Guide to Life 2014

Laptop, upgrade thyself

Guide to Life: Breathe Life Into Your Old Computer

When you pull a brand new MacBook Pro out of the box it looks so neat and sleek and immortal; it’s hard to imagine a day when that thing will be so slow it’ll make you want to drive an adze through it. But age, lack of space and low memory have set their marks on it. Computers get old and tired and confused, just like people. Fortunately, computers are easier to freshen up than people, and if your machine is three or four years old and lagging, there are some easy solutions to improve its performance, saving you some money and frustration in the process.

True friends stab you in the front

Guide to Life: Keep Friends as You Get Older

Like many things in life, maintaining friendships turns out to be more work than originally expected -- not that it's unpleasant work, but there's more to it than paying for the 30-rack of Bud or lending the car for a Wendy's run at midnight. Friends require time and attention, commodities that seem ever more scarce as we get older. We asked GP staffers in their 20s, 30s and 40s -- the age range of our crew -- to weigh in on the challenges and triumphs of keeping friends as they get older.

Remedy that horrible mistake you just made, or just unclog your sink

Guide to Life: Remove or Replace a P-Trap

You just drilled a three pointer like Kobe. Unfortunately, the hoop was the sink drain and the ball was your wedding ring/contact/paper boat (dear lord, don't go down after that thing!). All is not lost. In fact, you're about to both embark on a rescue mission and take a simple opportunity to check on an oft leaky, clogged or corroded piece of plumbing that's an easy DIY fix: the P-Trap.

A Thorough Guide to Listening the Right Way

Guide to Life: Upgrade Your Music Library

Our obsession with hardware is here to stay -- don't expect an apology for it anytime soon. We'll be the first to admit, though, that even the right headphones, speakers and amps are only as good as the source material you play through them. Garbage in, garbage out. The solution? Get more out of the tunes you love by upgrading your music library.

Cue the applause

Guide to Life: How to Properly Break in Pool

You've seen him. "That guy", who tries to hit the cue ball as hard as he can, only to send it directly into the corner pocket. He scratches tables, bends cues and almost took your eye out on your way to the bathroom. Don't be that guy -- learn the fundamentals to a good billiards break and never worry about limp breaks and miscues again.

Dress to Impress

Guide to Life: Pack a Suit

You have a job interview. Or maybe it’s a wedding. Either way, you need to pack a suit. Unfortunately, they’re not the easiest things to fold — not well, anyways. Any schlub can throw one in a bag, but keeping it wrinkle-free requires a little extra work. Sure, it’s a hassle. So is tying a double windsor knot. But if you want to keep a prospective employer (or the cute redhead at the reception) focused on something other than wrinkles, it’s a hassle that you’re going to have to own. Stay crisp and professional with these simple steps.

Put down the bow and arrow, dummy

Guide to Life: Be Romantic

Being in love is great. You just need to figure out the right combination of sweetness and mischief to make that flame burn brighter. This beginner's guide to being romantic should get you started.

Beyond the standard periodical

Guide to Life: Read Better Magazines

Switching up your periodicals is a great way to expand your horizons and change your tendencies. Just like you eschewed Highlights and SI Kids, it's time to explore some new frontiers when it comes to what's arriving in your mailbox. We've picked ten of our favorites from an incredible crop of literary, sports, lifestyle, food and business magazines that will inspire you to do everything from cook the perfect brisket to master the nuances of Japanese cobbling.

Help Away From Home

Guide to Life: Volunteer Abroad

Almost every world religion encourages its followers to engage in some form of charity -- see the Christian concept of virtue, the Jewish concept of tzedakah, and the Muslim concept of sadaqah -- but even if you don't believe in a higher power, it feels good to help. With the right organization and mindset, volunteering abroad can be a positive experience for both the donor and the recipient.

