In the past I’ve mentioned I used to fly airplanes for the Navy during WWII and am proud that I might have had something to do with fact that not even one Japanese bomb ever dropped on any bar in Pensacola, Florida. After the war ended and I never flew again as a pilot. It was a much too expensive as a hobby for me.

In 1982 Microsoft issued a program called Flight Simulator and over the years I have enjoyed “playing” with it. There is a certain amount of skill involved but, of course, it isn’t completely realistic. The current version is Flight Simulator X, and is a huge improvement from the original and I’ve spent many pleasant hours playing with it.

I put my plane (make believe of course) at some airport and take off and fly around to see if I can see “the sights”. I found the Eiffel Tower in Paris, for example. And the Hollywood sign near Los Angeles.

(Please don’t ask me why I spend so much time doing this. It’s kind of hard to explain.)

However, in various discussion groups a flaw in the program has been pointed out and I have noticed it too. At some airports, after I “take off” I can look around and the airport seems to be sitting up on a plateau. I found there was a software program by an outside developer that cures that problem, so I bought it and installed it. Then, using Flight Sim, I went to my local airport at Monterey Peninsula Airport and “took off”. Looking back I saw the airport appeared to be still sitting up on a plateau. Damn! Money wasted! Oh well, not a life and death thing, said I.

Then yesterday Jen-Chi and I were going out for lunch and we drove on a highway that passed by the airport. I one point I looked up and said, “Oh look. There’s the end of the runway up there.” Then and only then did it hit me. The airport is on a friggin plateau! A real one!
It was one of those slap my forehead moments and I thought I’d share it with you.

Got to go now. My forehead hurts.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
January 30, 2008



Our house is on a hill and getting to the street involves going down a rather steep driveway about 3 or 4 hundred feet. I do this each morning in order to collect the newspaper and throw some hay towards a couple of horses.

This morning as I was coming up the driveway I saw a small bird hopping right beside me. In spite of studying birds in the 3rd grade, I don’t know much about birds so I can’t say what breed of bird it was it was but it was something small, like maybe some kind of wren or sparrow. This particular one had a rather distinctive patch of yellow feathers around each eye. It didn’t seem to mind being fairly near to me and kept hopping about 2 feet way as we went up the driveway. It came right along with me and didn’t seem to fear me at all.

But the main point of this didn’t occur to me until some time later and it involves the bird’s speed. He or she was only hopping little hops and yet easily kept up with me. I think that says quite a bit about how fast octogenarians move.

I suppose I really shouldn’t be concerned until birds begin to pass me and make crude gestures.

The Old Professor

Carmel, CA

January 24, 2008



I wonder why we are so special.

On Friday January 5th the storm began. The wind really picked up until opening a door provided us with the sound that typically people in tornadoes describe as, “It sounded like a freight train”. At 10:30 AM the electricity went out and it stayed out for 5+ days. There was widespread outage of electricity and we were one of the first ones out and the last ones in.

I wonder why we are so special.

We have always enjoyed living among tall pine trees. However, pine trees, especially old pine trees, have a tendency to fall over when arguing with 60 mile per hour winds. We lost many trees while others in the area lost none.

I wonder why we are so special.

Trees, some as much as 20 inches in diameter and perhaps 100 feet tall, were strewn all about the property. Some fences were damaged but none of the trees hit the house and no one was injured.

I wonder why we are so special.

We live on a dead-end street about a quarter of a mile long and there is only one way in and out. 4 trees had fallen across the street and one utility pole leaned in that direction. It was our good fortune that in fairly short time county work crews managed to cut a path trough the fallen trees wide enough to allow vehicle passage.

I wonder why we are so special.

It was quite an experience having no heat except from a fireplace and no light except what candles and flashlights could provide. I kept wondering what they used to do in the “old days”. In school I learned that the great American president, Abraham Lincoln, used study by just the light of the fireplace but I really couldn’t see how that freed the slaves. Probably something I missed in school.

I have no idea what Abraham Lincoln did when he came across a word where he wasn’t sure of the meaning. When that happens to me I go to the Internet and get a definition and often even a pronunciation. Of course, I couldn’t do that when there was no electricity to run the computer. It was then I discovered there is a book with pages full of words in little tiny print. It’s called a dictionary but I don’t see how that would help Abraham Lincoln because the print was so small it could never be read by a fireplace. And as far as pronouncing words – forget it. There is some kind of hieroglyphic code passed down from early Egyptian days that is supposed to tell you how the word is pronounced but by fireplace light – forget it.

There was one thing we benefited from that others didn’t. We now walk into a room and flip a switch and stand in wonder that the room lights up. We go to refrigerator and food is in there nice and cold. We push another device and the room heats up. We push another button and pictures appear on that big one-eyed box that had been staring at us for the last five days,

And I still wonder why we are so special.

The Old Professor

Carmel, CA

January 11, 2008