David Ancell's Virtual Home

Adventures in the Dental Office

  /   Thursday, June 15, 2017   /   Comments(0)

Not too many people will associate the dental office with adventure. Maybe that word isn’t quite the right one to describe it, but oh well, I’ll use it for now. I went to a different dentist than I had been going to for a checkup. I’ll refrain from mentioning names here. I had been to the dentist maybe seven or eight months earlier, and no cavities were found. Needles to say, I was a bit surprised to be told by this new dentist that I had eighteen teeth that needed at least a filling, or was I?

Well, maybe a bit surprised is accurate. For the record – no, I don’t believe that I need that much dental work. I believe the dentist believes it. He showed me these pictures from the digital camera and the x-ray showing how I had these bad places in my teeth. The thing that they didn’t seem to understand is that they can show me as many spots on pictures as they want, but this doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial to the tooth to drill it out and replace it with artificial stuff that will ultimately have to be redone later. Fillings don’t last a lifetime.

You see, this isn’t my first dental adventure of this sort. In 1998, my home town dentist told me that I had a couple of cavities that needed to be filled. I was away at pharmacy school and didn’t have time to get back home to have the work done. I made the mistake of going to a dentist near where I was in school only to be told that I had a whole bunch of cavities. Not only that, but the dentist told me that I had better get these done as soon as I can or they will get much worse. His near-threatening tone of voice should have convinced me to flee. I let him do maybe two or three. I shouldn’t have. I stopped letting him do these and went to another dentist in my home town, and was told that I needed only one filling, but still he worked with other procedures as implants, which is important since choosing an experienced implant dentist, such as PermaDent, is critical to the success of your treatment in Torrance, CA.

I had similar incidents in 2003 and again in 2010. Granted, during both of those times I had waited way too long to go to the dentist. The one in 2010 wanted to do over $10,000 work of work in my mouth. Both of those times, I didn’t need or have nearly as much work done as those dentists said that I needed. I went somewhere else. If I truly needed all that work done, my entire jaw and maybe even my nose should have rotted off by now. I have more than my share of dental work in my mouth, but I still did a lot less than was originally suggested once I got a second opinion.

So, what’s the point of this story? I can make a couple of points here. First, if you get a dentist who tells you that you need a lot of work, it’s a good idea to seek another opinion before you get it done. There are dentists who seem to think that they need to fill anything that doesn’t look quite normal. Others are more conservative and question whether drilling it out will be of benefit to the tooth. There’s a good possibility that one of the “cavities” that I was told that I had in 1998 has never been filled to this day. If so, it definitely didn’t progress too much. I still have all of my teeth except for my wisdom teeth.

My second point concerns something that may be a little harder to explain to non-medical people. There are different opinions out there in any medical science about what does and does not need treatment and why or why not. Medicine is not the exact science that everyone wants it to be. Some problems will be diagnosed differently by different doctors.

It’s odd that, when I visit a dentist, a more conservative dentist normally understands why more aggressive dentists want to do more fillings. They will rarely disparage the more aggressive dentist. However, more aggressive dentists have never seemed to understand that there are more conservative dentists who may see reason not to do certain treatment. When I mentioned that I hadn’t been told I had cavities to the dentist I just saw, he couldn’t understand why they weren’t caught. I think I know why not, though, and I am a pharmacist, not a dentist.

Still, it’s not abnormal for one doctor to see a scan and think nothing of it and for another to choose to observe it for now. In my case, the past experience with my teeth and the supposed cavities told me that I don’t have dire need of fillings. I have the past history to justify that, and the dentist to whom I just went didn’t seem to understand that. Relying on that, I can come to a good conclusion of what to do, or, in this case, what not to do.

Category: News on My Life

Trying to Figure Out This Election

  /   Thursday, October 27, 2016   /   Comment(1)

If I were looking for an attention grabber, I’d could start this post with some statement about how this is the worst presidential election in the history of the United States. Well, it could be, but how would I know? I may not be young anymore, but I haven’t been around long enough to speak for our country’s entire history. I can say that this is the worst one I have ever voted in. In every other presidential race, I have known how I would vote well in advance. This time I am not sure what I will do. We have our usual two major party candidates, and neither is fit to be president.

