Soholaunch Company Blog

Life Sherpa, An Insider's Guide

This is a collection of advice contributed by many different people from many different industries and walks of life. Most of this content is from random entries found on, except the first bit about "Health and the Human Body" which is from an article by Kate Dailey that I found at many years ago. I have removed and edited some of content inorder to make this article more concise. I am not suggesting that anyone follow any of the advice below, I just found this to be very interesting and thought that I would share.

Health and the Human Body

  • If your throat tickles, scratch your ear!

    When you were 9, playing your armpit was a cool trick. Now, as an adult, you can still appreciate a good body-based feat, but you're more discriminating. Take that tickle in your throat; it's not worth gagging over. Here's a better way to scratch your itch: "When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm," says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. "This spasm relieves the tickle."

  • Increase your hearing ability.

    If you're stuck chatting up a mumbler at a cocktail party, lean in with your right ear. It's better than your left at following the rapid rhythms of speech, according to researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. If, on the other hand, you're trying to identify that song playing softly in the elevator, turn your left ear toward the sound. The left ear is better at picking up music tones.

  • Lessen pain.

    German researchers have discovered that coughing during an injection can lessen the pain of the needle stick. According to Taras Usichenko, author of a study on the phenomenon, the trick causes a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.

  • Clear your stuffed nose.

    Forget Sudafed. An easier, quicker, and cheaper way to relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.

  • Reduce acid reflux at night.

    Worried those wings will repeat on you tonight? "Sleep on your left side," says Anthony A. Starpoli, M.D., a New York City gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College. Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux. The esophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than the esophagus, allowing food and stomach acid to slide up your throat. When you're on your left, the stomach is lower than the esophagus, so gravity's in your favor.

  • Cure your toothache.

    Just rub ice on the back of your hand, on the V-shaped webbed area between your thumb and index finger. A Canadian study found that this technique reduces toothache pain by as much as 50 percent compared with using no ice. The nerve pathways at the base of that V stimulate an area of the brain that blocks pain signals from the face and hands.

  • Make burns disappear.

    When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove, clean the skin and apply light pressure with the finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve your pain more quickly, Dr. DeStefano says, but since the natual method brings the burned skin back to a normal temperature, the skin is less likely to blister.

  • Stop the world from spinning

    One too many drinks left you dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance -- the cupula -- floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. "As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises," says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.

  • Stop a nosebleed

    Pinching your nose and leaning back is a great way to stop a nosebleed -- if you don't mind choking on your own O positive. A more civil approach: Put some cotton on your upper gums -- just behind that small dent below your nose -- and press against it, hard. "Most bleeds come from the front of the septum, the cartilage wall that divides the nose," says Peter Desmarais, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Entabeni Hospital, in Durban, South Africa. "Pressing here helps stop them."

  • Slow your heart rate

    Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an emergency medical- services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. It'll get your heart rate back to normal.

  • Stop a brain freeze.

    Too much Chipwich too fast will freeze the brains of lesser men. As for you, press your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, covering as much as you can. "Since the nerves in the roof of your mouth get extremely cold, your body thinks your brain is freezing, too," says Abo. "In compensating, it overheats, causing an ice-cream headache." The more pressure you apply to the roof of your mouth, the faster your headache will subside.

  • Prevent near-sightedness.

    Poor distance vision is rarely caused by genetics, says Anne Barber, O.D., an optometrist in Tacoma, Washington. "It's usually caused by near-point stress." In other words, staring at your computer screen for too long. So flex your way to 20/20 vision. Every few hours during the day, close your eyes, tense your body, take a deep breath, and, after a few seconds, release your breath and muscles at the same time. Tightening and releasing muscles such as the biceps and glutes can trick involuntary muscles -- like the eyes -- into relaxing as well.

  • Wakeup appendages that have fallen asleep.

