The Architecture of Life: December 2007

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Language of Living Architecture

(Last of three related posts - Start at the beginning here.)

If you think about it, it is easy to see a strong relationship between the words we speak - the symbols, spoken language, gestures, and body language through which we communicate with others - and the environment human beings have built.

In one sense, nothing can exist for us as individuals or societies until we have a word to describe that object or event to others around us.

As Marshall McLuhan told us forty years ago, "the medium is the message."

For human beings, language not only describes, but in some ways, creates every social relationship.

It is no surprise that in many religious traditions, the universe was created by the "word" of God.

Each individual culture - each society - organizes around a unique descriptive language of shared experience and value, and that language creates the "architecture" of that unique social organism.

This is true for countries, ethnic groups, corporations, professions, towns and cities, political parties, religions, ideologies and even neighborhoods.

To further complicate matters, we live in a time - due to the emergence of mass media and the Internet - in which all of us are learning to "speak" many different dialects within these greater societal "languages."

If you think about it, you will see that your own family and friends sometimes use words and gestures that are unique to that group. We all use such social cues and special language to reinforce our social bonds. We know our "own" by how they talk.

Consider the possibility that all man-made artifacts in each unique environment - the buildings, furnishings, fashions, tools, technologies, art and architecture of our world - are also a form of language.

Seeing the world in this way provides an opportunity not only understand your family's unique "tongue," but to add words, expressions and phrases to that language.

Through this process, I believe it is possible to "create" new associations between your mind and your immediate environment.

By associating a particular object, room, symbol or condition within your home with a positive outcome in your life, you can focus more effectively on that result, and therefore make that part of your dream more likely to come true.

The positive results we achieve in life are most often the result of focusing our attention on something we desire, and then applying our wills towards that goal. In this manner, we achieve success.

Though our plans are always at risk in an uncertain world, life's failures are most often the result of inauthentic or unexamined goals; inaccurate assumptions about the nature of ourselves or our environment, or of a failure to apply sufficient attention to the objectives that are sought.

In the Far East, the ancient folk practice of Feng Shui has utilized similar methods for thousands of years. In Feng Shui, rooms, objects and architectural relationships are associated with aspects of life.

Prosperity, family, and health become external goals, out of the mind and into objective reality where they can be more effectively managed.

The process I am developing is not related to Feng Shui in any other significant way.

Feng Shui is rooted in mysticism, and my work is influenced by emerging science, but both systems use the "language" spoken by your home to support your ability to focus on aspects of life and the outcomes you desire.

Both methodologies use both the conscious and the automatic and unconscious functioning of your mind to enhance the living of your life.

I believe designing with this view in mind can bring warmth, vitality, diversity and relevance to residential architecture.

I believe the living architecture that we seek exists in each individual. It is embedded in the images, shadings, colors, syntax and content of each person's unique inner language.

It can be felt intuitively. We do not have to think about expressing it any more than we have to think to speak.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

(Second of three related posts. Start at the beginning here.)

Human beings - like all living things - are utterly enmeshed in relationships with their environment.

In our living and evolving world, those relationships are the bricks and mortar from which the world's eco-systems are built.

Over millions of years, these relationships have diversified and become overwhelmingly complex interdependent systems that in many cases adapt to their surroundings like living organisms.

All habitats on our planet - including the cities and other environments built by human beings - are forged from these complex systems of relationship. All known biological organisms are participants in them, often playing roles in several different systems at the same time.

Most living things on our planet exist because they play some role in processing the energy of the sun. Photosynthetic plants and micro-organisms use the sun's energy for their own purposes, but in the process, a complex adaptive system of relationships passes that same energy down the food chain.

Many scientists believe this same global system regulates the planet's the temperature, the carbon-dioxide content of our atmosphere, the salinity of the oceans, and even impacts weather across the globe...thus creating the conditions needed for the rest of life on our planet to exist.

The diverse species that form these interdependent systems often appear unrelated on the surface, but when closely examined, the behavior of one is found to be critical to the survival or well-being of others.

These forms of subtle interdependence not only underlie life in the oceans and rain forests, but also our day to day lives in our homes, businesses and social institutions.

