Bookmark and Share

Mindconnection eNL, 2005-12-04

Past issues

In this issue:

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

1. Product Highlights

Infotext Portable Scanner

Have you ever done research in a library? Students, paralegals, and many other people do, all the time. In the old days, you would have to buy a bunch of nickels to feed to the copy machine, and you'd carry a briefcase full of copies back to your office.

Then came the idea of lugging around a laptop instead, and taking notes that way. Now, you don't need to lug anything around.

This great little device allows you to scan, store, and transfer text--up to 500 pages! You don't need to attach it to a computer when you are gathering your information. In fact, you can carry it in a holster on your belt.

Use it just like a highlighter when you see something you need to save for a research paper or other project. It's powerful and convenient, and it makes a great gift! Get yours now, at our sale price.

Click on the photo above. Or use this link:


2. Brainpower tip

By understanding a key aspect of the nature of the human thought process, you can better use your brainpower.

I recently received an e-mail about one of Michael Moore's "scary documentaries." What is scary  is that someone would lend any credence to these farces. He uses so many patently obvious propaganda tricks and distortions, that anyone can see his parodies are more fictional than a Star Wars movie. Unfortunately, there's a difference between "can" and "will."

Side note: Moore is the best thing that has happened to the Republican Party in recent years. He puts an ugly face on the left and undermines their credibility. He was instrumental in putting Bush 43 in the White House. While Hillary appears to be a shoo-in for 2008, Moore just might strike again and keep her out. I would not be surprised to learn that Republicans are funding Moore's activities.

Sure, it's easy for thinking people to dismiss one of Moore's productions for what it is. That's because Moore seems to go out of his way to parody the leftist viewpoint, and he is so "over the top" that the falsity is quite clear. Yet, some people do take his works seriously. What can we learn from this?

Let's step back away from such an extreme case, for a moment. How many times have you believed someone or something, only later to find they were deceiving you? Personally, I would have a hard time counting these up. We've all been duped.

In hindsight, we can see lots of clues were right there. But we believed, anyhow. Why? And how can you avoid a repeat, so you aren't "taken in" again?

A trap that is easy to fall into is believing in the conclusion first, then filtering out evidence that doesn't support it. This is why, for example, "average" people now accept a 38-inch waist as "normal." Living as an "obesity-challenged" person here in Kansas, where waistlines are "enhanced," shopping for pants is a real adventure. Some days, I have to wonder if being obesity-challenged qualifies a person for federal aid from some kind of "help the handicapped" program.

The need to believe frequently outweighs any desire know truth.

Now I'm going to risk of being politically incorrect. Yeah, as if I don't take that risk often--I think I'm permanently disabled by being "politically correct challenged." Does this qualify me for "government assistance?"

Here's the non-PC statement: This practice--believing in the conclusion first, then fitting "evidence" around it--is the basis of religions. The belief comes first, then the evidence.

Does that mean religion is wrong? Well, maybe. I like to draw a distinction between religion (a dogmatic system) and faith (a belief system).

The definition of faith has to do with accepting things without evidence. You get into trouble when you manufacture "evidence" to support a belief. It then transmogrifies from faith (where it belongs) to dogma (where it harms).

Faith is not the domain of the foolish, but misusing facts and fiction as proof is.

If Michael Moore wants to believe that people--especially American people--are inherently stupid and evil and only the government can decide what's right, that's his choice. That version of Marxism has millions of believers, so it's OK if he's one of them. He's entitled to his opinions.

But let's not forget that many people believe in the Tooth Fairy, and some may even believe the I.R.S. is not a terrorist organization. P.T. Barnum made a fortune off such people.

Here's an observation: Moore is so desperate to believe in his message that his lack of faith shows. His fraudumentaries show he must not believe in his own dogma, because he goes to such extreme measures to "prove" his alleged beliefs.

Be alert for this symptom when someone tries to browbeat you into agreeing, especially if that person uses disingenuous arguments. What that person is really saying in such a case is, "I have so much trouble with what I believe that I need someone else to tell me it's OK to believe it. I'm so desperate for that OK that I will lie to get it. I can't form an honest argument in support of my belief."

