What are the things in life that everyone should know?
December 27, 2004 3:10 PM   Subscribe

KnowledgeFilter: What are the things in life that everyone should know? More inside.

What are the subjects that it's useful for everyone to know something about? I'm emphasizing useful here - information that is relevant to various situations, but that you wouldn't necessarily acquire without making an effort to learn yourself. Google turns up various lists, but I'm thinking more along the lines of stuff you didn't expect to need to know that have proved useful.
posted by eatcherry to Education (79 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:20 PM on December 27, 2004

I mean, the study of statistics, not individual statistics.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:21 PM on December 27, 2004

When in parts of town with stop lights shot out do not pull so close to the car in front of you so that you cannot see the base of their tires. You won't be able to escape when trapped between two people wanting you dead.

Visualize everything you enter holistically.
posted by sled at 3:22 PM on December 27, 2004

I think everyone should take a few business courses; basic accounting, marketing, management, business law. It's so helpful, both in dealing with vendors and in your work life, no matter what you do for a living.
posted by vignettist at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Oh, and slightly O/T, but your question reminded me of a plaque my mother had hanging in her kitchen;

Four Things Every Woman Should Know...
1. How to look like a girl.
2. How to act like a lady.
3. How to think like a man.
4. How to work like a dog.

I think it was circa the 1960's.

posted by vignettist at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: I think a philosophy class on skepticism would be good for everybody. I cannot believe how often I hear someone say something that is completely stupid, where if they had an ounce of skeptical thought they'd know they're talking out of their ass.
posted by pwb503 at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2004

physics and self-awareness (the latter in a physics of the mind kind of way) (or you could think of physics as awareness of things outside the mind). really. in many ways i wish i'd done something more trendy as a degree. but understanding physics well gives you the tools to understand so much of the world.

on preview - well, not skepticism, but critical thinking.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:48 PM on December 27, 2004

bleagh. sorry, confused skeptics with sophists. duh. (still, kind of apt for round here ;o)
posted by andrew cooke at 3:49 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Methods of logical reasoning and fallacies to look out for.

Basic sense of numeracy.

Probabilistic and inductive nature of knowledge.
posted by Gyan at 3:50 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Everyone ought to learn at least basic fundamental usage of at least one other language. Even if it's only ~200 words, knowing the basics of a language offers a slight insight into how things work abroad. As well, it's quite useful to understand basic information if you ever travel outside of your native country. Preferably a language of a completely different heritage than your own as well.

Also, learn how to spend a week of free time enjoying yourself without television, computers, or drugs (legal or illegal).
posted by Saydur at 3:56 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: knot-typing and celestial navigation and general timekeeping. a sense of likelihood, reasonableness and probability, both in hard math terms as well as interpersonal terms. how to say "thank you" in 50 languages. how to make a choice, and knowing when not to make a choice. knowing how to tell the difference between what someone is trying to say and how you, or anyone else, interpret it, plus how to clear up those sorts of misunderstandings. basic geometry, how to read a map, how to tip, compliment and say "no". My most recent aquisition to my mental tookbox is "know how to detemine when someone is through talking to you and help them find a way to exit gracefully from the conversation"
posted by jessamyn at 4:00 PM on December 27, 2004

There seems to be some confusion here. The original post asked about "things in life that everyone should know". In the explanation of the posting, this is restated as "stuff you didn't expect to need to know that have proved useful."

So what are you interested in, eatcherry - common stuff (birth control options, for example) or unique stuff (surviving parts of a town where stop lights are shot out)?
posted by WestCoaster at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2004

Everyone who lives in a cold climate you must know how to light a pilot light.
posted by sleslie at 4:03 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: If you don't know, you need to know how to look it up.
posted by Floydd at 4:08 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: How to write well, how to speak well, and a good work ethic. All else in school is just so much fluff, or can be learned as necessary. (Although I have to admit that statistics has proven enormously useful, although that might be because most people don't think to apply it).

Also, there are some cliches that are cliche because they are true, but I wish that I had fully taken them to heart many years ago.
posted by brool at 4:34 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
posted by Eldritch at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: It depends on how you define "useful", but I find a basic sense of the history of Western and other cultures helpful to put new information in context.
posted by goethean at 4:37 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: How to perform the basic human day-to-day tasks of living (cooking, housekeeping, finances) with competence and grace. How to spot a con while retaining an openness to new ideas and people. How to maintain a sense of self-worth in obscurity. How to be lonely and how to be good company. How to love from desire rather than need. How to see beauty. How to mourn the dead. How to laugh at your own pretensions. How to be gentle with other people's frailties and with your own. How to be kind. How to forgive.
posted by melissa may at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2004

In all seriousness, everyone should know this: "One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider. "
posted by Zonker at 4:51 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Adult and infant CPR.
posted by nicwolff at 4:53 PM on December 27, 2004

ooo. "grace" is a good word. you could generalise (or maybe summarise) melissa may's reply to "know how to live in good grace" (though it kind of begs the question "what is good grace?")
posted by andrew cooke at 4:59 PM on December 27, 2004

Measure twice.