Scientists, social researchers and others have explored this fertile view of our world with increasing focus since the middle of the last century.

Entire academic disciplines - ecology, environmental psychology, sociology, anthropology and others - are looking at the same phenomena from different directions. Many brilliant minds have turned their attention to understand the behavior of these systems, studying the "forests" of our world rather than the "trees" that form them.

This approach to studying the world is often called "environmental" or "systems" science. We are only beginning to understand living systems, but the stakes in the quest are very high.

There are reasons to believe that a great underlying order might exist behind the immeasurably complex web of life.

If we can uncover that order - laws that govern biological systems similar to the immutable laws of physics - it would have world-shaking results. We might be able to predict the behavior of living systems more effectively - including human behavior - which could change everything.

Some of the "laws" that govern life are already understood, at least in part. Almost all scientists accept that the inexorable process of natural selection refines life on earth to fit the circumstances that exist in the habitat from which each organism springs.

That "selecting" is done by the intimate aspects of our environment.

Predator and prey share a very close relationship.Threats to our survival are always profoundly intimate, whether the attack comes from ebola viruses, charging lions, enemy soldiers, hardening of the arteries, or lightning strikes.

Driven by hunger and thirst, consumed with periodic lust, fighting for survival…life on our planet is no cakewalk.

All organisms must compete for survival and survive the vagaries of an uncertain and sometimes violent climate. At the top of the food chain, we humans intuitively accept this carnage as part of our everyday lives.

Most of us think little of it. Each day, a new and riotous profusion of life springs into being, most of which is consumed by larger organisms in short order…but few of us take notice. Deep in our hearts, we have learned to accept the inevitability of pain and death.

Entropy, the universal law of thermodynamics that says everything in nature wears down, degrades, and seeks a lower, more stable state assures us that we will never know anything else.

Human lives are temporary…but few of us enjoy contemplating that fact as we are trying to fall asleep in our beds at night. We would rather improve on the story, creating grand tales about the power and heroism of the individual, while ignoring our utter dependence upon - and immersion in - the world around us.

Our only comfort comes from aggrandizing ourselves.

This dialectic - between the individual and the greater system from which it evolves - may be a fundamental characteristic of life.

“Individuality” may be a necessary component of complex living systems, and complex systems may be required to sustain individual organisms. Life on our planet may be social at its core.

Whatever the big picture, human beings are wired cognitively to see themselves as individuals. We assume we are making independent choices, each living lonely, independent lives. As infants, we learn to distinguish our independent perception and experience from the rest of the world.

We learn to differentiate "I" from "you," and "it."

But this natural, "common sense" view of our life experience gives us a blind side. The very nature of our gift of self-consciousness makes it hard to see the profound interdependence that underlies our existence.

The tools we use to maintain our complex societies - even the parts of our brains that make it possible - were inherited from other animals.

Our world is teeming with highly social organisms. They, like us, are direct descendents of ancient single-celled organisms that first began to experiment with cooperation and social organization in the "primordial soup" in order to improve their chances of surviving a hostile environment.

Over the eons, this successful adaptive strategy has appeared again and again in a wide variety of forms. Every social adaptation on the planet - from elephant herds on the Serengeti Plain to the symbiotic bacteria in our intestines that help digest our food - is an expression of this ancient adaptive strategy.

Human social systems - families, neighborhoods, religious organizations, political parties, cities and towns, regional and national governments, and corporations - are but diverse expressions of this same hoary tradition. In many ways, these living social "organisms" respond to their environments the same way an animal responds to the eco-system it inhabits.

Human history is a complex system of relationships that evolves over time, an interactive adaptive amalgam of our combined experience.

Since no single person can hold our combined experience in his or her head, we have learned to imbed what we find valuable in the fabric of our societies.

We store this hard-won wisdom in the form of language, artifacts, architecture, laws, governments, traditions, rituals, religions and other cultural agreements. In this way, the living systems of human civilization maintain their structure over time and evolve.

