Another Dental Dispatch

July 28, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Life 

A co-worker told me this true story about his experience yesterday. I thought it might amuse you.

This particular co-worker is an amateur hockey player. Thus, he has the traditional hockey dental work – bridges and such.

He had pain in one tooth that was bothering him so much that he had trouble sleeping. He made an appointment with the dentist. His theory was that he had gotten food (probably the ribs he’d just eaten) stuck between the tooth and the adjacent bridge.

He got to the dentist and explained the theory. The dentist pooh-poohed the theory until he started rooting around. Then, he found the cause.

Dental floss. Yep – he had little strands of dental floss stuck in there – probably when the floss broke while he was conscientiously cleaning his teeth.

It gets better.

Dentist: You just can’t use that cheap floss.
Patient: But you GAVE me that cheap floss. I don’t buy floss – I use the stuff that you give me!

True story.

My Wife’s Been Promoted!

July 27, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

My wife got big news last week. She’s being promoted!

I don’t think I’ve talked about her much here, so here’s a brief synopsis of who she is. She’s a little bit older than me, and we met in college at Rutgers. She graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees: Mechanical Engineering and Economics. She’s been working for the same company since then – a company that’s been bought and sold many times. They’re currently owned by a major multi-national industrial company whose name you would probably recognize (but I won’t mention it here). In addition to her degrees, my wife has gotten her Professional Engineer license in NJ and Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

She’s also a bit of an odd duck. She and I share a skewed view of the universe – sort of the “Monty Python” take on life. (In fact, our first date was to see “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” on campus.) She manages to pull off strange acts like using sock puppets in meetings and beating trees with newspaper (to get the sap running in the spring – it was actually suggested by an arborist). She’s extremely good at engineering, project management, and customer relations so people are willing to overlook the occasional eccentricity. (I actually LOVE the eccentricity – though it’s much more often than occasional at home.)

For the last year and a bit, she’s been in the large company’s Black Belt program. This program takes regular people, gives them loads of project management training, and turns them into Change Agents. The Black Belt requirements have them running at least 3 major projects in 2 years producing cost savings or revenue improvements. They have to actually go hunting for the projects – management points them at a trouble area and tells them “Have at it.” They also have to supervise two “Green Belts” – people who get a watered-down version of the same training and who only spend 10-20% of their time on such things.

With the Black Belt program, you get pulled out of your regular job for the time in the program. Theoretically, your job is left open for you to return to if you decide that the Black Belt program isn’t working out or after you get your Black Belt certification. In practice, you’ve been identified as a “High Potential” employee and the company WILL try to find you a place once you’re done.

Her company is in the throes of a major reorganization. Everybody has been asked to apply for a job internally – either your current job, another job, or both. She chose to apply for jobs as Manager of Project Engineering, and Manager of Project Management. (Somebody wanted her to be a Supply Chain Manager, but she didn’t really want to run a warehouse.)

She was selected as Manager of Project Management. (Sounds like the old joke – “Dept. of Redundancy Dept.”) She will be supervising three people in Trenton, plus “some” people in Houston (they still haven’t told her who or how many in Houston). That’ll probably have her travelling to Houston at least once a month (her new boss is located there as well). The promotion came with a big raise – something like 20%. She’s been underpaid for several years now – mainly due to never having gotten the pay boost that changing employers will give you. She now makes more than I do.

I’m very proud of her. She’s a little nervous, but I know that she can do the job – maybe after a few rough patches up front. She’s gonna have some challenges – the three people in Trenton have been there a long time (as long as her or more in most cases), and it sounds like several of them applied for the same job and lost. It doesn’t help that they’re all male and I believe older than her. They’ll just have to get over it – my wife had nothing to do with them not being chosen, and very little to do with her being chosen beyond applying for the jobs. She’ll do fine.

Some people have asked me whether I have an issue with making less than my wife. It’s a tough explanation. I don’t have a problem with her making more than me – and part of me wants her to make ENOUGH that I can stay at home and still fly planes for fun (she’s a ways off from that).

I do have a little trouble with the idea that her promotion shines a light on how my career has been stagnating for several years now. I’m in the IT field, and it’s been over 5 years since I’ve been promoted or gotten better than the measly 3% raises that they hand out. I think I may have stayed too long under a boss who really doesn’t believe in me. I’m increasingly thinking that it’s time to go – find another job elsewhere. So – no – I don’t mind my wife making more than me but I really wish that my career was succeeding as well. Not her fault.

Of course, she could buy me lots of expensive toys to make up for it …..

Yay, Sweetie!

Abortion Excess Again

July 27, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Current Affairs 

The loony left is making it difficult to continue my liberal leaning yet again. Where do these people come from?

Planned Parenthood has come up with a new T-Shirt – the “I Had an Abortion” T-Shirt. (No, I’m not making this up.)

This seems insane to me. I can’t think of any reason that an abortion would be morally acceptable to me that doesn’t involve a mistake, or at best circumstances beyond the woman’s control. I can see having an abortion because you accidentally (or through birth control failure) become pregnant. I can see having an abortion because you were raped or impregnated through an incestuous relationship. I can even see having an abortion to save the life of some of a multiple pregnancy. However, none of these things involve something to be proud of.

