Saturday, 11 April 2015

Out with the old (1}

 Bye-bye 921 AGD

I renewed my State of Florida vehicle registration the other day, choosing to make the renewal for two years.  I was a bit early since the old registration  did not expire until the end of May 2015.

Much to my surprise this renewal also led to a change in my licence plate/tag/number plate.  So I have to bid farewell to



Florida Statutes (Section 320.06(1)(b)) require the replacement of all license plates every 10 years. The state of FL believes replacement is necessary because license plates must be fully reflectorized to ensure visibility for law enforcement purposes.

Under normal circumstances my plate would have not changed until 2016, i.e.  ten years after I moved from MA to FL.  But since I chose to make a renewal for two years in this year (2015) my plate number will change immediately

Damn.  Just at the time  I have learned to remember 921 AGD   I will have to memorize a new number.

Other places have better systems:

In the U.K. the registration plate stays with the vehicle, whoever owns it.

In Massachusetts the registration plate stays with the owner just so long as she/he owns any vehicle.


Poor Penne

It's allergy season again and poor Penne has developed all manner of hives and rashes, as she did at this time of year in 2014.

I recognized the symptoms so I immediately started giving her "Zyrtec", an over the counter anti-histamine, which can be used by canines as well as humans.

That was too late to prevent a nasty set of hot spots on her back.  Yesterday I managed to get a 5:00 p.m. appointment with Penne's veterinarian.  So Penne got shaved (she was cool about this as long as I cradled her head in my arms); was given a steroid shot; and sprayed with "gentamicin". 

I'll  continue with twice daily gentamicin sprays, and give her  a canine anti-biotic which I will get at the pharmacy today.

Luckily Penne is not licking the exposed hot spots, so she will not need to be a cone-head.

A sore end

A trusting face
My vet, Dr. Koch, has been in poor health for over a year. There are days on which he is well enough to work, and weeks when he is at home.  The practice continues to operate thanks to the excellent techies, and to locum vets.

Penne saw one of these locums yesterday, Dr. Jackson.     I was immediately impressed with the warmth of her personality, and her utterly professional manner.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Root Canal 23rd April: I am fortunate.

I met with Dr. Raul Ortiz, and yes, I do need a root canal.   Before you  "aargh" do note that modern dentistry is remarkably skillful, and that a root canal is to be preferred over an extraction. I do not anticipate pain, simply a bit of discomfort.

I liked Dr. Ortiz, he has a relaxed and gentle manner, and a nice sense of humour. I am confident in his skills.

To root canal has been postponed until 23rd April because on 15th April I will undergo a minor surgical procedure  (nothing even vaguely life-threatening) , which itself will result in a bit of discomfort for about a week.

The dentistry will cost $1,023.  I am fortunate in that my dental insurance will cover 85%, so my co-pay will be about $150.

When I think about the expenses of running a modern endodontics office:  up-to- date equipment, sterilization of instruments, rent, salaries for the dentist's well trained and qualified assistants, and salaries for the staff needed to run the office ( making appointments and follow-up calls, and taking care of billing and insurance reimbursements), plus a bit of money for the endodontist!  I do not think that $1023 is excessive.

I am one of the fortunate who live in a city with an abundance of medical professionals in very field.

I am one of the fortunate who has first class dental insurance.

But I cannot face this procedure without a thought for those who do not have dental insurance; and for those who live in the "medically under served" areas of our cities; and for those who live in rural areas -  far from the nearest clinics and hospitals.  For many of these folks, dental care is an unaffordable luxury.  Their poor dental health leads, of course, to many other health problems.

I am fortunate.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Lady Day (Billie Holliday) born one hundred years ago today.

Billie Holliday  ("Lady Day") was born one hundred years ago today.

She  (like Edith Piaf) was a wondrous singer, whose powerful and passionate tunes and lyrics were conceived,  and then birthed,  from  bitter wombs -  wombs of oppression and exploitation.

Here is the text of Lady Day's "signature" song -  a text about the lynching of Negroes in the "Old South".

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

The text of "Strange Fruit"  was composed  by Abel Meeropol in 1937 (or 1939)..  (Abel and his wife were amazingly courageous and compassionate people)  see:

And here is the song, as sung by Lady Day

Monday, 6 April 2015

Sarasota County (FL) has a fabulous Tax Collector.

 (Taxes are necessary and governmental offices often do "good work"  editorial comment from jmp).

We are blessed that here in Sarasota County, FL. the office of the County Tax Collector is led by a skilled woman, who leads an utterly efficient governmental department.

Her name is Barbara Ford-Coates.

Barbara happens to be a member of St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key, FL  (where I also hang my hat most Sundays).

We rarely encounter each other, since I usually attend a Eucharist at 7:45 a.m., whilst Barbara is most often at the 11:15 a.m. Eucharist.

Our paths crossed the other Sunday.  This gave me the chance to tell Barbara that she is an excellent public servant, who runs a marvelously efficient Office.

She was grateful for my words.  She responded thus regarding her work:

1. You recruit good people.

2. You train them well.

3. Then you set them free to have fun.

Lordy, lordy  even the storied Harvard Business School could not have distilled it better!

It is a word which could/should apply to all business/non-profit/ religious operations who aim for success.


1. You recruit good people.
2. You train them well.
3. Then you set them free to have fun.
 Could it be simpler, or more profound than that?
I think not. 
I salute and honour Barbara Ford-Coates for her wisdom (and for educating me).

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter Day 2015

Note, of course, that it is Easter Day  (not Easter Sunday). 

By its very nature, the beginning of the Christian celebration of Easter is always on a Sunday  (the first day of the week), hence that great celebration is rightly called "Easter Day".

In the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic world (and maybe also in Eastern Orthodoxy) Easter is celebrated for fifty days,  (approximately 1/7th of the year) set apart to rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter Day for me this year, (apart from necessaries such as dog walks)  went thus.


a one egg omelette, with one slice of low fat, low sodium ham.

Church at 7:45 a.m.: - 

We sang "Jesus Christ is risen today" - the popular choice  for Easter Day (but a rather dull hymn which goes one, and one and on  -  there are more joyful and spirited Easter Hymns) but "tradition "calls for "Jesus Christ is risen today" (which the old-timers can sing from memory).

We heard a seventeen minute sermon,  marked for the preacher's enthusiasm, but also for  his lack of a coherent exposition of the Resurrection story from John 20:1-18  (It was more of a pep-talk than a sermon).

But we heard the reading of that Gospel, and we shared in the sacred bread and wine -  and that was enough for me.


At home and alone, but oh so delicious:

Broiled Lamp tips, with home made mint sauce.

Boiled small potatoes ( a medley of  black, red, white, and purple spuds - courtesy of Trader Joes), and bathed with butter and parsley).

Sugar snap peas, (cooked well enough to be hot, but not so much that they lost their crunchy-ness).


A small slice of store bought rotisserie chicken breast.

Four very small and quartered "heritage" tomatoes  (red, orange, yellow and purple).

A few tablespoons of "five bean salad" (Paisley Farm brand, via Sam's Club).


Super food, fit for a queen, at church and at home.  What a privileged person I am.


In the meantime

Christians are marked for death in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Kenya.

Jews are marked for nasty prejudice in some Western European countries.

Palestinians  ( Christian and Muslim) are marked for oppression by  Israeli security forces  in the West Bank/"Occupied  territories"  (part of Jordan until 1967).

Muslims are persecuted by Buddhists in Myanmar  (Burma).


I've had a great day with excellent food.

But if  "Jesus Christ is risen today",  why is the world in such a mess of ethnic and religious competition, rivalry, hatred,  and murderous violence?