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, April 19, 2024


My beloved dog appears to be doing well with her medication at the moment.  She has been given (as I mentioned) some sort of anti-inflammatory/steroid/pain combination medicine.  In speaking with the veterinarian I am to continue giving this to her through the weekend and then stop on Monday morning.

Her behavior and physiology all seem to again be reasonably close to normal at the moment.  She is perhaps a bit less frenetic.  She has had consistent bowel movements and urinations.  She has barked some at noises she hears.  So, thus far things are hopeful.  

Yet, I still feel a sense of dread and terror that I am having difficulty shaking.  Her initial crisis really threw me for a loop.  I have always been extremely careful about all aspects of her care, and until this crisis, she has been very energetic, robust, and seemed younger than her years.  

When we obtained her, it was originally at the urging of my youngest daughter, as she had wanted a dog for a long time.  During most of our marriage my wife and I had mostly had many cats of various sorts.  I had also had cats as my primary pet prior to marriage, when in graduate school.  Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love dogs, and I had two great dogs growing up (and many cats as well).  In adulthood, I think the primary reason I gravitated towards cats was simply because of easier care requirements for cats.  With the ability to have an indoor litterbox, it made the variances of graduate school timetables more manageable, and this convenience is perhaps the major reason we had only cats for much of our marriage.  You CAN, if needed, leave a cat to its own devices for a day or two if travel is required.  Our cats often gave us grumpy faces for a bit upon return, but they were safe, secure and sound.  But, a dog necessitates a far more consistent routine, and of course this is in part for potty breaks, but also tends to include food too, as MOST dogs will tend to overeat if food is available.  Some cats do as well, but it is not as common.   

I love all the pets I have had, quite dearly.  And, even though arguably, we obtained our dog because my youngest daughter so wanted a dog, I also knew that it was more than probable that the dog would become my primary responsibility.  I think that is often common for dogs in families, but it goes further than that....

I am not sure what it is, but throughout my whole life, pet animals (dogs and cats primarily, but cockatiels, guinea pigs, and other sundry pets I have been around (at home, during college and graduate school, and into full adulthood) seem to bond very, very strongly with me.  It has always been that way.  There must be some facet of my personality that pets can read and perhaps find comforting.  I am not sure.  And, I admit, I strongly bond with them too.  

And, I do not mind, as I love interacting with them.  I always have.  In part that is likely why I navigated towards biology and also towards veterinary medicine (and equally why I moved away from veterinary medicine... too much emotional pain in that career) during my college years.

Well, the above is me blathering.  What I was meaning to say was that our new puppy, from nearly the moment we drove home with her in our car, stuck to me like glue.  Yes, she did always play with our kids, and yes, she always was happy and excited to see my wife.  But, much, much of the time, she was focused on interacting with me. We have one cat currently, and he is the same.  I am his focus.  

It was not that I intentionally tried to have our pets be so "enamored" with me compared to others in our family.  It just seems to be the way they respond with me.  It has always been this way.  

AC mentioned that he did not realize I had a dog.  The above is somewhat in response to that comment.  I have mentioned my dog many times here but, typically only in passing, so I can easily understand not remembering these mentions.    

I am not exactly sure why I am writing this today.  It is perhaps just me trying to cope with the roiling emotions I am still trying to figure out how to quiet.  I KNOW she is elderly.  But, this unexpected crisis threw me off kilter.  It makes me feel like a failure.  It makes me think regretfully about all the times I have missed with now deceased family, friends, and pets.... not because I didn't TRY, but because I can only do so much, and what I do never seems enough.  

To try to salvage the running week, I ran two different 10 mile runs today.  One, this early morning.  And the other (much more slowly) this early afternoon.  I had hoped I could stomp out my worries and fears, but of course, that did not happen.  It did quell them a little.  

My sleeping has been rough the last few days as well as I keep close watch on our dog.  I cannot even seem to focus strongly enough on beautiful pipe memories to fall into sleep.  I feel I need to be "on guard" to watch, and observe, and care. 


