Please forward this eNL to a friend!
(Some folks might really like it).
In this issue:
- Product Highlights
- Brainpower tip
- Time tip
- Finance tip
- Security tips
- Health tip/Fitness tip
- Thought for the day
1. Product Highlights
Improve your smile, and smile
more because you save money.|
|Like most of our readers,
I'm fighting the medical insurance battle. Medical costs have skyrocketed
for several reasons, most of which could be and should be resolved by the
application of common sense. But,
they aren't resolved, so our costs of insurance continue to spiral upward
out of control.
When it comes to dental care,
I found some good news last year. Dental plans save you big money. They
differ from insurance, and you can use them along with your insurance.
For example, let's say you need noble metal crowns.
Let's use some approximate "for example only" numbers. You can plug in your own
numbers (from your dentist, dental insurer, and dental plan) to do a precise
- Your dentist's normal price is $800.
- Your insurance company pays $250 per crown.
- Your out of pocket expense is $550.
- But with a dental plan, your dentist charges a reduced
- Your out of pocket expense is $325, with the dental
plan you paid only $99 to join.
- With the dental plan, you are $226 ahead--on this
one visit to the dentist!
The dental plan I joined early last year more than paid
for itself. You can see why. I was very happy with this particular dental plan.
So when the company I bought this from contacted me about being a reseller of
their plans I did not hesitate to say yes.
If you go to
you can find more information, and probably save yourself quite a bit of money. For some of our readers, the whole dental thing is one big
bore. But to many readers, I suspect it's a topic you've actually lost sleep
over. To me, it's an important issue personally.
Being a "tetracycline baby" and having had some tooth
damage from sports injuries (tip to our readers: do not attempt to block a
basketball with your face), I've had several crowns installed in my
lifetime. So, I am especially interested in anything that can reduce my dental
Here are some other links:
2. Brainpower tip
Evaluate your abilities honestly. Most people fall to one of two extremes: underconfidence
or overconfidence. And most of us have a very hard time
knowing we are off target. So, we either fail to tap our own brainpower, or we
overextend and get into trouble. Here are some suggestions to keep you on
- Believe in yourself. While I have no data to support the claim I'm about
to make, I make it nonetheless. If you approach a challenge with the
assumption you can't adequately tackle it, you are probably not going to be
successful. The flipside of that is this. If you accurately assess most
situations, you will see you're just as capable as anyone else of solving
the problem. This doesn't mean you are organically going to derive the
solution without some research. But it means you can do the research and exercise your own
judgment to come up with a good solution, probably just as well as anyone
else can. Don't let underconfidence cause
you to lose the race before you even get to the starting blocks.
- Join the team. Many times, we assume we can't do something or that only
"experts" can solve a particular problem and therefore we should just go
along for the ride. But if it's your problem that needs solving, you are the one with the most at stake. Don't give
up active participation. A good example is medical care. People will put the
entire responsibility for their health problems or injury care on the
doctor, assuming the doctor is going to have a monopoly on knowledge. But
the truth is that patients who take charge and research their problems as a
partner to their doctor do markedly better in beating whatever it is that
- Recognize your limits. The expression "A little knowledge is dangerous
in the hands of a fool" is true. But, so is "A little knowledge does not
make you an expert, even if you think you're not a fool." Certain tasks require
formal education or particular experience. Some tasks require both. For
example, you have a legal problem. Rather than bumble your way through our
complex legal system, you should hire an attorney. But, not all attorneys
are the same. Find one who has experience in the particular area where you
have the problem. Ditto for other professionals, such as doctors and
accountants. Don't let the fact you've had success in one area of expertise
cause you to think you have no limits in another area of expertise. Be sure
to recognize the limits of the experts, too.
So, how can you wade through the sea of problems and opportunities you face
each day to determine which ones you should tackle and which ones you should
not? There's a simple philosophy, here. Look at the service market for a given
- If an industry exists to handle a particular problem you are facing,
that's probably because there's a need for that industry. Sometimes, the
industry exists for convenience (for example, oil changes are simple to
perform), not because of the difficulty involved. But generally, it's a good
indicator--especially if there are educational requirements, licensing, or
- If an industry does not exist to deal with a particular problem, it's
probably because that problem is one a reasonably intelligent person can
solve if s/he puts his/her mind to it. Or it may be because the consequences
of a poor solution are inconsequential!
