Friday, October 30, 2009



Hope things are well with you.
Things going pretty well here. My daughters birthday party is today.
And like I told you she IS getting the ridiculously expensive American Girl doll.
At least she will be happy and I will not feel guilty. That is what this is about isn't it.
Us trying to be the most ideal parents. Well what ever happened to teaching them about values? What ever happened to us teaching them about saving?
I guess because our friends won't see our wealth that way.
I am not going to go through this again. I am not. I am stopping now.
She is going to be thrilled. I am stopping now.

I am not talking about the Gators anymore and if I was I would tell you I am going to Jacksonville (FREE TICKETS, for those of you who are checking to see how much I spend on football and complain about toys for my kids) to the "largest outdoor cocktail party". Luke and I are skipping Halloween to watch the Gators play.

Speaking of Halloween, it is dentists favorite holiday. I am not the dentist that gives kids nickels or toothbrushes in silent protest of candy. I embrace it. I go to Costco and buy a couple of the Snickers Big Bars.

I am not kidding. I staple my card to it and write, "If it hurts when you eat this, do not hesitate to give me a call."

I love Halloween.

Let me ask you a question.
Let's say things don't go so good at work.
You and I we care about your work that is out there. We want our signature on all things. We are proud of our work. What do you do when things don't go so good?

Yesterday I had to do a reverse post and core. I think I made up that name but this is what I call it. This is what I do when a perfectly good crown breaks off (usually someone else's crown). You know when the crown breaks off and some or all of the original tooth is in the crown. The crown margins are intact.
This is what I do, I lube up the inside of the crown, I etch and prepare the tooth and then put self curing build-up material in the crown and a little on the tooth and put the crown back on.
Then the material sets up inside the crown. You take the crown off and Voila you have a new build-up that fits inside the crown.
Tell me I am not the only one doing this.
Well yesterday I had a patient that it was #10 (front tooth) and he broke it at the gum line. I did the root canal and then was going to do the post and a reverse core.
Well I think when we were cementing it we placed the crown slightly buccal.
It was all porcelain so when you are cementing it you only get one chance. There is no, "Oh no that is wrong, take it out lets try again." Your finger is on it and you cure it and then you look at it.
Then what do you do. I am not talking major or anything. But you want it to be your best.
Man, I can't stop thinking about it. I hate doing average work.

Oh, I got an email from my friend who is the guy doing ortho.
I have to show it to you.


ORTHO! My favorite subject (occlusion is a close second).
Well, it all started off about 6 years ago when i decided to take an ortho course and learn more about ortho. I wanted to figure out why my orthodontists gave me lots of 'ortho-excuses' for why cases turned out the way they did. The course was Brock Rondeau, probably the biggest name out there for general dentists doing ortho. It looked really easy, and i decided to buy a starter kit from GAC. I started a couple cases on friends that went great. So, i did a couple more that went great, except for the occasional problem that popped up and made me realize i don't know everything there is to know about ortho. So, over the next 5 years i have taken about 400 hours of OrthoCE from about 6 different speakers. I do about 3/4 of my ortho, and still refer out about 1/4. I also couldn't have done it without the help and encouragement of my orthodontist, who has been a great mentor. I'm not sure how many active cases i have...maybe 20 (5-8 are adults). I only end up with about $/year from ortho, but my fees are probably a little low. The main thing is, it's really fun for me, very rewarding, cerebral, and easier than prepping teeth and trying to get a Bitine ring on a 2nd molar. I think the economy has slowed the cases down a bit, with many patients holding off on ortho, which can always be done later.
I'll attach a great case i just finished. Tell me this hasn't changed this 17 yr old's life!

A couple of things jump out at me from his email.
His passion is the first thing. (I don't think he is orthodontist bashing either)
His desire to do well.
He is having fun and helping his patients at the same time.
I love it.

Last thing for the day is of a personal note.
I am going to come clean. I have periodontal disease.
It all started when I was about 27, I got my first 4mm pocket. I began to floss. I started but was not religious.
It stayed. I then went to having my teeth cleaned every three months.
It persisted.
I then really began to floss, like every day. I got a Sonicare toothbrush and for sure it was going to be a 3mm.
This has been over a 10-12 year period. At about 2 years ago it became a five. I was like damn. So I ramped my hygiene up a notch. I have been flossing two times a day for about a year now.
This last time I got my teeth cleaned this one pocket was a SIX MILLIMETER POCKET.
I couldn't believe it.
So I made an appointment at my periodontist office.
I got the full work up. Let me preface this by telling you that in 2001 when this thing was a 4mm I did an exam at his office. He said he wasn't concerned.
Now this appointment was different.
He says obviously it is worse. He wants to do root plainings on me.
Now keep in mind the last thing dental I have had was 13 years ago. I have not been numb in that long.
He is going to numb my whole mouth and do have mouth of root plainings and half mouth with his new argon laser. I am going to be his science experiment.

I go under the knife next Monday.
I have to tell you, I am the perfect example of bad genes. My mother has lived at the periodontist office her whole life. My father has perfect teeth.
I blame her.
This is going to suck but I have to tell you that I am actually looking forward to feeling what my patients feel. I want to go through it so I can be of a witness to the experience.
At least this is what I am telling myself.
That is it. Hodgepodge of stuff.
But Wednesday....I have this awesome story to tell you. It is so crazy (cliff hanger).

Have a great Halloween,

Be careful,

Don't forget to change your clocks on Saturday night.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Orthodontics for the General dentist

Hey all, I am not going to talk about the Gators anymore.
Man has it been tough to watch their games. The offense is really struggling. They have a championship defense. Do you know in 7 games they have only given up 4, yeah I said four, touchdowns. They gave up 19 points last week on two field goals and two defensive touchdowns. I won't tell you that my beloved Tim Tebow threw two interceptions.
Okay, no more talk, starting now.
Well I went to the zoo on Friday with my daughter. I haven't been to the zoo in a long time and yeah it still sucks. Even my daughter said, "Mom, it was boring." I am not saying that all zoos are bad. Just the Central Florida zoo is.
I started a book called Born to Run. I am not usually into books like this (this book is about these Mexican's who live in the woods and are super marathoners), but I was assured this book is so awesome. So I am giving it a try. I don't have any books on the list after this, so if you have any good ones I could read, let me know. I really want to read a war book or I am thinking about Jeannette Wall's second book after The Glass Castle (if you haven't read this book YOU HAVE TO. It is amazing.)
I am watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button right now. Did you know this movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes? Wow. It is taking me more than two sittings to watch it. It is average.
Enough about me, let's talk dentistry.
I went to a dental course a couple of months ago and there were a couple of classmates of mine. We had lunch. I really like them both, and I think they are very stand-up guys. So I am not learning stuff from quacks and then bringing it to you.
I trust these guys. Hence the story.
So talking at lunch one of them talks about how much he is loving doing ortho. Let me preface this by telling you I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I spend the most of my time trying to get better at fillings, crowns, and esthetics and stuff like this. And as you know, we all live on our islands, and I thought everyone else was doing the same thing.
So we are talking and he tells me he loves doing ortho. So I say, "So you have really gotten into the invisalign stuff?" He says, "No, the real orthodontics. Brackets, bands and archwires and everything."
I said, "WHAT?!!"
 "Yeah" he says, "I have taken about 200 CE hours on it, and I have about 40 cases going right now."
My other friends pipes up, "Yeah, I am loving it too."
"WHAT?!! You too?"
"Yeah" he says, "but not as much as him."
So the two of them start talking about how they do it. They talk about what kind of brackets they are using and how they are handling the harder cases. My head is spinning at this point. I mean I get about 5 ortho CE things a week in the mail, but I always just throw them away. Am I alone here? Are you guys/gals doing ortho?
Are you doing Invisalign and like doing your 10 cases a year or are you starting to do bracket ortho?
I have to tell you it intrigues me. I am talking about stuff other than bread and butter general dentistry.
I have a friend that dabbles in just about everything. He does implants, he does Invisalign, he does Botox, he does Lubriderm.
My thing with something like implants is this.... I can take all the courses in the world. I can buy all the equipment. So I can take 2 years worth of every weekend course and buy $50,000 worth of equipment and I still WON'T BE AS GOOD AS MY IMPLANT GUY.
This is the bottom line.
If I do it will it be better for my patient if I do it or my implant guy. I can't do it as good as my periodontist who does 3-10 a day.
How am I going to do it as good as him if I do all the CE and have the equipment and I do 1 a week?
Same with Lubriderm, same with Botox.
If I can't do it well, I don't want to do it. So could I get good at it? What ever it is. Ortho, Botox, implants. Yes, I could get good at it.
But how long or how many implants do I need to do to get as good as my periodontist.
Could it be fun?
Could it be profitable?
Could we get good at it?
Could we do the single slam dunk lower mandibular implant?
Am I saying I haven't thought about it?
Am I saying have I thought about getting into ortho since talking to my friends?
Tell me and the other readers what you are doing.
Are you doing ortho?
Are you doing Botox?
Are you doing implants?
Is it working out for you?
Or are you like many others that took the course, bought the stuff and it sits there?

