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Mindconnection eNL, 2007-07-22


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 Highlight

A new translator and travel assistant

The iTravl is about half again as large as an iPod. This product is made by Ectaco, not Apple. It has controls familiar to any cell phone user.

You can translate 9 languages with it: English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. This device is also available (at a lower price, of course), in Russian and Spanish versions. Other languages and more accessories are in the pipeline.

The iTravl features full text translation (enter your own sentences), voice output, speech recognition, a language learning program, and an extensive travel guide. Over 3.37 million words and 63,000 categorized phrases. Color touch screen with adjustable color schemes and adjustable font sizes.

Perhaps what sets it apart the most is the travel assistant part. Click on the image of the device and read the details.
Another exciting new development is the Language Teacher feature. On the main screen, you'll see "Learn Language Basics in 4 Steps." This tool takes you through each of those steps, and provides a structured approach so you don't get lost or confused. Here are five screen shots. The first one is the main menu. We provide a screenshot, in sequence, for each item on that menu.

Click an image to enlarge.

2. Brainpower tip

It's easy to become flustered and feel overwhelmed by the challenges that face us. Too many things are vying for your attention and each one seems insurmountable. Within that very problem lies its own answer.

The reason those things seem insurmountable is each one is getting a small slice of your processing power. This causes you to solve each one more slowly and more poorly.

Here's how to get out of that situation:

  1. Quickly make a list of what needs to be done.
  2. Rate each item with a 1 (urgent), 2 (important but not urgent), or 3 (neither urgent nor important).
  3. If your list has urgent items, pick one and devote your full attention to it. Think of nothing else--all of the other needs are listed in an Outlook appt or a text file or maybe <gasp> on a sheet of paper.
  4. Once you've completed your urgent items, you can turn your attention to the important items. Which one is most important? Do it first. Can't decide? Then just pick one.

If this whole process seems like something you'd find in a time management tip, you're right. You will get things done much faster this way. But it's also a brainpower tip because you will be able to focus your mind on one problem at a time. The results will be better and your stress will be lower.

Mindconnection sells language translation devices. I have found that those people who who can't figure out the device and say say the manual isn't helpful are not focusing. They try to jump in and learn everything at once, skipping around in the manual instead of using it sequentially and methodically. But as soon as they calm down and take a methodical approach, they suddenly find the device is easy to use. The device didn't change. Only their approach changed.

If you're ever feeling flustered or overwhelmed, stop. Determine what is most important and focus on that. Ignore everything else, so that your mind is fully there.

3. Time Tip

4. Finance tip

OK, OK, I give! You win. I'll write more about energy savings.

Let's focus on the use of air conditioning. If you are the typical homeowner, you can reduce your cost of home cooling by 50% if you follow these tips. So that you can address them methodically, I have grouped them by subtopic.


  • Clean your air conditioner condenser. A dirty condenser is the #2 reason for underperformance, the #1 reason for excess energy consumption, and the #1 reason air conditioners fail during a heat wave on Saturday when repair rates are double and parts aren't available until Tuesday.
  • Replace your filter, or if it's a permanent one then clean it. A dirty filter is the #1 reason for underperformance, the #2 reason for excess energy consumption, and the only reason blowers fail prematurely. Check it every single week. Don't wait for material to build up on its surface. If it's dirty, take action. Also, a clean filter means you spend less money on remedies for colds, allergies, etc.
  • Check your windows and doors. Make sure they are properly aligned and not leaking air. You can buy an infra-red heat gun for not a whole lot of money these days, and it's an excellent investment. Inspect all openings, including pet doors, for leaks. Consult a carpenter if you are not trained and experienced in fixing these leaks. Many DIY types just waste money on non-solutions or even make matters worse. Don't use cost as an excuse. A leak that is costing you $50 a month easily justifies an hour service call from a carpenter. You may also be able to get free advice from your electric utility company--contact them and ask about it.


