Tooth Issues

A couple of years ago, I broke off one of my teeth in my sleep. Jenn and I were living in the apartment at the time, and in the middle of the night I woke up from a weird dream when I heard a loud popping sound. My jaw was a little sore, and my mouth felt funny. I went to bathroom and saw that I had broken my tooth!

I had a lot of dental work done when I was younger. I had spacers, braces, fillings, and veneers on both of the secondary upper incisors. The teeth with the veneers were very small, much smaller than the rest of my teeth, and it resulted in a large gap between the teeth. The veneers were there to fill in the gaps. Well, it was one of the veneered teeth that I broke. I don't know exactly what I did, but I can only imagine that I had been working my lower jaw in my sleep, and just got into a weird position that put too much pressure on that tooth. I had planned to visit a customer a couple hours away that morning, and there was no way I could miss the appointment, so I stuffed the tooth back into place in the morning and just prayed that it would hold through the day until I could get to the dentist.

I had a late appointment with the dentist that day, and I found out the extent of the damage. The tooth behind the veneer had broken off almost below the gum line. This is bad, because it makes putting on a crown very difficult. There was very little tooth left to work with, and it was a small tooth to begin, so there wasn't much room to plant the anchor for the crown. The alternative would be to install a bridge, which would mean filing down the two neighboring teeth, a canine and an incisor, and using those to anchor the bridge. That wouldn't be any fun, so my dentist and I decided to try the crown. So far, it has worked out pretty well.

Anyway, the whole reason I bring up this story is that I had a checkup with the dentist this week. All of my teeth were doing fine, but the pocket between the gum and the broken tooth has opened up quite a bit. This is usually a sign of periodontal disease. Bacteria can get lodged in the gap between the tooth and gum, and that will cause plaque build up, and kill the gum and tooth. The broken tooth has always been sensitive since the crown was installed, but I took care to make sure I brushed it, and occassionally flossed. During past checkups, the pocket was bigger than on other teeth, but nothing the doctor was worried about. This time, though, I could tell the probe was going a lot deeper, and it hurt a lot more.

The next step is for me to go in to the dentist in two weeks to have "therapy". This involves injecting an antibiotic between the tooth and gum. This will help to kill the bacteria, and hopefully give the gums a chance to heal and close the pocket. There are other alternatives as well, but most are pretty painful. I could have root planing performed, where they would essentially sand down the edge of the root, and possibly trim the gums a bit. That hurts just thinking about it. So hopefully the antibiotics, and some more focused hygiene effort on my part will help get it done. Interestingly enough, Lysterine is a highly effect, non-prescription way to fight the problem as well.

I'll post an update once I get the antibiotic treatment. Wish me luck!

I know this is a crappy picture, but this is Pat H., our facilitator for MGT 541 - Advanced Marketing Management. She is very friendly, quick to smile, and a little bubbly. She is also extraordinarily proud of her daughter, who just graduated from medical school. It looks like the next six weeks should be a welcome relief from the rigors of Statistics. This is good, as our next course will be another long one in economics.


I recently had the opportunity to interview several people for some contract positions we have open. It gave me a bit of perspective, a lesson I did not expect to learn. There were four candidates for the job: an Indian woman, an Indian man, and two American men. The difference in the attitudes was amazing. I don't know if I can truly attribute it to nationality alone, but there was clearly a difference in the way the interviews went. Both Indian interviewees were very good. I came away from the interview with a sense of the drive they had to get a job, and the effort they were willing to put in. Each had worked several contracts before, and in the meantime between jobs, had secured a variety of certifications. The Americans, on the other hand, were more relaxed. I didn't get a sense that they took the interviews as seriously. There was no sense of immediacy. To be fair, one of the American interviewees was currently employed, and was only "testing the waters".

The perspective I gained is that, perhaps we need to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are. The USA is an amazing place to live, and these interviews reminded me that this truly is the land of opportunity. I may sometimes feel envy that I can't drive a luxury car, or that I don't have some of the latest gadgets. When I sit here now and think about it though, how blessed am I to have all that I do? Jenn and I own two cars and a home, which we can easily afford. We didn't worry about Jenn leaving her job to take on the full-time work of caring for Corbin. We have so much that others in the world would consider luxuries, but we take them for granted.

I am glad I had the opportunity to do these interviews. It gave me the chance to reflect on my situation, and be grateful that I am an American.

Book Review : "How to Win Friends and Influence People"

On the suggestion of a colleague, I read the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I had to swallow my pride and tread through the self-help section of the bookstore to find it (all the while thinking "I am such a loser to buy a book on how to make friends"), but it was worth the effort. The book is laid out as a set of lessons on how to build relationships, get folks to agree with you, and lead people without resentment. In large part, these are lessons in humility. Although this may often be mistaken for being whipped, humbling ourselves before others can often lead to gaining their trust, and ultimately their loyalty.