Thursday, April 18, 2024



Yesterday, at about 5:30am, my wife and I were in bed and my wife was petting our dog and gently touched her hind quarter region of her leg when our dog emitted the most horrendous scream and jumped off the bed and her whole hind quarters were shaking.  She ran into her crate (which she does not use, except for when there are storms).  She did not want to come out.

The veterinarian opened at 8:00am, and I knew that they had other workers who usually showed up to care for overnight patients beginning ~7:30am.  My wife and I were terribly worried and I was literally hysterical in worry, grief and anxiety.  

While I was getting dressed quickly (in work clothes to teach), I was crying deep, guttural sobs of fear and worry.  "What if the veterinarian says she needs to be euthanized???" I was hysterical from fear.  I was panicked about trying to get her into my vehicle, and did not want to move her.  I carried her, in her crate The crate is ~36 in X 24 in x 24 in (~90 cm x 60 cm x 60cm) and our dog weighs ~ 35 pounds (~16 kg), so the whole contraption and our dog would weigh ~50 pounds (~23 kg).  I was terrified and carried her in the crate downstairs and out into my vehicle.  I cried the whole way.

I got there at 7:30am and phoned inside to the Veterinary Office.  A worker answered.  I explained.  Eventually I was able to bring her in (crate and all) and sit in an exam room with her by 7:50am.  Now, just to wait until the veterinarian arrived.  

When she eventually arrived, my dog had worked herself into her normal "frenzy" of being at the veterinarian.  She was barking and excited and exuberant.   The veterinarian knows her and her breed (mostly a Wheaton Terrier).  She said the adrenalin rush our dog experiences about the excitement of being at the vet masks her symptoms (meaning that she knew and understood I was not making up the worry/terror I felt as I explained what had happened).  She slowly palpated our dog, trying to see what hurt.... nothing from spinal massage, nothing from leg manipulation and distension.  Nothing.  Yet, when our dog was not bounding around she would visibly shake in her hindquarters showing that SOMETHING was still going on.  The veterinarian saw this too.  

The veterinarian gave her a anti-inflammatory/pain injection and gave me oral versions of this medicine to administer each morning.  If it does not resolve, the next step is to x-ray her, but that requires anesthesia so we are trying to avoid that.  

Our dog was somewhat groggy and listless last evening, but not trembling.  She seemed "better" to some degree.  This morning, she seemed "close" to her usual self.  But I am still filled with dread.  I am still worrying about the "last shoe to drop".  I am having a very hard time.  Yesterday, I was non-stop in action.  The moment I was discharged from the vet, I had to rush home, make our dog comfortable, and then rush at high speed to get the U to just barely get to my first class of the day.  In the brief, 1-hour break I had mid-day, where I normally grade and do other work and research, I instead high-tailed it home to check on the dog and to let her go to the bathroom in case the medication increased her need to "potty".  Then I raced back to get to my next class. Then it was non-stop work through 6pm.  

I slept fitfully last night, mostly listening for how our dog was sleeping and behaving.  I am exhausted today.  I am still filled to the brim with anxiety and feelings of panic.  I am trying my best to calm down and trying to keep focused that at least on the surface, things have stabilized and may be improving.... though my mind is spinning/churning out thoughts about what I should do what I should be observing, and ultimately searching for anything I may be missing.  I am still feeling fearful that this is not actually fixed or resolved.  I worry, because she is 11 years old, and I know she is elderly.  It hurts my heart so to imagine her death.

I did not run yesterday.  I did not run today.  This may be the first week I fail at my weekly mileage in over 4.5 years.  Right now I don't give a sh*t. 

I am scared, I am exhausted, I am about ready to collapse.  Yet, I have to figure out how to do the damnable day's work today.  I do not have the option to cancel classes, it is too close to the end of the semester.  I cannot cancel research meetings, we have presentations forthcoming.  


