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.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

I felt I had to post something today because it was the leap year date of February 29th and I would not have that opportunity again for four years.

I am not sure if it is the season change or something else, but my blog and other blogs that I read have both been experiencing FEWER VISITORS and also LESS WRITING by the authors. My own statistics have declined sharply over the last week and my comments have been virtually nil.

It is sad. I wish there were a way to more successfully get a huge readership. Note to my current readers... I truly appreciate your patronage.... please do not think that I don't. I simply wish I had MORE readers.

Now, obviously, part of the solution is in writing more provacative essays.... something I hope to do.... but part of it seems beyond my grasp as well. Kevin, the homeless guy has a large readership (roughly ~350 readers a day). Part of that readership evolved from newspaper articles about him, but part also is through his own efforts.

I wish to have my audience feel compelled to read my blog each day and feel compelled to tell others to read my blog. I know the daily musings of a furry-faced, pipe smoking, alcohol imbibing college professor may not be stimulating at first glance.... but there is a helluva lot of material lurking around in my mind that I want to get out. I only need to figure out how to do so in a manner that attracts attention.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Hell, it is Wednesday already and I have not had a moment of time to think.

I do not know what is going on, but I have been so extremely busy.... it seems that there is NON-STOP work from the very second I awaken until the moment I climb into bed. Even though I usually only sleep an average of 5 hours a night, now I am getting closer to 3 hours a night.

Surprisingly, though, I feel reasonably content about life.... I just wish it were not so damn busy. I wanted to tell you more about the blessed intoxication with my father-in-law this past Friday, but I haven't had time.

Of special note... happily James (The Homeless Guy in NYC) has been able to return to his blog. He had a bit of troubles but seems to have landed on his feet. We can anticipate more interesting stories from his blog.

Do you know, I have been SO damn busy today that it is nearly 6pm and I have not had even ONE single bowl of my beloved pipe tobacco! That realization makes me both happy AND sad........ Happy because I am going to leave for home in a few moments and I will be able to enjoy that heady and beautiful rush of pleasure from the robust Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco. It is very nearly a spiritual adventure. However, it makes me sad because I all too easily was able to dismiss and ignore a lifelong friend today.... my pipe.... and I did not even notice until just now. This makes me sad for I fear this can happen with others as well..... perhaps I am forgetting others important to me?

You may say my pipe is just an inatimate object..... but I say no.... it is a true friend. I firmly believe that the way a man treats his pipe is akin to how a man treats his wife, and his family and friends. Today I have been rude and impolite to my pipes. It is indeed sad.


Saturday, February 21, 2004

Friday was beautiful. I will write about it, hopefully, if I feel better on Sunday or Monday.

Today, however, I have felt nothing but an overwhelming saddness and sense of futility. I have slept most of the day.... feeling the horror and fear of loss of those we love. Death is the most horrid foe there is and yet it is a foe that must always win.

To imagine that our lives are to a large extent simply learning to know and love those we consider family...... and then to an equal extent our lives are about watching each of them die in turn. It is enough to cause my heart to rupture.

And of course we are in that mix too.... if we learn to love and learn to have others love us, we too will become a death statistic for those whom we love that exit later than we do.

What is the point? Life has no point. It is simply learning to care and then having your heart shredded and ripped out, cell-by-cell as everyone for whom we care dies.


Thursday, February 19, 2004

I wake up with a headache, and that is the best part of my day.

I am at a loss at the moment for what to do. I am still aggrivated and grouchy as hell at the world. I do not seem to relax until I leave the University at night to go home and be with my family.

Part of me believes it is "cabin fever" which is typically called "Seasonal Affective Disorder" these days. Part of me thinks I am simply too damn busy. And part of me thinks I need a dramatic change of pace from my day-to-day life.

I used to be very comfortable with who I am and what I do. Oddly, I am still not UNCOMFORTABLE with who I am or what I do.... but I am NOW IRRITABLE AND GROUCHY most of the time. I am truly at a loss for how to fix this situation. It seems as if I am frustrated and upset from the moment I get up in the morning until I come home from work in the evening. Only then do I have a few brief hours of contentment and relaxation where I feel a hazy peace with the world. The evenings are fine and the weekends are fine. Plus the Friday afternoons of pipe tobacco shoping and drinking myself silly with my father-in-law are a blessed respite from the day-to-day grind.