This book was originally written in the 1930's, and some of the language is telling of the books age. The points made are solid, and although they are often "no-duh" type comments, they are nonetheless excellent points to review from time to time. Most of the examples in the book relate to selling and salesmanship, but they are equally applicable to anyone else that deals with people in their day(and who doesn't?) As you read through the book, the examples given to reenforce the tips given are somewhat idealistic and utopian. Most examples lead to the person being promoted to president, making millions, or becoming the exceedingly famous. While such outcomes cannot be expected in all cases, I feel that anyone could expect to improve their social interactions in at least some small part through the practice of these suggestions.

Listed below are the main points made within the book.

Part One
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part Two
Six ways to make people like you

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
2. Smile.
3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
6. Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.

Part Three
Win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying "yes, yes" immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.

Part Four
Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
A leader's job often includes changing your people's attitudes and behavior. Some suggestions to accomplish this:

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
5. Let the other person save face.
6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise."
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

I would highly recommend that anyone take the time to at least skim the book (perhaps the next time you are at Barnes & Noble).


I've been craving a good greek gyro for a while now. I think the Olympic Games sparked my hunger. It got me to thinking about greek food, and how long it had been since I had a good gyro. I checked out the phone book to see if there were any good greek restaurants nearby, but I was out of luck. There was a rumor that the only one nearby had recently closed. I remember Queen Gyros in Kokomo was a good place to run in and get a quick gyro. It looked like you might catch something there (disease or bullet, your choice) but the food was great. Tonight, as we were trying to decide on where to go to eat, we wandered by Opa! It is a nice little greek fast food chain. It hit the spot perfectly. I had some spiced lamb on some delicious pita bread, a caesar salad, and I topped it off with a little baklava. Mmmm boy! I'm all set for some sleep now.

Vancouver by night. This is the view outside of my window right now.

Vancouver Trip - Day 1

Today is my first day of the Vancouver trip. I don't look that bad considering I haven't slept in almost 36 hours. My flight this morning was at 6am, and I had to be at the airport before 5am. That meant leaving the house no later than 4am. So I figured I had better start getting read to go at 2:30am. I usually stay up a little past midnight most nights. I thought it would be futile to get just two hours of sleep, so I stayed up the whole night. I had class the night before, and I didn't get home until past 10pm. That gave me a bit of time to spend with Jenn before she went to bed. I played some video games for a couple of hours, then hit the shower to start my day.

My flights went really well. Two of my coworkers, Hack and Andy, left yesterday. They actually missed their scheduled flight and had to take a later one. They arrived at the airport at 5am for their flight, the same one I took today, only to find that the line for security was wrapped clear around the ticketing area. There were well over 500 people in line, and they were not able to make it through in time for their flight. They were able to find a later flight that left at 4:30pm, and made that one.

I was much more fortunate. I arrived at the airport to see only two folks in front of me at the ticketing / check-in counter. The security line was nearly empty, and although I received the usual airport mollestation (remove shoes, belt, fold pants down, etc.) the security check went very quickly. I read a book as I waited the remaining hour to board my flight. I had a brief layover in Chicago on my way, and that was uneventful as well. I guess Monday is the bad day to travel, and Tuesday is the good one.

Once here, the guys picked me up at the airport and I got checked in at the hotel. We then grabbed a bite to eat at the A&W restaurant on the first floor of the building we are working in, which is right next door to the hotel. It is fortunate that we won't need to do much driving, as the streets and traffic are pretty confusing.

My lack of sleep is really starting to hit me now though. I would love to just lay down and take a nap, but I know that would be bad. There is a two hour time difference, and if I nap now I'll never sleep through the night. I closed my eyes for part of the flights, but I wouldn't qualify it as sleep. I got some rest out of it, but the seats are so uncomfortable that you can't truly sleep. My arms and legs fell asleep at one point, and I had some serious pins and needles action as I tried to get the blood flowing again. I'm not sure what our dinner plans are tonight, but I'm thinking I had better grab a cup of joe as part of my meal to make sure that I don't fall asleep to early. I'll also need to be very certain that I get the alarm set before my head hits the bed. Otherwise, I run the risk of not waking up in time!

That's the update for now. I'll have more info as the week presses on.

There is Andy, toiling away at his station.

