Winter deceives many people because they wrongly figure that nothing much is happening since everything looks dead. Not so. While the trees and ground and plants rest, healing and chemical reactions ready the flora for spring.
Likewise, people often figure physical rest as a time when nothing is happening. Far from it! The body is busy repairing, healing, and rebuilding. We all need rest to go do our best work.
Do you rest? How can you think without taking time to do so? How do you keep the big picture when lost in the details?
Resting is soul-satisfying work and work well-worth doing.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Winter deceives many people because they wrongly figure that nothing much is happening since everything looks dead. Not so. While the trees and ground and plants rest, healing and chemical reactions ready the flora for spring.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Yesterday, I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science where the Princess Diana exhibit showed jewelry, dresses, some video clips, her wedding dress and other effects. While not a huge fan, more just fascinated generally at the spectacle of it all, it was interesting.
She died at 36 years old. It took a split-second car crash to snuff out her life.
How many of us live life like it's going to last forever and keep putting off what we'd love to do or experience or be out of fear of something? Wasted energy. Life is short for the longest-lived among us.
Do what you love or do what you do for love. Either way, infuse your life with meaning. Don't do what you do 'cause you fear failure or loss or mistakes or disapproval.
Life is short. Live a life of meaning: joy and peace will follow.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 1:05 AM
MaxedOutMama wrote that she felt that Christmas mass services felt "like joy distilled...into purpose". Meanwhile, earlier this year, Peggy Noonan caused quite a storm with her editorial saying that the elites were out to lunch and "giving up".
Ever feel like you're in a pressure cooker and the temperature just got turned up? That, to me, is 2005. So many majorly, desperately important decisions were made that it is almost impossible to comprehend them all. Some decisions have been driven by need, some by circumstances, but all big.
For example, we now have a new Supreme Court Chief Justice. Who is he and what will he be like? Another Judge, Judge Alito, is in the works. The liberals will fight this nomination. Hard. Another big decision.
Lot's happened to us that made the world react:
Tsunamis in Indonesia, earthquakes in Pakistan, floods in China and New Jersey, hurricanes blew through New Orleans, southeast Texas, various Carribean islands and the Yucatan peninsula.
Peaceful revolutions in multiple countries: the Orange revolution, Syria booted from Lebanon, and more.
Truly, looking at 2005, takes one's breath away. This year, Americans gave more money charitably than ever in history. We are a truly blessed nation and generous.
And still, the resources stretch is being felt as communities try to absorb a primarily welfare-dependent group of displaced flood victims. In addition, we watch huge American institutions like General Motors contemplate a future.
I wonder at a country with few plants making things and all industrialization, or a bunch of it, going overseas. What will all those guys with little more than high school educations do to support families? While the unions insist on shooting themselves in the foot as evidenced by the NY transit strike making them seem quaint old out-dated institutions, they used to be a vehicle to self-respect. No more.
Oil is sky-high and life is good in Houston. Business is building but subtly better than a few years ago. Have people learned to be more circumspect when good times roll?
Do people feel, like me, absolutely disgusted and tired of the insistence by Hollywood types to
poke fun at average, hard-working families headed by a strong, happily married couple? The latest condescension was Dukes of Hazzard. Yup, that movie captured the typical Red-Stater all right. Moonshine and shotguns and rebel flags sum up a typical day in most of Texas.
The ideological divide this country experiences won't go away soon. In some ways it is smaller than would appear at first glance, most people form pretty reasoned opinions in nuanced situations. But when pushed, people want a hard line drawn--let tough rules be bent. Throwing out all the rules breeds chaos. Society doesn't work well in gray zones.
2005: A year of decisions. France burning. Netherlands killing. Australia rioting. Poland holding. China practicing. Russia poaching. Canada roiling. Mexico sneaking. Germany electing. U.N. corrupting. Africa dying. South Korea cloning--or not.
The U.S. and Britain continue to fight an enemy akin to the Donkey Kong arcade game. Another head keeps popping up. That doesn't mean the fight is lost. On the contrary, strides are being made. But will they hold? We'll see.
2006 will be a year of more decisions. What is a city worth? What is a country worth? What is a life worth? What is a job worth? Are there any scientific limits?
Wisdom. We all need wisdom. Both personally and for our leaders. Since it seems in such short supply especially from self-indulgent leaders, prayer is always a safe answer.
May 2006 be filled with wise answers to tough questions.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 12:15 AM
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpseBut Coldplay's album, unlike Pink Floyd's The Wall, is actually much more hopeful with more positive lyrics. I think that marriage and children are wearing well on Chris Martin. He hasn't lost his overriding sadness. And, okay, maybe his lyrics aren't so much hopeful as confused:
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown, the dream is gone
I have become comfortably numb
I'm diving off the deep end
You become my best friend
I wanna love you
But I don't know if I can
I know something is broken
And I'm trying to fix it
Trying to repair it
Any way I can
Btw, the I-Pod headphones deliver great sound for the $30 they cost. The whole thing amazes me. Everyone at the house wants to use it (these are 6 and 8 year olds vying with Dr. Dad). Need a stereo port thingymabob so we can all enjoy it.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 11:53 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
Everyone needs a mental break to stay sharp when working. For years, we didn't heed our own advice.
Reasons to take a break:
- Fresh eyes for old problems
- Physical rejuvination
- Recharge doing a favorite activity
- Time spent with family and friends
- Learn something new outside of industry
- Reflect on past year and decide changes
- Be mindful about what you want for next months, years, decades
2005 was, in my view, the fastest year I have ever lived through. 2006 looks to be even faster. A concerted effort must be made to purposely slow down and take stock so you can spend your energy doing what you want to do...not just have to do.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 9:38 AM
For those who forgot, there is big news this Christmas of 2005: The United States of America is currently at war.
More big news: And the U.S. spys on them! Deep breath. They spy on them even if they live in the U.S. and exploit our warm, open welcome to people from everywhere!
Good grief! What will we find out next? I hear that our soldier's guns are loaded with real ammunition and sometimes kill people in Iraq, sometimes even innocent people.
