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, May 31, 2019

Weekend Goals

Unfortunately, I did not end up stopping to get beer on the way home last night.  As I drove, I remembered that in reality, without having a pipe or two or three while drinking and after drinking.... the drinking itself seemed fairly unimportant and inconsequential.

While I used to RELISH having a few drinks and pipes with my elderly father-in-law, and the thought of it at the end of a busy day was always enjoyable and encouraging...... since I have refrained from the pipe, my interest in drinking has gone significantly downward as well.  Without the beautiful modulation of the effects of the beverage by the pipe, drinking seems..... I do not know..... rather..... boring, I guess.

My goals for this weekend are:

1.  Planting our garden.  It has been too damn wet and muddy to be able to get into the tilled garden without creating havoc.  I am hoping/thinking it may FINALLY be dry enough to do so this weekend.

2.  Cleaning and straightening the garage.  I have a bunch of tasks that have been piling up in this regard and need to get a better, more organized space again.  It is starting to drive my nuts when I cannot find even the simplest of tools because I have left everything to chaos.  My garage does not look AS BAD as the stock image I have shown, but... in some regards it is getting close that level of chaos.

3.  I might coax myself into trying a non-stop 20K run.  I have ran 20K in a day a few times but typically in two parts.  I would like to see if I could handle running the 20k (12.4 miles) non-stop.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Dog Dead Tired

I am feeling a bit tired at the moment.  But, it mostly my own "doings" at fault.  I ended up staying up far too late last night  (2:00am) and still forced myself out of bed at 5:00am to get my run in. 

I needed to force myself to get up at 5:00 because my class today starts at 8:00am and in order to be able to run five miles, stretch appropriately, take out the dog, get showered, dressed, and drive to the U, 5:00 is about as late as I can afford to delay getting up.  In this semester, I end up teaching straight through until nearly 6:00pm today, and so I am bushed.    I am usually in no mood to run late in the day especially when I have been speaking in my loud "professorial" voice all day.  Therefore, getting up at 5:00 am was the best option for me to assure I would be able to get my 5 miles in.

Now that I am done for the day, a part of me is in the mood to have a few beers.  Perhaps I will stop on the way home and buy a few bottles of some variety that captures my interest.... perhaps some interesting looking IPA. 


Friday, May 24, 2019

Feeling Old

I am feeling old.

Numerically, I would be thought of as old, but I am not really talking about my age at the moment.

Nor am I speaking so much in the physical sense.  I still did my 5 miles of running this morning, and actually have been also keeping consistent in my weight training as well to improve upper body tone.

I am talking about my mindset, I think.  Here is what transpired:

My wife and I have always enjoyed movies, and have enjoyed going to movie theaters to watch movies.  But, during the last several years, there has a been a steady decline in the number of films we see.

A big part of the reason for the decline is what *I* perceive as a considerable change in movie genre.  In my view, there has been a dramatic change in the types of movies that would reach theaters.  Today, it seems that the lion's share of movies are in only a few categories:

1.  Comic Book / Fantasy films
2.  Sequels of Comic Book / Fantasy films
3.  "Epic" versions of Comic Book / Fantasy films (think the innumerable variations on "Star Wars" or "Lord of the Rings")
4.  Action Films with so much CGI that they are in effect "Fantasay" films as well with added violence.
5.  Horror/Murder/Slasher/Attack/Extreme Violence films
6.  Raunchy "Comedies"
7.  Raunchy "Comedic" Horror/Murder/Slasher/Attack/Extreme Violence films
8.  Children's films

Now, I damn well know there are other films out there, but it seems in my neck of the woods (and I have checked in other cities as well.... but.... the above 8 PREDOMINATE virtually all theaters other than the rarer than platinum "art-house" theaters, that persist in some lucky locations.

So,,, when a self proclaimed "Romantic Comedy" called "Long Shot" suddenly appeared on the marquee at one of our theaters.... and it ALSO received good "Rotten Tomato" scores.... my wife and I made a beeline to go see it.

*     *     *     *     *


*     *     *     *     *

How do I parse this out?

*     *     *     *     *

Ok.... here it goes....

