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, September 30, 2004

An Early Morning (or Late Night) Rumination:

As I wind down for the evening, and finish a cold bottle of beer and a splendidly large bowl of very strong, soothing, and thought-provoking burley in the bowl of my full-bent Peterson pipe, I have one single thought I wish to share:

John Kerry.... DO WELL ON THIS DEBATE! Turn the election around!



Friday, September 24, 2004

Hello Friends:

It looks as if Kevin may be rejoining the writing world. He has now written something new on his blog. Even though it is only a request for someone to give him a CD player, it is a step in the right direction. I am glad you are writing again Kevin!

Also, he has mentioned the idea of getting anti-depressant medications. That could be an excellent idea... as long as he DOES take the medication when prescribed. There are two likely classes of anti-depressants Kevin could be supplied with:


These are also often refered to as SRUI medications and both acronyms state something similar... these medications are serotonin reuptake inhibitor compounds. They come in several forms, but the most common are Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. The pharmacology behind these medications is to selectively affect dopaminergic neurons in the brain that release and/or respond to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps to agonize or antagonize different neurons in the thalamus and hypothalamus that govern mood. In the depressed, it is believed that their brains are too efficient at removing serotonin from the synapses of these neurons, thereby short changing their powerful "happiness" inducing effect. The medications attempt to hinder this reuptake (removal) thereby allowing serotonin to have more chance to get the person "happy".

This type of medication takes several weeks to build up in the metabolism. But, they are relatively safe medications (even though there are now relatively new warnings for children who take SRUIs). If Kevin were to be prescribed this medication class, it is pretty safe... the effects of NOT taking the medication consistently are relatively mild. By being homeless, it will likely be a far greater challenge for Kevin to take medication regularly... and added to the mix is his sometimes distrusting nature and it is very possible that Kevin may go some periods of time where he refuses his medication. The SRUIs are relatively safe for sproradic ingestion.


The second class of medications are designed specifically for the mental illness of bipolar disorder.... a condition where people have extreme bursts of energy and creativity and also extreme pits of despair and depression. The most common medication for this type of condition is Lithium. From the writing Kevin has done in the past, it is *possible* that his "depression" is actually bipolar disorder. However, I would be very cautious in prescribing Kevin lithium.... because it is a drug whos efficacy is VERY dependant on consistant dosage. A missed dose or two may have only minor effect, but if a person stops taking the medication for any length of time, they typically induce a sharp episode of EXTREME mania followed by even more EXTREME depression. As a homeless person, and with having a nature prone to dislike medication, Kevin would *in my opinion* be at high risk if prescribed this type of medication (Lithium). To have this medication be successful, you need DILIGENT, CONSISTENT, and DETERMINED dosages... plus blood level monitoring on regular intervals to ensure homeostatic concentrations in the plasma.

I hope that Kevin is firmly committed to taking his medication whichever class he is eventually prescribed. It could definetly turn his life around. As a neurobiologist/endocrinologist, I have read a great deal about these medications in both clinical and real-world settings, and the benefits have been ENORMOUS and widespread. Countless thousands have had their lives turn around and their emotions reverse direction to point them towards happiness. Happiness is truly something I and many others wish for Kevin.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hello Friends:

I apologize for not posting for the past several days. I have had an NSF grant application deadline come up more quickly than I had realized. All of my semi-creative energies have been involved in that pursuit. I think it is a good application, but who the hell knows if it will be funded. Unfortunately, even though most realize that Bush has been hard on our nation during these last four years, few realize the level to which "W" has decimated the science community. Grants are harder to get than the lottery these days.

Well, anyhow, I feel good that the damn thing is done and gone from my head. I am going to curl up with a good detective novel and a pint of wild turkey for the remainder of the evening.

And... of course, numerous pipes.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hello Friends:

The longer Kevin's blog stays empty, the more troublesome it seems. Yes, I know he has that silly phasic moon image and has his few lines about how to treat the homeless (that he wrote several months ago) and he has even reinserted his donation button.... but the reality is Kevin is not writing (at least his blog). I find this sad on several levels.

1. For all the bruhaha that had gone on about Kevin's attitude of late, I still feel Kevin is a generally all around good person and I appreciated his blog.

2. I truly believe that writing his blog was one of the most healthy and valuable things Kevin was able to consistently participate in. I think it was VERY GOOD for him.

I hope he is ok and I hope that he restarts his blog soon.

* * * * * * * * *

A final note.... I am quickly approaching a monumental (for me anyhow) digit addition in my counter! I am going to soon move from 4 digits to five!!!!! I am very enthralled with the upcoming change, and may decide to treat myself to either a) a new pipe, b) a few pleasantly stiff drinks tommorrow, or c) both.... but I should only grant myself these possible treats only if I reach the new digit before noon on Friday.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hello Friends:

An interesting article posted on CNN-World, with a few of my own questions posed at the end:

Turkey May Drop Adultery Ban

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN-World 9/14/2004) -- A senior member of Turkey's ruling party has said a proposed draft law to criminalize adultery has in essence been abandoned.

"Will there be a proposal (to criminalize adultery)? It is very likely that no proposal will be made from (party) members," the party official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) -- a group with Islamist roots -- had been expected to submit the controversial amendment on infidelity as part of a reform package for Turkey's penal code.

The reforms are largely intended to help Turkey pursue membership in the European Union -- coveted goal for the secular, democratic and overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

However, many people say criminalizing adultery would be a setback.

Turkey's parliament started debate on the reform package Tuesday amid protests by those who said the draft law would be unfairly applied against women.

The package of law includes tougher punishment for crimes such as rape and torture.

The European Commission is due to publish a long-awaited progress report on Turkey on October 6, according to Reuters. This report will form the basis of a decision by EU leaders at a December summit on whether to launch the accession negotiations.

My questions:

1. So, apparently it is "legal" to commit adultery in Turkey? Is that different from other European nations or the U.S.? Is it illegal here (in the U.S.) for a person to commit adultery? In the U.S. it may be obnoxious and/or repugnant to commit adultery but I do not think it is illegal.

2. If Turkey is already not unlike other nations in Europe/North America in terms of the legality of adultery, why do they feel need for such a law banning adultery? Is it because adultery is more tolerated/accepted there? Is it because many Islamic cultures promote the "harem" (multiple wive) lifestyle?

3. From other than a "old-fashion values" sort of approach, why would this be such an important issue to legislate?

For the record, I have never committed adultery (other than perhaps like Jimmy Carter... "in my mind") and have no plans to do so.


Monday, September 13, 2004

An open message to John Kerry:

Please sir, work harder to make a positive splash in the media. We need you to win this next election. My opinion is that you need to figure out something extremely exciting and positive that you can do, say, or accomplish so that the media can fixate on your campaign for a while and give you positive "spin".

As it stands right now, "W" has the upper hand because he is far better able to control the media and get the media interested in reporting about his cabinet.

Mr. Kerry... you have what it takes to be an excellent leader, and you can help bring our nation back around to economic prosperity, and back to social justice issues (ie care of the poor, wages, health care) that SHOULD be our focus. But first you have to WIN the election. Make yourself visible and exciting to the media.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Hello Friends:

I am not sure what to make of Kevin's "new" blog. The change to a repetitive phasic moon image is mildly interesting, somewhat captivating to watch, but rather redundant as well.

Now... putting on my professorial hat for a moment.... class..... please hypothesize in the comments section about the meaning and/or value of the "new" Kevin blogsite.

While you develop your answers, I will step outside for a brief moment to enjoy the new leaf I have purchased.... a cranberry tinctured, vanilla infused burley pipe tobacco.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004


I encourage you to visit the two links I have added to my site to allow easy navigation to two very exciting and useful blogs. The first is:

Comments to Kevin

and the other is

Dweeb (Socio-Political Commentary)

I think you will enjoy both of them greatly. Please note that these two blogs can be accessed through the above links and also through the list of blogs on the left hand column (frame) of this blog.


Monday, September 06, 2004

Hello Friends:

As promised, a list of my favorite commonly listened to music:

The Lion's share of my listening time is spent with....

Classical - Andres Segovi - classical guitar; Antonio Vivaldi - orchestral; George Gershwin - 20th century classical; Dmitri Shostakovich - 20th century classical; Guiseppe Verdi - romanticism

Jazz - Miles Davis; Duke Ellington; Ella Fitzgerald; Julie London; Theolonius Monk

Classic Rock - Jethro Tull; Yardbirds; Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young; America; Ritchie Havens; Stevie Wonder

Lesser amounts of time are spent with....

Top 40 Classic Pop/Rock - Beatles; Beach Boys; Carpenters

"Modern" Music - Talking Heads; B-52s; Nirvana; REM

Country - Willie Nelson

Rap - Ice-T; Eminem


One very sad & disturbing news event and one frustrating news event:


The horrible massacre of hundreds of people in the school in Russia. Although this has primarily occurred a few days ago, not only is the horror of what has occurred shocking, but in my mind, what is even more disturbing is how LITTLE NEWS COVERAGE the US media is giving this event. This event is a complete and utter horror, yet at most, CNN gives a 15 second spiel on the event every hour or two and of the four newspapers I read daily, three of them have not mentioned the event in three days and one has not mentioned it yesterday nor today. Perhaps I am unrealistic, but it seems that horrible massacre deserves more attention than the nearly 24-hour around the clock coverage the "hurricane" (now a rainstorm) has received these last few days. Granted, the previous hurricane (Charlie) was bad and caused horrible loss of life and damage, but because of that does every rainstorm since Charlie in Florida need to take precedence over other more significant news?


What is going on with the Kerry campaign? Even though it was anticipated that the republicans would gain a bump in popularity from the convention, what the heck is the Kerry team doing to try to win over voters?!? From my vantage point, it seems they are trying near to nothing. I would very much like to NOT have a second "W" Bush term in office, yet with the weak showings of Kerry, the lackluster performance of his meager efforts, and the fact that Nader is likely to siphon off a few percentage points from Kerry..... and we will once again have "W" Bush as president come January. It is highly frustrating!


Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Power of Music

The power of music is so very profound. While I do not listen to an enormous number of hours of music each day, I think that physiologically and psychologically my own body is very attuned to music. For me, different types of well developed music can alter my mood, elevate my spirit, or stimulate my physical self.

Much like my pipe is a spice to add texture and depth to my experience, music can and does (for me) add texture and depth. I am a fan of many diverse musical styles.... I listen most frequently to classical music, but I also have a fondness for classic rock, jazz, and movie/theatrical scores. The majority of artists in these genres are enjoyable to me.

Even in genres of music I do not have wide ranging passion for, I usually can find a few artists in each category whom I enjoy immensely. Country music, for example is not a genre I find overly stimulating, but I do GREATLY enjoy Willie Nelson. Rap is another venue I do not find widely appealing to my tastes, but I have enjoyed songs from both Ice-T and also Eminem. I am fortunate compared to many, for being in academia, and a reasonably popular professor, I am invited to frequent graduate student and undergraduate student parties where I am able to keep abreast of what is currently popular. So, over the years, I have likely been exposed to a very wide range of music.

Perhaps in my next post I shall list a few of my favorite artists in the major genres I listen to.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

Hello Friends:

This note is mainly for Kevin, although I encourage all of you to read it and comment as you see fit.

Kevin... for some reason, you seem to have rancor towards me. Perhaps I stated something in a manner that you found displeasing, or perhaps you thought I was a new name for some troll-type individual you have had problems with previously. I would like to state for the record a few items that I mean with utter sincerity:

1. I have only been myself (PipeTobacco) when I have been on your blog. I have never used any other name, identity, or other id. I only post as PipeTobacco. I am an individual who has been intrigued and fascinated by your blog. You were my first avenue into the world of blogging, sir, and I found the concept to be interesting and fascinating and useful. So much so, in fact, that I developed the very blog you are reading this message on. It was because of YOU, sir, that I started my own blog.

2. If there has been anything *I* have said in the past that has rattled your chain and caused you anger, it truthfully *was not my intention* to do so. I can state categorically that I have appreciated your efforts towards art (the photography, the Holga Camera, etc), and have greatly appreciated your efforts on blogging about your efforts to find an art space, a home, etc. Therefore, *if* there were things *I* said (and not someone else you assumed to be me) that caused you anger, I do humbly apologize. I would not wish to hurt your feelings, nor would I ever intentionally do so.

3. I would strongly encourage you to restart your blog. It is a valuable service and a valuable piece of writing. I would also strongly encourage you to try to keep active in your art space and in your pursuit of a home. I think that if you can maintain this sort of path, that you truly can accomplish something wonderful. I think you have a creative spark that can be beneficial to the world... if you can find a way to successfully keep working towards those goals.... home, art, blog.

I suppose this is enough for right now. I would very much like to continue a dialogue with you. I am also hopeful that you will be willing to believe the sincerity in my words. I would also like to suggest that all of us who read this blog and try to converse with Kevin, try to do so in as kind and well-intentioned a manner as possible. And I hope, Kevin, that you will work hard to be open to the possibility that the vast majority of commenters and comments you have received have been well intentioned. While I will not censor comments here from anyone, I do hope that each of you who comments will do so with the spirit of trying to be HELPFUL to each other and not hurtful.

