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Mindconnection eNL, 2012-04-15

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In this issue:
Good News | Product Highlight | Brainpower | Finances | Security | Health/Fitness | Factoid | Thought 4 the Day

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1. Good News

Americans consume significantly less gasoline now than they did at the start of Obamageddon. Partly, that's due to far less commuting due to far fewer jobs. But the fuel savings from the vast destruction of jobs in the past three years epidemic does not explain the total fuel drop.

A silver lining in this economic disaster is people in the USA are finally getting serious about changing fuel-wasting habits. Rather than toil long hours just to hand the oil companies hundreds of dollars a month for the "privilege" of driving a land barge, people are starting to think rationally about transportation. If they do it enough, Exxon might have to lay off a few members of CONgress.

TSA has done its part in the oil consumption reduction derby also, by discouraging people from flying. It's probably true that some individuals fly more just to enjoy being groped and humiliated, but most of us find it a disincentive. In my own case, I have found Amtrak to be fast, efficient, and enjoyable; where practical, I use it instead of flying.

Side note: Some people object to Amtrack subsidies, while conveniently forgetting that the automotive paradigm is hugely subsidized. Your tax dollars build the roads and other structures, and your tax dollars pay for highway patrol, snow removal, road repair, etc. If you told me 90% of the cost of the automobile paradigm is subsidized, I would believe you. Amtrak's subsidy is nowhere near that.

The change from "sheeple" to "people" in regard to slavish patronage of the oil companies is also a possible trigger for the widespread questioning of assumptions in general. That could lead to people in the USA getting serious about restoring lawful government (see the 10th Amendment).

You personally can accelerate this by simply helping people exercise independent judgment. Ask them what they think about something, then ask them why they think that. Then ask why someone else might disagree, making sure you aren't being argumentative.

A good model for this approach is the high school debating tournament. Each contestant team must be able to rationally argue opposing sides of the same issue. If you can argue only one side, you probably don't understand the issue and cannot apply independent judgment to arrive at a sound conclusion. Of course, some issues have only one rational side. But most are more complex than that.

2. Product Highlight

In our previous issue, we featured the ScanMaker 9800XL Plus. This also comes bundled with the Transparent Media Adapter (TMA).

That bundle is the ScanMaker 9800XL Plus with TMA. OK, not the most creative name. But whereas we gave you a $149.50 discount on the Plus, our discount on the Plus w/TMA is a whopping $270.

Yes, this scanner is overkill for home use. But its sheer speed can keep a company with scan-demanding operations from getting killed in the marketplace.

When your company needs a productivity edge, this flatbed scanner flat out delivers.

The ScanMaker 9800XL Plus is a warmup-free, energy-saving LED-source A3-sized scanner with USB and firewire. Its optical dynamic range of 3.7 Dmax delivers accurate color, superb shadows, crisp details, and sharp images. True optical resolution of 48-bit at 1600 dpi. Ideal for users needing to scan A3-sized graphics and documents.
 

Removed 2014-06-16

http://www.mindconnection.com/product/SCANNER-MICROTEK-SCANMAKER9800XLPLUS.html

3. Brainpower tip

I refer to this metaphor often. Watch the video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFhn_GUAhGU

 

4. Finance tip

While it's true you can save money with coupons (which are traditionally, but not always, paper), using them may be a Faustian bargain. Don't automatically assume they save you money, because the purpose is often to incentivize you to buy things you would not otherwise buy (and thus don't need).

Here are some other problems to consider:

  • When played across a market, the coupon game simply raises prices. There's no free lunch. Companies use resources to manage a coupon program, and the funding for those resources must come from somewhere. That is typically the customer who buys the product. If all companies in a given market use coupons, then the price of all the goods in that market increases by the cost of couponing and there's no cost-savings to the consumer. Boxed cereal is an example of such a product.
     
  • It takes time for you to manage coupons. If you spend 15 minutes a week looking, clipping, and organizing to save $4, then could say you are working for $16 an hour. But that assumes that you are saving money on things you'd buy anyhow and on things that are actually worth buying (see the next point). That is probably the case with only 50 cents worth of coupons per month, making your "coupon wage" 50 cents an hour. You burn up far more than that thanks to the other coupons. So it's a net loss.
     
  • Food-related coupons are nearly always for things that humans should not put into their bodies. To use the typical "food" coupon, you must buy something that poisons you. Have you noticed you find all kinds of coupons for "food" that contains corn syrup but there's a stark absence of coupons for produce?
     
  • Coupons that are "buy 2 get one free" are not 50% off coupons; they are 33% off coupons. That's still a big discount, but people usually respond to it as if it's a much greater discount than it is. And do you really need three of those, or did you just want one?
     
