The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Button Hole

Harsh winds from mind's thoughts,

vibrate through you to create a weapon,

a piercing arrow aimed at my soul.


The past memories are gone,

their cherished beauty shredded

by the pain of present day.


All that was, is now gone.

I mourn for what was,

or... what appeared to be,

as I try to see a tomorrow.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Generilzable Information & 4,775


Eating dinner was a wonderful experience last night.  I ended up having:

1.  An enormous salad (like every day).

2.  A large bowl of vegetarian "chick" chili (substituting chickpeas for chicken in this case.... it was some we made when one of our vegetarian kids was eating with us and we had some that was frozen from that time).

3.  A pinto bean and quinoa burrito with enchilada style spices

4.  An enormous bowl of broccoli and cauliflower

5.  A bowl of my favorite sauteed chickpea & chard side dish (very spicy). 

I was so hungry that even cardboard would have tasted good.... but the above was truly wonderful after a day of dental fasting. 

* * * * *

I stopped running this morning after 9.2 miles... because I had been rather ahead of my mileage goal all week and hit 55 miles total after finishing the 9.2.  I have now successfully ran between 53-55 miles EVERY WEEK for almost two years now without any deviation.  This means I can take TWO DAYS off from running.  I will walk 5 miles on those days, of course.  But, it is nice to be finished a day earlier than usual with running.  

* * * * *

I weighed 161 pounds this morning.  I have had my weight in the "NORMAL" BMI range now for somewhere around 13 years.  My BMI this morning was 21.  At my highest weight, which would have been around 2001, my BMI was a bit over 37.  

* * * * *

I had not counted in quite a while, so I thought I would do so today.  Today marks the 4,775th day in a row where I have walked at least 5 miles each day..... most days now I am running..... and running 53-55 miles a week, but even on days off from running, I walk at least 5 miles.  This means I have been consistent in doing AT LEAST 5 miles of walking (or more) every damn day for OVER 13 years!!!!!  Before that, I was walking some as I lost weight but I then made a commitment to myself that I would do this every day.... and now it has been over 13 years of that consistency. 

* * * * *

The muscles associated with my mandible are sore and tender today, especially in the mandibular joint region, but that is normal and typical for me following a dental appointment because of the conscious force/effort I need to apply to keep my jaw open during inspection and cleaning.   Hopefully by tomorrow or at least by Sunday, the soreness will have dissipated.  

* * * * *

Last night, when reading in bed, I chose to read some of "Behind the Mirror" by one of my favorite historical biologists, Konrad Lorenz.  I have read most of his works multiple times, but I especially enjoy this book because it is a mix of science, philosophy, and biography.  After growing sleepy-eyed, I went to the back of the book to look at the dust jacket, and (as I knew it was) there was Herr Doktor Professor Lorenz's photograph.... one of his classic ones with him holding his pipe while speaking.  The pipe is a very simple, full-bent briar without ornamentation.  I have a few of the same shape and they are very nearly identical to the one he has in the photograph.  The photograph, probably from the late 1960s or early 1970s crystalized a thought in my mind that I wanted to write down here.  In some ways I see a corollary between that era image and 2021 with the biblical "Garden of Eden".  In the time of that photograph, smoking a pipe was just a pastime, a pursuit that some folks engaged in.  It was simple, it was easy, it was beyond enjoyable and pleasant.  It *was* akin to the "Garden of Eden" before the man and the woman ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge.... a blissfully simple, enjoyable time.  I had many such years, hell... decades... of that myself in regards to pipe smoking.  But.... I estimate this roughly.... but starting around 2005, and getting progressively stronger especially after 2010... pipe smoking became less simple, more "needing of comment" in the public's perception, and more of a hassle to enjoy freely.  The awareness of this growing feeling of the beautiful hobby becoming more of a hassle than a pleasure is a bit akin in my mind to the after effects of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge.  Adam and Eve no longer felt as "carefree" but felt encumbered with their knowledge.  In the same way, my pipe smoking grew less "carefree" especially after 2010.... except when either by myself or with my father-in-law..... other times it would feel like it would end up being a focal point for discussion... sometimes good discussion, sometimes rancorous discussion.  But, either way, it lost its gentle carefree nature (again, except while alone, by myself, or with my father-in-law).  Having it become a continual focal point instead of just a carefree pursuit, grew tiresome.  I miss the pipe smoking times before the tree of knowledge was consumed.  Lorenz's photograph reminded me of that earlier time.


Thursday, October 07, 2021


I just got out of the dentist.  Everything was fine, and I was given complements on how well I brush and floss.  The hygienist said it was remarkable how little work she had to do on my teeth.  I was relieved, as dental visits always get me rather riled up.  

