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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Food & Booze

Tonight is the annual Faculty Appreciation Dinner at the U. It should be a helluva good time. Lots of food, lots of liquor, and hopefully not a helluva lot of schmoozing.

I am planning to get "likkered" up.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Take This B*llsh*t and Shove It!

What is it I do not get? I love my teaching and research. I truly do! I relish being on a variety of committees and groups to be active in service in my community. Again, I truly do! So, what is it that puts a damn, dark cloud over my feelings about work so much of the time:

1. Asinine people who try to take advantage of me by having me do THEIR work.

2. Students who view a college education as a piece of paper you purchase, and view professors as their salesmen. I am an educator, not a babysitter. I am the person who understands what is appropriate for you to learn. Do not come to me with attitude and bravado and think you will bully me into giving you a good grade. No way in hell will that happen. Instead, you will just p*ss me off and get me aggravated for the day.

3. Administrators who view faculty as hamsters on a wheel. They think that we are cattle to be herded, but let me assure you, 99+% of us faculty will not behave like cattle, but instead you will be finding yourself in a situation akin to herding a hundred cats. It WON'T work.

Now, let me reassure you that there are MOSLTY VERY NICE PEOPLE that I work with, and there are MOSTLY WONDERFUL STUDENTS I work with, and there are even MOSTLY WONDERFUL ADMINSTRATORS I work with, but it is the small number who are rude idiots in each of the above three categories that drain every ounce of energy out of my being. They are the ruination of my mind and my psyche. I need to develop a better way to deal with them. But what the hell is that way?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 402

I forgot to mention (in my glee at my flash fiction entry) that I have broken the 400 day milestone! With an average of 4-5 miles per day, that means in the last 402 days, I have logged roughly 1800 miles (close to 2900 km).

This walking every day has been one of the best things I have done for myself in the last few years.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Let Your Voice Be Heard

The following article is from Science News and it examines new research that suggest a specific gene for anatomical development of the human larynx:

* * * * *

A Gene Critical for Speech: Newly Discovered Stretch of DNA May Be Important in Evolution of Language

By Tina Hesman Saey

Humans may owe the gift of gab to a newly discovered gene that helps keeps vocal pipes limber.

Researchers discovered the gene, dubbed tospeak, in an Australian family with a speaking disorder. Many of the women in the family have weak, husky voices, while several of their male relatives cannot speak above a whisper, reported Raymond Clarke of the University of New South Wales’ St. George Hospital in Kogarah, Australia, October 21 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Clarke and his colleagues traced the source of the family’s disorder to a region of chromosome 8. Part of the chromosome had been rearranged, causing a break in the tospeak gene. Tospeak probably doesn’t code for a protein, Clarke says. The gene is sprinkled with stop signals and its RNA product doesn’t resemble other RNAs that have specific functions in the cell. But production of the tospeak RNA seems to be important for proper development of the larynx.

Members of the family who have the speaking problem have short, thick vocal cords that don’t vibrate properly. Some of the family members also have fused bones in the wrists and feet, known as the carpals and tarsals, and fused vertebrae in their spines. All of the defects may be linked to a breakdown in relations between tospeak and a neighboring gene, known as GDF6, the researchers report.

The GDF6 gene helps control bone and eye development. Loss of the gene leads to fusion of tarsals and carpals in mice. The researchers also found that mutations in GDF6 lead to fusion of neck vertebrae in people with a genetic disorder known as Klippel-Feil syndrome. All of those discoveries indicate that GDF6 helps keep joints flexible, Clarke says. The new study suggests that the gene may also be responsible for allowing humans to stretch their vocal cords and create a range of sounds necessary for speech.

Clarke’s group found that the tospeak gene overlaps a control region of GDF6, which regulates GDF6’s activity in the carpals and tarsals. Disrupting the tospeak gene also appears to interfere with GDF6 activity.

