No heavy issues this month. Just a simple challenge.

This month, registration opens for the Academy of Ophthalmology meeting, which returns to New Orleans in early November. Things have changed somewhat since the Academy's last visit in 2004. That's not meant to disrespect the people of New Orleans, whose lives have probably changed in ways that the rest of us may never understand. But for most of us, New Orleans has been a story on the news, and our world has gone on unaffected.

MDs are known to be a conservative lot; small government, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and all that. And based on the federal government's response to what hit New Orleans, smaller government sure sounds good to me. But what's the alternative?

November is your chance to be part of the alternative. Over the past six months or so, when the subject of the next Academy meeting comes up you hear an awful lot of people laying the groundwork for not showing up. Crime seems to be the go-to excuse. Let's face it: New Orleans has never been Bedford Falls. But if you use some sense, your chances of becoming a victim there are probably not all that much different from any other major city.

New Orleans
, from the perspective of the typical convention-goer, looks pretty much like it always did.

About the only one that would pass as a still-legitimate, Katrina-related excuse may be the airline service. So here's your heads-up: Book your flight now; problem solved.

This publication has no connection to the Academy. We have no direct interest in whether the 2007 meeting is a success or not. But you do.

So if you're looking for a reason to ditch New Orleans, at least make it a legitimate one. For the rest, just do what you normally do. Register for the meeting. Let them know that the ophthalmologists are coming and when you're there, let them know that the ophthalmologists are in town.

Since it'll be two weeks before Thanksgiving, make that your reason for being there. Let all those people who are trying to pull themselves by their bootstraps see that you're behind them. That you're thankful to be part of the one of the most lucrative subspecialties in medicine. Tip early; tip often. Spend money. That's not hard, now is it?