Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Sounds of Silence

Serious deja vu right now. Have I written this exact blog before? For some reason, as I write the title, I think that I am going to have to go back and look over the blog titles to make sure (if it is a repeat, I'll put the #2 in the title).

I'm not a big fan of silence. Well, that may not be entirely true. I love absolute silence but only when it is "active" silence. Does that make sense?

Kind of oxymoronic I know, but I love silence with a purpose: prayer, contemplation, reflection. I have gone on multi-month "noise fasts" where I don't watch TV, listen to music, etc. . .its amazing what can come from "active silence." Actually, that is how I decided to stay in KC and hang out a shingle instead of moving back to my hometown and buying a practice/associating.

However, silence simply because no one is around, and I can't get motivated to move is not good for me. No deja vu here, I know I've said this many times; the voices in my head really get talking when it is quiet. My stress level increases. Heart starts palpitating funny and I'm always tired. I have a hard time being motivational at the office, self-image drops. . . you get the idea.

I have all this "passive quiet time" right now because we are experimenting with a new schedule this summer. And by "experimenting," I mean trying something new that the staff suggested and that Dr. Crowder agreed to in a moment of weakness and without thinking it through. This summer we are working 7am - 3pm with no break. Now, that is probably not a big deal to many of you. I have a number of friends that work a similar schedule. However, I have discovered that I need a lunch break to clear my mind and get ready for my afternoon. More importantly, I need to get off work closer to the time my wife gets off work because otherwise I have too much free time and end up doing nothing at all - hence the "passive quiet time."

Also, I quickly realized that my staff still get a lunch break; I just pay them to take it. Now, I'm not cheap but that starts to get under my skin when I'm in the middle of a large restorative case and my stomach is growling in the patient's ear 'cuz daddy needs to eat and I can smell the leftovers being warmed in the microwave.

Oh, and by the way, I don't get to say it often and you all choose to read my depressing rants so often I should pass along the good news also - we are having a great month. Best June ever and 2nd best month of all time. We have turned a corner after 2 1/2 absolutely awful months. Maybe it is merely a bounce in the midst of a double-dip recession but maybe it is the start of a hot streak for my office.

So what am I going to do to keep the hot streak going? Yep, I'm going to close the office and attend the AGD House of Delegates and Annual Meeting.

But, I'm sure the remaining days in July will blow me away - the voices, however, are not so sure (in fact, they're pretty darn convinced that I'm an idiot). Which brings me back to Monday's subject - the House of Delegates (HOD).

I mentioned the PAC on Monday. I mentioned it because, as a Delegate, I have to tell you I think it may be the big topic of the HOD this year and I honestly do not have a feeling about which direction it will go.

Part of me wonders if the general membership cares - for that matter, part of me wonders if the general membership realizes that the AGD is a stand-alone organization and not the ADA's little brother. This distinction might be enhanced if we didn't have a group of active members in the AGD who seem to be constantly concerned about offending the ADA (for instance, I'm sure this blog will be offensive to the ADA and should be censored) - I guess I have not been around long enough to know better but I would like to think that all of the work I and my fellow delegates/leaders are doing is going to help this organization - the AGD.

I'm sure I'm not the only dentist closing the office for a few days during a "hot streak," and I want to believe that there is a lofty ideal in serving this profession. And by "profession" I mean GENERAL DENTISTS. I know that the other alphabet organizations serve their professions first (AAOMS, AAO, AAP, APA, AAPD, ADEA, AHA, etc. . .), so I am not ashamed to say that I serve General Dentists first - and the only way I can do that is through the AGD. Thanks to my leadership role in the AGD, I have had (and hopefully will continue to have) an opportunity to work with the other specialty organizations and the ADA.

As a general dentist, I have chosen to belong to 2 organizations - an umbrella organization that, by its own mission statement, looks out for the public and the dental industry as a whole (ADA) and a specialty organization that looks out for the general dentist specifically (AGD).

I love that we have that in dentistry. As a recovering lawyer, I have been a member of an organization that had no specialty groups to work with (and, quite frankly, rein in) the umbrella organization (the ABA). That lends itself to a national organization with a rather myopic view of issues. Multiple specialty groups communicating their perspectives lends depth to an issue - binocular vision, so to speak.

I am taking off work, during a hot streak, and traveling to New Orleans, during a heat wave, because I have been given the privilege of being a leader charged with looking out for general dentists. Now, no offense to the ADA or the specialists out there (I love you dad), but I'm not going to take off work (did I mention I'm on a hot streak) for the betterment of, for example, the Orthodontists. I mean, I love my Orthodontists (and I love you dad) but they have their own organization to look out for them. They can take off during their own hot streak.

I am going to the Deep South to deal with mundane issues like forming an AGD PAC; donating to an advocacy fund; setting mid-term election term limits on Regional Directors; establishing a policy on general dentists using dermal fillers and Botox; and other types of issues, because there are thousands of GENERAL DENTISTS who do not care - they want others to deal with these issues whilst they remain in their ignorant bliss. [Cue Jack Nicholson,"You want men like me on the wall?. . .You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."]

What really gets under my skin at these meetings is when we get confused as to why we are there. When we start to play the politics (even though my lawyerness loves the politics). When we start to use the rules of order as an offensive weapon instead of allowing them to be a passive guide to civilized discourse. I say this as a reminder to myself because I am guilty of falling into its siren-esque call each year and I am telling myself this year that I don't want to debate simply for the intellectual stimulation. I want to spend my time debating the merits of an issue, not wasting energy and time on parlimentary red-tape.

I want to spend time in the balmy city of New Orleans to help GENERAL DENTISTS. I am not there for the other delegates, the Board, the Regional Directors or the ADA. I am there for the dentist down the street. The dentist who may not even be a member of AGD - may not be involved in organized dentistry at all. But is a dentist who, whether he knows it or not, needs someone to stand up and fight for his/her right to independently practice excellent dentistry as the hub of the dental team. Someone to fight to prevent 3rd parties from determining what treatment is allowed or what treatment must be referred. Someone to fight for the wet-fingered dentist who doesn't have time to conduct a double-blind-randomized-clinical study just to confirm that sealants work. Someone to fight to prevent another alphabet organization from trying to limit the scope of a General Dentist's practice. Someone to lobby the Federal Government (hopefully alongside the other specialty organizations and the ADA) to ensure that the public has access to CARE not simply access to a person with a mouth mirror and some ZOE. Someone to fight for the members of the AGD who spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars taking continuing education that makes them the very best of their profession.

If I don't fight for it, who will? And if the fight is meaningless, why the hell am I putting my practice on hold during a hot streak? This blog is called "The Daily Grind," and this is my grind right now - I am taking a break during a hot streak and I am excited to do it because it is for an organization that I love and that, I believe, cares about helping me maintain that hot streak.

A man cannot serve 2 masters. I hope that next week I can be a delegate that is serving General Dentistry by being a member in the AGD. If you haven't been paying attention to the news for the past several years, there is a real fight coming in the near future. A fight that could change the practice of dentistry as we know it. The lawyer side of me knows that if we don't get organized now we (general dentists) are going to be left out of the discussion. If I wanted to be an examiner and referring general practitioner, I would have gone into medicine.

I'm going to end this journey through inspirational, sappy land with this: If you are not involved in the AGD -why not? If you are involved in the AGD - why are you not more involved?

Have you hugged your delegate today?

Have a great week.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Silly Season is Almost Here

Well, well, boys and girls - you get me twice this week.

Dr. G is "at a meeting." If you are a non-dentist, that is code for "on vacation," because, as you must know, dentists do not take vacations. So he asked me to fill in on Wednesday as well. Maybe I'll see if a "guest blogger" can write something on that day.

Or maybe I'll continue today's topic because it is the beginning of Silly Season in AGD land.

See, the annual meeting in New Orleans starts in just over a week. And, as all good AGDers know, with the annual meeting comes the annual House of Delegates (or HOD for short). If you haven't ever experienced the HOD it is a lot like summer camp. We sing songs, play games, do crafts, braid each other's hair, play practical jokes on each other, etc. . .

Seriously, we sing (National Anthem and Canadian Anthem).

We play games (more on that below, but for now we'll call it debating resolutions).

We do crafts - have you ever tried to sit through 15 hours of debate on resolutions? Last year, I did origami and colored pictures, did crossword puzzles. . . .

We braid each other's hair (OK, that may be a stretch but I'm game if anyone gets really bored).

You get the idea.

See, the HOD is the governance wing of the AGD.

To use SAT language: The House of Delegates is to the Academy of General Dentistry as the House of Representatives is to the United States of America.

There are delegates from each state, Canada and the Armed Forces. These delegates work very hard leading up to the HOD reading several hundred pages of resolutions that have been submitted (including the annual budget). They meet in regional caucuses (or is it cocusae/cocusi?) where they talk about these resolutions and their impact on that particular region/state (you know who you are, California). They decide how they can best frame an argument for/against a particular resolution and sometimes they even begin to lobby their friends and colleagues from around the country to support their position. Then, they come to New Orleans 3 days before the Annual Meeting starts, taking 3 days out of their practices, to convene, debate and vote on these resolutions. It is all very official and serious.

Now, I do not mean to trivialize what we do (this is my 3rd year as a delegate), but it can really get you turned upside down with what is actually vital to life. Have you ever been part of something like that?

Every year I tell myself to relax; life or death decisions are not on the line. Yes, it is important that the AGD have a policy statement on how Regional Directors are elected and how many years they can serve if appointed mid-term, but that decision is not going to cure what ails the world. Still, during the Silly Season, issues like that (and others of more significance to the practice of dentistry) get debated and it is so hard not to allow yourself to be consumed by it. You start to take things personalky. Your text message inbox gets filled with "strategy." You get phone calls/emails in the weeks leading up to the meeting. So, by the time you get there, you are using language like, "Resolution 314R is properly debated during old business because it was referred to a taskforce for further information during the 2009 HOD," or "the Point of Order microphone is not to be used to debate the motion on the floor." You get the idea; this is language that no one in the real world uses.

Since I get 2 bites of the apple this week (that one was for you, Srini), I will talk about some of the resolutions on Wednesday. But let me end this week with an issue that has involved a significant amount of my time for the last year.

See the AGD has debated for years about whether or not to form a PAC. For the uninitiated, a PAC is a vehicle by which a corporation can make donations to a political candidate (for instance, the ADA, the Oral Surgeons, Orthodontists and Hygienists, and AARP all have a PAC). Anyway, there has been a resolution that is coming before the HOD to have the AGD form a PAC. I had the privilege of serving on a committee that was asked by the 2009 HOD to outline the way a PAC can be formed (I'm paraphrasing there). This committee was chaired by one of my mentors and a dear friend, Dr. Gary Heyamoto (talk about a thankless job) and I want to thank him publicly (or blogicaly) here for being an incredible son, husband, father, dentist, friend and AGD leader.

Now, form a PAC or don't form a PAC? I do have personal feelings on it; but you'll need to attend the HOD to hear them. But let's be serious for a second: there are infinitely more important issues facing this world than whether the AGD forms a PAC.

However, this issue is such a hot button issue that when a colleague of mine (who is a delegate and AGD leader) sends out an email soliciting input from the general AGD membership on whether they would donate to an AGD PAC, he gets inundated with personal attack phone calls and emails - even to the point of playground "let,s not let him play with us" threats.

See I told you it was like summer camp - we even have bullies.

I'm going to leave it there for now (can't wait to see if this gets approved for publication) and would love to hear the non-delegates' thoughts on whether you would donate to a PAC.

On Wednesday, I'll mention a couple of other issues that the HOD will be facing. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy being a dentist and continue to thank God that I live in a country where I'm allowed to debate minutiae.

I Love Silly Season.

Have a great 2 days.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh to be young again.

Hey guys,

Remember I was telling you how tall Rashard Lewis was yesterday?
Are you kidding me? Look at this guy. I am 5'10.

Just so you know things went a lot better at camp yesterday.
We have this mom that is bringing Luke to camp and she is a real pit bull when it comes to the well being of her kids and she went right to the director.
And it turns out the director was a real no nonsense type of guy and took care of it.
Problem solved.
This is Luke with his friend and his brother.
Now to the next camp....Oh Lord.

Let's talk teeth today shall we?

First I want to tell everyone to go to the May/June AGD's General Dentistry magazine, the one with the Pediatric Dentistry special section, and read it. As a dentist that prides himself on working on kids this was a great one. I read every article because they all spoke of what I do everyday. Good stuff. Good job Publication peeps.

I know I have told you this but in my first 3 years I worked in 3 associateships.
I only worked with my father 2 days a week for the first 4 years.

So the other day I was thinking back to my very first associateship and I wanted to tell you about it.
I know we have readers of all ages.
We have readers that are associates and we have readers that are the owners, so I think this will speak to both of you.

Lets go back to the beginning....
A month or two before I graduated I started to put my feelers out for a job. Well, when you live 2 hours from where you are trying to find a job, it becomes tough. So how do you find a job in another town?
Another problem I had was that most people knew that I had a father in the area and knew that my heart was eventually going to be in somewhere other than their office.
So I needed to find a job with a dentist that was just looking for an associate. Not looking for anyone to marry, just date for a couple of years.

Well, the first thing I did was tell my Patterson rep to keep his ears open.
Then I put an ad in the local dental society periodical and I waited.
It may have read something like this, "Associate Dentist, Just getting out of school, green as can be but thinks he knows everything. Willing to work hard and I am looking to be over paid to do it. Please call 1-407-youll be sorry.

I have to say that the lay of the land in 1995 was different than today. I think there was some jobs but not that many. I don't think it was dry by any means but I don't think it was gang busters either.
I did however get an interview.
It was a fella about 28 miles from my father's office. So there was not going to be any competing for patients. I think this guy was a fairly busy dentist and he had always had an associate that handled his overflow.
From what I understood, he had an associate just before me that had moved on.
I really didn't care at this point. I was just so excited about graduating and not having to study anymore. And I was so excited about being paid for the first time in about 9 years.

