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.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Last night in one of the detective novels I am currently reading, I stumbled upon a word that I had not heard or seen before that intrigued me....."kaylied".  It was fun to find out that it is a euphemism that is apparently a moderately common one in England to signify being a bit inebriated. 

I like to learn new words or phrases.  As it is Friday, I may find myself a bit kaylied myself.  I shall talk to my elderly father-in-law to see if he is up for company.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

New York Ruben Potato Chips

For the last several years, Frito-Lays has been making a variety of "speciality" chips of one sort or another.  These have ended up becoming a sort of ritual for everyone in our family now. 

My wife and I and our kids have generally had quite a bit of fun over the years trying out these weird concoctions.  Back when the company first started, they were calling the chip a "mystery chip" and asked people to try to figure out what the flavor was.  They unfortunately no longer make "mystery" chips, but now have a variety of surprising, special flavors. 

Yesterday my wife and I and two of our kids tried out the new style called "New York Ruben".  It was actually pretty damn good!  I especially enjoyed the caraway flavor in the chips that gave a real "rye bread" sort of flavor.  The essesnce of both saurkraut and swiss cheese was also apparent. 

Overall, a VERY surprising, and actually very good chip!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Been feeling a bit squirrely  the last few days.  Focus has been less than that displayed by a gnat. And, the strange things is that I don't seem to give a damn that I am this way at the moment.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Socks and Toenails

My toenails grow so damn fast (well, my fingernails do too) that I am regularly slicing through the ends of my socks with my big toenail.  I probably should trim my toenails twice a week, but I have been realistically aiming to cut them once a week.... and usually end up in truth doing so once every two weeks..... or until I find another sock with a big toe hole in it!  When I take off my shoe and see another hole, I grumble and cuss under my breath, and get out the damn trimmer again. 


Saturday, July 25, 2015


No, not the type represented by the hard working fellow in the image above.  My father worked as a boilermaker for many, many summers while I was young.  But, no, I was actually thinking more of the drink these fellows inspired.  Namely, a shot and a beer. 

I am thinking a boilermaker or two would be quite pleasant this afternoon.  I will have to see if my elderly father-in-law is up for company.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Turkey Sandwhich

Lately, I think one of my very favorite things to eat has been the simple, lowly toasted turkey sandwich.  For me, I like my turkey sandwich on toasted rye bread, with lettuce, tomato, onion, and just a little bit of ranch dressing. 

Something so very simple.... and yet it is so delicious, satisfying, and damn near a "comfort food" but is also reasonably healthy as well!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

White Water Rafting

Not sure if this is a pipe dream or something I really should pursue.  But, for the last week or two I have been thinking about going white water rafting.  I am not really sure yet where to go around here, and I will have to find some time looking around for where I can do this in my region.  I doubt my wife would want to go, but something inside is itching me to want to do this. 

We shall see if it pans out. 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015


With the NUMMI car program I mentioned yesterday still rumbling around in my mind, I dug up an old book that I have by Ben Hamper, called "Rivethead".  It is a very valuable work that gives a real insight into what it was like to be a auto factory worker in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  I am finding it very interesting to re-read. 

It is a book that is both very sad and very funny at the same time. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

NUMMI & What Could Have Been

I listened to the radio program "This American Life" yesterday while working in the garage sorting out some of my tools, and they had a very interesting story profiling General Motors and the experiment they had in terms of trying to improve the quality of their vehicles in a partnership with Toyota at the GM's California NUMMI plant.  This effort occurred in the mid-1980s and I remember it very well. 

It was interesting to hear the story, and if you are interested, you could listen to it here by following this link:  "This American Life - NUMMI"  It is a very well done radio program. 

In thinking back on it, unfortunately General Motors as well as all of the American car companies sure wrecked havoc on our society and nation.  The first real rumbles of the impending disasters I recall occurred during the late 1960s into the early 1970s.  But, then the sh*t really hit the fan so-to-speak with the oil embargos in the mid-1970s. 

The most significant and horrific problems caused by General Motors though, occurred in the early 1980s.  It was as this time that General Motor's management and mistakes virtually anihilated and destroyed much of the mid-west.  Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Illinois, and Wisconsin were all tremendously affected, but no state suffered more than the state of Michigan.  Most all of the major cities (Detroit, Flint, Jackson, Saginaw, and others) were decimated to such an extent that many of them have yet to recover.

