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Mindconnection eNL, 2006-02-26

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

Executive Book Summaries
A bit pressed for time, are we? There you are, at the end of yet another grueling day.

And you know you that sometime this month you need to get through half a dozen business books you still haven't managed to find the time to read. Meanwhile, your boss is busy dreaming up nonsense tasks for you and you have a backlog of real work you have to get done.

Actually, you aren't just pressed for time--you're being crushed by it.


Consider these common scenarios:

  • Four times today, four different people have mentioned the same book--one you haven't read. You don't know what that book's about, and you don't want to look stupid. But sadly, you do.
  • At an executive meeting, you find out your competitor has already implemented a strategy you haven't read about and that competitor is now eating your lunch.
  • You have a problem that is costing your company, and mention this to another executive at a conference. Incredulous, he looks at you and asks why you didn't read (name the book). You slink away in embarrassment, feeling uninformed and foolish.

If one of these doesn't apply to you, probably another negative scenario does. And you know the answer lies in reading those great business books. If only you had the time to do that. But there are only so many hours in a day. What can you do? Click on the image above (and to the right), and you'll find a very good answer.

2. Brainpower tip

I started studying the martial arts in the early 1970s. Could it really have been over 30 years ago? Yeesh.
  • I started with Greco-Roman wrestling, and later lost a fight to a boxer. So in the late 1970s, I immersed myself in Shotokan karate.
  • I later lost a fight to a person with a more fluid style of Karate. So, in the early 1980s, I immersed myself in Kung Fu. I never lost a fight again.
  • In the mid 1980s, I underwent several courses of firearms instruction (building on earlier such instruction a decade earlier). This rounded out my general ability to defend myself and those around me.

Each of these martial arts is very different from the others:

  • Wrestling is characterized by grappling while down on the floor.
  • Shotokan is characterized by "hard" moves. It relies on force against force, and is a dance between strikes and blocks. Karate, in general fits this mold.
  • Kung Fu uses body positioning, circular moves, deception, and neutralization of the opponent's weapons.
  • Firearms provide a huge safety factor. You can defend yourself without bringing your body within striking range of the attacker. This is especially important if the attacker has weapons other than hands or feet (in Japan, that would be knives and garrotes). Of course, if the attacker has a firearm, the rationale is obvious. Ditto if the attacker is physically superior to you--as in the 220lb rapist vs. the 105lb rapee scenario.

Can these martial arts possibly have anything in common? And what would that have to do with brainpower? The answer to the first question is yes. Here is the answer to the second question:

To excel in any of these, you must focus. That is:

  • Clear your mind of all distractions.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, but keep them on the periphery.
  • Precisely know your goal.
  • Direct everything toward achieving that goal.

To maximize your brainpower, you must do these very things. If you are multitasking, you aren't going to be able to wrestle, fight, or shoot very well. Your brain performs at its peak when you focus on what you are doing. This is why, for example, you can usually spot a "cell phone driver"--you know exactly what I am talking about.

This focusing is actually very hard for most people. The four main barriers are fear, frustration, doubt, and anger. In the martial arts, there is no room for any of these. There is room only for doing what you set out to do. Whether you are tackling a math problem, trying to solve a computer glitch, or trying to finish a report with a deadline looming, there is room only for doing what you set out to do.

It helps to take an attitude of confidence that you will achieve that goal. Visualize it as reality. In my younger days, I worked construction and was in places that are dangerous to say the least. Bad parts of town, late at night, aren't exactly havens of personal security. On one occasion, I felt a hard jab at the back of my head, followed by a sound I knew from the shooting range. I didn't have fear or doubt. In my mind's eye, I saw myself already disarming my attacker, and my body simply followed through. Which is why I am still here today.

I later applied that same confidence and visualization in graduate school and subsequently graduated at the top of my class. But I competed against students who had more native ability than I.

Confidence may be good or bad, depending on its source:

  • Confidence that comes from arrogance will get you hurt.
  • Confidence that comes from the hard work of preparation will see you through.

This is why, for example, I spent many grueling hours training in martial arts before assuming that mantle of confidence. Confidence in success comes after you fail many times while practicing. This is why I am completely opposed to the present-day public school policy that coddles kids for their "self-esteem." You do not gain true confidence by altering reality. You gain true confidence by being able to deal with reality. The way to develop that ability is to train for it.

So if you want to be confident in your ability to solve problems and take on other mental challenges, prepare. Practice, learn, and relentlessly improve. Then, your confidence will be real--and very powerful.

