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Past issues

Mindconnection eNL, 2007-11-11


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

No more photocopies or copying by hand....
This powerful scanning pen captures text and images. It can store 1,000 pages and look up definitions, too! Plus it does have voice.
Primary use: Quickly scanning text for later transfer to PC.

Image removed in 2009, as product was discontinued. See current offerings here:


Perfect for students, paralegals, archivists, or anyone who needs to transfer printed text to a PC.

2. Brainpower tip

You've no doubt met people whose only form of exercise is jumping to conclusions. There are many reasons people jump to conclusions, but what does this actually mean?

It's a matter of getting to B from A. You've heard the expression "You can't get there from here," and that is alluding to the practice of going directly from A to B where there is no logical path between the two.

I do not use "logical" as an adjective in the way many people misuse it as an adjective. I use it to mean a path formed of logic.

Your brainpower tip in this issue is this. Always look for the path.

A great tool for that purpose, and perhaps the only good tool for that purpose, is critical thinking. Critical thinking is a form of reasoning based on logic. People trained in critical thinking can:

  • Interpret information
  • Recognize assumptions
  • Make proper deductions
  • Make proper inferences
  • Evaluate arguments (logical constructions)

This last bullet point is where we get to the leaps of logic, or jumping to conclusions, thing.

One skill missing from critical thinking is the ability to properly evaluate information. That is a separate skill, but a crucial one. Critical thinking assumes the information is correct, unless:

  • The information is an assumption rather than a fact.
  • There are inconsistencies (facts don't agree).

Then you can use critical thinking to re-assess the information.

Back to that path. Sometimes, a path can appear to be there but really isn't. Let's look at some examples:

If all of the rocks in my garden are white:

  • It does not necessarily follow that all rocks are white.
  • It does not necessarily follow that all other objects in my garden are white.
  • It is irrelevant information, when trying to determine the color of rocks in your garden.
  • ...and all of the rocks in every garden we have found are white, it does not necessarily follow that all rocks in all gardens are white. There is merely a high probability that we will continue to find white rocks in the gardens of the area in which we are looking.

With the limited information we have about rocks in my garden, we can deduce, infer, and derive to arrive and many true conclusions. For example:

  • There are no blue rocks in my garden.
  • All of the blue rocks in the world must be somewhere other than in my garden.
  • There is no white rock shortage, else the white rocks in my garden would have been stolen as they are left outdoors and untended.
  • The white rocks in my garden will be there tomorrow unless someone moves them, because rocks are incapable of self-mobilization.

If you haven't undertaken a formal study of logic, reasoning, or critical thinking, then seriously consider doing so now. Your brain power will increase exponentially.

See these books on critical thinking.

3. Time Tip

Another helpful tip on managing your attention span in this ADD-addled world:

4. Finance tip

Many people feel wealthier if their closets are stuffed with things they don't need and/or no longer use. The net effect of this is to make your home smaller because you have used up available free space.

Rather than "trade up" to a larger, more expensive home that costs more to maintain, ensure, and operate, free up space in the one you have. This is one of the "secrets" Realtors use to make a house more appealing when you go to sell it. Why not make it more appealing when you live in it? Here are some easy ways to do that:

  • Kitchen. Discard old cookie sheets, cutting boards, knives, containers, and other items that you simply do not use. If they are in reasonable condition, donate them to charity. Go on a cupboard cleaning mission and drawer cleaning safari, one cupboard and drawer at a time. If there is any space on your counters that is covered with anything, think of a way to open up that space. My counters are almost entirely bare, and consequently many people remark on the size of my kitchen--it seems far larger than it actually is.
  • Living room. When it comes to wall hangings, think "accent" instead of "coverage." Minimize the number of items in your living room. If something doesn't have to be there, get rid of it. An open, airy living room feels welcoming. A cluttered one, rather than feeling cozy, generates claustrophobic feelings.
  • Bathroom. Rather than spend hugely on a remodeling job or a different home with larger bathrooms, clear out and clean out the ones you have. Look at ways to reduce the number and variety of products you use and keep in the bathroom. Consider buying a freestanding bathroom cabinet, or mounting cupboards, and then using Lazy Susans to organize the contents.
  • Bedrooms. Zero clutter is the key to a bedroom that is conducive to sleep and lovemaking. Minimize the contents to furniture, only. If you lack closet space, buy a freestanding wardrobe or other furniture. Don't succumb to the idea of cheap hanging racks in open air. Closet organizers are also worth looking into.
  • Closets. One of the most common reasons people burden themselves with excessive house payments and higher property taxes is they "need" more closet space. Yet, a logical and honest review of how the typical homeowner uses existing closet space shows it's hugely wasted. You can recover the closet space and actually have more closet space than you would in that more costly home. Toss things that are damaged, worn, or never used. Old luggage and old computers are a couple of examples.
  • Cupboards. Look for ways to pack things in more tightly. For example, you can put small bowls, food containers, pots, and pans inside large ones. How you can arrange things can have a major impact on what percentage of available cupboard space you actually use--try to put stacks of small items next to that stack of large items occupying most of the square footage.

