Updated: Apr 21
When I was very young, I was a rather er, wild un.
I got chucked out of so many primary schools in the Johannesburg suburbs that my desperate parents eventually sent me to a far flung boarding school in the hope that it would tame me a tad.
It had a rather adverse boomerang effect that ran counter to their hopes and dreams however, as it surprisingly focused me on academics as well as the furtherance of my very, very wild out of control fire....
After a long search they eventually found an English speaking boarding school with the name of Lord Milner in the nether regions of the then named Transvaal province that white skinned locals called the Verre Noord (Far Northern Transvaal).
Said Boarding school boffins thought that they could do the job of taming the rather wild Master Beard, as they then called me.
They did indeed earn the money my parents threw at them with said ambition...but they failed in many ways and succeeded where they did not expect to succeed.
On arrival at Lord Milner, I was not much impressed by the military style handling we received but to distract myself from the anger at being diverted there, I started playing rugby and chess at a very competitive level from the age of about 10.
The Lord Milner teachers could not get over the fact that their new rugby scrum hooligan was the best chess player in the school.
Soon my peers nicknamed me "Prof" as I loved searching the Guinness book of records for the most obscure bollocks I could find and used the unlikely information to regale my disbelieving fellow home exiles with these seemingly bullshit facts but when I challenged the naysayers who made a thing of it, always proved them wrong with the salient and cold hard facts.
These scenes arguing over these suspect facts usually ended in fabulous fights until they realized that was the whole point and they lamely ceased to challenge me and ignored my baiting schemes for a satisfying old rort.
I spent a lot of time in the school library further studying the strange but true side of life and perfecting my polarizing ways of being in this vein in a more subtle and refined way of course.
I was evolving as well, after all...
Those that did not like my MO or the cut of my jib got beaten up both intellectually and physically by me in the many sports they forced all boarders to partake in as well as the academic side of things.
There was no escape from either path for my detractors and if my enemy found a sport they thought I was not into I took that up and mastered it as well.
Their response to all this was to send their bigger brothers from the neighboring Settlers high school to sort me out and after a sharp but bloody street fighting learning curve, I got me a mean reputation for introducing them to some excruciating pain.
I became a rather nefarious Lord Milner legend in short order.
My fighting style perplexed my foes because I did not engage to necessarily win in the expected sense, but to inflict the most furious and intense pain that would have most prefer to not do it a second time around and I never backed out of a fight, ever, no matter how strong or large my opponent was.
This was a fabulously successful tactic I might add.
My father came to regret enrolling me in Aikido and Judo class as my diligence to the science of pressure points was not what he was expecting me to explore with such fervor or effectiveness.
A few of the high school folks mockingly nicknamed me Professor Pain but I really loved that one a lot and boomeranged that one on them as well..
Once a dozen of the Settlers high school bullies learnt I could not be stopped it was game over.
I liked nothing more than ripped school uniforms and being drenched in blood and bruises glory (90% theirs and 10% of my own).
The frightened headmaster, on realizing what he was dealing with, in a panic ordained me into inter-school rugby activities but held me back from the A team after he realized I was all about breaking collar bones, arms and legs in scrum melees and was not that interested in if we actually won a given game or not.
Don't get me wrong here, I loved winning, but some games our back line never turned up and then it was up to me and Brendon to get the most satisfaction we could in the scrum.
On the field they named us Dr Jekyll and Professor Pain and when you heard that quip you knew we were losing but that bones were gonna break.
Many of the school referees blew the final whistle five minutes into the second half when the games were going that way, which was infuriating.
Some called me "Prof Six Cut" because I had my ass caned near every day for my wild and wonderful antics.
These were the days when corporal punishment was a big thing and I was one of the few it had little to no effect on.
I even asked one teacher if that was the best he could do after he caned me like a total wuss one day.
I actually broke out laughing at him and we both ended up collapsing in hysterical laughter at the ludicrous situation it all was.
The rugby lark was to mangle my teeth somewhat as I progressed in age and through the rugby playing ranks and my later year long foray into amateur boxing did not help the cause of the old chompers a whole bunch either.
They had actually got me into boxing in boarding school but rapidly realized this was feeding the monster, not taming it, so I was banned from all that sort of malarkey including wrestling.
A few years later we moved to Australia for a short stint and then back to South Africa and then on to my beloved Liverpool.