He had a nice office with about 7 rooms. 2 hygienists and about 8 staff members.

Okay from here on out I am going to talk to you about his office from a young dentist's point of view, then I will tell you my feelings about it as a more mature dentist.

I had an interview. I think I shadowed him for two half days and then we sat down to talk. We liked each other and that was that. Now when I said we "liked each other" it is not like two colleagues getting to like each other, it was like a boss and an employee.
But I was new, I was thrilled to be wanted, it was NOT dental school, I didn't have any other options at the moment so I said what the heck.
We talked about my salary/per diem and we talked about a start date and that was it. So I left from our third time meeting and we had a start date.
I came in there like I was a bad-ass. Kind of like, "Get out of my way because I am God's gift to dentistry and I have a valid license."
I was young, I was funny (if I don't say so myself), I had energy, I had moderate skills, I had 300 bucks a day, last but not least I had ZERO stress.
I mean that is the great thing about being an associate. You can do dentistry for a 9 hour day and then just walk out the door and leave it all behind.
So I was this talkative, very relational kind of guy and it would slowly be revealed to me that this dentist was not a talker. He wouldn't talk to me, he wouldn't talk to his staff, and he rarely talked to his patients.
So naturally the staff kind of gravitated toward me.
We would go out to lunch together and he would have lunch in his car (I am serious about this and he would say, "he was trying to just get away from the office for an hour")
The staff and I would totally cut up together and he would never come out of his office.
The staff and I were enjoying dentistry together and it kind of seemed that he wasn't.

I would tell them that I loved coming to work. I would tell them I liked working with them.
Man was I getting popular around the office.
At first we were talking about teeth things and when they got comfortable with me they started to tell me their issues with the practice.
So I would start to hear everyone's issues with the practice.
So being young and stupid I would join in on the talk.
I don't remember if I talked about him but I know I didn't back him up or defend him.
I was this young naive dentist that didn't really know office drama. I didn't really know the pressure that comes with being the boss.

And along with never coming out of his office I think he was a poor manager of people.
He would have staff meetings and it would not be pretty. The front desk staff would be yelling at
back staff and vise versa, while I sat there wide eyed in disbelief and he just sat there.

He took a lot of courses and he sent me to some. Sometimes we went together.
I kind of think he liked dentistry but like I know now sometimes it can get you down. It can make you not want to talk to people.

I remember there was some real drama in the office at all times. His wife, who was previously his hygienist, worked in the office. I think she came in a couple of times a week and did the books.
We got along great for about my first half of the stint there. But I must have done something to her that I wasn't aware of and for about two months she wouldn't talk to me.
And I am not talking just being busy around the office and not having any time to talk to me, I am talking I would walk by her in the hallway and say, "Hello" and she would not respond.
I thought at the beginning she must have been having a bad day, and I left it alone, but this continued to go on.
It was getting me so uncomfortable that I asked him if I could talk to him.
We went into his office and I asked if I have done anything to upset his wife. Of course, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't think so, why?"
Now you know that she was pissed at me for some reason and you know that he was hearing from her at home but all he did was shrug his shoulders.
I told him that his wife and my relationship has eroded to where she will NOT talk to me, not even pretend to talk to me.
He said he would talk to her and see.
Anyway, the next day I worked she was talking to me like nothing ever happened.
Weird stuff like this all the time.

The job was okay. I loved what I was doing. I liked the staff.
You know I did associate stuff. I worked on kids, I worked on adults that acted like kids, I worked on mean people.
Oh, one time he asked me how I like my assistant. He hired a new person to work with me on Tuesday and Thursday and she apparently worked with him on the Monday and Wednesday.
I told him that I really liked her. I told him we got along great. I thought we had a great working relationship that made patients feel at ease when they were in our chair.
Well, I came in the next day and she had been fired.

But you know, I have matured a lot since then. I have grown so much since I was that young stress free dentist.
And when I look back at this time in my life I have changed my view point of the whole thing.
And I know that it is Friday and if I tell you my present day thoughts about my asssociateship this blog would get too long. I will tell you about it on Wednesday. Oh wait!!! I am on vacation next week. I will work something out with Dr. C but I will finish this story at another time.

Have a great weekend,



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why are some kids such punks?

Hey all,

I hope you had a good weekend and a good start to your week.

I forgot to mention Father's Day on Friday. I have to tell you that I love Father's Day. But for me, everyday is Father's Day. If I am working, I get to come home to be with all my children. If I am not working, I get to wake up and have breakfast with all my kids and plan our day. I am a lucky man. Sunday was just a culmination of a great year with my kids.

Also, it is a nice reminder of who I am. Sometimes you can get lost in the stresses of work (and if you say your work is not stressful, you are lying) and get kind of down. But, for me, I can go home and remember my place in this world. I am a husband and I am a dad to four wonderful children.

My wife and I are building a legacy. We like to think we are raising four productive members of society and raising them to live, not for themselves, but for the King. It is a tough job but I couldn't think of doing more rewarding work in life.

Speaking of kids...

My son, who just turned 11, is in a week long basketball camp. Rashard Lewis is the 6'11" Orlando Magic player who is putting on this camp. I walked in the gym to pick up Luke on Monday, and it was a zoo. There were probably 300 kids in this one gym. It was electric in there!

Luke and I got our picture with Rashard. It is so funny. I mean, he is more than a foot taller than me. If I put my arm up high and stretched out as far as it will go, I would barely be able to reach the top of his head. I was talking to this man who has a regular sized head but it is like he is on stilts. It was hilarious.

Luke had a great first day. The second day was a little different.

The camp is for kids of all ages. So they group all the middle school kids together. Luke is going into the 6th grade, so he is grouped with kids that are going into 7th and 8th grade. It seems that some kids have taken it upon themselves to teach Luke everything they know about being a punk.

First, I have to tell you that, while Luke is going into the 6th grade, he is the 2nd youngest 6th grader in the school. So most kids are starting "the change" physically, but he's not. He is not small but he is probably lagging a little behind a bit. I mean, when kids start puberty they get big and they get big quick.

Anyway, there are kids from every walk of life at this camp and I think it is good that he gets to be around other kids that are not the sheltered Christian kids he is used to being around.

But yesterday we started rethinking the above.

It seems that during break time they all get Popsicles. So Luke is eating his Popsicle and some kid comes over to him and says, "Yeah, you like that don't you?"

And Luke says, "Yeah, I like this Popsicle." Then all the kids start to laugh.

Turns out they were messing and talking smack with Luke all day.
One kid was talking about how the girls at his school have big boobs and that he isn't a virgin. All this riddled with F-bombs. WHAT??!!!

