Archive for August, 2005

Bush Can’t Win For Losin’

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Oy. Rather than focus on the people on rooftops, babies being flown from hospitals, AP reporter Ron Fournier decides to contemplate his navel “Bush Has Own Challenge In Katrina”: Will the hurricane help or hurt Bush? Did he react quick enough? Is his quick reaction (“returning from his extended vacation in Crawford” blah, blah, blah) just pandering?

No one cares about the answers to these questions but Washington insiders. Everyone else is pitching in and helping or busy.

Excusing Looting

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

An excuse for looting already? Come on. Taking food and water from a store is one thing, but the only reason to take jewelry, TVs and football jerseys, or stuff from people’s homes is because you are a scum-bag thief capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune. But mush-minded Reuter’s author Paul Simao thinks otherwise:

Resentment at being left behind in the path of one of the fiercest hurricanes on record may have contributed to some of the looting that occurred in Biloxi and other coastal communities.

A number of private residences, including some in upscale neighborhoods, were targeted, residents said.

Katrina: What’s Going On In Slidell

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

If you’re interested in updates on Slidell, LA. (Know people from the area) Look here.

What Can We Do for Katrina Victims?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Dr. Steve and I will be holding a fundraiser next Friday, September 9 all day at our offices. I’ll provide a link and more information as we put it together. Basically for a donation (we’re working on a suggested one), we will treat all new patients for free and donate the entire amount to The American Red Cross. We will be making our own donation as well.

Living in Houston, we have ample opportunities to serve the many, many people who have lost everything. The Astrodome will be full of traumatized people so we are working on gathering fellow N.E.T. practitioners to go to the Dome and help those with PTSD (post-traumatic Stress Disorder). I’ll keep you updated about that, too.

Finally, in response to the request by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, I’m posting this link to the American Red Cross. There is going to be huge fund-raising effort in the Blogosphere tomorrow, Thursday. According to our Houston mayor, they will be organizing food and supplies for the people in the Dome and other people needing emergency care. Right now the Mayor is worried beause they are planning for 25,000 at the Astrodome but hundres of people are already pooring in. I suspect that thousand more will need help. Long-term housing must be a first priority. The Dome is a stop-gap measure at best.

Here are some links to what is being done now.

Texas Baptist Men and Red Cross here.
Houston Jewish Federation here.
Astrodome Shelter here.

A NOTE: I am a bit alarmed by the many companies who so willingly gave to the Asian Tsunami effort and seem to think that the Destruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will “work out”. Over a million people are homeless. The predicted epidemics in Asia never happened in large part because a Tsumai pulls salt-water out as fast it flows in. The sitting water in New Orleans and around the area though, will breed mosquitos which will result in cholera, dysentery, and other nastiness. Thousands of dead are floating in N.O. More rain will come. This will get worse before it gets better. I hope the companies will step up and help their fellow Americans–we know we won’t be getting help from France anytime soon.

Workplace Innovation: Flexibility

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

An Human Resources Executive recently called me rather panicked. Her bosses wanted the “next new big thing” in HR, Employee Development and Training. She called the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado. They told her that (and this is a paraphrase quoting King Solomon) “there is nothing new under the sun”. I told her the same thing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Most business innovation focuses on creativity and improving design right now, I told her. With the I-Pod revealing technology that is at once useful and beautiful more companies (FINALLY!) see the reason to design for the senses. Does it feel good? Smell good? Sound good? Look pleasing? Is it easy to use? Is it beautiful enough that I can display it? (Flat screen TVs look like pieces of art and it’s no longer gauche to display them.)

Passing fads include the intense focus on streamlining processes (think Six Sigma). It has cycled through and now people are looking at the data. It’s ho hum. No one argues that perfection shouldn’t be the goal of manufacturing. Removing defects is a no-brainer. And being rigorous about measuring progress is now essentially standard.

Another business innovation, supply chain management, has been integrated into daily business living. If it hasn’t, the sad comopany won’t last long. Continued pressure remains on supply chain. As raw materials (especially oil these days) pricing pressure increases, making sure that the product travels the most efficiently will be paramount.

In the HR world, there is the Q12 from the Gallup Organization. By all accounts this is still going gangbusters. But what will unhinge this innovation like so many others, is executive row’s unwillingness to stick with it and follow through. Like my HR friend, they want “the next big thing”. The Q12 grassroots feedback system is not something that will reap rewards if you try and then leave behind. Learning how everyone feels is the first step, changing the environment is the second. The second is not as much fun because that’s when the real work begins. Q12 will fade not because it doesn’t work, but because it forces responsibility on lazy leaders. A caveat here though: A LOT of money will be spent so everyone feels better. (What percentage of people actually manage their time? Probably the same percentage of people who give a rats behind about how the “little people” feel.)

