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, February 28, 2006


Not a helluva lot more to say than that.


Monday, February 27, 2006

As We Approach Lent

First, the gripes:

Life is still rife with illnesses in my household. My wife and my elderly mother are very ill with a pneumonia. It has been a harsh, bitter weekend frought with worry, stress, and anger. I feel quite angry at the world for the seemingly never ending battles with illness.

I am not overly keen about my blog at the moment. I apparently angered/aggrivated an Internet friend of mine enough that he no longer comments on my site nor via e-mail. Add to this the lack of posts by my baby brother on his blog, as well as a lack of posts on other sites I generally like to read, and I am left with an empty feeling. Even several of the photography blogs I like to visit for a glimpse at visual beauty have become sporadic.

I am not overly excited about teaching/research at the moment. It used to be that I could find solace and refuge in my academic pursuits. Unfortunately, likely because of the illnesses, but pehaps for other reasons as well, my focus, my ABILITY to focus on the intricacies of academia is virtually nill.

I have given up playing in the community orchestra... perhaps forever, if I am lucky it will only be for a while. The creative release I felt from playing my instrument was difficult to measure but readily apparent in my soul. Now, having had to miss several of the largest performances and rehersals we have had this year due to a myriad of factors, I no longer feel as if I belong and have given up on this series of performances. If the illnesses subside and the conductor is willing to have me back, and if I feel emotionally capable, I may attempt to rejoin at the end of March when a new series begins, but the way I feel about it now, it seems an insurmountable task and likely I will not be able to do so.

The national meeting I am scheduled to present at (along with several of my students) at the end of this week is simply another stressor on my already overtaxed nerves. I must do this, but at the same time, I must take care of my family. Hence, I have scurried around to modify travel and flight plans and have attempted to cut my time away from them to the minimum. While several of my students will be arriving early and likely having a good time on the town (as well they should), I will now be flying into the town on Friday morning, taking a taxi to the site of the meeting, giving my talk and (hopefully) seeing both of my student's talks, and then flying back home that afternoon/evening. Instead of a time of academic renewal and enjoyment, and a bit of carousing around town, it will simply be another in the long series of energy wiping, disposition crumbling adventures I get to have these past several weeks.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

So, with the gripes out of the way, I shall briefly introduce what are my planned talks for the next several days at least.... opinions related to the upcoming Lenten season.

As many of you may know, I am an academic, and as such, I tend to approach most things with an academic mindset, be it my work, my play, my religion, or even my hobbies (including the pipe). In my religious life, I am a practicing Roman Catholic. For me, religion is a very individualized topic for each person. For me, my religious faith is best thought of as a "philosophy of life". I am Roman Catholic because of all the religions I have studied (and I have studied many), the Roman Catholic doctrines best fit *my own* feelings on how to live a kind, gentle, helpful life. Any religion could be the right one for others, and I want to assure my readership that any faith (or lack of faith) is perfectly wonderful and appropriate in my book... as long as it is right for *you*. I have often thought about what faith I would be if I were not able to be Roman Catholic. I belive my next choice would be to be Jewish. If neither of those two faiths were available, I would then select either Budhism or be Agnostic.

So, I am planning to offer several essays about a very important religious time in the Roman Catholic faith... the upcoming Lenten Season. Here is the first effort:

In the faith of Roman Catholicism, there are three pillars of Lent.... prayer, fasting, and acts of charity. The Lenten Season is meant to be a time of "Joy", for it ends in the celebration of Easter. Yet, with the notions of the three pillars, for many these sorts of acts do not equate well with "joy". However, in my mind, these three pillars of Lent should be looked at akin to being an exercise program. It may be tough, and we may be sore all over, but if we stick with it, we will begin to feel better about ourselves and become stronger individuals. So, I am still debating how I am going to engage in these three pillars of Lent, but hopefully tommorrow I will have a better idea and will be ready to begin on Wednesday.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Continue the Torture

My wife has pneumonia.

[said with extreme sarcasm] Life is just a pure joy.


Friday, February 24, 2006

A Delightful Morning and Probably Even Better Afternoon

I have just gotten into my office (it is roughly 11:30am after a wonderful morning of doctors appointments and visits, plus runs to several local pharmacies for medications to treat the plethora of ailments afflicting various family members.

