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NEIGHBORS : Oxnard Eye Doctor Focuses His Attention on China

June 10, 1993|PANCHO DOLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Oxnard ophthalmologist John Householder has been improving the outlook in China.

Householder recently returned from five days at China's first for-profit hospital in Sichuan province. He was teaching a Chinese colleague how to remove cataracts.

The doctor said of the busy five days, "I lost track of the number of operations we did. I'd do one, my colleague would do one. There were a lot."

The Chinese doctor was trained by Householder here in Oxnard. Householder said he provided his expertise free of charge on the condition that the Chinese doctor would donate her time to perform the procedure on some of the 300 million Chinese without medical insurance.

This was not Householder's first time operating outside the country. He has volunteered in Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

"I was picked for this China trip because the cataracts I operate on among Filipinos and Mexicans here are similar to those encountered in Chinese patients. They wait so long to get them treated they are hard and stony."

The cost of the procedure in the Chinese hospital: about $70.

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Oxnard's similarities with Edinburgh, Scotland, (they are few) increased by one, due to the efforts of David Brandon.

Brandon, of Camarillo, recently started a Scottish country dancing group at the Oxnard Community and Recreation Center.

Brandon isn't Scottish, but he got interested in the dancing more than 30 years ago, married a Scot and the pair make regular trips to the University of St. Andrews to get updated on the latest dancing research.

He said people often confuse country, or social dancing, with the jigs and flings of highland dancing, which is competitive. Each country dance, he said, has its own combination of standard figures woven into a distinct order.

For example, the first step of "The Reel of the 51st Division" is to get tossed in a German POW camp. The dance was written by prisoners during World War II.

There are thousands of dances, each with its own name. Among them are, "Kiss Me Quick My Mother's Comin' " and "My Love, She's But a Lassie Yet." There's also the temperance dance, "Farewell to Whiskey," lest the dancers indulge too much in another great Scottish tradition and step on their partner's toes.

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1993 is being called the year of the Dinosaur, what with Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and dinosaurs in general on magazine covers everywhere.

Add Tom Mason's "Dinosaurs For Hire" comic book. Mason, of Westlake Village, is the force behind the Dinosaur series that promises "politically incorrect action (house cats, bad; breast implants, good) on every page."

Mason said he wakes up early and writes the dinosaur stories from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. before he goes to his day job as creative director at Malibu Comics, a company he co-founded six years ago that now employs 100 people.

"I was a complete and total geek as a kid. I hadn't planned on it as a career, but I'm proud it. My job invariably comes up in conversation because it strikes people as odd."

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