The inventor of the wheel is long forgotten, but the human world still turns on his idea. Our individual actions and ideas survive our mayfly existence only when they find a place in these over-arching systems of cultural agreement.

Ultimately, it is impossible to be human and truly be alone.

The experience of "being human" is a social phenomenon. The two major goals of our development as we grow older are individuation and socialization.

Whether we realize it or not, everything we think and feel is a result of our relationships with one another and the environments we share. Those relationships are imbedded in our genes, refined by our developmental experience, and expressed by our individual behavior, our family systems and our societies.

Each tree impacts the nature of the forest. The forest impacts the nature of each individual tree.

Both are impacted by the global climate and other conditions in the environment in which they exist.

Everything living is constantly engaged in this vibrant, life-and-death negotiation. Our behavior as individuals and societies in the "real world" is dominated - perhaps even fully determined - by this process.

The reality we see around us, including the way we interpret our perceptions of that reality, is the result.

A tree may not understand that it is a component of the forest, that its life is utterly dependent on the light of the sun, the water it seeks with its roots, and the other living and non-living systems from which it emerged.

It may not be aware that its body was molded by that same environment…but that lack of understanding does not make those relationships any less critical to its nature and survival.

The tree and the forest are components of one living system.

It is the same for us.

Read more here.

Home and Transformational Change

(The first of three related posts.)

In America, real estate is the single largest sector of the Gross National Product (GNP) other than government.

Forty-four per cent of ALL wealth in the United States exists in the form of residential real estate. Only maintaining a stable society is of greater priority to Americans than shelter.

But it’s still a chicken or the egg issue because war and social unrest are notoriously hard on our real estate.

We support the maintenance of order through the rule of law partly because of a primeval desire to protect our most intimate of environments - the home.

Our preoccupation with finding and maintaining suitable shelter is quite ancient. Homes were central in the lives of human beings long before civilization arose.

And finding and maintaining suitable shelter was a critical priority for a broad variety of organisms on our planet for hundreds of millions of years before our kind evolved.

Many animals besides man either carry their houses around with them - or like us - construct homes that are so critical to their well-being that they cannot exist without them.

Macrotermes termite societies cannot survive outside the towering structures they build. They have become so dependent on the environments they create that one leading physiologist consider their mounds “external organs” of their bodies.

(See The Extended Organism by J. Scott Turner on my Amazon widget below right.)

Legions of other organisms are equally dependent upon their built environments and upon other organisms who share those homes with them. "Home" is an adaptive evolutionary strategy that has been adopted by thousands of species on our planet.

But what about us?

Think for a moment what would happen to human societies if the structures that we have built were suddenly to disappear.

Civilized nations are the result of complex interdependent systems of relationship - economic, political, cultural, techological and others - that are utterly embedded in our built environment.

Our buildings and tools have become like external organs of our physical bodies.

Like our skin they protect us from the elements.

Like our brains, they organize our thoughts and store our memories.

Like our arms and legs they move us through the world and allow us to manipulate our surroundings.

This can happen only because we intuitively relate to those aspects of our environment as parts of our selves. Consider what percentage of us would survive if that built environment suddenly disappeared!

Studies have shown that our brains react to our shadows as though they are part of our bodies. When we associate objects and conditions in our environment with emotional experiences in intimate ways, we begin to own the features of the environment in which those experiences happened, and they own us in return.

Our homes are distinct physical objects and not part of our bodies - but deep inside - that is not generally how we feel. If our home is attacked, we react as though the assault is aimed at us.

Our bodies have “fuzzy boundaries.” Our experience of “self” does not end at our skin. Much of who we think we are lives outside our immediate bodies, in the world around us, and it has been this way for so long we seldom think about it.

Our homes are no longer simply structures we use to protect ourselves from the elements. They have become representations of who we are. They tell our personal stories and show others who we are and what we value.

They express our unique priorities, cultural traditions and family histories.

They demonstrate in a real and palpable way how we think, what we feel and what we hold dear.

The ancient human quest for "home" has changed over time and become a more intimate tale. From the sanctuary of our homes, we connect to the world around us and all living things within it.