Tospeak first appeared in primates, the researchers discovered by looking for the gene in a variety of species. In humans, part of the genetic control panel that governs tospeak activity was duplicated, resulting in higher activity of the human version of the gene than is found in chimpanzees or other primates. Revved-up tospeak activity probably tweaks GDF6 levels as well, giving humans more flexible voice boxes than other primates, Clarke says. That advantage could have allowed humans to develop language, he says.

Other researchers say that changes in the brain were probably far more important for the evolution of language than alterations of the larynx. “It is reasonable to expect that anatomical and physical changes have expanded our vocal repertoire,” says Simon Fisher, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, England, but “the idea that it’s the larynx that underlies speech is overly simplistic.”

But brain changes that lead to language wouldn’t be possible without the capacity for speech, Clarke says. “You’ve got to have a brain [to speak], that’s true,” he says. “There must be a marriage between the brain and the structural capacity.”

* * * * *

Even though not so exciting for the family who have the wretchedly weak vocal cords, their mutation has given us important insight into our own development.


Monday, October 26, 2009

FFF #7 (Flash Fiction Entry)

Here are links to the earlier efforts to participate in the Flash Fiction Essays:

First Effort
Second Effort
Third Effort

And now, onto this week's (finished version) of the show...

Chapter 4 - Give a Man A Hand

On the sidewalk, fallen between the cracks was a stray reflection of light that caught my attention. It was a key. Shiny and nickel-plated, the sunlight made it glimmer intently. As I reached down to pick up the key, I could see that the face of the key had a cut-out, embossed logo for Volkswagen. Clearly the key was not for a recent model, because there was nary a bit of plastic or vinyl on the key itself. Instead, it was from a vintage VW, a Beetle, by my best estimate, from the early 1960s.

"Damn," I thought, still feeling aggravated and out of sorts from Javier's poking fun towards me, "this has got to be John's key." He was the only one around here with an old Bug. His beetle was top notch too. It was a deep, brick red, in that special color seen only in the 1960s with a pale grey interior. Beautiful, and charming all at once. John, was one of the co-owners of the bar I just left. He was a friendly sort of fellow, with the perfect demeanor for running a bar... he was able to encourage people to talk (and hence, drink) within minutes of sitting in the tavern. His efforts truly created a family-like atmosphere.

With an air or resignation I turned, and walked back towards the bar. Once inside, I scanning the place, but I did not see John. Reluctantly, I sat back down by my poet-"friend", Javier, and asked the college kid who was currently running the bar for another beer, and also requested that he go tell John, I needed so see him.

"Haven't seen him since noon." said the kid.

I turned back and by this time, Javier was chatting up a young co-ed sitting next to him, and was no longer aware of anything else at that point. It was odd that John wasn't around during the afternoon happy hour.

I sat there a few minutes, nursing on my beer and gnawing on the stem of my pipe, when suddenly the front door of the bar was thrown open violently so it slammed back against the wall. A strange man dressed as Carmen Miranda walked into the bar and demanded to know who had taken his pet iguana.

I rolled my eyes and laughed at the sight. The "Carmen" character was actually an indigent person who lived on the streets around campus and was widely known by virtually everyone as the "Bottle Dude." Friendly to a fault and willing to make a spectacle out of himself from the odds and ends he found laying about town, Bottle Dude, was also stubborn as a mule and resisted all attempts at helping him out of homelessness. A man of routine, during virtually every waking moment before 4pm, Bottle Dude could be seen pushing a rusted, decrepit old shopping cart he obtained long ago from the now defunct A & P on Woodward Avenue. Walking constantly, all day long through the city, the nearby neighborhoods and through campus, he scouring streets, alleyways, ditches, and garbage bins for empty soda and beer bottles that could be returned. Thanks mostly to the Bottle Deposit Law, each bottle he collected was worth 10 cents a piece and had to be accepted in any condition at any convenience stores.

Bottle Dude did pretty well for himself with this routine, and was able to keep himself amply supplied with beer, other booze, and cigarettes. Kids on campus even informally adopted him, and would save bottles for him at specific locations each morning.