Have a great Wednesday. I will let you know about the comments on Friday.

P.S. I got many comments on the American Girl Doll blog. I have to say that the woman are very pro doll and the men think it is crazy but do it because it makes their daughter happy.
I did have an apparent avid reader call me to task on all the Final Four trips and National Championship trips I take and all the tickets I have to buy for this. I had a friend tell me once about the four irrefutable law of life. 1) Bones will heal 2) Chicks dig scars 3) Pain is temporary 4) Glory lasts forever.
Now I pay all that money for the games because of the 4th rule. This was money well spent because it will last FOREVER.
In the laws there is nothing in the four laws it doesn't say anything about dolls.
 I kid.
I did get your point about my trips. I thought about that when I was writing. I was hoping no one would call me out. No such luck. Birthday party on Friday. I will let you know about how the doll presentation goes. It better come in an awesome box.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life goals anyone??

OK, do we know each other well enough for this? Probably not, but I'm going to jump into the deep end anyway. One of my life goals is to be an audience member on an infomercial.

There, I said it. It is true, ask my wife. I love watching infomercials. Whether it is for a juice machine, set of knives, magic blender, you name it. I want to be the one in the audience gasping with awe and wonderment at the ease with which that gadget simplifies my life. I want to cook omelettes for my kids in a magic press that only takes 5 minutes and then comes apart for easy cleanup - cuz who wants to wipe out an omelette pan anyway. Come on, are you kidding, I can drink carrot juice with asparagus and oranges and the pulp is stored in a separate container - where was I when this type of thing was taught in school. Sign me up. I want to "set it and forget it." Garbage disposal for the shower - I'm all in. All I need is a pill with 200 herbs, perennials, and shrubs that I have never heard of and I can lose the 20 pounds of material that is lining my colon - goodbye gym membership, hello bathroom. I can read and lose weight - there is a God.

I know what you are thinking but no, I do not want to host an infomercial. Those guys have to work too hard - although I do have an inside track on some sweaters I could wear (but seriously dad, they look good on you). I don't want to sell my soul to the devil, I just want to bask in the glow of minor publicity that comes from late night insomniacs wondering who the moon-faced guy is ohhing and ahhing over a kitchen slicer that replaces every item of flatware in house. Your eyes do not deceive you my friend, that is your dentist Ric Crowder there in the audience. Nine out of 10 dentists approve this toothpaste, please, I want to set my own path - not follow the crowd. I want to take the road less traveled. Where that road divides in the wood - I want to take the one that Jack Lalaine would take.

OK, time to bring it back down to a less serious level now. I don't want to sound pompous but my wife and I managed to pull off the perfect weekend. We accomplished a major home improvement project (painting the rest of the living room), my wife got a couple of naps in this weekend, I got to watch all the TV I wanted, read an awful book, but at least it is finished, spent a ton of time with the kids, got the house cleaned back up and did all the laundry. AMAZING!!!!! It only took 16 years of marriage.

Don't forget to set your clocks back 1 hour next Sunday or you will be late for the blog Monday morning - that would be embarrassing.

Have a great week!


Friday, October 23, 2009

American Girl Doll

Top of the morning to you,
If you haven't figured it out we are still having problems with the blog o paragraph.
My laptop was in the shop for a couple of weeks, so that could have been some of the problem.
It appears to be an HTML problem (I say this to sound smart but don't ask me what it means). editor has some spacing issues with the old form of internet explorer.
So if I have the new updated internet explorer but I send it to the editor (remember I am having this done so I don't offend anyone, which I have to admit I have done in the past) and he/she has the old version it somehow gets rid of all the spaces.
We think we are getting close to figuring it out. It looks good in the editing process and then you submit it and get what you have been seeing.
Sorry and I am just as frustrated as you are...probably way more.
I am off of work today because I am a chaperon on my daughter's field trip. So I am writing this Thursday night and through modern technology I am having it posted on Friday.
(I know what you are thinking...well then why can't you get some spaces in your blog?")
I digress. So I am going to get right to it today because it is almost my bedtime.
My daughters 9th birthday is on Monday.
And all she wants is an American Girl doll.
Some of you just laughed didn't you.
Now for all you people that don't have a daughter or don't have children yet, let me explain.
Companies that make toys try to have a niche. For example, WebKins are a stuffed animal. But they are not just stuffed animals. They are stuffed animals that when you buy them come with a web code. Then, after and only after the purchase, the new owner is suppose to go to and register the pet. The website will then mark you as the parent of this stuffed animal. The website will give you the birth date of the animal. Then you get points for all the animals that you own and you can get virtual prizes for your points. Oh, then the companies will retire certain animals so they become more desirable..."Daddy, I have to have that one because this is the last month they are making this one."
Needless to say my daughter has over 25 of these overpriced stuffed animals.
(I my defense she got 10 of them for quitting sucking her thumb)
Now American Girl definitely has a niche.
They make dolls that are supposed to look like the little girl that owns them. They make a hundred or so models of dolls and you are supposed to buy the doll that most resembles you.
These things makes Cabbage Patch dolls look like so last week.
This is not it though. There is a whole catalogue of ridiculous things you can do/buy.
I know, I know, I don't know what it is like to grow up a 9-year-old girl. I don't know what it is like to want something blah blah blah.
You can buy matching clothes for you and the doll. Matching nightgowns. Matching dresses... you name it.
If you wear glasses you can buy the same pair for your doll.
You can buy earrings and necklaces for you and the doll.
You can buy the doll a cell phone and a purse.
You can buy it a bed, a tub, a vanity (with a matching stool).
You can buy it a pony, ice skates. A baseball, soccer, or bowling outfits and accessories.
You can buy it a pet and all the accessories that you need if you have a pet.
You get the picture...over the top.
One thing I have not told you is the price.
The basic doll is $95. This is basically the doll with nothing.
So let's say you buy the doll with one outfit and earrings. The average outfit will cost you about $35 and to pierce her ears is on sale for low the price of $14.
Okay you might say that that is not that bad.
Well the real problem is the absurdity. If what I told you wasn't enough for you to think this is absurd.
Then I will go on.
American Girl has, I think, three retail stores, they may call them spas, in New York, Chicago, and L.A.
This is where you can go and you and your doll can get mani and pedis together. Get fitted for dresses together, things of this nature.
Moms and their daughters from the south will jump on a plane to do a pilgrimage to The American Girl store in Chicago.
Okay, I just don't get it.
I brought this up to my staff, thinking they would be on my side of thinking this is absurd.
I about had a revolt on my hands. Every one of them thought I should get my daughter this doll.
They would walk by my office shaking their heads mumbling, "get her the doll you cheapskate."
One of my staff members went as far as having her husband call me and leave a voicemail telling me to get the doll for my daughter.
As I was telling my assistant about this doll, and she is jumping down my throat, a patient from the other room yells at me to get my daughter the doll.
I was shocked.
To her defense only one of my staff members stood with me (and now she is my favorite).
It is not the money...well, it kind of is but $100 for a doll. Come on are you kidding me?
Sure she is worth it but ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A DOLL.
See this is where I think something has gone wrong in our capitalist society.
Now the minority are the people that think this is absurd. People without a pot to piss in are finding ways to get there lovely daughter this doll. People aren't teaching their kids about values and the beauty of saving and compounding interest.
No, they are teaching any means necessary get the stuff you want, regardless of how STUPID it is.
Has everyone gone completely mad? Have I gone completely mad?
I say this because I just finished ordering the ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR DOLL for my lovely daughter.
I am assuming my wife is looking for cheap flights to Chicago as we speak. I mean how ridiculous would our doll look without a decent mani and pedi.
I have to go. I am just shaking my head now.
I hope you are too.
Have a great weekend.
ps. Don't be ashamed to write a comment about your American Girl doll and don't forget to tell me how much you have spent after the initial $95.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

