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Mindconnection eNL, 2005-09-25

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

1. Product Highlights

Discounted language software

We are offering youa 40% discount on LingoSoft Translation Software for 45 languages for Windows, Pocket PC, Palm OS, and Mobile phones. To get your discount, simply put this gift certificate code into "Add gift!" field of the online order form:

(expired now)

A wide selection of software categories is available, so you can easily find the product that's best for you. These products help you communicate with people who speak other languages. The world is getting "smaller" every day.

2. Brainpower tip

Let's talk about pseudoscience, today--you know, the stuff that fulfils a political agenda to your detriment. I'm kind of abusing this column with a semi-political blog. But stick with me--there is a great brainpower lesson here. And I hope to persuade every reader to look at this particular topic through a clear lens.

I want to tackle the poster child of pseudoscience: "global warming." Specifically, I am referring to the notion that mankind's activities are warming up the earth. Let's look behind the myth and see what brainpower lesson emerges.

First, we know we may be experiencing a temperature increase (but not to the degree based on measurements in cities, where it's naturally hotter). Interestingly, we also have data showing a global cooling trend. So, no temperature data conclusively one way or the other. My opinion is that the earth is getting warmer--but that's just my opinion. If my opinion is true, though, it doesn't mean mankind is making the earth warmer.

Now, a "global warming" proponent would say my opinion here is fact. It's easy enough to pose this question toward that end: "What about the ice melts at the poles?"

Now, that's a good question. We are experiencing ice melts--and the ice is getting thinner. But why? And what does it mean? Do the ice melts prove the earth is warming up? Perhaps. Do the ice melts prove the earth is warming up due to man's activities? There's a core question. Let's apply some brainpower to that.

What real experts say

I know scientists who are researching this question, and they don't have an answer. The ice melts in Antarctica may be due mostly or (even entirely) to the unusual volcanic activity there--not something caused by SUVs. How do the pseudo-scientists explain the receding of the glaciers, or the warm period during with Greenland was actually green (remnants of the mud huts are still there)?

What "global warming" theorists say

These folks claim the ice melts are conclusive evidence man is warming up the earth. I think it's a waste of brainpower to try to follow their convoluted (and often contradictory) explanations. My answer to them is, "Riddle me this, Batman. What about Mars?"

We need merely to look at what's happening to the ice on Mars to see that this whole "we are melting the earth" assertion is baseless. How the heck are the SUVs on Earth melting the ice on Mars?

Fact: Our 11-year solar cycle has been broken

The sun is 330,330 times the size of the earth. It's safe to say the sun is a major player in our solar system. In recent years, we've seen massive solar flares--each containing more energy than man has used in all history combined. Some of these flares have exceeded 50 earth diameters.

If you look at these flares on, you see they tend to be roughly three times as tall as they are wide, and somewhat of a cross between an ellipse and a rectangle in cross section. To make the math easy, let's just say they are cylinders proportioned 1 x 3. That means they are 50 earth diameters by 150 earth diameters.

We can find the volume of an ellipsoid by the formula:

(4 x pi x a x b x c) / 3


  • a = radius (1/2 diameter)

  • b = 1/2 height

  • c = 1/2 axis radius (thickness--we'll say same as radius).

So, we plug in our numbers and find a large flare is the equivalent of about 98,000 planets the size of the earth (I rounded down to be conservative). A bit humbling, isn't it? Think about the amount of energy in just one big solar flare (we have had several this size in recent years, plus many smaller ones plus several other solar anomalies).

What happens when we are in the path of the energy thrown off by one of these flares? You guessed it--we get warmer. Which may explain why Mars and Earth are both experiencing ice melts. Mars is about 140 million miles from the sun, compared to Earth's 90 million or so miles. The energy thrown off by these solar flares still melts ice even after traveling another 50 million miles through the coldness of space! Doesn't that tell you something about how intense this energy is?

It's interesting how people can zero in on inconsequential details, but not see the elephant standing in the living room.

Let's conduct an experiment

Light a match and hold it up to the sun. Look directly at the sun. Now, put out the match. Does the sun hurt your eyes any less? Of course not. That's the same situation we have with the "greenhouse gases" claims.

Whatever man might be doing is a tiny, insignificant fraction of the total problem. In fact, if we are generating greenhouse gases, which are insulators, then maybe we are actually reducing the global warming problem by reflecting solar energy back. If you understand how a greenhouse actually works, you have to wonder what the proponents of this argument are smoking.