I am now so damn hungry!!!!!!  This is the second day this week where I did not eat anything all day long (the other day was in anticipation of the incorrect dental appointment).  But, I need to wait until dinner, as I stick with the hard learned lesson of eating appropriately and have finally taught myself restraint in not eating just willy-nilly as was my normal pattern when I used to weigh ~290 pounds.  I have been in the normal BMI range now for roughly 15 years, but it was a hard to learn change in myself to get there.  

But, I am damn hungry and feel I could eat an entire grocery store!  So, it will be delightful when we have dinner.  

I ran 11.5 miles this morning…. hitting the pavement at 5:15 am.  


Wednesday, October 06, 2021


This entire week has been one huge struggle, and I am feeling rather fed up with it at the moment.  I feel quite angry on several fronts.  

The supposed dental appointment I had yesterday.... turned out to be actually on Thursday.  "Apparently" I wrote the date down wrong.   Now I have to go through all the same sh*t of not eating all damn day long just like I did on Tuesday.  I just have to say again how I hate going to the dentist. 

I am p*ssed about a whole helluva lot more than just the damn dentist.... but I cannot talk about it at the moment.  

Just about the ONLY semi-decent thing I can think of at the moment is that I have 33 miles done this week already (Monday through Wednesday).  The runs were not my favorite experiences, but they were good to get out of the way each day.  

I feel tired, I feel I never get ahead in classes, I feel like I am constantly struggling and having to get all my sh*t done at the last minute.  The tasks that I do end up doing, almost inevitably are done wrong and I have redo them again.  The biggest case in point is the damnable learning management system we have (that term, learning management system is a damn stupid, high falloting, "1984-esque" garbarge term that we have to use around here to describe our "electronic classroom".  Inside our beloved "electronic classroom" we have our "electronic gradebook".  Since damnable Covid hit, we have been "guided" by the powers that be to use our damn stupid learning management system to hold and publish all of our classes papers, grades and other b*llsh*t.  So, EVEN THOUGH I AM IN FACE-TO-FACE teaching.... I have to use the "eloquent" (extreme sarcasm) learning management system's gradebook.  

So, my ~270 students all had their first lecture exam last week.  Basically, in a nutshell, the damnable learning management system's gradebook is quirky and stupid and does not follow traditional logic.  Because of a truly asinine aspect of the gradebook, I cannot create a column to input grades to a QUIZ OR TEST by calling the category a QUIZ or a TEST.  If I do so, it for some damn illogical reason defaults to making the point value of the QUIZ or TEST be get this..... ZERO POINTS..... EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A DAMN QUESTION IN CREATING THE CATEGORY THAT STATES..... HOW MANY POINTS WILL THIS QUIZ or TEST BE?

I set up this damnable column and inputted all the grades for all the students...... and then it showed it as worth ZERO POINTS which royally screwed up the percentage for the students.... and I was then flooded with damn near 270 emails about it. So, I presumed I did something wrong, and redid the entire sh*tty thing again....... and it had the same sh*tty results.  I tried one last time..... telling myself I MUST HAVE FORGOTTEN TO SAVE SOME ASININE SETTING OR I DIDN'T TOGGLE SOMETHING. So I did it a THIRD TIME...... still ZERO POINTS.  

I was so utterly fed up that I finally called campus IT (and waited half an hour on the phone to talk to someone).  I come to learn..... APPARENTLY.... in our "learning management system" it is not allowed to call a test score either a QUIZ or a TEST.... EVEN THOUGH THOSE ARE CATEGORIES LISTED!!!!!!  DUE TO SOME ASSININE QUIRK OF THE SYSTEM, those categories default to zero point values, no matter what you input.  The IT guy told me to call it an ASSIGNMENT, and then I will have no further troubles. 

Argh!!!!!  No wonder I have TMJ.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2021



Today's post will be a bit more abbreviated due to a rescheduled dental appointment.  My original appointment was set to occur about a month ago, but the hygienist who works at my dentist's office was unexpectedly ill that day and this caused most of my dentist's appointments to need to be cancelled. It was a rather interesting situation as I had been scheduled for the first appointment of the day.... and was driving there when I received the phone call from the scheduler that the appointment had to be cancelled.  

I actually do not like dental appointments in any way, shape, or form.  With my TMJ (Tempormandibular Joint Disorder), the seemingly simple act of holding my mouth open wide for inspection and cleaning is difficult to do.  My natural inclination is to close my jaw and clench my teeth (typical TMJ symptom).  It is surprising to many, but the act of holding my mouth wide open for even a simple formal cleaning by a hygienist (typically taking perhaps 45 minutes) IS difficult for me, and typically makes my mouth feel sore for two or three days afterwards.  

