Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Competence

            In response to last week’s entry, “My Incompetence,” I heard from several people worried about my low self-esteem. Some suggested areas where I am very competent. Mission accomplished. False humility works.

            Today’s entry, “My Competence,” addresses those concerns. There are several areas where I have consistently demonstrated outstanding competence. Here are just a few examples:

Making Carrot Sticks. I once heard a man explain that the secret of making a grilled cheese sandwich is to take the slice of cheese out of the plastic wrapper before grilling. Though I admit to being what Kim calls “kitchen challenged,” I have come up with similar insights into making carrots sticks: 1) Use a big knife to cut the carrots – a small knife leads to a bloody garnish. 2) Peel the carrots before you cut them up.
3) Cut off the gnarly ends. 4) Eat your mistakes. (Advice that covers a lot of situations you might encounter.)

Unscrewing Lids. Sometimes the lids of jars are too tight for Kim to unscrew. She hands them to me, and I unscrew them. This makes me feel good. It just occurred to me that perhaps Kim does this just to make me feel good.

Reaching Things on High Shelves. I’m tall. I’m not sure why, exactly, I give myself credit for this, but I do.

Shoveling Snow. I’m really good at shoveling snow. Of course, having spent the 15 winters in Florida might be a factor in my self-evaluation, as does this last winter living in a condo. When we move into a cottage on Torch Lake I may have to remove this from my list.

Driving. But then again, who doesn’t think he’s a good driver? My specialty is running errands.

Making Drinks. My specialties are Vodka Martinis (so dry that I only whisper “vermouth” over the top of the glass), Manhattans (with cherries we can only find in Gainesville), and Rusty Nails (the drink that got us engaged).

Selecting Television Programs. Most evenings Kim and I watch television, or perhaps a movie on Netflix. This is part of our ritual that says, “Today’s work is done.” We have a complex system involving 3 remotes, two of which are “universal,” and I have figured out how to use them. Kim sometimes suggests that we get Best Buy to program everything into one remote, but that might mean surrendering my power. When I ask Kim what she would like to watch, she refuses to tell me, referring back to maybe one incident that might have happened years ago when perhaps I might have suggested that we not watch what Kim wanted. (Her memory of this alleged incident is a bit more clear than mine.) So I select the evening’s entertainment. Occasionally Kim will fall asleep or leave the room to Photoshop her pictures.

Computer and iPhone Maintenance. I am actually not very good at this, except that I am better than Kim – unless we are counting Photoshop. When confronted with a problem, I have a number of strategies: 1) Try to think like a computer rather than as a human being. As a man, I should be good at this. I’m not. 2) Call Miguel, our engineering PhD. friend in New Mexico, 3) Call Phee, my son who works giving phone tech support for Charter Cable. Just what he wants from his dad when he is not working – a call like one of the ones he gets all day at work. 4) Go to Best Buy or the nearest Apple Store, where my goal is to escape without buying something. Or, most frequently, 5) turn off the computer, do something else for a while, and then turn it back on and usually it has fixed itself. I actually learned this technique from Kim, so I’m not sure I can take full credit for it.

            Kim says that I’m good at lots of other things, but this is not the place to discuss them. I trust that your confidence in my self-esteem has been restored.

If you have other areas of competence, feel free to share them at

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