The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Shorty

Sadly, today was even busier than yesterday so I had not even one iota of a moment for play. I am not sure what it is, but students seem even needier than usual right at the moment. I had 9 students today, each spending roughly 1/2 of an hour with me with all sorts of various problems (what classes to take, what to do with their life, etc). This was in addition to my normal teaching load. I am bushed and my eyes are heavy. I will not promise what I cannot assure for tommorrow, but it is my hope to have a grand new essay for you on Friday.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Damn Long Day

The post today is going to be a bit brief. Althought it was a *good* day, it has been an extremely *long* day. With nearly back-to-back classes until the early afternoon, and then an avalanche of needy students piling into my office (11 total)... 2 of my research students, 5 students seeking advising for working towards a "pre-med" biology degree, 3 from my classes who are worried about their failing grade (now at the 11th week of the semester), and 1 prospective research student. I felt good about helping them, but it is draining when it is non-stop, back-to-back discussion. I did not arrive home until after 8pm (my late afternoon class ends at 5:30, so I am usually home by quarter to six. Added to this were two committee meetings (writing committee, and the natural science colloquium meeting, and it was a whirlwind of a day.

The only bright spot (perhaps that is the wrong phrase... my day was good.... the "bright spot" refers to my being able to do something outside of work) that occurred before I returned home from work was the 10-15 minutes late this morning between two classes when I was able to sit down and correspond with a very nice friend of mine on the Internet.

Hopefully, Thursday will bring a bit more lesiurely schedule so I may develop a better essay.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


And now for the rest of the story... first... thank you Jonathon, for your comments. I truly appreciate any and all comments I receive. Not only do I enjoy hearing from others, but I also find valuable insights into my writing. Hence the subject of today's post:

First.... and foremost... things have been smoothed over, and all is back to normal between my wife and I. We have talked through the issue more completely.

Second.... and most important for this forum, is a clarification of what made me angry about the issue discussed yesterday. And, for this portion, I have Jonathon to thank, for he pointed out to me through his comments a misconception about what was really bothering me:

My wife and I love each other enormously, and both of us work hard to make our lives together good. We both work damn hard to do good things. My wife is NOT lazy, nor is she incapable of doing work. In fact, she is very very good AT working on tasks.

The whole thrust of my anger and frustration yesterday was not because of what she was doing or not doing in terms of household work. Instead, it was *wholly* about her attitude that she gave when doing or not doing the household work. I was angry and very hurt by her doing her work and then being cranky and crabby about doing it. This has been a constant point of contention between us our whole marriage. She has a tendency to view "chores" as very negative... items that infringe upon her time, that are bothersome, and that are things she resents having to do. I on the other hand, have tended to view chores (in adulthood anyhow.... as a child I complained about chores too) as a part of life that simply needs to be done. I work to not be negative about my chores, and stive to feel a sense of love in doing these tasks.... because I am doing them to show love and commitment to my family. It is a whole different approach to viewing chores. To me, seeing my chores philosophically as a tangible way for me to bring more love and kindness to my family makes them a thing I can do in a much happier way.

So, in a nutshell, I was upset, because my wife was crabbing at me about her chores, and this makes me upset because when she is crabby, I usually start troubleshooting ways to make changes so she will not feel this way, and of course that typically goes over like a lead balloon (just like I am met with an icy stare and a whole different realm of crabbing if I decide to *do* one or more of her chores to help her out. This crabbing, and crabbing about disliking and feeling burdened by chores, and this complaining and crabbing about chores others do for her put me in a position of being between a damn rock and a hard place. There is no solution.

That lack of a solution is the root of my anger. Its damn chores, for Pete's sake... they simply have to be done. We choose to either do them with love and kindness in our heart or we do them b*tch*ng, harranging, and crabbing, which shows NO love and just makes others feel edgy, hurt, and bad.

After our discussion yesterday, where I further elaborated these points, and ended with a statement of "I don't give a damn what you choose to do or not do as your chores.... all I want is for those chores you elect to do, to do them with love and not resentment. Let me know what ones you will do and either I will do the remainder of them (readers, just so you know, I mean in addition to my own regularly scheduled chores) or I will hire someone to do them."

And again, I stated for the final record... "Do them for love, or don't do them at all."