Cut once.
posted by jaded at 5:00 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Knowing how to cook is huge. You may not think you need to know it in college, say, but life on your own, in your own home, is great when you know how to cook.

And another one: decent penmanship. Knowing how to write easily, quickly, and legibly is awesome; it lets you keep a notebook, write elegant hand-written notes, and in general free yourself from computers, palm pilots, and the like. It's great and just takes practice.
posted by josh at 5:23 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Everyone should be able to lift their own spirits when they're feeling depressed. Doesn't matter whether you do it by volunteering for charity, being alone with nature, breathing excercises or something else. Just find out what works for you, and take comfort in the fact that you are in control of your own happiness.
posted by idontlikewords at 5:29 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Much routine chronic unhappiness is money related. Marital spats, loneliness and frustration, family disputes, feelings of failure; many come from being broke or in debt. And the solution is so simple: Make sure your means exceed your wants and you are almost guaranteed a simpler, happier life. You can do that by increasing your means, reducing your wants, or any mixture of the two.

Practice maximization under constraint: Maximize your happiness under the constraint of the money you have. I, for example, like to hike. I also like to travel. But I do a lot more hiking than traveling because hiking costs next to nothing. It's a double bonus...I get joy out of the hiking and joy out of the money I'm not spending doing it.

So if you feel you can only get happiness out of spending money you better change your attitude quick because, otherwise, no matter how much money you have, you'll always be unhappy.

Oh, and put some away for the future too. You want a happy future, don't you?
posted by mono blanco at 5:48 PM on December 27, 2004

Everyone should know to try rebooting before they ask me what's wrong with their computer.
posted by sexymofo at 5:49 PM on December 27, 2004

Lefty loosey, righty tighty!

More seriously: how to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Also, how to be aware of yourself and where you fit within any given environment (and how your actions affect everyone else, a.k.a. "the ripples in the pond," etc.)
posted by oldtimey at 5:54 PM on December 27, 2004

Read these:

The Modern Man's Guide to Life
The Modern Woman's Guide to Life.

They cover everything.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:54 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: How to play a music instrument. Any instrument.
posted by dhruva at 6:05 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: How to find things out. A few hours spent with a good reference librarian will work wonders here.

Couple that with critical thinking skills, and there is little you can't do.
posted by QIbHom at 6:06 PM on December 27, 2004

I will reiterate Civil_Disobedient's choice on the modern man books...

It's ashame they haven't kept updating them.
posted by filmgeek at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2004

How to meditate.

And to quote Robert Heinlein's character Lazarus Long:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
posted by Slagman at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2004

Heh. I was just coming here to post that quote, Slagman, which had a major influence on my pre-adolescent self. I'm not so sure about the list Heinlein offers, or Heinlein himself, anymore, but the underlying idea is good.

Still never changed a diaper.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:28 PM on December 27, 2004

zonker, I caught that scene just the other day -- and I always love the punchline. Good stuff.

Back on-topic: what was said earlier -- statistics is very good to understand at a basic level. Broader: know numbers -- do not let yourself be a victim of "innumeracy." Also know HOW to research, using whatever tools are available: books, online, encyclopedia, Google, etc. Know how to "dig down" a level or two in order to ascertain the credibility of any source.

And know how to change the oil in your car and perform a basic tune-up. Damn, I wish that I had taken Auto Mech in high school.
posted by davidmsc at 6:36 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Fix a flat tire - bicycle, car.

Use a screwdriver.

Order wine in a restaurant.
posted by fixedgear at 6:56 PM on December 27, 2004

Financial literacy, seconded. I was very averse to learning about money in my younger days. I wish I hadn't been, or I'd be retired at 35 now, with all I've pissed away. As it is, the knowledge I've gained in the last 5 years or so has been really, really useful.

Public speaking, drama and performance. It turns out that a confident manner and a resistance to panic is nine tenths of being in charge of anything. This I did learn young, but I didn't realise how useful outside the arts these skills were.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: I tell my fifth-grade students, "If you can learn to write well, speak well, and spell well people will think you're a genius."
posted by RockyChrysler at 7:15 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: In addition to what everyone else said, I think basic first aid including CPR is a must-know. How to negotiate. How to defuse conflict when necessary.

