Saturday 11 April 2015

Not for Dentistophobes

Oh, hey, in case you forgot, I'm a dentist by profession. Yeah, I know, I don't like it any more than you do. But it pays Bill's bills - most of the time. After all, my writing and painting and cartoons are, in financial terms, a negative income activity. I spend on them and earn nothing.

So, I was placing an implant today. Implants, for those of you who would like to know, are titanium screws placed in the jaw in areas where teeth are missing so that artificial teeth can be attached to them later. It's like replacing a missing tooth with an artificial natural tooth, so that the replacement tooth acts just like the natural tooth, with chewing forces being transferred to the bone rather than distributed to other teeth like in a bridge or to the gum as in a denture.

Since I did one today, and I was in the mood, I photographed most of the procedure for your edification.

The specimen was a 35 year old male from Idaho, wherever that is, called RB. He was in good health, no vices, no allergies, and had had an extraction some six months ago.

In this case I first took impressions and made models on which I took measurements of available space, X rays in which I checked the bone height available, and I decided on placement of a 4 mm diameter implant of 16 mm length. 4 mm is about the minimum diameter that I could have placed for a back tooth, but given the space limitations I could not go for a larger size.

On the X Ray I found a broken root from the extracted tooth (circled).

The old tooth socket shows as a shadow. The bone hasn't grown back fully in it.

Then I tried on a surgical template I'd made from the model in the mouth. It's a plastic cover like a mouth guard which fits over the teeth. The hole (with red surrounding) is one I made after measurements on the model, to indicate the exact spot for drilling for the implant.

Here's the site in the mouth:

If you look closely you'll be able to see a tiny black dot on the gum. That's a puncture wound I made through the template with a graduated probe to mark the spot of the implant and to check the thickness of the gum.

Then with a No 15 Bard Parker knife, commonly called a "scalpel", I cut the gum to raise a flap to expose the bone.

This is the flap, just before raising. You can see where it is from the bleeding line.

Then I removed the broken root and began drilling the implant site. I am not going to show the sequence of drills since it isn't significant, but there are seven of them.

This is the depth guide pin in place, both to check the depth of the preparation and its orientation with the other teeth. In simple terms, I was checking to see if the implant preparation was deep enough and whether it was pointed in the direction I wanted, and not slanted.

I took an X Ray to confirm that it was fine.  Apologies for the blurred quality of this picture, but you can see the essentials. The pin is exactly parallel to the premolar, as planned.

Here's the implant preparation, readied for the placement of the implant. Its outline is distorted by the socket of the broken root impinging on the top.  You can also see the bone of the ridge and the gum flap folded towards the lip side.

Here we go. The implant loaded and ready for insertion. That silver grey screw thing is the implant.

Tightening the implant in place with the implant wrench.

The implant in place with the cover screw affixed and a bone graft analogue placed to fill the socket left by the broken root, which was causing wobbling. The implant is hollow; this cover screw is an object which fills the hollow of the implant and covers the top of it in this case. If I were doing an immediate loading implant, in which a crown were to be fitted on top of it as soon as it was placed, I would not have placed a cover screw. But because the bone around the implant is still weak, I recommend a minimum of six months before the crown's to be fitted. Hence the cove screw.

Here's the X Ray of the implant in place. The white wedge shaped bit sticking out to the left on the top of the implant is the bone graft analogue.

The flap stitched shut by a single black silk suture, which is to be removed in ten days.

Right, that's it for today. Until I disgust you next time!

Friday 10 April 2015


I can barely express in words how much I love Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. This is a book I read first back when I was a teenager, shortly after watching the movie (the one with Gregory Peck as Ahab). And that was after watching Jaws, which I didn’t, actually, like very much. After all, the shark in Jaws wasn’t exactly walking up on to the beach to eat people, was it? Why did they have to go into the water if they didn’t want to be eaten?

I’d better explain that though I watched both Moby Dick and Jaws in the movie theatres (in the same movie theatre, actually) that shouldn’t be taken as an indication of my age. That would have been quite a time-travelling feat, in any case, since Moby Dick was released in 1956 and Jaws in 1975. Until the mid-to-late 1980s, foreign movies usually arrived on Indian shores years to decades after they were released in their countries of origin. That is why I could watch both these flicks in the early 80s on the big screen. Not that there was any other option, TV in India being something which mostly came into existence in 1982, let alone such unimaginable luxuries as VCRs.

As I said, though, Jaws – though it was amazingly popular then, running in the theatre in town for something like seven or eight weeks if I remember – wasn’t a film I liked. I still don’t. Oh, the jump scares were nice – especially the scene where the shark surfaces in the wake of the Orca and Brody decides they need a bigger boat. You know the scene I’m talking about. But I was rooting for the shark.

Those of you who have been reading me for a while will be overwhelmed with lack of surprise that I was rooting for the shark.

One of the reasons that I rarely to never watch creature features is that I’m always hoping (usually against hope) for all the human characters to be eaten or crushed or otherwise finished off in as grisly a manner as possible. Especially the kids. There are few things in the movies quite as irritating as kids in creature features. Remember the two in Jaws who decided to snorkel along the beach with a fake shark fin?

Now when I went to watch Moby Dick, you understand, I hadn’t read the book. I didn’t know the story. I was actually expecting the whale to be killed off, like the shark was in Jaws, like any other Hollywood creature feature treated the titular animal(s). I go furious watching the Pequod’s  crew murdering the (black) sperm whales earlier in the film – yes, that’s right, furious – and I was hoping they’d at least get some kind of comeuppance before they “raised and killed” Moby Dick.

I did not expect that it was Moby who would kill them instead.

I still remember wiping my eyes furtively when the movie was over, and they were tears of joy.

To this day, a recurrent feature in my stories with animals (such a recurrent feature that it’s become pretty much predictable) is that the animal, inevitably, triumphs over the human. I’ve also written two stories which are sequels to Moby Dick – one from the viewpoint of Moby himself, years after the events of Melville’s novel, and the second set in modern days, where an immortal Ishmael still pursues an immortal Moby, to the detriment of innocents who get in the way.

But that was just the part about the hunted animal exacting full and satisfying vengeance on his pursuers. After a couple of rereading of the book, I’ve come to appreciate it on a much different level. I’m not talking about the alternate chapters forming a treatise on whaling, which I read the first time and then skipped on each subsequent rereading. I mean Captain Ahab’s insane quest after the White Whale, a quest of revenge for his missing limb...which was missing because he had gone to murder the whale in the first place.

Just think about this a moment. Someone sets up a situation that causes themselves suffering. They then go out for revenge for that suffering, pursuing that vengeance to the point of their own destruction – none of which would have happened if they hadn’t begun the cycle in the first place by doing something they had no need to do and no business doing. Even when given the opportunity, over and over, to pull back from the brink, they choose to pursue the course of vengeance, and that can have only one end.

Isn’t this all too like the course of a lot of world events of the last quarter-century?

One of the things about Moby Dick (the whale, not the book) is how rare peaceful pictures of the animal are. After all, Moby wasn’t hunted round the clock, seven days a week. Almost all the time, he would have lived a life much like any other sperm whale, swimming, diving deep to hunt squid, mating with female whales, echolocating in the depths, and the like. Yet it seems to be that all depictions of him focus only on his fights against the Pequod’s crew – as though he existed only as an engine of violence, nothing else.

And that’s why I painted this little picture of Moby: not lashing the sea in frenzy as in just about all the paintings I’ve seen online, but Moby as he deserves to be, swimming peacefully in the inky ocean depths as he goes about his life in peace.

He deserves it.

Title: Moby

Material: Acrylic on Stone

Copyright B Purkayastha 2015

The Great Big ISIS Movie Extravaganza Part VI

Copyright B Purkayastha 2015

Thursday 9 April 2015

What Perusing the Internet Has Taught Me Today

This is what I've learned from going through the 'net today:

An innocent person of colour being shot by a policeman in broad daylight?

That's a "racist hate crime". And the cop responsible should be punished with the full force of the law.

An innocent person of colour being incinerated in broad daylight by a drone piloted by PlayStation warriors sitting in an air-conditioned bunker on the other side of the planet?

That's "eliminating a dangerous terrorist", yo.

Like this 13-year-old kid.

And the people responsible should be rewarded with more votes come the next election.

That's your lesson for the day, boys and girls. Learn it well.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

After the Zpocalypse

It was the day after the Zombocalypse struck Indiastan. In the rest of the world, there were nuclear bombs being readied to go off, cannibal headhunters eating hearts, ice caps melting, rebels storming presidential palaces, and the like. But in Indiastan there were zombies.

High up in a bar on the top floor of a mall, two people were hiding. They were a man and a woman, and they were criminals. That was not why they were hiding, because they were that particular kind of criminal who have no reason to fear the law. They were hiding from the zombies.

“Damn zombies,” the Cracker said. An expert hacker, he was literally worth his weight in platinum to those who valued skills like his. He stood looking down at the mall’s forecourt through the window. “They’re wandering around everywhere.”