3. Time Tip

Say "No" and say it the right way.

For example, your boss gives you 96 hours of tasks to accomplish in one working week. You can choose to try to do all of them, thus probably doing none of them well. This is a good way to feel stressed out. And undermine your career.

Or, you can choose to do the most important ones and leave the others undone. This is a good way to feel like you actually accomplished something. Because you can actually do so.

Making this second choice is much easier and more career-positive than many people think. Rather than let your boss walk all over you only to make you ultimately fail, manage your boss so you succeed.

Here are the steps:

  1. Identify which of the tasks you feel competent doing.
  2. Ask your boss which tasks are most important. What is it your boss really wants done? Focus on those things.
  3. Let your boss know what you will be doing and not doing.

Be sure you lead your boss in the right direction. For example, "Jane, I see you would like to have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H done this week. So would I. However, we have constraints of time and  other resources so some of these won't get done. I think B, E, and G are quite important, and I'd like to get A well under way. Which of these do you want done?"

This opens a dialogue with your boss. Your boss will identify which items need to be done and which can be deferred. At this time, you can bring up outsourcing, obtaining additional resources, changing the scope, and so on.

If your boss simply snarls back that everything is top priority, then you must do the following:

  1. Choose which tasks you think are most important and that you can realistically accomplish.
  2. Forget the rest.
  3. Make a dedicated effort to find a different boss within your company and a different job outside it.
  4. Document your boss' stupidity. When it comes time to scapegoat you, pull out your notes. If these include dates and times, as well as specific details, they can be very powerful. Of course, this denying your boss the ability to put the blame on you effectively may put you on borrowed time. Plug your network heavily and look for other work.

In this case, your boss is a failure waiting to happen. But notice this is your boss--a person who has risen farther in the organization than you have. Thus, this is a person who has proven skill at scapegoating or other nefarious methods of benefiting from incompetence. You may do everything right, and still get blamed for what your boss does or fails to do. Don't be deluded into thinking there is always justice in the corporate world. Your boss could make a royal mess of things, but effectively pin the blame on you. Your boss gets a raise, and you get canned. This happens all the time.

On the other hand, if your boss values you and simply didn't know s/he was overloading you, your boss will be very glad to have your input so problems can be averted. If you have a boss like that, be as supportive as possible. This doesn't mean you should make unrealistic promises or work yourself into a heart attack. It means you help your boss make the smart decisions your boss is willing to make.

Remember to agree with your boss in public, and disagree in private (assuming there is something to disagree about). Your boss will be more amenable to your views if you do this.

What this "Say no" tip boils down to is identifying the right things to do, and then doing them. If you try to do more than you have time for, you fail to allow enough time for what you really need to be doing. This is an example of where less is more.

4. Finance tip

The tax code does provide some ways to get tax-free income, without the risk of tax shelters or the complexity of "creative" investments. Based on the current insanity that is our federal income tax code....

You do not need a tax shelter to reduce your taxes, Part Two.

You owe no tax on the gain from selling your home if:

  • The gain is $250,000 or less for a single return or $500,000 for a joint return.
  • It was your residence for at least two of the past five years (these do not need to be contiguous years).
  • You have not made a similar sale in at least two years.

Tax breaks on home sales, like tax breaks on everything else, have traps. For example:

  • You must factor in the amount you claimed for a home office deduction. This lowers your basis and therefore increases your gain.
  • The AT can be very crafty about how they define "your residence." An AT employee who is feeling particularly malicious can play games with this and cause you to lose your exclusion. You could contest this in front of a Marsupial Magistrate (one of the lackeys they employ in "Tax Court"), but don't hold your breath expecting a fair or reasonable outcome.
  • Being close to two years doesn't cut it. If you were in there one year and 364 days, you are out of luck.

As with all financial transactions, don't do things for the tax motivation. Do them for the business motivation, and then avail yourself of any tax breaks. That is your first line of defense in staying out of tax trouble.

Remember, the AT can void the statute of limitations on the flimsiest of grounds, and assess you whatever interest and penalties they feel will most painfully destroy you. In their sick, twisted minds, they get a thrill out of inflicting massive damage on other people. Don't give them an excuse to do it to you. Once the "Borg" locks onto you, getting rid of them will require monumental effort.

In our next issue, we'll present more ways you can reduce your taxes without shelters or other dubious means.