Some things you should not keep, regardless of what impulses you may have to the contrary:

  • Cardboard boxes. These invite vermin and raise the fuel loading of your home. There is zero upside to keeping these, but the downside is potentially huge.
  • Old clothes. If you don't wear it, why keep it? Donate to charity, cut up into rags, or toss.
  • Old shoes. Your feet are too important to subject them to the abuse of shoes that have no cushion left or have some other defect. Repair them or toss them.
  • Old drugs. That prescription medication may have been costly, but if you are done with it then dispose of it. It's probably no longer effective and very well may have changed into a toxic substance. If there's a prescription date, honor it. If there is no date, assume the medication is not safe.

5. Security tip

A chemistry professor had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one student kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

The professor asked the student what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government.

He then asked the professor, "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"

The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line.

The young man said this was no joke. "You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming."

The professor nodded, "And what happens next?"

"At first, the pigs are wary. But they like the free corn so accept that piece of fence as harmless. Once they've done that, you put up another side of the fence. This process repeats itself until you have the entire fence in place. All you have to do is slam the gate behind them one day, and they are no longer free. They have become so dependent on you for that free corn, that they hardly notice their captivity."

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward dependence by spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), and welfare, while we continually lose our freedoms. Just a little at a time.

The morale of the story is there's no free lunch. In fact, those "government lunches" are very costly. We've looked at the numbers many times in the eNL--go through past editions of you need to see them again.

When you hear a politician talking about expanding this government program or starting that one, beware.

6. Health tip/Fitness tips

Most people go into the holidays oblivious of the dangers. An American typically adds 10 pounds of body fat during November and December.

Here is an article that will help you stay the course:

If you use portion control while refusing to consume the sugar/fat junk, you will add exactly 0 pounds of body fat. For some reason, many people feel they might be seen as rude if they refuse to engage in suicidal eating. That is nonsense, but even if it were true why would you care? It's not your problem what other people think. If they are offended because you value your health, that's not your problem.

It's only a problem when you feel obligated to explain yourself. Don't explain--doing so runs the risk of making other people think you look down on them for their poor eating decisions. Leave that particular door closed. You may be gathering to eat together, but you can talk about something other than food.

If other people choose to make calorie bombs, that is their choice. You do not have to choose to eat those items. But you should respect the choices of others. Doing so also helps keep the peace.

People who feel guilty about their food choices will seek out and attack those who make wise choices. There is a psychological reason for this, and it has nothing to do with actually needing an explanation from you. Yet, the most common attack is one designed to prompt an explanation. Don't give one.

Don't respond to comments on "how little" you eat. Don't respond to encouragement to be a glutton. Don't discuss diets or food theory. When other people try to engage you this way, all they are after is permission to eat what they want to eat, in whatever quantities. But they aren't seeking permission in the sense that you say, "Eat whatever you want. I'm fine with that."

You can make that statement, and it might end the attack. But, it probably won't. What the person needs to do is draw you into saying something that person's mind can bend into making you look wrong--thereby making that person right. This logic-defying zero sum calculus goes on all the time. It's a major reason people argue.

If you argue, they get that permission they wanted by being able to justify that you are an unreasonable person so therefore they must be correct in their actions. There may not even be a conscious effort to do this, but that's what's going on.

Do not ever think that anyone who makes poor eating decisions is actually interested in hearing from you--especially during a holiday meal--what they are doing wrong. A person genuinely interested in learning from you will have picked a far better time to ask about food.

People who ask while in the middle of making bad food choices want to hear something from you that allows them to mentally establish you as a nut or extremist, so they can recast the differences in eating decisions as being a matter of your irrationality versus their cultivation and normalcy.

Don't rise to take the bait. You will swallow the hook every time.

Instead, stay firm in your food choices and take comfort in the fact you will not gain any fat over the holidays. you do not need to defend what you are doing.

One way to get out of the game is to ignore the remark entirely. I have learned the hard way that this is nearly always the perfect solution. Don't even look at the person making the remark. That person is being rude by commenting on that personal of a level, and your silence communicates that. Occasionally, a buffoon won't get the hint and you have to try another tactic.

Another way avoid taking the bait is to change the subject. This is a brushoff, like ignoring the person, but you don't leave dead silence.

If the person is notorious for being nosey or obnoxious and you have had just about enough of him, consider a retort like, "I won't talk about the skidmarks in your underpants if you won't talk about what I eat. Can we agree on that?"

You might want to choose a less disgusting vice--or make it a compliment instead. For example, "You are an outstanding tennis player, and have chosen not to bore us with tennis talk. I am skilled at making good food choices, but that subject is equally boring."

If the person is one you truly don't want to ignore or offend, you could say something like, "Well, that is a bit of a touchy subject with me. I'm glad you asked, because you are such a good listener. What's a good time for me to call you next week and explain?"

7. Miscellany

  1. No piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7 times. However, members of CONgress have demonstrated an amazing ability to waste money 6 ways to Sunday.
  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

The best solution to a problem is seldom the most expensive solution. Then again, the cheapest solution is sometimes the most costly.


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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