To be serious for just a moment.

The past year has been a long one in some ways and short in others. One of the things I realize is that I am now almost 86 years old. With a background of booze, cigarettes and obesity I never would have guessed I would see this year. I am very, very grateful, especially to the love of my life, Jen-Chi. I couldn't have done it without her nor would I want to.

I also take close note of the many, many friends I have been fortunate enough to meet online. That has been wonderful and I wish every one of you a very happy new year.

If I don't see you before, I hope to meet you here a year from now. The "hope" part pertains to you. I'll be here.


The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 31, 2008



I realize, when compared with the population of any continent, there are relatively few people who stop by here to read whatever nonsense I might have to say. Even so, I never have used this platform to advance any particular viewpoint. But I’d like to make an exception and pass along my version of an online adventure I am currently in that might help others.

Some time back I saw an internet ad for free samples of a diet drink called Slim Easy Pro. In the ad there appeared to be cans of one of those “substitute it for a meal” drinks. They offered to send me a 2-week supply for free. Why not?

So the 2-week supply arrived and it was a jar of a powder that was to be mixed with water or most any other liquid.

As often seems to happen to me, I didn’t get around to actually trying it when another 2 jars showed up – another 30-day supply! Then I noticed my credit card was charged for $88.97! Investigation showed me that I had agreed to try the product and if I didn’t cancel within 20 days I would be automatically enrolled in "the program" which would send me a 30-day supply every month -- for $88.97.

As of this date I have received no satisfaction when I e-mailed a protest. I do admit I didn’t read the fine print closely enough and I’m willing to be penalized for that but not to the tune of $88.97.

So, all my friends (and the rest of you also), be careful out there. I have a hunch I’m going to end up wasting a bunch of money here so be sure to read the fine print before you agree to anything, especially if you're dealing with Slim Easy Pro.

Lots of luck.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 30, 2008



I feel that in all honesty I should correct something I wrote in the blog I posted yesterday, December28, 2008. At that time I mentioned one of my children asking about how much a dozen cookies cost and I explained how I walked her through the solution so she would always be able to figure it out herself.

Well, I’m ashamed to admit that was not exactly true.

I recall the event clearly. She asked me, “Daddy, do you know how many quarks there are in an atomic nucleus?” (She’s studying physics.)
I replied, “Yes I do but I think it would be better if you looked it up yourself. That way you’ll remember it longer.”

I’m glad to get that off my chest. I feel better now.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 29, 2008



When I was in college, majoring in Education, I recall many courses that more or less were “Methods of Teaching”. The main purpose of these courses was to convince us that teaching was more than standing in front of a class and spewing out information we knew and thought the students didn’t. It turns out to be true. There is much more to it than that and probably the worst teachers are those who fail to get the students involved in the process.

Personally I found that things I learned in those courses were also helpful as a parent. I often ran into something like this:
“Daddy, do you know how much a dozen cookies cost?”
I would say, “Yes and I could tell you but let’s start with what we do know and see if we can figure it out together. Do you know how much the cost of one cookie is?”
“Yes. It’s 10 cents.”
“Good. Now do you know how many cookies there are in a dozen?”
“I think it’s 12.”
“Yes, very good, it is 12.
Then I might say, “Do you know how much 2 cookies would cost?”
“Yes, 20 cents.”
“And 3 cookies?”
“30 cents”
“Now, how did you know that?”
“I times-ed it. 3 times 10 is 30.”
“Good. Very good. Now, using that same method, how would you find how much 12 cookies cost?”
“Times it by 12?”
“Very good”

In spite of the fact it would be much easier to just provide an answer, using this method will enable the child to calculate the cost of a dozen cookies for the rest of his or her life.

I have found there are many times this approach can be used in the adult world too. Just last week I was stopped by a policeman. He came to the car and asked, “Do you know how fast you were driving?”
As a result of my experience I confidently replied, “Yes, I do and I could tell you but let’s start with what we do know and see if we can figure it out together.”

