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School of Hard Knocks

My parents prepared me for life by sharing their knowledge and life experiences with me. Despite their best efforts, not all lessons penetrated my skull, nor did they teach me everything.

What follows is a list of things I learned while attending the school of hard knocks.

What are yours? It would be a hoot to compile dozens of other lessons, then perhaps creating an e-book all of us can distribute. Of course, 100% attribution.

What do you think? If you want to add anything, keep it clean, no foul language, and let’s keep it politically free. I don’t know about you, but my political tank is empty.

All these lessons are things I’ve learned or have seen firsthand:

  • Never put liquid dish soap inside a dishwasher before turning it on. The results look like something of an “I Love Lucy” episode. If you’re unlucky enough to have daughters who were curious to see what happens, buy at least two gallons of vinegar. Pour copious amounts of vinegar inside the empty dishwasher and run it. Repeat until the bubbles disappear.
  • If you own a pet, never walk through a dark room. The pets may have left “gifts” for you.
  • If walking through a dark room, keep one forearm out in front, just in case there’s a half-open door waiting for you.
  • When possible, always put your car keys inside your pants pocket instead of your jacket. If you’re out on the town and someone steals the jacket, you’re still able to get home.
  • Never count your money in public. It’s like wearing a bullseye hat.
  • Before you sit down on the toilet, always check the toilet paper situation. Always. Unpleasant situations result in PTSD of sorts.
  • Before doing dishes in a friend’s kitchen, never assume that A) there is a garbage disposal underneath; or B) assume it works. Ask first.
  • Even if you’ve already felt them in your pocket, always pull your keys out and look at them before locking your vehicle.
  • When working on any project, never take one step further if it exceeds your knowledge or expertise.
  • If walking into a forest, always bring a real compass. Don’t rely exclusively on technology.
  • Place paper copies of your vehicle registration and proof of insurance inside an envelope inside the glove box.
  • If you have branches from a tree that touch your house, trim them. Over time, as the wind blows, the branches ruin roofs and siding.
  • Always be polite to people, even if they don’t deserve it. If you need help, those people will be more inclined to help you than not.
  • If people walk near where you’re mowing grass, stop moving. Even if you’re using a mulch plate, any rock you run over with the mower will shoot out from under the mower at a high rate of speed, resulting in bruises, chipped teeth, or worse.
  • If you live in a cold climate and it’s winter, treat the 1/2 take level of your gas gauge as the empty line. Doing so reduces the chance of the gas line freezing.
  • If you have a small piece of equipment that relies on a battery and plan on storing it for several months, spend $10-$15 on a trickling battery charger. Bring the battery to a relatively warm location, off the floor, attached the device to the battery, and let it do its job. When the time comes to fire up your equipment, your battery has a full charge.
  • If you’re outside when the sun is out, and you find yourself wondering just how much daylight is left, place four fingers of one hand, so the lowest finger is even with the horizon. “Add” one finger on top of the other ones until it’s even with the bottom level of the sun. One finger equals one hour.
  • Another simple way of not getting lost in the woods is to pay attention to which shoulder faces the sun before walking away from your vehicle. If you find yourself turned around, place the sun on the opposite shoulder, and walk in that direction.
  • Remember that sound carries with the wind. If you’re outside and want to share criticism of somebody, check the wind direction first.
  • Don’t look at the lightbulb when screwing a new one in.

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Able to share what I've learned, regardless of complexity, in a clear, concise way. We never stop learning!