Example: The technophobe who freaks out at the sight of a cordless phone
does so out of a fear of failure of being able to operate the device. Note
that you can't look in the Yellow Pages and find a "Cordless Phone Instructor"
or anything along those lines. Ditto for programming your VCR. These devices
are not complicated. People who can read the instruction manuals can master at
least the basic functions--as long as they don't begin the process with a self-defeating
Your first step to proper problem solution is to clearly define the
problem. Then, look to see if there are experts devoted to solving that kind
of problem. If so, there may be hidden pitfalls for the novice. These kinds of
pitfalls can turn a "I'll save some money" DIY project into a costly
Now, I have a interesting example. If you want to skip over it and read the
last paragraph in this yellow box, that's fine.
Example: I paid for much of my undergraduate education by doing automobile repairs. At the
time, I was also a pit crew mechanic for a team that ran a very fast, very
expensive car. My dad would bring me most of my customers and let me do the work at his
garage. He was also my Quality Assurance guy and "go to" guy.
There were some real problems with a particular brake job. For example, the
customer had supplied the parts but bought the wrong hardware. In fact, he had
originally wanted me to re-use the old hardware--something strictly forbidden
in brake jobs.
What caused me the most grief was I could not get the self-adjusters
or the emergency brake to work properly. My dad asked, "Did you put those brake shoes
on the same way you took them off?" I told him yes, because that was the
technique I had been taught to use to avoid mistakes (why reinvent the wheel,
so to speak).
My dad said the brakes were on wrong. I said, "That's ridiculous. I put
them on the same way I took them off. How can anyone mess that up?"
We looked at the side I hadn't worked on yet. "See?," I said. "The brakes
are put together right. The two sides look the same."
He said, "You'll see the problem if you just look at the brakes. The
problem is hiding in plain sight--so obvious, you almost can't see it."
Then, I saw it. The front and rear shoes had been interchanged. It was one
of those things I had never thought to check. Anyone should realize the
primary shoe (the heftier shoe) goes in front, where the bulk of the force
would be. But, this car had the primary shoe in back! I didn't even think to
compare the shoes when doing the work--who could possibly get this wrong?
So I stripped the whole assembly down, took it completely apart, and rebuilt it from scratch.
The front brakes were also messed up. They were disk brakes, which made me
wonder if my dad and this guy were playing a practical joke on me. No, this
The brakes worked perfectly when I was done, but the brake system wasn't
right. To protect ourselves from liability, we took some measurements on the
drums and rotors. All of them were shot. We had
already guessed this from the odd wear patterns we saw--all due
to the badly done previous brake job.
The owner--an unqualified shade-tree mechanic--had done the brakes,
previously. He later told me it took him all day to do the brakes, so that's
why he was now willing to pay someone else to do them.
When I told my customer he needed new drums and rotors, he
said he'd get the old ones turned. I explained that these had been overheated
and were probably brittle. I don't think the message sunk in, but my dad and I
browbeat him into agreeing to get that done anyhow.
His "do it yourself" brake job turned out to be costly in terms of my
time and his needing to buy new drums and rotors--which I refused to install.
I was done working on his car, period.
But, his "I can do anything" approach could have been even costlier. He was lucky
he hadn't killed someone or been killed, himself, due to bad brakes.
The bottom line here is you should not automatically assume you can't do
something. But, neither should you automatically assume you can. Accurately
define the problem first, by researching the relevant details. Especially if
there's an industry that services that kind of situation.
3. Time Tip
|Not long ago, I was
talking with a future blind date on the phone, trying to arrange a time to
meet. One of her big time blocks was devoted to her workouts. So, I asked
her to tell me about those. I discovered that she's one of the typical gym
rats who spends way too much time "working out" and almost no time
actually training. Her "workouts" simply did not make sense. They were
collections of exercises, but they lacked focus or any specific purpose.|
If you spend 20 to 30
minutes properly focused on training a particular muscle group (for
example, you do a back and biceps workout), you will get far better
results than if you spend an hour "working out." Ditto for 2 hours, 3
hours, 4 hours--whatever. The difference is the first approach is
targeted, while the second one is the shotgun approach.