Monday, April 15, 2024



I have been away a while.  Not really sure it matters a whole helluva lot anyhow, I guess.  I am still struggling to find a way back to feeling my usual self.  It is difficult.  I believe I am going to try to (the best of my ability) to write smaller thoughts here for a while, as I think that perhaps what I write is too damn verbose and folks do not want to read that much.

So, I am not sure if there is anything much else to say today.  My MIL and SIL are both having new health issues.  A nephew by marriage is going to get married for the THIRD TIME this coming weekend, and I do not relish going to another hootenay-hoedown thing for him and his future wife (who is also getting married for the third time).  His other two marriages ended in divorce when he had affairs.  I suspect the same may transpire here.  

Most everything is still the same:

I run my damnable miles.  10 miles this morning.

I do a bunch of work.

I think very often and fondly about my pipes, and feel like going back to them. 


Thursday, April 04, 2024

All I Can Do


Seemingly an apt title for today, but also arguably the very best (at least MY personal favorite) song ever recorded by the Carpenters

I am continuing to try to "pull myself up" by my bootstraps.  I have been working considerably on trying to get through the very harsh aftereffects of the damn olive pit on my TMJ.  Yesterday was a bit better.... the pain only started to form about an hour or so before bedtime.  I wore my bite splint most all of the day other than when I was lecturing.  And, I focused on chewing very gingerly and gently throughout the day in an effort to quell any flare-ups.  It may seem strange, but it is exhausting, thinking about and carefully chewing any food that I eat.  It probably will in the end help to decrease the calories I consume during this span as it gets tiring very quickly.  

In my previous post, there were a few comments I thought I would respond to:

Pat stated...  "I get the sense that simply by your nature you are going to be under stress and feel some sadness whether or not you are enjoying your pipes. But at least with your pipes you would have a tool to ameliorate some of your stress and sadness."

Right now, at this particular time of the year, I believe you are 100% correct about the stress and sadness.  I NEED to find a way to figure out how to quell those feelings and also figure out a way to get them to stop…. so that I can go back to my normal, happier living.  The biggest difficulty is that I have SOME things I CAN control to an extent (some damnable animal use paperwork that I have to finish and submit that just is frustrating and 10x more labor intensive than it needs to be, and with my having scant available time within the scope of my other work to devote to this arduous task, it never is getting done),  and so it continually looms in my mind.  But, I have no energy/ambition/desire to pull an "ALL NIGHTER" without sleep to get the damn work off my plate.  

You are also right that the return to my beloved pipes and pipe tobaccos WOULD ameliorate a fair amount of the stress and sadness.  I have been thinking about that quite a bit.  It seems like a grand idea to me most days.  But, I do tend to also have concerns in my (Freudian) ego and superego on whether to indulge in this context would simply be me "taking the easy way out" if you get my meaning.  What I mean is that I have been searching/contemplating/scheming of ways in which I could successfully engage a careful, well metered return to my pipes on OCCASION.  In reality, if I used "stress" as the benchmark for allowing me to indulge.... hell, I would be smoking my pipes MORE than I did several years ago. :)

The TWO bowls of pipe tobacco I have indulged in since starting the fasting journey were each so beautiful, fulfilling, near perfection.... and also nearly Nirvana for me. I would most like to find a workable pattern that allows this sense of Nirvana.....  but have it occur a damn bit more frequently than twice in six years and 50 days (as of today). 

Margaret stated... "No more olives for you, sir! I understand the stress of get togethers."

I love olives so very much.  Yet, since the first incident occurred, I have been visibly pinching all of my olives before adding them to salads or other foods to assure myself they HAVE BEEN PROPERLY PITTED.  Unfortunately, I think this most recent damnable olive pit was HIDDEN in the bottom of a bottle of a jar of green olives where the olives had been consumed… and all that (I thought) remained in the jar were some loose pimentos that had fallen out of the olive centers. I nonchalantly tossed these errant red pimentos onto my salad without thinking a damnable pit may have been lurking under the bundle of red pimentos.  And, yes, the stress of get togethers when there is the potential for negative outcomes tends to spoil the time.  I was on edge until the day was done.  

