Monday, April 13, 2009


Colorado DMV Nixes TOFU Vanity Plate Citing Obscenity Concern
By Ernest Luning 4/8/09

The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles turned down a request from a vegan driver to display ILVTOFU on a set of personalized license plates because the phrase could be constructed as obscene, Tom McGee reports in the Denver Post. "We don't allow FU because some people could read that as street language for sex," Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch told the Post.

Turns out the state plate arbiters forbid hundreds of letter combinations deemed too controversial or offensive, including ARS, SIN and PIG. The department occasionally convenes a committee to add to the verboten list "so that plates stay free of letters that abbreviate gang slang, drug terms, or obscene phrases made popular in text messaging," McGee reports.

That was news to Kelly Coffman-Lee, the 36-year-old Centennial woman who simply wanted to promote her love of soybean curd while tooling around town in her Suzuki. "My whole family is vegan so tofu is like a staple for us," she told the Post. "I was just going to have a cool license plate and the DMV misinterpreted my message."

Whether or not the DMV did the misinterpreting - after all, who doesn't LV TOFU? - the civil servants say their mission is to keep the streets clean. "Standard common practices are: any combination of letters or numbers that carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency, are misleading, offensive to the general public, or represent gang, drug, sex, racial terms," another Department of Revenue spokesman, Maren Rubino, told the Rocky Mountain News last summer when the list grew to include common text message shorthand, such as LOL, OMG, and WTF.

The Department of Revenue oversees the DMV, which, it turns out, really does contract with the Department of Corrections to hire state prisoners to make the plates, the Rocky's Kevin Flynn reported. More than a quarter-million vanity plate combinations are kept off the road by the policy, which has been in place since the early 1990s.

Think you can think like the DMV when it comes to WTF vanity plate combos? Take a stab at this nifty license plate game still lingering on the Rocky's website.

Friday, April 10, 2009

At the End of the Day

There are some days when I leave work feeling energized and elated, and there are some days when I leave work feeling as though I've been punched in the gut. Particularly difficult are the nights I leave work not knowing if patients who were in critical condition when I left will still be there when I return. 

In professions that deal regularly with matters of life and death, there is a significant amount of self-care that practitioners must do in order to keep from burning out. People often think of self-care as being something extravagant like getting a massage. But actually, self-care can be as simple as turning one's pager off and leaving work on time.

At the end of days like today, I have a lot of ambivalence about leaving my work behind. I know that the only way I can continue to do my job well is to take time away from it and all of the intensity and stress it brings, but I get so invested in the patients and families that it's difficult for me to leave them when I know they are struggling. Can they get by without my support? Of course. But if I can relieve their stress or ease their sorrow or help in any way, I want to do so, and it's difficult for me to walk away. But in order to have the energy and strength to return to work each morning, I must leave work at night and try to put out of my mind the scary and sad realities that these families are facing 24/7, with no option to escape. 

It has taken some time and practice, but most of the time I can do it. However, some days I find that my walk home at the end of the day has not cleared my head, and I am still weighted down with the reality of what I see every day. 

Last night, after a difficult day at work, I returned home and checked blog updates before I went to sleep. I clicked on flotsamblog - one of my favorites - only to find this post. It was a punch-in-the-gut reminder to me that even when babies survive through prematurity and families bring them home from the hospital - even when they are many months and even years out from having been in a hospital - they are still fragile, and there are no guarantees.

When I returned to work this morning that reminder weighed heavily on me. And as I saw my patients struggle with their individual battles, I said silent prayers for each of them that they might leave our hospital healthy and never return. 

I never knew Maddie Spohr or her parents, but from what I have read, there was a lot to love. The online community of Maddie's friends and supporters has raised over $22,000 in her honor for the March of Dimes as well as additional funds through PayPal to support her parents during this unthinkably difficult time. I am moved to tears when I think of the loss of such a small and joyful little life - and then moved to tears again to see the widespread reaction and incredible outpouring of support and love within the blogging world. 

Last night my work and my outside life collided, and at the end of today I am left still reeling from the impact. 

"The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight... but every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."   -TWW