Laughing and joking about his new "Carmen Miranda" get up, most of it from the toss pile behind the Sav-A-Lot Grocery down the block, something seemed a bit too frenetic and animated in Bottle Dude's interactions. While always a cut-up, his behavior seemed unusally forced and almost manic. I kept watching.

"Sh*t, yeah, you shuoulda seen all the f*ck*ng sh*t I've seen and been seeing over there, its not right, and I should show Louie what I found for him." said Bottle Dude to no one in particular.

Louie was his imagined pet iguana. Apparently at one time, when he was a kid, he saw an iguana. Apparently, during the mental break that resulted in his becoming homeless 20 years ago, he conjured up the notion that the iguana he saw was his pet, and has held on to that belief to this day.

"You know, don't ya, that Louie don't normally get meat because he don't like sh*t like that, but today's hes gonna be surprised!"

Bottle Dude proceeded to reach into the pocket of his greasy, worn jacket, and pulled out a mangled, bloody item I did not recognize immediately. He looked around and noticed I was the only person paying any attention to his antics. He ambled slowly over.

"Lookee, I found this here for Louie today. It was in the alley on the ground. Someone must of lost it."

Only as he rolled it around on the counter, did I actually see what it was. With great alarm, I saw that what Bottle Dude had found, was... a human thumb!

(There. This is the final version.)


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Soliloquy #1

We can all think of ourselves as being blind to one thing or another in our lives. But, if we can search for and try to find a way to amend whatever it is we are blind to, we can grow. Often, however, the search we conduct to find and alleviate our blindness is rebuked by others who do not wish us to "rock the boat" or go against the norms of day-to-day living. Yet, if we do not ask for or seek an end to whatever it is we are blind to, we can never gain insight (or sight) about our own deficits and failings.

To be able to see, identify, and rectify our failings is a gift. One that is difficult for us to aquire, difficult for us to want, and difficult for us to accept. Yet, it is impossible to grow without doing so.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Goal & Plans

I am thinking of trying a new goal and plan for writing here. This is only a minor change, but one that I think will be good. Here are the major details:

1. I am going to attempt to start posting 7 days a week. While I may not be 100% with it, I plan to have seven days a week be my goal.

2. I have liked the "topic days" I adopted several months ago, but feel I need to modify them to accommodate the 7 day-a-week postings and to accommodate the fun I am having with the Flash Fiction group. Here are my new planned for topics:

Sunday - Spiritual & Philosophical Pursuits

Monday - The most current Flash Fiction offering

Tuesday - Topical News/Science News & Opinion

Wednesday - Exercise & Fitness Issues

Thursday - Work Related Issues

Friday - All About Pipes & Libations

Saturday - Emotions - Good or Bad

Thank you for reading!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Rats as Junkies

As a subject, the notion of how the brain changes in response to environmental pressures has been a major focus of mine for many, many years. One subset to this broad topic is the study of how the brain organizes as it becomes "addicted" to something. Below, a very interesting study shows some new insight into this phenomena. It is from Science News:

* * * * *

Junk Food Turns Rats Into Addicts: Bacon, Cheesecake and Ho-Hos Alter Pleasure Centers in Rats' Brains

By Laura Sanders

CHICAGO — Junk food elicits addictive behavior in rats similar to the behaviors of rats addicted to heroin, a new study finds. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats addicted to high-fat, high-calorie diets became less responsive as the binging wore on, making the rats consume more and more food. The results, presented October 20 at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, may help explain the changes in the brain that lead people to overeat.

“This is the most complete evidence to date that suggests obesity and drug addiction have common neurobiological underpinnings,” says study coauthor Paul Johnson of the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla.

To see how junk food affects the brain’s natural reward system — the network of nerve cells that release feel-good chemicals — Johnson started at the grocery store. He loaded up on typical Western fare, including Ho Hos, sausage, pound cake, bacon and cheesecake. Johnson fed rats either a standard diet of high-nutrient, low-calorie chow, or unlimited amounts of the palatable junk food. Rats that ate the junk food soon developed compulsive eating habits and became obese. “They’re taking in twice the amount of calories as the control rats,” says Johnson’s coauthor Paul Kenny, also of Scripps.

