Dear Friends and the rest of you too,

The other day I posted a notice here letting you know that I am now an official published author by means of having won a special contest sponsored by our local newspaper.

Well, I offer abject apologies. (Published writers, or PWs as we in the business call ourselves, are allowed to use words like “abject”. It’s not necessary for me to know what it means and, now that I think of it, it’s not important for you to know either.)

Anyway, when I made the announcement I provided a link to the newspaper so you would be able to read the story – stories, actually. There were two.

How was I to know that apparently the paper only made them available for a couple of days? After that it’s possible to search the archives but I don’t want you to go to that trouble.

Additionally, they now charge a fee to see the whole story.

Here is the good news. I have posted both stories and you can read, copy it or do anything you would like to it. To see the winning story just click here and the honorable mention story click here.

I’m sorry if I caused you any difficulty. It wasn’t my fault and if my memory serves me, Mark Twain had a similar problem. Or maybe it was someone else.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 25, 2008



Well, my friends, I want you to be the very first to know that The Old Professor has finally been properly recognized in print. I’ve had a short story published -- a very short story.

The circumstances leading to this are a little bit different. A couple of months ago our daily, local newspaper, The Monterey County Herald by name, sponsored a rather unusual writing competition. Writers were invited to submit a short story exactly 299 words long. Not 300 or 298 but exactly 299.

I’ve participated on similar contests and find it fun to try to make the word count come out exactly. A word processor counts the total words and the total can be manipulated by changing things such as, “such as” to “like”, for instance.

This contest had an extra rule. The story must contain the word “jump” and the word “otter”.

There was a prize for the winner, which was a $50 certificate at a local bookstore.

I managed to write and submit three stories. The results were announced in the paper this morning and lo and behold, one of my stories was the winner and another was printed as an Honorable Mention.

This is not the first time I’ve been paid for writing a fictional story. I don’t know exactly how many stories I need to have published to qualify me to be called a professional writer but previously, in Springfield, Massachusetts, I also a wrote a fictional story and it was published in the Springfield Daily News. That was on the Childrens Page and I got paid $1 for it. That was in 1939 and $1 was worth a lot more then. In fact, I’d guess that $1 would buy as much then as the $50 buys today.

Copies of this latest masterpiece, signed by the prize-wining author, will be available for a price as yet undetermined but certain to be in the outrageous category.

If you are interested in reading the prizewinner and some of the competition you can click here or go to:

It won’t take long. It’s only 299 words.

Oops! I find the newspaper showed a definite lack of cultural appreciation by making the the free viewing of the story available for only 2 days. So I have copies at my web site that you can reach as above. Additionally, the Honorable Mention story is there in its proper form. That you can see by clicking here.

The Old Professor (aka Paul Henry, PA)
Carmel, CA
June 22, 2008
(PA = Published Author)



Recently I was reminded of a minor adventure I experienced in a Japanese restaurant several years ago. I don’t recall the name of this restaurant but I often went there for lunch and no matter what was ordered it came with a small salad consisting of shredded cabbage with a few sliced carrots on top.
It was the carrots that intrigued me. They were crosscut and the disks were an almost translucent, shiny, bright, orange color. The consistency told me they had been cooked in some fashion but I had no idea how they got them to look that way.
At that time I fancied myself as sort of an amateur gourmet cook and decide to find out how these carrots were made.
I tried every way I could think of with no success. I boiled them. I boiled them with oil in the water. I cooked them in a skillet with oil. I must have tried a dozen different ways to cook carrots but no way I tried came even close.
I finally did what I should have done in the first place. I decided to ask someone who knew.
The next time I was at that restaurant for lunch a lovely Japanese girl, wearing a kimono, was our waitress. After the food arrived I called her attention to the carrots and asked if she knew how they got them to look like that.
With a delightful Japanese accent she replied, “Ah dunno. Ah ask chef.”
Some time later she came back to the table. She said, “Chef say he dunno. Ay com fum can at way.
That shot that dream down but I did learn a good lesson in life. Here I had assumed there was something very special and it really was something very simple.
Many things in life are like that and if you ask in the right place you often can save hours of wasted effort trying to reinvent the wheel.
Of course the secret is knowing where the “right place” is.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 21, 2008



Okay, already.

For all you people who have envied living in Carmel for the wonderful weather we have – forget it. I have lived here 6 point 5 years and I have never seen it this hot. We often jest that people who live here run around with their tongues hanging out and panting if the temperature reaches 80 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit.

This afternoon it is over 102 – that’s one hundred and two. And this isn’t any thermometer that happens to be in the sun. It’s a well-shaded, digital thermometer and it says it’s hot, as if we couldn’t figure that out for ourselves.

An additional factor is that air-conditioning is very rare here. As I've often said, "We never need it." Wrong!

I’m left wondering if this has anything to do with that recent court ruling making same-sex marriages legal in California.


The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 20, 2008



Sometimes I get thinking about numbers even though it takes me to situations I can do nothing about. I was thinking about the population of the United States, which is now said to be around 300 million people. By definition, half of those people are below average intelligence. That’s 150 million people! Usually these people are not too obvious and we see them all the time and think nothing of it.

But what about the bottom half of that group? That’s still is some 75 million people. You probably run into them every day so that’s not too frightening. Even if we take out the very young and the mentally disabled and only consider half of that group we are still left with some 20 million, or so, adults who are way down on the intelligence scale.

In other words, this may come as a surprise to you but there are a lot of people out there who aren’t too bright. (I even had one as my boss at one time.) Yesterday I heard one person I think was very near to the bottom of even that group.

There was a news report on National Public Radio. Some reporter was interviewing a Man on the Street and asked this man’s opinion of the new action by the State of California that now recognizes same-sex marriages. He replied, (and I’m not making this up), “God doesn’t like it and he will punish us. He’s already started by sending jobs overseas.”

Uh -- All right.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 18, 2008



I have a hunch that many, if not most, holidays were invented by American greeting card companies or other commercial ventures that benefit from “gift giving”. Unfortunately, once the idea, no matter how crazy, is established then other countries often join in. Of course there are exceptions such New Years Day, which Americans didn’t start, it just happened that the holiday falls on the same day the next year starts. Or Americans didn’t decided December 25th would be Christmas Day. Everyone knows that day has always been the next day after Santa Clause comes down the chimney.

But there are many other holidays that where made up out of whole cloth and other countries copied them. I think I have pretty decent proof of this when we consider Fathers Day, which is celebrated on the third Sunday in June in America. It's also the same day in UK, Canada, Chile, France, Japan and India, which certainly looks like copying to me.

However, I think I have even better proof that some other countries copied America. I received a nice note from Mark, in Australia. He tells me they celebrate Fathers Day in September.

It took me awhile to figure out how this would happen until I happened to see a map of the world on a globe. There was the United States and I could see Australia way down there. All of a sudden it became obvious. If we have a holiday in June, which is the sixth month, we think of it as :


However, from Down Under, looking up, towards North America you can see it looks like a:


Try it. Lie on the floor and look up at the screen.

Doesn’t the 6 look like a 9 to you?
So now we all know why Fathers Day is celebrated in September in Australia.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 16, 2008



Every once in awhile I look back. This isn’t always a happy thing to do but I do it anyway. Today, as I look back to much younger days, I think about things I have accomplished.

When I was in the manufacturing business I was involved with the creation all kinds of things from pie plates to airplane parts. Also, during the many years I spent in the educational business I helped develop thousands of young men and women who went into the world better prepared to face it. I think I was fairly successful in both of these areas.

However, there is one thing I am proudest of and strangely enough, it didn’t take that much time and was very enjoyable. Many Several years ago I was half of a team that created three wonderful daughters.

In the United Sates there is one Sunday in June called Fathers Day. Its primary purpose is for children to honor their fathers. That day happens to be today and in my case, once again, I look back, pat myself on the back and say, “Nice job.”

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 15, 2008



It’s interesting the way people randomly meet on the Internet. Of course, there are groups where members communicate with each other on a particular subject and there are a zillion dating web sites offering to match people up. Then there is this blogging phenomenon.

I have a wonderful daughter who uses Meggiecat as her blogging name. Her web site concerns crafts and she has many visitors to her blog site. She is the one who started me on this blogging business. She even mentions me at her blog site and I have had many visitors who have arrived at my place via Meggiecat’s. There she mentions me and says, “He finds humor in the mundane.”

Mundane? As my mother used to say, “I don’t know where she got that word. She never heard it from me.” I wondered and supposed it was a compliment but to be sure I looked up the word “mundane”. In short, it means “ordinary” so I suppose she’s right.

However, I like to think of myself as half of the Robert Kennedy type. One of his famous quotations is, “Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, “Why not?”

Well, I’m one of the “some men” he refers to in the first half of that and it’s true that I do see many things and ask, “Why?” I can’t help it.

As an example, this morning I put on a sports shirt. Now this type shirt often has a breast pocket. I don’t mean like a bra. I mean sewed to the outside of the shirt in the breast area. Sometimes there is no pocket. Often there is one but the today’s shirt has two pockets – one on each side.

So, just as that guy that Robert Kennedy had in mind, I wondered why. Whenever a thing like this comes to my mind I think there must be some reason and I attempt to imagine what it is. In this case, why in the world would some shirts have 2 pockets?

Often common sense kicks in as in this case. I think there probably is a shirt factory in El Salvador and one of the workers sews on pockets. He or she comes to a place where there is extra fabric left. Now my knowledge of El Salvadorian doesn’t go much farther than, “AƱade chile en polvo” which I think means, “Add the chili powder.” None the less, it might have happened like this:

Worker: Hey, bosso! I steel mucho fabrico remainio.
Foreman; Makeo uno extreto pocketio.
Worker: Si.

And the shirt sewing person just adds a second pocket.

Now that may not actually be the way it happens but remember, I’m only the guy who wonders why.

I guess Meggiecat is right. That is pretty mundane.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 14, 2008



Okay, students. It’s time to listen up. Here is your chance to learn something the easy way and it might help you from being in the condition I’m in right now.

I don’t know how but I hurt my left foot. Now here comes the learning part. I damaged one or more of the sesamoid bones. As you can imagine, it’s a bit painful.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what the sesamoidal bones are I’ll explain. Here come the learning part and this will not be on the final exam, so relax and just soak it up.

Well, there actually are two sesamoidal bones on each foot.

There are the lateral sesamoid bones, which are closest to the outside of the foot, and then, obviously, there are the ones closest to the inside of the foot and they are called medial sesamoid bones. They are both located just under the big toe.

In case you don’t get the picture, the sesamoids are embedded in the flexor hallucis brevis tendon, one of several tendons that exert pressure from the big toe against the ground and help initiate the act of walking.

But you probably already knew that.

My podiatrist (pretty foot doctor) did.

But then she had a chart hanging on the wall which I’m sure would not have been allowed during the Final Exam for Big Toe 1A in Podiatrist College.

She took some x-rays and made a pad to take the pressure off and that seems to be working fairly well.

Then she told me that my condition was sometimes called “Dancers Toe”.
I asked if it could have caused it by watching Dancing With The Stars on TV.
She said, “Probably.”

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 13, 2008

PS I didn’t really remember all that terminology but, as usual, someone on the Internet did. I did a Google search for “sesamoid bones” and learned much including there apparently is at least one website that sells “sesamoid bones” for the lowest price on the web. That’s the truth.



I received an e-mail ad suggesting I might want to buy a pair of men’s jeans. You know, those denim pants men often wear when doing heavy construction work or washing dishes and stuff like that. This ad came from a place called Overstock and they seem to specialize in selling things that are – well – overstocked.

They suggested I might like to purchase these jeans at half the usual price.

It asks me to compare with others costing $240 while they are selling the same, or similar, thing for only $114.29.