1.  If I were to judge the movie based upon about 50% of the screen time of the film, I could say it was a reasonably enjoyable, kind-of-sort-of romantic comedy of sorts.  If I could have seen that 50% with the other 50% excised, I would probably have given the film a "B-" or a "C+" grade and would have been satisfied.

2.  BUT.... this "Romantic Comedy" 's other 50% of screen time.... and I am serious.... had the dialog consist entirely of the very coarse cuss word that means to copulate and starts with the letter "F".

Now, seriously, I am not a prude by any means.  I hear that particular word frequently (unfortunately) because it is so commonplace these days.  BUT.... really..... it felt like EVERY THIRD WORD uttered in this film was that particular word.  Added to this, one of the more "comedic" plot twists leading to the two main characters realizing they "loved" each other, was when the a video surfaced of the male lead sexually gratifying himself in front of a computer video camera.

Come on.  None of that was funny, comedic, or enjoyable in my opinion.  [sigh] 

With all of the above in #2.... there was no other grade to give this film other than an "F".

The era of "gross out humor" and "comic book storylines" makes me feel awfully damn old.


Thursday, May 23, 2019


In some of my perusal of various "headlines" in the news, I came across a story talking about a young girl who was "food-shamed".  The long and short of the story was that this little girl went through her hot lunch line at her school and did not have enough money in her prepaid account to pay for the meal (her parents did not realize it was at a low balance).  As you might expect, she was told that she was unable to buy the lunch and was asked to return it.... and was given instead a "sun-butter & jelly" sandwich and a milk. 

Apparently some of the other kids (probably the "cool kids") laughed at her having to return the lunch and this made the little girl feel bad.  Her parents were not happy, and have said the school district "food-shamed" her. 

I have mixed feelings about this.... my ideas are as follows (not in any particular order):

1.  I think "food-shaming" is a rather heavy handed term to apply to this situation. 

2.  I can understand the little girl being upset at being teased about the situation.... but it is not really the fault of the school district, in my opinion.... but is really the fault of the idiotic "cool kids" who had little to no empathy or understanding or care about the situation and used it to belittle the little girl. 

3.  I think also though that it would perhaps have been better to just let the little girl have the original food and have her food balance go into the negative for that day.... and then contact the parents to get them to simply pony up more funds for her account.  They had regularly added to the account through the year to that point and I would feel confident they would have made up the difference when they replenished the account. 

4.  I also find it odd but kind of nice but also kind of not nice that the school district substituted a sandwich and milk.... which too would have been of a price to cause a deficit in the account.  It just seems odd. 

So, as you can see, I have mixed feeling. 

But, also, this story introduced me to "sun-butter" which is apparently a peanut butter substitute that many schools are now using made from sunflower seeds.  Apparently this is done because of the widespread concern about potential peanut allergies. 


Friday, May 17, 2019

Peggy Lipton

It has been nearly a week since I sadly learned of the passing of the actress, Peggy Lipton.  I have always had very fond memories of her and her work on the late 60's and early 70s television program, "The Mod Squad". 

The show, ground breaking in the day, for its attempt to bring more realism to television, was in most ways a traditional show.... but it was damn good and enjoyable to watch.  And, the theme song.... I would argue that the original theme song for this series is the best television theme song ever composed.  Equally as beautiful in a "jazz" sort of fashion is the music used for the closing moments of each show before the credits would roll.  I had always loved watching each and every moment of these shows.... because the shows were entertaining.... but ESPECIALLY because the music at both the beginning and the end were worthwhile enough to wait for, even if the show were not interesting.  If you do not know the them song, I encourage you to listen to it on the link below:

The Mod Squad Theme Song


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sir Walter Raleigh

While spending some time straightening up the garage a bit, I found an empty can of Sir Walter Raleigh Pipe Tobacco in one of the cupboards.  I had kept the cans from most of the various "bulk" pipe tobaccos I have enjoyed and used the cans to hold a variety of different odds and ends.  If you were to look in my garage, I have many empty cans of Sir Walter Raleigh, many of Prince Albert Pipe Tobacco, a few of Granger Pipe Tobacco, and even one or two of Half and Half (a variety I was never as fond of for some reason). 