Okay, Luke gets home and tells my wife all of this. So, what do we do? Do we get all crazy and go down there and raise a stink because we don't want our kid hearing the F-bomb (from someone other than his dad)? Do we get all in a rage and go down there and take this one kid out?
Well, we don't know yet. One thing we did know we had to do was have an additional sex talk with Luke (if you missed the blog about the sex talk, it was an instant classic, you have to look it up).

He was curious about the popsicle comment. So we had to talk to him about oral sex. Real nice, real fricking nice. We had to tell him what a virgin is. Isn't being a parent fun?

Can't we just go back to the way it was. I mean my father never gave me the sex talk and I turned out fine.....well kind of.

Then we had to tell him how most kids are punks. I had to tell him that with boys from 6th-8th grades everything is about boobs and penises and punching each other (come to think about it, it kind of is the same at 41 years old).

That is all there is to it. Hormones are going crazy and boys have a hard time doing anything else. And if you are talking to a kid, and you can talk about boobs and penises all while punching someone then you have hit the 7th grade tri-fecta.

I think as parents we try to shelter our kids but there is a point where he is going to hear the F-word. There is going to be a time where he hears about sex in a way different than the way we talk to him about it. It is just going to happen. We just weren't prepared for it quite yet. Happy Father's day to me.

So Luke is going with one of his friends, and this friend's mom was doing the driving.
Because she has two boys and they are both in the camp, she volunteered.
She had a discussion with her 6th grader, and it seemed that he was getting the same treatment and she was going to go ballistic. She was going to go down there and pull everyone out of the camp.

The ladies were on the phone and cooler heads prevailed, and it was decided she was going to drop the boys off and then just talk to someone on top. See, there are "counselors" but because there are so many kids, the "counselors" are girls from the local high school girls basketball team. Yeah, like they are equipped to handle this. Hell, we are hardly equipped to deal with this.
I'll let you know how it goes.

I was going to talk to you about something dental but once again it became all about me.
I will tell you that I got to do some really rewarding work last week that I want to show you.

We are about half way done. We did the anteriors first and then we are going to get to the back of his mouth. This was a guy who didn't trust dentists. He is a blue collar guy and obviously a hard worker. He has insurance and brought a wad of cash.

Once he felt like he could trust me, he jumped in with both feet. He dropped $3800 cash on the counter (yes, I said Three thousand and eight hundred dollars) and told us, "Let's go until this runs out, and when it does let me know, and I will get more." I love guys like this, what an opportunity for me to change someone's life.

I worked on this guy for a couple of hours. I did temps on 7 and 8 and did direct resins on the rest of his teeth. I can't describe this guy at the end of his appointment. He is this big body-builder type and I kind of thought he got a little water in his eyes because he was so happy.
Two hours worth of work and you know what I got out of it? A raving fan for life.

Have a great Wednesday,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drive-in memories

We went to the drive-in movie theater on Friday. Saw Toy Story 3 and it was AWESOME.

Anyone under the age of 50 and not living in the midwest ever go to the drive-in? I grew up going but Susan and I hadn't been since the kids were little (great place to see a movie with a toddler/infant and no babysitter). My kids didn't remember going so it was an experience for them.

The theater we went to is one of the oldest in the country. It has been continuously operated by the same family for 60 years. I can verify that as we sat down and opened a box of popcorn that I'm pretty sure was made on opening day. We exchanged it for some that was made post-Eisenhower.

Now if you have never been, you are missing one of the all-time best opportunities to people watch ever. The movie is really secondary at times. First, everyone there has kids (cuz its Toy Story 3). Accordingly, everyone there has a minivan or mini-SUV, parks backwards and opens the tailgate. All the kids are in pajamas (movie starts at 9:10pm). The really experienced theater goers have sofas in the back of their pick-up trucks.

Can't beat the price - family of 5 seeing a 1st run movie on opening weekend for $22. We could have stuck around to watch Prince of Persia, but I have standards and draw the line at watching a movie drawn from a video game, centering around ancient Arabia and starring a Caucasian actor. Really, are the no quality actors of middle-eastern descent available in Hollywood??

The drive-in still has the speakers on stands but they are really more for show. You can tune your car radio to the FM stereo broadcast - we were rattling the windows with the equivalent of Honda Pilot THX surround sound. If you are smart you will bring your own food and if you are really smart you will bring your own beverages because it is Kansas in the summer and the humidity was around 60%.

We will certainly do it again in the future - great time and very good movie.

In sports news, the US pulled out a squeaker in a great game on Friday but should have won. I think one reason soccer has not really grown as a popular sport among US adult TV viewers is because of the "flops" that are seen routinely in these games. If you don't know, a "flop" is where you dramatically imbellish a fall to try to get the referee (1 ref for 22 players) to call a foul on your opponent. I know this always grates on my American "play-tough, play-hard" attitude. The best are the ones where the defender hits them in the chest with their leg and the guy grabs his face and rolls around like his eye has been gouged (see Italy, Spain or Ivory Coast for the worst floppers this year).

Little more than 2 weeks until I get to hang out in New Orleans for the AGD 2010 Annual Meeting & Exhibits. I hope you all are planning to go - there's nothing like the deep south in July! I think next year they should have John and I do a CE session.

Have a great week!


Friday, June 18, 2010

The boxer

Hey all,

Friday. What else can you say?

I know I haven't talked about movies in awhile (not because I haven't watched any; I just thought it was making the blogs too long), but I saw one that I thought was worth talking about.

I saw the movie Precious. This was the movie about the overweight African-American girl. I thought it was going to be a pretty weak movie. You know, fat girl goes to high school and everyone makes fun of her and somehow she comes out on top at the end. But this wasn't the case at all.

I don't want to give it away (because you all are going to go right out and rent it....go ahead I will wait), but it was about a girl that grows up in deplorable conditions. The daughter of an abusive welfare mom, she is in a situation that doesn't feel very hopeful. But at the end she has risen above her situation and begins to crawl out of the dark hole she is in.

The movie is painful to watch at some points. But be warned: if you have a light stomach, maybe you should just read the book. They say the F-bomb about 1000 times in this movie (among other choice cuss words). I was moved by this movie and I think it is the best one I have seen in over a year.

Okay, where were we? Oh yeah - my friend's patient.

They were all through with the talking phase of the treatment. They were ready for the temporary phase of treatment. One thing I forgot to mention is that her son (you remember the very famous professional boxer?) had a huge fight coming up in about two weeks.
The temporary phase was going to get her looking good for the fight and get her through her HBO interviews. Then she was going to begin phase II.

The day was all set. He was fully prepared. He had already had a 10 unit bridge made from Glidewell. He had blocked off 4 hours in the morning just to be with her. She came in and was ready to go.

This is where things got interesting. The front desk person was relatively new, and they had not made payment arrangements. You know how you get so excited about the dentistry you forget about the actually getting paid for it?.... Well, that is what he did.

So when she got there they began the discussion of money. It had been talked about but what should havehappened was money should have been exchanged just to reserve that kind of time.
I think the patient had given a credit card but it wasn't her's. It was her son's credit card, and the front desk person did not want to charge money on his card without his permission.

