Anatomy Of A Delicate Flower

I was a tenth grader on my way to being the next great commercial artist/NBA point guard…until Bruno showed up.

So it all started with Bruno, a small-time high school hood.

I was a tenth grader on my way to being the next great commercial artist/NBA point guard…until Bruno showed up. Yeah, I wasn’t always a delicate flower.

Anyway, first day of sophomore Art class, the dreaded, legendary Mark Keppel High thug was seated on my right as we shared a rectangular table. And Bruno’s ultra-hot girlfriend sat directly across from me. When I closed my eyes, all I saw were the words “Awkward, dangerous, and death.”

Bruno only stood about 5’3”; he looked like the felony version of the Fonz. On his left forearm, a tattoo read “Born to kill”; on Bruno’s right I noticed some serious black widow art.

Bruno looked like he was about 23-years old (coulda been the shaved head.) I wondered how many attempts at grade-10 the little punk had actually had. And I’m not so sure he ever did make it out of high school; Bruno undoubtedly had a better chance of being paroled outa Folsom.

But one thing’s for sure; Bruno could really draw. When I glanced over at the little criminal’s work, I saw what Picasso might have been had he chosen an assault and battery career. And at 15-years old, I’d never been more enthralled by elaborate sketches of low-rider cars and incredibly beautiful naked women.

Yeah, Bruno could really draw. But sadly, while sketching, Bruno could also kick my butt without even trying.

In a moment of clarity, I made a career change. I picked dentistry. What could be easier?

And the journey might have been a little bumpy at times. That first quarter 2.13 GPA at Cal State LA and my Dad’s wake-up call that followed pretty much transformed me into a stellar student, a passable warehouseman, and a social activist. I also acquired a fear of lifting heavy things and being shot at in the jungle.

I was accepted into every dental school to which I applied. I was first welcomed by Creighton University and compared to looking over my shoulder for the Viet Cong version of Bruno, freezing half the year in Nebraska and actually going to Mass every Sunday seemed like a fairly sensible option.

But my family had suffered the tragic loss of my brother and it was a blessing that I received a letter of acceptance from USC. I could stay close to home. But I wasn’t so sure about the “bottom line” part of the blessing when my dad got the bill.

Back in The Day, if USC was a person, it would have been slightly more conservative than Mike Pence’s redneck uncle. At my interview, the Dean of Admissions shared he was impressed with my work and thought I looked more or less normal; he then asked what my dad did for a living. When I answered “Teamster Business Representative” the dean shared “…unions were good in their day.” I asked the Dean what he thought about slavery. Maybe a tactical error but nobody talks mess about my dad.

What followed were arguably the worst four years of my life (I wonder why?) It seemed like every pipsqueak who’d ever wanted to wear a barber’s smock with red strips on its sleeves and would later watch the first half of Full Metal Jacket at least thirty times was in my freakin face nonstop.

USC dental school is located on 925 W 34th Street. I’ve called my D-school escape the Miracle on 34th Street ever since. And I think I’m still looking over my shoulder for Bruno; sometimes even when I’m presenting care I know I can deliver. Only this time Bruno is suited up in a barber’s smock with red stripes on its sleeves.

So this past weekend, I attended Supreme Invisalign Commander Dr. David Galler’s Reingage course for the second time. And no, the Wolf of Invisalign didn’t make me do it; it wasn’t remedial. I volunteered. Honest.

As Day Two was drawing to an end, David talked about dentists as a group; about how ours was different from other professions. It was like somewhere deep down, we were all somehow broken. It was like we were prone to second-guessing ourselves even when we were trained and prepared almost to an OCD fault.

But thanks to David, one of the most generous souls I’ve ever met, I now know the answer and I’m totally on my way from Premier to Elite Invisalign status. Nothing’s gonna stop me. I’m leaving the past in the past and movin’ on.

So goodbye Bruno the thug and goodbye dental school Brunos too! You’re both dead to me now…unless I see you on Highway 5, where in my mind; you’ll both be driving between LA and Anaheim…for eternity!!! I’ve got your delicate flower right here!!!

Think I’ll sit down and maybe have an Arnold Palmer or something. I know; I’ll watch the Wolf’s viral Youtube wave thing for a little while…that’s the ticket.

But…watch out Monday, there’s a new artist in town!

