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.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Hello Friends:

Oddly enough, today seems like it would be a wonderful day to play hooky and go drink myself silly and smoke heavy, harsh, nourishing pipe tobacco all afternoon with my elderly father-in-law. However, I have many tasks to complete, goals to accomplish, and ideas to write about so it will have to wait until another day....pehaps this Friday!

A very important question I would like to pose to everyone here and hear their comments. I am wondering if perhaps it is simply me and my utter lack of organization, or if this is common for everyone.... it seems that probably 3/4 (75%) of my entire work time is spent on trying to clean up paper and/or trying to organize paper. If I could simply devote my life to the actual "work" part... the creativity the producing of ideas and/or product instead of this damn paper pushing/filing/cleaning I would do a helluva lot more of value than I do now.

Any thoughts?


Wednesday, June 23, 2004


I have gone over 6000 on my counter!

P.S. I forgot to mention yesterday (because I was so frustrated about student behavior) that I received a (amongst other items) a very beautiful, full bent, large-bowled, walnut colored Peterson pipe for Father's Day! It is a true work of art in its beauty and grace.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

It is frustrating.

I have been having a good day thus far, and I was starting out teaching today by giving an examination in the Anatomy & Physiology course I am teaching.

However, I am now feeling grouchy and out of sorts because of one student. She is a bright student and is earning a grade that is near the top in this course. However, she is also very, and I mean VERY nit-picky and rather hyperkinetic about ANYTHING she gets incorrect on my exams. After she turned in this exam, she brought to me the last exam (from a week and a half ago) and proceeded to question and fuss and cajole at me about the 5 questions she answered incorrectly. THIS GIRL RECEIVED 92% on the exam. Very near the top. IT IS ANNOYING AS HELL having to deal with students that are like that.

The harder reality is that 95% of the students are NEVER like that, but after having one or two or three that are that intense and obsessive and over-the-top each and every class, it grinds your spirit down to nil and your energy seeps out of you in a torrent of annoyance.

The most aggravating part again, is that 95+% of students are not like that, but in this semester in particular and in the last few semesters as well.... I have grown to dislike this aspect of teaching greatly, and it is starting to affect the parts of teaching I love.

After so many years teaching at the university level, I have developed many coping strategies for students with "issues" and have taken it as par for the course. But IN MY OPINION, it seems that these students in the frustrating 4 or 5 % have changed in some ways in which I have yet to develop coping strategies for. I have yet to identify what is different about them, but I MUST DO SO to figure out an effective strategy to deal with their annoying manners.

Any comments or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

As an academic, one of the many "hats" I wear is that of a traveler. It is hard to be a traveler and a family man. For budgetary reasons it is often difficult to take family with you on trips, but it is also difficult leaving them at home as they miss you. Add to this the fact that I have a tendency to worry about the various aspects of my extended family when I am away, and you get a difficult chimera of issues.

However, travel is good and valuable and important for the academic. In this way, I must plan and travel wisely. The reason this is an issue at the moment is that I am planning on attending a conference to present research this July. The location is in Texas. I am filled with a mixture of excitement (the travel and exploring of new research and other universities is renewing) and dread (worry about family, stress the family will endure).

It is an odd, but necessary aspect of the academic life.

Comments or thoughts are welcome.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Time for another random thought puzzle:

1. Randomly grab a book off your shelf... close your eyes as you reach for it.

2. Grab the first book your fingertips touch.

3. Open the book randomly with your eyes closed

4. Again with your eyes closed, touch the open page with your finger.

5. Write out the first complete sentence that is by your finger.

6. Name the book you selected.

7. Comment on the sentence.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here is my entry:

"The membranous labyrinth begins with a chamber called the vestibule, which contains organs of equilibrium to be discussed later."

- from Human Anatomy by Kenneth S. Saladin (2004)

My comments..... It is through the vestibule that man enters most things of value. The term vestibule is used to describe the entryway in a church or synagogue. Homes often have vestibules as do banks or other important buildings. A vestibule is also the entryway to a woman's private region that leads to her vagina.

* * * * * * * * * *

An interesting exercise to try again. Please feel free to duplicate my idea into your own blog.


Monday, June 14, 2004

A bit of history of science for all of you to enjoy:

In history.... June 14, 1868, Karl Landsteiner was born.

