Friday, December 31, 2010

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It has been a good year all in all. There is no question it was tough, but with networking and hard work on everyone's part, and a complete change in internet marketing we must report the final upswing.

There was snow low on the mountains and we could see it clearly from the Griffith Park Observatory

Christmas was sweet. Happy New Year to you all

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dr Bernard Levin - Confirming My Conviction

On Friday November 19th my professor and mentor Dr. Bernard Levin, was an inductee at the Ostrow School of Dentistry, Hall of Fame. This posthumous award, given to a non USC dental graduate, was made because of the extraordinary contributions he made to the art and science of dentistry, through scholarly research, teaching, professional leadership and development of teaching techniques that advance dental science.

I met Professor Levin as his clinical dresser, an attending house Surgeon, in 1973 when he was on sabbatical and teaching at Guy’s Hospital, London. It was Bernie and Mr Prieskel, the Prosthodontic Consultant in the dental school, who inspired me to go back to the United States to study. It was Bernie who was my sponsor into USC, and my mentor when I did my research into the “Alignment of Precision Attachments”. He edited my papers and advised me on the content. It was Bernie who sponsored me into the Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics.

I have always thought the world of Doctor Levin, but it was a complete confirmation of my conviction that he was without doubt one of the best wet finger dentists and teachers by whom I had ever had the pleasure to be taught. His wife Kinuyo was there in his stead to receive his accolade, and she can be seen here with Bernie's sister in a picture taken by Dr Calvin Lau. It was an honor for me to be there with my colleague Simon Gamer, and see the fine new dean, Dr Avishai Sadan, bestow the awards.

Getting Back on Track - Memory Lapse

Inspired by Billy Cullins

You can’t be tying a string around your finger
Every time you have to remember
Why it is you went into the kitchen,
Or what is was you came into the garage for anyway.

You stand in front of the fridge,
In a room cluttered with thousands of memory joggers-
A block of carving knives, that lasting gift from your wedding,
The painted rose on a plate from a grateful patient,
A colonial tea canister from Williamsburg
With a key to stop its contents being purloined,
And the gallery of photographs held by magnets on the door,

And it is as if you were gazing at some rebuilt city,
Which has been completely redesigned
After an atomic bomb has wiped
All the definitive land marks off the map,
Wondering why you are there,
And what pressing task,
Which was screaming for attention,
Caused you to sleepwalk,
And if the tell tale signs of senility
Are already devastating your mind.

Then picking your way back to the bathroom
You peer into the mirror
Straining for the clue,
And with an Archimedean exaltation,
Discover the switch of memory
And reluctantly admitting your humanity,
Put your day back on track once more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frances Cecelia McLeod turns 95

Mother of Mine

For Frances Cecelia McLeod 95 years old on November 15th 2010

Long before the eye-light twinkled
Mother of mine, Mother of mine
E’re his forehead for me wrinkled
Mother of mine.
You by God’s hand were selected
So we were raised up and protected
And guided in this early time,
Mother of mine!

When the twinkle dimmed and faded,
Mother of mine, Mother of mine,
And our lives grew grim and jaded,
Mother of mine.
You buoyed us up with your intention
Of disappointments made no mention
Filled our hearts with song and rhyme
Mother of mine!

So your life has not been wasted
Mother of mine, Mother of mine,
Sweet has been the life we tasted
Mother of mine!
And the time that still remains
As the hour glass slowly drains,
Is a gift that is sublime,
Oh mother of mine!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hilda Lane - Frozen in Time

Hilda Lane
1929 - 2010

Hilda Lane, the graphic artist and illustrator, was the owner of the Hollywood Sign Company, and consequently knew just about everyone of significance in town. She was a great friend and compatriot when I lived in Laurel Canyon, and was on my team during my presidency of the Lookout Mountain Associates. We had enormous fun fighting for good causes and planning Oktoberfests. She also loved the Wajinga gatherings of East African enthusiasts. She lived alone in a house she and her husband built, that became frozen in time after he died in a private plane crash.

On the hill crest above Laurel Canyon
With a view of the city and sea
There’s a ginger bread cookie house chateaux
Where I’ve been invited for tea.
There are carvings on gable and roof line
Repeated in each window frame,
There’s a garden surrounding this sanctuary
The home of my friend Hilda Lane.

I would just say a word about Hilda
Who lived all alone on the hill,
Her life it was thoughtful and generous
Filled with good deeds and spreading good will.
If a cause ever needed a champion,
To Hilda its advocates climbed,
She would listen intent to the story,
Weigh it carefully, and make up her mind.

