43 Folders

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Found: Rules of Thumb 2

Rules of Thumb 2
Originally uploaded by hotdogsladies.

Last month, I mentioned a series of books by Tom Parker that I had loved in college, called “Rules of Thumb,” and I’d lamented that they were out of print (since I couldn’t find my old copies). Imagine my delight when a bit of closet refactoring turned up this dog-eared veteran.

Here are a few of my old favorites:

  • Passing a Car - You can safely cut in front of the car you are passing when you can see its headlights in your rear-view mirror.
  • Planning Potato Salad - When making potato salad, figure 1-1/2 medium potatoes and one egg per person.
  • Lowering Your Travel Risks - Pick a hotel room between the third and sixth floors. Three floors put you above street attacks and random shootings, while six floors will keep you in range of a cherry picker or fireman’s ladder if the place goes up in flames.
  • Cooking Your Dinner - Things cooking in the oven are almost done when you can smell them in the living room.
  • Reaching a Compromise - You know you’ve reached a good compromise if both sides are dissatisfied.
  • Feeding Cockroaches - Twelve cockroaches can live on the glue of a postage stamp for a week.
  • Keeping Yourself in Shoes - If you switch back and forth among three pairs of shoes, they will last as long as five pairs of shoes worn out one pair at a time.
  • Cooking a Steak - If you want a medium-rare steak, it should be as firm as the puffy area between your thumb and index finger. If you want your steak rarer, it should be softer; more done, harder.
  • Deciding What You Want - If you don’t know what you want, it’s probably sleep.

RoT2 has 930 of these little gems of guesstimation, and, frankly, I think I could read them all day. The books are available used on Amazon (see below), but, man, I wish Houghton Mifflin would reissue all three of them as a single big volume. I’d totally buy it.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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