A link to a photographic image of Dr. Landsteiner

Dr. Landsteiner was an austrian immunologist and pathologist, who received the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. His primary discovery was of the major human blood groups and development of the ABO system of blood typing. His efforts ended up greatly reducing the risks of surgery and made blood transfusion a routine medical practice. Such blood type analysis proved useful also in genetic and legal applications. He also discovered the Rh factor which explained some complications of pregnancy and birth when the Rh factor of the mother and baby do not match. Dr. Landsteiner was also a ardent pipe smoker.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!



Friday, June 11, 2004

Hello Friends:

A question for you.... do you ever have a day where you wake up and have less energy than the evening before? A day where your mind seems like it is mushy and unfocused? A day where you have no interest in doing any work, or accomplishing anything? And you do not even have enough stamina to find an enjoyable way to goof off?

Well, today is one of those days for me. I have them every once in a while, and can never predict when they will occur. If you have ever experienced this, how do you handle it?


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Today I have been thinking about novels again. I so desperately would like to be a published fiction author. I am going to spend time today thinking of a realistic plan to consistently put pen to paper and write AND FINISH a novel. Any comments would be appreciated.

Additionally, I thought I would list a few "trade" authors... the typical paperback writer authors that I have been enjoying lately. These are not "high brow" heavyweights.... I enjoy those writings too and will post on them later. These are the mass audience authors I have enjoyed lately:

Michael Connelly - his Harry Boesch novels are well crafted and engrossing in every way. My favorite thus far is "The Lone Wolf". His genre is in the detective/police/crime arena... but he takes a psychological outlook to his writing that is very pleasing.

Lawrence Sanders - his "Deadly Sins" series of books are wonderful, as have been "Caper" and "The Secrets of Lucy Bending". He also is a detective/police/crime novelist. I suggest avoiding the later "McNalley" series of books... they are very cheesy.

Regis McCafferty - another crime novelist (this time the good guy is a pipe smoker though!) who I am currently enjoying. His work, "Bugs" is interesting and rather unique. The author seems to put a great deal of his political opinions in his writings at the same time as he tells his story.

What other authors do you recommend? I am especially interested in trying to join the science fiction genre.... I need to find an author that is in science fiction that is NOT FANTASY oriented and is NOT PROCEDURALLY oriented. I would like the science fiction author I select to have a psychological/sociological bent.... akin to the works "Brave New World", "Fahrenheit 451", "1984" and "Walden Two". If you can offer suggestions on authors of that mindset, I would be most appreciative.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Hello Friends! Thank you all of you who commented on the "spices of life" essay (from Friday). I greatly appreciate and enjoy your comments.

Those of you who are teachers (and in many ways, we all are)..... What are your greatest frustration(s) about students as a teacher? As a old college professor I would say my frustrations are:

1. Students who don't give a damn about the course and simply want a (high) grade. My personal philosophy is that I do not give a damn about grades.... period. I do not care if the student is getting a "D" or an "A"... they are treated equally. But, when a student whines and says, "I never got nuthin' lower than an "A" before!" it frustrates me no end. The course is about LEARNING SOMETHING... not a damn grade.

2. Students who obsess on getting a few additional points on an exam. These are the students who will badger you during breaks or before or after class to argue and debate and generally fuss about and try to bamboozle you into giving them a few extra points.

3. Students who complain (often loudly) that I give out "TOO MUCH WORK" or "TOO MANY READINGS". I have been teaching for MANY, MANY years... I have been able to successfully estimate what are appropriate readings for a given topic and for a particular course. Some portions of courses require more reading than others. READING S should not be viewed as punishment, but OPPORTUNITY!

Those are the big three. I would enjoy hearing your own least favorites.


Monday, June 07, 2004

I would like to encourage you to read the post directly below this one. It has not yet received any comments, and yet I thought it very valuable.

As for me, I am on a successful day 3 of my 30 day plan of consistency in eating and exercise. I want to see how parameters of my body, mind, and soul feel after 30 cosecutive days of only eating healthy foods and exercising EVERY day.


Friday, June 04, 2004

Hello Friends:

There are essential things in life.... family, friends, nourishment, shelter. And then there are the accessories.... those things that are not necessary, but help to give the spice and flair to life. Today I list six of those beautiful spices:

1. The Novel - more so than movies or television or even theater, the novel is the most magical of the visual spices. To think that a series of chaotic spatterings of ink on a bunch of wood fibers can transport you anywhere within the known or unknown universe is a true spice and gift. The author of a novel is a true magician.... he or she can spin ideas in such a way to allow us to see a veritable motion picture in our mind's eye.