Now if Hilda decided she liked you,
And she liked the idea that you brought
She would put all her effort behind it
And together the battle was fought.
I had a fine friend Hilda
An ally who never would wane
And together we vanquished the dragons
That haunted each chosen campaign.

Hilda lived all alone on her hilltop
Since her husband’s plane fell from the sky,
And she kept every nuance in order
No matter how fast years went by.
And nothing was changed in her life style
Not a curtain, a cup or a line
And she drove the same car down the hillside
From her Swiss Chalet frozen in time.

Neil McLeod 10.30.2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Highland Games in Fresno

When my family were busy, Justin Sloggat, the producer at Six-14 Productions Inc, ran away with me to the Highland Games in Fresno. I have been the story teller up there for years, and I wanted to capture the mood of the event. I really like what Justin has done here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bill Gates on Israel

Please check out this wonderful short impression of the Israeli contribution to our lives. There is so much inferred in such a simple humble way. There is no question that we must support this country against its detractors, not to do so would be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tribute to John Lennon at LeTip

With thanks to Julie Hopkins, the Portrait Photographer, who shot this footage with her phone, here is the tribute to John Lennon, sung by Michael Tan, the Home Theater specialist. Michael Greenfield of Ace of Hearts Entertainment played guitar, and I am on the harmonica. It was a good effort.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blue September Hollywood in Blue

Some may have wondered when they saw it, why the Capitol Records Building is illuminated in blue this month. It is to support the new GO BLUE Prostate Cancer Awareness Campaign.

Men need to get checked regularly before complications make treatment drastic or futile.

There were other building also shrouded in blue, the famous Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.

Not to be outdone, Alan Johnson's Ramada Plaza got into the act too!

See the video!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Remembering Alaska - The Last Frontier

It has taken a few weeks for the significance of our family summer holiday in Alaska to sink in. For a few days I found myself jabbering about the scenery and the game, and feeling I should correct my terminology, and the salmon virtually leaping out of the water onto my hook, and the blue color ice in glaciers. So I stepped back and waited. But now here it is!
We’ve been to Alaska, the whole family flew up to the last frontier, into Anchorage on Alaska Airlines, and then on a shorter connection into Fairbanks.

There to meet us at the airport were the Mikats, what a clan! We know these folks through our online home schooling program which Maran and Oliver took. Greg, the dad, is a sergeant and a musician serving at Fort Wainwright, and he and Laurie really went out of their way to make us welcome.

After a first night’s picnic supper and rest on base, we loaded up Greg’s trailer with everything we needed for a camping trip, and all eleven of us set off to Denali National Park.

A drive across Alaska, any drive, is going to be scenically beautiful. The country side is unspoilt and breathtaking. Of course the weather is changeable, and it is apt to get cloudy and rainy in a moment. But we were blessed and our days in the park were warm and sunny making the drive down to the park a pleasure and the setting up of camp easy.

Sergeant Mikat’s trailer even had firewood in it, and we had a wonderful fireside supper while endless daylight drifted on till eleven p.m.

An early start the next morning allowed us to take the first bus into the park proper, and although we never did see Mount McKinley clearly, we saw just about everything else there was to see.

There were Dall sheep on the mountain sides,

a Grizzly sow and her cubs cavorting in the river draw,


and Moose,

a wolf on the kill all right beside the road,

and eagles

and Ptarmigans.

We slept contentedly that night after our campfire dinner, and had a good run back to Fort Wainwright the next day before starting off the next day for Valdez.

It’s a long run following the great Alaska Pipe Line all the way down to Prince William Sound, but gosh the views were spectacular.

It was late when we got into the trailer park and after we set up kitchen it started to rain. Putting up an extra tarpaulin allowed us plenty of room by the fire pit to kick back and enjoy supper. We were going fishing the next day.

When the Salmon are running you could probably scoop them out of the water better with a net than a line, but we were using rods lines an lures.

It wasn’t hard. As soon as the lure hit the water it was being tugged at, and if you jerked the line suddenly you could, and we did, snag a fish by the fin. We ate well that night, with more fresh boat baked Pink than we could eat.

Our final adventure was Glacier Lake kayaking. Rowing right into the crevice of a glacier and looking into the ice which is a deep light blue is a fairing thrilling experience. The color is something to do with the ice being compressed for thousands of years. After that we took out T shirts and drove all the way back to Fairbanks for our final night. We all got along with the Mikats, and pray we will go traveling with them again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blue September

September 1st 2010 sees the launching of the Blue September campaign here in California, which is an Australian idea to boost public awareness of the significance of prostate cancer round the world. You will see well know land marks like the Ramada Plaza on Santa Monica, the Capitol Records building and the Roosevelt Hotel lit up in blue at night, and why, because blue is the the color of the ribbon for this critical new movement. Remember the girls have pink for the breast cancer awareness movement, well now there’s a blue ribbon for the boys.

