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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Preparing To Saddle Up

I apologize that I have been away from posting, but it is a result of two issues:  1)  I spent only microscopic moments at the U, just checking on animals.  I was not there long enough even for my computer to boot up, and 2) I have been spending time getting my home office up to snuff, and yes (for BBC) this means I have replaced my modem and can now even get on-line at home again. 

My effort with controlling my pipe smoking was as difficult and as challenging as I had feared during this time.  With the lack of conviction and motivation on Christmas Day, I have not had enough gumption, nor enough stubbornness to get back to where I want to be.  I REALLY DESPISE myself when I do not do what I am saying I will do.  So, I looked at the situation and came up with the following:

1)  Unstructured time is a very hard time for me in regards to pipe smoking.  I have traditionally smoked my pipe to while away time, when I was bored, when I was waiting around, etc.   I need to create more structure for myself during these sorts of times.  I need to also have an alternative for me to do when I am bored or waiting around.  If I were to have one of those damnable "smart phones", I suppose I could fiddle around with that, or I could find some sort of paperback book to shove in my back pocket to while away the time.  But neither of those seem to be particularly interesting for me to do.  I need to figure out something easy to carry around that is interesting to me in that way. 

2)  I did not think through what to *do* during the more chaotic (unstructured) times like I did with eating.  Even though I ate poorly on Christmas Day, I was able to reign myself back in the following days and am back to normal in that regard.  I need to formulate a PLAN with back-up plans for me to follow during the chaotic/unstructured times like these.  I need to make a plan that is filled with as many options and contingencies like I have for food.  I have been successful (other than this Christmas Day) for four years now dealing with all the food flash points (birthdays, parties, gatherings, etc).  I need to figure out a similar type of plan with backups for the pipe smoking flash points during the times of chaos and unstructured time.  After trying to immediately get back to zero after Christmas Day and failing, I decided on Friday, since I could sense my lack of resolve, and lack of a real plan to succeed... I have gone on a more moderate goal for a few days.

While I am not at zero at the moment, this week I am hovering at between 25 - 50% only of what I would typically smoke when I was smoking my pipe freely.  So, I am not giving up.   Additionally, if truth be told, I am pretty sure that during these unstructured times in the past, my rate of pipe smoking was not 8 bowls (my average during a typical work week), but was probably more along the lines of 12 or maybe even 14 bowls a day.  So, I am not a success at the moment, but I have not had a complete breakdown in my efforts. 

I am going to think more today and decide if my new start of zero days will begin on Monday, or if they will begin on Tuesday.  It will be one or the other, and I will then be back "in the saddle".  I am also thinking hard about how to handle these chaos/unstructured times when they undoubtedly occur in the future.  I guess that is all I can do at the moment. 


Today's (Sunday's) Goal = 2
Yesterday's (Saturday's) Goal = 2  bowls
Actual consumption (Saturday) = 4 bowls

Today's (Saturday's) Goal = 2
Yesterday's (Friday's) Goal = 2  bowls
Actual consumption (Friday) = 3 bowls

Today's (Friday's) Goal = 2
Yesterday's (Thursday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Thursday) = 2 bowls

Today's (Thursday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Wednesday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Wednesday) = 3 bowls

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hedonistic B*llsh*t

I think I was not mentally prepared for yesterday.  I ate, drank, and smoked a helluva lot:

Since I lost my 100 pounds, roughly 4 years ago, I have been very consistent in being careful around holidays to eat SENSIBLE amounts of most "treats" and to fill up on healthier foods.  This would mean I would typically pick one or two treats I enjoy (like one REALLY good cookie, and one piece of my mother-in-law's wonderful fruitcake) and that would be it.  Unfortunately, that was not what I did yesterday.  I ate at least 12 cookies (most of them rather wretched, a lot of candy, three pieces of pie, and 1/4th of a fruitcake.  This was in addition to regular food. 

In terms of drinking, I did not have any alcohol (wasn't in the mood).  But, what I did do was drink 4 actual sugary drinks (punch, mostly).  The thing of it is that I don't like sugary drinks anyhow.  I never drank them even when I was heavy.  But I drank them yesterday.

I smoked my pipe six different times yesterday.  While that wasn't my full-bore normal smoking rate from before November 26th (I estimate I averaged 8 bowls a day prior to that date), it was a helluva lot more than I have smoked any day since the 26th. 


And, you know what..... I feel like 100% absolute CRAP today.  I feel sore in the muscles of my arms and legs.  My chest feels congested. I have a headache.  I want to sleep all day.  And the hell of it is that I WANT TO EAT MORE OF THE CRAP.  I WANT TO DRINK MORE OF THE SWEET SH*T, and I WANT TO SMOKE BOWL AFTER BOWL OF PIPE TOBACCO.  It is such utter nonsense.  It is completely ludicrous, and it is annoying as hell. 

What I think happened is the perfect storm of the following:

1.  Lots of unstructured time (which I feel uncomfortable with). 
2.  Lots and lots of company (which makes me feel rather chaotic after a while).
3.  Little, if any control over the day (meaning, lots of sitting around and waiting, or sitting around making small talk).
4.  Lots of noise (never good for me).
5.  TWO different lifestyle patterns I was working on simultaneously (food & tobacco), without having given enough thought or planning to either one about how they a) might affect each other, or b) how to plan for each given the organization of the day.


