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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Grand Day!

There are many days in a man's life that are remarkable and sear themselves into a permanent circuitboard in your mind. They are often called milestones, and a lucky man has many positive milestones. Each time he becomes a new father, his wedding day, the purchase of a home, the first copulatory activity, the first new car, his first time getting drunk, the first day of school, the first home run he has hit, earning his Ph.D., these are but a few of many such milestones I have had the pleasure to experience. They are all wonderful, vivid memories in my mind. The same is true for the memory I am about to share:

The day itself was sunny, yet pleasantly cool and dry. It was perhaps 60 degrees and virtually no humidity marred the texture of the air. The woods had always been a fun and enjoyable playground for me to explore and feel excitement. Being only eight years old, the woods seemed vast and unadorned by any trappings of any other human. It was, I thought, a virgin forest that only I had explored, and yet it abutted right on the edge of our family's two acre parcel of land... how lucky was that? Suffice it to say, I felt these woods were my own personal space and I relished spending hours looking at various bugs, plants, twigs, salamanders, frogs and other ascundry items I could collect, examine, and learn to identify. Yet, this day was to be even more special and amazing in its effect upon me. As I sat in the small clearing in the middle of this forest, I gripped the magical beast and proceeded to...

The start of this adventure could be said to have been a part of me my whole life, perhaps it was genetic? But I only became cognizant of my interest in this adventure roughly 4 weeks prior to this monumental day. This start occurred, as I recall, when I was walking home from school and I met my father sitting on the rickety, old picnic table in the back yard, concentrating very heavily on a stack of papers he was grading. My father was an English teacher in the public school system and was busy making comments on the senior's final project, a 20 page paper over some topic or other that I do not recall. His brow was furrowed, his eyes squinting through the owlish lenses of his glasses, and his moustache and beard bristled from the intense concentration he was engaged in. A red grease pencil was poised in his right hand as he quickly made marks about poor grammar, incoherence, etc on the essays.

"So many mistakes!" I heard him mutter under his breath as I approached.

He must have heard my footsteps as I neared the picnic table for he glanced up and beaconed me over to sit at the table across from him. As I sat, I could see more vividly the concentration, tension, and focus his efforts in grading had on his facial expression.

"How was your day, my boy? Tell me what you learned in school today." said my father. He was a very focused man, and I could see I had his rapt attention, but I could also still see the furrowed brow and other facial features that belied how he was intently concentrating on work only moments before.

As I began to talk about and describe my day to my father, he reached over to the side of the stack of papers, and picked up his tobacco pouch and pipe in the nearly innate manner I had seen him do many times before. Using only tactile stimuli from his fingertips, not diverting his gaze from me and the details of my day, he proceeded to gracefully and with skill fill his pipe with the gentle brown crumbles of tobacco leaf that were in his pouch. Even though I had seen this process thousands of times before in my young life, for some reason this day I was more acutely aware and attentive to these actions than I had been before.

[This is a good stopping point for now. I shall continue with the story in my next essay. Comments or suggestions are always appreciated.]


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Watch This Space

Hello Friends:

I am in the midst of writing a long opus to be pulished here, that I feel will be an important and beautiful read. Please do not give up on the slowed pace of words here, for they are brewing and percolating inside my soul waiting to bubble up and stimulate my mind. The impetus for this longer effort is from thinking about the last adventure of the Star Wars second trilogy (I seem to recall back in 1977 when the first film came out that there were actually NINE books, not the six that are described currently). I am not a big fan of these films, but I have seen four of six thus far. I believe I shall be writing the first of SEVERAL beautiful memories to be published here. Perhaps it can be called part one of the first blogtrilogy of mine?

So, please sit back, be patient, fill and fire up a pipe if you have one (and if you do not, you should consider joining the hobby), and keep checking back in this space for the first effort.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Nicotine Vaccine?!?

As many of you have heard, there is now a vaccine that is being tested in trials that will cause an individual's body to form antibodies against nicotine. I find this technological advance very interesting in theory, but I find the end result to be rather sad and depressing.

To be able to create a vaccine for a chemical/pharmacutical agent is a very interesting and remarkable discovery from a scientific standpoint, but the agent that is being targeted, beloved nicotine, is one that saddens me.

I find it perplexing and daunting that there is such anti-tobacco fervor at the moment in our society. I personally think this fervor is due to three primary causes:

1. Tobacco in the modern world is so adulterated with pesticide residues, herbicide residues, and additives that there is no wonder that smoking such chemical laden material can prove health threatening. I am of the opinion, however, that if one were to grow and smoke organic, pesticide-free/herbicide-free/additive-free tobacco in a natural, pesticide-free wooden briar pipe, that there would be a much lower possibility of inducing illness. In other words, given a natural, organic, tobacco leaf and a natural orgainc pipe, I think the risks, if any, would be minimal.

2. The combination of poor ventilation in buildings since the energy crisis of the 1970s making building air less fresh and any tobacco smoke has greater impact.

3. The inclusion of sulfering agents added to cigaretttes in the last 50 years or so... the sulfer is added to cause the cigarettes to burn faster (to increase number of cigarettes consumed... to increase profit), but the sulfer makes the cigarette odor especially foul and able to incite rancor. Cigarettes prior to the mid-1950s did not have this sulferated odor and were not bothersome. (As a sidelight, the fall of use of pipes is a secondary cause as well... pipes, by their nature, tend to be less offensive to non-smokers... and even appreciated by some non-smokers, so that their decline and the rise in cigarette usage is associated with the rise in anti-smoking fervor).

The above three items sadden me and is, at heart, the root cause for this vaccine. I personally relish nicotine and would never wish to be seperated from the pleasaure it can give me. The nurturing comfort I receive from my pipe has helped shape who I am and has made me a better person that I would be without said hobby.

Thinking back to when I was a youngster before my beard and moustache were grey, hell - before I could even grow a beard and moustache, the world was so different, not only for the three reasons stated above, but for the gentle camaraderie that was often expressed... the squeaky wheel didn't always get the grease... instead, people were more tolerant of other's hobbies.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lazy But Busy

I feel lazy, but am very busy. It is a conundrum that leads me to leave each day with a headache and not much satisfaction. I need to change this. What am I doing, and what do I want to be doing?

What I am Doing

Putting out "fires" for students going through the registration process... tedious and repetitive and boring and not really a part of my job

Answering phone messages and visits from students upset about their last semester's grades. The need to be kind and polite to these students is essential, but sometimes it is so very, very hard to do. An example is seen in a student who was upset that I gave them a "D" instead of a "C". This student was quite frustrated and let me know it. Even after I calmly explained to him that he received a "gift D" because I curved the final grade somewhat (he EARNED an "F"), and that he was 143 points away from the "gift C" cutoff mark.... he was still not satisfied. I sat back in my chair, and purposefully lit my pipe (to try to drive him out) all the while grinning my furry-faced grin while remaining calm and patient... but he kept yammering away at how he needed the "C" and that the course was too hard.... blah, blah, blah.

Paperwork up to my neck

What I Want to be Doing

Productive things I wish to do include:

Cleaning my office

Cleaning and reogranizing my laboratory

Cleaning and reorganizing my garage

Updating my blog to show all the photoblogs I am growing fond of

But alas, none of these things are possible at the moment. That is why I feel lazy and yet am overly busy.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Time For Fun

I have not been writing much of late because I have been involved with reorganizing and cleaning my damn messy garage and in fixing patches of lawn that the grubs have destroyed. I am not fond of pesticides (all of us are pests at some time in our lives so I do not want us all to be at risk) and therefore do not use them. Instead I use biological agents (parasites to the grubs) that are host specific. I am hopeful that these beasts will help quell the grub destruction.

But enough work, I think I will spend the afternoon getting a haircut, a beard and moustache trim, and then I will pick up my elderly father-in-law, visit the local tobacconist, pick up a few samples of spring leaf, pick up a fifth of bourbon or whiskey and he and I will go make a helluva fun afternoon out of the day.



Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Beloved Nicotine

This Summer session I have an evening graduate class in research topics in neuroendocrinology. It is enjoyable to teach, but is also in the evening (to facilitate the portion of the student body who are employed medical staff during the day. As is my pattern, I occasionally will purposefully refrain from my beloved pipe on a day such as today, so as to increase my passion for her, my pipe.

I am currently on a break from the class. I am eagerly awaiting the end of class tonight (10pm) so I may experience the extreme beauty of the feeling of lovely nicotine after having had this planned fast.

It shall be an enormous and beautiful effect.