MBA 326 at IWU

I'm taking classes at Indiana Wesleyan towards earning my Masters in Business Administration. We meet every Monday evening from 6-10pm for our workshops. The program is divided up into several courses, each course spanning several weeks. We only take one course at a time, which is nice as it allows us to concentrate on just one subject at a time. Tonight we finished up Advanced Statistical Analysis. It was a tough one for several students, but I think I managed to get through it successfully. Next is Advanced Marketing Management. All of the students in my course will stay together as a group, called MBA 326, and we will take all of the courses together.

As part of our coursework, the MBA 326 group is subdivided into smaller work groups. Each group is responsible for working together on group assignments, papers, and presentations. I often meet with my group outside of class, other on-line or in person, to work through some of our major assignments. I'll chat with Jenn about these folks, but she has never met any of them. Tonight, since I had the new webcam with me, I decided to take some pictures to fill in the gaps.

Dr. Dele (Dele is short for Oladele, his first name). He was our instructor for statistics.

A look at the class, from my seat for the day. (modified seating due to presentations)

My Work Group
OctaviusNaelMegan (on left) and Rita (on Right)

These are the folks I spend time with every Monday night.

New Toy!

I've got a new toy to play with. I'm taking a trip to Vancouver this week, and I wanted to be able to stay in touch with Jenn and Corbin. I stopped at Target and picked up the GE/Jasco MiniCam Pro with Audio. It is a tiny web cam that mounts on my laptop monitor. It was only $30, which was a good deal too. Now I can do some video conferencing from Canada with the family.

Television Sucks

I'm really unimpressed with the quality of television programming lately. Jenn and I are sitting here, and I'm trying to ignore Big Brother 5. I think the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy have it right: Television is the Drug of the Nation. Jenn is addicted to reality TV, and I'm always astounded at the stupidity of the "stars" of these shows. Big Brother 5 is a prime example. People on the show are basing their decisions on, I kid you not, a pinky swear. A pinky freaking swear! I can't remember a time, even in grade school, when a pinky swear had any merit. To see grown adults basing their decisions on such a moronic form of contract totally boggles my mind.

Now The Apprentice is on, another reality show where the contestants try to earn a job from Donald Trump. Seeing as how the Trump empire recently filed bankruptcy, I'm thinking this may not be the wisest move in the world. Prior to either of these shows, the pilot for "Joey" was on. It followed in the same footsteps as friends. That is to say, it made up for poor acting and worse writing with a thick layer of laugh track. Ugh...

There are only a few programs I enjoy watching on TV anymore. I like watching some of the specials on Discovery and TLC, because I can actually learn something interesting. I like watching Last Comic Standing because it makes me laugh. I enjoy CSI for the suspense and intrigue. Otherwise, I'd rather be on the PC, browsing the web, keeping up on current events, playing video games, or in some way keep my brain active. Television just seems like brain rot lately.

Funny Blog

My Aunt Marta referenced me to this blog. This poor woman seems to be having some family issues. The way she writes is a riot too.

Four years at Flexware

This week marked my fourth year with Flexware. It has been a pretty wild ride so far. We've gone from a run down blue pole barn to a brand new building that we built. I've had my gripes at Flexware, like any employee does at any business, but overall I've been treated very well. I've made new friends and enjoyed the company of an old friend. I've also learned an incredible amount. Before I started at Flexware, all of my development expertise was on UNIX based systems. I was a whiz at X-Windows and C coding, but I had no idea what I was in for. I had to quickly acclimate myself to the Microsoft way of programming. It was a bumpy start, but before I knew it, I was certified as a Visual Basic developer, and developing some fairly interesting applications. Now I would consider myself a whiz at the Microsoft way, and I'm working towards becoming a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer using C# and the .NET Framework. I've also learned how to interact with interesting pieces of equipment. I've worked with barcode scanners, vision equipment, marking stations, stencilers, printers, presses, etc., etc. Just about anything and everything you might find on the shop floor with an ethernet or serial port. The variety of things I see in my job keeps it interesting.

I'm working towards my MBA now, and I'm hoping it leads me to even greater things. My goal is to become a proficient team leader and project manager. This week, I took some of my first steps at Flexware towards fulfilling that goal. We have an existing customer who we worked with to create a part tracking system. Unfortunately, the system never worked to the customer's satisfaction. The customer withheld their last payment. We have argued that it is a case of buy-in by the operators, and they have argued that the system simply doesn't work. Flexware has never abandoned a project, and we weren't going to make this the first one. I had a meeting this morning with our company president, and several other folks intimately involved with the project. The previous team lead has now been tasked with one of our new opportunities, and is not available to continue on this project. This is giving me the opportunity to assume the roll of project lead.

