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Mindconnection eNL, 2006-07-16

Past issues

In this issue:
 

  1. Product Highlights
  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

The right phrase
Ectaco has an amazingly useful, yet inexpensive product: The PB-series traveler phrasebook.

If you click on the one pictured at right, you'll be taken to the product page for the German version.

 

Discontinued, 2013


 

The Ectaco English-German Audio PhraseBook B-3 instantly translates 14,000 travel-oriented phrases (organized by activity) and speaks the translation aloud. Featuring natural pronunciation as recorded by native speakers, it is easily understood by your listeners. And its powerful search functions allow you to quickly find what you need, when you need it.


2. Brainpower tip

Have you ever found yourself totally livid, due to sheer frustration? If so, you are not alone. Common situations include:
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.
  • Computer quirks that keep coming back.
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.
  • Traffic jams.
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.
  • Normal computer situations, such as the default fonts that keep forcing you to change to something legible.
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.
  • Being put on hold, yet again.
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.
  • Not being able to find your keys.
  • Interacting with a gov't bureaucracy.

And, of course, there's the sheer frustration of dealing with government agencies. Did I mention that?

The natural response to frustration is this. Your cerebral cortex (center of thought) basically sends out a "does not compute" error message to the rest of the brain. This is especially true when dealing with a government agency.

The brain responds by kicking the problem down to the 2nd-lowest level of the five evolutionary levels of the brain. That would be your "reptilian brain," which is where your brain retreats to when there's a high emotional state such as stress, fear, or frustration. This response dramatically reduces the amount of brainpower at your disposal. Which helps explain the incompetence of gov't agencies.

Today, it seems most people go to that stage by default. As a merchant, I receive huge amounts of communication from customers. Some are very articulate, and I can easily help them with whatever problem they are writing about. But most who have a problem substitute threats and indignation for reasoning. Consequently, I really can't help them because I don't understand what their problem is. About 80% of the time, there really is no problem--the customer, however, is in reptilian brain mode and perceives a problem.

Example 1: "I have not received my order. I'm going to contact the BBB and anyone else I can. This is outrageous." And it will continue on for a few more lines of ranting. Normally, this is in all lower case with run-on sentences. This tells me the person is not in thinking mode. This is the kind of letter I get when a person orders something after close of business on Friday and doesn't receive it on Monday. There is no problem, here--the factory will ship the order on Monday. This person simply wasn't thinking.

Example 2: "My order arrived today, and there's a problem. This was supposed to have a spare rechargeable battery with it. But the battery was missing. Is this on backorder, or was it just an oversight?"

This second person is thinking. Now, which person do you suppose is going to get something additional from the merchant? Which one do you think is going through life being more productive, happier, and less stressed out?

When you let a situation upset you, then you let the situation control you. It's better for you to control the situation.

Going back to the font problem. Personally, I have no idea why there is any font other than Arial. I've read interviews with font designers, who claim a font communicates certain things. My opinion is any font other than Arial (size12) simply makes things hard to read. The default font in most programs is Times New Roman 10. This font "stops" the eye, assuming a person can actually make out letters rendered at that size (most people over 40 cannot).

It's stupid to have this as the default. The problem is you can't change the default the program uses--you can only change the "template" default or some such. Now, a person has a choice of cussing out the morons who insist on implementing a "change it every time" font or simply recognizing that stupid people need a reason to live and accepting this as a cost of living in our society. Getting mad every time your time is needlessly wasted due to the stupidity of others simply wastes more of your time.

Many things are that way. Government agencies, which (in all cases that I know of) serve no purpose, are ubiquitous. The U.S. Federal government is the largest buyer of products and services in the world. It's also the single largest expense for 98% of Americans, and a major source of frustration, stress, and needless hassle. Some people spend their days frothing over this. But, there's nothing we can do about it. It's better to just recognize that some things are part of life and just worry about the things you can change.

The other option is to go around in a constant state of agitation and consequently render your brain inoperable (due to the effect noted earlier).