Johnson and Kenny wanted to know if this overeating affected the pleasure centers of the rats’ brains, the regions responsible for drug addiction. The researchers used electrical stimulations to activate these reward centers and induce pleasure. Rats could control the amount of feel-good stimulation by running on a wheel — the more they ran, the more stimulation they got. The rats fed junk food ran more, indicating that they needed more brain stimulation to feel good.

After just five days on the junk food diet, rats showed “profound reductions” in the sensitivity of their brains’ pleasure centers, suggesting that the animals quickly became habituated to the food. As a result, the rats ate more food to get the same amount of pleasure. Just as heroin addicts require more and more of the drug to feel good, rats needed more and more of the junk food. “They lose control,” Kenny says. “This is the hallmark of addiction.”

To see how strong the drive to eat junk food was, the researchers exposed the rats to a foot shock when they ate the high-fat food. Rats that had not been constantly exposed to the junk food quickly stopped eating. But the foot shock didn’t faze rats accustomed to the junk food — they continued to eat, even though they knew the shock was coming.

“What we have are these core features of addiction, and these animals are hitting each one of these features,” Kenny says.

These reward pathway deficits persisted for weeks after the rats stopped eating the junk food, the researchers found. “It’s almost as if you break these things, it’s very, very hard to go back to the way things were before,” Kenny says. When the junk food was taken away and the rats had access only to nutritious chow (what Kenny calls the “salad option”), the obese rats refused to eat. “They starve themselves for two weeks afterward,” Kenny says. “Their dietary preferences are dramatically shifted.”

Scientists are interested in determining the long-term effect of altering the reward system. “We might not see it when we look at the animal,” says obesity expert Ralph DiLeone of Yale University School of Medicine. “They might be a normal weight, but how they respond to food in the future may be permanently altered.”

* * * * *

Such an interesting notion. It really helps to explain aspects of the obesity epidemic that is happening across the nation. It also explains a mechanism that can help explain a large array of addictive activities.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I know I will.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scrambled Eggs & 396

I am disappointed that my latest flash fiction entry garnered so few responses. The prior week generated a whopping 12 responses compared to this week's 3.

But, I need to get back to posting more frequently. I shall therefore pick a few topics to round out the week, but shall resume my more traditional format next week. I may move my flash fiction entries to a Sunday posting so as to keep the other 5 days as had become my habit.

However, again, note, the remainder of this week is filled with scrambled eggs of a sort... whatever I want to post.

So, I have not talked about my walking in a fair amount of time. This morning was day #396 that I have walked in a row. There were a few rough patches in the past few weeks that made me question if I would get to this date, but I did persevere and do it every damn day, no matter what!


Monday, October 19, 2009


Here is my FLASH FICTION ENTRY this week. If you wish to see the earlier postings of mine, here is the first week of this story, and here is the second week of the story. Below is week three (FFF#6):

* * * * *

Chapter 3 - Reality Check

"You know Javier, poets say that in the spring a young man's thoughts turn to love, but I think they're wrong."

I glanced up from my beer, to look Dr. Javier Moralez in the face to see if he was listening to me any longer. Javier was an old friend of mine, and he taught poetry for the Department of English. We always enjoyed each others friendship, even though our disciplines at first glance appeared so divergent... he in English, I in biology.

"Why you think that?" said Javier as he signaled with his hand to the bartender to come over and refill his glass with a double gin and tonic.

"Because," with more than a hint of exasperation in my voice, thinking he had not listened to a damn thing I said about the motorcycle trip nor about the waitress with the puppy, "I think in Spring, EVERYONE's thoughts turn to love."

"So, what'd you do then, did you give her a poke?" said Moralez with a sideways glance and a wry, teasing, furry-faced grin.