The problem is, it used to not feel this way.... I used to enjoy work and felt very good about my choices and actions. There is nothing that I can pin-point that has changed or gone sour in my work. But my heart always feels heavy when I am there lately.

It is not a good feeling, and I must resolve it.

I am going outside in front of the building with my lab in it to slowly and deeply indulge in my beloved pipe and pipe tobacco. Perhaps an extra strenuous does of beautiful lady nicotine will help boost my spirits before class.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Life is not any better today than yesterday. I feel even grouchier than usual. Unfortunately, my "superego" prevents me from responding in the testy way I feel towards others. Perhaps I should say it is FORTUNATE that my "superego" quells my behavior.

What does a person do when their life is too hectic and too busy to have enjoyment? It is a question I have been pondering as I debate how I can get rid of some responsibility.

Friday..... beautiful Friday.... I am hoping to "reset my hard drive" by indulging in ample quantities of iced alcoholic beverages with my father-in-law. In this way I can wash away this frustration and aggrivation and have a peaceful weekend.

Pipes and glasses of gin over crushed ice. A beautiful Friday is my dream and goal.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I am in a sour mood today. Grumpy, grouchy, ornery, and aggrivated.

If I had my druthers, I would spend the day upstairs in my bed, alone in the house while the family is away and drink gin, smoke my pipe, and read a detective novel.... going in and out of wakefulness, sleep, and gentle intoxication.... with NPR playing in the background.

What will I actually do today? The same as virtually every Tuesday.... work at my desk, work in my lab, and teach in my classroom. Added to that are looming deadlines for grant applications, bullsh*t deadlines for bullsh*t committee work, and all sorts general fussing and fighting within the Department here.

Sounds like fun...... bah!


Monday, February 16, 2004

Good news and bad news:

The GOOD news....

The good news is that Jonathon has decided to continue his blog, this time with a more political/philosophical bent. He has entitled his new blog "Grumpy Old Man" in order to pay homage to a moniker given to him by Kevin (aka TheHomelessGuy). I am very glad for you Jonathon! Your voice is needed in the blog world. Until I get a chance to fix my link, you can see Jonathon's new blog using the link to the right called "Homeless and Disabled in Alabama".

The BAD news....

The bad news is that it seems something may be wrong with James (Homeless Guy in NYC... see link to the right). He has not published for several days and there is a rumor that he may be in the hospital. James, if you get to read this, we are all hoping you are ok.

More later today about life.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

I have decided to begin a sporadic series of essays on the meanings and philosophies of life that represented in that beloved item of my favorite hobby, the pipe. I will greatly appreciate any comments you have or discussion you may wish to pursue.

The Pipe Is A Work of Art

A pipe is of course a vehicle for indulging in tobacco leaf, and it is a grand vehicle indeed, but.... it is far more than only this simple vehicle.

A pipe is a work of art.... from several different levels. The pipe is a technological work of art. It is also a philosophical work of art and a medicinal work of art. Finally, it is indeed, also a sculptural work of art.

Technological Art of the Pipe - although pipes can and do look different from sample to sample, the simple, yet perfect technology behind the design is art in its truest form... a way to bring improved function to our lives. Exemplifying simplicity with only three basic parts... the bowl, the shank, and the stem (mouthpiece), the pipe is perfectly designed to allow us to meld flame and leaf in a controlled fashion for our indulgence. Usually made of simple materials (wood, rubber, plastic, and even corn-cobs) the pipe performs this complex, ritualistic work with flair.

Philosophical Art of the Pipe - when a man smokes a pipe, the effect is far greater than if a man smoke's a cigarette. Not only is the leaf typically more potent and robust, the interaction of a man and his pipe is far more profound and intimate than with a cigarette. The pipe is a friend who has usually been with the man through good times and bad... perhaps for several years. Therefore a man can feel more comfortable and contemplative about life while indulging with his pipe. In this way, the pipe helps a man to explore more deeply the philosophies of life and helps him to more successfully unravel those items in life that can seem mysterious and /or untangible.

