Breaking “Shocking” News: Stents Don’t Work!

This news about stents may have been shocking to The New York Times and mainstream medicine. But not to me or the thousands of Americans that have been reading the alternative health media. For more than 10 years, I’ve been reporting on studies showing that stents don’t work. So has the Institute for Natural Healing (INH). Stents are tiny wire cages inserted into arteries to prevent blockage. More than half a million heart patients have them inserted every year. Like so many expensive procedures, this one was heralded as a life saver when it was introduced decades ago. But studies since then have consistently shown that stents produce little benefit. Except, that is, for the financial benefit to those who …

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Personal Loans: Was Shakespeare Right?

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” Polonius tells his son Laertes in Hamlet. “For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

Shakespeare was speaking of personal loans – to friends and family members. Had he been a business writer he might have said: “Be a lender but only if thou likest the interest rate and thou gettest good collateral. And be a borrower only when thou haveth a good and safe investment to put it towards.”

Maybe not in those words.

But let’s talk about lending and borrowing to and from friends and family members. Is it a bad idea?

Borrowing can send a message of weakness: “I am not capable of managing my finances properly. I lack something you have.”

Borrowing also introduces into personal relationships an element that shouldn’t be there: financial dependency. The best personal relationships are those in which each party is strong and independent, both emotionally and financially.

Borrowing brings with it (or should) a level of stress. You have to manage not only to pay back the loan according to the terms provided, but also to restrain yourself from letting the financial issue cloud the relationship. This can be difficult.

Lending can be just as bad. It can make you think less of the borrower – especially if you don’t get paid back or get paid back too slowly. And if the borrower is a friend or family member, that’s a very significant cost.

Plus, if that were not risk enough, there is a very real chance that the borrower can end up resenting the transaction. And, instead of appreciating you for your kindness, feel offended by the obligation that came with it.

More than several times, I have gotten the distinct impression that friends (and even a family member or two) who owed me money eventually became angry about it.

So what do I do?

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Speak Young, Be Young-ish

Feeling old? Want to appear to be younger without exercise, surgery, or drugs? Try sprinkling these super-trendy terms from dictionary.com into your conversations.   Fleek: I think it means something like “cool” or “groovy.” Bae: What “beau” once stood for. Hashtag: Not the use of the symbol, but saying the word out loud. Can’t even: When something is too idiotic or insane for words, you say “Can’t even.” Just that. Squad: A synonym for “group of friends or associates.” Ghosting: Ending a relationship by suddenly and mysteriously ceasing to reply to emails/texts. Breadcrumbing: Leading someone on by flirting via email/texting, but never actually making a date.   Caveat: As with all trends, these words may not be hot much longer. …

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Can You Train Yourself to Live on Less Sleep?

I used to admire people that slept only 3 or 4 hours a night. For many years, I “trained” myself to get along on 5 or 6.

The benefits are obvious: an extra 2 or 3 hours a day to put to good use. At my writing pace (10 words a minute), that would allow me to write about 60,000 words a year. That’s a book.

I spent about a decade living that way and I was never as productive as I thought I would be. For one thing, I flagged after lunch. For several hours I could do nothing more demanding than sort through email. Another consequence: more frequent colds, which decreased my output considerably.

Many people think, as I did, that they can teach themselves to need less sleep. But in the last 10 years there have been several significant studies that came to the opposite conclusion.

One of those studies was conducted by the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. According to Dr. Sigrid Veasey, who led the study, getting less sleep not only decreases mental acuity and physical productivity, it impairs judgment.

After looking at all of the recent studies, the National Sleep Foundation determined that, on average, people over 65 need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep, teenagers need 8 to 10 hours, and school-age children need 9 to 11 hours.

How do you know how much sleep you need?

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A Monthly Budget That Will Help You Grow Rich

Most people don’t manage their income. They bank it and spend it. This is obviously crazy.

Some people do try to manage their income by budgeting. This typically means that you look at what your income is likely to be. You subtract mandatory expenses. Then you make spending decisions based on what’s left.

“Hmmm… I’ve got $2,800 coming in this month. The mortgage is $1,400. The utilities will be around $300. I’ve got to pay $200 for the minimum on my credit cards. That leaves $900. Oh, but I forgot the car payment. That’s another $250. So I’ve got $650 left. That should be okay.”

 But what about that grinding noise the dishwasher is making? Or the $200 you promised you’d lend to your brother? And wait! Isn’t your anniversary next Tuesday?