I know some people who are constantly agitated by the obesity epidemic in the USA. Yes, it's an annoyance and an unnecessary expense for the non-obese. But let's not get all worked up about the results of the various consumer-targeted brainwashing campaigns.

One of the comments coming out of the recent Soccer World Cup was that the Americans were recognizable from a distance--due to their obesity. How embarrassed we should be--but as a nation, we didn't even bat an eye on this one.

Americans (in general) eat more than twice as much food per meal as Europeans. Cutting meals down to human-sized portions is not something the typical American is willing to do. Similarly, we have an infestation of gas-guzzling SUVs--which get less than half the mileage the typical European car does. This waste in the face of rising fuel prices, oil supply shortages, etc., is not the product of a fully-functioning brain--but one that is operating at the reptilian level.

There is nothing we can do about this. Stupidity is normal, now, because being upset is normal. Being upset puts your brain in reptilian mode. Reptiles are not smart, and people who limit their brains to "reptile only" mode are similarly not smart.

People are immensely (no pun intended) vulnerable to brainwashing campaigns when they function in the reptilian mode. Let's face facts, here--it simply is not intelligent to overeat your way into a state of disease. If you are overeating, put your higher mental powers back in charge (you can do this) and you'll see that waistline shrink as if by magic.

How can you prevent this common malady of brain-neutralization from afflicting you? The key is to ensure you have the right perspective. Stay calm. Don't let the constant barrage of stupidity upset you. Just consider the cost to be part of the admission price to society--where you enjoy the many benefits of membership. This will allow your own brain to function at level 5, rather than level 2. If you work for a gov't agency, you may realize it's time to quit and get a real job. But you'll be better off for it.

If you need inspiration or guidance, you can find all sorts of books, tapes, and other materials in the self-help area of your library. Or, put into effect the Prayer of Serenity." That is, change what you can change and just accept the rest.



3. Time Tip

Put technology in its proper place, and use it purposefully. Most people do one of two things with technology:
  1. Limit themselves by not taking advantage of it, or
  2. Waste huge amounts of time treating technology as an end in itself, rather than as a means to greater productivity.

Let's address that second issue, first. No matter what technology tool you have, take the time to learn how to use it properly. Learn how to maintain it efficiently. Learn its limitations. Don't spend more time playing with the tool than it can save you.

For example, the Internet can provide huge time-savings in finding information. But merely browsing Websites can suck down hours. Using a cell phone to make and receive calls can greatly improve your productivity. But totaling out your car because you were trying to make a call in heavy traffic isn't a productive use of your time.

Take care, also, not to waste time with the "extras" of any given technology tool. For example, games on your computer and phone may be entertaining--but they can quickly take over your "spare" time.

Let's move on to that first point: not taking advantage of the technology available. Examples abound, and nearly all of them derive from either ignorance or fear.

Trying putting this on a job application, and see if you get hired: "I am ignorant and fearful." Here's another experiment. The next time you go to a social gathering of any sort, introduce yourself by saying, "Hi, there. I'm ignorant and fearful." The point here is that neither ignorance nor fear are desirable qualities. So, make a point of not succumbing to either one.

Computer example: Many people assemble tabular data in Microsoft Word. That's a misuse of the software. This kind of task, however, is ideal for Excel. But an ignorant or fearful person might say, "But I don't know how to use Excel." Well, if you can use Word then you can use Excel. Your problem is not Excel. Your problem is you are making yourself ignorant. Get over it and move on. Save enormous amounts of time by using the correct tool for the job is just the first of many benefits you will realize.

Phone example: Most phone features are a complete waste. But some are well-worth learning and using on a regular basis. Take the time to read through your phone manual and find the tools that can save you time. These go beyond simply auto-redial and other standard stuff.

Camera example: Everybody, it seems, has a digital camera these days. But what good is the camera if your photos are poorly composed, poorly focused, and so on? Take a photography course--these don't cost much. Or buy a book on photography. If you are allergic to reading, then get a video on photography.