Home is the place we "come from" physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

I believe when you decide to design and build a new home, remodel your current home, or create an opportunity for transformational change in your life.

I believe your home can and should be the center of your life experience...the single place where you feel safest and most in control of your circumstances...the place on this earth where you most profoundly "belong."

It should be a place that nurtures and supports you and your family. It should be tailored to "fit" and empower each inhabitant's unique emotional needs, life goals and personal preferences.

Accomplishing that goal is the purpose of exploring this discussion on this blog, why I started my Internet start-up, and a central passion of my life.

Read more here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Editors note: I hesitated to post this story on my blog. After all, for the most part, I am trying to promote what I consider a new and important approach to design that is related to my two "day jobs" - that being running an architecture firm and an Internet start-up.

But I live another less than secret life as a writer and the publisher of a small regional humor and commentary quarterly that comes from a tiny town in Texas with a population of 77. I overcame my better instincts this holiday season and decided to risk my credibility - such that it is - by posting this story which I ran in the Winter issue of my goofy quarterly.

Why! Well it makes a good point - and I think it's funny! But then of course, I would.


Transcript of International
Toy Ethics Conference

The following is a transcript of the opening session of the first International Toy Ethics Conference. The conference was held in Round Top on November 8 and 9 in the Round Top Town Hall.

Many powerful and famous individuals from the toy & entertainment industries met here to discuss issues related to the sale of violent video games, “war” toys and other products marketed to children that have been criticized as promoting “violent behavior.” Such products and their effects on children were discussed by two groups representing opposing views on the subject.

This transcript begins as the event’s chair - classic television star Howdy Doody - is introducing a group of blue-ribbon panelists who will begin the discussion.


Chairman Doody - Howdy folks. If you’ll just find a seat, we’ll see if we can get this thing rolling. I want to thank you all for attending this event, the very first International Toy Ethics Conference. (applause)

Today we are gathered for a historic discussion on the subject of violence in the lives of children. One way or another, all of us in this room make our living by appealing to children.

They are our customers. We all know, without them, we are out of business.

These days, our customers are requesting increasingly violent toys and programming. Many concerned people believe that we in the toy and entertainment industries should play a role in limiting this trend.

Some say that we are promoting and inciting violent behavior in our customers by providing these goods and services.

Others - including many here tonight - think that market forces should determine the toys we make and the programs we air.

That’s what we are here to discuss...and without further ado, I want to introduce a group of people that I am proud to say represent the finest minds in our business. We are honored to have these folks on this beginning panel.

In order to assure a balanced presentation of the issues, we’ve created two teams, one comprised of people who favor industry controls on violent toys and programming, (raucous cheers) and one team who oppose such controls (hoots and boos).

First, the team leader for the pro-controls team, a man that needs no introduction - the Chairman of North Pole Enterprises, the biggest toy distributor in the world - Mr. S. Claus. (applause and cheers)

Next, someone close to our hearts, the grand dame of gingham, the original rags to riches story...Raggedy Ann! (hoots and claps)

Third, a beloved star of television and film, the immortal Lassie. (woofs and barks)

Fourth, every little girl’s dream, the best dressed doll in show business... Barbie! (whistles and cat calls)

Now, on the other side of the table, the team leader for the anti-controls team, a tough guy that is famous around the world, the King of Mean, the Baddest of the Bad, Mr. Destruction....G. I. Joe! (hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot)

G. I. Joe - Okay that’s enough...I said THAT’S ENOUGH! (silence)

Chairman Doody - Thanks big guy. They love you. Next, a classic film star, an actor who, perhaps more than any other one individual, brought random violence into children’s programming, the furious fuhrer of the Three Stooges... Moe! (Squeal... whooooboo boo boo)


Chairman Doody - Ha! Ha! Those crazy guys. They just never quit do they?

Next, an unparalleled method actor, the Duke of Down, the Sultan of Splat...Wiley Coyote!

Wiley Coyote - (ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssSPLAT !)

Chariman Doody - Thanks for dropping by good buddy.

Last but far from least, an incredibly big star and the founding father of the Japanese film industry.This guy will really let you know what he thinks... a real fire breather... Godzilla! (GOD-ZIL-AAAH! GOD-ZIL-AAH! GOD-ZIL-AHH!)

