Lightning Strikes – Can we prevent it?

Las Vegas…. Sigh.

I’ve been a busy guy over on Facebook, as I cannot help being drawn into discussions about firearms, most recently stemming from the incident in Las Vegas.  As many of my readers and friends know, I am a firearms enthusiast.  But, just as I am a nerdy dentist, I’m a nerdy gun guy, too.  I don’t simply “like” firearms.  I have dived deep into the pool of firearms knowledge.  I have not come to my positions casually, nor do I take the subject lightly.  I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours studying the topics of firearms, firearms use / marksmanship, defensive use of firearms, ballistics, and firearms laws.  I have also studied books on violent crime and situational awareness.

But, this article isn’t about guns.  Really.  Stay with me.  Read on.

I actually know shit.

I will not claim to be an “expert among experts.”  Hardly.  I am way down the totem pole of real experts.  But, in a room of “normal” people, I dare suggest I have a bit more knowledge than the rest.   😉   Besides having read dozens of books by the most recognized experts in the field, I am…

  • Qualified “Expert” Pistol in U.S. Navy.  (Not that difficult, really.  But, I got a medal and everything!)
  • 40 years of firearms experience (fired my first firearm at age 13 at summer camp).
  • Certified Pistol Instructor (NRA).
  • Certified Range Safety Officer (NRA).
  • Attended other “hands-on” firearms courses.

So, when I see or hear pure unadulterated bullshit about firearms… I’m talking completely incorrect statements of “fact,” I cannot help chiming in to set the record straight.  Though, I have found that no amount of facts can compete with emotionally-based positions.  No amount of credentials can counter celebrity or popular opinion.  And, again… this article… not about guns.  We shouldn’t be talking about guns.  Read on!

We all want the same thing.

I understand that these violent incidents, perpetrated by suicidal sociopaths hell-bent on taking as many innocents with them as possible, are VERY disturbing.  It’s safe to say that ALL of us, regardless of political inclinations, are compelled to seek solutions to prevent or mitigate these crimes.  It’s very emotional to see it happen before our eyes on streaming video. Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial, Personal Security & Safety | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

NPI Crusader – Online Review Generator

Several years ago, I wrote about the new trend of online reviews (2011).  I considered it a double-edged sword, at best, and I initially avoided getting involved in it.  As time went on, I realized the trend was here to stay and increasing in relevance (2012) to online marketing.  Hell, I was looking at reviews for restaurants and other businesses.  I’m using reviews to help make decisions as a consumer, myself!  How can I reconcile that with a reluctance to leverage reviews to help my own business?  It was impossible to deny the importance of online reputation.

Initially, my concern was the potential for bad reviews or even fraudulent reviews.  Naturally, this concern is shared by many dentists.  And, yes… it does happen.  However, it’s rather rare, and people are wise to it.  First, the saying “you can’t please everyone” is simply true.  What matters is a preponderance of good reviews.  Drown out the bad ones with good ones.  Consumers look, not only for the overall quality of reviews, but also consider the context and credibility of the bad reviews.

If you can’t beat’em, join’em!

I decided to jump in.  I began by simply asking some of our patients to post reviews.  I put up a couple of signs around the office encouraging patients to post reviews.  I got business cards that had a QR code patients could scan on their smart phone and go right to my Google review page.  It worked… a little.  A got a trickle of reviews over a long period of time.

This is on the back side of my business card.

Help!  I need somebody.  Help!

The next step was to use a review generating service.  Many such services have popped up over recent years.  The idea is to Continue reading

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Posted in Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dr. MacGyver – Episode 3

The One About the Broken Post

A new patient called saying a crown on her front tooth came out.  We appointed her the same day (that afternoon).  She has a current dentist, but he was on vacation, and the front desk did not offer to refer her to anyone on call.  So, she did a search on Google and found my website.  Woo-hoo!  There’s a moral to that story, already eh?

Tooth #9 had snapped off at the gingival level.  Half of the post was in the root.  The other half was in the crown along with some coronal tooth structure and composite build-up.


Can’t you just glue it back?

