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, November 30, 2010


I am feeling blue today. I got up earlier than usual today (I hit the road for walking at 5:15am. Today is my 800th day walking. Yet, I am growing ever more aggravated about the loss of my computer drives. It is making me go insane trying to think of spots I have not looked yet where it could potentially be. They were in a rather large case about 6 X 8 inches. I wish I could just find it.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Please Help Me

This is a basic rendition of a prayer I have been saying in my mind a few times a day since Wednesday. I have lost/misplaced my portable drive with all my work on it. I recall last using it on Tuesday evening when I used it at home. I thought I put it in my satchel for work before heading to bed. I first noticed it missing around 10 am on Wednesday morning. With the Thanksgiving Holiday, I have not had much luck in finding it via normal circumstances (Campus Security was closed during the holiday):

God and St. Anthony:

I am wondering if you are instructing me on patience at this time. I am worried and fearful that my portable drive with all my work on it is lost. Please help me to find it or have it returned to me. Without this drive, I will be very far behind in my work and this will impact me significantly in other areas of my life as I work to catch up. Please help me.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fathers & Sons

I have been thinking about my father a great deal the last several days. Today is my father's birthday. He would have been 87 years old today. At one level it *is* so very long since he has been a physical presence in my life, but in the same vein, he has been a mental/emotional/philosophical presence in my life every day.

It is ever more striking how I can see in myself more and more ways in which I am very much like my father and other ways in which I am very much like my mother. The characteristics I have that are especially like that of my father include a general quietness to my demeanor and a rather contemplative personality. Physically, my teeth are like my father's. My eyes are much like my father's and my ears and forehead are very similar to that of my father's. Of course, my enjoyment of pipes and pipe tobacco is something I learned from my father as well.

I will be traveling to the other end of the county today to visit my father and mother's grave site. Even though it is quite cold outside (below freezing), I am planning to sit at the grave site for quite a while and talk to (with) my father on this his birthday. I am also planning to take with me, one of his favorite pipes that I inherited from him. I shall smoke that pipe while I am visiting with him at the grave site.

I miss you, Dad! I wish you a very Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quiet, Non-Verbose

I am not really sure why I haven't posted anything the last week or so. I guess that I have been not feeling overly passionate about anything I thought about saying. I haven't been feeling blue, nor have I been feeling ecstatic. I am actually not really *thinking* all that much either, which is a bit of a rarity for me. I typically have significant challenges in trying to NOT think (or worry or debate or whatever you call it) about things constantly in my mind. I have simply been going to work, leaving work, going home, and just being.

This is not a common state of mind for me. So, do not expect it to last long. I will likely be as verbose as ever very soon.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Deer Camp

Unfortunately, because of the way the calender worked this year, I was only able to spend a few days up at deer camp, and all the days were *prior* to the actual opening day of hunting season (today). But, as I was not planning on hunting anyway (I did not want to deal with having to process the deer after bagging it, nor do I actually want that much venison anyway.), it was a good weekend of playing cards, drinking, talking about all manner of things, and general carousing.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Better Feelings

Yesterday initially was tough, but I can now say that I was able to turn it around and by the late afternoon and evening were pleasant. A large part of the change, hell, all of the change had to do with how I viewed things and how I forced myself to change my mindset.

During the last, roughly 9 weeks or so, I have been putting forth a concerted effort to work very hard to become more of the person I believe I should be, and I have made inroads in some of these efforts. Here is a listing of what have been my goals:

1. Maintain my walking status of walking 4-5 miles outside every day. That part has been the easiest. People who have read me for a while know that this task has been one of the significant successes I have had during the last few years. I am very quickly approaching day 800 of NEVER missing a single day walking outside for 4-5 miles. I am even jogging significant parts of the route at least a couple of times a week.

2. Get my walking DONE as early as possible during the day to not have it impact the schedules of others or of my family as a whole. I have had some pretty good success here as well. Before the last 9 weeks or so, I would walk at all sorts of different times of the day, and would sometimes end up leaving walking to the evening because of other things going on in the day. This would then sometimes impinge on family time and that is not a good thing. So, during the last 9 weeks or so, I have been much, much more successful at rousting myself out of bed earlier and getting my walk done and out of the way earlier. In effect I have carved more time out of the day. I am typically starting ON THE ROAD walking these days at about 5:30 am, even on weekends. I think during the last 9 weeks, I have had only two days where my walk ended up being later in the day, and the disruption that they caused helped me to value getting up earlier.

3. Getting to the gym on a regular basis. The earlier walking has helped in this regard enormously as well. I have always been "wanting" to get to the gym to help tone and build more upper body strength, but was not very consistent in getting there, nor on working there in a consistent fashion. During the last 9 weeks, I have been consistent in getting to the gym 4 days a week, and I am feeling some results. I have moved up three weights (10 pounds each) on each of the Nautilus machines I use at the gym and I am now lifting on most machines 62% of my body weight. Back before I started walking (I was heavier) and also when I was first toying with the idea of building up my upper body, I was lifting on the machines only 29% of my body weight.

