I suppose many people think much as I did, that is that retired professors spend most of their time being retired. I mean, smoking a pipe, reading a book and going, "Harumph!" a lot. I have no idea where that idea comes from as it certainly doesn't fit me at all.

As an example, the other day I got the assignment to do the grocery shopping. This was fine as far as I was concerned, because I consider myself very skilled at this task and it doesn't take me very long. Some other people I know, who will remain nameless, take hours to accomplish what should take minutes. Two days ago I accomplished the grocery shopping for the whole week in less than 15 minutes. I will admit that isn't the complete story.

This is the complete story: I was given a list of items needed. I drove to the grocery store and went about my usual efficient way of gathering these up. I took a shopping cart and headed to the fruits and vegetables section, quickly making my selections and moving on to the other sections. I didn't actually time it but I think I was in and out in my usual 15 minutes. However, when I arrived home I noticed there were some unusual things in my collection of groceries. They seemed to be things I hadn't purchased and, to my mind, they were a bit unusual. For example, there were 2 bananas and I knew I had purchased 10 bananas, at least. There was one lone potato. Who buys one potato? Then there were 2 carrots and I had no recollection of buying any carrots. Nor had I purchased a bunch of asparagus and a clump of broccoli. This person may have been a grocery thief but he or she probably was a very healthy grocery thief.

It finally dawned on me that some nefarious person had stolen my grocery cart and substituted their cart. I have no idea why anyone would want to do such a thing. I tried to think back when this might have happened and think I have it figured out. As I was leaving the house to go shopping I was told to try and find some "ginger root". Not being exactly sure what that was I picked up some gnarly root thing and took it to a man working in that department who verified that it was indeed ginger root. I left my shopping cart unguarded. I imagined it was at that time that this person, who had probably been lurking nearby and quickly grabbed my shopping card and substituted his or hers.

Of course, using hindsight, it's easy to wonder why I hadn't noticed the difference as I was checking out and unfortunately I have no answer for that except to add that to the list of things that old retired professors do.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
February 25, 2009



First allow me to offer my apologies for having been gone so long. I appreciate the several people who wrote to me saying I was missed. That felt nice. But, as the kids say, it wasn't my fault. The dog ate my computer.

Here's how it happened and perhaps you might benefit from my experience. I started one of those software programs that promises to fix the registry so your computer runs faster than God's. Maybe it would have worked, I'll never know. Running the program takes considerable time. During that time we had a power failure. I should have guessed it might happen as we have many pine trees around here. Pine trees have shallow roots. When it rains trees with shallow roots tend to fall over. They often hit power lines. The ALWAYS hit our power line.

After several hours the power was restored but the computer wouldn't run properly. At first I was unconcerned because, in case you didn't know, Windows has a System Restore program where you merely pick a previous date that you want the computer configured to and there's no problem. I've used the program several times with no problem. This time when I went to do this there were no previous times to restore to - none! There also were no drivers, no internet connection, no printer and in short, no nuttin'.

Because restoring it was clearly beyond my skill level and taking it to a repair shop was bound to be costly I decided to investigate buying a new computer. In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, there is a giant electronics retailer called Circuit City. They recently declared bankruptcy but as I drove by their store I saw the door was open. I went in and found they were selling everything including the shelves on the wall. The computer department only had 3 units left. They were all the same Hewlett-Packard model and it was exactly what I had been thinking of buying but at a huge discount. So that's what I have now and am going through the steps of setting it up.

As I look at the many things I want to install or move from my previous computer I'm led to think of the Bible. Isn't that what happened when people tended to overdo things? I'm just glad this particular divine intervention only included a tree and a power line instead of the full 40 days and 40 nights thing. I'm too old for that.

The Old Professor
Carmel, CA
February 23, 2009