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.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Moby Dick

It has been probably 30-35 years since I read Herman Melville's "Moby Dick".  I remember the book fondly, but of course, details are a bit sketchy. 

Just before Thanksgiving this year, there was a visiting scholar brought in by one of the Departments in the English building who presented a talk about his academic study of this classic work.  I attended his lecture. It was a strong, detailed analysis of the symbolism of struggle within the text of the work. 
His talk encouraged me to contemplate a lot.  I am thinking I may reread this work again.  I suspect I will have an older man's perspective this time which may shape my perceptions of Melville's words differently than I thought previously.   And, I remember there was a lot of mentions of pipes and pipe smoking. :)

I will see if our Barnes and Noble has a copy... or if not, I will perhaps order a copy on Amazon.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018


While rummaging around in the garage when I was hanging lights, I came across a whittling set I have, but had not thought about in a few years.  I am considering getting involved in a new project.  It seems like it would be very enjoyable to try. 

In the past, I had whittled a chess set, and I had whittled myself a briar wood pipe bowl.  Both had turned out pretty well. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Siren's Call

Hmm.  It is another one of those days.  I woke up this morning in the midst of a beautifully pleasant dream where I was a sales person at one of my favorite tobacconists.  It had been a very jolly, happy, camaraderie filled dream where I was walking around, pipe-in-hand, fixing up displays in the store, sampling various crumbles of aromatic burleys and latakias.  It was a wonderful dream, but it has stirred the yearnings in my soul. 

Added to this, as I was driving in to the U this morning, there was a fellow smoking a pipe outside a building near my own building.  He was not a faculty member that I knew (I know damn near everyone), so it was likely either a student's father or uncle, or grandfather who needed to help the student with something or other by driving the student in.  Seeing the fellow just added to my craving for a pipe.



Monday, November 26, 2018

Big Snow

I traditionally am able to put lights on the outside of the house for the holidays during the week before Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, we had several small snows and very bitter cold that made the hanging of lights impossible to accomplish. 

Fortunately, however, we had a brief "warm spell" on Friday and Saturday.  We had temperatures hovering around 41 degrees both days (5 degrees Celsius).  By late afternoon on Friday the snow had melted and I was able to make a muddy mess of the yard, but did get started with hanging some of the lights.  I finished up the job on Saturday as the temperature remained in the same zone. 

It is a damn good thing that I persevered and worked on it during those two nice days.  We are now in the midst of a bigger snowstorm at the moment (anticipation of 8-10 inches (20 - 25 cm) )  of heavy snow by the end of the day.  I will be needing to spend as much time as possible shoveling us out of this storm. 

But... at least the lights are up!  And they look nice when they are turned on at dusk. 


Thursday, November 22, 2018


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I am still stymied about what to do about my father's birthday that is fast approaching.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018


From a cullinary perspective, I am on a huge bean kick.  I think my family would agree that this has been a very successful and creative exploration that has added a helluva lot of goodness to our diet.  The two most abundant beans I have been using the last 5-6 months have been:

1.  Garbanzo Beans
2.  Black Beans

In terms of Garbanzo beans, I have been making many different Indian inspired curry dishes. I have made a variation on traditional beef stew (without any beef or beef stock due to some vegetarians who were part of the dinner group) using Garbanzo beans.  I have been making a wide array of different types of hummus.  I have made Chili featuring Garbanzo beans.

In terms of Black beans, I have had a similar array of foods, usually more with a slightly Mexican or Southwest flair.  Another avenue I have taken black beans in is to make facsimiles of some of my favorite Ethiopian dishes, and I have been getting pretty decent results in mimicking those flavors.  However, I have also made from dried black beans one of the best bean dishes I have ever had the opportunity to taste.  It is a "fusion" dish combining Caribbean and more traditionally tropical spices in what is akin to a magic food with shockingly good flavor!  

Those are the two beans I have been using the most lately.  But, hell, no bean I can lay my hands on lately goes unexplored.  Perhaps in another post I will try to talk about some of the things I have been trying to make with pinto beans, or lima beans, or Cannelini beans. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I Would REALLY....

I would so very much like to have a pipe right now.  It is so very odd and unpredictable about the cravings.  There are times when I only minimally think about smoking a pipe.  Those times are pretty easy in terms of my resolve.  But, then there are more moderate yearnings that occupy more of my mental capacity.  And, yet, even now, into my 10th month of refraining.... there are still times when the desire for a beautiful briar filled with enticing and gentle crumbles of vanilla-tinctured burley leaf seem to be the totality of my focus and all I see in my mind's eye.

