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Mindconnection eNL, 2006-03-12

Past issues

In this issue:

  1. Product highlight
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tip
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Miscellany
  4. Thought for the day

1. Product Highlights

Get Organized
I first started using project management software about 15 years ago. Back then, it wasn't very user-friendly.

We've come a long way, since then. ProjectKickStart, for example, is very easy to use. You can even get project templates to save you time. People are even using to plan their vacations. See an example here. Click the photo for more information about this amazingly simply tool.

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2. Brainpower tip

Amazement and incredulity are two words that describe my reaction to the latest proposals for solving our "energy crisis." We don't have an energy crisis. We have a common sense crisis.

Why is the USA (like other industrialized nations) dependent on Mideast oil? Why are our dollars eventually going to terrorist groups spawned in that region (making the IRS, a home-grown terrorist group, jealous)?

The common "wisdom" is that US demand is high and we don't produce enough oil at home. And this is why, so the "logic" goes, that we have to buy from abroad.

This reminds me of the story about the guy who is looking for his lost wedding ring under a light post, even though he's sure he dropped it half a block away. When asked why he's looking so far from where the ring must be, he replies, "The light's better over here."

Today is the 12th of March. The USA can completely go off foreign oil by the 13th of March, if it really wanted to. The solution is very simple: stop wasting oil. If each of us did our part, the USA would actually be exporting oil.

Here are some easy ways to reduce oil consumption dramatically:

  • Drive a fuel efficient car. For example, I drive a fuel-efficient Toyota Camry. I have a 5-speed manual transmission, which boosts my fuel economy by an estimated 10% more. If we doubled our fleet average--very easy to do--we'd be off that oil immediately. Trade in that gas hog for something more sensible. At the very least, insist on a manual transmission for your next car.
  • Don't drive to work. If I remember right, about 70% of our jobs here are knowledge worker jobs. If every knowledge worker telecommuted--well, do the math. Once again, we'd have no more need for foreign oil.
  • Drive less to work. It's stupid to live in a suburban mansion and commute 60 miles one way. It is also very fuel-intensive. Relocating closer to work is beneficial in many ways. People who "must" commute long ways each day need to get a reality check.
  • Drive less. A lot less. Most people don't plan their trips very well. My guess is half of all trips people take by car are unnecessary. Add in car pooling and other driving reduction strategies, and you have major savings in fuel consumption.

This is just a quick look comparing the widely touted "solutions" to dependence on foreign oil to what we could do with just common sense and a little discipline. As a society, we choose to fund terrorism. And I don't mean just by re-electing officials who have failed to abolish the IRS. We are also doing that by integrating wasteful fuel habits into our daily routines. And we can change those routines in an instant.

We don't need the government to "solve" the fuel problem with more of their stupid and costly programs. We don't need multi-billion dollar research programs into exotic fuels. We just need to apply our brains a bit and more intelligently use what we have.

This is true of most problems we face. Think on what you can do to to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Then, set the example for others. Eventually, people will move in synch (see Sync).

And here's the bonus. When you get in the habit of using those mental muscles, they become stronger.



3. Time Tip

Many of the things people do to save time actually waste time. Here are some examples:
  • Eating "fast food." You load your body up with toxins and deprive it of nutrients. Yes, you may save a few minutes per meal, but you far more in terms of productivity each day because you're not firing on all cylinders. And, you also lose time from sickness. This is a stupid strategy for saving time.
     
  • Not exercising, "due to lack of time." This just defies all logic.
     
  • Multitasking. You incur "switching costs" between tasks. This adds to the total time used. Also, you lose focus. If you want to save time, focus on the job at hand so you do it right and do it with your full energy. Then, do the next job. People who think they can do two things at once are ignoring how the human brain is structured. They are also ignoring the 5,000 years of experience that underpin the martial arts.
     
  • Working frantically. Working faster than your optimum rate is how you make mistakes. Fixing them takes time. Yes, work at a face pace. But know your limits.
     
  • Working too long. Many people think that if they put in more time they get more done. This isn't how it works. You have a limit for how long you can do a given activity. Go beyond that limit, and you work slower. So, you get less done per unit of time. Go even further beyond that limit, and you start "making stupid mistakes." That means you are actually going backwards! The right answer here is to work to your natural limit, then switch and do something else for a while. What's your natural limit? Be alert to small changes in attention and focus, and you'll know what it is.
     
  • Jumping right in. This is a common mistake. Haste makes waste. Invest some time up front to plan the job (or your day, or whatever), so you can do things efficiently. That's why  project management software (see the first article in this eNL) is so popular. Before starting on a task, think through the steps and what resources (tools, supplies) you need to complete each one. Think about the right order in which to do things. Failing to plan is planning to fail.


4. Finance tip

The tax code does provide some ways to get tax-free income, without the risk of tax shelters or the complexity of "creative" investments. If you live in a country that is so barbaric it has an income tax (e.g., the USA), these tips apply to you. Based on the current insanity that is our federal income tax code....