I can’t think of any way that a Catholic, or any Christian for that matter, can justify voting for Hillary Clinton. The fact that she is very pro abortion is enough to disqualify her. And, no, you can’t say she is just respecting other people’s decisions). She is a supporter of the radical LGBTQ agenda. I know these aren’t the only issues out there, but these are two very important issues that are non-negotiable. Oh, and don’t get me started on her Catholic in name only running mate.  

If she continues along e trajectory of the Obama administration, then it’s likely that the only Christians who will be able to own a business or even practice certain professions will be the ones who are compromising the Faith. It’s her party that is in a dispute with the Little Sisters of the Poor because they tried to mandate that all employers provide free contraception in their insurance plans. She’s even made mention before that deep-seated religious beliefs need to be changed. Some may believe that the statement was taken out of context and/or magnified, but the fact that the phrase was uttered at all is very concerning.

Donald Trump’s conduct during the campaign is highly problematic, and it has gotten worse towards the end. I don’t think he would have done much worse if he were trying to lose the election. He is alienating people who otherwise might support him. His character is problematic, as evidenced by the disgusting conversation from years ago that was released and his response to the revelation.

On the other hand, his public policy statements suggest that he will support more pro-life, pro-family policies than Clinton, and he has chosen a very pro-life running mate. He has even sent a letter to the folks at Catholic Vote stating he will protect religious liberty. However, I am unable to find a past track record to back up what he states are his policy positions, and the possibility that he won’t follow through deserves much consideration.

The Libertarian party candidate Gary Johnson is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, but may be somewhat better than Clinton in protecting religious freedom. The former Green Party now independent (at least in Tennessee) candidate Jill Stein has a similarly problematic platform in those areas with no mention of religious freedom on her platform page of her web site. While I don’t agree with everything on the platform of the American Solidarity Party (I’m strongly against a single-payer health care system.), their platform poses no moral problems and is overall more in line with my thinking. The problem is that their candidate is neither on my ballot nor certified as a write-in candidate in Tennessee last I checked, and his profile online doesn’t really help me to understand how he is qualified to be president. One independent who is a certified write-in candidate is Evan McMullin, and there are a lot of good things in his platform also.

So, really, the only two viable choices I see are voting for Donald Trump or writing in an independent candidate, probably Evan McMullin. I have seen quite a bit on Facebook accusing people who would vote for Trump as voting out of fear. However, there is a legitimate basis in Catholic moral theology for deciding in good conscience to vote for a not-so-suitable candidate in order to limit the evil that the other would cause if elected. Some people who are voting for Trump may see the people voting for independent candidates as really allowing Clinton to win by taking votes from Trump. There is a risk of causing that outcome, but there is also a practical strategy that may be employed.

Having a practical strategy for doing the best that we can do for our country is important. I have a hard time taking people seriously who say to just vote for the candidate you like without taking practical considerations into account. We need to consider the potential consequences of what we are doing. I’m a big believer that I need to support someone who has a realistic plan of winning, and I strongly believe that I have a better chance of becoming the next pope than a third party or independent candidate has of winning the election in the usual manner.

Fortunately, though it’s a really long shot, there is another practical strategy that could work for a third party. In this climate, a third party candidate might be able to win a state or two with just enough electoral votes to prevent either major party candidate from getting a majority, in which case the House of Representatives will choose the president from the three candidates with the most electoral votes, and the candidate they choose could be neither Trump nor Clinton if there is at least one other candidate with some electoral votes. This could be the independent candidate who carried a few states. If the thought of voting for either major party candidate is repulsive to you, this is something you can try to bank on. I don’t think it has good odds, but neither can I suggest that it’s a waste of a vote in this election. In fact, I just might do this myself.

