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, September 30, 2008

Pecan Cinnamon Coffee

Today is a very hectic day for me at the U. I keep thinking I am all caught up on work, but then I remember all sorts of little details and tiny documents I need to work through on a myriad of projects and I then I begin to feel claustrophobic and rushed. But ENOUGH I say! Out damn Spot! I shall continue to LIVE!!!

So, I am now here talking with you, my readership friends, drinking a massively large pecan cinnamon flavored coffee and enjoying a bowl of hazlenut tinctured burley leaf in my back office. It is good to step outside of the harsh chaos of life when teeming masses are constantly tugging at your shirtsleeves wanting something from you... which is what it can feel like at the U at times with hundreds of students, other faculty, administrators, and others all wanting a "piece" of you on THEIR timeline, not yours.

Friday, I DID go visit my friendly, elderly father-in-law and yes, we DID enjoy a plethora of enjoyably fermented beverages and bowls of pipe tobacco. It seems like a helluva long time since I had visited and it was refreshing to my mind and spirit. The gentle, mystical hazy mindset from the beverages and pipes facilitated a beautiful start to the weekend.

Saturday was spent completing tasks around the home, attending a gymnastics event featuring one of the kids, and attending Mass. Mass was especially helpful this week as I could feel a tangible calming and philosophical presence that helped me feel well grounded and in touch with my surroundings. I am very fortunate Catholic philosophy and heritage is a very good fit for me... it is, I believe, very well suited for my personality and demeanor.

Sunday was spent meandering about, getting a few left over tasks accomplished for the home, shopping a bit with the family, and eating a wonderful dinner my wife fixed of soy and ginger flavored salmon, a medley of long grain and wild rice seasoned with parmesean cheese and herbs, a side vegetable, and an enormous salad.

Monday was a bit more problematic. My wife's sister was scheduled for back surgery, so my wife (of course) needed to be at the hospital. Fortunately, my sister-in-law has done well with the surgery and we had a good day overall. I played my first concert of the season as well. It has been two years since I played in a public setting, and it was great to be back with the rest of the group. Of the nine songs we performed, I think we as an orchestra (band) did well on eight of the pieces. And personally, I think I performed acceptably on eight of the nine as well, but was especially pleased I did a very good job on two especially challenging pieces. I must admit I was not at my best on "Man of La Mancha" as while I was playing, I was filled with a bit of emotion which made parts of the song quite difficult to maintain. But, overall it was a wonderful experience and it felt extremely invigorating!

Tuesday... today... is yet to be determined for the most part. But, one thing I can tell you, with a very happy, furry-faced grin on my face, is that after this morning, I have now completed NINE days in a ROW where I have walked my very brisk, 5 mile (8km), vigorous exercise walk. To be so consistent in doing it EVERY day again is something I am pleased about.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parking Lot Shuffle

Because of the wild success of the previous park adventure, we all decided to have a go at it again. On Tuesday we selected a different park and took out our box of supplies.

A grand time was had again by all. It was relaxing and fun. We saw a very cute scooter at the park as well, and it got my heart to veering into silly fantasy of me procuring such a vehicle and scooting around town.

Wednesday was also a good day overall. I have been able to be consistent in my exercise, which I believe is helping me, and I have been able to keep up my "JUST LIVE" philosophy. This new philosophy has had its share of challenges, but the success of it has been striking.

This evening, I am thinking about stopping at a used clothing store to try to procure the items I am hoping to acquire for a Halloween costume that I will wear at the now annual celebration we have for family to celebrate a total of six different birthdays near the end of October. I am thinking of putting together a costume of a "dirty, grungy, out-law biker." We shall see if I can put such a costume together. It could be fun.

