Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fear Factor

I think it started on Tuesday when one of the dental techs came around asking for volunteers for Friday's Fear Factor Challenge. I was in the middle of a procedure, most likely with nitrous oxide (as I must not have been thinking clearly), when he asked me and my tech. We both agreed to it and, being a loyal team, joined up as Fear Factor partners.

Fast forward to Friday, we go to one of the base parks for a Dental Squadron picnic. Knowing that gross eating most likely awaited me in the "challenge" I decided to go ahead and eat the picnic food, thinking that I may as well has something that tastes good in my stomach if I was to ralph latter on, (If you know what I mean). So eventually the challenge began...

There were six teams of two and three rounds. The first round I thought would be egg toss and I've always considered myself a good egg tosser.* But when I found out exactly what it entailed I feared I couldn't do it. My partner, Airman Forster, had to spin around ten times and then run 15 feet to the eggs and throw 3 to me. I then had to crack them into a cup and drink/swallow them. Yeah, did I mention I have an egg thing?** So, it started and I got one egg cracked into the plastic cup but the other two wouldn't crack so I used my forehead. Then started chuggin'. The first two slipped down fairly easily, then I thought "I have an egg thing." The third made it down as well with only a little bit of an urge to vomit. I was pretty proud of myself and I think my muscles got stronger from the raw eggs proteins.

Two teams were eliminated in round one and then it was on to the next round. I thought I was off the hook now since I had done the nasty egg drinking. Nope. Of course it got worse. We live in the land of uncooked food.

The picnic table was set up with about six different plates with medicine cups filled with different delicacies. Each plate had a playing card in front of it. We each, both partners, choose two cards and had to each one item from the corresponding plate. I got to have a cup of gooey salmon eggs and some chopped up fish "stuff." I tried to combine the two but the eggs stuck to the cup and I was left with only only ball of salty, slimy, fishing mass sitting on my tongue, waiting to be swallowed. With many cheers, and jeers, from the rest of the clinic, I tried to swallow "it." It made its way to the back of my throat where the posterior part of the tongue meets pharynx on to be rejected and sent back to the front of my mouth. This went on for about 3 or 4 tries until it successfully teetered down my throat. The same process followed with the slimy eggs. I didn't dare chew them and I think that was a wise decision. It turned out some of the other items were even worse, at least texture wise.

Round three involved three teams. One teammate was blindfolded, me, and after being spun around multiple times (not wise after eating what had been eaten) carry an egg on a plastic spoon in ones mouth until they find the other partner. Once found, partner 2 cracks egg into some nasty concoction of soy milk, Japanese crackers, and I think little minnow type fish. That was bad., and looked absolutely horrible and there was lots! Luckily I only had to carry the egg that time. We almost won until team in last came through with some fast chugging of the nastiness.

Despite the extreme nastiness, I had fun doing it. I also now understand why I was the only officer involved in the event. I think it was mostly the new people who were brave/dumb enough to sign up!

Here are a few other notable contestants. The last two were the winning team, Sgt James, the girl came through in the clutch chugging down the fish milk concoction.

*I won a giant pumpkin in sixth grade for either an egg toss or egg carry.

**My eggs have to be cooked just right or they make me queasy. If my scrambled eggs are too dry on the edges or if something is slightly off with the texture it ruins it for me.

***My bowels may never be the same.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Staying Up With Mom

Boy #3 and #2 have been sick lately and thus not going to bed well.
#3 was wired and #2 finally zonked out What you can't see is that he fell asleep with a pistol in his hand =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Yesterday, I had my second Bonsai class. No it isn't martial arts or a Japanese suicide bombing technique, rather it is the art and cultivation of a small tree or shrub: "'bon' meaning a shallow tray or container; and 'sai', a plant or planting." (Harry Tomlinson) It is offered through the Air Forces Arts and Craft center. We have a Japanese Bonsai Sensei who comes twice a month to help teach us how to care for our bonsai. He is nice and helpful and is around 30-40 years old. His English isn't too bad. my favorite expression he uses is "no, thank you." He employs it by says, this weed is "No Thank You." He will talk with pretty clear English words, then after a while I realize I'm not understanding what he is talking about. But I gather enough to try to grow little trees.

It is a fun and relaxing time. He provides all the soils, a few starter plants, tools, and wire for shaping the branches. So far I have repotted two plants and pruned a few. Yesterday I did my first copper wiring of my juniper tree, helping it take on a better form. It's a true art and science. There are basics to it, but a lot of it comes down to the individuals artistic taste and choice. The author of the above quote, from the book "The Complete Book of Bonsai" describes it well: "Unlike other works of art that, once completed, retain a fixed form, bonsai introduces a fourth dimension in that the design naturally alters with the seasons and with age, and is in a state of continual development."

So here are the beginning members of my new forest:



Azalea (I repotted this one last week)


tirimen* *he only knew the Japanese name for this one

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Clinic

Ok, so here is an update about what my "job" entails. I've been seeing patients for the last 2 1/2 weeks now. It's been really nice. i feel a bit rusty at times, but have been having a good time. I work out of two DTR's (Dental Treatment Room). In one, one of my two assistants, does all the cleanings for the kids coming in for check-ups, and then I come over and do their exam. The other DTR is for operative patients, i.e. doing fillings etc. At times it is really busy, especially as I try to get used to the new system of charting and writing the treatment notes. Other days patients will miss their appointments and the days will be slow. At least in the AF I can get paid whether or not I have the patients come.

