The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Yes, another pipe post.  For some of you I am sure it is rather boring.  But, it is what is on my mind.... and I typically use this space to put down the varied thoughts I have outside of my day-to-day work. 

I have always thought tobacco pipes were utterly beautiful works of art.  Whether pristine and new or battered and used and well loved.... there is a tremendous "artisty" aspect to these simple devices to me.  I have a few books of photographic images of pipes that had been given to me over the years, and I have thumbed through them often.  And, with the Internet, I admit I have spent a fair amount of time looking at and perusing pipe images over the years. 

So, even though I do not have any particular "cravings" to smoke a pipe at this very moment (you know that I still often DO have that desire of course, but at the moment, not really).... my mind has been focused on pipes and pipe imagery.... and it has all been from in my memory.  For whatever reason, while I was running my 6.2 miles (10 K) this morning I initially prayed through the rosary as I always do while running.  But, when I finished the rosary, I spent the last mile and a half or so, imagining and pulling from my memory, images of a whole array of artistically beautiful tobacco pipes.  It was akin to a slide show in my mind and it helped to pass the time very pleasantly as I concluded my run. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2019


If you were following the news last week, you may have heard of the death of Peter Tork.  He passed away at the age of 77. 

He was a much more interesting and creative musician than he was given credit for.  Same also for Michael Nesmith.  Both Tork and Nesmith were quite strong, musically. 


Monday, February 25, 2019


There is an indoor, community pool that is about 15 minutes from home.  My wife and I had a very pleasant afternoon of swimming yesterday.  I am not sure what it is about being in water like that, whether it is in a pool or a lake or a river... it is always utterly relaxing and peaceful. 

When I am finished with being in the pool, I typically feel so relaxed and much more peaceful.  My wife tends to feel the same way.  We do like coming to swim at the community pool a great deal and do so regularly.... especially in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, but tend to do so much less frequently in the bitter, cold months of Winter.  I am thinking now that I have to encourage us to go more frequently in the Winter.  It is so helpful.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Google Docs

An awful lot of my students are now using "Google Docs" as their primary software.  This means that I have had to get at least modestly comfortable with the programs too to be able to read and examine some of their work (Technically, I would not have to do this, but I would not want to be perceived as a "hard ass"... I am already perceived as a hard grader.)

I suspect the reason why so many students use this program is is likely the case that it is free (like most "Microsoft Office" programs used to be).  I have tried it a bit, and it is somewhat interesting and usable, I guess.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

What Might Be a Special Enough Occasion?

I had a beautifully vivid dream last night about smoking a pipe again.  It felt so utterly tangible and real. 

I am still not sure yet what I am *going* to do, but the idea of having a pipe on a special occasion does have considerable appeal for me. I am not sure how or when I should approach this, however. 

One obvious potential would be to allow myself a pipe at any wedding receptions I attend.  On the plus side, I usually end up a bit tipsy at wedding receptions and that would be an incredibly appealing time to have a pipe.  On the downside, wedding receptions tend to be sporadic at best, and very unpredictable. 

Another possibility would be to have a pipe on the birthday of relatives who are no longer with us who were pipe smokers. 

I can think of a variety of other potential scenarios that I could adopt.  How should I determine the focus?  I have to think about this carefully.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

25 or 6 to 4..... Pink Panther..... Over the Rainbow

I have been getting myself to play some more interesting pieces on my tenor saxaphone.  The three I am enjoying the most at the momet are Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4", the theme from "The Pink Panther" and a jazzier arrangement of "Over the Rainbow". 

There was no real reason to choose those three particular songs other than I thought they would be enjoyable to play, I like each of them quite a bit, they bring back a lot of memories, and they have key melodies that sound very nice via the saxophone. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Mexican Place

My wife and I took the family out to eat on Sunday and we decided to traverse across town to a small Mexican restaurant we had not been to in a number of years.  It was really very nice, and the food was beautifully done. 

We had an appetizer of chips and guacomole.... and the order came back in a beautiful arrangement that looked like a blossoming flower.  The guacomole was the center of the flower in a beautiful mound and fresh chips were inserted all round in several rows like petals on a flower. 

They were very nice to me too in terms of my order.  I ordered a "3 burrito" platter that comes with rice and beans on the side.  Normally on the menu, they have the dinners have all three burritos be the same type (chunky bean, chicken, ground beef, or beef tips).  I asked if it would be possible to have one burrito be chunky bean, one chicken, and one beef tips, and they very kindly obliged me. 

A very nice way to have a Sunday meal. 


Monday, February 18, 2019

Tired of Snow

My wife and I have jokingly said for a lot of years that we should move when we retire to somewhere in the south... Florida, Arizona, or something similar. 

I am actually starting to consider this for real.  When retirement actually occurs, it would be a whole helluva lot nicer to be somewhere warm year-round.  I think I will start searching around for average cost of living measures in places in the more Southern regions of the US.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine's Day Yesterday

My wife and I had a quiet, romantic evening at home for Valentine's Day. 