Say It Like You Mean It

Guide to Life: How to Apologize

We all screw up sometimes, and no matter how bad it is life marches on inexorably. Sure, you may end up divorced, on uncertain terms with friends or even a fugitive from justice, but knowing how to apologize may lessen the damage. Here’s a cheat sheet on saying sorry.

A Center For Guys Who Can't Write Good

Guide to Life: Use Proper Grammar

Writing with proper grammar is one of the easiest ways to establish credibility. Correcting a few common errors and linking the proper usage to logic rather than obscure, bespectacled experts hiding in style guide castles will improve both your mood and your writing. Here are nine simple fixes to common errors.

The Time of Your Life

Guide to Life: Wear One Watch For All Seasons

There are worse ways to spend your hard-earned money than on those pinnacles of the mechanical art. But there’s something to be said for wearing one watch all the the time. Buy one watch, wear it through thick and thin and create your own patina rather than purchasing someone else’s. Here's how to do it.

A Modern Proposal

Guide to Life: Buy Modern Art

One of the final steps into adulthood requires replacing the beloved Mohammed Ali poster that has adorned your wall since freshman year. We recommend going with modern -- otherwise known as contemporary -- art. Of course, you'll need to find something you like; better still if your aesthetic investment gains monetary value. But how to differentiate a collection of half-full coffee cups, ashtrays with cigarette butts and empty beer bottles from a piece by Damien Hirst? For help we consulted with Gary Metzner, a Senior Vice President at Sotheby's in Chicago.

You can swing it

Guide to Life: Start a Jazz Collection

For a genre that's been around about 100 years, jazz has an insanely dense catalog of great music ranging from big-band swing to fusion to bebop to dixieland. There's no better way to learn than diving in -- it'll become quickly apparent what moves you. The following ten albums should get you started.

Make Your Bid

Guide to Life: Find Treasure on eBay

eBay users are confronted with two big questions: (1) can I find the esoteric shit I want and get it at a fair price? and (2) can I score a deal on shit that's not so esoteric? The answer to both is duh. Of course, there are several ways to leverage your ability to buy cool stuff for less money. Here are our tips for getting the most out of your eBay experience.

Simple tips for defending yourself effectively

Guide to Life: Take Down an Assailant

The best fight is the one the that never happens, the one you walk away from because the assault to your pride, your team, your girlfriend -- your whatever -- isn't worth ending your night early, the risk of injury (to you or the other guy) or jail. However, we recognize that sometimes walking away isn't possible. For those rare instances where you can't talk yourself out of violence, we offer simple counsel for defending yourself.

Pan-Handling

Guide to Life: Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Cooking with cast iron is all about using a simple, high quality tool to create beautiful food, year after year, and getting better along the way. To do that you need to cultivate your culinary skills and keep your skillet properly seasoned, which is to say, coated in a hard layer of polymerized fat. We'll deal with the latter today. Here's how to do it.

Be Heard (and remembered)

Guide to Life: Format a Memorandum

You've got something to say in the office that's neither super important nor a throwaway comment. You need to write a memorandum. We show you how to do just that, using a real GP memorandum as an example.

Eureka is closer than you think

Guide to Life: Upgrade Your Light Switch

Science continues to prove that lighting affects our energy level, mood and sleep patterns more than we think -- not to mention playing a tremendous role in altering the look and feel of interior spaces. Swapping out a traditional on/off switch for a dimmer is a fast home upgrade that provides immediate impact in any lighting scenario. We show you how it’s done.

Be Knowledgeable, Be Safe

Guide to Life: Hold and Shoot a Handgun Properly

You hope to never be in situation where you have to use a firearm. But if it happens, you should be prepared to do it properly to save your life or that of someone you love, or both. Here, a former federal law enforcement officer explains how to hold and fire a handgun the right way.