The above is a big reason I tend to be extremely fastidious with my teeth.  I typically floss at LEAST twice a day... often 3 or even sometimes 4 times a day.  I also brush often.  At MINIMUM three times a day, and often 4 or sometimes even 5 times a day.  

When I used to have the beautiful luxury of being an active pipe smoker.... dental days were not "fun" for another reason as well..... to avoid the typical "pipe smoking is bad" lecture from the series of younger dentists I have been going to since my original dentist (and his successor as well) retired...... I would refrain from smoking my pipes from the evening before the visit until after the dental visit.  As a morning pipe has always been my favorite of all piping times in a day, it was always the one I have to give up for sure... and often if I had to take an afternoon appointment, the abstinence would extend even further.  

So, I am hoping my appointment goes well.  We shall see.  


Monday, October 04, 2021

I Think I Will Stop

 I think I need to stop talking about my kid who is worrying me.  Some folks felt I was being callous about my kid’s challenges….. because I would talk about other things in my life ( like my running or about pipes).  

Truth is….. I find it difficult to talk about my kid’s issue out of privacy for my kid.  I unfortunately have it on my mind almost all the time.  I would like to try to talk it through and analyze it here to try to make better progress in how I am trying to help my kid.  

So, I think it is best to stop mentioning it.  However….. that does not mean I am not thinking about it nor that I am not acting on it.


Friday, October 01, 2021

Part of the Conundrum


In contemplating my desired return to smoking my pipes, there are two considerations that I am working through that are challenging to figure out:


One issue revolves around health risks.  It is a given that smoking tobacco is not a healthy pursuit.  But, pursuant to that, there are different LEVELS of risk.  From the many decades of study of physiology, I have understanding and knowledge that of the methods of smoking tobacco, smoking a pipe has consistently been shown to be associated statistically significantly LESS risk than other methods of smoking tobacco.  However, that does not mean there is NO risk.  

In contemplating the above, I believe there *IS* a LEVEL of indulgence I could engage in with pipe smoking where the level of risk in this way would be quite low.  I just need to determine where that "quite low" point is for me.  

Yet, there is another consideration.... and this consideration is important in its own accord, but actually it also influences "A" above:


The second issue is related to how I "respond" to smoking my pipes again.  What will it be like for me?  How will I feel?  How will it shape my resolve?

Having refrained from my beloved pipes for roughly 3.75 years at this point, I can imagine four different ways I may respond to smoking my pipes again:

1.  I can imagine the experience being as shockingly vivid, utterly beautiful, and emotionally intoxicating as it was when I first sampled my father's Sir Walter Raleigh as a young kid.  It was magical and was pure bliss from the first draws on the stem of the pipe.  Having been away for these 3.75 years could easily have reset my neurons to behave in this sort of fashion like they did when I was a kid and for the first few years of pipe smoking.  

(If the above were to occur, which I could imagine being the case since I have been away from them so long that I may have a "novice" tobacco brain again.... I am truthfully not sure if I have enough gumption or perseverance to resist smoking excessively if this euphoric state occurs.)

2.  Or, I could imagine the experience being akin to the reliable, gentle, consistent comfort and pleasure that pipe smoking provided for me for the many decades after the incredible experiences of it in my youth quieted some.  

(If the above were to occur.... I think this would be the perfect scenario.  I *believe* I have enough stubborn determination to wrangle myself into whatever low-level indulgence I think I would determine would satisfy the "low level" risk desired in A.  Yet, if the indulgence rate (number of pipes I can have) is very low (remember, I am still trying to figure out what would be a relatively safe "low level").... might it end up being too much "work" to only indulge sporadically?)

3.  Or, I could imagine the return being bland and uninspired.  What if I find my cherished memories actually have become hyperbole and exaggeration?  What if my return just feels like "nothing special" or "nothing valuable"?  

(If the above occurs... this would be disappointing, but I think it would be rather easy to maintain life as a pipe smoker at "low risk" or even less... because I would not think I  would have much desire or compulsion to indulge other than once or twice a year for "reminiscing" purposes.  

4.  Or (as shocking as it seems to me when I write it)... I *MIGHT* actually find my pipes and pipe tobaccos to be DISTASTEFUL and UNPLEASANT.  I *might* actively dislike them.  

(If this were to occur, I think I would feel quite sad.  Although perhaps the most healthful route, I would never imagine ever finding pipes unpleasant.) 

With the above two considerations, I think I have at least identified the work I must do and also identified the potential impacts I may experience.  I think this may be helpful as I work towards trying to return to this lovely hobby in a way that a) is on my terms, b) is lower risk, c) is managable, d) is not feeling like hard work, and e) is sustainable.