Here's how much traction the NYTs article aiming to undermine their own country's efforts will get: zero. In fact, I hope they keep it up. I hope liberals everywhere squeal like newborn piglets about the "due process" rights of enemies within our gates. Where is Cindy Sheehan? She should be all over this! Let the woman's voice be heard for heaven's sake.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 12:07 AM
For those who think the Drs. Clouthier are insane for living in ewwww, Houston, Texas. I'd like to remind said people why we live here:
Weather. Today High of 72 / Low 45 Clear, Sunny, Gorgeous
We were at the park with scores of other people frolicking in the sunshine, playing catch and soccer and building sand castles and watching people windsail on the lake and swinging and playing on the jungle gym. It was horrible. Just terrible. Awful.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 12:02 AM
Friday, December 23, 2005
Hollywood suffers. It's hard to get weepy when they put out such mindless, violent, negative ney-bob stuff. What do they expect?
Will King Kong save this sad sack bunch? The short answer: no. That's not to say the movie isn't worth going to, because it's great.
King Kong soars in a majestic, 40s-era Humphry Bogart kinda-way. In fact, when Director Peter Jackson closes in on Anne Darrow's (Naomi Watts) tear-filled eyes my mind wandered back to Casablanca and Ingrid Bergman staring up into her soulmate's eyes, except this time it is a monster gorilla instead of a barkeep.
The camera work, with mega-tight close-ups, are all the more breathtaking when the viewer stops to think about the fact that most of what she is watching on the film is computer generated. Not only do the eyes of man and beast reveal character, they reveal unbelievable advances in the special effects field. George Lucas needs to move over, Peter Jackson is King of CG.
But here is where I have a bone to pick with my dear Mr. Jackson. Sometimes the extravagent effects sequences slowed down the action. This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. The thought actually passed through my mind (and this could only happen in Mr. Jackson's films so this might be pickier than the film deserves), "Okay, okay, the bugs are bad. Where is King Kong?"
This Kong is set in both New York City during the depression and on King Kong's home, Skull Island--which is somewhere out there in the fog. Ms. Darrow, a vaudvillian actor needing a job and without a single soul in the world to rely on during tough times, finds herself employed by director Carl Denhim (Jack Black) and on the ship to shoot the movie with her favorite playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrian Brody).
Adrian Brody, Naomi Watts and Andy Serkis who plays King Kong brought depth to what could have turned into a fluffy effects film. Mr. Brody conveyed humor, strength, courage and compassion while swinging from tree-tops and writing in the bowels of the boat where he found himself stuck. Andy Serkis needs an Academy Award category all to himself. Naomi Watts needs mood enhancers, her Anne Darrow reads so believably alone yet hopeful. When Carl says to her, "You have to play the part, you're the saddest girl I ever met", I wondered if Ms. Watts truly felt that sad in her life. She has me believing.
Fortunately for me and the reset of the audience, my sister joined us to watch. She screams and oohs and ahhs in all the right places and caused more than a few people close to us to leave their seats by going airborn in fright. She wasn't alone in her screeches of horror, however. The movie boast plenty of heart-stopping moments. Huge T-Rexes, every kind of creeping critter and ground shaking approaches designed to scare you into eye coverage. It works.
One scene, that felt long in a good way comes near the end of the flick. King Kong discovers an iced pond. His shared delight with Anne lights up the screen in childish wonder. Harkening back to earlier in the film where Anne must literally dance for her life, Jackson captures the enigmatic nature of friendship and the kizmet when two people truly share their hearts.
King Kong references so many movies they literally leapt at me from the screen: Casablanca, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Master and Commander, and just about all the WWII movies you've ever seen. I get the feeling Peter Jackson thinks, "Man, I liked that film but it should have been done this way." Most of the time, his way is definitely better.
You'll like this movie. It's intense though. Kids under 12-13 might truly be freaked out. Big kids might be, too. Just leave your phobias at home. Mr. Jackson exploits nearly every one.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 12:14 AM
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A friend believes that union bosses, and it doesn't matter the union, are notoriously short-sighted. Their aims are measured in the years and not in the much bigger long-term picture.
Remember the conversation the Caddy Manager had with the caddies in the movie Caddie Shack?
"If you guys want to be replaced by golf carts, people, keep it up!" And his rant continued, "What this is, is poor caddying! Poor caddying!"
The union guys and those people, whose interests they purport to represent, don't seem aware of these two little recent developments: outsourcing and technology.
In the big picture, haggling over when retirement kicks in becomes irrelevent when there is no job to retire from. No job. No retirement. Hello?
If the good people of New York get angry enough, a proposal pointing to the success France (and the people love citing a French success) has had automating their train service will make its way to the Governor's desk if he doesn't come up with it himself.
Growing up in a union state, I could never understand why unions were so determined to shoot themselves in the foot. They had good jobs, but never seemed to understand the greater global market. Overreaching got their hands or whole arms lopped off more often than not. They ignored the bleeders and blundered on until all that was left was a very verbal, protesting bloody mass of flesh.
Underneath all this dispute is a concept I'll blog about soon: energy exchange.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 8:43 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Here is a link to Time's pictures of the year picked by YOU the reader.
Here is a link to Time's pictures of the year picked by the Editors.
Do you notice a difference? One of my favorite quotes is "The eyes bring to seeing what they want to see" by Shelley.
The people's choice? Humor, Love even to death, courage in the worst conditions, honoring triumph, the symbolism of soaring, remembering victory, more animal fun, God's light show,
and star bursts.
The editor's choice? Pakistan earthquake heartache, NOLA flood heartache, weird confession picture, big justice with little Justice Roberts, legless Army dude looking at his crotch, exploit the loss and grief of parents losing a child (to an unjust war), backwards burka ladies voting, ethereal picture of people wading in water in India (good pic actually), cool Saturn moon shot, goodly looking Muslim, the religion of peace, man (btw, aren't dove's a Christian religious symbol?) with flocks of doves.
A picture is worth a thousand words--almost every single one political.
What's your choice? It seems to be between hope and futility.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:29 PM
Does anyone need proof that John McCain is an opportunistic boob? Here's some.
It reminds me of the conversation a lawyer friend always had with his far more intelligent wife. She would criticize him. He would protest. She would say, "Don't be so defensive!"
Falling into the trap, he would say, "I'M NOT being defensive." (Which is in itself defensive. Get it?)
