Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is the Consumer Gone?

David Dudas from EyeSpot was being interviewed this week by Amber MacArthur on the Inside the Net podcast and he said something very intriguing.

He basically said (and I paraphrase): "The consumer is gone now."

He meant that the idea of a passive consumer "consuming" your goods and services is going away, especially for companies that are largely Web-based.

Instead of viewing your customers as "consumers" you need to see them as "participants" or "collaborators."

He said this in context of his own company, EyeSpot, where people can upload, edit and view videos. So, a person who has no video editing software on their computer could upload a video taken on their camcorder, or even cell phone, and then edit it, chop out the boring scenes, add music and produce it all on the Website.

To EyeSpot, everybody is a video editor. Everybody is providing content for the EyeSpot Website. No one is just a passive observer, at least not for the long-term.

In fact, you can even take several of the existing videos on EyeSpot (there are already thousands of them) and mash them together without even providing any of your own content.

Do you think of your business this way? How can your "consumers" get out of their chairs and participate in your business, making it better than before in the process?

A blog is one way to start.

You start posting your blog entries, then you allow people to comment on those postings. The postings add to the content available on your blog, and away you go! Your customers and prospective customers are participating and adding content.

Here is a blog entry in my blog where I had some great comments from people.

You can see how this commenter not only improved my blog with additional content, but also improved my podcast by suggesting a great guest. How cool is that?

Likewise, in my podcast, several minutes of the content are user-generated in every episode. I have a "listener feedback" section where people e-mail me and make comments or ask questions. Obviously, it's not a live conversation, since podcasts are time-shifted, but it is still a great way to involve listeners and include them in the creation of the content of the podcast. Some of them say afterward "Wow, I heard my name on the podcast! Cool!" This is a similar feeling to being mentioned on the radio, it's just a little thrill that's undeniable, no matter the medium or the size of the audience. Actually, the original "participatory media" is the radio call-in show. Same thing. That's part of what makes that format so valuable.

So, is the consumer gone? Not yet, of course. We all sit passively in front of our televisions and "consume" that content, and we consume the food from the grocery store, but that relationship is changing.

It's worth thinking about how this can affect your business too. Blogs and podcasts are a great way to involve customers and prospective customers. How else??

Podcast #21 - Triple Tax Savings with your Health Savings Account (HSA)

Holy cow I've created another podcast!!

This one helps point out the many ways that a Health Savings Account (HSA) can save you money on taxes.

Also, tons and tons of news this week - I thought the links section would never end!

Click here to listen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What American Accent Do You Have?

I found this cute Website that will supposedly tell you what type of American accent you have.

Here's what it thought of me:

Your Linguistic Profile::
60% General American English
15% Dixie
10% Yankee
5% Midwestern
5% Upper Midwestern

In other words, it was completely baffled by my Canadian / Ohioan accent. Somewhere there is a server blowing smoke out the back...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Was Interviewed by the Acupuncture Association of Colorado

I was interviewed by Greg Shim of the Acupuncture Association of Colorado about my book "Health Insurance Off the Grid" last week. He is printing the interview in their newsletter next month, but for the rest of you, here's what we talked about.

I asked Greg's permission and he said it was okay to post this on my blog.

Interview with Daryl Kulak
By Greg Shim, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M.

As a member of the Insurance Committee, I was asked to find out about HSAs (Health Savings Account) and the like. My research led me to Daryl Kulak. Mr. Kulak is the President of the Simplicity Institute in Columbus, Ohio. The Simplicity Institute is a business school for the holistic healthcare community.

In reading his book, "Health Off the Grid" I was amazed at how simple it is to address all the health insurance mess, and also what an incredibly helpful tool these types of accounts could be for our practices! The following is from a series of emails.

GS: Daryl, your book addresses HSA's, flexible spending accounts, and a few other plans. Could your give us a quick overview as to what each of these are and how our patients could use them in our practices?

DK: To be quick about it - Health Savings Accounts - good; all others - bad. I know that's a bit glib, but let me explain.

First let me say I'm not a health insurance agent, so I'm speaking strictly as a fellow consumer here. I had to educate myself about my own insurance options, and in the course of that realized that I had found a great solution by combining certain things together and decided to write this book based on those ideas.

