An oldie but a goodie…
Re Woods’s post, the following is from a never-finished column… I might as well post it here now–
Tucker’s Rules of Life for Living
Over the past few years, I’ve started to collect various “rules of thumb” Jeff Tucker lays down from time to time in his articles and in private correspondence with me. While many are handy, even the ones I don’t agree with are interesting. Since I was unable to persuade him to distill his concise guide to life, I thought I would present a nutshell version.
- Music: Squirrel Nut Zippers. ‘Nuff said. (Jeff, that was not your best.)
- Clothes: “Clothes should not make the man; they should be the man.” (How To Dress Like a Man).
- Formal dress. “A sports coat and trousers are the official uniform of a man who is just going about the business of life. When someone says, come casual!, this is what you wear.”
- Older men. “A special note for older men: wear suits most or all of the time, and always ties. Ultimately, it is the only thing an older man looks good in.”
- Shoes: “there are only two brands that qualify as quality shoes: Allen Edmonds and Alden. All others are junk.”
- Pants: Shop at a thrift store, or Land’s End.
- Short sleeves. “No short-sleeve “dress shirts” in public, ever!”
- Ironing. “If you are not ironing, you are not dressing well.”
- Shaving: Shaving products are evil. Baby oil and hot water are heroic. Shaving gel turns “your into a tenderized chicken breast” (so it bleeds when you shave).
- Showering: Shower in the morning. Not in the evening. Period.
- Cars: Used only.
- The Delivery Room: CENSORED
- On Naming Children: When I was mulling over my baby’s name, Jeff observed drolly (to use a word you can only write, not say): “children should not be named like pets. Don’t flip through a book trying to find one you ‘like’. Choose a family name. Or at least, if you pick a name, pick one that sounds like it was in the family or pretend it was.” (paraphrasing) Of course, this reasoning, if followed consistently, would lead to an entire family all named Adams and Eves.
- On Teaching Children to Play Music: Start with violin at 3. They are not ready for piano until older. Avoid any instrument involving wind—trumpet, flute, etc.
- Exercise: “Do 30 pushups each morning. It’s your ticket to take a shower. No pushups, no shower.”
- Colds: Tucker’s 12-Hour Flu Cure (I’m a skeptic; tried it; no luck)
- Water: “your water heater is set at too low a temperature” (The Turn of the Screw)
- Websites: Use a news aggregator, like SharpReader. If you have a site, “If you do not provide a feed, you are slowly but surely becoming invisible” (The Quiet RSS Revolution).
- Use FireFox browser instead of Internet Explorer. Period.
- Use Google Desktop search.
- Also, get a Favicon.
- Religion: Catholic. Period.
My wife thinks Tucker’s nuts, after that delivery room advice (which she did not let me follow). But I think he’s a lovable little fuzzball.
I previously listed some of Tucker’s “Rules of Thumb for Living”. Yesterday he served me up another doozy. He was raving about the new version 1.5 of Firefox–it has “movable tabs,” wow. I told him I was not interested yet, since it is just the beta version. “LIFE is a beta version!” he yells at me, obviously having pondered this before. ‘Nuff said.
Jeff Tucker’s article on cell phones today is the latest in what is becoming a wonderful collection of articles about everyday things, suffused with Jeff’s liberty-loving and joyful approach to life. In addition to articles on technology, he writes on shoes, umbrellas, Halloween candy and much else. Here are the others that I know of:
- How To Dress Like A Man (and addendum)
- The Economics of Happy Feet
- Tucker’s 12-Hour Flu Cure
- Take My Money, Please
- They’re Not Called Turkeys For Nothing
- Three Cheers for ‘Petty’ Concerns
- Lounge Lizards, Weak Wastrels, & Forgetters
- The Work of Human Hands
- The Key to a Happy Life
- Down With Human Suffering
- The Spam Problem: Solved
- The Turn of the Screw
- The Umbrella: A New Era
- The Candy Economy
- The Quiet RSS Revolution
- How To Fix Your Computer
- It’s a Jetsons World
Note: My title here, “The Joy of Everyday Things” is a play on the title of a classic book The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. If you like Jeff’s articles you may very well enjoy Norman’s description of both well and poorly designed door handles, car radio controls, stove tops and other ordinary things. I have used the book to teach basic design principles to software programmers, but it is for anyone who likes to think about how things are made and is a delightful read.
Stephen, you couldn’t be more right. There is no one quite like Jeff Tucker. Those pieces you cite couldn’t have been written by anyone else. What’s particularly funny is how authoritatively he speaks on things like electric fans, such that you don’t dream of questioning him.
At an Austrian Scholars Conference not long ago, a bunch of professors heading to lunch got to talking about Jeff and his pieces. One particularly liked Jeff’s recommendation that while you had to have $440 shoes, you could get by with $3 trousers from the thrift store. “After buying those shoes, I’d have to get my wardrobe from a thrift store,” one of them said.
When Jeff latches on to something — whether it’s baking your own bread or (the thing he was into when I was down there about ten years ago) rubbing salt into hams to make your own salt-cured ham — it is a matter of time before Jeff develops a full-blown theory about it, and why it is fundamental to the human experience.
Another one from the mid-1990s: Jeff was on a tear about the misuse of the plural in sentences like “Everyone should mind their own business.” Jeff was going out of his way to say “his” in sentences like that. Thus when he made his own gumbo — another Tucker project — he was certain to ask his dinner guests, “Is everyone enjoying his gumbo?”
You just have to meet him, is all I can say. And no, he’s not just pretending to be fascinated by whatever it is you’re talking about. That’s how he really is.