So, to recap, I’m saying that I can either vote for Donald Trump (as this Catholic blogger is doing), because he is better than Clinton from a policy standpoint, or I can vote for a third party or independent (probably Evan McMullin) and hope that he can prevent the major party candidates from getting a majority. If I do the former, I vote for someone who has a much better platform but risk him either not keeping his promises or causing other problems in other areas (e.g. immigration, foreign relations, scandalous conduct in general). If I do the latter, I risk making it easier for Hillary Clinton to end up winning, which would be a huge problem for being able to carry out my mission to serve Jesus Christ. Now, it’s time to pray, discern what to do, and go vote. Early voting is going on now in Tennessee. For whom will I vote? Well, I have no plans to reveal that on this site.

Category: Morality, News on My Life

Reflections on Being a Catholic Young Adult

  /   Wednesday, July 23, 2014   /   Comments(2)

My birthday is coming up.  Depending on how “young adult” is defined, I’ll either have one more year left as a young adult, or I haven’t been a young adult for a few years now.  I think I’ll take the former.  A few things have been on my mind as I reflect on the fact that I will soon make my exit from young adulthood.

The most exciting thing for me has been being a part of the movement of young adults who are embracing orthodox Catholicism.  We were able to find out the truth and beauty of the teachings of the Church that had somehow been lost when we were in CCD or PSR or PRE or whatever you called it.  There were many moments of “Why haven’t we heard this before?”  In a number of places, better catechesis is now available, but there is still a lot of evangelization work that needs to be done.

When I first attended religion classes in high school, I expected to be far behind the others.  Little did I know that there really wasn’t much doctrinal content in the course materials in use at the time.  In fact, I came to a disturbing revelation.  I knew more than they did.  When I went to campus ministry in college, it was mediocre at best.  I actually was jealous of evangelical Protestants because they seemed to be much more enthusiastic than most Catholics that I knew.

After graduation from pharmacy school, I joined a catechetical young adult group.  For the first time, I saw people who were concerned about following what the Church teaches.  I discovered a lot of good Catholic books and publishers that filled in what I had long misunderstood.  However, at this time, and in the place where I was, it still seemed that I had to figure a lot out for myself.  I didn’t always know exactly who to trust to tell me what is true. Apparently, my experience was not unique. I believe it was Colleen Carroll Campbell who mentioned in 2002 that college students were growing in their faith despite the official campus ministry. The same could be said of other official ministries.

This was the 2000s, and the young, orthodox, well-formed priests were just beginning to be ordained.  A lot of ministries and resources have since become available to help teach the faith that weren’t available just as I was coming of age.  For example, Ascension Press, if it existed at all back then, hadn’t yet published the Bible Timeline Seminar or the Theology of the Body resources.  Catholic Exchange started as e3mil sometime in that era.  The campus ministry group FOCUS was still in its infancy.  Catholic Answers had been around for some time, but for some reason I wasn’t as interested in them at first.  Thankfully, more ministries are being formed, and more resources are available to help teach the Faith.  Just watch Life on the Rock on EWTN, and you’ll hear about a lot of them.

Back then, my focus was mainly on apologetics, probably because I was put into a situation where I needed to learn to defend my faith.  Unfortunately, I was too focused there.  I was looking for just the right argument.  I really needed to learn more than that.  I can thank Incarnation Church in Collierville, TN for letting me join their RCIA team and forming me as a catechist.  They even let me teach some of the sessions.  In fact, I can’t thank them enough.

I now see signs of things becoming even better even better.  We still see some of the orthodox young adult Catholics in our area who are ten or more years younger than I am, and they are very faithful and joyful.  They seem to have received better formation, too.  However, I know that their experience and formation isn’t universal in the Church.  It needs to be.  We would set the world on fire if it were.  There is still a lot of work to be done in evangelizing my generation and the people who came after us, but we have more people who are in love with Christ and his Church who will bring others with him.

Next blog, I want to share my thoughts on young adult ministry . . .

Category: Catholic, News on My Life

My Redesigned Web Page

  /   Saturday, May 17, 2014   /   Comments(0)

Ok, hopefully this is the last post about my site.  I finally decided how I wanted to my site to look, and I found out it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought to accomplish it. I have more work to do, and I think I will just make updates to this post rather than keep posting about the site.