 “Zhjhombiesh,” the Gangster’s Moll agreed, round a mouthful of premium whisky mixed with lager. She was an expert getaway driver, known for running over anyone who wouldn’t get out of the way. “At leasht we’re in the right plashe for it.” She waved a hand around. “No...shortage of drinksh in thish bar.”

“We can’t hang around here forever, Moll.” The Cracker pointed down at the forecourt. “At the rate the zombies are accumulating, we’re going to be swamped in...” He took out his cell phone and did some rapid calculations. “...In eleven hours at the outside,” he said.

“Then we have eleven hoursh to finish all theshe drinksh,” the Gangster’s Moll began, and then a sudden thought struck her. “What happens,” she said, forgetting to be drunk, “when they swamp us?”

The Cracker shrugged. “I have no idea, but you’ve seen the movies.”

“Yuck.” The Moll tossed off the rest of her whisky-and-lager and ran her fingers through her hair. “Then we’d better get out of here, right?”

“Very true. But how? And where do we go?”

The Moll propped her small chin on her hand and began thinking aloud. “There’s Cockatrice Mall a couple of kilometres north of here, and then Wyvern Mall on the other side of the bridge. No, the bridge was closed last I heard, so that’s out. Then there’s Griffin Mall five kilometres east, and –“

“Moll! What on earth are you talking about malls for?”

“In the moviesh...shorry, movies---they always hide in malls. But I see what you mean. Malls aren’t the besht hiding plashe. Damn movies.” She thought for a bit. “Never mind,” she said, “we’ll find somewhere.”

“Before we find somewhere,” the Cracker pointed out, “we have to get out of here. How do we do that?”

“Nothing shimpler,” the Moll said. “We walk to the lift and go on down.”

“And they’ll be waiting at the bottom to eat us.”

“No, how would they know we’re coming down? They’re zombies. And if we’re on the lift we at least aren’t running the risk of being ambushed on the bloody stairs.” The Gangster’s Moll was about to say something more when her satellite phone went off. The Cracker and the Moll worked for a rather top-line organisation, which gave its members satellite phones and not cell phones like everyone else. “’Ello?”

It was their immediate boss, the Big Villain, or Billain. “Where are you two?” he demanded. “I’ve been trying to contact you forever.”

“Hiding in a bar in Phoenix Mall,” the Gangster’s Moll said promptly. “You want to come over? Lots of good boozhe.”

“To hell with the booze.” The Billain had many irritating personality traits, one of which was a dislike for alcohol. “I want you here in the Secret Shelter right away.”

“The Secret Shelter?” The Cracker and the Gangster’s Moll exchanged mystified glances. “Where’s that?”

“That’s a secret,” the Billain snapped. “How would it remain the Secret Shelter if I told you where it is?”

“Well, we do have to get there, don’t we?”

“You’ve got a point,” the Billain said, apparently surprised. “You said you’re in Phoenix Mall? Right, you go out along Route Yellow, and then turn on to Route Green at Intersection Red. Then when you pass Point Purple you turn right on Route Black. And then –“

“Wait a minute,” the Cracker protested. “What what what what what?”

“Never you mind,” the Moll said. “I’m the getaway driver, remember?” She turned back to the phone. “We just have to get out past the zombies swamping the mall,” she said. “Any suggestions?”

“You’ve got booze, right? Pour it on them and set it on fire.” With a snort the Billain ended the call.

“Philistine!”  the Moll said, casting an anguished eye on the rows of bottles filled with the precious fluid. “It’s bad enough that we’ve got to leave it behind, and he wants us to –“

“What else can you do with it anyway?” the Cracker said. He picked up a bottle and looked at the label. “Seventy proof. Should burn well, don’t you think?”   

“Damn it,” the Moll muttered, and grabbed hold of as many bottles as she could manage to hold in her small hands. “Let’s get down to the car.”

They walked out of the bar. There were only a few zombies as yet on this level of the mall, and they were far away, right on the other side of the huge building. None of them looked across as the intrepid duo made their way to the lift. “Moll?” the Cracker asked. “What do we do if there’s a zombie inside the lift?”

The Gangster’s Moll hefted a bottle of rum and sighed with regret. “We bash it over the head with this, I suppose. What a waste of booze.” The lift sighed to a stop and the door slid open, so she raised the bottle high, and then lowered it again. No zombie. “Right,” she said. “Down we go.”

So down they went. There were groans and moans at several levels, but they got to the basement parking lot with no greater scare than something tapping on the outer lift door as they passed the ground floor. Then the door slid open and...

“Gasp!” the Gangster’s Moll gasped.

“Gasp,” the Cracker agreed.

