Today we ate an interesting vegetable for lunch. It was the “Hungry Jack Easy Mash’d Potatoes” with ”garlic ‘n skins”. Don’t ask me why there are missing letters needing apostrophes. I don’t know.

But I got to reading the package and noted there were probably at least 30 ingredients listed. Many of these I’ve never heard of and, for all I know, may even be fictitious. But I do know when ingredients are listed, the thing listed first is the stuff there is the most of and, of course, the ingredient at the end of the list has the smallest amount.

Miraculously, the first listed ingredient was potatoes though even after that there was something in parentheses. It was (DRIED POTATOES; MALTODEXTRIN; SHORTENING POWDER;). Then there were all kinds of mystery ingredients like DISODIUM PHOSPHATE and PYROPHOSPHATE and SODIUM BISULFATE to mention a couple. There were many others.

However, the thing that impressed me most was the last ingredient on the list, which meant it was the smallest amount. It was MALTED BARLEY FLOUR.

Now perhaps that doesn’t sound too odd but in my mind I picture a group of experts taste-testing each batch of this product. Now at some time someone tasted it and said, “I think it needs just a touch of malted barley flour.” So they put in a pinch and, voilĂ , that was it.

Strange world.

The Old Professor

Carmel, CA

November 21, 2007



I must have misunderstood something when I was in school. Today I read this in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 — President Bush telephoned President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan today to urge him to return his country to civilian rule as soon as possible.
“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Mr. Bush said he told Mr. Musharraf. “You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time.”
Did he say you can’t be president and the head of military at the same time? Yes, that’s what he said all right.

It seems to me the United States Constitution spells it out in Section 2, Clause 1 where it says:
”The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”
Now to me that says a person not only can be, but must be, president and the head of the military.

Maybe he forgot to add, “and do either very well”.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
November 7, 2007



Fairly recently another visible indication of old age appeared on my legs. Something they call varicose veins appeared. Without getting too graphic, the visible veins in my legs have become enlarged enough so my legs look like a contour map of the State of Colorado. I’m not sure exactly what long-term damage might be done if I were to just ignore these veins and wear some elastic support stockings but I decided to find out.

There are doctors who specialize in this problem and I went to see one. He explained the whole process and we decided to go for the endovenous laser treatment. If you don’t know what that means don’t be concerned. I didn’t either but the word “endovenous” means “Within the blood vessel.” Laser means "Any of several devices that emit highly amplified and coherent radiation of one or more discrete frequencies. One of the most common lasers makes use of atoms in a metastable energy state that, as they decay to a lower energy level, stimulate others to decay, resulting in a cascade of emitted radiation." As if we didn't know that

When we finished the preliminary examination and decided to proceed I needed to sign 6 or 7 papers. Most of them were giving permission and promising, if anything went wrong, I would not sue anyone and just admit it was my fault. Then, as I was leaving the office, I was handed a sheaf of papers describing just what was going to be done. That was when I had a flashback.

For more years than I like to think about I stood in front of classes and delivered a bit of my accumulated wisdom to them. I might spend an hour in front of a class explaining some highly technical aspect of the subject but at the end I always asked, “Are there any questions?”

Every time.
Without fail, someone would ask, “Is this going to be on the final exam?” In fact, I used to amuse myself be trying to guess who would be the one to ask that question. I’m afraid I never quite understood the question. Was the questioner saying, “I don’t want to overfill my mind by remembering this unless we might need it for a final exam.” I always tried to reassure the class that remembering it wouldn’t take up that much brain-room whether it was on the final exam or not.

When the doctor’s nurse handed me the papers I asked, “Is this going to be on the final exam?”

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
November 2, 2007