It was a bit of an issue getting this guy to call her back. It seems with a major fight just days away, he wasn't answering his phone. So, the patient calls him from the office and drops a bunch of F-bombs at him on his voicemail and then tells him to call back.

Now lets talk about this for a second. At $400 a unit for temps (four on the top and 10 on the bottom), plus a valplast partial. That's about $6000.

He called back. A conversation ensued between the mom and her son that was R-rated, to say the least. Then she handed the phone to my friend and said, "He wants to talk to you."

Whoa, now wait a minute. A couple thoughts came to my friend's mind:
1) he now has to talk to a very upset man.
2) he is getting thrown in the middle
3) the guy he is going to talk to is a PROFESSIONAL BOXER who could easily kick his ass through the phone.

He composed himself, took the phone and started off very cordial, "Hey, how are you doing?"

Did you ever see the movie Guarding Tess with Nicholas Cage and Shirley McLaine? He is a secret service agent that has been assigned to guard a past president's aging wife. She is a real pill and keeps calling the president and basically tattles on him. So he gets on the phone with the president and the president proceeds to chew him out. "Do you know that I am the president of the United States of America and I have to deal with you?" This is kind of how the conversation went with my friend.

The guy starts in with, "Why am I talking to you? I don't know what the hell is going on down there, but I have a f-ing professional boxing match in f-ing 5 f-ing days. I am training basically for 24 f-ing hours straight and I am trying to get my mind right and my f-ing mother is calling me about a dental bill. Do you understand the f-ing situation I am in?"

"Yes, sir."

"I looked over this bill and it is like six thousand f-ing dollars! What the f is she getting done?" My friend thought this might not be the best time to tell him that this is only the first of many phases.

Then the son started to allude to the fact that the bill was entirely too much and that his mother was being "taken" because of who HE was. My friend tried to explain to this man, who obviously had a very low dental IQ, that this is what dentistry costs. When you only have 3 teeth it costs a lot of money to fix. He finally gave his consent for the treatment, but very begrudgingly.

He started to work. The day went great. They prepped all the teeth, made all the temps, delivered the valplast, and it really looked good.

Now, I am no Frank Spear, but I think this turned out great.

She was able to go to the fight and do all her HBO interviews and, but was never happy. She loved my friend as a dentist, but the relationship was always strained. At the next appointment, she told my friend that her son had "cut her off," and that she could not go on with anymore treatment.

Obviously, after about a year the temps started to break. Knowing her situation my friend would repair her temps for free, but after awhil,e had to sit her down and talk. He reminded her of their discussion awhile back about how this was TEMPORARY and it was not meant for a permanent fix. She understood and he went on to tell her that from now on, he was going to have to charge her to repair her temps.

This is where is really got hairy.

She moved away and started to go to her son's dentist. Then the calls started. And they were nasty. "My new dentist said you ripped me off."

And once that started, my friend wanted no part of a verbal confrontation. He avoided her calls. She eventually faded away.

There is so much to take away from something like this. I think over the next couple of weeks, I am going to tell you a bunch of stories of things that happened to my friends that I think happen to all of us.

I guess his front desk person could have gotten some money up front. And, like our guest blogger said, maybe my friend could have had the patient sign a piece of paper saying she understood what temporaries are and that she understood the staging process.

But you know, things just happen. People get motivated then they get unmotivated real fast and it is out of the control of the dentist. You try and try to raise the dental IQ of the patient, but how can you really do that? How do you help the patient make a life change in a couple of weeks?
My friend couldn't. I don't know if anyone can.

Have a great weekend. Let me know if you have seen Precious, and if you haven't, go get it!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My friend has a story to tell you

You have to double click on this picture! (If you have a weak stomach, DO NOT double click on it.)

Hey all,

Do you ever feel like you are having one of those weeks?

I have decided to put the kibosh on the Working with Family blogs. I try hard to tell you the facts in order to give you information that might help a potential buyer and a potential seller in the future. I tried to stay even keeled. I tried not to give you the information that made me look good and my dad look bad. I just wanted to help. That's all.

My wife told me that it was good but I probably shouldn't have written a blog about it. As you might have guessed, my father and I have very different personalities. He is kind of quiet and private and I am....well you know.

I have always felt that if I told you everything about me then you could "know" me. Hey - it might not all be pleasant, but at least you will know the whole me and not just the me that I want you to know about.

But my father is a bit more reserved than I am, and I respect that. I will tell you about it after it is all done.

I know it was a good topic because we had a lot of comments (for and against, mean and nice). I appreciated them; they make me think. I try to check myself to see if I am being selfish. (I am telling you, this is great therapy for me). Anyway, let's move on.

I wanted to tell you about a story about a friend dentist of mine. (By the way, whenever I am going to talk about something that might get me in trouble, from now on it is going to be "about a friend of mine". So you might be hear a lot about my "friends" from now on.)

He had a patient walk into his office about 5 years ago. She came in like any other patient. They did a new patient exam. In the initial interview he found out that she was the mother of a VERY famous professional boxer.

Of course, he was enamored and couldn't think during the rest of the appointment. My friend is s huge sports fan. He kept thinking, "Man, I might get to meet this guy."

Anyway, he did the exam and her mouth was a mess. I think he said she had three teeth on the maxilla and eight teeth in the mandibule.

She was wearing an upper partial that she hated and she didn't even wear a lower because it was uncomfortable. During the interview, they talked a lot about what she wanted. She said her son was going to pay for her teeth and she wanted them "all fixed."

She said she didn't want to lose any more teeth and she wanted to restore her mouth with implants.They spoke at length about what that meant in terms of money time. I think my friend said she had a very low dental IQ and all the info was a little overwhelming for her.

So she left and he waxed up the whole thing, and came up with a real nice treatment plan. It involved a multi-discipline approach. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was a bunch of implants and some bridge work.

The second appointment was just a talking appointment. "This is what I found in your mouth and these are our options to fix them," kind of thing.

She drove up in a Bentley. Yes, the $100,000 kind. I know my friend is not supposed to judge people, but her son is a professional boxer and she rolls up in a Bentley. He was thinking this was going to be a slam dunk. "This treatment plan is no more than ONE of the tires on her car," he thought.

So they talked. It was a lot of education, trying to raise her dental IQ. She kept saying, "Yeah, I want that." She loved the wax up and said there wouldn't be a problem with any of it.

I think I heard my friend say, "If that [expletive deleted] can afford a Bentley, he can afford to pay for his momma's teeth." He was shocked, but excited about doing the work.

First, the temporary phase. He was going to put her in a temporary bridge and a Valplast partial (this is an all acrylic partial that is not meant for long term use), with a full round house temp on the bottom. She scheduled her next appointment.

Now, he told her that the first stage IS ONLY TEMPORARY. He thought he had made this perfectly clear. So they scheduled an appointment to make all this stuff happen. My friend was so excited. Man did that change real soon.

I will tell you more about it on Friday.

