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.

Friday, August 14, 2020

30 Months Today


It has now been a full 30 months since I laid down my pipes and pipe tobaccos.  

It has been a rough day of a lot of time at the computer, fussing and messing around with all sorts of minutia trying to get the frameworks down for so much of the electronica I need to use as a sizable chunk of most of my Fall classes.  I am exhausted.  I am a bit frustrated.  I am tired.  

I would so very much like to pick up one of the pipes sitting in my pipe rack nearby me at the computer.  I would so very much like to reach with the pipe in hand into the glass humidor that is roughly 2/3rds full of one of my very favorite vanilla tinctured burley pipe tobaccos.  I would so very much like to bring upstairs to my office a tall tumbler sized glass of ice and pour over it several fingers of gin and fill the rest with pleasantly bitter tonic water.  And then, I would relish creating a flame with my lighter and gently draw the flame into melding with the tobacco leaf that would be so gently but firmly pressed into the bowl of the pipe.  To do so would, I believe, help me to find my center in this long, frustrating day.  

 I know I should not do the above, but at this moment I am not sure what it is I will do.  The call, the desire.... it is strong.  

 In an earlier post this week, I alluded to the notion that I had been in what was a few weeks of relative ease regarding my pipes.  When I speak of "ease" I mean that it had been a time of relatively simple patterns.  I would at waking imagine smoking my pipes, and I would fall asleep with memories of smoking my pipes in the past.... but during much of the day, I would have enough easy and fun things to do, or I would have enough hard and challenging things to do... that pipes and pipe tobacco would only occasionally and mildly enter my mind.  

This contrasts with the "harder" weeks.  In these weeks, I tend to have a deep yearning, a deep longing to return to my pipes that permeates most of my waking hours.  This was how I experienced the full first six weeks of Lent, 30 months ago when I first started this journey.  As a scientist, I predicted this "harder" time would be the norm at first, but had also predicted that the feelings would go into a smooth recognizable decline.  

Yet, 30 months later, I see my prediction proved false.  My feelings, my thoughts, my desires for a pipe and pipe tobacco do not fit a graph showing a gradual, yet steady decline.  Yes, there are times where it is "easy".  Yet, there are also still times where it is as hard as on that first day of Lent, 30 months ago.  My feelings, my thoughts, my desires undulate down and up, and down and up.  To me, this is very surprising, and the unpredictability of and lack of a smooth progression of greater ease as more time passes was not anticipated in any way.   

On the "easy" days, I feel my goal continues to be doable.

On the "harder" days, the struggle is so very palpable and real.  

I do not know what I will do today. I might give in.  I might hold steady.

But, this repetitive undulation.... it in itself.... feels chaotic... feels tiring.... feels dystopian. 


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Woke Up from a Vivid Pipe Dream


This morning, when I woke up at 5:00am, I had and vividly recalled the dream I was having (sometimes I remember my dreams, sometimes not).  In this particular dream, I was meandering around in one of my favorite pipe shops, looking a the hundreds of pipes for sale while having in my own pipe a few small samples of different new pipe tobaccos the proprietor had recently developed.  

Nothing particularly shocking, out-of-the-ordinary, or poignant happened in my dream.  It was just a "day" and was "new" even though it was just simply a sort of "rerun" of numerous real-life days I have had over the years.  It felt so normal, so just an average sort of day.  No stress, no anxiety, no worries, no fears, no fussing, no deadlines.... just a casual day.

It was a most refreshing dream.  It was alive in my mind as I ran my 8.1 miles (~13km) this morning, even as I was also praying the rosary while I ran.  

Now, as I fuss around with more electronic preparations for work, I have a pretty strong desire for a pipe.  The very strong yearnings I had experienced for several days a few weeks ago had declined to modest levels.  I am wondering if I am entering a new cycle of renewed and deeper yearnings again for a spell?  


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Reality & the Half Marathon


With the pandemic, the original plan of one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2020 basically is kaput. 

 In my New Year's Resolutions, two of the resolutions I made involved running:

 1.  I would run at least ONE half marathon workout each month during 2020.  Remember, the Half Marathon distance is 13.1 miles ( ~21.1 km).  That is a LONG HAUL for an old duffer like me.  But, thus far, I am keeping on track with that goal.  

 2.  I wanted to run one actual half marathon race in 2020.   I wanted to do this...

a) to be part of an actual running group in a race of this length (Running at real road races is always embarrassing for me, and it takes a lot of mental energy to gear up to do so, but it is important for me to keep doing so, to help try to overcome my embarrassment and insecurities about myself.) 

b) to get a t-shirt and medal of completion as my "trophies" to show I did the damn thing.

Well.... Covid-19 has effectively shot-to-hell the scheduled road races in my region.  It is just not really safe or appropriate to hold these mass gatherings of runners during this time.  I understand that and I agree with the decision. 

But, it leaves me in a lurch in terms of failing to accomplish the resolution I made about running an actual road race half marathon in 2020.  And, even though Covid-19 is the cause.... I still felt frustrated at myself because I would not accomplish what I *SAID* I would do.  

I needed to do *something* to try to still salvage this resolution as best as I could.  What I came up with is the following:

I found a running site online that is quite a large community of runners (many thousands of people belong) that offers what are called "virtual races".  Virtual races are actual physical running races... and they are built around themes/locations/etc just like regular road races, but... the difference is that they are all ran wherever the participants wish to run.  When you register, you will get a race bib and a medal of completion when you report your time... and you can also buy t-shirts of the event just like at a real road race.  