  • Half-price coupons should give you reason t pause. If the product can be sold at half price, what does that say about its value at the regular price? And why is the manufacturer playing such games?
     
  • If a product is good and the manufacturer has properly thought out the pricing, why is there a coupon in the first place? Look instead for a quality product at a fair price.
     
  • Rebate coupons require you to provide personal information. This might be resold or used for some other purpose you don't like.
     

Now, this sounds like a dim view of coupons. So is there any bright side? Yes. Some examples:

  • Sometimes a business uses coupons as both loyalty rewards to existing customers and incentives to potentially new customers. There may be a marketing campaign to give the business a boost to raise capital; the business is essentially paying its customers for the funds instead of paying a bank.
     
  • A business may offer coupons on a particular product in an effort to reduce inventory. The product, while not flawed, just doesn't sell very well and the business is willing to lower the price on X number of units to reduce inventory. So it makes Y number of coupons available. X does not equal Y, because only some coupons will actually be redeemed. Why not lower the price on all the units? Say the business has 900 of these and wants to move 200 so all the remaining units can fit on a single storage pallet; if it can do this by X date, it saves Y dollars of inventory costs. But it doesn't want to just sell all the units at the lower price.
     
  • A business may offer coupons on a particular product or service to entice customers to try a related product or service.

Companies do not issue coupons because the senior management got into a chorus of Kumbaya, had a group hug, and decided to bestow discounts on customers. Typically, they issue coupons in a misguided attempt to fix something else they are doing wrong. Supporting this raises all of our prices. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell when this is the case and when a company is using coupons with an intelligent strategy.

Fortunately, it's much easier to tell when it is truly to your personal advantage to use coupons or when it's not. That first bullet list above gives you some information on what to consider.

5. Security tip

This one is from my cousin Sherrie, who has been my pen pal now for nearly 50 years. She passed along an item that came to her in an e-mail. Below is an edited version.

Irene and I have eliminated most of those troublesome phone calls and identity theft scams by simply purchasing a new wireless home phone system that allows you to block all out of the area, private, or unlisted personal phone numbers. Some phones will block or allow up to 60 caller IDs.

Another note on identity theft is to never click on a link in an email, go to the site directly instead, and when placing any information on the Internet, always make sure the URL has https:// and not just http:// at the beginning. The 's' means it is secure.

However, never place your SSN on any Website, and never give it out over the phone unless you initiated the call to the place of business that is requesting it. That also applies to any other personal information like birthdays, mothers maiden names, etc.

Both Irene and I work in highly sensitive positions that require safeguarding personal information for ourselves and others. We were unfortunate victims of identity theft in both our credit union accounts last year, fortunately however, both credit unions stopped the fraud and reimbursed our money before it went too far. We were hit for over $2,000 between the two of us. We were hit by ATM skimmers, which are fake ATM scanners and/or cameras hidden in the ATM. We now only use indoor ATMs at reputable locations, and even still cover the key pad with our hands or a item to prevent any hidden camera from seeing the PIN number entered.

Some other tips related to the thoughts above:

  • You can click on a link in an e-mail, depending on who sends you the e-mail and for what purpose. If, for example, it's allegedly from a bank, don't click on it. If the e-mail is about security or payment or anything where you might need to provide information that e-mail is likely fraudulent. You can hear a nicely worded warning on this by phoning PayPal and listening to the message they play while you are briefly on hold.
     
  • Don't give out your SSN to anybody, unless the other party actually needs that number. Its primary purpose today is to identify you to the IRS, so they know exactly whom they are victimizing. Your employer, consequently, needs that number. So does any bank you do business with. A retailer who insists on having that number to accept a check or credit card does not need it; take your business elsewhere.
     
  • Don't give out your phone number to anyone, except on a need to know basis. There's no legal requirement for you to have a phone, so there's no requirement for you to provide the number.
     
  • It is much safer to purchase online from the privacy of your home than in person in public where you have no privacy. Your browser is secure, but anyone can quickly skim your credit card without your being aware you've just been nailed. Personally, I think there is additional risk if you shop at some "non-living wage" sweatshop like Wal-Mart instead of at a reputable retailer. Why anyone would support Wal-Mart, I have no idea. But I think such behavior not only helps destroy your community over time but also risks immediate financial loss you are far less likely to incur if you patronize a smaller, locally-owned retailer. Shopping at a smaller company's Website (yeah, Mindconnection!) is also a more secure practice than shopping at one run by rich cats and staffed by zombies.
     