    If your hand falls asleep while you're driving or sitting in an odd position, rock your head from side to side. It'll painlessly banish your pins and needles in less than a minute, says Dr. DeStefano. A tingly hand or arm is often the result of compression in the bundle of nerves in your neck; loosening your neck muscles releases the pressure. Compressed nerves lower in the body govern the feet, so don't let your sleeping dogs lie. Stand up and walk around.

  • Hold your breath longer

    If you're dying to retrieve that quarter from the bottom of the pool, take several short breaths first -- essentially, hyperventilate. When you're underwater, it's not a lack of oxygen that makes you desperate for a breath; it's the buildup of carbon dioxide, which makes your blood acidic, which signals your brain that somethin' ain't right. "When you hyperventilate, the influx of oxygen lowers blood acidity," says Jonathan Armbruster, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at Auburn University. "This tricks your brain into thinking it has more oxygen." It'll buy you up to 10 seconds.

  • Improve memorization

    "If you're giving a speech the next day, review it before falling asleep," says Candi Heimgartner, an instructor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho. Since most memory consolidation happens during sleep, anything you read right before bed is more likely to be encoded as long-term memory.

  • Body Language & Communication

  • If someone is telling you the truth, their palms are often open and visible somehow. If they are hiding their palms in some way, they are most likely NOT telling the truth.
  • If a persons pupils are contracting or rapidly changing as they speak, or they have some other similar micro-expression, they are most likely lying.
  • And some other thing, if you want a person to do a task for you, like move an object from a location to another, you should not point with your finger. You should be submissive. They way to do this is to point with your hand open, making the inside your palm face upwards. This will make the person feel that you are being polite, and will happily do the task right away.
  • A person pointing his foot at you is paying attention to you.
  • People grab their chins when they're making decisions.
  • In sitting situations, sitting across a corner from someone (i.e. at 90º) will let both people be more agreeable and receptive to the other's ideas than sitting across the table (face-to-face).
  • Very introverted people also often hide their palms (and fold their arms, and cross their legs) more than others. (But so do people who are cold.)
  • Food and Dining

  • If you tip the pizza guy well, he will deliver your food first.
  • Restaurants make the most money off of drinks, especially mixed drink 'specials'.
  • The best selling items will be at the top and bottom of the menu.
  • Don't get fish on Sunday or Monday from restaurant as it is usually not fresh.
  • At restaurants the "Special" of the day is usually what is left over and is going bad.
  • I have a good friend that works at Wendy's. His managers told him by wendy's-law, if someone pulls into the drive-thru saying they're not from around there, lost, and don't have any money, Wendy's will always compensate them with free food.
  • Rinse off the top of your beer and soda cans. Workers in a local alcohol distributor, I can tell you some of those cans get touched by some very dirty hands, not to mention the collection of dust, grime, and any old, spilled beer that rests in the rim. If it touches your lips or what you're consuming, wash it first.
  • From a past job: grocery stores stack product by sell date, so oldest in the front, freshest in the back. Always grab from the back.
  • Traveling

