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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Coffee! The New Vitamin!

I was very happy to read in yesterday's newspaper the very beneficial effects of coffee! It is now recognized that coffee has a tremendous amount of anti-oxidant compounds in it. These anti-oxidants are thought to help in the prevention of many forms of cancer. This is wonderful news. Perhaps I shall rethink my coffee drinking limit I wrote about yesterday. Keeping my coffee intake to only 4 - 20oz cups has been workable both yesterday and today, but I would enjoy drinking my usual (larger) quantity of coffee daily. I shall have to contemplate it.

A brief addendum: Yes... those of you with a scientific mindset may wish to jump on me for my title ("the new vitamin"). Yes... I know antioxidants are NOT vitamins. I am an endocrinologist. I simply used the phrase as a bit of literary license to make a catchier title.


Monday, August 29, 2005


I have again decided to make changes in my routine to commerate the start of the new academic year. Here are the basics of my changes as I trasition from Summer to Fall in 2005:

1. I shall reset my time for waking to be 5:45am.

2. I shall be on the road for my walk by 6:00am (5 miles, as usual)

3. I shall go to the University gym at least three days a week.

The above (#3) is a big change for me as I find weight lifting awfully damn dull and tiresome. My mind feels as if I have had it convert to oatmeal while I am there. I am hoping that a book on tape will help me maintain my mental focus while I engage in this activity. I feel compelled to weight train to maintain upper body strength during the less active Fall and Winter months and to also help me with hunting season. I know this will be the hardest of the changes I shall try to make this semester as I find the task so incredibly dull and innane.

4. I shall endeavor to drink AT MAXIMUM 4 mugs of coffee per day (my mug is roughly 20 ounces) and shall not drink coffee after noon. I had been drinking significantly more coffee daily and feel I should be more moderate.

5. I shall not smoke my pipe prior to NOON. I sometimes think I lag about and do not get moving very quickly some mornings because I relish focusing on that first, fresh pipe of the day. It has long been my habit to enjoy my first pipe of the day within roughly 10 to fifteen minutes of wakening. By postponing it until at least noon, I shall free up more of the morning for vigorous activity (mental or physical) in the morning.

6. I shall strive to be asleep in bed no later than 1am and preferably by 12:30am.

I hope these routine changes will help me to better focus and increase productivity.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Staples is Assinine

Read yesterday's post to learn the initial details.

How can a company have a web site that says it will send an e-mail confirmation in 15 minutes..... but it sends the e-mail confirmation 55 hours later.... how can it not receive the order to its corporate headquarters.... until 55 hours after the order is placed..... and how can it not receive the order for 55 hours to its warehouse... yet, when it is 55.25 hours later it is too damn late to cancel the duplicate order?????

This is so damn idiotic and ludicrous. The fools at Staples cannot access electronic records placed on their web site for until 55 hours after the order is placed???? But cannot cancel the duplicate orders within 15 minutes of getting the order?

Bullsh*t reigns supreme at Staples. I suspect I may receive 26 file cabinets today. I only want 3 file cabinets. But there is a duplicate order and who the hell knows if they will bring 6 or 19 or 342 cabinets? I suspect there will end up being 26. I will have to wait at home for the idiots.


Monday, August 22, 2005

The Internet is Wonderful But...

I am frustrated as hell and would like to wring the neck of the people who run the website . Instead of talking with a sales person on the phone, I instead decided to use their on-line ordering system as it seemed easy enough to do.

Well.... IT WAS easy.... but the damn site does not work. It is useless. I placed my first order on Sunday morning. I waited the requisite 15 minutes to check for a confirmation of my order.... NOTHING!!!! I wait one hour and check again..... NOTHING!!!! I call my bank to check if the transaction went through.... IT HAD!!!!! I call back idiot Staples and they say.... oh, do not worry it is ok, it will get cancelled... we have no record of the order. They then suggest that I re-order. Idiotic me, I listen to them AND REORDER!!! And, guess what... the same exact damnable thing happens again!