To properly use technology, then, follow these tips:

  1. Assess what's out there. This is an ongoing process. Look past the hyperbole and at the specific things a device or software can do or that you can do better or faster with it.
  2. Note where a device or software might save you time.
  3. Evaluate the product to see what it actually does, and to get a feel for how and where you might use it.
  4. Assess your own processes, and think about whether the purchase is worth the time saved.
  5. Assess your other tools you already have. You want to avoid technology clutter. Can you adapt, upgrade, or replace something you already have? Factor this into the purchase decision. Too many gadgets, and you spawn a whole new set of problems.
  6. If the purchase makes sense, go through with it.
  7. Read the manual. Cover to cover. Twice. Then, read it again.
  8. Practice what you learned from the manual.

4. Finance tip

Long-term Care Policies, Part Two

Which type of policy should you buy? The correct answer depends on how much you can afford to spend. Don't put yourself in the poorhouse today to avoid going there tomorrow.

For most people, the best choice will be a lifetime coverage policy that has a short elimination period. Depending on your personal finances and where you live, such a policy may cost too much for you to afford it. In that case, you'll have to go with a policy that covers less, has a shorter coverage period, or has a longer elimination period. Those are the trade-offs.

Be careful when shopping for policies that you don't give in to any claims that there's some kind of magic going on that makes a policy a super-great bargain. All of these insurance companies are in business to make money. So, you are going to give up something to get a lower premium. That means giving up on the amount of coverage, the coverage period, or the elimination period.

Yes, some nuances do come into play. For example, companies vary in how they count the days of care. What they tell you pre-sale may be deceptive, intentionally or otherwise. They may count any single day of care as a full week, whether there are seven of those days or just one. Have two days of care in two adjacent weeks, and that may count as two weeks of care rather than two days. Make them spell it out.

Some will tell you they count seven calendar days as one week. If that's the case, then things are more straightforward. But even that can be misleading. Again, make them spell it out.

If you are using an insurance agent who represents several different policy providers, raise the day counting question. The agent should understand what you are after and be able to identify which policies and plans are generally more of a value for a given premium.

If you live in a country that abuses its citizens with an income tax, the payments for this coverage may be (in full or in part) deductible. Ask your tax preparer about this, but don't get too excited. The strings attached to such a deduction put it out of reach of most people.

In the USA, there is such animosity toward the IRS because of the high crimes and treason rampantly committed by its employees that many Congressional leaders are advocating not only abolishing the IRS but replacing the income tax with a national sales tax. Yes, there is a possibility that the USA could become a country that extends basic rights to its citizens. And it's not as remote a possibility as many people think. See www.fairtax.org for more information.

The point here is that it isn't prudent to buy something based on whether you'll get back some of the funds extracted from you by a hostile and incompetent agency of your government. Buy the policy based on the value per premium dollar paid and the coverage.

See http://www.supplecity.com for free articles on taking care of your body so it can, in turn, take care of you and your finances in the long-term.

5. Security tip

Many people believe they are "protected" by anti-virus programs. This isn't true. Basically, that's because these programs detect and destroy viruses only after you are already infected, unless you run their "shields" as well. But those "shields" are so detrimental to performance that they are worse than actually having a virus.

Using these programs is like instituting a policy of closing the barn door after the horse gets out. Their answer to preventing the horse from getting out is to tie its legs together. I've never read anything that recommends tying a horse's legs together before riding the horse. Don't employ this same strategy when running your computer.

So, how can you protect yourself? Basically, follow "safe computing practices." Doing so will prevent viruses from making their way onto your computer. You may still have a trojan or some spyware, but these practices will vastly reduce the likelihood of those as well. If you still want to run an anti-virus program to detect and remove viruses, that's great. Just don't rely on it to "protect you." Also consider buying a registry cleaner and anti-spyware to keep the junk off your machine.

Here are some safe computing practices--things you should do, at a minimum:

  1. Don't open suspicious attachments. An attachment is suspicious if it comes from someone you don't know and you're not expecting it. Big red flags include all lower case, whacky "from" addresses, and files that are zipped.
     
  2. Don't click on suspicious hyperlinks. Anything that promises you something for nothing is an obvious scam. The big thing now is mortgages. Last month, it was some drug--the name of which escapes me.
     
