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, January 30, 2018

Edge (99 Word Essay)

For the Carrot Ranch essay this week:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He was sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, holding the hand of the old man.

“If you allow them to give you the antibiotic, you might get well.”

Tears brimmed in his eyes, and an errant one overflowed and quietly rolled down his cheek into his beard.  The old man was in the midst of his fourth battle with sepsis in as many months.

“No, no more.” said the old man in a barely audible voice.

He turned his face away from the old man so he would not see additional tears flow.

The end is here.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Monday, January 29, 2018


My friend, my second father-figure, my mentor..... my elderly father-in-law unfortunately passed away this morning.


Monday, January 22, 2018

99-Word Essay - "Boots"

This entry is for the 99-Word Essay in flash fiction.  The group I belong to is called  "The Carrot Ranch Literary Community" ,  and the topic this week is "boots".  My submission is below the asterisk line.  I hope you enjoy my effort:

* * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * *

The harsh wind rattled windows of the room, as he slowly worked his aching fingers into unlacing his snow-encrusted boots. 

“There was a helluva lot of snow to shovel,” he remarked to his wife, “...damn near seven inches fell in the last couple hours.”

He slowly carried his boots to the hearth of the fireplace.  She could see and feel his utter exhaustion. Snow still clung to his beard and mustache.

Walking slowly to the cabinet, he poured himself four fingers of whiskey.  Taking a deep swallow, he grimaced as he waited for the liquor’s magic to warm him.  

* * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * *

Even if you are not part of the Carrot Ranch, I would enjoy any comments you may have about my flash fiction. Your comments will help me to try to improve as a writer.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Knights of Columbus

I have been a member of the Knights of Columbus for several decades.  I originally was encouraged to join by my uncle, who thought I would enjoy it. 

For those who may not know, the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization.  A fair amount of community service is done by the K of C.  I have participated in several aspects of this community service over the years. 

It has been several years since I have been very active.  Perhaps I should get more involved again.  They do have a bar. :) 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Popular Music

While I AM a big fan of music (I even play a few musical instruments), and I listen to a wide array of music, I have not really talked much about my favorites in terms of what is generally called "popular music".

Most of the time, I tend to have classical music or jazz music playing in the background in my office and in my laboratory.  In terms of classical music, I tend to prefer the horn based music more than string or piano.  Similarly, for jazz, I prefer the horn based jazz to that of string or piano.... and I have a strong preference for the more melodic forms of jazz as opposed to the "free-form" styles.

But, in terms of what is typically deemed "popular music" I think I can safely say that to me, ONE particular band stands out clear and away as my favorite more than ANY OTHER GROUP.  Please know, however, what I do like much of popular music and could name at least a dozen to twenty groups that I appreciated.

But..... if I were to exiled to a desert island for the rest of my life with only ONE "popular music" group that I could listen to, it would have to be......

CHICAGO (originally known as "The Chicago Transit Authority").

Words cannot adequately express how the majority of their music will invigorate my mindset and help me be in a better mood.  Instead, I will give you links to a few of my very favorites from them:

"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"

"25 or 6 to 4"

"Make Me Smile"

"Colour My World"

"Saturday in the Park"

But, there are so many, many more incredible songs from this group, so do not just limit yourself to the few above.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fruits & Veggies

While I regularly eat a veritable bushel of vegetables every day, I know that without a conscious effort, my consumption of fruit is more modest.  When I do not try to boost my consumption of fruit, almost inevitably what I end up consuming on a day-to-day basis is simply a banana and a serving or two of blueberries. 

The one especially easy fruit that I relish adding to my daily intake is grapefruit.  And, this is the time of the year when grapefruit is especially abundant, plentiful, and less expensive.  The bonus is that also, during usually January and February, these the are the months that we have available in my neck of the woods, WHITE grapefruit, which is my favorite of all the varieties.  I am not sure why, but white grapefruit seems to have have a much more narrow window of availability than the red grapefruit.

I am also going to work with my wife when we go grocery shopping next to pick up a variety of other fresh fruits from the array that may be available (guided by cost effectiveness as well).  I am hoping for pineapple and cantaloupe if they are not too pricey.