Posted in Uncategorized

Affordable Care… But Do They?

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” Francis of Assisi

I wrote a column three years ago, directed at colleagues dead set against the Affordable Care Act (ACA); little did I know it was only the beginning. This morning, the LA Times front page served up some irony I couldn’t help but notice.

So today, the Times published an above-the-fold front page piece titled, “What’s at stake in health law’s repeal.” Just under the fold, I read “Unearthing atrocities in Iraq’s newest mass graves.”

And when you begin doing the math that says you’ve now walked the earth way more days than your dad; for me, it’s cause for reflection. I wonder; if like me, my dad cultivated a finer appreciation for irony as he nurtured a closer relationship with AARP?

Like many fortunate sons, I don’t assume I’ll ever be nearly the man my dad was. To a fault, he believed everyone deserved a chance; last time I looked, that was an American ideal. Even for the 30,000,000 citizens who were one banana peel away from losing everything just a few years ago and the 30,000 Americans/year who lose their lives for the lack of effective health insurance.

If the only leader of the free world who’s ever tweeted out TV reviews, baseless accusations, and Twilight Zone head counts (at 3AM) ever has his way, he’ll be killing Americans. And I wonder what he’ll do about those mass graves? I wonder if he can even spell “atrocity?”

When I look at social issues, I personalize the consequences. How will the results impact friends and family (and that includes my co-workers and patients.) And what would my dad have said? And what if MY family was being denied the chance for the same sense of security available to the rest of the industrialized world?

I don’t have to go very far to find an example. Both of my parents suffered from diabetes. Had my dad been one of the 30,000,000 he would have lost his life instead of a leg. I would’ve never made it through college, and my mom and I would’ve probably qualified as part of that notorious demographic that lives the high life while relying on government support. My mom would have died years earlier; I wouldn’t be serving others today and I would’ve never had the privilege of meeting the friends and family I know as my co-workers and patients.

In California, an ACA rollback will be a catastrophic gut blow for the sickest and poorest among us. In Los Angeles County, since ACA was fully implemented in 2014, 350 community clinics have served 1.5 million patients who otherwise would have no health coverage. Statewide, 13.4 million Californians are covered by Medi-Cal, our version of Medicaid. With the planned cuts in Medicaid, millions stand to lose the only health insurance coverage they’ve known.

In return, the wealthiest families in the nation will receive an average tax cut of $7-million. Increased insurance costs for those between the ages of 50-65 are projected to range from 20-40%.

Supporters of the repeal and opponents of the ACA have had approximately 65-years to come up with a plan, a clue, or most disgustingly, the will to generate any kind of health plan; let alone a viable alternative. Apparently, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” really doesn’t mean crap to these so-called “Americans.”

And my question is; who are the 30,000 Americans the ACA repeal advocates plan to kill? Ironically, many of ‘em apparently didn’t have P.T. Barnum on their mind on November 8.

According to the President of the United States, “It’s (health insurance) an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health insurance could be so complicated.”

If she still had a pulse and could respond on Twitter, Francis of Assisi could tweet back an old quote, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.”

Seems like these days, there’s a scarcity of charity and wisdom while fear and ignorance are all too often only an early AM tweet away.

Posted in Uncategorized

Scared Straight

Our leader is wise and inspires us with the mysterious vision and power of Yoda; and he does world-class stand-up too.

So today’s one of those days when I get to reflecting on stuff. And for me, reflecting can only mean one thing…or maybe two.

Of course, I reflect big-time on May third. Like I’ve shared with you guys before, the two words in question can suggest possibility and the end of an inning. But once you get past 420 dog years, what you’re really looking for is extra innings (lots of ‘em). So when the bonfire atop the cake with my name on it got bright enough to attract large red trucks, I became a freakin’ reflecting machine.

And birthday reflecting can be hard work and just like with spin class, I’ve yet to see a single endorphin come outa the whole weighty process. Not so with reflection #2.

Today, the conditions were ideal for some major league deep thought. It could have been the gloomy day and the torrent of cats and dogs that were falling out of the consistently sunny (like for 7-years in a row without a drop) SoCal skies. It might have been the pile of bills that I somehow overlooked while touring Nashville, Las Vegas, and the Zombie Apocalypse the last two weekends. But more than likely, it was the friends and family that shared the ride…and the emoji of me I’m supposed to design.