G. I. Joe - Okay Zilla, cool your troops.

Godzilla - ROAR! (Flame spurts out of his mouth, singeing the facial hair of the attendees in the first three rows.)

Chairman Doody - Wooo big fella, I thought you were going to give up smoking... (laughter)

Heh....heh. Okay, that’s enough kidding around. Let’s get busy.

The format for tonight’s discussion is as follows; each team leader will be allowed to make a three minute introductory statement defending his team’s point of view. Then, the panel will begin an open discussion on the issues.

We drew straws to determine the first speaker and G. I. Joe won. He has chosen to speak following Mr. Claus’ opening statement.

So, without further delay, I give you Mr. Santa Claus.

Santa - Hello friends. I’m happy to be here and happy to have the opportunity to speak about this important subject. You know, I always tell children that they better not pout and they better not cry but that’s pretty hard to do when someone has just taken the top of your head off with a STAR WARS GENERAL GRIEVOUS BLASTER. (laughter)

Ho! Ho! Ho! Just a little toy violence humor. But seriously folks, children today face an increasingly violent environment and that’s nothing to be jolly about.

The news reports are full of crime in the streets. The most popular video games like Street Fighter, Doom, and Grand Theft Auto are highly violent...blood gushing everywhere, limbs being cut off, wholesale carnage!

On television, children’s programming is full of violent confrontations between artificially muscled warriors, dripping with weapons blasting each other to oblivion.

No offense meant to our friend Joe here, but I ask you. Are these the toys you think we should give the good little boys and girls?

Here are some startling figures folks. Did you know that the average American household has 2.4 television sets? An average 2-5 year old watches 28 hours of television a week. In Britain it’s up to almost 35 hours a week.

Now on those televisions, violent acts occur an average of 8 to 12 times an hour and up to 20 times an hour during children’s programming. The average child will see 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence by the end of elementary school.

Now maybe you think this isn’t having any effect on kids, but according to studies on television violence, an astounding 66% of children’s programs contain violence…and in over 70% of violent portrayals on television, the perpetrators go unpunished.

One long-term study documented the effects in a small Canadian town that did not acquire television until 1973. Researchers found that children’s rates of aggression, including hitting, pushing and biting, increased by a remarkable 160% two years after television was introduced into their homes.

Talk about bad little boys and girls... Sounds like there’s going to be a run on coal if this keeps up much longer. (random chuckling)

Between 1955 and the 1990’s, homicide rates in the U.S. more than doubled from 4.5 to 10 per 100,000 people. Every 92 seconds a person under the age of 20 dies from a gunshot wound.

Think about this. The primary cause of death from injury for American children under the age of 4 is homicide. During the last 20 years the rates of violent crime among younger American teens has grown 126%.

Now, that makes it pretty tough to have a Merry Christmas, especially if you live in the inner city.

You know, we have a few resources at the North Pole that are not available to the average person. I don’t mean to sound like Big Brother, but the truth is I know when you’ve been sleeping and I know when you’re awake. I know when you’ve been bad or good and I know when some kid’s greatest dream is to rip out his enemy’s heart with his bare hands in that Street Fighter video game.

For goodness sake! Is this what we want for our children?

I say it’s time for toy disarmament.

It’s time for toy gun control. It’s time to put the peace back in the Prince of Peace’s birthday.
It’s time...

Chairman Doody - Sorry Mr. Claus, but your time is up.

Santa - Okay Howdy. Thanks for giving me a chance to speak.

Chairman Doody - You’re welcome Santa. That was certainly a thought provoking talk. Next, we will hear G. I. Joe make the argument against controls on violent toys and programming. Mr. Joe.

G. I. Joe - At ease Doody.

All right troops listen up. You’ve heard the namby-pamby soft soap from the fat guy in the long johns, now it’s time for the straight poop, or perhaps in deference to our chairman here I ought to say the straight doody. (embarrassed laughter)

Just a joke, soldier. (Slaps the chairman on the back, knocking him to the floor) No hard feelings. But seriously folks. What are we talking about here? More government intervention from those nittering bureaucrats and politicians?