4000 new patients, still 1 hygienist

What is up?

Oh my gosh
Did anyone see the Gator game on Saturday?
After the game I needed a Valium in a bad way.
Just so you know we, the Gators, fumbled the ball four times and lost them all.
Two times we fumbled inside their 15 yard line (so we were about to score) and then we fumbled twice inside our 30 yard line, giving them more opportunities to score.

We won with a field goal with 4 seconds left on the clock.
Man was that hard to watch. I know you were all thinking about me.
I can't wait for Basketball season when I know we are going to stink. No expectations is so much easier than crazy expectations.

I watched Man in the Iron Mask this week. It was not very good. It had John Malkovich and Leonardo DiCaprio. It was about a king who was a twin. He was also a tyrant. So he was such a tyrant that he had his twin brother thrown into prison and wear a "iron mask" so no one would know that he had a brother. So the musketeers bond together to get the brother out of prison, take off the iron mask and overthrow the king.

This weekend weather was so nice here. Remember I was complaining of the heat, well we've had a respite from it for about 6 days now. It was 62 degrees this weekend (as a low). It was so beautiful here. I just went outside and read and pulled weeds just to be outside.
They say the heat is coming back but for now I am enjoying it.
I had my best run of the season in this great weather. I ran 20 and felt great.
The first time I ran 20 this season, I asked if when the group finished someone would come back and get me. No one did so I walked/ran the last 4 miles.
The second time, I actually had a friend parked at 18 miles, and I had him drive me to my car. Embarrassing. When I was driving by my group, I ducked down in the front seat of the car.

This weekend, not only did I finish running but I was strong at the end. So I am going to try it again on Saturday. Marathon in 38 days.

I did go out to my friend’s office, and I wanted to talk to you about it.
He is a dentist that has been out of school for about 12 years.
He was an associate for about 2 years and then bought a practice. Then after about 8 years he bought another practice. He is in a building that two dentists share. You enter the front door and both dentists use the same reception desk but have two waiting areas. His office is nice. It is a little tight but very cozy.

One awesome pearl I got from him is he has a sheet. The sheet from right to left has all his numbers on it. Office production, Dr. production, hygienist production, account receivables, number of new patients, number of emergencies. The page had it for the month and for the year. And he had 8 pages of this. So he can track from month to month and year to year.

He started looking at the new patient column. He says, “John (and he gets very passionate about this), tell me what you think of these numbers? Look at my new patients, look at my emergencies. Let’s look together. In the year 2002 I saw 260 new patients, in 2003 I saw 320, in 2004 I saw 360, and so on. (Don’t get caught up in those numbers...I totally made those up. It is not the main theme, hang with me a couple of sentences longer.)
“I have seen over 3000 new patients in the last 8 years (or something like that) and I can only barely keep one hygienist busy. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?”

This is the million dollar question (More like 10 million). We have people coming in but how are they getting out the back door? Where are those 3000 people?

Now if you have never thought about this, either you are too new to practicing dentistry or you are lying to yourself that you are not losing patients.
I think about this all the time.

When I was a young dentist it would haunt me. I see the numbers. I know I should be able to keep 15 hygienists busy if everyone stayed in my practice.

So I get down on myself. I read magazine that say, “Retain patients…all you have to do it this.”
Or I go to a lecture and the guy up at the front seems to have it all together. Your classmates on Facebook seem to have it all together (I sound so hip throwing in the Facebook thing). And I can’t keep a freaking patient. I suck.

This is the “self-loathing technique”. Or you can do what my father does (have I told you I love my dad. I love everything about him but he does this), he says, “The only reason people don’t come back to our office is because we are too expensive.” I call this the “head in the sand” technique.

Somewhere in the middle is the answer.

I have been to the CE and I have read all the magazine articles ad nauseam and this is the “magic” I have come up with. Treat people as best as you can. Treat people way you would want to be treated. This is not rocket science.

Treat them with respect. This means respect their time. Respect their money. Don’t take it for granted. Everyone works hard for their money (most everyone), and they want to know that we care that things cost a lot and we know it is a sacrifice for them to pony up $200 or $20,000 to get their teeth fixed.

And do your best to care for them. It is the old adage, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” THAT IS ALL YOU CAN DO. You do the best you can, treat people as best you can. Make sure your office is maintained (isn’t it funny that sometimes this doesn’t matter. You go to these highly successful offices and the office kind of look like crap) and that is it.

Remember…People are fickle.

When you are in a service industry working with people, some of it is out of your control. They will leave because they don’t like your color scheme. They leave because they were insulted when you asked for the money on the day of the service. They leave because they don’t like your music.

Last week I heard a patient was ticked at one of my specialists because she thought he only hired woman with big boobs. Which is not just not true, but she left the practice.
I would say that people are sometimes not prepared for the cost and yes this does scare them away but…
Sometimes people move.
Sometimes people just stop going to the dentist.
Hey sometimes people will leave because they just don’t like me and I am okay with that.

I have to say that we joke around at our office. Sometimes to a fault but we do it to ease tension. We realize people don’t like coming to the dentist and this is the way we use to make our profession more likable. Sometime people think we are a bunch of screw-ups. Other people LOVE LOVE LOVE us.

We try to monitor if we are ticking more people off than pleasing but…(I am thinking of a blog topic about practice surveys and getting people’s feedback. Stay tuned).