Until I fell in with this elite international marauding band of Invisalign-providing ladies and gentlemen, stuff like staying up all night, killing zombies, sleep deprivation, and listening to dentists, just like me, attempt karaoke never really scared me that much. And I’m no hero; spiders and Delta Dental totally creep me out, same goes for Brussel’s sprouts and chicken pot pie with peas in it. But last night (after 10PM), I willingly watched CNN and then wound up sleepless in Pasadena after finally stopping a nose bleed following a solid hour of aggressive nose grabbing. But I think what scared me was just the challenge my being able to keep up with my fellow zombie slayers and elite colleagues…and the emoji.

So as I reflect on the rotator cuff surgery I’m gonna need after autographing and clicking away the tower of bills that accumulated after two lost weekends from Temple City, I’m amazed by what can happen over the course of 17.5 dog years. “Scared” is really about “excited” and “straight” is about what we can do for the people who honor us with their trust and are looking for the healthy lasting smile they’ve always really wanted. I get to hang out with the Top 20 GPs of Invisalign. And we are awesome at what we do. And dang it, I will not be intimidated by an emoji.

And they might not all be Trojan fans; shucks, one of ‘em is a Domer (went to Notre dame) and one of the smartest of all-time actually roots for the freakin’ Patriots. They come from Canada to Puerto Rico; New York to SoCal, and Miami to Seattle. We even have a prince. Our leader is wise and inspires us with the mysterious vision and power of Yoda; and he does world-class stand-up too.

Two and a half years ago, I never saw this opportunity coming, especially after almost 280 dog years in dentistry. But now, to quote Humphrey Bogart from my all-time fave film, Casablanca, “…I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

But I’m still a little concerned about what that emoji’s gonna look like.

Posted in Uncategorized

I Get High From A Little Time With My Friends

We once were lost but now were found, adopted into a tribe of Invisalign visionaries marching under the banner of the Wolf.

So what do you do when events beyond your control are taking you out of your bubble and turning you into a hater? If you’re like me and don’t trust doctors who just talk for a living, you tend to seek out like-minded friends and family. And isn’t it tragic when they all can’t be diehard USC Trojan football fans?

And I hate (ugh) to be trite but when the stuff I can’t control is getting me down…“I get high from a little time with my friends.”

After the last two eventful weekends spent with friends, maybe a few Romans, and countrymen and countrywomen, I know for sure my lack of sleep doesn’t make Smilin’ Jack a hater. Apparently, three hours of shut-eye per night just makes me speak in the third person and drool way more than usual.

First week of the month, my TCDC Team extraordinaire and I descended on Nashville for an annual conference. I see my own team as immediate family and the Crown Council organization has been extended family for almost 20-years. And even though the tag brings to mind some clandestine group of molar jockeys meeting nights to take over the world using fluoride, green tea, and kale; the organization was, instead, responsible for our very first steps toward making a difference in our community. The Crown Council is about heart and community and isn’t that what family’s all about?

This past weekend was also all about family…and generosity, energy, and vision…and practically no freakin sleep. And I can’t believe it’s been two and a half years since I was finally adopted (and I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad were just temporarily pissed at me when they’d roll out the adoption card.)

For years, my team and I were just like some Invisalign nomad/leper/orphans wandering the world of clear aligner orthodontic therapy, hungry and all alone, when suddenly the Universe, the Dalai Lama, the Tooth fairy, or maybe even Coach Pete Carroll stepped in and got us a winning lottery ticket to a shoot-out, an Invisalign territorial Brother, and a powerful Invisalign Consigliore almost all at the same time. We once were lost but now were found, adopted into a tribe of Invisalign visionaries marching under the banner of the Wolf.

Consigliore Doc David Galler aka The Wolf of Invisalign had big-time connections and his tribe soon expanded far and wide. In city after city he shared wine and broke bread with molar jockeys just like me who were eager to learn and laugh- what a concept! Gradually, about one outa thirty eager students were made Presidential offers they couldn’t refuse; in my case, I think it happened when nature called and I had to leave the room.