4. Controlling of my emotions. Although this is a much harder goal, I can say that I have been seeing some progress as well. There are two different emotional states that I experience that I do not like in myself:

The first emotional state is what I term melancholy or despondency. There are times that I feel all manner of things are hopeless, from my life, to my work, and on and on and on. I have been working especially hard during the last 9 weeks on trying to keep as "realistic" a view of these feelings as I can. What I mean is, that a) I am accepting that I experience these feelings, b) I am trying to force myself to view them as REALISTICALLY as possible, c) I am keeping aware that often these feelings may have *some* validity, but that much of the time they feel or seem BIGGER than they really are, and d) that I have the ability to block or ignore these emotions if I so choose. Many of you may suggest blocking of ignoring the feelings is not a good effort, but you may misunderstand my meaning. I am saying that I have the ability (although it may be very hard to do at times) to block or ignore the feelings to work on finding other, more fruitful and happy ways to feel. The melancholy is still there, but I have packaged it or compartmentalized it in such a way that its impact on the other aspects of my life will be less.

The other emotional state is what I term anger or rage. Please do not get me wrong, I am a very gentle person, and I am not in any way, shape, or form a person who aggressive in terms of anger or rage. What I *do* experience, however, is a deep anger/rage that I experience in my mind. I think it may be a genetic response, perhaps due to surges of epinephrine when stressed, for I see it as a set of feelings experienced in my lineage through my mother's side of the family. Although my mother and my aunts and uncles on my mother's side were very kind, gentle people, you could tell when they were angry... they would "blow up" inside in such a way that even though there were no specific actions that they did, you could see by the set of their jaw, by gritting their teeth, by the position of their eyebrows, and by the look of their eyes that they were livid. And it would all happen in a manner of a few seconds. I have unfortunately inherited that same sort of response. And, in the past there have been times when I would holler or scream (if alone), or raise my voice, or lower my tone of voice, or grimace in such a way that people could easily see I was livid. During the last 9 weeks I have been working on trying to think through the feelings of anger or rage when I begin to experience them. I have been somewhat successful at instead of having that whole body effect of anger/rage take over and feel that way for hours, I have been in several circumstances able to recognize the start of those feelings and think through in my head ways to differently view the circumstances causing the surge of anger/rage. It is VERY tough to do, but I am getting better at it.

5. Increased emphasis on my faith. I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and although I have been very consistent in my beliefs, I have not typically emphasized in my mind how my philosophies about life and faith can help me to become a better person. I have been praying the Rosary every single day (during my walk) these last 9 weeks, and I feel that this contemplative time has helped me to focus more on the truly important things in life (family, love of family, hope for continued happiness for my kids, deeper love for my wife, a new happiness about work, continued good health for my family, help in my goal to quit (or mostly quit) smoking my pipe, hope to become a better person, hope that I am doing what I should be doing in life, etc.).

6. Significantly decreased or eliminated smoking of a pipe. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to indulge in my pipe and pipe tobacco 2-3 times a week. I do not know if that is realistic, or if I can only choose to quit or fully indulge. Right now, for the last three weeks or so, I have refrained from smoking until about 3pm in the afternoon each day. It has not been overly difficult, and I have therefore been not smoking for 2/3 of each day. Add to that that I am not smoking more during the 1/3 of the day I allow myself to indulge in pipes, and I can say I have made progress. Whether it is meaningful progress or not I am not sure yet. And I am not sure what my next step will be.

Those are the major areas I have been working on. There are other things as well, but they are more on the "back burner" so to speak as I work at keeping consistent with the above first. But I would like to get back to reading for pleasure more (and not just work related reading). I would like to get back to playing music again. And, I would like to indulge in photography. But those are not as important to me at the moment as continuing to establish the above 6.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Purple Slurpee

Today is another one of those days that is hectic and frustrating from a work perspective and unfortunately from a home perspective. However, after a lot of talking with my wife, I think we have a good understanding of each other's perspectives now and that is at least a positive.

I miss feeling energetic and alive. I feel like I am becoming a worker drone again. I keep trying to find ways to alleviate these feelings. Some days I succeed and some days (like today) I fail. I tried so very hard today to find the right solution to a problem, yet was thwarted at every turn. Sometimes I do not know why I try.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Little Scattered

I am taking a brief break in my work this morning to post. Today has been a reasonably productive day. I hit the pavement for my 5 mile walk at 5:45 am. I was in the U's gym working on weight training at 7:15 am. I was in my office, working away at 8:15 am.

I bought myself a 24 ounce, very robust and strong coffee this morning and then poured it over a 64 ounce cup of crushed ice (I like iced coffee). As I answered mandatory e-mails I ate my breakfast and put on NPR to listen to classical music and news.

