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, April 25, 2018


I have been away from writing for a while.  My lack of interest in writing here stems from a sad situation I have experienced.  A friend I have known for damn near 40 years passed away unexpectedly and it soured my thoughts and my inclination to do much other than the necessary to get through the day for a while.  He was only 73.  He was a very nice and robust person, somewhat bombastic at times, but a good fellow who stood for what was right very staunchly. 

I do not have much to write about concerning my friend at this time, other than to say that I will miss him. 


Thursday, April 05, 2018

Numbers & Such

I thought I would take a look back at what I have been attempting to do thus far in terms of being a healthier person.  I have not reported on this aspect of my thoughts in a while.  Here are the numbers that I can report:

3484 - the number of days in a row without missing even one day where I either walked or ran 5 miles.

My current weight = 171 pounds (77.5 kg (12.2 stone))

Ten years ago I used to weigh 285 pounds (129.3 kg (20.4 stone)), but I have kept my current weight for roughly 9 years now.

My current BMI = 22.0 (right in the middle of "normal")

BMI from 10 years ago = 36.6 (well above the 30 mark indicating "obese")

Resting Pulse Rate this morning = 57 Beats per minute

Resting Blood Pressure = 110/75 (taken a week ago)

Number of Days RUNNING 5 miles a day (8 km a day)  = ~1.75 years

Number of miles accumulated RUNNING thus far :  2600 miles (4184 km)

Number of consecutive days thus far of not smoking a pipe = 50 completed 

So, in order to keep my desire for my pipe away today, I am trying to focus on all of the above numbers.  While they may be insignificant to anyone else, and athletically inclined folks definitely do a helluva lot better..... for an old, formerly obese, lazy, slovenly and frumpy professor... the above numbers are not all that bad.


Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Nicotine and E-Device

First, thank you all for your comments.  Especially comments currently referencing my "inner dialogue" post.  They have been helpful to me in many ways and I have commented on those in the comments section.

Pat asked about lozenges and "e" device usage.  As I stated when I first started my Lenten journey, I was going to stop smoking a pipe during Lent but because of my worry at the time, I gave myself a caveat where I *could* if I felt it was needed to help me complete my Lenten vow.... utilize a nicotine lozenge or an e-device UP TO four times a day (which was the number of pipes I had weaned myself down to prior to Lent). 

During Lent, I *did* utilize the "four" rule during the first few days.  While it gave me some nicotine, every aspect of the lozenge and especially the e-device was horrible, so I quickly found myself avoiding both except during the most dire occasions during Lent.  I found that I used these options only very rarely after that first week of Lent... at critical junctures where I thought I might break my Lenten vow.

Because I knew (and know) that I would be in a rather precarious period after Lent (as my "inner dialogue" attests to).... I had previously decided that I could still have the option of the lozenge or "e" device if desperately needed for some unspecified period of time after Lent.  Monday was an especially tough day for me in this regard so I did utilize this option two times on Monday.

I am not saying these crutches are something I should utilize.  And as I try to work further to stay away from my pipe, I am hoping that they will continue to fade further and further away as crutches.  But, for me, their occasional use if it helps me to cope successfully with the loss of the hobby I have always loved and still do love.... then it will have served a useful purpose.

I do not like anything about the lozenge or the "e" device.  But, I do feel their limited, very occasional use has helped me cope with the real sense of loss I am trying to learn to deal with and overcome.


Monday, April 02, 2018

Inner Dialogue

Now that Lent has concluded, I can say that my pipe "efforts" have changed considerably.  Below I give you a glimpse of the inner dialogue that has developed and recirculated in my mind repeatedly since the conclusion of Lent at NOON this past Saturday:

Self:  "Wow!  You did it!  You refrained from smoking your pipe during the entirety of Lent!"

Other Self:  "Yes, I did!  I am surprised and happy that I was able to complete this vow!"

Self:  "Yeah, it was not something I thought you could do."