Hope you are having a good week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Family-free post

No worries, it's just me. Last Monday the blogging site that we use to post was down so I was not able to post. The week before that it was Memorial Day. So, it's been a while.

How have you been?

Just for the record, my dad and I get along great.

If you didn't know it, I do not pre-write my blogs. It is currently 10:54 am CDT on Monday and I have time to write this because I had a patient cancel. Well, not really cancel. He came in and we informed him that his dental benefits were maxed out for the year, so he decided to wait until January. Kind of a no-win situation there. If we don't keep patient's updated on insurance benefits they get mad when the bill comes and if we do - well, I end up with some down time.

Also, so I can get it off my chest: it is always dangerous to ask if you are the only one in a given situation because you may find out that you are, and that is a little daunting. But, given the total absence of responses to my last post I am going to stay away from reporting on my business for a few weeks. I don't think it is an issue that anyone can connect with and I feel like I constantly bring everyone down. I am looking forward to the point in my business where the cashflow is improved and the highs and lows level out, where I can worry about how to best spend my money instead of how to best pay my bills so the checks clear after the money is in my account. That is just my reality. My "daily grind" post could be the same every week and that's not exciting for anyone. My business is still open today and I can pay my bills today - and for today, that is enough.

The World Cup is on and that makes me very happy. I am a soccer junkie so this is a dream month. I hope you each get a chance to watch it at some point, regardless of whether the USA is playing. This sport is truly an international phenomenon and the passion it elicits dwarfs anything we see here in the states (with apologies to those fans in The Swamp).

Can't wait to read the next installment of "As the Gammichia Turns".

Have a great week!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Working with Family Part II

Good Friday to you,

I am not crazy or anything but I went to my website and 500 more people have been to my site since Wednesday. Anyone believing this? I don't know what to think. How do I know that the 500 hits in TWO DAYS are coming from my area? I am just baffled. AND ... still no calls because of it.

Okay, on Wednesday I was giving you a picture of what my situation with my father is like. Now before we go on I want to say a couple of things...

I love my dad to death. I would do anything for him. He has been a great guy to work for and to work with. He has always treated me well and tried to be fair about most things.

But this can be a touchy subject. Dealing with money and retirement and stuff, people can get very edgy. You really see people's innards when you talk about money. Their feelings can get hurt and being related to the other person doesn't mean you are immune to that. I write these couple of blogs just to give you a taste of what it’s like working with a family member. Now, all of you who work with people that are not your family members, you can probably gather some good information to take to the negotiating table.

Okay, now that the ground work is finished lets move on. Where were we at?

I told you that I am now 50% partner and this happened after 10 years of practice. Then I told you that things were pretty even for the first 5 years of our partnership. We both got paid the same and it worked.

But since last year, this ship has turned.

He took a bunch of time off and worked a lot less. This meant I out produced him for the first time. Not just by a little but by a lot... >20%. There has not been any discussion about this yet.
So I knew it was going to be tough because, like I said before, people get possessive and feelings get hurt. I was going to wait until he was in a particularly good mood. The problem with being slow (please see previous blogs) is that there isn't any particularly good time to do something like this.

When everyone is making a lot of money all these things can wait to be talked about. We are too busy spending all of the money to talk sensibly.

But now times are tough and I am looking for a good time to talk to him about my killing him in production? Talk about kicking someone when he is down.

So I waited and did what any real man would do ... sent him an email.

Wait before you judge me. I had sent a couple of feelers out there about this talk. I started to talk to him a couple of times and it didn't go well. Also, I wanted it to be in writing. I want him to have time to marinate on all I had to say.

Here were my points:

First, I don't care about what has happened in the past. I don't want any retro money or anything. BUT I do want to talk about going forward.

I want to talk about the difference in production and what we should do in the future if the production is so different.

I want to talk about time off. I am not saying you can't have all the days off you want, but I am saying if you take a bunch of time off, what do we do going forward? You could want to go on vacation for a long time, a month-long cruise. In fact I want you to, but we should talk about what to do.

So far nothing seems too unreasonable right? Just dialoging ... its healthy.

Now one thing my father did was give up the reins on the practice administrative stuff. For a long time we had an office manager, so it was easy. But since ours retired, we never hired another one. So we had to get much more involved in the day-to-day managing of this place.

He said he wanted me to "get familiar with what it was like to manage." What I didn't know was that he wasn't going to do anything.

So I do it all.

So this means many extra hours managing and doing work that is not teeth stuff. Do you think there should be an administrative clause in our agreement? I don't know either, but I thought we should talk about it ... so I wrote that.

And lastly, and this one is a tough one...

My father's practice is slowing down a bit. Not that something like this is out of the ordinary.

He has an older clientele. They retire and move away. They move to be with their kids. They pass away. And he doesn't really market himself. He is not really putting himself out there. He is only here three days a week so those emergencies that turn into patients aren't there as much. You can see how this can happen.

Now, if you look at our patients as a whole, it is starting to be very John-heavy, probably close to 65%. So that is 65% of the patients are mine and 35% of the patients are his.

When I say his and mine, I mean they are OUR patients but 65% would prefer to be seen by me.
This is something that we never thought of 8 years ago. I mean who would? This is something we should talk about going forward, don't you think?

If there is (just giving us an easy number) $50,000 profit coming out of the hygiene department in a year, do we share this evenly or do we pay out the profits according to whose patients are getting their teeth cleaned?

I thought all this dialogue would be healthy. Yes, I knew it was going to be tough but I thought it needed to happen.

Now I can understand why my father wanted to just not talk about it. Why talk about tough things if you don't have to?

He is thinking in his head, "I only have less than 3 years to go, why do we have to do all this talking and changing if I am going to be gone soon?" And I can totally understand that. But things are dynamic. Things change.

I know with this economy his nest egg isn't as large as it used to be. People that are getting close to retirement always get a little nervous that what they saved isn't enough. He may want to work more than 3 years. He may want to work as an associate. What does that look like?

What does the buyout of the rest of the practice look like, especially if his part of it keeps dwindling? What about buying the building and the land? We need to talk about this, right?
This is getting too long for a Friday so I will tell you about our talk next week. It really hasn't gone that well. I keep wanting to get professional help but he doesn't really want to pay.

I think it is worth it and I may have to force the issue.

Have a great weekend, John

P.S. Marathon training starts tomorrow. I have already signed up to do the Chicago marathon on 10-10-10.

P.P. S. Lindsey, who was the editor of the blog for the last year or so, just had a baby boy. CONGRATS Lindsey and her husband and WELCOME HOME BABY ADAM!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Isn't working with family great?

Hey all,

First I wanted to tell you about that Remember I told you that they claim to get up to 50,000 hits on your website in three months.
I told you that in 2 years I have got 3500 hits to my website.
Well in the two weeks I have had this company, I have had 4000 more hits to the site.

Are you kidding me? What the heck?

I asked my people up front if they are seeing the phone light up more because of it or if people are calling saying they are they saw our website.

They say NO.

