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Mindconnection eNL, 2009-07-05


In this issue:
Brainpower | Finances | Security | Health/Fitness | Factoid | Product Highlight | Thought for the Day


1. Brainpower tip

In our previous issue, we looked at how being inarticulate leads to a sort of brain deadness. This same effect exists when you have a lack of propriety.

If you read Into Thin Air or other accounts of that disastrous season on Mount Everest, what comes through loud and clear is so many people lacked a sense of propriety.

We express our sense of propriety in many ways. For example, consider how you dress if you go to the following places:

  • Professional office (e.g., doctor, attorney).
  • Mid-scale "casual" chain restaurant (e.g., Applebees, Olive Garden).
  • Public library.
  • Office of your mayor, Congressman, or other elected official.
  • Grocery shopping.
  • Association banquet.
  • Upscale restaurant (e.g., $50 tab for two people at lunch).
  • A white collar job in an office.

In none of these situations does a person of propriety wear sweat pants, torn jeans, or a tank top. There are dress codes for each. You can expect to be treated in response to how you dress, not because other people are snobs but because under-dressing exhibits your lack of propriety. And as we know, propriety and stupidity are closely related. In the Everest case, they are related with tragic consequences.

I'm not saying that a guy who dons an Oxford dress shirt is automatically brilliant or one who does not finds his brain shriveled to the size of a walnut. After all, members of CONgress dress well and look at how stupid they are. No, I'm not saying that at all.

I'm saying your attitude of propriety (or lack thereof) is something very crucial. If you adopt an attitude of propriety, you will express that attitude in many ways. An obvious way is in how you dress. But that way is merely a reflection of your propriety.

And what is propriety anyhow? It's the following of accepted standards of manners and behavior. A person with propriety has taken the time to learn those standards. Following those standards shows respect for others. And therein lies the kernel of what's going on when propriety works its magic. The key ingredient is respect.

Whether it's respecting a mountain, respecting your own limitations, respecting the opinions of others, or respecting your boss, there are benefits for having respect and consequences for not having it.

Propriety opens doors for you. It attracts people who are "on the ball." It gets you respect, because you are giving respect. It helps get your mind in the proper frame. It helps bring order, instead of chaos, to your world.

It sometimes seems I'm stretching the concept of brainpower enhancement, here. But if you will reflect on propriety very seriously for a while, you will see that is not the case this time.

2. Finance tip

It's funny how all sorts of "experts" are coming out of the woodwork now to recommend that people buy bonds "because they are safe."

A bond is a guaranteed financial loss. How the heck this is "safe" escapes me.

Why is a bond a guaranteed financial loss? A bond is not equity, it's debt. It creates no value. For that reason, it can never return enough to outpace inflation. While "investing" in a bond is safer than hoarding Federal Reserve Notes (the cotton "dollar bills" that people erroneously refer to as "paper money") and much safer than making an equity "investment" (stock) in something you know little about, it's not safe.

Stocks are safe, only if you understand what you are buying. Since stock is an equity (ownership) investment, it holds the potential to outpace inflation. You have to remember that you are buying ownership in an income-producing asset. You need to evaluate that asset before buying, and you need to understand the risks of ownership.

Unless you understand the products, management, market, and competitive environment of the company you are buying stock in, you are merely gambling. Since most people lack the education, information resources, time, and perseverance to understand these things, most people should not buy individual stocks. Mutual funds, yes--but only if you understand the management and the fund philosophy. If you are merely chasing returns, you are gambling.

What else can you do? Some obvious investments include:

  • Invest in training and education so you qualify for higher income (proven: this works).
  • Invest in your health, so you don't have disease accommodation bills (what we call "healthcare" bills).
  • Invest in your mind by reading books, so you have brainpower, attention span, and knowledge.

Most people don't think of those three things as investment, but they should. Most people think in terms of buying something. OK, so let's go there.

In 1983, I read a book that profoundly influenced my thinking on investing. It talked about buying things on sale, and stocking up when you do. This was something my parents did, and though I didn't think of that in terms of investing, I followed this pattern more or less. However, you can manage this kind of buying in a way that vastly outstrips the "return" the average investor gets on "investment."

