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Mindconnection eNL, 2008-05-04


In this issue:

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

1. Product Highlight

Solve Problems Permanently
Why does the same problem persist, even after many attempts to resolve it? Why does it happen again, even if we've "solved it" several times? What can we do to solve problems for good, once we are in charge of solving them?

These kinds of questions are always prevalent in the workplace, in our personal lives, and in the course of our every day existence.

The fact that the very efforts made to solve a problem often make is worse is a plot concept for most of the situation comedies aired on television. It's also a part of real history, some of which we refer to in this course. It's history you don't have to repeat.

Real problem solving involves the key elements you will discover in this course. There are no tricks or shortcuts, but you don't need to be a genius to solve problems effectively, either. You just need to understand the principles behind problem-solving, and know when and where to apply them. That is what this course will teach you.

2. Brainpower tip

A brain-deadening activity I want to address is texting. It poses incipient danger that few people are aware of, even as it drains brainpower inexorably away from those who engage in it. Texting began to gain momentum when AOL came out with Instant Messenger. There wasn't a reason to adopt it then, and there isn't a reason to adopt it now.

Earlier this year, CTIA (the trade group for the wireless industry) estimateds that people send more than 48 billion text messages each month. That number is growing. And this is not good.

Anyone who knows me knows I am pro-technology. Some of my solutions are in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. I have several mobile digital devices, and I wirelessly check e-mail when I'm away from the office for more than, say, a couple of hours. I'm Past Chair of the IEEE Computer Society (KC Chapter), for crying out loud. You would not expect me, of all people, to warn against using technology. And, I'm not. I'm warning against misusing it.

There's a difference between using messages and texting.

Text messaging, used properly is pretty much the text equivalent of leaving a phone message. You have something another person needs to know, so you send text to that person's phone so that person can view the message.

Texting is the abuse of text messages. Kids "text" back and forth, sending each other banal trivialities that are, in 99.9999% of cases, devoid of any substance whatsoever. Imagine how asinine it would to leave 53 voice messages on someone's telephone answering machine (or voicemail) saying absolutely nothing intelligent each time. And slurring your words while U R at it.

Downsides of texting

There are many downsides to texting. Here are a few:

  • The shorthand replaces spelling and nullifies writing skills.
  • The banal messages take time, and that time is subtracted from meaningful conversations.
  • Kids are becoming socially retarded.
  • The inattention paid to surroundings due to the "need" to constantly interact with the micro screen is dangerous.
  • Eye strain from overuse of the devices is reaching epidemic proportions.
  • The brain adapts to this particular use. Consequently, the neural pathways required for adequate functioning in the world are lost. Several entire categories of intelligence simply disappear from the repertoire of the heavy texter.

Parents, stand firm

Formerly the stupidity-building exercise of teens, it has now ensnared parents who have begun texting under the assumption this will help them communicate with their kids. This accommodation is like jumping off a cliff with someone so you can talk on the way down. The assumption is not only bassackwards (communication will deteriorate even further), but parents who take this approach are abrogating their parental responsibilities and failing their children in a monumental way.

Rather than engage in what psychologists call "enabling behavior," show leadership. This is what your kids expect from you, whether they outwardly agree or not. You must stand firm. Helping them become mentally retarded is not in their best interests (unless they intend to become senators or CONgressmen). Helping them become socially retarded will dramatically limit their lifetime earning potential and doom them to unhealthy relationships with spouses, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Helping them be normally inattentive dramatically increases the likelihood they will be severely injured or even killed.

This doesn't mean you simply ban texting and call it a day. Find ways to make yourself interesting to your kids.

  • Rather than focus conversation on yourself or your job, ask them to talk about something in their world. As soon as they do, engage them. Say, "Tell me more about [name of music group]. What are the names of the band members? Do you wish any lyrics were different?" Don't judge or lecture. Observe your kids to see what else they are interested in, and ask them to tell you all about it. We all like to be listened to. This approach will provide a very attractive alternative to texting.
  • Ask your kid if you can talk. Say something like, "You're getting older now, and I was wondering if I could get your opinion on a problem. You know I have been telling you what to do since you were little. Now I want to tell you about a problem and see if you might have some thoughts on it." Find something interesting, but not too complex.
  • Show your kid an article. "If you haven't read this, I would really like you to do so. Can we talk about it, later? I want to see what you think."
  • Send your kid an e-mail. This is more involved than a text message. Your kid is still interacting electronically (the computer, but possibly a mobile device), but the exchange is going to be more than a few lines of "filler." Take care you don't cover sensitive topics, as e-mail is not appropriate for that. Comment on what your kid is studying in school.

    "I hated doing those calculations in chemistry class, also. Really. But I did them. I couldn't see it at the time, but the math helped me learn a more logical way of looking at things. I found this article online [link to article].

    I know you're busy (aren't we all!), but please take a few minutes this week to read that article and then tell me what you think. I had no idea that 1.3 million earths could fit inside the sun. There's a reason why that fact is relevant to the material in Chapter 9 of your chemistry book (yes, I looked--it's some tough stuff!). I'm betting on the fact you're smart enough to tell me what that reason is.