Any time you approach a task with an attitude of
"more is better" rather than deciding exactly what you need to do and
doing it, you are poorly investing your time. For one thing, you are going
to take longer. And for another, you probably won't get the intended
The whole "working out" scene is a classic example.
But, there are many other examples. One that amazes me is the corporate
"face time" insanity.
There's this whacko idea in the corporate world that
people who arrive early and stay late are somehow better employees than
those people who manage their time wisely and approach their work
So, you can waste 61 of the 65 hours you put in each
week to accomplish 4 hours of work and be
perceived as more valuable than the person who actually gets 38 hours
of solid work in a 40 hour work week. This is the rule, not the exception.
A recent report in the Wall Street Journal revealed
that a huge number of Fortune 1000 CEOs got million dollar bonuses despite
making stupid mistakes that cost their companies dearly.
Would you say it's insane to reward someone for
putting in 70 hours a week to undo or nullify the work of 1,000 coworkers?
Of course you would. But this inability to consider results as part of the
time equation is an epidemic. Don't let it infect you.
In the electrical world, we see the same "more is
Proper grounding is essential to power quality. If your grounding's
inadequate, you set the stage for power quality problems. But
if you fix your grounding inadequacies, most or all of your power quality problems simply
go away. This has given rise to the idea that if you invest huge amounts
of time and money in overgrounding, you will improve your power quality.
That's not true. Once your grounding is adequate, more grounding won't do
anything for you.
Most of our readers drive cars. When you park your
car, what do you do? Shut off the ignition, put the transmission in gear
(if a manual) or park (if an automatic), and set the handbrake or
emergency brake. If you're on a hill, you turn the wheels so the car won't
roll into traffic. That parks the car.
How many of us would spend
additional time setting wheel chocks at each tire? How many of us would
remove the tires and put the car up on jack stands whenever we park it?
You get the idea. Once you meet the requirements for a task, more is not
better. It's simply a waste of time.
Invest some time in assessing your various tasks and
activities. Look for where you are wasting time by overdoing things. If
you approach this with a sort of brutal honesty, you will be surprised how
much additional free time you can "mine" from your present schedule.
4. Finance tip
|After taxes, your
single largest cost is probably your home. Yes, any cost is a distant
second to taxes. In the USA, taxation sucks about 80 cents out of the
typical dollar--income tax, property tax, sales tax, embedded taxes, and
so on. But since you have no control over how politicians blithely steal
your money, you will have to save elsewhere. Your home is probably a great
place to start.|
Most people have way too much
home that they pay for. Think about it. In the USA, an 1,800 square foot home is a "starter
home." No matter how large a home gets, it's never large enough.
That's because most people fill their homes with junk they
don't need. The amount of junk stored will increase in proportion to the
size of the typical American home.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to the CEO of a major
Japanese company on a long flight, once. This man is very well paid. His
home in Japan is 600 square feet. He told me that did not feel crowded to
him. But then, his home isn't filled with all kinds of junk that he'd have
You can probably avoid "trading up" to a larger home
by simply refusing to fill your home with junk you don't need. If you find
that a challenge, sell your television(s) and don't replace them. In 99%
of cases, this will cure the junk acquisition problem.
What about selling your home? You could sell it
yourself, if you are savvy enough. I don't recommend doing this, as most
people overestimate their savvy and come out financially behind where
they'd be if they sold through an agent. If the commission bothers you,
negotiate it down. But remember you are also negotiating away the agent's
incentive to show the house to prospective buyers who might be willing to
pay what you're asking or more.
What about moving? Here are some tips:
- Move on a weekday, if possible. Most folks move
on weekends, so demand is high during those times. You save about 50% on
the moving company's prices just by moving during the week. But, you
save in other ways, too. For example, movers are not as rushed, so
breakage and damage are less.