  • Do hot things at non-peak cooling times. People have a tendency to run the dishwasher, cook meals, make popcorn, etc., while trying to cool the house for the evening. Run the dishwasher at 0300 by setting its timer. If you can't do that, then run it as soon as you get up.
  • Go without. Summer movies and popcorn traditionally go together (assuming you are making popcorn on the stove with olive oil and not using that toxic microwave crap, this is OK healthwise). But there isn't a law saying you must have popcorn when it's raging hot outside. Save that for cooler times.
  • Take it outside. If you like coffee in the AM, great. Take the coffee maker outside and plug it in on your patio. This means less heat to get rid of. If you boil batches of eggs, as I do, put them in bowls and set them on your patio to cool.
  • Time it. In suburbia, people wash their cars in their driveways. The water has as cooling effect, but this is normally wasted. That driveway is a huge heatsink. While you are trying to cool your house in the evening, it's radiating heat at the building. Washing the car after supper means you are going to get rid of a lot of that stored heat, making it easier to cool your home for that critical sleeping time.

    Another way of timing it is to change your reading hours a bit. I realize most people don't set aside time to read (which explains a lot about our society), but for those of us who do, try moving reading hours to the sunnier times of the day. In the USA, we have Daylight Wasting Time shifting the clock in exactly the wrong direction so we are forced to use lights in the AM. Many of us also go to bed during sunlight in the PM. Even with DWT, the light in the evening is hardly sufficient for much reading. Lights add heat during the prime cooling time.
  • Wash smartly. Humidity is a major factor in cooling efficiency. Americans tend to shower in water that is hotter than it needs to be. We also have a tendency to wash our hair daily, which damages the hair.

    Use cooler water. Brushing your hair gets it clean without damaging it, meaning you can cut back on the cost of hair products while also giving yourself the luxury of a good brushing. If multiple people are in your home, try to get showers done back to back so you're not adding humidity all day long. Run the bathroom fan when done. The last person should also use a bathroom squeegee (available at places like Home Depot) to quickly swipe most of the water off of surfaces. Don't use a towel to dry the surfaces, as a wet towel left indoors will still have the moisture and you are still running the bathroom lights to do the wiping..


  • Has it really been that long since Jimmy Carter advised the nation to change thermostat settings? You won't die if you have to sweat a little.
  • Back when Jimmy Carter was giving us stagflation and despair, we didn't have programmable thermostats. Now they are everywhere. When programming your thermostat, think in terms of critical cooling. For most of us, this means cooling down our bedrooms so we can sleep more soundly. You'll need some time for the stored heat in bedding, etc., to be removed. Keep in mind that you are programming a switch, and the settings have nothing to do with the actual rate of cooling.

Air circulation

  • When you are in cooling mode, as in getting the bedroom(s) habitable, close bedroom doors and adjust registers appropriately. Using this method, I get my bedroom 5 DegrF cooler than my living room and other areas.
  • Take a look at your air return vents. Do they make sense? Add new vents, if needed. Make sure all of your air return vents allow you to open and close them. Ensure you have one vent near the ceiling paired with one near the floor. Typically, builders put only one or the other in. During winter, close the upper return vent so you are returning cold air. During summer, close the lower one so you are returning warm air. If you have this backwards, you waste energy.
  • Run your whole house fan all the time. Mine runs at a lower (energy-saving) speed, adjustable in the furnace controls. This eliminates hot spots and cold spots, thereby allowing less use of heating or cooling for comfort. It also keeps everything cleaner, because you are continually filtering your air. Be sure you use a high quality air filter and change it often.


  • Use summer sheets in the summer and winter sheets in the winter. Generally, the lower threadcounts (e.g., 400) are summer sheets and the higher ones (e.g., 600 and 800) are winter sheets. Some people buy the highest threadcount sheets they can find, thinking that they are getting the best sheets--that isn't so. Some people buy crappy sheets at K-Mart (now Sears) or Wal-Mart, thinking they are saving money with 180 count cotton/poly blends--that isn't so, either.
  • Note that a good set of sheets, properly cared for (washed weekly and not put in the dryer) should last you ten years or more. Using the right sheets allows you to use a more moderate thermostat setting.
  • Keep blinds or drapes closed. All day.
  • If you have a master bath off your bedroom. use a different bathroom (if available) for showering during the really hot weather.