We all know those spineless weak sisters could never win a war if their worthless lives depended on it...and that’s what we’re talking about here, winning! That’s all that matters in the long run.

Sure, I heard all of the Mr. Bowl-Full-of-Jelly’s statistics but there’s another way of looking at those numbers.

I suggest to you that what we have here is the grandest military training program in all of history.We’re starting them young and honing their reflexes, sharpening their martial arts skills, training their killer instincts. Sure, there are a few casualties but that’s the cost of freedom!

Just suppose in the future, some aggressive foreign dictator wants to take over America?

What if some unexpected alien force from outside our solar system shows up and want to incubate their young in our brains? What if some dark, monolithic evil empire springs up that wants to subject us all to mind control?

Do you want to field a fighting force that grew up playing with a hacky sack or Toobers and Zots?

What are they going to do, build a cute little Berlin wall out of Legos with little child-safe guardhouses to keep the bad guys out?

Ha! Get real. Godzilla here would reduce the whole thing to radioactive plastic slag after one night of bad Mexican food.

No. It’s time to step up to the plate. We’ve got these kids just where we want them. Sure they’re scared, but that just makes ‘em lean and mean. They’re mad, but that’s what will give ’em the edge.

They want to kick some butt for America, raise that grand old flag over the smoking bodies of their enemies - oh, sorry Zilla - and of course, the flags of our smoking loyal allies.

Our war toys are creating the most effective fighting force in the world. Why? Because we have more televisions than anyone else and we should thank our lucky stars we do! Sure there’s violence on TV. Damn right!

In fact, if you ask me, I’m tired of these milk toast, wimp censors telling me and my commandos what kind of force we can use to fight evil on television.I think we need more television violence and more war toys to prepare our youth for the world to come, because...and I want you Joes out there to think about this...

Do you think we are the only one’s watching violent television? Do you think we are the only country in the world that is training it’s young for battle?

You think the terrorists and those bat-crazy suicide bombers aren’t watching the Teenage Ninja Turtles?

This whole thing is leading to war and ONLY THE STRONG WILL SURVIVE!

If these left-wing bleeding hearts have their way, we’ll all be under the thumb of the next nickel-ante backwoods dictator that gets a yearning for apple pie.

We need to get tough! We need more nukes. We need...

Chairman Doody - Uh, excuse me Joe but...

G. I. Joe - Don’t interrupt me soldier! I’ll rip your lungs out through your...oh, uh...As you were Doody. I’ll stand down.

Chairman Doody - Thank you G. I. Joe. Well, I’m sure we all enjoyed that passionate speech from America’s favorite action figure. Now, we enter the open discussion part of the evening.

Panelists, I’ve asked Zapp Luger - the Town Marshal of Round Top - to serve as our Sergeant-at-Arms during this discussion. Please raise your hands before speaking and have the courtesy not to interrupt.

(Editor's Note: Marshall Luger is 6.9' tall, 320 Pd's, and not a man to be trifled with. Among other exploits, he has beaten Jessie Ventura in a grudge match, and attacked 18 wheelers speeding through Round Top with a bazooka.)

I will recognize a speaker from one side and then, will choose someone from the other side for rebuttal. I’ll begin with Santa’s team. Uh...Ms. Raggedy Ann.

Raggedy Ann - Well gosh, I just think that we all shouldn’t fight. I mean hugging is better than mugging if you ask me.

Golly, when you fight, your cloth can get torn and the next thing you know your stuffing is falling out and then the little girl leaves you outside accidentally and you get all dirty and the next thing you know she doesn’t want you any more. (sob)

Then she gets a Barbie and you’re left in the back of the closet like you’re nothing...nothing! It’s just so sad! So terribly, terribly sad! (Waaaaah, sniff, sniff, Waaaaaah!)

Barbie - There, there. It’s all right dear. Little girls do grow up.

Raggedy Ann - Get your hands off me you cheap bimbo. Look at you! You’re not even soft. Who would want to hug a doll like you. A kid could get a stone bruise!

