Listen on iTunes
Stream Audio here
AUDIO - HSP #281 - Alex Zimmer
Watch Video here
VIDEO - HSP #281 - Alex Zimmer
A discussion on human rights and how Dr. Alex Zimmer, DMD spends time volunteering at one of Canada’s finest museums.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights:
We invite you to come be inspired at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We offer something for everyone, from children to seniors.
With 11 galleries, guided tours, interactive experiences, thought-provoking programs and creative use of mobile technology, you’ll want to come see us again and again.
We’ll be pleased to serve you in either one of Canada’s official languages, English or French. Our inclusive design means everyone is welcome to participate and access content equitably.
Dr. Alex Zimmer, DMD:
Having over 30 years of experience in family-based dental practice, we are proud to provide the highest quality care;along with our trained support staff, our team works diligently to make sure that each and every visit to our office is a pleasant one. We use advanced procedures, equipment and sterilization standards to ensure that every patient achieves a healthy and beautiful smile. Over the years, we have advanced our training in all facets of dentistry, including cosmetic and implant dentistry.
We understand that each patient is an individual with physical, emotional and financial requirements. We are committed to listening to our patients and to designing a treatment plan for each individual patient according to his or her requirements.
We are committed to educating our patients and explain the advantages, disadvantages, costs, and time requirement for every dental procedure, as requested. We encourage our patients to ask questions. We want our patients to make educated decisions about his or her dental treatment. Most importantly, we are committed to keeping our patients happy so they feel comfortable in referring their friends and loved ones to our practice.
Our staff is trained and skilled, and together we strive to provide energetic care to each patient. Each member of our treatment team has numerous years of experience in treating patients with the highest level of care. We strive to stay abreast of the latest in technological advances by regularly attending continuing education courses and seminars.
Howard: Hello. I am with Dr. Alex Zimmer who has no relation to Zimmer implants ...
Howard: I lectured here yesterday in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada, and I thought this was very interesting when I met you. Canada just opened up the Canada
Alex: Canadian ...
Howard: Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Howard: They spent a third of a billion dollars on this. I mean this is a must see. You have to come see this. Then I found out that you were a dentist, but you're as valuer volunteer tour guide.
Howard: I thought this would be a really cool podcast to ... It's all things dentistry, so here's a dentist. You said your kids are raised and this is your hobby. How did being a tour guide at a museum for human rights become your hobby?
Alex: I'm a very proud Winnipegger and when I heard that there was an opportunity that they were looking for volunteers for this building that is just being built ... We had no idea what it was going to look like, I applied for a job working here. I didn't realize that there was going to be a whole interview process, an hour interview. Howard, I don't know when the last time you were interviewed for a job, but we were interviewed and there was a whole training process. I was lucky enough to be here for the opening, which was a great ceremony, and there was this great excitement. On my Fridays that I don't work, I come and volunteer for three or four hours. I'm not an official tour guide, but I join everyone else. The exposure the city is getting, as you said this is a fabulous museum, is absolutely great. Individuals are from all over coming ... If they have a business meeting, but they come to this museum, and they are all amazed by the displays, by this concept of this museum, and architecture.
Howard: Because you would think of a Canadian Museum to be in your capital in Ontario.
Alex: Yeah, in Ottawa, that's correct.
Howard: In Ottawa Ontario, and this is on the ... Which is on the east side by Toronto and this is more in the central above North and South Dakota.
Alex: There was a philanthropist, Izzy Asper, who had this vision to educate people, and he lobbied hard. As you said $351 million dollars, $160 million dollars that had come from private donations, you know how much work that is. It's the first national museum that it is outside of the capital city of Ottawa. There were a lot of skeptics, but here's a gentleman with a vision who's unfortunately passed away. His daughter, Gail, has continued with his vision and developed this wonderful piece of architecture.
Howard: You're a tour guide, and you've got thousands of listeners. Give them a mini oral tour of the museum.
Alex: Sure. Antoine Predock, which was a New Mexico architect, developed this fantastic building. Architecturally, it has the clouds. It has this great tower of hope and his feeling is you come from darkness with violation of human rights, to lightness. The size of the building is ... I think they say it's four or five sizes of a football field, is that human rights people are violated with with no space, and here they give you lots of space to walk around and to move around. From an architectural standpoint, it's beautiful. Alabaster ramps. There's a climber to walk down which is spectacular. Then I believe there are seven different galleries. There is a real respect for the Aboriginal people. This is sacred land in a lot of respects. The major gallery ... There are galleries for the Aboriginals. There is a Canadian gallery which is the largest gallery which has Canadian stories. I'll step back a step ... This museum isn't a museum of artifacts. It's a museum of dialogue and when you start walking through the museum, and you see the violation of all the world, you really appreciate democracy and freedom for people.
The seven galleries all have different stories of insights until you come up to the top of the tower which is 23 stories high to have a beautiful view of the flat prairies. They say you can see your dog running away for miles on that. I think there's a real appreciation for human rights.
Howard: It was amazing how the human rights violations ... I mean, there's the obvious ones you know, the Holocaust, slavery, but so many stories, you're right, this isn't a museum artifacts, it's a museum of stories. Today I learned of several stories that I had never heard of before. Aborigines in Tasmania, just on and on. In fact, the most interesting one, I mean not most interesting, but bizarre is even little things, very little things like women couldn't run in the Boston Marathon until 1971. Your mind doesn't think that it started out that way, but it obviously did, and it took some brave woman who'd kept running and getting thrown out to push the issue, and it's wow. We take so many things for granted.
Alex: Yeah. Absolutely, and I think you're absolutely right. Over the course of the year and a half that I was ... Just over a year that I've been here, there are so many stories every time you find something else, and you shake your head, and you say, "Wow, I've got to do something in this world," or "I've got to be aware of what's going on." Especially during these times you realize how important it is to realize that we're very fortunate in this part of the world and hopefully there aren't more violations. Hopefully, we can learn from our experiences of the terrible things that have happened.
Howard: It's funny how history starts repeating itself. Today we're learning that the Americans and the Canadians were . Tturning back boatload refugees of Jews in 1939. Then here it is in 2015, and we're turning back Syrians who we know ... It's basically they're going to go back to very bad circumstances.
Alex: Sometimes you think that we become a little ignorant about things and one thing with the Museum of Dialogue that you say, "Oh my God, I never realized that something like that happened." As you said, so many things have happened in our lifetime which is hard to imagine. You talk about 1970. You talk about women's right to vote. They had a ballot box from South Africa, and it's just hard to imagine that people aren't allowed to vote. It's something that we take for granted. There's always a story. On the second floor there is a booth where you can go in privacy, and you can tell a story, and if it's a story that they feel is important, they'll add it onto one of the galleries. It's evolving galleries at this museum.
Howard: What is a human right?
Alex: I was following a tour guide, and they brought this up because they bring a lot of student groups in, and it was interesting because the kids had different ... I think they did a little work at school beforehand, but it was interesting to see children talking about the violation of human rights, whether it's the vote, whether it's equal rights of men and women, equal rights of people, the freedom to vote, the freedom to be transgender. You listen to these kids, and you realize how important the museum is because these are questions that I don't think happen around the dinner table with people over here.
Even some of the kids had the right to go outside and play outside because in a war torn country they can't do it. It was very enlightening watching something like that. When we sit around with people, and as you said during this time with Iraqi people coming in or what's happening in the United States right now with gun control ... Maybe there is more dialogue when people come to a museum like this and realize that we got to keep our minds open, and some things that we take for granted, we shouldn't take for granted.
Howard: Most people say a human right is the rights humans are born with by the fact that they're a human.
Howard: We're both dentists, so I'm going to ask you do you think access to dental care is a human right?
