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Mindconnection eNL, 2005-09-11

Past issues

In this issue:

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


September 11 Message

I timed this edition for September 11, on purpose. This is a day of remembrance. I won't hype it up, provide you with more of the same photos you've seen a dozen times, or try to impress you with some flowery speech. You all know the score. But I do want to stimulate your thinking on this day, and thus this short missive.

What does September 11 mean, now? I think the right answer comes when you personally reflect on this protracted global war Osama Bin Laden brought to us. First, remember this guy is a crackpot fringe element leader who now lives in caves. Then, consider that his motivation came from five negative elements:

  • Ignorance. Bin Laden is a powerful personality, and his advisors told him what they felt he wanted to hear--knowing full well it wasn't true. Bin Laden, for example, believed that the Somalia events (remember "Blackhawk Down?") were evidence the USA was weak and its military was impotent. He found out differently, when we did in Afghanistan in a few weeks what the Russians could not do in a decade.
  • Intolerance. The jihad movements are based on the idea that those not fully embracing certain beliefs are the enemy. In their homelands, jihadis refer to the secular governments as "the near enemy." They refer to the rest of the world as "the far enemy." Many of their core attitudes are eerily parallel to what we see in some religious groups in the USA--these groups don't realize it, but their intolerance is poisoning the very well they would have others drink from.
  • Hubris. Bin Laden's ego and attitude are legendary. Pride before a fall.
  • Fear. This problem goes back for more than 1,000 years--to the time of the Crusades. But Europe is no longer a "Christian" enclave that sends military expeditions to plunder, er, "save" Muslim lands. That era ended centuries ago. Some folks just don't seem to be aware of this.
  • Hatred. This particular poison does more damage to the one holding it than to the one it is directed at. It's the fuel of recklessness, and it's a corrosive that eats from the inside out. No good can come of it.

We need to rise above those things. If September 11 has taught us anything--and I think we can agree the "tuition" was rather outsized--it's that we need to engage our fellow human beings as, well, our fellow human beings. Let's try to do that.

1. Product Highlights

InfoScan Text Scanning Pen
This is a fairly inexpensive tool that students just love. And for many reasons. It allows them to scan and store text with a small device that they can even carry in a holster. No more lugging a laptop to the library, and no more feeding the copy machine rolls of coins. Just scan and store!

See more details here:


2. Brainpower tip

This is one I personally have a hard time with, so I thought I may as well share it in this issue. If you go to, as noted above, you'll see that the Mindconnection store has had a major facelift. For one thing, the side navbar that shows all the different major categories is gone. Now when you go for, say, translators, you don't also see sports supplements. Things just look better that way.

While working this project, I wanted to retain the currency converter that was in the old navbar. But the way I did this broke the store--and I didn't realize it for quite some time because I didn't test right away. So, I stayed up well past my bedtime until I got an "Aha!" moment and fixed the problem.

So far, so good. Now, here's the rub. One of my time management techniques is to maintain a reading pile. I don't normally prioritize what's in there, so it's pretty much FIFO (first in, first out). I read from the top of the stack down. I put stuff at the bottom and read it when it comes up on the top.

The next day, after I had stayed up late to fix this problem, what was the second thing on top of my reading stack? The friggin' instructions on the new software I was using to change the look of the store! The first item took me only a couple of minutes to read, then boom--there was exactly what I needed to know the night before!

What's the brainpower tip, here? Before you begin a chore you are unfamiliar with, read the documentation. This saves you time, but it also prevents you from wasting brainpower chasing a problem that is already solved for you.

I've read that we men don't read instructions and don't ask for directions. I'd say that's an oversimplification with a few grains of truth to it. But it's also quite clear from the example above that your timing on reading the instructions is important. The timing, in my case, meant I applied my brainpower to something I didn't have to and therefore did not have it available for more productive endeavors. An opportunity forever lost.

3. Time Tip

This plays off the previous item. Read instructions before you tackle something you aren't familiar with. This should be part of planning the job.

If you are tempted to think otherwise, then compare your situation to swimming. When is the better time to start learning how to swim--before you get in deep water, or after? All I could really say the other day was glug, glug, glug. Don't let this happen to you!

Rather than spend time making and correcting mistakes, figure out how to do the job before you start. Huge time-saver.


4. Finance tip

How to save on gas at the pump.

You may be bothered by high prices at the gasoline pump, but I'm not. I look at my annual gasoline consumption, and I really don't have a problem. When you buy gasoline once every six weeks or so, a few extra dollars isn't a big deal.