Chairman Doody - Well, uh while Ms. Ann is getting her emotions under control, we’ll hear from the other side. Let’s see, Wiley Coyote. Uh, excuse me Mr. Coyote, but what did you have in mind with that stick of dynamite? Marshal Luger, I think we have a point of order here.

Marshal Luger - We don’t allow no skinny varmints with explosives in the Town Hall mister so you and me are going to take a little trip down to the pokey. (He grabs the coyote by the scruff of the neck and drags him out of the Town Hall.)

Chairman Doody - Well, seeing as how Mr. Coyote is indisposed, we’ll hear a rebuttal from Moe.


Chairman Doody - Thank you for that reasoned response Mr. Stooge. Now from the other side... Miss Barbie.

Barbie - (sweetly) I know what. Let’s all plan a wedding.

G.I. Joe - Now we’re talkin’ baby. I can hardly wait for the honeymoon. (snickers lewdly and nudges Godzilla who rumbles suggestively.)

Barbie - Gosh Joe, I don’t think you have the right equipment for that mission.

G.I. Joe - Oh sure, bring that up you castrating b...

Barbie - What I was going to say was that maybe we could ...

Lassie - Woof!

Barbie - ...all work together some way and make a marriage of the minds. It’s like I’m always telling Ken...

Lassie - Woof! Woof!

Barbie - ...when he gets depressed. You know he has the same problem the commander here has and some times it gets him down. Anyway...

Lassie - Woof! Woof! Woof!

Chairman Doody - Uh, Marshall Luger, would you please open the door for Lassie. I think she has to answer a call from nature. Go ahead Barbie.

Barbie - Anyway, I always say that we ought to make love, not war. I mean if they would just make us anatomically correct I bet old Joe here would find another outlet for his aggression...

Raggedy Ann - God! You are such a floozy! Children don’t want disgusting little private parts on their dolls! You are so cheap and repulsive.

Barbie - (defensively) Well there’s nothing wrong with it! It’s a perfectly natural thing...

Chairman Doody - I think it’s time to bring this discussion back around to the subject at hand. Mr. Claus; G.I. Joe.., do you have any closing remarks?

G. I. Joe - Well first off, I don’t like this chippie’s insinuation that I’m not a man!

Sure, maybe I’m plastic but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I may not go out in every port chasing skirts but it’s not always easy defending America against the various evil empires, mad geniuses and insectoid terrorists that show up every Saturday to destroy our way of life.

Sometimes I’m just not in the mood when I get off work.

And, if I like the company of my troops, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes I just want to spend time with my comrades...discussing some strategy... sitting around the fire...sipping a little chablis.

Chairman Doody - You know, I felt the same way about Buffalo Bob. He was such a great guy.

G. I. Joe - My men are so special to me!

Santa - Let it out big guy. It’s okay to be yourself.

G. I. Joe - Nobody understands how hard it is. I’ve never been good at talking to a woman.

When we get together, it just never seems to work out. They always seem to want something I can’t give them!

Godzilla - Joe, snap out of it! What are you talking about? You’re actin’ like some kind of a freakin’ wimp!

G. I. Joe - I can’t help it ‘Zilla. It’s all just too much. (sob)

Godzilla - Oh man! I can’t take this. I’m really gettin’ steamed. (smoke begins to escape from his nostrils.) Our big, tough hero Joe is nothin’ but a whining little sissy...a crybaby! I think I’m gonna hurl!

Santa - Now Godzilla, it’s okay if Joe wants to express his inner feelings. It’s healthy for...

Godzilla - Cram it, Claus!

Santa - (frowning) Lookin’ for sticks and rocks in the stocking this year froggie?

Godzilla - Is that a threat fat boy? And I am not a frog! Frogs are amphibians. I’m a reptile you overweight...

Chairman Doody - Now ladies and gentlemen, let’s be civil...

Godzilla - Shut up Doody or you’re toast!


Lassie - Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Marshall Luger - Sit down Mr. Stooge. Now, Mr. Godzilla, I can understand that you are a mite upset but here in Round Top we try to treat people civil...