A Flexible Savings Account (FSA) is something usually set up by your employer. It is also know as a cafeteria health plan. It is a savings account, like you'd have at a bank, but it is in the company's name, not yours. That means that when you quit that job, you lose your FSA money. Even worse, most plans are "use it or lose it," which means that at the end of each year, you lose all the money that was contributed into it. Essentially you have to rush around at the end of each year trying to figure out how to spend that money on some type of healthcare. The nice thing about FSAs is that a particular employer might allow you to spend money on various types of alternative medicine, even things that are not usually covered by insurance, such as naturopathic services or hypnotherapy.

A Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) is also usually set up by your employer. It is also a savings account, and it is also in your company's name, not yours. With an HRA, an employer might let you roll over the total amount from year to year. But once you leave that company, your HRA money is gone.

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a totally different story. An HSA is something you set up for yourself. You can get an HSA if you're self-employed, an employee of a company or even unemployed. It doesn't matter. Even if an employer gives you the option of an HSA, it's still your HSA. An HSA is also a savings account, but you never lose it. You don't lose your HSA money at the end of the year. You don't lose your HSA when you leave a company. It's always with you. The money you put into an HSA is tax deductible for the year you put it in. It gains interest tax free. And when you take money out for medical expenses, you don't pay tax on it then either. I call it a "triple tax deduction."

Acupuncturists are especially well-suited for HSAs. IRS Publication 502 states that acupuncture expenses are legitimate expenses for an HSA. That means that every client you have as an acupuncturist could be paying for all your services with pre-tax dollars (out of their HSA, in other words). The way it would work is a patient would set up an HSA for themselves (and their family), they would fund it yearly (up to a certain limit) and then they could write checks from that account to pay you for the appointments. The patient is saving on taxes, and you don't have to submit any insurance paperwork, it seems like a cash transaction to the practitioner. The patient will definitely need an official receipt for their records, but that's it from your end. Easy, huh?

GS: In today's market, is $2500 still the magic number for a health insurance deductable? My family of 3 has a $6000 deductible, but then everything after that is completely covered. Since I am my family's Family Practitioner, we haven't had to use an MD for years. We currently pay $284 a month for this coverage.

DK: $2,500 is a magic number. That is when you will find that you are paying less overall (insurance premiums + cost of medical services) than if you asked for a lower deductible policy. This holds true in almost every case, except for a few exceptional states like New York and New Jersey, where their laws prevent customers from having cheaper costs for high deductible policies. Don't move to those states, Coloradans!

In Colorado, you will see that almost every policy at the $2,500 deductible is a good deal financially, even if you or your family falls sick every year! Let me say that again. You could be deathly ill every year of your life (I'm not wishing for that, of course) and you'd still be ahead with a $2,500 deductible policy, versus something lower like $500.

Having said all that, an even higher deductible is even better, as long as you don't foresee illnesses for your family. If everyone is fairly healthy, and especially if you're following good, holistic, preventive principles with your health, you should certainly choose a higher deductible like $6,000 or even higher. For our family, I've chosen $10,000. This sounds ridiculously high, but over the past 5 years, we've spent so little on Western medicine that it's been worth it. Even if we have a sick year sometime, we'll still be better off on the whole.

Daryl’s book can be purchased from his website as either a dowloadable eBook or a mailed hardcopy. I bought a copy to lend to my patients so they can learn about HSAs and healthy health insurance. I also have a person I trust that I can direct patients toward to set up low cost HSAs and high deductable insurance plans. We can now both help our patients be well AND help them save thousands of dollars every year on their health insurance. This is the kind of ethical marketing that really gets me excited about running a business!

Daryl Kulak also has a free podcast available on iTunes and at

A note on IRS Publication 502, page 15:

Nutritional Supplements
You cannot include in medical expenses the cost of nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbal supplements, “natural medicines,” etc. unless they are recommended by a medical practitioner as treatment for a specific medical condition diagnosed by a physician. Otherwise, these items are taken to maintain your ordinary good health, and are not for medical care.

I spoke with IRS employee #9310685 from Medical Deductions and with IRS employee #5903363 from the Complex Tax Department, and both of them said that if a patient comes in with a diagnosis from a physician, then all herbs, supplements, and natural medicines (such as homeopathic injections) fall under qualified medical expenses, and are therefore purchasable with a Health Savings Account. If your patient does not have a specific diagnosis, then only the acupuncture is a qualified medical expense.