The basement parking lot, which should have been crawling with zombies, was almost empty. Except for a few wandering around among the parked vehicles, there were none to be seen. One saw them, started in their direction, bumped into a vehicle, and staggered off in another direction again.

“Why aren’t they all over this place?” the Gangster’s Moll asked petulantly. Her blood was up, and she was itching to bash someone over the head with a bottle, just to work off her frustrations. “What are they all upstairs for?”

“Probably nothing to eat down here,” the Cracker diagnosed. “It’s all cars, after all.” He followed the Moll to her car, which was parked several rows away. The zombie which had tried to walk towards them saw them again, began walking towards them, bumped into another car and staggered away once more. “Hey, Moll?”

“Yeah?” The Gangster’s Moll reached for her car keys and dropped several bottles, which didn’t improve her temper any. “What do you want?”

“Nothing,” the Cracker said. “Forget it.” He got into the seat beside the Moll, whose car was big and intimidating enough to scare people out of the way under normal circumstances – at least when taken in conjunction with how she drove. But these weren’t normal circumstances. “Moll,” he tried again, as she steered for the exit ramp, “what do we do if they’re jamming the exit?” His eyes widened. “Forget it,” he added. “Stupid question.”

“Gangway,” the Moll yelled, and stamped her foot hard on the accelerator. The zombies wandering around the exit weren’t even fortunate enough to find time to get out of the way. There was thudding and thumping on the bodywork, and a crack magically appeared in the windscreen in front of the Cracker’s face. And then they were through, and the street lay before them.

And the street was blocked. Abandoned cars lay here and there, with zombies wandering among them, occasionally raising their arms and moaning something that almost made sense.

“Moll,” Cracker asked, quite reasonably, “what do we do now?”

“Hold on to your seat,” the Gangster’s Moll snapped. “I’ll show you why I get to be the getaway driver, and not you.” The Cracker never quite found out what she did next, because he had his eyes screwed up as tightly shut as he could, but the next thing he knew they were roaring down the pavement, bowling over abandoned hawkers’ stalls like fruit carts in a Hollywood action movie. The only thing they needed was a police car chasing them.

Speaking of which...

“Moll,” the Cracker ventured timidly, “there’s a police car chasing us.”

The Gangster’s Moll didn’t even glance at him. “Of course there is,” she said. “We’ve got to throw them off the trail.” Wrenching the wheel over hard, she roared into a side street, neatly demolishing a pile of cardboard boxes that someone had placed there for exactly that eventuality. “Now if this were a film,” she said, twisting and turning through a maze of lanes, “this would be a dead end. But since it isn’t...” the car rushed into another road, sideswiping a few vehicles as it did. “Since it isn’t,” she said, “we’re through.”

The police car wasn’t so lucky. Barrelling out of the side street at something like ninety kilometres an hour, it hurtled across the street, bounced over the pavement and rammed the wall on the other side. There was a crash loud enough to be heard above the noise of the Moll’s engine, and the pursuit was over.
“Don’t you think we should go back and rescues those cops?” the Cracker ventured.

“Rescue them?” the Gangster’s Moll sounded honestly astonished. “Whatever for?”

“Well, the zombies will get them otherwise, and...”

“Zombies?” The Gangster’s Moll laughed. “The zombies won’t get them, Cracker. They’re zombies themselves.”

“Zombie cops?” The Cracker peered back over his shoulder to try and get a glimpse of the crashed police car, which was fast receding astern.

“Of course. Did you ever know any other sort?”

The Cracker glanced at the determined set of the Gangster’s Moll’s jaw and decided to keep his peace, in case the Moll was provoked into throwing him bodily out of the vehicle. “Where are we?” he asked instead.

“Route Something.” The Moll indifferently handed him her satellite phone. “Call the Billain and see if he can guide us.”

The phone rang in the Cracker’s hand before he could even begin trying to remember the Billain’s secret number. “Where the hell are you two?” the evildoer yelled. “I’d expected you here by now.”

“Sorry, chief, we got chased by a police car and had to make some detours.” The Cracker looked in the rear view mirror. “And now,” he added, “we’ve got a zombie riding on our rear bumper, making faces at us through the back window.”

“What?” the Gangster’s Moll turned her head briefly to look, and only lost control of the car long enough to send a packing case lying on the street flying. “You’re right,” she observed. “There is a zombie riding on our rear bumper, making faces at us through the back window.”

It was a pretty friendly-looking zombie, actually, by zombie standards. It waved and smiled when it saw they’d seen it. The smile was marred a little by the fact that it had lost all its front teeth, but it was a nice smile for all that.