5. Security tip

Mike Russell sent in his advice on how to set up a wireless security system:
  • Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's used work boots, a really big pair. Put them outside your front door on top of a copy of Guns and Ammo magazine. Put a dog dish beside it, a really big dish.
  • Leave a note on your front door that says something like, "Bubba, Big Mike and I have gone to get more ammunition. Will be back in 1/2 an hour. Don't disturb the pit bulls. They've just been wormed and they are a little edgy."

Trials are now underway to compare the efficacy of this new wireless security system versus the more traditional approach of putting doughnuts on your porch to attract cops.

Of course, this is "tongue in cheek." It does, however, illustrate a basic point: Make your home an unattractive potential target.

Doing something stupid like putting a campaign sign in your yard for an anti-victim protection political candidate (e.g., someone like Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, or John Kerry) simply advertises to any passing criminals that your house is safe to rob. Your home would be more secure if you got rid of the sign and just left your doors and windows wide open all night.

I have no idea why anyone would want to say to the criminal elements in their neighborhood "it's safe to rob this home," but many people do. If you want to support a pro-crime candidate without endangering yourself until that person is in office, put the sign in the yard of that neighbor whose loud stereo keeps you up at night. This is the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone. You support your candidate and get the home of the stereo put on the "houses to rob" list with one action. Of course, if your pro-crime candidate wins then you'll have another set of problems to deal with.

Putting any political sign in your yard isn't a smart idea. Someone else always has a different opinion, and you just might attract an unstable person who hates your candidate. A sign isn't going to change anyone's mind about whom s/he will vote for. So, it's pretty pointless.

What are some smart things you can do? An alarm system sign in front is good. So is a "security system" permit on your window. But an alarm isn't true protection. The response time until the "cavalry" arrives can run into a quarter hour or more, depending on how far you are from the nearest doughnut shop. I once waited over an hour, myself. And if the criminal is a coked-out junkie looking for a quick fix, that person may not even notice a sign or sticker.

A deadbolt in your door is an unmistakable sign that you are serious about security. If you don't have deadbolts in all of your exterior doors, install them today or hire someone to do that. Have all of your locks keyed the same, so you don't have to fumble with keys trying to get in.

If the deadbolt is within three feet of a window, install a double-lock version. That is, it has no handle on the inside. Keep in mind that doing so violates HUD requirements and may also violate local ordinances. But those folks who made those rules aren't in hour home to protect you, are they? The reason for those rules is so that the occupants can quickly flee the home in case of fire. I have two things to say to that:

  1. Don't allow smoking in your home. This is the #1 cause of home fires (yes, I read the NFPA reports). It's also a leading cause of male impotence, due to the heavy vascular damage it causes. So while smoking causes fire in one sense it puts it out in another!
  2. Put a spare key into each lock, and or keep it by your bed at night. If you take an extended trip, make sure you remove the key from that lock before you go.

The best thing you can do to improve your home security is, believe it or not, to ask your local police department to send an officer out to give your home a free security inspection. The good news is you don't have to offer free doughnuts in return (In fact, don't do that. Cops hate doughnut jokes). This valuable service is available in many communities.

Your law enforcement officers will tell you things like:

  • Install deadbolts on all doors (sound familiar?).
  • Fix outside lights.
  • Trim outdoor shrubbery. Not only does this reduce hiding places, but it makes your home look cared for.
  • Add locks to windows and French patio doors.
  • Put jewelry boxes and other indications of wealth out of plain sight, so they can't be seen through windows.
  • Keep toolboxes, televisions, stereos, and other "steal me" items turned so they aren't easy to identify from open garage doors, house doors, windows, and so on. For example, a 20-drawer rollaway toolbox facing your garage door just screams "Steal these tools!" to any passerby. But put that toolbox along a different wall, and you see only the side of it from the street.
  • Never put boxes outside on the curb, if those boxes could indicate you just bought something expensive or worth stealing. If you can't tear them up and put them in cans, then set them out in front of the house of a neighbor you don't like. Or drop them off at a dumpster behind a strip mall.
  • Keep your blinds or curtains closed at night. Doing otherwise allows people to case your home while being completely undetected.
  • Keep your yard mowed and leaves raked. To me, it's poetic justice when someone who doesn't do this is robbed. Those are the folks who make an area look like a robbery target to begin with.

Each home is different, and so is each neighborhood. And, of course, things are different still if you live in an apartment. Your local police know which areas are the prime targets and which small, inexpensive improvements you can make to move your home security up significantly.