The part at the end is Greg's too. It seems like the IRS has changed the nutritional supplements text in Publication 502, and in a very favorable way. Nice!

The Acupuncture Association of Colorado's Website is here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Top Ten Trends in Healthcare

My take on the top trends in healthcare today.

Top 10 Trends in Healthcare
By Daryl Kulak

America is undergoing a dramatic shift in healthcare. Actually, ten distinctly different shifts. Although the changes are unsettling, and will cause dislocations in our economy, the overall trends are positive and will help us all be healthier and wealthier when it all shakes out.

Western Medicine Costs Continue to Rise

It's hard to imagine, but the cost of going to a regular MD or hospital is going to get more and more expensive. This is not because doctors or hospitals are getting greedy, but instead because their own costs are rising every year. Malpractice insurance for risky surgical procedures, pharmaceutical drug reactions and deaths with accompanying lawsuits, complex medical equipment for diagnostic testing – everything is rising dramatically in cost. Pharmaceutical drug costs will continue to escalate also, leaving consumers holding the bag, because...

Health Insurance Opt-Outs Surge

For many years, corporations and small businesses have provided health insurance as an employee benefit. Often, employees would choose a job based on who offered the best health insurance. No longer. Small businesses have almost completely opted-out of the insurance game, and large corporations are not far behind. General Motors complains that health insurance costs them more per year than steel for their cars. In a few years, health insurance through your employer will be only a memory. Everyone will be buying health insurance the same way they buy home insurance or car insurance – independently.

Because of this shift, consumers will begin treating health insurance the same way they treat car and home insurance. Which is to say, they will treat it like INSURANCE.

Today, many Americans run to their doctors for even the smallest maladies, and they expect their health insurer should pay for everything. In fact, they're incensed when they don't. “What, you're not paying for this bottle of antibiotics for my kid's ear infection? How terrible!”

This is opposite of how we treat car insurance. Imagine expecting your insurer to pay for oil changes, car washes, pockmarks in the paint job, a broken cupholder. Can you picture it? Of course not. It would be ridiculous.

Yet, with health insurance, it's been okay. Why? Because the employer is picking up the tab. Not anymore, they're not.

As a result, Americans will pay more attention to preventive healthcare, like regular exercise, good diet and meditation, etc. They will also do more cost comparisons between all their healthcare options, including a trip to the doctor, or...

Alternative Medicine Becomes the Dominant Healthcare System in America

I feel bad calling this a future trend, since this has almost already occurred. Alternative medicine, including naturopathy, hypnotherapy, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, yoga, etc. is fast overtaking Western medicine (drugs and surgery) as the dominant healthcare system of America.

Several studies have shown that Americans spend more out-of-pocket on alternative medicine than on Western medicine. They've also shown that people are making more trips to these alternative practitioners than they are to regular MDs. These are positive developments. The downside is that people are reticent to mention their alternative therapies to their doctors, because they're afraid of disapproval by their doctor.

But the trend is clear. Alternative medicine is often less expensive (especially outside of insurance), equally effective and produces less harmful side effects, as was evidenced by the flurry of pharmaceutical drugs this past year that were removed after being prescribed to hundreds of thousands of patients.

People's trust in Western medicine is diminishing, and their relief in finding alternatives is rising.

Major institutions are now doing large numbers of studies on alternative medicines, including herbal remedies, bodywork, meditation, dietary changes and many others. Randomized, controlled studies are available on almost every type of alternative healing practice, and they typically show good results.

The rise of alternative medicine and the opting-out of employer-funded health insurance has led us inevitably to an era of...

Consumer-Driven Healthcare

People are making their own choices in healthcare and health insurance. They want to make their own decisions.

This is extremely positive. One study after another shows that hospital patients who are disruptive, picky, nosy and non-compliant are the ones who fare best with any surgery or recovery from illness. The patients who are compliant and put their fates in the hands of their doctors are the ones who fare most poorly. Taking charge of one's health is part of consumer-driven healthcare.

This term also refers to how people are deciding to use whatever treatments they think will work best, based on their own research. Fewer people simply accept their “doctor's orders” and instead they find out for themselves what is available and make informed choices. This also means they are deciding to use a different kind of health insurance, which is more compatible with their free-will healthcare style...