Unlike his own actions with his spouse, Javier knew without question that I was faithful to my wife. That fact just eggs him on further. He enjoys trying to rile me about that at every opportunity he can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

"Yeah, right." I said clumsily and awkwardly, not sure if I was more aggravated at his accusation, or more embarrassed that he already knew I didn't do a damn thing. I picked up my beer, and took a long, deep pull from the bottle so I wouldn't have to think of anything further to add.

To Moralez, bedding only one woman was akin to reading the same novel, over and over again for the span of a lifetime. It nauseated him. He needed the charge, the new "spice" in his life that a fresh female form provided. He relished the "cat and mouse" game of finding a woman who willingly could be convinced to accept his services.

His wife of 30+ years, Lucinda, had long ago accepted that Javier was hers, but not wholly hers. I remember in an especially candid, yet rueful moment when she took me aside at their Christmas party last year. She joked that Javier was very much into "cereal monogamy" for he ate the same brand each and every morning since the day they married, but that was not into "monogamy," nor even "serial monogamy."

And he had no trouble choosing from the large array of women who seemed to melt under his devilish stare, from his various secretaries over the years, to his female students, to the waitresses at the many restaurants and watering holes around the campus proper.

"Look at her," he pointed towards a woman near the jukebox with his index finger, the rest of his hand surrounding the glass of his double gin & tonic, "you could probably have her, if you were willing to give her a hundred bucks." His eyebrows waggled at the humor he felt at his joke.

"To hell with this. " I said, aggravated. I sat the empty beer bottle on the bar, and turned around and walked out of the tavern towards Hill Street, the building where both my office and lab were located.

Stepping outside, the coolness of the early fall was comforting after the hot, muggy closeness in the tavern. As I walked down the sidewalk toward the intersection of Hill, I reached into the pocket of my corduroy sports coat and pulled out my pipe, a full-bent Peterson, and my tobacco pouch. I filled the bowl with a plain burley leaf proceeded to meld flame and leaf in the bowl. The richness of the smoke quelled a bit of my frustration.

Up ahead, I could see the window to my lab, on the 8th floor of the Natural Science Building. But I was not really paying attention, my mind was thinking back on the motorcycle trip. It was a time where I truly found out about myself.

* * * * *

Thank you everyone, I look forward to any comments you may have.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FFF #5 Entry

Below is my entry for this week's Flash Fiction story. As I have decided for my efforts, I am limiting myself to a 10 minute time frame to write (and a minute or two to edit afterwords). While not in my original plan, you will notice that this week's effort was able to be a continuation of the previous week's effort as the sentence fit into the story adequately. I hope that you enjoy the writing and I look forward to any comments you may have.

* * * * *

I Don't Give A Sh*t

“Come with me, if you want to give a sh*t about something in your life.” purred the waitress into my ear as she tugged at my hand as I sat at the bar crying into my shots and beer.

I looked sideways into her face. Her face had the pimply sort of look that you see in young adults who work jobs involving deep fat fryers. While flattered, for the “invitation” I knew this would not lead to a good ending.

“I’m sorry, Miss, but I can’t. I’m old enough to be your father.” I stated solemnly as stuck my pipe back into my mouth, attempting to portray a “Steven Douglas” visage, while dressed in my biker leathers.

The waitress, whose name was Jeanine, laughed out loud, in a slightly shocked, but impetuous manner, and shook her head.

“You got the wrong idea, there.” she said ambigously and she again pulled at my hand.

Reluctantly, I followed her lead and walked with her to the back room of the bar. We walked past the storage room filled with cardboard boxes filled with the empty whiskey, bourborn, and vodka bottles consumed during the last few weeks. We moved past the small office area where a radio was statically streaming out the caterwauling warbles of Tammy Wynette’s “The Ways To Love A Man”. We went into a small, dark room, with cheap, water damaged paneling on the walls. From the light of the hallway I could see the outline of a stained, well-worn mattress on the floor.

She pulled me into the room and pulled me over towards the bed. Although my mind was fairly pleasantly liquored-up by this time, I was not plastered enough to not hear the scream of the warning sirens going off in my head. She sat down on the mattress, and pulled me down as well. I stumbled over something on the floor and fell down roughly beside her. My momentum was enough that I could not help but fall against her, and she and I splayed prone across the mattress, with me on top of her.

