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, August 30, 2011

Woke Up At 4:30, Grumpy

My wife and I spent a good deal of our limited free time, yesterday, working through our "issue" which caused such a rift on Sunday. Fortunately, things have gotten patched up and things are now ok with us.

That said, however, I think I have "PASI" (post-argument stress issues) I am working through at the moment (in the past, this typically lasts about a day after the argument ends). Typically, as a result of our argument, I will have some pronounced muscle soreness (most notably in my forearms and in my lower legs.... usually from my clenching my fists and my feet, which I have do even when asleep if I am stressed enough) and usually an aching jawline, ear and neck as I also very frequently viciously grind my teeth and clench my jaw when I am upset.... and I already do this to a degree when NOT upset as I have temporomandibular jaw disorder.

This morning, I awoke at 4:30 am and my jaw radiated enormous pain which was a residual of my clenching. It hurt so around one tooth that I used Ambesol to deaden the pain, and went walking.

So, I am still feeling somewhat grumpy, but the pain is subsiding and other than the fact that the damn link button on blogger is malfunctioning (I tried to put a few links in this essay, to no avail), I am doing better, and am anticipating to be pain free tomorrow.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Not A Great Start

The start of the new academic year is not off to a positive one. Unfortunately, my wife and I had words yesterday morning. It did not make for a very enjoyable morning, afternoon, nor evening. I do not feel particularly happy this morning as a result.

Yet, I *am* going to do two things:

1. I am going to keep plugging along, doing what I am supposed to do. This means I will continue to follow the plan I have set out for myself. I did get up as is in my plan this morning, and walked my 5 miles at 5:30 and I was in the gym by 7:00 and in my office by 8:00.

2. I am going to focus my energies today on having the two classes I teach TODAY get off to a good start.

Hopefully, this will help me to be better prepared to cope with the rest of my day after work.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just Keeping Moving

I am simply keeping moving in my day-to-day tasks. Lots of preperation for the semester, working at JOGGING every day instead of simply walking, trying to keep things in order... that sort of thing.

Emotionally, I am generally neutral at the momement with several moments of happiness. No inordinate down times. I am spending a lot of time listening to Wind Band FM which has, I think, helped me with focus and feeling even-keeled.


Friday, August 19, 2011

It Would Have Been (Or Is?)

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the marriage of my mother and father. I miss both of them so very much. I wish there were here physically on Earth to celebrate this day. I hope that they are happy and joyful together in heaven.

Mom & Dad... I miss you greatly and love you both so very much. I hope that are proud of me and I hope that I have done well to respect you both and the many gifts you gave to me. It is through you that I have learned how to love and how to be. It is my sincere hope that you can see and know how much I try to live my life to be a good, loyal, hard working man. I hope you are both pleased with me.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wrist Watch

I find it so odd that a larger and larger percentage of my students DO NOT wear a wrist watch. I would say that my current estimate is that perhaps only 20% of my male students wear a wrist watch ( probably ~10% of female students ). I know this change is due in large extent to the rise in cell phone usage. I suspect that 95+ % of my students have a cell phone, and probably of these 90+ % have a very expensive "smart" phone. The cell phone (whether a "smart" or a "dumb" version) typically has a digital time read-out on it and that is what most students today use.

I have such a digital time read-out on my own cheap-*ss, six year old, pay-as-you-go cell phone that I have spent approximately $200 on in minutes over the six years I have had it. I know some students who pay $100 a month for their "smart" phone.

That said, I still prefer to have a wrist watch.... and of the many watches I own, I still prefer to primarily wear the ANALOG varieties I have over the digital. And, to top it off... I also still prefer to MOSTLY wear the three different wind-up watches I have that I need to wind each morning rather than my battery driven watches.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I had meant to mention the appetizer my wife and I also had with our Indian meal on Saturday. Papadums are a thin, crisp Indian preparation made from lentils that are sometimes described as a cracker. It is typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India. It is also eaten as an appetizer or a snack and can be eaten with various toppings such as chopped onions, chutney or other dips and condiments. In some parts of India, it is served as the final item in a meal.