I have known exactly two people in my life who have had an abortion. In both cases, it was due to an error – an unexpected pregnancy at a bad time in their lives. In both cases, the prevailing emotion involved was shame (among others). Neither woman (one was really just a girl at the time) was proud.

Would you wear a T-shirt that says: “I Rear-Ended Someone on the Interstate”? How about “I Shoplifted”? Or “I Was Playing Ball in the House and Broke the Lamp”?

Planned Parenthood has gone too far. Abortion should be available to women who have made an error or had something terrible (again, rape and incest here) happen to them. However, I can’t think of any time that it is appropriate to be PROUD of having an abortion.

(Hat Tip: A Small Victory)

Band Sausages

July 22, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Can't Make This Up, Games, Music 

Michele at A Small Victory has a little game called Band Sausages.

What you do is put two (or more) band names together where the band names overlap:
Boys II Men at Work
George Michael Jackson

Go to her page to see the entries thus far. If you have a new entry, add it to her page to keep them all in once place.

This one’s a LOT of fun.

Dental Hygienist or Advertising?

July 22, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

Last night, I went to the dentist for a cleaning. I’ve been going to this dentist since I moved to the area in 1993.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my regular hygienist wasn’t there. In fact, NOBODY who worked there at my last cleaning in January was there except for the dentist. The entire staff had changed.

I had no issue with the office staff changing – the old staff used to screw up appointments and make last-minute changes all of the time. I also had no issue with the dental assistant changing – I didn’t see the old one very often (just for fillings).

However, the old hygienist was gone. Stacy was great – she’d been working with me for all of those 10-11 years. She was very pleasant, gentle, and expedient. I do a very good job of home care, so it generally takes me about 30 minutes in the chair (as opposed to the 45 minutes scheduled).

The new hygienist is rather rough around the edges. For one thing, she’s a bit too enamored of the “new” ways of doing things:
1. She uses one of those vibro-water picks rather than the old metal instruments. That ends up making my gums hurt more than they used to.
2. She fills the rinse cup with Listerine. Now, I don’t like Listerine – even the “cool mint” blue stuff. Why not just water like before?
3. For some reason, she managed to stretch my cleaning out to 45 minutes. My wife’s was 45 minutes also. Add to that the fact that she was running 30 minutes late and we were in the office for about an hour longer than expected.
4. She seems more like a salesman than a hygienist.
5. She repeatedly picks on what I do wrong.

The last two are my chief complaints.

First, I brush too hard. That erodes my teeth a little around the gumline and is harder on my gums. I’m 36 years old. The way I brush isn’t likely to change much. I also have very strong teeth – so the erosion is slow. So far, I’ve had to have one tooth bonded because I wore away a bit too much enamel – but that one is chiefly because my front teeth aren’t straight.
This hygienist started with “you have very good teeth – you do a good job with home care”. She said that once. Then, she started a continuous patter of “you shouldn’t brush so hard – your gums have floss cuts – you shouldn’t brush so hard”. On about the 5th cycle of repitition, I finally stopped her and said “I got the point.”

Second, she seems to be a salesperson for dental accessories. She tried to push electric toothbrushes on me several times. With my wife (who has essentially permanent braces on the back of her teeth), she was pushing a Water Pik, electric toothbrushes, and prescription toothpaste.
I didn’t expect a tooth cleaning to sound like a timeshare presentation, but that’s what it was like. I can understand the electric toothbrush – maybe. The Water Pik – OK – maybe for the specific problem. But prescription toothpaste? I’m already sick of the “new, expensive drug-of-the-month” pressure from my doctors, but has it finally spread to dentists? What is a prescription toothpaste gonna give you that a few extra seconds of brushing won’t?

I want my old hygienist back.

My dentist did say to my wife to speak up about things that bother us, rather than switching practices (which most people probably do). I have a call into him to talk about the hygienist’s “chair-side-manner” problems. I would seriously consider switching to get a good hygienist – I see the hygienist for 30 minutes every 6 months – I see the dentist for 5 minutes every 6 months and MAYBE a filling every 4-5 years.

If you’re in the Trenton, NJ area and want the name of this dentist to choose or avoid (I can make a case for either – the dentist does REALLY good work outside of cleanings), send me an e-mail.

Two Political Cartoons

July 21, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Today, I present you with two political cartoons.

The first is hysterically funny and non-partisan – This Land is Your Land. (about 3 minutes – slightly not work-safe)

The second is sad but true, and comes from the ad contest – Brother Can You Spare a Job? (about 7 minutes – work-safe)

Kentucky Fried Cruelty

(This is getting to be tough week. I’m finding myself having to take the side opposite my own beliefs because those who I agree with are going to extremes.)

I hate PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). These people are generally vegetarian Nazis – who believe that eating meat is morally wrong. I have a few vegetarian friends, but they are very good about respecting the eating habits of others (as my wife and I do for them by providing veggie alternatives when they eat at our house). PETA is also the same group that paints fur coats and commits other acts of veggie-terrorism.