We have to have the mindset that if they are all not going to stay. But the ones that do we have to cherish. They are the ones that we have pleased. They are the ones that like the colors. They don’t mind paying on the day of the service. They don’t mind your not so professional talk. They like or tolerate your music. They like all your quirks. These are the ones I think about, not the ones that chose not to come back.

I got email this week and I want to share it with you (or I want to brag…call it what you will).

Dr. John and staff,
I was very impressed with the care I received from your office. The staff was excellent and Dr. John (yeah that’s me) was great. He really cares and I can tell he is dedicated to what he does. You guys ROCK….
I have referred three other people to your office.
I no longer dread my visit to the dentist. The next generation of dentists has arrived.
Thank you again,

Now I don’t know about you, but something like this will keep me going for the next couple of months. If I have a bad day I will remember this letter.
This email got printed out and put up on the bulletin board in the staff lounge with a big GREAT JOB EVERYONE written on it by me.

We must celebrate our successes. That is all you can do. Do the best you can. Treat people the way you want to be treated and stop worrying about the few that got away. Any thoughts?

Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If !@#$!@ offends you, don't read on. Go back to watching balloon boy.

Act I, Scene 1:

Hey kids, I have an idea. Honey, come in here. You are all going to love
this ... How 'bout if we pull the mother of all pranks on the local police and
media. Let's float that big balloon in the backyard and tell everyone that I'm
in it. You guys get all weepy and cry ... What? What do you mean I'm too big for
the balloon? How do you know weight-to-lift ratios? Look, you're only 6, you
can't possibly understand the complexity of this prank—It is better than
"Punk'd". Oh yeah, well if you're so smart, lets tell them you are in the
balloon. Yeah, I like that even better. We'll tell them that a six-year-old
climbed on the roof, attached a basket to a weather balloon, untied a knot (when
he can't even untie his own shoes), and floated off in a helium balloon. What a
great idea. Plus, on the upside, it really doesn't hurt anyone and we can all
have a good laugh about it later. Maybe we can even get a new reality show. You
know, since that one with the eight kids is going so well. Maybe it can be
called “Nut Job Parent Plus 3”. OK, first things first, go get the ladder to the
storage area above the garage …

How the ^%&%&% do these people get to be parents? Is life really that boring? Is media attention really that great? I mean, it seems to work so well for other families on TV. Last time I checked we had 2 active wars, nuclear armament issues in two totalitarian regimes, rampant poverty in Africa, a potential viral pandemic, healthcare issues, financial struggles, and soaring unemployment rates. Yeah, let's distract ourselves by sending TV helicopters to follow a balloon - in hopes of what? I don't mean to be offensive but why follow the balloon if you don't want the kid to jump? If you are waiting for a safe landing, follow it but don't broadcast it. Otherwise, you are waiting on a kid to jump. Are you ^%#^ kidding me? Thank God I was traveling that day to Chicago to the AGD Joint Council meetings, so I didn't have to struggle with the decision to watch or not.

Quite honestly, other than teaching their kid to lie, I don't know that I put a ton of blame on the parents. If anyone seriously thought that this was going to be a global news event then they have special powers beyond reason. To me, the media and TV shows that foster this kind of attention-seeking behavior should be the ones to pay the fine, and the media should seriously reevaluate what is news. No offense, but does a child's antics in Colorado effect life in Kansas City, Chicago, New York, Orlando, Los Angeles, or London? Why is that newsworthy?

I don't mean to be an isolationist; I know that there is important information that comes from outside my own area that I need to know to be a good citizen of these United States. However, let's be honest, 99 percent of the junk that is on the news has absolutely no bearing on my life and only serves to stress me out—which I'm pretty sure I am doing well all by myself. A major house fire in Albany, N.Y. is very sad, but not relevant in Kansas City. An Amber Alert in Kansas City is very relevant here, but of no use whatsoever in Phoenix, Ariz. A shooting, infidelity, or bad parenting is NOT GLOBAL NEWS!!!!!!! (Much like the postal service, no one really needs national news.) Yes, I know, pining for journalistic integrity and a return to bygone years when people were able to think for themselves is a lost cause–like spitting in the wind. But where does it end?

If someone wants to make an argument to convince me that "Balloon Boy" was a national newsworthy event (not reported after the fact, but reported live), please do. The only thing I can see is that it was newsworthy to aircraft in the area and landowners in the area. Otherwise, newscasters, please focus on news that is relevant to and impactful for me. Now, if you want to start a prayer chain–which, by the way, is the only thing that is going to help if there really is a six-year-old boy in a box tied to a helium balloon—sign me up. But I'm pretty sure the news is not asking for prayer and I'm also really sure that prayer does not require a live feed. Why not go ahead and just sponsor the broadcast.

"This segment of XYZ Global News is brought to you by Party City, where you
can get balloons, streamers, invitations and all your party planning needs. Now,
back to Frank in News Chopper 666. Has the boy fallen out yet Frank?"

As I started writing today, I was going to link to a couple of funny photos and load the video of the 5th Dimension song "Up, Up and Away." But I just got madder and madder as I wrote this. So, we'll leave funny stuff for later. I will also save the dental stuff until next week. As an aside, we had a great meeting in Chicago. I am constantly impressed with the caliber of leadership in the Academy of General Dentistry.

Have a great week.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Mean people suck

What up?

I forgot to tell you Wednesday that, on Monday, I did go to another office. I told you I would. I am formulating ideas for a couple of blogs because of it. I talked to my wife and she has given me the "go ahead" to take a couple of hours on a Monday and do it a couple more times.
It definitely was a good experience. Has anyone ever done this?
If you have please tell me about it.

I took my son (who doesn’t have school tomorrow) to see Transformers II last night.
The first Transformers was very good. It was PG-13 but there was nothing that a 8 year old couldn’t see, more like machine violence. This one was PG-13 and they were really pushing it.
Language, sex, violence. I was watching this movie like, “you have to be kidding me.”
It started at 9:15. It was over 2 and a half hours and it sucked. I fell asleep in the middle. Even Luke, who couldn’t wait to see this movie, said, “Dad, that movie was not very good.”
Luckily we only paid a $1.50 (and it wasn’t worth it).

On Wednesday I talked about how this economy has helped companies put service into perspective. They are finding that people want to feel good when they are spending their money.
Now today’s topic is kind of going to be the opposite.
I wanted to talk about the bad that this economy brings out in companies and people.
(by the way, another good thing about this economy is the mortgage rates are down…we are refinancing our house and we just locked into a 15 year note at 4 and 3/8. Are you kidding me? Our 15 year payments are going to be lower than our 30 year payment. Yeah baby. You should talk to your banker to see if it is a good time for you).
Focus John
Have you noticed how this economy is affecting your patients? They are certainly more crabby. I mean I get it, you can’t afford your electric bill and then your tooth breaks. This doesn’t lead to a pleasant experience for anyone at the dental office. I totally understand. It is just not the right time for this.
I try to be as understanding as possible and sometimes try to help them put off expensive treatment until things get better in their household but…what is going on at home should never make people down right mean.
I know it is tough out there; shoot it is tough in here.
You can always tell about someone’s character when the rubber meets the road.
When times are tough, how are you going to treat people? (I am not talking about how you treat your family because family always gets the worst of you [I know what you are thinking. Oh that is not right John that you go home and your wife and kids get the worst of you. Well it is what it is. I try to be cool when I get home and put on the dad hat and the awesome husband hat but must of the time I am exhausted when I get home. It is hard and it take a lot of energy being the great care free, high charisma dentist that I am]).
When you don’t have any money how do you treat people at the grocery store? At the bank?
Now who am I talking about? This economy is hitting everyone. The person who has a Toyota Tercel could have issues, the person with an S class Mercedes, the person on a motorcycle. Making those payments are just a little harder.
But are you going to be nasty to the car mechanic when your air conditioning needs to be fixed?
I can say this because as someone who offers a service, there is a tendency for me to be on the wrong end of this nastiness.
It is not everyone; I just think that when people are mean and they try to hide it and then their world starts to cave in…the true meanness comes out.
My wife is kind of one of those people. She gets upset with service people (I love my wife like crazy) because they followed through with a policy.
(And do you know why I don’t take care of the money in my house? Because at the end of the month I was like on a rampage. I was a jerk to everyone.
So now my wife does it and I can call her out on my blog).
I have to calm her down every time the tuition is due.