High-Deductible Health Insurance and Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

As corporations drop their employees' health plans, the employees are choosing to buy high-deductible health insurance policies, which are much cheaper.

In fact, a high-deductible policy ($2,500 deductible or higher) is almost always so much cheaper, that even if you had to pay the entire deductible yourself every year, you'd still save thousands of dollars. The monthly premiums are reduced MORE than the amount of the deductible.

Along with high-deductible policies, people are choosing to use the Health Savings Account (HSA), introduced in 2003. This is a tax-deductible savings account that can be used for any medical treatment (Western medicine, actually), which is basically a tax savings for everyone who buys their insurance independently.

High-deductible policies and HSAs allow people to have Western medicine waiting in the wings when they have serious health problems that require expensive drugs, tests and surgery. But until then, they are able to use alternative medicine as the best service for prevention and small day-to-day health problems.

Alternative medicine provides a “first line of defense” while Western medicine provides the expensive, dangerous, but necessary backup.

Since alternative medicine has taken such a major role in healthcare, the state and federal laws have had to adjust, which has meant...

The Rise of Health Freedom Laws

Health freedom is a term applied to a particular kind of legislative bill. It is a bill that allows alternative medical practitioners to practice their healing arts, as long as they stay out of the areas where extensive Western medical training is required:

  • performing surgery

  • prescribing pharmaceutical drugs

  • administering injections (like vaccinations)

  • knowingly contradicting an MD's orders

If alternative medical practitioners are caught doing any of these, they can be arrested for practicing medicine without a license. But otherwise, they can use any other type of healing art, including bodywork, dietary changes, movement therapies, hypnosis, etc. to help their clients.

This bill is needed in many states, because current laws state that no one can practice medicine except medical doctors, and the definition of practicing medicine is anything that helps people with their health! This means that if someone has a cold, and they go to a massage therapists who recommends echinacea, that massage therapist is breaking the law! Ridiculous? Practitioners have been shut down in many states for doing less.

Health Freedom laws are common sense. They've been passed in four states already – Minnesota, Rhode Island, California and Idaho. These states have had excellent results from these bills, including patients from neighboring states making trips to their states to seek relief from health problems. Can you say “boost to the economy?”

For more information about Health Freedom initiatives, visit the href="">National Health Freedom Website.

With Health Freedom information, and alternative medical options available, it is only natural that people turn to...

The Internet As a Healthcare Information Resource

The Internet has become the first stop for someone who has a health concern. Feeling low? Do a search on depression remedies on the Internet. Just been diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor says it's chemotherapy or die? Jump on the Internet and see what your other options are.

Of course, the Internet has its benefits and its problems. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation about healthcare on the Internet. Much of it comes from well-meaning entrepreneurs who have been sucked into a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme and are trying to pitch some health elixir or other. A second source of health misinformation comes from the Western medical establishment, who seek to discredit alternative medical therapies that could take significant revenues away from their invested therapies. A third source of misinformation comes from the anecdotes of individuals who experienced relief from one therapy or another, but who do not (and cannot) actually represent a proven cure to a particular health problem.

Even with all these caveats, the Internet's influence in healthcare decisions will gain momentum. People will understand the “good sources” and “bad sources” of information and new portals will crop up that separate the wheat from the chaff.

The reason people are turning to the Internet in such numbers is due to a lack of trust...

Distrust in Existing Medical Institutions

At one time, you could hold no position of higher trust than to be a doctor. My wife's father was a doctor in a small town in Ohio. When he died, the funeral was packed with his patients over the years. People appreciated his caring and his dedication to keeping them healthy.

Now, doctors are viewed with suspicion. Will my doctor let me die by not revealing an alternative therapy that could help me? Is my doctor getting kickbacks from the cute, young, female pharmaceutical rep who visits him twice a month?

The system has gained the pallor of corruption, even when it's not really true. Big medicine has become big business, and the number one concern is no longer the patient, it's dollars and cents.

But hospitals and doctors are not the only things that Americans distrust...

Distrust of Socialized Medicine

People in government and in society seem to feel that some brand of socialized medicine will be the magic solution for America's healthcare problems. The “single payer system” of healthcare, successful in other countries, must be implemented here, they say.