You do not need a tax shelter to reduce your taxes, Part Three.

Borrowed money is tax-free. Even if you don't repay a loan in your lifetime, the money is tax-free if it comes in the form of a loan. But the catch is it must be a loan. A loan must meet certain requirements:

  • It's for a specific amount.
  • The lender expects the money to be paid back.
  • The borrower pays reasonable interest on the loan.

Some people conduct financial transactions and then call the proceeds a loan to escape taxes. In the most typical cases, the loan is unduly cheap and there is no requirement that the funds be paid back. These kinds of "loans" are not legal. These funds are income. There is no getting around that, no matter how wishful your thinking may be.

But you don't necessarily need a traditional "start paying it back immediately" arrangement. Here are some examples of loans where delayed payback is normal:

  • A reverse mortgage. You get income, and you probably won't pay it back. But, your estate will.
     
  • A life insurance loan. While life insurance is a poor value for most people, it makes sense for some. You probably won't pay back what you borrow, but your estate will.
     
  • A personal loan. A rich uncle loans you $10,000 so you can pay for your kid's tuition, braces, or whatever. Or maybe this money allows you to start a business or buy a home. You both realize there won't be any paying back for at least a couple of years. And the loan itself is going to be outstanding for far longer.
     
  • A survival loan. The AT makes you a random target, and assesses you for more taxes than you can possibly pay. After several years of dealing with these psychopaths, you finally reach a settlement. But you are $3,000 short of enough assets to pay it without selling your home. This would mean huge costs for you, after the fact. A friend provides you with a "bridge loan" of $3,000 so you can survive the attack. You agree to a two-year wait until the repayment must begin.

So, there are many ways that money coming to you isn't taxable income. Just make sure you look up the current rules on this and follow them. Don't try to scam the system by doing one type of transaction and calling it another.

As with all financial transactions, don't do things for the tax motivation. Do them for the business motivation, and then avail yourself of any tax breaks. That is your first line of defense in staying out of tax trouble.

Remember, the AT can void the statute of limitations on the flimsiest of grounds, and assess you whatever interest and penalties they feel will most painfully destroy you. In their sick, twisted minds, they get a thrill out of inflicting massive damage on other people. Don't give them an excuse to do it to you. Once the "Borg" locks onto you, getting rid of them will require monumental effort.

In our next issue, we'll present more ways you can reduce your taxes without shelters or other dubious means.



5. Security tip

Here's a site that you may find useful for knowing where s**ual predators live near your home:

http://www12.familywatchdog.us/

But take this with a grain of salt. The charges are not always accurate. Our criminal "justice" system is well-known for railroading people. Scott Turow did an exposť on this, recently. This had to do with people on death row. And allegedly, the standard for a death row conviction is very high. There must be no doubt, for a verdict of guilty. Yet, an astonishingly high number of death row inmates have been proven innocent.

And, there's the flip-side of this coin. Just because someone's not on this map or hasn't been convicted of  one of these crimes doesn't mean that person isn't dangerous. Experts have all kinds of advice for protecting yourself or your children from these kind of people. I don't know how much of that really works.

Let's keep in mind that there are other kinds of predators, also. For example, have you ever felt manipulated by someone else? Maybe there was a "friend" who always calls you during dinner, despite knowing your schedule?

My layman's opinion here is you need to look out for the control freaks. I think all of these predators have that in common. They want to control. Even if that opinion isn't true, looking out for controlling people is a good practice.

These people can do immense damage to your psychological well-being. Below are some "red flag" characteristics I have noticed. Take them in sum--any one characteristic isn't necessarily a problem. And, the controlling person may not have all of the characteristics. The more red flags you see, the more likely this person is a problem you don't want in your life:

  • S/he gives you a great deal of attention, very suddenly and very early in your relationship. This can be in the form of frequent visits or phone calls, for example. There isn't a common interest or real reason for the attention, there's just attention.
     
  • S/he doesn't talk about other friends. S/he doesn't have any.
     
  • S/he does talk about enemies. Or about how the rest of the world is screwed up.
     
  • S/he hasn't accomplished much in life, and there's always a good-sounding excuse why. That excuse always blames others.
     
  • S/he "knows." S/he is an "expert" on topics s/he has no credentials in. This is different from the situation where two guys sit around and "solve the world's problems." What happens here is s/he claims to be an expert on a subject you have expressed some interest in. The goal is to impress you with superiority. For example, one day you make a remark about how fascinating astronomy is but you've never had time to learn about it. Gee, what a coincidence--your new buddy can tell you all about the cosmos.
     
  • S/he makes disparaging remarks about others in your life. If you look closely, you see s/he is trying to isolate you. Or, s/he is playing a form of "good cop, bad cop," where "I am the only one on your side."
     
  • S/he doesn't respect some of your limitations. For example, how often s/he drops by or when s/he calls.
     