That's like his Mr. Morality proclaiming, "Torture is BAD, bad, bad. Our troops should never do it!!" You can almost see his jowels shake all righteously indignant.
- Who is saying torture is good, stupid head?
- Who is saying our troops are torturing people? Provide proof and it better be better than some doofus on a dog chain or false-claims of Koran flushing (who, by the way, gives a crap about that? Use it for toilet paper if it gets one of those scum-bags to cough up a murderous plot.)
NO ONE (with a fully functioning frontal lobe) IS SAYING THIS YOU CRAZY, SELF-SERVING LOON!
But regular idiots listen to the congressman and his weasily followers pontificate about torture being horrible and awful and wrong, OH MY! (Beheading innocent people is jim-dandy-o, though, 'cause they're just uncivilized bruts who have been driven to murdering with butter knives by Western oppression, see?) and they believe all wide-eyed and head-nodding.
And now, BIG NEWS! Eminem and Dr. Dre's music is being used to TORTURE terrorists. Broad use for the term Torture don't you think? But that's just the problem with stupid legislation like banning "torture"--whatever that is. Listening to Daniel Shore drone on during his NPR essays is torture to me but music in the ears of many of my dear readers, no doubt.
It is times like this when representative democracies are worse than dictatorships. At least with a dictator you can focus your irritation. But when a Senator with the I.Q. of a lamp-post cynically uses his hard time in a Viet-Cong TORTURE camp, comes up with a law that makes half the teenagers in America torturers (their parents must suffer this, remember) and have the weenie Senate atta-boys him 'cause "he might be the next president" or "John McCain is the Maverick Moderate and I might need his vote on my pork-barrel legislation and he scares me when he's mad--that weird-looking grimace and lurchy shoulder and all" (big breath, that was quite a run-on), I want to scream. Primally.
Get a backbone you ninny-headed nincompoops! John McCain looks mean, but his day in the sun is passed. He only has power because you give it to him. He will never win the presidency EVER, ever, ever! Humor him and then vote against his self-aggrandizing, reckless law. Please.
Right now, reading the news is torture. And it's all John McCain's fault. Let's string him up.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 8:10 PM
Bin Laden sounds like a spoilt middle-class brat sticking two fingers up at his family and former friends (he was once close to various Saudi rulers) for getting all money-obsessed, dude. In fact, that's exactly what he is: the son of a Saudi billionaire who in the 1970s made a fortune from running one of daddy's construction firms and drove a white Chrysler, but then went all religious and decided that capitalism is not very nice. If he'd been born in the Home Counties instead of Riyadh, he would probably have been one of those Eton-educated types who turn their backs on privilege and piss off their parents by becoming smelly hippies who smash up McDonald's.
Sounds right to me.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 7:46 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Kroger (or K Rodger as one friend called it for a year before I figured it out) is not doing well. Oh yes, the stock has been up some since July (when all grocery stocks went up because of timely hurricanes--untimely for those who experienced them, but good for business nonetheless), but it is still going down.
Why will Kroger join Albertsons and Randalls flopping around on the deck of the grocery shopping vessel hoping by some grace of God that it will flop into the money ocean, but instead die a slow, painful oxygen-deprived death? Bad products? Maybe, the produce at Randalls sucketh. High prices? Yes. Albertsons and Randalls especially seem to take perverse pleasure in picking needful products and adding a dollar just for fun. How about those stupid shopping tags you have to scan in order to get the "member" price which is just what the product should be priced at anyway? Yes, yes and more yeses. Those things irritate the daylights out of me. They are coercive and invasive. How about union workers verses market-driven wage earners? Very possibly maybe, but not for reasons that you might think. What about the shopping experience itself? Alberston's: ho hum. Randalls: patrician and byzantine. Kroger's: good, but flat.
The traditional grocers have been troubled for some time now thanks to price, efficiency and supply chain pressure by Wal-Mart. But that's not why these other stores will go out of business. For ten bucks, I'd rather not shop in a store that barely contains chaos, sports dead-head checkers or worse, a computer scanner that is never right. Nope, sad to say, Kroger's, my personal grocer for the last eight years just lost a customer to H.E.B.--not Wal-Mart. I finally gave in...
Kroger's has something, one thing, that kept me coming back especially for the last three years: Hugslie Land. A woman there, Sharie we'll call her, is fantastic. A former Montessori teacher, she runs the child-care area awesome. Activities for the season, decorations, cleanliness and child-centeredness while I mosey around the store to shop and linger just a little too long in the magazine isle. At any moment, I can look up to the monitor and wonder of wonders monitor my kids.
That whole wonderful experience (shopping kids-free) kept me loyal and outweighed the slow, miserable checkers, the apathetic baggers and the unresponsive responses to food item requests. Let's see, I ask for a high-end organic cheese where their margin has to be at least 35% and they can't seem to find a way to get the product on the shelves because the department manager has no control--it has to go through the buyer, don't you know. And then, and then, after years, I have to scan my Kroger Card in order to get prices I should get anyway!
So, last week, because it was on the way home, of course, and because only one mini-Clouthier accompanied me, I slunk into the HEB Central Market. It was busy. The entry into the store is an annoying snaking curve through the produce department--certainly not customer centered but no question bottom-line centered. When I get pooped out of the end, hello! A charismatic chef sits four feet up on a pedastal wielding knives like a Ginsu salesman, chopping away at what will be dinner tonight for all of us if we buy the conveniently placed ingredients within reach. Take a hard right and you see the deli stacked ten deep of people willing to pay the $8.50 a pound for lunch meat. I pass the chatty chef and go straight (around the back of the store for health, remember people).
I need chicken. Ho, what is this? The chicken is exactly half price for the free-range stuff that the fam must eat. The organic chicken costs about what the free-range stuff costs at Kroger's. Uh oh. This might be worth enduring the snake for. Then more organic product: every thing I usually buy in huge quantities and better prices. Organic yogurt exactly 50% less than at Kroger's. Uh oh, again.
The lanes, alas, are narrow. The store is lit weird--softer, more home-like lighting that's nice but casts shadows on everything making it difficult to see. But then, eggs! Cheap, organic eggs.
