No luck in finding the flight deck. Looking out of a window, I tell Juan that it looks like we are about to crash on
. This is irritating, as the mountain surrounded by glaciers and precipices. It is normally be a lot of fun, walking across this beautiful terrain, but it can be slow, and we are declivitishly behind schedule. Juan shrugs and says his civet is ticklish; but he doesn’t let that slow him down. As he says this, we stumble through a door where we are delighted to find our old friend Dougal, our friend from Buchanhaven, twisting the dial of an interesting looking piece of equipment. Mount McKinley
We ask him what it is and Dougal says that it’s a sophisticated clock that he invented for measuring time accurately. Juan points out that it doesn’t have any hands, so it can’t be that sophisticated. Dougal gives him a dim look and hands us a diagram, which doesn’t make any sense and Juan says that he still can’t see any hands. Dougal, looking a tad cross, explains that his theory is that, for navigation purposes, it is essential for time to be measured accurately, and that can only be done if a clock has thin, pointy, hands. If it had large, round, hands, he says, you can only to tell the time in vague sort of way. The problem, Dougal tells us, is primarily metallurgical, very thin, pointy hands on a clock tend to bend or break. This machine, Dougal says, uses light beams instead of hands, and the light beams are so thin that the time can be measured to an accuracy of three decimal places. We take his word for it, say what a good thing it is, offer him a dram from the latest batch of Juan’s Special Reserve, and drink to the success of Dougal’s his new clock, but he starts crying and tells us that it doesn’t work, in fact, he adds, hitting the top of it, it never worked. Then he hits it on the side, and says that it probably never will work and all the years he spent on the thing were wasted, and then he kicks it across the room, shouting that he could have been an acrobat instead, then, crying and yelling that it is a piece of useless garbage, he stamps up and down on it until it’s a heap of broken junk.
I remark to Juan that his latest batch of Special Reserve seems to be as potent as ever. To celebrate, we open a fresh barrel and, toasting the beauty of Alaska, hurtling toward the highest mountain in the United States, shouting with excitement, crashing around in befuddled circles, punkishly behind schedule, we stagger on, to the flight deck, as fast as we possibly can
Professor Humperdink’s Diary