So let’s take this to companies.
My sister tried to take an item back to Wal-Mart. She bought a TV on an impulse that she didn’t need. Three days later she had buyer’s remorse and brought it back. In the UNOPENED box with the receipt.
They didn’t want to take it back. Now if you don’t know my sister, she is a total Italian spitfire and she was not leaving that store without her money back.
She said that she was doing yard work and for a break went down to Wal-mart to return this TV. She did admit that she looked really ragged. Now they gave her the hardest time.
At first they just said, “No.”
Then a non-yelling discussion ensued. Two other managers came over and she is thinking to herself, “What is the problem here? I have an unopened box and the receipt.”
But you have to understand that Wal-Mart probably has been dealing with so much theft. They have to be on their toes all the time. In the store, changing rooms, at the return desk, at the cash register; I bet it is bad.
So bad that they basically harass a normal customer. You have to treat everyone like a criminal so you get screwed less.
Before she got her money back they ended up having to open the box to make sure she wasn’t bringing back a box of rocks.
I don’t know the answer.
What I do know is we need to check ourselves. I know that treating people nasty is wrong, especially if they are just doing their job.
I know that I have to check myself all the time. I am constantly working on my character. It isn’t easy because most of the time you want to either cry or jump over the counter and strangle someone.
I think it is funny that one of the prayers I pray is that God will make me the person that people think I am.
We all put on this show all the time. I want to really be the person I am during my show.

Okay I felt like I was rambling the whole time. So I will end it here.

Have a good weekend.
Don’t be mean to people, it is not their fault.
Maybe this weekend, surprise them and be nice to them. I can tell you they won’t be expecting it.

I have been loving Dr. Ric’s videos. Here is one I found.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Home Depot

Hey all,

I am writing this for the second time. I was trying to move my posting to a Word document and poof it was gone.
Then it took me awhile to get my foot out of monitor and now here I am.
Things, as you might imagine, are busy at the Gammichia's. It has been awhile since we have had a newborn in the house.
David, who is 10 days old today, (isn't that crazy having a 10 day old in the house) and who is a very good baby, makes a lot of noise. Now for you parents who have forgotten and for you people that don't have any kids, babies make a lot of noise. It is hard to explain, but it is not a cry it is just a lot of grunts and hisses and nose and mouth stuff. It is not that bad to a well rested human being but to someone that hasn't slept in about a week, it is a little tough.
You just want to yell, "Will you just SHUT UP and sleep."
One of the things we are dealing with at our home is the other kids.
I mean just because you have a baby doesn't mean that Luke isn't going to have some sort of quiz and/or test every day. It doesn't mean Madison will stop wanting to swim and Noah will stop wanting to ride bikes.
I have made it a point to make sure the other kids are taken care of. I want these kids to be excited about having a new baby brother not resentful.
I will let you know how it goes.

I watched the Count of Monte Cristo this weekend. It was better than I thought and that is all I have to say about that.

I finished my book this weekend...finally. It was called the Power of One.
It was a long book, and it took me forever but I stuck with it. Also the reading time at the Gammichia house has significantly gone down.
At the beginning of the book, as a kindergartner, he was being picked on by a bully. So he took up boxing. And since then he wanted to be the Welterweight champion of the world. This was the theme of the whole book; they must have said it 1000 times. This was his goal through elementary school and high school. He boxed competitively for at least fifteen years and never lost a fight. It was like the crescendo was building and you feel like it was going to be this Rocky ending. But it went to another story line and they just ended.
It was weird. Like the author looked at the book and said, "hmmm. This book is getting long let's just end it." (I know, kind of like some of my blogs).
It was pretty good though.

I have already started another book called Tweaked. It is a much faster read.
Remember I read a book called the Beautiful Boy. This was a book about a father who is dealing with a kid that is on Meth. The story from when his son was a boy getting in trouble for drinking at nine years old to in and out of rehab when he was 15. And the torture it is on the whole family. It was a great book.
Now Tweaked is the son, the addict, writing a book from his perspective.

Okay Home Depot.
I don't know about you, but I love Home Depot. Not just like but LOVE. I have really thought about getting a job there over the weekend because I just love stuff.
My wife loves going to the grocery store and I love going to Home Depot.
Now I am not a technical guy. I am not someone that fixes things. I am not someone that builds things. But I want to be.
My father never did anything like this.
My father never fixed things. He never built things. He never did anything.
I, on the other hand, do or try to.
I lay sprinkler systems. I put up shelves. I hang hangers. I have now tried to do more wood working. Now that I have a garage, I built my own work bench. I love love love it. But enough about me.
About a year ago I started noticing something about Home Depot. I started the think it was really going downhill. I would go there and there wouldn't be a single employee around.
I would literally walk around looking for help, and when I did find someone they would say, "let me get Bill who is suppose to be in charge of this department."
Things were not in the areas where they should be. I was starting to get ticked because Home Depot is my store.
I even started to go to Lowe's more (which is right across the street) but I felt like I was cheating on my lover.
But in the last couple of months Home Depot is changing back to the store I fell in love with.
(Now this maybe just me being weird because I asked my assistant and she said she hasn't felt any difference)
Home Depot seems to have recommitted itself to service. Now I am not talking about service but real service.
There is people everywhere just smiling. There is someone standing at every aisle greeting you as you walk by, hoping you are coming into their aisle so they can help you. Staff coming up to you asking if they could help you.
I went in the other day and asked if they had such and such and the guy walked me to the item.
The store is clean. Every item is in place. People smiling. People willing to help.
Lots of "Thank yous" and "your welcomes" and my personal favorite, "it's my pleasure".
Now I am thrilled by the sudden turn around.
I am thrilled that Home Depot started to realize it is not just the stuff in the store that makes people want to come to their store. It is the people.
Just ask the Ritz-Carlton. It is not just the room. Yeah it is nice but The Hilton has a soft bed and a flat screen too.
It's the guy opening the door saying "welcome." It is the porter smiling. It is everyone there with the same MO, that makes you feel welcome and want to spend the extra money to have that feeling again.
Now I get that feeling when I am buying a $.28 pvc coupler.
I am super sensitive to good service because that is what we do at our office. SERVICE ABOVE SELF.
And it is not just Home Depot. I went to McDonald's the other day. Now I haven't been to McDonald's in forever but I was having lunch with Noah at his school and he hasn't stopped talking about this toy that they give...a docugon or something like this.
The woman took my order and said, "Thank you so much for your order. I look forward to serving you at the first window."
She was so nice. This was an experience that I won't soon forget. I just sit and think about how great that was.
Are you doing this at your office? Are you making people remember you?
Are you forgetting what people are coming to your office for? If you said to get their teeth fixed, well then you are missing half of the equation.
They want to feel welcome. They want to feel special. They want to know that you care about them and their teeth.
If you are not, this is your wake up call.
Make them fall in love with your office again. I don't care if it cost a little money. I don't care if you have to stay after work and do something. Have a front office meeting and charge people up. Do it now. Your practice is depending on it.
Service...Live it, love it, breathe it, sleep on it, think about it.
Home Depot did.