Last week, The Wolf and his immediate Invisalign tribal family met in Las Vegas (told you he was connected) and man, it is awesome when you can do something for almost 40-years and still be excited and inspired spending way more than quality time with positive, powerful and fearless friends and family…even when you’re the oldest guy in the club (Actually, I was unable to attend due to some slight ringing in my good ear…and an early flight.)

And when Monday morning arrives tomorrow and I’m traveling down Huntington Drive toward the office, I’ll be reflecting on time spent with leaders, colleagues, and family. I’ll be grateful…and in my bubble and looking forward to my adopting more friends and family; the ones who walk through the door and honor us with their trust. After all, even UCLA Bruin apologists probably get high from a little time with their friends.

Posted in Uncategorized

I See Dumb People

And just like the new president, I see things; I hear things. But I see dumb people.

So for me, things haven’t been quite the same since November 8 and the election of a game show host to the office of President of the United States. Personally, I would have preferred Gene Rayburn but the Match Game host passed on way back in 1999. Rayburn was way smarter than the new Prez and his contestants would have made up a far stronger cabinet than the collection of billionaires and semi-illiterates that now hold the quality, and in some instances, the existence of our lives in their tiny hands. Sorry, I kinda lost it there.

And then there’s my seeing things thing that’s been going on lately.

Between November 8 and inauguration day on January 20, I experienced my share of sweaty palms, and night terrors; once I dreamed I was living in 1817 instead of 2017. A few times, the depression got so bad that I even came close to leaving spin class early. But avoiding spin class would have been a major mistake. As I’m writing, the chronic temporal headaches have finally abated and I’m fairly sure I still have some enamel left on the chewing/grinding surfaces of my molars.

On Saturday, January 21st, I was seated in a roomful of stationary bikes and surrounded by mirrors expecting to hear the usual club music crap and maybe even, gulp, Justin Bieber when a miracle happened. We started out with the theme of From Russia with Love and followed up with You’re so Vain, Me Myself and I, Highway to Hell, and finally REM’s End of the World as we know it, and then finally a cooldown with Stevie’s Heaven Help us All. I remained depressed after cooldown but less so because I was among friends…who actually speak in complete sentences. And even though the instructor rarely pedals through the toughest parts of class (a pet peeve) I’ve been there every Saturday morning since at 7-freakin-30 AM.

And just like the new president, I see things; I hear things. But I see dumb people. And the president is lucky; he sees millions of people who aren’t really there. I see people who voted for him and even though Hillary won 70:30 around here, it seems like they’re everywhere.

Maybe I’m a little like Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath. I’m there in the dark seeing way too much but unlike Joad instead of righting a wrong, I’m mostly just profiling old white guys…old dumb white guys.

It’s like they’re everywhere and I don’t even hear them (Thank God); I just see them. And maybe they’re not ALWAYS dumb; maybe they just don’t see racism, misogynism, religion discrimination, and stuff like conflict of interest, mental instability, and grabbing as deal breakers.

The dumb old white guys I keep seeing don’t floss; they don’t brush. When they drive, they cut you off and flip you off; they take at least 5-seconds to react to a green light and suck at making lefthand turns. They never could parallel park and they pull into compact parking spaces with SUVs sporting BS bumper stickers like “There wouldn’t be a FIRST amendment without the SECOND one.” They wear New England Patriots’ gear even though they live in LA. They always take too long with transactions at the bank, the market, or the movies. They don’t have rthymn. They wear Hawaian shirts a little too often. They always sit in the middle of a row at the movies or at sports events and they never stop going for hotdogs. They don’t like Invisalign. When they do smile, they tend to look like hockey players with “gasid” indigestion. I’ve never seen one reading a book.

I used to be Smilin’ Jack but now I’m a hater; and that’s what happens when you see…dumb people.

And I don’t often actually interact with dumb people but when I do, I guess it’s my fate to just see them, not hear them. And for that blessing I thank God, who in the words of Depeche Mode…just might have “…a sick sense of humor.”

Posted in Politics and Government

Hidden Figures

Sitting there doing my popcorn thing at the Monrovia Krikorian, what I saw up on the screen actually brought some tears to my eyes.

So on January 21, the day after the Presidential Inauguration, I needed something positive; maybe something as unlikely on a long, dark day as…inspiration.

Since November 8, even my body had been rejecting the election results. And as January 20 approached, the headaches and teeth clenching just got worse. To put things in perspective, I hadn’t clenched my teeth at night or had a headache since January 4, 2006; the night USC somehow lost the BCS Football Championship to Texas.