  • If you're at the airport, always offer to take bumps (if you can afford the time). Even if you aren't sure the flight is overbooked, go up to the counter, ask the people if they need anyone to take a bump, and if they do, volunteer. You will usually get comped very well for volunteering, especially if you ask. This is one of the few areas where airline reps have a lot of options; they are legally required to get everyone to their destination, and volunteering will make the gate agent's life easier (and they will reward you for doing so). First class upgrades, free ticket vouchers, etc. My family and I have been doing this for years. We were just on a trip to San Diego, and all three of us received free flights on United for taking a bump. Once, when going to Cancun, we all got upgraded to first class for the next flight.
  • Next time you lose your phone charger, don't buy another one. Go to a hotel and say you think you lost it there. It's the #1 most left behind item at hotels, so most places have a big bin filled with every phone charger imaginable.
  • Anytime that you book a hotel room through a 3rd party website, like Expedia, you are not actually guaranteed the room type that you booked. I work at a hotel, and people get screwed over if they happen to make their reservation on a night when we are sold out. We try to accommodate everyone, but we only have so many 2 Queen Non-Smoking rooms. So call ahead to be sure that your family of 5 won't be stuck in a Smoking King Jacuzzi room. Also, hotels sometimes remove the ashtrays from rooms and stick an Air-Zone in there. This makes it "non-smoking".
  • At Disneyland (or most major theme parks) Ask for single rider passes. Gets you to the front of the line. I rode California Screamin' 10 times in a half hour, there was a 90 minute line but I just kept riding and riding.
  • I worked at Budget Rentals a number of years ago, so this may have changed. When you make a reservation for x class car, it means absolutely nothing. They will not go out of their way to get you that specific size car on time unless you're renting a luxury model. If you show up and they happen to not have your class they'll do one of two things: 1. Upgrade you for free to the next larger class. This is fine, but you can fuss that you specifically requested the smaller car to save gas (due to lower MPG). You'll get a small deal, like paying the cost of the class below your original reservation. 2. The distraction method: They won't even acknowledge your class request, but instead ask "So, what car can we put you in today?" and indicate the lot, suggesting you look around. If you pick a larger class car, you'll get charged accordingly. If you pick smaller, you just "requested" that car, so they're off the hook for your reservation. Or they might ask "Is a Sebring/Spectra/whatever okay for you today?", again, without acknowledging your reservation. If you say yes, they're off the hook again. Lesson: know the classes/models and call them on it. The only other thing I can think of right now is the gas trick. When I was working there, the policy was that all rentals come ready with a full tank of gas. If the car happened to not be full (lazy employees/busy day), the employee would just say "so, the meter's at 3/4 tank, just bring it back at the same." This sucks, because you can't really estimate distance against the meter level, so you'll likely come back with too much gas, which they keep. Or, you come in under, which they charge you ridiculous rates to refill. Or, you drive around the block wasting gas and time to spite them 'cause your meter's too high. Lesson: always request them to fill up the tank and just wait the five/ten minutes.
  • Retail

  • I worked at an engine manufacturing plant for a while. Don't ever buy a car on its very first generation. Most of the time, the tech is just pushed out the door and used to test it in the field so that the second gen can be much, much more stable.
  • I work at a car dealership, and I'm always amazed at how easy it is to get a rock bottom price on a car, especially new. Once you've chosen the car you want, go inside the building and let the salesman show you his offer. Tell them you're going to go to another dealership (preferably the same size or bigger) and see if you can get a better offer. The next price you get will likely be unbeatable. Follow through anyway just to be safe. With used cars, you will want to find two nearly identical cars at different dealerships. Follow the process above, though you might have to go back and forth a few times. If you don't give your last name or phone number, they'll feel extra compelled to give you a reason to come back. Dealerships would rather have you be their customer than someone else's, no matter how little they make on the deal. Also, you'll be better off doing business in person. All in all, this should only take a day.
  • An industry pricing standard for many retailers: xx.95 is regular price xx.99 is the sale xx.97 is last call clearance before it is sent to liquidators.
  • When prompted with a promo code when checking out online, try FREESHIP. It worked the one time I tried it. ;-)
  • Don't buy from credit jewelers or any jewelry store in the mall, like Zales or Daniel's. They are rip-offs. They peg you as a sucker just for walking in the door. They know that anyone with any knowledge of gold or diamonds wouldn't bother with them. Independent jewelry stores might seem more expensive, but you are not getting crap for your money. Some even make up their own diamond grading systems just to keep you fooled. You can get the same quality for half to a third of the price at your local pawn shop. Also, most cash for gold places are a big rip-off. Find a local smelter and sell them your scrap gold. You will get about 98% of whatever the current spot gold price is. Furthermore, small diamonds can cost a fortune at the jewelry store, but on the scrap market, they only fetch $20 - $60 per carat. Chances are your local pawnbroker is scrapping more than they sell retail. Use this to your advantage to haggle the price down from $500+ per carat to $300 per carat (for small stones) The pawnshop is also a great place to get a loose diamond cheap for a piece that is missing a stone.
  • If you want to buy anything expensive from Apple on their website you can save 15-20% . Log in/create an account, go to the configurator and spec out what you want, then go to checkout, but do not buy. Do nothing else for about 7-10 days. You should then get a call from Apple offering a deal if you buy then and there. Worked for my iMac.
  • I used to work at a European office of a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer. Whenever we got back 'faulty' hardware (mostly motherboards) that tested okay in our default hardware tests, we marked the serial-label with a little green dot. Only after receiving a hardware part that -already- had a little dot near the serial number, we would send it back to Taiwan for inspection. In other cases we would just re-package and sell the part to another customer. In all fairness, this works because in 90% of cases the errors people get are due to software. I do however try to check this first when I buy a motherboard or other hardware.
  • Real Estate

