Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making Love In A Subaru

Not surprisingly, Subarus and "sexy" have never really gone together in anyone's mind. Perhaps because the cars are, well, not sexy (much as I love them). Which makes this ad from the 70's all the more amusing. "Take hold of her rack..."? For real, someone wrote this? Man, I need to trade my wagon in for one of these old GL coupes...

P.S. I think of the whole ad, I laughed loudest at the part describing the "relentless power" of the 1.4L engine. Uh... yeah...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Economics of Psychiatry

The other day I called a psychologist colleague, to check whether he had space in his practice for a couple I wanted to refer to him for therapy. He's excellent, highly experienced, and in the past often booked up, so I wasn't optimistic. But his response was unequivocal: "My practice is shot completely to shit. Ever since the stock market crashed. Send over anyone you can."

Another other day I was having coffee with a social worker colleague. "How's your practice going?", I asked. "Well", she replied with a sigh, "I put in an application for a part-time job at Starbucks. If that answers your question."

When you have a regular job and the economy tanks, at least you have a steady paycheck until they lay you off. And then at least you know you're unemployed and need to look for a new job. When you're self-employed in private practice, though, you start getting laid off incrementally, and immediately. No one sends you a notice, or tells you what the plan is. Right now, it's pretty uneasy and uncomfortable. I definitely picked a bad year to start my own practice.

I keep a log of weekly receipts from the practice. It's very irregular, but overall my new practice was growing until the end of the summer-- and has been going down the toilet since then. You have to think there's a direct correlation to people's savings evaporating this fall. Here's a graph of the S&P 500 for 2008 (light red line) and my weekly gross income (jagged light blue line). The heavier, smooth lines are 4th-order polynomial trendlines for each. It might just be a coincidence, or seasonal variation. But I doubt it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Inexplicable Behavior

When you walk in the door to our waiting room, my office is the closest one. My door is straight ahead. When you leave my office, the door out is, therefore, also straight ahead. It has an illuminated sign above it reading "EXIT".

Off to the left, leaving my office, there's also an open doorway, leading to a long hallway with more offices.

Strangely, an astounding percentage of my clients leave my office and immediately turn left down the dead-end hallway, instead of proceeding about three yards straight ahead to the very obvious door they came in through. Believe it or not, I would say 80% of people do this on their first visit. And a good 30-40% do it even after they've been here many times. People head down the wrong hall, stop, turn around, look startled and/or confused, then seem to question their senses. Quite routinely now I say to people, "Oh, don't worry about it-- almost everyone does that."

As a shrink, I can't help but wonder what this is about. My theories so far (none of them very plausible):

1) People are innately so lazy that, faced with the choice of a closed door going where they need to go, or an open door going where they don't, they will take the open door;
2) People in our culture are so indoctrinated towards clockwise motion that, faced with the choice of going straight or turning left, they turn left. (Possibly this is opposite in the southern hemisphere?)
3) There is a local magnetic disturbance in the vicinity of my office building which causes people to lose their sense of direction.

I am open to other explanations...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More Economy-Related Depression

This unhappy story from Germany today. There's also one J. sent me from Canada, but it's too sad to share. You can probably find it if you look. Suffice to say, this despair happens at both ends of the wealth spectrum. And in between.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Sorry, not much posting excitement here lately. It's all been going on over at the Cold House Journal. Yeah, I know, it's sort of become my winter hobby.