Falling Leaves, Shifting Sands, Changing Times, and Las Vegas

Falling Leaves, Shifting Sands, Changing Times, and Las Vegas

William E. Stein, D.D.S.*:
I just returned from the annual ADA extravaganza in Las Vegas. Each fall, I travel where you good readers send me, to attend the annual meeting of the American  Association of Dental Editors, which is held in conjunction with the Annual Session of the ADA. I had a wonderful time. Thank you for your generosity. 
 
I was ensconced in the pyramidal tomblike ambiance of the Luxor Hotel and Mausoleum, surrounded by images of Sphinxes and sarcophagi. I toured the exhibit of the remains of the Titanic, another relic which served only to amplify the surrounding atmosphere of hilarity.  As a diver for more than 43 years, I was fascinated with the relics of the  great wreck. The final chamber of the display featured “The Big Piece”, a large section of the hull about 25 feet long by 15 feet high. You could count all the rivets and  marvel at the port holes. 
 
I enjoyed my room, especially the room service, which allowed me to stay on my diet, upon which I have lost 30 pounds but nobody seems to have noticed. That must be a bad sign. Each night I would order dinner; Sal the virtual waiter and I became good friends. I relished his New York accent: “Doc, could I tempt you with some cheese cake  tonight?”
 
“Sorry, Sal, I can’t do it,” said I, quoting The Godfather I.
 
He did get me with the jumbo shrimp cocktail, though. 
 
Saturday I walked the streets of the strip to the MGM Grand, site of the Dental Editors meeting. As I was about to take the elevator leading to the pedestrian overpass to  the MGM, I noticed a man at the foot of the elevator in a spaced marked “No Solicitors”, soliciting for the homeless. As I got closer, I saw he was wearing a Roman collar and  black clergy shirt. 
“Are you a priest?” I asked him.
He introduced himself as the pastor of “the Catholic Church out by the airport”. 
We had a nice visit. Things are changing in Vegas. 
 
Our opening speaker for the work of the trip was Dr. Eric Curtis. I have known Eric for years; he is probably the most prolific dental writer around. If you look at all the  various dental publications that cross your desk, you will see Eric’s name time and again. I don’t know if Eric even practices dentistry anymore. I do know he presently  teaches a college English class. I have always enjoyed Eric’s work - that is, up until he started writing on “Diving and Dentistry”, my bailiwick. Then I got a mite peeved, but  we remain friends. 
 
Eric left us with some useful quotes from Sir Winston Churchill: “When you get up to speak, don’t explain, complain, or disdain!” And “Facts: Look them in the eye or they will  stab you in the back!” 
 
Eric also explained the concept of “stairway wit”, of which I am sorely afflicted. “Stairway wit” is the ability to come up with the perfect witty riposte not at the instant you needed it but when you are at the foot of the stairway about to return home.
 
Monday I was able to spend time trekking the endless aisles of the “World Market Center”, otherwise known to us mortals as the Convention Floor. It was obvious that many  of the vendors followed the lead of the pharmaceutical industry in hiring their sales force from the upper echelon of the beautiful and handsome. There I was, fresh with the  blush of ordering a new threesecond curing light, when I beheld the sight of an impossibly stunning young woman. She towered over the left side of the aisle. She must have stood six foot seven. She was wearing a beige miniskirt, and her hair was cut in a short black “pageboy”. She must have weighed all of 125 pounds. All I could think was that  I had suddenly been thrust onto the set of the movie “Avatar”, only she had a much better nose than that Na’vi babe and she wasn’t blue. Being a friendly sort, at her  behest, I stopped to talk. Rather than being from Pandora, she was from Iowa. She was representing a marketing company that dentists could subscribe to and be listed as  a, oh I don’t remember exactly, Top? Best? Super? Califragilistic? Expialidocious ? Dentist. 
 
Are we so desperate that we would pay to get on these lists? Aren’t we trying to avoid them? I wished that Jack Churchill was with me then. 
 
I wondered: What would Jack Churchill say? Jack has been the ethics compass for the Minnesota Dental Association and Northwest Dentistry for at least ten years. Jack will  be stepping down as of this issue. Thank you, Jack, for keeping us on track. We will miss your wonderful articles shepherding us through the moral morasses that we face  each day in our dental practices. 
 
Along with the retirement of Jack from NWD, our Scientific and Clinical Editor, Nelson Rhodus, is also leaving us. Nelson has graced our pages with his award-winning original  work and his coordination and solicitation of many fine articles from his colleagues at the School of Dentistry. Nelson has provided us with his successor, Dr. Tom Larson. Tom has big shoes to fill, but then again, he has big feet, so to speak. 
 
Well, that’s the news from “Sin City” and beyond. Be kind to one another and your patients most of all 
 
 
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com