

Stacking records so that side 1 and side 2 would play in sequence.

Tuning a guitar by ear.

Read an analog clock.

Adjust rabbit ears.