People who do not intend to be vegetarians should, in my opinion, either have killed and dressed an animal for meat, or have seen it done. Everyone in the industrialized world should tour a landfill and a sewage plant, so that they do not labor under the delusion that their garbage and shit magically disappear courtesy of elves. And I think if everyone spent at least one week of their lives working on a farm, it would be a good thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:38 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Everyone deserves to learn to make great love.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on December 27, 2004

In the long term plastic surgery (especially about the face) will make you look grotesque. See Goldie Hawn or David Gest for an example. Better to age gracefully and associate with the kind of people who age gracefully.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:01 PM on December 27, 2004

Sidhedevil: Vegetarian with a septic tank.

Hmm, I have an opportunity to work on a farm for a bit though, I'll keep that in mind. ;)
posted by abcde at 8:26 PM on December 27, 2004

Wipe front to back.

Fold, don't wad.
posted by docpops at 8:29 PM on December 27, 2004

I grew up with septic tanks, which is why I know that there are no Magic Shit Elves. ;)
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:31 PM on December 27, 2004

After years of drug abuse, don't settle with alcohol just because it's legal.
just sayin'
posted by Sparx at 8:49 PM on December 27, 2004

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate." -- William of Ockham

"Follow your bliss." -- Joseph Campbell
posted by Manjusri at 8:50 PM on December 27, 2004

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

K. Rogers
posted by rfs at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2004

After years of drug abuse, don't settle with alcohol just because it's legal....just sayin'


on topic: How to build a fire. You would surprised how much harder it is than you'd think to make a fire with only matches and the twigs around you. And you never know when you'll be stranded on a mountain top with only the matches from the stripclub the night before.
posted by rooftop secrets at 9:08 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: RFS, But what about the Banana Trapeze? (end obscure reference)

Probably the most important lesson I've learned has been from the first paragraphs of "The Great Gatsby", it's something close to "never assume others have had the same advantages you have."
posted by drezdn at 9:11 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Never take a laxative and a sleeping tablet on the same night. (I believe Dave Barry said that first)

Learn how to cook - not just from a recipe, but through improvisation. People will love you if you can spend five minutes staring into a fridge and cupboard, then create a decent meal from it.
posted by tomble at 9:13 PM on December 27, 2004

How to think geometrically.

This has only a little bit to do with math. The biggest part of thinking geometrically is knowing how close you are to something, and how close something is to someone else. It's all about relationships. How close are you to your parents, and how close are they to your sister? How close is a pigeon to a seagull and how close are they to a hawk? How far are you from being able to be self-sufficient, financially, and how close are those things to winning the lottery? Philosophical triangulation, in big words.

But really, what it comes down to, is that everyone needs to learn to think for themselves.
posted by SpecialK at 9:24 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: And, of course, to dance like no one is watching.
posted by werty at 9:28 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: Know how to think logically about the world, how to form hypotheses, make observations and test those hypotheses. Yeah, the scientific method. But it's not just for scientists. Use it on anything you wonder about. It'll help you figure out how to fix your car, stereo or computer, why your plants are sickly, or how to make yummy cookies. Be sceptical about what everyone 'knows', try out your own ideas.
posted by todbot at 10:31 PM on December 27, 2004

Yo todbot - if you do what everyone else does, you get what everyone else gets. As a guide to conduct, it works no matter how you look at it, as long as you look at it hard.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:53 PM on December 27, 2004

Best answer: 1. Learn to treat your health like it's your greatest asset. Learn how to make healthy meals and avoid all of the crap that our culture tries to jam into your system, on both a physical and mental level.
2. Learn how to learn. I'm always amazed at how many people cannot learn certain skills on their own. Learn how to teach yourself. Learn what methods help you to retain information. If you can effectively learn skills independently the world is your oyster.
3. Learn how to be honest with yourself.
4. Learn to be spontaneous. Learning spontaneity may sound paradoxical but it is relatively easy to drill all of the fun out of life.
5. Someone once posted a brilliant comment in the blue that said something similar to that the best way to lead a happy life is to avoid infidelity and avoid addiction of any kind. I suppose it seems kind of obvious, but it still strikes me as the best advice I've ever heard.
posted by ttrendel at 11:04 PM on December 27, 2004

To expand on werty's post ...

"Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching."
Source up for grabs
posted by ericb at 11:08 PM on December 27, 2004

I almost forgot:

6: Learn to read electronic schematics, use a multimeter, and how to solder. These meager skills can save you a small fortune.
posted by ttrendel at 11:14 PM on December 27, 2004

Everyone ought to strive towards a well-considered moral or ethical system with which to live their lives.

Everyone should know the five rules of comedy:

1. Comedy is pain.
2. Comedy ain't pretty.
3. Comedy comes in threes.
4. "K" sounds are funny.
5. If it bends, it's funny. If it breaks, it's not funny.

I agree with the part about being able to lift yourself out of depression.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:29 AM on December 28, 2004

If I had to choose only one thing that everyone should learn, it would be critical thinking. Once you know how to think critically, the world becomes a much easier place to navigate and get things done in.
posted by Jairus at 1:29 AM on December 28, 2004

On re-reading - all excellent advice above, but there is nothing, absolutely nothing hard about changing a nappy ("diaper"). It is the kind of skill you will pick up very fast, when you need it, and it is not worth learning in advance. Don't bother learning until you have sproggen of your own.

Try to distinguish things that take practise, and are universally handy, from things that don't, which you may never use.

On preview: Jairus, what makes you think that?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:37 AM on December 28, 2004

IAJS, I'm not sure if I can do the subject justice with an explanation. Once I learned to think critically, I examined things differently. When I hear something from the media/govt/private sector/whoever, I ask myself, who said this? Why did they say it? Who gave them the information? Why do they want people to know/not know/etc?

In addition, I started examining my own reactions. Am I biased because the person giving me the information is rich? Has blue hair? Knows a friend of mine? Are these biases going to cause me to make a bad decision? Are they likely to protect me from a risk?

I don't believe that you can have an objective view of a situation, but I believe you can make objective judgements based on your knowledge of the situation, and I believe that you can radically increase that knowledge by constant assessment and reassessment of claims, evidence, and yourself.


There's a school of thought that says when you're trying to change or remove something -- say a harmful practice or institution -- you cannot stop your actions once the practice itself is removed. Because you're trying to change this practice, your methods are defined by it. Once you've changed it and instituted a new practice, this new practice must be reassessed and rebuilt again, so that you're able to move forward without your structure being influenced by the practice you worked so hard to eliminate.

To me, that epitomizes what critical thinking is, and how it's helpful. Even when you've 'won', or you're confident in a course of action, you need to be critical about it .
posted by Jairus at 2:58 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: Also agreed with the depression comments. On that note:

Everyone should be aware that between stimulus and response lies the opportunity for proactivity. How something makes us feel is a result of how we choose to interpret events. If something makes you depressed (not talking chemicals here) that is a choice, whether conscious or no. Many times, the easiest way to change ones own behaviour, is to consciously change ones perceptions.

Many great thinkers have expressed similar notions, but my favourite is: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." -- Willy Shakespeare
posted by Manjusri at 3:18 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: Kids don't like being condescended or patronized any more than you do.

Mastering proper grammar isn't difficult nor is it a waste of time.

People often get grumpy when they are hungry (low blood sugar and whatnot). Don't start arguments right before dinner.
posted by codger at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: Amen, Manjusri.

Learn how to read. By which I mean to think critically about what you read and what it means to your life. Many people have pointed out how helpful it is to write well, but reading well comes first, and is arguably more important.

This skill includes:
-Paying attention to context.

-Paying attention to the assumptions which inform and make possible a given text/argument.

-Having a general sense of logic and whether or not conclusions follow from arguments and their suppositions.

-Understanding metaphor, simile and their more complex hybrids.

-Being well-read enough to understand standard allusions (Shakespeare, the Bible). (Bartlett's can help here.)

-Being able to suspend judgment/understanding in order to take in the whole of works that work better as wholes.

-Understanding that the latent content of a text is often different (if still related to) the manifest content.
[A great example of the importance of this is the book Grand Inquests by Rehnquist. It's a nice story about the history of impeachment in the US, and a good read. Rehnquist never talks about what it might mean to be a strict constructionist when it comes to Constitutional interpretation, but the book is about that also. The first subject is interesting and kind of fun; the second topic is crucial, very political, and of much more moment. A reading of the manifest content alone does not do the book justice, nor does it engage Rehnquist's agenda as a political thinker.]
posted by OmieWise at 7:38 AM on December 28, 2004

The Dewey Decimal System
posted by icontemplate at 7:42 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: How and where to find help and information when you need it.
How to be aware of your surroundings - hard to learn, immeasurably useful.
When to keep fighting for what you believe.
How much $ your time is worth.
Who is on your side.
How to make people feel welcome.
How to laugh when you step in dogshit.
What you need to know and what you can find out, i.e. Either know how to multiply in your head OR carry a calculator.

