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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 100 For Me

Yesterday was my 100th day of walking! Today I began my next set of 100 (hopefully). I am trying to keep both reachable goals and longer range goals in my walking. My next major celebration will be on Day 125 (if I am fortunate enough to make it), then 150, 175, and of course 200 will be another big celebration. My far in the distance, long range goal is to reach 365!

I have been asked by many how this walking has affected me weight wise. When I started this journey, I did so roughly a week or so after also starting a plan to eat more healthy (by decreasing snacking, and by reducing fats). Both combined (the walking and the minor food changes) have resulted in an 18% body mass reduction. According to the Body Mass Index Scales, I am now only 5 lb (2.27 kg) away from a NORMAL BMI! I am hoping to lose between 10 - 15 more pounds (4.5 - 7.0 kg) to be well within the NORMAL BMI range and allow myself a bit of "slack" for the normal variations in weight that occur in a day.

To have a NORMAL BMI is a very big goal for me to have and maintain.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Vibrations

A side note: To those of you who commented yesterday, please note that I have replied to your very kind comments directly in the comments section. It is my vow that in 2009, I will try to comment back to you very, very regularly in that venue. I think it will help enhance my friendship with you.

I tried something last night that seems to have worked very well. My wife and I were talking and watching television when out of nowhere, she stated (paraphrased), "You know, I am going to be very tired tomorrow with you being gone during the day. When you get home, you need to realize that." To me, it struck me odd and wrong and unfair. We had planned out our entire week this week and Tuesday was the day I was to go to work and clean up my offices and labs and get things together for the next semester. The words she said to me made me feel that she was telling me I should expect her to be grumpy and grouchy towards me for doing what we had planned. It felt unfair, and could very easily have gotten into a disagreement that would have been unpleasant. Or, I could have tried to squelch my feelings and then been "touchy" about things the next day.... which would have likely lead to a disagreement as well.

Well, I tried to do something a bit different. My wife does not like me to explain to her my hurts and feelings about things she says to me DIRECTLY... that usually ends up in an immediate disagreement because she becomes defensive about my comments. I do not like to let things lie (squelch my feelings)... that usually ends up in a disagreement the next day because I end up feeling moody and "touchy" about everything that is said after that point. What I tried was to write out my feelings in as precise, brief, and carefully thought out manner as possible. Basically I tried to explain what hurt, why it hurt, and why it made me feel edgy.

I left that note out for her on the kitchen counter and was able to go to bed no longer feeling aggravated and hurt. My wife, upon awakening (she gets up very early), read the note, and without me being there trying to talk about it more and more and more... she was able to sit back and think about what I wrote without feeling pressured. An hour and a half later she came up and woke me to talk about the note. She apologized for what she said, and I assured her that I wanted to be helpful and do what was best for the family. We BOTH felt a lot better and things seem to have been resolved without a disagreement! If this really has worked, it could be a breakthrough to help us avoid many instances of difficulty with communication. I am very pleased.

Today was day 100 of my walking regeime! I am very happy for this accomplishment and I am looking forward to the next goal of 150! My long range goal is to have a full year's worth of walking without missing a day. But I will talk more about that tomorrow after I think about the significance of this day more.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Upcoming Year - Ideas

I have been thinking of how and what I may like to change in the upcoming year. I have numerous ideas on how I can strive to be a less wretched, horrid person. Yet, those thoughts will have to wait until later this week, perhaps, to define and delineate.

I have also been contemplating changes for this blog, and I do believe I HAVE thought of a plan that will help me to accomplish the following goals:

1. To write much more regularly (minimum of 5 days a week, plus hopefully often times having 6-7 posts a week by getting myself to post on weekends.

2. To attempt to increase my readership... and the number of comments I receive. It may be little known, but I desperately love receiving comments, even if they are negative.

3. To increase the diversity of my writings. I sometimes get into a rut about what I am discussing here. Be it the despair of my mother's passing, my frustrations at work, or my exercising... I know sometimes I probably bore people into unconsciousness by a lack of variety.

