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Never Trust a Calm Dog.

 Never Trust a Calm Dog
 by Tom Parker
 Harper Perennial
 255 pp., $8.95

Never Trust a Calm Dog is not a book you can't put down. It is, however, a book you'll pick up whenever you need an uplifting chuckle or a fascinating look at human nature as provided by the exhaustive research of author Tom Parker.

It's a book you can read in all directions-top to bottom, bottom to top, front to back, back to front. It's a book consisting of exactly 2,688, rules of thumb," all concise, all selected to leave you nodding your head in agreement. They also may leave fellow writers grinding their collective teeth for not being the first to come up with the idea.

So what's a rule of thumb, you are asking. Who better than Mr. Parker to explain?

"Count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, and add 37. No, you didn't just calculate your age in cricket years-you measured the temperature outdoors in degrees Fahrenheit. You just used a rule of thumb."

Want some more?

* Use sunscreen when your shadow is shorter than you are.

* An aircraft carrier gets six inches to the gallon.

* Never walk past a chimpanzee while wearing a clown suit.

* If cats aren't sleeping on radiators, turn down the heat.

* If your feet are cold, put on your hat.

A rule of thumb, as the author explains, is a "homemade recipe for making a guess, a mental tool that takes information you already have, and turns it into information you need."

Parker says that the people who make up rules of thumb rarely write them down. And that's where he comes in. He has spent nearly ten years putting together this amazing collection. It is not a book with charts and tables and lots of numbers.

"This is home-brew stuff," the author says. "This is the people's book of knowledge."

So ... what's your pleasure? Computers college ... jobs language ... movies and films marriage ... driving? You'll find them all in the 144 categories this painstaking researcher has assembled.

Flipping through the above-listed groupings, we find under:

Computers: Every two years you can buy a computer that performs twice as well for half the price.

College: The most beautiful women at a college mixer are the ones at the entrance taking tickets.

Jobs: In the job market, any degree is worth three times any experience.

Language: The more languages you know, the easier it is for you to learn a new one.

Movies: As a rule, the more you liked the novel, the less you will like the movie that is made from it.

Marriage: When women marry, they think their husband will change. When men marry, they think their wife will never change. Both are wrong.

Driving: If the speed bumps are only a few inches in height, you'll feel them less if you speed up rather than slow down.

And so on.

In addition to the wit and wisdom virtually bursting the binding of Never Trust a Calm Dog, the book is also 3D. Flip to any page, mark the category--let's take Restaurants"--turn the page, and at the same location, marked by an icon, you'll find Restaurants. By following the icon, you can zip through the book and read every rule referring to this category.

Let's flip a few pages, just for fun:

*The flashier the sign, the worse the food.

* A restaurant is safe to eat in if its bathrooms are clean.

* If your entree is neat and square, it was frozen.

* If the price of the veal is equal to or only slightly above the price of the chicken, order the chicken.

* The best Chinese restaurants don't do takeout.

* If you're visiting a small town and must choose between a restaurant at street level and a restaurant one flight up, go to the one upstairs. The food will be better and the prices 15 to 20 percent less.

* A restaurant is never better than its bread.

* Pick the restaurant with the most cars in front of it.

* The quality of food at a restaurant is inversely proportional to the size of the pepper grinder.

But you get the idea.

Author Parker rightfully boasts that Never Trust a Calm Dog is virtually three books in one: a book for browsers, a book for those who want to know everything about a subject, and a book for "holy-cripes-here-comes-a-polar-bear-now-what-do-I-do? (Dodge to the left. As a rule of thumb, most polar bears are right pawed.)"

If you already knew that, perhaps this book isn't for you. Otherwise, dive in and wise up, on surely the smartest conclusions ever drawn and collected between two covers.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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