Another trend, the 360 degree feedback system, will continue, but that doesn’t mean anyone will believe the results. Again, 360 degree feedback can be very good–if done well. The problem? It’s rarely handled well. Employees deep-six co-workers. Bosses use it to brow-beat underlings. Confidentiality is breeched. The whole feedback process is fraught.

But I was ultimately wrong to say there isn’t a trend afoot in the HR world. There is. And some companies will rebel to their own destruction. Other companies will embrace change and thrive.

People laughed at the Dot.commers penchant for the dramatic and indulgent. Stocked kitchens? Pah! Animals in the aisles? Tee Hee Hee. Yoga for the stressed? Puhleeeze. These diversions were seen as monitary black holes with no purpose other than to make the young-buck founder feel good about working his people to death on their mission to change the world.

Just like bloggers have upset the MSM (mainstream media), the dot.commers and their “crazy” business models will have the last laugh because their forward-thinking WILL CHANGE the way the old companies have operated–or else.

While the old companies struggle with equally old unions, younger companies work to keep people through offering benefits people really want. For the Baby Boomers, the last two business cycle downturns were unwelcomed wake-up calls. Used to being taken care of by GM, Ford, Chrysler, the government (if employed by them), School Systems, Kroger, etc being let go after years of dedication to “the company” was a shock. Their expectation is not flexibility–their lives were their jobs. Their expectation was predictability and reliability. The men came off the farms, came back from Vietnam or Woodstock, put on their blue suits, white shirts and ties and left their families behind to serve the corporate beast.

The next generation was not shaped by the same environment. The Gen X-ers were raised by a mom who stayed home (mostly), their dad was away doing vaguely important stuff. A seed of change was planted when Ronald Reagen fired the Air Traffic Controllers in the 80s. The crack in “group think” started. A paradigm shifted–especially for the children, like me, of this time.

Moms encouraged their daughters to get educated too and not just settle for the MRS. degree. They might have missed Betty Friedan for themselves, but they sung the message to their daughters. A lady of her generation who went to college often (and with lots of cultural support) dropped out to start a family while her hubby went to work. The economy was so good, in fact, that job recruiters were pulling men out of their junior years because the work force was growing.

For those who think this generation is all about immediate gratification, consider that my parents at the ages of 19 and 23 got married, bought a house, had a job, bought a car, bought furniture and had their first child in ONE YEAR. They were not alone.

But this has changed. Women today stay in college in greater numbers than men. Divorce leaves over 50% of children being raised by one parent–mostly women. Many men who stay married (not all) view their wives as partners and help more (though do much less than women even still and even if the woman works full time) with house work and child rearing.

Some Boomer men, view this trend as a “feminizing” of men. Perhaps. But I think it is simply a reaction by these men to try and NOT be absent like their fathers were. The caring fathers seem determined to maintain a relationship with their children throughout their growing and developing years. These fathers attend school orientations DURING THE DAY. That means they must leave work to do it–and their wives do to.

If there is a Human Resources trend it’s this: Companies must (MUST!!!) take this reality into account or they will suffer serious brain-drain. The best workers will not sit around work for hours on end and sacrifice their familiies and their health at the feet of a clumsy business model.

Gen X-ers value work-life balance and will take less money to have more flexibility. They want efficiency in their job. What do I mean? Days of meetings won’t satisfy if the results could be achieved with a teleconference from home. That does not mean they will work less. No, more likely they’ll leave at four or five, get home, spend time with the kids and their activities and power back up around 8 p.m.–if they are at the executive level.

Is it more convenient for the higher ups to have people in the office from 7 to 7 so there can be face-to-face meetings? Sure, for THE BOSS. But it irritates the hell out of employees because it is wasteful and unneccesary.

The problem comes back to an old stand-by: leadership. Many are playing catch-up instead of planning and that results in the you-know-what rolling down hill. Managers need to have very specific about the production they need from their employees. Too few are. While some employees like to know what needs to be done and they’ll do it, others like to know the details and will do it. But as long as the job is done well, on time and meets or exceed expectations, why does it matter where or when?

If pressure-cooker times are part of the job, then make an effort to counter-balance that time with relaxation. A yoga class is nice addition. And the company ultimately benefits. With all the harumphing about health care costs, businesses (MANAGERS) do prescious little to create a productive and healthy environment. Burning the candle at both ends is encouraged and exploited. Coffee and donuts are the business meeting snack. Outrageous, divisive, lazy employees should be shown the door, so the good ones can get down to business.