A possible answer

Maybe the answer is to INCREASE emissions. What if we're wrong about that? Will mankind cease to exist if we cut the very emissions that may be protecting us from increased solar energy? There is just as much validity for increasing emissions as there is for decreasing them. The reality is neither approach has any effect on global temperature, other than to dampen the rate of change.

"But what if we're wrong about having too much greenhouse gas?"

Well, OK. So we reduce industrial output and so lessen the problem by what--7/1000ths of 1%? And we gain almost nothing, but we tank our economies. If you really like going without food, clothing, and shelter, I say go for it. But I personally don't want that kind of a situation.

Saying we need to cut emissions to reduce global warming is like saying the folks in New Orleans should have been bailing water back over the levees with buckets. It's futile.

On the other hand, this whole greenhouse gas argument is predicated on the idea that an insulator is going to keep heat in while not keeping additional heat out.

Time for another experiment

Turn your thermostat to 75 degrf. Wait until your house has had 24 hours to stabilize at this temperature. Now, turn the thermostat down to 55 degrf. Get in bed under your covers, and see how long you stay warm. Then, reverse this. Turn the thermostat to 85 degrf and see how long you stay cool. The insulators have only so much ability to insulate. Their only real effect is to modulate the rate of increase or decrease, not create an increase or decrease.

From this experiment, we can see the premise of the greenhouse gas theory is flawed. Pay it no mind. The people who use this theory don't understand how a greenhouse works. It doesn't "hold in" heat--it merely dampens the rate of change, and can just as easily keep heat from coming in. If you have a greenhouse, you can experiment to see this for yourself. Yes, sunlight coming through clear glass will heat up the items on the other side of the glass. But that glass has a cost, as well--heat generated on the other side of the glass exits through the glass. And the amount of heat generated directly depends on that light. Which is why commercial greenhouses use artificial heating and rely on sunlight for photosynthesis and not to maintain temperature.

The temperature of the earth will change in response to the energy input to the earth--and that is the sun, not SUVs.

I'm not saying the earth isn't getting warmer--it probably is, regardless of what we do or don't do. But it seems astounding that this warming would be due to man's activities rather than the solar activities we've already addressed. Of course, the proponents of that theory use faulty logic.

I don't agree to their faulty logic or reliance on leaps of faith. Centuries ago, I might have been burned at the stake for saying, "Prove to me the earth is flat. I don't see how that can work."

Big price

The price of the Kyoto Treaty, which was designed as a wealth transfer mechanism (from the major industrial countries to the third world dictatorships), would have been astronomical. And our signing on to that insanity would have accomplished nothing toward a cooler world. Just a far more miserable one.

The price of following the lemmings over the global warming cliff is too high. It's rarely a good idea to develop policy based on unsound information, baseless theories, or scare tactics.

Lessons learned

  • Looking at the forest instead of just the trees is critical to arriving at correct conclusions.
  • Comparing similar events and looking for the common cause  is critical to arriving at correct conclusions.
  • Look at the relevant facts, before reaching conclusions.
  • Just because it's scary doesn't mean it's true.
  • Metaphors and analogies don't apply, when they have to violate the rules of physics to make their model work.
  • Not everyone who claims to be an expert is an expert. In fact, most people who claim to "know" don't know.
  • Stating something as fact doesn't make it a fact.
  • The idea that "not doing something about it" is costlier than adopting a proposed action is without merit. Setting your house on fire does get rid of termites--but it's generally not recommended.

3. Time Tip

Since we all have to eat, it makes sense to see where we can save time in grocery shopping. If someone else in your household does this task for you, then read this anyhow--you will appreciate that persons contribution more. The format here is going to be a bit different from the usual narrative.

Item 1

Bad advice. Have groceries brought to you rather than going to get them.

Why. It takes skill to properly shop for groceries. The variance in quality is huge, and you are what you eat. A good shopper is planning meals while shopping, and making adjustments based on what is available and how good it is. For example, I may decide not to make salads because the bok choy is limp--so, I don't buy the other salad ingredients that day.

Good advice. Learn how to shop to support meal planning, and plan your meals for nutrition and variety. Save time by buying all the necessary fresh ingredients for the particular meals you can make for the next few days and by buying canned or frozen ingredients for the remainder of the week.

Item 2

Bad advice. Buy convenience foods.

Why. Any time you "save" buying this junk will be lost in the aftereffects, with a net loss of time easily amounting to years. These "foods" tend to be loaded with such toxins as high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and chemicals you can't pronounce.

Good advice. Rather than engage in the false economics of eating poison to "save time" over eating food, use intelligent strategies. For example, cook enough for several meals at once. Then, put the "extra meals" into containers (I use glass ones) and stick those in the freezer. Place a container in the refrigerator the day before you will need it for a meal (I plan two to four meals per container).