A bottleneck near the wine and flowers appropriately enough, is the last obstacle one must maneuver his cart through to struggle to the myriad check out lanes slumped, fatigued from consumer battle. And then a thing happens that hasn't happened at Kroger in years, the checker smiles! An open lane too!
"Come on down, ma'am", she encourages as she scrub, scrub, scrubs her assembly-line. She walks around the lane, grabs my basket, and puts my stuff on the lane herself!
Magically, a cheerful young man efficiently and logically loads my bags. My socially-conscious side appreciates Kroger's for hiring mentally challenged baggers. It's great that they have jobs, but that self-satisfaction evaporates 549 bags later at home. A whole acres of plastic trees were killed to bag each item in my over-stuffed basket individually. That's just wrong and almost cancels out the goodness.
While HEB buzzed energetically, Kroger goes through the motions. It's got to be, in part, unionization. At my bi-weekly jaunts to Krogers, I can't even count the number of times I've heard the checkers yelling to each other about their breaks, their hours and "when they get off". In fact, more than a couple times I've found myself encouraging them to buck up, quittin' time is coming soon.
THEY ARE CHECKERS, for heavens sake! What is so all-fired difficult with moving your arm back and forth and scanning? They don't even have to engage their frontal lobes to calculate change anymore.
The week before Thanksgiving, the checker was gloating about her 40 hour week. "I'm working Thanksgiving.. all day untl four," said she.
"Do you get overtime?" I ask.
"Holiday pay AND overtime," she grins.
"What's that," I say, "like $30 an hour?"
"Yup!" She enthusiastically says, "Maybe more!"
Thirty bucks an hour to wear a surly look, move slow and act put upon. Quite the gig.
Kroger feels more like walking into the DMV or Post Office. Entitlement hangs rank in the air.
Push my break back five minutes to help with the heavy load of customers? I should think not! My break is at 4:05 by-gum and at 4:05 I take my break even if the Archangel Gabriel needs fabric softener for a laundry emergency.
It isn't any one thing, but put together, Kroger has lost its appeal. That's too bad too. It's store design and produce seem great. I like the butcher there. And then there's Shari.
But it's over. The lack of a genuine smile just might have been the proverbial straw. Can management change that?
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 8:40 PM
A classic Cinderalla story, Mr. Dr. and I have been the persecuted step-children at the Hold "Em table. Milk money taken from us by bullies weilding face cards, leaving us to shrink back home heads hung low in shame and degradation.
We actually just broke even if you average last week's trouncing with this week's triumph. It's a start.
Can the Clouthier contingent capitalize on new momentum? Stay tuned.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:28 AM
Friday, December 16, 2005
How did Mona Lisa feel? According to software, 83% happy and 9% disgusted.
What will this software be used for, anyway? Mapping a person's attitude at work? Objectively judging someone's emotional experience in a store? Decoding a terrorists face when boarding a plane? (A leer of contempt is an emotional tipoff for bombers, I read somewhere. It also indicates over 97% of the time a marriage's demise.)
Hmmm, imagine a word association test as customer service surveys:
- Think of Dr. Clouthier's patient care. Snap!
- Think of Dr. Clouthier's reception area. Snap!
- Imagine the amount of waiting time before treatment. Snap!
- Imagine how long you spend with the doctor. Snap!
- Think about your typical visit fee. Snap!
- Think about your interaction with the assistant. Snap!
- 90% of your sample, Dr. Clouthier, express happiness as their 76% dominant emotion when it comes to patient care
- 10% of your sample, express anger as the 95% dominant emotion
What do you think about that? Would people be willing to participate if the study was blinded? Would the recipient of the feedback value it?
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:27 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Sometimes I harken back to the good old days with misty-eyed nostolgia for what could still be. For example, why did we ever get rid of the Pony Express? No one has that much to say that is so insightful that it can't wait a month or two to say it. In fact, all the blabbering dullards with cell phones perpetually plastered to their auricular orifices would have to pause and consider the price of expressing every stupid thought that pops into their heads with The Pony Express.
Along the same lines of sentimentality, who decided that it was a good idea for married couples to share a bedroom, a bed and a bathroom? I mean, isn't enough that one must live F-O-R-E-V-E-R with the same person, watch them grow old and pretend not to see said person clipping his or her toenails for eternity?
Ahhhh, but that last one, could be avoided if only....
The list of inconveniences regarding too much personal space sharing is long:
- One person wants to read late, the light is on, the other person lays irritated as heck
- One person wants to eat pork and beans breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the poor spouse must endure spontaneous combustuous eruptions all night long
- One spouse received the genetic misfortune of a floppy soft palate that flaps and causes window-rattling snores, the other spouse must suck it up for love
- One spouse gets home late from work and makes more noise than a bull moose in mating season trying to get to the closet in the dark
- One spouse experiences restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, adenoid clearings and the other spouse must feel and hear it all
- One spouse thinks that "putting away" clothes means dropping it on the floor, the bed, and rarely the hamper
- One spouse unwinds to the TV the other spouse believes TV is of the devil
Separate sleeping, dressing and hygiene quarters solves soooo many problems. You want your laundry done? Do it. You want a clean bathroom? Clean it. You want to stay up 'til 2 a.m.? Fine, disrupt your own sleep. You want to fart a blue streak? You smell it.
So many romantics (most with secretly crappy marriages, I'll venture to guess) will wax elephant about cuddling, snuggling, and intimacy. Pish posh! Canoodling ends precisely two minutes after the dirty deed is done and lasts for two minutes before the hubby "feels out" if "it" is going to happen. If it's a negatory, guess what? All coziness ends and snoring commences.
Conjugal visits can be arranged. Conversational interludes can be scheduled into Blackberries.
In the olden days, marriage was a contract that included fidiciary duty and conjugal dues. Friendship was a plus. Companionship a bonus. Love a blessing.
And even if you had all that, you still didn't have to share your bed without an invitation, your bedroom without a knock on the door, and good heavens...never your bathroom.
Futurist Faith Popcorn predicted "nesting" (staying instead of going out), I predict married couples cohabitating independently. (And happier, too.)
Oh, come on! It already happens anyway: parents split up for baby care so at least someone gets sleep, menopausal women flash hot and cold and need their own comfort zone, gadget-addicted men fall asleep in the barcolounger or in the guest bedroom.