Now I can slurp down a cup of coffee or two, have a pipe, and then go to an even more lovely afternoon of pointless meetings.

Life is grand.


The Merry-Go-Round

It grows ever more tiresome, and I grow ever more frustrated and despondant about this same b*llsh*t happening time and time and time again. As seems to be my lot in life, I am the caretaker for the legion of sick individuals around me. An elderly relative is ill with a chest cold/pre-pneumonia condition, the wife is coping with a similar respiratory ailment, two of the grandkids are also expelling nasal secretions like a firehose. It is the same old thing, day after day, after day, after day.

As the one who is usually healthy and fit, it is up to me to care for and help the sick ones. Usually this is tiresome, but ok. But this time of year add to this the idea that I have a national conference to attend next week and have 5 different students who need me to help them organize and analyze their data FOR THEIR talks plus put my own two talks together. And add on top of this the guilt I feel because I am backing out of a few weeks of concerts and shows that the community orchestra that I belong to is performing.... because I do not have the time, inclination, or energy to even put my instrument together, let alone play the damn thing. And add to this that in the past 5 years, I have had significant disruption and/or cancellation of my plans to attend the above mentioned meeting due to this same sort of damn scenerio happening last year at this time, and happenine three years ago at this time and also four years ago.

It seems as if I am cursed and meant to pay some sort of horrid price akin the the film "Groundhog Day" featuring Bill Murray. I am so damn sick of it and so damn sick of most people griping and complaining at me, and I am tired of never having a moment's peace.

Oh well, the above is somewhat incoherent, but I guess that doesn't matter a helluva lot anyhow... in fact, what the hell value or importance is there in any thing at all? Today I suspect the answer is none.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Grouchy, Frustrated, All Negative Sh*t

The title about sums up the way things have been going and making me feel for the past week or two. I do not much feel like writing about the details of it, for then it only makes me relive the experiences MORE than I already do. So, instead I vent in vague, likely very dull ways on this site. Oh well. No one and nothing feels in homeostasis or harmony at the moment.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Apologies to "Grumpy Old Man"

Without meaning to, I hurt the feelings of a very good friend "Grumpy Old Man". I had set up a counter showing the number of days I have smoked a pipe, using a style similar to his own for quitting smoking. I had meant my counter as simply a measure of my joy in the pipe hobby. Unfortunately I did not think about the posting fully enough and did not realize it would hurt this good person's feelings.

Because I do not wish to hurt his feelings, I have withdrawn my counter and have written the following note to him in my comments section:


In no way did I mean for the counter to be at your expense sir. I apologize that you found it so. I shall remove it.

I thought it would be interesting to try to compute a number that would represent the length of time I have been involved in the pipe hobby. I relish the hobby, and thought it would be interesting to try to figure out the number of days.

Again, I apologize, sir. I did not mean for it to upset you. It was not my intent.


Again sir, I do apologize and truly did not mean to hurt your feelings.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lackluster Attitude

Other than including the above referential post (a spin-off of "Grumpy Old Man's" tag), there is nothing I feel captivated to post. I am simply dead tired and trying to deal with the hassles of midterm. Too many tests to write, too many to grade, too many "problems" from students, too many requests for "favors" from faculty.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

I Shall Stay

Although I do not feel any better emotionally, I shall keep on with my blog. Perhaps in a few days I will feel enough energy to talk about the current situation. Thank you to all who wrote and commented.


P.S. for Jonathon: Sir, I was touched by your offer, but I would not wish to hold you captive to such an offer. While I would relish for you to participate in the pipe hobby with me (for I truly enjoy discussing the hobby with people who know and understand its beauty and artistry), it should be something you choose and want to indulge in for your own enrichment, not something you feel compelled to do by other circumstances.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I am not sure if I should blog any more. Perhaps no one cares.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I decided to postpone my lectures/essays on the matters of love for another day. I am feeling sad, tired, and frustrated at life at the moment. Illness of loved ones swirls around me and I am frustrated, tense, annoyed, and grouchy because of it.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Fragrance in Roses: Odors That Induce Passion

With the upcoming commercial date for expression of love just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the science behind the various aspects of love this week. Some articles shall be written by me, others will be excerpts of other's work that I comment upon. Here is an anticipated list of topics:

Monday - Fragrance in Roses: Odors That Induce Passion
Tuesday - The Biology of Copulatory Behavior
Wednesday - Why Women (Especially) Crave Chocolate from a Biological Perspective
Thursday - Zygotic Growth and Development

I hope you enjoy these essays.