So I saw a movie. I saw Hidden Figures.

Hidden Figures tells the biographical story of three African American women working as mathematicians at NASA during the 60s. And in spite of having to overcome all the odds presented by a lingering Jim Crow and sexist culture at NASA, the three women succeed…as did the U.S. space program, our competition with the Russia, and the social struggle to, at least at NASA, realize all of us are better than some of us.

As I was sitting there doing my popcorn thing at the Monrovia Krikorian, what I saw up on the screen actually brought some tears to my eyes. I’m still not sure whether it was pride, joy, frustration, or sadness; probably everything?

There was the pride in being an American, just like those three incredibly determined, brilliant, and courageous women. There was also pride in the American spirit coming from a few men who in the words of Robert F. Kennedy could “…dream things that never were and say, why not.” What an amazing place that could be home for women like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson. There was equal pride in the visionary leadership of President Kennedy and the other-worldly confidence and courage of the Mercury astronauts and, in particular, John Glenn.

The joy was in the results and the budding opportunity for inclusiveness, a supposed American core value. You could see why America could be great…maybe even a model for humankind.

The film presented a snapshot of the decades-long struggle for racial and gender equality and fairness. The frustration is the current day notion of “Making America Great Again.” As if we weren’t being great electing the first African American President only eight years ago and selecting an intelligent, thoughtful, inclusive leader who guided the nation out of economic disaster and practiced American principles written into the Constitution, of which he is a scholar.

And lastly, as the credits were running, I was sad. What happened yesterday? Were almost half of the voters just pretending about stuff like liberty and justice for all? It seemed like Thursday night the Constitution and the American values of fairness and decency were hijacked by a driver who’d never read the document.

After having shared two hours of pride and ultimately joy with other movie goers, it was like the truth, dignity, and intelligence I’d just seen on the screen were just some ideas expressed in a fable that had been washed away in the rain.

Today didn’t feel real; if only that were true.

But I, for one, have always preached to my co-workers that to error is human and inevitable; and from mistakes, come the opportunity for change.

When I got home and took to social media, I saw millions of women protesting “Making America Great Again” and the possible end of growing racial, gender, and sexual preference understanding and acceptance. Talk about inspiring.

And I’m willing to bet that 98-year old Katherine Johnson, former NASA Physicist/Mathematician and 2015 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was watching…and smiling too.

Posted in Local Voices

La La Land

So there was no way I was missing La La Land.

For one thing, there’s this woman I know who is beautiful; she also introduced me to Vibrato Grill and Jazz and Mexican scrambles at Yahaira’s…and she runs the Santa Monica steps maybe 20-30 times per visit…and…she actually took her kids to see La La Land at least five times at latest count.

And then there’s the director, Damien Chazelle. The dude’s barely 30-years old and last year he directed my fave film of 2016, Whiplash. I saw Whiplash, maybe five times on the big screen and a few more since via On Demand. I loved the music and the story. And just so you know, if you didn’t like Whiplash, you are officially dead to me.

I tried seeing La La Land several times before finally paying a visit to the Laemmle with a spinning friend who’s spent years in The Business. We had a difficult time matching schedules and even wound up seeing Rogue One together as a last minute replacement (thankfully, after a couple of Anchor Steams.) And the only way I survived Star Wars, Part Infinity, was by pretending the slow guys in the big white suits getting shot up on the screen were actually Trump voters from Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

When we left the Laemmle I was a little surprised by my entertainment biz friend; she thought La La Land was okay. There were basically six movie formulas; La La Land followed one of ‘em. I actually called the movie a masterpiece right out loud. As we walked out of the theater, I felt kinda like a dork.

And then, as if the upcoming inauguration wasn’t depressing enough, one of my fave Facebook friends shared “One hour into La La Land, with five of my besties, in New York, and we hate it.!!! Don’t get it. We are angry. #no chemistry/siblings kissing/ bad remake” and “Hated it, hated it, hated it…” And that’s why I love being a dentist living in Pasadena

My Facebook buddy is an actress; she could have been Mia. She would have been great.