The Fat Kid's Guide to Decent Snacking

Guide to Life: Ditch the Chip

Decrying the snack a week after the Super Bowl might seem heretical, but look: if you don't stop your addictions to croissants or lard-chips or the ungodly delicious class of "puffed" snacks, one of these days you're going to need a triple bypass, and there's no use blaming genetics. So rather than even considering cutting down or stopping entirely, I've decided to head off cholesterol at the pass with some healthier snacking alternatives. Be strong, friend.

Less is more, you photo whore

Guide to Life: Snap a Decent Instagram

As it turns out, most of Instagram’s 100 million users aren’t jet setting to exotic locations, climbing mountains or doing other exceptionally picturesque stuff (see #dentist for further evidence). That being said, you don't have to summit Everest to post interesting Instagrams. By following a few (relatively) straightforward guidelines you’ll soon be ‘gramming like Ansel Adams.

Sharpen up

Guide to Life: Shave with a Straight Razor

Alexander the Great told his soldiers to be clean shaven so that the enemy couldn't pull on their beards in battle. And how did ol’ Alex and his boys do it? With a straight razor. You’ve seen the straight razor in your barbershop, and you’ve felt your barber use it on the back of your neck. Now you’re ready to give it a try -- on your face.

Forge Yourself a Silver Tongue

Guide to Life: Be Articulate

At its most basic, being articulate simply means communicating well. Understanding words and how they work is essential part of the equation; once you learn linguistic basics, the rest will happen automatically -- like buying nice pieces of clothing will make you a better dresser. We outline the foundations of your eloquence.

Correspondence that Separates Mice from Men

Guide to Life: Write a Letter Like Steinbeck

A good letter takes honesty, emotion and patience. If you can't provide those things, tap Hallmark to provide them for you. But if you have something noble and pure and important to get across, a handwritten letter might just be the best form of correspondence. But how does one do it correctly? We break down the steps using an excellent example from one John Steinbeck.

Bombs Away

Guide to Life: Throw a Perfect Spiral

We take our pick-up sports with a healthy dose of enthusiasm. A casual game of touch football is the perfect outlet for friendly competition, (a little bit of) athleticism and a chance to revel in some big-game moments like our favorite pros. Unfortunately, we somehow missed out on Peyton's arm strength and precision. No matter. Simply being able to throw a football correctly keeps you involved in the game and might even get you the nod at the coveted QB spot. Get a ball, get a friend, and go practice these six easy steps the next time the sun shows up.

A bit more involved than the miyagi method

Guide to Life: Wax a Car

Waxing your car is actually more important than you think -- especially since it's about far more than just seeing the sun glint off your steed's resplendent paint. Waxing protects your car's paint and body from grime, road salt, moisture, sun damage and other finish-ruining elements. We've broken down the steps for proper waxing. Do it quarterly and you'll keep your car looking as radiant as the day you drove it off the lot.

Freshen Your Kicks

Guide to Life: Treat Your Boots Like Royalty

You've finally done it -- you beat the living shit out of your beautiful new boots. Yes, it was painful at first (the initial scuff caused a minor breakdown), but in the end it felt fulfilling, like the right thing to do. Now your beautiful babies deserve the proper care. It's time to clean and treat your boots properly. Here's how.

Because it's going to happen, eventually

Guide to Life: Jump Start a Car

Winter is prime dead battery territory, and jump-starting during cold weather requires nearly twice as many cranking amps as its t-shirts-and-shorts counterpart. There's also another, more worrisome issue to deal with: regardless of weather, most people go about their jump-starts incorrectly. We'll assume you've been smart enough to keep functioning jumper cables in your trunk and someone has been kind enough to offer their car as a source of juice. With those in place, follow these simple steps to jump start your car correctly.

Let's do this.

Introducing: The GP Guide to Life

We’ve got some ideas about how to make your life better. 30 of them, to be exact. It’s the GP Guide to Life: a full month of (mostly) no-nonsense how-to guides, complete with step-by-step instructions and original photos, covering everything from how to care for your boots to buying art to taking down an assailant swiftly and decisively. Let's do this.