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By Debra A. Lopez, CRA, FAHRA

December 2009 — I recently chaired the AHRA Board of Directors fall meeting in Boston, MA. Just like we do at our places of employment, our association CEO and staff, together with your elected board members, need to make sure we are operating the association within budget, and work hard at assessing the programs and services we deliver. Our goal is to provide you, our members, with the products and services you value while retaining an affordable cost of membership. We assess how those programs and services are delivered, and streamline processes and decrease costs as warranted.

As an example, at this meeting we were charged with reviewing and approving next year’s budget.  As part of this process, we reviewed the expenses associated with producing our bimonthly journal, Radiology Management. There was some discussion of reducing the production of the journal from 6 issues a year to 4 a year. Like most printed media nowadays, ad revenue has fallen despite major efforts to improve it. However, from the results of our member surveys, we understood that our members rank this journal as one of AHRA’s premier products and so we did not want to go forward with this idea.  However, AHRA publications staff suggested that we could save approximately $4000 a year if we delivered the journal without a plastic cover bag. We weighed the pros and cons of doing this and passed the budget with this item as one of our budget reductions.


As you read this post, the holiday season is in full swing!  Many of us will have completed our annual migration to RSNA in Chicago, to preview the latest and greatest equipment and products. If you traveled by plane to RSNA, you may have browsed through the Sky Mall magazine that is located in the airline seat pockets, either because you were bored or you still needed some holiday gift ideas. I myself perused this catalog on my last flight and came up with some gift ideas that would be hard to beat.

I found the perfect gift for my husband: a “Keep Your Distance” bug vacuum! I don’t know who has the job in your family, but in mine, I am the official spider catcher. (I say catcher vs. killer, as I try and escort them outside once I have captured them). My husband happens to be deathly afraid of spiders. With this gadget, he could take over the household bug catching duties. From 2 feet away, he will be able to suck spiders right off of the wall or ceiling via this 22,400 rpm motor. The spider will be sucked right into an electric grid inside the handle that will instantly kill these dangerous creatures! Who thinks up these things?!

Even though my son is (already!) 20 years old, I know he would still love to have a marshmallow shooter. This “clever pump-action device” shoots edible miniature marshmallows over 30 feet. This present is one my dog will love as well; I am sure he will quickly get involved with the clean up!

I am positive my friend Penny would appreciate the voice activated travel alarm clock that operates under verbal commands. Just ask her about the time she got up and dressed, went down to the hotel gym, and discovered no one else was there.  She thought it was 6 am, but it was actually 3 am.

Several of my friends would enjoy the telekinetic obstacle course. You focus your brain waves to maneuver a ball through one of 8 obstacles on a tabletop course. And it sells for only $99.95.

Likewise, I am sure some of my friends, including Terry, would love to receive the small roll up drum kit that can be stored in their desks at work. When the urge to do some head-banging comes up, they could instead roll out the drum set, plug it into a USB port on their PC, choose from 48 rhythm patterns and 8 special drum effects, and bang away with drumsticks instead of using their heads.

My daughter was a little miffed when she read the first draft of this article, as I had not suggested a gift for her. Luckily, I had brought home my Sky Mall magazine, and did find her the perfect gift, a “Shoe Chest/Bench” that includes hidden storage for 9 pairs of shoes. She really does need this, as her closet only holds 30 pairs.

Although the professional jewelry steam cleaner (along with some nice jewelry, of course) would be a gift I would enjoy, my favorite part of the winter holidays are simply the gathering of friends and family, festive meals, and enjoying cookies that we have baked and decorated together.

No matter what winter holidays you celebrate, may they be filled with the people you love, doing the things you love to do.

This month I would like to highlight the following wonderful staff member from the AHRA office in Sudbury, MA, where I am sure it will be a much whiter Christmas than it will be in most of California…

Emily Doutre

AHRA Department: Assistant Editor, Publications

Hometown: Glen Mills, PA

Family: My immediate family lives in Pennsylvania: my brother is 21 years old and my parents have been married for 30 years.  I have a large extended family scattered throughout the country.  In 2006, I moved to Boston with my boyfriend, Mark, who will obtain his master’s degree from Tufts University this spring.

School: I received my bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 2004, with a major in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in technical/professional communications.

Interests: hiking, writing, reading, laughing, cooking, travel, microbrews (the brewing and the consumption), various animal and human rights causes, history, music, film, art, photography, and yoga . . . among others!

Deb Lopez, CRA, FAHRA is President of the 2009-2010 AHRA Board of Directors.  She lives in San Jose, CA and can be reached at


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