There is a family living near us who have parents visiting from China. I often run into this elderly couple when I take our dog for a walk each morning. We never have spoken much as they don't speak anything but Chinese. However we do nod and smile. The other day as I approached the elderly gentleman he smiled and said, "Hi." The lady was few steps behind and she said the same thing. I replied, "Good morning."

When I got back home I was anxious to tell my domestic partner about this and inasmuch as she's Chinese I knew she would know what they were saying to me. I announced, "I learned a Chinese word today"
"What word is that?" she replied.
"Hi", I said with some pride.
"Hi", she said, "What was the word?"
"Hi. That's the word I learned. What does it mean?"
"It means like an informal hello."
"But what does it mean in Chinese."
"Nothing. There's no such word as 'Hi' in Chinese."

We finally concluded that our neighbor had taught her parents a little English, just enough to greet someone one the street.

I still think "Hi" should be a Chinese word because it sure sounds like one.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 20, 2006



I have often heard someone say, “I never was any good at math.”  I always contend that math, in the beginning, is very simple and understandable to everyone. One plus one equals two.  Everyone got that far. The next step is two plus three and that’s simple enough. Well, it’s like that all the way to the end of math unless you miss a step somewhere. Then it all falls apart.

But most of us handle math well enough to buy something, pay taxes and everyday things like that. So, we do use math a lot whether we think of it or not.  Sometimes it can even be fun.

For example, it was prominent in the news that US population hit 3 hundred million today. The US Census Bureau maintains a Population Clock at http://www.census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html and one can see the US population grows about one person every 11 seconds.  This shows more than just births because it also considers that people die but in general there are many more being born than dying, hence the population grows. So, maybe there is a baby being born every 5 or 6 seconds.  Of course, that means there was a baby conceived somewhere in the United States every 5 or 6 seconds, 24 hours a day.

Now most people know how babies are conceived and also know it involves some physical contact between two people and that a baby is not conceived every time, or even most of the time, this contact takes place. So, if we move into the area of math dealing with percentages we might be able to estimate some things fairly accurately. If we start by subtracting working time and sleeping time there seems to be a helluva lot of physical contact being made in a fairly short time span. We can then subtract a fairly large chunk for people who are too young to create babies and a few more that are too old.  Then we take away the gay and lesbian groups and divide by 2 because it usually takes 2 to start the process. Take away (subtract) women who are already pregnant therefore are not now starting the creation process. We find we are left with a rather small percentage of the population who are creating these babies and it’s obvious those people must be very, very busy. Do the math.

But what I wonder is with all this baby-making, who the hell is working and keeping the wheels of industry turning? Who is left to make all these wonderful technological and scientific discoveries? Who is not busy and has time to create the art and literature we need? If I stop and think about it, that might be the answer to why it takes a plumber 4 days to get to a house or why a TV set can’t be fixed until the owner is crawling the wall. It also so explains why the telephone repair person will be here between 1 and 4. Everyone is busy making babies and it’s difficult to be precise as to how long that might take.

See you see, it’s all math.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 17, 2006



Dear President Bush,

I’m fairly sure someone must have mentioned that one of our munitions dumps recently exploded in Baghdad. I know you don’t like the NY Times but you can read about it there if you haven’t heard about it.

But that being said, don’t you think this might be a good time to get out of Iraq? What better reason would there be? Just announce that since we are out of ammunition we may as well go home. After all, we can’t expect our military people to throw rocks at the insurgents.

Now, I’ll admit to being no Karl Rove but as a bit of political advice I would suggest such a move will help your team in the upcoming election but you will need to hurry. It won’t do your image any good if you decide to do it after the November election. Then again, maybe it’s to late to help that anyway.

Sincerely yours,

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 11, 2006



Just recently there’s been yet another scandal in Washington, DC. This time it involves a member of the House of Representatives and an under-age page. Many are charging that Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), had knowledge of this but did nothing about it. To which he replied, “As the Speaker I take responsibility for everything in the building. The buck stops here. The safety and security of the students in the Page program is imperative.”

That’s wonderful but, as I recall, George Bush eventually went to New Orleans and publicly stated that he accepted full responsibility for all the mistakes that were made regarding the hurricane Katrina fiasco. Of course, not much, in fact nothing, changed but he did accept responsibility. That was nice.

So, it would appear that all that’s needed to make any mess go away is admitting full responsibility. To me it’s regrettable that my world doesn’t seem to function that way. A short time ago I was involved in a minor traffic accident and I admitted I was responsible. My automobile insurance company paid the claim but when it came time to renew my policy I found my rates had doubled.

Washington, DC must be a nice place to live. When you screw up the procedure is simple. Admit your mistake, take full responsibility, and turn yourself in to a alcoholic rehabilitation center. When you get out it will have all gone away.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 9, 2006



A couple of days ago I posted a blog about getting my yellow t-shirt with the Chinese writing on the front that translated to "I can't speak Chinese". (If you missed the explanation it's back a couple.) I've had great reactions to this little gag and several people indicated they would like to own one also.

This led me back to where I had it made at Café Press. They offer to set up a "store" for me to sell my creations. I was interested. In fact, I thought it would even work in Japanese or Arabic or any other language for that matter. I decided to investigate the existing "stores" to see if this idea had already been done.

The answer is, "I have no idea." I began looking at all the t-shirts and there were some with very clever graphics. Some, were not so clever. They showed 10 at a time and I quit looking when it said I was seeing numbers 30 thru 39 out of 184,000. For those of you who find Numbers is a Second Language, that's one hundred and eighty-four thousand! There are 184,000 different t-shirts being offered for sale at Café Press! Wow!

So for now, I'll just hold off and delay my search for riches until later. It's just that my life expectancy is not such that I should get at the end of a line that's 184,000 people long. I don't even go to some fast-food restaurants simply because there often are 3 or 4 people ahead of me.

However, if anyone wants to copy my shirt and have one made for yourself, go ahead. When you make your first million dollars please don't tell me about it.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 8, 2006



A new television program premiered last week and we rather enjoyed it. It was called "Ugly Betty". The story is about a particular girl named Betty who is somewhat less than a raving beauty. She happens to get a job working for a fashion magazine where everyone else there looks like fashion models. It's sort of a modern-day Cinderella story.

I have one thing I don't like about this program and that is the title. It seems to me the adjective "ugly" is particularly -- well -- ugly. I don't know why that word seems more repulsive to me than the many other synonyms. To me it wouldn't seem as bad if they had called her "Homely Betty" or something like that but she certainly isn't really "ugly". The actress, whose name is America Ferrera, is anything but ugly if you check her website by clicking here.

So, I think in the future I will think of this program has having the title of, "Pretty Good-Looking Considering Betty".

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
October 5, 2006