I am now stuck in a mire of aggrivation and annoyance. I want my order placed (for some updated office equipment for the home office, and I do not want my bank account drained several different times by the fools at Staples, and I do not want them to deliver a duplicate order of six file cabinets!

They are "working on it" at the Staples number I called. We shall see how this pans out.

It really is such bullsh*t.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Not Sure

I am not sure what is going on, for I have not kept up my promise to write five times this week. I think it is the stresses of getting ready for the new semester. It seems odd, though, as the new semester is something I have dealt with so many times in the past that I would not be worried. Oh well. It is what it is.


Monday, August 15, 2005

The Fellow In the Hookah Coffeehouse

When I first arrived in town (remember I was attending a scientific conference to present new research data), I knew a major goal that evening was to locate the hookah coffeehouse. Having arrived at my hotel room roughly at 4pm, I quickly showered, shaved my neck and cheeks (to spruce up my beard and moustache... my talk was the next day) and put on my most comfortable khakis and mildly printed cotton, button down shirt and proceeded to hunt down the location of the hookah coffeehouse.

After roughly a 30 minute brisk walk (I went in a few directions I did not need to go), I found the establishment. The outside was a rather simple, non-descript store-front. It appeared much the same as countless store-fronts in countless college towns across America. However, in the awning above the window was a good quality small speaker (not the typical harsh, tinny sounding variety commonly used out-of-doors) through which a very gentle, soothing Indian sitar ballad played. I eagerly walked in.

The sites and sounds are beautiful and exotic. The music is a bit louder inside, but still appropriate for having discussions with others. The walls have a variety of paints and fabrics that are in vibrant oranges, reds, yellows, as well as turquoise and lavendar. The seating is quite variable. There are small, cafe-style tables with one, two, or three seats each, there are a few bench style seats, and there are several lounger chairs and four or five futons scattered around the room. Additionally, ornate pillows are scattered everywhere.

On this first day I sit at a small cafe table after placing my order for the hookah. I sat down next to a gentleman a few years older than myself (and remember, I am older than dirt). He had a darkly bronzed skin tone which contrasted dramatically with his vividly white moustache and beard... both kept roughly at about 1-1.5 inches in length. Interestingly, he wore a shaved head... but a full beard. He did not begin to shave his head until directly above the line where the bows of his eye glasses rested on his ear. The look was good on him, and he had a jovial, happy demeanor about him.

To be continued....


Saturday, August 13, 2005

What Is Up?

It must be because of the end of summer, but it seems that blog activity has slowed considerably. I am hopeful that this is not going to be permanent. There are so many blogs that I enjoy reading, but many have slowed to a snail's pace. I too am guilty of not posting as often as I should, so I should put my money where my furry mouth is. Therefore, I am going to have as a goal starting on Monday to post a minimum of 5 entries a week. I encourage you to do likewise (especially you, Ken!). Here is a listing of the blogs I find most enjoyable in the past few months:

Dweeb (Socio-Political Commentary)

House of Toast (Paula's)

Lectures on Life (My Baby Brother's Blog)

Plark (Philosophy)

Unconventional Ideas

Wanderings of Wendy


Daily Dose of Imagery

Give these folks a try when you get the chance. And consider joining me in the goal of posting at least 5 times a week!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Caffeine Machine

A great morning today, and the first day since coming back from the conference that I feel a true sense of routine.

1. I did awaken at my preferred 5:30am.
2. I did start walking by 6:00am, and I walked my 5 miles.
3. I was in the shower, lathered, shaved my neck, and was clothed and in my vehicle by 7:45am enjoying my first pipe of the day.
4. I was in my office before 8:00am planning out the day of writing and research.
5. I had the first (of thus far 5) cups of coffee in hand by 8:05.

