Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thumb's the word

Someone once said, 'A good rule-of-thumb will turn information that you have into information that you need.' I'm not sure I know what that means. However, I do think in order for information to qualify as a rule-of-thumb it should contain just enough detail to raise it a notch or two above common sense. Product instructions such as: "Do not use iron on clothes while wearing them" do not qualify, since they clearly defy common sense.

The following list was compiled from articles by Tom Parker that ran in the Fall 1982 and Fall 1983 issues of CoEvolution Quarterly. Readers were invited to submit rules-of-thumb they actually use and thought would be useful for others to store somewhere (relatively deep) in the recesses of their minds. It strikes me that rules-of-thumb must endure the test of time.
What do you think of these? Thumbs up or thumbs down? (GW)

Rules of Thumb
by Tom Parker
CoEvolution Quarterly
Fall 1982/Fall 1983

  • To get your bees through the winter, leave ten pounds of honey for each month of winter.
  • Ten people will raise the temperature of a room one degree per hour.
  • When spit freezes before it hits the ground, its 40 degrees below zero.
  • If you see one mouse in your house, you probably have a dozen.
  • One ostrich egg will serve 24 people for brunch.
  • Double the height of a three-year-old to determine his or her adult height
  • Each person contaminates a hot tub with two to three pints of perspiration per hour.
  • When generating power on a large scale, no more than 15 percent should come from any one source. Things get screwed up when more than 15 percent is out of service.
  • During a job interview, never talk for more than 60 seconds at a time.
  • You have a 50 percent chance of surviving overboard in 50 degree water for 50 minutes.
  • The distance that a river, under normal conditions, will run straight, is never greater than ten times its width.
  • One trained dog equals 60 search-and rescue workers
  • Three times the average distance you run every day is the maximum distance you should run in a race.
  • Fresh artichokes squeak when rubbed together.
  • You can check the fit of new pants without trying them on: With the top of the pants closed and the button snapped, the waistband should just wrap around your neck.
  • A pair of shoes is good for 1000 miles. A pair of bicycle tires is good for 4000 miles.
  • You can be fairly sure that you are dealing with a bureaucrat if he or she has to dial nine to get an outside line.
  • If the difference in price between medium and large eggs is less than eight cents per dozen, the large eggs are the better deal.
  • To find out how many lights your Christmas tree needs, multiply the tree height times the tree width times three.
  • The number of guests at a child's birthday party should be limited to the age of the child. Invite three for a three-year-old, five for five-year-old.
  • To avoid looking silly on a horse, choose a mount whose withers are the height of your shoulders.
  • When hiring boys, remember: One boy's a boy; two boys -- half a boy; three boys -- no boy at all.
Always remove child before folding up his or her stroller.
Rule-of-thumb or stupid product instruction?


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