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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Candy

As today is the day for the kids all over the place to become beggars and seek out candy treats, I decided to think back to when I went trick-or-treating and what I remember as some of my favorites:

Home Made Delights:

Although not common in any manner now-a-days, I recall the following as amongst the most delightful things I ever received as a kid for Halloween:

Mrs. Klisch's home made, caramel dipped apples.  I think what made her apples especially amazing was that she added a significant dose of cinnamon and cloves to her melted caramel prior to dipping the apples on a stick.  It added a depth of richness to this amazing treat that I still crave.

Mrs. Krajkowolski's candied and/or caramel pop-corn balls.  Popcorn balls were not made by many folks in my neighborhood.  I think they were considered a pain-in-the-posterior by most to make, and only the delightful Mrs. Krajkowolski made them in any reliable time-line.  They were amazing, sweet, yet crunchy and salty all at once.  She was far ahead of her time in magically being able to create salty caramel confections.  

Store Bought Favorites:

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - quintessentially my very favorite candy almost all my life.

Necco Wafers - a much more common Halloween treat back in my time, and one that I have grown more and more fond of to this day.  I still eat them often as a treat. 

Butterfingers - the amazingly strange texture and wonderful peanut butter taste are strong suits.

Occasional Surprises:

One time for Halloween, a very flush (and slightly inebriated) Mr. Greuber passed out beautiful bottles of his home-made root beer to all of us kids.  It was so amazing and vivid.

Mr.Krajkowolski once saw me  (to my chagrin at the time, as I must have been nine) in the woods near my home as a kid, when I was smoking "my" pipe and some pipe tobacco I had "borrowed" from my father.  This occurred was when I was just a kid, well in advance of when my father knew of my pipe smoking.  Mr. Krajkowolski was a pipe smoker himself, and he and my father often traded tobaccos, and even bartered pipes, etc. with each other.   Even though he spoke English quite well, he had a pronounced and very interesting (Polish, of course) accent.  Mr. Krajkowolski was a butcher in our town, and, as is often the case for a butcher, he was a big, bearish sort of man.  He had a bald head and a broad face and an enormous, walrus moustache.  He always seemed very happy and had a broad grin and a look  of amusement in his eyes.  That one particular Halloween, after I had gotten my wonderful caramel popcorn ball from the Mrs., Mr. Krajkowolski came to the door and dropped a small tin of pleasantly aromatic pipe tobacco into my candy bag and said that I was to give this to my father.  And then, before I turned to go, he dropped a smaller, wrapped, bundle of  the same pipe tobacco into the sack for me and then winked and nodded at me to get going to the next house.  I was shocked, happy, and dumbstruck. 

One year, when I was probably 6 or 7, another wonderful neighbor, Mrs. Richter brought to our house, a really beautiful three layer cake (one layer each of vanilla, spice, and chocolate) which she had decorated with heavy layers of frosting that she had shaped into an elaborate spider web.  It was (almost) too pretty to eat.  But it was actually 30 times better eating it than looking at it.  

Store Bought Candy that was  NEVER My Favorite:

Baby Ruth -  To me, the Baby Ruth always represented the candy with the least appeal.  It showed such promise... who the hell wouldn't like chocolate, peanuts, nougat, and caramel?  But the reality, is that the flavors of each of those ingredients was and is very bland to this day.  The chocolate tastes only minimally like chocolate, the nougat has a stale quality, the peanuts are only average, and the caramel lacks any sort of bite or kick.  Even the freshest Baby Ruth always tasted like a stale, old, dried up candy to me. 

Tootsie Rolls - These chewy candies are still wildly popular today, but they never held much interest for me.  The flavor of the original was rather nebulous and not particularly chocolately.  I would always much prefer to eat a caramel square or a a Slo-Poke any day rather than a Tootsie Roll.  Tootsie Roll lollipops, by contrast, were very good. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Whys of It

E.I. is one of the most irreputable people I have ever had the displeasure to know.  When he comes into a room I am in, I would rather do just about anything rather than stay within any sort of proximity of this fellow.

What is it that makes me so angry about this individual?  Well, namely it is his utter dishonesty.  He is a liar, and he is also highly antagonist, even though he does some pretty dastardly things and hurts PLENTY of people.  He is like a miniature version of Mussolini and so is his sidekick, C.A.  The two of them together make the world a pure "joy" and fill people's hearts with "glee" [The last sentence is meant to be read with infinitely sarcastic inflection.].  

Monday, October 29, 2012


It is gone.  However, what was said is still true.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween / Birthday Bash

We are again hosting the annual party we have for our families and all the people in them that celebrate October (and a few September) birthdays.  There are a lot of people who fit in that category on both sides of our family.  We typically have a Halloween style party with a strong encouragement to wear costumes.  Food this year will be simple, subs, pizza, "mummy" dogs and the like, with all sorts of salads and other things.  It is going on this afternoon. 


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Part of the Reading

At Mass today, we heard this as part of the second reading.  I have excerpted only a segment of it.  It touched me as valuable and important:

[We need] to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
[We must be] able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
[we are] beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for
 as well as for the people.