Tonight we were at the Blue September Eve party at the home of Chis De Cure, the Australian Consul General and his wife Cathe. We were in good company with Alan Johnson, the Ausie hotelier who seems to know everyone. Tom LaBonge was there to present a City of Los Angeles Proclamation to Dr Mark Scholz MD coauthor of the new book “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers”. We raised our glasses to fine "Messenger" wines grown in Napa by another Australian, Rob McDonald.

Prostatic cancer is a treatable condition which may linger for many years only to be overtaken by other more strident extinguishers of human life. But while this is so, and while most men will eventually develop prostate cancer and live to die from another ailment, there are many who for the wrong reasons decide they do not need to see a doctor, and only when it is too late will they seek help for a condition so advanced that mortality is a certainty. This is particularly true for the men of the African American community.

So run in and get checked. Go Blue!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Keeping Up To Date Professionally

Continuing Dental Education is a constant feature in my professional life. There is always something new to learn and one is never able to be completely up to date. The highlight in my “academic refreshment program” is participating in the “Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics” congress each year, it was the seventy fifth anniversary of the society. This organization of Prosthodontic experts holds its annual meeting in the summer in a different west coast location each year. Papers are presented by original researchers on their recent findings and research. This year it was at the Silverado Resort in Napa, and Nancy and I got away sans children for the first time in many a year.

The Links from the club house at the Silverado Resort

Apart from the updates in the latest porcelain for dental crowns and how the use of implants is growing and improving, we also enjoyed fine wine and a drive up the Napa Valley passing many now famous named vineyards on the way. The setting seems idyllic, rows of neatly groomed vines narrowing away to the gentle hillsides dotted with classically Tuscan or Provencal looking homes and tasting rooms, dabbed with yellow ocher on the fields of green.

One private night out we dined at Neela’s, where caterer and authoress Leena Paniz has set up her new enterprise to bring Indian haut cuisine to Napa. One doesn’t usually associate Indian flavors as being well accompanied by wine, but clearly, though we stuck with Kingfisher Ale, many of the patrons were choosing the local vintages. The food was excellent. The Palak paneer, Cornish game hen and the lamb kebab were delicately spiced and delicious. There was one other thing to note, oh her breads, they are cheese dressed warm and moist. Mmmh! Neela catered a reception one evening and taught a cooking class for the spouses.

A special bindi for each lady

The president’s installation ball was a big hit, and was in the Bollywood theme inspired by Dr. Arun Sharma, our outgoing president. As we entered the ladies were offered beautiful bindis to match their outfits.

Pukah Sahib and Memshib

Later when the dancers came on the whole room was inspired by their vigor, and when they asked us up to join with them the entire audience got up to dance.

75th anniversary pin I designed for the PCSP

Crowded floor

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Casa Hogar – Helping the children

My good friend Nick Medoza, and excellent electrician, invited me to drive down with him to Tijuana, to spend some time with the children in the Casa Hogar Orphanage. We all piled into our cars and shortly after 7.00 a.m. we were on the road. In a few hours we were crossing the border into Mexico. Our arrival at the children’s home on the southern hillside of the city was greeted with a shower of shouted welcomes and cheers, and we all received warm hugs of welcome from these delightful youngsters as we climbed the stairs beyond the iron gates from the dusty dirt street.

My mission was to give dental advice and an examination to all who wanted it. I talked to an attentive audience about the importance of brushing and flossing, and was pleasantly surprised by how well they listened as my words were translated. Then I examined some on the children, and was able to make some treatment recommendations. I wanted to use x-rays and treat, but that I cannot do in Mexico.

Pastor Freddy Duarte and Eva Morales, are doing marvelous work devoting their lives to helping this little band, saving “Just a few star fish”, but each one will have a life that is much better for it.

When the dental exams were over we all trouped out and convoyed to Parque Morelos and there we played ball games and barbequed their dinner.

After prayers of thanks, we said good byes, and then caravanned back to wait in line for an hour watching the hawkers and beggars as we queued up to present our passports and cross back into the United States. The contrast between the chaos of Tijuana and the order and cleanliness of the United States is dramatic.

The children at Casa Hogar need help: Casa Hoar Eben-Ezer, Tijuana , B.C., Mexico.