Even if you live in a dumpster, you can--and should--improve home security. If you live in a dumpster and are paying for Internet access, though, I have to wonder....

One thing that is a huge waste of money is an elaborate "security system." Most home alarm systems can be defeated and disabled in less than 3 seconds. So, don't spend several thousand dollars on such a system. If you do buy a system, make sure it's one that will send an alarm when you lose continuity on the phone or cable line on which it communicates with the alarm service. This way, cutting the line triggers the alarm. Or, get one that uses a cellular means of sending the alarm.

Have this system set up to send you an alarm on a pager or other device. While the burglar is breaking in, you have time to put on your safety glasses and hearing protection before taking up your defensive position.

What normally happens when the properly-prepared homeowner confronts the intruder is the intruder either flees, or begs not to be shot to death. If you are in the 0.01% of the population that has a different response--that is, the person shows no fear and comes at you anyhow--you will need to spring for new carpeting and some drywall repair when it's all over.

If the intruder flees, well, that's too bad. But at least you are safe. That person's next victim won't be a gun owner.

If the intruder begs not to be shot to death, grant that person his/her wish. This will save you several hundred dollars on carpet replacement. All you have to do is hold that person at gunpoint while s/he waits harmlessly until the police arrive.

Keep in mind that the sound of a .44 Magnum or a 12-gauge being prepared to fire tends to make most people stop whatever it was they were intent on doing. Their next thought, at that point, is where to get clean underpants.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Controlling Quantity, Part Two

The common "wisdom" among medical professionals is "all things in moderation." This kind of insanity coming from our allopathic medical care system makes it an allopathetic system.

A big problem with this lousy advice is people in general (and Americans in particular) have lost any concept of what "moderation" means. To most people, they are practicing "moderation" when they eat a smidgen less than they otherwise would. By their logic, driving 90MPH in a 30MPH zone is moderation because you would otherwise 100MPH. Too much is too much, and it's not a matter of degree.

It's also true that some things are bad for you, no matter how much you "moderate." If you doubt this, try drinking gasoline "in moderation." As a side note, many manufacturers use beetle shells to make red and orange dies for various "foods" such as fruit punch drinks. How much of that could possibly be "moderate?"

Why are so many people so wrong about how much food is a "moderate" amount? There are two factors:

  1. Adaptation. When you are looking at a huge plateful of food, your idea of "moderate" automatically adjusts. It never looks like as much food as it actually is. You must decide the amount before you see the food. You can't accurately do this while you are eating.
  2. Normalization. When every restaurant meal is grossly oversized, then grossly oversized meals begin to seem normal. You then begin to judge your other meals in relation to those instead of in relation to the amount that's right for you. So, either stay out of restaurants, or ask for a second plate and then remove 1/2 to 2/3 of what you ordered before you take the first bite. The typical restaurant meal is more than twice as large as a "moderate" meal.

So, what is the right portion size? It's far, far smaller than most people think. From my own observations of obese people, their meals should be about 75% smaller than what they consider a "normal" meal--and this doesn't even address the content of those meals. Note that, in much of Europe, dinner plates are about half the size of the ones commonly used in the USA. Beer mugs, now that's a different story....  :)

A good step if you want to shed that unhealthy and unsightly fat is to replace all of your plates with ones significantly smaller. If you have 10-inch plates and just can't seem to "moderate" your meals, replace those plates with 6-inch plates. And then strictly forbid "seconds."

If you get hungry between meals, drink water and have a small serving of plain kale, broccoli, or other very low calorie vegetable. Have some black beans with that if you want more flavor. Eventually, your stomach and your appetite will adjust.

If the plate-changing is too expensive, then make most of your meals "bowl" meals. That is, a bowl of beans and rice, a bowl of green veggies, or a bowl of soup (not high-calorie soup from a can, either). Just be careful you don't have a "bowl of cereal." That much processed grain is too much, and would still be too much even if it didn't have hydrogenated oil, sugar, and various chemicals that come with it. If you are feeding that kind of stuff to your kids, you are poisoning them. Give them real food, instead.

In our next issue, we'll explore this topic further.

7. Miscellany

  1. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).

  2. Please forward this eNL to others.

  3. See: Special Offers (expired link now removed). It has some great offers that are worth following up on.


8. Thought for the Day

We tend to gravitate to those who are most like us. But in so doing, we rob ourselves of the chance to learn from those who are different. Try to find someone who has moved here from a different country, and learn about the customs and food in "the home country." The richness of what you discover may surprise you.


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!).

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