The key isn't to buy things just because they are on sale. Do that, and you merely accumulate clutter. The key is to buy things you'd use anyhow. For example, there's a sale on motor oil, 10% off. Buy the oil. If you use it 6 months later, you've made a 20% annual profit.

Inflation may not stay within reasonable bounds. So even if you were able to buy everything with, say, an annual profit of 20% you could still lose wealth at an alarming rate. Of course, your 20% return is much better than the 5% return someone else is making via a financial investment.

Most people will not do the math on investing. If they buy a case of oil and look at it six months later, they see a case of oil. There is no broker's statement showing they made 20% on it. So they don't understand that they made that kind of return on the investment. Plus, they are going to use the oil and then it's gone so all they see is that they spent money on oil.

If you think about it, this example is actually a leveraged investment. It's money you were going to spend (not have) anyhow, and so you make 20% on someone else's money but do so with real goods. Pretty hard to lose in that scenario.

I think the basic problem is people want to see something on paper showing their "profits" but don't understand that paper profits aren't real profits. They are just paper profits.

Let's look even closer at this, now. You don't pay income tax on the 20% return on that oil, but you will pay income tax on that 5% paper profit. Not only that, the IRS can seize your accounts (paper profit storage) with no warning or justification, but they aren't going to come to your house for that case of oil.

Does the word "duh" start coming to mind?

Investing isn't something you spend your money on. Investing is a strategy for how you spend your money. And your time.

3. Security tip

A huge scam that's running right now involves sending people checks in the mail. A letter with the check says to go ahead and deposit the check and then go to Wal-Mart to get a money order for some amount and send it to some address.

There's some blather in there explaining the need for you to send them money even though they are sending you money. The check they send you will bounce or it will be drawn off the legitimate account of a third party and you'll have to pay it back.

What should you do?

Take the letter and envelope to your nearest Post Office so the US Postal Inspector can follow up on it.

Many people underestimate the US Postal Inspector. Don't. This is the office that exposed the scam IRS employees had been hiding for years from law enforcement agencies and raking in millions of dollars by defrauding investors and providing them false information in writing. When their scam was exposed, the US Postal Inspector was able to put their front man (who didn't have "laws don't apply to me" privileges that are granted to IRS employees) in prison on 52 counts of fraud. He died there. The $103 million stolen by the IRS employees was never recovered, but the point here is their lucrative crime spree got stopped by the US Postal Inspector.

Of course, we're all ripped off by our misrepresentatives in CONgress and the US Postal Inspector isn't allowed to investigate that rampant fraud. While it's somehow legal for the US Congress to steal most of the money you earn (and hand it over to the folks who hire the lobbyists who own the members of CONgress), it's not legal for someone else to steal $350 from you by mail. Help the US Postal Inspector shut down at least one of these groups of thieves.

4. Health tip/Fitness tips

Remember last year's poop in the (packaged) spinach scare?

Remember Willie Nelson's public statement regarding being caught with a bag of marijuana?

"It's a good thing I had a bag of marijuana instead of a bag of spinach. I'd be dead by now."

The spinach in question wasn't fresh spinach. Nor did people get this from their home gardens. This was packaged spinach. Every step of food processing leaves the food a little poorer in nutrition. And, in some cases, a little richer in things you don't want to be eating.

The March, 2008 issue of National Geographic had an article that provided "9 Tips for Longevity." One of those is to do gardening. One of the things that happens when you garden is you tend to grow green things and eat them. Eating green provides copious benefits for health and fitness.

Fitness supplements for bodybuilders


My favorite vegetables are those in the brassica family. I grow kale in soil that is tended specifically for that plant (lots of eggshells used in the compost), and my grocer knows me as "the bok choy guy" because I always pick up a fresh head of bok choy (Chinese cabbage) at the store. The brassicas are very high in calcium and other nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones, muscle, and skin.

Many people consider corn a vegetable, but it's a grain. And corn is a grain that is highly cultivated to have a high sugar content. I rarely eat it. If you want a "corn fed" look, eat corn regularly and you'll get it. Corn is what we feed to cattle and hogs to fatten them up.

