Id either content margin the left side icons ^ up some.. or get rid of a % of the top of left panel.. just looks kinda dead on left > top.
also.. if I'm being honest Brian.. I'd try match up the gradients on the sides of left panel with the ones in the right click menus, their much softer (better)
just suggestions.. dont pay me no mind, I can babble on all night!
Hmmm... Good idea about softening the gradients.
As far as the height of the start menu, I kinda like it that way. Messing with the content margins doesn't seem to make much difference. I personally don't want to alter the height of it, but I guess I could do a substyle with a shorter menu...