Godzilla - Stuff it, cracker! If I want to hear from you I’ll go watch an old Dukes of Hazzard...

You’re on your way to a barbecue bubba, and guess who’s gonna be the main dish you redneck...ULP! (Zapp Luger collars Godzilla and hauls him out of the Town Hall by the scruff of the neck.)

Chairman Doody - Well, I must say, this has been a very stimulating evening. Perhaps we have not completely resolved the issues before us but I think we have touched on a number of important subjects.

Santa - Ho Ho! Ho! I think you’re right Howdy. You know I do just have one last thing to say before we adjourn...if that’s okay.

Chairman Doody - Sure Santa. What’s that?

Santa - You know, folks. It’s hard to be a good parent. When the child you love wants something, it’s just natural to try to get it for them. But think of it this way...say Junior wanted a small, fully armed nuclear warhead, or maybe even a stealth bomber with conventional weapons, would you give him that for Christmas?

I mean, one temper tantrum and the whole neighborhood is a wasteland.

I think we have to make choices with our children just like we try to make with countries that act like children. We took Saddam Hussein’s violent toys away from him didn’t we? I know a few ten-year-olds that make that poor dead dictator look like an angel.

So, let’s stop the imaginary killing now before it becomes the real thing...and one more thing. Merry Christmas to all and to all...a good night.

Chairman Doody - Thanks folks. See you at tomorrow’s session. And by the way, the mayor has asked us to go easy on the town’s toilet paper supply. There’s some kind of shortage.

Barbie - Say Santa. Think you’d like to get together later for a nightcap?

Santa - No dear. I don’t think Mrs. Claus would like that. Why don’t you try hitting on the stooge. I bet he’s available.

Barbie - Barf!

Raggedy Ann - Tramp!

Lassie - Woof!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You

I am really excited about a new book that is coming out next Spring. It's called Snoop - What Your Stuff Says About You and it's written by Sam Gosling, Ph.D, a University of Texas at Austin behavioral psychologist whose an internationally-known expert on personality.

Sam's been profiled by the New York Times and Psychology Today. He was featured in Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book, Blink. says Sam is “ of the field's most ingenious researchers" and continues "What he has
discovered is astonishing: When it comes to the most essential components of our personalities... the things we own and the way we arrange them often say more about us than our most intimate conversations.”

Sam's got a good sense of humor, and calls his research approach "snooping". The book encourages its readers to become "snoopologists".

Because we share a passionate interest in what our personal environments tell us about personality, behavior and values, Sam and I ran into each other over a year ago while I was out looking for psychometricians for my Internet start-up.

Sam's a brilliant guy with a strong background in researching animal personality who decided a few years back to study how the living and working spaces humans inhabit might offer clues to the personalities of their inhabitants.

Sam Gosling's work is exciting in itself, but what really has me cranked up is that the last chapter of his new book is mostly about the Truehome process I use in our architecture firm to develop designs for homes that fit the unique emotional needs and personalities of our clients.

That's the same process we are taking to the Internet at

I shared the original workshop I had used for years in my firm with him quite a while back, and surprise! He drove down to the tiny town where I live a while back, interviewed me and some of my clients who have used my process, and next thing you know, the last chapter of Snoop is all about what I'm doing.

Man, is my head getting big! Sam is the third major academic to decide our work has scientific credibility - and since his research specialty focuses directly on my ideas - that is quite a feather in my cap.

Subsequently Sam even decided he was comfortable endorsing our project. Here's what he had to say.

“I have been particularly impressed by how Truehome was built with a sophisticated psychological theory at its core to create a set of exercises that are engaging and intuitive without sacrificing rigor or depth.

“I believe that Truehome, more so than any conventional design process, will help clients create spaces that match their personalities, ultimately resulting in happier, healthier lives."

Snoop can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. I've reviewed part of the book and it's great. Sam's breakthrough ideas are exciting enough, but the guy is also quite funny.

It's written for a lay audience and not overly technical so it will be fun for any level reader. Check it out. You won't be sorry. My guess is it will be a best-seller.

I hope so. I just love attention!