“What do we do about this?” the Cracker asked, plaintively.

“Just let it ride,” the Billain said over the phone. “It’s going to fall off eventually.”

“If it doesn’t,” the Gangster’s Moll said, “I can always back the car up against something and turn it into zombie squash.” She grabbed the phone back from the Cracker. “Tell me which way to go, damn it.”

While the Billain guided her, the Cracker turned back to look at the zombie, which was actually looking far happier than any zombie had a right to look. He found himself wondering why it looked so happy. In fact, it looked not so much happy as stoned right out of its mind. As he thought that, the light outside suddenly vanished. They were driving down a tunnel.

“This is the ramp down to the Secret Shelter,” the Gangster’s Moll said, before the Cracker even got a chance to ask. “Is the zombie still back there?”

The Cracker looked round again, and couldn’t see it. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s fallen off.”

“That’s good,” the Moll said, slinging the vehicle with abandon round a series of bends. “I’d hate to have to back this car against something. You’d never find anyone to get the bodywork fixed.”

“You’d never find any diesel to fuel...” the Cracker began, but with a screech of brakes the Moll came to a stop in a dimly-lit garage. “So we’re here?”

“You’re here.” The Billain’s voice said from a loudspeaker on the ceiling, and a door in the far wall slid open. “Leave the car and come along.”

So the Moll and the Cracker got out of the car. There was a soft scroobling noise, and when they looked, they saw the zombie standing there behind them.

“Hi,” said the zombie shyly. “Never mind me. I’m just tagging along for the ride.”

The Gangster’s Moll and the Cracker stared at the zombie, which blushed furiously.

“Don’t look at me like that,” it said. “If you don’t want me, just say so, and I’ll go right away. Just don’t look at me as though you’re afraid of me, please.”

“Uh, I’m sorry.” The Gangster’s Moll recovered first. “I’ve never actually met a zombie before.”

“We didn’t know you could talk...and think.” The Cracker scratched his head. “I still don’t know how you manage it. I mean, you don’t breathe and so on, so how can you talk?”

“Or blush,” the Gangster’s Moll said. “Why, you might almost be alive.”

“It’s because I have a...” the zombie seemed to have second thoughts about what it was going to say.

“Are all zombies like you?” the Billain said over the loudspeaker. “Are they all almost alive?”

The zombie looked hunted. “ I’m trying to hide from them. You see, they want what I have and they don’t.”

“You have something other zombies don’t? What’s that?”

The zombie looked at the floor and muttered something.

“What’s that?” the Billain thundered over the loudspeaker.

“I said,” the zombie repeated, “that I have a brain.”

The Gangster’s Moll crossed her arms on her chest. “Explain.”

“Well, you know how we zombies go around searching for brains? That’s because we’re looking for one to put in our heads. And I managed it.”

“You killed someone and put his brain into your head?” The Cracker sounded horrified.

“Of course,” the zombie said. “How else would I have a brain, anyway? But the rest of them don’t, so they’re after me. And that’s why I had to hitch a ride with you.” It looked despondent again. “Of course,if you tell me to go away, I will.”

“Let’s get this clear,” the Billain said. “Since you have a brain, you don’t need one any longer?”

“No,” the zombie responded. “As long as I have a brain I’m fine.”

“So, if we let you stay, you aren’t going to harm us?”

Harm you?” The zombie looked horrified, or at least as horrified as a zombie can look. “If you let me stay, I’d be the best ally you could have. I don’t need food, so you don’t have to spend any supplies on me. And I don’t need any sleep, so I could be the perfect sentry. All you have to do is let me stay.”

Later on, when they’d all rested and the Billain had served dinner, which three of them had eaten, it finally occurred to the Gangster’s Moll to ask the obvious question.

“Hey, zombie,” she said. “You say the other zombies are chasing you for the brain you killed someone for and popped into your head. So what’s stopping them from, you know, killing other people and putting their brains into their heads?”

There was a long silence. They all stared at the zombie, which looked as though it was debating whether to speak.

“Well?” the Cracker asked at last.

The zombie sighed. “Do any of you realise,” it asked, “just how rare brains are?”

Copyright B Purkayastha 2015

Time's Arrow

Entropy moves on

And not all your Free Democracies
Your world spanning 
Eternal Empires
Your One True Religions
Will slow it down a moment
Or put a stop to it. 

To you

Carbon based lifeforms
Crawling on a rock
That will be burned to a cinder by its minor sun
In two thousand million years, more or less


Copyright B Purkayastha 2015 

Sunday 5 April 2015


Title: Hell
Material: Acrylic on Plaster
Copyright B Purkayastha 2015