  • You totally don't need a realtor. You just need research, and there are plenty of realtors that will do free appraisals and give you free market statistics without signing.
  • If go to a realtor and they tell you a price lower than you'd expect for your home, they're probably right. Realtors invest a lot of time, energy and money into successfully marketing a home. They make commission. Therefore they want your home to sell for a lot. If you go to a second realtor and he laughs and says he can sell your home for a lot more, run away. Your home price is determined by the market. This is a relatively simple process. A realtor who gives you a much higher price than his competition is counting on the off, off chance it'll sell for it and they'll get a bigger cut. Sticking it to the competition doesn't hurt, either. This is the telltale sign of an amateur realtor.
  • Want to determine how much your home is worth? Easy. Ask a realtor for access to the MLS. This stands for Multiple Listing Service. It's a database that every piece of property in your region will be entered into. Most realtors pay for client friendly feeds from this database for their buyers to look through. Pull up all the homes for sale in your zip code. Knock out everything that doesn't match your home style (Cape, New Englander, Colonial, Split Entry, Ranch, Raised Ranch, etc) Grab ten properties whose square footage roughly equal your own. Weed out bank owned properties, homes that "need TLC" and anything with the word "short sale" in it. You should have 3 - 5 now. Undercut the lowest by $3,000. Ta-da. I do this 5 - 20 times a week.
  • Many realtors are snakes. If you find one who seems human, look harder. Still human? Look harder. Still human? Hold on for dear life, you found something more valuable than gold.
  • Customer Service

  • Pressing zero, mashing keys, or even just cursing a lot will usually skip most automated phone systems and take you directly to an operator.
  • Be nice. This isn't self-serving. When you're cool to a customer service person, you're probably going to be the only nice person they talk to all week. In return, they are far more likely to do what you want.
  • There are good and bad people at any job. If you call customer service anywhere, and the person is rude immediately, or didactic, or unreasonable, hang up and call back. Don't say "I'm going to call back and talk to someone else, " Say: "click". I can not stress this enough. 25 minutes on 4 calls where you get what you want beats 45 minutes on one call getting nothing.
  • Safety & Emergencies

  • I'm a 911 operator on the graveyard shift. The very first thing you should do to ensure your safety—especially in life-threatening situations—is to state your location. Cell phone triangulation is imperfect, and sometimes landline info is out of date. The moment an operator has an address or intersection, the police can be dispatched.
  • According to police yelling "Fire" is the best way to get help in emergency situations even if the situation is not fire related. People are more likely to come to the aid of a fire than anything else.
  • If you're in an auto accident and it's the other person's fault, if on the police report it says you're injured in any way, the insurance company will bend over backwards to make you happy. I'm not suggesting anyone lie. I'm simply saying, the insurance company will move heaven and earth to get your car's damage fixed fast, and do whatever they can to make you happy, if the report says "accident with injury."
  • A couple standard size band-aids fit very nicely into the bills portion of a wallet. I have used these on a variety of occasions.