So, there is a new trend in HR but it really isn’t fancy: Help employees live the life they want and they will pay back the corporation in devotion and production. The best and brightest want IT ALL and that includes a life. Give them permission to have it and you will have loyalty that will nicely pad your bottom line.

Gulf Coast Suffers

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Years past Hurricane Andrew, acres of land where homes once were south of Miami lay desolate. All day today, I’ve been thinking and thinking, “How will the Gulf Coast recover?” Is it even possible? I don’t see how.

Pensacola is still not right a year later. Parts of Houston destroyed by Tropical Storm Allison still sit empty–abandoned homes, abandoned lives.

Will New Orleans just become a small tourist area focused in the French Quarter? Will the businesses move out rather than rebuild on such dangerous ground?

The papers and news stories share braggadocious assertions that “it may take years but we’ll come back.” I’m not so sure. There will be many reasons to leave New Orleans. With everything destroyed and decimated, it will be difficult to find reasons to stay.

Drudge has awesome links. So does Instapundit–especially if you want to donate to relief efforts. I was going to make a list of donation links myself. No need. Just go there.

A Perilous Journey from Sex to Baby

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Last night, I posted some links to an article in the NY Times and the resulting blogs debating the “perilous journey from delivery room to bedroom”. Many men, most who are afraid to say so, no longer find their wive’s attractive after seeing her nether region used for its other great purpose. Knowing is one thing, seeing? now that’s another matter entirely. This topic is near and dear to my heart and my [ahem].
Like the one blogger stated, in America, husbands weren’t privy to the triumphs and perils of the birthing room until Dr. Bradley invited them in the 70s. Only the modern male doctor got to control the process that was once was the domain of women: Birthing used to be done by women, with women and the whole process was totally, completely 100% about women. The rule was empahtic: NO MEN (even male doctors, horrors!) ALLOWED.

Back in the day, women expected their bodies would do the work of birthing. It wasn’t a question of if she could, but when she would. The child-birth process, like a male of the group going on his first hunt or going to war, was a rite of passage into the exclusive club of motherhood. Sheila Kitzinger has lots to say about this being a social anthropologist. That is not to say birthing was some sing-songy tra-la-la experience with no pain, no discomfort and no problems. Birthing can be messy business by it’s very nature. Without the difficulty it would never have taken on such mythic status with women or men in the advisor-to-birthing-woman role. Yet, for much of history woman, as mid-wives, helped women give birth.

And then the men came.

First they came as voyeurs. This produced the “lithotomy” position–aka the flat-on-your-back-so-it-is-easier for-the-doctor(or king which is how it started)-to-see what is going on position, but nearly impossible for a woman to effectively push position.

Then they came as “helpers”. And as all women and men know, a man is not a helper unless he has a really good tool. In this case it was called forceps. Back in the 1600s, when more women had disproportionate pelvises due to malnutrition, forceps could be a life-saver. But the two men who created this birth aid failed to share it with the midwives who assisted births back then nor did they share it with their fellow doctors. It was a secret that was revealed to upper-middle class women at the right time. Eventually, another doctor discovered and perfected this tool–yes, that doctor, too was a man.

Then the venue of the birth changed from the home (the woman’s domain) to the hospital. Men, being men, decided it was inconvenient to go to a woman’s house to help her birth. No, it would be “better” (easier for me) if she came to a hospital. This is what happened: Puerperal Fever.

In his famous essay on Puerperal Fever published in 1842 Holmes emphasized that a physician attending a midwifery case should not take an active part in an autopsy on a patient dead of puerperal fever, erysipelas, or even peritonitis. He noted that if one case of puerperal fever arises in a physician’s practice there is an increased risk of a second, two cases suggest that the physician should do no obstetrics for at least a month, and three prima facie evidence that he is the source of the contagion. The time has come when the existence of a private pestilence in the sphere of a single physician should be looked upon not as a misfortune, but as a crime.

Controversy was extensive, but change began to occur. The conclusive evidence was provided by Ignaz Philip Semmelweiss (1818-1862) who qualified in Vienna in 1844, and became assistant at the Vienna Lying In Hospital soon after. At that time unmarried Viennese mothers were admitted at the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, and discharged to the Foundling Hospital. Survivors became wards of the state, the males in due course cannon fodder for the Emperor’s army.

