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Mindconnection eNL, 2003-03-06

In this issue:

  1. Brainpower tip
  2. Time tip
  3. Security tip
  4. Computer tip
  5. Finance tip
  6. Career tip
  7. Health tip/Fitness tip
  8. Thought for the day


1. Brainpower tip

Does this world seem so insane that you are starting to wonder if a transporter malfunction has thrust you into a parallel universe?

Don't feel alone.

Insanity reaches a threshold and then assumes a life of its own. We saw this in the Salem witch trials, we saw this in the irrational exuberance of the 1990s stock market, and we see it in today's punitive tax rates.

Here's a sidebar on that tax comment, if you haven't done the math yourself:

Taxbite for the typical citizen 

Income taxes

  • Federal Income Tax (progressive): About 20% (not the top rate, but the total tax on income)
  • Federal Flat Tax (aka, social Security Tax or self-employment tax): 15%
  • Various other federal payroll taxes: 5%
  • State tax: 20%. This, of course, varies by state. Despite any shell games, the money comes from the citizen one way or another and it's about 20% of income. This figure includes property taxes (average 4.5%).
  • Total, income taxes: 60%

This 60% income tax is equivalent to working from the start of the year all the way into early August before seeing a dime. We work 7.2 months to pay income taxes. The serfs worked only three months. Citizens under Hebrew Law worked 1.2 months (10%). Cutting taxes in half would still leave us with a heavier burden than that of the serfs--hardly something a civilized society should be proud of.

More taxes

On top of this huge income tax burden, we pay 129 different taxes on a single loaf of bread, sales taxes on just about anything we buy, and hugely increased taxes on basic and cell phone services. Plus there are special excise taxes, gasoline taxes, tariffs, and so on.

Nuisance costs

These include such things as:

1. Hidden "taxes," such as the welfare system known as the Postal Service. Why do we have to pay for a 3:1 worker:manager ratio? I realize this is only a quasi-governmental thing, but when Postal rates are increasing at 12% a year it does have a "stop the madness" effect on taxpayers.

2. The absurd "security" that is pushing the price of air transportation insanely high (both in terms of time and money), in knee-jerk reaction to the September 11 hijackings which would not have happened if the liberals had not had their pro-crime pilot disarmament laws in place. A $600 pistol in the hands of a pilot is certainly cheaper than a $10 million piece of privacy-invasion equipment and Neanderthal "security guards." Besides, no hijacking ever happened on the ground. The place for security is in the air.

Just how does insanity become so normal? The concept behind this is "sync." In a moment, we'll look at what you can do about that so your own thinking doesn't suffer from stupidity insertion.

I recently read the most fascinating book. You can find a review of it at:

Essentially, living things and even inanimate objects will synchronize their behavior--rational or not--based on some pacemaker or oscillator. The book is an informative and entertaining (really--some of the author's wit made me laugh aloud) explanation of how this happens and why.

To prevent yourself from being synched up with stupidity, understand the following principles:

  • We all have a threshold for involuntary synchronization.

  • We seldom, if ever, are aware that we are acting in synchrony rather than based on our own true thoughts.

  • Following others off a cliff is just as deadly as if you jumped off all by yourself.

Given the above, what should you do? Eliminate sources of stupidity, irrationality, and negativity from your life as much as possible. When you do this, your thoughts will be more clear and you will be harnessing your brainpower for results that are in the best interests of you and those around you.

I could list some sources of stupidity and negativity, but that would tend to put you in sync with what I am thinking. The goal here is for you to break sync. So, my suggestion is to evaluate your various sources of information, human interaction, and entertainment and determine for yourself if these are causing you to surrender independent thought to a larger mechanism. If so, you need to start pruning.

One admonition, here. There is a difference between realistic observance and negativity. Two  examples:


  • Realistic observance: You know smoking is toxic, and you take the necessary precautions to avoid being smoked on.

  • Negativity: You dwell on the fact that smoking is toxic, demonize smokers, and generally get worked up over the issue.


  • Realistic observance: Your daughter is married to a guy who treats her poorly. She is going through a divorce. You acknowledge the guy is a creep, and you offer support. You focus on where she must go next to move her life forward.

  • Negativity: Your conversations focus on what a creep this guy is. Often, the conversation goes into great detail of what bad things he's done.

Notice the difference? Burying your head in the sand isn't remedy for negativity--it's just another dysfunctional behavior. Face problems head on, and resolve them if you can. But, don't waste your energy dwelling on the fact the problems exist. 


2. Time tip

Have you ever felt rushed? "I wish I had more time to do this!" One of my graduate professors used to give the class enormous assignments on short notice. I complained to him about this. His reply was enlightening. He said, "If I give you two weeks, you'll wait until the last two days to start this. So, that's why I give you only two days to do it. I want to break people of the habit of procrastination. That's the only way they will ever learn to manage their time. This is an object lesson in management."

To avoid feeling rushed, then, allow plenty of time for something. Put buffers in your calendar. For example, suppose you have activities scheduled for each hour of the day. Break this up with an open hour somewhere at about the 70% point. Most of us fail to account for interruptions, delays, and other things that throw our schedules off. Then, we panic that we don't have enough time.

