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.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Tinkering and Cutting


It is early, and I have finished my run.... but with it being Saturday, I have been thinking about what I and my wife and I hopefully will get to work on today (other than general house tidying that we always end up needing to do on Saturday).   Here are my basic plans:

1.  I am hoping to pick which instrument I have waiting to begin a refurbishing on.  I have a couple of old horns that I have found and plan to tear apart, clean, rejuvenate and rebuild.

2.  I am hoping my wife and I will begin the process she has wanted to do where we take a large array of my father-in-law's clothing that has been saved, and begin cutting it into squares for what my wife wants her and her sister and Mom to sew a few quilts using his clothing as momentos.   My wife has had this goal for quite a while, but because she keeps procrastinating about it, she has asked my help and hopefully the two of us together can keep up the motivation so this project can become a reality for her.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Still Sloughing Through....

Still not feeling the most motivated nor enthused.  I think, like some have suggested, it is really a time of year thing.   For those of us in the North, the light levels this time of year are quite scant.  Add to that the abundance of densely cloudy, snowy days.... and life seems to be colored in only two hues this time of year.... mostly black for the abundant night, or dark gray for the lion's share of the "daylight" we get. 

But, I know there is no valid excuse, so I got up and pushed myself a bit hard this morning and ran 6.5 miles (10.4 km) at about a 7.5mph pace (12kph pace).  If I can coax myself to do that, I know I get quite tired and sweaty and it kind of "resets" my mindset a bit. 

As is my usual, I prayed through the 5 decades of the rosary while I ran.  But, afterwards, like yesterday, while I was stretching afterwards, I gave myself leeway to imagine what actually sounded fun and enjoyable for me to do today.  And, it was a bit similar still with yesterday, but further elaborated on a bit:

If I had my druthers, instead of going to the U and doing the work I will of course do, I would really enjoy being curled up in bed, covered with an array of quilts, with a giant, dark and bitter coffee (over ice), one of my favorite pipes and pipe tobaccos at hand (in my mind's eye, I was imagining one of my bourbon tinctured burley leafs), the dog laying on the bed with me near my feet, a pair of good novels to read, a new copy of the New York Times, and half a dozen doughnuts.... two blueberry filled, one nutty, one chocolate with chocolate icing, one sour cream doughnut, and a cherry fritter.  I would have alternatively NPR in the background, or some of my favorite early 1960's jazz playing in the background.   I would read a bit, take naps sporadically and indulge in all the various delights across the span of the day.

But.... of course... it is a true "pipe dream".... so it is off to work.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Low and Down

Not feeling in a great mood emotionally this morning.  Not really sure why.  I did run my five miles.  But, I had no enthusiasm or joy in it.  I am going to work to lecture on some “big” thoughts as well, but I do not really care.  In one class I need to talk and work through the properties of how proteins shape cell membrane function in terms of physiology.  In my other course, I need to talk about the origins of language referencing the the array of work looking at the neuroscience and neuroanatomy that controls the development of bird song.  Yawn.

Truth-be-told, I would rather be curled up in bed, listening to NPR, drinking a big ‘ole coffee, smoking my pipe, and reading a detective novel.

But, such is life.  During my run I kept hearing in my mind Tevye, From “Fiddler on the Roof” singing “If I Were a Rich Man”.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020


I was thinking about my exercise a bit and realized I hit another "interesting" number.   Today marks the four thousand, one-hundred and fiftieth day in a row that I exercised by AT LEAST walking 5 miles each day!

And, on many of those days (especially during the last four years) the lion's share of my effort has been RUNNING (well, jogging).

This means that over the last 4,150 days, I have covered 20,750 miles (33,394 kilometers)!!!!!

My blood pressure when I checked it last week was 110/70, and my resting pulse rate when I woke up this morning was 58.  On the scale I weighed in at 173 lb (78.5 kg or 12.3 stone).