The kids seem fairly well behaved here. I see a lot more young kids then I did in residency. Here we are seeing the kids 9 and younger, whereas in RI we say from 1-18 and it was usually 6-18. I like treating these littler kids. The Air Force is a cross section of America, meaning we see all the same things as in the civilian world, but on a smaller scale. We will be taking some kids to the OR for treatment under general anesthesia, but the list is A LOT shorter then in Rhode Island. I am also going to start doing oral sedation in the clinic. I'm also starting to get some kids coming in on whom I will be doing some small orthodontic work.

One day last week we had an emergency response drill. They, the wing command, took the whole base through an exercise simulating a terrorist attack. The AF has different threat level like Homeland Security has now, but different terms. We practiced through the highest threat level. For the most part I just sat in my office getting caught up on things. Sometimes they have us wear our "MOPP" gear (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) i.e. protective gear like bullet proof vest and/or gas mask, etc.

My assistants are really good. I have one with a lot of experience who is doing the exams and the one assisting me is pretty new and still training. He does a good job, esp. for only being out of tech school for 3 months. One draw back to Air Force assistants, called techs, is that they don't stay in one specialty too long. It hurts their rank advancement to do so. So they get switched around. They are fun to work with.

The clinic has 9 general dentists, one orthodontist, one periodontist, and me. I think that makes 12, and we will be getting an oral surgeon next month.

I even got to do my first "home dental visit" tonight. One of our friends called me after one of the kids they were babysitting hurt his teeth on a trampoline. They brought him over and I got to check him out.* It's nice to be able to help these little kids.

*The kid is fine.

These are from the flop (it got rained out so no stunts were done) of an air show a week or two ago (time has been hard to judge lately).

Max in a Navy rescue helicopter.
One of the F-16's from our base. They are fun to see flying around each day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Thank you to all of you who have been so concerned about us after the recent 6.9 Earthquake, i.e. Dave. No we were not hurt. No the 21 cm predicted tsunami did not wash our small children away. No nothing was damaged. No I didn't know there was an earthquake in Northern Japan either until the JAG preparing our will told us. So since Dave was the only one concern for their brother, son, in-law, friend, stranger, he will inherit all that we have! including our children!! (I hope he doesn't have to inherit the debt. But then again who cares I'll be dead.) =)))

Apparently though, Japan gets lots of quakes. We slept through on on like the third day here. We missed a big one in July that rattled the base a bit too.

*If you can't translate the sarcasm, we were not affected nor do I believe anyone but the underwater critters were affected, though that may affect our sushi!** Rice field on the way to Hachinohe.

***By the way the AF does free wills, power of attorneys, taxes and probably other things they haven't informed us about.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

100 Yen Sushi!!!!

Yum and Fun!!After a rainy Labor Day pancake breakfast at the base beach this morning we shopped around some Japanese stores and then ended up at the coolest restaurant...yes the 100 Yen Sushi Restaurant!

It was wicked cool. The sushi comes out on little boats next to your booth, but the coolest part was if you had a special order you type it in on the screen and then they send it out on the bullet train (top rail).The boys had a great time. They kept getting excited about the cantaloupe slices and desserts! I even coerced Max into eating a piece of Sashimi (raw seafood sliced thin and placed upon sushi rice), which ended up having some wasabi mixed in with the rice. (He had one without the eyeballs!) He also enjoyed the tempura roll and upon being told he just ate seaweed exclaimed, "I ate seaweed! and I liked it!!?"

They charge you by the plate. 100 yen is akin to $1. But the plates kept piling up! At the end they come total it up and then you pay as you leave. Some of the plates cost more and are color coded accordingly.

Everyone enjoyed the experience and look forward to more 100 Yen Sushi experiences. *

We ended the day with a nice hamburger and hot dog BBQ on our new 1/2 off grill from the BX!
Max kept saying we had a great breakfast and then lunch and now we are having a great dinner!"
(Em is sharing Max's yummy creamy shaved ice with chopsticks)

*The best part may have been the sink in the bathroom though:

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Statue of Liberty

This weekend I made the coolest discovery: The State of Liberty is in Northern Japan!!! Yes it is least the largest Statue of Liberty in Japan is in Shimoda, which is in Northern Japan. See it's true! The statue including the base is a true replica of the New York version. My friend and I took our kids + 1 neighbor kid (who is just like Max at age 3: fast, wild, and curious) to the Statue of Liberty Park. The turned out to be a lot bigger than expected with some pretty ponds and gardens with a few play grounds scattered here and there. After having watched Dora and Diego rescue Baby Jaguar via a zip line the day before and having asked if he could go on one someday, Max was excited to see one at the park. As you can see it has been raining here consistently for the past 2.5 weeks. It was a fun park with another roller slide (see Em's blog) and the Statue was kinda cool to see in that setting.