Sunday, July 28, 2013


MetaRules or rules about rules

1. Rules are generalizations - even this one.

2. Rules often contradict each other but not this one and the previous one.

3. Some of the rules from NCIS are just crazy. The most reasonable one, always carry a knife, is very often illegal and people do get arrested for it. "Never say you are sorry, because it is a sign of weakness"  is so dumb, that it is even dumb for tv.


1. The wedding is mostly for the bride. Everyone else is a guest and that includes the groom, who is a special guest, sometimes third only to the mother of the bride.

2. The groom should evoke great interest in the preparations and day even if he has little. His apparent happiness will go a long way towards making it a great day for her. The existence of a Friends' episode parodying this has made no impact on this behavior.

3. Some poor families need to fight before a wedding, for a subset to the degree they will never get past it. It can be over something as trivial as shoes, table arrangements or colors. Don't try and fix it. You can't.

4. Have a store of traditional questions and statements ready for when the bride and groom come over to your table. If the people just before you ask where they are going on their honeymoon, you want to have something mindless to say that is at least a little different. In a pinch use the word "beautiful" or "awesome":

                "You look beautiful."

                "Everything is beautiful."

                "What a beautiful ceremony."  

                "Awesome au d'oeuvres."
Better, try to be the first at your table to talk when they come. Of course, they aren't going to remember or care what you say anyway.

5. Wedding gifts are no longer really personal gifts. It is a socially required behavior where the happy couple tells you what you must buy them off a registry they selected and you publicly declare you've done it. And we do it because it is what they and everyone else wants us to do, because it actually is easier than thinking, and because that's life.  Money, of course, works too. I prefer that myself.

6. Toasters should not be roasters. Brides are not famous for their senses of humor, nor their parents, and even a normally happy go lucky groom, might want it to be the one day his buddies didn't give it to him. There are exceptions, but many of them are in movies.

7. If it is the rare "no gifts please" wedding, check to see if other people are giving gifts anyway so you don't feel like a cheap bastard. Probably they are.

8. Do not make yourself sick eating au d'oeuvres. It is really easy to do. Okay, maybe this rule is just for me.

9. If you are bored, remember that filming with your phone always makes you look like you have something going on and that you are fully participating. Try not to actually use your phone the way you normally do though - calls, texts, etc. It may be one the few places where it is still unnacceptable.

10. When any doubt about applying any rule, rule no. 1 is no. 1 for a reason.

Rules for parenting

1. You can dedicate up to 75% of your life to your children. Keep at least 25% for yourself. And don't feel guilty about taking more. You have to go a long way to be neglectful. The idea that it is "all" for the children has actually been terrible for the children.

2. Kids gain confidence when they see their parents are confident, in charge and enjoy their life. Your misery and fear is highly contagious.

3. Still - even still - you should not let your child scream or cry in a restaurant. Take them out right away.  The same goes for libraries and most stores. There are exceptions when a place is kid friendly and the rest of us have to accept it. That's up to the place - not the parent.

4. Sure, sometimes you can let your kid win. But do not let your kid always win or even most of the time. You will make losing even more onerous than it is for them when it happens in real life. I'm not saying destroy them at wrestling, but as cute as you think that they think they can beat daddy, it's better for them if they have something to try for.

5. Your kid is better off when you let them do what they can when they are ready. Don't keep them babies because it makes you feel good. I hear a mother say she wants to keep a baby in his crib or diapers as long as she can and I cringe.  Parents who are always cooking and cleaning for their teenagers will find they are doing it for their 20 and even 30 somethings. And they shouldn't be.

6. There is no limit to what you can spoil your kid when it comes to purchasing equipment or materials for sports, music or education - so long as you can afford it. We are not all Rockefellers. But better to splurge with that than toys.

7. Kids can make choices when they are old enough. When they are young they do not have the experience to know what they like. So, when you want to take them to the park or zoo or beach, just take them - don't ask them.

8. Kids are capable very young to learn how to share, how not to fight or steal, how to take turns, how to be quiet, how not to destroy things. You are not earning points with them or anyone else if you think they are too young when none of the other kids are that dumb.

9. Kids feel good about themselves when they are good at something. When your kid finds their thing, they will know it, even if it is not what you wanted. And they will probably want to do it a lot.