It feels good being back into a normal routine. Travel is a joy indeed, but the disruption to your schedule and the way it impinges upon having a routine in your life is something I struggle to overcome as quickly as possible after a journey. This time the "jet-lag" recovery time was longer than usual... almost two weeks.

I wonder why?


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'll Be Damned!

Two different "I'll Be Damned!" items for today's post:

1) I have crossed the 20,000 mark on my counter! I am very happy to see those numbers keep rising.

2) Folks, after many months of coaxing and cajoling from me, it looks like my baby brother has finally been nudged into the blog world. His blog can be located here. He is a very good fellow and a grand writer if I can get him to loosen up a bit.

Since he has not fleshed out his blog very much yet, I shall write a brief synposis of him [grin} for his and your perusal:

My baby brother, Ken (actually Konrad is his formal name, my father gave us all literary related names), is the youngest of my parent's seven children (I am the oldest and am close to two decades older than he). Ken is a wonderful soul and he is a very thoughtful person, but (and perhaps this is an aspect of being the youngest... my two youngest siblings both share this trait) he is somewhat of a timid, introverted fellow. Not to suggest there is anything wrong with that... for there is not. But while I tend to prefer to consume life and all of its riches in great abundance, Ken seems to more often than not, simply sip at what life has to offer. I have always wanted to coax him into a more robust existence, but he appears to be firmly rooted in great caution.

Ken is a professor, just like yours truly, but he took after our father in focusing more in the literary field. He works hard at his profession and is good at his job. He has a very pleasant wife and one child and another on the way. His hobbies and avocations are primairly reading and spending time with his family. He enjoys fishing when I can coax him to go, and he is also a pipe smoker, although he may better be labeled a part-time pipe smoker. He does not smoke in his home or at his college. He does not smoke in front of his children even if outside. He only rarely smokes in his vehicle. The 2-3 bowlsful he may smoke in a day are most often outside in his backyard, alone. He acts almost as if he is ashamed of the hobby and I wish that would change. I am not sure why he has this sort of pattern and demeanor about smoking, but he suggests that it is different for him because of his age and the way "society" is. To that I say, "Bah!". But overall he is a good fellow. He is a good brother and friend.

Ken has great ideas if you can tug them out of him. He is deeply religious (he is Catholic just like all of us siblings are) and also very philosohpical. He married later in life and I often thought (prior to his marriage) that he had the makings of a good monk in a monestary. His wife is good to him and he to her, and he is a wonderfully devoted family man.

Now that he has a blog, he could us an audience and I am sure he would appreciate constructive criticism. Give him a try if you can.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Artistry and Design of the Hookah

As a tool for the enjoyment of tobacco, the hookah is in a class by itself. Although you all know I relish and find beautiful artistry in the basic briar pipe such as is seen in the upper right hand corner of my blog, the hookah takes that beauty to another level.

A hookah simply put is a "water pipe". For many of you that may conjure up images of devices used to ingest illicit substances, but while the water pipe for tobacco may be similar in mechanics, the execution, design, and symbolism of the Turkish Water Pipe is more akin to artistry and homage towards creating a tool for mental and emotional nourishment. The image here shows an example of a hookah that is similar (albeit a bit smaller) than the hookah I indulged in at the cafe. My hookah was roughly 45 inches tall and had an ornate metal shield over the bowl to cover the tobacco and the coals so as to not disrupt the beauty of the image.

The mouthpiece in the hookah I used was also a bit more ornate, with a longer distance between the grip (where you hold the nozzle) and the end of the mouthpiece you draw the rich smoke from. Additionally, the end of the nozzle, although similar in appearance to the one pictured had a distinct curve to it as is seen on many full-bent briar pipes such as this one. The length of the handle/nozzle and the curve towards the end of the mouthpiece helped to encourage a very comfortable, relaxing, contemplative stance while smoking the hookah. Basically you can hold the grip in your hand while it is resting on the arm of a chair (or on your leg depending on what type of seating you are in). The added length to the mouthpiece means that when in this resting position, the mouthpiece will reach comfortably to your mouth so that you may smoke very methodically, quietly, and purposefully without having to focus on holding the mouthpiece up to your face.

The gentle gurgle of the hookah as you smoked was a very calming, pleasant sound, reminding me a bit of the peace and tranquility of the bubbles you hear in an aquarium.

After purchasing your flavored tobacco (the first evening I selected apple infused tobacco as it was considered the most popular), you find a seat in the establishment and the fellow behind the counter goes about his magic in preparing your hookah for you. It takes perhaps five minutes. He then carries out the massive hookah beast with gentle reverence and places it before you on a small stand. He then will hand you the nozzle and wish you a pleasant time before he quietly leaves. On this first experience, I was not knowledgeable about the proceedures used to fully enjoy the hookah and started to simply puff on the mouthpiece. Very little smoke eminated from the device, fortunately I was seated at a small table that was next to another table with a fine gentleman who taught me the ins-and-outs of the pleasures of the hookah and he will be the subject of the next essay.

But in summary, the beauty of the hookah makes it a true piece of artistry worthy of places of honor in homes and worthy of display in museums.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Early Impressions of the Hookah!

I have just returned from my conference and must say that it was a wonderful experience. The formal work.... presenting of research, attending talks & poster sessions, and the searching for research products and books at the expos were all enjoyable and wonderful as is typical for such a meeting.

The comaraderie with friends infrequently seen was also a joy and blessing. Friends from across the nation were there with me and we had a helluva good time catching up on life.

The nightlife was also a delight and will be described in future essays.

Yet, the most memorable and delightful new aspect of this trip were the visits to the nargile coffee shop (the hookah shop) that became an eagerly awaited ritual each late afternoon/evening of the trip.

I believe I shall want to write several essays about the experience, including:

1. The artistry and design of the hookah.
2. The image and design of the cafe as well as its atmosphere.
3. The process and physiological effects of the smoking of the hookah.
4. The feelings and emotions experienced through indulging in the hookah.
5. The variety of different people I met at the hookah cafe.

To capture a glimpse of the overall experience, however, I have written a brief abstract about the experience below:

The hookahs I smoked were always massive beasts, standing roughly 3.5 feet tall and were beautiful works of art in metal & glass. The cafe itself exuded a captivating feel of other-worldly experiences with dim lighting, pleasantly cacophonious Middle Eastern and Indian music, and art. The process was delightfully different than smoking my normal briar pipes or smoking a cigar. Instead of pulling a puff of smoke into your mouth and then inhaling said puff, the hookah process is more organic and holistic. The bore of the mouthpiece and stem of the hookah is much wider than a briar pipe or cigar and hence you can obtain a much larger flow of air through the stem. With the hookah, you breath inward through the mouthpiece. The simple act of breathing is all you need to focus upon. The smoke itself is so smooth that you do not even notice it as you breath in (which was a surprise as it is very dense and thick), and its mental effects are initially mild but as I will talk about in the essay it grows proundly beautiful and potent. When you exhale, you notice the smoke is exceptionally dense and a much brighter white color than from the briar pipe or cigar. The feelings and emotions are beautiful in every manner you can imagine, and they too shall be a focus also of a future essay. Finally, the numerous, wonderful people I met and chatted with will also become foci.

With the above tidbits to give you a hint to writings to come, I think I shall allow myself to play for the rest of the day and recover more completely from the jet lag (read... to recover from the tiring nature of airports and the confined uncomfort of airplanes for tall, larger fellows like myself. I called my elderly father-in-law this morning, and he is up for an afternoon of discussion, drinking and pipes (and cigars... he mentioned in particular a cigar he was hungry for (the Arango Sportsman Aromatic 350)) and I think I will head out buy us a fifth of something pleasant, stop at the tobacconist and buy a few ounces of a potent, harsh leaf I enjoy and a fistful of the Arangos for my father-in-law and have a helluva good time.