I'm really excited about this opportunity, and I'm a little scared at the same time. I know that this is a big deal, and it means a lot to Flexware as a company that we wrap it up and satisfy the customer. I also know that the deck is stacked against me. We have an angry customer, angry sub-contractors, angry-operators, and a budget that has been completely exhausted. Somehow, I need to find a way to get the system to a point where the customer is satisfied, and at the same time not break the bank. And I need to do all of this before the end of the year. It won't be an easy task, but these are the kind of opportunities that I want. This is going to be my first real test to see if I am going to make it as a project lead. I get started on Tuesday. I'll give it my all and pray for the best.


The latest round of political conventions have me worried about the future of our country. I watched portions of both the DNC and the RNC. I just can't understand the level of excitement and enthusiasm that the delegates to the conventions have for their candidates. I can't help but think of fanatical cults, such as those led by David Koresh in Waco, TX, or The People's Temple that led to the Jonestown massacre. The folks at the convention hang on every word of the speaker, and erupt into chants and cheers at the end of each sentence. It is really frightening how much the conventions resemble the rallys of fanatical religious cults. Should I feel this way about a candidate? Am I missing something that these folks have figured out?

I know that the conventions are just a show, and I figure that the delegates are showing this level of zeal in the hopes that folks will think "Gee, if they love him that much, maybe I should too." Unfortunately, that is the same tactic that works in the cults that have led to mass suicides. Is The United States headed towards mass suicide? I certainly hope not. That is the impression I get as I watch the conventions though. Neither candidate truly told me anything that would convince me that they would be exceptionally fit to steer the world's number one super power for the next four years. In fact, I was convinced more to NOT vote for a candidate based on what I heard. From Bush's speach, his comments that he would never allow for the consideration of Gay Rights really turned me off. It really disappoints me that our government would continue to propogate methods of discriminating against any person. I thought we learned that lesson in the last millenium. Not that Kerry had anything better to say. He bragged on a questionable war record, and bashed his opponent. Is it any wonder that fewer americans turn out to vote each year?

Both candidates have bragged on questionable material (Bush: Employment, Kerry: War Record). Neither has convinced me that they deserve my vote. So who do I vote for? Do I throw away my vote like I did four years ago and hand-write Nader on my ticket? No, I refuse to that again. Do I skip election day altogether? No, I have a patriotic duty to exercise my right to vote. So what do I do when I don't feel either candidate is best for the job?

Right now, I'm leaning towards Kerry. I've seen what Bush will do with a presidency, and I don't want four more years of our nation picking fights. During his term, Bush formed an "Axis of Evil" list that really jeopardized the US. He managed to piss off not just middle easterners, but North Korea and Cuba too. I agree that the move to attack in Afghanistan was the right move, but I disagree with our preemptive strike on Iraq. You're free to disagree with me. That's the great thing about living in a free country: we don't always have to agree.

This November, fewer than half the nation will participate in the vote. Of those folks, roughly half will be satisfied with the outcome of the election. What happens when only a quarter of your population is happy with the man elected to represent the entire nation? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. As for me, I'll just cross my fingers that we're not all getting fit for our purple jammies and black Nikes just yet.

Getting Old

I'm getting old. A few weeks ago, I really hurt my back picking Corbin up out of the jumper. My back hurt for the entire next week. I did the same thing a couple of months ago playing volleyball. I took a couple of weeks off from volleyball to let my back heal. Last night was my first night back. Now my shoulder is sore. I went to the doctor last Tuesday to see if I had really done something wrong. He felt really bad about telling me, but he said that I was just experiencing some of the normal things that happen as you get old. I'm not ready to be old yet. I still like to play volleyball, stay up late playing video games, sleep in on the weekends, and generally be a kid.

I guess I don't feel like a kid all the time. During class, and when I'm at work, I feel like an adult. Otherwise, I'm still an eight year old on the inside. I watch cartoons and play Nintendo. I like the comics section of the newspaper the best. I always thought that becoming a dad would be that defining moment when I started to feel like an adult. Well, it didn't happen. Now I'm looking forward to when Corbin can pick up a controller and play Nintendo with me. I look forward to waking up Saturday mornings with our boy to watch cartoons.

Unfortunately, my body is giving me reminders that I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I don't get over soreness in one night anymore. Now it takes a few days, if not a couple of weeks. If I try to play more than a couple of hours of volleyball, my body starts to complain. Some of it has to do with the fact that I'm not in the same shape I was in during high school. I'm sure that if I was exercising every weekday for two or three hours like I did in high school, I probably would heal a lot faster. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time or the desire to do that anymore.

Hopefully, I can learn my limits and not get sore like this every week. Maybe all of this soreness will result in my being a little strong. Maybe it's a good thing. I'd rather not be sore, and I'd rather not be getting old. As long as I'm a kid at heart, though, I think I'll always feel young.

Jade Mason