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Mindconnection eNL, 2005-12-18

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

11 Habits of Highly Defective People
We're getting close to that time of year again--New Year's Resolutions. Traditionally, we make some resolution based on what we feel guilty about or what someone's nagged us about.

But a really good resolution will be based on thoughtful analysis. What one area can you improve in to get the most results? This course explains the eleven most common habits that cause people to fall short of their true potential. And, it explains what to do instead.

Click on the photo above and to the right. Or use this link:

And remember: We are the sum of our habits. Have you examined your habits lately?

2. Brainpower tip

Words have meaning, but you could hardly tell this by today's so-called conversations. Literacy in America continues to plummet. Today, a literate 20 year-old is the exception, and not the rule. A big factor in this is the collective body of shorthand-drenched "communications" by Instant Messaging (IM) and similar annoyances.

Not only are the words completely butchered, the sentences incomplete, and the syntax mangled, but the alleged thoughts are not cogent.

Take care that you don't fall into the trap of "shorthanding" your communications. Doing so leads to a way of "thinking" that destroys the ability to solve problems, analyze situations, filter information, or engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue with others.

3. Time Tip

Many people believe a sense of urgency is essential to good time management. That's true, when the sense of urgency is in its proper place.

But one of the keys to good time management is removing factors that inhibit concentration and focus. And guess what one of those is? The sense of urgency.

When you can be relaxed for half an hour and really focus on an activity, you enhance your ability to proceed through it competently and efficiently. But when you feel rushed, you are in an altered state that inhibits your ability to think.

The sense of urgency needs to apply when you are:

  • Planning. Which tasks should you combine, simplify, or postpone? For example, you need to stop by the library, the bank, and the grocery store. But you'd also like to check out the new refrigerators because yours is making a noise. And you are getting close to needing a haircut. This weekend, though, your kid is performing in a play. You've got to make some choices, here.
  • Scheduling. What items should be done first? For example, you've got a major presentation to give four days from now and you've also got that old comic book collection to sort through. Which item takes precedence?
  • Doing gruntwork. Don't piddle. Move quickly. For example, you've got dusting and vacuuming to do. You can make slow, deliberate motions, or you can get your butt in high gear. Racing against the clock makes sense, here.
  • Doing "nonproductive" tasks. You see this every day at work. Joe Schmoe, your neighbor in the cubicle farm, seems to spend most of his day filing papers and processing correspondence. He doesn't get much real work done. But you need to handle your snail mails and e-mails quickly and ruthlessly. You need to save your filing for those times you are stuck on the phone with someone you have to entertain (a boss, a customer, that SOB upon whom you depend in Dept ABC, or anyone who puts you on hold). If an activity isn't one your company can charge a customer for and it doesn't take much real concentration, then do that activity as though you just took a major hit of speed.

Outside of these areas, there are few times when feeling the pressure of urgency is helpful. Taking the time to think through a project, rather than just diving into a flurry of activity, is nearly always the most time-saving approach. Engineers know this from experience. It takes less time to design something correctly than to keep going back and trying to correct defects. You may  have heard the saying, "Never enough time to do it right, always enough time to do it over."

As you schedule your various tasks, allow enough time for you to be able to immerse yourself into the task and do it well. Think in terms of carving out "safe" blocks of time for specific tasks. Don't intrude on that time with "multitasking," and don't feel compelled to answer the phone or check e-mail during that time. Seal yourself off from the world for half an hour and  you will be amazed at the results. You can call this the "sequestering method."

Here's an example to emphasize this concept. I once worked as a magazine editor. In our work arrangement, there were two kinds of editors--subject matter and production. I worked in the subject matter area. Our edited pieces would then go to the production editors for final edits.

I always used the sequestering method. I could sit down with an article for an hour, and produce a polished product that our managing editor said needed no further work. That is, she could hand me a piece, get it back later that day, and just plug it in.

She did an experiment (a few times) where she would assign a similar piece to a co"worker" who never used the sequestering method. He was so frantic in his approach, in his race to get it done, that he simply stumbled over himself. It took him several weeks to turn the article around and get it back into her. And when it came back, it needed extensive work. Both his quantity and his quality were way, way, way behind mine.