Very quickly, but sloppily, I righted myself and apologized profusely to her. She laughed, and sat back up herself. Then, she reached over and switched on the short desk lamp that was also on the floor by the mattress. While doing so, she reached into one cardboard box and seemed to be trying to pull something out.

I heard a whimper. "Sh*t!" I thought, "what the hell do I do now?"

With a fluid motion of her arm, she extracted a wriggling ball of fur from the box, "Here" she said, "is reason enough to give a sh*t about life."

The puppy in her hands wriggled and squirmed until it finally was able to reach her face. Its long pink tongue slathered Jeanine's face with kisses, and she giggled, and grinned, and in my eyes, appeared radiantly beautiful.

* * * * *

Well, that is it for this week. I hope you enjoy my efforts.


Friday, October 09, 2009

It May *Sound* Humorous, But Sadly It is True

The following are a series of very useful, and truthful definitions for a variety of common tools found in the garage of a male who enjoys thinking of himself as a fix-it man:

A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar
stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings
your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the
workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and
hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh --'

A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of

An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle...
It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the
more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future

Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If
nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense
welding heat to the palm of your hand.

Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop
on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of
which you want to remove a bearing race..

A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles
for testing wall integrity.

Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have
installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under
the bumper.

A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good
aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash
can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the
outside edge.

A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot
to disconnect.

Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening
old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but [ Also called a "Plus" screwdriver ]
can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw

A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted [ Also called a "Minus" screwdriver ]
screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you
needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

A tool used to make hoses too short.

Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a
kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the
object we are trying to hit.

Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons
delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such
as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector
magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially
useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

Son of a b**** TOOL:
Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling
'Son of a b****' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the
next tool that you will need.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009



One of the most appealing rituals we have adopted during the last 15 or so years is making one particular day of the week "Taco" day. Most commonly we have had what we call "Taco Wednesday", and it turns into a celebration of sorts to signify the halfway mark in the week with an amazing food feast. I am already salivating in a nearly Pavlovian manner, at the thought of my enormously huge taco salad (a 4 qt bowl filled with chips, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, sour cream, guacamole, etc), my two enormous bean burritos, and my two piled-high tostadas (we migrated to tostadas instead of tacos because I rightly suggested... we could pile MORE STUFF on them than fit into a bent taco shell.).

It should be damn good.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Day 380 (Day 15)

Today marks my 380th day of walking 4-5 miles outside in a row. Today also marks the 15th day in a row in which my wife has adopted a 30-minute per day exercise plan.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Double Trouble

In pursuit of my new hedonism, I am giving you the "bonus" of a second post today. This second post is a brief piece of what is called "Flash Fiction" that is part of a project highlighted here. The basic notion is that we are given a starting sentence. Then we have a timeline in which complete a short piece of fiction. I decided to give myself 10 minutes of creative time for a post. Here it is:

* * * * *

Start of Flash Fiction Participation for the October 6th Due Date.

The Road to Nowhere & Everywhere

Hanging on with one hand, he considered his alternatives... he could try to let go completely and allow the motorcycle to navigate him down the road (hopefully). It was to be a test of his mettle and resolve. Were his “cojones” big enough, his bravado large enough and his mind in enough of a stupor to not give a damn and to let go?

Although if you dug deep enough, you could see the vestiges of his professorial self in Michael (now preferring the name of “Mike”). But at the same time, you could see the transformation as well. His graying beard was unkempt and shaggy, his demeanor had more of a “I don’t give a sh*t!” swagger. Yet, deep inside, he still felt like a failure, a miserable wretch of a human being. Pointless and useless and horrible.

Of course, in the end, he was too chicken-sh*t to let go completely from the handlebars. So, after a while, he saw down the long, lonesome stretch of highway in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a bar. It was pleasantly seedy in a way that both attracted Mike’s wanderlust, but made him queasy in the stomach. The queasiness resulted from a mix of not knowing what sort of trouble lurked behind the doors of the bar, and yet some of it also resulted from the greasy food he would undoubtedly find as well, to which his stomach had not yet acclimated.

