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Thirty Lessons I’ve Learned in 61 Years

  1. Defy convention.
  2. Question authority.
  3. Keep your promises.
  4. Nothing is simple. Simplicity is bait on somebody else’s hook.
  5. Never wear anybody’s advertising but your own.
  6. When you think you’ve heard too much Gustav Holst, play some Madonna.
  7. Friends are a revenue center. Enemies are a cost center.
  8. Never believe anything an angry person says, especially when they’re not angry.
  9. Fat makes you thin. Sugar will kill you.
  10. Political parties exist to take everything you have and hand it to psychopaths on a silver platter.
  11. Fathers matter.
  12. Time shatters what cannot hold, and perfects what cannot be broken.
  13. If you can still wear a shirt thirty years later, you know you’re doing OK. This is a good reason to keep a shirt or two for thirty years.
  14. Join a political party and you’re selling youself into slavery.
  15. Evil is the root of all evil. There is no middleman.
  16. Love matters way more than who’s got a plug and who’s got a socket.
  17. Don’t try to make a bowling ball out of 2 X 4’s.
  18. You’re not really an adult until you can run around the house in your underwear, reciting Dr. Seuss at the top of your lungs.
  19. Certainty is a species of mental illness.
  20. Self-esteem is confidence without calibration.
  21. Think outside the box. Then make something out of the box.
  22. If you see a pinata, remember that somewhere close by is a blindfolded person swinging a stick.
  23. Pitch can be useful. It’s politics that defileth all it toucheth.
  24. Don’t settle for an iron will. Gram for gram, aluminum is stronger.
  25. A dog is a fingertip of the Almighty, thrust briefly into our lives to measure the breadth and depth of our kindness. Remember Whose fingertip it is.
  26. Dance, especially if you’re not good at it.
  27. Stand by your spouse no matter what.
  28. They build too low, who build beneath the stars.
  29. Kick ass. Just don’t miss.
  30. Think!


  1. Thank you Jeff. I really like this a lot!

  2. Erbo says:

    #16 is an admirable position to have.

    I do not want a visual on #18! πŸ˜€

    #25 applies to cats as well, I think.

    1. Of course it does; but because I’ve never had a cat, the lesson was learned in a different context. Cruelty is gangrene of the spirit, whatever its target.

      1. Erbo says:

        No less a personage than RAH wrote: “If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.” I don’t think Penny has any complaints about me…

  3. Brian Tkatch says:

    9. Fat makes you thin. Sugar will kill you.

    For me it’s the other way around.

    The single truth is weight is determined by calories in vs calories out. How the calories come in and react once they are in, and how the calories come out differ greatly by individual.

    1. No. Calories in – calories out is a myth. Metabolism is nowhere *near* that simple. I am eating a great many more calories now than I did a year ago and earlier, and yet my weight has dropped during the period I’ve been keeping track. Most of the additional calories I’ve eaten have been fat calories. That’s basically the only change I’ve made. I’m not sure what else could account for it, other than fat mobilization triggered by fat digestion. This is well-documented in a number of books I’ve read, some (like Herman Taller’s) going back to the early 1960s.

      Individual differences do dominate metabolism, as they dominate almost everything else in health, and I have known people who seem to fatten on what would otherwise be considered a “balanced” diet. Some people seem to fatten just by aging, without anything else changing. Your situation is uncommon but I’ve seen it in a couple of my friends. You have to figure out what works for you individually, but don’t assume that you can lose weight and keep it off by counting calories.

      1. Brian Tkatch says:

        Do you mean to say that your body defies the law of conservation of energy?

        If food enters the body, it either stays or leaves: If it stays, it increments body weight; if it leaves, it decreases body weight.

        The forms of staying and leaving have considerable variance. The choices the body makes are not simple or fully understood, which is perhaps your point. But one thing is for certain, it’s energy in minus energy out.

        1. You’re not using the term the way most people use it, which is “calories eaten minus calories burned excercising.” Few seem to understand that metabolism revs and fades depending on a lot of things, including eaten fat. And natch, a lot of calories simply pass through us as inert matter. The phrase is so widely misused (generally by people with no grasp of physics or chemistry) that I’m immediately suspicious when anyone suggests it.

          What I’ve found is that eating fat kicks my metabolism into high gear. I start to sweat twenty minutes after finishing my morning eggs fried in butter. Fat mobilization may not be present in all individuals to a significant degree, but it’s not something I made up.

          The retention of calories as fat depends on a bewildering number of things, including gender, age, hormones, insulin sensitivity, muscle mass, and on and on. The least useful thing to know is how many calories you’ve eaten, which is why I hold that any weight loss method that depends primarily on counting calories will fail.

          1. Brian Tkatch says:

            After posting the reply i realized the use of the word calories might be misleading. My intent, if i may explain, is that _ultimately_ it’s all about the calories. That is, if we had complete knowledge of an individual’s metabolism it would be nothing but a numbers game.

            Even if we find that “this” affects the metabolism this way, or “that” never is truly processed, it’s just something to count differently. Though, if a person is satisfied, satiated, or able to pull through without having to count, well, ignorance is bliss.

            Personally, i have dieted via the numbers and it works beautifully. It feels great, i lose weight, and i learn which nutrients my body wants most. There are some points to be learned along the way about what is too little and which materials the body does away with is other fashion, but the calorie count is the most significant part of dieting for me.

          2. Bob Fegert says:

            Well, counting calories has always failed for me.

            I just lost a bit of weight on a low-cal diet… I was hungry as a wolf all the time and the weight was slowly creeping back.

            I am trying the low carb high protein and fat regime and I’m not hungry at all. And the weight is coming off.

            I think you are right about this Jeff.

            One thing I have always wondered is just how many calories are contained in what we deposit in the bathroom? Has anyone ever tested to see? Maybe a low-carb diet leaves more calories in stool than high carb does….just an icky thought I had πŸ™‚

          3. Brian Tkatch says:

            Bob, high fat diets are usually high in protein, so the liver will clean it out of the body taking other things with it. So, yes, it is likely a high fat diet drops more calories. Though, some claim this damages the liver and strips the body of nutrients.

            OTOH, carbohydrates are more likely to be loaded with insoluble fiber, which is not digested and is said to clean the body on its way out.

            There’s so much debate on these issues and so many varying results, it would seem each person needs to test himself in order to see what works best for him.

  4. I’m finding it entirely too easy to picture #18… *chuckle*


  5. Bernard Sidor says:

    I like #11 the best, but I didn’t understand number 24, “Don’t settle for an iron will. Gram for gram, aluminum is stronger.”

    1. I was maybe reaching too far for a metaphor: Some people make themselves nuts trying to have an “iron will,” which often means the will to make themselves miserable to no purpose, apart from demonstrating that they have an iron will. I strive to have an aluminum will, which is as strong as iron in the things that matter–and still much less heavy on my shoulders.

      I have forged aluminum pipe wrenches, and they work just as well as malleable iron pipe wrenches, while weighing less than half as much.

  6. R-Laurraine Tutihasi says:

    #13 The shirt isn’t the problem, though for some strange reason, my bra size has increased a bit. The problem is the hips and waist. I probably still wear some thirty-year-old shirts, but I have problems getting into some of my pants and skirts.

    #18 I knew I hadn’t grown up yet.

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