Heady feeling of freedom

- Watching NYPD Blue (with the bedroom door closed, of course, so three younger, innocent minds don`t start using "Andy`s" language around their teachers).

Mark Hartley, Editor

markh@pennwell.com

In 1997, freedom to this 42-year-old father of three means:

- Watching NYPD Blue (with the bedroom door closed, of course, so three younger, innocent minds don`t start using "Andy`s" language around their teachers).

- Writing whatever I want after 5 p.m. (with the bedroom door closed, of course, so three younger, innocent minds don`t start uttering "Daddy`s" language, especially after an uninspiring 15 to 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen).

- Having lively discussions with my pardner about how life is spent (with the bedroom door closed, of course, so three younger, innocent minds don`t start repeating "Mommy`s" language about Daddy`s stupider ideas).

So what does freedom mean to you? Have you gotten into the fever of plotting what happens during what promises to be a rather awesome 21st Century? We`ll just make this issue our best wishes for a successful odyssey there.

When people start talking about home offices, I typically take a detour from the discussion and daydream about this magazine cover I saw three or four years ago. One of these entrepreneur magazines had a photo of a guy sitting on his redwood deck. He`s got a fax machine, telephone, and a laptop on some outdoor furniture. His backyard is the Rocky Mountains. It`s a sunny day, and some deer are grazing in the background. Do I need to tell you that I`d like to trade places with this guy? If he agreed to the deal, he would get a view of, uh, a parking lot and a moving van company in, uh, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I liked Cathy Seckman`s article on page 21 for similar reasons. The "temp" dental hygienist sets her own pace. The rest of the work week is spent free as a bird. In addition, the flexibility of where you work sounds appealing too. Don`t tell my colleagues I said this, but seeing them 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year ... well, it must be exciting to meet new people in different places.

Since the topic of "burnout" pushes so many hot buttons in dental hygiene, I feel reasonably safe talking about another subject with you - retirement. I don`t know what retirement means to you, but one of the more pleasant perks of being an editor is scanning through photographers` portfolios for ideas. In these photos, plenty of retirees loll around on beaches. But there are pictures of retirees jogging down the Champs Elysee, stirring up pigeons during a walk in Venice, "swimming" in Reyjavik, learning Tai Chi in Hong Kong, backpacking in Alberta. Sound good to you? I`m ready. All of the above does appear to cost a little money. Cathleen Terhune Alty`s article on page 16 gives us some ideas on how to get there, describing the basics of retirement planning.

Finally, I pass along a tip. Another advantage of being an editor is that you frequently know what "sister" publications are preparing. RDH`s sister, Dental Economics, is publishing a special section on hygiene departments in its March issue. The section`s title, "How to Profit From Hygiene Departments," may be a little insulting to some. But the articles contain plenty of ideas for breathing new freedom among hygienists. I`d make sure your employer reads it.

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