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,
- Public library.
- Office of your mayor, Congressman, or other
- Grocery shopping.
- Association banquet.
- Upscale restaurant (e.g., $50 tab for two people
- 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
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
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
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?
Willie Nelson's public statement
regarding being caught with a bag of
"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.
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
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.
to "green" and the Food Pyramid hits
much closer to being a sound dietary
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.
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,
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
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
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.
www.supplecity.com, 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
- 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.").
One-third pound stalk of broccoli contains more vitamin C than 204 apples.
It's also a great source of calcium.|
6. Product Highlight
Check out the Planon 700 series
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The 710 can store 100s of pages, and scans each one in just seconds.
You can scan your letters, color
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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
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as little as 4 seconds. And it
weighs only 2 ounces. It's a
full-page scanner you can carry in
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.
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7. Thought for the Day
The things that come to those who wait are the things left by those
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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).
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