A warm and fuzzy Las Vegas

I don't know why this feels like a confession, but somehow it does. I like watching the standup comedians on the Comedy Central network.

By Mark Hartley

I don't know why this feels like a confession, but somehow it does. I like watching the standup comedians on the Comedy Central network. Much of the network's programming is merely goofy, in my opinion. But when they videotape comics performing at comedy clubs ... well, I laugh — a sensation that I wished I experienced more often. Comedy Central, though, does resort to airing what seems like a dozen or so commercials every five minutes. The Travel Channel is two clicks down with the remote in my cable neighborhood, and it's a nice place to visit when the commercials get tiresome. You may have noticed that the Travel Channel has taken great pains to explain how the marketing of Las Vegas has changed.

I listen, because I'm impressed that Las Vegas finally figured me out. The city realized that a 40-something father is never going to take his kids to Las Vegas for a family vacation, no matter what type of theme-park mood they introduce. So the hotels and casinos have started catering to young adults again. If you're in your twenties or thirties, Las Vegas is a great place to get drunk, dance with complete abandon, get more drunk, and, hopefully, stagger over to a gaming table to lose some money.

You may be getting the impression that I don't like Las Vegas. Not necessarily. A long time ago, I used to be 25 years old, doing exactly what young adults do now. It's just that I'm not an advocate of vacations in Las Vegas at this point in life.

Why would you care about my opinion on great places to unwind? No particular reason. I just think it's ironic that the site for the third RDH Under One Roof conference is ... guess where?

I have approximately 700 words in this space to suggest why you might want to spend a weekend in Las Vegas next February. I'm getting off to a great start, huh?

OK. Here it goes. It's called a "warm and fuzzy feeling." Las Vegas may be too wild for those sorts of sentiments, but the warm and fuzzy feeling is synonymous with the Under One Roof conferences. The RDH staff recognized that the first step was to establish a strong foundation for continuing education. But I think we tried even harder to create an environment where friendships among hygienists are forged and "networking" actually means something — not some platitude that a guru spits out.

I think we succeeded. I was pleasantly amazed by the warm and fuzzy feelings that surfaced at the first two conferences in Denver and Chicago. It was a genuine pleasure to observe hygienists talk for hours about their lives — a sensation that I wished they experienced more often.

I'm not being mushy about this. I doubt acquaintances think of me as a warm and fuzzy guy. After all, I am a trained journalist, born to be cynical. I'm skeptical every time a politician, salesman, or trendsetter grins broadly and tries to "explain how it is" to the rest of us.

As an example of why I'm not warm and fuzzy, there's a letter in this issue from a hygienist in Alabama. Her point is that RDH readers get all worked up about preceptorship and are incorrect in their perceptions about the state's hygienists. But, you know ... why don't I just come out and say it: Mark Hartley believes that there is a very strong possibility that Alabama residents get cheated out of quality dental care. I'm not talking about the stereotypical hillbilly who, upon finding $20 in the parking lot, opts for another bottle of moonshine instead of a dental appointment. I'm talking about a whole generation of Alabama mothers who think to themselves, "Mother took me to the dentist twice a year, and, by golly, I'm taking my kids twice a year too." I believe that preceptorship has deprived Alabama mothers out of the best possible care for their children, and they don't even know it — all because some cheapskates wanted to pay $15 an hour instead of $25 an hour.

Does that sound like a warm and fuzzy guy? I didn't think so.

I've probably alienated every Alabama hygienist into abhorring the very thought of ever getting warm and fuzzy in the same room I'm in, but what about the rest of you? Even if you're not the "target market" for visitors to Las Vegas, I'd like to suggest that you consider the lineup of speakers for the conference, but, more importanly, experience the "warm and fuzzy" sensation that we've tried to create for RDH Under One Roof.

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com.

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