Well, enough complaining about it. It was a bad day in regards to food and tobacco.  It was a nice Christmas overall.  But I am aggravated at myself for my foolish failures.  I did not adequately prepare myself for the day.  In hindsight, I probably should have declared yesterday a "special event pipe smoking day" a few days in advance.  Planed for enjoyed, and limited myself to 2 bowls.  With that,  I would have probably been better at keeping the food consumption to a more normal holiday level too.  What I did not do was think it through enough.   It was foolish as hell.

But, I shall not kick myself in the hind quarters too much more about it.  The better step I can take is to fix it today, and get my j*ck*ss*d stubbornness back into play.  I already walked an extra two miles beyond my typical five miles this morning.  I am going to flush my body with a lot of extra water, and good, wholesome, healthy food as well.  I believe I should be able to shake off the rough physical feelings from my idiotic hedonism yesterday by the end of the day, and be back on the track that actually makes me feel better. 


Today's (Wednesday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Tuesday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Tuesday) = 6 bowls

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Just a brief post as I check the animals here.  It was a hard day pipe-wise yesterday, as you can see by my failure.  But, I am going to keep at it.  Perhaps I was "channeling" Santa?

I do wish all of you a great Christmas!


Today's (Tuesday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Monday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Monday) = 1 bowl

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rough Road

Oh boy, am I glad that Sunday is over with.  I would say that yesterday, Sunday, December 23rd was the most difficult day I have had in regards to my new efforts in smoking a pipe that I have had thus far.  It was much more challenging than November 26th, which was day #1. 

But, as you can see from my recording of my efforts below, that I successfully did what I damn well said I would do.  But I had to draw from every bit of my j*ck*ss*d stubbornness to not pick up my pipe, fill the large, beautiful, walnut-grained bowl with the gentle crumbles of vanilla tinctured burley leaf that I was craving, and meld flame into the crumbles.  Imagining the neuronal contentment as I inhaled a thick plume of that rich smoke was vividly playing out in my mind most all of the day. 

Why was yesterday so especially difficult?  I truly believe there were two factors.  1) I was not in a normal sort of routine for the day.  Going over to my brother-in-law's is a bit chaotic, and all sorts of emotional constructs were occurring that jangled at my nerves, including aggravations of some of the various family members (my wife, and my wife's sister for instance) towards an adult nephew and niece who are not being particular kind to the family in general.  I am not involved with anything to do with this fracas, but the residual fallout jangled at my nerves in such a way that I really was wanting the solace of my pipe.  The other challenge I faced was 2) a need I had later in the day to cavort to two distant sites both at opposite ends of the county to bring heavy load items to two of my sisters.   This in itself was not a particular "problem" per say, but these items necessitated my using my friendly old pickup (to haul the items).  My old pickup is the only vehicle I currently own that I still allow myself to smoke my pipe in.  I have never smoked my pipe in my wife's new van, nor in my own daily vehicle.  And, I ALWAYS have until this drive, smoked my pipe when I  drive  my pickup.  To be in that trusty old stead without my pipe in hand while working through the gears felt as foreign to me as putting horseradish on chocolate ice cream.  So, I was feeling quite out of my natural element while driving my old pickup, and was deeply missing my pipe as I drove along. 

Here is hoping that today, Christmas Eve, is an easier go of it as far as my new pipe efforts are concerned. 


Today's (Monday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Sunday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Sunday) = 0 bowls

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brother-In-Law Event

We are going to a holiday event at my brother-in-law's home.  It will be nice that it is over with before the rest of the holiday.  It seems to always be associated with too much drama.  It is definitely not a "special event pipe smoking" session. 

Saturday was successful in regards to my efforts.  It was more of a struggle than most other days (as I had expected, since I had not been very successful on Saturdays to begin with).  In thinking through the day, I think that I understand more why it was challenging.  I tend to have a lot of idle time on Saturday and I had typically filled much if not all of this idle time by smoking my pipe. It was regularly one of my highest consumption days each week.  Sometimes my idleness would be just relaxing around the house, sometimes it would be waiting for one or more family members to arrive/get ready to go/get going/ or prepare to do something or other that would give me the "wait time".  In most every circumstance, my trusty companion, my briar pipe and pipe tobacco would come out to help me wile away the time.  I must admit I do miss that.  And, I know that until January 3rd, I will have that sort of idle time, frequently.  So, I must keep thinking of my strategy for these times. 


Today's (Sunday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Saturday's) Goal = 0  bowls

Actual consumption (Saturday) = 0 bowls

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Final Preperations

Friday's weather did not turn out to be too bad.  We had about three inches of snow, and by mid-afternoon, the roads were in decent enough shape. I was able to visit my elderly father-in-law, and it was quite enjoyable. 

Today will likely be a day spent with a lot of final preperations for the holiday.  At least, I hope they are all going to be done today.  I would really enjoy being set and being able to relax on Sunday and Monday before the holiday.  We shall see if things can get done enough for that to be. 

Saturday has been the achilllies heel in my efforts at becoming a "special occasion only pipe smoker".  But, at least as of this moment, I feel pretty set in my resolve.  I am hoping that on Sunday I may be able to report I met my goal of "0" for the day.  And, I have some ideas in mind for hopefully dealing with the loss of routine and my emotions so that (fingers crossed) I feel modestly confident I should be able to succeed.  Between now and January 3rd will (I estimate) be the most challenging times I have faced in this effort.  If I do reasonably well through that date, I should be able to easily be back to routine which has been generally successful thus far. 