Valentine's Day was a bit different from usual though in that a) I did not get her any candy because she is trying to avoid said because of a "pre-Type II" diabetic condition she is attempting to alleviate, and b) I did not indulge in any pleasant wine or other libations. 

Interestingly, while I never have been a big drinker (probably 3-4 drinks a month on average, maybe a little bit more when I was able to frequently visit my father-in-law), I think in the last year, I have had perhaps 3-4 drinks total.  For me, in many ways, I think that when I would drink.... I did so in many ways.... to ENHANCE my pipe smoking experience.  I always relished how after a drink or two, the beauty and intensity of having a pipe would grow significantly.   Without the pipe, drinking seems rather superfluous in many ways. 

Well, back to Valentine's Day.... it was a quiet pleasure between us and even though different than most years... it was wonderful to spend that time together.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

One, Uno. Un, Ein, один

Last year on this date, was the start of Lent for 2018.  It is on that date that I began my fast from smoking my beloved pipes and pipe tobaccos.  So, I have now completed one full year away from them. 

What have I learned during this year?  Several things, both good and bad:

1.  I learned that I *have* been able to muster enough strength and resolve to NOT smoke my pipes and pipe tobaccos. 

2.  I  have learned that it is not always hard and difficult to not smoke a pipe. 

I admit that during the six weeks of Lent, virtually every moment outside of work had me thinking about, missing, and feeling sorry for myself about the loss of my friendly pipes.  But, now, one year later.... I do actually have some times where I do not think about pipes and pipe smoking.  And, I think I have even had a small handful of "whole 24 hour" days where during that day, I did not even think about a pipe or pipe tobacco.  I can say that on average now-a-days, I have roughly 3-4 thoughts about smoking a pipe most days now.... which is considerably less than initially.  

3.  After one year, there are still days where I desperately would love and relish having a beautifully large bowl of beautiful burley tobacco leaf and just sit and indulge, pulling delightfully deep droughts of the thick, chalky smoke from the stem, and feel the beautiful cascade of its pleasures as it saturates my mind, body, and soul.  I probably feel this very deep yearning once every week or so now, but when it happens.... it is intense and fills my mind with thoughts both beautiful and melancholic at the same time, as I struggle to resist the siren's call. 

4.  Over the course of the year, I have at various times of struggle, held an cleaned pipe in my hands or carried it around in my pocket to play with during the day.  I am not sure of the value of this, however.  I think sometimes it does feel nice to touch and hold one of my old, trusty pipes, but then at other times, doing so leads to a bit of sadness. 

5.  Another interesting thing I have learned is that even though I am presuming my "aura" was always rather pleasantly "pipey", and that my pipe tobaccos were always in the more pleasant aroma realm.... I was not really as aware as I now am of how noticeable that "aura" is to a non-smoking individual.  When I meet a person who has been smoking, I notice it far more than I used to.  When it is a pipe smoker (sadly uncommon) I can often times even tell what particular pipe tobacco had been indulged in.  When it is a smoker of another form of tobacco, I find it sharper, and more pungent than I recalled. 

So, today is my one year anniversary.  I am not really sure I want to continue with the fast.  But, at the same time I am not sure I want to rejoin the hobby either.  Rejoining would be easy, and enjoyable, but there are costs of course.  But, fasting also involves its own set of "costs" as well. 

I guess the best I can say right now is that I am reasonably glad I did this, I am happy to have proven to myself that I could do this, and for the time being I will probably just keep carrying on like I have been, but I am not sure of much beyond that. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Caulking, & Repairing

In an extremely rare occurrence, a significant snow & ice storm hit with enough force that not only were all the K-12 schools closed, but the U as well.  We had approximately 1/3 inch of freezing rain, and then about 7 inches of heavy snow, followed later in the morning by about 2 inches of dry, light snow and heavy winds. 

So, luckily I was able to get to the track and put in my 5 miles of running ahead of the snow and ice becoming TOO horrendous.  Then for the rest of the day, I vacillated between two things:  A)  Shoveling and plowing to keep the driveway and sidewalks under some semblance of control and to move the plowed snow from the street and from in front of the mailbox that the big county trucks pushed over the mailbox, driveway, and curbs. And B) Caulking, and doing some minor wall repair in one of our bathrooms.  A person who shall remain nameless (but not me), accidentally pushed on one of the towel racks with such force, that the anchors embedded in the drywall for the bolts pulled out leaving gaping holes in the walls. I have repaired the plaster and probably can put on a coat of primer today in preparation for painting the one wall.   After I finish sanding and priming, I will put in new anchors a few inches above where the prior ones were (the repaired area would not be appropriately strong for a towel rack). 


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Wasabi Peas

One of my favorite mindless "snacking" items lately has been dried, wasabi peas.  I have enjoyed them for a decade or more, but I am in a cycle where I am eating a lot of the little crunchy beasts now.  I put them in salads, and just eat them as snacks.  They are good!


Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Malaise

Today was a day that turned out to be too hectic and busy for my own good.  Too many tasks, not enough time.  It has been the sort of day that you wonder more than once how the hell you got yourself into all this nonsense?