So 4000 hits and zero calls. Now maybe that is a product of having a website that doesn't have a lot of flair or zing. But I have to tell you I am pretty surprised at the results.

Now they talk about getting hits from the three zip codes you desire. Are all the hits coming from my area? I don't know.

Okay I am not going to get into all the gory details but I want to talk to you about some of the stuff that is going on with me and my partner, my dad.
This may turn out to be a series because it could get pretty involved.

Let me back up and give you a brief summary of the past.
I, young and dumb, got out of dental school in 1995. I became my father's associate for 2 days a week. I worked at other offices for about 3 years as I built up my (our) practice. At about 3 and a half years out we felt the space we were working in was.

At the time my father was leasing out space that was attached to his office to an MD. He was on a month to month lease and knew the end was near. My father told him it was time. He left and we had the office renovated to what it is now - 8 rooms and about 3400 square feet.

I was still an associate at the time and I stayed that way for more 4 years. I was asking to be able to buy in since about year 2 but it wasn't ever "the right time" for my father.

In 2003, 8 years after I graduated, I bought into 25% of the practice, and in 2005 I bought in 25% more. And I kind of talk tongue and cheek about it being the "right time" for my father but that is the way it was.

By the time 2003 came around our office was humming along pretty good. I was making an associate's pay, which I think was 30% of my production, and that was it. I was involved in the employee bonus pool. Now my father and a lot of his colleagues have this practice and until they have to retire.

Now I am not talking bad about him it just is what it is (or was what it was. He put 5 kids through private school from kindergarten to 12th grade. Then he paid for 4 of us to go to college. That, folks, is a ton of cash.

So, he is 60, the office is humming along, he is finally making a ton of cash, finally putting money in his 401k as fast as he can, funding his savings account, he even bought a new house, and I come to him and say, "It has been 8 years I want to buy in".

And he says, "it is not the right time".

Let's not forget that practice was part of his retirement plan. So giving it to me was totally out of the question. He needed the money to retire.

And you thought it was easy working with a family member.
I totally can see his side of the coin, but like any associate that has been promised the office, I wanted mine.

He didn't want to let me in. I thought about leaving but only in thoughts. He has been good to me and I really did have a lot and was doing fine. What we are talking about is a guy making $150,000 and complaining. I wanted mine. But you have to admit that being an associate for 8 years is a long time.

Now lets talk about the buy-in. I talked to friends and there buy-in looked like this:

No cash exchanged. The agreement was that if the associate had production goals and if he met them the owner would be making a certain amount of money. And he kept his production up for the allotted time that was enough for the owner.

I asked my dad about this and he said, "YEAH RIGHT". Okay, maybe that was asking too much.

So I asked him if I could buy in and he hold the note. He says, "Okay let me get this straight, one day we sign some papers and you are 50% partner? So you get all the benefits of owning the practice but you haven't given me any money. But you are going to pay me over time." NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

So in 2003 I went to the bank and asked them if I could borrow money to buy the first 25% of the practice. And in 2005 I did the same thing. I am now 50% partner.

So like all old school guys, and I don't recommend this, everything was kind of on a hand shake. We didn't get professional help when it came to a transition. So now we are partners but we don't know a thing about the details. Such as payment. So we make it up.

Lets both get the same amount of pay and if the production is ever swayed way to one side we would talk about. Not real precise is it?

Now as you can see that was a disaster waiting to happen. One of the main issues was the changing of the computers. In 2006, we changed management systems. When we changed my father became the provider on all patients until they were manually changed. And we felt like we were changing the provider over to me most of the time until you would look at the day sheet and it would say that my father produced $1200. No problem except that my father didn't work that day. So you know things were not all real precise. And we are still working on this.

So at the end of the first year the difference was 8%. Knowing that the numbers that we were getting are not that accurate and it would be a small nightmare to figure out the correct number we decided to just get paid the same. Same salary, same bonus.

At this time, though, everything was even. We both worked 4 days a week, we both took the same amount of time off, we both had about the same amount of patients, everyone was healthy.

For the next couple of years he would out produce me but it wasn't that much. 8%, 3%, 3%, 8%. During the years he started to work less but still kept up his production so it wasn't that big of a deal.

Now don't get me wrong, he is 65 years old and he deserves to work less. I am excited for him and I want him to take time off and travel the world. I want him to be able to take the time off and throw a dart at the map and say, "This is where we are going this weekend."

Last year, totally different story.....he took 7 weeks off and he only works 3 days a week. And I out produced him by >20%.

The tide is turning and we haven't talked about it.
And the things we did talk about he doesn't remember.
I think it is time to call in the professionals.

Anyone going through something like this? Or did you start as an associate and have everything written down?

See you Friday,

Friday, June 4, 2010


Sorry if you got two blog alerts today. You have to understand that with BLOGGER if you just press a wrong button while you are trying to type, the next thing you know you have just published a anyway, here is the real one.

Happy Friday all. How the heck are you?

Things have been a bit busier this week. Tuesday was very slow, but the last three days have been gang busters. But it was not the kind of day that occurs when you come in and find that the schedule is packed; it is the kind of day that occurs when some comes in for an emergency and the next thing you know he is coming back in your 2 pm opening for the next 3 hours.

At home, it was our first week of summer. Noah had soccer camp and is loving it, and the other two are just loving having time to sleep in, read when they want, call a friend, swim, swim, and swim (because it is 94 degrees here).

We, as a family, are going on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina the week of June 20th. I will tell you how this came about. I was asked by someone at my church if I would help out this one young woman who was in pain. I, of course, said yes.
Well, what started as a root canal then led to a bunch of fillings (that were going to be root canals if I didn't do the fillings, and I knew I would probably being doing that too, so I went ahead and did them).

Well, she had an aunt second removed that was the one that went to my church. She came up to me and thanked me profusely and said, "Is there anything we can do to repay you."
I said, "Well, do you have a mountain home?" you know just throwing it out there.
And she said, "YES". Next thing you know we are going for a week in the mountains (and the week between Christmas and New Years, REAL NICE).

Enough about me...

We all have staff members. We all need to communicate with each other. I want to talk about how we communicate with each other, first me then us, as dentists and small business owners.

Let's talk about me first. I like communication. But the problem is that communication has gotten away from me a bit.
Face to face
Voice mail
Smoke signals
There are so many choices that you have to pick one that is going to be the most effective.

To your employees...How are we communicating in our boss/employee relationship? I think this is a face to face kind of thing.

To your spouse...I am feeling kind of frisky, how about tonight?
This could be done in so many ways. Face to face, e-mail, texting (better known as sexting) is all acceptable, to me.

Don't forget to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. I mean this stuff is easy. Face to face, email, texting, FB, Twitter.

If I have to be told to do something at the office, like don't forget to call a certain patient, then go ahead and leave me a voice mail. If you need to tell me "I am going to be off next week, don't forget," then I actually prefer you to shoot me an email. One, because I read it when I am relaxed, and second, if I don't remember you have proof. Most work it, voice mail, is all okay.