From about 2005 – 2010, I had a site and a blog that were similar in appearance and developed on a content management system that I had personally created. However, the need to move the page resulted in my creating a new site rather hurriedly because the new server couldn’t support my system. I could not remake a blogging system, so I used WordPress with a theme that didn’t match my page. I have realized that my blog is the main thing that gets content, so I decided to make it the focus of my site. From now on, going to www.davidancell.com will take you to the blog that now has the name of my web page. If you use the old address, you will be redirected.

I built my own WordPress theme, and I literally learned how to do this last week. I used my old blog from 2005 as the model. Needless to say, it still needs some work. I still need to:

Recreate my links and blogroll. Update: Links and blogroll are back up, as well as the page of recommended books.

Restore the ability to comment Update: Comments are working again!

Replace that logo. That picture of me looks like my toddler kept me up for three nights straight, but it’s from 2005, when he didn’t exist.  Update:  I did it!  My wife took my picture for a new logo, and now I’ve got it up.

And last but not least . . . Make this design responsive so you don’t have to zoom on a mobile device. I just had it but lost it. Update: I have started on this. If you use this site on a smartphone or tablet, you should notice that the sidebar drops to the bottom. My next project is to add a menu and search that can be accessed from the top of the page when using a mobile device.

I hope you will enjoy the new site!

Update #1:  I just added an RSS Feed link so you can subscribe to the blog.  I also managed to get my links to my Twitter feed, Google+ page, and main site back on the page.

Update on 6/28/2014: As I am learning some tricks, I have done more with this site than I thought I was going to do. I have added custom fonts and changed the look of the sidebar a bit. The biggest thing you will notice is that I have added a top menu bar. Even on a mobile device the button that reveals the hidden menu looks like the menu bar. The main thing I need to do is fix the logo at the top. I just need to get a new picture taken. Any ideas for what that should look like?

One thing that I will say is that, while his page should work on older browsers, I am targeting newer ones. I know it looks funny on any version of Internet Explorer older than version 9.

Update on 7/6/2014:  My web page has now been officially redesigned.  I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.  In the future, I want to revise the code for HTML 5, but that’s an under-the-hood project that may not even be noticed.  It will take a long time as I need to read up more on HTML 5.  Of course, as I learn more, there may still be some design changes.

Category: News on My Life, Technology

New Look for the Blog

  /   Tuesday, April 29, 2014   /   Comments(0)

I haven’t liked the template I was using for this blog for some time. In fact, I don’t think I have ever liked it. Finally, I picked another one. It may change again given that my main site due for a redesign. However, I expect it to be a long time before I get that done.

I had one important goal in mind. Have you noticed those sites that look very nice on your smartphone without your ever having to zoom in? That is what I want. Geeks like me call it responsive web design. If you are on a modern smartphone, you will see that this site has similar design to what you get on a computer (unlike those ugly mobile designs), but the elements are immediately positioned so that you can read them. I still wish all my links would appear, but this will work for now.

I probably read many more blogs on my phone or iPad than I could ever read on a computer. So, making the blog render well on a mobile platform is very important to me.  Now, I just need to learn how to make the rest of the site work like this. I am looking for resources now.

Category: News on My Life, Technology

Am I Still Blogging?

  /   Thursday, November 07, 2013   /   Comments(0)

You have probably noticed that I don’t post anywhere near as often as I used to. Maybe some people think I should just give up the blog. Lots of people have come to the conclusion that it was time to stop blogging. Well, I’m pretty stubborn, so I want to keep going even if I don’t publish much. After all, I’ve had a blog for over 11 years. Why stop now?

I have a few things I want to say a little about, so here goes …

Me: My biggest news is that I now have not one son but two sons. Our little Benedict was born just over a month ago. The new baby is doing well. How do I write a post with two young kids around? I type it on my iPad whole I’m watching to make sure the older one stays asleep. The big brother really is excited about his little brother. How could he not be? The little guy is awful cute!

