Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sour notes

As mentioned in my previous post, we in New England suffered a fair amount of flooding due to a recent week-and-a-half long rainstorm. Six days into it, I was prompted to stand up at work and declare, "I don't know who it is, but someone is making God angry, and they need to stop whatever it is they're doing..."

I swear, while everyone else was making a run to Home Depot for sump pumps I was online pricing arks. The arks themselves aren't that pricey, but boy, try finding a slip at a local marina.... oy.

Among the casualties of the basement flooding were several well-organized stacks of notes from dental school. Soaked right through, and a week later starting to smell a little gamey.... So I hucked 'em in a neighbor's pickup to run to the dump.

Actual fact: If you own a pickup and live in Maine, you have to have the back seat full of duct tape and a dog. If you borrow a pickup, those items actually come with it. As Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up."

"Um...look, I just need the truck for half an hour, so if you want to just take the dog an..."
"I don't think you understand....Truck goes to the dump; Cooter goes to the dump."

So now that I'm done washing various Cooter fluids from my clothes, I have time to reflect on my dump experience.
I wanted to at least recycle the papers (as soggy as they were) which meant pulling them out in sheaves and removing any bindings and rubber bands that held stuff together. This gave me the opportunity to ruminate on the dental school experience. I allowed myself to wallow in nostalgia whilst Cooter wallowed in some nearby hamster cage shavings.

On one hand I felt pretty bad throwing the stuff out. Page after page of notes, representing four full years of my life. Most of them had notes written by me, and many of them had been read multiple times in preparation of studying for quizzes, tests, etc. Most amusing were noticing things that I wrote in margins.

"To Rent: 'Shakiest Gun in the West;' stars Don Knotts as cowardly dentist."
"Dental Fraternity Initiation questions: -Which of the following dental instructors is NOT gay......; -How many tabs can be found in amalgam shade guide?..... -What is the specific name for an oral lesion resulting from trauma sustainted during sexual activity?"

Also included were potential designs for the tattoo I never got. So many memories and dreams, lost forever.

On the other hand, contrary to the maudlin feelings of bittersweet remorse, there was a clinical detachement and even relief tossing the notes. Just one glance at a packet of handouts from Immunology was enough to hurl it into the recycling bin. If I ever again need to diagram the histamine response, I suppose I'll be up a creek. Further, I enjoyed the warm feeling of de-cluttering. I mean, really - what was I going to do with all those notes? Dig 'em up in 20, 30 years and show 'em to my kids? "Hey, check out what I learned in dental school back in the day!" Even if they CARE about dentistry, no one would want those notes.

That said, I do still have all my text books, safe and dry at work. I remember finding one of Grandpa's old genetics texts from the 40's. It's quite....Mendelian. That is, pre-dating Watson, Crick and Co's discovery of DNA as the units of heritability. "There is currently some interest in this little nucleic acid, with some researchers thinking it may perform a key role in genetic tranferal," reads a quick blurb at the end of one chapter. So who knows.

Having spent nearly 3 hours on a root canal this morning (patient was on nitrous and actually unaware of how much time passed!) my wrist is sore and I'm pretty much tapped on for typing. Adios, amigos.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Soggy, but unbowed...

Hello, loyal bloggites! Sorry I've been AWOL of late, but I've been rather tied up with the Extreme Weather we suffered from here in New England. In an attempt to emulate Old England, we had NINE days of nothing but rain, with the attendant flooded basements etc etc. Six inches of water seems pretty bad, but on TV I saw folks who had four FEET or more of water, so I can't complain. Things are dryer now, and sunniness is abounding.

On the dental front, I spent a couple days last week jamming in Meredith, NH with the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Dental Society. As President-elect of the Seacoast regional component, I have massive responsibilities, which seem to involve showing up to some meetings and attending a dinner or two. Being the youngest dentist in attendance led to fun questions about my "demographic."

"It's great to see you here... but what can we do to encourage other young dentists to join/participate in the society??" was the question du jour. (The soup dujour was a lobster bisque; stunning!)

Anyone else ever get that? The assumption that you, as the only minister or woman or Asian or homosexual have some sort of insight into the behaviors of hundreds of other, well, lesbian Japanese preachers or whatever. OK, that IS a bit of a restricted group but nevertheless.

I tried to explain (while sitting at a table w/ the past president, new president and president-elect of the state society and their wives) that a lot of people don't participate no matter what. Look at how high the stakes were in the last election, and we STILL only got 50-some percent of eligible people to vote. Time Magazine pointed out that of 18-26 year-olds, 38% thought that voting for American Idol was as important as for president. So there's a participation piece and there's a misplaced priorities piece.

I am, by nature, a joiner. If you have a band, and I play the trumpet, I'm signed up and ready to toot. Others would rather take a walk, read a book, write poems or watch TV. Regardless of the worthiness of their alternative pursuits, they don't JOIN.

Secondly, I said, there's an assumption that somebody else will take care of whatever. A bit reason for involvement in professional organizations is to represent in a somewhat united front to legislators and the public. Important decisions are made and someone has to stand up and explain where the group stands. Typically, it's more experienced people, but you have to get others involved at some point.

So I don't know if I could help them understand where the other 20/30-somethings were. I'm kind of an odd duck anyway, so I'm not the best person to ask.

Quote of the week: "I have no discipline whatsover. I don't even floss! I'm 35 years old and I've had four root canals. Four root canals!! What the hell is wrong with me..." - Nate Fisher, "Six Feet Under"

We're watching the whole series on DVD start to finish, if we can. Pretty good stuff, tho' watching, say, three episodes in a row leaves one thinking about death more than may be healthy. Hence the characters' oft-troubled psyches, mayhaps.

The episode that whacked me out the most featured a decedent named Swanson, which name was occaisionally juxtaposed near regular character Nate. I got really confused.