Happy birthday to you

Jan. 1, 2009

Another year has begun: 2009. Most of us are filled with
excitement about the possibilities of the coming 12 months, particularly
those of us at MLO. This month begins our year-long celebration of
the magazine's 40 years of success — and that success is really directly
attributable to our audience. Those of us who are now the guardians of this
little treasure known as MLO realize this celebration would not be
possible without the devotion of its readers, the support of members of
medical-laboratory professional organizations, and the loyalty of its
advertisers. This birthday is then, truly, a celebration about all of you.
During my MLO tenure, my greatest pleasure has been to interact with
subscribers who call to order up answers to varied questions, write to point
out our shortcomings, or travel the length of a huge convention hall
specifically to say that they love MLO.

Throughout my six years on MLO, one of my
assignments has been to learn about new products, technologies, and
services, in part by traveling to trade shows. Here, folks who represent the
industry's energetic creativity bring their finest solutions for complex lab
problems. I inevitably met the most knowledgeable — and the most polite —
individuals. (I think one true gentleman even forgave me when, in
trying to grasp what seemed a complex “plug-and-perform” function, I used
Mr. Potato Head, a rather archaic form of “plug-and-play,” for an analogy.)

Our meeting places — usually the convention centers of
big cities across this country and in Canada — are the choices of the many
professional groups to which most MLO readers belong. These groups'
year-round efforts and their employees' obvious efficiency to gather experts
of every ilk to present oodles of detailed information makes getting there
by today's air travel bearable. Their “pluck” engages many of you in
supporting various “causes” that seek to effect advantages to the medical
laboratory in one fashion or another.

An MLO genealogy, which might be a bit unwieldy,
would read like the Who's Who in the Medical Laboratory. We know Dr.
Ray Gambino came up with the idea of MLO 40
years ago; but, since then, how many scholars have been engaged in
writing copy? How many experts have peer-reviewed that copy? How many
astute readers have responded to that copy with comments, suggestions,
and/or honest praise or criticism? How many super-busy industry leaders
have worked with MLO on a personal interview? How many companies
have sent press releases about their latest innovations? How many pieces
of advice has our editorial advisory board advanced on MLO's
behalf? How many questions from me about tricky grammar or complex word
usage or complicated punctuation do editors of other Nelson Publishing
magazines answer? (I actually thought about finding the numerical
answers to all of these rhetorical questions — but, as you are keenly
aware if you have read this column more than two or three times, I avoid
any math at all costs.)

How many MLO staff members have passed through
the doors? Can we name all Production artists who have kept us in print
and, in recent years, the IT/Web team members who set us up and keep us
on the Web? What about our Circulation Department which maintains
up-to-date subscription lists for us and organizes information for our
BPA statements? Could we have communicated effectively with industry
vendors without the aid of our Marketing Department? The printer? Our
cleaning crew? Have I forgotten anyone? Oh, yes, last but never least,
Mr. Nelson who makes all of this possible and who is pleased to be part
of the 40th birthday year of what has always been and — knock
on wood — will always remain an important tool for medical-laboratory
professionals. As we kick off 12 months of celebration of all people,
places, and things “MLO,” remember that a birthday is just the
first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip!