Health, Life, Money

Face Your Fears, Part Deux

About two months ago, I had mentioned in a post that it was time to get over my somewhat rational fear of dentists – or at least they work they do – and get the ball rolling with an exam and whatever else the dentist may recommend.

Today was that day. And the results of my visit were anything but favorable.

I went to a local office that has a sparkling reputation on Yelp! and is also where Anthony and my mother-in-law go for cleanings (she usually takes him so they get it done at the same time).

After filling out what seemed like an endless questionnaire regarding my personal health and dental visits, I was called into the back where I took a seat and had a series of 18 x-rays taken.

Things are definitely different now – they are digital. The last time I had them done, you still had to bite down on a small piece of plastic or cardboard whose corners felt pointy when the nurse stuck them in under your tongue. Then they had to develop them. Now you bite down on a device that transmits the image to a computer. So far, so good.

Then the dentist sat down next to me, introduced himself, went over the x-rays and pointed out everything that was wrong in my mouth (aside from the occasional profane language that slips out of it). Next, he let me know what he thought should be done first based on the severity of each condition.

Yeah. There’s that much. Fuuuuu…

It was during this consultation when I explained my fear and he told me that, of course, it wasn’t uncommon. He also told me how some of his patients were actually worse than me. (For privacy, I won’t go into details.) But the fact that I was sitting there speaking to him and preparing myself for whatever treatment he thought necessary put me way ahead of those he mentioned. I was already on the field ready to play; they hadn’t even shown up to the clubhouse.

His first recommendation was simple: bonding my two front teeth, both of which were a bit jagged at the bottom and could possibly chip at any moment. He also explained that this would be a great way to ease myself back into the patient’s chair and dental care as a whole.

And that’s where we started. I asked if I could listen to music during the procedure and he had no objections. In fact they supply their own if you need them but I’m not sure what kind of music I’d be listening to and I’m pretty picky with my headphones, so I used my own earbuds and thank goodness for Spotify Premium and my iPhone.

He told me to raise my left hand if I felt any discomfort during the procedure and amazingly, I didn’t. As he and his assistant blazed through the process of bonding my teeth, Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil kept my mind off of what was doing on inside my mouth. About the only thing that got to me, despite the volume level being somewhat high, was the scraping of the bonding material from the teeth. I feel myself cringing just typing about it.

(Listen to the album here)

And that was it. I had gotten this far and with only a few beads of sweat on my forehead and maybe a slightly left watery eye. And naturally, a sore jaw that is still sore. He told me that if I can survive this procedure with no anesthetic then the next one – a pretty big one – shouldn’t be an issue. He also referred me to an oral surgeon who will be handling the extraction. I’ve seen him before and he’s good, at least from what I can remember with the twilight sedation I was under.

Even so, I’m still worried about the next thing since I’ve never had it done. And after that I’ve got a laundry list of other things that needs to be checked off. Strangely, the tooth with missing parts wasn’t the worst one. Sure, it will still have to get extracted but the x-rays showed that another one that I knew was slightly chipped had worse damage to it, and that’s the next thing to be taken care of in a few weeks.

We had planned on taking a road trip to San Francisco this year but unfortunately, it looks like the summer will be have to be scheduled around all of my procedures. Additionally, the job gives us three paid Summer Days that we can take for three-day weekends if we wish. Those plus my remaining sick hours and possibly some vacation days will most likely used for days I need to have work done.

Then there’s paying for all of this. Even with insurance, it’s goodbye, Vacation Fund!

But at least I’ve taken the first step toward having better dental hygiene. It will take some time and money to get it all right but I know it will definitely be for the best.

Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears

6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

Family, Fatherhood

A Summer That Won’t Suck: Las Vegas 

Good morning from Las Vegas! In this continuing series, this weekend we find ourselves in Sin City where the high was a balmy 115 degrees yesterday. 

But you know, it’s a “dry heat” as the joke goes.

Not only that, but we also got a nice thunderstorm show.

This was a screencap from a video I shot from our room. It was definitely cool to relax and watch the show.

We made pretty good time this trip even with a few stops along the way for food and restroom breaks, which begs the question: how did we used to drive those 300 miles non-stop? And we did it all the time, too. I guess our old bladders just ain’t what they used to be because we just can’t do it anymore.

But hey, at least we saw these at the Gold Strike casino, one of our stops. Who knew? This was totally unexpected.

After arrival we rested for a bit, charged up our phones then went to The Mob Museum because, you know, Las Vegas.

An interesting place with interesting displays for sure. And the building itself is pretty amazing.

And look at these criminals.

That one-way we were behind glass was unbelievable. You really can’t see what’s on the other side so I didn’t know where to look as our picture was being taken. It’s mirrored on the inside so I just kept staring at my reflection. The world of crime is not one I want to be a part of if this alone blew my mind.

We have more plans for the day so keep watching my Instagram account for more. Fremont Street Experience will probably happen tonight…provided our old selves are up to the task…

Life, Music

The Point of No Return

phantom_michaelNow that The Phantom of the Opera is scheduled to return in 2009 to The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, we’re seeing plenty of commercials for it. And all that makes me want to do is go out right now and buy tickets.

It’s not like I haven’t seen the show, no. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, mostly at The Music Center, a few times at the aforementioned Pantages and once in Las Vegas at The Venetian which, by the way, was an effing AMAZING production. Hell, I even have one of the “Notes” from the show which was a gift to my brother from Marie Danvers who played Christine in the Broadway production (see images later in post). We all got to hang out with her after a performance in Los Angeles where we learned she worked at an Arby’s and swears she ate more Potato Cakes than anyone else alive. Nice lady and very down-to-earth, as was Michael Crawford when I got his autograph after a show.

Anyway, those commercials just got me thinking of the show so I decided to listen to the soundtrack while at work the other day. And I was really into it with images of the show running through my head, which only made the day go by faster. Once Disc One was finished I punched up Disc Two on my iPod and continued to mouth the words at my desk while working.

Then it happened.

Just as “The Point of No Return” finished and I was getting ready for the big final number….I got nothing. Seriously, I was met by dead silence. WTF happened here?!

For some reason or another, Disc Two on my iPod was missing the song from arguably the most intense moment of the show–and I couldn’t finish it. Man, that stinks.

So the first thing I did when I got home was copy it over to the iPod and the next day at work, listen to the soundtrack in its entirety. And I was finally happy.

Oh, and as promised, here are the scans of the “Notes” from the show.

Well, tomorrow is our big Company Christmas Party End of Year Celebration and golly gee, I seem to have forgotten to buy a Hawai’ian shirt for the event. I hope The Powers that Be didn’t automatically assume that everybody owns such a shirt because, well, I don’t. That’s like assuming everybody hates anchovies on pizza which is absolutely NOT true–I love them on pizza! A little on the salty side but meh, they are tasty.

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80s, Flashback, Hobbies, Life, Photography

Living in the 80s

Sounds cliché but hey, why not?

For a good portion of my life, I worked in photo labs. In fact, my first job back in 1987 was at a photo lab in Long Beach, CA inside Ralphs “The Giant” store on South Street. The next one was also in Long Beach and because she lived right around the block from the place, I could have quite possibly had my (future) wife as a customer. Of course back then she was a teenager and I probably wouldn’t have given her the time of day, but anyway…

If you work in a photo lab and are even remotely interested in photography, naturally you take tons of photos. It costs you nothing provided the boss/owner isn’t around and isn’t anal about print counts matching the day’s take.

Since I was just out of high school and my Minolta X-370 still had that opened-on-Christmas-Day freshness, you bet I took lots of photos. The content didn’t matter; I was doing it because I loved to shoot pictures.

Flash-forward to a dusty storage shed in 2008. I was cleaning out said shed and came across a box of photos I took between 1986 when I first got my Minolta X-370 (which I still own), and 1989 when I started to work at Knott’s Berry Farm (and my free film-processing ride ended). I found it hard to believe how many pictures I took between those years but then again, my camera was my constant companion no matter where I went: Disneyland, baseball games, car shows, Las Vegas, etc.

As I looked through them, I realized how lucky I was to take so many damned pictures of so many stupid things. Back then they were just ordinary snapshots but today they are a slice of Americana from a crazy time to be alive.

That said, I thought it would be fun to share some of the best with everybody. I started to scan them last night and will begin to upload them to my Flickr account when they are all done, which could take a while after I crop, adjust, rename, save, upload and then tag, add descriptions, etc.

Either way, I’m sure they will be a hoot when finished and when they are, I will post a link to the album for all to enjoy.

Let’s just say this: my 1982 Chevy Chevette was awesome! Okay, not really.

Oh, and about the banner, aka Noritsu Nora (courtesy That is a print from a Noritsu control negative, which was used to color-balance Noritsu printers. Each different film type had its own channel which had to be set manually by the person printing: Kodak was 1, Fuji was 2, Agfa was 3, etc. Then they had to set the ASA: 100 was 1, 200 was 2, 400 was 3, etc. So the Fuji 400 film channel setting was 2-3.