Thank you, though, to everyone for their comments about Google+ .  It appears that I fortunately have not used it, nor is that system a part of my comments.  So, I do not have change a damn thing. :)


Friday, February 08, 2019

Google +

It appears that "Google +" is being discontinued.  But, other aspects of Google are not.  What I read on line is that "Google+ Comments" are being shut down as well.  Google owns Blogger.  Blogger is the tool I use to write my blog.   I am not sure if I have my comments section through Google+, some other Google thing, or some other commenting system entirely.  It appears that I have what is the most common type of commenting system used by people writing on Blogger (It looks like most of the commenting sections that I use on other people's blogs who write on Blogger.). 

Can anyone explain whether the commenting system I have here is Google + (which I would have to worry about and try to change to another style or something else and I do not have to worry?

I have no clue.


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Would Be 91

If my beautiful mother were still alive, she would be 91 years old today.  I miss her.  I hope both she and my dad are happy in heaven and that if they can watch me from above that they are proud of me and know that I do try very hard to be a good, kind, gentle person.


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Feeling the Desire

I am having a very deep yearning for a pipe today.  The thought of the beautiful brown crumbles of a robust, whisky-infused burley leaf just seems so temptingly good at the moment.  I can imagine the gentle tamping of the leaf into the bowl of my pipe and guiding and nurturing the flame to meld with the leaf. 

The thought of the pleasure of drawing from the stem of my pipe the rich, thick, chalky pipe tobacco smoke is immensely pleasing.  It seems as if it would be a beautiful gift. 

I can sense that it is going to be quite challenging for me to refrain today.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019


My exercise routine keeps plugging along.  I had to go back and figure it out, but today is the 3,800th day in a row where I walked (or now mostly running) 5 miles each and every day.  3,800 days in a row without missing a single day!

This past Saturday, I was running on a treadmill (not what I typically enjoy, but probably three or four times a month in the winter I do this out of safety because it is too damn icy outside and an indoor track is not available).  I decided to try to push myself, and I ran 5K (a common road race distance of 3.1 miles) in 23:40.  This is a personal record for me.  Granted, it was on a treadmill which is different than an actual road race, but it made me happy.  I think I will every once in a while, when I need to run on a treadmill, try to see if I can improve on this "PR".  I am going to call it my current Treadmill PR.  My best run on an actual, official road race thus far has been 24:44.  But, I have only ran three actual races (all this past Summer) that were officially timed.  It is still hard and somewhat embarrassing for me to run in a real race, with other people, because I still have a lot of feelings that I am being foolish and I still have the damn emotional baggage of being a nonathletic "fat kid" who would get badgered by the real athletes while in school. 

Running at the rate I did to get the 23:40 meant I was running a just slightly under 8mph during the entirety of the run (this is just slightly under 13kph for metric fans). 

At the end of the run, I had a good aerobic target zone heart rate of 150 bpm. This puts me at about the 90% zone, which meant I was very aerobic. 

Five minutes after the run, my heart rate was down to 66bpm.

Ten minutes after the run, my heart was down to 59bpm. 

Not too damn bad for an old duffer who used to weigh nearly 300 pounds (~136kg or 21.5 stone).  I weighed 172 pounds today (~78kg or 12.3 stone)!


Monday, February 04, 2019

Fusion Food Fun

Last night, I decided to "work off the grid" so to speak in terms of making dinner.  I decided to peek around with what was on hand and to make something "new" and different.  The end result was what I call "Indian Lasagna"

I used the following:

package of lasagna noodles
garbanzo beans
kidney beans
tomato sauce
curry powder
mozzarella cheese
cheddar cheese

Basically I took the tomato sauce, infused in the curry powder, cardamom, turmeric, capers, paprika and garlic, then thickened it and layered it between several layers of lasagna noodles, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and spinach... and added the various cheeses throughout.  It was topped with mozzarella cheese and baked until golden brown. 

I also made a "Indian style Garlic Bread" as well, which was a whole grain bread topped with a garlic butter infused with Garam masala.  We had salad and vegetable with it as well. 

We all enjoyed it!  The picture above is NOT my lasagna, but it looked very similar, although a bit more "Indian spices - orange".


Friday, February 01, 2019


With my background and research related to physiology and development, I am finding a great deal of interesting work of late looking at how our gastrointestinal microbiota can shape so many facets of physiology, including some aspects related to endocrinology and behavior. 

One of the aspects of this new information I have incorporated into my lectures in physiology concern the roles we are starting to identify for the microbiota in terms of shaping a persons propensity for developing Type II diabetes.  Type II diabetes is increasing in the U.S. at astounding rates and there are a myriad of potential triggers that have been identified including:

1.  atypical microbiota
2.  atypical chemicals in the environment (pollutants, but also contact chemicals of everyday life)
3.  stress and stress response changes at the societal level

Most folks know how Type II diabetes is associated with obesity and diet..... it is a disease of the LOSS of sensitivity or a decline in the number of insulin receptors on our cells.  But.... the role of obesity and diet may be far more a SECONDARY effect rather than the trigger of the condition.  The three items above seem to be more and more likely the actual TRIGGERS of the condition.