The Book of Good Living: The Social Minimum

I've struggled for a long time to figure out the simplest way to say this, and never gotten it down to a short formulation. But here it is at last, I think:It's not your job to cater to others. But you DO have to live your life in such a way that they're not forced to cater to you.Unpacking this brings out a lot of little specific rules such as:Don't pee on the toilet seat, forcing the next guy to wipe it off before he can sit there. Don't park in the supermarket entryway, forcing … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: How to Avoid Being Killed By A Train

Train

Metro-North Train Hits S.U.V., Killing 7 in Railroad’s Deadliest Accident When a train hits a car, it's pretty much never the train's fault. If you just arrived on this planet, here are some tips on How to Avoid Being Killed By A Train:1) Look for the big silvery steel rails, spaced about four feet apart. They will run for miles in each direction to your left and right. The rails themselves are a huge warning sign, and if all else fails, they will be there. However ...2) Where the big s … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: Just Say No

Looking back over my life, one of the skills that would have saved me a lot of anguish, annoyance and wasted time is the skill of saying No.If I'd been taught to say No, just no -- without anger, or guilt, or any sort of emotional spin -- oh boy my life would have been different. I would have spent a great deal less time getting roped into doing things I didn't really want to do. My life would have been more MINE -- which I strongly suspect would have better allowed me to say Yes in the ways … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: Innocent Until Proven Guilty

A common thread that has run through many of the stories we’ve seen in the last few years, about the public outcry over genetically modified crops, and over the PCBs which GE dumped in the Hudson River here in Upstate New York, is that there is insufficient proof of the dangers. The implication is that anyone harboring baseless suspicions about these things, which are after all the result of scientific progress, is either a Luddite or a superstitious primitive.Nobody ever says it out loud, b … [Read more...]

The Book of Good Living: Favors

I was in a position to witness a young woman asking people for a cigarette at a highway rest stop a few days back. “Could you give me a cigarette? No?? Oh, please, please, please! It’s just one cigarette, and I really NEED it. It’s just one lousy cigarette!”She ended up crying (!), complaining tearfully about how rude people are nowadays. “I just don’t understand (sob) how people can be so RUDE. Anytime I have cigarettes and someone asks me for one, I (sob) give it to them. Some people are su … [Read more...]

Book of Good Living: The Risk Rule

My approach to risk is tuned toward the more sensitive end of the spectrum. (We're not counting the bull riding, which was a 20-something macho-guy one-off.)As I said in my last post, I've gotten to the age of 62 without a stitch, a broken bone, or a major accident of any sort. I've done it by following a rough rule for dealing with risks.So here's my Risk Rule. (Note that this applies mainly to physical dangers, and not to existential hazards such as being turned down when asking … [Read more...]


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