  • If you're out shopping and a stranger approaches you for money, quickly walk away. Say nothing, and be totally alert to your surroundings. Yes, sometimes a stranger is really hungry (especially now in the middle of Obamageddon) and just needs some money for food. But this technique is one muggers use also. They play on the good-natured concern one human has for another. As you divert your attention and reach into your pocket, thereby rendering at least one hand harmless to them, they launch themselves viciously at you.
     
  • No matter how big a mugger is, all of them have vulnerable spots that are easily attacked with great effect. If you're ever physically overwhelmed by someone, surprise them with your skill as an eye, ear, and throat doctor. It actually doesn't require much skill to attack these points. But practice this now so you can auto-recall if the need to save yourself from attack ever arises. Find a friend also concerned about personal safety, and train together. Start a little club of such folks, if you want. And if, by chance, you have no friends, then hang a paper target up and practice on it.
 

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

A reader wondered if I had any advice on allergies. It just so happens that I do, because I have been battling the allergy problem my whole life. Somebody may have a magic bullet, conclusive fix for allergies. I do not. But I can tell you what I do that helps.

My strategy is based on reducing exposure to allergens. It has a profound effect on the severity of allergy symptoms. In addition to these methods, you may wish to seek out measures such as acupuncture and allergy shots.

Some things you can do:

  • Change bedding each week. Wash in hot water, to kill dust mites. Air dry, to preserve the fabric (a little dryer time is OK, but take sheets out while still damp).
  • Change the mattress pad once a month. Wash in hot water, etc.
  • Use a HEPA filter (not "HEPA-like") in or near the room you spend the most time in.
  • Eliminate processed sugar from your diet.
  • Use a Neti pot to clean nasal passages after coming in for the evening.
  • Brush your hair after coming in for the evening.
  • Shower before bed.

Age 50.

Also:
  • Use an organic dust mite killer. The one I use leaves a non-toxic salt.
  • Keep windows closed between 10 and 3 (1500), and preferably after 3 as well. Avoid going outside during that time.
  • Avoid eating mushrooms during peak allergy time.
  • Dust every surface in your home at least once a week. A slightly damp cloth actually gets the dust up.
  • Do not use dusting sprays; these are toxic.
  • No bleach in your home. A rare exception can be made for drain cleaner, if you aggressively ventilate the room in which it's being used. Chlorine is toxic, and breathing the fumes weakens a system that's already struggling with allergies.
  • Do not wear polyester. In addition to looking tacky and being a severe burn hazard, it's toxic. It doesn't breathe either, which is why you can often smell who is wearing polyester if you pay a little attention to smells.
  • Clean kitchen and sink drains at least once a week, by dumping some baking soda down there and following with white vinegar.
  • De-mold your windows. Most windows have mold on them (look for gray or black "smudges"), but it's easy to remove. Just wipe with a vinegar-soaked cloth, followed by a dry cloth.
  • Keep floors and carpets clean. Shoes come off at the door. Wipe wood, tile, and linoleum with a clean cloth; no need to use harsh chemicals that will exacerbate allergies. Vacuum carpeting at least once a week.
  • Clean drapes and blinds. Most canister-type vacuums allow you to reconfigure for blowing. I find it easy to blow the dust off, and then come back later to vacuum the surrounding area.
  • Clean walls and ceilings. The typical home has layers of dust on the ceiling after a few years, because most people don't know to clean there. Blow it off, being sure you wear a painter's paper respirator (or better). Come back later and vacuum up.
  • Do not eat candy. In addition to containing sugar, it contains bug parts. That's right, every candy bar contains bits of cockroach and other bug parts as permitted by the FDA. It's impossible to keep bugs away from the candy in these plants, so the bugs go in (not deliberately, of course). It's hard telling how many allergens go in along with them. Of course, if you care about your endocrine system or your teeth you aren't eating candy anyhow.
  • If you mow your own lawn, strip off your clothes after you're done. Then use the Neti pot and take a shower. I am highly allergic to cut grass, but find I can do it without much repercussion if I follow this practice.
     

Believe it or not, the above list is not comprehensive. There are other measures I take. None of this is rocket science, and you can easily figure out what works best for you. My point is that if you have allergies you also have many ways to reducing their severity. Put your mind to it, and come up with your own allergy prevention practices. Then stick to them.

At www.supplecity.com, you'll find plenty of informative, authoritative articles on maintaining a lean, strong physique. It has nothing to do with long workouts or impossible to maintain diets. In fact:

  • The best workouts are short and intense.
  • A good diet contains far more flavors and satisfaction than the typical American diet.

7. Factoid

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights. And your share of what CONgress has spent illegally is more than you can earn in a lifetime.

8. Thought for the Day

Acts of unkindness can become contagious. So can acts of kindness. Act now.

Please forward this eNL to others.

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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