We tallied things up after my first year on the job. Here's the score:

  • Total articles completed by me: 108; by him: 16. That's a ratio of 6.75:1
  • Total articles that needed no further work--mine, 108; his, 0.

So by providing myself with the time to relax and dig into the job at hand, I produced 108 end products while my coworker produced zero. The company could have hired 107 more people just like him, and I would have outperformed the entire group.

That's not because I worked any faster. I didn't. I worked smarter, and that's what saved me so much time.


4. Finance tip

I think Congress needs to officially acknowledge the real reason for the Christmas celebrations--December 25 is Tax Freedom Day. That's the day when you've finally worked enough hours to pay the current year's taxes and you can keep the rest of your earnings for yourself.

I'm exaggerating, but not by much. Tax Freedom Day actually falls in October for most people. For most of us, the federal income tax makes up a small portion of our total tax bill. You also have a myriad of other taxes to pay--such a mind-boggling myriad that few people are capable of even listing most of them. To put this in perspective, there are 128 different taxes on a single loaf of bread. How many of these can you list on a blank sheet of paper, right now?

The American Taliban is allegedly in charge of administering our federal income tax (here in the USA). For some people, the federal income tax so enormous that Tax Freedom Day never arrives--not even when they die. That's because the AT can assess and collect for taxes never owed, tack on outrageous interest and penalties, and laugh at any so-called protections a victim might be deluded into thinking she or he has.

Making matters worse, Congress is now allowing the AT to hire mercenary debt collectors. So in addition to dealing with the Borg in AT Collections, you now have to deal with high school dropouts who work on a percentage, have halitosis, and look forward to hurting other people.

So, you could be targeted by collections people who simply view you as prey. While the AT will foist such mercenary bloodsuckers on an allegedly free people, the AT isn't the only source of this pain. Just as the AT drones delight in seizing people's homes and wiping out their savings to collect on debts that never actually existed, there are other groups that also collect on phony debts with a zeal that makes Hitler's Gestapo seem rather accommodating by comparison.

In addition to this, dishonest stockbrokers (as opposed to the majority, who are honest) and phony insurance sales agents are tricking people into putting their homes at great risk. Lots of ripping and tearing going on there, and it's not pretty.

In one common rip-off, a collection agency contacts you about an unpaid consumer bill that a creditor has already written off as a loss. You may not have actually owed such a bill, but that's irrelevant. Once some idiot enters the wrong information about you, you owe. No supportive facts needed.

The creditor sells a bunch of unpaid consumer debts for pennies on the dollar. If you are listed as a debtor--rightly or not--you become a target. The debt is what's called a "zombie debt." Your contract (whether it existed or not) is with the original creditor, not with this new one. But they don't tell you that.

Could be you had a store credit card, made a few charges, and never got billed for one of them. You haven't given this a second thought, and haven't used the card for 10 years. But now the interest has piled up and you allegedly owe $7500. That makes you a very attractive collections target.

The debt collector hires a bunch of unskilled morons to handle various accounts. So you start getting calls from a Joe Friday wannabe who takes the attitude that you are a deadbeat and he's going to get the money back. AT people work with this same attitude--they don't bother to check their facts, they just treat you like a target in a video game. These folks become hyper-aggressive, and are convinced that they are some kind of last ditch champions in the war between good and evil. To them, you are evil and any means of conquering you is justified.

If you've ever dealt with the AT, you know the folks in collections tend to be young. That's because the AT managers know that the frontal lobes--the seat of judgment--are not fully formed or engaged until at least age 25. So they hire young, aggressive people with poor judgment to go after their victims. This is how the typical collection agency also works.

How do you defend yourself against the onslaught of abuse? First, don't provide any information unless you absolutely have to. For private collectors, you don't have to. Insist on proof of the debt--ask for documentation. With the AT, this step doesn't work--they don't have to prove you owe, you have to prove you don't (and until you do that, they can proceed with collections).

  • If you see that you do owe the money, check for the statute of limitations for the expiration of that debt in both the state in which you incurred it and the state in which you live (see http://www, for info on this). Note that for the AT, the idea of a statute of limitations is a joke--they have more ways around that than you can imagine.
  • If the debt has expired, inform the collector of this and provide substantiation. If the debt has not expired, consider settling with the collector for a percentage of what you owe.
  • If the amount is large, hire an attorney to help you with any negotiations. This is an added expense, but may be well-justified.