I may go on a sojourn on Friday and visit my elderly father-in-law for an afternoon of libations and pipes. If so, I will consider it a grand day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pedometer Tango

We are having an unexpectedly nice patch of weather this week... sunny and in the upper 70s. When I arrived home from work (a bit earlier than usual as I am trying to be more efficient at work to give me more time for other pursuits), I went on my five mile walk (for those of you more inclined towards the metric system, that is a little more than 8 kilometers). Last week at the U, a "competition" was announced to have teams record their walking patterns using pedometers that the school provided. I created a team of my wife and myself. I hope(d) it would be an encouragement for myself to be more consistent in my walking. I am not sure if the pedometer will be a help or a hinderance, however, for the infernal contraption is notoriously unreliable and I spent a good deal of my walk attempting to find the "proper" location to wear the damnable device to obtain step measurements that were even approaching 75% accuracy. It was a beautiful walk, even while I played pedometer tango.

Last night the family decided because of the beautiful weather that we would all pack up portable dinner supplies and head out to one of the many local parks. A very pleasant time was had by all of us.

My wife made one of my favorite vegetarian dishes... wasabi wraps. It is a filling to put in tortillas that contains shredded broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and diced tofu in a creamy "Ranch-style" sauce seasoned heavily with wasabi paste and ginger. It is excellent. Oddly enough, because my wife found a good bargin on some wonderful shaved smoked turkey, we de-vegetarianized the dish with shaved turkey and also added bell pepper slices, cucumber slices, onion slices and sliced tomato. It was wonderful.

The park itself was also quite pleasant and all of us had a great time. On the way home, we stopped at a convience store that sells soft-serve ice cream and found happily that the flavors were "Tangy Orange" and "Vanilla Cream". Each of us had a swirled cone mixing both flavors to obtain an old-fashioned creamsickle flavored treat.

After our treat, we all headed home. I then left for rehearsal... albeit a half an hour late. But, one thing I am trying to do in my life that has always been difficult is to simply LIVE. I am trying hard to not get aggitated by other's timetables and issues. When I arrived in the band room, I had not missed much, for they were just starting the first number (as usual, there is a great deal of small talk and general chit-chat before actual music playing begins). It felt very good to play music, and I seem to have worked through much of the "rusty feelings" and built my embouchure back up enough where I felt I had good control, pitch, and technique while playing.

So, overall, yesterday was basically a good, all-around, pleasant day. I am hoping to collect a whole series of them.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Whilrwind

This past weekend has been basically a blur from start to finish (and no, I have not overindulged in enjoyable, adult spirits to obtain the blur (grin)). The weekend was, however, filled with an enormous amount of activity:

1. Friday was National Talk Like a Pirate Day, and as I feel a certain kinship with at least the pirate "look" if not the mentality, I have tried to play the part to the hilt. I actually felt a bit creative, and wrote a silly short story (actually more like a ancedote) relating my pirate character to the current mind-numbing events in financial circles. If there is any interest, I can likely post it here for your (tepid) amusement.

2. Additionally, I had a plethora of meetings on Friday (Department, Human Subjects Committee, Cirriculum Committee) that weighed down my spirit.

3. Friday evening I was "brought along" to shop with my wife.

4. Saturday began with me traveling roughly 2.5 hours away to another university to chair an Executive Committee Meeting and a Council Meeting for our regional academic subjects academy.

5. With the day mostly spent by the time I arrived home, I busied myself to cut the lawn and carry out several other much neglected yard activities.

6. Sunday revolved around attending Mass. Although our usual time and location for Mass was altered because of a Celtic Musical Group that was playing at a Mass in a Parrish a few miles further away and later in the day. We went as a family to offer support to this group. Afterwords, the musicians held an outdoor concert of a wider array of Celtic pieces on the Parrish grounds. It was quite nice.

7. Upon our return, we began a massive, quick general cleanup of the home as it was not gotten to on Saturday, our normal cleaning day.

8. Sunday further continued with bowling with my wife and inlaws (I am terrible at the game).

9. We did not arrive home and have dinner (Sage & Parmesean Chicken, Alfredo Pasta with mixed vegetables, and a very large salad) until 8:30pm.

10. Then... to aggrivate the hell out of me, I had an enormous and unexpected bout with insomnia Sunday night and know I was awake at least until 4:00am.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Coffee & Fiber Cereal

I hit a rough patch yesterday afternoon. What ensued was an evening of difficult feelings and emotions and a very rough night of sleep.