Semmelweiss with the backing of the great morbid anatomist Rokitansky began to do autopsies on women with puerperal fever and noted that a high death rate from this disease was found only in First Clinic wards attended by students, and not in Second Clinic wards attended by midwives. Women begged to go to the latter. There were various suggestions as to cause–overcrowding, unwed maternity, but Semmelweiss showed that these were more common in Second Clinic. When his colleague Kolletschka died of a dissecting wound, Semmelweiss saw the parallel, and came to the right conclusion. He instructed his students to scrub their hands in chloride of lime before having any contact with the patient. The death-rate fell: 1846–11.4%; 1847–3.8%; 1848–1.27% cf 1.33% in Second Clinic.

Semmelweiss wrote: Puerperal fever is caused by conveyance to the pregnant woman of putrid particles derived from living organisms, through the agency of the examining fingers……. Consequently must I make my confession that God only knows the number of women whom I have consigned prematurely to the grave.

Besides death, along with the hospital came medicine. Women were knocked out and drugged up, gave birth and when they woke up, presented a baby. Was it hers? She didn’t know. The woman had to trust the doctor that it was her child. To say she was removed from the process was an understatement. Many women found out after all this trauma, that the “baby didn’t make it”. But how could she be sure? She was not allowed to see the baby.

Now, to some women, the “knocked out” part was great news. Yippee! I feel no pain. I wake up and bingo! There’s a baby.

Yet to other women, the whole process added up to legalized assault. The best part? As long as the baby and mother were “healthy” (a loose term because the woman was usually shaved, catheterized, given a deep episiotomy so the forceps could be used and bruised from doctors and nurses trying to push the uterus back into shape). So what if these interventions left the woman scarred, incontinent, shaken and upset and unable to enjoy sexual intercourse again?

Birth morphed from a naturally occurring proccess to a “controlled procedure”. Anyone who has given birth knows that it is an uncontrolled phenomenon. In fact, when the woman feels like she is going to “loose it”, around full dialation, is usually when she in fact will loose it–the baby will be born soon.

The medical establishment, being men almost entirely until this generation, sought to “help”–remove pain, keep the woman quiet and get the baby out by any means possible and quickly using scissors and knives and forceps and needles and other equipment to measure and monitor. In fact, a typical Labor and Delivery unit differs little from a good Car Dealership service shop. Sterile and white, machines whirring and everything lined up nice and neat, with tools at the ready so the broken vehicle can be fixed.

On this backdrop, Dr. Bradley invited husbands into the delivery room to “coach” their wives. Again, a woman had no clue what to do. Why she was a delicate little flower too weak and feeble to know how to do this work–she needed a Coach!

The absurdity of this situation becomes apparent daily, even thirty years later after the “coaching” movement. A man doesn’t own the parts, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he is processing his own emotions about the whole thing, and if he loves the woman, he’s overwhelmed with fear watching his beloved do the necessary suffering that goes with birthing. And he is supposed to Coach her? Guess what the coaching consists of, “Doctorrrrrrrrrrr, she needs drugs NOWWWW!!!!”

He has never seen her yell and scream like this. He has never seen her grunt and moan like this. He has never seen her this primal. He is FREAKED OUT! She was so classy, demure, pulled-together, sexy, confident, fill-in-the-blank. She was not what she is when she is laboring and birthing.

And then he sees the head crown. Holy !%*@! “I will never have sex with her again,” he solemnly swears to himself.

All the videos, education and breathing classes fly out the window during the harrowing birth process. With the propaganda around today, both the woman and man enter the hospital with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and enough romance to fill a busty novel. We’ll have candles, soft music, an epidural and poof! the baby will come. He will be her knight in shining armor (nevermind that he’s an insensitive, selfish knob the rest of the time) and she will be the personification of dignified beauty making birth look elegant (nevermind she squeals at a bug skittering across the floor). She expects him to say the exact right things, be in the exact right place, meet her subtle needs at the exact right time. He expects her to follow his lead and accept his protective advice.

And we wonder why the whole process can be infused with regret, disappointment and anger?

Let’s face it, in this system, both men and women are put in an impossible situation. During one of the most physically and emotionally difficult times, both partners must perform at levels they rarely achieve on days when the stars align and perfection reigns. Neither one knows what will happen during birth. Neither one knows if he or she can handle it.

But who does know? Another woman knows, that’s who. She knows that unless some rare crisis occurs, the woman can do it. She knows that if the woman gets up and moves the contractions will come faster and the baby will come faster. A woman knows that women are much stronger than they are socialized to believe they are. A woman’s opinion carries weight because she owns the parts, she’s been there.

No woman should every give birth without another woman. Period. Whether a midwife, doula, mother, sister, friend, a woman NEEDS a woman during this time.