    Tell me on Friday."
  • Use text messages without texting. Send your kid a text message. "Rick, please call your mother." Send such a message only when you have something intelligent to say. If your kid is horribly addicted, send a message saying. "Who's the boss? You or that phone?"

Have purpose

Abuse of any technology leads to undesirable consequences. To avoid those, approach any use of technology with the question, "What problem am I solving by doing it this way?" Keep technology in its place. I recently read about bloggers dropping dead from heart attacks. These were men in late middle-age, who sat blogging for 20 hours a day, jacked up on coffee with protein powder mixed in. I say the problem wasn't the 20 hours. It was the use of blogging as a substitute for living. Don't let texting take that role in your life. It will make you stupid, and other penalties will follow.

3. Finance tip

We generate mountains of waste each year, and nearly every item that goes in the trash is something we paid for. Here is an exercise for you, to stanch the bleeding. Pick seven items from your trash, and put them in a suitable bin. Each day, remove one item, and:
  • Ask yourself why you threw it away.
  • Ask yourself if you replaced it with something else.
  • Estimate the price of the original and the replacement.
  • Come up with at least three uses for the item being discarded.

After doing this for a month, your mind will be automatically programmed to make better use of the items you buy.

Now, some people might wonder if I'm asking you to stash banana peels and coffee grounds for a week. No. For items like that, use them for building compost. Putting them down the garbage disposal or in the trash and then buying fertilizer is a waste of money. Besides, inorganic fertilizers destroy the soil while compost and other organic fertilizers build it.

You can use compost as mulch to preserve moisture or as fertilizer to encourage growth. If you don't have a garden, buy a compost bin. If you printed this out and would like to click that link for great deals on compost bins, then go to and click on the Newsletter link to find your way to the archives where this edition will be.

4. Security tip

In our last issue, we looked at the 3 Ds of personal security:
  1. Deter. Make it hard for thieves to attack you, in the first place.
  2. Detect. Know when your security has been compromised.
  3. Defend. Take corrective action.

Before we get into those (which we will, in upcoming issues), let's look at....

Common ways ID theft happens

  1. Government employees sell your information. This is illegal, but it's a problem we have particularly with the IRS [source: GAO]. There is nothing you can do to prevent this problem, other than support the Fair Tax. See

    Note: one reason IRS employees commit so much larceny is they threaten and intimidate government investigators. The only way to stop this is to abolish the IRS. That can't happen with the current Demopublican CONgress. In federal elections, write in the name your cat or dog--or vote Libertarian. Just don't rubber-stamp the criminal status quo by voting for the rigged ballot of Demopublicans, unless you actually approve of being robbed blind by these folks. Remember, these are the people who stuck you with a $9 trillion federal debt. Like all debts, it must be paid one way or the other.
  2. Criminals do dumpster diving. Most people in single residence homes put their trash out the night before. Apartment dwellers throw it into a common dumpster, typically outside. Either way provides plenty of opportunity for thieves to dig through the trash and find information. Even a magazine label or junk mail envelope is helpful.
  3. In store employees skim your credit card. This is one of the many reasons it is FAR safer to shop online than in person. It's not any effort at all to swipe your card through a second reader, one owned by the thief. Don't hand your card to anyone.
  4. Online scammers send you a phishing e-mail. No reputable financial institution or other company will send you an e-mail asking you to click an link and log in. That's how thieves grab your log-in information. Always go to the organization's Website and log in the normal way. Read the URL to ensure that's where you are. E-mails sent to "Dear Member" that ask you to click a link and log in are always phishing e-mails. Delete them. Legitimate e-mails will address you by your name, not some generic salutation [source: PayPal Security Dept].
  5. Paper pilferers file a Change of Address card at the Post Office. They sometimes do this in a clever way so you get some of your mail but not all of it. For example, they may look you up in the phone book based on the name on the mailbox. Then, they'll divert the mail in the name that's in the phonebook. So maybe the wife receives all her mail, but the husband--whose name is on the phone bill but maybe not the electric bill--doesn't get his. Things appear normal. Now they grab your phone bill and steal the information from it.
  6. Thieves use traditional methods to steal information, not "pocket change." For example, they may pick your pocket for your wallet, copy the credit card information, and then be a "Good Samaritan" and return your wallet. They'll wait a few weeks to avoid suspicion, then start using your credit cards. Defense for men: don't keep your wallet in your back pants pocket. In addition to being a very insecure location, this also creates spinal problems.
  7. Thieves may also steal information from employers and government offices. You can't stop this, but you can detect it and correct it.

To protect yourself, you need to apply the 3 Ds of personal security that I listed in our previous issue (listed at the start of this article). In our next issue, we'll look more closely at Deter.

5. Health tip/Fitness tips

The amount of toxic waste generated each year by Americans is staggering. But, enough about CONgress.

Here's a site that can help you safely dispose of old electronics and computer gear:

Those of our readers who are in other countries may have something similar. If you haven't thought to look for it previously, well, now you have.

6. Miscellany

  1. Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, was actually afraid of mice. Today, we need to fear the damage being done by the rats in CONgress.
  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.

7. Thought for the Day

Laws cannot stop criminals. Properly prepared potential victims can.


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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