Enthusiasm, Not Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Middle-aged women have attracted my attention lately, perhaps because I am middle aged. Astounding is the length to which middle-aged women go in the hope of reclaiming even a hopeful fragment of their younger selves.

In a drugstore aisle recently, looking for some simple hand lotion (Oh no, are my hands dry because I am middle aged, or just because winter humidity is low? Do people notice how dry my hands are?), I encountered a distraught woman frantically reading the labels of one package after another of various promises of youth. Unable to resist, I leaned her way and suggested that she not worry and choose a lesser-cost one because they all worked about the same. She immediately smiled and looked more relaxed, and I may have added more youth to her in that moment than what all of the magic bottles together could have done.

If I really believed that women did this for themselves and enjoyed the end result, I'd leave them alone and not comment. But the data suggest otherwise; they are trying to impress others and they never rest contentedly. How could they when paying $42.99 for a tiny jar of transient moisturizer?

We are all getting older, precious few of us are in as good a condition as we were twenty years ago, and all of us exhibit some level of visual wear. So no use fishing for feigned praise for lack of aging and no use trying to reverse it with pseudopharmawizardry. Instead, carpe diem, give up the fight and the stress that eats you faster from the inside than UV cooks you from the outside, and do something truly pleasurable: have enthusiastic sex.

You want your middle-aged partner to still like looking at you after all these years? Then be enthusiastic. Subtle wrinkles are invisible in dim light, anyway. And when your partner sees a women who still wants to play, he sees youth. Trust me on this one.

Reforming Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform clearly already needs reform. Clearly painting the target is usually more than half way to solving a problem, but that hasn't yet happened in the public policy realm on this issue. I think it's simple.

Absolutely none of the wonderful many aims of health care reform can happen without taking cost out of the existing system. More, the existing system cannot even continue without taking costs out of the existing system. The government and taxpayers cannot afford more. So, it's all about taking out costs.

Cost can be taken out of the system in just a couple of ways. One is to implement some form of rationing. Two is to take money out of one or more of those who currently profit from the system. Rationing is tough and nearly impossible on an up-close, personal, human level and though some of it must eventually be done, that will take decades more argument and no one will meaningfully support it until other costs have been reduced. So the problem simplifies further: from which current profiteer will we take something?

The list is long and includes doctors, insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and many administrative service layers and organizations.

See, simple. Let the real debate begin.

Starbucks' Problem is the Espresso

I don't drink coffee, except at the infrequent opportunity to have really good espresso. That's normally after dinner somewhere, but it's surprising how few places, even high-end Italian restaurants, have anything even resembling good espresso. What gets called espresso in the US is watery, thin, burnt liquid. The real stuff, tiny in volume, creamy/oily, and so concentrated in bitterness that one's taste sense reverses and reports lovely bittersweet like melted dark chocolate, remains in Milano.

An idea to order ristretto instead of espresso worked well, once. The different name apparently caused someone to think about what the customer wanted instead of just pushing the button. But that request is most often met with "You want what?". In desperation after too many weeks, I visited a local Starbucks and asked for a double ristretto. The good news: the "barista" knew the word and was willing to tweak machine settings to try and get something close. The bad news: the Starbucks machines are now so standardized and barista-proof that the liquid that emerged tasted like stew of burned cardboard box. Sadly, a good number of Starbucks employees think that Starbucks invented espresso.

So, now Starbucks is struggling. No wonder to me, the economy must have dropped the general thirst for $5 randomize(half,soy,latte,vanilla,caf,vente,cream) "coffee" drinks. And Starbucks long ago moved away from real caffe. Of course it's about the experience and not really about the coffee, but is a realcoffee-based experience too much to expect?

Focus, be really good at something.