The first essay is one that was written by Bob Hatterschide and was first published on the American Rose Society website. His essay is in italics, and my comments/additions are in normal print.

Fragrance in Roses
By Bob Hatterschide - an ARS Award of Merit article from 1995

The enticing, lovely fragrance of our beloved rose is a surprisingly complicated thing. We appreciate it by means of our olfactory senses, which, unfortunately, border on being capricious as far as consistency and repeatability from one individual to the next. This being the case fragrance is not one of our regular items on the judging list. Even you and I do not sense fragrance the same way, day to day, so that, when we do judge it, we often employ a sight-impaired person hoping that the decrease in one sense might be augmented in the case of the other.

The chemistry of rose fragrance is likewise a complicated mixture of what the old-timers liked to call "essential oils." Foremost among them is Rhodinol, which, as one might imply from the name, is essentially "rose" in character, the wonderful aroma of what we like to term "old roses." Add to that Geraniol, the familiar scent of geranium foliage, Nerol, the essence of magnolias, and, especially in our more modern yellows and oranges, Eugenol, the spicy fragrance which we all know as oil of cloves. Along with many other minor ingredients is a large helping of a relatively simple compound called phenyl ethyl alcohol, which is quite "roselike" in character, but in a dilute, rather receding way. Because it is a relatively easy compound to manufacture from inexpensive ingredients, it finds its greatest use in cheap perfumes, and more so to give Rose scent to household products where the use of precious Attar of Roses would fall into the "casting pearls before swine" category.

Rose fragrance is exuded from glands on the lower petal surfaces, and its amount is limited by both the variety of the rose and by climatic conditions. Sun and warmth are needed for maximum production. Check it out. Roses are never as fragrant on a cloudy day as on a sunny one.

So, how do we save and preserve this precious fragrance? History tells us of rose petals being strewn over ponds and piled so deep around Roman banquet tables that guests literally waded in them. That, of course, was only short term, but no doubt the early rose merchants loved it!

Two methods came into use, and these all within the last several hundred years. The first method, called "enfleurage" was a painfully tedious and labor intensive method, which employed what looked rather like picture frames, with only the glass in them. The glass was smeared with rendered fat, or tallow, and the individual rose petals placed on those surfaces one by one, allowed to remain a day or so while the oils were absorbed by the tallow, and then replaced by fresh petals. After several weeks, the fat, called a "pomade" was scraped off, and replaced with fresh fat. Meanwhile the tallow was extracted with pure grain alcohol, which separated the fragrant oils from the fat. After allowing the alcohol to evaporate, what remained was the intensely fragrant attar, known as an "absolute of enfleurage." Sounds like slave labor.

Another more common method took place right in the rose fields, using a process of steam distillation, done to prevent loss of quality by having to transport the petals any great distance. A large copper vessel was filled with a quantity of petals and of water. The top of the vessel was a rudimentary distillation apparatus with a vertical pipe followed by a downward turned pipe out of which the distilled materials flowed. It was air cooled as there was no water nearby to cool it. Ordinarily, a charge of petals was steam distilled twice, the first distillation, or first water, being deemed the best. Out of that arose an old expression for anything that was termed the better of several. The rose oils collected on top of the distilled water as a yellow-green waxy mass. This, like the previous method, was extracted by pure grain alcohol to produce the absolute. Again a great deal of manual work, and this time, the ever present danger of burning the petals and ruining the material.

Let me give you an idea of why this attar of roses has always been so expensive. A typical load for a still was 50 pounds of petals and four to five times as much water. About one-third of the water was collected as "first water" from each still, then the remainder was combined in another still to yield more material, usually of lesser quality.

It is estimated that about 500 kilograms of petals are needed to produce 1 kilogram of that waxy stuff, known as a "concrete,"which in turn yields only 500 grams of the absolute, or attar, meaning a return of only one-tenth of one percent on the amount of roses invested.

Because the attar lends such an exquisite finish to fine perfumes, and is highly desirable, the cost of attar is astronomical and in fact, for many years, was the source of monetary stability for the Bulgarian nation, even as we depended on gold for the same effect. Containers of it were stored in vaults!

In more recent times, advances in the chemical industry have provided for cold extraction of the petals directly, with subsequent vacuum evaporation. This permits operation at room or lower temperatures, thus insuring against degradation from heat.

The principal rose growing area of France developed near the town of Grasse, in the south, where huge fields of 'Rosa Damascena' produced thousands of tons of rose petals, producing attar valued in millions. 'Rosa Alba' has enjoyed some use, but it contains less essential oils, and is used primarily as a screen planting, to protect against excessIve wind damage. 'Rosa Centifolia', which had plenty of oil, proved difficult to extract by steam distillation, though I venture to say that modern extraction methods have solved that problem.

From the beginning of history, man has venerated the rose and associated it with all manner of good things. Homer wrote in the Iliad that Aphrodite anointed the slain Hector with rose oil and another ancient myth relates the story of a young girl who presented the goddess Venus with some lovely roses. When an unsightly disease threatened to mar the young woman's beauty, the goddess prescribed an application of roses, and of course, so the story goes, all was well.

Of equal importance to our ancestors was the association of that which smelled good with that which worked curative powers over bodily ailments, and the rose took a prominent place in this pharmacopeia. One reason for the preservation of the rose species is said to be the cultivation of roses within monastery walls by the monks. The preservation of dried rose petals as sachets was meant to release the fragrance of summer amid the cold of winter. It is interesting that the original method of making potpourri was by fermentation, which, accordingly, gave it the name, which means "rotten pot."

The association of roses with religion is as old as religion itself and found particular affinity with the Virgin Mary, whose many manifestations have frequently been reported as being accompanied by showers of fragrant rose petals. The very term rose window shows the affinity of the flower with liturgical symbolism, and many stained glass scenes of the Blessed Mother and other Saints show them holding roses. Underlying all of this was that association of fragrance with what is good.

What about those allegations that modern roses have no fragrance? People used to like to point the finger at 'Frau Karl Druschki,' and call her a soulless beauty for lack of fragrance. Well, beauty she was and is, and she has a lot of soulless sisters, but an equal number that more than make up for her deficiency. A number of years ago, the late James Gamble whose name lives on in the Royal National Rose Society with his cup awarded for fragrance, ran a test on well over three thousand Hybrid Teas. The conclusion was that 25% had either no fragrance or only a small amount, 20% were intensely fragrant, and the remainder fell somewhere in between. Sounds to me like the good old "bell curve" that explains a lot of natural occurrences.

As reported in earlier editions of the ARS Annual, a Mr. N.F.Miller attempted to establish a classification for rose fragrances on what he termed seven basic fragrances, namely ROSE, meaning old rose fragrance, NASTURTIUM, ORRIS (Iris root), APPLE, LEMON, VIOLET, and CLOVE. All cultivars, he claimed, had a fragrance that contained one or more of these in some proportion. Well, it was an interesting idea, but nothing seems to have come of it.

It is possible to trace more than a third of the world's known HT cultivars to the old rose 'Lady Mary Fitzwilliam.' Her progeny include such names as 'Mme Caroline Testout', 'Crimson Glory', 'Ena Harkness', and 'Josephine Bruce', all of which carried that wonderful Damask rose fragrance in their makeup. I have not attempted to trace the lineage since then, but I will wager they are fragrant! We should note, however, in conjunction with the seven basics listed above that most of these odd fragrances derive from 'Soleil d' Or', the scruffy looking yellow child of a Hybrid Perpetual and 'Rosa Foetida.' From that line, of course, came our bright yellows and oranges, our non-bluing reds, and that wonderful palette of fragrances like raspberry md other fruit flavors, and the spicy clove inspired aromas. (Not to mention Blackspot!)

Consider, also, that other members of the genus have contributed their own notes to the palette. The musk rose, 'Rosa Moschata' lends a pungent, by no means disagreeable touch. The coming of Teas and Chinas brought what some have called the real depth of fragrance to the modern rose. The Rugosas, those hardy, bug-proof beauties (alas, no form) have a strong, sweet fragrance, and our own native wild roses have made a contribution. Among the roses of China that have made a lasting home here is the ubiquitous rose of the deep South, the 'Lady Banksia' rose, which passes for violets. The fragrance of our beloved rose is said to be the only fragrance that never tires the human olfactory system. Other odorous materials quickly fatigue the system; indeed, some noxious vapors can become real life threats because the human sense of smell shuts down as a warning system when it gets too much. But the rose never fatigues the nose!

A humorous account was found in the 1968 ARS Annual which carried the story of an ARS convention featuring one of the most renowned figures of the rose world. During a Q & A period, some unfortunate woman asked, of the rose the speaker was touting, "What ODOR does that rose have?" whereupon the speaker, drawing himself up haughtily, nailed her to the wall with his reply, "Madame, roses have FRAGRANCE; garbage cans have ODORS!"

* * * * *

Interestingly, the odor or roses (yes, "odor" is correct from a scientific sense... the speaker above is simply being a prissy, self-agrandizing fool) *is* not one which we habituate to in any great extent. The chemistry behind this ties into our evolution. One particular constituent of the rose odor is remarkably similar to a compound that is exuded by both men and women during arousal. Neither this component in humans, nor this component of the odor of roses is detectable as a specific identifable smell, for it is part of the human pheromonal system, but even lacking an identifable smell, it none-the-less stimulates and triggers receptors in our nasal cavity that send signals to our hypothalamus (a region of the brain) which in turn will send signals to our gonads and copulatory structures to stimulate them and make us (both men and women) feel aroused.

Therefore, gentlemen, if you would like to increase the odds that you and your special someone will want to engage in physical passion with each other, you may wish to send your special someone a bouquet of roses... especially tommorrow, February 14th. I have a dozen on order to be delivered to my lovely wife during the afternoon while I am still teaching at the University. They are a mixture of white, pink, and red.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Poor & Getting Worse

I am in a very poor mood today. The wife was a crab last night and she woke up the same way. I have a sh*tload of nonsense I need to accomplish and I am annoyed as hell at having to do it. I am going to isolate myself from others here at work, for I can feel that the slightest provocation will cause me to respond in a biting, rude fashion, something which I do not want to do.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Deep Thrust

Today, I am excerpting an article put out by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute about new research about the actual behavior of sperm as they force themselves into the egg through the egg membrane in order to fertilze the ova. Interestingly, much like all mammalian copulatory behavior where deep thrusting by the male is associated with the release of spermatazoa, so too thrust's the sperm itself as it penetrates the egg. Very interesting.


Researchers have identified a key component of the mechanism spermatozoa use to abruptly convert their tail motion from a steady swimming undulation to the whip-cracking snap that thrusts them into an egg. The finding opens a new research pathway that the researchers said could help scientists both recognize new forms of male infertility and design new contraceptives to thwart sperm entry into the egg.

What's more, they said, the exquisitely delicate analytical technique they used to eavesdrop on the electrical currents inside the squirming sperm cell could literally open a new window into its largely mysterious inner workings.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator David E. Clapham and his colleagues published their findings in the February 9, 2006, issue of the journal Nature. Lead author on the paper was Yuriy Kirichok and the other co-author was Betsy Navarro, both in Clapham's laboratory at Harvard Medical School.

According to Clapham, it has long been known that a spermatozoa's arrival in the alkaline environment of the female reproductive tract triggers its tail's whiplike motion, called hyperactivation. In 2001, the researchers showed that a protein called CatSper1, found only in the sperm tail, was required for male fertility. Subsequently, with colleagues at the University of Washington and at the University of Texas Southwestern, CatSper was found to be required for hyperactivation. CatSper proteins are components of pores in the sperm cell membrane called ion channels. In an alkaline environment, these pores open and allow calcium to enter the cell.

In earlier experiments, the researchers had attempted to study the CatSper ion channel with a technique called patch clamp recording. In this widely used method of studying electrical activity in cells, a tiny hollow pipette is snugged tightly against the cell membrane. With gentle suction, the membrane is delicately ruptured, opening a window into the cell that allows measurement of its electrical properties, as well as introduction of chemicals to perturb those properties for study.

However, said Clapham, the constant wriggling of spermatozoa, as well as the way their tough membranes stretch tightly stretched over underlying structures, made the cells incompatible with this research technique.

"Back in 2001, we made more than a thousand attempts to patch clamp sperm without success," said Clapham. "We had been quite frustrated by it. However, Yuriy finally discovered a way to patch clamp the cells, which was central to the success reported in this paper." Basically, Kirichok found that he could patch clamp the pipette into a microscopic "cytoplasmic droplet" that is present in sperm before ejaculation, but is usually lost in mature sperm.

Patch clamp studies on spermatozoa with remnant cytoplasmic droplets revealed that CatSper1 was a major component of the calcium ion channel responsible for alkaline-activated hyperactivation and male fertility.

According to Clapham, the finding represents the beginning of an important new research pathway. "It's like opening an chamber in an ancient pyramid, because no one had ever seen inside sperm cells to measure all the currents that control their activity," he said. "We are already measuring many of these currents and beginning to answer questions about what they are and what they do."

Further studies, said Clapham, will aim at exploring the many controlling currents inside sperm and also tracing how calcium triggers hyperactivation once it enters the cell. Such studies will enable exploration of sperm machinery from tail to head – analyzing processes ranging from tail motility to the mechanism by which the sperm head delivers its genetic payload to the egg, he said.

Such research could yield insight into some male infertility, said Clapham. Still-unidentified mutations in any of the four CatSper proteins – all of which are involved in motility – could underlie some forms of infertility, he said.

"Also, these proteins are good targets for contraception," he said. "We know that defects in CatSper1 block fertilization in mice. And since the channels in human sperm are very similar, there's no reason to believe you couldn't develop a male or female birth control pill that would block the protein before it functions to hyperactivate sperm, preventing fertilization," he said.

Source : Howard Hughes Medical Institute

End of Excerpt.

This news is both somewhat humorous and yet appealing. To think of a sort of kinship between our own behavior in bed and the behavior of the "troops" we fellows release is both logical and appropriate.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Today feels very nebulus and ambiguous. My mind is unfocused, and my mind is cluttered. Here is a list of various thoughts I am having, so that you may see the whirlwind that is currently my mind:

1. I wish I were home in bed, reading the New York Times, listening to NPR, and drinking a large flavored Starbucks coffee (perhaps hazlenut).

2. I should get my camera out more often. I have been very lax in taking photographs.

3. Grumpy Old Man (of Unconventional Ideas) is gone. It is disheartening.

4. I need to put together lectures for endocrinology. I am dangerously close to being underprepared.

5. I have several research presentations coming up and should work on them.

6. I would enjoy a nice gin and tonic right now.

7. I ran out of aftershave lotion and so I wonder if I smell odd.

8. My truck is getting on in years, so, should I get a new one? No new truck currently is appealing to my artistic sense.

9. I should try to become more involved in art and the creation of art.

10. I love the feel of pipe smoke as I inhale a large lungful of rich, vanilla tinctured burley.

11. Should I try contact lenses? I have never done so previously, so I am not sure if they are worth the hassle.

12. A turquoise early 1960s vintage Volkswagen Beetle is a damn pretty car, especially with ivory accents (steering wheel, knobs, etc, and wide white-wall tires.

13. I need to schedule doctor's appointments for my elderly relative who had just gotten out of the hospital.

14. I would love to be "bedding" my wife at the moment.

15. I need to go to the library to return a late book at the University.

16. I should look for a new piece of fiction to read at the public library.

17. I want to duck out and hide in my inner office and pretend I am not here to avoid talking to some of my research students today.

18. I should be writing a research article for submission, but basically will do almost anything else to avoid starting.

19. Maybe I should stop at the tobacco shop and buy a few cigars. It has been a while since I have had one (perhaps 3 weeks).

20. What is the meaning of all this?

21. Why does death always loom over everything in life, and is that good or bad?

22. If I could live forever, would I want to (my immediate answer is YES).

23. Will the Winter Olympics ever be televised in a way that is enjoyable again? NBC has the crappiest coverage of these events. Mostly it is a rah-rah fest for the good old USA, and we do not see much if any sport from other countries. ABC and the good old Wide World of Sports did a helluva good job in Olympic coverage. I miss that.

24. I had promised an article about snuff for my blog. I need to do that.

25. I am tired of other people's cell phones. I am more firmly convinced I never want one myself.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Grumpy Old Man is Gone

I sadly report that Grumpy Old Man, who writes the Unconventional Ideas blog, has disappeared. His blog has been removed, he does not respond to e-mail. It is worrisome.

It is a sad day.


Monday, February 06, 2006

A Good Choice

Philosophically, I am always searching for ways to improve myself. When I say this I mean improvements in how I interact with others, how I treat others, etc. Well, a scenerio happened today and even though it has been difficult, I do feel it is a good choice in my response to others.

This morning I went and talked to my Department's Stockroom Clerk. He is a good friend, and is responsible for ordering materials to arrive in time for the laboratories we teach in our Department. I went in to his office to ask about an order that was suppossed to arrive for use this week... a stock of insects needed for the scheduled laboratory.

I asked, "Do you know if my insects have arrived yet?"

I was asking because I was going to suggest flip-flopping this week's lab exercise with next week's as some short-lived animals had been shipped by the breeding company earlier than anticipated and we could better use these critters this week.

He replied "No, I do not know, let me look." After a few minutes he continued, "No, they are not set to arrive until next week. When is the lab scheduled?"

To which I replied, "They are scheduled for this week, bu...." as I was summairly cut off.

"That is not what your request sheet stated," he said even before finding this request sheet, "you must have your dates mixed up."

He then began to look for my original request sheet. The above statement irked me, but I bit my tongue.

Instead of denying an error on my part, I said instead, "The reason I was asking was..."

He abruptly pulled out my original request sheet and shook it.

"Here it is!" he stated emphatically. He scanned it. "When is your lab?"

"February 7th, bu..." said I, feeling anger growing inside me, but again I tried to explain I was *hoping* to switch weeks anyway, so it did not matter. Unfortunately I was cut off again.

"It says here under your 'Date Needed" column that you need these on February 7th. I have them scheduled to arrive on February 8th." He then continued, "But your document is unclear because you did not fill out the "Date Used" column as well. If you had put February 7th in the "Date Used" colum, they would be here."

To me this was utter b*llsh*t. I did not need someone giving me attitiude for something he had done wrong. There was no confusion. I had written DATE NEEDED as February 7th.... how could he or anyone construe that to mean arrive on February 8th?

But, and this is the good part... I held my tongue. It was extremely tempting to tell him that his attitude and statement were wrong and in fact preposterous. I *could* have responded with a sharply worded reply to him, but I did not do so. Why?

I did not do so, because a) he and I both KNOW he is wrong and he is at fault, b) he is a good friend and getting into a heated discussion would not be fruitful because he would not back down or change his attitude or response (he is a very rigid fellow in MANY ways) even if proven wrong. He would simply become more abrupt, more vocal, and more challenging, c) I do not have to respond in kind to stupid or rude behavior (I usually do respond somewhat bitingly), d) I value being able to control my own emotions more completely... and not simply respond back in a manner similar to what is projected at me, and e) it is a good mental, emotional exercise to help build my character.

Do not get me wrong, it was DAMN hard. I was fuming for roughly 30 minutes back at my office. Several times I started to head back downstairs to his office to give him a piece of my mind, but each time I caught myself. Finally an hour later, I went down and simply stated that I planned to switch lab 6 and lab 7 so that he would know this in his planning for the next two weeks (which IS WHAT MY ORIGINAL GOAL WAS ANYHOW, prior to all the b*llsh*t).

His reply was to grumble, "Ok, I'll write that down."

I left, and grinned a wide, furry-faced grin all the way back to my office. He was still projecting his attitude... his bad attitude, but I felt pretty damn proud of myself for not buying into his attitude and keeping my own generally good disposition intact for the day. The feeling was quite rewarding, though initially challenging.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday and the Living is Easy

All has been going reasonably well today, and I feel up-to-date on all the items I have planned for my classes next week and with the weather holding pretty steady and clear, I may sneak out and have some fun with my father-in-law. Perhaps several games of cribbage and several boilermakers (a mug of beer followed with a straight shot of whiskey) and several pipes. It hopefully will be grand!

Have a grand weekend!


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Comments to a Grand Friend's Post

An exceptionally eloquent writer, Grumpy Old Man (GOM), posted a brief essay yesterday that spawned a comment in me that I use for today's post. First, I post GOM's essay in italics, then my reply that is an elaboration upon the actual comment I posted on his site.

Grumpy Old Man Wrote:

Did anyone listen to the President's State of the Union address? I just couldn't bring myself to listen to more war mongering. I did hear on the radio that he talked about healthcare. No doubt, it was about those "personal savings accounts"” that are so advantageous to private businesses. He tried to do the same thing with Social Security. Luckily, he failed.

You might know that I signed up for Medicare part D. It was a mistake. They are discriminating against people with mental illnesses and their medications. I found out that Medicare part D is being run and administered by private insurance companies. No wonder. It is a colossal cluster f*ck and they will not pay for my medications. Medicare part D has also turned my father's pharmacy into a nightmare. I guess I am going to have to write my state representative and my congressman. At least those bastards will kiss my ass for a vote.


I agree with your assessment of Bush. To me he is simply an imbicilic bumpkin who had the perfect blend of doltish, lackuster, laziness mixed with enough charisma to get him selected by the manipulative big-business folks as their puppet. He was a perfect choice, for the modest amount of charisma he has was needed to sucker enough of the US population into voting for him for office, and the doltish laziness was needed to ensure he would not defy the wishes of his puppet masters... big business.

Now that he is in, he is simply a puppet without an active braincell of his own... and our country is being run into the ground by those schiesters who live by the credo of "make money any damn way you can... regardless of whom it hurts, or whom you have to backstab to get it". Another way to state this philosophy is simply "short term profits are more important than long term stability". Neither of these ideas is designed to do anything about making our society or world better. Neither idea is designed to build a sense of real community spirit in our nation. These philosohpies are simply selfish, "me-first", "I-don't-give-a-damn about anyone but me" sorts of philosophies that are going to drive our society into the ground and make us economic (if not worse) slaves to the rich and to other nations that enslave their own people with standards of living where a person earns a dollar or two a week (such as China, India, or Mexico).

When will enough of the people in the US wake up and demand we enact social, political, and economic policies that STRENGTHEN the fabric of our nation? I sure as hell wish I knew.

For those of you who might enjoy hearing or reading about some of our current national ills, I would like to suggest clicking upon the site by Jim Hightower. He is a very wise fellow with a true gift for explaining much of the b*llsh*t that is happening to our nation. If enough of us with the goal of making our nation a better place... a place that protects its citizens and helps them to acheive a good life of economic stability and creative spirit... if enough of us band together, perhaps we can still turn this mess around.

My vision for a REALISTIC utopia in our nation is simply this.... 1) a person who works a 40 hour work week should at a minimum earn wages equivalent to 125% of the poverty level for a family of four. 2) our nation needs to take health care AWAY from the hands of business and adopt a national health care policy so that all of our citizens receive equal, high quality health care treatment, 3) a tremendous push should occur in our government to encourage and invigorate creative pursuits such as art and science... both in terms of classroom education and in terms of practice (producing of new art by artists and new science research by scientists), 4) there should be a STRONG push to keep existing jobs (and bring back those already lost) in our nation so that all people, regardless of educational level may obtain work if they choose to do so, and 5) that the nation adopt stringent policies to keep in check those sorts of businesses that rape our nation and our people (such as WalMart with its policies that cause an INCREASE in need for welfare when they move into a community).

If those 5 items could be enacted... damn... our nation would become a true, realistic nirvana for its people.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mousy Mice

Today has been extraordinairly hectic and busy. I havent had a moment to sit at the computer, nor a moment to enjoy a pipe all day. I arrived at the University at 7am, and am now just sitting down for a few moments before I head home.

Mice came in today for a future endocrinology experiment for my students in their endocrinology laboratory. Two different transgenic strains were ordered and all have arrived safely and are now housed in their new cages.

Soon, the kids will be ready to learn some basic surgical proceedures.

I am going to head on home. I just finished a pipe, but plan to have another one as soon as I get into my vehicle.