The FDA pushes the Food Pyramid, which was developed for political reasons rather than for public health. The Food Pyramid is very heavy on grain, while humans aren't designed to have grain heavily represented in our diets. Cows, which are grain eating creatures, have three stomachs. We humans don't have the equipment to handle a grain-based diet. Parents, take note of this if you are feeding your kids boxed cereal.

Change "grain" to "green" and the Food Pyramid hits much closer to being a sound dietary guide.

If you don't garden and you have the space available, pick up a book on organic gardening. An excellent one is "The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening" from Reader's Digest. Your local library should also have free resources, and you won't go wrong by visiting your local nursery and asking for advice. Decide on 2 or 3 plants you want to grow, and start out small so you can do it well and also learn the basics.

If you don't have space for a garden, the same information as above applies. You can grow all kinds of produce in large flower pots. Even the smallest apartment has a window ledge or some place where you can grow something.

Gardening is physical work, and that's yet another benefit. And something about it just feels good.

This is my 12th summer in my current home, and over the years I've done quite a bit to make it a safe place for wildlife. I enjoy the company of rabbits (who voluntarily stay out of my garden but do occasionally come up on my porch and peek in through the French doors), two robin families (one female likes to perch near me and sing while I dig up worms, which she then gets after I step back), two cardinal families, and numerous other birds, mammals, and reptiles.

I keep a small birdbath clean and full of fresh water. I don't put out food for the animals (but I do feed apple cores to the rabbits). What I have done is design the landscaping to provide shelter and "safety paths" so they can easily hide from predators such as the (very) large hawks in the area.

I just find it all very peaceful. Given the frustrations that seem to never stop, this is something very good to be able to enjoy. You may find other ways to enjoy peace and tranquility or to just get away from the stress. If so, great. But give plant-growing a try if you haven't. You can take that to the next level, gardening. Or go the level beyond that and design your entire landscape to achieve specific goals that are good for your psyche.

If the only place you think about fitness is a gym, you aren't thinking about fitness the way you need to.


As regular readers know, I'm 48 years old in the picture (above, right), taken in December. I don't diet down for summer. I don't have good genes for maintaining a lean body, I really have to be conscientious and disciplined about it. That doesn't mean I suffer, eat bland foods, or starve myself.

At, you'll find plenty of informative, authoritative articles on maintaining a lean, strong physique. It has nothing to do with long workouts or impossible to maintain diets. In fact:

  • The best workouts are short and intense.
  • A good diet contains far more flavors and satisfaction than the typical American diet.

Nor does it mean being hungry all the time (you are less hungry on six small meals a day than three large ones), being weak from hunger (on a proper dietary regimen, you will have much more energy than otherwise), or "giving up pleasures" (I have no idea where this concept comes from, unless a person considers being sick a "pleasure.").


5. Factoid

One-third pound stalk of broccoli contains more vitamin C than 204 apples. It's also a great source of calcium.

6. Product Highlight

Scan entire pages

Check out the Planon 700 series full-page scanning pen. At right is the 2-ounce, fit-in-your-pocket 710.

The 710 can store 100s of pages, and scans each one in just seconds. You can scan your letters, color documents, pictures and bring them into Paperport software.

Included: 710 Monochrome Scanner, Leather Case, 12V Automobile Adapter, USB cable, PaperPort SE Software, CD-ROM install Disc, Quickstart Guide. CD-ROM install Disc, Quickstart Guide.



The Planon DocuPen scans a full page width and therefore scans the entire page including text and graphics in as little as 4 seconds. And it weighs only 2 ounces. It's a full-page scanner you can carry in your pocket.

Two ounces and a compact package is much easier than lugging around a laptop and tethered scanner to do the same thing. Scan full pages without breaking your back or your pocketbook.


We don't run ads in our newsletter, despite getting inquiries from advertisers all the time. This eNL is supported by sales from Please shop there, as appropriate.

7. Thought for the Day

The things that come to those who wait are the things left by those who got there first.

Please forward this eNL to others.


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.

Wishing you the best,
Mark Lamendola
Mindconnection, LLC 

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