I am off to head home, and to help my wife clean and perpare. 


Today's (Saturday's) Goal = 0
Yesterday's (Friday's) Goal = 2  bowls

Actual consumption (Friday) = 3 bowls

Friday, December 21, 2012

Weather Determines Whether

A winter storm is hovering around in my neck of the woods.  Depending upon how the storm plays out, I may be able to go visit my elderly father-in-law, or I may not.  If the snow is mild and the roads reasonably clear, I will go.  If it is heavier and the roads are more deeply covered, I will stay home. 

In the balance is whether or not today will be a "special occasion pipe smoking event" for me.  If I go, it will be.  If I do not go, I cannot really justify it as a "special occasion" and therefore I should refrain.... to refrain in that circumstance is the CORRECT thing for me to do in my goal to become the "special occasion pipe smoker" that I want to be. 

Now, if I do stay home, I know it will be a bit rough for me, as I was looking forward to the event.  I know I will have more of a challenge than usual in terms of refraining. 

I hope that the weather is decent enough that I can go.


Today's (Friday's) Goal = 0 or 2 bowls (weather dependant)
Yesterday's (Thursday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Thurssday) = 0 bowls

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Achilles Heel

I am pretty well certain that I know what my two Achilles heels (one for each foot of course) are for me as it concerns my pipe and pipe smoking.  They are:

1.  When I get aggravated/frustrated/emotional.  I have already described how this will dramatically increase my desire for smoking my pipe.  I miss the calming, soothing effect that I often would receive when I smoked in these occasions.

2.  When I am not in a routine.  I like stability and routine.  When I am not in a routine, my mind starts to wander and I feel fidgety, and perhaps a bit aggravated.  During these times, I also miss the very calming, soothing effect I would typically obtain from my pipe and pipe tobacco. 

I need to develop coping strategies for both of the above, because, with the holiday season fast approaching, my routine will be shot to hell, for sure.  I am also likely to find myself aggravated/frustrated/emotional during the holiday as well.  So, the next two weeks (which will take me from today through to January 3rd (and a return of routine) shall likely be the biggest challenges I have faced in my attempts to adopt the new "special occasion pipe smoking" routine.   I need to be ready and aware of what I should do when these issues outlined in #1 and #2 above happen.  And, they will happen.  I need to figure out how to be prepared. 


Today's (Thursday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Wednesday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Wednesday) = 0 bowls

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ravi Shankar

I had been thinking about this post for the last week.  One week ago today, Ravi Shankar passed away.  He was 92.  I was introduced initially to Ravi and his work in a somewhat indirect way, through the listening to George Harrison's song, Within You Without You on the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper Album.  While I (just like most of the time)  liked this album by the Beatles, the sounds of the instrument that was featured in Within You, Without You grabbed my attention much more strongly.  It was the first time I had really heard a sitar.  I thought the sound was absolutely wonderful and began searching for more information.  This of course, lead to my finding out that Ravi Shankar was the guide/instructor for George Harrison as he wrote and played this song. 

Well, as I ended up hearing and buying albums by Shankar, I grew more and more fond of the traditional music of India and began to branch out and listen to other Indian musicians.  I so greatly appreciate Indian music, and culture, and cuisine today.  I owe Ravi Shankar appreciation for being responsible for grabbing my attention and keeping it in regards to his music. 


Today's (Wednesday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Tuesday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Tuesday) = 0 bowls

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Routine Shot to Hell

My routine was shot to hell today, which accounts for the later than usual post.   But that is not so much of a bad thing.  I have been running around doing all sorts of odds and ends, both at the U and away from the U.  I have gotten a lot done.  Now I am off again after checking my e-mail briefly.  I should have more time to post something a bit more substantial tomorrow.  

Isn't that a beautiful pipe shown above?  Damn!  It makes me wish today was a "special pipe smoking occasion" but it is not.  I am hoping Friday may be. 


Today's (Tuesday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Monday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Monday) = 0 bowls

Monday, December 17, 2012

Late Start

I allowed myself the luxury of staying in bed until 7:00am this morning.  It was somewhat of a foolish decision, as I have many plans and goals for the day, but it felt right at the time.  With my walking, gym, and jogging on the track, plus a quick shower and shave (neck), I am just starting out the day in my office and lab at the U. 

Grade marinating is a thing I do that I think helps me as an instructor be better and more fair to the students.  BBC asked me if profs get pressure from the administrators to pass everyone.  Unfortunately, yes we do.  But, just as fortunately, most professors (at least those with tenure, like I have) say, "to hell with that".  I give the grade to each of my students that they have earned in their time with me.   I do, unfortunately, have a hefty percentage of students who fail... but that is not *MY* fault, but their own.  The student who fails my class has chosen to do so, usually by either a) not attending class regularly, b) being lackadaisical if they do attend class, c) not studying the materials I guide them on, c) and usually they choose to NOT THINK, and  most importantly, they do not use LOGIC.  When a student gets and "F" from me, THEY have earned it, unfortunately, by their actions. 

Marinating of grades is my euphemism for process of deciding upon what, if any sort of curve I might give to each class I have.  It depends upon a variety of factors.  I take into account a) how attentive the class was on average, b) how meticulously they try to perform their duties and obtain skills in the lab, c) and take into account any ambiguities I find in some of the "higher-level-thinking" questions I pose in my examinations.  The higher-level-thinking questions I pose FORCE students to move beyond simple memorization and regurgitation of what they memorize and FORCE students to move into deeper understanding using analysis, aggregation of different concepts, and creation of new knowledge.  These are the most fun questions, in my opinion, but they do not always have an absolute "right-or-wrong" answer.  Sometimes I find that students may use a different approach to trying to solve some of these questions than I would have anticipated, and may on occasion get generally good answers that may warrant some consideration.  My potential curve tries to take into account these potential ambiguities.

Well, I am bound and determined to get my grades off my desk and in before I leave today.  So I am off, to do the last of the decision-making.

One of the things that I learned from my failure with my pipes and pipe tobacco on Saturday is that when I get a temptation to go "off the wagon" in regards to my goals and choices, I need to keep at the front of my mind how damn irritable and disappointed I get in myself when I do not do what I say I will do.  If I would have been thinking more about that on Saturday, I think it would have simply told myself, no.  The ephemeral pleasures of the pipe and pipe tobacco would be LOST and would not in any real sense occur for me because I would be angry and disappointed as it was not a time I had selected for the "special occasion".

It looks like I may not be visiting my in-laws today or tomorrow because they both have a bunch of doctor's appointments that will occupy their time.  If I am lucky, however, perhaps I will be able to have a visit (and a special occasion pipe smoking session) on Friday. 


Today's (Monday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Sunday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Sunday) = 0 bowls

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I am planning a busy day ahead with getting as many of the nagging tasks off my list as possible.  I want my marinating grades to firm up so I can turn them in at 8:15am on Monday, I want to get the last of the Christmas decorations up and more importantly, I want the containers stored and away so that the basement returns to its normal state, and I want to clean the heck out of my home office so that it can be useable again instead of an aggrivating dump.   I may actually then be motivated enough to get the new modem and wireless hooked up like I have been meaning to for a year.

I  am not 100% sure why, but Saturday's have not been successful for me in my pipe retraining.  As you can see below, I did not accomplish my goal.  But, I am hoping I learned some things of value.  Neither bowl was enjoyable, as I was already angry at myself for not doing what I had said I would do for the day in regards to pipes.  So, there was absolutely no benefit or value. 

I feel reasonably confident that I will have the expected goal met for today when I write again on Monday.  Now, I am heading off to home and to mass. 


Today's (Sunday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Saturday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Saturday) = 2 bowls

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It feels like a rough day is ahead.  I am not sue why.  Perhaps it has been the news coverage of the horrific mass murder in CT, or perhaps it is something else.  It feels gloomy today. 

I am hoping to turn around these feelings and make today productive.  Saturday has been my weak spot in terms of my new pipe efforts.  We shall see.  I am not feeling as consistent as I would like in my demeanor this morning.  But, I will continue to try to persevere and make it a good day. 


Today's (Saturday's) Goal =0 bowls
Yesterday's (Friday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Friday) = 0 bowls

Friday, December 14, 2012

Those "Damn Pipes"

Austere, a great friend and fellow blogger left a comment for me in my last essay where she stated that I was "doing great with those damn pipes".   I am very thankful for austere giving me this encouragement on the modicum of success I have been having.  I am also thankful for the encouragement I have been getting from BBC,  Doc Teri, and even an anonymous poster.  I am very appreciative.  I am continuing to be doggedly and damnably stubborn in my resolve to do what I say I am going to do.

The phrases "damn pipes" and "damn tobacco" that were mentioned in my comments section from yesterday, oddly enough, gave me a bit of a pause.  I do understand the sentiment.  Yet, the thought of calling both "damnable" made me feel a bit remorseful.

I think pipes are beautiful, many of them true works of art.  I have many, many pipes that I cherish, including several from my father and even two from my grandfather.  I think tobacco is an amazing plant as well.  I think it is quite beautiful when growing, I think it has amazing and interesting biochemical features, and as a consumable for humans, it gives an amazing phsysiological effect to us.

So, I do not think I can (at this time at least, and perhaps never) feel comfortable myself calling these items "damn pipes" or "damn tobacco".  I see too much I like in each and too much I appreciate about both.  Perhaps admitting this fact (initially to myself and now here as well), is helping me be a bit more successful in my reshaping of my relationship with pipe tobacco than I have ever been previously?  I think I can say with full conviction that I am, and I always will be neurally "wired" to be a pipe smoker.  I was a pipe smoker BEFORE I had ever sampled my first bowl of pipe tobacco (I have to remember to rerun the story of my first try a smoking a pipe, because I think it has relevance now again.).  I was (of course) a pipe smoker all during my many, many years of being a daily pipe smoker, and I think I shall remain one as a "special occasion pipe smoker" (my goal) and EVEN if I end up at some point in the future running out of "special occasions" and end up refraining entirely.

And, here is what I think may be the difference in my approach that is helping me.  I am fully stating for the record that I AM a pipe smoker... that is NOT changing.  What I am trying to change is my frequency of encounter, and making the choices more cognizantly my own, and not  something I feel driven to just "do".    When I used to contemplate quitting forever,  I would metaphorically hang the moniker "non-smoker" on a hook in my brain just to see how it felt to me, and it ALWAYS felt bad.  It always felt hollow and empty.  I always felt a sense of deprivation and a loss of self when I even thought about calling myself a "non-pipe-smoker." 

In my current approch, I do not feel deprived nor a sense of loss of self.  I of course do have nicotine cravings, but they have been bearable, and even my first big emotional test (see yesterday's essay) worked out relatively ok. 

And, while I was originally thinking earlier this week and gearing up for a "special occasion pipe smoking" event by planning to visit my elderly father-in-law this afternoon, unfortunately life has other plans for me.  I have a few unalterable duties I am going to be attending to this afternoon, and therefore, I have dubbed today's pipe goal to be "zero"  since I will not have the option to get over across the county to visit my father-in-law.

Maybe if I can get my act together and my grades done early enough between now and the end of the weekend, I might be able to finagle a "special occasion" visit for Monday or Tuesday of next week instead.  That is something to look forward to.  


Today's (Friday's) Goal =0 bowls 
Yesterday's (Thursday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Thursday) = 0 bowls

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bad Mood

The day yesterday went well... until late in the day.  I became upset at someone for not performing a task the right way, even though I have instructed the person on the matter, very literally at *least* 150 different times.  It felt like I wasted my time, and it felt like I wasted my energy, and it felt rude and disrespectful.  It made me very angry.

I should not have responded in an angry way, and I regret it, but I did.  I spoke harshly to that person displaying my annoyance at the person and harangued on about it for a long time.  I should not have done this.  I should be better than that.  I then became angry at myself for responding in that way.

I prayed about this issue this morning when I went through the rosary during my walk.  I asked forgiveness, and hope it will be granted.  I will also speak to this person today and apologize for my becoming very upset.

It is very hard for me to deal with people when they do something that is rude or disrespectful to me.  I know I do not respond well when that happens, and I need fix that in myself.

Afterwards, I had an extremely strong craving to smoke my pipe.  I know it was in response to all the emotions I was feeling.  I almost faltered, but then I thought it through and told myself that the momentary pleasure of the pipe tobacco would be fleeting, and instead, I would end up being even more angry at myself than I already was because I would not have done what I told myself I would do Wednesday in regards to my pipe.  So, instead, I gripped an empty pipe between my teeth, and did some slow, deep breathing exercises for about 15 minutes.  It helped, and even though I was still angry at myself for getting upset, I felt a bit better.

Hopefully, today I will make amends, and will also feel better as well.     


Today's (Thursday's) Goal =0 bowls 
Yesterday's (Wednesday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Wednesday) = 0 bowls

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Research & Other B*llsh*t

My dental visit went very smoothly.  The dentist and the hygienist both complimented me on how well I maintained my teeth and gums.  The hygienist said there was little for her to do other than giving them a gentle polish.  The dentist also was filled with accolades.  He even said that I had minimal gum recession, especially for a person with significant TMJ like I have had for decades.   He recommended I keep doing what I have been doing. 

My staying extremely busy yesterday *did* help with my melancholy. I feel more like my old self and started to feel that way early in the afternoon yesterday.  I am planning to stay acutely busy between final examinations by cleaning and organizing my laboratory and/or culturing some of the flies so that they will be safe during the Christmas break.  If I get those cultures set, all I will have to do during break is to come in and occasionally check on the rodents, a fairly quick and easy process.  Also on my hope-to-accomplish list is to get the final rendition of all the syllabi I need for my various classes next semester to my secretary so they can be sent off to the graphics center and then they are out of my hair as well. 

Walking and the gym both went well this morning.  I guess I just need to keep moving to keep having the opportunity to improve. 

I have a great idea for a novel, at least I think so.  It is sort of a science fiction, medical thriller type story that (at least to my mind's eye) has a similar profound impact as say "Brave New World".    If I could write anything even 1/100th as profound as I feel that novel by Huxley is, I feel I would have accomplished something pretty damn good.   I have a novel writing guidebook that purports how to outline the basic plot and characters, and I am going to see if I can find time to read that book and perhaps begin this next step.  I am not pushing myself, but trying to keep it fun, and flexible for me with the knowledge that it most likely will never pan out, but having the "fantasy" of the writing of a novel as a possibility is a bit exhilarating. 

Pipe cravings are rather low this morning.  If they stay this way, it should be a relatively easy day.  It is fun to think about the possibility of indulging in a bowl or two on Friday, and it feels especially good to feel like I am doing what I am wanting to do and that my damn cussed stubbornness is seeming to work. 


Today's (Wednesday's) Goal =0 bowls 
Yesterday's (Tuesday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Tuesday) = 0 bowls

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dentist Appointment

Today, I have a dental appointment this afternoon, so I am trying to make up the time by working very diligently in my office and laboratory to try to get things to good end points for some relaxation time by the end of the week if at all possible.  Final examinations are on-going, of course. 

I am still dealing with a case of meloncholy at the moment, but I am trying to do the only thing that has been somewhat reliable in the past in helping me get through and sometimes even dissipate these moods..... keeping very busy and trying to bump up exercise.  I was on the road at 5:15am this morning, and it was very pleasant walking, even though I heard a bit later that the temperature today while I was out was only 9 degrees.  The nice part was that all the roadways and sidewalks were clear of ice my whole route.  I was able to walk at a faster, more beneficial pace.  At the gym, I decided to add two additional components to my workout  (which is normally upper body weight lifting for tone, and running/jogging on the indoor  track since it is not really safe enough most days to run/jog outside this time of year).  I added some time on what is called a BOSU ball (see the image of the woman above) training.  These sorts of exercise are designed to build core tone and improve balance and body posture.  What I did was similar to what the woman did, but I held onto a 16 pound "medicine ball" and kept moving the ball all around me while trying to maintain balance on the BOSU contraption.  It may sound easy, but I was not particularly adept at it.  I did keep at it for 20 minutes, and I could feel that I have used some core muscles in new ways as a result. 

Pipe cravings are at the low to low-moderate stage thus far today, so I am having a relatively easier time with that aspect of trying to make myself into the person I want to become as well. 


Today's (Tuesday's) Goal =0
Yesterday's (Monday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Monday) = 0 bowls

Monday, December 10, 2012


Funerals are not something I am particularly successful at attending.  The funeral was for the father-in-law of one my siblings, so I knew the man, but was not extremely close.  Yet, the emotions of all the close relatives in their grief affected me as well.  I felt out of sorts for the rest of the day (and even before attending).  I was asked to lead the Rosary as well, and unfortunately because of my own rising levels of emotions, I stumbled twice during my leading of the prayers.  I felt bad about that.  My brother-in-law is a real nice fellow, and I felt sad for him and for his siblings and especially for their mother.

As I laid in bed last night, reading a chapter in the current detective/medical detective novel I am reading, Death Benefit,   I began to feel an even deeper sense of sadness and melancholy.  I  read an additional chapter, hoping to get my mind off my mood, but it was not working.  After I put the book down and turned off my reading lamp, I tried hard to steer my mind away from my sadness, and instead tried to think of various other things.  I eventually fell asleep and do not recall any of the dreams I had last night.

This morning, I was not particularly in a mood to get out of bed.  When my alarm went off at 4:30am, I hit the snooze button a twice.  Finally, however,  I forced myself out of bed and got on with my walk.  The roads and sidewalk were icy from a freezing mix of precipitation overnight, so I had a slower go of it than usual.  My sadness returned, and I had tears streaming down my cheeks into my beard as I thought about how much I love and cherish my family, and how life seems so utterly fleeting.  I thought of how much I so cherish my kids and my wife.  I kept asking forgiveness for all the times I was horrible, the times over the decades when I spoke a harsh word to them,  or of the times whe I did not  spend every possible moment with them.  

I know that this sort of "over-emotionality" is not healthy for me, so even as I was walking and crying, I was trying to figure out how to get my mind turned around to other, more positive things.  It took quite a while. I was still feeling blue when I returned home from my walk. 

I gathered up my gear for work at the U and headed to the gym.  On the drive in, I had a very strong urge for a pipe.  The notion of taking in a few, deep lungfuls of rich pipe tobacco smoke was enormously appealing.  It was a bit of a surprise, as even though I have had a small slip-up on both the past two Saturdays, I had not really experienced an EXTREME craving for pipe tobacco.... smaller cravings all throughout the two weeks, yes, but not such a strong one before.  Fortunately, I did not have to struggle, because I did not have a pipe, nor my pouch of pipe tobacco or lighter with me in my vehicle.  By the time I reached the U, it had passed for the most part, and I went to the gym. 

In addition to my usual morning workout routine, I added  9 laps of jogging around the indoor track to try to tire myself out some.  I know that in past experiences with my "meloncholy" more intensive physical exhertion sometimes helps me feel better.  I did not get a helluva lot of vigor on my icy 5 mile walk this morning, so I thought I needed this extra effort.  It seems to have done the trick as I feel more even-keeled. 


Today's (Monday's) Goal =0

Yesterday's (Sunday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Sunday) = 0 bowls

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Again Brief


I have to go to a funeral later today, and hence I am here again at the U tending to the animals and will have only a very brief post so I can get out of here.  My apologies.  Longer posts will resume on Monday.  I again, did not meet my Saturday goal.  It seems to be a trend.  I am thinking of the plan of attack I will try to enact during the next such occurance.


Today's (Sunday's) Goal =0

Yesterday's (Saturday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Saturday) = 2 bowls

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Brief Saturday Post

Just running through the U to briefly attend to the animals and then I am scooting out the door.  Hence a minimalistic post. 


Today's (Saturday's) Goal =0

Yesterday's (Friday's) Goal = 2 bowls
Actual consumption (Friday) = 3 bowls

Friday, December 07, 2012

Smart Phones

Cell phones create a little bit of controversy in my household.  Where we are currently at is my wife has had a regular cell phone (for this essay, perhaps I will call it a "dumb phone" as it is basically just a phone) for about 8 years with a big, expensive contract. The expense was ameliorated a "bit" by the fact that she was on a plan with her mother which "lowered" the cost a bit.   I have have had a  pay-as-you-go "dumb phone" for 7 years now, and in the full seven years, I have spent less than  $250 total on minutes for the beast.  It has been very useful, but I am not typically one to talk a lot on the phone.  Only three people ever knew my cell phone number... my wife, one of my sisters, and my mother.  The phone is for my convenience for me to call people if I need to while out and about.

My wife's mother decided to go with a different plan, and my wife now is in the market for a new phone and plan.  She really wants a "smart phone".  I have played around a bit with various smart phones of my relatives and my students, and I admit they are rather fun, and the convenience of being able to access the Internet and e-mail from them does have appeal.   There lies the conundrum.  I am very much a penny-pinching-cheapskate by nature.  While I would find it "fun" to have a smart phone to play around with, the idea of paying for the damn thing makes me apoplectic.  Here is the basic breakdown of what the options are that I can see:

1.  My wife gets a smart phone and a "plan" which will run roughly $80-90 every month.  I keep my "dumb phone".
2.  My wife and I get a smart phone and a "plan" which will run roughly $140-150 every month.
3.  My wife gets a "monthly" smart phone which will run about $50 every month.  I keep my "dumb phone". 
4.  My wife and I both get a "monthly" smart phone which will then run about $100 every month. 

My wife has worries about the "service" if she were to go to monthly plan, thinking that the coverage is not good and that she would not have the access she wants.  She would like a traditional (aka pricey) "plan" which she feels has better coverage and better access.  I think it would be kind of "fun" to have a smart phone, but the idea of paying $150 every single  MONTH for such seems too damn extravagant and a bit outrageous.  If my wife got the month-by-month smart phone and I kept my dumb phone, we would be paying roughly what we pay now for her phone, but I would feel a bit left out, I guess.  So, neither of us knows what is the best way to go.  It is still open for debate.  Part of me still feels cell phones in general, while convenient, are just a damn extravagance. 

Enough about phone nonsense.  I am thinking I may be able to visit my elderly father-in-law this afternoon.  If I do, this will become a "special occasion pipe smoking" Friday.  If I do not get to go, I will stick to my zero "non-special day" plan.  


Today's (Friday's) Goal =0, or 1, or 2 bowls

Yesterday's (Thursday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Thursday) = 0 bowls

P.S.  Note to BBC:

For me, when I was smoking my pipe in my more typical rate before 11/26, the big one-pound canister would last me between 3-4 weeks  (usually 4, unless I was more stressed).  Of course, there were occasional supplements from my pouches of flavored pipe tobaccos and one or two cigars a month as well.  If my current "special occasion pipe smoking" mode sticks, I am estimating the pipe tobacco I have now will probably last through June of next year.  

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Maybe I Should?

One of the things that has always been a "pipedream" of sorts for me, is that I would like to write a novel... one that is published.  It has been an idea that has been rattling around in the back of my mind for decades, and I have started to write one 3-4 times, and have also written out sketches of plots for about a dozen stories that I would find interesting.

Why have I never really written a novel, however?  I am not quite sure.  Perhaps I am just too damn lazy.  Perhaps I do not have enough stick-to-itiveness?  Perhaps I have let other things get in my way?  Again, I am not quite sure.  But, perhaps I am now ready to give novel writing a real try.

Even though this blog may not suggest it, I am a decent writer. I write my blog completely off-the-cuff with virtually no editing, so there are plenty of awkward sentences, poor grammar, and spelling issues.... I know.  But I am in day-to-day physical life, a decent writer.   I write a helluva lot of science-type writing.  I also am mildly creative at times.  So, I *think* I have the skills necessary.

I am going to contemplate the idea a bit more and see if I want to jump in an give it a real try.  I should know more later today if I may go visit my elderly father-in-law on Friday.  My wife is going over there during the day and will see if they need any help with anything.  If so, I might be able to also have a "special occasion pipe smoking event" again on Friday.    


Today's (Thursday's) Goal =0
Yesterday's (Wednesday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Wednesday) = 0 bowls

P.S.  Specifically for BBC:

1.  How is your smoking going?  The last I heard you were feeling comfortable at four mini bowls a day.  And, you were planning to finish out your stock of tobacco at that rate.  That seems logical to me.   I currently have about 3/4 of my current big 1 pound canister of pipe tobacco left.  I also have a variety of small pouches of various flavored pipe tobaccos.  So, for me, if I maintain my "special occasion pipe smoking" goal, I should be set for quite a spell.

2.  You mention cannabis in your comment to me yesterday.  As I have stated before, unfortunately, I never have tried that leaf.  What would you describe the effects as being like?  I have asked a few people over the years, and never get a very good answer.  I always assumed it would be akin to being pleasantly drunk.  You should try it again to see and then describe, or at least I would if I were in your shoes.

3.  I too hope Doc Teri is doing ok.  I am kind of presuming that her semester is just in too hectic a spot for her to be able to write at the moment. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


It has been an intense morning with a helluva lot of things I have had to scurry and do here at the U that I should have done last night.  But, in the long run, it is worth it to be a bit frazzled now than to have occupied my family time with this stuff last night.  I still have a lot to do.  I think, though, that today is the hardest day I will face this week, and I think I will have more time for fun, and for writing.  So, I anticipate a longer post tomorrow. 


Today's (Wednesday's) Goal =0
Yesterday's (Tuesday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Tuesday) = 0 bowls

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Beard & Moustache

I feel unruly and unkempt.  But it is that time of the semester, I guess.  My office looks like a tornado has ran rampant through every bookshelf and desk drawer.  My laboratory appears as if a herd of wild buffalo have tromped through it.  My Jeep AND my old pick-up both are strewn with debris.  My beard and moustache are looking a bit rough and ragged.  But it is that time of the semester.  It is nearing final exam week, which is actually pretty good for us professors, but the week or two before hand is triple the effort and activity of normal weeks.  Getting finals prepared and to the graphics office, the countless students (I have about 300 this semester) who haven't really been working or trying all semester come out of the woodwork and ask if I could be so kind as to give them "extra credit" because they cannot take the next classes in their program without passing my "terribly hard" class that they have "studied more for than any other class they have EVER had".  Also, getting next semester's book orders in, getting ancillaries, getting papers graded and back to the students, getting my own and my research student's abstracts critiqued and ready to send off for the next meeting we will go to in the Spring.  And on and on. 

So, it is a time of the semester that is SUPPOSED to be unruly and unkempt.  It is every year at this time.  It just requires a strong focus and a firm commitment to keep even keeled and steady in my resolve and effort.  The payoff is, if I kept my act together, keep firm in my resolve, that by Friday, I can begin the gentle downward descent into the gentle tranquility and peace of the rest of the semester and final exam week.  I can, if I succeed in the mountain of work this week requires, then I can spend time, recreating order from my chaos, clean my office, get my secretary a pile of work to do (that in effect clears my desk), get the lab back up to snuff, go get my hair cut, and my beard and moustache trimmed back into a more professorial manner, and feel my own circadian rhythms once again feel in alignment with the day-to-day. 

In regards to my pipe.  I am happy that my mistep on Saturday did not mean an elmination of my ultiimate goal (to become the "special occasion pipe smoker").  I think I have learned how to better plan for the future "Saturdays" that will arise.  I feel that I have my donkey-like (jack*ss*d?) stubborness back in full force, so that I should be able to continue my planned refraining from the beauty of the pipe and pipe tobacco until I next have the special occasion to indulge.  Sure, I miss the lovelly grace and charms of my mistress, my pipe.  But, I am also happy that I can dig my heels in and do what I say I am going to do as well.  I feel that I am growing in my knowledge and understanding of myself.  I still feel a bit of remorse that the classic, historical attributes I still feel about pipes and pipe smoking are something I am somewhat turning my back upon, but, I feel I am doing the right thing for me as a person in 2012.  It still seems an odd juxtaposition to think that my angst and desire to refrain from the pipe is so temporal.  If I were my age, and in my position, and this were instead 1912.... there would be no way that I would be selecting to refrain.  In that age, I would have looked at my hobby as the norm, and nearly an "expectation" of my manner and my occupation.  But, I need to keep in mind it is 2012 and not that more genteel time of 1912.

As the President I have the most respect for, Theodore Roosevelt, would have said, "Bully!


Today's (Tuesday's) Goal =0
Yesterday's (Monday's) Goal = 0 bowls

Actual consumption (Monday) = 0 bowls

Monday, December 03, 2012

Weekend Roundup

Well, there was good and bad to this weekend:

1.  Friday was wonderful, and I *mostly* stuck to my goal on Friday of having 2 pipes (I actually had 3, but I am thinking that three bowls may be a more realistic indulgence on those occasions when I do indulge). 

2.  Saturday was not so good.  My intention was to have zero pipes that day, and I failed at it.  But I think I learned something that will help me the next time I have a zero day following a day where I smoke my pipe.  What happened is that I was out walking the dog, and I reached into my jacket pocket and lo-and-behold, there was my pipe, pouch, and lighter.   I had left them in my pocket after returning from my elderly father-in-law's the evening before.  It was very densely foggy while out walking the dog, and it seemed like a wonderful, perfect time to indulge as I have done so for most of my life.  Basically, I filled and ignited my pipe without much if any forethought, planning or even giving much thought to my goals.  I was regretful within a minute or so, and aggravated at myself.  Then, later that day, already feeling aggravated at myself, I smoked two additional times.  Finally, in the evening, I sat myself down, and thought through how stupid my actions were.  I did not need to fail.  I can do this if I put my stubborn mind to it.  I vowed to get back on my goal oriented "track" immediately.

3.  Sunday was a good day.  I stayed at my goal of zero.  I took the wife and family out to eat at a wonderful Indian Buffet for dinner, and we had a great time.  There was a Mushroom Marsala that was especially good this time in addition to many of my usual favorites.

What did I learn?  Well, one, I think I need to be more vigilant on the day after an allowed indulgence in my pipes (again, my goal is to be infrequent, perhaps indulging 2 or perhaps 3 times a month).  I will think about what my plan for vigilance will be.  I still think I am a stubborn enough mule to get this to happen.  And, if I do, I think I will be glad.


Today's (Monday's) Goal =0

Yesterday's (Sunday's) Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Sunday) = 0 bowls

Saturday's Goal = 0 bowls
Actual consumption (Saturday) = 3 bowls


Saturday, December 01, 2012


I am only here at the U for a moment as I had to check on my animals.  The time spent with my elderly father-in-law was very pleasant, and the pipes were very pleasant.  Now it is back to my zero pattern again until potentially next Friday. 


Today's (Saturday's) Goal =0

Yesterday's (Friday's) Goal = 2 bowls
Actual consumption (Friday) = 3 bowls