But, it wasn't always this way for me. At one time, I bought gasoline just about every other day--and a full tank at that (this is what happens when you drive a 500hp, wheelie-pulling hot rod with a 4.30 rear gear and nitrous oxide).

I have learned how to unchain myself from fuel prices, and I'm going to share that with you right here. You may not be able to use all of these tips, but do your best. If something sounds like you can't use it, put your mind to work to figure out how you can. You may be surprised at how possible the "impossible in my situation" actually can be when you are determined to "make it so."

  • Cut the commute. This is the best thing you can do. So, this one bullet point is going to be quite a bit longer than the others.

    If you drive, say, 12,000 miles per year mostly because you have a half-hour commute to work every day, you have a huge opportunity to save both fuel and time. Many people feel they need face time at the office, or they will be marginalized.

    Let me ask you something. When is the last time you got the same $13 million bonus your CEO got? I thought so. You see, you are already marginalized. Rather than spend enormous resources hoping to improve your situation by 1%, why not reduce your resource costs by as much as 90%? Getting a meaningless promotion or a tiny raise doesn't justify working yourself to the bone. Stop running the fool's errand.

    If you don't already telecommute, work your way into this gradually. Some companies began their own programs, by having certain job categories telecommute one day a week. This reduced facility costs, and they expanded a bit here and there. Telecommuting depends on trust and discipline. It's not for everyone, and it simply won't work with some jobs. But see what you can do. And do bring up the idea of "rotating days," where, for example, some folks will telecommute on Mondays, some on Tuesdays, etc. This frees up parking space, and confers many other benefits.

    Remember, telecommuting doesn't mean having a day off. It means working from home (or a close by satellite office) and being available via phone and Internet.

    Most companies claim huge productivity improvements with telecommuting, and the reasons why should be obvious.

    Another option is what many construction companies do--and they do this to save hugely on daily mobilization costs. Work four 10 hour days. The day off can also rotate.
  • Have the right model of vehicle. I drive a 4 cylinder late model Camry. It gets nearly 40 MPG--who needs a hybrid? Note: the standard Camry gets about 10% less fuel economy than mine does, because the standard Camry has the wrong transmission.
  • Have the right transmission. An automatic transmission is very expensive. It sucks down fuel, and it requires annual maintenance (which most people don't do). In the USA, 20% of drivers have manual transmissions. In Europe, 20% have automatics. Why the difference? Europeans have had high gasoline prices for decades and they opt for fuel economy. If you spend $2,000  a year on fuel with an automatic, you essentially get a $200 fuel rebate every year. Plus, you save a princely sum at purchase time.
  • Use the right oil. Cheap oil in your engine is very costly. I use Mobil One, which costs about 3 to 4 times as much to buy as regular, paraffin-based oil. But I get that money back, and then some, in fuel economy. I can't say empirically that it extends the life of my engine, because I don't keep a car long enough to determine that.

    Also, the cheap oil does not lubricate your engine during starting. That's because the wax in that oil has to melt. Synthetic, by contrast, is always present and always lubricates. That's why you'll see synthetic rated for subzero starting. The "regular oil" will probably be fine if you start your car when outside temperatures climb above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. But I will take a wild guess here--you don't do that most of the time, right?
  • Change that oil frequently. I had a street rod that shifted from first to second at 7,200 RPM. The stock engine was factory-rated not to exceed 5,500 RPM. This one was designed to exceed 10,000 RPM. That's a lot of speed for an eight cylinder engine. On top of that, I went through nearly 50 bottles of nitrous oxide in one summer alone.

    People were saying that engine must be about worn out. So, we yanked it out and took it apart. Not a single indicator of wear, anywhere. It mic'd out "new." Now, I did change oil every 500 miles--that's excessive maintenance, but this was excessive duty. I point this out to show that the oil change frequency has huge influence on engine wear. For the same reason, it has huge influence on fuel economy.

    Here's the reason why. Oil gets contaminated, over time. Each time you start your car, you put some unburned fuel in your oil. Condensation puts water in your oil (which is why short trips that don't heat up the engine mean you need more frequent oil changes), greatly lowering lubricity. You can't filter out these chemical contaminants. Your oil filter removes aspirated dirt, it removes carbon, and it removes the tiny metal fragments from normal engine wear. This last item goes to nearly zero, if you use synthetic oil.
  • Stay balanced. I have my tires balanced (and rotated--this is free when done with balancing) every 5,000 miles. This prevents a loss of 2 to 10 MPG. It also greatly reduces wear and tear on the suspension. Unless you have a passion for replacing ball joints, springs, shocks, tie rods, and other suspension components, I suggest you go no more than 5,000 miles without a balance check.
  • Care for your tires. Inflation and rotation. Keep up with these, and you prevent a loss of 2 to 10 MPG. Not to mention the safety ramifications of under-inflated tires. Any time the temperature drops, check your tires. It is not a hard thing to do, so do it every week if you want.