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 28, 2008



The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 25, 2008



I happened to have some Music of the Season from a cable TV channel playing in the background. I really wasn’t paying much attention until I heard “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” being sung by a vocal group called The Temptations who recorded it in the 60s.

You know:

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

It was far and away the worst rendition I have ever heard but in addition someone dreamed up an embellishment. This group not only had an off-tune, slow-moving version but right about the time the songs says,

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee"

Someone in the background shouts,"Hey, Rudolph!"

Get it? Shouted? With glee?

Merry, Merry,

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 23, 2008



This morning I was reminded of something I hadn't thought of in a long time. Many years ago, perhaps when I was in my early 30s, I began to notice that loose hairs were mysteriously appearing on my pillow each morning. At that time I tried all kinds of treatments to slow this down but nothing seemed to help. I even paid for several rather expensive treatments with Dr. Breck. At that time there was a line of hair care products under the Breck name. Dr. Breck himself ran a clinic touted to help people with my "problem". It didn't help at all and I should have been suspicious when I first saw Dr. Breck and couldn't help but notice he didn't even have a single hair on his shiny head. His answer to my obvious question was, "If I knew then what I know now I wouldn't be this way."

The treatment consisted of having one of Dr. Breck's assistants rub a lot of black goo into my hair and then shampoo it out. When I mentioned this to my barber he told me I was wasting my money. He said, "One day he will come in and pull at the top of your hair and show you there was no loose hair. That’s because he rubbed out all the loose hair!"

Sure enough, after my very next treatment Dr. Breck came into the room, yanked at my hair and said, word for word, exactly what the barber had told me. That was my last contact with Dr. Breck.

Eventually I became somewhat hair-disadvantaged. However, by some cruel twist of fate, I have just enough hair that I need to go to a barbershop just as regularly as I always did. Many years went by before I finally realized I really do have a fantastic advantage over a person who has the top of his or her head thickly covered with hair. When I go outside I know that it has started to rain before anyone else!

So far I haven't found any great use for this ability except to feel sorry for people with all those hair-crested people who don't even realize when it has started to rain. Here in California, we have been tolerating a rather lengthy stretch with no rain at all but this morning it started raining lightly.

I was the first to know.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 19, 2008



Has anyone else wondered what a CEO is? I mean, I know it’s an abbreviation for Chief Executive Officer. I know it means the CEO is the head person – the one who is responsible – the one who makes the big bucks. But what does a CEO actually do? Many of these people earn millions of dollars a year and, I ask again, for doing what?

Did you know there is such a thing as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) complied by the US Department of Labor? This is 5 volumes, more than 6,000 pages, of brief descriptions of every known occupation listed alphabetically from Abalone Diver to Wrong Address Clerk. Nowhere is there any CEO or Chief Executive anything. According to the Department of Labor there is no such occupation.

Of course, we all know there are such occupations. At least there are people who claim that title and get paid a great deal of money for doing it. Many even get big bonuses when they are fired for not doing it well enough. But once again, what specifically does the CEO of a big steel company, for example, do? I know he doesn’t decide if more chromium needs to be added to a particular batch of steel. There are others who do that. But once those “others” are in place can’t the CEO go play golf or something?

I still can’t wrap my mind around someone being paid a million or more dollars every month to do a job that doesn’t exist. Maybe I’m a bit envious.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 8, 2008



I never have had much to do with the stock market. It isn't that I wouldn't like to but in the past whenever I investigated this it seemed there was some money involved and I never had any money. At least not any "extra" money that I felt I could risk especially in an area I knew nothing about.

However, in chatting with my brother he mentioned some fund that he and some of his friends had invested in that seemed to be very safe. He said this fund paid a dividend every month and had paid the same dividend every month for at least the past seven years. So I decided, just for the fun of it, to put a small amount of money in this fund. I had no idea that my poor luck would have global consequences and that the value of investments all over the world would tumble.