However, in one case at least they’ve gotten it right.

This link is to a video shot by an undercover PETA employee at a Pilgrim’s Pride plant in West Virginia. This particular plant supplies chicken to KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), which has been targeted by PETA. The video shows workers throwing live chickens against a wall and kicking them. It ends with workers actually stomping on live chickens – in one case hopping across the floor to hit more chickens.

This is depraved. Apparently, it’s caused by frustrations and boredom among the plant workers. However, this behavior is unacceptable in anyone. Cruelty to animals is closely linked to abuse of people.

I’ve written to Pilgrim’s Pride and KFC and told them that I’ll be boycotting them (in KFC’s case all brands owned by YUM Brands, Inc.) until they show a clear track record of proper behavior. I suggest that you do the same.

One out of Three is bad

July 19, 2004 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life, Religion 

The Blogverse is up in arms about this story: When One is Enough

The gist is this – a 34-year-old feminist decides to have children with her boyfriend. She stops taking the pill and gets pregnant. She visits the doctor, who informs her that she’s going to have triplets.

Here’s where the story gets bad.

My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

Yes, that’s right. She doesn’t want all three – she isn’t willing to accept the negative effects on her lifestyle that triplets would bring.

When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can’t believe we’re about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, ”Can Peter stay?” The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that.

She decides to have a procedure called “selective reduction”. This involves killing one or more of the fetuses. This is generally done in multiple birth cases (think quads or quints or more) because the mother can’t possibly successfully support all of the fetuses to full term – to save some rather than losing all of them. This is the first I’ve ever heard of a “convenience” selective reduction.

I am VERY pro-choice. I would much rather see a fetus aborted than an unwanted child be born to be abused, abandoned, or worse.

The question of whether or not a rape victim should be able to abort a fetus is no question to me – unquestionably yes.

The question of whether an unintended pregnancy by a very young woman should be stopped is still fairly easy – unquestionably yes.

That’s where the line starts to blur.

Suppose you have a woman who wants children someday, but not now (the relationship isn’t far enough along yet, not married, etc.). In that case, the woman should be able to make her own choice, but I’m glad that I don’t have to make it.

I feel the same about abortion of genetically-damaged fetuses (like Down’s Syndrome detected in the womb). I’m glad that I don’t have to make the decision, and the woman should be able to make it herself.

Then you get to convenience.

I feel strongly that it’s not right for a woman to have serial abortions as a form of birth control. Condoms are cheap and quite effective.

I feel strongly that it’s not right for a woman to have an abortion to avoid the stress of an unintended pregnancy in some cases. I think that morally you should be limited to one abortion – any more and you’re clearly not being careful enough with birth control.

In Amy Richards case – this is just wrong. She wanted to have a child, but balked at having more than one. She ended up choosing WHICH children to eliminate. This is just a selfish act.

This is also putting us dangerously close to choosing sex or other characteristics. I can see the day where you hear a woman flippantly say, “Well, it turned out to have brown eyes and I really wanted blue so I had it eliminated. I’ll try again in 6 months.” That is just plain wrong on so many levels.

As a man, I will never have to make the final choice. In my marriage, we take sufficient precautions to avoid unplanned pregnancy – I will probably never have the opportunity to make the choice. However, I would NEVER decide to get rid of SOME of the children.

The next time you are with a group of kids – imagine. If you had to choose 2 of the group to get rid of, who would you choose?

Cases like Amy Richards move me much closer to the pro-life side. Not across the line, but closer to it.

A Small Victory discusses it, along with this heart-wrenching post from Auteriffic.

Dirty Shipper Atlas Line (USA)

July 14, 2004 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Chief Wiggles Needs Our HELP!

Basically, the shipping company Atlas Line (USA), Inc. of Atlanta, GA was contracted by Operation Give to deliver donated toys to Iraqi children. They took a deposit of $10,000 per shipping container, which should have been passed on to their Kuwait affiliate/subsidiary. Now, 2 of the 3 containers are being held in Kuwait because the deposit was never passed on. Atlas Line in the US is refusing phone calls, and Operation Give has copies of the checks showing that they were deposited.

If you have any contacts in the shipping industry or Atlanta, please help. Also, please feel free to contact Atlas Line in Atlanta directly and politely express your opinion. The contact details are in the Chief Wiggles post.

UPDATE: Thanks for your help. Things seem to be fixed now (see Dean’s post) but it still sounds like something hinky was going on.

UPDATE: August 2, 2004 – It’s still a problem. See my post HERE for more info and links to people more deeply involved that me.

Saddam Death Pool

July 8, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Laurence of This Blog is Full of Crap has created the Saddam Hussein Death Pool.

It’s simple – you predict the date of Saddam’s death. In case of a tie, a random entry will be declared the winner.

The prize isn’t much at the moment – a mug for his website, a few bucks, and maybe – if he can find one – a Saddam Hippy-Hippy-Shake doll.

Note that execution is not required – just death.

Enter soon, he’s gonna close the entries before too long.