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, September 18, 2012

Clay & 'Bacca

I found three different potential Dodge Grand Caravans to look at more closely with my wife sometime this week.  One is a pretty blue 2013.  A second one is a nice, maroon 2011, and the third is a very nice burnt orange 2011.  Hopefully, they will all be in good shape, and then I can begin the long, drawn out haggling process.  I may need to have each dealership compete with each other to ensure that I get a fair price for the new beast, and also a fair trade-in value for the old beast.  I have spent quite a long time with formulae over the last 36 hours and have identified the correct price point that I will aim for.  I can be pretty damn stubborn when I want to be, and it is likely that one, two, or even all three salespeople will be seeing me walk out the door after they spout off their nonsense to me.  I will, of course, tell them the price I am willing to pay and the price I am willing to accept for my old beast, and then it may take a day or two for the salesperson to realize I will not budge and they may then rethink their strategy of trying to gouge me for their profit.

I once read a book about cars back in the early to mid 1970s that was written by consumer advocate, Phil Edmonson.  In that book, Phil wrote about the mindset of the car salespeople, and one thing especially stuck in my mind about that passage.  Namely, he said that salespeople disliked seeing pipe smoking gentlemen perusing vehicles in their car lot because they were considered too hard to sell to.  They tended to not get emotional about the experience, and were not as easy to take advantage of as others.  When I read that passage so very long ago, I was tickled with the notion that I was similar to the description.  Now-a-days, in 2012, I doubt the young salesmen have that same sort of opinion of pipe-smoking clientele.  Probably more than anything, today, walking around the auto lots, pipe in hand, I will simply be viewed as eccentric.... which is *also* fine by me :)  And, I will still be damn dogged determined to not be swindled.

My wife has her clay class later this evening.  I hope she continues to enjoy it.  Since I will be a "bachelor" this evening, perhaps I will stop at the pipe shop as well and look to see if there are any new leaf blends I would like to sample.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Vehicle Search

In my circle of friends and co-workers I am considered very "frugal" (they use other words, like "cheap", "penny-pinching" etc.)  I do NOT like to buy replacements for items I own just because there are newer, "trendier" replacements available.  Our VCRs are a case in point.  Even though I could buy all sorts of replacement components for the "antiquated" VCRs (DVRs, ect), I see no real need or reason to do so as the VCRs are working fine and meet our needs.  The same is true for televisions.  I see no real reason or need to get an HDTV right now as the traditional cathode-ray tvs we have all function fine.

My opinion is that an item you buy should be used and utilized until it wears out or until it does not do something you need or truly want it to do.

The same is true for vehicles.  But, the cost-benefit ratio for repairing my wife's vehicle and its soon-to-be-needed repairs has been on my mind.  It is time for a "new" vehicle for her.  Yet the quotes around "new" are an issue as well.

On the one-hand, I have always bought my own vehicles USED.  This was from the first vehicle I had way back in my undergraduate days up though what I am driving now.  I just see buy a used vehicle as being far, far more economical and smart.  The average age of my used car purchase has decline (I am buying less aged used cars) from initially 10 years old or so to now-days I usually buy my vehicles when they are 2 or three years old.

With that in mind, you would think I would do the same for my wife.  However, I have not done so thus far.  All of her vehicles have been BRAND NEW.  And, I have dickered and bickered like hell with each and every salesperson of these vehicles so as to MINIMIZE as much as possible the being taken advantage of, that a new-car purchase inevitably entails. 

I think I will look around a little bit in the various places where you find used vehicles for her next beast, but I suspect I will end up getting her a brand new one, like usual.  She test drove her top three contenders with me last week.  Her choices were based upon what she likes to drive, what she likes the look of, and what she does with the beast:  Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, & Dodge Caravan.

All things said, she decided she wanted a mini-van again.  So, I am off to find either a Dodge Caravan or a Chrysler Town & Country.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Edgy and Irritable 

I am feeling edgy and irritable today.  There are several reason for this.  But, I am striving hard to release my irritation and aggravation so that I can go on and have a happy day.  In order to do this, I am going to try to get a few of these irritations off my chest:

1.  A colleague of mine here at the U  has decided to quit due to some rude, obnoxious behavior of some of the "higher-ups".  It is a shame and a great loss for the U.  I consider him a good friend as well, and it is therefore a loss for me as well. 

2.  My wife's vehicle has been acting up this week and after taking it in, we find that the mechanic found good and bad news.  The good news is that most of the problems were due to the ancient battery we had in the vehicle (it is a 9 year old battery, in a 9 year old car, with 150,000 some miles on it).  Our trusted mechanic, also however, told us that one of the problems is that the engine is VERY likely going to need a head gasket replacement within about 6-8 months.  This process will cost roughly $1400 and will keep the vehicle out of commission for roughly a week.  The age and mileage of the vehicle makes such a costly repair at the cusp of whether we should dump the vehicle and buy a different one or repair it and plan to keep it a lot longer.   Right now, because of other aspects of the aging of the vehicle (electronic door locks have quit working on one door, even after repair this Summer, the air conditioning is not as good as it used to be (it feels too feeble and weak), tires are getting near needing replacing again, seat upholstery and especially the front seat cushions themselves are very worn and needing of some sort of servicing, and the CD player quit working), I am leaning towards getting my wife another vehicle.  It is just a lot of work and effort, though.

3.  I myself, am unfortunately reliving anger about my own issues with the people I had issues with at the U last year.  I need to let it go, but it keeps resurfacing.

4.  One of my collegues here at the U (not the same one in #1 above) lost his mother this past week.  I feel quite sad for him.   

5.  I myself, am also unfortunately reliving sadness about my mother's passing due to all the talk about my colleague's mother passing this past week.

That is it.  But it is enough to be weighing me down.  I am hoping that putting it down on "paper" here for you will help me to better let go of most of the emotions. 


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Folk Music

I needed to return a few books to the library (the public library, not the U library) the other day and decided to peruse the music section for a few CDs to borrow.  The one that ended up being especially pleasant for me turned out to be "Greatest Folksingers of the Sixties."  I had not heard several of these wonderful songs in a helluva long time, and they brought back wonderful memories indeed.  Joan Baez has such a beautiful voice.  I had also forgotten that Bob Dylan actually HAD a voice before he went insane and electric.  Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, and the Weavers were all especially good at scrounging up long distant, yet pleasing memories. 


(Added note to BBC: I can understand your *TEMPORAIRLY* disabling comments, but it has been one helluva long time, and I would have liked to comment quite a bit about your rendezvous experiences.  It looked like a really great time.  Please consider returning to comments at your site.) 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quiet Weekend & Movie

We had a quiet weekend this past, with mostly enjoyable tasks.  Friday afternoon, I enjoyed libations and pipes with my elderly father-in-law.  On Saturday, we went out to eat (healthy food, Subway) with a friend, and spent time cleaning and organizing.  On Sunday, we continued some basic cleaning and organizing and went out to visit my wife's parents.  They were heading up North (about 4 hours North) to visit my mother-in-law's baby brother who just had joint replacement surgery today.  I am not sure how long they plan to be gone. 

I am caught up on all my grading, and even on my research!  I asked my wife if she would like to go to an afternoon movie with me today.  So, I am going to go and meet her there now. 


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Second Thoughts

I had come to the U today feeling a bit irritable.  My irritation was due to a dream (nightmare?) I had that reminded me of some very rude and unethical behavior by two people I have to sometimes deal with at the U.   Unfortunately, it was difficult to get it out of my mind

My first try at dissipating my irritation  was in my 5 mile walk this morning.  That will VERY OFTEN do the trick.  But unfortunately when I returned home, I still felt irritable about it.

My second thought was to come here and blog about these two people, and talk about all their horrible actions and how I rather disliked both of them now-a-days, where at one time, I thought they were fairly average.  But, I did not do that. 

Instead, my third option ended up being the charm.  While waiting for my computer to slowly warm up, I ended up going into my other (back) office where I sometimes hide.  There, I looked in my top left desk drawer and rummaged around the many different pouches of pipe tobacco I leave in there.  I found one especially potent and robust leaf I had not sampled in a while.  I sat down, pulled out a stack of papers I needed to grade from my bag/briefcase (or whatever-the-hell I should call it), filled up the bowl of my pipe with the robust leaf, and slowly and meticulously ignited  flame and leaf and inhaled a plume of the rich smoke deeply before I started to read the papers.  An hour  (and two pipes) later, I finished, and felt a lot less irritable. 

Food for thought, perhaps.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Being A Busy Beaver

I am taking a small break to eat a quick snack before I head back out to the classroom again this morning.  Wednesday is a very big teaching day for me, so I do not have a lot of flexible time here in my lab or office.  However, I am fitting in all sorts of added work-related activities as I can squeeze them in between classes.  I am feeling reasonably productive.  During the Labor Day holiday weekend, we attended a family reunion (my wife's of the family).  It was a three-and-a-half hour drive away from home.  As far as reunions have gone, this one was reasonably good. 

Back off to class!