So, without further adieu, Here is my plan: I am going to attempt at the start of 2009 to write in CATEGORIES according to the day of the week. What I mean by this, is that I will have each day of the week designated as having a particular theme or focus that I find I think and like to write about. Now, granted, this list will be very LOOSE, for there may be days when I definitely do NOT want to write about a given topic and will choose another... much akin to what the networks do when they interrupt regularly scheduled programming with major news events. I like the possibilities offered by categories a great deal, and I truly think this experiment will help me to accomplish the above three goals. Here is my tentative template of categories I am currently mulling over:

Mondays - Topical News Events & My Opinions on These Events

Tuesdays - Emotional Thoughts and Feelings

Wednesdays - Exercise and Fitness Issues

Thursdays - Work Related Ideas & Issues

Fridays - All Things About Pipes & Libations

Saturdays - Fun & Adventurous Pursuits

Sundays - Spiritual & Philosophical Thoughts

At least for now, these seem a good distribution of the topics I write about. It seems to cover the gambit of things I focus on and should help me keep my writings more frequent, more fresh, and more diverse.

Another thing I am going to try is something I learned from BBC that seems wildly successful. He regularly comments in his own comments section about the comments he has received. I think I will begin this process as well. I am not sure why I never thought of it before. I have on rare occasion, commented on others comments, but this likely improve things further, and I think many of my commenters may actually enjoy hearing back from me specifically about their comments.

A third option I am contemplating as well, but perhaps is much less likely to occur is that I am thinking I should perhaps switch my comments section to "GOOGLE/BLOGGER COMMENTS" instead of the HaloScan comments I have used since the inception of this blog over 5 years ago. I used HaloScan at the time because it was the norm of that day, but now most folks are using the GOOGLE/BLOGGER" built in comments section. Part of me would like to make the switch as I suspect there is a growing number of people who may not want to bother using HaloScan and may thereby unfortunately NOT comment. But part of me is weary and not eager to try to figure out how to remove the HaloScan comments code AND how to insert the GOOGLE/BLOGGER code WITHOUT DISRUPTING the look and/or feel of my blog.... AND without LOSING the HaloScan comments.

I would greatly appreciate any comments and/or advice you may wish to give on any of the above matters or any other ideas of your choosing.


Friday, December 26, 2008

96 Days

Today was day 96 of walking! 96 days in a row! Never a missed day!

I am pretty damn amazed that I have been so consistent.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day 93

I apologize for the lack of posts. We have been having a helluva lot of snow the last several days. Upwards of a total of 20 inches or so (roughly 51 cm). Therefore, much of my time has been spent plowing and shoveling the various walkways, driveways, etc. The most harsh of the weather was not the snow, however, the worst was on Sunday where we had a day of horrific winds in the 40+ mph (which is 65+ km/hr for my metric oriented friends). This wind undid all of the snow clearing efforts and actually created enormous drifts which because of the driving wind were packed very solidly which made removal even more arduous the next morning when the winds died down.

The prediction is for another 12 inches (30.5 cm) in the next 24 hours. So, hopefully the power will stay on and we will be able to dig out eventually.

The one thing I am very proud of is that I HAVE STILL WALKED EVERY DAY! Today was day 92! The going is rough as I have to trudge through huge drifts of snow virtually the whole way, with the sidewalks poorly if at all plowed. Walking in the road is a must in many areas and I usually arrive back soaked from all the snow that runs down my boots and the back of my coat. But I DO IT! The most entertaining part of the snow walking is that I arrive back home the last several days with a cake of frosty icicles hanging from my mustache and beard. I feel and look like the photos of the Arctic explorers.

Unless there is a power outage, I will be on again on Wednesday.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa's Helper

Each year at this time, the ladies of our parish come together and bake mountains of delectable cookies in our church's basement kitchen. These cookies are packaged up and delivered to our home bound parishioners. Today, I will be delivering all of these treats across the county to these wonderful friends. To assist in the festivities, I am attired all in red and green. Green jeans, red shirt, green sweatshirt, red coat, and a red and white "Santa" hat. I even have a red bowled pipe that will accompany me on my journeys. It is only a small act of kindness, but as I like to help people, it gives me a chance to do something kind for others.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, This Must Be Chicken

I am an individual who finds comfort in routines. This is quite a different perspective than my wife had *before* we got married. Whereas in my childhood, things were very predictable and reliable, in my wife's home, most decisions were made on the spur of the moment. Initially in our marriage, this disparity in terms of routines and the desire for them, created several moments of friction in our lives. However, over the years, we have both grown more towards the middle ground in our former perspectives.