2. Music - to think of it scientifically, music simply are clusters of harmonic sound waves.... yet the skill that song writers have to gather and coordinate these sound waves is immense.... and the effects are equally so. Those harmonic waves can alter our mood, have us experience the pinnacles of joy or the depths of sorrow.

3. The Pipe - perhaps not for everyone, but for me, the pipe is a beautiful mistress, a true love. She is my friend when I am lonely and my support when I steel myself for battle. The nourishment she provides me is temporal and ethereal.... yet it is profound. The lovely smoke that I draw in from her stem bathes the neurons of my mind in a gentle wash that soothes, and cleanses my thoughts and helps me to retain a pure focus.

4. Pets - my dogs (the two of them) and cats (the three of them) are by far the most significant, yet our family's other pets are also helpful. Dogs and cats and pets in general seek nothing but companionship and do not hold grudges or hoist their anger upon you. Unconditional love and affection are what pets nourish you with. Whether you are a saint or a bum, a rude arrogant bastard or a kindly empath, your dog or cat will still befriend you.

5. Alcohol - Somewhat the "yang" to the "yin" of the pipe above. A well mixed drink can provide an alternate nourishment, one that has mental value close to that of the pipe. Again, the ethereal and temporal nature of this nourishment is part of its charm. As it permeates from your gut into your bloodstream, the beautiful boozy sensation of the alcohol regulating the brain into a slightly lower volume... so that the thoughts and ideas of the day... be they good or bad.... become a bit muted and less forceful.

6. The Bedding of a Woman - the pure physicality of this activity (of course excluding those times where said activity is needed to perpetuate the species (ala Darwin or Dawkins)) is again a delightful spice of life. Both temporal and yet long lasting, the act of making physical love with a woman is a way to transcend your mind and reacquaint yourself with the animal nature within our every cell. It is a way to have your mind quiet to near stillness, so as to experience the rest of your nervous system at a heightened level. More significant than the beautiful release that ends the love making session, the process itself provides the most potent spices. Nurturing a woman bodily and emotional so that she encourages your physical nature inside her heightens the dual nature of this spice. The thrusting of oneself, varying in rate from slow and steady to rapid and chaotic over lengths of time, helps to make time become meaningless. The feelings as your body surge both hormonally and emotionally along with hers helps you to transcend yet fully embrace the corporeal body.

Six spices... while not essential, make life the joy that it is.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Three things that have made me feel content and happy this morning:

1. My pipe.... it has vigorously stimulated the regions of the hypothalamus in my brain with the pleasant surge of nicotine. My body feels both awake and relaxed and my spirit is renewed

2. My cereal.... as is my routine, I eat cold cereal and fruit for breakfast every day. As is also part of my routine, I like to pour the milk onto my cereal and let it sit for about 1/2 hour so the cereal is soggy. My cereal is so comforting and filling to my body and spirit.

3. My large mug of strong coffee.... that beautiful mug of coffee, its caffeine stimulating the cortex of my brain to become more alert. My body and spirit are uplifted.

The murky bitterness of the coffee augments the soggy sweetness of the cereal and the smoky etherealness of my pipe to create the perfect triad of a morning ritual.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Hello World:

I seem to flip-flop like a fish on shore in my ideas about the question "What is life about?" and thought I would open up a discussion about that here.

Sometimes I think of life as being simply for the seeking of contentment..... be it through all the common means..... food, a good book, a movie, bedding my wife, my pipes, with a few stiff drinks, hunting, fishing, or doing yard work.

Other times, I think that life is meant to be a time of striving to accomplish.... to create a meaningful legacy, a body of work that will last beyond my corporeal body and be available for future generations.

It is a conundrum that is hard to deal with. I feel both scenerios often, but because the mindset and energy level each requires is quite different, my flip-flopping of opinion makes me feel like a jack rabbit.... jumping to and fro, never having a clear sequential purpose or goal.

Thoughts or comments?


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

A celebration is in order (I think).... I have just hit the 5000 mark on my counter!!!!!!


Put that in your pipe and smoke it! [grin]