Affordable Care Act: As a health care professional, I’m watching it closely. As someone who has insurance, I’m seeing a higher premium for less coverage. Really, I don’t mind paying if it means that others can get the health care they need. However, I don’t care to pay higher premiums so that people get free contraception. Besides that, I see plenty of places where something can go wrong. First, there isn’t a lot of support from the states. A lot have not expanded Medicaid, so some people who would have gotten Medicaid will not, and they won’t be able to get a subsidy on an exchange. So, they may not get coverage. It’s hard to say that people who do get coverage they can afford will be able to afford the cost-sharing if they had to use it. There’s not much use in getting coverage if you can’t afford to use it. Also, if the young and healthy don’t sign up, it’s going to cause premiums to skyrocket if the insurance companies want to be able to afford to do business. Finally, it seems like an awful lot of money will be needed to give all those subsidies. How is this even possible?

Medjugorje: I just read the news today about the letter from the Papal Nuncio to the US Bishops regarding Medjugorje. My thought on this is simple: if the Church hasn’t approved it, then don’t put a lot of stock in it. I wouldn’t even consider a pilgrimage there right now. Putting a lot of faith in an unapproved apparition sets one up for a potential crisis if the apparition is ruled not to be authentic.

My web page: I finally got around to adding Scepter Publishers to my list of recommended Catholic publishers. It’s about time, for I have been using their In Conversation With God series for almost three years now. I’ve just found a lot there that is highly beneficial to my spiritual life.

That’s it for now. Hopefully, I will be back here soon.

Category: News on My Life

Thanksgiving Day

  /   Thursday, November 24, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Today is Thanksgiving Day. It is Simon’s first Thanksgiving. He is currently asleep on my chest as I reach over him to type this on my iPhone using the WordPress app.

I have so much to be thankful for now. God has given me what I have desired for a long time. He has made me the father of a family. I may have started at a later age than most, but I have a beautiful wife and son. It has been especially nice to see the little guy smile and hear him coo lately.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Category: News on My Life

Seven Weeks of Simon

  /   Saturday, October 22, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Today, my son Simon is seven weeks old.  As I type, he’s sleeping in the Baby Bjorn carrier that I’m wearing.  I’ve been wanting to post something to the blog about him for some time.  Finally, I figured this was a good time to go for it.

It’s an interesting time for him to be seven weeks old.  There were seven weeks between my  first date and second date with my wife and another seven weeks after that before the third date.  Four years ago today, right after our first date, I had the accident on I-65 which could have killed me.  Someone crossed the median in front of me, and I couldn’t avoid him.  Then, a tractor trailer ran over my trunk with his back tires.  So, I needed recovery time and couldn’t easily travel for dates.  Things got much better (and dates more frequent) after that.

Maybe I’m biased because I’m his dad, but I was struck from the beginning at how beautiful of a baby he is.  Now, in the last week, he has become more interactive.  We can hear him coo.  We can shake a rattle in front of him and watch him follow it with his eyes.  He smiles.  I hear it won’t be too long before he can laugh.  My challenge will be to try to make him laugh when he can.

So, God spared my life four years ago, and now he has given me a family.  Yes, I have been blessed greatly.  I just need to remember this, especially when it is 3 AM.

Category: News on My Life

The Past Month and a Half

  /   Saturday, August 20, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Wow, it has been a month and a half since I have blogged.  I do have a podcast in process, but I’m not sure when I will get it finished.  Time has just been hard to find.

About a month ago, Yana and I closed on a new house.  We’ve had a lot of work to do to get through closing in less than 30 days from when we got our contract.  This is the first house I’ve owned.  We have been steadily moving, and we are very thankful for a lot of people who have helped us.  Right now, the move is almost done.

As for the baby, well, we are expecting him any time.  He’s going to be a pretty big guy right off the bat.  Everything we have heard from the doctors has indicated that he is making great progress.

Oh, I did get my new iMac that I had been wanting.  It’s one fast computer with a gorgeous screen.  As soon as I got it, I installed Mac OS X Lion on it since it didn’t come preinstalled.  The installation went without a problem, and Lion is a lot of fun to use.  I think the gesture thing is a gimmick that won’t really be used for long, but there’s plenty more to the OS.  Unlike a lot of reviewers, I like LaunchPad.  If I can get around to it, I’ll write more on this later.

I’ll be sure to let everyone know when the little guy is born.  After that, we’ll see how often I make it to this blog.