Have a great Wednesday,


Monday, October 12, 2009

Bizarro World

Have you picked up on the fact that my life is a little duller than Dr. Gammichia's?

Here is what I did this weekend: Friday I went to an area business for a health fair and gave out sage dental advice and toothbrushes. That afternoon I worked my crossword puzzles, played with the kids, and then went to a concert with my 4-year-old daughter (Addison Road and Sanctus Real).

Saturday my wife and I painted our kitchen and one of the walls in our living room. I say my wife and I but really mean my wife. I sanded and primed, she painted. We have lived in this house for 6 years and have finally figured out what colors to do and now have the time to do it. It is amazing what a little color will do to a house.

Quick flashback story:

When my oldest daughter was about 3, we were over at a friend's house who is an Anesthesiologist. They have a beautiful home that is professionally decorated. My daughter looks around the house and asks me, "daddy, why are their walls not white?" Obviously I could only respond that it was because they couldn't afford white walls so they had to settle for custom paint schemes and textured wallpaper. Ahhhh, what children notice.

Back to the real world: painting took all day and then we built a fire in the fireplace (to celebrate the first 32 degree weather of the season) and ate some pie that I got at Perkins (Peanut Butter Silk and Caramel Apple). Sunday was church in the morning, Chiefs breaking my heart again in the afternoon (which in a bizarro twist had them playing as the Dallas Texans - in Kansas City, grrrr - even my wife and daughter thought that was a very bad idea), and Rummikub with the kids that evening. Yep, I lead a magical life.

Now let's go to bizzaro world and see how that weekend would have been if it happened to John:
Friday - was invited to be the featured speaker at a large multi-national corporation's health presentation titled, 'Implants in the 23rd century - why no one should ever get a bridge'. That afternoon I ran 20 miles with only one shoe on. On Saturday, I single-handedly delivered our new baby while driving to the paint store to get paint for the kitchen. I then painted the kitchen while I consulted with Tim Tebow on what mouthguard he should use to prevent concussions. After painting the kitchen in Gator orange and blue (good catch by the AGD staff, as evidence of how much I like all schools Florida-related I had the colors as orange and green) I watched them roll over LSU and celebrated by running another 20 miles. Church on Sunday and kids in the afternoon. . .
The funny thing is, John and I have a lot in common - he is just so much more eloquent in his presentation of it.

It has been a good week for me, pretty even-keeled. I think it helps when you have great patients that are really appreciative of the quality of work that you do. Isn't it amazing how we let that get to us. I am an excellent technical dentist, I know that, but ask me after a 1 surface posterior composite on a squirmy adult patient with an uncontrollable tongue that is so large that you question how they are able to close their mouth and who doesn't care that the filling is perfect, they are just mad that they owe $20 and I will tell you that I should be practicing on the streets in a 3rd world country. Maybe the years will temper the highs and lows, right now I just enjoy the highs when they are there.

Before I leave, I must pass along this video. It has nothing to do with dentistry directly but since we are often in the "beauty" business I think it is important to have such a vivid reminder of what our perception of beauty really requires. It is also a video that I highly recommend showing to any young ladies (I talked about it with my 11 year old this weekend).

Well, the voices are telling me that I have to 'go to work to earn an honest dollar to buy a loaf of bread' (thanks Great-grandaddy Scott) so I better listen. Have a great week.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Damn it, I am going to do it.

First and foremost I want to say I am sorry for the text problems on the last two posts.

I told you we at the AGD blog room are trying to give you the best blog possible. That means I write it and save it. Then it gets looked over, by the AGD staff, to make sure a couple of things. That we uphold the standard of the AGD, we don't hurt any one's feelings (I wish I had this a couple of years ago), and grammar and spell checking.

But has some issues with the Saving and Editing process.

It seems every time I go back to a post it puts a space between each line. That means if you go back to it twice it will have a triple space between each line.

So I have to go down, delete a space, go down, delete a space...and so on. So two blogs ago I was half way through deleting spaces and accidental hit the ENTER button and it posted the blog.

Then on Wednesday I wrote the blog in WORD (windows) and then cut and pasted it onto It looked great and then I posted it. Then looked at it and it was one complete run on paragraph.

It is kind of embarrassing for us but we promise we are working on it. We will get better.

As promised photos (double click on it and you will see actual size).

If you notice the IV in his hand. I forgot to tell you about some of the drama.

When he was born everyone was saying the word "merconia" or something like that.

Apparently, the baby can go poo-poo in the fluid he is surrounded by.

So he got the poo-poo water in his mouth.

This could be a big deal. So he had it in his mouth.

So like father like son...his is going to have a potty mouth (my assistant says, "He's a Gammichia, he will eat anything.")

So they whisked him away and did all these tests on him. His oxygen stats went below a certain threshold, and they took him to the "transition" room. This is one nurse per two babies. They give him straight oxygen and put him on antibiotics (hence the IV).

Then they watch him to see if he was going to crash or get better.

In both places they reassured me that everything was fine and this was just a precautionary measure. They said he looks great, and he should be back up in the regular nursery by the end of the day.

Well he was fine, and he was back in the regular nursery in 6 hours.

This is when he got his first bath (I asked the nurse to put his hair in a Mohawk), and I put his Gator clothes on.

Note all the back hair...real nice.

Okay I will talk about teeth today.

I was talking to my periodontist the other day. He says his schedule is not totally full.

Like, he said, next week I had a big opening in the morning on Wednesday and the afternoon fell apart.

I told my staff not to schedule me for the day.

I said, "What are you going to do?" He said that he was going to visit another periodontist office in West Palm (about 3 hours in a car). He said he doesn't get to see how others do perio very often.

I started to think what an awesome idea this was.

And I started to think that you don't need to be slow at the office to do this.

You all may know that I don't work on Mondays. This is probably the greatest thing I have ever done. I work about 44-48 hours a week. I just do it in 4 days.

And usually I don't have a thing to do on Mondays. (I mean, work wise. I spend quality time with the family. Go for a walk with my wife. Shop. Hang out with my friends at Home Depot. Go to the movies. Sit around and do nothing which is good for the soul).

I have time to do this.

I have talked to one of my dentist friends about office shadowing. Meaning, I would like him to come to my office, observe and see what he thinks about the way we do things (and vice versa).

How we greet people. How we bring people back. How we collect. How we do our Recare system. How we answer the phone. How we deliver treatment plans. How we run a morning huddle. How my staff interacts with one another. How my staff uses their down time. How we work our schedule. I can go on forever.

I am not talking about spending a lot of time. I am talking about a couple of hours. I am not going to ruin my day off. I am not going to cut into family time.

I think it would be so great for both parties. I think if I went to someone's office, whom I respected and wanted to learn from, I can get so much out of it. I would see how other people do it. I would learn how to evaluate his/her office, which would help me evaluate mine.

I gotta tell you I am not a good evaluator of my own practice. I mean I am kind of busy when I am here. I get in at 6:45 am and do dentistry and put out fires all day and then go home at about 5 pm. I don't get a lot of time to listen to the way my staff answers the phone. I don't have a lot of time to think about our systems.