Take a look at the 1-year chart. The red arrow I drew indicates the day that I invested $50. It's the truth and I apologize to everyone who had any kind of money invested in any kind of stock. As O. J Simpson says, “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 6, 2008


Lately I've spent quite a bit of time thinking of my father. I had always thought he was a wise man but my view of life was slightly different from his. For one thing, when it came making a career choice my father always ranked security as the number one factor. This is quite understandable as he spent many of his working years during the Great Depression. In the 1930s he even built living quarters into the attic of our home because his in-laws had no money, no job and no place to live.

He was a police officer and even though his pay was reduced for a few years he did have a job. So, to me it's quite understandable that he would always want his children to have some kind of a career that would be secure no matter what the economy was. I never really understood this until now. I mean "now" when it’s 2008 and I am in my 80s.

I was very fortunate that I was able to start my work career in 1940 when getting a job was not a problem. In addition, I completed an apprenticeship as a Tool and Die Maker. Later on I went into the teaching business and this background helped me a lot. It wasn't the skills I learned, it was more that I knew I could get a job anywhere, anyplace and anytime. So as a teacher my employment stopped in June and I spent the summer working at the trade that I knew. I never had any trouble getting a job. In fact, I don't ever recall applying for a job that I didn’t get. I even moved my wife and three very young children from Massachusetts to California with no employment prospects at all. And there was no problem. I went to work the first week I was in California.

I suppose this led me to have a certain degree of cockiness. I never worried about losing a job because I knew I could have another one probably within a day. And that's the way it's worked out -- until now. Of course, I'm not seeking employment now, not at my age, but I do think back to what it was like when my summer employment was essential. At least it was essential in order to maintain our lifestyle but being unemployed and not be able to do anything about it would terrify me.

The current condition of the economy makes me think back to my father and how wise he was. I'm certain there were times he could have left his job in law enforcement and moved to some other field for a higher salary. But I'm equally sure that he remembered the 1930s when his in-laws and most of his friends were unemployed. He knew from first-hand experience that no matter what the economic climate was there was always going to be crime and someone would be needed to control it.

I think he even forgave the city that reduced his pay by 10% during the Depression. He often spoke about how the city eventually restored that pay cut by increasing his pay 10%. The first time he explained this to me might've been my introduction to a higher level of mathematics. He carefully explained to me that when you reduce $100 by 10% you have $90. (Not that his pay was anywhere near that much) But then when you take that $90 and increasing by 10% you only have $99 so your original pay was not really restored.

A very wise man was my father. Not wealthy but wise.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 6, 2008



I ran into a minor problem a couple of weeks ago when we changed our time from Daylight Saving back to Pacific Standard. There was no real problem except with one clock, which is in the room where I keep my computer. The clock is above the door.

This needs a small ladder of some kind to reset the time and I just didn’t seem to get to do it. As a consequence I found myself glancing up at the clock as I habitually do and then mentally subtracting an hour.

I finally asked what you probably already thought, “Why not move the clock?”
So I did.
However, old habits die hard and I still found myself looking up to where the clock previously was only to find a bare space and then recalling the clock had been moved.

I thought this was a clever solution.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 5, 2008


Something on the front page of today’s New York Times caught my attention. The article was headed with:
Episcopal Split as Conservatives Form New Group

Now this is beginning to puzzle me. As I understand it, many years ago, maybe billions, God decided, for whatever reason, to create the Heavens and the Earth. From what rock carvings tell us there was only one religion at that time. Most people lived in caves and worshiped a stick. However, history tells us that some of the loyal stick worshipers became dissatisfied with worshiping a stick because they wanted certain things and when they asked the stick for them, the stick failed to produce. At least it didn’t produce with any satisfactory average.

So it came to pass that a group of the stick worshipers got together and said, “This isn’t working. Let’s worship this stone.” At first things seemed to go well and the stone worshipers thought it was rather foolish to worship a stick. “After all, it was only a stick”, they said.

But after awhile (history is unclear as to how long it was) the stone worshipers began to have doubts too and a group of them started to worship something else -– history is also unclear as to what it was.

And so it went, through eons of history, until today where there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of different religions or variations of religions. But there still is that group that says, “This isn’t working the way I want it to work. Let’s start something new.”

Will it ever end? “Ever” is a long time, but probably not.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
December 4, 2008