10. Kids should have pets, learn to respect them, handle them without hurting them and know not to be afraid of them without good reason. But don't take on more than you and they can handle.

11. Read, read, read to them.

Rules for young men and women (not that I necessarily followed them)

1. Excessive drinking and pretty much any drugs can destroy your life. Period. I can't even be bothered arguing about it anymore. If you need help stopping, get help.

2. Go to school as long as you can. Take courses that will enable you to have a career of some kind. That may sound obvious, but many people just don't do it.  

3. On the other hand, If you have a dream and want to follow it, go ahead, but understand that the phrase "starving artist" is there for a reason.  Don't let anyone tell you not to follow your dreams. Just understand the risks, the likelihood of success and be prepared for rejection and failure. There's nothing wrong with it and it can't happen if you don't try. But, if you can, college at the same time or first, if possible.

4. You do not have to live where your parents live. At some point, one or more of your ancestors picked up and left. You can too. Any time after high school is fine.

5. Work as hard as you can stand for as long as you can to learn your career. This is the time when you have the energy, the stamina, the learning capabilities and other people will be sympathetic and desire to work with you. There will be plenty of time for recreation too no matter how hard you work.

6. Don't settle for a guy or girl because you want to have someone. There is nothing wrong with dating a number of people while you don't have a commitment. This seems so obvious to me, but again, I know so many people who don't do it.

7. There are two major breaks in most people's lives where they change the most. The first is getting out of high school. But more so is during your first year of full time work, when you will change the most and probably also find out more about yourself than any time in your life. If you are behaving a certain way because you think someone(s) expects it of you, and want to change, either get past them or make new friend or move away from your family. Too many unhappy people trying to live someone else's life.

8. Family members are often going to be the ones you can count on the most, take care of you when you are vanquished or old and put up with your odd behavior. Just as often they are the ones who will try to make you the most miserable and destroy you. Think on this as an extreme example. We know hundreds of people and come into contact with thousands of acquaintances and strangers. Yet a 1988 study found that 16% of all murders were by family. When you think how few people there are in your family compared to strangers you meet, that is a staggering number. 2004 FBI stats had it up to almost 23%! I just picked two random years but Yikes! The percentage of women murderers also go up substantially when family is involved.  

9. Mark Twain probably never said or wrote, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do," but it is great advice anyway.

 10. Learn this now.  Most people, and that includes your friends, family and co-workers will judge you most (I didn't say only) on how much money you have or make. Even people without money do that. It is very imbedded in our culture and perhaps in our species. That may be good or bad, depending on how much money you have. You can accept it or not.

Special rules for (nice) young women with respect to dating

1. You are not a slut because you have slept with more than one person in your life, or even a lot more. But, other people may feel you are based on their own hang ups or jealousy and because that's our culture. Life isn't fair that men aren't looked at the same way, but that's our culture too. Don't believe the tabloids that it is different now than it used to be. You are not Demi Moore.  I've seen too many young women distraught over whether other people think they are a slut or not. You do what you want to do, but, leaving aside health and safety reasons as obvious, it is best  . . .

2. . . .not to advertise your sex life, particularly the wild parts. Other women will judge you on it (almost always adversely) and guys will dislike you for it if they are not personally on the receiving end. Don't brag about sexual adventures. You are going to get older and when you want to have kids, you aren't going to want your friends to remember or your husband to know that you once were with two guys at once or made out with another girl at a club (even drunk, both times). I know, you think, I won't care, but you probably will. Private is better.

3. If a guy is attracted to you and you kiss him or bring him home, in some cases just smile at him, he will think you want to sleep with him. That doesn't mean he is a rapist, but it is why we have a human species. But, seriously, know someone a while before you are alone with him. It is easy to act nice and some people's aggressiveness skyrockets when they drink.

4. Of course, don't let anyone touch you that you don't want touching you, but, also don't think a guy is a creep just because he tries (until you say "no" or he is just obnoxious about it). The reason guys have to learn "'no' means 'no'" is because of rule 3 and also because you do confuse us. And, of course, some guys are just jerks (and, occasionally, rapists). The best you can, try to say what you mean to us when it comes to sex. Better for you.