Being able to run is something I am so very happy that I can do!  In my wildest dreams back when I was at my heaviest, did I ever imagine being able to run.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Gizmo Watch

One of my sons and also one of my daughters has a "gizmo sports watch" that they both wear.  These watches can tell you a whole big bunch of stats about health and fitness.... things like heart rate, oxygen levels, and other things like that. It also can map and measure exercise.

I wear (and always have worn) a traditional watch.  Of the several I have, the vast majority are traditional, analog face watches, with one being a digital number's watch.  As I am a penny pincher, none of my watches were ever expensive (I take that back, my parents gave me one extremely beautiful watch when I earned my Ph.D., all those decades ago, that was and is an expensive watch, but I cannot consider that one.).

"Gizmo Sports Watches" are pretty damn expensive.  But, I have to admit, it would be really nice to have a watch map and measure my running.

I am going to think about it a bit.   I probably WILL NOT ever get one..... too damn expensive.... but they do intrigue me a bit.   I guess I can think for a while, anyhow, as I am running indoors on a track at least until sometime in March.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Contrabass Clarinet

If I were a wealthy man, I would buy myself a Contrabass Clarinet. 

The Contrabass Clarinet is the largest members of the clarinet family that is in "common" usage. Modern contrabass clarinets are pitched in B♭, sounding two complete octaves lower than the common B♭ soprano clarinet and one complete octave lower than my beloved B♭ Bass Clarinet

As you can see from the top picture, this beautiful beast of a horn is taller than the typical adult and is over six feet tall in the version shown.   The second image shows the whole horn itself so you can better appreciate its beauty. The third image is a variant called the "Paperclip" Contrabass Clarinet (for obvious reasons) which has all of the tubulature of the typical beast coiled upon itself.  All three are masterpieces of complexity and key design. 

I was privileged to get to play one of these beasts during my last year in high school, so many, many decades ago.  Our band director selected me as the one clarinetist/bass clarinetist to get the honor of playing it during that school year.   I do not know the whole story of the beast, but for some reason, it was on loan to our school for that single year.  It came with a special tall stool with a seat almost five feet from the ground that had to be carted around with it to performances so the player could sit and play comfortably. 

I am very happy that the band director selected me for that great experience.   I think he may have selected me because I had a "lot of wind"...... (yeah, he probably thought I was big blowhard, I guess)... but it was so very much fun and so beautiful to play.  And, it received a lot of attention.   It is not usual to see a Contrabass Clarinet in a high school band. 

These beasts are pricey, however.   Even a budget "student" model starts at around $6,000.   A general quality model can start easily at $33,000. 

I keep watching auction sites to find a wrecked, wracked, and ruined one that I could tear apart and put back together all repaired, but I have not had the good luck to win on the one bid I have submitted in the last year or so. 

My own Bass Clarinet is a bit of a "Frankenhorn" itself.   A dear friend (unfortunately now deceased) somehow stumbled across a school band instructor who was getting rid of several ancient old wrecks of instruments that were student horns used by the school for at least four or five decades because the school was able to replace these horns.  There happened to be two bass clarinets that she (my friend) was able to acquire.... neither of which were functional.   She gave them to me, as she knew I liked to mess around with musical instruments, and I was able to tear down the two horns and through careful effort build back together one very nice playing horn from the parts.  I had never owned my own bass clarinet before that.  It was and still is my pride and joy when I play in my community band today.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mass Thoughts

I went to Saturday Evening Mass this week instead of Sunday because of a play my wife is having us attend today.  In the Roman Catholic Church, masses that occur after 4pm on Saturday through 8pm on Sunday are all scheduled as the same type of normal Sunday Mass. 

In one of the readings this week, I felt most affected by this part of the reading:

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

As it seems for the last few weeks, what strikes me most deeply is the idea that I really am being reminded that my role here in life is to be a servant to others.  It is only by being a servant that I can do good for others and for the world.  

It is hard to keep that focus, but with these reminders for the last several weeks of mass.... perhaps it will finally stick in my addled brain and I will find the energy to work harder for good.