 Pam stated... "If your doctor would prescribe a mild tranquilizer for you, your life would be improved immensely. I say this as an anxious person who has successfully moderated my use of tranquilizers for 40 years."

Pam... THANK YOU for the above.  I want to assure you that in NO WAY would I think it a "weakness" to use a tranquilizer (as you suggested as a possible thought in your comment).  I think the use of medications of any sort that are medically prescribed can be and typically are WONDERFUL things.  Also, you mentioned that your advice was unsolicited.... that is not true.  Even though I did not specifically say "Pam... tell me....".... the reason I write here is to try to obtain the ideas and opinions of others.  I very much value your thoughts and ideas and advice.  

In regards to my taking a tranquilizer or hell, most any medication is something I am unsure about regarding MY OWN potential weaknesses in doing so.  Let me explain:

1.  I do not (as of yet) taken any medications in a continual fashion.  I have, of course, had a round of antibiotics a few times over the years, and I have on occasion taken some sort of over-the-counter remedy.  But, I do not have any long term prescriptions from my doctor.  Chronic prescription medication consumption does worry me a bit, because of potential side effects.  I know that the probability is high that someday my doctor will TELL ME that I must start to take "this" or "that" medicine.....but it does make me nervous to imagine doing so.

2.  I DO consume a few various multi-vitamin and mineral supplements each day.  I do this only because I am not always certain if I adequately meet these needs with my diet.  I started this LONG ago when I was working on changing my BMI..... fearing that while in weight loss, there was a potential for me to not obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals as I strived to reduce caloric intake. 

3.  Another concern for me is if a medication is neurally active in some fashion.... my worry is.... what if I LIKE the damn thing too much?   Is that a path that would be a struggle for me to for me to navigate?  Sincerely, I do not really know how to answer that question.

I believe across my lifespan, I know of three neurally active substances I have consumed.  The results were variable:

A.  Pipe Tobacco.... hell, everyone knows and understands that I love and relish pipe tobacco.  I loved and relished pipe tobacco long before I smoked my first bowlful.  And, smoking my first pipe-full only CONFIRMED what I thought.... that pipe smoking to me was utter bliss and Nirvana.  That idea is as true today as it ever has been. Even though I have been away from it for so long now, its appeal does not change.  For whatever REASON pipe tobacco and pipe smoking is damn near magical for me.

B.  Alcohol...  having a drink or two (or sometimes three) is enjoyable.  But, truth be told, it is enjoyable to me rather sporadically.  These days I typically may indulge in a one or two beers a month.  But... also very, very truthful.... alcohol used to be more enjoyable.... when I enjoyed it as a WAY TO ENHANCE how wonderful my pipe and pipe tobacco was!  I can still remember so well, when I would go over to my FILs on many Fridays across decades, and we would sit, and have a drink or two while we talked.  There were several times over the years when I would very purposefully not indulge in a pipe the morning before I went to visit my FIL.... because I was looking forward to the beautiful intensity of that first pipe after I had drank a beer (or other alcoholic beverage) a bit earlier.  It is difficult to describe... but the best I can say is that what truly enjoyed about a drink was MOSTLY how it made the beauty of my pipe enhanced.

C.  Following a dental procedure where some of my gum had to be removed by cutting and cauterizing (it had overgrown due to movement of my below the gum surface, impacted wisdom tooth, and I had ended up chomping on it with my back molars, causing bleeding, infection, inflammation, etc), my dentist gave me a few pain pills that at the time, I didn't give much thought to them.  I took them for the three days following the procedure.  Nothing noteworthy.  Only a year or two later did the headlines start to sprout up about "Oxycontin" and I looked around for the empty bottle.  Sure enough that is what my dentist prescribed for me. But, it did not bother me in the slightest.  

So, while my foray into Oxycontin seemed wholly uneventful, and my drinking mode is modest a worst.  The passion I have for pipe tobacco makes me a bit worried that if another neurally active medication were to be something I end up really liking.... would that simply be a new stress to have to work through?  I do not know. 