Pain in the ass? Oh yeah, but every film type–35mm, 110 and even 126–and manufacturer had to be calibrated. Thank [insert appropriate deity here] Fuji came along with their Frontier system and pretty much eliminated that whole mess.

And I always thought a mannequin a perfect gauge for measuring human skin tones. Thanks, Aperion, Inc., for using a real person on your control negs!

Hi, I'm Trudy TruColor!

See? You kids have no idea what you missed out on!

Stay tuned…!

UPDATE: I scanned a few pictures of friends/relatives last night and e-mailed them. Their reactions were as follows, along with the image sent.

From one friend (jokingly):

"Good GOD! Can't you find anything better to do with your time?"

From another:

"Shit, dude! I had to look at that for a few minutes before I realized who it was and where it was taken!"

Either way, they have brought smiles to their faces. Cool.

Economy, Family, Fatherhood, Travel

Another Vegas Post

In our perpetual on-again, off-again, love-hate relationship with Las Vegas, we’ve decided once and for all that the trip we scheduled for October is off for good.

There are many reasons I can get into as to why we chose to give up staying in a plush Las Vegas hotel for free, but to get right to the heart of the matter, it’s really simple: it’s a waste of money.

I know, I know. Thanks for that insight, Captain Obvious. But we’ve been really good at putting money away to pay off one of our many credit cards. If we went to Las Vegas, between eating out for each meal for nearly a week, going to shows and gambling like drunken sailors, we’d be dipping into that cash and have very little left.

Our current plan is to keep depositing money into one of those phantom Internet banks, pretend it’s not there, let it gain some interest, and then lay the smack down on some of our smaller credit cards. This will continue until we have enough to pay off the spa next year when the 6 months same-as-cash offer expires. Not only that, once tax time rolls around we’ll use that to pay off a few more cards and if we continue this trend, we’ll be in great shape should things go as planned.*

It’s no secret that Ann and I are terrible at saving money, which is why we’re actually proud to have accumulated a decent amount of dough in order to pay off something very soon. (We’re even considering going back to pre-paid cell phone service since our Verizon bill was a scary $150 last month! WTF is that, people?!) So we saw it as a waste to see our hard work go out the proverbial window while driving 300 miles north on Interstate 15 and arriving at Las Vegas in an amazingly quick 3 hours a very conservative 5 hours.

We still do plan on taking the week off, however, to be a family and do family-type activities such as going to Disneyland (for free since my brother’s a Cast member), taking advantage of our zoo and aquarium memberships, or just hanging out at the park.

And that’s something all the money in Las Vegas can’t buy us.

Oh, the weekend’s here! We’ve got nothing planned ‘cept for some garage sale-ing tomorrow morning. Take it easy and have a good one!

*Ain’t sayin’ a thing ’bout that. Nope, I’m not.
Life, Weekend Plans

The Weekend and More

Well, holy crap! It’s another weekend and it’s now August. Where in the hell did the month of July go?

I have no idea so I guess it was pretty well spent around these parts.

Anyway, here’s the weekend slate. Note that I don’t give specific days because I have no idea when any of this will be happening. That’s how I roll sometimes.

But if anything takes priority, it’s going to be getting a haircut–seriously. When it starts to get thick and I need more than three goops of hair gel to tame it, then it’s definitely time. And it’s at that point right now.

Another trip to the Orange County Fair may also be in order since it’s over on Sunday! Noooo! We’ve only been once this year and it was a lot of fun, but I guess I’m kind of over it. If anything, Ann and I had planned on going sans kid since we tend to spend a lot more money with him in tow. Imagine that…!

Oh, and remember post sometime last week when I said that we had canceled our Las Vegas trip? Well, it’s officially on again. We broke down things even further and realized that we could save up enough money if we started now, and that’s what we’ve done. And c’mon, if you had the chance to stay in a joint like this for free, would you pass it up?

Didn’t think so. She’s also planning on buying show tickets well in advance: Titanic, Bodies, and a real showgirls show which she’s been dying to see since forever (and being a guy, I wouldn’t mind seeing myself).

All of which leads to this. Since we plan on spending almost a week there, we’re practically going to live on foods that are less than healthy. Therefore, I’m going to step up the weight loss program a bit and make the following proclamation: I am going to lose my remaining 12.7 lbs. and be at 200 lbs. before we go on our Vegas trip in October.

That’s months ahead of schedule but I’m going to do it–just you watch me. The last thing I want to do is be somewhere near my goal then take this trip, gain weight, and have to lose it all over again. I’d rather get to my goal first and then shed the pounds when I get back. It’ll work.

That’s all. Have a great weekend! 🙂

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