That seemed to jar something in her mind where I think she may start to look at these items with a different heart and spirit. Do not get me wrong, my wife is a loving, caring person. It is simply that she can get into these very negative mindsets sometimes and they make me so frustrated, angry, and hurt, that I can barely stand it sometimes. I am not a crying sort by my nature, but in the last seven days, I have sobbed on 5 of them because of this issue. I could not figure out the right words to say to get my point across. It took long, careful thought on my part to put the above ideas into words instead of being simply lists of my being angry back at her.

I am pleased that I believe she may now understand more what I am suggesting and why she had hurt me with her actions.


Monday, March 27, 2006

I Know I Should Not...

I know I should not do this, but honestly, I am in a pretty p*ss-poor mood anyhow, so what the hell difference does it make? I decided to glance briefly at the Homeless Guy's blog this morning, and of course that was an assinie and stupid thing to do on my part. I very rarely look at his site anymore (perhaps once a month), and inevitably, when I do, I am aggrivated. Here is his post from last Tuesday (03-21-06):

* * * * *
Horse Manure

I finally got some work yesterday, out of the Job Office - 8 hours worth.

The job? Cleaning out horse stables.

Pine clippings are used as the bedding on the floor. It gets really wet and smelly once a horse relieves him/herself.

I will get paid 7 dollars an hour for this 8 hour job. BUT... this job came to the Job Office through yet another temp agency. This means that yet another company will have its hands in my paycheck. When all is said and done, and everyone who can has skimmed off the top, I will have about $30 for my 8 hours of back breaking work. After taxes and fees and transportation to the job site... I had to pay for the bus tokens to ride the bus to the other temp agency, and that temp agency charged me again for the trip to the actual job site, so I ended up paying a total of 10 dollars for transportation yesterday. Of course a 24 hour bus pass only costs $2.50. (but if there's a chance to rip-off the lowly and low paid general labor temp worker...)

Such is the typical situation for a homeless person trying to work their way out of homelessness. No wonder so few ever make it out this way. For most people to get out of homelessness, someone has to bail them out.

* * * * *

Now, why does this aggrivate me? It is a well written essay, and has a good focus, it is true. However, the part that aggrivates me to no end is that here is Mr. Barbieux harranging on AGAIN, about a grievous injustice he has had to endure and this is why it is so hard for him (he is the "everyman" of homelessness) to ever leave homelessness. The sad truth is that Keven *had* been living in a subsidized apartment, and had a *job* and had "found" a way out of homelessness, and he chose to abandon all that on the spur of the moment to take a bus ride out to Las Vegas and take up residence there. That was his choice, to leave his home for no reason other than the idea he no longer felt "free".

This is annoying on several different levels which I am sure all of you can imagine, but the reason why this yanks my chain so greatly today is that the basic thought processes Kevin uses are pretty damn similar to what my wife often uses lately and is the source of a very heated discussion we have had since yesterday. In a nutshell, here is the thrust of her argument:

We have chores (tasks) that we need to accomplish as part of the running of a household. Everyone does. There is a basic subset that needs to be done on a scheduled frequency. Things such as grocery shopping, laundry, vacuuming the carpeting, cleaning the litter boxes, mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, etc. Well, my wife comes to me (for the nth time (I cannot begin to count to what "n" is)) to say that she is feeling overwhelmed and over burdened by her tasks. This has been going on our entire marriage and I often times get fed up with it. I do not need to have someone complaining to me constantly about nonsense. I finally told her yesterday the following:

"I am beyond tired of this same argument month after month. Here is my solution and here is what I want you to do..... Do whatever it is that makes you happy and makes you stop being such a crab at me about this b*llsh*t. You don't like my suggested schedule for us to divide up the housework so that we can have more relaxation time together, you get more riled up and upset if I do any of the things you neglect to do (I cannot believe you get angry at me for washing the clothes, after you have not touched them for three weeks). I am fed up to here with it, and I am no longer going to try to solve it. YOU solve it. YOU find some way to be happy, doing whatever the hell it is you want, and then tell me what that will be. I will do the damn rest of everything."

My wife, very much like Mr. Barbeiux, is a person who does things with the annoyingly obnoxious habit of being either 100% or 0%. These people see nothing but black or white, and cannot see any middle ground or compromise in anything. It is beyond annoying and it is tiresome as hell to live with. Either my wife will try to be "super-woman" and do her share and then try to do everything else on the planet, all in the same moment of time (hence giving her, her "justification" to whine and complain), or she does ZERO, and complains that she is over burdened and now there is just too much to do. Do not get me wrong, I love my wife, but sometimes I am not particularly fond of her. She has got to learn to not crab at me because SHE is feeling cranky. And, the bigger goal, is she needs to grow up (a pretty silly thing to say at our ages) and accept that there are tasks we all do in life to help our home run more smoothly. They may not be something that jazzes up our day and makes life exciting and amazing, but sh*t, they are things that we all do to keep things working smoothly and to help each other out. Household tasks are to be done a) because they need to be, b) to express love of family in a tangible way, and c) without crabbing or b*tch*ng about them, for when someone simply b*tch*s their way through them, it negates any sort of feelings of love, appreciation, and/or kindness others may feel about the person's efforts.

There. I do not feel better, but that is it in a nutshell.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Obstinate, not Abstinate

I was thinking of my brother's lack of posts on his own blog recently and was thinking about how obstinate he is at times, and it reminded me of one of the many education oriented humerous experiences I have had and I thought I would share it with you:

As is often the case with students, their knowledge of some of the more sophisticated word choices for use in writing is at a novice level. This can often lead to very surprising sentences popping up in their essays. In one freshman introductory biology course I taught, I had the students select some sort of animal group to observe. One student chose to view a tank of Convict Cichlids we had on disply that were actively breeding and several pair were also raising young fry. As is common with this biparental species, the male assumes territorial defense of the nest site and will be seen to swim around the perimieter for a large percentage of the time when he has a female he has mated with and young fry present. Well in the case of this young student, he submitted a paper to me with the following line in it:

"The male fish was very abstinate in his behavior in the tank."

When I was grading this in my office, I spontaneously guffawed out loud and this accidently caused my pipe fall out of my mouth and clattered onto the linoleum floor. I wrote the following comment at this point of his paper:

"This male has sired well over 75 fry that are clearly visible. I do not know about your family history, but in my own (I have eight children), applying the term abstinate to this particular male fish would not seem to be appropriate. Please see me."

The young fellow came to see me in my office and unfortunately had not figured out what my comment meant, so I instructed him to open up my dictionary and look up the word abstinate. Then I told him to look up the word obstinate, which was what he meant. Finally after reading the two definitions, he understood my comment and laughed. He was a good student, and a few years later I was hapily able to help him in his applications to graduate school.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Brief Post

Today's post is short because I have been inundated with a seeming torrent of needy students seeking advice from me for future courses and career paths. I have many ideas I am hoping to write about, and I hope tommorrow will give me more time to write. In the mean time, if you read this, please comment on if you like the new look.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Look

For those of you who missed the intermediate stage of this trasition, please be aware that this new color scheme is a definite improvement over the intermediate stage. I had grown tired of the earlier scheme (lots of browns and greens) and decided to make a change. The intermediate form from yesterday was quite ugly, yet it forced me to spend time figuring out a color scheme that would be better.

While this new color palate is perhaps not akin to the "Mona Lisa", it is a better fit for me at the moment. I will likely change again a few months down the road as I grow tired of this scheme.

The bigger news is that I have started to cull the herd of my links. I have removed links to sites I no longer found valuable to read. The following are listed as their html address in case you may wish to keep track of them yourselves. I have also listed the reason they have been excised: (She no longer posts.) (Nothing of value for me is posted.) (She also no longer posts.) (Not interesting to me.) (Not interesting to me.) (Not interesting to me.) (Not interesting to me.) (He no longer posts.)

The above are the blogs I have removed this go around. I am going to be excising further and adding several new ones in the next few days.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ugly as Hell

I woke up in a piss-poor mood this morning and decided to alter the look of my blog. As you can see, it looks like crap at the moment. However, this will force me to update the look and expunge useless links and add new links.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Noise Pollution

I am not sure if I have extremely sensitive hearing, or if what I am perceiving is true. There is too damn much noise in our current society. People blare television sets to outrageous levels, and radio music.... hell, the volume is so loud it causes the metal panels on neighboring automobiles to rattle. What is our obsession with LOUD? Cannot people listen to things quietly? Cannot people speak quietly to each other? I have felt this way most of my life, but in the past few years, it seems that noise levels have reached an even greater decible level.

Enought already, let us experience quiet.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hectic, but a Helluva Lot Better

Life seems to have fallen back into its normal orbit for my family and myself as of late. This week has felt utterly and completely mundane and predictable..... and I mean that with all the positive imagery I can muster. It seems so tremendously beautiful and tranquil to simply have my precious routines back into place. In a nutshell, I am saying:

1. Family members who were horribly sick are now seemingly in reasonably good health.

2. Teaching, research and service routines are back in place and are reasonably predictable.

3. I am feeling reasonably healthy and robust.

4. I feel like I have at least an occasional bit of time each day for play (even if it is only a handful of minutes).

5. I feel it is appropriate to think into the future again... to think about even having plans for a day or two or three or even a week in advance for what I hope to do that day.

I tell you, the last several weeks were pure hell. I am so very glad it appears my normal routines are back. I am both relieved and amazed, and I am also giddy and exhausted.... that I can have a nice, routine, life... at least for a day or two (crossed fingers).


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beautiful Photography Site

I am considering making some cosmetic changes to my blog to get into a more spring-like mood and when I do so, I am going to update my list of links and cull the heard of some sites people do not update any longer. Additionally, I have several new sites to add including this one:

It is an incredible site and worthy of your viewing.

For those who wrote, snuff is not something I would enjoy every day, but once or twice a year, it is pretty fun and silly.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Writing Has Resumed

I am apalled at myself for my lax writing this past week. However, I think I needed most of the time to recover from the whirlwind of going to and presenting at national meeting all in one day and having had to take care of the plethora of very sick relatives.

I have not been doing much of interest anyhow. Simply trying to recover. Fortunately (KNOCK ON TRUE, STRAIGHT GRAINED WOOD), everyone in my family seems to be in pretty decent health at the moment and I feel focused myself! So, here is to a grand, good, and prosperous week in which I accomplish things I have been meaning to and things I hope to for the coming future.

As a method of relaxing on Friday, I picked up my elderly father-in-law and "coaxed" him (he jumped at the chance) to make an afternoon trip to the tobacconist and to pick up a bottle of good spirits (we picked Glenlivets this time around). As a special, silly treat, we also bought a small (10 g) tin of GH Kendall Brown snuff. Snuff is a strange-as-hell manner to ingest lovely tobacco. True snuff (note, the moist "snuff" that is common here is NOT the same.... moist snuff is actually a form of chewing tobacco) is a very dry powdered form of tobacco that is "snuffed" (a more dignified way of saying "snorted" which seems very coarse) up the nostril where it will cover the nasal passages with the ground up tobacco and give a pleasant tingle of nicotine that courses through the body.

Neither my elderly father-in-law or I indulge in snuff very regularly. At most, I may purchase one or two tins of snuff a year. But it can be fun if you are in the right mood. We created that mood on Friday. He was exhausted from a several hour dental proceedure the day before, and I was still feeling pretty damn exhaused from the strife of the last two weeks. The tiredness we both felt, the ample shots of strong liquor we had, the multiple pipes we had all lead to having a fun time with the snuff.... as is usual, snuff makes people who do not indulge in it often sneeze like hell.... and both of us did.

Every time one of us (by this time we were half tipsy of course) would sneeze, we would both start to laugh big, deep belly laughs. Then the other of us would take another sample of snuff and sneeze like hell again.... again more belly laughter from both of us. The added nicotine from the snuff added to that we already were ingesting from our pipes added a bit of extra fun as well. By late afternoon, we were both pretty sloshed, and had each fallen asleep each in a Lazy-Boy recliner. By the time my wife and her elderly mother returned from window shopping, we must have been asleep for at least an hour or two as it was close to dusk. I wobbled out to her car, she drove me home where we had a wonderful dinner befitting a (vegetarian) king... it is Friday during Lent, afterall. I will try to write about the dinner tommorrow.


Thursday, March 02, 2006


This is the last post I shall write until I return from the national meeting. Things are still rough here. However, as of this moment, the illnesses in the family members *seem* stable. There is still a lot of sickness, but it appears that no one is getting *worse*.

I have to throw together the talks now, and then I do the whirlwind flight tommorrow. If I am up to it, I may post a little on Saturday, or it may not be until Monday.

Please wish me luck and also a return to normalcy and contentment in life.