The woman who mid-wives with the birthing mother (mid-wife means “with woman”), doesn’t interfere. She instills. She meets the woman’s eyes. Her presence is a comfort because if the mid-wife (or mom or sister or friend or doula) did it, so can I.

And here is another thing a woman helper can do for the birthing mother: She can help the husband. She can direct him to hold his wife in a way that helps her. She can tell him to go get water for his wife because she’s thirsty. He can use his strength to rub her shoulders. In short, the woman helper helps the man become USEFUL. Rather than an appendage, he is part of his wife’s journey to motherhood.

Even more important, if the husband realizes, as some do at the end of this ordeal, “Hey, I am not cut out for this. I don’t want to see it.” The birthing mother won’t be left alone. She still has support. She is still emotionally cared for.

Societally, birth is so medicalized and removed from everyday living, that both men and women have distorted expectations. Men no longer farm and birth calves. If they did that messy business, being with their wife wouldn’t be such a big deal. Instead, the woman’s vagina exists for one purpose: to give him sexual pleasure. Seeing the birth is a gory side-effect he never wanted to know about. He’s not desensitized to the process because he’s seen it over and over. No, her private parts are just that–secret places to be enjoyed in the dark and should be kept that way.

Same way with breastfeeding. Ack! Breasts are for fun not for food! I know men who refused to have their wives breastfeed for a variety of nefarious reasons: her boobs will get droopy, I’m jealous because she spends more time with the baby than me, I’m jealous because it is something only she can do.

In fact, being pregnant and giving birth is the MOST FEMINIST ACT. A man simply cannot do it. I believe this helplessness, this outsider status, plays on the secret insecurities of many men which may in part explain why a woman is much more likely to be abused when pregnant by her spouse.

To mitigate these shaky feelings, men have systematically “intervened”. Birthing as a medical procedure becomes one more way to dominate and control women all in the guise of “helping”. (A note on the women OB/GYNs: I have had a good one. I have had a bad one. I know from experience, even as a chiropractor, that the medical school process, too is male-dominated and heirarchical lending to rely only on “reason” and “facts”. To succeed in this milieu, almost like bootcamp, a depersonalization occurs. Read more about this through Dr. Christiane Northrup’s experience. Women, in order to be accepted in the medical world, often give up their unique gifts as women to succeed and be part of the “fraternity”.)

Women have bought into the weakness crap. Terrified by the scary stories, horrified by gruesome pictures, they willingly and eagerly submit to de-humanizing protocols and nonsensical procedures. I.V.’s “just in case”, forced to work without food and drink “just in case”, monitors “just in case”, staying in bed so that all these wires don’t get messed up, watched like a clock to “make sure you’re progressing”, poked and prodded and inspected by strangers and when she freaks out and the baby refuses to come, it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Oh, thank God for the forceps, the caesarean, the spinal block, and especially THE DOCTOR.

I want to be clear here: all this being said, I am not saying that these interventions are not life-saving at times. These interventions save lives in emergency cases. But with a 25-33% caesarean rate around here, you would think that women over the centuries grew babies on trees the birthing process is so fraught with doom.

Birthing needs to be returned to the woman’s domain. Women will do better health-wise. Their babies will do better. More babies will be nursed which will reduce SIDs, asthma and even some cancers. The women will be emotionally supported through this primal process as only other women can do.

And if the husband is invited into this process by his wife, then he is a lucky man, indeed. Birthing a baby is one of the most magical, empowering, unbelievably life-affirming passages a woman experiences.

If he can’t handle seeing what her body was made to do, if he can’t see her in that complex transition from woman to mother, he belongs where the men of old belonged–outside. He can see the baby later.

Should Men See Their Babies Born?

Monday, August 29th, 2005

I’ll write more tomorrow when I’m lucid, but here are the links: here and here.
(Watch the language in the second link…it’s bad, but there are some interesting points.) They are in response to a NY Times article called A Perilous Journey from Delivery Room to Bedroom that you must register for here.

UPDATE: Found a link to the NY Times feed here.

Great Photos

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Check out this blog–lots of colorful pictures. Catchy Colors Photoblog

Katrina Won’t Be Kind

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

I’m getting the same feeling watching Katrina bear down on New Orleans that I got when the planes came ripping through the Twin Towers on September 11th–unmitigated helplessness. That news brought me to my knees. The horror fresh in my memory still.

This Hurricane…words fail me. The damage to the Florida pan-handle still overwhelms many residents. I saw it myself. My husband helped a man re-build his house walking in foot-deep sludge and retrieving the neighbor-children’s toys. Boats strewn hundreds of yards from water like little pieces of wood. Houses gone. Streets gone. Lines for food. People hiking five miles to get to their homes.