I don't ever get to observe.

I mean I think about it a lot but...

Don't you all think this should happen?

Have you ever done it?

Well damn it...I am going to do it.

You know what I am going to do also, is I am going to pay my staff to do it too. I think we can learn so much from other's ideas. And one of my biggest problems is seeing something and communicating what I saw to my staff. So I think sending my staff will be even better.

I feel like all I want to do is be a good, successful dentist. I want people to want what I have to offer. I want to deliver a service that is second to none. But I don't know if I am doing this.

I can go to 100s of CE courses and it doesn't mean crap if it doesn't make my office run better. It doesn't mean anything if my systems are not right. If I am losing more patients than I'm bringing in.

So why haven't I done this?

I have to think I don't want to know if I am doing it well.

I am not bankrupt, and I guess that makes me feel successful. I don't want to change. I have always thought I do, but when it comes to the rubber meeting the road...I just sit here and write.
Well damn it, I am going to do it.

I am going to call a bunch of dentist I respect (if I don't call you don't get all paranoid) and tell them I am going to come to their offices for a couple of hours on a Monday. I will drop the kids off at school and in the time I usually come home and do nothing I will just observe someone's office.

That is it. Just sit and watch. This is not hard. If the dentist is drilling, I will be watching the staff. If the dentist is not busy, I will pick his/her brain.

Easy peesy.

Then what I might do is start something. I work on Fridays and most dentists don't. So that will open up some time for them to come to my office.

I am so excited about this.

I am doing this. But this Monday might not work for me. See I have a newborn at home. I am a bit behind on my reading, and I have a bunch of Netflix movies just sitting on the curio.

I told the kids I would go to their school and have lunch with them.

See what I mean...Damn it, I am going to do this.

Have a good weekend,


I know I have not talked about Tim Tebow and the Gators in awhile. I have really been in prayer for about 13 straight days.

It is going to be a great weekend. The Gators will be fine.

Oh, by the way, have you been watching the weather lately. It was 94 degrees yesterday here.

This weather sucks. I am running 20 miles tomorrow. I am sweating just thinking about it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A child is born

Hi all,

I interupt this blog to introduce you to David Victor Gammichia.
He was born Saturday morning at 4:50am. 7lbs 12oz, 21 inches. Brown eyes, brown hair on his head and his back.
He is the cutest little thing. And you know what is great is he has really got that crying thing down pat.
Okay here is how it happened. Friday afternoon I was coming home from work and Hilda says she started to bleed. I decided not to run my errands and started home.
She calls me 2 minutes later saying, "Not to worry the Dr. said to just get off your feet".
So I went to the bank and I off to the running store and I got a call.
"My water just broke."
Back to the car and hauled-butt home.
I get home and my wife is hunched over the sink in the kitchen....DOING THE DISHES.
I said, "What are you doing?"
She said, "These dishes are driving me crazy."
I start into her, "Did you get your bag?"....NO.
"Did you get someone to watch the kids?"....NO.
"Did you...? NO. Did you...? NO"
You are going to have this baby in the back of my truck and you are not going to have any clothes to wear but at least the dishes will be clean.

So off we went to the hospital. 5 o'clock traffic and I am freaking out.
We get to the hospital and the only way to park at this hospital is to valet. It is $5. Between my wife and I we had $0.
So we drive up and there and the guy looks at me and I tell him I don't have any money. He tells me that there is an ATM inside. I went to the ATM while my wife is having a baby in the parking lot but they needed their $5.
The ATM was temporary out of service.
I said you guys are either going to have to leave it here or park it but I am not going to deal with this now.
We went in the hospital and were triaged. My wife said to the admission person, "I have had the flu all week."
You would have thought she said, "I have a bomb."
Because as you might know the swine flu is affecting pregnant woman and in Orlando two woman have died in their later stages of pregnancy. And we were at Winnie Palmer hospital which is a hospital for woman and children.
So for the next three days in the hospital it was like constant HAZMAT.
That was Friday night and David was born on Saturday morning at 4:50am.
When he was born it was everything I could do not to flat out bawl. I was so close to losing it about 50 times this weekend.
You go 9 months worried that everything is going to be alright and when it finally is just are too spent to celebrate so you cry.

It was a long night.

At about 2am she was tested for the swine flu and it came back negative but my son was diagnosed with the swine flu on Friday morning. So since she was in contact with Noah she couldn't hold the baby. She couldn't be next to the baby. See there is no medicine for babies with swine flu.
But the weird thing was I was able to do and go where ever I wanted. I could got into the nursery and hold the baby, I could feed the baby. I could go into Hilda's room and hang out with Hilda.
Hilda couldn't even leave the room.
So they sent her tests off for tests and the next day it came back positive for swine flu.
So for her to be able to touch David she had to be on the meds for 48 hours. Luckily she had started the meds before we went to the hospital (she was feeling so crappy she had just went to the doctor that afternoon). So Sunday all the stars were aligned and the staff let little David come into the room for the mother/son reunion.
Well, I don't think he has stopped crying since.
I don't care how many kids you have and I don't care how "with it" you think you are. You never get use to that cry.
When you hear that cry your blood pressure goes up.
So you go through the checklist.
Diaper change...check.
Has he slept....check.
Did you feed him...check
Then if you go through all that and he is still crying you are soooo up a creek.
So you try the swing. Now it has been almost 6 years since we have had a swing and let me tell you these swings really swing. You crank that baby up to 9 out of 10 and he is swinging so hard he can't cry.
Now if he still cries, refer to handout that says.....DON'T SHAKE YOUR BABY.

So it is so surreal at my house. I am trying to just not screw-up. I know, I know I have had 9 months to prepare.
You are doing homework with the older kids and you hear this blood curling cry. We are eating dinner and the baby cries.
I think about how great three kids were and I think when all the hard stuff is over (man those first three weeks are hard) it is going to be great. I am so excited about his first smile, when he sits up, his first real belly laugh, his crawling, when he first says, “Daddy”, when he crawls, his first swimming lesson. When he tells me he loves me for the first time.
It is great having kids…I don’t care what they are going to be like in high school, it is great right now and that is all I care about.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miley Cyrus to Michael Jackson

Ahhhhhh, the 1st of the month. It is like a spring every 4 weeks - a new season full of potential. This is the business owner's "manic" time, the time when the big bills have been paid and you can take a breath.

Probably going to be a quick write-up today as my dental assistant is sick and I am going to be actually working today (hahaha). It was a nice quiet weekend, an unusual one for us as there were not sporting events that we had to attend. We get about 5 weekends like that a year so we were not exactly sure what to do.

On the mixed blessing front - I had tickets to the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana concert for my daughters this weekend but the concert got rescheduled at the last minute because Miley got sick. We are out of town on the rescheduled date so ...darn...shoot...really I don't get to go...actually a little sad. Oh well, we can't all have "the best of both worlds". Try explaining that to a 4-year-old who has no concept of time - so she had been anticipating this thing for weeks asking if it was just a day away. Then when it gets to be a day away you tell her that it is cancelled.

For some reason the kid's school is closed today so my 8-year-old son asked if he could come into work with me today. How do you say no to that. He is dressed up nice and just 'hangin with dad' today. That always helps keep the voices quiet.