This problem is very noticeable with travel. Why wait until the day you are to leave before packing? Start assembling things well ahead of time. Have a complete toiletry kit dedicated to travel, and ensure it's stocked. Set aside some magazines for reading while at the hotel or whatever. Set aside allergy medicine, pack vitamins and supplements in a plastic bag and throw them in the refrigerator, etc. Make a checklist, and add to it as you think of things. Then, when you are ready for final packing it takes just a few minutes and you don't forget anything.

Local trips follow this same pattern. Have a little area where you keep your trip items. For example, I have such an area. There, I keep my trip list (library, bank, grocery store, friend's house, sporting goods store, association meeting, gas station) and any supplies I might have (coupons, books to return to the library, my trip binder, etc.).

I just mentioned my trip binder. My sister and I independently started doing the same thing at about the same time--an example, perhaps, of positive sync. Instead of carrying a wallet in my back pocket where it will cause spinal problems, I used to carry a briefcase. I could never find anything in all those pockets and I started carrying a lot of useless junk. So now, I have a zip-up notebook in which I keep the few things I normally need when leaving the house.


3. Security tip

Vary your routine. Most of us get into a rut, where anyone who cases our homes can see what time we get up, what time we leave, what routes we take, when we come back, what time we go to bed, etc. Being predictable increases vulnerability. "Try to be pattern-free in 2003."


4. Finance tip

When negotiating anything from a car price to a raise, take yourself out of middle of things. One secret to successful negotiation is to assume the role of a disinterested third party. This gets you out of a contest of wills and into a rational discussion role.

For example, you want a raise.

  • The typical person says, "Gee, I have all these expenses and need more money. I'm still with this lousy company. Therefore, I deserve a raise." This then becomes the crux of their argument. And they fail to be persuasive.

  • The good negotiator identifies the needs of the other party, then builds a case for how s/he has met or exceeded those needs. The argument isn't "what I need."

To make this work, think of the negotiation ahead of time. Picture yourself as representing someone else. What information do you need? What arguments can you objectively make? What can you do to satisfy the needs of the other party?

In addition to helping you out in a technical sense, this approach helps you out in an emotional sense. Most people find it easier to think about what would be fair for someone else, but they find it hard to do that for themselves. This is due to cultural training and the sync effect. Decouple yourself from this anti-self mentality, and your odds of getting what you want go up enormously.

5. Computer tip

Does your computer seem slower than it did a year ago? Likely causes include:

  • Unneeded programs loading at start-up. Delete shortcuts from your Start folder.

  • Fragmented hard drive. Use a defrag tool.

  • Fragmented  Page File. Use Norton to defragment it.

  • Page File not sized per RAM. Make it about 2.5 the size of your RAM. Too big or too small, and you bog down.

  • You run a DOS-based operating system (Win 9x, Win Me). These have registry limitations that cause software to resort to slower subroutines to get the expected functionality. Use an NT-based OS (Windows 2K, Windows XP), a Mac, or Linux.

You can read more free computer tips at the free Mindconnection online library: Just click on the Computer link.


6. Career tip

When's the last time you charted out the process for tasks you are required to do and improved them? If it's been a while, pick a task now and see how you can streamline it. Do one task a month this way, and in a few months you will be working circles around your co-workers. That means you can take on one of their jobs when there's a layoff. Don't think your managers aren't looking at such things.

And don't think they will be aware of your heightened efficiency unless you show them (with real numbers) how you've improved Task X. That one a month rate is great, because you can monthly remind your managers of your exceptional value to them. Start with something easy, first. Then, go for the stuff that gives a great return on the effort involved.

For example, your first process improvement project might be that you file papers only when you are on the phone. There is plenty of phone "downtime" when you just have to make nice with folks and not do anything meaty. Perfect time for filing papers, and you no longer need to set aside time for that task. The next project might be a core process for your team. Maybe you redesign the workflow to save a few steps and thus lower the workload for everyone. Be sure you develop an idea work with--not in spite of--your boss to try it out. Your next project might be a task that applies strictly to your own job function. Just keep going with this. If you keep a running list of such ideas and simply assign a month to them as they crop up, you will make steady progress and never run out of improvement ideas.


7. Health tip/Fitness tip

Men and women both want noticeable chests. Some opt for surgery, which really isn't necessary for a good look. Women need not worry about their cup size--it's quite irrelevant to being attractive. Other factors have far more effect on how you look. Regardless of gender and genetics, you can make your chest look bigger and make your whole aura of presence remarkably more powerful and attractive with these simple steps:

  • Stand up straight. This sounds simple enough, but very few people ever do it. Even our clothes are cut to accommodate atrocious posture--simply look at suits and sportcoats, and this becomes obvious. They don't hang right without tailoring, unless you slouch while wearing them. Pull your shoulders back, push your chest up. If you stand against a wall, the tops of your shoulder blades should be touching it. If they don't your posture is bad.

  • Forget the traditional methods of doing lots of bench-pressing to develop the chest. What typically happens is people build their "beach muscles"--the ones in front--and neglect to build their foundation muscles--the ones in back. This creates an imbalance. The tendons shorten, and the shoulder pull forward. The chest then looks much smaller than it is. Work your back, and stretch your chest. This will help you have that correct posture automatically.


8. Thought for the Day

Everything you do has a cost. Those costs include opportunity (what else you could have been doing), money (what else you could have bought with what you spent), relationship (what else you could have said or done to improve the relationship), and so on. Be sure to weigh your decisions in light of their true costs--both for you and for those you love.


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola


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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