5/30/2008

THANK HEAVEN!

In the United Sates, and possibly elsewhere for all I know, there is a large chain of “Convenience Stores” that, for some reason, have the name of “Seven Eleven”. They have an advertising slogan that says “Oh, thank heaven! It’s Seven Eleven.” I suppose this is because some people might find themselves suddenly without chewing gum while out on the highway. Then when a Seven Eleven store appears they might breath a sigh of relief and say, “Oh, thank heaven! It’s Seven Eleven.” I wouldn’t say that but I’m guessing that someone probably would.
Of course, this would prompt store owners to put up signs reflecting this.


Many of these convenience stores sell gasoline and the price might also be on the sign as it was on this one as of May 29, 2008.


This might not seem significant except that a year ago the price was approximately half of that.

Oh well ...

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 30, 2008

5/29/2008

IT'S FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN

For me things often seem to happen in a fortuitous manner. This morning I was wondering what to write that might at least fill this spot and I began thinking that possibly everything I had to say I’ve already said. Then I opened the morning paper and there it was, right on the front page.

But first, a little background.

I currently live near the very prestigious Naval Postgraduate School and last week it was reported that Gary Hart addressed the faculty and students telling them “lack of thinking has given us a war driven by a global war on terror.”

Gary Hart is now 71-years old and considered by many to be a respected author of books on National Security. But back in 1988 he was the Senator from Colorado and considered likely to be a very popular Democratic candidate for President of the United States. But all was not smooth. There were consistent rumors about Hart’s extramarital affairs. Hart always denied these claims and even challenged reporters to follow him around. They did and soon had pictures of him with a much younger model named Donna Rice.

Gary Hart withdrew from the presidential race and subsequently did not seek election.

So this morning, some 20 years later, I opened the morning paper to see this headline:

Lack of foresight

costly, Hart says.

Actually, in this speech he was referring to the actions the country took after the end of The Cold War in 1992 but the words could not have been more appropriate if they had been applied to his personal life in 1988 -- Lack of foresight certainly was costly.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 29, 2008

5/22/2008

BRILLIANT IDEA #3

Every once in awhile most people get an idea that can be considered brilliant. It doesn’t happen often and for some people it never happens. I consider myself fortunate to have had three of them in my lifetime. I can’t recall what the other two were but in comparison to this one they would pale anyway.

And there’s a funny thing about brilliant ideas; you never know where or when these strokes of genius are going to pop up. In this case I was just waking up this morning. It wasn’t as if I was planning; “I think I’ll have a brilliant idea today.” No, it wasn’t like that at all. It just came to me, apparently out of nowhere. I’ll share it with you.

Almost everyone has heard about the cyclone hitting Myanmar recently. As the number of deaths approaches 100,000 there are untold numbers of other people in need of various types of help. This help is being delayed or even denied because the Myanmar government doesn’t trust outsiders. As a result, there are ships sitting outside the country loaded with badly needed supplies and they are being denied access because the government “doesn’t trust outsiders.”

Well, since when does out government need permission to enter a foreign country? If we see something we think isn’t right we just march in, find a statue to topple, capture the Head of State and get on with whatever we came for. In this case it would be distributing blankets and so forth much the same way we did in our own country when Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area.

Well, maybe that isn’t a good example but we could at least do the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED thing on the aircraft carrier.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 22, 2008

5/18/2008

IT MAKES ME WONDER

Some polls show minor differences, but in general it appears that the latest polls show the American President, George W. Bush, has an approval rating of well under thirty percent. Unless mathematics has change that means that 3 out of every 10 people I bump into think things are going well.

How can that be?

I wonder if anyone has ever conducted a serious poll to determine just who these people are. It should be easy enough to find out since the pollsters seem to be able to pinpoint all kinds of information with surveys concerning elections. We hear things like 85 percent of the college educated, white voters do something or other. Or, 65 percent of people who work in coalmines and attend church regularly disapprove of something. Or everything.

Why can’t someone find out who these Thirty Percent People are? Would we discover that group contains very wealthy or very poor or none of the above?

It would be interesting to see the educational background of these people. Would it turn out that fifty percent of those who approve of the present situation are also the same fifty percent who never graduated from nursery school? Or wouldn’t it be interesting if it turned out that about half of this group had, at sometime, been kicked in the head by a bull at sometime in their life.

And I wonder what the average age if this group is.

I think it’s important for us to know. If there were to be a survey of the people in your bank at the time you were there and you learned that 30 percent of them were convicted bank robbers it certainly would at least make you nervous. I know that if 30 percent of everyday people I run into in the supermarket think all is going well I certainly will at least look both ways very carefully when I go to the parking lot.

My father never spoke much but when he did he was just about always right. Today I can hear his voice as he proclaimed, as he often did, “The whole world is going nuts.”

No Dad. Only 30 percent.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 18, 2008

5/16/2008

EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE KING

Today I was talking to someone about gadgets. A gadget, according to the dictionary is:

(gajit)

noun

  1. Any small, esp. mechanical contrivance or device
  2. Any interesting but relatively useless or unnecessary object

Yes, that's it -- especially the relatively useless part. Now, King of the Gadgets may not be an actual title but if it were I’m sure I would qualify easily. In fact, to paraphrase the American humorist, Will Rogers, “I never met a gadget I didn’t like.”

Because it is essential that I get any new gadget as soon as it’s on the market I usually end up paying twice as much as it would have cost had I waited a month or two. But do you ask an addict to wait a month or two for his fix?

I’ve had several adventures with gadgets that might qualify for the Hall of Fame or rather The Hall of Infamy. One that comes to mind is the Reynolds Ball Point Pen. In 1945, just prior to Christmas, the now defunct (and for a good reason) Reynolds Pen Company waged a huge advertising campaign. They had a fountain pen and the concept was brand new.

There was a small aluminum tube that contained ink in a semi-solid form. At the end of the tube there was a little roller. When you wrote the ball roller picked up the ink and put it on the paper. The advertising said, “It even writes under water.” I suppose that was true. It just didn’t write on paper very well. But I didn’t know that and at the time I was in college and could have really used a good pen. However the price was $15. Now that was $15 in 1945 when that amount of money was a lot. (Before going off the school I had been working as a journeyman tool and die maker and was being paid $1.10 an hour.) $15 was a ridiculous amount of money for a pen then but I really longed to own that pen. As a great Christmas present my fiancĂ©e gave me one of the first Reynolds ballpoint pens. I couldn’t have been more thrilled until I went back to school and tried to use it. It skipped and every once in a while it left a glob of ink on the paper. I didn’t get a chance to try it underwater but my guess is it wasn’t much better.

Then there was the wire recorder. By this time I was married to that fiancée and was still attending college. We struggled along on a very small amount of money but one day I saw a wire recorder at the local Sears and Roebuck store and had to have it. It was a beautiful piece of mahogany furniture which looked strangely out of place in our place which was furnished with whatever we could get our hands on including some wooden boxes. But the beautiful wire recorder had a built-in radio and this device allowed me to record a whole radio program on a thin stainless steel wire that wound around a spool. This worked nicely with only occasionally (maybe once a day) getting the wire snarled up.

We had the machine about 2, maybe 3 months when the tape recorder appeared on the market and the wire recorder disappeared overnight. Today most people I’ve met have no idea any such gadget ever existed and a few even wonder why a gadget like this ever existed. But I had one!

You might think this story pathetic enough but there’s more. With this addiction comes my inability to get rid of any of these items even though they don’t work or barely work. So here I sit in the middle of 4 computers, 3 printers and who’s knows how much obsolete software.

So why don’t I get rid of some of it?

That’s not an original idea and one I’ve heard around here quite often.

Maybe I will.

Tomorrow.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 16, 2008

5/12/2008

I 'M BACK WITH IMPORTANT STUFF

There is a good reason why I haven’t posted anything to this blog in some time. It’s simple: I didn’t have anything to say that was worth reading.

Oh, if only all bloggers felt that way.

But I did run across something I felt should be shared with as many people as I can reach.

Recently I was in a dentist’s waiting room, well, a periodontist’s actually and since they have better magazines, I didn’t mind waiting. That’s when I stumbled on a surprising item. At least it was surprising to me.

An article I read had a brief biography of Nathan Schulhof, the man who invented, built and patented the first downloadable digital player, with patents covering any compression. He is considered the "Father of the MP3 Player Industry". I was startled to read this:
In the midst of his great accomplishments,
Schulhof's world was turned upside-down
on January 16, 2004, when he lapsed into a coma
resulting from an ignored tooth infection that
turned his entire body septic, the five-day coma
wiped out his memory and left him hospitalized
for eight months, virtually unable to function.
I never knew that was possible! I always knew you needed to take care of your teeth or lose them but I never thought comas and memory loss could go along with it. Whew!

I’ll be back. I need to brush my teeth. Again.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
May 12, 2008