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, January 31, 2006

My Own Damn Fault

My lack of posting has lead to a decline again in comments on my site. I am damn mad at myself for letting this happen. Unfortunately circumstances that you may recall hindered my writing. I apologize.

On a bright note, I have again fallen in love with photography blogs. I encourage all of you to give the photoblogs I have listed on the side a look! They are great!


Monday, January 30, 2006


Happily I am feeling much more up to snuff (I cannot recall if I have ever written about snuff, and I am not sure if anyone in my readership has ever used said, but perhaps I should write about it sometime) today. My expelled lung mucous has diminished in quantity and its color has changed from the dark green/gold/grey color to a nearly clear color (a slight, very pale yellow remains, but should diminish over the next day or two as I continue the antibiotics). As is typical, I used a special mixture for my briar of Prince Albert mixed with catnip to aid in my expulsion of the mucous and it did the trick as always. Today is the first day back to my standard tobacco leaf mixtures, and the flavors and potency are very happy to return to.

I am planning to spend the day catching up on the work I let slide during my illness, then if time permits I may walk today (or I may wait one more day until tommorrow to get back into the exercise routine), and I shall also contemplate essay ideas for this week. Please let me know if a snuff article may be of interest, or if it would be uninteresting for those of you in my readership.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sick & Tired

Another brief post today. The elderly relative that had been hospitalized was released from said hospital late yesterday evening. She is happy to be home and we are all thankful she has improved.

I, on the other hand, seem to have caught the malady this elderly relative had. I feel extraordinairly sick... sore throat, fever, chills, coughing out a greenish/yellowish mucous that has a chunky texture, bowel issues, and other asundry ailments. I have come into the University simply to give one brief lecture, then I am heading home.

I shall check e-mail throughout the day if anyone (friend or student) wishes to contact me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Letting It All Hang Out

First a brief note... the elderly relative that I spoke of being hospitalized unfortunately remains in the hospital. When I returned home at roughly 9pm from visiting her, I was bushed. However, I am hopeful she may be released sometime on Wednesday or Thursday (it is now technically Wednesday, but my visit was until 9pm on Tuesday evening).

The following series of comments were generated based upon a grand essay written by the Grumpy Old Man (GOM) on his blog Unconventional Ideas. I think the writer of this blog shows tremendous flair and talent in writing and also in choice of subject matter. As you may discern from the following comments, at least one other reader of his work did not think so, and this lead to a longish series of comments onto the GOM site. As I feel some of the comments were directed at me, I have chosen to post them here and have a final stab at explaining my thoughts and ideas. If you have interest, you may read the original post that GOM wrote if you scroll down to his January 19, 2006 post. Again, my final comments follow the quoted comments below:


Anonymous said...

I have been watching your sitemeter the past few days and you have really lost readership. You were getting up to fifty hits a day and now average around twenty. I think it is your material. You write about drunks and clerks in dead end jobs at convenience stores. Not very interesting stuff. Maybe you need to “retool” your blog and then you would get more hits. Don’t get me wrong. I think you write very well and coherently. I just don’t think what you write about will ever garner you much readership.

5:01 PM, January 19, 2006


Anonymous said...

I agree with annabel, that blogging shouldn't be about how many page hits you get. All that matters is what is important to you. I admit that I normally wouldn't be interested in reading about some of the mundane things you write about, like drinking and the piggly wiggly gang...yet I keep coming back. So go figure.

Maybe what that second commentator is trying to imply is that they sense that you are capable of writing on a broader possibly more interesting range of topics, like your political views for instance, but that you are practicing self-censorship so as not to offend anyone?

I say no matter what you do just be true to yourself. Write about whatever you feel the call to write about without regard to losing or gaining readership.

to which I replied...


I say "bah" to both of the anonymous comments and feel they may mean well, but are in reality b*llsh*t. A writer experiences life and often uses those experiences as the palate of his greatest work. For both of you anonymous folks, have you ever read "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck? What is considered by many to be Steinbeck's greatest work is all about the "mundane" (your word anonymous, not mine) people he knew and interacted with. Some were unemployed, others were "drunks" as you might phrase them.... but the point is... they were sincere, true, portraits of people that helped to express greater truths about humans and human nature. I feel this is much like what GOM is practicing in his writings on this blog. He delves far beyond the surface of the individuals (even though it seems perhaps you two anonoymous folks only look at the skin deep, surface detail) and uncovers causal and ultimate insights into the frailty of human emotion.

To my eye, it seems the anonomyous folk would want some sort of a) glossy fiction that is often akin to the nonsense of a "Harry Potter" or a "Matrix" which has the depth of a potato chip, or b) another in a long line of political diatrabes that spout off half-baked rubbish that is a poor imitation of the rubbish mongers such as Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Libby. I ask you, why do we need MORE of that?

I suggest that GOM is doing a damn fine job at exploring and immersing himself into life and transforming that onto paper (albeit electronic paper). As an academic, I can sense in his writings and thoughts an ability and a desire to transcend the ordinary writings of most of us and instead ascend to heights only found by a few.

In other words... let the man do his work, in his way, as he sees fit. He is doing damn good.


To which an apparently overly sensitive Anonymous "#2" repliled...

Pipe Tobacco:

You appear to have completely misinterpreted my comment. Not that I care so much, since I'm here to read Grumpys thoughts not yours, but to clear up any misunderstandings I'd like to say that I don't know how the hell you managed to construe from my comment that I would prefer glossy fiction, because I don't, and I never said Grumpy wasn't doing a good job.

I said that stories about the mundane "normally" don't interest me, but in this case he's managed to make the mundane interesting, which I'd say is a pretty good compliment. Still all writers can benefit by exploring different subjects and styles of writing. This was just a suggestion not a demand, and did not in any way reflect anything wrong with his usual theme.

In any case I will repeat my closing remark from my original comment, as it truly expressed the most important point I was trying to make, you must have missed it.

"I say no matter what you do just be true to yourself. Write about whatever you feel the call to write about without regard to losing or gaining readership."

You know they say those who know do, those who can't teach. You know so much about great writers, but besides these long lofty comments you make here, what great works have you written?

I say "bah" to you Mr. Pipe Tobacco.

--Anonymous #2

Then I mentioned that I would reply to the rude comments of Anonymous "#2" to which he replied....

Anonymous said...

Pipe Tobbacco:

I'm sorry if you thought I was being rude, it wasn't my intention. All I was trying to do in my second comment was to clarify what I felt you misunderstood. I didn't mean to attack you, but I was upset because personally your comment seemed rude and insensitive to me.

I can't even believe you're still dwelling on it. There's no reason to even respond to my original comment, there's certainly nothing good to be gained from it. Or do always have to be the man with the final word? Why can't you just let it go?

anonymous #2


In my mind, Mr. Anonymous "#2" if he is a second anonymous poster, is the one who is overly sensitive and rude. I stated and still believe that the anonymous posts in a collective sense suggest a preference for either fluff or political drivel that is not what GOM is focusing on at this time. I also feel that GOM has the capability to do great things with his writing.

When my comments were then responded to by the Anonymous "#2" in a rather rude fashion, I did find it rather unpleasant for the following reasons:

1. His "how the hell you managed to construe from my comment that I would prefer glossy fiction" comment is a bit unnecessary taken in the light of my original comment being directed at the totality of BOTH anonymous comments. This leads me to hypothesize that Mr. Anonymous #2 may actually be the same individual who posted the first anonymous comment. If that is the case, why the need to suggest one comment is yours and the other is not? If the two comments ARE from two different posters, I suggest you re-read my original comment so as to clarify in your own mind that I spoke about both comments simultaneously. It was the first of the two anonymous comments that lead me to believe a "glossy" style of fiction was prefered, not the second anonymous comment.

2. The final rudeness on the part of Mr. Anonymous "#2" occurred when he stated, "You know they say those who know do, those who can't teach. You know so much about great writers, but besides these long lofty comments you make here, what great works have you written?" To which I shall reply. Yes, I do know a fair amount about the biography of great writers. My father was a literature teacher in the high school of the town I was raised in. Is that so terrible? What the hell is your point in stating the tired, pitiful, and untrue illiteration of "those who can do, those who cannot, teach?" Do you dislike people who enjoy education? Do you feel a need to criticize teachers or others that help people learn new things? That particular comment you adulterated is one of the most idiotic and inane comments that is commonly thrown about in our society. Finally, you attempt to slam me and my integrity by suggesting "what great works have you written?" to which I respond with.... NONE... who the hell ever said or suggested I have written any great work? I am a biology professor, and while I have written scientific research articles and other academic works, I in no way have ever considered myself a great author, or even a great potential author. That said, I can appreciate and recognize the ability of great writing in others, and that is what I was commenting on with GOM.

So, in conclusion, yes, I think you are a rude cur, Mr. Anonymous "#2". Your spiteful comments were directed at me and my profession, whereas my comments were primairly directed to the first anonymous post above, to which you may or may not be the author of. A question to you sir, if you should by chance read this response... why is it you choose to post anonymously? If you truly are a different author from the first anonymous post, that would have been more readily discernable if you had an actual identity to associate with your comment. Perhaps then I and others would not presume you were one and the same.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tired of It All

I am tired and weary, and not in a mood to write. Friday morning, the elderly relative I had spoken about with the cancer scare suddenly had trouble breathing and I ended up rushing her to the emergency room. She had developed a rapidly advancing case of pneumonia. Because of her age and frailty, and because of the obnoxious nature of health care today, I have spent many multiple hours every day since (including 14 hours on that Friday while in the emergency room) to be her medical advocate and to talk with the numerous physicians who come in all day long each with a wildly different opinion or philosophy. Some physicians look at her with her labored breathing and advanced age and presume she is an invalid and treat her as a child, others have a clearer notion of her being elderly and frail, but when not ill with pneumonia she is able to perform normal day-to-day tasks and enjoy life. Still others feel it is valuable to alter her various hypertensive and/or cardiac medicines, likely taking them out of homeostaic normalcy instead of simply treating the pnemonia. It is frustrating as hell having to deal with physicans whose perspective is too narrow and looks only at the acute moment for the patient. We have a medication regeime that is excellent for her hypertension and heart when she is feeling well, so prior to any adjustments, it is imperative to have the infection cleared up AND THEN A PROPER evaluation of medication changes can occur. Every single time in the past when we have simply allowed the physicians to alter medications like this, there is inevitably trouble a week or two down the road where she responds poorly and they eventually bring her medications back to where they started.

I am not overly coherent at the moment so I shall end here for now.

Grumpy Old Man... I shall respond to Mr. Anonymous #2's rather rude and insensitive comments as soon as I can.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


National Public Radio is by far the best entertainment experience I engage in. In total on an average day between driving in my vehicle, working in my office and lab at the University, or even working in the yard, I would guess that on average I listen to at least 3-4 hours of NPR each day. Sometimes I listen to the all talk version of NPR that features all sorts of wonderful programs (Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, to name but a few of the numerous programs of immense value), whereas other times I listen to the musical version of NPR (our musical station plays primairly classical with a modicum of jazz thrown in). I am never disappointed in NPR... well, except perhaps in one program.... Garrison Keillor's program. Please do not get me wrong, there are a few aspects of his show I find enjoyable (Guy Noir, for example), but unlike the otherwise mostly fresh and tightly organized shows on NPR, Keillor's program seems far, far longer in time than it is worth, and far, far less entertaining than it should be for the amount of time it is on each weekend. When I am out and about on the weekend hours when Keillor's program is on, my radios' tuners get their only weekly exercise as I feel driven to switch the dial after roughly 15 minutes of the Keillor program.

Overall, though, NPR is a national treasure.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Women are quite exasperating beasts at times. I am currently having to "tip-toe" around the house because my wife is feeling sensitive and it is definetly best to be careful during these times. I first caught a glimmer of this sensitivity when she snapped at me because I was 5-10 minutes late in returning from a haircut(and beard and moustache trim) & errand trip. We had planned to try to walk together at this time. My 5-10 minute delay, due to a chatty barber, had her giving me "the face" upon my arrival. The second time I was snapped at was because of something inconsequential I said at dinner. The third and final snap occurred as a result of my not "talking" with her correctly. I am at a loss to explain any of the three, as a) we both have at least a 15 minute window of variation for any set meeting time with each other due to our hectic and varied schedules, b) the conversation we were having was simply idle chit-chat, and c) the not "talking" correctly episode was unfathomable... we were chatting about food options when I was summarily told "I was being harsh and judgemental." This over what types of food to eat.

I have made a vow to myself this year to avoid engaging in discussion with my wife during these times as I truthfully feel they are not valuable. All that happens is that we start to have a heated discussion/debate, that literally is painful to me and makes me feel sour and frustrated. My wife always says that having this sort of debate/discussion is akin to a release for her and she always feels "better". I do not feel better after these sorts of incidents... only confused and hurt. I am going to see what happens if I simply try to ignore her snapping for a few days (or until they dissipate, whichever comes first). Wish me luck. I believe I will need it the next few days.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Let It Snow!

What grand luck! We have had a major ice storm (not bad enough to cause damage, howevever) overnight and the University has cancelled classes for the day! On the rare instances when this happens, it makes me feel like a kid again! I have been fueling my soul with ample robust pipes and two pots of coffee while I read and relax away the morning. Now I think I shall create a festive food masterpiece for dinner. One of my few specialities is quite labor intensive, but it is a chicken & curry dish that is utterly intoxicating to feast upon. I shall serve it with a fruit-intensive salad, spiced rice, and various other garnishments and ample red wine. It will be a Nirvana-like feast and my family will be delighted!


Monday, January 16, 2006


I have not written in a helluva long time and it annoys me that I have grown lax. I have been busy, but that is no excuse. Last week was the first week of the semester, I did stick to my 5 mile walk each day, etc. But, now I vow to return to the 5 posts-a-week I belive is my responsibility.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Shock & Saddness

As many of you realize, I am not an overly surprisable and shockable man. I do get a bit sentimental at times, but usually am fairly immune to distortion, gore, and general mayhem. Yet, an image in our newspaper yesterday has made me feel very sad and very emotional.

In the newspaper (I have looked for a photograph of it on-line, but to no avail, all I have found is this even more sad preserved specimin on and old eBay preserved by this site: 0103/cyclops.htm ) Apparently there was a small kitten born that was an actual cyclops... meaning it had one eye. The preserved specimin suggests it happens on rare occasion, but the one in the newspaper happened only a few days ago. The poor kitten died, as it lacked many other facial features.

I am not sure if anyone else has seen that newspaper article, but it actually made me feel so sad that I cried, and it has made me feel emotional enough to write about it today. I do not quite understand why, for I have seen other images of deformity due to my background in medical biology (I teach anatomy & physiology, endocrinology, etc), but it has really affected me.

The preserved specimin that is shown on the link is very similar to the photograph of the kitten I speak of, but of course it shows even more poorly due to preservation. If anyone cares to venture a guess, I would appreciate ideas as to why this situation has affected me so strongly.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Classic Start

Thank you, all three of you for your well wishes concerning my elderly relative. It was a tremendous relief to all of us and an end to a frightening time. After the surprising and joyous "all-clear" from the physician, this elderly relative and I "went-to-town" so to speak. I took her to her favorite resturant for dinner, and then took her shopping. She has not been particularly game to go much out of her house the last several weeks mostly from worry. It was wonderful to see her in good spirits and wanting to go out and do things. Even the weather cooperated with it being above freezing (35 Degrees Farenheit to be exact) for the first time in quite a while, making it feel nearly tropical (for those of you international readers, please note I list Farenheit Degrees... the Cenitgrade temperature would be approximetely 1 Degree).

While out shopping, she purchased for herself a whole new "Bed-in-a-Bag" ensemble and was tickled at the virbant color scheme she selected. It felt very good to see her feeling happy.

On Friday I quickly finalized my requirements for the start of class today and did EXACTLY as I suggested... I left my office around noon and had a festive "liquid lunch" with my elderly father-in-law. We ate poorly (albeit deliciously), drank copiously, and smoked our pipes profusely. It was an utterly grand afternoon!

Today I have started the new semester and had my neurobiology students first class. All went well and hopefully they will be an enthusiastic group. It is always a helluva lot more fun to teach when the students are attentive and excited. Tommorow is the big anatomy & physiology course I teach. It too, hopefully will be a lot of fun.

I also DID walk my 5 miles this morning as promised, and am happy and feeling up to snuff. As it is the first day of the semester, my office is swarming with students trying to find an open seat in one of my courses. I have not had an opportunity to have a pipe until just when I sat down here to write. It is a peaceful and tranquil peach infused cavendish. It is grand.


Friday, January 06, 2006


Just a brief note. The news is good, very good. I shall elaborate further in the next post, but the results are better than I had anticipated. After the tension of these last several days, waiting for results, I am going to go have a few drinks and pipes with my elderly father-in-law.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Prayers Wanted

Today I shall take my elderly relative in for her checkup following the proceedure I mentioned earlier (around the 19th). She, my family and I could use your thoughts and prayers for a postive and good outcome. Hopefully the cancer has not returned. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Early to Rise Again

My slovenly, slug-like lifestyle of the past few weeks during the break has now officially ended. I returned to my typical awakening time of 5:30am yesterday and today, and have also resumed my physical activity routine of walking roughly 5 miles each day. I may consider some moderate weight training to help with muscle tone, but I have not had an over abundance of success in staying with weight training. To me the activity is about as interesting and enjoyable as watching ice cubes freeze. However, perhaps I will think about it some more and discern some way to make it as enjoyable as my brisk walking is.

As I sit here in my office, drinking a large mug of dark, robust, Robusto coffee, and have just ignighted a bowl of bright burley with a hint of juniper, life feels back on track. Vacations are a joy and I relish them, but they are also important for highlighting the importance of routine, and predictability, and goals. By the way, as I have been asked to by one fellow, I will try to give more details of the leaves I mention here for my pipe.

The juniper tinctured, bright burley is a local blend and is typically only available during our winter months, actually when I went to the tobacco shop the other day, this particular leaf had already been sold out with no plans to make more until next Christmas, so it is actually more of a Christmas blend. The bright burley that is used is a surprising blend, for it produces a very soft, silky smoke, but because it is a burley, it also gives a delightfully powerful kick in the head when inhaled. The juniper flavoring gives it a light hint of gin, which is a delightful flavor for winter.

It is good to be back.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Just a Day

I am working hard to get back into a routine after the Holiday Break. Not a whole helluva lot to say at the moment as I have not had many commenters of late (I was especially disappointed that only Plark commented on my last post, which was for me an important post... thank you Plark, I appreciate your comments).

However, I should be back to posting with regularity again.