Alex: I'd like to think it is, but I'd be very naive to think that it is, that everyone has ... I've traveled to other countries, and we don't have to travel to other countries. We have to look you among the poor people here. Maybe we dentists should be doing some pro bono work and taking care of the people that can't afford it. We were talking yesterday of being in India or being in Morocco and people's failing health, and its part of their dental health. They either can't afford it or there just aren't enough trained people. It opens up your eyes to something like that.
Howard: I think it's interesting that the American Dental Association recognizes nine specialties and everyone only wants to talk about oral surgery and orthodontics and endodontics but public health dentistry is a specialty, and it might be the most sacred important specialty. Dentistry for people who can't get it any other way.
Alex: Yeah. I know you were very involved years ago ... There's some Aboriginal reservations near you, and I understand when you started your practice you were appalled at the conditions of teeth, and I think you did a lot of work in that, is that not right?
Howard: Arizona, 25% of the state is Indian reservation.
Howard: They have, I think it's 19 different tribes or reservations. There are some very interesting dilemmas going all the way back to having their water moved by irrigation to big cities. Then when they didn't have irrigation, they'd give them subsidies of welfare which then made them start buying packaged foods. It's just crazy, crazy, crazy. This museum has been open a year, and you have been volunteering here on Fridays for one year.
Howard: Was it a fun hobby? Are you going to do it next yet?
Alex: I'm going to continue. I think it's great. I love meeting the people. I love approaching people as they are looking at the model of the museum, and just explaining things. Everyone walks up with a smile on their face even though it's a sensitive topic because I think they've been enlightened and most people say, "Boy I'm going to come back," and they're very proud that Winnipeg ... I'm talking to people from Winnipeg and people from outside of the country. They think this is just a great museum. It's unique. We had someone from Washington that came from Alpha Omega, and she lives in Washington. She said this museum is unique. The exposure was great. I think everyone wants to come back because you can't take everything in on that first day. Yeah, it's been great. I look forward to signing up and joining, and walking around and being an ambassador to the city. I think this is just a great contribution along with our polar bear exhibit and many other things that have ...
Howard: That was, how do you pronounce that, Assiniboine Park?
Howard: Assiniboine Park.
Howard: We went earlier to the Assiniboine Park, which is a polar bear exhibit, because up from here about several hundred kilometers on the Hudson Bay?
Howard: Is actually polar bears, and they actually have a polar bear exhibit here. It was just amazing how big those creatures were.
Alex: Have you had any other hobbies in your career?
Howard: Well, photography is sort of a passion of mine. I'm fortunate enough to decorate my office with that and do photo shoots. It started off as a little hobby, and it's still a hobby, but it gives my passion for travel as well. My wife is a great partner in traveling with me. She allows me to take some pictures and go to some exotic places, so I've enjoyed the traveling and and photography consumes a lot of my time that way.
Alex: When and where did you graduate from Winnipeg Dental School?
Howard: Yeah, I graduated from the University of Manitoba 1978.
Howard: Yeah. Born and bred in Winnipeg, and I'm proud of the city.
Alex: How has your dental been? How many years have you been practicing then?
Howard: 37 years.
Alex: 37 years. Congratulations.
Howard: How many kids? Are they raised?
Alex: I've got two kids. Both got married this year. A son, Joel, lives in New York, married to Emily. Our daughter, Leanne, is an optometrist, and she got married to Jarod this year. They didn't follow in a dentistry career.
Howard: The kids have flown the nest and gone.
Howard: Now it's you and your wife. You've been doing it 37 years. How old are you and how many years do you thing you're going to do this?
Alex: Boy, this is live over here.
Howard: This is live. This is dentistry uncensored. We're going to get right ... Next will be your weight and your cholesterol and your blood pressure.
Alex: I turned 60 this year, so it was a big year that way.
Howard: Looking good.
Alex: I hope for another 10 years. I'm trying to ... I work smarter. I take a little bit more time off traveling. I work a four-day week. I'm still passionate about dentistry. I still enjoy what I'm doing. It's all good, so if I can work in my photography, and my travel and volunteer services ,and volunteer a couple other things ... I hope I get a bit of balance in my life, and I can enjoy everything that way.