This works great for stir-fries and many other meals, as well as items you use as "stock," side dishes, or main courses. For example, I cook a bunch of rice (whole grain, of course) at once (saving time, and in the summer, reducing total cooling costs). I freeze several servings per container. Because beans and rice complement each other to produce a completed protein, I eat them together. But in the summer I use canned beans (I cook my beans in the winter), so all I have to do is open a can of beans and add these to the rice. I now buy large cans of beans, and use only a portion of the contents at a time--the rest go into a glass container in the refrigerator for use later.

Can't keep fresh fruit for a week? No problem. Buy fresh fruit and buy frozen fruit. When fresh runs out, use the frozen fruit until your next shopping trip (again, put some in a glass container in the refrigerator ahead of the actual time you will need it). If you need fresh fruit for lunches, then earmark such things as apples and oranges (which can go a week or longer) for those "later in the week" lunches. Have the strawberries and such right away.

Item 3

Bad advice. Shop for groceries on the way home from work, eliminating one trip.

Why. Well, this may be good advice or it may not, depending on where you shop and how often you are stuck in line because everybody else is "saving time" by shopping at this hour.

Good advice. I have yet to see a crowded grocery store between 0600 and 0900. I'm an early riser, so it would be no big deal for me to be at the grocery store well before the crack of dawn. At such a time, you pretty much have the place to yourself. The downside of this is few other places are open at that hour, so you may find it tough to combine trips. But if you need to drop off library materials, video rentals, and so forth--it's a great time.

Item 4

Bad advice. Wait until you have a good-sized list of things you need, then shop for them.

Why. While this seems logical--not spending time until you have to--it puts you in the situation of letting time control you.

Good advice. Don't let things become urgent. Stock up on toilet paper, canned goods, and other non-perishables--preferably when these things are on sale. You may even find it easier to buy these things separately from grocery store trips. Remember that Murphy's Law is reality! You will run out something and have to get it at the worst possible time. So, don't run out. Otherwise, you'll be standing in line for 20 minutes just because you tried to "save time" by putting off the purchase.

Item 5

Bad advice. Be ruthlessly efficient about shopping.

Why. "Ruthless," according to Danny DeVito in "War of the Roses," means "without love." OK, so maybe you don't consider Danny DeVito an expert in English etymology, but let's just go with it. Disregarding the "No man is an island" philosophy just about guarantees a net loss of time.

Good advice. In the long-term, you save time by being thoughtful of others. Consider it an investment, when you spend a little time helping someone else. If, for example, you are going to the hardware store, ask your neighbor, "Do you need anything while I'm there?"

So you spend an extra 59 seconds picking up a gallon of white paint, and another 59 seconds telling your neighbor it was $20 and change (don't fret that change--just ask for $20). So what? The one time you are knee deep in a project and a trip to the hardware store is the last thing you can handle, your neighbor is likely to make that trip for you.

Groceries, same thing. Maybe your neighbor needs eggs or apples. Or toilet paper. Whatever. Just make sure that you understand each other's requirements ahead of time. For example, I don't eat eggs laid by chickens that spend their lives in 2x2 cages stacked 10 high. I eat free-range eggs. But a neighbor might actually believe s/he "saves money" by purchasing the toxic eggs. You may come out ahead by limiting this form of time exchange to commodity items, rather than trying to educate people away from false economics.

In any case, the goal here is to create a situation in which you and one or two neighbors pick things up for each other, to reduce special trips and to help each other when trips are just horribly inconvenient. I consider it an investment if a neighbor asks me to run to the store for something. I'll do it, knowing that ultimately I will save time. I don't think you can over-invest in good neighbors. That's the key--make sure they are good neighbors, and don't get involved with "users."

Another good tip. Buy in bulk. This saves time, but it usually saves you money as well. But limit this to items for which it make sense. For example, I buy stamps by the roll. But if you seldom mail anything, this is probably not worthwhile for you. I don't do gift exchanges, but if you do them then buying gift wrap materials in bulk makes sense for you.

You might do well to make a list of items that you should buy in bulk. Save this as an electronic file, and then print it out for bulk buying day--which, if you are doing this right, occurs when there's a sale and well before you run out of things.


4. Finance tip

How to save on gas at the pump--Part Two!

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the gasoline savings tips featured in our previous issue. I decided to respond to your kind words with more good stuff.