- Pack things yourself. You can shave quite a bit
off the costs, and also save time on moving day. But, get a book on
packing and read it thoroughly well before you get started. Novices make
a lot of mistakes that trained packers would never make. Feel free to
pack books (in book boxes) and other unbreakables. But, think twice
about packing your own breakables. Normally, moving contracts relieve
the moving company of any liability for breakables packed by the
customer--even if you do it right. For items that are truly precious,
pack those for transport by you personally and don't put them on the
- Getting a binding estimate in writing. Do this
before making any verbal or written agreement with the moving company.
While the estimates are usually accurate and a reputable firm won't
deliberately bloat the cost accounting to overcharge you, an estimate is
only an estimate. A good binding estimate is a "not to exceed" price. To
avoid surprises, do a walk-through with the estimator and ask him or her
to point out items or situations that can cause variances against the
estimate. For example, the estimator may say, "You have a lot of items
of various size and weight on these shelves and I can't be sure how many
boxes will accommodate those." Or, "Getting that couch up the stairs
might require three people and we'd have to remove the railing and
door." You can keep a list of such things, and then say, "OK, let me
look over this list and see which things I can remove from your
estimate. I will, for example, have that couch sitting on the floor of
the garage so all you have to do is wrap it and load it on the truck.
Can we agree to firm up the estimate two weeks from now?"
5. Security tip
|The majority of the
9.3 million people who reported identity theft or fraud to authorities in
2004 weren't burned over the the Internet. In fact, 88% were defrauded
without the Internet. Most folks are burned by low-tech methods. The most
common methods used were dumpster diving (or trash picking) and wallet
theft. We have covered preventive methods in previous eNLs.|
While many people fear Internet fraud, it simply is not a significant
threat to consumers or to business customers. One reason why is the quick
detection inherent in the electronic world. Another is the electronic
world has security measures such as 128-bit encryption--common among
secure e-commerce sites (such as Mindconnection). The US Navy tried to
break a 128-bit encrypted message, using a supercomputer. After 6 months,
they just gave up.
The median loss via electronic fraud or identity theft is $500, and the
limit for quickly-reported (or quickly-detected) credit card fraud is $50.
Who pays for the remainder of any losses? Online merchants. So, while your
personal losses are very limited, we all pay higher prices when people are
careless with their information. But don't use that as a "reason" to avoid
electronic transactions. Consumers who are defrauded by paper means
(lifted checks, photographed credit cards, stolen wallets, unshredded
receipts recovered from the trash) typically lose $4500 to identity
The biggest losses to individuals come from dealings with government
agencies. And one in particular can, without any fear of citizen reprisal,
simply steal a person's home or stick that person with an unfounded debt
of several year's wages. This agency has gained the nickname "American
Taliban" and is particularly noted for fraudulent activity and destruction
of individuals. We won't name the agency here, though you probably already
know who they are from the nickname.
It's not the agency per se, but rogue employees of it, who do the dirty
deeds. Unfortunately, these rogue employees may be the rule and not the
exception. They are unsupervised and cannot be sued, investigated, or
punished for their crimes. Thus, they do such things as sell your private
information to identity thieves, create false tax debts they then
manipulate for personal gain, run scams on small businesses, and steal
government property your tax dollars then go toward replacing (source: The
GAO). The only way to stop this is to write to--and call--your Congressman
or Congresswoman and to your two senators and ask if they wouldn't mind
providing some representation for a change and putting a stop to this
This agency is not, contrary to Congressional
opinion, needed for tax collection or tax administration. Think about this
for just a second, and this truth becomes obvious. They are redundant to
city, county, and state organizations that do the same thing. So, why
enable them to freely commit crimes? Why have them at all?
Ending the billions of dollars of theft against
American citizens each year is simple to accomplish. All Congress has to
do is go back to the Constitutionally mandated means of tax collection--do
it by apportionment. This means the states collect (as they already do),
and pay into the Treasury. Federal revenues would increase dramatically,
because the theft factor is removed. And, the high costs of funding the
thieving organization are eliminated so costs go down. Every business
would like to see increased revenue with lower costs. Demand your
government do the same.
6. Health tip/Fitness tips
You've no doubt heard about the need to get
Omega-3 in your diet. You may have read you need to eat fish, take fish
oil supplements, drink flaxseed oil, etc. That's not exactly true.