Howard: What do you like doing in the office?
Alex: A bit of everything. I love doing cosmetic dentistry when I opportunity to do that, building that smile for people. It makes me feel great. I've got a general practice in everything from Endo to general dentistry, and I enjoy that. Patients have been following me for years. Recently, we had this conversation amongst dentist friends. We get asked more often, "You're not retiring are you?" It's a nice feeling that you've built these relationship with people. There was a quote from Warren Buffet, I believe. I took a little snapshot of it with my phone, and they said, "Retire?" He said, "How many rounds of gold can you play?" He said, "Maybe the answer is that your practice is part of ... Or your work is part of everything. All the relationships you developed with people in labs and everything like that." I try keeping that in mind as well. I have time for work, and I definitely have time for my hobbies. Everyone on the air watching this are shaking their head because they know my day starts at 5:30 in the morning, and I go to bed when I'm bored at the end of the day.
I keep busy with things, and I'm an active cyclist, and I do a lot of sport activities as well. I keep busy with my time. Dentistry is quite a component over there. As long as I'm healthy I'll keep on going that way.
Howard: Almost all of my idols never retired, and I mean they found Sam Walton dead at his desk. Some of the greatest legends of all time. Retired of what? I never understood retired of what? Sitting around watching Jerry Springer or Oprah Winfrey and hitting a white golf ball around? I'd rather just die.
Howard: The other thing about retirement, the risk-free rate of a government bond is 5% so if you're a dentist, and you want to retire on $100,000 a year, you divide that by .05, and you would need two million dollars in tax free bonds to give you $100,000 a year. Every time a dentist continues to work to just make a hundred grand a year, that's equivalent to two million dollars more in their savings account, so I don't know why anybody would stop. Last but not least, how's the economy of Canada? You've been practicing 37 years?
Howard: It's 2015. It's almost time to change in 2016. How's the economy?
Alex: There are worries about the economy. I think people are ... In Manitoba, because our economy is pretty diverse, I don't think it hits us as much as a place like Calgary where they're demanding oil and gas. I think there is a concern that our economy is resource base and with everything that's going on, there are concerns about the economy. The reflection of the US dollar will raise prices. I think people are pretty positive in this province. Once again with everything that's going on with our hockey team, and our museum, and the polar bear exhibit, that I think it's sometimes a mirror in reflection that maybe the economy is very good that way. I'm going to say positive that things are pretty good over here. We'll watch our neighbors to the south and see what happens with the economy that way. What's your feeling about the US economy?
Howard: Well, the smartest people that I've listened to, from Warren Buffet on, says that you cannot predict it. There's no evidence of anybody predicting Monday's stock market opening the economy or whatever, but it seems like it's not affecting your dental practice or your income.
Alex: No, everything seems quite good that way.
Howard: I want to commend you on your hobby though. I think coming here and working at a human rights museum is very commendable, and I hope that our viewers ... What if they wanted to look at this on a website? Do you know what the www dot?
Alex: I think that ... Use Google Google search and ...
Howard: Do you know, Ryan?
Alex: Canadian Museum for Human Rights or CMH ...
Alex: Or CMHR.
Howard: It's CMHR.org?
Alex: What's the website here?
Speaker 2: HumanRights.ca
Alex: Oh, HumanRights.ca.
Speaker 2: Yep.
Howard: HumanRights.ca. Let's see if she's right. Humanrights.ca. You are a winner.
Alex: Thank you.
Howard: Go to HumanRights.ca and learn more about the Canadian Museum For Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, and I think it was fascinating. If you're ever in the western part of Canada, you must stop by and see it. Truly amazing.
Alex: Truly amazing, and there's lots to do in Winnipeg as well, there are great restaurants and great friendly Manitoba, great hospitality here as well.
Howard: Thank you for getting up on a Sunday morning to come meet me and my son, Ryan, down here. Thank you very, very much.
Alex: Pleasure, Howard, pleasure. Thank you.