    If you replace tires, go with a highly efficient tire. You won't be able to know the efficiency of a tire without asking a tire specialist. Also, make sure your tire is rated AAA--or you're getting a cheap tire. You may need to balance some things in the equation so you get the right tires for your car--don't focus just on efficiency.
  • Cut your speed. This one is a bit over-rated. I did a test over a 500 mile trip, and found that with an average speed of 78 MPH the car still got 35 MPG. The same trip averaging 65 MPH resulted in 38 MPG. So, not a lot of difference. But every little bit helps. Maybe an average speed of 55 MPG would have gotten me to 40 MPG--but the tune "I can't drive 55" just seems to be a national theme song.
  • Change gradually. Your acceleration and deceleration methods have a great influence on your fuel economy. Anticipate stops, and try to rely more on intelligent driving than on your brakes.
  • Kill the radio. I listen to audio books, or have dead silence, while driving. On those rare occasions I play the car radio, I always feel like going faster and driving more aggressively.
  • Keep your distance. Contrary to the propaganda, speed does not kill. Relative position does. People who tailgate are not only dangerous, they needlessly waste fuel because of the reactionary driving methods required by following too closely.

    Use the 2-second rule. That is, pick an object (e.g., an overpass) and count off two seconds between the time the car in front of you passes it and you reach it. If you get there in less than two seconds, you are following too closely.

    In wet weather, allow three or four seconds.

    In December of 2000, I drove the black ice stretch of I-80-- following one of the worst winter storms I can remember. It was well below zero, and the ice had been polished by windborne ice particles for days. As I approached the location of this black ice, I allowed 12 seconds between my car and the one in front of me. And guess what? I never had to slam my brakes once. The ditches along that whole stretch of road were lined with cars--sometimes three deep! Interestingly, I noticed anybody who tailgated me was never there very long--but became just another ditch denizen.
  • Combine trips. By making fewer trips, I eliminate much of the mile count I would otherwise entail. Before I go to one place, I determine if there are other places near there that I should also go to. Go thou and do likewise.
  • Be thinking in terms of fuel savings. This is what I began doing years ago, and now I am in the position of not really caring about the pump price of gasoline. Commuting by jet is another matter, but much of that can be eliminated by applying the principles of telecommuting.

What would be the effect on our economy and our international position, if every American followed each of these bullet points thoroughly? You already know the answer. Pass this eNL on to others so that together we can get that process rolling--no pun intended. To our non-USA readers, ditto.

5. Security tip

You just can't beat a good locksmith. Every time I have moved into a new home, who is one of the first people I have invited over? Not the neighbors. The locksmith!

But, an unethical locksmith might sell your keys to a burglar a few months from now. This means you must place your trust with a reputable locksmith. So, how do you find a reputable locksmith?Fortunately, most of these folks are as honest as the day is long--and then some. But you still need to practice due diligence.

Finding a locksmith:

  • Ask your local police department to recommend a locksmith and/or alarm specialist. Many locksmiths also deal in alarms, which makes sense if you think about it.
  • Contact your alarm company for a locksmith reference.
  • Look up your short list of candidates online. A search on any major search engine should reveal any postings
  • Look in your local Yellow Pages. But don't bother with one that doesn't list a physical location for the company's address.

Interview the potential candidates. Ask the locksmith:

  • "How long has your company been in business?" This is unfair to new businesses, but whose interests are more important to you--yours, or theirs?
  • "Will you do a free security evaluation, prior to doing the lock work?" A good locksmith will not want your home broken into when you have their locks installed. The locksmith will advise you on things based on your location and the particulars of your home. Ignore these recommendations at your own risk.

    Do note that you won't save any money if you forego that jamb plate, allowing a violent criminal to easily break in and overwhelm you before you can use your shotgun or trusty .44 to ensure your safety. Generally speaking, your funeral will cost more than a jamb plate. But prices may vary in your area, so shop around and make the choice that works best for you.
  • "What brands of locks do you sell, and why?" Don't pretend to know anything about locks--you probably don't. Your goal here is just to see if the locksmith has something to say on the subject. There is no right answer, as to brand. You may find one locksmith swears by one brand, and another swears at that brand--this doesn't matter. You do want a locksmith who seems opinionated on this issue. If the locksmith says the brand really doesn't matter, ask if there is a brand they don't recommend.

