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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 890

Today is my 890th day of walking ~5 miles each day without missing a single day! I am fast approaching the 900 milestone, and hope that I make it.

When I had my feet hit the pavement outside this morning (5:21am today), I felt especially awake right from the get-go, whereas it often takes me 5-10 minutes to fully wake up when I start walking. The feeling of being alert right away was quite nice. We had received roughly about 4 inches of snow during the weekend and it is the time of year where most folks have given up shoveling their sidewalks anymore (I personally think it is because a helluva lot of us in this region have Seasonal Affective Disorder during this time of the year.), so it was more of a trudge with my heavy hunting boots on (see image above). But, it was still very pleasant and it was beautiful watching the night sky turn a deep, crystaline blue as the impending sunrise approached.

After I arrived home following the completion of my walk, I had a few moments to have a good, strong cup of coffee and two pipes as I changed out of the winter wear I use for walking and changed instead into a set of indoor appropriate exercise wear so I could head off to the gym at the U and continue on my attempts to build upper body strength (I have built up strength quite a bit, but will try to describe that more on day 900). It too, was an enjoyable time.

The weekend was pretty decent overall. Some of the highlights include:

1. A Friday afternoon visit with my elderly father-in-law. Ample libations and pipes.

2. A trip across the state for a non-work related endeavor for one of my kids. A pretty enjoyable time.

3. Eggplant Parmesian Bake for dinner last night. Delightful.

I am feeling in my mind that I am finally getting up enough gumption to tackle the damn modem issue, so some day soon, I may surprise you and get it up and running so I can post from home again!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Sadly, I have been enormously busy with a sh*tl**d of paperwork since my last post. I have been getting up at 5:00am and walking, then getting to the U gym by 6:30am and then to my office around 8:00am.

Then, I have been working nonstop pretty much from the moment I get in my office until I leave utterly spent at typically 4 or 4:30pm. I really do not understand why things are SO utterly busy at this time of the semester this particular year. It is exhausting.

I get home, relax a bit, and on busy days like these, I would end up writing for a few moments from home before I go to bed. But, I still have not fixed the damn modem issue I have at home. It is not that I do not know how, nor is it that I do not have the equipment.... I know (or can figure out) how to do it, and I have the stuff. The problem is that I am annoyed as hell that I *have* to do this (the failure was not my fault, but an incompatability issue) and I am even more annoyed that I know it will take a few hours of fussing, fighting with the software, and just futzing around to get it to work right. Add to that fact that my home office is one helluva mess right now from a grant I worked on a few weeks ago right before the failure (papers everywhere, cups, other drink containers, ashtrays filled with pipe ashes, etc)... and you can see why I am avoiding doing the inevitable.

So, I know it is my own damn fault for not writing and for not getting the home office computer up to snuff again. I miss talking with all of you here, but I have not gotten up enough gumption to handle the jobs I need to do in my home office to make it work again.

I have got to figure out how to just "do it".


Friday, February 11, 2011

Enough Work

I am going to visit my elderly father-in-law and enjoy Friday. I have worked long enough for today. I am hoping to have quite a bit of fun, relaxing and enjoying. Also, I will be working to install a new kitchen cupboard light fixture my mother-in-law wants to replace the one that recently gave up the ghost.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Getting Furious

Today was a reasonably good day overall. I was busier than a bee feeding on flowers watered with Starbucks, but it was reasonably good. Until:

I decided upon arrival home to take my old beast of burden out on the road (my old truck) which I had not driven in about 10 days (it was before the huge blizzard). I thought I would mosey across town and stop at a pipe shop I haven't been to in a few months before I looped further down to stop at the cemetary to visit my parent's grave. Well, once I got out of the pipe shop, the damn truck wouldn't start. There wasn't anything wrong with it mechanically, but there is a security sensor on the damn thing that sometimes acts up. When it does this, it shuts down the electricity to the distributor and shuts off the fuel pump. It is truly happenstance when this happens, and it has been better than a year since the last such occurrance. It typically takes 45 minutes to an hour for the system to reset itself, and then it starts like a charm.

But, in the past, this has always infuriated and angered me. And, it was -1 degree outside when this happened yesterday. It was a prime moment for me to sit in my vehicle and cuss a very blue streak at the vehicle, at the sun and the moon and at life in general. I have done this each of the ~10 times the damn truck has done this in the past. But I did not do this today. I could not simply go back into the pipe shop, as they had closed for the evening when I left. The area had no other stores that were open either. I could feel the anger start to well up in my mind. But then I took action:

First, I walked VERY briskly (without had or gloves, not having them in the old truck and not thinking of potentially needing them) three times around the block tin the old, run-down neighborhood of the pipe shop. It took my mind off the situation as I looked again at details of the neighborhood I had not observed in a few years. I then veered off into another block of the neighborhood and slowed my pace, and walked around observing while having a pipe. I then went back to the old beast, and knowing it was still too soon to try to start the damn thing, I sat in the truck and took out my finger rosary and prayed another five decades of the rosary and thought about how I wanted to be a better person, how I wished to do better things in the world, how I hoped to be stronger mentally and emotionally for my family, for my students, and for myself.

After finishing the five decades (I had prayed five decades as is my usual practice during my morning walk already), I felt enough time had passed, and so I tried starting the beast.....


She started!!! And I went on my way.

The moral of the story: I am happy that I was able to control my emotions about this event. I am happy I did not get all angry and vehement about the situation. I am very glad I figured out ways to keep myself focused on the goals I hope for myself... to not get so easily riled up about nonsense, and to feel like I am working to be a better person. It felt like an important success to me inside.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Feeling Worn Out

Today I am feeling exceptionally worn out. I walked slower outside for exercise, and I reduced some of the weights I have been lifting for upper body strength as well. I am hoping it is just a tiring day and not me getting sick.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Perhaps it is the scientist in me, or perhaps not. I have always enjoyed rodents and never had the "fear response" that many people exhibit when in the presence of these beasts.

One of my first memories about rodents is a field mouse I found that had fallen into a bucket and could not get out. This was in the late fall, and being only 5, I was worried that the little mouse would not be able to survive the winter that was fast approaching.

After much pleading and convincing, and against the better judgment of my Mom and the grudgingly given "ok" from my Dad, we first used a big fish bowl, and then my Dad helped me to build (truthfully, HE BUILT and let me *think* I was helping) a real cage (out of fine hardware cloth, wood, and metal flashing) for the little beast.

I watched and fussed over and cared for that little beast all winter long. I think the mouse must have literally been half starved and dehydrated when I found it (and likely near death) because it always acted calm and docile around me after it had recovered. And after a few weeks, I even would (secretly, without telling my parents) take the little mouse OUT of the cage and hold it. It never bit, nor did it try to scurry away. This really is NOT the way a mouse will normally behave, but this one did with me.

Well, as I had promised my parents, that Spring, when it was warm enough, I let the mouse go out in the woods/field area behind our home. I cried a bit, but was also happy for the experience.

So, I am not sure, but at some level, perhaps my being a professor in biology, my being who I am and how I work with rodents is something that was all a part of me even when I was just a little, tiny sprout? It is interesting to contemplate. I wonder what else about myself may be so ingrained and a part of who I have ALWAYS been? My demeanor? My moods? My pipe? My manner of speech? My wearing a beard and moustache?

Who knows?


Monday, February 07, 2011

My Mom

Today is the birthday for my beautiful mother. She would be 83 years old if she were alive. I miss her horribly. It is harsh to think about her passing, so most of the time, I do not think about her passing.

Yet, that is not wholly true. I would be more accurate in saying I *try* to not think of her passing, the rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night after being awoken by the horrid phone call from the nurse saying I needed to get there right "away". The seeing of her lifeless body, but feeling the warmth still in her hands and in her face. Feeling her face gently with my hands, sobbing uncontrollably, but knowing I would never get the chance to feel her warmth again, nor her face. Staying in her presence until the hospital staff forced me out of the room a few hours later, saying they needed to clean the room.