Meals for instance. My wife's family would often not know or have any idea about what would be had for dinner until my wife's mother would arrive home from work and start looking around in the cupboards and pantry to scramble something together very quickly. In my own family, we typically sat down after dinner on Thursday to create a menu for the week, which would then allow for the development of a grocery list that evening as well for use while shopping on Friday. We would plan out each and every meal and have it posted in the kitchen so we could re-examine it anytime we wished. To me it was wonderfully comforting to know precisely what we were to eat each meal.

In our household now, we have developed a chimeric blend of these two disparate perspectives. Yet, the flavor of both remain and have even been enhanced. In our home, we do plan weekly menus for every meal, and we do collaboratively put together the grocery list for the week. And, we have had success enough that we have even developed repetitive day "themes" that we adhere to most weeks.... Monday is chicken, Wednesday is Mexican, Thursday we dine out, Saturday we have soup and Sunday we have a "gourmet" dinner we make from a cookbook. Yet, there is a bit of the flavor of the unpredictability from my wife's childhood in the aspect that we purposefully leave certain of the side dishes in our meal open for "experimentation". This past Sunday, for instance, we made a gourmet form of Stuffed Peppers. The basic recipe had rice, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, olives, corn, peas, basil, oregano, and garlic. Yet, for a side we had a vegetable enhanced cous-cous that I created using carrots, celery, broccoli, peppers, peppercorns, curry, ginger, onion, raisins (and of course, cous-cous). It was a wonderful dish and it complemented the stuffed peppers wonderfully. But, it was a semi-spur of the moment creation. It was not something that we would have typically been able to plan. It was a delightful concoction and it was enjoyed so completely, I tried to write down my recipe in case we wish to make it again.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Interesting Observations

As most anyone who has read my site for even only a few days will know, I am very fond of pipe smoking and pipe tobacco. It has been a hobby I have relished since I was a kid. A link to earlier discussions of my beginning the hobby can be found here. However, one thing I have noticed is that there is a very noticable range of times when I enjoy or desire smoking a bowl versus times where I have little to no interest. The obvious situational differences (such as having no interest while eating, or having strong interest at the end of the work day while I drive home).

But, what is interesting for me is to note the differences in terms of thinking styles that I feel the strongest association with my briar pipes. When I am working on repetitive, mundane style thinking tasks (such as data entry, or inputing grades for instance), I tend to have little interest in picking up a pipe. I tend to simply trudge through the task in as quick a manner as possible. Whereas, if I am planning a course, or working on research questions or formulating new research experiments, the desire to have the accompaniment of a pipe is far greater. It seems, the more creative the task, the more likely I am to wish to have my friendly pipes with me.

An interesting observation.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Much Better Day (So Far)

I am in very good spirits at the moment. I am keeping my fingers crossed, but I *feel* I am over being angry and resentful about the incident Friday with 'ole Ed.

It is beautiful sunny day here today, the temperatures are quite brisk (-12 Celsius (12 Fahrenheit)) when I went walking at 6:30 this morning. Watching the colors of the horizon change from murky indigo blue, to blue-grey, then light blue... and then adding the splashes of orange and yellow as the sun began to crest were beautiful to behold. Today is the 80th consecutive day I have walked this journey without missing a single day.

For class today, I decided to play up the stereotype a bit and wore medium brown khaki pants, a dark tan button down shirt, and a deep umber corduroy sport jacket with medium brown suede elbow patches. My tie is one of a large array of brown, grey, rust, and orange colors in an orderly geometric pattern.

As it is an exam day, I actually get to have free-time which is always a pleasant time. While watching my students agonize over the exam questions, I have done some planning for my Winter classes, searched through some of recent research articles related to my neuroendocrine research interests that I have as .pdf files, I cleaned and groomed a few of my more well used pipes I leave here at the U (scraped the bowls with my pen knife, ran pipe cleaners through the stems and shanks, gently polished the outside of the bowls), sent out a few e-mails, and wrote (or more accurately am writing) this post.

As I look at the three pipes sitting here before me, I see them both as beautiful pieces of art, and also as well constructed tools. They make me grin a furry-faced grin just thinking about my enjoying a bowl or two or three sometime later in the day before I head home. The anticipation of them is a beautiful feeling.