When to quit.
posted by tinamonster at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1) Know the difference between what you can reasonably control, and what you can't. Focus on the things that are within your control, and let the rest go.

2) Be nice to the "little people" because they frequently control your fate & can destroy you if you piss them off enough.

3) Choose your attitude based on what you want to get from the situation. Being angry rarely helps you get what you want.

Offtopic: Dewey Decimal? Are you insane? Library of Congress all the way baby!
posted by aramaic at 8:19 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer:
  • How to dance at weddings and parties
  • How to give a good back massage
  • How to change a tire, your oil, and drive a stick
  • Be able to tell three jokes in mixed company
  • How to attend dinner with proper, formal table manners

posted by stevis at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2004

Basic calculus. Be able to derive and integrate. It's behind almost everything.
posted by atchafalaya at 9:20 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: 1. Wash your hands every chance you get.

2. Never sleep with anyone crazier than you are.
posted by chicobangs at 9:34 AM on December 28, 2004

three things:

1. everyone vanishes.

2. you will almost always lose the affection of someone you like to someone who likes them less than you.

3. if you have a cell phone, learn how to use google sms. I text 46645 at least once a day to find obscure/useful bits of info.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:56 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: I think everyone should be required to study the art of avoiding pretentiousness and self-seriousness. I'm serious, I think it's a major pitfall in many areas.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:20 AM on December 28, 2004

Jairus, that was actually a rather weak joke. But I'm glad you bit :)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:47 AM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: 1. Learn how to read a map, and orient themselves with that map. Will make going to an unfamiliar place a lot less stressful on both yourself, and on your companions.

2. If caffeine is a requirement of yours, learn to make a decent cup of coffee or tea, depending on which method of delivery you prefer. Lots of money can be saved by doing this, as well as having a relaxing routine to start out the day with. Plus, you have control over the final product.

3. Learn how to pack. I thought I knew this - until I went to Europe for a Goth music festival. That's when my checked luggage flew to Chicago when my carryon and I stayed in Paris, and I discovered that I had packed in it 3 tubes of black lipstick, yet no toothbrush. Oops.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:51 AM on December 28, 2004

re: google sms
I'm in awe. Great link on a great thread!
posted by Manjusri at 12:58 PM on December 28, 2004

Learn how addresses, milemarkers, and the interstate work. It makes finding your way a lot easier.
posted by drezdn at 6:07 PM on December 28, 2004

Best answer: "Disce quasi semper victurus; vive quasi cras moriturus." [Learn as if you
were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.] -often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

There's so much. Basic Survival skills are key. Fire building, Celestial and Terrestrial Navigation methods, ensuring clean water and non-harmful food, finding your way around a foreign city quickly without looking like a mark, learning how to think critically, using all the resources a library has to offer (there are TONS of databases, etc, that people are usually not even aware of.), know how to swim, cook with only five or six basic ingredients, be able to DEFEND yourself with some degree of proficiency, how to negotiate/haggle, CPR, basic first aid, tie knots, communicate clearly both speaking and writing, understand that being your own advocate is a right, learn to listen to music critically, read critically, how to appreciate art and poetry.

Learn how to LISTEN. How to be present with a lover. How to compromise without compromising your self or your principles.

Know your legal rights if you are stopped or arrested. (varies by country, obviously.)

Have a basic toolbox and know what the tools are and what they can be used for. Be able to do small repairs.

Paint. Decorate. Maintain a car and/or a bicycle.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:09 PM on December 28, 2004

it's all a life of surprises.
posted by amberglow at 9:41 PM on December 28, 2004

Eatcherry, learn how to ask a question that elicits a bountiful harvest of sternum-tingling responses.

Oh. You already... Never mind.

(Thanks for such a great end-of-year thread.)

My two bits: Learn to notice that split-second when you distract yourself. Learn to notice the long-form version of it, too.
posted by Moistener at 1:01 AM on December 29, 2004

If you're buying a house in the midwest US or anywhere with lots of rainfall and snowfall (or enough for a couple freeze/thaw cycles per year), don't avoid the houses with steel beams in the basement already. It'll save you the trouble and money of putting them there yourself.

When signing a contract with somebody, make sure to read all of the small print. I just barely got out of paying a 20% "restocking fee" on a $17,500 contract by one day, even though there was no way any parts had been ordered and the bulk of that price covers labor.

So yeah, read all of the small print.
posted by codger at 8:09 AM on December 29, 2004

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