We shared an appetizer of these prior to our meal and like the meal itself, they also were a delight.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Indian (Eastern) Food

My wife and I are both very, very fond of Indian Cuisine. We ended up going to a local Indian restaurant on Saturday to celebrate our Anniversary and had a wonderful time.

I ended up having chana masala chole which is one of my favorite dishes... it is a curried chickpea dish with lentils and peas served with saffron infused basmati rice. I had my order made extra spicy and it was wonderful in all ways... texture, flavors, and spicy heat. My wife is much more timid than I am in food choices and had a simple chicken and potato dish very, very mildly seasoned.

It was delicious!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Woke Up Annoyed

I woke up feeling annoyed and aggravated about people at work. It was not a good way to wake up, and it was not the way I wanted to spend my day feeling. I have been working to:

a) get over those feelings
b) remind myself how much of a waste of time these feelings are
c) keep focused on how those feelings rob me of my own chances to feel happiness

To try to get rid of those feelings, I got up and walked especially briskly at 5:30 this morning, and then I went to the U gym and lifted more weights than usual.

I am feeling better, though I am still harboring some aggravation from my getting up on the "wrong side of the bed". Hopefully I can further dissipate it so it is gone before noon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Today is the anniversary of the day in which I married my loving wife. I was very fortunate.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Brain News

From a recent issue of Science News

Brain Waves Make a Fast Brake

By Laura Sanders
Web edition : Friday, July 29th, 2011

In a fast-moving car, the brain can hit the brakes faster than the foot. By relying on brain waves that signal the intent to jam on the brakes, a new technology could shave critical milliseconds off the reaction time, researchers report online July 28 in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

The work adds to a growing trend in car technology that assists drivers. Though it may eventually lead to improvements in emergency braking, the new brain signal technology isn’t ready for the road.

“As a basic science study, I was quite impressed with it,” says cognitive neuroscientist Raja Parasuraman of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “I just think a lot more needs to be done.”

In the study, computer scientist Stefan Haufe of the Berlin Institute of Technology in Germany and his colleagues measured brain wave changes while participants drove in a car simulator.

The participants drove around 60 miles per hour, following a lead car on a curvy road with heavy oncoming traffic. Every so often the lead car would slam on its brakes, so that the participant would have to either do the same or crash.

For most drivers, the lag between the lead car stopping and themselves slamming the brakes was around 700 milliseconds. Particular neural signatures were evident during this lag time, and they could be early indicators that the drivers wanted to brake.

“Our approach was to obtain the intention of the driver faster than he could actually act,” Haufe says. “That’s what the neural signature is good for.”

Haufe and his colleagues designed a system that detected and interpreted these neural patterns. In computer simulations, the system, which included EMG data from leg-muscle electrical activity, performed about 130 milliseconds faster than an unaided driver, the team reports. For a car traveling at 60 miles per hour, this time difference translates to about 3.7 meters of stopping distance — the length of some compact cars.

At peak performance, the system would incorrectly slam on the brakes almost two times per hour, a false alarm rate that needs to come down if the system is going to be useful, Parasuraman says. “We all hate alarms that go off when you have no danger, like the fire alarm that goes off when there’s no fire,” he says. “Even a 1 percent false alarm rate would not be acceptable to most people.”

And even if people could be convinced to wear the uncomfortable and obtrusive EEG cap while driving, introducing driver-assisting technology might bring another set of problems, Parasuraman says. People might become overly reliant on the technology and reduce their vigilance on the road.


This is the basic idea that has fueled countless classic science fiction works... and now it is one step closer to becoming reality... for good... or bad.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Pipe Quandary

I have been thinking long and hard again about my quandary with my pipe smoking. There are pros and cons to the issue and it is hard to make a long-term decision:

1. I enjoy smoking my pipes.
2. I enjoy the tobacco.
3. I enjoy the neuronal stimulation of my mind via nicotine.

Yet, there are things that are disappointing of late with the hobby:

4. It is not always very fun to step outside at a gathering or other type of social event to indulge in a pipe. Yet, it is also *sometimes* not fun to refrain from smoking my pipe during said social event.
5. It is economically wasteful to smoke a pipe (it is still a helluva lot cheaper than cigarettes or cigars), but none-the-less it is getting more and more expensive.
6. The attitude of non-smokers to pipe smokers is becoming more negative. It used to be that even during the growing dislike of cigarette smoking, gentlemen who smoked a pipe were viewed as kind albeit a bit treated kindly and even jovially. That sort of treatment is becoming more and more rare.