Listening to the radio program helped me to remember those difficult times.  If only GM had made a real, concerted effort to enact NUMMI across their whole industry, things may have turned out quite differently.  If NUMMI would have become the "new norm" then I think all of the US automakers would have been far more capable of working through the 2007 recession without causing further heartache to many families.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Shepard and Sheep

From Mass today:

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

I find it interesting that sometimes I am like a shepherd, like when I am teaching my class or my research students, but also much of the time I am like the sheep... needing guidance and support. It sometimes feels disjointed to have both roles, but I suspect we all have both roles.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

"Baching It"

Looks like I am going to be "baching" it today as my wife has left to drive her mother two states away to visit her sick aunt (my mother-in-law's sister).  Not sure how I will spend my time.  My wife anticipates being home perhaps at midnight.


Friday, July 17, 2015

I Should...

Be a better person than I am.  I should be kinder.  I should be stronger.  I should be more... more.  I am small and insignificant.  I am nothing.  I do not know how to be different.

I think I will have a few drinks this afternoon with my elderly father-in-law. 


Thursday, July 16, 2015


Today was the funeral for my friend.  It was a true roil of emotions.  I helped with readings and ushering and the meal afterwords.  I felt insufficient in my ability to help.  But, that is, I guess to be expected. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Focus is Low

With the passing of my friend, I find that my focus at this time is quite low.  I have been trying to work on a variety of tasks, but really have been drifting around, accomplishing little to nothing.  I guess that is not unexpected.  But, I was hoping that getting some things done would help me feel a little better, and would be helpful to my family as well. 

Oh well.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Goodbye Friend

A very close friend to me and my family passed away on Sunday afternoon.  He was 86 years old, and although he had been in declining health the last year or so, his death was an unwanted surprise for us.   I had seen and talked with him about one and a half weeks ago. 

He was a very wise, kind, and thoughtful man.  He will be greatly missed by his family of course, but he also touched the lives of a very large number of other people with his various types of service to our community.   His funeral will be on Thursday.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mass Readings

In listening to the readings at Mass this week, I found the following excerpt to be especially relevant for me:

"He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals."

My wife and I have been working quite strenuously to try to declutter our lives.  We have had garage sales, and have donated a helluva lot of stuff to St. Vincent DePaul and Goodwill during the last year.  It has truly been very helpful.  Having less stuff feels freeing.  Having less clutter helps in so many ways.  We both admit that it is hard to give up stuff at times, but we both also admit it has been very good.  We still have a ways to go, but after hearing the above at Mass, we both feel more motivated to continue this effort.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The DIfference

It was a very nice time yesterday afternoon.  Libations and pipes were consumed, and great conversation was indulged in! 

One of the things I am focusing on as I work to give up the pipe is that very truthfully, I do not get much enjoyment or pleasure from smoking my pipe most days.  This is very different than the way it used to be.  For decades, smoking a pipe was enjoyable pretty much all the time.  I think I must have finally short circuited the wiring some in my nicotinic wiring though because now most days, there is not much if any effect. 

The only exception is while drinking.  If I have had a drink or two, the beautiful pleasure of the pipe tobacco returns to close to what it had been like when I was first starting out as a kid. 

I keep thinking I need to use this knowledge in my efforts to quit.  I really want to quit other than during the times when I have been drinking.  If I stay focused on the difference, it may help this become my reality like it was during Lent in 2014.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Probable Visit

I am pretty sure I am going to have some time this afternoon to head over and visit my elderly father-in-law, and probably have a few libations, a few pipes, and a good afternoon of congenial, enjoyable conversation!  I am glad, and I have been looking forward to this greatly. 


Thursday, July 09, 2015


I am going to leave campus in a few minutes to head over to my eye doctor to get my yearly eye exam.  I don't *think* I will have any significant change in my perscriptions... either for my distance vision nor for my reading.  We shall see, however  (hah, pun intended). 

I am not sure how others of you feel, but for me, I do not like "progressive" lenses for my bifocals.  I much prefer the traditional style where there is a distinct line demarcating the distance and the reading lenses.  A lot of folks like progressive lenses because of the lack of this line, but for me, I find that the "progressive" change is disconcerting to view, and I have a helluva time locating the right spot to view through for BOTH the distance and reading views.  With the distinct line, it is much, much easier for me. 

Even though a lot of folks get progressive lenses for vanity (I guess they think they look "older" when their bifocal lines show), I think that reason is quite silly.  I do not mind the look of the line, and the benefits for me far outweigh the perceived (hah, pun intended again) problems. 

One thing I do miss, actually, are the "executive" style bifocal lenses.  It seems like they have completely disappeared from the marketplace now.  Executive style bifocal lenses were the type where the entire bottom 1/3 or 1/2 of the lens was bifocal (like in the top picture above).  To me, the executive style were the most useful because they gave such a nice, wide reading window.  The only lined bifocals I seem to be able to find these days are the smaller "section" bifocal like in the second image above.  They work fine, and as I stated above, the line is the real benefit.  But, I do miss the wider arc of view that the executive style provided. 


Wednesday, July 08, 2015


I have been mulling over the idea of taking up two new hobbies.  I have wanted to learn some new things as well, and want to do this with my wife.  I already do a fair number of hobbies (fishing and hunting for example (although I have let hunting go by the wayside somewhat)). 

Two things that interest me, that my wife seems to be on board about trying are a) learning to play the guitar, and b) working at watercolor painting.  As I am fairly musically inclined already (I play clarinet and saxaphone), the learning curve in regards to reading music will be absent for me.  But, I have never really focused much on playing a string instrument before, so the steep learning curve will be the actual physical playing of the guitar.  My wife knows basic chords on the guitar, but does not know how to read music.  Hopefully the combination of knowledge we have will allow use to help each other out as we practice. 

As for the painting of watercolors, my wife and I both thought it would be interesting to try.  If I had my druthers, I would like to paint architectural scenes like the one above by Eugen Chisnicean.  I think his work is excellent!


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Even though it seems like an oxymoron, VEGETARIAN sloppy joes were what we had for dinner last night.  Now, do not get me wrong, I am NOT opposed to eating vegetarian foods in the slightest, and in fact, my wife and I typically have been having less meat in our meals for a few years now.  We typically are averaging about two dinners each week where there is a meat dish, and it is either chicken or fish. 

Again, I am not against people eating meat in any way.  We both just gradually became less meat focused 1) to eat healthier, and 2) we both gradually have been finding meat dishes to be less and less favorable to our palette.

But, back to the sloppy joes.... the concept of a sloppy joe WITHOUT meat seemed so odd.  But, with our dish, with it being heavily bean and lentil centered, the taste and texture was quite good.  I would be more than happy to have this dish quite often, whenever my wife wishes to rotate it into our menu.  The only thing I would change, however.... is I think we should call them something else.... "sloppy joes" does not seem the right name. 


Monday, July 06, 2015

Antsy, Unfocused, Unmotivated

 Today I feel rather unfocused.  I tend to do better with a plan, with goals, with specific things I want to do on a given day.  Usually, the night before when I get ready for bed, I create a "Goal" list for the next day.  Last night, I felt rather unfocused and did not think out a plan for today.  I ended up getting up later than usual for me this morning (6:15am), so that also has altered my momentum.  I didn't feel much like walking or exercising for that matter.  But, I did eventually walk and even forced myself to jog two of the five miles. 

Now, I am in the midst of drinking my morning's 24 oz bold coffee that I bought myself this morning when I arrived on campus.  Hopefully the caffeine will improve my motivation. 

During the weekend, I spent some time when I was smoking my pipe to think about how annoying the habit has become to me.  I even decided to watch myself in a mirror twice during the weekend, as I sat smoking my pipe and felt annoyed at how foolish I looked for smoking.   My mindset is changing.  I used to feel so very differently about smoking a pipe.  This is likely progress, and my annoyance at myself may help me to be stronger when I do make my next effort to quit. 


Sunday, July 05, 2015

At Mass

One line from the second reading at Mass this week struck me deeply:

"...for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Where and what am I?  Do I have what it takes to be a good, moral, strong person?  Do I have what it takes to quit pipe tobacco?  Do I have what it takes to be kind, gentle, and forgiving?  Do I have what it takes to help others?  Do I have any worth, any value?

Sh*t!  I feel like such a failure in all aspects of life.  I feel sometimes that I am worthless and wretched.  It is enough to make me..... I don't know..... it just makes me frustrated and makes me lose hope.  I see how I should be and what I should do.... and then I see how I am and what I do.... and I am so disappointed.  


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy 4th of July To Everyone!

Wishing everyone a Happy, Safe, and Healthy 4th of July!


Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday - No Drinking [sigh]

My in-laws are away on a trip, so I will not be visiting with my elderly father-in-law today.  That is sad.  Also sad, is that I will not have the opportunity to have a bit to drink.  It is no fun drinking alone, and my wife does not drink.  Not many folks are at work on Friday, so there is no one to go with after work either.  So, just call me the reluctant tee-totaler.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

My Nemesis and Mistress

It is the above that my weak, addled mind so craves, so desires.  It is what my receptor proteins on my neurons want to be stimulated by.  It is nicotine.  It is my nemesis as well, as it is governing me, not me governing it.  I want that to change.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

July and Exercise....2481

Today, July 1st is the 2481st day of walking every damn day without missing a day.