As you can see, this was not a matter of “gluing it back on.”  Though the patient had tried with superglue.  And, the patient was going on a vacation trip this weekend.  She had an existing temporary partial denture (all-acrylic with wire clasps).  So…  what options does Dr. MacGyver have?  In my opinion, the tooth is ultimately unrestorable.  There won’t be enough ferrule to do a new post / core and new crown with any degree of predictability.  What can we do to give the patient her smile back?

Is there some way to put the crown back on?  Or, can we add a tooth to the partial for the time being?  Maybe even attach the crown to the partial?  Will that work?  What about just bonding / splinting it to the adjacent teeth as a “temporary bridge?”  Hmmm… bonding to porcelain is unpredictable, and this tooth will likely be under some stresses.  Wait…  what about removing the post from the tooth and picking up a new post in the existing crown and then cementing it with Temp-bond?  That might provide enough retention for a temporary solution.  Well… why not just secure a new post in the root and then retrofit the crown to a new build-up?  Use the good “permanent” stuff.  Yeah… that’s the ticket!  Well…. IF I can get the post out of the root.

How are we going to do this?

Before I do all that, Continue reading

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Posted in Clinical Technique | Tagged | 5 Comments

Molar City – Poster Child for the Political Narrative

Los Algodones, Mexico…. a tiny town with 600 dentists known as “Molar City,” has become the poster child for what some believe “ails” our “dental care system.”  Molar City is the Mecca of “cheap dentistry.”  Pardon all the quotation marks.  😉   Americans are reportedly flocking to Molar City because dentistry in the U.S. is just “too expensive.”  By golly, something should be done about that!

NBC Nightly News ran a segment about it last night.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen a story about Molar City.  But, being on the Nightly News certainly gives it more prominence in the minds of Americans.  Video below:

First, I’d like to point out that I believe any grown adult should be able to go anywhere he or she wants to obtain whichever services he or she desires.  It’s a free country.

A crown is a crown, right?

I know that many of us (dentists) have seen some rather alarming “work” come from across the border.  In many cases, the patients are worse off than if they had never been treated in the first place.  Many of us have had to “clean up” these dental disasters from Mexico.  And, it ends up costing patients way more than it would have if they had first sought treatment in the U.S.  But, hey… a dentist is a dentist is a dentist, right?   And, some of the dentists in Molar City were trained in the U.S.  So, that’s good, right?   Read on.

Don’t drink the water!

Now, before any of you virtue-signalling social justice warriors reflexively blurt out, “there are good and bad dentists everywhere,” consider indulging in scratching more than the surface.  Let’s THINK a little about this.  Yes… good and bad dentists are everywhere.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  But, there is a CRITICAL difference.  Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial | Tagged , , , | 46 Comments

My New Website Design by New Patients Inc – A Review

This article is a bit long.  However, I urge you to read it.  Today, your website represents your practice to the world.  Accordingly, the decision to have a website and choosing the right marketing firm to help you create it is CRITICAL.  Educate yourself and choose wisely.

In 1999, I created my own dental practice website.  I mean I did ALL of it.  A total do-it-yourself project.  I was an “early adopter” in that very few dentists had websites at the time.  Initially, my intent was to create an “online brochure” to which I could refer my existing patients in order for them to learn more about my cosmetic dental services.  At the time, the notion of people actively seeking (searching) a new dentist online seemed far-fetched.  And, in reality, nobody was.

Eighteen years later, and that’s all changed now, as our culture searches for EVERYTHING on the web.  “Google” is now a verb.  We “Google” anything we need to know or find.

This is the story of how I went from a DIY website marketer to finally delegating a complete website makeover to the experts. Continue reading

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Posted in Dental Product Reviews, Marketing, Websites | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Scam Alert! Unpaid Electric Bill Scam!

Last Thursday, I got a text from my office manager while I was at the airport going on vacation with my family.  She got a call at the office from a power company representative saying our power bill was 2 months overdue, and I needed to make a payment by 5 pm today, or they’ll shut off the power.  I was boarding my flight in just a few minutes.  “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”  I told her I’d have to get back to her.  We were literally running to our next flight, as the connection was very tight.

Crap!  I’m on auto-pay!  What happened?  I’m pretty sure I remember payment going through recently.  And, if you’re past due, they usually send you warnings by mail.  We got no such letters.  Hmmm….  something isn’t right.  Plus the total for “2 months” is way higher than what it would normally be for two months.

My office manager took the guy’s name and number.  But, then she smartly called the power company via their official number.  Turns out, I’m current on my bill!  Well, YEAH!  Duh!

Shit!  It was a scam!  In my impending vacation panic, I briefly considered giving a CC# to my office manager to take care of it.  But, I didn’t.  After she called the power company, she texted me again (as I sat on the plane ready for takeoff), telling me it was a scam.  Phew!

These scamming mofos probably target small businesses like mine, knowing that the thought of the power being turned off is mortifying.  And, I’d bet some fall for it and give them a CC#.

I’m back from my vacation, and I’m thinking about calling this guy back just to mess with him.  Stay tuned for updates.

Edit to add:  Apparently, this is a “thing!”  Here’s an ambitious “scam baiter” leading one of these guys on… for a long time!  Funny!

Update (6/27/17):  I called the number back today just for fun.  The number was no longer in service.

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Posted in Practice Management, What Happened Today | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

All Aboard the Righteous Indignation Train! Wooo-woooo!

This post will not likely engender much agreement.  But, then again, it’s not why I write.  My goal has never been to create an “echo chamber” or to “preach to the choir.”
(Edit to add:  A couple of folks have unsubscribed since this article, already!  😆  That means I’m doing it right!  😉

To be, or not to be… significant.

The recent incident on a United Airlines flight has been the next in a litany of social media firestorms.

On the pyramid that represents Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, just above Basic Needs are “Belongingness” and “Esteem.”  Those needs could be summed up as “Significance.”  We all need to feel Significant.  It’s not a character flaw.  It’s a GOOD thing.

We all achieve Significance differently.  And, it’s not just one thing that makes us feel Significant.  It’s often a combination of things.  Some of those things might include:

  • Family – influencing and raising our children, marriage, connections to extended family.
  • Work / Profession – Men, especially, feel they gain Significance through their work.
  • Charity / Volunteerism.
  • Creativity – Art, writing (hmmm?), teaching, public speaking.
  • Activism – Speaking out for a cause you believe in (or think you should believe in).

If I sat and thought for some time, I could come up with more examples.  I’m sure you could add to the list, too!  Feel free in the comment section below.

With the advent of the internet and social media, we ALL have a pedestal and a bullhorn.  Any of us can put our thoughts and opinions out the the entire world.  Any of us can gain Significance with a few taps of the keyboard and a click.  In a flash, we can become “activists.”  The aphorism about a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil having an effect around the world is all the more true with web-based social media.

When something happens, we all know about it before it hits the evening news on TV.  Certainly we all have our own opinions about what happened, why it happened, and what SHOULD happen next.  Today’s culture seems to be quick to claim “offense.”  We are very quick to judge, because we all “saw the video.”  But, we often do so without ANY basis in facts…. without knowing the ENTIRE context of the incident or situation.  Most of these videos are but a vignette of a much larger unknown scenario.  It seems that our society has adopted the phone camera as “instant justice.”  Arguably, the majority of the time, the knee-jerk conventional wisdom has been WRONG… oh, so wrong.

“I turn on the tube and what do I see. A whole lotta people cryin’ ‘Don’t blame me.’  They point their crooked little fingers at everybody else.” – The Eagles

And, hoo-boy…. The outrage and Righteous Indignation predictably boiled up on social media!  Everyone “saw the video,” but they have NO CLUE about what happened.  Many apparently think that United employees beat up a passenger (They didn’t touch him.)  Many think United “ordered” the police to drag this guy out of the plane (The police do not follow the “orders” of citizens not involved in law enforcement).  Many believe that passengers have a “Right” to their seat on the plane… “since they paid for it, and everything” (They don’t).