And, there are things that I dislike with the hobby as well:

7. I do not like the potential health risks.

So, I am again contemplating what I should do and what I will do. I just do not know. I see three options each with different issues associated with it:

A. Keep going as is... smoke my pipe freely and indulge as I wish. This is probably the easiest option, but it does nothing to address the health issues, and I am also still bothered with the disappointing aspects as well. This approach does, however, allow me to maintain what I do *like* about the hobby.

B. Quit smoking a pipe... this will be a challenge, I suspect. I am not sure how much of a craving for nicotine I will have, but I suspect I have the willpower and stubbornness to work through that issue. However, the psycho-social habit itself may be much more challenging for me. I *am* in my very nature, a pipe smoker. I have always enjoyed the mechanics and art of the hobby, and after all these many years it has become an ingrained part of whom I am. To change that will be a challenge.

C. Develop some sort of intermediate plan... this has potential, but many challenges as well. I have thought that perhaps I should try to "unlearn" being a daily pipe smoker and only smoke my pipe under specific circumstances (such as while drinking). If I can figure out how to implement this successfully, it could be a wonderful option. However, I suspect it may not be very easy to do.

So, I will have to continue to try to figure this out.


Sunday, August 07, 2011


The Mass readings this weekend are very interesting. Here is the first reading:

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

It makes me wonder what I may be missing out on in my own life. What am I not hearing that I should be listening to in order to help me be the best person I can hope to be. I do feel that I *try* to be a good person and to do the right things, but I so very often feel as if I am a pitiful, neglectful, wretched failure in all ways in life. What is it that I cannot (or at least *do not*) see that I should do? Do I hide from the role I should have in life?


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fruit Fly

The common fruit fly is an amazing beast. Most of my cultures are commercial preparations from one of the various fly houses nationwide, but I have a few different local strains as well... one from my back yard, one from a nearby orchard, and one I started from a pair of fruit flies I captured in a local grocery store.

While most of my work is with rodents, I have a side stream of research using the fruit fly as a research model. I started this strand about 15 years ago because of the desire to have a complementary animal model that a) had a much shorter reproductive cycle, b) had a shorter life span, and c) was often easier to use while teaching undergraduate students interested in research, some basic techniques.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Bite Splint

Tempormandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a condition I have had since I was 15 years of age. Basically, because of a bulldog shaped jaw and dentition pattern (my bottom incisors are about 1/2 centimeter higher than the bicuspids and molars on my bottom jaw) I have always had a strong tendency to clench and grind my teeth. Added to this is the fact that I tend to be a damn worrywart and get stressed out about damn near anything.... and what happens is that I end up grinding and clenching my jaw to such an extent (especially while sleeping) that it inflames my tempormandibular joint.

Luckly, a good 75 - 80% of the problems of my TMJ are alleviated by my wearing (and wearing out) the bite splint shown above. I have had numerous bite splints over the years and have worn through quite a few. They are a Godsend. I have perhaps *not* worn the bite splint a total of 4 evenings in all the decades I have been diagnosed. And each and every time the pain and discomfort was hellacious.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Peanut Butter

One thing I *really* enjoy indulging in (well, I indulge in a helluva lot of things... pipe tobacco, rich food, libations, ect, etc.) is peanut butter. If calories were not a concern, I would easily consume a full jar of peanut butter every day just with a spoon. I would feel as if I were in heaven if I had a) a full jar of peanut butter to eat and b) a full can of mixed nuts to eat every day.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Done (Almost)

The bathroom is finished, and as Austere asked... yes, the bathroom has all white trim and a white ceiling. It has turned out well and my in-laws are very happy with it. I am still planning to put up a small chair railing (in white) as well, but want to let the paint dry a week or so before starting that little finishing touch.