They include Rules I recently thought up or heard about, plus some I have long abided by and only now remembered.
If a few seem familiar, it’s because I’ve already used them in columns that I wrote since the last set of Rules appeared. I included them for the sake of continuity.
Italicized attributions or explanations are added where appropriate.
Rule 102: There are too many What Ifs and If Onlys. Concentrate on the What Is and the What Can Be. These are the ones that matter. Rule 102a: The best thing about the future might be that we don’t know what it is.
Rule 103: When entering unexplored territory, whether it’s geographical, emotional, even spiritual or just as you grow older — anything — look behind you every now and then. This gives you an idea of where you came from so you will know what it looks like if you have to go back that way. There may not be another escape route. Rule 103a: Always try to find at least one more way out, preferably one that nobody else knows.
Rule 104: Refrain, if possible from using the word “never.” I am convinced that there are angels whose only duty is to listen for someone to say “I’m never going to ... ” and then make sure it happens. (Not once in the past 38 years — notice how carefully I worded that — have I said, “I’ll never get married again.” And that has nothing to do with my ex-wife, with whom I remain friends. She now lives in Texas, where all of George Strait’s ex’s live.)
Rule 105: All we have left to do is everything. (Jesse James, the motorcycle fabricator — not Jesse James, the outlaw.)
Rule 106 (now obsolete, at least until they reopen it): If you must pass through the roundabout on U.S. Route 220 south at the junction with Interstate 68, ignore the sign that recommends you go no faster than 20 mph. Unless you are driving a sports car and know how to handle it, 15 mph is about the maximum you should push it.
Rule 107: When you hear someone say that the fate of the Republic depends upon the results of the next election, remember that during the darkest days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln said, “If there is a worse place than hell, I am in it.”
Rule 108: Those who insist on pushing up toothpaste from the bottom of the tube must do so every time they use the toothpaste. Those who wait until the tube is almost flat need to do it only once ... or at most, twice.
Rule 109: Memo to women: Lowering the seat before using the toilet takes no more effort than raising the seat before using it. Rule 109a: The main purpose of fuzzy toilet lid covers is to keep the seat from being left in a standing position. (On the underside of the toilet seat in a woman’s apartment where I attended a party in Morgantown was a small sign that said, “It’s So Nice To Have A Man Around The House.”)
Rule 110: Let him in. I wanna see a critter I can feel sorry for. (Caption under a World War II-era Bill Mauldin cartoon that shows a little dog who is shivering in the rain, with his tail between his legs and his ribs showing, and who is looking into a tent at Willie and Joe, two bearded soldiers who don’t seem to be in much better condition than he is.)
Rule 111: There are times when the best thing you can say to someone else is, “You are not alone. I am here with you.” (I’ve said it to other people, and they’ve said it to me. It works.)
Rule 112: If a close friend or relative appears to be unhappy with you for something you may (or may not) have done or said, let it go for a while and see what happens. That person may not have been at the top of his game, just as you’re not always at the top of yours. Act no differently, and if there is a mutual relationship of respect and caring, it should blow over eventually. If it doesn’t, then act to fix it.
Rule 113: Logic, experience and knowledge rarely prevail in a debate against emotion, inexperience and ignorance. Rule 113a: It is far easier to reason with a child who is having a tantrum than with an adult who is having a tantrum. The child may actually be smart enough to realize that he is wrong.
Rule 114: Never argue with people who know what they are talking about, when you are unaware that you don’t. (Don’t tell someone who served in the Alueutian Islands during World War II how cold you got while you were deer hunting ... as The Sage and I once did.)
Rule 115: If someone wants to show the world that he is an idiot, and no harm will come to anyone else because of it, allow him to do so. As Rule 33 says, “Free entertainment is everywhere,” and it would be selfish not to allow others to share it. Rule 115a: Be prepared to follow up by asking the “Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?” question. (f the governor of Rhode Island says he will refer to the state Christmas tree as a holiday tree, lest he offend non-Christians, ask him — as Bill O’Reilly wanted to — if he’s not afraid of offending the 73 percent of Americans who say they are Christians.)
Rule 116: To be an atheist may be the ultimate act of arrogance, because it makes you the supreme being. (What will the other 7 billion of us do when you are dead? Or are we just a figment of your imagination and don’t really exist in the first place?)
Rule 117: It is far easier to demonstrate that something exists, than to prove it does not. This includes God.