In the last few weeks, I have become more hopeful that the Obama presidency MAY indeed be as wonderful as I had hoped for in a Hillary Clinton presidency. I am seeing more and more signs that his efforts, his appointments, and his vision ARE centered in the right arena... namely in trying to do good for the people of this nation. Having Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State will be a wonderful thing as well. I am thinking Obama will truly strive to change health care, will strive to get sensible energy policies, will fund science research and education better, will fund the arts better, and will help our nation to grow in GOOD ways.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008


We had a great deal of snow last night. Since I did not have a class today, I decided to play hooky. I was actually quite happy to play hooky because I had a difficult evening the night before, and really had no interest in attending the Department Holiday Party (a lunch) today. So, while at home I washed dishes, shoveled snow, repaired some of the Christmas lights outside, and have ordered a few presents for my wife on-line.

I also went for a walk through the heavy snow and wore my large, heavy galoshes. I walked about 6 miles (roughly ~10 km).

During the walk, I contemplated my still simmering resentment over the attitude of Ed last Friday. After yesterday's post, I thought I was on my way to being over his nastiness, but I was not. He came in and while I chose to not talk with him, his presence in and around the area was aggrivating (especially since he never comes in on Monday's during the earlier part of the semester as he has a night class). It all came to a head last evening at home when I was so filled again with anger that I had a horrible evening.

Well, on my walk today, I prayed to God to help me get over this anger, and to somehow actually forgive this person I am so angry at. I am not there yet, but I am trying to continue to focus on that as my desire and goal. I want to get on with living my life in the happy, contented manner I have been able to create. It is so very difficult for me to get over feelings I have when someone is rude or hurtful to me. I wish I knew a magic solution to this issue, but I do not. All I know is I must keep trying to regain my own happiness about life. It was a struggle enough to get over the real sadnesses I have experienced the last two years, I need to grasp as tightly the new happiness I have found.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Slow Recovery

It was a slow go at recovery this weekend. I alternated between being able to convince myself that the *ssh*l* discussed in the previous essay did not matter, to trying to use the philosophies from my Roman Catholic heritage to attempt to be forgiving of this fellow, to still being VERY angry at him and extremely resentful of his behavior.

So, in effect, this fellow WON. I lost because I could not figure out a way to stop myself from being hurt and resentful much of the time. I also lost because I devoted a helluva lot of energy to this problem that was pretty pointless.

Now it is Monday, and at least at the moment, I have been able to foster my "the whole issue is inconsequential, and I CAN BE the forgiving person I want to be" side. It feels as if it will stick this time. And, as a bonus, I do not expect to see the fellow today as he teaches late on Monday, so I can firm up this stance without the added pressure and be (hopefully) more firm in my attitude when I eventually see him on Tuesday.

But that said, I am now having my focus shift back to what is meaningful to me. I am thinking about expressing myself more through art, since art so drives my passions in life. I am not sure what it shall be. Photography has always had appeal, but mostly as a way to capture family, not as art. Watercolor painting is more ARTSY for me, but I do not have adequate skills to meet my own artistic needs yet. Pottery would be wonderfully physical and creative as would clay sculpture, so that may be possible. But, in reality, I am just fishing around at the moment and am not sure. Of course, the biggest obstacle will be figuring out how to restructure my time in a way to accomplish art while also maintaining exercise (by the way, today was day 78 for my long morning walk (it was only 11 Degrees Fahrenheit here (which is -12 Degrees Celcius for my metric oriented friends)), being there for my family, teaching, and volunteering to help others. But, I really think it is something I should do.

Part of me thinks if I could only find a way to not sleep. I average only 5 hours of sleep a night now, so it would be difficult to reduce the number of hours devoted to that activity.

Oh well. Who the hell knows what I should do? Perhaps a good nicotinic soaking of the neural synapses will help clarify the answer. It is a raspberry tinctured burley this morning that I have been waiting to indulge in.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Anger & Annoyance

There is a veritable *ssh*l* in my Department by the name of Ed Edgerton who happens to be an extraordinarily rude, obnoxious, and so utterly full of himself crank that it is difficult to believe he chooses to breath the same air as everyone else on the planet. This fellow is near retirement and is about as skinny as a rail and looks and acts for the most part like "Barney Fife" from the old television show, The Andy Griffith Show.

Well, to get to the heart of the matter, today was another of those "wonderful" days where we had a Department Meeting, and this idiot starts yammering and complaining about the current administrative policy on when and if to cancel a class at the U in inclement weather. This is something that happens once, perhaps twice a year. Well, Fife was so rabid and riled up about the current policy because one time, a few years ago, students were sent home and the U was closed for half a day. And get this... the official time the U closed (due to the storm) shaved off an hour of demigod Fife's 3 hour lecture. How dare the U discern that student safety was more important and significant than what Nobel winning and sage bologna 'ole Fife was going to spout off to his nodding-off students!!! How dare the U!!!!! In the meeting today, he kept ranting and crabbing, and b*tch*ng about demeanding the administration change its policy so his class would not have been affected. It was sickening to listen to and annoying as hell. But, unfortunately, that is the way most Department Meetings are when he attends (which is unfortunately about 95% of the time).

