Snippets from 2005

I have three words for anyone who has figured out the solutions to the universe’s problems...

I have three words for anyone who has figured out the solutions to the universe’s problems, and is banging out page after page in a schematic way for the rest of us:

Keep a journal.

Keep it very private. I think the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski) called his a “manifesto.”

It’s time for my annual tip of the hat to the writers of RDH magazine. The writers have to communicate with 67,000 strangers. If you’re like Anne Guignon (author of the Comfort Zone column), then 67,000 strangers become like an extended family. But, still, the art and science of writing an article for RDH involves more than madly scribbling in a journal at 4 a.m.

I admire dental hygienists who can also communicate through the written word very much. Several other quotes should be included here, but, alas, not enough room. I salute all of RDH’s writers for a job well done in 2005.

·I love you, always have ... - Speaking of writing, let’s start with a pro. Cathy Seckman interviewed romance novelist Terri Brisbin, RDH, for the May issue. “I find that as a group, we (dental hygienists) are a bit compulsive-obsessive about details instead of the big picture ... It’s amazing how many details I have in my head. It’s a good thing I’m a writer, or I’d have no place to use them all.”

·... but you’re nuts, you know? - Of course, dental hygienists/writers who get compulsive-obsessive with me personally remind me of that line in Barbara Burlew’s article (November) about the profession’s quest for perfection: “In the course of my research, it turns out we may be driving other people crazy. Who knew?”

·Identify with Ernestine? - Speaking of Guignon, she wrote in August about Lily Tomlin’s famous character, Ernestine the telephone operator. She quoted Tomlin/Ernestine: “I gave the best years of my life to Ma Bell and what did it get me? When she went to pieces, so did I! I’ve got operator’s hump from plugging and unplugging. I’ve got carpal tunnel from all those years of dialing. Oh sure, everything in the workplace now is ergonomically correct. They worked out the kinks on me.”

·I gotta go there - Lynne Slim started off her September column (Periodontal Therapy) with a vivid description of a museum exhibit called “Grossology” that “focuses on the slimy, oozy, crusty, and stinky characteristics of the human body.” Honey, cancel Disney World! We need to see this!

·Who’s on the plane? - I know dental hygienists watch Monday Night Football as religiously as I do. Did you see the game intro where Tony Dorsett and John Riggins flee a plane that includes the cast of ABC’s Lost as passengers? “Dude, it’s just a TV show,” a cast member said. Did you catch that flight with Mary Govoni that prompted her February Infection Control column? “I observed a couple across the aisle perform a very interesting procedure prior to taking their seats. The man and woman used some type of wipes to clean virtually every surface in and around their seating area. I watched with interest as they wiped their seats, headrests, armrests, the light and audio control buttons, and even the outside of the overhead luggage compartment.”

·Can she change light bulbs? - For the September issue, Cathy Alty interviewed Heidi Baker, a hygienist who co-founded the home improvement company Be Jane, Inc. Heidi remodeled her condo herself, including kitchen cabinets, crown molding, stone floors, light fixtures, and bathroom sinks. Baker added, “But my favorite was the walk-in closet. Being the girly girl I am, I built one!”

·Confession of the year - Lory Laughter admitted in the November issue (From the Edge) that she doesn’t enjoy scaling. “I also don’t believe we need to take pleasure in scaling to be excellent clinicians. It is possible to care about the oral condition and overall health of our patients without getting excited over the task of popping off those chunks of calculus.”

·Which brings us to - Dr. Sheri Doniger’s article on anesthesia in the April issue led off with: “Imagine this as a slow-motion movie: The camera focuses on the dental hygienist, who sits patiently, chatting idly with the patient in the chair. The camera turns to the patient, who appears nervous and impatient. The only other sounds you hear are the background hissing of the evacuation system, ready and waiting to be utilized, and the loud ticking of the clock. Tick, tick, tick ... Time’s a’wastin’, it appears to say. Cut and scene. How many times have you been in that slow-motion sequence? Waiting ... waiting ... waiting, because the dentist is in the middle of a procedure that he or she is unable to get out of, even for a few minutes.”

Here’s hoping you don’t have many of those wasted minutes in 2006, and Happy Holidays to all of you!

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

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