This is not to say that everyone who disagrees with you is a liar. The key is in how the other person attempts to support that belief. There are honest methods and dishonest methods. It's fine to say, "I believe this simply because I choose to." It is not fine to twist or suppress the truth to support that belief. Sometimes, the line between the two approaches can seem rather thin.

I once asked a minister if he could reconcile science with his faith. He said that was the wrong question. Science is the stuff of the mind. Faith is the stuff of the heart. Science explains how. Faith explains why. I thought that was a pretty good explanation. We should not feel compelled to reconcile apples with oranges. Enjoy each for what it is, and let it go at that.

A friend and I hold opposing political beliefs. We frequently discuss these beliefs. Through these discussions, we have both discovered there's a gap in the "fact pyramid" that underlies what we believe. We agree on the facts, which is good. But we agree on something else, which is even better. We agree that there's more than one right answer.

Many times we can't "get there from here" and we reach different conclusions. We span the gap with faith. I respect this person enormously, and he gives the impression that's mutual. I credit this with our mutual practice of not filling in the gap with disinformation. Yes, one of us will trot out a statistic (I'm more guilty of this than he is), which the other will promptly challenge. I've found that statistics tend to be disinformation--for a long list of reasons.

The idea that you should not reach your conclusion first and then select "facts" to support it is a simple concept. But, it's difficult to employ. One reason why is the human thought process is more holographic than binary. This is at once our great strength and our great weakness. To make it more a strength than a weakness, we occasionally need to step back and logically examine our beliefs. We need to be open to the idea that they may be wrong. We also need to understand that if we believe on faith, there's no reason to "justify" those beliefs with facts, fiction, or anything else.

And we must be ever mindful of the difference between faith and incorrect reasoning. The first has great value, the second does great harm.

3. Time Tip

This is our final installment in our series about saving time with e-mail. In this issue, we'll see how you save time by including the message you're replying to in the body of your reply. We'll also address a practice that allows you to further capitalize on the time thus saved.

These days, it's common to receive dozens of e-mails per day. A customer service rep or technical support person at a business might receive several hundred. My personal record is just a tad over 2400 in 24 hours.

Here's one scenario:

  • BillyBob: I need my widget replaced.
  • Mary Servicerep: What is the model number of your widget?

600 e-mails later:

  • BillyBob: ES400TX.
  • Mary Servicerep: I don't understand your message. What do you mean by ES400TX? For example, are you asking about model features? Pricing and delivery? A warranty replacement?

453 e-mails later:

BillyBob: Yes.

BillyBob made it impossible for Mary Servicerep to help him. First of all, he should have included his confirmation e-mail from his original order. Then, Mary Servicerep would have had all of the information she needed. Second, every one of her replies and every one of his replies had no context.

While BillyBob might be a casual e-mailer who gets half a dozen e-mails a week, Mary Servicerep gets hundreds per day. She's got to handle as many customer issues as she can in the time available to her. So, she's going to handle the easy ones first and delay helping people like BillyBob because of the sheer effort involved in doing so.

When you reply to an e-mail, always include the previous e-mail in the reply--and stack new "threads" on top of that. So, the oldest e-mails go at the bottom, not at the top. Why is this? So we don't have to page down or wade through old e-mails to get to the new ones. Many people do the opposite, and put their new e-mail on the bottom. This is incorrect, and leads to confusion.

To keep your replies in context, it's a good practice to:

  1. Copy the entire previous e-mail (not all the ones before it, just the one you are replying to) into the top of your e-mail reply.
  2. Break that into snippets, replying to each one individually.
  3. Set these off with carets.
  4. Note that you don't have to reply to every snippet.
  5. Separate snippets with a separator of your choice.
  6. Delete unneeded text. You don't need to replay the entire previous monologue--you need only to provide the context for your answers to it.



Original e-mail:
We need to close the Jones account today. I called Mort Jones about his lack of payment. He told me the check was in the mail, but he's been saying that for six months. The time we waste on him is taking away from our ability to pursue other clients.

Can you meet me for lunch, tomorrow? I want to discuss sending the Jones invoices to a collection firm. But I also have two bits of good news. The first involves my daughter--and my new grandbaby. The other involves a call I got from Anna Misconi. She wants us to present to her board in a couple of weeks. Could be big money!



>We need to close the Jones account today.