But America is a different kind of country, from its very beginnings. Americans praise the independent spirit, the entrepreneur, the underdog.

Socialized medicine will not work in America. And Americans know it. They do not want a government-run system. What is the least efficient organization you can imagine? It's the government. Do you really want a government worker making decisions for you about healthcare?

Yes, America needs to find a way to insure every single person in this country. But socialized medicine is not the cure for this illness. Having been born in Canada and living there for the first twenty-eight years of my life, I can say that Canada's socialized medicine program leaves much to be desired. It does cover every person, but in a way that benefits no one.

I understand that the person in the middle of this entire crisis, the professional who has the most to gain or lose, is the doctor, the general practitioner. They will be devastated by a socialized medicine system, and they will also be affected greatly by the other trends in this article.

Because of this, I see the emergence of a final trend...

Doctors Incorporate Alternative Medicine Into Their Practices

Doctors will have no choice but to use pieces and parts of alternative medicine in what they do day-to-day with patients. “The customer is always right,” as they say, and the customer definitely wants a choice.

Although doctors are increasingly using alternative medicine in their own practice, and hiring alternative practitioners to work in their offices, the independent alternative practitioner will still be the rule, not the exception. There are just too many alternative practitioners (massage therapists, chiropractors, yoga instructors, etc.) for doctors to absorb everyone. And people will want a choice. A Western medical experience, or perhaps an alternative medicine experience.

And a choice they will receive.

The Western medical practitioners who are clearly leading the way are nurses. Nurses are much more open to alternatives than doctors, and they are increasingly opening their own offices, as nurse-practitioners sometimes, and treating patients with a wide variety of healing methods. Patients appreciate the nurses Western medical knowledge, and also their openness to a new set of options.

Overall, the outlook for healthcare is extremely positive for everyone involved. Tremendous change, yes. But upheaval can create some wonderful new circumstances.

Daryl Kulak is the author of Health Insurance Off the Grid, a book that provides a simple, effective plan to reduce insurance costs for the self-employed and underinsured. The book puts the new Health Savings Account (HSA) together with alternative medicine to create a workable, cost-effective plan for many Americans. The book is available at the Website

Article Source:

Investing an HSA

And here's the answer! I asked how to find an HSA custodian who would allow me to invest my money however I wanted to, especially bond mutual funds or stock funds.

My new friend Steve Gorman of came through with the answer.

HSA Trustee

I'm going to give them a try right away. We're shifting our HSA investments to my wife now, so we'll just open her HSA at this Website instead of State Farm, where our health insurance policy and my HSA are. Nothing against State Farm, they're great, but they don't offer any types of investment for HSA money other than a bland savings account.

The Edmonton Oilers in Game Seven

World Cup Soccer? Phewy. Baseball? Who cares.

My hometown hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers, have just forced Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals. The team, formerly of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri - has made its way back to the finals and they're doing a magnificient job.

Too bad I can't find a TV channel down here in Ohio that has the games! I'm keeping up on the news Websites though.

Go Oilers!

A Very Useful, Fun, Free Virtual Personal Trainer

I found a great Website that acts like a personal trainer for fitness.

When you register, it asks you a bunch of questions and then sets up a training schedule for you. A very useful feature is that it shows video clips of each and every exercise, so you can make sure you're doing it right. So much easier than trying to figure out looking at a book or magazine.

Then it shuffles the exercises around each day so you never know what you're getting next. The exercise database seems to be HUGE. And there are lots of little stretches and neat exercises that I've never heard of before. Then, of course, you log what you've done and you get to see your progress.

They suggest that you'll start to see results after 15 workouts, which doesn't seem like such a long time.

I'm giving it a try. I'll let you know how it works.

You can sign up for free here. No tricks or gimmicks. They say they may add other features later that will cost money, but everything I've described is free.

The site requires Flash.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Ominous Connection Between Sugar and Cancer

Does eating meat cause cancer? Fat? Not exercising enough?

Undoubtedly, all of these play a role. But more and more in holistic circles, I'm hearing that the main factor in causing BOTH heart disease and cancer is too much refined carbohydrates.

Yes, sugar.

Here's a good article (sorry, it's kind of long) on the topic. Ask your naturopath about it.

User-Generated Healthcare News

Netscape (a division of AOL) has created a new Website where you, the user, submit stories and even vote on the stories you think are relevant.