I am sitting here drinking my coffee and eating a bowl of fiber cereal at the moment. Soon, I will begin another workday of drudgery. This day will be mimicked on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and very likely Monday. My only hope for relief is to come on Tuesday.

What ho, beautiful day!


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taped House...

A bit of a rambling, chimeric post today:

1. Bootstraps STILL CONTINUE to be pulled by me. I did exercise this morning, although it was not easy getting out the door. I keep hoping that if I am consistent with it, I may be able to harbor in a new dawn in terms of my emotional state. The increased metabolic activity from the vigor of the walking will physiologically cause me to urinate out of my body excess stress hormones.

2. The season premiers of two television shows my wife and I both enjoy were on last evening. We videotaped both of them because we were occupied in other pursuits. One show is "House". Even though I do not act outwardly as mean and gruff as Dr. House, I feel a sort of kinship to this character in terms of his inner, emotional self. His psyche is (to my way of thinking) filled with pain, sorrow, and fear. The other show is "Biggest Loser" which (please do not heckle me, it is a far better show than most give it credit for) is a contest between contestants who all are medically morbidly obese. The goal is to have these participants learn to eat in a more healthy way for themselves and to exercise like hell to get them back into a better physical shape. For me (and my wife) this show is a favorite because it feels so inspirational. It shows how thinking and hard work *can* make transformations happen.

3. I am thinking of drastically reducing or perhaps curtailing my relationship with my friendly briar pipes. I have a myriad of reasons for this consideration... some relate to the past (my previous refraining for spiritual/philosophical reasons... that I angrily curtailed when my beloved mother passed away), some to the present (a rather unemotional mindset towards my pipes of late... I used to find each bowlful of pipe tobacco joyous and pleasant, now there is no emotion), and some to the future (how do I forsee myself in society in the future... would I simply become an outcast? If so, do I want to take on the yoke of that role, whether it is right or wrong?).

As I told you, this post was going to have many bits and pieces.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Still Tugging on the Bootstraps

Well, I have to try to take pride in the small accomplishments I do have. It has been four days now since I started my latest "Pick Myself Up By the Bootstraps" campaign and thus far I have been able to stick with it and add a bit. Here is a brief list of my efforts:

Saturday - In an effort to purge my mind and spirit, I ate a plain toasted bagel for breakfast and a single pear for lunch. For dinner I halved my portion size from my typical for the foods I ate.

Sunday - Repeat of Saturday

Monday - Normal but smaller work breakfast, half sized portions of lunch and dinner.

Tuesday - Repeat of Monday, but added in a five mile walk.

Perhaps eating only half of my normal allotment of food and somehow forcing myself into vigorous exercise every day will alleviate the blues? It is my hope, but it is based in part on science.

There is evidence that exercise will dissipate stress hormones.

There is also evidence that less food improves lifespan.

So, there it is. Comments and/or suggestions appreciated.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Irritated, But Again With "Bootstraps"

Here it is, Monday morning again and I am feeling somewhat better than when I wrote the lyrics last week. It is tough and it is a challenge to not fall into that quagmire.

Much of the weekend was spent working on the problems of others, which when I wanted to simply spend time with my family, proved a bit irritating. Even this morning, the first thing I heard upon being awoken, was to be flooded with data about some such group and their issues with the IRB (of which I am a member). It did not start the day on a pleasant note.

I am trying to grab onto the bootstraps again, and pull myself up into a state of happiness and bliss. Perhaps if I try long and hard enough, I will eventually learn how to stay upright.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lyrical Philosophies

I have been thinking more about what was, and what is now. I have also been thinking about Don Quixote, especially in the musical form of "Man of La Mancha". One song in particular, "To Dream... the Impossible Dream" had always been very special for me. In this song, Don Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it... and in doing so, he captures the essence of life and its philosophical underpinnings. (For me, it USED TO BE absolutely magical.).You can play a snippet of the original as sung by Richard Kiley here.

Below, I write out the original lyrics, and then below that I substitute lyrics that portray what appears to be a more realistic philosophy of life. How I wish it were not so.

To Dream... the Impossible Dream

Lyrics by Joe Darion

To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...

And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...