5. Repeat to yourself endlessly - "He cannot read my mind. If I want him to know or do something, I have to tell him DIRECTLY!"

6. The only thing you owe someone on a date is to try to have a good time yourself, not to impress him or make him have a good time.  If you can really focus on that, you will not feel so anxious.

7. If a guy is jealous and shows any temper about it, move on. If he is at all violent about it, run, and yes, call the police if necessary, as many times as necessary.  If you haven't blocked a harasser from your internet accounts and changed your phone number, you might like the drama. I've seen that many times.  

8. If you start dating a guy, never tell him you slept with anyone else (even a boyfriend at the time or an old boyfriend) after you met him, never tell him anyone was better than him at any type of sex (even kissing) and never tell him you ever slept with anyone faster than you slept with him, because this guy might be the one and he won't forget it.  I'm not saying you should lie. I'm saying don't tell him. Trust me on this. Men are complicated too.

9. Men produce testosterone their whole lives. Don't necessarily think because someone is a lot older they aren't going to look at you the same way a young man will. That doesn't make them rapists and it may be creepy, but that's the way it is.

10. No naked or topless pictures. None. You might as well publish them yourself if you send them to a guy.

11. It is fine to date someone from work, and work rules that require you not to, unless they are really related to security, are ridiculous. But, understand that it is often a bad idea simply because you end up spending a lot of time with someone you may loathe once you break up. Some people can handle it. A lot can't.

12. The current texting before dating rule current among young women is so absurd, it is among the dumbest things ever invented. You CANNOT get to know someone through texting or emailing. You must talk with and spend time with them.

Rules about honesty

1. Tell the truth as much as possible. Try to avoid compulsion though. You can just say nothing.

2. Honesty is the best policy, but it is not the only policy. There are some good reasons to lie, but once you exhaust white lies and lying to save your life, you have exhausted most of them.

3. There is a definite link between how much you lie about your shortcomings and failures and how much shame you will feel.

4. In many cases, being able to tell the truth about a compulsion is the same as being able to control the compulsion. I think it is the best therapy. I can't tell you how many people I've met who are ashamed of some aspect of their life that people will just not care that much about if they know.

5. Tell white lies to spare feelings and don't feel guilty about it. It took me a while to get there.

6. It is true that sometimes you have to tell a little lie to avoid a great injustice. But, this has to be used very sparingly as it is also an easy excuse. And, you probably will get caught.

7. Ironically, most people want you to lie to them most of the time, preferring getting their way, affirmation or feeling good about themselves to knowing the truth.  It doesn't mean you have to lie, but they would prefer it. Fortunately, we learn what these things are very young.

8. Often telling someone the truth when everyone else is lying to them, is exactly what they need. That doesn't mean they will appreciate it, but many do.

9. Lying is a tactic. Fear is the number one motivation behind it. I know you are thinking greed or feelings of inferiority, but they are symptoms of fear.

10. Sometimes it is said that remaining silent is the same as telling a lie. I disagree a little. Only when another person has a reasonable expectation that you have a duty to tell them the truth and that is not always easy to figure out.

11. People decide whether you are lying or not based on their own interests, not logic or experience. Get used to it.


  1. Wow. I've known you a loooong time, and I learned some new things in reading this. Very interesting. My thoughts on your rules are irrelevant because they are YOUR rules. Post is entertaining and thought provoking.

  2. Well, many/most/all? of this stuff I have believed for a long time. But that doesn't mean I ever said it to you. This is one of the reasons I have a blog - to spew out stuff I really don't have a reason to say to anyone. You were probably thrown by my NCIS observation, weren't you?

  3. I loved this post. And I agree with 99% of what you said. Although, like Bear said, there can't really be disagreement about this because thay are your rules. I wish that they were adopted by more people.
    One of my favorite's was #5 for (nice) girls- "He can't read my mind". If that were adopted it might remove the major source of strife between the (involved) sexes.

    I am waiting for the follow up on Rules for (not nice) girls.
    Good job.

  4. How would I possibly know anything about (not nice) girls?

    I forget to say above that I picked up #6 under parenting from a boss in my 20s and remembered it when I became a parent. I've passed it on a few times. One of my favorites.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .