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, October 26, 2018

Over 10 Years

I will have to recount to get the exact number, but in my rough estimate, I do now know that I have now completed beyond the full, 10 year mark in constantly walking (and now running) five miles a day... each and every day, never missing a day!  I have done this when the weather has been atrocious, I have done this when I have been sick.  I have done this every holiday. 

It is roughly 10 years and 25 days thus far.  Eventually in the next week or so, I will re-post the exact number of days on that day. 

It feels pretty shocking to me to realize I have made it this consistently.  I am glad I have done this. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Flight of Fancy

With the huge "Mega Millions" jackpot set to be 1.6 Billion dollars, I broke down and bought one "easy pick" ticket.  Usually, I am not a gambler of any sort, but I thought I *could* spend $2 for allowing me an afternoon/evening flight of fancy. 

After buying the ticket, I thought about what it is that I would do *if* I won.  My thoughts can be summarized as follows:

1.  I would pay off my home.

2.  I would have my family move into a rented Townhouse for about 3 months while I had the kitchen and the bathrooms remodeled in my home.

3.  I would retire from the U.

4.  I would purchase a good, full-coverage health care plan for my family.

5.  I would rent a small/quaint office space, and use it as my "office" to go to for my "job" which would be to attempt to write a publishable novel.

6.  I would set up college tuition/room and board accounts that would pay for family and friend's kids to attend a 4-year school (I imagined in total 10 of these accounts).  They would somehow be given anonymously to them. 

7.  I would look with my wife for a small, but pleasant condo to purchase in either New York City or in Chicago.

8.  I would look with my wife for a small, but pleasant condo to purchase somewhere in a fun city in Florida.

9.  I would hire a maid service to clean our home three times a week.

10.  I would consider finding a class to teach as an adjunct at some college/university that is NOT the U from which I retired.

11.  I would have a financial planner help me determine a normal, comfortable income that I could yearly income I could then count on for the rest of my wife and my lives. 

12.  I would make a financial plan to allow my wife and I to take a trip every three months to a fun, exotic location.

13.  I would buy my wife and myself each a new, modest vehicle and sell our old vehicles.  

14.  With the likelihood that there would still be quite a bit of money left over, I would then set up with some legal help an anonymous foundation of some sort to be able to donate money to a variety of good causes. 

The above are my flights of fancy.  I have not yet looked to see if my lottery ticket one... but obviously the likelihood is virtually zero.   Yet, the two bucks I spent on the ticket did give me the freedom to dream a bit.  And, dreams are not all bad.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Meandering Weekend

On Friday, for some of my service work with the U, I ended up traveling across the state to attend a meeting related to a state-wide educational initiative I am involved with.  This is the first meeting of this type that occurred since Lent ended (the previous one occurred several months ago during Lent).
 When I have gone to this meeting over the years, I have always had the opportunity (pleasure) to stop in that town on my journey back home to a delightfully traditional, old-school tobacconist.  It was always a highlight of the trip, because while the meetings were valuable and important, the drive time was not the most exciting. 

Well, at the previous meeting of this year, I was actively involved in my Lenten vow, so I steered clear of the tobacconist.  But as this meeting approached last week, I was bedeviled by thoughts of whether or not I should stop by during my travels this time.  I saw four basic scenerios:

1.  Avoiding the place like the plague so as to assure I would keep my vow.
2.  Stopping in just to look around, and examine all the beautiful pipes and tobaccos in a "reminiscent" sort of fashion.
3.  Stop by and allow myself the option to indulge (by bringing a pipe along) and sampling a bowl of some interesting type of burley leaf they had (most tobacconists, including this one will encourage fellow pipe enthusiasts to sample the wares). 
4.  Stopping by and buying a new pipe and restarting the hobby.

Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I have been having a strong return of cravings to smoke my pipe the last few weeks.  I realized that #1 above would be best for my goals, but I was really, very strongly leaning towards #3.  I have also been thinking of my father and my grandfather's upcoming birthdays next month.... and my tradition that has been going on for decades since my father passed away of smoking one of my father's pipes that he gave me on HIS birthday, and of smoking one of my grandfather's pipes (that my father gave me) on my grandfather's birthday.

What will I do on those dates?  This will mark the first time their respective birthdays have come about since I started to refrain.  I have been thinking about those two dates quite a bit and trying to figure out what to do.  I am still not sure what I will do when the dates arrive.

Well, to make a long story short, in the above choices for the tobacconist.... I ended up choosing pathway #2.  I purposefully did not take a pipe with me to encourage me to by pass the place on my way home.  But I also knew I could potentially buy a pipe and some tobacco there (#4).

I ended up stopping, though, and looked around and reminisced.  The pipe tobaccos were pleasant olfactorially to me.  and the new pipes were beautiful to behold.  Talking with folks there, it was very nice to discuss various pipes and tobaccos, but I did not mention that I was refraining.  When asked if I would like to sample a leaf, I simply stated I did not bring a pipe with me today, but maybe next time.

It was very nice to visit that store.  It was very nice to have the discussions with the shop keeper.  Overall, it was a pleasant experience.  I am not sure if it helped my resolve any.  But, as I enter into my 9th month of refraining, it has given me some things to think about.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Why I Have Been Away

I apologize about being away so long.  Unfortunately, it has been a rough time and I have not had a lot of extra energy.  Here is a brief summary:

1.  We have experienced the death of another family member.  This time it was an aunt on my wife's side of the family.  She was a very cherished member of the family, and it has been difficult.

2.  Work difficulties have been significant.  A nice friend of mine was "pushed out" and has left the U.  It is a result of his "incompatibility" with the "U's" horrendous administration.  The loss of this fellow was a great disappointment, even though I had predicted it long ago as he was far too good for the U. 

3.  I have felt tremendously strong yearnings for my pipes.  I have NOT given in, but it is disheartening to have the cravings return with a vengeance after 3/4 of a year away from the pipe.  It has taken a surprising level of energy to refrain.

I am working at resolving my emotional reactions to the above three items as well as a few other things.  I must be making some sort of progress as I have eked out this small modicum of time to at least give a brief update.

I am hoping this initial effort indicates my returning to regular posting.  Prior to this, I have been mostly just trudging through the day other than reading a few comics.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

New Inner Dialogue

I am on a slippery slope at the moment, but I am trying to keep my balance.  The yearnings I have for a pipe are very very powerful at the moment.  The yearnings are quite challenging to resist... much more so than they have been in quite a long time.

I think the stresses I am feeling are the likely culprit (grief, my wife being away, the added responsibilities while she is away, etc.).  I think some sleep deprivation is also contributing to the mix (I have been averaging about 4 hours a night the last few days).  I have taking to carrying around a pipe with me like a pacifier.... not filling it with tobacco, and not smoking it.

What I am trying to do is NOT make any change in behavior (in other words, continue to refrain from smoking a pipe) at least until after the stresses have abated and life returns to a degree of what I call normalcy.  To make a decision on this matter before that time would, for me, be rash.... and while I want to be rash at the moment, I know that if I wait, whatever decision I make will be better.

Here is a glimpse of my inner dialogue for the last few days:

Self:  "You refrained from smoking your pipe now for seven months."
Other Self:  "Yes, I did!  I am surprised and happy about this!"
Self:  Yeah, good job!
Other Self:  "Yeah, it was not something I thought I could do."
Self:  "So, now that you proved you could do it.... lets go back to smoking a pipe."
Other Self: "Uh, well…."
Self: "It is perfectly "ok" now, you proved you could do it!"
Other Self: "You are correct, but I have really been trying to make this "quitting" be my new normal."
Self: "Ugh.   But, is that realistic?  NEVER AGAIN?!?!?"
Other Self:  "I feel sad to think of NEVER having another pipe."
Self:  "What is the point in that?"
Other Self: "The point is supposedly to be healthier.  It is one way I can TRY to be healthier to potentially live longer and be with my family.
Self:  "Bah."
Other Self:  "Yes, I agree… 'Bah' … but...."
Self:  "A pipe would be very pleasurable and enjoyable, wouldn't it?"
Other Self: "Yes, I fully agree with that statement."
Self:  "ONE wouldn't really hurt, now, would it? 
Other Self:  "Hmmm....." 
Self:  "Let's do it!"
Other Self: "Ugh.  I really should not."
Self: "Come on.  Let's just have ONE bowlful."
Other Self:  "No, I better not.  It took a helluva long time to get this far.
Self: "What for?  Does it really matter?"
Other Self:  "I do not know if it REALLY matters.  But I have to keep trying to think that it does."
Self: "That is just foolish hyperbole!
Other Self:  "Probably."
Self:  "You are a schmuck."
Other Self:  "Yeah, 'probably' to that too." 

This same basic conversation roils around in my mind regularly for the last few days now.  It is tiring.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hitting the Wall

A confluence of crap is swirling around me during the last several days.  A relative has died on my wife's side of the family.  She has had to leave for several days to help with that situation.  I have not been sleeping well, and my tending to duties here in the homestead has increased about two-fold due to her absence.  I am feeling lonely and utterly exhausted.  I so very much want to smoke my pipes.  I keep trying to tell myself that my feelings are due to the chaos of the moment and that I should resist and keep refraining.  But, I truthfully do not know if I will.


Friday, September 14, 2018

A Meandering List

My mind has been moving in a variety of non-tangential ways during the last week.  My linear focus is almost non-existant.  So, here is a list highlighting a smattering of things I have had pass through my mind to a large enough extent that I recall them at the moment:

1.  Running felt quite good this week.  During the week before this, I had felt quite a bit of lethargy and often did not want to run at all (even though I forced myself to do so).  This week felt a lot better.  I was not always "bright eyed and bushy tailed" about running at 5:00am, but I did feel quite committed to the task, and after getting started each morning, it *did* become enjoyable after about the first mile. 

2.  Work has been better.  Do not get me wrong, I do love TEACHING my classes.  I do enjoy my RESEARCH.  But, as you know from a lot of my posts over the last few years, there are a set of folks that I have to deal with at the Department and University level who are truly obnoxious, mean-spirited, and hurtful.  A little over a week ago I geared myself up and sat down and had a firm, yet not angry or emotional talk about precisely what I NEEDED to have happen with regards to the biggest of the issues I have with these folks.  I was firm, non-emotional, and persistent.  I *believe* I was heard and understood.... especially about my being determined to not allow these folks to take advantage of me.  We shall she eventually how this progresses.  But, it felt successful.

3.  I have been playing music (saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet) more often than I have in a few years during the last few weeks.  It is very helpful for my own mental health and wellness (as is my running).

4.  I have been swimming quite frequently and many times my wife will accompany me as well.  It has been a great way to relax after a workday or just a busy day in general.  Going there with my wife almost feels like going on a "date" or having a special "event" to be at with her.  The swimming feels like a sort of "destination" place to go that helps me feel I have more to life than just work at the U and work at home.... which it sometimes feels like.

5.  Pipes... such a strange and funny thing.  There are a fair number of days where I do not really give my pipes and smoking my pipes much thought.  But, there are other days where I feel interested in them, and they sound appealing.  If I were to estimate the occurrence... I would say that in a given week, 3-4 days are without much thought of a pipe and 3-4 days currently have me finding the idea of a pipe generally appealing.  BUT... probably once or perhaps occasionally twice a week, I still have a day (or an afternoon or evening) where I feel an extremely strong DESIRE to smoke a pipe, and the desire for a pipe will permeate most all of my thoughts for several hours.  There have been a few times where I have had these very, very strong desires almost get the better of me.  Thus far, though, I have been able to avoid falling off the wagon.... even though doing so on those occasions seems utterly beautiful, extremely desirable and vividly thought-provoking.  Sometimes, I think it may be impossible to resist the call.  I have thus far, now for 7 months, but on those days.... I just do not know.

6.  I am getting pretty damn good at making a wide range of delicious bean dishes using dry beans.  For a long time, I had occasionally tried to make good dishes starting with dried beans, but did not have much success.  The problem was I was never patient enough.  I have finally found a fool-proof method to get the DRY beans cooked in such a fashion that I can make some damn wonderful creations.  I like this, because, truth-be-told... dishes made with dried beans as a starting point (when done successfully) always taste a helluva lot better than using canned or frozen varieties. 

Well, there is a smattering of my varied thoughts.