So, even though it is NOT what I had envisioned as how I would try to keep my resolution back when I wrote it down with my wife as we worked on our resolutions together the evening of December 31st, 2019.... it seems to be the closest way I can *try* to have accomplished something of a similar ilk.  

So, I registered myself for one of the half marathon races.  I am set to run it on Monday.  If I do it, I will push myself damn hard to try to do my best.  I will then go online and record my time.  After I do that, I will receive my medal of participation in the mail in about 10 days as well as as the t-shirt of the event I also purchased.  

It is not what I resolved to do.  And, it still bothers me that I will have actually NOT completed my resolution.  But, I have to keep telling myself that *if* I complete this virtual race next Monday, I will have done the best I can do, given the circumstances.  

Now, I just have to keep gearing myself up to run the damn race on Monday.  I am hoping to start at 5:00am.


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Thinking About Dad


During the weekend, I had a dream in which my father was part.  It was very pleasant, and I have been thinking quite a bit about him since that time.  

This past March marks the 26th year since my father passed away.  He was a wonderfully kind, gentle person.  I miss him very much.  

As I have written on other occasions, I do miss the chance to spend some time with him where we would smoke our pipes together and chat.  I so very much wish I could have that experience with him again. 

I do also miss the two of us going often to eat a few Coney Dogs together on a Saturday afternoon.  

I miss seeing my father at Mass.  He was not raised Catholic, but was instead born into a family that was Lutheran... but really for most purposes they did not really attend services at all.  He chose to convert to being Catholic when he wanted to marry my mother.  They met when my Dad had returned from World War II, and they fell in love instantly.  My father began classes to become Catholic as soon as possible after he knew he wanted to marry my mother.  But, after becoming Catholic, my father was extremely dedicated to being Catholic, and I remember watching him at Mass, and seeing his strong, intent gaze as he tried to absorb each week the readings and homily.  

For much of my life, I had always thought that I mostly looked like my mother's side of the family.  But, perhaps because of my aging, or perhaps because of my significant weight loss, I have come to realize that I have a lot more features of my Dad than I had previously recognized.  My forehead, my mouth, the organization of my teeth, the heavy, very easy to notice veination of my hands and feet.  

My father would be 96 at the moment (97 in November).  I really wish I could chat with him and I wish we could be again smoking our pipes together in gentle, quiet camaraderie.  


Monday, August 10, 2020

Covid Exposure


With Summer being the time for graduations parties, I happen to have three different nieces and nephews who  are 2020 graduates.  So, even though it felt a bit nerve wracking due to the Covid-19 situation, we made plans on how to try to attend safely.  

The first one was two weeks ago, and I was rather shocked and dismayed with the notion that at least 2/3 of the ~150 guests were not masked and were not practicing social distancing.... and a helluva lot of them were indoors.  For this party, I went solo (my wife was experiencing a migraine and begged off).  It was challenging, as I strictly wore my mask, stayed in the outdoor region of the party, and practiced the 6 ft rule (except when a couple of folks hugged me in greeting.... which caught me off guard).  The whole experience felt odd and surreal.... I missed seeing a lot of folks, but it did feel stressful as well.  I only stayed about 45 minutes, before I drove home and showered.  

Yesterday was the the second one.  At this one, my wife also attended.  It was even more dismaying.... we were two of perhaps seven people who wore masks out of about again ~150 people.  Even though this party was held in a huge pole barn with doors on all sides open, again there was very little social distancing.   And, two different family members hugged me (again, I was caught off guard).  But then, the real kicker.... a nephew came and was talking with me, and he explained that his sister (my niece) who was not at this party....  who is on a college sports team found out on Saturday that she tested positive for Covid-19!  This was one of the people who had hugged me at the first party.  

My stress ratcheted up several notches.  

Now, I keep reassuring myself that I am likely fine.  I took the precautions I could (mask wearing, shower) etc.  My niece does not really know when she became infected, and is not really displaying any problematic symptoms at the moment.  And, the hug I received from her was now TWO weeks ago.  During the past two weeks I have not had any symptoms of anything health wise.... no changes in temperature, etc.  

But as a precaution, I am going to "lay low" this week in a bit of self-imposed isolation (other than my wife).... which, I guess.... isn't a helluva lot different than most of my days lately.  But, I am going to be especially careful.  I will go with the hopefully safe and sound idea that if I am not showing any symptoms for THREE weeks after the brief encounter, that I am ok.  

Hopefully the precautions I took (mask wearing, hand sanitizing, showering upon return) will make my risk still low even with the exposure I experienced.  


Sunday Mass Thoughts (delayed post)

Took another Sunday away from electronics.  In Mass, the major thought I came away with from the homily was related to the voice of God being more akin to a persistent whisper.... not a bombastic hollering and gaudy force that overwhelms.  

It helped me to think of being more quiet and focused on what has meaning, what has purpose.... and to try to listen to that softer voice while trying to ignore all the bombast.  


Saturday, August 08, 2020


 So busy with class things at the moment, almost forgot to post.  Nothing to say, though.  


Friday, August 07, 2020

Friday - Just Working....


Nothing much interesting or thoughtful from my mind today.  I am just working at the computer, trying to get things done for the PLANNING STAGE for Fall semester.  With the need for regular plans, backup plans, online materials, some in person materials.... it is going to be a helluva lot of work.  So, I have to make sure I have all my ducks in a row as much as I can before everything starts to hit 

I am glad and very fortunate to have my job/career.  But, the significant increase in work to strive for a high quality experience for the students with all the needed backup plans is daunting.  But, I need to just persevere.