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, November 30, 2006

Exhausted, But Relieved (Currently)

As I stated, my mother was released late in the evening on Wednesday. I have been on the move, virtually non-stop since Wednesday morning. Many good and many bad things have happened. Here is a brief list:


1. I was able to get 6 letters of recommendation written for students applying to various medical, professional, or graduate schools.

2. I was able to get my mother home, although it was rough, and have gotten all her medication, and other needs in order.

3. I was able to get my mother out of bed, weighed (required to assess her condition), and got all of her clothes and other materials ready for the day and still was able to get to my 8 am class (one minute early).

4. I was able to get the outdoor Christmas decorations finished and hooked up to electricity before the big snow hit. I had plans to have these up and ready to go on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but my mother's ailment precluded this effort.

5. I was able to eat a healthy diet, even though stress usually causes me to consume all sorts of crap that is not good for me (Fritos, Peanut Butter Cups, cans and cans of peanuts, cans and cans of mixed nuts... these are my food crutches).

6. I was able to get a multipage document written for the state academy upon which I am a memeber of the executive board.


1. My sister was "under the radar" in terms of helping me get mom home. This necessitated me to have to run around in an insanely chaotic manner to get my classes done and at the same time get to the hospital. My sister eventually was reached and was coerced into having to help.

2. I have had roughly 3 hours of sleep last night.

3. I still have 100 plus papers to grade.

4. I have absolutely no energy or ambition.


She Is Home

My mother was released at 7pm last night. I am utterly exhausted. I will write more later.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Break From Worry

My mother continues to be stable.

In an effort to post something more interesting, and perhaps more insightful about myself, I have borrowed an idea from wonderful Austere and decided to put my own spin on it. I hope you enjoy this and learn more about me through this list. I also eagerly look forward to your comments:

Three Things

3 Things that scare me: death, loneliness, exile

3 People who make me laugh: Robin Williams, David Letterman, George Castanza

3 Things I love: my family, my family, my family.

3 Things I hate: administrators who dictate instead of nurture, people who do not listen, people who attempt to destroy joy in the hearts of others.

3 Things I do not understand: the "value" of calculus, why some people literally hate science and scientists, what the meaning of life is.

3 Things on my desk: 150 papers to grade for my introductory students, my endocrinology textbook, my beautiful, full-bent, Peterson pipe that is walnut colored.

3 Things I am doing right now: reading, writing, smoking my pipe (not the Peterson).

3 Things I want to do before I die: travel to Russia, hike and camp in the mountains in the Western US, publish a novel.

3 Things I can do: play the bass clarinet/tenor sax, build a patio/deck, cook gourmet food.

3 Things I cannot do: play the french horn, stop worrying, resist chocolate

3 Things you should listen to: Sarah Vaughn, Barbra Streisand, Beatles

3 Things you should never listen to: Howard Stern, Jay Leno, Deal or No Deal.

3 Things I would like to learn: to grow GOURMET pipe tobacco, French, how to use Adobe Photoshop.

3 Favorite foods: curried dishes, macaroni & cheese, burritos,

3 Beverages I drink regularly: coffee, water, diet Pepsi

3 Shows I watched as a kid: Dobie Gillis, Captain Kangaroo, Leave it to Beaver


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holding Pattern

My mother is holding steady.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Stability in Body, Anguish in Spirit

My mother is in the hospital and is responding to treatment to quell her edema. Her congestive heart failure for some reason has changed. It could be due to the new medications (Cordarone is the primary suspect in my book.) or she could be having an infection (they are giving her antibiotic injections) or it could be other factors. She has been good about eating and drinking consistent amounts however. Thoughts and prayers that she will recover AND remain well continue to be appreciated.

I missed writing about it, and I missed celebrating it as well, but Friday November 24th was my departed and beloved father's birthday. My normal routine is to drive to the cemetary where he is buried and to sit beside his gravesite as I smoke two bowls of his favorite pipe tobacco. The first pipe is one of his that I have inherited, the other is one of my grandfather's that my father passed down to me so long ago. I miss my father greatly and I wish he were here to talk with and to just be together with. The various pipes of his and the ones from my grandfather are so blessed and cherished to me that I keep them in a special, hinged and velvet lined box in my den. I take them out and handle and polish them frequently, but only indulge with them with tobacco leaf on special occasions. My father's birthday is one of those very few, and perhaps most special of those days. I unfortunately did not carry out that ritual, for the first time in the 12 years since his death. He would be 83 now. He was a great man. In my mind's eye, I can still see his furry face, and his bushy eyebrows, and his owlish glasses.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

As Feared

I am leaving a brief note as medication lists for my mother print out on the computer. We are heading to the emergency room. Wishes and prayers would be helpful.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No Vomit, Minimal Edema... At Least At This Moment

I am feeling more calm today. I still have the worries in the back of my mind, but they are not pressing so hard today. They are not causing me to have tremors and nausea due to worry like they did yesterday. There has been no vomiting in roughly 36 hours now, and my mother's weight declined slightly (signifying a slight decrease in edema) and has now remained steady roughly 24 hours.

I do not mean to sound like a broken record here (my younger readers may not know what a record is... it is a plastic disk, somewhat like a CD, but with grooves etched into its surface that MECHANICALLY produce sound through the vibrating of a needle that follows the path of these grooves. And, a "broken record" is where one of the grooves in the record is damaged and the same brief phrase plays over and over, and over again) , but it is DAMN hard having such pressure and fear flood your body. The worst part I can identify is how it makes my brain feel as if it has short circuited.

An analogy is to think of the brain as a hard drive. The severe fear and anguish I feel is akin to a very powerful magnet being waved around the hard drive. It disrupts and destroys any files on the drive. It does not erase or reformat the hard drive... instead it corrupts the files... bits and pieces remain intact, but no cohesive pathway remains to open or utilize the file.

In my brain, all the thoughts, plans, ideas, and hopes I had for the next several days have been corrupted and damaged and it is difficult if not impossible for me to recall any of the hope and joy I had for this upcoming holiday. My mind is in "recovery" mode... and like the recovery mode on the computer, my thoughts are devoid of color, beauty, or vividness... instead, replaced by only the essentials for survival.... the dogged determination to complete essential tasks, the continual, never-ending desire to lay down and fall into the oblivion of sleep, the grim, jaw-clenched obstinance to complete all my responsibilities and trudge through another day of battle. Recovery mode is hard, not only because of the responsibilities, but more so through the loss of any awareness of beauty, artistry, grace, and charm in life. My mind struggles to get through the required, and there is no extra energy, no physical, emotional, or mental ability to see beyond that essential list to allow art, beauty or grace in.

When does my ability to perceive art and beauty and grace return? It varies depending upon the severity of the malady upon which my fear and heartache is based. However, a pattern of homogeneity, of balance, of predictability, of normalcy, of CONSISTENCY must be observable and must be felt before my mind can reboot from RECOVERY to living brightly and vividly again. I had only started to feel and see the joy in mid October following my mother's release from the hospital after seven weeks in late September/early October. I am hopeful that this bout through RECOVERY mode will be quicker.

* * * * *

Because I know that my woes are likely of little to no interest to many of my readers, I think it is my responsibility to give you something of greater value than my own feeble emotions to chew upon. Below is a link to an exceptional story from the BBC News about rare Abyssinian lion cubs that are being poisoned at a zoo in Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia). It is very sad and foolish. Zoos across the world should be able to absorb these cats easily.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Feel Like Crying

The drama of the illnesses in my family continues and all I want to do is crawl into a hole and weep and sleep. It is very hard to get up the energy or courage to do anything... I ignore work, I ignore exercise, I ignore creativity, I ignore everything about life that is usually good and wonderful and kind to my soul. All that envelopes my mind is wave upon wave of fear and worry and grief. The only respite I have currently is sleep, and that is what I do whenever the oportunity presents itself. I try to sleep, to forget, to ignore, to shelter myself from the worry, the grief and pain. All I see when awake is vomit, all I sense is edema, and swelling, all I hear are wailing cries. To love members of a family is both wonderful and harsh, for the harshness is living through the bitter anguish of their illnesses and often their demise.

I am at a lost on how to get better. I do not know if I can or should try to find some way to experience joy during this horror. I cannot see even a few moments ahead of me to know if there is a way to feel joy.

As a side issue, I am not sure about changing to "Beta Blogger". I do not want to, but it looks as if it will be required and therefore necessary. I do not wish to mainly because I do not want to give up my username. I am wondering if perhaps I could obtain a g-mail address (I do not know how, but I hear I can receive an invitation to obtain one or more) and use PipeTobacco as the e-mail name? I do not know if anyone has any of these "invites" but if so, please let me know and I would be most glad to accept such an invite.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Cursed, Angry, and Hurt

I do not understand, nothing. Not a damn thing. I am about ready to crawl under a rock. I do not know what to do or how to cope with anything anymore. I feel as if there is no hope.

First, the entire weekend revolved a rampant case of the flu that has infected the family. Vomit spewed everywhere. I felt like a laundry service. Thus far, I am not sick. Thus far, all seem to be recovering with no horrid side effects thus far.

Second, my mother has experienced weight gain of the type that signifies something serious is happening. Last week when this happened, the nurse practioner (her heart specialist has gone to China for three weeks) for her heart specialist made some adjust ments to her medication. This seemed to make a small difference during Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but lo and behold, this morning, she had some significant weight gain. I do not know how to interpret this. It could be her arrythmia showing up, it could be congestive heart failure, it could be something new and even more horrid.

It is looking like it will be one hevlluva fun Thanksgiving.

I do not understand if I or my family is being singled out for God's wrath or not. But it sure feels like it. 2006 has not been my favorite year.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Waiting and Worrying

As I sit here waiting and worrying, I can sense every muscle in my body grow more tense. It has been a rough day. I have had to substitute for another faculty member today who had to make an emergency trip back home to England because her father is dying. My voice is worn out. Now, I am waiting to hear back from the home health nurse that came to visit my mother today because my mother is experiencing issues related to swelling and breathing. I do not want to simply leave as I just got out of class and was told by my mother that the nurse would be calling me back when she was finished examining her. But part of me simply wants to leave and get home.

I am sad, and tired and angry, as seems usual.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The New Look

I have finally completed a new look for my blog. This time around I decided on a bolder pallet of colors. I hope everyone will offer comments and or suggestions on my new look.

In addition to the new look, I carried out a major house-cleaning of various blogs of interest. Many of the blogs I had previously were no longer present or were not updated in so long that they are not worth having on my site. I have added several new verbal blogs, and have added a very significant number of photoblogs to my list. I find I can click on one or several of these sites each day and be refreshed with a glimpse at a new piece of art. The visual art of photography is something that I greatly admire and I find that photographs stir deep emotions in my psyche and soul.

Again, I hope you enjoy the new look and that you will comment on the new version of the site.


Monday, November 13, 2006


Test of new scheme.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Things Are Brewing

Things are brewing, and a surprise of modest proportions is in the works. So, watch this space, please.

I am tickled pink that we have also wrestled the SENATE out of Bush's grimy little paws as well!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wonderful Election Results

I am extraordinairly pleased with the results of the election thus far. Please do not get me wrong... while I tend to lean towards a Democratic/Libertarian bent on most issues, I am not oppossed to Republicans, and find some of their ideas valuable and insightful. The reason why I am pleased today, though, is that the nation has effectively castrated the most foolish, unthinking president we have ever elected in my entire life. I dislike Bush not because he is Republican... on the contrary, there have been many Republican presidents who were very worthwhile.... T. Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Nixon did good jobs for our nation. The biggest problem I have with G.W. Bush is that he is what I call a "proud anti-intellectual". He likes to flaunt his lack of insight, his lack of understanding. He seems to relish his stumbling, mangled speech patterns. He is a "good old boy" of long standing who takes on the lifestyle of the unthinking, idle rich who sit back, hands clapsed behind their head (usually in some sort of muddied stupor), looking down at the masses and criticize them for their lot. They then hire others to make their decisions for them. He is also the sort who "thinks" anything involving thought and or analysis is beneath them. Bush is a bad president because he does not think. And, because he dislikes others who DO think.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Please Vote

If you live in the United States, today is a very significant day. It is the day of our mid-term elections. Please, if you are able to do so, vote. I encourage you to examine the article below. In my opinion, it would be very beneficial to elect as many Democrats as possible in this election in order to to politically CASTRATE Bush and decrease his ability to (insert a coarse word for "copulate", here) with our nation and world.

Poll Ranks Bush as Most Dangerous Leader

Reprinted from the Guardian.

LONDON, Nov 3: America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.

Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by Iraq, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an `axis of evil�, but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.

The survey has been carried out by the Guardian in Britain and leading newspapers in Israel (Haaretz), Canada (La Presse and Toronto Star) and Mexico (Reforma), using professional local opinion polling in each country.

It exposes high levels of distrust. In Britain, 69 per cent of those questioned say they believe US policy has made the world less safe since 2001, with only seven per cent thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased global security.

The finding is mirrored in America's immediate northern and southern neighbours, Canada and Mexico, with 62 per cent of Canadians and 57 per cent of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.

Even in Israel, which has long looked to America to guarantee national security, support for the US has slipped.

Only one in four Israeli voters say that Mr Bush has made the world safer, outweighed by the number who think he has added to the risk of international conflict, 36 per cent to 25 per cent. A further 30 per cent say that at best he has made no difference.

Voters in three of the four countries surveyed also overwhelmingly reject the decision to invade Iraq, with only Israeli voters in favour, 59 per cent to 34 per cent against. Opinion against the war has hardened strongly since a similar survey before the US presidential election in 2004.

In Britain 71per cent of voters now say the invasion was unjustified, a view shared by 89per cent of Mexicans and 73per cent of Canadians. Canada is a Nato member whose troops are in action in Afghanistan. Neither do voters think America has helped advance democracy in developing countries, one of the justifications for deposing Saddam Hussein. Only 11 per cent of Britons and 28per cent of Israelis think that has happened.

As a result, Mr Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaida leader close in the eyes of UK voters: 87per cent think the Al Qaeda leader is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75 per cent who think this of Mr Bush.

The US leader and close ally of Tony Blair is seen in Britain as a more dangerous man than the president of Iran (62 per cent think he is a danger), the North Korean leader (69 per cent) and the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah (65 per cent).

Only 10 per cent of British voters think that Mr Bush poses no danger at all. Israeli voters remain much more trusting of him, with 23 per cent thinking he represents a serious danger and 61per cent thinking he does not.

Contrary to the usual expectation, older voters in Britain are slightly more hostile to the Iraq war than younger ones. Voters under 35 are also more trusting of Mr Bush, with hostility strongest among people aged 35-65.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Blah Blah Blah

Blah Blah Blah


Friday, November 03, 2006

Wild Strawberries

Late, late last night, on the Turner Classic Movie channel, one of my very favorite foreign films was shown. Its Swedish title is "Smultronstallet", but in the English subtitled version, it is refered to as "Wild Strawberries". A basic synopsis (from IMBd) is:

This film explores the disillusionment of an elderly professor and physician, Professor Isak Borg, as he reflects upon his life and begins to perceive his mortality. In the film, he travels to Lund to receive an honorary award after 50 years of teaching, research and practice. On his journey, he finds himself repeatedly affected by intrusive dreams and hallucinations that expose his darkest fears. He slowly comes to realize that the choices he made in the past have created a cold and empty life, devoid of real meaning or value. He struggles to achieve redemption and reintegration through forgiveness and the love of his family.

This film was made in 1957 and is an amazing piece of art by the incredible director Ingmar Bergman. When I first saw this film, decades ago while in graduate school, it made me weep in despair because of its utter meloncholy, saddness, and spot-on portrayal of the hopelessness we can feel about our existance. Last night, while watching the film again, my emotions roiled full force in me and I again sat and sobbed about the story, the beauty of the film, the truths it revealed. If you can rent this film or watch it, please do so. It may be sad, but it is also so very, very vital and vivid in allowing us a glimpse into our very own souls.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sad, In Several Ways

From the Associated Press:

GIBSONVILLE, N.C. - A fire that began in a chemistry lab destroyed a high school, leaving more than 1,000 students without a school building for the rest of the year.

A teacher spotted the fire around 2 p.m. Wednesday at Eastern Guilford High School and tried to put it out with an extinguisher, but then pulled the alarm. The school, which has 1,060 students, was evacuated, with students, teachers and other employees going to a nearby church.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The building was a total loss, said Mike Wright, deputy director of operations for Guilford County EMS.

* * * * *

While it is wonderful that no one was hurt in this blaze, The above is sad for several reasons:

1. The students have lost their school.

2. The senior students, especially, will have a "senior year" that is very challenging.

3. The loss of the student records will wreck havoc for years.

4. The bigoted anti-science yahoos will twist this around to make more regulations on science and science education. It is hard enough to deal with all the political b*llsh*t that is heaped upon us as scientists and science educators (animal use committees filled with anti-science bigots, imbeciles, and power hungry bureaucrats; safety groups that stifle creativity, curiosity, and scientific progress because some mistake happened elsewhere; etc.).


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Frustrated at Kerry

I am rather frustrated at John Kerry's speech that the Republicans have grabbed onto and are shaking to death like a terrier does a rabbit. While what he said was not so horrible.... he did not say anything about military people being "stupid". He simply stated to a college aged audience that they should spend time studying and working on their degree because it could help prevent their needing to join the troops in Iraq. Kerry's comments were idiotic on several levels:

1. There is no draft at the moment and hence, service in the military is voluntary.

2. Just because his "draft" involved a tiered approach that gave college students an "out" does not mean that would be the same if the draft were reinstated today.

3. A very sizable chunk of those in the military in Iraq right now have had at least some, if not a lot of post high-school edcuation.

Kerry's comment was meant to strike a cord with HIS generation, and was not designed to be a universal message. That is what is stupid and idiotic about Kerry's words. He told a group of young college students an "I used to have to walk 25 miles in a snow storm for a piece of bread, and dammit, I liked it!" sort of story... about a topic that was not particularly true or relevant today.

Now, the worst part... what I fear Kerry's comment will do... I think it will shift back the voters enough that the various seats in the House and Senate that were "up for grabs" and leaning Democratic will now slide back into Republicanism.

Kerry, you may very likely have ruined this election for those of us who want to think and want some real political change.

Thanks for nothing.