Medicinal Art of the Pipe - having been a fan of the pipe ever since I snuck out back in the woods behind my childhood home. (I was eight years old and had "borrowed" one of my father's pipes and a small handful of leaf), I have come to know and realize the true medicinal qualities a pipe can offer a man. The pipe can give you a boost of energy when you are tired, it can sooth you when you are unable to fall asleep, and it is a willing psychologist who will allow you to discuss your inner-most thoughts. The pipe helps to deaden the pain of sorrow and loss, and helps to further highlight the beauty and joys of life. A pipe can help a man focus when his mind is frazzled,and it can spawn creativity in the mind when you feel dull and listless. The pipe can even be a marriage counselor in those instances when it difficult to understand your wife. More than asprin, more than Tylenol, more than even a good stiff drink, the pipe is, in my humble opinion, the true, original, mental health vitamin.

Sculptural Art of the Pipe - true artistry exists when care is involved. A pipe is the truest expression of artistry among those who enjoy tobacco. There is no more beautiful, sculptural, nor emotional artistry expressed than in those items we hold dear to us. When you look at a pipe, you can see the graceful curves, the smooth and rough edges. With use, an individual patina helps to personalize this work of art and make it fully individual for the owner. I can often look at my pipe (whichever one is in my hand at the moment) in much the same way I can look at a painting or a sculpture at a museum.... I see its beauty... and its own beauty helps to create beauty in me and also helps me to become more aware of the artistry of all of life.

As always, may your bowl stay dry and your leaf be ample,


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Today's post is a comment I left on the "Homeless & Disabled Blog" (you can see that excellent and newly named site (I will update the name soon)) by clicking on the link to the right.


Wonderful post! (I am refering to the 02/11/04 post) Like you, I was also inspired to create my blog after reading Kevin's blog... his was the first blog I had found.

I really enjoy Kevin's writings as well and had been looking forward to more on his other blog.... the photography blog. Unfortunately, Kevin has apparently decided to change paths and not continue with that pursuit any longer. I had hoped to start a consistant dialog with him about photography because it is a pursuit I am very much interested in, but am fairly novice at.

Also, like you, I appreciate greatly that comment sections are found in most blogs. When Kevin removed his because of some idiot people who were abusive, I understood, albeit disagreed with his reasonings. I had felt that the comments from the idiot people only served to highlight the value of his own writing and words. I wish he would return the comments section to his blog, but that is of course something he will have to become comfortable with himself.

As for the "grumpy old man" label for your blog.... I would take that as a COMPLIMENT! There are several reasons for this.... first... your insight and writings bespeaks of a person who is far more understanding about the variences of the world.... you are more knowledgable than the average blogger... and more so than the average citizen. Second, I think that having a bit of a "curmudgeonly" streak is a very healthy mental attitude to adopt in our society. Having a slightly jaundiced view of the "party lines" of most opinions is a GOOD thing.

Now, another reason Kevin may have called your site "Grumpy Old Man" may be similar to the reason I initially thought you were older, perhaps in my age range.... in your previous blog, the photograph you had of the homeless gentleman had me assume that the photograph was of you. It is an excellent photograph, and I assume it is of a homeless man, but now I realize it is not you. Perhaps Kevin did not realize the image was not of you and had the same assumption I initially had.

I fortunately (unfortunately?) better fit the description of "Grumpy Old Man", but I will wear that designation with pride. Even though a bit premature for you, I think you also should be proud of the designation.

As always, enjoy life and enjoy your new pipe hobby!


Monday, February 09, 2004

So, anger does not seem to readily dissipate.

I am angry and I am going to talk about why. The fellow in question is going to be called Dr. Train. Train is a big, blustery, bull of a person who uses mean, cutting remarks, and assinine inuendo to get his own way at every opportunity. What I get so damn frustrated about is that in our Department, Train rules the roost. He is feared and bowed down to by damn near everyone in our department. Our lab technician in fact, has a mixture of awe and fear about Train that makes her unable to do or say or support anyone who Train does not support. It is ludicrious and obscene.

In the situation that has set me off, we are in the process of hiring a new faculty member and after a tiresome 3 hour meeting where people were yelling at and pissiing eachothher off..... we finally hammer out a resolution that says we will submit three names. *If* additional names are needed (because someone withdraws) we will then meet again to discuss if any of the other candidates should be included.

BUT NO!!!! Train, the bully that he is, begins by sending around a ranting memo telling us that to save time we need to agree to submit the next person in line immediately. Asshole Train then accuses those that disagree with his tactics (which includes me) that we are weak or that we always are "pole sitters" who never make a decision. The only real *problem* is that we do not agree with his desired decision. And when we disagree further, he rants and raves and acts like the truly nasty individual he is.

