Getting your car inspected doesn't need to be a hassle, notes publisher emeritus Jim Flood.


Perhaps there are some people who look forward to renewing the tags for their cars and having the car inspected in the process, but I’m not one of them. I tend to recall the time I was a bit hesitant in reacting to the command to put on thebrake while a member of the inspection team was standing in front of the car.

I did stop in time, of course, but that guy might well have relayed to friends later that someone had given him a scare that day.

In recent years I have had the good fortune to have someone else take my car through the inspection lane so I have been spared the experience.

This year, though, our 2001 Ford Windstar van came up for inspection and over we went.

It was an entirely pleasant experience. After a brief wait in line, I drove into the inspection building and both men who inspected the vehicle were smiling as they completed the process and were thorough and professional at the same time.

One even commented with a smile about a bumper sticker I have. He said it was the first one like it he had noticed coming through.

Then I went to the office to pay for the two-year renewal. Again it was both quickly done and easy, even though the per-year fee is now $40 instead of the $20 I remembered.

What all this brought to mind was the recent breakfast conversation we had with an old friend, Art Ericson, who upon retirement as an Air Force colonel at Dover Air Force Base a few years ago had taken on the job of director of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

During his tenure he stressed that when a citizen came to the department for one of its services that he or she was a customer, someone to be treated with respect, courtesy and appreciation.

Art is that way. He has a very upbeat and pleasant personality but he means business. Apparently there were some in the department who did not catch on right away to the new culture and atmosphere, along with a new and improved system. He is the kind of guy who would point out the shortcomings. And evidently he did. And this good service to the public continues to function smoothly, which is a credit to those now in the department.

*****

Many years ago we lived for a time in Maryland and on a Chesapeake Bay cove.

Because they were there for the taking I learned to catch, and eat, my own oysters.

Using a pair of small tongs to rake up a few dozen oysters for yourself is no longer an option. The oyster population is way down.

But a few weeks ago I saw a box of about 100 oysters for sale at $30, a price reasonably low if you figure the price per oyster is 30 cents.

So I bought the box and for the first time in years revisited the skill of shucking oysters. I say skill even though I am no longer adept at it. I keep firmly in mind that a wayward oyster knife can pierce your hand if you are not careful.

Mary made an oyster stew for me and we have some shucked oysters set aside.

But a couple of weeks went by without my completing the shucking process so I decided the oysters had been in captivity long enough. When we were over that way a week ago I released the remaining oysters and hope they live to grow and propagate. If they do, I know where they live.

Oysters can’t change location, you know. Once they settle on a spot as young free-swimming “spat” they are stuck there. Any mature oyster tossed into the water has found a place where they will continue to live, whether or not he or she (actually I think they are bi-sexual) want to move to another neighborhood.

*****

Son Paul is visiting us briefly and while watching a television show the name of Taylor Swift came up.

“Who’s she?” I asked Paul.

“You don’t know?” he asked incredulously. “She’s famous.”

Later he explained she is a young country/pop singer who has become very well known (in some circles) and has won awards for her work

When he told me that background I did remember seeing something about some controversy involved with her being recognized for her talent.

I mention this simply to indicate that there is a wide gap between different age groups concerning who is famous or not.

“Famous” is an inexact term. Famous people of a couple of generations ago are not usually familiar to today’s younger set, and vice versa.

There’s nothing to do about it. It’s just the way it is.

*****

So Delaware is one of two states to win the Race to the Top competition, a contest among the states to produce the best program to fix failing schools, reward teachers who excel and raise student achievement. It’s worth $100 million to the state although the expenditures are for new initiatives, not money to patch the state’s education budget.

Of the six key areas cited by the Department of Education for consideration in the choosing of winners, what is especially daunting is coming up with fair ways to monitor student achievement and evaluate teacher and principal performances, along with the connection between the two.

It won’t be easy, but if any state has forward motion already in place to achieve that goal it is Delaware.

*****

A gravedigger, intent on his work, dug a pit so deep one afternoon that he couldn’t climb out when he finished. An evening chill came at nighttime and his cries for help finally attracted the attention of a drunk wandering through the cemetery.

“Get me out of here,” the digger pleaded to the man. “I’m cold!”

The inebriated one peered into the hole and finally spotted the shivering digger in the darkness.

“Well, no wonder you’re cold, buddy,” said the drunk, kicking some of the loose soil into the hole. “You haven’t got any dirt on you!”