There's an automobile research site that may be helpful to you. According to, the two best ways to get more miles from the same fuel are:

  1. Use cruise control. Letting a computer maintain your speed can increase your mileage by 14%.
  2. Instead of a lead foot, use a feather foot. Drivers who stomp on the accelerator burn more than one third more fuel than their less aggressive counterparts. Nobody cares how fast your car accelerates (except on the highway onramp, where dawdling is illegal and unsafe). Edmunds recommends going from zero to 60 in 20 seconds, rather than 10.

Bob Golfen recommended, in The Arizona Republic, to keep your vehicle well-maintained. Taking information from his piece and adding some of my own (I used to be an auto mechanic--paid for two years of college that way, plus did extensive work on the race car circuit), I offer these tidbits:

  • Keep your tires inflated to the right pressure. Few people do this. Your tire pressure changes as the temperature goes up or down, plus tires naturally lose air over time. Under-inflation not only wastes fuel, but also decreases safety. BTW, the advice to let some air out of your tires for winter traction is wrong--especially with radial tires. The shape your tire's footprint takes when under-inflated reduces traction, plus the stress weakens the sidewalls. Underinflation of tires also accelerates ball joint wear and shortens shock absorber life. Additionally, consider the effects of a compromised suspension on your own back. There is no upside to underinflation, but the downside is potentially huge.
  • Keep your oil and filter clean. This doesn't necessarily mean to change your oil and filter at the recommended intervals--they may be dirty long before then. If you idle your engine, you load your oil up with contaminants. Never allow your engine to idle for more than a minute or so--not even to "warm it up" in the winter time (it's better to just drive it slowly for the first minute or so). If you are one of those wasteful people running an automatic transmission, put the car in neutral when you are at a stoplight. Why not idle? Because the fuel drops out of suspension at low velocity (due to the shape of your intake manifold plenum, which is designed for a broad RPM range). Your engine can aspirate a limited amount of this raw gas, before it starts washing past your piston rings and into your oil. It does not lubricate.
  • Keep the junk out of your trunk. I am amazed at how many people have pigpens for cars. Don't store things in your car! For the trunk, you need a small emergency tool kit, a spare blanket, and a small air compressor--plus the spare tire stuff that comes with your car. That's it. If you have anything else in there, get rid of it.
  • Take a good hard look at your passenger compartment, too. Keep it pristine. Keep only what is necessary. If you are unsure what is necessary, take everything out of the car and put it in a bag. Now, take out three items you think are most important and put those in the car. Don't put anything else in the car for one week. When the week is up, ask yourself if you really need to tote around that other stuff after all. Make a note on your calendar to repeat this exercise in 6 months.
  • Inspect the intake air filter once per month, rather than replace it at the recommended interval. Driving through one dust cloud is enough to clog this filter, and that reduces engine efficiency. So, take it out and check it. Do that before you embark on long trip, too.
  • Buy quality gasoline. Name brands tend to be more consistent, while cheap brands at cheap stations tend not to be "sticked" enough (checked for water), may be in less than optimum tanks, or may be lower quality to begin with. There's also the issue of additives. Shell, for example, costs a bit more--but your engine runs cleaner and more efficiently on their fuel--this isn't just marketing hype. You can identify the best gas stations for your gas by pulling up to one at near empty, then filling your tank with an exact quantity (e.g., 15 gallons). Drive your car and check your mileage. Of course, you need to account for variables, so a difference of 2 or 3 MPG may not be conclusive. But you'll weed out the real crappers pretty fast.
  • Keep the engine tuned up. This isn't much of a challenge today, because there's not much to it. But part of good engine care is keeping the engine clean. My rule of thumb is this: If you can't safely eat off it, it's not clean enough. A bit radical, perhaps, but at least remove all grime. Does a dirty engine matter? You'll know the answer to that the next time you go to add oil and accidentally nudge some sludge into your engine. Or, if a rushed mechanic works on your car....
  • Keep fluids at their proper levels. If your power steering pump is grinding away, that's costing you gas mileage. Ditto for the transmission (if you have an automatic, especially) and differential gear (check at the recommended interval). A low radiator can result in premature wear on your coolant pump--or even cause major engine failure--so check the level about once a month.
  • Keep the chassis tuned. Your shock absorbers, springs, tie rods, and so on can dramatically affect your gas mileage. Have these things checked when you have your tires balanced and rotated. A front end alignment check at the same time is generally advisable, if you have been driving over any rough surfaces--otherwise, get that done per the recommended interval.
  • Use the air conditioner, rather than roll down the windows--at least at high speeds. The mileage difference grows as your speed increases.

Roberto Santiago recommended, in the Miami Herald, to car pool. That's great advice. Pool with four people, and you cut your fuel usage by 50% to 65%. Not a bad deal at all! But I still prefer telecommuting whenever possible--you cut your fuel usage by 100%.