Inside, he saw a rather emaciated looking waitress, perhaps nearing the age of thirty. Her hair was as straight and lifeless as a ruler.

“What’ll you have?” she asked without glancing up from her reading of a Harlequin Romance novel.

“A beer, and a double-shot of Wild Turkey.” said Mike.

She got up, poured the drinks and then brought them to the counter where Mike sat. Reaching into his vest pocket, he extracted his well worn, briar pipe and proceeded to fill the bowl with dark brown crumbles of raspberry tinctured burley leaf. He knew this was not particularly “biker” or “hedonistic” in the traditional sense, but dammit, it was what he enjoyed, and THAT was what hedonism was all about.

Lighting his pipe with his lighter, he took a long pull from the stem, inhaling the rich smoke deeply. Then he took a long slow drink from the beer, and then dropped the double shot of whiskey into the mug and took another long drink. It was not long before he had finished the first round and ordered another.

The muddiness to his mind brought about by the alcohol and nicotine was beautiful and to him it felt akin to his mind being able to see life as surrealistic painting. The hard, harsh edges were worn away and the beautiful colors began to blend.

Glancing up from his mug, his eye askew, he saw the television on the wall was playing CNN. Taking his pipe from his mouth with one hand, he then pulled his other hand across his lower face, across his mustache and beard, he averted his eyes back down to his mug.

“Sh*t!” he cursed softly under his breath.

Salty tears fell from his eyes.

* * * * *

End of Flash Fiction Participation for the October 6th Due Date.

However, even with this second post, I am hopeful you will read the post I wrote earlier in the day. There are a lot of similarities between my flash fiction and my flash of reality, I dare say.


Damn Right!

I have been thinking about my previous post a lot this weekend, and the more I think about it, the more I think it is right on the money. To hell with all this crap, to hell with all the b*llsh*t I get wrapped up in at work, all the people trying to make me do sh*t for them. Life for me should BE about ME, and those I LOVE. My wife and kids deserve so much happiness, and I damn well deserve it too.

Well, actually, I do not DESERVE it, I know that I probably deserve NOTHING in life, for I am an insignificant speck in this universe. But I DAMN WELL WANT HAPPINESS.

I am going to forge ahead in my effort to become a hedonist. I am not quite sure yet how to proceed, but I feel it is a new, and worthy goal.

I also like Andrew's comment about perhaps adopting more of a biker persona. I have often thought it would be a very comfortable fit. Last year, at the annual Halloween Bash, I even dressed in my rendition of a biker and met with raucous approval. Perhaps I will take Andrew's advice and allow myself the joy of growing into an even MORE eccentric academic... by allowing my beard to grow pleasantly shaggy and becoming more akin to this fellow. I could easily grow shaggier like he is. I could easily smoke a few cigars to substitute for a small percentage of my pipes (I typically indulge in perhaps one or two cigars a week already). This would allow my mustache to acquire more of the amber hue of the biker fellow as well.

I have to think more, how should I become more and more of a hedonist? I think a "biker" hedonist is perhaps my destiny.


Friday, October 02, 2009


It may be rather late in the game for me to think this or realize this. Actually, I have always known this and always feared this. All of you who have read me for any moderate or longer length of time realize this is a huge part of my make-up.

Yet, here it goes. My thoughts currently have been revolving about the real possibility that I could die at any second. My wife could die at any moment. My kids could die at any moment. The moment of death could be lurking around every bend. It is an oppressive feeling of fear and dread.

With the above idea growing in awareness at the forefront of my mind, I ask myself, what the hell am I doing with all the crap of work, the crap of politics, the crap of crap? It is all, utterly stupid, and I am a foolish idiot to be even mildly concerned with any of it. I should be purely hedonistic, seeking out the pleasures of life and seeking out those same pleasures for my family. They are my universe. Why do I give a sh*t about work?