Why not bring married people out of the closet, er bedroom? Imagine a world where there are two individually decorated master bedrooms joined by a sitting room where couples may converse before retiring to their own spaces for peaceful slumber? It's going that way with his and hers closets, his and her sleep numbers, and more recently his and her bathrooms and now with both husband and wife working, his and her offices.
Let's go the logical next step: Sleep in peace in his or her bedrooms. Adorn your room your way. Sleep when you want. Share only what can't be had alone and keep your space...your own.
Most of us grow up sharing a bedroom with a noisy, smelly sister or brother, graduate to bothersome college roommates and long for the day when we have our own space. Then we get married and jump right back into the offending situation. Why? Because of cultural norms.
Times change. Cultures advance. Sometimes cultures slip up. One bedroom for two grown adults just may be one advance too many. What's old is new again! Sleep in your own bedroom and be on the cutting edge of a new revolution.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 11:35 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
If it weren't for blogs, no one would know about the attempted assasination of President Bush.
Here's a moral difference for the Lefties who loathe everything this President stands for: while Bill Clinton brought the country to new lows in so many ways, an attempt on his life during his term or even today would enrage me. Why? I disagree with his politics and most of what he stands for.
But he represents America, for better or worse, as a former leader and living ex-President. His murder would be symbolic against our country's sovereignty. Anyone who even plotted to kill him should be strung up no questions asked.
See? Many liberals today would take great glee in the demise of our current President even if it meant taking them down the swirling spiral, too. Idiots.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:52 PM
The thought that thousands of formerly oppressed people will freely exert self-determination brings tears to my eyes tonight. It may be romantic, idealistic, but I can't help it. I so want these people to succeed at bringing peace and order to a country that has known only war and deprivation in modern times.
Neighboring countries watch Iraq with mixed emotion, no doubt. Tyrants, despots and the ruling religious zealots would love nothing more for Iraq to disintegrate into sectarian violence. While the average men and women most likely secretly root for their neighbors. If it can happen there....
Why not here? Why not?
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:19 PM
The Mr. Dr. handed me a letter from a frequent flier club saying that in 30 days my points would be lost, if not used. Since they didn't add up to much, they sent along a list of magazines so that my company loyalty counted for something.
Being a slave to shelter magazines, I decided to venture into exotic periodical lands. One such choice was Harper's Bazaar. It has been a good fifteen years since any spare time or money has been spent on fashion magazines. Why not a freebie?
Harper's has a method to their fashion madness each month, I've noticed.
- Celebrity Cover airbrushed to perfection
- Fabulous for all ages (famous people of all ages looking fab)
- Pictures of Unwearable (for normal people) fashion
- Advertising for ridiculously expensive jewelry and make-up
- Glossy spread on cover celebrity imparting zero insight into vapid psyches
- End with "What's IN, What's OUT"
Men getting plastic surgery
Pre-pubescent girls who weigh fifty pounds
Plastic surgery, I've decided is a horrible solution almost every time. It is heinous on men. Exhibit A--Jerry Jones. Exhibit B--Karl Lagerfeld. Exhibit C--Burt Reynolds.
Not having cable, much popular culture eludes me. But even Paris Hilton and the now anorexic Nicole Ritchie have penetrated my EST thanks to my nail guy who tapes all shows with said delightful ladies. Thinking that their tiny, boney arms were aberrations, it came as a shock to see skeletons, I mean girls, who were younger and so emaciated that they looked like starved refugees. Horrible! Kate Moss looks positively healthy and wholesome compared to the new models. Watch out Kate! Holograms are the new "next".
Finally, in Bazaar, the "Wedding of the Year", took the stage. Another skeletal woman, Delphine Arnault (keep scrolling down at that link, she's the skinny one in the shimmery silver confection on the right. Scroll down further and you see what old, rich people with too much plastic surgery look like. I love NYC!) married Alessandro Vallarino Gancia in the "famous Chateau d'Yqem in Bordeaux! It is about time that chateau gets some decent use.
The sheer emptiness of it all shocks me. The last time this feeling whooshed through me was at the gambling pit of The Mirage in Las Vegas watching people throw thousands of dollars away within minutes.
Men, in contrast, read mind junk food like Esquire. Funnily enough, the same models prance through those pages--just in menswear. How daring! How cutting edge! How androgynous! But at least Esquire contains some interesting writing. I stumbled across David Sedaris there. Other great writers started their careers there.
But not in women's magazines. Oh no! For the vainglory of it all, these magazines stubbornly adhere to ephemeral nothingnesss.
Maybe MoDo was on to something. She can hardly blame men for objectifying women, wanting to date "secretaries" and other lesser beings (than her). Women do it to themselves. Clinging to some fading, warped visage of slutty youth, women like Ms. Dowd are bound to be disappointed. Turning herself into some plastic, sleazy version of women a true man never found interesting to begin with--except to schtup--she and others like her, suddenly see themselves as they always were: beautiful, empty, promiscuous showpieces. And to think she thought she was liberated when she fell right into the classic female dichotomy: Madonna or Whore. Just a whore.
Harper's Bazaar and all the other female magazines amaze. Not one thing has changed in the last fifteen years except the models are skinnier, more boy-looking and everything is strangely homoerotic. We've come a long way baby.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 5:55 PM
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
On Drudge today, a report that the woman who received the world's first face transplant is mentally ill, highlights the problems with cutting-edge (pardon the pun) procedures and over-eager doctors wishing to make a name for themselves under the guise of serving science.
On this same day, we find that the much heralded South Korean researcher who supposedly cloned 11 stem cells, and who has already admitted "ethical breaches" by asking (coercing?) female employees to "donate" their eggs to science for around $4,000.00 may not have succeeded in cloning anything at all.
In the hyper-competitive world of medical research (and it starts in medical school--remember the post about malicious students planting false tests to gain a competitive advantage? Cut-throats we called them appropriately enough.), immense pressure to present research ahead of rivals causes all kinds of ethical problems. Candace Pert, PhD talks extensively in her book Molecules of Emotion about the nonsense that goes on in this testosterone-charged world of one upmanship.
So, a doctor will take the face of a suicide victim and put it on the face of a woman who attempted suicide--thus the first face transplant. Nice. In France, too, what a surprise!
