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, August 30, 2007

A New, Albeit Comparable Image

I have decided I have grown tired of (at least for a while) the original "gnome" image I had posted of myself. The gnome fellow shall be away for a bit as I have inserted a new, and I feel, better image for myself. The new look is still in keeping with what I do physically look like. I appear very similarly to the image shown, other than I have a slightly more salt-and-pepper coloration to my hair, beard, and moustache. There is another image I may use as well, as I like it immensely, but I shall have to see for a few days how this new change goes. If you do not know how to view this new image, and have not received a comment as of today on your blog... please let me know... I will comment on your site. Or conversely, you can look at my new image here. Please give me your opinion of my new image. In a few days, I will substitute the other one I am contemplating and will tally a vote.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zimba Zoomba

An interesting, albeit chaotic day it has been. I stayed up far too late again last evening (2:30am) and yet I still forced myself to arise at 6:00am and walk five miles. I am glad I am finally showing some gumption and willing to do what needs to be done. My two larger classes met again today, and they were a bit frenetic, but attentive and fun. In my semi-sleepy state, I accidently said to my students (in reference to a method of study using Latin and Greek phrases I was strongly recommending to them) "If you follow this method and idea I have outlined for you, you will be making your own efforts in this class a heckuva lot easier and your chance of success a helluva lot easier." Normally, I do not use "helluva" in front of my classroom because, while it is a generally mild cuss word, it is better to use the significantly more mild "heckuva" instead.

I have a large stack of new articles to read, so I should probably conclude here for the day. It is beautiful outside... perhaps I shall go sit under a tree on campus and read there and bring my pipe.

One final item. I am not sure if this is true or not, but unfortunately, it seems plausible to me. The Internet friend, "D" I have spoken about, may have unceremoniously decided to ignore me because he is feeling flush and important because his blog is wildly popular in comparison to mine. His audience is at least 10-30 times bigger than mine each day. I know I lost some readers in the discussion that followed following the passage of my mother, but I did not think "D" would be among those people. I apparently am no longer up to "D"'s standards.



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fly Away

Yesterday went very well. I actually accomplished all of my goals I had set. The two classes I met with yesterday went smoothly and the students appeared attentive. I shall see how today's class goes, but I anticipate similar results. I am feeling quite positive today, so I am hoping I am not setting myself up for a horrendous fall.

Today I am wearing my favorite brown work clothes... beige khakis, dark brown belt, dark brown shoes with laces (I personally abhor shoes without laces and do not wear any shoe without them (except a pair of beach sandals)), Medium brown, stripped long-sleeve shirt with button down collar, golden brown patterned tie, light weight navy sport coat with brass buttons, and of course a deep brown, walnut colored pipe that looks much like this one in the pocket of my sport coat.

I shall endeavor to do some reading and writing after class this afternoon. Perhaps I will work on my new research idea. I want to work on a comparative study of the development of the nervous system and am thinking I may be able to use fruit fly larvae for this line of research. If I am correct, it will correlate well with my mice and rat studies.

I went to the cemetary after I finished classes at the University yesterday and sat and talked with my mother and my father at their shared grave site. It was a quiet and tranquil scene. As had been a pattern during most of my life, I liked to show Mom and Dad my "new duds" as I returned to my more traditional, professorial attire in the fall (compared to the more casual summer clothes). I also described how the new semester's first day went in my classes. I brought my mother a red rose and laid it upon her side of the grave site, and I brought one of my father's pipes I had filled earlier with a bowlful of his favorite blend and sat there and thought of them, talked to them, tried to listen for them speaking to me, and worked on having a sense of them still being a part of my day-to-day world.

I wonder if "C" (the person who I had thought was a good friend, but have apparently been shunned by) ever reads any of my site any longer. It seems that most of the commenters he now replies to are those female commenters who seem to want to "help" him and encourage him in his romance. I miss speaking with him. But, life moves on.


Monday, August 27, 2007

New Start of The Academic Year

Well, I have returned after a few days away and hope that perhaps all three of you readers may eventually return here as well. Today is the start of a new semester here at my University and I am looking forward to the new faces, the return of the old faces, the goals, the discussions, the interactions and the camaraderie.

I am also on a mission to accomplish more in life. I set my alarm for 5:30am... I groused a bit however, and ended up getting up at 6:00am... still a good start. I went out and walked for an hour, and then proceeded to go to the campus gym. I showered and shaved (my neck), dressed in my work clothes (khakis, button down long sleeve shirt, tie, sport coat, pipe in pocket) and arrived in my office by 8:35am.

Hopefully it will be a good day. My only issue at the moment is that I am still feeling a bit hurt at what seems to be an intentional shun of me by a person I had thought was a friend. To keep the anonymity of this individual, I shall now call him "B". I used to think he was a very good Internet friend. I do not know why he seems to have "blown me off" in the last several months. Oh well. I should learn to forget about him.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Organizing Continues

Not too much in the way of anything exciting to report. I am just working more on organizing and getting ready for the start of a new semester next Monday. I am mostly done, however, and perhaps if I can, after this afternoon, I will take the next few days off to play.


Sunday, August 19, 2007


A surprise post from me on a Sunday, but I wanted to mention that today would have been (or actually is, but neither of them is here to celebrate it) the 61st anniversary of the marriage of my mother and father.

I miss them greatly. I sincerely do. When you are young, even if you understand death and the passage of people from life into death and even if you fear it for yourself and for your loved ones, you typically do not have a complete understanding of how wrenching it is when you lose nearly every important living tie to your formative years. The sense of isolation is palpable and profound. You feel that half of your life is no longer tangible, that there is a horrendous severing from what you knew and loved.

I am going to light a candle for them at the parish on my way home today. I made an early start of it and went to my lab to tidy a bit. I attended Mass on Saturday, so I will only briefly stop in between scheduled masses for the day.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Melancholy Reminiscences

A myriad of factors, I believe, have guided me into a general feeling of melancholy today. First, I did not sleep well. I have a host of various types of nightmares while I slept. I can only recall snippets of each now, but the net effect was to find me awaken this morning more tired than when I went to bed. Most of the dreams had to do with me struggling:

In the first one I can recall from last night, I was running non-stop on some sort of treadmill and was not allowed to stop or people in my life would be killed.

In the second nightmare I can recall from last night, I was having to run around in a very kinetic state as I tried to help students on the first day of class. I wanted them to have a good first experience, so I ran myself ragged guiding them to their rooms, helped them adjust their schedules, and various other duties. But there were not just 10-20 of these students... those waiting in line grew more and more until there were thousands of new Freshmen (male and female) waiting for me, growing ever more impatient.

In the third nightmare I can recall from last night... it involved me being somehow locked in a small, dank, cement dungeon in the ballast of a creaky old pirate ship. In the locked door, was the one single small barred window perhaps 8 inches by 10 inches. It had a sliding steel panel over it and the only way to get a modicum of light into that hell hole of a dungeon was to pedal like crazy on this contraption in the room with me that was akin to a wooden version of an exercise bike. The problem was that I would pedal furiously on the bike in order to keep the window open, but with the window open, hundreds upon hundreds of people I know would walk by the room and look in through the window at me and grimace or scowl in displeasure at seeing me. Their scorn would make me feel empty inside. But if I stopped pedaling, the room would be utter darkness. Added to that, when I did pedal, the vibration of my pedaling would cause vibrations in the floor and through cracks in the cement hundreds of thousands of ants would start to erupt and try to climb on the bike, and all over me.

* * * * *

This morning, while I was trying to shake the exhausted mood from the cobwebs in my mind, I jostled loose a memory I had not thought about in years. While in graduate school, when I was single and my family was unfortunately rather far away, I would feel a strong desire to get away from the regular campus crowd and campus activities and feel a more "grounded" sense of people who were not all a part of that academic scene. The university where I did my doctoral work was in an urban enough of a city that there was a pleasantly well developed public transportation system that permeated well into much of the far distant reaches of towns and villages outside of the city.

I searched in the phone book for any Knights of Columbus Clubs (for those that do not know, the Knights of Columbus is a social/fraternal club of Roman Catholic family men who collectively work on public service issues. It is also a social group of men who form golf leagues, bowling leagues, and often times have a bar in their clubhouse. Most people in the Knights of Columbus are regular folks, not executives, not lawyers, etc. My father was a life long member and I was initiated into the Knights of Columbus by my father and my Uncle Chet when I was 21.

Well, in looking in the phone book, I found that there was a Knights of Columbus (K of C)in the area, and it happened to be far, far on the outskirts of the city, in a small village of primairly farmers and factory workers. I drove out there to find my bearings and went inside briefly to look around. It was a very pleasant place indeed. Having known K of C Halls from my hometown, I knew their basic schedule pretty well. Usually on Wednesdays, there would be a bingo and/or card playing fund raising session in the evening, Friday and Saturdays would usually be crowded with families socializing and dancing etc. Tuesdays would be devoted to the various meetings, and Mondays the place would be closed. Thursdays were usually very quiet days at the K of C. Only the "regulars" would be there, and the place would be comfortably sparse. So, I left, making sure I understood the bus route as I drove my self back home in my VW Beetle.

After finding that place, The K of C became a pleasurable diversion for me from academic life 5-6 times a semester. I would take the bus from campus after working hard in the lab all day on Thursday, and make my way out to the K of C, usually getting their around 6pm. This small village was serviced (just barely) by the city's public transportation system, and I decided to take the bus route out there so I would not have to worry about driving after having a few beers. I still recall having to obtain a total of three transfers to get out there at the far distal end of that route. Getting off the bus, I would then have to walk roughly half a mile to reach the Knights of Columbus Club. When I walked in, I found it an amazing breath of "fresh air" from the day-to-day world of academics I lived in. The people were down to Earth, talkative, and laughed and joked happily. Please do not get me wrong, I love academia, and people in the academic world are talkative, and laugh and joke as well... it is just that the two worlds are different and both are good. I would usually start off at a table in the room and order a pitcher of beer, and sit back, drink beer and smoke my pipe. Inevitably, the "regulars" would start meandering in as well. The regulars in a place like that are usually a mix of men, usually older, who will stop in briefly to have a beer or two on their way home from work. We would chat, sometimes play pool, and drink beer. I would usually stay until around 9 pm and would head back to catch the last bus back into town. The bus was typically nearly deserted at that time of the night, and being semi-tipsy on the ride home was usually an adventure in itself. The bus driver was also the same fellow at the end of the day on the first, and longest leg of this route back into town. His name was Stan, and after a few months of my riding back, we started to chat as well on the drive home. Often, if we were the only two in the bus, Stan would open his window and I would open a few on my side and we would both smoke on the way back in (do not act chagrined, that was common back then, and actually most places still allowed smoking on a bus at all times... the city where I was at in graduate school, however, was "progressive" and banned smoking in buses ahead of the curve). After the three transfers, I would be let off the bus about 2 blocks from my apartment, and I would walk home, feeling very relaxed and having shaken off some of the academic weight I had been feeling upon my shoulders.

* * * * *

Today it has been 28 weeks since my beautiful mother has passed away. I went to her grave last night after having dinner with my sister across town. I placed a deep red rose upon her grave and talked to both my mother and my father. I hope they heard me, and I hope they may talk to me someday.

* * * * *

I am not sure what is happening between myself and blogging friend of mine I will call "A". I used to feel we were very good friends on the Internet. We used to talk quite frequently via e-mail and we would comment regularly on each other's blog as well. I have tried on at least 6 occasions over the last several weeks to initiate conversation with "A" via e-mail and/or comments on his site to no avail. It is as if he is purposefully avoiding speaking with me. To be honest, I have virtually decided I will probably have to just let it go and stop writing via e-mail or even reading and commenting on his blog. It feels sad, though, for I do not understand why this has happened.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Quiet Day

Not much to say or write about today. I am simply preparing for the start of the semester a week from this coming Monday. My goal is to finish enough that next week I can sit back and relax.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


It is interesting to me that I have had fewer dreams of late. The few dreams that I recall (theoretically, I am likely having dreams,as most research indicates that everyone dreams even if they do not recall them) of late have been mundane things. Not the nightmares I have had recurring many different times (most recently after the passing of my beautiful mother). What have I been dreaming about?

Well, I have had dreams of my working in the yard, doing mundane yard work... cutting the grass, watering the plants etc. I have had dreams of watching television with my wife, I have had dreams of eating dinner. The only mildly non-mundane dream (and it too is rather tame) is the dream where I was visiting my local tobacconist and he had procurred a nargile and had it on display and was allowing people to sample said. It brought back memories of my trip to the conference where I was able to visit the Hookah Cafe.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


In planning a new series of lectures related to botany for my introductory biology course this fall, I stumbled across a term I was unfamiliar with (I am not a botanist by any stretch of the imagination... all of my work has been with animals). The term is "statolith". Apparently, it is the name given to a specialized plant organelle that is used to help a plant detect sensation of the force of gravity. It is due to the statoliths in germinating seeds that the root will grow in the positively geotropic (or as a synonmy gravitropic) direction and the stem will grow in the negative geotropic direction.

For me, this term is especially interesting and relevant because I spend a sizable amount of time describing a similar term in mammals called the otoliths in my Anatomy & Physiology course. Otoliths are structures in the inner ear that allow us to sense gravity, body position and balance.

Very intriguing and interesting. I may end up taking some time today to play in the scientific literature data bases and see what sorts of research has been done with statoliths.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Too Damn Much

I have been meaning to write about this subject for a while now, but it was not until my last nerve on this was rubbed raw last night that I decided to go into action. I think there is far, too much cursing and extraordinarily foul language that goes on in day-to-day life in much of modern society.

The two MOST offensive and overused words that fly out of people's mouth are the words: the term for copulation that begins with the letter "F", and the second most common vile word that is used by the masses is the term that originally meant a female canine who had produced a litter and begins with the letter "B".

I do not know why or how so many people use those above two words virtually every other word in how they speak. Where I reached my limit was in watching an idiotic program called "Big Brother" that is on CBS. Last night, the vile, wanna-be rocker, idiot, named Dick (how wryly appropriate) Danato let loose a vile spew of words in which he rudely denegrated nearly everyone in the house.

Now, please do not think I am a prude or an old fuddy-duddy. I know that cuss and curse words are a part of life. However, I feel that their use should be minimized as much as possible. Crude and rude words make for a crude and rude life and society. In my own life, I use only three curse words, and use them very infrequently and only to pepper speech with an explicative. The three words that I use on occasion are "hell", "damn", and "b*llsh*t". "Hell" and "damn" are relatively mild cuss words, and the more emphatic "b*llsh*t" is still rather mild. I purposefully use "*" in place of the vowels in my written speech because for that cuss word, I feel it needs to be toned down a bit in written form. I also find it rude and appalling how so many blogs are similar to Dick Danato, and SPEW curse words left and right. Again, occasional use is warranted and each of us needs to find his/her own comfort zone in writing or speaking... but I feel most speakers and many blogs use such words FAR too often.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tired of Talking

Today shall be the last day of this special workshop I was hired to do for the K-12 teachers through our Department of Education. They needed someone with a great deal of science content knowledge give lectures/discussions to "beef up" K-12 teacher's knowledge of life science.

It was a nice time, but I am pretty damn tired of talking... and look forward to the remainder of the Summer being rather quiet.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


We have been blessed with an abnormally dry Summer this year (the farmers do not feel we are so blessed. Therefore, after a bout of very severe thunderstorms on Tuesday, the change is very palpable. As is typical for August, our temperatures are in the mid 90s. Yet, it felt surprisingly good all summer thus far. Today, with humidity at around the 85% level (more typical for us), the closeness of the air was enormous. It is surprisingly easy to have forgotten this more normal weather effect for my neck of the woods. The cloying closeness of the humidity makes everything feel damp to the touch, and in buildings or homes that are not air conditioned, things get rather soggy feeling.

I turned on the air conditioning today, specifically to remove humidity.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The lawyer was much better than I anticipated. She even told me I did not need her services. This made me feel relieved.

I was so angry and pent up, that after the initial relief, my whole body ached, and I was more damn tired than I have felt after a very hard day of physical labor.

I considered having a few gin and tonics this evening to combat the horrible way I felt, but decided I would rather just go about my normal routine.


Monday, August 06, 2007

I Hate Lawyers

I have met several lawyers in my life and career and I must say that I have yet to find one that I have felt comfortable or friendly speaking with. In every instance, I have found the lawyers I have known to be rather "slick and oily" and someone I would find suspicious in day-to-day life.

My latest encounter with a lawyer is no exception. I must go visit one tomorrow to see about becoming the administrator of my mother's estate. I can only imagine the several hundreds of dollars they will charge to allow me to fill out this simple paperwork.

My stomach hurts like hell, and I had a sick feeling all weekend long. I had initially thought it was the stomach flu, but when it struck again with fierce pain following the conversation I had with the lawyer's assistant over the phone, I believe it may be related to my great distaste for their profession and also to my discomfort with the task at hand.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Bum's Rush

I decided to go visit my elderly father-in-law today and we had a very nice time consuming some pleasant beverages and had a few pipes together. I have missed that greatly. I should do that more often.

I was frustrated dealing with some of my beloved mother's financial matters today, but I have a game plan for accomplishing said materials on Monday.

On the way home from my father-in-laws, I saw the "homeless person" I have become friends with. I had not seen him in several weeks and was happy to see he was ok. I bought him a tall beer (24 oz) and a pack of cigarettes. He was pleased.

The rest of the afternoon was good.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Roses & Life

I bought a rose for my wife on the way home today because she had a dental appointment and is quite fearful of the visit. I have it waiting for her when she arrives home from dinner with her parents. I hope that she enjoys it. It is a beautiful cream colored flower. My wife so loves flowers and she deserves to have this little surprise to greet her. She is so beautiful and is my best friend.

I also have a flower for my mother. After I eat dinner with my sister, I shall drive across town to place the flower on my beloved mother's grave site. I do miss her.

I am trying to keep even keeled in my emotions and while I am not 100%, I feel that I am doing better.

I hope that this evening is also restful and enjoyable.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Need to Exercise

I have been very lax in keeping up with my exercise routine and I am disappointed in myself. I feel better when I exercise, more alert, more energized, more content. Yet, when I attempt to get up at 5:30 to exercise, I do not want to do it and reset the alarm. Then I go to work and when I am done, I do not feel any desire to wait to drive home so I can exercise.

When does exercise seem appealing to me? Basically, I think I would have the most consistency and success if I started my exercises at around 9am, but with the K-12 science workshop I am running this week and next, that is impossible.

I do not know how to change my attitude... be it the morning one or the evening one.