Don't ask a bunch of questions. These three are enough to give you a feel for the company without pestering them to death.


6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer afflicting men--and women. Most people, myself included, have a real phobia about having instruments inserted in the same place tax audits are conducted. And we don't want the auditor to think he's got competition.

But this also means we don't go in for exams, even at the recommended intervals. Is that a problem? If you are on the typical American diet, yes. Very much so. Which is why colon cancer is the third most common cancer afflicting men--and women.

So if we aren't going to get the exams that reveal it's time to undergo the procedures that just might save our lives, is there another approach? I say there is. We can take steps to prevent the cancer, to begin with.

Let's prevent the proverbial horse from getting out, then shut the barn door. This is much less painful, and much less costly. And the auditor will still feel like the sole arbiter of pain and suffering, which is always good for an auditor's ego. If you don't want to prevent cancer for yourself and your loved ones, at least consider the tax auditor's need to be the main source of misery in people's lives. Help someone else have a good day.

So, what are the steps? I'll bullet list them:

  • Eliminate hydrogenated oil from your diet. Period. Read the labels on your bread. You'll see this toxin on most commercially available breads, but not all. Read labels on all pre-packaged, pre-pared, pre-toxified "foods" and you'll likely see this potent cancer causer. I'm talking about seasoning mixes, pancake mixes, and just about anything that comes in a cardboard, paper, or plastic container. Also, do NOT eat the bread at restaurants--you can be 99.999% sure it contains hydrogenated oil. Ditto for pastries, doughnuts, and all that other stuff you already know not to eat.
  • Eliminate cancer beverages. Soda saps calcium from your body, and calcium is strongly indicated as cancer-preventing. If you have sodas in your home, donate them to your tax auditor. And then don't buy any more of them.
  • Reduce refined grains in your diet. These are essentially sources of "insulin swing." But they also tend to fuel fermentation in the colon--and that leads to cancer.
  • Avoid whacko treatments. I am amazed at the various things people do to "cleanse" their colons. This kind of stuff sets you up for infection. You don't see animals in the wild doing these things, so how can it be "natural?"

    I think this kind of advice comes from the same people who talk about being "probed" by aliens--as though folks who travel millions of miles to get here are obsessed with that part of our bodies. What nonsense. Eat right, and you won't have any reason to "go there." Leave that activity to the tax auditor.
  • Eat anti-cancer foods. A variety of colors of berries and vegetables is key, here. But also make the brassicas a big part of your diet. The brassicas are the cabbages, broccolis, and so on. Eat red leaf lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce. Think in terms of green and leafy. But also eat different colors of peppers, squashes, and other vegetables. The different colors represent different mixes of anti-oxidants.
  • Exercise religiously. A 20 minute walk isn't much exercise, contrary to the propaganda that advocates walking as a core exercise habit. Don't think you can do this and consider the job done. Do some heavy work of some sort. A weight-training program is great, but not necessary. Regular hard labor that works your core (abdomen, pelvis, and trunk) will "massage" the colon and help it stay clean. If you're into walking, then walk some hills. Steep ones.
  • Be happy. This sounds trivial, but it's not. Let go of grudges--forgive people, because we all have our bad moments and we all unintentionally hurt others. Most people, if given the opportunity, would rather replace enmity with friendship--or at least neutrality.

    Don't let the stupidity around you get you down, either. Whales just keep on swimming, despite being in a vast ocean. We are like that in society--we must keep swimming in a vast ocean of stupidity. It helps if you can laugh about it, so look for the humor in things and they won't bother you as much.

7. Miscellany

  1. Please forward this eNL to a friend. Or a total stranger, I don't really care. Just forward it!

  2. This issue's factoid: A pack-a-day smoker will lose two teeth about every 10 years (smoking is very hard on the gums).

    Related factoid: Because the colon contains miles of blood vessels and the carcinogens in smoke travel through the lungs to the colon, smoking dramatically raises the likelihood of colon cancer among anyone who breathes the cigarette smoke.

  3. Check out these special offers:

8. Thought for the Day

I know several people who simply make the world a better place. Not the whole world, but the part of it in which they live and function. It's worth thinking about such people, and trying to do as they do--even if only in a small way.

It's gratifying to see the efforts poured out in response to the Hurricane Katrina situation. What is possible, if we adopt that attitude every day?


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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