I read a great book this weekend - thanks dad. It is called "The Wheel of Darkness" by Preston & Childs. Excellent action fiction book. I haven't had a book keep me this interested in a while. While we are at it, can I get some comments on the Kindle vs. Paper Book debate. I am a paper book guy. I love my books and cannot imagine reading them on a fancy computer screen. My dad (who was my source of books) is now a Kindle junkie and he loves it. Anybody out there have a thought one way or another - I need to know what to ask for for Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, my 4-year-old's new phrase is "I want that". Allow me to use it in a sentence to make it more understandable for you. Here is the scene: TV is on, tuned to Disney channel. "Zack and Cody" go to commercial and anything comes on (use your imagination, dolls, crafts, etc.). Cue 4-year-old - "I want that". It happened at least 20 times over the weekend. It got so automatic that it was like she was under a spell.

And while we are talking about commercials, I got the "hey dad what is natural male enhancement" question from my 11-year-old daughter while watching a soccer game on TV. Somehow, I don't think the smartmouthed comments running in my brain would pass the AGD censors, so I will let you fill in the blanks there but thanks Cialis for making my family TV time so enjoyable. Someday maybe that product will go the way of the Today Sponge.

We found a great music station to listen to in the office the past couple of weeks. I get my music via the cable TV that we have in the office so it is commercial free. Usually we do smooth jazz or 80's, depending on the mood. But 2 weeks ago they started a Michael Jackson tribute station that plays old MJ songs as well as songs from artists that inspired him or that he inspired. We are talking Madonna, Paul McCartney, Bobby Brown (pre-Whitney), NKOTB, etc. He may have been a total wack-job but man there was some good music in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Well, I'm off to work on teeth so the voices better go to sleep. Have a great week!
"The Wheel of Darkness" by Preston & Childs book cover copyrights to Grand Central Publishing

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunday with the Monkeys II

Hey all,
I am going to get right to it. I have a busy day today and I don't know if I am going to have time to fit it all. If you have not read Wednesday's post stop right now.
You have to read Wednesday's post to understand today's.

Okay now that everyone is up to date I will continue with the story.

I was getting in my car kind of pissed, and I saw a kid I knew (he was in the seventh grade) on his bike. I said, "Hey kid are you going to ride your bike home?"
He said to me, "Maybe!"
Now I just about had it and I said to him, "Excuse me (with a tone like I am about to get up out of this truck and Rambo flat blast you)?"
And he wised up and said, "Yes sir."
I said, "Because I was going to offer you a ride home, and we could put your bike in the back of the truck."
Now it was a lot of, "No thank you sir."
Then I saw a friend I knew who has a couple of boys (one in the seventh grade and one in the ninth) and I told him my stories.
He just shook his head and said, "I know brother, it is something we are going through right now."
I remember a lot about my middle school days and I don't remember being such a punk.
So I marinated on it for a day, and I called the woman that is in charge of the youth group.
I told her the story and I asked her if this was common.
She, of course, said YES.
I asked her how she handles these boys. She said I usually just go home and cry.
Now this is a girl that has spent her whole college education learning about theology.
She probably wanted to do something with kids because "she loves kids."
Don't we all say that, "I just love kids."
She graduated from a Christian college and couldn't wait to get out in the real world and put into practice everything she had learned.
Now I am going to tell you that it is not the Jesus thing. I spent way more years learning about teeth, and I spent many of nights crying because this profession was beating the crap out of me.
See, she didn't have an elementary education degree (which I am sure you have to have to learn about this kind of middle school behavior and you have a year of internship where you see in a class room how kids act) so she doesn't know how to do this.
Now this woman has a huge heart and sounded so deflated on the phone.
She told me that last year was bad. She said that she would start to call parents and ask them to come to class and see how their young man was behaving. She was thinking this would either make the kid behave or show the dad how the kid was behaving and he would step in and whip this kid into shape.
She said the dad would come and then kid would act like a monkey, and the dad wouldn't do anything.
She said that she told some kids not to come back and then the parents would call her up ticked off because they wanted the 2 and a half hour break from THEIR kid.
I was sitting there listening to her in utter disbelief.
I started thinking of solutions to give her, like she hasn't thought of everything.
There is a 7th and 8th grade youth group and a young man runs this.
I asked her if she has ever talked to this guy to see if he could help her. She said he has his hands full with his set of monkeys.
See the class of sixth grader that she gave to him was worse than the set she has now.
See this is not just this class.
Last year, it started kind of the same as this year. The boys were unruly and one of two things would happen...they were asked NOT to come back or they thought there were too many rules and they stopped coming.
So it became a girl's thing.
Now the young lady that is in charge did not want it to be this way. The boys need this too. The boys need a place to hang out. It is not supposed to be like church and Sunday school where they have to sit still and be angels. It is supposed to be a time when they can talk and be with their friends and other kids.
See what would also happen in the boy's group is someone would be different, and they would either bully this kid or make fun of him until he didn't come back.
Now to me, this is sad. Just sad. All of it. The kids...the bullying, the making fun, the bad behavior. The parents...the apathy, the laziness.
Now I am not saying being a parent is easy. I am not saying being a 6th and 7th grade kid is easy. I am not because I know it is not.
But I am just trying to think through this.
I was sitting with my friend who has two children in college, and I started telling him this story. He said, "let me guess" and he ended up telling me the rest of the story.

I said, "how did you know?"

He said, "Things don't change, John. People, kids and parents, don't change."

I was sad before now I am really sad.

Is there nothing we can do as parents to make sure our kid is not a punk?

Now, I remember being a punk, but not that bad. I remember being this shy kid just trying to find myself in a group of punks.

I started to think that I'm paying a lot of money to send my kids to this school (I know I am being naive) so the kids would be different. So the parents would be different.

I want the parents to be engaged. Not just send their kids to school thinking the school is going to raise them. Now I know this happens. I know, probably more because there is some entitlement when it comes to paying tuition.

(Now I am not harping on my school, because we really do love it and love the people and what it brings to our home.)

But if the kids are going to be the same at a public and private school why am I wasting my money?

I know it is not the school.

I just don't know the answer.

But I am learning. Kids are kids. They need parents. They need direction.

They also are hormonal and need an outlet.

They need people to love them. They need to know that we understand they are going through a change in their body that makes them do weird stuff.

But there still has to be consequences for their actions. Even if we, as parents and teachers, hate enforcing the rules.

Acting like an idiot can sometimes be overlooked, but being mean to someone can't be tolerated. Being disrespectful to adults will not be tolerated.

And we all MUST know that everyone is made in the image of God.

Punk-ass kids are. Parents are. Teachers are. Youth group facilitators are.

The nerdy kid is most definitely is. And we all, they all have treat and to be treated as such.

I finished my conversation with the youth group leader, and I told her I was going to help her.

I don't know how I am going to help her, but I am going to.

If it is that I have to bring a couple of dads and hang out in the classroom.

If it is to get all the dads together to talk about our kids. I don't know.

I know I will be there on Sunday.

Sometimes I think that is the answer. Just being there.

If you have any suggestions, I am open.

Well we are 9 days from the official due date of our new son.

Our last kid, Noah, came 2 weeks early and he was 8 pounds 12 oz.

So we are on pins and needles at our house. Our bag is packed. Our whole house looks like a nursery. But so far no baby. I will keep you posted.

If the baby comes this week, well the blog might just be some photos.

Have a great weekend.

I am running 16 miles tomorrow.

My marathon is on Thanksgiving Day weekend.

That is only 7 weeks away. (That means Christmas is only 11 weeks away. Are you kidding me?)



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