Now is one of those times.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Deer Season

Even though I am not fond of venison, I have always appreciated Deer Season.  I have spent many a day during the season out in the woods, with a rifle in hand and camera around my neck.... going through the ritual.  Again, I do not like venison, so I really have no need to actually shoot a deer other than with my camera.  I do have many decent photos from over the years. 

I think deer hunting is a wonderful and appropriate activity and believe it encourages us to be more naturally involved with the real world, the natural environment.  It also helps us be better attuned to what it REALLY takes to be a meat eater.  Although I typically ended up taking pictures in my own hunting, I also (from my biology background) have been a very good "surgeon" and always was sought after to help to dress the deer as neatly and cleanly as possible for the deer other members in camp were able to get.

I have also liked the camaraderie of deer camp, the drinking and carousing that occurs.  It is relaxing and feels like a different world from my day-to-day. 

With the passage of my elderly father-in-law this past January.... I lost my significant link to deer hunting and deer camp. I missed even thinking about opening day last Thursday.


Friday, November 16, 2018


I finally went through and counted...

It has as of today, been officially 3.719 days in a row where I have walked or ran 5 miles each and every day!  Never missed a day due to illness or holiday or weather. 

That is over 10 years of consistency. 


Thursday, November 15, 2018


In my Northern Climate, Daylight Savings Time is always a cause for celebration.  It is akin to magic.... it is the start of the time where it remains light until often 10:30pm or so at the peak of the Summer.  It is so, so very invigorating and enjoyable. 

In an opposite way, the return to Standard Time is a horrendous crashing to Earth, a shattering of resolve, and demoralizing endeavor.  The length of day has already been creeping downward, more and more palatably each day for months..... then in one fell swoop..... CRASH!!!! Suddenly, it is dark as hell at 5:15 and there is another month and a half of it getting even WORSE!  The start of Standard Time is always challenging.... it begins the many months where I end up getting up in the dark, and not getting out of work until it is dark.  And, my damn work hours do not change one iota.

This is the time of year when Seasonal Affective Disorder rears its ugly head if you are not careful. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What To Do?

My father's birthday is fast approaching.  My father would be turning 95 years old this year if he were still alive.  In the years since he passed away, I have always consciously and deliberately spent time on that day outside somewhere quiet and peaceful, smoking one of his favorite pipes that I have inherited while I think deeply about the many memories I have of him as my father and my guide and my friend.  It has always been an meainingful, important, albeit melancholy time.

This will be his first birthday since I have started to refrain from smoking a pipe.  I am not sure of my plans.  Part of me very much wants to follow the tradition I established, and smoke a bowl of pipe tobacco and continue with the entire process like I have done now for many, many years.  Another part of me is concerned that having one bowl of beautiful, fragrant pipe tobacco would be too much of a slippery slope.  I do not know if I am of a strong enough mettle to go back to refraining after reacquainting myself with the beautiful burley leaf.   Obviously, I could go find a quiet space out-of-doors and think about my wonderful father sans pipe on his birthday.  Yet, somehow, I believe that may feel incomplete.  I am not by nature, a breaker of routine.  When I can establish a routine, I much, much prefer to stick with it.

I really am unsure of what I will decide to do.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Update

My prior return was only for a day and then things around these parts became extraordinarily busy again.  I was surprised at the large amount of work I was inundated with.  I have been struggling with getting these needs accomplished and now I am once again on a steady footing.... and THIS TIME it appears that I will have a return to my general schedule. 

My thoughts are currently all over the map, but here are a few thoughts that I am anticipating I will elaborate on over the next few days:

1.  I am not yet acclimated to the below freezing temperatures in my region.  It seems to take about 2-3 weeks of constant below freezing temperatures for me to "get used to it".  Right now, I am feeling the cold and the biting wind very vividly.

2.  This time of year is quite hazardous because the first several snowfalls are accompanied by a helluva lot of fender benders as people relearn how to drive in snow.  It also is challenging for a lot of folks because the snow currently is light and sometimes does not even stick noticeably on the ground but it still can make the roads very slippery.  I am being extra careful for the next few weeks while people acclimate. 

3.  My TMJ is acting up like crazy.  It is now even affecting me during the day in very painful ways.  I am trying to force myself to not clench my teeth.... but the moment my attention strays.... I am at it again.  My tempormadibular joint is inflamed and my ear is also inflamed and sore as a result.  I have taken to gripping a plastic pen between my teeth to try to help me to NOT clench.   I wonder if my holding the stem of my pipe between my teeth prevented me from clenching so much and the current pain is in part due to not having the pipe between my teeth like usual?  Interesting idea.