The whole lyrics of the song "All I Can Do" are listed below.  I think this is lyrically and musically a very strong song.  It expresses emotions I can definitely relate to:

Yesterday, I thought you'd stay, I thought you'd see things my wayBut now I see my hope may be deadI should have known when you said I was the one that you wantedWanting meant nothing more than today
All I can do is cry over you and hope you return somedayAll I can do is cry over you ever since you've gone away
Every road that I follow leaves me with no tomorrowI need someone to show me the way
All I can do is cry over you and hope you return somedayAll I can do is cry over you ever since you've gone away

Monday, April 01, 2024



The old "bootstraps" approach is NOT working.  I have been trying to work myself out of my sorrows, but I have not been successful.  It is the same old sh*t that has been problematic for a while:

1.  My TMJ Disorder has been so, so damn annoying and hard to deal with.  I believe an errant chomp with my teeth onto an olive pit about two or three weeks ago likely bruised my bursa on right side of the tempormandibular joint.  The pain, the swelling, the discomfort.... and the radiating pain into my ear..... just about are going to be the end of me.  I did this same damn thing (even, perhaps if I recall, due to a damn olive pit as well) perhaps a year or so ago.  

2.  Easter actually felt more like stress than a joyful day.  Having the kids over along with relatives is not longer the casual fun it used to be.  Instead, I just feel a sense of dread and anxiety because of the one I no longer mention here.... and what this person may spout off about.  And, conversely, some of the relatives may casually say something that could also cause this person to spout off.  I would far rather meet with the various relatives OUTSIDE of meeting with "the person I no longer talk about".  It would be a lot less stressful for me.  But, unfortunately, I do not really get to decide unilaterally.  My wife wants everyone to get along and be happy, so she always hopes for the best and always wants EVERYONE together.  And, she was RIGHT... nothing horrible happened THIS TIME.  But, that did not mean I did not have extreme stress and anxiety about the possibility.... all day.  

The only thing I actually want to do lately is lay with my wife on the bed and have her hold me or I hold her.  I feel I could sleep for weeks/months.  

I did all my damn usual things, like always.... stomped my feet through all the damn miles this morning, thought about my pipes and pipe tobaccos like always.  


Thursday, March 28, 2024



I haven't got anything particularly novel to say at the moment.  I am tired from lecturing all day. We are going to a potluck at our new Parish ahead of going to Holy Thursday Mass this evening.  In theory, I do not need to go into work tomorrow and can potentially just work from home which would be helpful.  

I ran this morning like I always do.  I will hopefully run tomorrow morning and if I run the set number of (~10 miles) I will have reached my mandatory 50 miles a week (~80 km), and can have the weekend off.

I have gone to band and the new music we are playing has promise.  It is a "water" themed program for Spring according to our conductor.  One piece, which will be a challenge has virtually the entire part for my instrument for this song in the highest part of the upper register of my instrument.  Normally, the upper register is only occasionally utilized in parts for the bass clarinet, because as the name suggests, it is a low, deep toned instrument.   Much of the piece is near or at the C5 range  whereas most bass clarinet music focuses primarily on its beautiful, rich, low register more akin to the C2 range.  It will be a challenge. 

But, what I spend most of "daydreaming" hours thinking about are:

  • Beautiful memories of my pipes and pipe tobaccos. I have so many different renderings of joyful memories, olfactory, gustatory, and visually that I can pull from.  I can almost taste the imagined flavors, almost smell the earthy leaf, and I can visualize (in my mind's eye) the beautifully thick, chalky grey texture to the smoke itself.  
  • Imagined future travel that could permit me an indulgence in a real world sampling of the beautiful leaf in one of my pipes.  I have lately been imagining the indulgence specifically with a large bowled, full-bent, fishtail Peterson.  I also keep focusing in my mind's eye of the delight of peering into the bowl of the pipe during that first light, seeing the yellow flame from my Zippo be drawn into the bowl, igniting the leaf and seeing the combustion begin where each crumble begins to transition into a beautiful red ember. 
  • The hoped for soon-to-be (hopefully) adventure to the cigar "club" the fellow at our Parish has invited me to attend.  I have likely 5 more work Thursdays before I have a day of break on Thursday.  I have been imagining the experience as simple contentment and camaraderie.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2024