It's pretty easy to use and they even have a health section. This could easily become the place where we can go to get the "REAL" healthcare news, rather than the constant bull of bird flu, vaccines, new drug, blah blah blah.

Check it out here. You'll need to sign up (free) and then you can submit stories yourself, vote, etc. Very cool.

Investing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

I am having a hard time find a way to invest my Health Savings Account (HSA) in something other than a savings account at 3% interest.

My strong preference would be to find an HSA that allows me to invest in a mutual fund, perhaps a bond fund or even a stock fund.

I recommend using a bond fund in my book Health Insurance Off the Grid, but the reason I personally would invest in stocks is that I don't expect to use my HSA money in the coming years. Yes, I expect to stay healthy (don't we all??) but also I want to use my own personal out-of-pocket money first before even dipping into my HSA.

To me, the HSA is first and foremost a way to save for retirement, and only if I can't afford to pay the deductible amount at some point in time, then I would use HSA money.

I guess I see my HSA as a way to reward myself and my wife for us staying healthy. If we stay healthy until retirement, our HSA will instantly turn itself into an IRA (this is true) and we'll have extra money to retire with. Maybe we'll even save that money off to the side, not use it for day-to-day expenses (we have other IRAs, savings, etc. for retirement) and then pull it out for special occasions like a trip to Antarctica or something.

Your thoughts? Anyone have good results finding a reasonable investment within the context of an HSA?

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Useful Target Heart Rate Calculator

I'm just headed out for a walk and I wanted to see if my heart rate monitor was set correctly. I found this Website to calculate the lower and upper bounds for exercising. Hmm, my monitor was set a little high. Oh well, I'm leaving it as is - motivation and all that...

By the way, for heart rate monitors, Oregon Scientific is much better than Pulsar, in my humble opinion. The Pulsar monitors use a special battery that costs a lot of money to replace.

Funny Songs about the Government

You have to listen to this set of ridiculously funny songs about the Democrats and Republicans on this Website.

They're set to familiar tunes like B-I-N-G-O, Jamaica Farewell and Strangers in the Night.

Too funny!

Money is to Liberals as Sex is to Conservatives

Does this sound like you?

SusanG, a blogger on the liberal political Website DailyKos writes a very eloquent article on how we liberals need to get over our disdain for money. Money is just a tool. Not evil, not bad, not something to be avoided or not discussed.

Read her whole article here at DailyKos.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What a Friggin' Day! I Love This Job!

I was in contact with two fantastic people yesterday. First, a guy from the Acupuncture Society of Colorado interviewed me about health insurance and holistic health. He's the head of the Society's insurance committee, and so he was googling around the Web and found my book. We did the whole interview through e-mail. He was so excited about the concepts I introduce in my book, I knew he really "got it."

Then I got a call from someone else who purchased my book recently. His name is Steve Gorman. He owns the insurance agency in California called "Alternative Health Insurance Services."

Steve was also excited about the concepts I raise in the book. And he wants to find some way we can partner. Here is a guy who has created an insurance agency dedicated to providing insurance to people who like alternative medicine. He tries to find policies that cover as much as possible (acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, etc.) and then tries to find ways to help even the out-of-pocket expenses (naturopathic, supplements, hypnotherapy, etc.). He even started a to provide them with good group benefits, but he was basically sued out of existence with that by insurance regulators. They hated what he was doing.

So here are two of the coolest people in the country and they want to talk to me! It was a great day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Podcast #20 - Quantum Touch 2

The newest podcast is now available. It's part two of my interview with Richard Gordon on a fairly new type of energy medicine called Quantum Touch. Very powerful, very easy to learn.

Click here to listen.

National City Bank Offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

It looks like the midwestern bank National City is now offering Health Savings Accounts. Great news! Banks are a perfect place for these, since it is, after all, a savings account.

I'll have to include them as a resource in the next edition of my book "Health Insurance Off the Grid." Hopefully my 3rd edition will be ready soon. (panting...out of breath...need a vacation...must write new edition...)

Teaching at the Ohio Institute of Energetic Studies

I'll be teaching at the Ohio Institute of Energetic Studies the weekend after next (Jun 23-25) which I always enjoy. This is the business section of the Registered Polarity Practitioner (RPP) curriculum that they put together. The whole curriculum is very, very comprehensive, and I'm so glad they have these days of business training included.

Too many massage therapy schools and other holistic training places don't include any business training, or its just useless stuff like "you should print business cards" and "you may need to incorporate with an LLC" - stuff like that. I think its a disservice to students when they are not taught at least something about how to put a business together conceptually and physically.

With polarity, they do a good job of this. And I'm happy to be the instructor for the Ohio Institute. They usually have 15-20 students, so it's the perfect size of group to work with.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Add This to Your List of Fake Diseases

Now we find that 16 million Americans suffer from Intermittent Explosive Disorder.


People getting angry is now a disease?

Yep! Someone is inventing diseases again. Just for the hell of it? No way. Invent a disease and then you need a drug for it. In fact, as soon as you invent a disease for an otherwise normal condition, such as kids not paying attention or jumpy legs, and now you need a DRUG.

And what's this based on? Psychiatrists asked a bunch of people if they've had more than 3 angry episodes in their lives. That's the groundbreaking study that proved that IED exists and must be treated.

Check out this article. It defines this so-called disease. Then, at the end, it recommends all the different drugs you need if you have the dreaded Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

It's a perfect plan. Too bad we noticed.

Here's the article from NewsTarget that called my attention to it. As always, Mike Adams writes his very specific criticisms of the "invent a disease" approach of Western medicine.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Alex Mandossian's 5 Reasons Every Business Should Be Podcasting

Paul Colligan and Alex Mandossian talked about five major reasons why businesses need to be doing podcasts:
  1. If the marketing message isn't portable, the marketing message is dead.
  2. A marketing plan without a podcast element is like a movie studio that refuses to distribute their movies on DVD.
  3. Our search habits are moving from Google to iTunes and Podcast Alley.
  4. Not offering portable options two years from now will be considered an insult to your customers.
  5. The customer who consumes your content on their terms is a very happy customer indeed.

To me, a podcast is a great way to market products and services to a tightly focused group of perspective customers. I love doing podcasts, and I've found that they've helped me sell books and services.

And my podcasting audience seems very happy with the results. They're learning stuff for free, I'm selling stuff, and I'm connecting with very cool guests in the process. What fun!

In Apple iWeb, Changing Names is Dangerous

I just found out a big problem with Apple's iWeb.

Well, first of all, it doesn't collect any type of statistics, so I can never know how many people are downloading my podcast.

But here's another big thing.

If you change the name of the header in your podcast, your RSS feed will break.

Here's what happens.

When you change the header - I don't know what else to call it - it's the little name above Entries and Archive on the left side of iWeb - you are changing your RSS feed.

Your RSS feed is a big long address that people use to subscribe to your podcast.

My RSS feed is:

You can see that it concatenates my .Mac user ID, the name of my podcast and then it says "Podcast" and then rss.xml.

Okay, I figured I could not change the name - Holistic Health Nation.

But I also cannot change the second part - Podcast.

You see, I now have two podcasts, and at the second level, they're both called "Podcast." This was confusing for me when I was adding content from GarageBand, because it was asking me if I wanted to add this new content to "Podcast" or "Podcast".

So I changed them to "HHN Podcast" and "UML Podcast". Smart huh? Nope. Dumb.

iWeb substituted these new names into my RSS feeds, so it broke all my RSS feeds with my users.

Luckily, I caught it before my users found out and I changed it back, which worked beautifully actually. (Yeah Apple!)

But this breaking the RSS feed is bad news.

So my advice to you is:

Don't change the name or header of your podcast - ever!!

Hope this is helpful to someone.

(Yes, I am using the latest version of iWeb.)

Click here to listen to my UML podcast "UML in Seven Minutes."

Click here to listen to my holistic health podcast "Holistic Health Nation."

Whole Foods Market Begins a Podcast

Whole Foods Market, the largest health food store in the country, has started a podcast. Their first two episodes are very interesting - Natural Meat.

I look forward to their upcoming podcasts. Wow! This could be a great source of information about the stuff they sell. One iTunes commenter asked if they would explain how you prepare some of their exotic fruits and veggies. Cool topic.

Here's the feed.

Here's a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on their podcast.

Amazing Optical Illusion of a B&W photo that colors a picture in your brain

Here's the link to the illusion.