  3. Don't run "freebie" spyware. Why anyone would think that Alexa or Google is doing you a favor with their silly toolbars is beyond me. If you like lots of other people to track your every move online and load crap on your machine without your even knowing about it, just keep using this junk.
     
  4. Stay off the junk sites. I'm not anti-p*rn. If you enjoy these kinds of sites, fine. But there is no free lunch. If you pay for a membership, the last thing the Webmaster wants is for you to blame that site for viruses, etc., and cancel your membership. But on a freebie site, the odds are very high that Webmaster is making money not from the free content offered to you and not from the rare sign-ups--but from the spyware, stealth downloads, pop-ups, pop-unders, and other junk being done to your computer as "fair" exchange for the free content you are getting. Note: this same thing applies to gambling sites.
     
  5. Get your updates. Contrary to what the ill-informed say, Microsoft does not make products that are inferior and designed with high risk of security breaches. Microsoft products are ubiquitous. Programmers develop useful applications to run on Microsoft operation systems and to work with Microsoft products. That's wonderful for us users. But at the same time, the folks who write nasty programs target this "larger market" with their malware.

    Does this mean you should avoid MS programs? Well, if you believe that staying off our roads because that's where traffic accidents happen then I guess it does. Me? I like to live in the real world.

    The key to safely using MS products is to use the Microsoft update tool religiously. The updates plug security holes and MS does a great job of making those available. At no charge. People who don't update are 99% of the problem regarding malware. If everyone stayed current, most malware writers would simply give up. "No victims" means their efforts are for naught.

    This single tip is probably the most important of all.

 

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Recently, I've read several pieces written by different researchers. These pieces were about the safety of aspartame. I'm not going to argue from my position of relative ignorance that these people are wrong in saying that aspartame is safe. I'm going to take their findings at face value, but with some caveats:
  • First caveat. These people who've been testing aspartame have found that a rat would need to consume the equivalent of 1,000 soft drinks (or whatever quantity) to get a dose of aspartame that causes any kind of measurable problems. But what they haven't been testing is the effects of the compounds aspartame breaks down into after the body acts upon the aspartame. One of those compounds is methane. You may wonder why teens--who seem to try anything--aren't shooting methane into their veins and then telling others how great it is. Well, it isn't great. The body gets rid of methane as fast as it can because of its toxicity. I think we're all familiar with how the body does this and the fact that the body recognizes this effluence as "stinky." You probably know a person or two who emits very large quantities of methane, and you don't find that socially ingratiating.
     
  • Second caveat. These researchers all are on the dole of some organization that benefits from the use of aspartame. So, there is an inherent conflict of interest here. This means your interests as a consumer take a lower priority over the interests of those who provide the researchers with their jobs.
     
  • Third caveat. Aspartame is not natural. The body isn't designed for it. We have a long list of unnatural "food substances" that have turned out to be highly toxic instead of "good for you." I don't know of any unnatural "food substances" that are not on this list. Some examples include margarine, hydrogenated oil, various artificial colorings, and various artificial preservatives. It is my layperson's opinion that any time you introduce an artificial food into the diet, you are asking for trouble. Jack LaLanne says, "If it's made by man, I don't eat it." I believe following his example is prudent.

I want to explore that third caveat a bit more, here. That's really the purpose of this article. First, let's establish a timeline. If you are in the "mankind is only 5,000 years old" camp, I'm going to ask you to suspend that notion for a bit so we can get a proper understanding of what's going on.

We have records (in fossils, drawings, genetic markers, etc.) showing how people lived 10,000+ years ago and what they ate. For example, we can look at the bone ends of hunters from that era and see advanced arthritis. From other facts, we piece together this scenario. These folks expended about 6,000 calories a day on a hunt, mostly due to traveling long distances by foot and dragging their prey all the way back. That level of calorie burn exceeds the "design specs" of the human body.

That high calorie expenditure requires a loading that the body simply cannot endure. This is interesting, when you consider that the typical American is now consuming almost that many calories per day and then farting around with machines in gyms or exercise videos under the delusion that they can "exercise off" the gorging and excess calories.