And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

Since I seem unable to feel the above philosophical construct in my heart and soul any longer, I thought I would instead attempt to rewrite the lyrics to match my current feelings:

To Live... the Horrible Reality

Lyrics by PipeTobacco

To live ... the horrible reality ...
To be badgered ... by the unstopable foes ...
To exist ... with unbearable sorrows ...
To the Hell ... where no one willingly goes ...
To live with ... the unrightable wrongs ...
To despise ... the people inflicting scars ...
To give up ... when your mind is too weary ...
To fall ... into the pit of despair...

This is my life, to live this actually ...
No matter how useless, no matter how hard ...
To struggle for life, with onlly questions and pause...
To always be marching into Hell, just because (its reality)...

And I know that even if I be true, to my previous quest,
That my heart will lie deadened with alarm,
and when I am destroyed, and die from this quest ...

The world will be no better for this:
That this man, scorned and covered with scars,
Simply died, with his last ounce of energy,
To live ... the horrible reality.

While I may not be able to do so myself, I do sincerely hope that you, my readers, have a pleasant day.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What Is, What Was, What Shall Be?

It is but a conundrum that we face each moment, that which we cannot comprehend or understand. Is it a way to face sheer madness and chaos to know that there is nothing that there was nothing and there will never be anything? Can the human mind, if such a construct exists, be expected to grapple with the notion that we are all a figment of ephemeral vapor? To what purpose is life? Is there a purpose? Can there be a purpose? Or is the very idea of purpose as faulty as and as corrupt as a $3.00 USD bill?


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Note to Jay & What I Did Today

I only came on my site a few minutes ago and found a very thought provoking comment from "Jay". Sir, I thank you and I assure you I will be giving your comment some careful scrutiny and thought. It it not what my essay is about tonight, but I assure you I will be thinking about your words. Thank you.

* * * * *

So, what did I do today? Primarily I started out feeling quite sad. I then went to work. At work I was inundated by people pulling at me and trying to bleed me dry of any sense of self. What this translates into is having given 4 hours of lecture today, having had 15 different students stop by my office for help and assistance, I spent an hour with Super Puppy giving him advice and help that he requested. I thought about the sad news I mentioned on Sunday and realized there is nothing I could do about it so I should just let it go. I tried to pray some today but could not concentrate. I spent about two hours making some signs for my wife that she needed for one of her projects. I went home and made dinner. We ate.

After eating, I screwed up enough energy to try to rejoin the community band I had played in for many years (until I stopped about 2 years ago when my mother grew very, very ill). It took me a while to find the place as practice had moved to another school in a nearby district that was willing to allow the group to practice. When I arrived, practice had already started, so I quietly opened my case and put together the myriad of pieces of my bass clarinet. I sat down and prepared to join in the next song.

We played a few songs and I felt quite rusty. One song we played was "Man of LaMancha"... the Broadway musical theme song. As many of you regular readers, will know, I have had a very special place in my heart and soul for "Man of LaMancha" for several decades. And, you loyal readers also know how I feel the beauty and philosophy of that storyline has been shattered in my own heart. The part for the bass clarient is a mix of harmony and counter melodies and is quite pleasant to play. In fact, when I had been in the group before it has been my absolute favorite piece to play not only because it was fun for the bass clarinet, but because of the joy I felt in the song itself. Tonight, after only about a dozen measures or so, feelings of sadness washed over me and tears began to stream down my face as I continued to play. The song is so much a soundtrack to what I used to believe and what I used to feel. I miss that being the soundtrack of my life. And yet, I do not think it can ever return to that position in my life. I wish it could.

By the end of the song, my moustache and beard were quite soaked with tears, but I did play my part accurately. I still love that song, yet I only feel melancholy when I hear it or play it now.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sadness Envelopes My Soul

Today, sadness envelopes my soul. I am too tired to write more today.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Flag Counter Added

I have added a flag counter to my site to see if have many visitors from outside of the United States. I would greatly enjoy getting more readership and a greater diversity of readers.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sorry for the Delay

I have been very much wiped out due to my illness. I would say I am now about 90% recovered and have been attempting to get caught up on all the things I have had to let slide. Longer posts shall hopefully arrive in the next few days.