There is still a huge load of b*llsh*t administrative work that I am wading through at the moment. I am making inroads however, and hope to get it done sometime in the next few days. I will be glad as hell when the administrative crap is done and I can get back to working on research and just doing my normal teaching.

As I sit and work though the mind-numbing stuff for the administration, it is inevitable that I daydream a bit. My daydreams this morning have focused on 1) thinking about deer camp that I will be heading to this Friday, 2) seeing in my imagination a variety of different ways I would like to be pursuing more "artistic" endeavors as a hobby (ie: writing of fiction, photography, learning to play the guitar better), and 3) daydreaming about smoking my pipe... imagining my indulging in one of my larger bowled pipes filled to the brim with a very dark, rough hewn, hearty and powerful tobacco blend (I am still refraining from my pipes until late afternoon).

So, enough of a break for me. Back into the trenches.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Time For Work

This weekend, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday cleaning and reorganizing my garage. It is still not done, but I have made significant progress. I am moving my tools and workbench to another location in the garage, and I am going to hang suspended shelving for storage in the part of the garage that had my work area. I am also planning to hang new peg board, and the biggest thing... actually use it so that I have easier access to my tools. During the last two years, my garage has become more and more of a disaster. Part of it was the fact that I was storing my mother's old car in the garage and it was something I was avoiding dealing with. So, instead of putting tools away, I would just put them in a box and stuff them somewhere in the garage. Part of the disarray is from the various emotional issues I have had since my mother's passing.

But I am looking forward to a newly clean and better organized space. It will be helpful to me at many levels.

I am work now, taking a short break to write this, before I get back to the myriad of administrative tasks I have due today. In one of my classes, I get to give an exam, so I will have an extra 90 minutes to catch up on the administrative nonsense as well.

The image? I chose it simply because I am feeling hungry for Mediterranean food right now.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

My Druthers

Many folks get all riled up about the switch to Daylight Savings Time and the switch back that occurred today. They get upset about it "not really saving energy" or they get upset about it "originaly being for farm hands" or they get up set that they "have too many clocks to reset". I personally like Daylight Savings Time.

If I had my druthers (which of course I do not), I would actually make it so that we reset our clocks every first day of the month so that sunset in my northern state would fall at 9:00pm. Those of you more Southern probably do not really care or notice much in terms of day length, but where I am at, for three months of the year, we get perhaps 6-7 hours of light a day.... and with the way they are positioned, it is pretty much dark when we arrive to work, and it is dark when we typically leave to go home from work.

If we were to set our clocks each month to have sunset in my region at 9:00pm, we would all be able to have some daylight. In my region it would mean that in December, it would not start to get light until around 2:00 or 2:30pm, but to me, being able to leave work in the light of day, and being able to have a few hours outside in daylight in the winter would do me a helluva lot of good. And, I think it would significantly decrease the incidnce of Seasonal Affective Disorder.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Feeling Blue

Not much more to say than the title. I am just feeling blue and out of sorts today. I am trying to figure out how to shake it off. My plan is to try to dive into a sh*tload of paperwork b*llsh*t I need to do in an effort to work through my mood. Yet, I am also feeling a desire to procrastinate and just sit her "twiddling my thumbs" so to speak until class.

Wish me luck. I hope to pull myself out of the doldrums that have encapsulated me this morning.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I Wish She Would Have Won

Well, enough of the b*llsh*t election results are in... and we have a huge lot of new Republican yahoos that will be starting office this January. Do not get me wrong, *some* Republicans can be good, decent leaders. In the same vein, there can be fool, idiot Democrats as well. But, and this is the key... on average, during the last several decades (at least since the 1980s) Democrats have been more pragmatic and more willing to try to find common ground. Republicans, especially of this election cycle, have been polar, rabble-rousing fools that will do nothing except stomp there feet and demand "their way or the highway" on any issue.

While I DID vote for President Obama and feel he has done an average job in his first two years, he was NOT my first choice for the Democratic candidate for the White House. My first pick, and I still believe the better pick, would have been to have Hillary Clinton as the Democrat who ran in 2008.

If Hillary Clinton had been the nominee, I suspect she too would have won, just like President Obama. But, I firmly believe that if Hillary Clinton would have been president these last two years, she would have accomplished MORE than President Obama has been able to do in his two years.

Again, I think President Obama has been "ok" and "average" and I *did* vote for him. I just firmly am of the opinion, we would be in far better straights right now if we would have had Hillary Clinton as president.

We might even have had a world *WITHOUT* the foolish Tea Party.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Sour Worms & Mellocreme Pumpkins

I have made myself rather over-stuffed eating sour worms and mellocreme pumpkins from Halloween. It has been rather foolish of me. I think I will avoid eating any further candy from this point onward.