I am going to do some exploration to attempt to better understand "hashtags" which are NOT a shredded potato dish, nor is it the 70's era terminology for especially potent marijuana (since I have never had marijuana, I have no idea what "regular" versus "potent" may be in that regard).  

No, the "hashtag" idea I am interested trying to figure out references the "#" symbol that sits atop of the "3" on the standard (US standard) keyboard.  And, more specifically, how this little symbol when tied to some word, words, or array of letters is often found cluttering up the bottom of various Internet posts, social media posts, blog posts, and the like.  

I have SEEN these "hashtag" things for many years, but for the most part I tried to ignore them.  I clicked on one once, and it took me somewhere (I do not remember where the hell it was) that was chaotically not useful to me.  I am guessing they must link to some sort of aggregate database of some sort, probably of what folks may DEEM to be related ideas, but I am not sure.  

So, I have done the following to try to elicit help in understanding:

1.  I asked my wife.  (She didn't have any more clue to the answer than I did.)

2.  I sent a text to one of my kids who is especially "electronic" focused.  I have not yet received a reply.  Probably not until perhaps later tonight, I suspect.  

3.  I am NOW asking you, my blog friends to give me your knowledge of the "hashtag" with specific reference to why and how you would use them in something you READ, and also how and why you would use them associated with something you would WRITE.  

4.  Finally, I am also going to (likely tomorrow) after I amass the opinions and ideas of folks of whom I value their opinion (the above three groups), I will then (again, likely tomorrow) take that information and explore the Internet for the "global" view on hastags. 

Why, you may ask am I doing this?  Well, I am CONSIDERING.... NOT FOR CERTAIN ... but CONSIDERING.... creating a blog, or instagram site or facebook site that can serve as a type of community outreach for scientific research that I find meaningful and impactful.  Over the years, I have highlighted to my students about the dichotomy between what scientists know and discover, versus how the general public learns (if at all) about this work and consumes the information (if possible) in a way that meaningful and impactful for the broader aspects of society.  

I thought that by putting some sort of platform together to highlight in general terms, some of the more important new work related to my broad field, could be a helpful way for me to engage more in community service.   

* * *

  • We did get the full damn 7 inches of snow on Friday.  But, it warmed up enough immediately after that it ended up melting off the driveway by the end of the day Saturday.  And by Monday, all the snow melted away.  
  • I have still been struggling with a lot of sadness.  I keep telling myself it is just "March" and it should dissipate soon.  But, my mind is so swirling at times with memories of those I miss, both those that have passed away, and others who have drifted away.
  • Running is still a CHORE at the moment.  I am awfully damn tired of ~100 loops every morning, dodging around folks who walk in the running lane even though they are not supposed to.  It will (hopefully) feel fun and exciting again when (soon, I hope) I can easily venture outside for my runs in the early morning again. 
  • I have even been feeling SAD about my pipes and pipe tobaccos.  Typically, over these years of abstaining from their friendship and comfort..... I would feel senses of LONGING, DESIRE, CRAVINGS.... for their nourishment.  But, while those feelings remain, I also am now experiencing a SADNESS about them.  It is hard to explain.  I feel, perhaps locked into a corner, not having any real way to "succeed" regarding them. I cannot forget them and be "over it".  I cannot simply return full-time to them and "indulge raucously".  I cannot find any sort of middle ground that seems viable either. It SEEMS that there is no identifiable way to work or strive to make my lot regarding my pipes and pipe tobaccos BETTER that it currently is, and that being locked in a position that is not really comfortable is what I think has added the feelings of sadness.