That seemed like quite a bargain so, as suggested, I went looking for the $240 ones to compare. I had a bit of trouble finding a place that sold jeans in that price range but I did stumble on Wal-Mart and their price was close.

These were selling for $17.77 and you could compare them to other jeans costing more than $20.

So, since I am torn between the expensive ones or the equal quality ones I decided, for now, to stick with the ones I am wearing now. The way things are going by the time I get to replace these, paying $200 for a pair of jeans will probably seem like a bargain.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 12, 2008



Dear Mr. Woods,

Recently I was watching my favorite program on my big screen, television set when all of a sudden you appeared in high definition. Without further ado you proceeded to put some stuff on your face that apparently was shaving cream. Then you took a razor and with one swift movement slid it down the side of your face. Then you looked at the razor, smiled and said, “Hmmm.” I interpreted this to mean you were in some way pleased. I may have misread your intent but I guessed you were suggesting this particular razor would be a good thing for me to buy.

Now allow me to explain something, Mr. Woods. I was shaving every day long before you ever saw a golf club. Long before you ever saw the light of day for that manner. I would never dream of going into your house to demonstrate that I knew more about shaving than you do – even though I sincerely believe I do.

What you did would be like me going into your house while you were watching Dancing With The Stars, taking a driver and hitting a long straight shot and then looking at the club and saying, “Hmmm.” Well, in my case it probably would be more like hitting a long shot that landed in the trees or a sand trap but you know what I mean.

So why don’t we make a deal? If you don’t tell me what razor I need and I won’t tell you what golf club to use. That way everyone will be happy.

Oh, one more thing, I really don’t need to hear about how fond you are of Buick automobiles either. However, if someone were to give me one for free I’d smile a lot and tell everyone I know how wonderful they are too.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 10, 2008



The other day I saw a television program where they discussed the possible link between the use of cell phones and brain cancer. The various “experts” didn’t really have a firm answer but many concluded it might be wise to use an earphone instead of putting the cell phone right against the ear. Many experts thought the brain was just inside the ear. I tend to agree with that conclusion though I do see things that make me wonder if it is always true. I see people driving with that phone against their ear and judging by some actions I see, I tend to doubt the brain is anywhere near. In fact, I sometimes doubt it is even in the car at all.

This program made me think about two things. First, if I were just starting a medical career I’d think seriously about brain oncology as a field of specialization. If by chance there is even a slight correlation between the time one has a cell phone near the ear and brain cancer it is certain there is a whole generation coming that will be ripe for treatment pretty soon. I drove past a high school the other day just before classes were starting. I’d guess 90 percent of the students had some kind of electronic device stuck against the side of their heads apparently trying to get brain cancer before classes started.

The second thing is a bit different and a bit more personal. I always carry a cell phone in my pants pocket. I rarely use it but it’s always there. Now, if my slim knowledge of physiology is anywhere near correct, on most males that area is very close to the part (or parts) that has something to do with the process of creating babies. I was never quite clear about that but I wonder if my constant carrying that phone, even though I don’t use it, might hinder my having children if I decided I wanted to.

Maybe I’ll play it safe and switch to a shirt pocket. If I do decide to father another child I know I won’t be nursing it.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 9, 2008



There’s a homemade video that seems to be making the rounds on the Internet. When I saw it the title was, “Here's a neat little AA battery trick they don't want you to know” This shows the “secret” of what’s inside those large square batteries, sometimes called “lantern batteries”. The ones that look like this:

The contention is that this battery is really made up of 32 small AA cells and the video shows them spilling out when the battery is taken apart.

My first reaction was to suspect this. It would seem a rather stupid way to manufacture a battery but since I had a dead one that was ready for disposal I decided to look inside.

Sure enough, it was nothing like the video showed.
I have never been able to understand why someone smart enough to make a video like this would think that was a good joke. No doubt thousands of people, world-wide, went out and bought a large battery and destroyed it thinking they were getting a lifetime supply of small batteries. All they would end up with was a ruined large battery but the video maker would have a good laugh.

I don’t get it.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
June 3, 2008