Monday, January 15, 2018

99 Word Essay - "Wet Ink"

I am writing again for the 99-Word Essay for the flash fiction group I am joining.  This flash fiction group is called "Carrot Ranch Literary Community" The topic this week is "wet ink".  My submission is below the asterisk line.  I hope you enjoy my effort:

* * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * *

“I used to write with these damn things all the time!”  he huffed, looking at the smear of the still wet ink that obscured his words on the page and had blued the edge of his hand. 

Grimacing in a way that turned his broad, bushy mustache downward at the ends, gave his face a sour expression.  Casting the fountain pen aside, he instead picked up his trusty pipe.  Swiftly lighting the crumbles of leaf in the bowl, he squinted through the smoke, down at the ruined page.  He furrowed his brow in frustration.

“I cannot write this again!”

* * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * *


Friday, January 12, 2018


Other than one very small glass of wine on New Year's Eve, I have not had a drink (of alcohol) since my elderly father-in-law went into the hospital in October.  My wife is not fond of drinking at all, and is "not particularly encouraging" of my drinking at home, so I do not do so. 

My elderly father-in-law has been my "drinking buddy" of sorts, and it has been a long standing ritual for us to get together for libations and pipes (usually on a Friday afternoon).  Now, with him being in a rehabilitation facility, he is not allowed to drink or to have pipes.  And, even though he is showing some improvement, he is also currently not his traditionally talkative self at the moment either.  In fact, most days he is relatively non-talkative with everyone who visits him.

So, I feel a bit sad.  Obviously I feel sad that my father-in-law is having such a rough time and that he is having to work to try to get back to a "normal" state of health for himself, and I am of course very sad that I am not sure if he will continue to work to do so.... it depends on how his mood affects him at the moment.   

But, and I do not mean for it to sound selfish, but it probably does sound that way and it probably is.... I am also sad that I do not get to have a drink with him, have a pipe with him, or chat with him in the ways we had grown accustomed to over the years.  Is this a "pity party" for me?  Probably.  And, that makes me mad at myself too. 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Some Modest Improvement

It is happy for all of us that my elderly father-in-law is showing a little bit of improvement.  He has taken to eating significantly more food, his disposition is less negative, and he has shown a modest amount of willingness to try during his physical therapy.

I do not know if there will be a good outcome yet, or not, but at least we can have a little bit of reason to hope currently.  In the best case scenario, he may start to feel even better as he gets more adequate calories and may try even harder.  If he does try, he has every potential to be able to strong enough to go back home.  I hope that is how things proceed.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Heat Wave Coming and Then...

Interestingly, in the next 36 hours we are in store for a heat wave for our region.  It is expected that temperatures will briefly hit an amazing high of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). If this actually happens, I may have enough warmth and slushiness to the snow that I may be able to dig out all the wires and lights from having decorated the exterior of the house for Christmas.  That will be wonderful and I hope it comes to fruition.

Then, within the next 36 hours after this "heat wave" we are expected to have temperatures go back down to normal temperatures AND we are anticipated to have a modestly heavy snowfall (anticipated 8 inches (20 centimeters).   So,  we will see how it goes. 


Monday, January 08, 2018

Star Wars - Micro Review

Against my better judgement, upon returning from Nevada, I was talked into going to see the newest "Star Wars" film with the whole family.  Please do not get me wrong, I really, really enjoy going to see movies.  In fact, we had gone to see the film, "The Greatest Showman" recently, and it was absolutely wonderful!  So, I am not opposed to going to see good films!

My trepidation and reluctance to see the latest "Star Wars" film was not due to any full-blown dislike of the Star Wars genre.  I have in fact, seen most of the films.  Some have been pretty good and one or two have been fairly bad.  But, the films are generally ok.  And, push-come-to-shove, I would say that the most current "Star Wars" film was reasonably interesting and had a respectably interesting plot (for a "Star Wars" film, which traditionally are very thin in terms of plot).  I actually enjoyed the character of the now aged Luke Skywalker, and also enjoyed the character of Princess Leah as well as the three younger main characters (Kylo Ren, Rey, & Finn).  I even enjoyed the new character added of Rose. 

But, what made me initially resist going to this new "Star Wars" film were three factors:

1.  The NOISE.  The constant deep bass sounds and the constant gunfire and other weapons sounds are so very loud in the theater.... and perhaps I have excessively sensitive hearing, but it is loud enough to me and chaotic enough to be painful. 

2.  The numerous, long battle scenes.  One thing that is a guarantee in a "Star Wars" film, is that about half the movie will be battle scenes.  For me, all these "special" effects in the battle scenes become repetitive very quickly and with these being the portions of the movie that are usually where all the NOISE comes in as well, makes the battle scenes not my favorite. 

3.  Finally, the fact that this film was clocked at over 2.5 hours.... meaning at least one full hour (and probably 1.5 - 2 hours)  would be noisy, battle scenes did not enthrall me. 

My solution:  I wore ear plugs to the film.  The noisy battles were diminished in intensity.  I also freely let my mind wander to other more interesting things during battle scenes.  The sound in the theater was loud enough even with my ear plugs that I could hear all the dialogue in the actual plot as well. 

So, I guess overall, I was happy I went to see the film with the family, and I am also happy I had ear plugs.... it reduced greatly the parts I was dreading.    Overall, I am a much bigger "Star TREK" fan.... mostly because of a more complex plot, more character development, and fewer noisy battle scenes.  I like to see the "Star Trek" movies without any reservations. :)


Friday, January 05, 2018

Missing the Friendship and Routine

The conference is going well.  My presentation was well received and it has been very nice thus far.  The weather has been exceptional as well.  Feeling temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s is a true delight for this Northerner at this time of year.  There have been a few nice gatherings at the conference in the evening as well.   And, I did find a fellow pipe smoker to hang around with one evening. 

Running outside in the nice weather has been great!  Seeing the sites of a new city and location while running always makes the time go by rapidly and the run feels much easier as well while exploring. 

I feel a lot of melancholy about my father-in-law, however.  When I go to visit him at the nursing/rehab facility he is not very talkative. He mostly will lay on the bed and not say much.    He is depressed, and yet I cannot figure out how to help.  He does not want to try to get better, and I wish he would try.  Normally, this being a Friday, if he were home, we would be having pipes and libations together and talking about all sorts of topics together.  But, he has lost the will to try to get better.  I do not know how to help. 


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Leaving for Nevada

I have a conference I am presenting some research at in Nevada that I am leaving to attend later today.  It will be nice to be in much warmer weather for a few days and I can run outside easily!  It appears that it will be around 63 degrees as the high temperature while I am there, and it will only dip down to 45 degrees at the coolest in the evening.  Damn, a veritable heat wave!!!!! I am truly very looking forward to such beautifully warm temperatures. 

My good Internet friend, MRMacrum has helped me get started again in my desire to write creative fiction.  He is once again involved in a "Flash Fiction" group, and I am joining as well.  The plan is that I will occasionally have a post of this fiction here and will tell you more about it after my first effort.  I am thankful to Mike for the inspiration. 


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

99 Word Essay - "Wishing Star"

I am trying to fulfill one of my goals by starting back with a flash fiction group.   This is a once a week effort and this week we are to use the words, "Wishing Star".  This flash fiction group is called "Carrot Ranch Literary Community"

I hope you enjoy my brief effort.  I plan to try this every week.

***** Start of Flash Fiction *****

I am sitting outside in the backyard, smoking my pipe when I look into the night sky and see a “falling star.”

“A wishing star.” I mutter to myself quietly. 

I take the pipe out of my mouth, and with my palm of my other hand, I rub across my face and smooth out the edges of my beard and mustache.  A tear forms and brims out of my eye.

“Life did not used to be so complex.” I think to myself.  “How have things gotten so stressful and anxiety filled?”

I knock out the ashes and go inside.

***** End of Flash Fiction *****


Monday, January 01, 2018

Pipe Efforts....

My wife and I wrote our "Hopes & Dreams" card last evening while drinking wine and eating snacks as is our custom to do for at least a part of our time on New Year's Eve.  We have these cards going back decades now, since our very first New Year's Eve after we started dating.  What we do is we have a card that we like and then we give it back and forth and each of us takes a turn at writing down hopes, dreams, goals, etc for the upcoming year.   It is enjoyable to read the older cards and see how we have changed and how we have stayed the same as a couple.

I am now of the mindset that I cannot, as I had hoped for several previous attempts, successfully become an occasional pipe smoker.  I believe I need to fully break the tie with the pipe.  The idea of a permanent refraining has me nervous, but I believe it is what I need to do.   I need to figure out how to make this clean break as pain-free as possible.