Both the AT and private collectors are notorious for spreading incorrect information about their victims. So, you'll probably need to clean up your credit report--a process that will make you wonder why you bother getting up some days. You will have to look in three places to see what damage was done:

If the AT reported your "debt" to one of these bureaus even after you proved you didn't owe it, there's not much you can do. Anything the AT does is de facto legal, and if it's illegal they'll simply lie about it and you have no recourse.

But if a private collection agency does this dirty deed, that agency has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. And they have, thus, committed a crime. File a complaint with the FTC and then provide a copy of that complaint to any bureau in which your records show this nonexistent debt.

5. Security tip

Here's a timely tip for those of us in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. We've got snow and bitter cold in some places, and so we tend not to go outside much. But if you live in a single residence home, duplex, or townhouse that has landscaping, grab a notebook and head outside.

Now with the foliage gone, you can clearly see the structure of your trees and shrubs. We've all heard the advice to keep these trimmed back, so they don't provide cover for criminals.

But simply hacking few limbs off can leave you with a bunch of unhealthy plants, and worse, it can actually lower your level of security by making your home look less cared for. What you really need is a proper pruning. This provides several benefits, including:

  • Reduction in the time spent pruning. By pruning structurally, you reduce the time spent with repeated prunings.
  • Healthier plants. Proper pruning results in plants that are more resistant to disease, drought, and storms.
  • Better aesthetics. Plants that are pruned structurally just look better.
  • Increased security. Good landscaping makes a statement about you. It sends a subliminal message that you spend time and home and care about your home. Not exactly what a burglar wants to target.

So, take a walk around your place and make notes (and, preferably, sketches) about each tree and shrub. Which branches should be cut back, and to what point? Which plants should be relocated or replaced? Which are too close to window or doors and must be relocated or removed?

If you don't have a knack for this kind of thing, contact a landscaper to come out now (in the nonbusy season) and do the walk around for you. Then, get the recommendations and form a plan. You'll save time and money, but more importantly you'll have increased security.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Some people seem to never get sick. This isn't due to luck. In my own case, it certainly is not due to luck. I have had an inexplicable immune deficiency (low gammaglobulin) my whole life. According to doctors, I should frequently be sick. Yet, I have not been sick since 1971. How do I do this?

You'll find a plethora of tips on But here are some highlights:

  • Go to bed early. Period. If you are setting an alarm clock, you are setting yourself up for illness.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Eat plenty of green veggies. Concentrate on things like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
  • Trim the fat off your meat.
  • Stay away from sugary foods. My mom offered to bake me a birthday cake for my eighth birthday, and I said no more cake for me. I have had one tiny piece of cake since then. Getting sick just isn't worth it.
  • Steer clear of tobacco in any form.
  • Don't believe the lies that a small serving of alcohol each day is good for you. It's simply better for you than a large serving is. No serving is best. Alcohol is a poison. Why poison yourself, if your goal is to stay well?
  • Exercise religiously. Don't miss workouts, and make them mean something. Note that it's much harder work to mow a lawn than it is to run a treadmill. It's also better exercise. You can get fantastic workouts outside the gym--the key is to get an intense bout of exercise just about every day.
  • Have a great sense of humor. A foul mood means foul chemistry in your body.
  • Have a reason to get up in the morning. Approach each day as though it's an opportunity to do something important--because it is exactly that.

7. Miscellany

  1. Please forward this eNL to others.

  2. Factoid #1: Only 7 per cent of the population is left-handed. Schools actively discourage lefthandedness, but they also discourage ambidexterity. Left-handed people are wired differently, but so are ambidextrous people.

  3. Factoid #2: Forty people go to the hospital for dog bites every minute. This factoid is especially interesting at this time, I think, because of the recent face transplant for the female dog bite victim.

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

8. Thought for the Day

It's amazing how self-important some people are, as though the universe rotates around them. But just remember this. The sun--small for a star--is 330,330 times larger than the earth. And there are nearly 8 billion people on the earth. That perspective can be humbling, can't it?


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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