I am mostly angry because I replied with a memo of my own stating calmly the reasons for my negative decision. I was initially proud of myself for not stooping to his level by calling him names, and by simply stating the facts of the situation and what I felt was a fair and equitable solution. On Friday, this initially made me feel good.

However, I am still angry as hell and I am not sure why. I despise the rude, obnoxious tone he used in his memo to me, and even though I feel good about my response, my anger lies in the fact that I also want to *zing* him back.... to have him feel what he made me and others in the Department feel. I know that is not the right thing to do, yet I wish to do it. Also, I realize it will not improve matters in the Department, but I still wish to do it. My anger stems from my not being able to figure out a way to let me logical mind..... the mind that tells me I did the right thing..... overrule my vengeful mind that wants to give him back what he gave me. I am at a loss for what to do.


Saturday, February 07, 2004

Plark has told me my blog looks quite odd on his browser. Unfortunately, the blog looks the same as always to me. I am wondering, however, if the webring logo I added yesterday could be altering the appearance of the blog for some people. Please let me know if you notice a significantly poorer appearance of the blog.

Also, I encourage you to visit Plark's blog if you can. He is a very nice fellow studying to be able to teach English as a second language to others. His blog is quite enjoyable.

I *did* indeed go and generously imbibe with my father-in-law yesterday. I felt I deserved the treat especially after the damnably annoying and assinine treatment I experienced yesterday from another faculty member who is in reality nothing more than a bully. This fellow, who can be charming and is an excellent teacher, will commonly fly off the handle and make life in the department a living hell if he does not get his own way on any sort of decision. Well, I and two other people in the Department stood up to him and would not back down. The fury and wrath he expressed was both amazing and troubling. I am feeling too calm about it today to rehash the full details. But likely I will do so on Monday.


Thursday, February 05, 2004

I am finding that I need to have a "site ID number" to include my blog in a web-ring. Does anyone know how to figure out what my site ID number is? I figure if I get in a web-ring it could improve the size of my readership.

It has been one helluva day. I am so exhausted that the idea of leaving the building and walking to my vehicle seems daunting. I am hopeful that life will be pleasant tommorrow and am thinking I might see if my father-in-law is again up for a shopping excursion to the pipe shoppe and for several pleasant alcoholic libations afterwards. It would be grand!


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I truly am nearly vegetarian in my diet. In no way am I oppossed to eating meat.... and in fact I do so probably three meals a week, but in reality my tastes run significantly towards the fruits, vegetables, grains section of the supermarket. The typical "high quality" breakfast would for most consist of bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns. I truly dislike all three of those food items (at least in the traditional method of cooking them) . I dislike pork immensely, I intensely dislike the smell of cooking eggs, and the odor of hot oil/grease will easily churn my stomach. What do I think of when I think of my own version of a "hearty" breakfast:

Oatmeal with rasins and brown sugar, a bagel, a bowl of cereal and milk, a grapefruit, coffee, and orange juice

The same holds true for lunch and dinner as well.... items with hot, oily smells are shunned, any sort of harshly cooked meat is scorned, and mostly I eat vegetarian.

When I do eat meat, it is usually a cold lunchmeat turkey, or a cold breast of barbecued chicken or on rare occasion a hanburger that has cooled to near room temperature.

In the last 10 years, I have eaten 5 steaks.... all at resturants, and smothered each of them with enough A-1 Steak Sause to cover any oily flavor or smell.

Not sure if this was actually an interesting post or not, but I was thinking alot about food this morning as I have a 6th mug of coffee and a pipe.


Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Sometimes life can seem so much like a gerbil running on a wheel.... a helluva lot of activity, but it gets you nowhere at all. I am in one of my "blue", "frustrated", "unmotivated" moods today. I do not feel like doing a damn thing. I have plenty to work on, but no motivation to do any of it. In this sort of mindset, my fantasy for life at the moment would be:

A bed, a pipe, a bottle of gin, and ice water.

I have never done this, but whenever I feel this way, I imagine in my mind's eye simply staying in bed all day, smoking my pipe, drinking enough gin to feel silly, and enough ice water to keep me hydrated.... and snoozing on-and-off through the whole day. I would have NPR on in the background so I could hear stories and news.

That is what I would like to do today.