But lately we, as a staff, have been doing a lot of text messaging. And let me tell you, I am a master texter. I have a blackberry and can type a text with the best of them. But just don't know about all of this. I don't know if it has a whole lot of business in the work place.

I mean, is a text to me saying, "I am going to be an hour late for work" okay? How about, "I am not feeling well today, so I am going to have to miss today. I will call you later"?

To me this is not okay.

I have had two of my staff out because of pregnancy for months, and we did a lot of communication, other than face to face or the phone. I have to tell you that it was kind of a game. Now, I am not picking on these particular people, but it is what it is.
I try to be hip and send them a text message and not get a return text for a day or two. I would send an email and have it go unanswered.

Now I am pretty old school, but I know everyone is getting EVERY text and they are reading EVERY e-mail. Now maybe someone might not get to their emails every day, but you can be sure that they are reading it within a day or two (I say this knowing that everyone under the age of about 40 is checking their emails EVERY day). And for something that I send out to go unanswered?

What about if you are out for a while, and the day you are supposed to come back is in a couple of weeks. You do not have reliable transportation, but you are in the process of buying a new car, which means you need to move your return date. Doesn't this seem like a phone call is warranted?

Now to me, if someone writes an email in this case they are trying to avoid a phone call. Texting and e-mailing in lieu of a phone call is a total cop out. It is a "I know I have to talk to you, and it is going to be tough so instead of being honest with you and talking to you like a grown-up I will text you" type of thing.

Okay, here are my thoughts on this.
It is my fault. Yes, I said is my fault. At my next staff meeting I will talk to my staff about how they should communication with me. I will tell them, I don't care how you communicate with anyone else, I just want to talk to you about how I NEED to be communicated with. I NEED to be communicated with face to face or on the telephone.
I want you all to think of what people used to do in the "old days". This is how I need to be communicated with. If we are talking important work stuff, I, from now on, require a phone call. Any other method means that you don't think your job is important. Any other method means you that don't consider me the boss. You kind of consider me one of your Facebook friends or an acquaintance. You don't consider me the guy who signs the checks.

I admit I haven't had this talk with my people. But it will happen. I don't know if young people have just been texting so much of their lives or it has become such a huge part of people's lives that they have forgotten what should be done.

I just don't know, so this is why I am going to talk about it to my staff, old (more mature) ones and young ones.

Have you had any experience with this?

I think before something happens to you that you should map out what is acceptable and what is not. Because if you don't, technology will jump up and bite you right between the browser. Or you might be like me and get an E-MAIL from an employee telling you that they won't be returning to work.

Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reading the paper

Hey all,

If there is time before church I like to sit down and read the paper on Sundays.
The kids and I sit around the island in the kitchen, and we will have cereal or a muffin and read. They will probably read the comics, and I will read almost every article in the what I call "the front page" section.

As an aside, I can't let my kids read the paper. There is so much depravity out there. It is murder this, rape that, fights, cheating littered throughout the paper. My 10-year-old son (who turned 11 yesterday) and I have to have what I think is a premature discussion when he turns to me and asks, "Dad, what is rape?" Last week, the front page main article was on this 17-year-old girl who has been missing for two weeks. They think she met a guy on My Space and she either left with him or he abducted her. "Dad, what does abduct mean?" This leads to a discussion about the dangers of the computer and how evil is lurking EVERYWHERE.

But this week, after I was done reading about four articles, I just had to shut the paper. I had had enough. I will give you a brief summary of these four articles.

#1...Two people in Fresno, California are being charged with child endangerment for giving their child (come to find out that they held him down) a gang tattoo.

Shouldn't there be a law against stupid people having kids.

#2...A nun, who was an administrator for a Catholic hospital, was fired from her job and excommunicated from the church when she orchestrated an abortion for a patient.
I am not going to get into what I think about abortion. What my big issue is that here is a woman that is getting paid by the Catholic Church, to be a nun, for a long time and works for a Catholic hospital. I don't know if she knows this, but the Catholic Church does not condone abortion. If you think abortion is okay, then quit the church and go work for another hospital. Then the article started to bash hospitals for not doing certain procedures because of religious affiliations.

What ever happen to free trade?

If I have a dental office and I don't really believe in extracting teeth, and if you want a tooth extracted then DON'T COME TO ME. Go to the guy/gal right down the road that extracts teeth. What is wrong with that?

#3...Here in the Central Florida area there is a 13-year-old girl who finished high school and has passed all entrance exams to college, but our local community college would not accept her. Their board of directors made a rule that they will not accept anyone under 15, stating that a college campus is not a suitable for a 13-year-old. I have a couple of issues with this one.

One, who the heck wants their 13-year-old to be finished with high school? So let's say she goes to college and finishes at 17. Is she someone that I would want in my, say, Marketing firm? Let's say she goes to dental school. As a patient, do I want a 21-year-old dentist?

I have a daughter who I think is smart as a whip. When she was 2 and was going to the pediatrician, our doctor said to us, "You do realize she is not normal. She is gifted, and you need to start considering a special school."

We didn't.

We are going to home school her this year because we don't want to accelerate her, but we want to broaden her. If she is finishing stuff too fast and with too much ease then it is time for some field trips to illustrate her education (but that is just us).

Two, what's the problem with this school? She has finished her requirements to get into school...what gives? You are an educational institution, educate. Since when does a college or university become socially responsible. How about let's not kids in until they are really mature, say like 30 (maybe it would be 18 for girls and 30 for boys).

I was 18 when I started college, and let me tell you what, college was not suitable for this 18-year-old. I drank more beer and saw more naked people than I had seen in my whole life. The 13-year-old girl's dad, who is a retired engineer, said that he would chaperon his daughter until she is fifteen. NO GO, says the school.

#4...I don't even want to go here but I have to complete the story.
Did you hear about the stuff in Malawi? Well I will hit on the main points.
In Malawi it is a crime to be a homosexual.
Two people were arrested and the judge, wanting to make an example out of them, sentenced them to 14 years in jail. Now the president of Malawi pardoned them on the grounds that the United States threatened sanctions on his country.

I don't agree with either of these parties. I don't agree that people should be arrested and serve time for being homosexual. And I sure as hell don't agree with the big bad United States threatening countries that don't do things our way. But then, you say that you can't sit back and give money to countries that are killing their people.
So we know killing is wrong, but where do you draw the line?
Up until killing?
How about circumcising girls?
How about countries that tattoo their 7-year-olds?
This is a slippery slope.

Four articles in five minutes, and I haven't stopped thinking about all of them all week. There is some real heavy stuff going on that really is too big for me.(I looked up this story about Malawi and let me tell you how heavy the discussions were on the forum sections. This is very dividing stuff. People were mean, people were crude, people were angry.)

When I think about my little world, and I think my problems are huge, all I have to do is open the Front Page on Sunday mornings and I realize there is this HUGE world out there with some really heavy issues.

I don't know what else to say.


Have a good Wednesday,


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