Well, since this was a Department Meeting, another faculty member, Bart, spoke up and stated that we have flexibility to handle such situations through our syllabi if we wish, and we can also use our electronic classroom if desired. Then I added, that in my opinion, the current administrative policy was appropriate.

Well, "Fife" raised his voice towards me and tried to shout me down. I did the appropriate thing and DID NOT respond in kind, although I wanted to with every fiber of my being. I wanted to tell him what a foolish, petty person he was. I wanted to growl at him with my deepest, most menacing voice that he had damn well better not use that tone of voice with me again, and I wanted to tell him that if he did use that tone of voice with me again, I would respond in kind toward him and increase it ten fold.

I did not do any of those things, for I did what was polite and civil. But now, here it is 8 hours later and I am still angry as hell at him. He and his *ss*n*n* behavior... and my own inability to let go of my rage and frustration have ruined my own evening. Please know that *I do know* it would be best for me to simply let it go and forget the b*st*rd and his behavior. I know that intellectually in my mind. I *also do know* that by experiencing all this turmoil, I am in effect letting this puny, little nobody WIN. I, also know that intellectually in my mind. Yet, here I am, still feeling angry and hurt. I am angry and hurt because I merely stated an opinion, and this rabid weasel shouted me down because I disagreed with his opinion, and I dared to say so. I am even more angry and hurt because I did the correct, polite thing in the meeting, and stopped talking about it.

Yet, it doesn't do me a whole helluva lot of good right now. I am still angry and I cannot figure out how to let it go at the moment.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I am in the midst of the severe crunch of activities before final exam week, and therefore my creativity is limited. But, in the off-second or two, I have been thinking about pancakes, because we will be eating blueberry pancakes tonight for dinner. So, I thought I would excerpt some basic details garnered here about pancakes for you to enjoy:

American or Canadian pancakes (also known as hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks in the U.S.) are Scotch pancakes which contain a raising agent, usually baking powder, and contains different proportions of eggs, flour, and milk or buttermilk, which create a thick batter. Cinnamon and sugar can be added. This batter is either ladled or poured onto a hot surface, and spreads to form a circle about ¼ or ⅓ inch (1 cm) thick. The raising agent causes bubbles to rise to the uncooked side of the pancake, at which point the pancake is ready to be flipped. These pancakes, very light in texture, are often served at breakfast topped with maple syrup, butter, peanut butter, jelly, jam, fruit or even honey.

Homemade pancakes.

North American can be made sweet or savory by adding ingredients such as blueberries, strawberries, cheese, bacon, bananas, apples or chocolate chips to the batter. In addition, some recipes call for the addition of spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, or flavoring agents such as vanilla extract. A "silver dollar" pancake refers to a pancake about 3 inches (7 cm) in diameter - these are usually served in portions of five or ten.
Stacks of "silver dollar" pancakes.

Flapjacks in the U.S. are sometimes larger, thinner and more crisp than a regular American pancake, sometimes as broad as 12 inches in diameter.[citation needed]

Vermont pancakes usually have oatmeal or buckwheat flour added to the wheat flour, and require more baking powder to rise. The texture is coarser and the flavor more intense. The pancakes are served with maple syrup which is a famous product of Vermont.

"German Pancakes" or Dutch baby pancakes served in American pancake houses are shaped like a bowl and come in a range of sizes. They are commonly eaten with lemons and powdered sugar, jam, or caramelized apples.

Mexican hotcakes, are similar in style to pancakes served in the U.S., hotcakes are more often made with cornmeal as well as or instead of wheat flour. Hotcakes are popular breakfast items at restaurants throughout the country, and are often sold by street vendors in cities and during the local celebrations of small towns through the day and evening; the vendors usually sell a single hotcake topped with different sauces such as condensed milk, fruit jam or a sweet goat milk spread called "cajeta."

Alberta sub-variety In Alberta the term Nack or Nack's has been coined to describe a misshapen or hastily made Pancake. This term is thought to have come from the northern oilsands labor camps.