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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


I am having a difficult time emotionally at the moment.  Sad and angry and hurt.  I am not sure when it will be that I will return here.



Thursday, July 15, 2021



Feeling "down" today:

  • A kid of a family friend passed away rather unexpectedly yesterday.  He was in his 30s, and had some health and emotional issues, but his death as a result of sepsis following an accident is difficult and unexpected.
  • Had some unpleasant treatment yesterday by one of the "dynamic duo" who have been thorns in my side.  I have been working to move past it, but it is hard to have to devote the needed energy to quell the feelings and try to move past the hurt and frustration.  
  • Ran 9.6 miles (15.5 km) this morning, but my heart really wasn't into doing so.  I viewed it simply as a chore to persevere through and get over with. I started running at 4:45am so I would not have to deal with the harsh sun, and with the high temperatures I was able to run shirtless, so that helped a little bit, because I did not have to wear a sopping wet shirt while running.... but it was still hard.  
  • I am not feeling any interest or desire to do the work that I should do in order to be on a better footing for Fall.  I just want to ignore it all.... but if I do, I know it will be damn harder as we get closer to Fall and that will just cascade into more frustration.  
  • I feel like I could sleep "for a month of Sundays".  I had not heard or used that phrase in many, many years, and it just happened to pop back into my head. The “month of Sundays” phrase could be applied to any number of situations.   Both of my parents and my aunts and uncles used that phrase often when I was a kid.  I do not think it is commonly said much today.  I wonder if it is a Catholic colloquialism?   Regardless.... I am feeling down and tired.... but I know that if I were to "chuck" things and go home to rest.... it would just lead to more crap piling up for me for tomorrow.  
  • Pipes..... about the same as it has been all week. I want to smoke my pipes.  But, as is my responsibility currently (because I have not figured out a successful plan to allow returning), I am refraining.
  • My eyes are red and bloodshot this morning.  If people were to look at me, they probably would think I am a wino.  But, it appears this has arisen due to a series of very violent, whole body sneezes I had yesterday evening.  I read about this situation after it first happened a few weeks ago.  The bloodshot eyes went away after a day or so, and now I had another bout of violent sneezes and the bloodshot eyes have occurred again.   

These incredibly harsh sneezes, as best as I can tell,  happen to me occasionally (perhaps once a week or so) and inevitably occur within about 5 minutes of finishing dinner.  The sneezes seem to occur due to the effects of having eaten a sizable amount of raw onion.  But, I eat a helluva lot of raw onion every day, so it seems odd.  But, I can say onions do seem to be the "trigger" when the sneezing fit does occur.  This once a week or so sneezing fit has been going on for years, and I would typically sneeze 12-20 times in the course of about 5-10 minutes.  But, during the last few months.... the INTENSITY of the deep, whole body sneezes has increased, so when I sneeze, I am often doubling over from the power of them.  


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Working Hard


Trying to get a lot of smaller tasks off my plate.  Been busy on the computer all day after completing 10.4 miles (a little bit under 17km) this morning:

  • I checked, rechecked, and triple checked my proofs for the book and finally gave it my stamp of approval
  • Wrote three letters of recommendation for students.  These three are all applying to medical schools.
  • Deconstructed and am reconstructing my Fall lecture syllabi to an apparently "normal" semester format this Fall.  Now that I have such an array of electronic items, I am contemplating which electronica are worth keeping and which are not needed..... so.... I am not simply going back to my pre-Covid syllabi.... but am revamping them to try to keep some of the electronica.
  • Worked on the collective laboratory syllabi for the big physiology course in which I have some co-instructors.
  • Worked on the embryology laboratory syllabus. 
  • Pumped through a helluva lot of e-mail.

As I worked diligently here, though, is I spied my big can of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco, and decided to open up the can to at least indulge a bit in the beautiful aroma of the leaf in the can.  Besides the beautiful natural odor of the leaf itself, I also enjoy the tiny hints of molasses, and just a hint of bourbon.  Every pipe tobacco has its own inherent pouch or can effervescence.  But, as Sir Walter Raleigh was a staple of my Dad's pipe smoking.... and was the first leaf I ever sampled myself.... its aroma brings back so many, many good memories and thoughts of incredible times gone by. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021



More bullet points for today (not enough cohesive thought available on my part to create paragraphs:

  • Ran 10 miles (~16km).  It was quite warm this morning (75 degrees (~24 C)) and very humid and clammy.  I thought of running in "Sasquatch" mode, but because I wanted to run on sidewalks, streets and through neighborhoods to keep me more entertained with a new view..... I thought it best to wear my shirt so as to not frighten folks.  When I was done and took the shirt off, it was fully soaked.... and there was so much moisture in it that I was able to wring out nearly two cups of sweaty water.  Also my running shorts were drenched and every bit of my skin (head to toe) was covered in sweat.
  • I made it home about 15 minutes ahead of a heavy downpour that appears to have dumped about 1.5 inches (~4cm) of rain in less than 15 minutes.  Then it cleared up. 
  • Work feels tedious today, and I do not seem to be accomplishing a helluva lot of value.  
  • I am hoping my wife and I can swim later today.  The pool has opened back up and even though it feels a bit nerve wracking.... I am so looking for the refreshment of the full body immersion into the cool water.  
  • I am not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but I have, while ruminating about research, thought of a new study that is pretty novel and easy and relatively inexpensive to set up.  I have ear marked this study for two of my new research students.  It is examining the effects of long term stress on reproduction, development and lifespan.  It should be a good project for the kids to work on.
  • PCS = 7 again today.  I am acutely feeling that gnawing itch in my mind about how wonderful it would be to gently saturate my neurons with the pleasures of the ignited burley leaf.  It has now been 41 months since I have indulged in a pipe, and I was imagining how beautiful it would be to indulge after this time away.  It would almost assuredly feel as blissfully magical and profound a way as it did when I first sampled a pipe as a young kid.  The idea of feeling that sheer intensity of the magic again is a significant draw in many ways.  
  • For fun and flavor today, I had a teaspoon of very dark molasses on my toast.  It was such a rich, beautiful flavor.    Molasses is underutilized as a flavor in my book.  I think there are so many more foods in which it could be an excellent enhancement.  I may have to start experimenting with some savory recipes that need a hint of sweetness.  
  • As I ran through the various neighborhoods today, it was garbage collection day and so with my runner's eye view, I was able to notice more intimately folks recyclables than I typically do when driving by.  There were a surprisingly larger number of wine and liquor bottles poking out of the top of many recycle bins than I would have imagined.  I feel like I must be a slacker..... since my father-in-law passed away 3.5 years ago, my minor weekly indulgence of a few drinks has gone basically to zero.  

Monday, July 12, 2021



Just plugging away at work at the moment.  Trying to get finished early enough to "let go" of work related tasks soon for the day.  Bulleted thoughts in my mind include:

  • Ran 10 miles this morning at 5:00am.  It felt very good this morning.  I *think* that a part of feeling more excited about running is related to where I am running.  As I mentioned before, I have typically stayed on the same trails repeatedly for the lion's share of runs I have ever done.  This is due to the couple of instances where I tripped, fell, and significantly scabbed up my knee (in the same damn spot each time) on those instances where I ventured away from the very smooth, well known paths.  But.... I have straying out of boredom to new trails and sidewalks in my region.  It is a big risk, and I am still fearful that I will not be paying close enough attention and skin my knee badly in a fall.... but the shear joy of seeing new areas of town (new while on foot, which gives a very different perspective than in a vehicle) while running has upped my enjoyment of the activity.  I hope that I am not playing with fire, however.  I have been trying to be VERY conscious of lifting my feet higher than is my normal cadence while on sidewalks especially... in an attempt to not trip and fall.  
  • PCS = 7 again today.  It is by no means the deepest of longings that a 9 or a 10 would mean, but it is a consistent, strong presence in my mind.  The insight and advice all of you have given has been very helpful to me, even though there is a bit of a dichotomy in perspectives.  One camp encourages me to continue the fight to stay away from my beloved pipes, and another camp tends to suggest that my pipe smoking is an innate facet of who I am and that perhaps I am deceiving myself in this struggle, for it may be that I am truly destined to return to them.  I can say that BOTH dichotomous perspectives mirror the thoughts that rummage around in my brain from day-to-day. I am feeling I am in that nebulous never-never land at the moment.  Still trying to decide how to proceed.
  • I am going to go home to do some home decorating tasks (picture hanging) that my wife has been trying to have me do.  
  • Yesterday, I had the opportunity to play my tenor saxophone.  It has been a while since I picked up the beast, and it was very enjoyable.  I had also (quite a while ago) been given a different mouthpiece to try on my beast as I had commented to a fellow band member that there was a range on my horn that I was struggling with.  This mouthpiece that he loaned to me was AMAZING!!!!!   My low tones were every bit as rich and easy to produce as they are normally on my bass clarinet!  I found a used version of the same exact mouthpiece on eBay for $10.00 and ordered it right away!  It is of a different facing (it is facing number 3, which is more "clarinet" like than most saxophone mouthpieces).  It makes logical sense for me, as primarily a bass clarinet player.  I am not sure why I never thought of it before.... but I am thankful that I found this now.  

Friday, July 09, 2021

Against My Better Judgement


Although the two photos shown are not my own, they do show what I and my family did (against my better judgement) yesterday.  Here is the background:

  • My youngest son has been trying to cajole all of us to give a try to one of these zipline adventure parks that is about a 1.5 hour drive away.  He has been to it and several others and enjoys them greatly and thought it would be great for all of us to do as a family.   We finally found a time that would work for all of us and took a trip there.  
  • Heights, balance activities, walking on ropes, etc.... are NOT my forte!!!!!  In fact, I get rather nervous and a bit "shaky" feeling about high places... even just walking up to the edge of a bridge railing and looking over the edge.
  • The park had six levels of difficulty.  Each level had some arrangement of about 15 different obstacles.... different rope and cable bridges to traverse across, zip-lines to move between trees, cable and log (very tippy) platforms to navigate through, rock walls to climb, ropes to climb, etc.  My youngest son, who when he was younger, I referred to as a monkey,  quickly worked through all six different levels with ease.  The other kids did various levels without much concern, but did not go to the top two.  My wife called it quits after level 1.  I agree with her that Level 1 was frightening as hell.  It was the lowest level and you were about 25 feet (8m) off the ground during all the activities.  But, I kept trying to be careful, diligent and precise in all my actions, and kept working to quiet my fears.  I was able to work up through level 4 before I had enough.  Level four had me doing these damn scary tasks at about 70 feet (21m) off the ground.  But, I did them!
  • Now, in reality, the park was very safe.... you had to wear a special harness through all activities, and this harness had you attached to a very stout, industrial sized cable throughout using pairs of weight bearing carbiners that you had attach and detach from each and every event.  If you were to fall off of a wire, or tumble off of a rock wall, or fall from a zipline, you would then be "saved" (and also very sore and embarrassed as hell) by having the attached harness/carbiner system break your fall to prevent serious injury.    

Overall, I have to say.... it was not what I would call fun (my youngest son would vehemently disagree with this assessment).... but I can say that feel I accomplished something.  I worked through my fears, I used my careful, slow, and steady nature to actually make it through these frightening challenges.  And, I DID NOT fall one time!  Not too damn shabby for an old, grey bearded duffer like me.  

Oh!  Hah.... and one other thing.... this was one of the first significant outdoor "outings" we have gone on in a while where we did not wear masks.  So, my wife and I were navigating up the entry ladder to the platform to our initial Level 1 start..... I felt that my harness was loose and not fitting right.  So, I asked one of the kid workers (all the employees are kids in the range of about 18 - 25) working a part time Summer job to please double check the various attachment points on my harness.  The young kid did a good job cinching everything up, and then proceeded to comment on how "very impressive" he thought my beard/mustache were and was asking how long it took me to grow it.  This caused me to laugh for a couple of reasons:

 1.  Ever since I grew my beard out to its "big" proportions, I have been getting complements and comments from students at the U, folks out and about when shopping, and various other locations quite frequently..... until Covid-19 hit and we all became masked.   

2.  But, this was the first unmasked experience in quite a while.... and I have to admit it felt very fun to hear someone mention it again.

3.  But, best of all, it amused me to see my wife roll her eyes at me after the kid asked.... because she knows I enjoy the complements.... but she would rather that I go back to my shorter beard.  And she finds it rather strange how many times folks have mentioned it (pre Covid, anyhow).  