But watching the film, an obvious homage to a musical genre of the past, I couldn’t help myself. I was drawn into the visual wonder, the imagination, the humor, and the performances. And…what the hell, even J.K. Simmons was back from Whiplash, firing another musician on the spot just like old times.

Risking becoming a dork to the nth power; my mom woulda loved this film.

And I can understand how, for those in the business, the arbitrary path to success in it could inevitably generate some serious cynicism. But for me, the fantasy of the film happening in my hometown was just the timely escape I needed.

La La Land, whose bitter sweet parting view was that of time relentlessly passing by, actually touched my heart. Even though, after almost 20-years of being an Ahmanson subscriber, I cancelled my primo orchestra seats several years ago because there were way too many musicals.

I love Los Angeles and Griffith Park and seeing the Rialto and “Suicide” Bridge up there on the big screen too. And I think Gene, Donald, and Debbie would have forgiven a few dance steps and musical notes for an imaginative, respectful, and beloved Los Angeles 65th “Singin’” birthday card.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Smelling The Roses

It was awesome seeing the hometown bring in the New Year…just in time to hear something wonderful, see a rainbow, and smell the roses.

So this morning it seemed like the birds were chirping “It’s a Wonderful World”; or maybe that was “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” And I don’t know for sure but I coulda sworn the sunrise on this, the third day of the year, was Cardinal and Gold.

And last time I looked, we still had a President who didn’t tweet, didn’t grab, and spoke in complete sentences without inventing words like, gulp…”bigly.”

Yeah, on the day after New Year a couple of cousins and a friend joined me for a brisk walk down to the Arroyo and the Rose Bowl. And after several hours of comradery, cold frosty beverages, and Claro’s subs, we experienced the agony of something half way between mostly dead and almost defeat, and the pure joy that comes with your alma mater winning a football game in front of 94,268 Pasadena guests, another 20 million on TV, and even over a million more streamers.

2016, for me, will always be a year impersonating a thief. At this point, with apologies to Webster (19th century Noah, not the TV kid,) “innocence” seems to be a little outdated. But did last year really need to take out “Decency” while it was killing off what seemed like half of the gifted creative world community?

And I know it’s just a game. And in this case, it really was a shame that there had to be a totally mislabeled “loser.” Because, I swear, seeing 20-year old kids compete and remain mentally tough throughout a physical and emotional struggle carried out at the highest level is indeed a memorable experience. But then seeing the same young men being reduced to tears for the winning or the losing and accepting the hard fought authentic outcome with a handshake is beyond memorable; it’s inspiring.

And I’m as partisan as they come. Thankfully, I only figuratively live and die with the Trojans. USC’s star quarterback/leader is only 19-years old; he’s athletically gifted and mature beyond his years. As time was stealing opportunity away near the end of an instant classic contest, the kid kept it simple in the huddle, “Just do your job.”

One of my Facebook friends vowed to stay up until midnight just to see 2016 die.

I’m sure glad I was around to see January 2, 2017. It was awesome seeing the hometown bring in the New Year…just in time to hear something wonderful, see a rainbow, and smell the roses.

Posted in Sports

Resolve This!

I love New Year resolutions; I write ‘em down. I even go public with ‘em.

So as I’m writing it looks like 2017 has arrived in what seems like record time.

And I suppose some of us who’ve attended many past rodeos might be a little cynical or resigned…as in…here we go again. But not me; in fact, as we open up a new calendar, I can’t wait to get my hands on that beautiful blank page that shows up every January 1. And…what better year to wipe off the face of the earth than 2016? Maybe times are really the best in the Universe when the city of Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs are the losers with whom we’ve become accustomed.

I see the pristine sheet as a reminder that I can be the author of my own life story. And what’s really cool is the chance we all have to share the experience.

I love New Year resolutions; I write ‘em down. I even go public with ‘em.