Another doctor pays for the eggs of underlings and lies about the resulting research. An American researcher from University of Pennsylvania Richard Schatten now is fleeing for his scientific life because he was the lead author on the article even though the research wasn't technically his (this happens all the time in the ass-kissing world of science so research gains more credibility with the "right" name attached and can make it into an esteemed journal like Science).
The whole system is BS. Research funded by taxpayer money reaches scientists who excel at writing for grants, excel at networking and do their time staying permanently attached to the proper derriere. That is to say, U.S. and world hard and soft science research, far from being merit-based, depends on elaborate networks of prima dona controlled information brokering.
Of course, all this research was done with the intent to save mankind, right? Good intentions negate the moral and ethical breeches every time. After all, the only reason this important research is being conducted is so Superman can walk again. What could possibly be more important than that?
Monday, December 12, 2005
The Chinese have "deeply penetrated" our security secrets through "systematic hacking that could only done by very disciplined military."
Nice. Is there anything these people don't know now? Are we to believe that they aren't interested in Taiwan, at all, ever? Are we to believe they are interested in a stable Korea? Are we to believe them to be supporters of democracy in that wild and wooley place Hong Kong? Are we to believe they have pure intentions for their tiny neighbor Nepal? Anybody remember that guy the Dalai Lhama from this formerly nice place called Tibet?
What exactly does this benevolent giant have in mind with this newfound information? Oh, and has anyone noticed how cozy Russia has become with China? I think it is time we all looked at a map to remind ourselves just how great China's reach truly is. Remember economic power precedes military power. Gutted economic power always, ALWAYS means war. Always. Count on it.
Before getting back to computer hacking, let's look at a Middle East map. See where we are? Afganistan, Iraq, Poland, Turkey, Germany (backed off a lot), out of Saudi Arabia (mostly), Israel is an ally, we have pressure on Pakistan. We are also in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan (where is the hew and cry here? The war has been won for over fifty years, for heavens sake!) and Bosnia.
We are working to support fledgling democracies in Georgia (always fought over) and other former Soviet provinces. Look at this map. Uzebekhstan is lost to Russia but allows Germany to stay and use airfields. The Yanks (that's us) are booted out. This has happened over the last few weeks. Kazakhstan is next. If you think Putin (former KGB spy, by the way) or any of the Russians for that matter, has forgotten that the USSR was crushed not too long ago, you're dreaming. The Russians have been under one nasty regime after another. Power and strength is the language they understand. Being the world's weakling does not sit well. And it won't sit for long.
Ultimately, by keeping pressure on Bishkek, Russia hopes to drive U.S. forces from the region. The sole remaining U.S. base in Central Asia is located at Manas, outside the Kyrgyz capital.(emphasis added)
Within the context of recent developments, it appears that Karimov may have acted against Kyrgyzstan with Moscow’s blessing, if not prompting. In an effort to ensure his regime’s perpetuation, Karimov evidently is willing to mortgage Tashkent’s freedom of foreign policy action to Russia, acting like a pawn in a dangerous effort to undermine Kyrgyzstan’s sovereignty. In this sense, it is more than Uzbekistan’s relationship with Kyrgyzstan that now seems at risk: the larger issue concerns those two states’ future independence.
The Geopolitcal landscape changes daily people. Are you watching? Communism is far from dead. Totalitarian governments grow and thrive--mostly with U.S. money. That's what is so galling. We refuse to hold China's feet to the fire. The U.S. owes them big money. We are dancing with a very big gorilla.
Back to computer hacking by the Chinese......
My sense is that no amount of firewalls and computer security will solve the problem. For every solution, a more sophisticated criminal will find an end around. And the U.S., the beaurocractic equivalent of a refridgerator that hasn't been cleaned in a century, should just take a different tact.
It happened at Chiropractic college and happens at med schools across this blessed country of ours. It's called sabotage. Mind you, I know little less than Valerie Plame about secret information.
A rumor that a test has gotten out gets around. Everyone gets the test. The only problem? It was created by some malicious classmate who has thrown everyone off by wrong information. Everyone fails the real test except for those crafty few who had the real test or those who studied their sweet fannies off anyway just in case--the few (very few) students with integrity. (Very, very few.)
Misinformation. Lots of it. Thrown in everywhere all the time. Let the would-be thiefs sift through mountains and mountains of the equivalent of cybergarbage and throw in a bone, an old nasty one, every once in a while to keep them looking and wasting time.
Anonymity in this current world is getting lost in the sheer volume of information out there. Finding what's important and relevent is the challenge. This can be an asset that a smart government would exploit.
Drown the nasty, sniffing scumbags...in information. This might be a stupid strategy, but it's something. The U.S. better have a strategy. Something's percolating in Asia. I wonder what they are up to anyway.
For all those who think that GW is an insufferable fool, I'd recommend that they look at the map again. He has a good idea what's on the line here. France and Germany won't be coming to the U.S.'s aid any time soon with all their internal problems, now will they? They better hope the Eastern block maintains the spine they seem to lack. Russia is never far away. And China, it turns out, isn't either.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:55 PM
Though not a double-blind study (obviously impossible for reasons stated in the article), in my clinical experience, post-abortion women have serious psychological stress long term afterwards--often decades afterwards. No woman has ever said that she regretted having her child (again, not a scientific study, but evidence, nonetheless). Many women have regretted marrying the ding-dong who fathered the child and that caused stress, but this strays somewhat from the topic.
The main times it is difficult for a woman who aborted:
- When trying to get pregnant
- When pregnant with a wanted child
- When parenting a teenager
- When sick (with cancer or some other disabling disease)
As an aside, only one woman that I've known to have an abortion, was not in some way coerced or pressured by a man to do so. Again, not a statistical sample, to be sure.
Bottom line, these women all felt and many continue to feel shame, distress and sadness years down the road. Abortion is not universally the "freeing procedure" it has been billed to be.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 7:56 PM
Here, the punishment suited the criminal 24 years ago. The question is not about what symbol that creates or what message it sends. When the issue is taking a man's life, it's not a question of symbols or messages, but justice for the individual, at the time his life is to be taken. A truly changed man should be able to tip the balance in his favor.Here, Ms. Susan Estrich makes an argument to stay Mr. Williams punishment for a viscious crime many years ago. Her argument is that his life should be judged on today's merits--not for the man he was in 1977.