>I called Mort Jones about his lack of payment.

I'll bet *that* was fruitful. :)

>He told me the check was in the mail... pursue other clients.



>Can you meet me for lunch, tomorrow?

What time? Where?


>...sending the Jones invoices to a collection firm.

George in accounting has one on retainer. We should let him handle this.


>new grandbaby.

Congratulations!  :)


>Anna Misconi.

Whoa! This is VERY exciting news!


>Could be big money!

You're not kidding. But keep in mind how much of a win this is for them. We need to make that point very clear.

Take care,



We need to close the Jones account today. I called Mort Jones about his lack of payment. He told me the check was in the mail, but he's been saying that for six months. The time we waste on him is taking away from our ability to pursue other clients.

Can you meet me for lunch, tomorrow? I want to discuss sending the Jones invoices to a collection firm. But I also have two bits of good news. The first involves my daughter--and my new grandbaby. The other involves a call I got from Anna Misconi. She wants us to present to her board in a couple of weeks. Could be big money!


Now, that example does seem to take up a lot of space. But do you see how easy it is for the recipient of the reply to follow each thread? No guesswork, no writing back for explanation, no guesses. It's all very clear.

And you may have noticed that many of the snippets were incomplete. They were enough to remind the reply recipient of the context. You do not need to reproduce every line of the original in your reply. But you should include the entire original below it.

Sending e-mail properly simply requires a little planning and consideration. Your goal is to make it easy for the other person to understand your message. By reducing confusion and heading off potentially huge problems, it can save you--and everyone else--quite a bit of time.


4. Finance tip

Under the Tax Code in the United States, gifts are tax-free to the recipient. This is why, for example, people can accept anonymous cash gifts and not have to claim those as income.

There are a couple of traps, however, and they have to do with abuse and cheating on the part of the taxpayer. Not that you would deliberately cheat on your taxes--I hope you don't even consider doing so. But be aware of these things so you don't make a tax mistake that is, in essence, tax cheating.

Example Trap: If a high tax bracket taxpayer gives a low tax bracket family member a gift of income-producing property, the gift reduces the family's tax bill. But:

  1. It has to really be a gift. That means you don't control what happens with the money. Saying you are "giving" your kid a mutual fund that you take withdrawals from will get you in trouble. Consult a tax attorney about how to set this up if you want some control for purposes of financial sanity in your kid, but don't want the kind of control that de facto makes this money yours and not a gift.
  2. You might give your kid a tax debt. For children under age 14, investment income above $1,600 gets taxed at the parents' rate.
  3. Certain actions can trigger gift taxes. For 2005, you can make gifts of up to $11,000 each to as many recipients as you want. That's the limit of the annual gift tax exclusion, for single filers. If filing jointly, the limit is $22,000. Cross those limits, and you pay a gift tax.
  4. You may need to explain where the money went, during an audit.

    For example, a close friend falls on hard times. You know that loans destroy friendships, so you go the gift route, instead. You take up a collection and drop $8,000 in an envelope in this friend's locked mailbox. You contributed $5,000 of that yourself, because of your relationship.

    Later, an auditor finds a $5,000 discrepancy between your statements. What did you do with $5,000 cash? While few people will just give away this much money, it does happen.

    And today, with many American Taliban employees helping themselves to the assets of innocent taxpayers via the accuse and abuse system, friends of victims try to help out in untraceable ways (via cash, that is). But large movements of cash are traceable.

    Helping someone is fine--do that. But stay within the bounds of what is reasonable. Also, large amounts of cash provided to an AT victim can trigger another round of accuse and abuse for that person if s/he decides to deposit the cash in a bank. The AT can be doggedly relentless when they decide someone needs to be hurt.

Other traps may present themselves. The key here is to avoid taking actions that circumvent the tax codes.

Here's an unrelated example to illustrate the larger concept. The typical auditor isn't going to care if you fail to report the $60 you got for mowing your neighbor's lawn while he was in Europe for a month. But if you are remodeling houses for cash on the side, that's entirely different. You could have just forgotten that $60 at tax time, partly because you weren't in the lawnmowing business and you probably used $40 in fuel and supplies. It's just not significant. But the other is definitely an intentional violation, and it's significant.

