Don't quit this day job | July 31
Stop micromanaging doctors
Dr. Karen Sibert made many important points in this piece. It is true that the work ethic of today's medical student is very different than 30 years ago. She sounds like a contemporary of mine. In New York City in the 1970s, I busted my hump in medical training and residency in ways that no resident today would tolerate.
Then again, the more society relegates us to "provider" status and not the critical decisionmaking physicians that society wants us to be, the less inclined young people will be to enter the profession with both feet.
Society, insurance companies, the government, lawyers, politicians and the business "suits" must stop trying to micromanage us.
Society expects — yes, demands — that I perform at a certain level and make critical decisions. Well then, get out of my way and let me do what I was trained to do. Yes, it is a privilege, but it really loses its luster to be second-guessed by computer algorithms.
Give 10,000 random people the opportunity to go to medical school, and I guarantee you maybe one has what it takes to get the job done. But there has to be a reward at the end of the slog. Otherwise, why bother? As Sibert said, young residents want an easy lifestyle. My daughter is currently a sophomore in pre-med. I tell her to consider other choices.
Thomas A. Caleca, M.D., Clearwater
A narrow view
I am shocked a doctor would have such a narrow view as to suggest that women going into the medical field as doctors should consider a "full-time hours" commitment.
Life can and will change so fast. It can affect people mentally, physically and emotionally. Doctors see this firsthand. Many of these issues will result in women compromising their lives, time and careers, some by requirement and some by choice. If men weren't so harshly judged, they would perhaps be considering these options.
I would rather have a happy and healthy doctor taking care of me than a burned-out, distracted, resentful doctor any day.
Barbara Brixie, St. Petersburg
Finding real Alaska amid the kitsch July 31, Robyn Blumner column
Banish the dark cloud
Can you please put us out of Robyn Blumner's misery? Even a column about a cruise trip to Alaska has to include at least two items from her usual checklist: (1) attack a conservative, in this case Margaret Thatcher, and (2) bemoan the fate of us all caused by global warming.
She also apparently despised everything about the ship, and only made a brief mention of the wildlife, the "wonders" of which were supposedly the reason for her trip. Is there nothing in life that brings her joy?
Friends of ours thoroughly enjoyed a recent cruise to Alaska, and we are planning a trip of our own. We'll be sure to verify in advance that Blumner, the human dark cloud, is not booked in the next cabin.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
Seeing world on a budget
Perhaps Robyn Blumner is not a cruiser. Maybe she needs to look at the big picture. I will soon go on my 28th cruise. Some people get it; some don't. Cruising is a way to see the world at a bargain.
A cruise will normally cost about $100 a day, more or less. This includes the trip itself, all the food, and most of the time some fairly exotic ports. Your hotel moves with you and includes some pretty nice surroundings. Not bad for an all-inclusive deal.
The rest is up to you. Yes, you will be bombarded with opportunities to spend money on casinos, drinks, trips and other items. But it's all your choice. Lets face it: They are in the business to make money. But I learned that a long time ago.
You are treated like a king with excellent service, great food and it is one great vacation. I've seen the Panama Canal, Alaska, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, much of Europe, and soon Russia. Without a cruise ship these places would have been cost-prohibitive. I love history, and visiting these places makes history come to life. I'll put up with the kitsch to get one hell of a deal.
Darrell Patton, Tarpon Springs
I always find Robyn Blumner's columns stimulating, and I applaud her latest with its caveats about the commercialism of big-ship cruises.
The column has fine things to say about the Alaskan experience itself. That is the point of real travel. It consists in quality time spent in appreciation of the people, culture, art, problems, geography and beauty of other regions and lands. This is the big bonus of the living, educational kind of travel.
Of course, cruises do provide for happy events such as family reunions. But to Blumner and her husband, I say, "Keep on traveling, and, as much as possible, skip the ships."
Patricia Vigneau, Spring Hill
Not much of a record
As an unaffiliated independent who may in the end vote to re-elect President Barack Obama, I am nevertheless astonished by the eagerness of my liberal friends in Tampa to raise money for him.
Is he not the same president who caved on renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; who deserted the cause for true, universal health care for a plan that advantages insurance companies; who folded on revenue increases last week; and who has let himself be outmaneuvered by the likes of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Bibi Netanyahu? This certainly gives me pause.
Robert D. Brooks, Ph.D., Tampa
Some rules change for back-to-school tax break | Aug. 3
Expand sales tax break
After checking on other tax-free days in other states, I have come to the conclusion that Florida needs to do a little more homework on this issue and get with the modern world of computers.
For instance in Tennessee, if you purchase a computer under $1,500, it is tax-free during their designated three days. In other states, that seems to be the trend. Purchasing a back-to-school computer may not be a must, but in this day and age more people might consider that purchase if the state of Florida would loosen its purse strings and help us out a little.
Virginia Chilcote, Clearwater