43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
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.

fixedgear's picture

You mean like "stop your...

You mean like "stop your car so you can see the rear tires of the car in front of you?" This always leaves enough room to go around the car if it stalls or just decides not to proceed.

Or when following another car, you can measure following distance by counting in 'Mississippi's' when the car in front of you passes a stationary object like a telephone pole. Three Mississippi's works at any speed. Try it.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »