Thursday, July 10, 2014


A very strange thing has been happening in the dental office where I go to have my teeth cared for. This is not a new dentist nor is it a new office,  But over the 4-year span that I've been going there, I have noticed that either the dentist is getting crotchety or the office staff is trying to change the office ambience.  Either way, it's bad enough to have to go to the dentist, but when you start finding the office becoming oppressive, it's more than a little bit disconcerting.

The outer office is quite small, I'd say possibly 12 feet square.  There is room for 5 people to sit. There is a large corner table between two sofas, a coffee table stacked with magazines, a television set high up in a corner, a door to the outside, a door opening to the patient rooms, and a counter, behind which the office staff works.  It is a single dentist office.

When I went for my first appointment I noticed two signs: one was scotched taped to the TV set and said "DO NOT TURN THE CHANNEL".  Understandable, I thought.  Someone might not like what was being shown, but it was not their decision to make.  Leave the TV set alone.  There also was a sign near the counter that said "We do not take Credit Cards."  OK, I thought.  A bit strange in this day and age, but I could live with that.

Yesterday I walked in and the proliferation of signs just hit me smack in the face.  It was not like I had not seen them before, but for some reason yesterday the negativity of these signs -- all done by the computer, plain heavy black lettering on white printer paper, and either scotched taped or pinned to the wall -- just jumped out at me.  OH, SO MANY SIGNS!

 I counted:

No food or drink allowed - 1 sign.
No credit cards accepted - 1 sign
Payment must be made before treatment begins - 1 sign
Restroom not available to non-patients - 1 sign
No changing of TV channel - 1 sign
Seating is limited so do not bring non-patients with  you - 2 signs.
No smoking - 1 sign
Take crying children outside - 1 sign.
Right to refuse service to anyone - 1 sign

and worst of all........
No cell phone use while in this office - 5 SIGNS

Let me be clear, what I have listed above is just the "gist" of the signs.  They are all forcefully stated and are written in a very authoritarian way:  YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE FOOD OR DRINK OF ANY KIND IN THIS OFFICE AT ANY TIME!  

Considering there are 4 walls, and all are fairly close to where patients sat, you can imagine how it wouldn't take a person very long to see that apparently this is not a happy office.  Whether the signs are the idea of the dentist or the staff, there really is just too much NO, NEVER, STOP, FORBIDDEN, DON'T, etc.

Although re-wording the signs would be helpful to take away some of the negativity (i.e., Please step outside if you find it necessary to use your cell phone.) I'd guess someone doesn't want to be bothered.  And my feeling is that if it is necessary to continue putting up cell phone signs, those signs just aren't doing much good!  FIVE CELL PHONE SIGNS!  For crying out loud.

I am not likely to change dentists.  My strategy is to get either the first appointment in the morning or the first one after lunch, so I don't get caught having to spend much time in the waiting room.  But frankly, I just shake my head at how some people go about trying to solve a problem.  Hitting people over the head with another sign is certainly not the answer.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Each year our "Senior" apartment complex produces a very large celebration to commemorate Independence Day.  Neither Jerry nor I much like a bunch of hoop-lah so we usually don't get involved in its production, opting instead simply to bring out some chairs to set along the parade route and watch what goes by.  It's not like a small town parade; ours, being celebrated by oldsters, features decorated golf carts, flatbed trucks carrying various residents in historic costumes, a few local dignitaries interspersed between our leasing agents riding in convertible cars, and more golf carts; we usually have a single band from one of the high schools (or intermediate schools) in the area, a few horses, and a cub scout or brownie scout group marching in the 90 degree heat with their tongues hanging out.  The best part is the plethora of cop cars and fire engines that start off the parade with sirens ablast!  And then bringing up the rear is the local old car club, not driven by old folks but by young men who, with spit and polish and a great talent with hydraulics, making those cars able to stand up, lean over, drag their heinie and do cartwheels.  When the old '57 Chevy Bel Air goes by, I always kick myself for not keeping the one that I owned, although at the time we never gave it a thought!

This year the Riverside Transit Authority let their beautiful bus (shown above) come join the parade.  I'm telling you, that bus is a standout!  How lucky we were to see it "up close and personal" as it lumbered along between an old style military jeep and a car featuring a World War II vet living in our facility, dressed in his full white Coast Guard uniform, and surrounded by vets from the Korean War, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan.  Later in the day, our great-grandson Tyler got to sit in a helicopter that landed on the property, flown in by one of these vets.  Because we wanted Tyler to experience all this, we were far more involved this year than we have been previously.  I wore a hat that shaded my face (I don't EVER do that!), we slathered our arms and legs with sunscreen (I don't EVER do that either) and carried water bottles with us, because the temp was in the scorching 90s and we are really too old to be out and about in it for very long.  But I confess, it was a much better day because we got off our duffs. 

Earlier Tyler had asked me what was the funniest thing I'd ever seen.  I didn't have an answer for him, but when we had to sit on the grass to eat the free hot dogs offered by "management" I told Tyler to watch, because me trying to get up after sitting on the grass was going to be PRETTY DARN FUNNY!  (And it was!)

Anyway, Happy Birthday, America.

One of the genealogy projects  I've been doing since the first of the year is transcribing parts of old books and documents to be placed on various state web pages to aid in genealogical research – all volunteer work and mostly very, very interesting.

Yesterday I was doing one on Pinella, Florida written in the 1890s but describing some of the happenings that took place during the civil war.  I was to transcribe 10 pages – and the first of those 10 pages started in on the middle of a story.  It was an bad thing to have to type – about soldiers, after burning down a house and barn, took target practice on the barnyard animals, shooting at chickens, ducks, and pigs mostly, and leaving them dead if they were lucky, but wounded and in great distress if not.  The words were graphic and I wished it hadn't been my lot to have to type that particular section.

But the worst part of it was realizing that these soldiers being talked about were the Union men.  Why would I think that Union men wouldn't do that (and unsaid was that Confederate men might?).  Fie on me!  And it reminded me of my shock and surprise when I first read "Son of the Morning Star" by Evan Connell, his dynamic book of the growth of the West leading up to Custer and the battle of the Bighorn.  I was astounded to read of what society expected, and allowed, and justified time after time after time as we grew into what we considered a great, civilized county.  It wasn't only the "bad guys" that did bad things.  Pogo wasn't too far off when he said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

In this morning's L. A. Times I read that "Lockheed Martin Corp. is developing a system that will revamp the way the U. S. Air Force identifies and tracks dangerous space debris.  Millions of pieces of man-made junk – including disabled satellites, rocket parts and debris from collisions – are orbiting close to earth."  I always laugh when I read things like this.  I know it isn't likely that any one of us is going to be klonked on the head by a piece of space junk.  But someone is worrying about it besides Chicken Little, else why all the effort to track it?  And it makes me wonder at what the powers that be have up their sleeves/sights to deflect a large asteroid that may head our way one of these days.

Oh, but then I think of the middle-east…..


On that cheery note, I'll tell you one of my favorite jokes:

Scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed
trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the British engineers. When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin, like an arrow shot from a bow.

The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the US scientists for suggestions.

NASA responded with a one line memo: "Defrost the chicken."