But, what made this particular can of Sir Walter Raleigh interesting to me, was first that it WAS empty of anything I had decided to store it in, and second, there was a little bit of pipe tobacco left in the can, approximately about the same amount shown in the image above, which is perhaps two or maybe three bowlfuls.  It smelled wonderfully earthy and dark.  I transferred this small prize into a baggie and labeled it and put it with my other pipe tobaccos (which are now all arranged in a large tool box since I not currently indulging).  I had not opened the tool box in several months either, and the aromas from when I did.... so beautiful. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Michael Connelly

It has been a year or two since I have last read a novel by Connelly, but it is not from lack of interest.... I had read through all the available books of his I knew of.  It was nice to find a copy of one of his latest Bosch novels in paperback a few weeks ago. 

His writing style is crisp, precise, and his stories are captivating and grand.  I do NOT want to plow through this book fast, but it is hard to put down.  The book is named "Two Kinds of Truth".  A very enjoyable book to read. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2019


I believe I am in a minority of folks, but I actually REALLY ENJOY eating okra.  I have had it a few different ways and have thus far never been disappointed.  The only style I have seen that I did not try was to have batter dipped, deep fried okra (I do not like deep fried foods much, so I usually avoid them.).

My favorite way to eat okra is fairly simple:  I will in the easiest variation take a can of diced tomatoes, add some spices and simmer it in a pan.  Then I will add a bag of chopped, frozen okra and heat until near boiling.  Very delicious. 

Of course, it is even more delicious when I do the same thing with fresh tomatoes and fresh okra, but that is a bit more time consuming. 


Monday, May 13, 2019


I am trying to further improve my fitness by incorporating regular upper body strength training.  I am *NOT* ever going to be able to be an "Arnold Schwarzenegger" type..... but, I am hoping to maintain and perhaps improve my strength through these efforts.

My five mile run today was cold, wet, and very rainy.  But, it was still nice.

I am trying to keep ahead at work so as to not get the "desperate" feelings of being behind.  It is my goal to put into practice this Summer and to learn the techniques I need to keep it my consistent pattern.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Food Cravings

I have been having a whole bunch of food cravings today.  That is not usual for me, but I feel I could eat an entire bag of candy or a whole cake today.  Not sure why, but, it is a bit challenging. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

No Rest for Me (I am not wicked)

Even though the adage goes, "No rest for the wicked," I hope that term does not apply to me.  However, I have been so utterly tied up with a myriad of work related and family related tasks this week that I did not have more than a minute or two to have "free time" on the computer any day this week. 

This often happens this time of the year for me, but this year was especially grueling with packing of a laboratory for a move for renovation that had to be done this week.  But, I *believe* the worst of it is over and that I should be back on to my more usual schedule again now. 


Friday, May 03, 2019

Davis, Coltrane, Hawkins

During the last few months I have been returning (delving back into) my passion for jazz.   I have been listening to many of my favorite recordings.  I am especially fond of John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker because of their focus on the saxophone.  But, I think today, the first link I have listed is my favorite for this moment.... it is an early Miles Davis and it is from the period of time where I think his music was at its peak.  All three songs are exceptional, so please listen to all three... but if you can only pick one.... listen to "It Never Entered My Mind". 

"It Never Entered My Mind" by Davis:

"Wise One" by Coltrane:

"Ballad" by Hawkins & Parker:

Amazing work and amazing music and creativity.


Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Conundrum - Elaborated

(Note:  In the above image the TOP pipe (the one with the smooth bowl) is of a beautiful  Dunhill Bent Bulldog Pipe.  In my large collection of pipes, I have one that is pretty much identical to that one and it has always been a favorite of mine.)

As I mentioned last week, there are many days when I do not think deeply and longingly about my pipes and pipe tobaccos.  I still think about them, but it is only a fleeting thought.  I guess this is good for my general goal.  But, it is "different" feeling for me. 

If push came-to-shove, and there was no knowledge of the detrimental effects of indulgence in tobacco.... there would be no reason for me to refrain.  So, sometimes I do imagine in my mind the "ignorance is bliss" situation of living as a professor in the 1940s, or the 1930s or 1920s or even earlier.... where smoking a pipe was not KNOWN to be detrimental and hence no reason to NOT indulge. 

