Bookmark and Share

Mindconnection eNL, 2005-02-27

Past issues

Please forward this eNL to a friend!   (Some folks might really like it).
Free bonus:$125 shopping spree.

In this issue:

  1. Product Highlights
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tips
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. 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 analysis.

  • 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 rate--say $575.
  • 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 care costs.

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 track:
  • 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 ails them.
  • 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 situation.

  • 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 certifications involved.
  • 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 attitude.

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 proposition.

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 was real.

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 results.

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 efficiently.

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 better" thing. 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 to store.

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 truck.
  • 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 thieves.

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 criminal activity.

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.

  1. Stop getting too much Omega-6.
  2. 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:

  1. Eat leafy green vegetables. These give you the right balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6.
  2. 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 grocery store?

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, instead....

  • 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,

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.

To subscribe, change your e-mail address, offer your own tidbit, tell us how much you love this eNL, ask how to put us in your will <grin> or to (gasp) unsubscribe, write to This e-mail link

Let other potential readers know what you think of this e-zine, by rating it at the Cumuli Ezine Finder:


Articles | Book Reviews | Free eNL | Products

Contact Us | Home

This material, copyright Mindconnection. Don't make all of your communication electronic. Hug somebody!