Other short bullets:

  • PCS - 7:  More of the yearning feeling is back again.  Still a very strong interest/desire to smoke my pipes.  But, the deep seated yearning is back too.  Not sure what to make of the other "no-yearning" days.  They were just odd.  I have been spending time looking through old Prince Albert, Sir Walter Raleigh and Borkum Riff pipe tobacco advertisements from magazines that are available on eBay.  They are so fun to read and view and bring back such wonderful memories. Every once in a while this morning, I was gently sniffing the bowl of a few of the pipes that are on my desk pipe rack/humidor..... and I have been enjoying the beautiful remnants of odors of the various tobaccos I had worked through each bowl..... it bring back such vivid, joyful memories.   

  • I really worked hard this week in running to try to get quite a bit ahead in my 53-55 mile (85-89km) per week goal.  I did this partially because last week was very rough in terms of motivation and I wanted to try to kick that lack of motivation to the curb.  But, now, I find I will only need to run 2 miles (~3.2 km) on Saturday to reach the minimum of the week's goal.  Maybe I will try to do two different speed mile trials?  Not sure.  
  • The photos at the top are not of the park we visited, but are just stock photos.  I could not find any of the park we visited.... but it looked rather similar.  

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Wanting to Feel Accomplished


There is a phrase, perhaps a bit "old-schoolish" now-a-days, that has been on my mind and has "inspired" me to a degree today:

 "Livin' Life Large!" 

For me, I have come to realize that for me.... to feel this way in my life *does not* mean I need to do anything "grandiose" or "shocking" or "on-the-edge."  But instead... for me.... I find that I can feel my own definition of "Livin' Life Large!" by:

1.  Feeling a sense of accomplishment in a day.

2.  Feeling a sense of purpose realized in a day.

3.  Having a feeling of creativity in a day.

4.  Feeling consistent and constructive in my actions in a day.

5.  Feeling love and closeness with my wife and family and faith in a day.

6.  Feeling tranquility in some part of my day.  

If I can accomplish the above six things in a day.... it feels like I *am* living my fullest life and it gives me a sense of joy and contentment.  

I thought about the above and formulated it in my mind as I was running this morning.  During my 10.2 miles (~16.5 km) of running, I alternated between thinking of how for me, I would envision "Livin' Life Large!" and praying different decades of the Rosary.  Now, today I am also attempting to keep in mind those six ideas and try to attain each of them to a reasonable degree.  

Other bulleted points for the day:

  • I am hearing rumors that our community band may start up earlier than its normal "After Labor Day" start time for Fall.  It is both exciting to think about.... but also a little bit challenging because of huge array of work preparations that occurs during the proposed earlier start time.  
  • My TMJ has seemed to resolve for a bit.... but now, unfortunately, I accidentally chewed on the inside of my cheek while eating last night... so I will have a few more days of discomfort as my inner cheek is swollen some and a bit uncomfortable.
  • In my running this morning, I ran a different route that I have never attempted before, and part of this route was through a path that circumnavigates around a large soccer facility in our region.  It was quite a beautiful view while running.... very pastoral and inviting.  And.... to make the run even better this morning.... it was pleasantly cooler than the last few days, and  was densely cloudy so I did not have to worry about the sun nor sunscreen.  
  • The very odd... very strong interest and excitement *about* smoking my pipes and pipe tobaccos WITHOUT the deep longing for them.... is still with me.  It is the oddest sort of feeling.  I am so used to having the deep longing for smoking go hand-in-hand with the excitement of wanting to smoke my pipes.... that feeling only the excitement about smoking my pipes is rather confusing.  I do not feel I can give a PCS rating to this sensation yet.  I also do not understand if it is a progression or a regression of my pipe smoking emotions.... or if it is just a completely new type of feeling about the matter.  Such an odd way to feel.  I think it would be so beautiful and enjoyable and pleasurable to smoke my pipes and pipe tobaccos..... but there is no intensive longing accompanying this. 
  • I have heard rumor that there is an old school, hands-on lamp repair person that has now opened up shop again.  I am going to go check and see if this is true.  Lighting repair is nearly a lost art these days, as a few months before the pandemic started, I was looking about for such a person and all the establishments I had know of were long gone, and none were listed in the yellow pages nor on-line.  I have a ceiling light fixture that is very age-specific that has had the bulb sockets disintegrate from age, and I would like them replaced and wired back to functionality.  And, while I *technically* know and understand the materials, tools, and processes that are needed to rewire this structure..... when it involves electricity and the potential for a mistake to result in a house fire, I firmly believe I need to elicit the work of a professional to do it better and with more of a promise of safety than I could assure myself of with my own work.