5. Security tip

More about locksmiths, and thanks for your positive comments about our locksmith tips in the previous issue.

Most locksmiths are honest, but some aren't. The only sure way to find out "who is who" is to hire one. But, that can be very expensive if you happen to hire a dishonest one.

Here's a common scam. You inadvertently lock yourself out, and you neglected to leave a key with a trusted neighbor (see our time management tips, above)--or you did leave a key with a trusted neighbor, but that neighbor isn't available.

So, you call a locksmith. The good news is this little mishap is going to cost you only $60 for a service call. OK, lesson learned--have a better lockout prevention plan.

The locksmith comes out and starts to pick the lock, but damages it. "Oh, gee, you should never have had this brand!" Now you have to replace the lock plus pay extra because this service is on a callout and it's a holiday or whatever. So, that $60 fee turns into a $300 tab. You don't have a choice. You have to pay it.

One security expert gave this advise, in a national publication:

"To prevent a locksmith from ruining your lock, get an estimate before he starts his work. Ask him if he can avoid damaging your lock and exactly what it will cost if damage occurs."

Yeah, like that's going to help. Here you are, locked out, and you need someone to come to your home. You start sounding right away like you don't trust this person and that your expression of distrust is going to prevent damage to your lock. Why not just insult everybody, while you're at it, and totally ruin your life? Geez.

I have this advice, instead (mix and match or just adopt all of them), for improving your lockout prevention plan:

  • Leave a key with a trusted neighbor.
  • Leave a second key with another trusted neighbor.
  • Leave a third key with a trusted person who isn't a neighbor, but who lives close enough to bring the key to you if you are locked out.
  • Reciprocate with these people.
  • Have these folks' names and numbers programmed into your cell phone, and never leave your home without that phone.
  • Change all of your locks to the deadbolt style.
  • Install a keypad on your garage, so that if you are locked out you can still get in via the garage door. This assumes you have a garage and there is electrical power.
  • Don't ever use the self-locking mechanism that's in a door handle. It may be wise to tape over it, or to replace it with door handle that doesn't have this. Use the deadbolt and key to lock the door, and it's impossible to lock yourself out.
  • Leave a key in your bank's safe deposit box. You can get someone to drive you there and back, assuming the bank is open. Many banks offer a free safe deposit box, if you qualify by virtue of, for example, having your checking and mortgage with them.
  • If you have a trusted merchant you do business with all the time, consider leaving a key there. Your local gunshop, for example, may be open to this.
  • If you already work with a locksmith, ask if they have some kind of spare key program--maybe they can store a profile of your key on computer.
  • Set up a key retrieval club. This plays off the first set of suggestions. You get a group of folks who agree to hold each other's keys. The odds of everyone being unavailable at once are quite remote. Don't put the street address on the keys. Instead, have a different color for each person--red for Jim, green for Gary, yellow for Darla, blue for Betty, and so on. Important: Agree to security rules before implementing this system, so that one thief doesn't "hit the jackpot." You might want to discuss this over a cookout. What's important is that everyone contributes ideas ahead of time--don't expect people to actually read and understand some complex document you draw up.


6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Many smokers like to claim that smoking is a personal choice and this gives them the "right" do smoke around other people. That's like saying firing off a machine gun in a crowded restaurant is a personal choice. My personal opinion is that killing and maiming other people isn't a "personal choice" and isn't natural right. I'm also of the opinion that other people's rights and lives matter. But these are just my opinions.

Until the day arrives wherein people who smoke don't:

  • Inflict their chemical haze onto innocent children and everybody else
  • Generate the majority of demand on our healthcare system
  • Make the rest of us pay for their sick days and other smoking-related time loss on the job
  • Jack up everyone's insurance rates
  • Shorten their lives and leave behind people who loved them and/or depended on them,

the rest of us are very much "minding our own business" when we object to this drug addiction and try to free people from it. Remember, a person doesn't "give up" smoking--a person becomes free from it. This kind of freedom is wonderful.

7. Miscellany

  1. Please forward this eNL to others.

  2. This issue's factoid: Rates of sickness soar in the winter, so people blame the cold weather. But the cause is actually contaminated indoor air. Get Mindconnection's Guide to Indoor Air Quality course, so you don't get sick this winter.

  3. See: Special Offers (expired link now removed).


8. Thought for the Day

Life's about choices. How many choices are you letting others make for you? Consider this when you start to feel angry at another person (why are you letting that person make that choice for you?), or when you feel you have to adopt certain views or buy certain things to "fit in."


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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