The only problem with this argument, well the main one anyway: No one can know Mr. Williams mindset today, not Governor Schwarzenagger, not Susan Estrich, not Ed Asner, not me.
Do you find it unthinkable that a man who can write children's books decrying violence could still be a cold-blooded murderer? While it is uncomfortable to think, let me give you Exhibit A:
Dennis Radar AKA the BTK Killer. He was the church-going family man, "guy next door."
Since we can't know poor little Tookie's mindset, we have to do what my high school basketball coach called "watch the numbers don't watch the eyes". What he meant was that a person's actions won't lie, but you can be burned by a head-fake or look-off.
Remember the victims, people. Mr. Williams is not the victim. When he chose his actions, he chose his consequences. What he is today is a supreme manipulator--now it's the media and soft-headed Hollywood types. In a better life he could be a legitimate leader. Instead, he wielded his personality, hi prowess, his intellect and his physical strength as a weapon. He created a gang of blood soaked followers leaving fear and dread in his stead.
We know this. Perhaps his current actions will change his legacy for some. But we can never know his mind and heart today. For that reason, his punishment must stand.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 6:05 PM
Sociopath founder of the gang LA Crips, Stanley Williams, will die tomorrow morning unless some lawyerly feat intervenes in the punishment for murdering four people in1979.
While Tookie wrote children's books and maybe even lead the gang from prison, four people were denied the twentyfour years he enjoyed alive. While that is not exactly swift justice, it is at least a consequence at long last.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 3:38 PM
People who hang around me for a while know that my tiny Sony Digital camera is never far away. Before that, it was my Canon 35 mm Rebel EOS. Before that, the Canon SureShot, a gift from friends since I was a poor student.
It took me a while to be persuaded to try Digital cameras. The quality stunk at first. The price seemed hardly worth it.
Then the new baby came and I wanted to capture EVERYTHING! And we did.
After asking a photographer friend of mine, she recommended the Sony Cybershot 7.2 mega pixels with the Carl Zeiss lenses. Immediately, I was blown away.
In daylight, the camera functions as well as bulkier models and the pictures are nearly as crisp and clear as my old 35 mm. The video function is a spectacular bonus. Who needs more than one or two minutes to capture an infant's toothy grin and banshee yells?
But the beauty of the camera goes beyond function--it's the form that matters more. In this case, it's so small that it fits in a little pocket on the side of my diaper bag--no camera case needed. It is always available.
Disney World, Empire State Building, The Liberty Bell and countless church and family gatherings later, the camera goes everywhere and takes a lickin' but keeps capturing beautiful photos.
The newer models of the Cybershot look great, too. I highly recommend them!
Don't forget, you need to organize and edit your photos, right? The Cybershot comes with some software to download, but it's not great. Get Photoshop Elements. It organizes even a featherbrain like me. I can do quite a bit of editing with it without having to plunk down $600 big ones for regular PhotoShop.
UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! Take a look around. Just changed the blog name so it was easier to find, but you can take a look at my other archives at Dr. M
You can also see posts on Texas Hold 'Em, Mentally Ill Doctors and Antidepressants. Thanks for stopping by.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 11:00 AM
Sunday, December 11, 2005
As a former mid-westerner, playing cards consumed a good chunk of social time during the winter months. Once the sun and the temperatures went down, staying inside made good sense.
We played cards. Hearts, Spades, Euchre, Spoons, Rook, and sometimes Poker, and for the old people Bridge, card games helped pass the time and was lots of fun.
Since moving to the Houston, Texas area, where moderate weather allows for golf in December, card playing isn't such a big deal. Also, flat screens, big screens, surround sound, and all the home theater stuff has made a dent into one of the worlds greatest pasttimes.
And then Texas Hold 'Em became a nationwide hit. At a Holiday party we were at last year eight year olds were sitting, seriously contemplating options at the Hold 'Em table. Forget the adults and their erudite conversation, the tricked out garage sporting sugar cookies and cards was where it was happening.
Friends of ours, borderline rednecks, pinknecks we'll call them (if they protest, I'd like to remind them that they live in Groceville, pronounced Gross-ville, on a street called Tree Monkey Road and the next town over is Cut-n-Shoot and a barbeque pit the size of a tractor trailer sits in their FRONT yard), immersed themselves in Texas Hold 'Em. Since they were not easily persuaded in the joys of Bridge, we joined 'em.
Texas Hold 'Em is deceivingly simple. Much as baseball fans wrinkle their pointy noses at the barbarians who love football (that would be me, too--the barbian who loves football, I mean), more civilized card players might believe that a game like Poker is for simple minds. That would be a wrong assessment.
Poker reveals human nature in a way that all good sporting events do. Bad and good luck come and go, bad and good hands come and go, impatience is lethal, cowardice will seal your fate and bold, calculated strokes are rewarded. Failing to act decisively when the kill is at hand may result in your own demise. Oh, and there is money involved to make it interesting.
Here is the thing, the best players rise above no matter the hands they are dealt, no matter the mood their in, no matter the foes (I mean players) they face. This, to me, is remarkable. I aspire to this steel-willed, clarity and skill.
I am a novice. My best option is to throw away a lot of garbage hands and stick with strength. This is trying in Hold 'Em because you get punished, good cards or not, by the blinds. You can find yourself swirling in a vortex of $1000 blinds, fighting to stay above the surface looking at a pair of sevens like happened to me last night, only to be bested by a 4 of Clubs on the River by a bully wielding a poopy pair of fours. Like life, Texas Hold 'Em ain't always fair.
That's why I love it. It has grown on me. Bridge, a partner game which is primarily strategic and tactical, counts on a partner communication for success, is still the best card game, in my opinion. But for raw, real life analogies, Texas Hold 'Em, beats all.
You may disagree, but I believe our walk in life, primarily rests on our individual free will. We are given a hand of cards, sometimes a set of double bullets, sometimes threes and fours like happened to me ALL NIGHT LONG last night. Sometimes the aces win, and sometimes the fours win because while our choices our ours alone, there are lots of other cards on the table and other players, too.