Have a happy weekend, friends!


Friday, September 03, 2004

It seems it may have been the real Kevin in my "comments" section.

Hello Friends:

It seems it may actually be the real Kevin who has been posting in my comments sections. He did reply to me with an e-mail I had sent to him. Therefore, unless others let me know of a way this fellow may be an imposter, I will presume it is actually the real Kevin.

So, Kevin, I am glad that you are visiting my site. I hope that you spend some time looking at the archives as well as the recent posts so that you can get a more complete flavor of who I am. Again, I would still very much like to discuss Holga Camera photography with you, and I do hope that you will consider bringing your blog back on line. I think it is a valuable site.

In your comments you have asked for my address because you wish to "visit". I think that it would be better for you to save the limited funds you have, rather than visit me at this time, for I live in the very north country and it is a much harsher environment than I think you would be comfortable in.

Again, I am very glad you have decided to participate in my comments section and to read my blog! I hope you have a good holiday weekend!


P.S. I hope all of my friends who read this blog also have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

This post has three distinct sections. Part A is about my thoughts on life. Part B is about Kevin, the homeless guy. Part C is about education.

Part A

Life is funny in a way. This is the first week of the semester and I am enjoying the new classes and the new students greatly. I have also been able to establish a routine that is thus far easy to follow and yet allows me to make progress on the various work related items I wish to accomplish.... teaching, research, and service. So, why is life funny, you may ask? Well, the funny aspect is that things are quite pleasant right now, but that my body has been rather used to feeling stress and an edginess that it seems *odd* to not have that feeling at the moment.

If you recall, a little over a month ago, various life/family situations had made my existence very harsh and difficult. Many of the harsh situations have resolved themselves adequately (meaning everyone is relatively healthy and safe at the moment). But, having lived with that stress and edginess for so long, it feels *strange* to not have it present.

Well, in my mind I *KNOW* with 100% certainty that stress and edginess are not high quality experiences for me to try to maintain, therefore I will spend a little while today appreciating that they are currently gone... and relishing the fact that life is relatively content.

Part B

Unfortunately, Kevin (aka seems to be having some sort of a crisis of his own at the moment. He seems to have gotten very angry and edgy about anyone and everyone who read his blog.... and that includes all of us who have been faithful, loyal, and kind readers. At the same time, he experienced a loss in that his "story" was not aired on the Jane Pauley Show. Unfortunately, his feelings have lead to his deciding to remove his blog and replacing it with a "art-noir" version that is all black and grey and states simply (ala Greta Garbo) to "Leave Me Alone".

In an open message to Kevin, I wish to state the following:


I hope that you are ok and that I hope that you will begin to feel better soon. I understand how life can sometimes feel overwhelming, but your work has value and your life has value. Why not take some time to relax and regroup. Perhaps in a few days the whole color and hue of life will appear different, and you will see things are ok.

It is also my hope that you will continue to write in your blog. I think it is something that not only helps you, but also helps our society.

Again, I hope you are ok.

PipeTobacco "

Part C

As most of you know, education has been my life... I have always enjoyed learning and growing, and I have relished becoming able to help others grow and learn as my role as a professor. Even though it can be said that all of us are growing and developing at all times, sometimes a more structured and formal approach can be valuable. With that in mind, I am wondering if any of you wish to embark on a journey with me to learn about and use what is known as the "Holga" camera? This is a small, "toy" type camera that many serious photographers have been using for true art photography. It is a very interesting and exciting idea and I wish to explore it further. I shall be working on studying this material myself, but if anyone else is interested, please let me know.... it is always much more fun to learn with someone rather than to do it all on your own. Here are two links that you might find interesting to view about the Holga camera:

Holga Mods

Plastic Camera

That is it for today! As always, I look forward to any comments you may have!


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Hello Friends:

As I enjoy a beer and a final pipe before bed, I thought I would talk about how pleasant it is to have routine. For me, what I mean by this is that I am very happy and content that the new semester has started. It feels invigorating and exiciting to be back in the classroom, attempting to mold and shape young minds. Even though each and every year I look forward to the periods of vacation I have, inevitably, I begin to feel antsy and too unstructured when I am away from the classroom for too long.

I am very fortunate to have a routine in life that I enjoy and can earn a living from. Having the routine helps keep me mentally, physically, and emotionally well grounded.


The place for a stable record of comments on Kevin's posts on for Monday August 30th - September 5th.