Making rough mental calculations is not a smart way to manage your money. If you do it very conservatively, you may keep up with expenses. But it’s unlikely you’ll ever have money left over for saving and investing. Which means you’ll have very little chance of increasing your wealth.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Creating a realistic budget should take only about an hour the first time you do it. Then a half-hour or so each month to keep it up to date.

How to Set Up a Realistic Monthly Budget

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Sofia Bassi

Not as well known as many of the Mexican women Surrealists, Sofia Bassi (1913-1998) has an interesting story. She spent five years in prison for the murder of her daughter’s husband, which was, supposedly, actually committed by the daughter. She continued to paint during her incarceration with the help of many important Mexican artists, including Jose Luis Cuevas and Rafael Coronel. She is also known for her collaborative work with the CoBrA artist Asger Jorn. This painting incorporates the visual “egg” she used frequently to symbolize rebirth and/or fertility. El Hombre Leyenda (Man of legend), 1991, is oil on masonite. The egg of the eye is repeated in the sky.  A closer look reveals two angelic clouds floating there, too. The current value is $15,000.  A similar larger work recently …

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How Every Decision Can Make You Richer – or Poorer

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.

– William Arthur Ward

You go to lunch with a colleague. Everything is good. When the waiter puts the bill on the table, the total is $26.

Do you pick it up? Do you wait and hope he does? Or do you suggest you split it?

On the surface, this is a minor decision. But in truth, it is one of a million chances you’ve had, have, and will have to become wealthier.

A cheapskate might look at it this way:

* If we split the bill, I’ll be $13 poorer.

* If I can get him to pay it, I’ll be $13 richer.

* If I pay the whole bill, I’ll be $26 poorer.

To the cheapskate, the best decision is obvious. So when the bill arrives, he gets up to “go to the bathroom,” hoping he’ll be $13 richer when he returns.

But I have a different view. For wealth building, like quantum mechanics, often operates according to laws that seem contrary to what is “obvious.”

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Delivering Bad News: When to Write… When to Phone… When to Have Lunch

Someone once told me that you should always deliver complaints, criticism, and bad news in person. It made sense then, and it makes even more sense now that we are all firmly entrenched in email.

The main problem with email is that writing is a unilateral activity. You can’t see the other person’s eyes when he is reading what you wrote, so you can’t judge how he is interpreting your words. Speaking face to face, you can use a bit of sarcasm or irony to soften your message. But if you try that in writing, it can backfire and make you sound much harsher than you mean to be.

Writing also precludes interruption. You might think it’s to your advantage to say what you have to say without interruption, but that ain’t necessarily so. Many times, I have gone into a tirade, absolutely sure of my position, only to be interrupted by the person I’m ranting at and won over to their position in a matter of minutes.

It usually happens like this: I begin to explain my point of view. I am interrupted, politely. The other person quickly shows me that I don’t have all the information. Or points out that I misunderstood something. Or simply gives me a better idea. And, presto! Conversation over. (“Oh, I’m sorry. You are right. Let’s do it that way.”)

Can’t do that with email. Instead, you just keep digging yourself deeper into your misinformed hole.

Bottom line: When you are complaining, criticizing, or delivering bad news, the best way to do so is in person. If you can’t meet, the phone is way better than email. And if the phone is impossible (a rare thing, I’d think), go ahead and send an email. But be very careful. Here are some simple rules that will help:

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Getting There the Hard Way: Breaking Through the Pain

I remember the day that my older boys and I had a breath-holding contest. It was my idea. I had just been trounced by the two of them in an underwater-propulsion contest. (Imagine human torpedoes bouncing off pool walls.)

“Holding our breath? You just want to do something you can win at,” No.2 son Patrick astutely pointed out. (I had apparently abused them with my breath-holding-gold-medal-at-Club-Med story several times.)

“Chicken?” I cleverly replied.

They relented. And I handily won the first round. But my time was only 65 seconds, not Club Med gold level. Two more rounds followed. I maintained a slight lead. Our times were 1:10, 1:25, and 1:30. Then, on the fourth round, something surprising happened. Patrick held his breath for 1:50 and beat us all!

It was an astonishing feat – 25 seconds better than his till-then best.

If you have normal lungs and have no experience holding your breath you can easily do it for up to about a minute. After that, it gets uncomfortable. At about a minute and a half, your lungs feel as if they might explode. Time slows. Each consecutive second lasts longer. Getting to a minute and 50 seconds meant Patrick had to endure an awful lot of pain.

Can you guess what happened next?

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