Of course, I'm not advocating you mow lawns and not report the income. I'm merely trying to point out that you must consider your intentions and the significance of the amounts involved. These won't necessarily indicate you aren't courting tax trouble. But they should raise a red flag to help you avoid doing so.

It's bad enough that AT employees can arbitrarily steal money beyond legitimate tax debt, and nobody in Congress, the Senate, law enforcement, or the courts will do a thing about it. Don't give these folks a legitimate reason to go after you. Remember, Darth Vader believed he was doing what was right and this justified his evil behavior. AT people have the same attitude. I think the Vader character was actually modeled after these folks, but only to be a kinder, gentler version.

5. Security tip

If you have a home alarm system, you may be aware that it depends on a highly exposed phone line. Check with your alarm system provider about upgrading to a cellular system.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Don't forget--this is the time of year when people pile on the calories and thus the body fat. This is fat that people typically do not get rid of. So whatever you gain tends to stay gained.

Human frames are far more standard than most people think. The difference between your waist measurement and your chest measurement should be at least 10 inches. If the difference is less than that, you either have a very unusual frame or you have too much fat. Be honest with yourself on this one.

If you wear a 38 coat and have a 38 waist, you clearly have a bad situation. The abdominal fat that determines your waistline is a very active fat. Unfortunately, the kind of activity it engages in makes you sick.

For a man of average height (5'10" for Caucasians), a waistline of more than 32" is an indicator you have too much abdominal fat. It's just an indicator, but it's a highly reliable one.

You may not necessarily be in trouble with a 34" waist and you may not necessarily be safe with a 32" waist. Have a body fat assessment done so you can determine if you have a high level of fat around your organs. I bought and use a Tanita scale that tells me this information. See the available Tanita scales and see where you are.

Trivia: Arnold Schwarzenegger had a 54" chest and a 30" waist, during his competition bodybuilding days. Don't feel you are in any way deficient if you don't have those kind of measurements!

I have a 44 inch chest and a 32 inch waist--pretty close to the minimum difference. But I am happy with that. For me, the waist is a real battle zone. My fat distribution is such that "around the waist" is the only place my body seems to add fat.

In terms of health, it's the worst possible place. But consider the aesthetics, too. I just don't carry fat well. Most people's bodies will distribute an 10 ten pounds proportionately and an extra ten pounds really won't look bad. But I get immediate waist bloat and love handles--if I gain an extra 10 pounds, it looks like 20!

Some people have this issue with saddlebags, and others with their necks. If you have the same genetic misfortune that I have, you need to be especially cautious. Not because of the aesthetics, but because of the health consequences.

Here's a "bottom-line" thought. Don't get caught up on the exact numbers. People do this with cholesterol and blood pressure, not understanding these are statistical norms.

Yes, these norms are meaningful for most people. But there's a bell curve involved. You might fall to one side of it. For example, my blood pressure is always low--I am on the left edge of the bell curve. That's because I have an athlete's chemistry. When my blood pressure is adjusted for the athlete's profile, I fall in the "normal range." Not all athletes fit this profile, though. And there are people who have "high" blood pressure for reasons unknown. For them, this is apparently normal.

In regard to fat, don't agonize over your waist size--and don't be complacent about it if it's the "right" number. Understand that what people accept as "normal" today (38 inches is, according to one report, now the "normal" waist size for men) doesn't mean it's "normal" for a healthy body.

Determine what your body fat is, and then measure your waist when your body fat is in a healthy range. For men, anything more than a single digit reading is too high.

Women have a huge variety in body fat distribution. I have looked for an answer as to how women can determine if they are OK where their body fat level is, and it keeps coming back to that waistline thing. That may be the only metric available to women. If anyone finds something else that is substantiated by an authoritative source, please let me know. I'll give you our company Lear Jet, and a mention in this eNL. (Since we don't have a Lear Jet, that makes things pretty easy).

7. Miscellany

  1. Please forward this eNL to others.

  2. Factoid: Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep. Btu don't blame weight gain on that. Spiders are low-cal.

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

8. Thought for the Day

Some people wait for others to give them a chance to demonstrate their talents. Other people go out and do things, and their talents become obvious. Which approach do you think will serve you better?


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 comments @ (paste that into your e-mail client, and remove the spaces).

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!