I have often contemplated if I could go back to smoking a pipe but do so in a more "on occasion" basis?  Even though I am not planning to do so, I *do* believe I could do this now if I so chose to do so.  But, again, in reality.... the idea of having a bowl of pipe tobacco perhaps once a week or once a month, or 3-4 times a year.... that sort of pattern just feels FOR ME to be "unnatural" or perhaps I should say "forced" or "prescribed".  I do know many folks who do indulge in the hobby in this fashion, and they relish this "on occasion" status and do so very well.  I am glad that this sort of arrangement works nicely for them.  But.....

For me, however...  the "on occasion" route, while doable, feels so non-fluid, so unorganic, so STILTED for my own vision of the how *I* would live the hobby, that the idea of "on occasion" seems more like "work" for me and less like "enjoyment".  In the form of an analogy to try to better describe my idea:

Compare these two shirts..... Shirt "A" is a very beautiful, very crisp, tailored formal dress shirt that has been starched and pressed and is beautiful and pristine.  It is as vividly white as a fresh snowfall on a crystal clear, sunny morning..  Shirt "B" is a dense, comfortable, well fitting, but also well worn old flannel shirt in a muted array of red and black plaid. 

Which shirt is better as a "goal"?  I think logicallly "A" is the "better" of the two shirts.  "A" is also the notion of smoking a pipe "on occasion".  It is a nobel, ideal goal.   It offers pretty much all positives, just like the white dress shirt.

Yet, shirt "B" would arguably be the shirt I would RATHER wear... pretty much damn near everywhere, every day.  In the same way, if I were to smoke a pipe again... I would want it to be "fluid" unencumbered with rules/goals/plans.  I would want to pick up the pipe when my mind feels it is enjoyable to do so, and ignore the pipe when it seems unneeded or undesired. 

I do not think I can arrange the "on occasion" method in a fashion that would feel "fluid" and "dynamic" and "organic" for me.  Instead, I believe it would feel "planned" and "static, and "ill-fitting".  I believe I *could* do this "on occasion" method now.... but I do not see any benefit. 

The idea saddens me actually.  I had envisioned back when I started to fast at Lent over 14 months ago, that a great goal would be to reshape my reality to be an "on occasion" pipe smoker.  So, since I do not *want* to go back to "free-form" indulgence in my pipes and pipe toabccos, but I also cannot (yet) discern a way to go back to them in a fashion that is fluid and vibrant, but also "on-occasion".... it seems my most appropriate option at this time is to still just refrain and be a pipe smoker who simply does not indulge. 


Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Favorite Foods I Try to Resist

As I have mentioned, about 10 or a little more years ago, I went through a period of weight lost where I had a goal to bring my BMI down into the normal range.  In order to do this, I had to go through considerable thought and effort to change my thinking about food and what to eat. 

For my effort, my major change was in proportions.  Truth be told, I LOVE to eat, and I ate BIG quantities of food....  but, today..... I still LOVE to eat and I still eat BIG quantities of food.  The change is in proportions:

Basically, if a food is calorie dense (lots of calories in a small package), I tend to eat those foods in small or very small volume.  This means that fried foods (which I never liked much anyway) tend to be either avoided or eaten in very small quantities.  High fat foods in general are eaten in very small volume.

If a food is calorie diffuse (few calories in a big volume of food), I then tend to eat A LOT of those foods.  This means salads, vegetables, fruits, etc.

If the food is calorie medium (an "in-between") caloric content relative to volume, I eat a MODERATE sized volume of those foods.  Beans, lentils, chickpeas, chicken, fish, breads fall into this realm.

So, that is what I did in a nutshell.  I just changed the proportions of the foods that I ate.  It allowed me to lose 120 pounds (~55kg or 8.5 stone).

However, there are a few foods that I find very difficult to NOT eat in HUGE quantities when available.  The two foods that I do struggle with to eat in the right volume are:

Nuts (especially mixed nuts in a can)

I am not successful in proportional eating of those two foods, and so.... I simply try to avoid those two items as much as possible... because my willpower is not so successful with those two things.