Rule 118: Don’t assume that something is dead just because you want it to be dead and write a premature obituary for it. (Big Jake [John Wayne] shoots John Fain [Richard Boone]. Before he dies, Fain asks Big Jake who he is. Big Jake tells him and Fain says, “I thought you were dead.” Big Jake replies, “Not hardly.”)
Rule 119: The gifts you give should mean more than the gifts you receive. You might not be able to see the smile on your own face, but you can see it on someone else’s.
Rule 120: Women talk about nothing. Men think about nothing. Rule 120a: Knowing what women want isn’t difficult. It’s simply a matter of being willing to provide it. (Arlo, of Arlo and Janis.)
Rule 121: Learn not to envy others for what they have. If they achieved it honestly and decently, through hard work and skill, be happy for them. (My parents.)
Rule 122: Considering the number of ideologues in the Republican Party and the magnitude of their extremism, it is hard to understand why there aren’t more Democrats. Rule 122b: Considering the number of ideologues in the Democratic Party and the magnitude of their extremism, it is hard to understand why there aren’t more Republicans.
Rule 123: Don’t go looking for reasons to be offended. You may find more than you bargained for, and most of them won’t be real to anyone but you.
Rule 124: If something is meant to happen, it will happen when it is supposed to happen, and not before — particularly if it is something good. (Ecclesiastes 3:1 ... “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”)
Rule 125: It is possible to be friends, and nothing more, with someone of the opposite sex. If you look at such folks solely as targets of opportunity, you eliminate by half your pool of potential friends — and you can never have enough friends. (My parents.)
Rule 126: Whoever designed this (four-word Anglo-Saxonism) ought to have it (put in a place where it the sun will never shine upon it). (Goldsworthy family saying that’s at least three generations old.)
Rule 127: Just because I’m laughing, that doesn’t mean I think it’s funny. Sometimes, that’s the only defense.
Rule 128: Your best friends are those who give you reasons to smile and laugh that will remain with you for the rest of your days.
Rule 129: What you do might not be as important as the reason you do it.
Rule 130: I refuse to join the debate as to whether humans are descended from apes. I have, however, seen considerable evidence to suggest that at least some humans are descended from jackasses.
Rule 131: The difference between complaining and griping is simple: Complaining involves the expectation (or at least the hope) that somebody will do something about the problem. With griping, there is no such expectation.
Rule 132: Those who seek to climb the corporate ladder should understand that a noose and a trapdoor may be waiting for them at the top.
Rule 133: If you’re going to fantasize, fantasize about something you know will never happen. It’s much safer that way.
Rule 134: Nobody ever went broke because he understimated the intelligence of the American people. (Attributed to H.L. Mencken.)
Rule 135: The things a woman does that a man doesn’t understand, she does for three reasons — the reason she gives, the reason she thinks, and the real reason ... which she herself may not understand. (Source unknown.)
Rule 136: Never let them know everything you’ve got ... until it’s time to do otherwise. Then hit them hard, in a way they don’t expect it (what in the military is called “violence of action). Even then, don’t use any more of it than you need to get the job done.
Rule 137: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to do what you must, regardless of the circumstances and any reluctance you may have ... especially if you can smile while you’re doing it. (Numerous sources, many of which are worded differently ... but all mean the same thing.)
Rule 138: Never ask a woman you don’t know when she is expecting ... because she might not be. (I haven’t done this, but I’ve seen it happen, and it gets real ugly, real fast.)
Rule 139: I’d like to have the money to buy an elephant. I don’t particularly want an elephant — and have no use for it. I’d just like to have the money it would take to buy one.
Rule 140: Painting “Titleist” on a spheroid of horse manure doesn’t turn it into a golf ball.
Rule 141: Some folks are more offended by the fact that some people are rich than they are by the fact that some people are poor. (Margaret Thatcher.)
Rule 142: We hear a lot about what it takes to attract “the brightest and the best.” I would rather have “competent, intelligent and reasonable.” It’s easier to find and costs less, while being less temperamental and more reliable.
Rule 143: If you teach a politically correct, but distorted and significantly inaccurate or incomplete version of history or anything else, sooner or later people may find out the truth. Then they’ll start wondering how else they were lied to.
Rule 144: When people tell you to behave, or ask if you’re behaving, tell them this: It gets easier every day. (My dad once told me, “Wait ‘till you’re 80, and see how damn easy it gets.”)
Rule 145: Be suspicious of anyone who wants you to put him in the position of being able to tell you what you can and cannot do. That includes anyone who is running for elected office.