Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Quirk That Can Control Your Life: Hedonic Adaptation

blurry treadmill

Are you familiar with Hedonic Adaptation?

Basically, it’s a mechanism that lets people adapt to new circumstances and get on with their lives.  Fantastic for a survival mechanism for the species.  Earthquake? Flood? Paradise? Record food supply?  Take a moment or two, soak it in, and return to your set level of happiness and carry on with life.

The tricky part is that it also means that the new car, new purse, and new T.V. won’t permanently increase happiness either.  People just get used to new things.  If someone is unaware of this, it can feel like life is just a treadmill of earning and spending but not getting anywhere.  Wiki even has an entry for the hedonic treadmill.

The great and amazing thing is that it works in reverse, too.  What if the television cable stopped working?  It would be irritating, but  people would get used to it pretty quickly.  They might start to appreciate the free TV signal that is available.  A little free time would open up that used to be dedicated to watching QVC (or whatever).  The monthly bills would decrease a little, either providing a growing emergency fund or reduced need to work over time.

One way to take advantage of this psychological quirk is to become a minimalist, and cut back until each item you have evokes gratitude.  Tammy Strobel did this and was profiled in this NYT article:

Is this a path of deprivation?  It’s not.  The key is to have everything that you want and need. But not to have everything you can buy.   The extra stuff won’t increase your happiness.

To paraphrase one of my favorite bloggers, a debtor who feels deprived by not making a new purchase is similar to a dangerously unfit person who feels that a walk would deprive them of laying on the couch.  Think about it.

This post has everything to do with right-sizing that visible patch of ice for the Independent Penguin.


How I Accidentally Lost 40 Pounds & Hit My Ideal Weight by Practicing Conscious Consumption



As an experiment, during New Year’s resolutions in 2012 I decided to limit what I consumed as food and drink.  The driving force for this was strictly as a way to try to improve my health- I was convinced that my weight was at my natural set point and it was comfortable for me.  The last time I was at my ideal weight (by the standard tables) was twenty years ago and lost in the misty past.

I wanted to keep the rules short, simple, and easy to follow.  Most resolutions don’t even last a month, and I wanted to make one that was practical.  Here are the rules I made:

1) These are guidelines for days that don’t start with “S”.  On days that start with “S” (Saturday, Sunday, and Special occasions) they don’t apply.

2) Don’t drink any calories.  Water, tea, seltzer, and coffee are fine.  The exception is that beer is allowed.  Hey, it’s my  set of rules.  You make your own set.

3) Avoid all ground meat.  No, not a vegetarian at all – just a choice to put high quality cuts in my diet.

4) Eliminate choosing sugar or bread when a choice is available.  Would you like bread with your salad?  No, thank you. Sugar with your coffee?  No thanks.

5) Base meals around vegetables and legumes, using meat sparingly.

That’s it.   My goal (as mentioned above) was just to improve my health a little bit.  I was totally surprised to see the pounds keep falling off.  My activity level didn’t increase intentionally – although I did end up doing more walking as my energy level increased.  To my total surprise I ended up dropping 40 pounds and back at the weight I had twenty years ago.  All without ever feeling hungry or deprived.

I’ll share some of my super simple recipes in future posts.  But the important improvement was just trying to practice conscious consumption of food.

A Review of the Scott Yancey “Flipping Property Event”

ticket photo

The other day I got surprise tickets in the mail to a Scott Yancey “Flipping Property Event”.  This is my review of the seminar.  Be sure to read to the end of the post, as my evaluation might surprise you.

To those who might not know, Scott and his wife Amie star in the TV show Flipping Vegas.  I really enjoy that show as a guilty pleasure.  They have released a new book called “Go Time” that at the writing of this post has no reviews on Amazon.  My purpose in going to the seminar was to shake Scott’s hand, let him know I enjoy his show, buy the book, and perhaps get it autographed if he had time.

When I arrived at the seminar venue, they had me fill out an information card before entering.  I left the phone space blank.  This turned out to be a smart decision on my part.