  • S/he tries to impress you with some attribute of hers/his. This might be intelligence, athletic prowess, or even what kind of car s/he drives. What s/he is trying to do is establish superiority--the reason for you to follow, and be controlled by, him/her.
     
  • If you question an opinion, the reaction is strong. It may be outright anger, a period of no communication, or some other punishment. Notice, I said "question." I didn't say challenge. These folks are very sensitive to anything other than complete agreement and obedience.
     
  • S/he flatters you frequently. When someone feels the need to flatter, be suspicious.
     
  • S/he talks about your faults. A lot. And, interestingly, some of these don't exist or are blown completely out of proportion. The idea here is to disrupt your psychological balance and to lower your self-esteem. If you hear these negative things enough, you'll start believing them. Constructive criticism is the "faithful wound of a friend." But don't confuse that with psychological sabotage.
     
  • S/he talks about how others attack you behind your back, but "I stuck up for you." And yet, there are no names and no details. This is a classic strategy. I have never seen anyone but a lowlife use it. That is, whenever anyone has told me about gossip about me, that person has been at the heart of it. Maybe that's just how it's been for me.
     
  • S/he makes you feel diminished for having interacted with him/her. With some regularity. S/he may not have directly insulted you, but you feel bad. Now, to be fair, we all leave others feeling diminished at times. But usually we can tell why. And this happens infrequently. But the controlling person uses diminishment to bring you down, so s/he can later bring you up. This is an effort to establish dependency. When you see a cycle of up and down, there's a problem.
     
  • S/he has weird habits that exhibit compulsive behavior. For example, s/he has huge collections of stuff in his/her house. Meet someone who lives in clutter, and you have met a controlling personality. Not every messy person is a control freak, but beware when someone lives in discordant surroundings. That's a sign of turmoil going on inside.


6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Controlling Quantity, Part Three

You can find guides on portion sizes and how many servings you should get per day. Let's look at some of the current recommendations put out by the US Government:

  • Meat, fish, or poultry: One serving is three ounces. Try getting a three-ounce steak in a restaurant! This much is about the size of the palm of your hand. Go beyond one serving per meal, and you're likely eating too much.
     
  • Fruits: Most Americans don't get even one serving per day. A serving is a "medium" apple or orange--about the size of a tennis ball.
     
  • Vegetables: One serving is a cup of chopped vegetables. If you're going to fill up on food, fill up on this stuff. It's not very calorie-dense. Note that corn is a grain, not a vegetable. Also, root vegetables carry more calories and they are more glycemic.
     
  • Beans: A serving is one half cup, cooked.

The serving sizes are accurate, but the accuracy ends there. The USG says to have five servings per day of fruits and vegetables. So, which is it? These are very different foods. And many "experts" count beans as vegetables. Instead, beans should count as meat (and you should eat them with rice or another grain to complete the protein).

The serving size concept is correct. But the USG gets the details wrong. What you need to do instead:

  1. Determine your protein requirements. The more intensely you exercise, the more you need. The typical athlete needs about 1 gram per pound of body weight. An easy way to get this close to right is to make your protein sources just a bit smaller than the palm of your hand (same thickness, too).
     
  2. Eat grains sparingly. The food pyramid has this wa-a-a-ay wrong.
     
  3. Have a piece of fruit each day. Don't worry if you occasionally eat some extra fruit. Fruits are relatively calorie-dense, so go easy on them. Have various fruits, too. Eating just apples or oranges isn't good.
     
  4. Get the rest of your food in vegetables. Plain vegetables, maybe steamed or stir-fried. Don't put sauces and creams on them. Eat a variety of colors. Make brasiccas the center of your vegetable world. Brasiccas include cabbage, kale, bok choy, and broccoli. Include leafy greens (spinach, dark lettuce, mustard, collards), peppers (red, green, chocolate, yellow, orange, purple), and other garden delights. If you're hungry, gnosh on a small amount of veggies to take the edge off your hunger. These are low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Keep bags of frozen vegetables in the refrigerator and buy fresh ones regularly.

That pretty much sums up our discussion of portion control. People really can eat less, and enjoy their food more. It's easy to do. And, it's an essential part of having a great-looking, healthy body. You save money on food purchases, fuel, clothing, and medical care. What's not to like?





7. Miscellany

  1. The Pringle's Company produced the world's largest potato chip in 1990. It measured 23" x 14.5". This was at their Jackson, TN facility. That year, I was living in Ohio. I later moved to Jackson, TN and never heard about this. I move from there to KS in 1996 and found out about this only in 2006.
     

  2. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to www.mindconnection.com and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).
     

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.
     

  4. See: http://www.mindconnection.com/main/specialoffers.htm. It has some great offers that are worth following up on. I especially like this one: Free special offer for people who aretired of not sleeping. Visit QualityHealth to get your free special offer and get the sleep you need.

8. Thought for the Day

Respect has something in common with the boomerang.

 

Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection

Authorship

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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