I need to be a better person than I am.  I need to be more patient and kind.  I need to work to fix my sins.  I need to realize my own failings and weaknesses.  I need to beg forgiveness for the wrong that I do.  Yet, it is so hard.  Or, at least it *feels* hard.  I suspect it should be easy to do, only if I were a better person.  I try to be a good person, but I fail.  I feel like all I do is fail.  Why am I so wrong and so bad?   I used to think I was doing pretty "ok" at least.  I wish I still felt that, even if it was false.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Not Sure, But Maybe

I am going to see how I feel after a day of meetings, but if I feel up to it, I may head over to my in-laws and sit and talk with my elderly father-in-law, sample some beverages, and indulge in pipes.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trying To End Work Stress

I have been making some more significant strides to reduce/eliminate work stress.  If today's efforts go smoothly, I may have had a very major impact on improving my day-to-day life.


Friday, October 19, 2012


_ _ _ _ _ as a skunk. Hic!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hectic, But Persevering

Things are just not seeming to be letting up here.  But, I am coping and managing ok at the moment.  Earlier this week, I was feeling very angry about life, and was having a challenging time.  But I forced myself to try to view life differently and yesterday and today have been much better.  The anger was (of course) about work, and unfortunately also led me to be angry at home as well.  While I was more angry than I should have been about things around home, I apologized and things are back to normal there as well. 

Yesterday, I geared myself up to test my mettle in regards to my pipe.  What I decided was that I was NOT going to smoke my pipe at all on Wednesday.  Well, I did not succeed.  But, I did wait until 4pm.  It is a little bit of a start in my goal.  I am going to think through my next effort in this regard and try to implement it in the next few days.  I am thinking that what I may do is simply go back to the reduction of total number of bowls I smoke in a day as my first goal. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Handlebar Mustache

A handlebar moustache is a moustache with particularly lengthy and upwardly curved extremities. It is named for its resemblance to the handlebars of a bicycle.  It is also known as a spaghetti moustache, because of its stereotypical association with Italian men. The Handlebar Club humorously describes the style as "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip and with graspable extremities".

Even though I have had a recent haircut and trim, the last time I was at the barber, I only had the my barber blend my haircut into the sides of my beard along the jawline by my temples.  I decided to let the chin and moustache area grow out some to have a bit of fun with my appearance for a while .

Last evening, I decided to start coaxing (twirling) my mustache into shorter version of a traditional "handlebar" shape that typifies the look of many men in the early 1900s. Like the fellow in the link shown, the look gives me a perpetual sort of grin on my face. My mustache stands out well from my beard so the look is pleasantly noticeable. My wife laughed (and sighed as well) when I showed her and told her I was planning to wear it this way  for a while.   She told me I look like I should be singing in a barbershop quartet.

I like throwing a bit of eccentricity into my manner. A large number of people equate "eccentric" with oddballs, but for me being a tad eccentric is all part of the benefit of being a professor. There are many ways in which I am likely unintentionally eccentric... my pipe smoking (some say), being a professor in the first place (again some say), being a scientist (again a stereotype). I have typically found people that society proclaims "eccentric" to be amongst the most interesting and entertaining people I know.


Monday, October 08, 2012

Blue, But Fighting

I woke up today feeling nervous, sad, and blue.  A part of the reason for this is that I think a variety of people in my family are all coming down with various types of upper respiratory infection.  I worry about everyone and how it will impact their day (as well as mine).  My wife has been experiencing a sore throat and congestion. 

I feel fine at the moment (knock on wood).  I am hoping today I will be successful in getting the salesperson to take our offer for the vehicle my wife wants.  I am tired of haggling with the salespeople, but still determined to not get taken to the cleaners either. 

On the pipe front, I have decided to begin today a gradual decline in the number of bowls of pipe tobacco I smoke a day.  That will be a first step.  Up until today, I have allowed myself to indulge in unlimited quantities of pipe tobacco.   My estimate of usage over the last 4-5 months has been between 7-14 bowls a day.  Probably the AVERAGE each day would be 8 during that time frame.  Starting today, and through this week, I am going to only indulge in *up to* five  bowls a day, with the plan for next Monday to begin a week of 3 bowls. 

We shall see how it goes.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thinking Again

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.


Friday, October 05, 2012


I did not mention that on September 20th I hit the four year mark of walking every day for about five miles without missing a single day.  So, I thought I would update you on the day that I am now.  Today, October 5th is the 1,476 day I have walked each and every day, roughly 5 miles, outside, regardless of the weather, regardless of my being sick, regardless of anything.  I did it 1476 days in a row without MISSING A SINGLE DAY.  

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Brief Post

I am still here.  I have just become enormously busy and taxed.  Work has a tremendous amount of materials that need to be accomplished (tests, lab exams, schedules, presentations, service nonsense, etc) and all the due dates are running in together about one week from today.  I am also still dickering around with two different b*llsh*t vehicle salespeople.  I had a deal that was very good on a particular 2012 my wife liked, but it was at another dealership and before my b*llsh*t salesperson locked it in, it was sold by that dealership.  So, I am back at the drawing board as far as that goes as well.  I am also trying to convince my wife to consider a used vehicle with low miles which I would be able to buy for 1/3 less than the new one. 

I am hoping (keeping fingers crossed) that today will be the magic day when, with enough dogged determination and damnable cussedness I will get over the "hump" so-to-speak and have the lion's share of the b*llsh*t I need to do back into a more managable chunk and I can continue writing daily again from this point.