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All I Want for Christmas...
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Any of the following would be graciously welcomed.

1. A phone in the shower. I listen to NPR and often want to call in and comment on the topics. Like the discussion last week about medical interns and residents who are forced to work unreasonable shifts. The primary excuses for this seem to be “we’ve always done it this way – our generation of doctors had to go through it and we want the next generation to suffer as well – it’s a rite of passage – better a blindingly tired doctor that continues on a patient’s case than having to transfer information to a freshly rested physician”. The interview included a discussion with the chief resident at a hospital who spoke as if she expected those who were assigned these shifts to bank sleep during the 18 hours between being on duty. She must have been asleep the day they taught about sleep. Sleep deprivation causes a condition that is akin to being drunk; it creates slowed reaction times, poor judgment, and a severely hampered ability to apply analytical techniques to problem solving. One has to wonder how many of the tens of thousands of medical mistakes made every year are created by this representation of arrogance.

2. A sign in the window of my car that would flash messages to other drivers. This would be controlled through voice commands and could include messages of appreciation (“Thanks for letting me in!”, “Good job swerving to avoid that cop!”), censure (“The turn signal is that stalk on the steering wheel, jackass!”, “That sign didn’t say ‘except for the jerkweed in the BMW!’”), or general observation (“So glad to see that PennDOT continues their campaign of SAVE THE ENDANGERED POTHOLES!”, “Yup, Oprah whined *way* too much on her road trip”).

3. A home heating and cooling system that actually heats and cools an entire house effectively. It should know when to switch from heating to cooling and back again automatically without having to physically flip switches on multiple thermostats. It should keep all rooms comfortable (90 degrees in one and 62 in another does not fit within this definition) so as not to lead to situations in which a child appears at your bedside in the middle of the night complaining that they can’t breathe from the heat while you’re huddled under layers of down and wool.

These are, of course, in addition to the butler who will bring me perfectly brewed tea with precisely the right amounts of cream and sugar, the TV remote that will create imaginative programming on those woeful evenings of 700-channels-and-there’s-nothing-on, the nanotechnology that will clean the shelves of my refrigerator on a continuous basis, and the phone that will screen out all the charity calls so that I don’t have to play the “I lost my job” card and feel miserable about not donating.

In the absence of any of those, I will be quite happy with my family, dogs, cats, a fire and a nice glass of champagne. Happy holidays.

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