Continue reading

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Posted in Current Events, Editorial | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

USS Independence CV-62 to Live on Only in Our Memories

Today, my ship, the USS Independence, will begin its final journey (under tow) from Bremerton, WA to Brownsville, TX where it will be broken down and scrapped.
It’s interesting (and unique in the military services) how wistful sailors are about their ships when they look back at their time at sea.  I suppose it has something to do with living and working on a big machine, “24 / 7” for, literally, years.
A ship is a living being, of sorts.  The USS Independence (aka “Freedom’s Flagship”) was a machine, but it was run by 5,000 men.  At sea, sailors work seven days a week.  Some work 12 – 14 hour shifts (some longer).  When you’re stuck on a ship, living and working with people, in a confined space with no escape, you HAVE to get along.  You get quite close to your shipmates.  There are no secrets!
It’s understandable that it becomes a mental touchstone of our youth.
The Independence was commissioned in 1959 (launched in 1958) and decommissioned in 1998.  Forty years of service.  Slide show after the jump.

Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial, What Happened Today | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

The View Up There – Nobody Should Die From Colon Cancer

The basis for my provocative and seemingly bold title will become evident below.

Ever since my appendectomy six years ago, I’ve had gastro-intestinal distress (belly pain), to some degree, on and off.  I’ve been to the ER twice, with CT scans taken… both negative.

My doctor urged me to get a colonoscopy back when I was 48 years old.   The recommendation was a bit early (normally at age 50), since there is a family history of cancer.  For a lot of reasons (none of them good), I procrastinated…. and procrastinated.  And, I believe this is fairly typical.  It just doesn’t sound like fun, right?  I’m now 53 years old.  So, I’m about 5 years past due!

The most recent E.R. visit was this past December, while in Arizona for my son’s hockey tournament.  I was worried that something bad was imminent.  Nope.  Blood labs and CT were normal.  The folks at the E.R. in Arizona said, “You need to get a colonoscopy back home.”

Get OUT of my belly!

fat bastardGoing further back… Last October, my GI distress reached a point that put me in the doctor’s office on an urgent basis, in this case, the day before an out-of-state hockey tournament.  I was in a LOT of pain.  I was bloated and VERY tender in the lower abdomen.  He suspected diverticulitis and prescribed a regimen of two rather nasty antibiotics (Flagyl and Cipro).  This seemed to help.  He again urged me to get the colonoscopy.  I scheduled it and then canceled.  My excuse was my daughter’s chemo was about the same time, and she wasn’t feeling well.

Then last month, my belly started to talk to me again.  It wasn’t bad, but I wanted to nip it in the bud rather than wait until it got to the same point as last time.  I went back to my GI doc.  He palpated my belly, which wasn’t too tender this time, and then told me… “We’ve GOT to look around to see what’s going on, dumbass!”  OK…. He didn’t SAY, “dumbass.”   😉   My wife and office manager worked together to schedule my colonoscopy this time.  It was a go!

A flush beats a straight!

Continue reading

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Posted in Editorial | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Skinner Sights – A Shooting Gear Review

A few years ago, my wife got me a beautiful rifle for Christmas, a lever-action .22LR-caliber Browning BL-22 Grade II with Maple stocks.  I love it.  It’s the one “pretty” gun in my modest collection.

Check out the gorgeous “flamed” Maple stock! Oh, baby!

A closer look at the Maple stock. “Wood people” call that iridescent effect, “chatoyance.”

Getting old sucks!

The Browning BL-22 comes with traditional open iron sights – “buckhorn” rear sight and simple post front sight, both black.  To be honest, with my 53-year old eyes, I wasn’t very accurate with it.  A worthy plinker, but that’s about it.  In any case, I love the rifle.

On an internet forum dedicated to rimfire guns, I learned about some hand-crafted aftermarket sights from a company called, Skinner Sights.  Their sights use a rear “peep” sight, which is effectively a small aperture (standard is 0.096 inches, or 2.43-mm) that you look through, centering the front post sight in it.

It’s here!

My order arrived very quickly.  I followed the installation instructions on their website.  Continue reading

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Posted in Guns & Knives | Tagged , , | 10 Comments