Entering the seminar room, there was a screen near the front, some tables manned by workers at the back, and a tight cluster of chairs near the front.  I looked for Scott, but he was nowhere to be seen.  I sat near the back.

Each chair had some candy, a schedule, a pen, and 2 pieces of blank paper for notes.  As each speaker was going through their presentation they would tell us what to write in our notes.  I wrote things that I found interesting instead.  At the end of the four hours I had 2 lines down.

When the time to introduce the expert came, it was done as a video insert into the powerpoint slide presentation.  Along with Scott, there was another expert introduced – Dean Graziosi.  This made my hair stand on end.  Something wasn’t right.

Now, one of the people who I trust as an expert in real estate is John T. Reed.  And whenever I am confronted with a new situation I start to mentally consult John’s Real Estate BS detector checklist:

During the seminar, the presentation triggered 11 different BS events listed below. Let’s just say my guard went up and my wallet stayed in my pocket.

(The numbers refer to John’s list linked above)
8: Offer to invest in your deals – self explanatory. (Although no details were given)
10: Emphasis on no down techniques- something to appeal to beginners
11: Blank paper – they literally gave us blank paper.
16: High prices – they were selling a $2K boot camp.
23: Repeated efforts to sell higher priced packages –
26: Advocating use of property managers – again, something that will appeal to beginners
30: Focus on the beginner market – a good part of the presentation was spent defining vocabulary
35: Citing religiousness as a selling point –  when a salesman shakes my hand tells me what a good guy he is, I check to make sure my watch is still there
37: Riff raff in audience – 100% on this one.  Although to be honest, I had just returned from a redeye flight from Las Vegas, was sleep deprived, and probably counted as riff-raff to the other attendees also!
40: Deliberately making a meeting room look crowded – everyone was bunched up at the front
41: Constant warning that the price would rise – check.

After the seminar I found a link to a review of Dean:

Basically the scheme is to give a free seminar to sell a 2K bootcamp, to sell a 20-40K mentoring session.  It might help some people, I don’t know.  But there is plenty of bad feedback about the upselling process on the web.

What about Scott?  Did he deliver what he promised?

At the end of the presentation everyone was given 2 CD’s and some coupons.  One of the coupons was for a camera (you enter the info on a website and they would send  a camera).  To be honest, I didn’t think anything would be sent, but I filled it out on the website anyway.

Well, it only took 2 weeks to get the camera!  That is faster than most any other promo (usually it’s 6 to 8 weeks for shipping).  It came with drivers on a CD for windows 2000/Me/XP/Vista/7 and a USB cable.  It takes 2 AAA bateries (not included)  The camera is plastic and toylike, with 16 Mb SDRAM and has a capacity of 26 pictures VGA (640*480) or 104 pictures AVGA (320*240), or double that if the pictures are compressed.  The software allows for a self-time mode (10 sec delay), video at 12 frames/sec, and a direct PC Camera mode (so you can use it as a video camera when connected to the PC via the USB cable).  The picture of the ticket at the top of this post was taken with the camera (about a foot away, cropped to show only the ticket, and using the self timer mode so I could put the camera down and step away to get a non-blurry shot).  Overall, the camera works and has software that works.

Of the 2 CD’s, I only expected a sales presentation for the boot camp.  To my surprise, one CD has the entire “Go Time” book as a pdf file.  The other CD has about 48 Kb of a Q&A pdf file and a list of lenders.  I really liked getting the Go Time, as that saved me $25 I was planning to spend for it.  The other CD confuses me – why burn a CD for a short text file or two? I’m sure it could have fit on the other CD, or sent in an e-mail to participants.

Overall, I would say Scott Yancey delivered what he promised.  Participants got a working digital camera, and a free copy of his new book.  He didn’t show up, but he didn’t promise that.  I’m really disappointed he is partnering with Dean Graziosi and is attaching his name to the whole upselling real estate scheme.