Category: News on My Life

Twenty Years a Catholic

  /   Sunday, April 24, 2011   /   Comments(0)

Alleluia!  He is risen!  I wish a most Blessed and Happy Easter to all of my family, friends, and anyone who is reading this.

As we were getting up this morning, my wife reminded me that this Easter marks twenty years since I became Catholic.  I was baptized on the Easter Vigil in 1991 as a sophomore in high school.  Somehow, this had slipped my mind.  Good thing I have a wife!  This is one blogging occasion that I don’t want to miss!

Truly, I am thankful that God has led me to the Catholic Church.  It has become so much of who I am that I cannot imagine being anything else.  Nothing compares to being able to be fed, sometimes daily, with none other than the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection we celebrate this day.

This doesn’t mean that it was always easy, nor have I always felt the way that I do now.  When I was in college and pharmacy school in Mississippi, I was jealous of the Protestants.  They seemed to be happy in their faith.  At the time, I knew of few Catholics whose love for Jesus Christ was so visible.  Campus ministry wasn’t too helpful either.  I tried to accept what I was being taught, but something didn’t seem quite right.  It probably didn’t help that I was also somewhat anti-intellectual at the time.  Well, actually, that may have been the grace of God at the time as I might have fallen for who knows what.

However, something sustained me.   To explain this, I need to go back to the time before I became Catholic.  When I was about three or four, I have a vague memory of being in church and watching someone put something in my aunt’s mouth.  I remember thinking “I want one of those.”  This never left me, and I would later come to know just what it was that I wanted.  It was nothing less than the Holy Eucharist, God himself, and I believed in it!  While I was preparing to enter the Church, I longed to receive him.  During the last few weeks before the Easter Vigil, I was really counting down the days, tired of watching people receive what I so badly wanted but could not yet receive.  The thought that I would get to join the Church the night before Easter Sunday really appealed to me.  It was one less day I had to wait to receive him.

It was that total self-gift that God has given us in the Eucharist that sustained me during years of kind of “wandering in the dessert.”  I was always at Sunday Mass.  No matter what others had to offer, I knew that only in the Catholic Church was I receiving Jesus himself in the Eucharist.  Despite sensing that something wasn’t really right (though I couldn’t put my finger on it), I wasn’t leaving the Church.

Shortly after graduation from pharmacy school, I reached the stage where I learned that the things that didn’t seem right really weren’t right.  In many cases, this wasn’t really the fault of those involved.  However, now I was being fed with the authentic faith.  I came back to my practice of praying before the Blessed Sacrament that I had kind of fallen away from.  The result was a transformation that would still be a difficult road, but now I realized I had a purpose.  The things I discovered about the faith shortly after graduating from pharmacy school started me a path of falling in love with the Church all over again.  It became clear that there were many people who were near my age may never have had a chance to know what I had learned.   I figured out what had been bugging me.  I wanted to do something about it.

What would I do?  This would take years to fully develop.  The seeds were actually planted while I was in pharmacy school.  There were web sites being put out by people defending the teachings of the Church.  I had rarely seen people defend the teachings, and I must admit that I didn’t like them at first.  Still, I had my own web page and did some of the same stuff.  Later, when I was working and had money, I would buy some Catholic teachings on tape.  God was telling me that I could do this on a local level.  So, I began recording RCIA talks into my computer and making CDs (later MP3s).  A couple of years later, I joined an RCIA where I was allowed to give some talks, which I also recorded.  God was using my desire to teach, my media hobby, and my geekiness for his own purpose.

Things have continued to change.  I am learning more about the faith, and especially about liturgy.  Yana and I will have our first-born son this September.  I am going to be working in my own domestic church. Don’t get me wrong; I never want to stop working however I can in evangelization and the use of new media.  I don’t think God called me to it just to take it away completely, especially since I still have the desire.  However, I do know that my ultimate responsibility will be for the souls of those whom God has entrusted directly to Yana and me.  I thank God for all he has given me these past twenty years and pray for his continued help for me and my family.

Category: Catholic, News on My Life, Spirituality

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