So here they are; my Top Ten New Year resolutions for 2017:

  1. You’re in my dental chair. I say, “Almost done.” 3 minutes later I’m still working. You get 10-bucks!
  2. I will write at least one personal note per day…legibly.
  3. I will NOT verbally/physically abuse my computer, Hal…whenever possible.
  4. I’ll forgive the Lakers, Bruins, and the state of Michigan…because…they know not what they do.
  5. I’ll remember Dental Assistant Appreciation Day is every day.
  6. I will NOT run down Las Tunas wearing only a hula skirt and a bruin baseball cap because after ten years, Camellia Square (or whatever) development still lags behind the Republic of Burundi.
  7. I will prove even though Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like…he never met Donald Trump!
  8. I’ll say, “I love you” at least once a day. And yeah, Team Leader Dani, no mirrors allowed.
  9. I will NOT mix plaid, stripes, and paisley attire…thus ignoring all fashion tips from my co-workers.
  10. I’ll be looking and listening for greatness, humor, and compassion…unless I’m in front of a banker.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Local Voices

Sometimes Maybe It’s Better Just Being Lucky

Denise and all of my co-workers aren’t a team by accident; they all really do want to make a difference…like…yesterday.

Courtesy of her sister, Dani, Denise was part of our extended Temple City Dental Care family years before she ever joined us full time.

Denise, who had been Dani’s very first trainer, had loads of enthusiasm, the will to do the right thing, and years of experience working in pediatric dentistry. Don’t know about you guys but I’m always impressed by folks who can deal with little kids all day under any circumstances…but in a dental chair?

By the time Denise was ready for a change in scenery, Dani had been with us for over eight years; Denise had trained an award-winning dental assistant and our new Team Leader. For me, it was like the NFL draft. I wasn’t looking for a position to fill; I was looking and listening for someone who could make a difference. And this time I got lucky.

We really didn’t have a dental assistant opening and Denise hadn’t had administrative experience. But I’d never witnessed Denise speaking into a phone without a smile. And I had always seen our extended family member engage people like each and every one of ‘em was Best Friends Forever. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Scheduling Coordinator Denise!

Denise is most often the first person you’ll see on arrival to our office; it’s not by accident.

We’re really committed to constantly training and learning. I soon discovered Denise, like me, was a training/continuing education nerd; and she read every self-improvement book she could get her hands on. And I thought we were the cool ones.

Denise soon mastered the phone skills just like I knew she would. And Denise soaked up training like a sponge. I had been doing the Chamber of Commerce breakfast tour for years and it was fun eating, BS-ing, and promoting USC Trojan Football domination a couple of times a month. It’s just that when we made the transition to Denise, we suddenly experienced a dramatic upturn in marketing effectiveness.

Denise established business relationships with the ease of Pavarotti humming the theme song of “Welcome back Kotter.” Denise actually set up a speaking circuit where Pasadena Chamber members could meet and inform other professionals and their customers, clients, and patients. And even more impressive, Denise actually started her own coaching business; organizing her own take on the training she’d experienced and then personalizing it to the benefit of other small businesses.

A few weeks ago, at a Pasadena Chamber Lunch, a speaker sharing a 25-second “commercial” moved Denise to tears. At the time, Denise was also steering our November marketing campaign; in the middle of the campaign, we entertained a visitor. We had lunch with Nancy Davidson, Executive Director of The Foundation for Living Beauty; don’t think any of us will ever be quite the same.

Living Beauty was founded in 2005; the organization provides emotional and physical support for women who have cancer. Nancy shared Living Beauty serves more than 450 women who are in various aspects of their “journey” with cancer. Nancy and the three-woman team organize and provide events, support groups, and resources; after about 5-minutes, we knew we wanted to be one of the resources.

But what could we do? How could we help? Sure, we could provide information and work at creating awareness but Denise and all of my co-workers aren’t a team by accident; they all really do want to make a difference…like…yesterday.

We had adopted families in the past back when I was on the Haven House Board (Dani and extended family member, at the time, Denise would do all the wrapping.) Were there families in need; if so, could we help them have a real Holiday?

Within a few days, Nancy provided five families facing the hardship of cancer, low income, and the reality of a non-existent Holiday. And with Denise on point, along with Dani and Dental Assistant Kolleen, the gift lists provided by Nancy were filled almost overnight…not to mention additional clothing and even Christmas Trees.

We delivered the gifts last Monday. When you can make a difference for someone you’ve never met and you can smile and still can’t find a dry eye, you know you’ve had a pretty good day.

That’s when you know for sure what it feels like to be lucky.

Thanks Denise.

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Jack Von Bulow, DDS
Jack Von Bulow, DDS
Temple City Dental Care

9929 E. Las Tunas Drive
Temple City, CA 91780
Call: 626-285-3161
Fax: 626-285-5379
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