Simply put, that strategy does not work.

As a climber, I can tell you from personal experience that expending 10,000 calories in a day is possible but is also nearly debilitating. You spend several days of low calorie expenditure and lots of pain just recovering from that. I've done some 4,000 calorie climbing days, and those also are followed by extensive rest. You simply cannot expend 6,000 calories day after day without permanently damaging your bones and your soft tissues. But, I digress.

The point I wanted to make about those folks is their diet consisted of mostly fruits, vegetables, and meat. Grain was conspicuously absent. This makes you wonder what "they" were thinking when "they" came out with the "Food Pyramid" that shows you should eat primarily grain. Well, they weren't thinking. That's why the Food Pyramid looks the way it does and why you should ignore it.

Agriculture began to emerge about 10,000 years ago, and grains began to enter the human diet. This amount of time is a blink of an eye, in terms of evolutionary adaptation. This means the human body has not had time to switch over to a grain-dominated diet.

Take a look around you, the next time you are in the supermarket. Look at the shopping cart contents, and then look at the folks pushing those carts. You will notice that folks with high amounts of grain are fat and folks with low amounts of grain are not. The reason for this should be obvious to you by now.

Today--especially in the USA where the "Food Pyramid" has been teaching generations to poison themselves--we have epidemic levels of:

  • Attention deficit
  • Bowel diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Discipline deficit
  • Government agencies (think about it--this actually fits on this list)
  • Hypertension
  • Impatience
  • Incivility
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reasoning deficit
  • Stupidity

Notice that not all of these are simply "physical" problems. Several are "mental" problems. That's because the brain is a physical organ. Mistreat it, and you get mental problems.

You might want to read The Paleo Diet or The Paleo Diet for Athletes. The author is Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD, an evolutionary biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. That's not where I got this information from--it's just another source for those who don't yet "get it" about excessive grain in the diet.

You can find other references to confirm Dr. Cordian's conclusions. He's not the only one who  believes that eating what we're not adapted to eating is why we (society at large) has all of these illnesses at such high levels.

What was that grain-free diet like, 500 generations or so ago? First of all, it was all unprocessed food. There were no large vats set aside for the purpose of turning food into nutrient-deficient mush and then adding toxic chemicals to it. Consequently, the diet was rich in the nutrients that are missing from today's typical diet--things like lean protein, fiber, antioxidants, and, yes, omega 3 fats.

Those omega 3 fats came from foraged greens (not grains), and you can easily get them today simply by eating greens. This is especially true if you eat greens from the brassica family.

Here's a multiple choice question: What should you put in your car's gas tank?

  1. Raw sewage
  2. Sugar water
  3. Dish soap
  4. Sun tan lotion
  5. Gasoline

Gosh, that's a tough one. My layman's opinion is that "E" is the correct answer. Why would I think such a thing? Well, gosh, I don't know. I guess I'm just considering what kind of fuel the car is designed to run on. Maybe that's a good consideration when deciding what kind of fuel to put into your body. Do ya think maybe so?

If the FDA--which is not known for their brilliance--came out with a "Fuel Pyramid" that showed dish soap as being good for your car, would you change your choice? Don't do it for your body, either. After all, the FDA is a government agency. Instead of trusting people who are essentially banned from using their brains, apply basic reasoning and make the right choice.



 

7. Miscellany

  1. It cost the soft drink industry $100 million a year for thefts committed involving vending machines. But it costs the consumers of soft drinks billions of dollars a year in preventable medical care.
     
  2. Help U.S. Marines: http://www.mypersonalfitnesscoach.com/supportourmarines.html .
     
  3. See: http://www.mindconnection.com/main/specialoffers.htm. It has some great offers that are worth following up on--such asgasoline offers. I especially like this one: Free special offer for people who are tired of not sleeping. Visit QualityHealth to get your free special offer and get the sleep you need.
     

  4. 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).
     

  5. Please forward this eNL to others.

 

8. Thought for the Day

The admonition, "Wake up and smell the coffee" has multiple meanings to those of us who know the health benefits of this aromatic bean.

 

Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection.com

 

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