Like life, the Poker Table will allow you to rant and rave and curse the unfairness of it all, but it won't help much. The game keeps going and the longer you're out of it mentally or literally, the less likely you'll win. You have just get over it and keep playing. Like a new day, a new hand is coming and you might as well give it your best shot.
The downside of Texas Hold 'Em? Losing. I hate it. Passionately. Not just the sporting nature of it, but the money too. I don't like someone else losing either. Throwing money away is despicable to me.
The only thing, is that when money isn't on the table, people play differently. Like a Bi-Polar patient whose perpetually manic, the player ungoverned by potential financial harm, plays every hand like a winner. It throws the rhythm of the whole thing off. Money has to be on the table, there must be losers--the consequences invoke discipline. I guess that's like life, too. People play life differently when they have absolutely nothing to lose.
The other extreme, which I'm more prone to, is analysis by paralysis. The results of weenie play can be equally punishing. Sitting on the fence, waiting for the perfect circumstances, predicts doom, too. Who, in life, gets dealt the perfect hand? So many successful people, find a winning hand where others see big losers.
My goal, like eveyone else's I'd guess, is to have a seat at the winner's table. Each time I'd like to win the whole thing. True. But since that doesn't always happen, the habits of discipline, intelligence, self-control, wisdom, awareness, and boldness will hopefully get me into a position where I can play as long as possible and someday win.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 8:17 PM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Britain needs 150 embryo derived (150 people) stem cells "lines" to form a bank that would help most people. Get the percentages of people helped here.
People who wouldn't consider harvesting a liver from Jo Jo Ja Bip who rides the bus with them to work every day, won't have a problem with taking it from a "theoretical" embryo. Except, there's the little thing that it's not theoretical. The embryo is real. It is ALIVE (a dead line wouldn't work now, would it?). It has potential.
If you could save the whole world by killing an anonymous person, would you? If you could save the whole world, give them life eternal, by killing a friend, would you? If you could save the whole world by killing your child would you? How about 200 people saved? Would you do it then?
Would it matter to you if they consented or not?
Jesus Christ consented to die so that all could live. He CHOSE.
Does any person have the right to take someone else's life and give it to save another's without their consent? Does it matter that the embryo has potential to become a person, but is not yet born?
More reasons to not use medication during pregnancy. Paxil is now classified as a Class D drug--known to cause birth defects. This is a warning for all anti-depressants.
The FDA said early results of two studies showed that women who took Paxil during the first three months of pregnancy were almost two times as likely to have a baby with a heart defect as women who received other antidepressants or women in the general population. While the studies suggest the risk of birth defects is almost double, the risk in real terms is much smaller. (emphasis added)
This research disturbs me. So many women of childbearing age take antidepressants.
Another study showed an increased risk for newborn withdrawal symptoms for women who take SSRIs in their third trimester. These withdrawal symptoms were the result of being cut-off from the medications that they had been receiving through the mother's placenta. The most commonly reported symptoms were irritability, increased crying, tremors, shortened breath, nausea, and convulsions. These symptoms typically lasted only one to four days after birth, and rarely lasted more than a few weeks. Because of this, doctors are being urged to recommend to their patients that they lower their dose, or stop taking antidepressants altogether, two weeks before their due date.Concerns:
- So by taking an anti-depressant, a woman risks her child's heart health.
- Would a woman struggling with depression want to cope with a child going through withdrawal on top of everything else?
- Children raised by depressed mothers have more than double a chance of having depression.
- A mother's risk of depression rises with each additional child over two.
The politically incorrect question no one wants to ask: Should women depressed enough to need antidepressants even consider pregnancy?
Before you rail against me for being harsh, consider the significant increase in stress that an infant brings. Depression risk increases with children...especially more than two children (pray for me everybody HA!).
My recommendation? Depressed women who wish to bear children should spend a year weening off the meds, increasing their B vitamins significantly, especially Folate, exercise, and take stress-coping classes that included simple biofeedback methods, breathing techniques and stretching. If, after all this, depression still persists, perhaps child bearing should be delayed.
A child living with a depressed mother will be more than twice as likely to be depressed herself/himself. For better or worse, children (even of working mothers with a different primary care giver) learn optimism, pessimissm and general coping from moms moreso than dads.
Motherhood is complicated, that's for sure.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 10:46 PM
The best leaders surround themselves with people who balance their weaknesses. It is a confession of sorts--I need help. We all need help, but only the most self-aware and successful admit it.
Most people, ashamed of their sho.rtcomings, try to ignore, minimize and obscure their weaknesses. People usually spot them anyway, and even if they don't, the pretender worries that eventually the secret will come out. Hiding becomes more important than thriving. All energy focuses on reducing risk of exposure.
Good leaders don't have time for such distractions. Once they see themselves they change what they can and get a fill-in where needed.
Sometimes we need a mirror to see our whole self (or as much as ourself that can be seen with current methods). For this reason, I am a huge fan of the Birkman, an apptitude and personality assessment. Not only does it tell you what you're good at and help you find ways to use your gifts the best way possible, it also illuminates areas that may be personal blindspots.
These unconscious barriers frustrate our progress and because they're unconscious we don't see them. That's the worst.
Everyone has weaknesses, minimizing them and building on strengths is a huge key to success.
If you would like to take the Birkman assessment, call me at 832-969-6162. Start building your BEST life, relationships and career today.
Posted by Melissa Clouthier at 4:11 PM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Who says technology isn't emotional? It most certainly is!
My hubby, kids and sister bought me an I-Pod for my birthday, the kind that shows video and stores pictures (Zow!), with a wonderful Tolkien quote engraved on the back that made me cry tears of joy and gratitude.
It is soooooo cool! Small, compact, beautiful picture, stores ALL my photos, stores music that I love (my taste is so ecclectic that radio stations and albums invariably play too much of one thing), what's not to love?
Spent $15 tonight downloading music and racking my brain for other tunes that have been favorites for ages. A friend helped me do it all, but it was so easy, with a few minutes I could have done it. (Fun sharing the excitement with a friend, though.)
Good design always has an emotional appeal. Bad design strikes emotional notes too--which predicts some businesses failure.
The I-Pod is definitely inspired technology and lives up to the hype.