I was by then playing all sports I possibly could in Quarry Bank Comprehensive and later in Wales for Syr Thomas Jones Comprehensive in Amlwch on the island of Anglesey in North Wales.
Hockey, rugby, soccer, cricket and boxing with some Judo and Shotokan karate were what made my boat float back then.
I also played Basketball, table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis as well as being in the swim team for whatever school or college I was in.
I also ran proper cross country marathons and was in the school athletics team but I only really did well at proper marathon running and triple jump for some reason.
The athletic track and I did not get on real swell for some psychological reason I never did master or understand.
In 1981 I fell out with my father and step mother while living in North Wales and went back to South Africa to live with my mother for a short while and I played rugby and soccer in Pretoria for various clubs there once I sorted out my shit and established myself at Telkom SA career wise after a short stint in the armed services.
Our rugby club even toured the Solomon Islands and Fiji which is where my boxing and Judo skills came in real handy because in them parts of the world this is evidently a de-facto part of the game of rugby.
By the time we had finished that first Pacific Island rugby tour I was a pretty experienced street fighter and I had the scars and mouth damages with big grins to prove it!
I had an awesome time playing club rugby and was on the verge of breaking into provincial rugby when a motorcycle accident did me injuries that would impede such glory and I just focused on club level rugby and amateur soccer with table tennis and American Pool or Billiards in a semi serious manner after that.
I was still plenty good enough for club level rugby and soccer though and I switched my soccer position from goal keeper to right back and did surprisingly well with that while doing some serious body building down at the gymnasium with Lourenco Brazil for a few years.
The body building started to overcome my left knee injury and I got pretty good at Rugby again playing at lock (5) but by now I had made a career in Electronics and Telecommunications and had branched from chip design into computer systems and found I was a rather good computer systems engineer.
Years later I managed to get the attention of Robert Madge who owned Madge networks while playing Network Engineer and soon found myself back in the U.K living in High Wycombe where Madge had their main HQ building and I started playing rugby for Beaconsfield Rugby Club once established in High Wycombe with Mathew Chicken and his flock of Chicken brothers.
My various Solomon Islands and Fiji tours however had also delivered some damages to my teeth and jawline and I promised myself I would take the time to fix the ol chompers one day when I had the chance.
In 1998 I came to the USA to do Y2K work in IT for a few Healthcare companies who had been asleep behind the wheel and made a career for myself in the Bay Area but the USA is a strange place for Dental Insurance and was not like other countries I had lived in from the Dental insurance angle at all.
A few of my Rugby playing colleagues in South Africa were in fact dentists and they all offered to fix my teeth while I was living there but I just never got round to it.
I was fully intending to do it in the USA but the sticker shock of implants here ($100K plus) saw me saving towards doing it in Hungary in one big operation session one day (eventually) but I also never got around to doing that either.
I was always spending the money on some airplane or fancy new car instead.
Finally, at the end of 2017 I booked a 3D scan and was all set to go for it when the company I was working for laid off some 165 engineers after their VIP dollar from Cisco dried up.
I had mentioned to them that paying for engineering talent this particular way was rather stupid....
I was the very first one they whacked as the now crystal clear fact this was indeed not a good idea now confronted them and I had to put the Dental thing on hold while the job situation sorted itself out further as they elected to whack me rather than live with someone telling them I told you so every six seconds.
I was bored shitless working for them anyways as they barely used 2% of my talent capability.
Me being bored in any company is always the road to disastrum.
I worked for a few startups in Taiwan that did not work out well due to culture differences before I joined a big Tech company and then ended up working for another one when I found the products at the first one were lacking gravitas in the HCI world and went to work for the only one that is serious about HCI.
I was also having some interesting dental issues and it became clear I would need to have some implants to fix the damages done by the rugby and boxing folly of my rather wild youth.
My new dentist suggested strongly I act sooner rather than later after a three month analysis of the first scan and I had the 3D scan again and then scheduled me for some serious implant surgery shenanigans.
We are starting with two on the lower jaw to see if I take to implants.
If they work I will have most of my lower jaw fitted with them and probably most of the upper one as well.
They are still expensive here in the USA but implant costs have come down dramatically in the last five years.
I might still go to that place in Budapest I know from some colleagues that went there to have the rest of it done as they are a lot more affordable and they put you up in a 4 star hotel while you recover et al, luxury style.
I gauged the pain level from these first two as an estimate and I think I like doing two at a time a whole lot.
The procedure itself was not as bad as I thought it would be and I was awake the whole time but it started in November of 22 and was done by April 10 of 23.
So these are not instant fix cures these implant thangs.
A few of my pals went the whole mouth of implants route and they took on too much and now all wear dentures.
One of them is a male model and there was nothing wrong with his teeth other than they were not the straightest you ever saw.
I am sure if he did two at a time his body would have accepted them better.
I know a few folks who went the whole lot route at once and the failure rate for them is high.
For me it was nowhere near as painful as that Jewish Dentist in the South African Military who tried taking out my one Wisdom tooth back in 1982 in Pretoria.
He almost broke my jaw before getting it out seven hours after he started.
I ended up having all the remaining wisdom teeth removed under surgery in Israel as they had egregious barbs in them did them things and these were not the teeth you could have removed in a chair per our regular family dentist!
Israeli Army (IDF) dentists were much better than their South African (SADF) counterparts!
The trauma from that one wisdom tooth saga is probably what made me dentist shy however!
I have the image of that SADF dentist, both hands on his dental pliers and both feet anchored to the side of my dental chair firmly imprinted on my sole surviving synapse for all of eternity by the way!
It took me nearly three months to stop hurting after that particular dentists clown shit!
This current dentist thankfully knows what he is doing and he ended up placing two 6mm implants in my lower jaw with a graft on each one!
I fleetingly rediscovered deep jaw pain again but it surprisingly only lasted hours and not days.
I just had to eat rather gingerly for 3 months.
My diet was smoothies and protein drinks with soft high protein food like salmon and soft cheeses.
The cold Mocha protein drink was my fave!
My sinus on my left side gave me shit post op though, which is making me wonder about the top implants when they happen.
By Sunday evening November 13th and I was recovering like a bat out of hell.
Pain was now merely the very odd twinge prompting a 500mg dose of Amoxicillin and I was well nourished on scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, meatloaf and ensure max protein drinks every 6 hours plus Ginger tea and the odd coffee with a gallon of water every 2 hours.
No pain killers since Tuesday the 8th either.
This all went rather swell, actually!
I had to wait until Nov 21 for the irksome sutures to come out, but hey ho!
In the meantime my company is laying off folks so I have lit the fuse on several folks offers to talk about their plans for me in their organizations as insurance just in case.
I do not want to leave my current gig but I suspect a money bunny xls job of the moment will do me in as my sales guys have not run up anything on the cash register for a host of valid reasons, though one of them is gonna be real good at this sales lark.
Shit, as they say happens when they just look at numbers in the moment vs overall performance...it happens....
A lot of bad decisions are made by bean counters in these situations and I have grown lean pursuing my technical excellence goals sans fortune angle where I am now.
This is about to change in a pretty big way...
It's just too hard trying to make the impossible happen anymore...I suspect this is how salmon feel swimming upstream that very last time....Three years is a long time to swim upstream..
Sado Masochist Platinum badge coming my way there!
In any event, fast forward to April 10th 2023 and I go in to have the tops of the bases fitted to my two very large oversized implant pegs eagerly awaiting new zirconium chompers - the crown for the implant pegs aka the new teeth themselves.
The one on the right pops right in sans any mods by the good dentist other than some polishing and finer finishing of rough edges.
The one on the other side though, was a real tough bastard.
The good Doctor Patel had it in and out a half dozen times and he wore down a fair few drill bits slimming it down to fit properly.
Eventually at 6:15 PM he gets it all right and I walk out with a slack jaw with not much to say, not really sure what to make of the new zirconium toothy invaders.
My tongue immediately figured out these teeth were smooth and slippery ones and took a fair while getting used to them.
They showed me how to floss properly with them so I will need to buy a fair bit of dental floss going forward.
My mouth was still swollen from the novacaine when I ate my dinner that first night and it felt plenty weird when it all came alive again as well.
So I am now shod with my new chompers and hopefully the gaps will prevent the spitting I found myself doing while talking from happening.
So far this has indeed cured that problem but also brought a new one.
Food residue on these zirconium molars feel like chemical warfare invaders and make these newcomers not happy about the stuff that chewing brings to inorganic teeth.
I have to floss, brush and water pik my hybrid chompers after each meal or snack which is a tad tedious but it is the only way to feel comfortable..
Will take more getting used to I fear....
I am wondering if the extra metal to go with all of it in my legs will make the airport security thang light up more than usual.....
Should be fun!