The typical American diet is horrendous. I won't
go into details, except to say it's Omega-3 deficient and overloaded
with Omega-6. But that's only
due to food choices people simply did not make 100 years ago.
You can eat a diet devoid of fish or flaxseed and
not be Omega-3 deficient. There are two "tricks" to this.
- Stop getting too much Omega-6.
- Get more Omega-3.
Omega -6 "uses up" Omega-3, but you need both. An
unbalanced diet gives you an unbalanced fat profile. So, here are two
tips for you:
- Eat leafy green vegetables. These give you the
right balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6.
- Eat whole, free-range eggs. These give you the
right balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6.
A note on the eggs. Many misinformed "experts" say
to discard every other yolk. This is stupid. Don't do it. Notice, I
didn't simply say it is "wrong." The egg is a perfect food. Baby
chickens come from chicken eggs. How can these "experts" tell you to eat
chicken but not to eat egg yolks? How can they tell you that, well, yes,
foxes, hawks, and other animals always eat the whole egg--but if humans
do it, they will die? The whole idea defies logic.
Where you get into trouble is eating "cheap"
factory farm eggs. The chickens that lay them are fed the wrong food and
are confined to little 2-ft pens. Their blood is a toxic, hormonally
upset mixture that is overloaded with cortisol. Yes, their eggs are
toxic. You can taste the difference between a factory egg and a good
egg. You can even tell the difference in how thick the shell is. Factory
eggs are far more fragile than healthy eggs. When I was a kid, my
grandmother had me go get eggs directly from the hens' nests. I dropped
my fair share of eggs when the hens would peck at my hands. I never
broke one. How many of those "cheap" eggs do you see broken at the
Do yourself a favor. Eat quality eggs. Worried
about cholesterol? Well, cholesterol doesn't survive stomach acid. Not
one study has ever shown a connection between eating eggs and having
high cholesterol. But, wait--it gets better. Non-factory eggs from
chickens that haven't been put on a diet of corn are actually high in
Omega-3--which lowers your cholesterol. This could be why my cholesterol
profile is so outstanding (doctors are incredulous), even though I eat
as many as four dozen eggs a week. Actually, I think it's because I eat
so many eggs.
Are you skeptical because of the big "cholesterol
from eggs" lie you've been pummeled with? Then experiment. Get your
cholesterol profiled. That is, record the HDL, LDL, and ratio of the
two. Then use quality eggs as your primary protein source for a couple
of weeks and see what your cholesterol looks like.
Do this for 90 days,
and monitor your cholesterol every other week. You should see steady
improvement in the numbers, with that last test showing dramatic improvement
over the first one.
Of course, to make
this experiment clinically valid you will need to control other
variables (such as stress). But, eating quality eggs should produce enough of an improvement to
convince you that eating quality eggs does not "give you high cholesterol."
7. Thought for the Day
Have you noticed how poor service is,
these days (except at Mindconnection <grin>)? Sometimes, you feel like really taking the other person to
task. The problem is, too many people do this. Imagine how you would
feel if every customer griped at you as though your every waking thought
revolves around how to be incompetent.
A much better approach is to provide some
encouragement to the other person. Use a pleasant tone. Say please and
thank you. Let the other person know how valuable his/her help is.
Example: Your flight has been cancelled. The typical
reaction is to go to the counter and berate the person working it,
demanding that you have to be somewhere by a certain time. But what if,
You. "Hi, how are you today?"
Harried Counterperson. "Fine. How
can I help you?
You. "I'm glad you asked that. It's
not your fault and it's not mine, but my flight was canceled. I know
you handle problems all day long, so you are probably pretty good at
it by now. I'm hoping you can pull a rabbit out of your hat and solve
this one for me. Can I show you where I need to be?'
HC, smiling. "Sure. Where do you
need to be?"
You. "I need to be in New Orleans."
HC. "I can get you a flight there
at 5 this afternoon."
You. "That would be terrific,
except I have a meeting at 3. It's not quite 8 this morning. Should I
call my client and explain the problem, or could you find me an
earlier flight on another airline?"
If you want results from other
people, you can buy those with a currency known as "respect."
See how much of this you can put into circulation.
Wishing you the best,
The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.
Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).
Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.
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