  • Trees act like cooling towers. Use a rootfeeder to water them when it's blazing hot outside, and they will actually cool the air around them. Keep your trees properly pruned. If you don't have trees on your property, don't run out to Wal-Mart and pick up what's on sale. Plan the layout, using the services of a reputable landscaper--you won't regret it.
  • Lawns act like giant cooling fins. Keep them weeded and watered. The average suburban home with a lawn also has net zero carbon emission. Follow the lawncare recommendations for your area. Consult with your local nursery for the lawncare schedule of your locale. You can also find this information in the free lawn and garden newspaper or tabloid that garden shops carry and libraries usually have as well.
  • Plant groundcovers around erosion-prone areas. Most of these are leafy, and it's this leaf surface that gives you the cooling. People who control erosion with cement pay higher electric bills than people who use vegetation. Consult your local nursery or garden shop for what grows best in your area and in the conditions where you need to plant (e.g., shady vs. sunny).

System upgrade

This is the most capital-intensive approach. But it's worth it.

  • Upgrade your HVAC system to one that uses a heat pump and a multi-stage gas furnace. This is the most efficient set-up available. It is common for people to see their home energy bills drop 50% after the upgrade.
  • Trane and Carrier are the leading brands. They are not the cheapest, but they are the most cost-effective. Don't mess around with the cheap stuff. You can save money with a cheap unit, but you will do so at great cost!
  • The best deals on new HVAC units are in February. So, plan now. Start looking at what's out there. It takes a long time to learn about these systems, and February will be here before you know it.
  • Installation is critical. Don't let just anybody install your new system. Make sure they are factory-authorized installers and routinely put in these kinds of systems.


5. Security tip

Each year, airlines lose the luggage of millions of people. All kinds of things are inside this luggage. Some of those items contain sensitive information, information that's hard to replace, or content that is personally very valuable (for example, graduation photos).

Here are some examples of what gets lost, and how to increase the chances for recovery:

  • Address books. On the inside cover, write a short message instructing the finder how to reach you. Try to use a work number, rather than a home number. Include e-mail address and either a PO box or the address of a trusted third party. Repeat this information deeper into the book, in case the cover gets torn off.
  • Briefcases. Buy two of those laminated information tags and put your contact information on it. Affix one to the handle or carrying strap. Affix the other one to something inside the case.
  • Cell phones. Create an entry called "Owner" and put contact information there. Put a sticky label with your contact information inside the battery compartment.
  • Digital cameras. On a sheet of paper, write "RETURN ME." Then, write your name and contact info below that. Take a photo of this. Then, use your camera's lock feature to prevent that photo from being erased. When someone turns on your camera, that image will be one they see if they are curious enough to look at the images. And everyone is... Also, write this information on small labels (cut a folder label to size) and put one on the inside of each compartment door on the camera.
  • Flash drives. Write your contact information on one of those labels used for file folder tabs. Then affix this to the body of the drive (not the cap).
  • Laptops. Create a text file called "Owner" and make a shortcut to it on your computer desktop. When someone turns on your computer, this shortcut will be visible on the desktop. This file would have all of your contact information.
  • Paper files (from the office, presumably). Put your contact information on the back of each critical sheet.
  • PDAs. Same as for cell phones.
  • Suits. Sew a cloth label onto the inside pocket. Use an indelible marker to put contact information on that label. For other clothes, adapt as needed.

Do you see the pattern, here? It's this:

  1. If an item is valuable enough that you want to recover it, label it.
  2. Use contact information that doesn't create security problems by, for example advertising your home address or phone number while you are away.

You can implement the basic concept for anything you take with you anywhere. And that isn't just airlines. For example,  you can easily set down a digital camera at a gathering and not remember you left it there until you are long gone.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Here's an article on a commonly misunderstood topic:

Forget the hype put out by manufacturers and the grossly inaccurate stories put out by the so-called news media. This article gives you the truth.

7. Miscellany

  1. Sales of antacids increase by as much as 20% the day after the Superbowl. So, the drug companies make millions, the football players make millions, and the fans end up poorer.
  2. 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).

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.

8. Thought for the Day

Unnecessary steps in any process means that process costs more and reduces your effectiveness. Have you looked at your work processes, lately, to see what you are doing that doesn't really need to be done?


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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