But I want to try to think of her in all the other ways I knew my mother... instead of seeing only the harsh last moments. Yet, it is difficult for me to do so. The intensity of the harsh emotions seems to overpower the gentle happiness and friendship I so much love and miss from my beautiful mother. I would so much prefer to recall the wonderfully rich conversations and general small talk we would have with each other. Yet, those beautiful memories are hard to bring up, where as the fear, sadness and horror pop up easily and unexpectedly.

I miss you, Mom. I love you, Mom. I wish you would speak to me in my dreams so that I may feel your presence again at least in that way.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Supper Bowl

With all this relaxation I have been up to, I have (fortunately/unfortunately) been able to contemplate beyond what I have allowed myself to do recently. As today it is appropriate for all human males in the US to salivate and clamor to watch the "Super Bowl", I thought perhaps I would think about why I do not watch, nor do I care about any aspect of the Super Bowl:

1. It may be wholly un-American of me, but I truthfully cannot stand watching football. Be it high school, college, or professional... the idea of forcing myself to sit in front of a television for that length of time to watch a football game makes me think gnawing my foot off to get out of a bear trap would be more enjoyable.

2. I have attended a handful of football games in person, and while I would not purposefully choose to go (typically, I have been cajoled into going), with enough beer or other spirits, I can typically go through the motions and look as if I am "participating" in "watching" the big game.

3. A big aspect of what I truly dislike about football (probably MORE SO on television, than even in person) is the crowd noise. Not so much in person... it is the noise on television that really riles me up. I do not know why, but I have always been a bit noise sensitive... and those types of sounds or noises are the type that I am *especially* sensitive to.

4. Noise does not explain completely why I dislike football... for the noise does not bother me if I am "live" at a football game, and as some have suggested to me before... I dislike football even if I turn the sound off on the damn television as well.

So, while all of you are watching whichever team beat the sh*t out of the other whichever team, I will be doing something else, anything else.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Life of Riley

I have done so little the last several days, I am surprised at myself. Other than walking for exercise and snow shoveling... I really have not done a damn thing other than:

smoke my pipe
have a variety of interludes with my wife
drive the cats nuts with my laser pointer that I had meant to leave in my office

I have found this to be a pattern I greatly enjoy cycling through repeatedly. It is akin to the instructions on a bottle of shampoo: "Wash, Rinse, Repeat". And so, I have and so I shall continue to do so.

By the way, the play was also fun!


Friday, February 04, 2011

Helluva Fine Mess

While there is a lot of mess still going on due to issues with the "big snow" and its removal in our city (we have more sheister politicians in our city than neighboring cities, and therefore our snow moving/removal budget has been decimated more completely), I have now been able to drive out and about. If fact, my wife and I will be going to a play in just a little bit. I am looking forward to it.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

A "Two-fer"

Heh, it doesn't happen all that often, but we have another snowday! And, I feel just as damn lazy as I did yesterday. Other than digging out, I just played, read, smoked my pipe, bedded my wife. I think I will make those the same goals for today.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

12 Inches

I have a snow day! And, while the title here may suggest aspects related to my "manhood", I am actually writing about how much snow we received.

To be frank, I am not feeling like dealing with the computer here at home, so I am going to go play instead (after I try to dig us out).


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snow's A Coming!

All the data is suggesting we are going to get a helluva lot of snow in the next 48 hours. It may be up to 18 inches some reports say. I may get a Snow Day or two. That would be pleasant as long as the electricity stays on, so I am keeping my fingers crossed on both counts.

If I get the day off, I will be able to likely squeeze in the time to get my damn modem issues fixed at home so I can post from home successfully. It has been hard the last few weeks especially, because I have been too damn busy at work.

That is the reason for the large upload.... all these posts had been accumulating at home. My apologies for their brevity... I did not feel much like being verbose when I could not immediately post the essay. So, each one tended to be short.

But, I think I am at a crossroads so to speak... I may have the Internet/modem issue fixed in the next few days, AND best of all, I think work may slow down a bit too!

It will feel like I am living in a party.