1. Stare at the dot on the blue and yellow picture for 30 second.

2. Then after the 30 seconds, move the mouse cursor and the picture appears to be in full color, then fades to black and white again as your eyes adjust!

Utterly amazing!

And here is how it was created in Photoshop.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Hollywood and the Hackers

It seems ridiculous, but the MPAA seems to be following in the footsteps of the music industry, obsoleting itself in the process.

In this back-and-forth between the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the co-founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), I am shocked to see the same line of thinking coming from the MPAA that pushed the music industry into the bit bucket.

Here are a few gems from the MPAA guy:

you see if you don't adequately compensate the artist, the director, the creator, the actor, they won't do it in the first place so people won't get movies.

Hmm, like what happened with music? No, wait a minute, a lot of bands see free distribution of their music as a way to promote themselves. Just ask the Arctic Monkeys. Or Chance. Or Brother Love. Imagine the creativity we unleash when artists have the capability to release their music for free over the Internet.

Also interesting to me is that the people the MPAA guy mentions do not get most of the money collected for a movie. Not even close. Most of the money goes to the distributor and the production studio. Merchandisers. Why doesn't he mention those guys? This is very illustrative to me, because here are the "members" of the MPAA:
  • Buena Vista Pictures Distribution; (The Walt Disney Company)
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
  • Paramount Pictures Corporation
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.
  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
  • Universal City Studios LLLP
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

See many artists, directors, creators and actors represented in that list? I don't see one.

It is ridiculous to believe that you can give product away for free and be more successful. I mean it defies the laws of nature. Would a clothing store give all their clothes for free? Would a car dealership give all its cars for free? Of course not. If they don't make a profit in this world they're out of business. That's just the laws of human nature.

Oh really? Again, let's look at music. Music is freely available on the music sharing services. And yet iTunes sold a billion (with a "b") songs in the past year. Is that against human nature??

The clothes store and car dealership comparisons are not useful. Each of those things has a unit cost for each sale. Music and movies in digital form do not.

I can see that there will be a big problem when the big studios that the MPAA represents have to compete on a level playing field with the independent producers of movies. It's a big problem for the studios, not for us. We as consumers just get a bunch of unique content to choose from.

I really expected the MPAA to act differently than the music industry. I thought they would have learned.

Myself, I have a lot of affinity to the movie industry. I get great enjoyment from watching movies, Hollywood movies included. I love them. We hardly ever go to the theater, but we have tons of movie channels at home through DirecTV, and we watch several movies every week. I never cease to be amazed at how entertaining movies can be, even the most basic Hollywood stuff. Yes, I realize that Hollywood produces a bunch of junk too (Basic Instinct 2, Santa With Muscles, Baby Geniuses, etc.) but I cannot ignore all the great movies they've created too (Fight Club, Lord of the Rings, The Incredibles, Crash, Kill Bill, Mystic River, etc.). I could go on and on.

But just because the MPAA members produce good stuff, doesn't mean that they should have a monopoly on the content coming to us. And they won't. They can't control that. The smaller movie producers, everything down to the one guy doing a documentary, will be competing head to head with Hollywood and winning half the time. These small operations will be putting out movies on super low budgets, distributing them through the Internet, getting seen, and getting funded.

It will keep Hollywood on their toes. And they can't stop the little guys from putting stuff out. Which is killing them, I guess.

I don't have all the answers. But I wish the MPAA would learn from the mistakes of the music industry and look for ways to capitalize on the Internet as a distribution medium, and consider the possibility of putting stuff out for free.

Why not? You couldn't do any worse than the music industry!

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Naturopath Charged By Chiropractic Board Fights Back

Cynthia Rosi has written a great article on her blog "Holistic Woman" about Dan Nuzum, a naturopathic practitioner in Northwestern Ohio.

Dan Nuzum's story is pretty well known in the holistic healthcare community, but Cynthia did a number of interviews of the players involved and has some good perspectives on the issues.

Dan was charged by the Chiropractic Board a couple of years ago with practicing chiropractic without a license. They shut down his business in a day and dragged him through various legal proceedings. Eventually, Dan was vindicated, but the Chiropractic Board owed him nothing for shutting his legitimate business down for all those months.

Now Dan is suing the Chiropractic Board for his losses.

Anyway, read Cynthia's article on her blog. It's excellent.