Other Self:  "You have that right.  But, I have to admit that while there were SEVERAL difficult challenges I faced, I felt committed to working to complete my Lenten Vow."

Self: "Yep, Lenten Vows are important.  I am happy that you had the inner strength to accomplish it."

Other Self:  "Well, for me it was important for me to stick with it since I vowed this as part of my faith (Roman Catholicism).  To NOT do it would have left me feeling like a failure, or at least feeling like I do not value my faith. 
Self:  "Well, that is great!  Now Lent is done.  Let's have a pipe!"

Other Self: "Uh, well…."

Self: "It is perfectly "ok" now, Lent is done!"

Other Self: "Right, but part of me was trying to commit to the Lenten vow, as a way to trick myself into being better able to quit the pipe for good."

Self: "Ugh.   But, is that realistic?  That seems so very, very sad."

Other Self:  "It is sad.  I feel sad to think of NEVER having another pipe."

Self:  "What is the point?"

Other Self: "Well, the point is that if I do stop, I will have done the best that I can right now to try to reduce my risk for development of a horrific smoking related disease."

Self:  "What is the point, you are too old and have already smoked for a helluva long time."

Other Self:  "The studies suggest that anyone, regardless of age or length of prior smoking can have LOWER risk by stopping."

Self:  "Bah."

Other Self:  "Yes, I agree… 'Bah' … but it is still true."

Self:  "A pipe would be very pleasurable and enjoyable, wouldn't it?"

Other Self: "Yes, I fully agree and admit to that."

Self:  "One wouldn't really hurt, now, would it?  Think of it… you have gone more days without a pipe than you have ever done previously since you were a kid.  It will be AMAZINGLY wonderful!  It will feel much like it did when you were a kid!"

Other Self:  "That is true."  

Self:  "Mmmm… think of the gentle brown crumbles you would be able to fill into the bowl of your favorite Dublin pipe!  Pressing them gently but firmly into the bowl.

Other Self: "Mmmmm.  Yes, that would be wonderful."

Self:  "Think of that first lighting of the bowl!  So beautiful!  Think of the pleasure you have with the flavors of the vanillia tinctured burley leaf!  Think of the thick, beautifully chalky texture of the pipe smoke!"

Other Self:  "Mmmm….. Such wonderful ideas!  So many wonderful memories."

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 to day 48 (today).  I do not know if I want to have that "number" go back to zero.  I keep thinking I should AT LEAST try to get to 50."

Self: "What for?  Does it really matter to get to day 50?"

Other Self:  "I do not know if it REALLY matters to get to day 50.  But, I do know I will feel guilty and upset TODAY if I give in.  So, I really think at the moment, I should keep on "keeping on" with my fast.

Self: "That is just foolish hyperbole!  You have been holding that empty pipe in your hands and missing it for a LONG TIME.  I can really give you kudos for doing something for your faith.  I grant that was an accomplishment of sorts.  But, hell, it is done, you did it!  You do not have to agonize about it any more."

Other Self:  "In a perfect world, you are right.  I would RELISH and ENJOY every additional pipe I would very willingly have, and I would, given my druthers, have many.  But, this is not a PERFECT world.  There are costs.  Potential added risks to my health, societal pressures that I grow tired of. 

Self:  "Yeah, yeah.  Who cares?

Other Self:  "Unfortunately, I do… at least to some degree."

Self:  "Bah."

Other Self:   "Yes, Bah.  But, reality."

Self:  "I would say, you should live in the now!  Live in the moment!  Be a damn hedonist for once in your pitiful life!"

Other Self: "Hah.  Being hedonistic sounds wonderful, it truly does.  Sometimes I get so tired of this sort of inner dialogue.  I *would* like to just do what feels right in the moment.  But it feels selfish to do so.  I have responsibilities.  I have a lot of folks who count on me."

Self:  "That is stupid.  You are being a fool!  Wake up and live in reality."

Other Self:  Ugh.  I am getting a headache.  I need to quit thinking about this crap."

Self:  "I agree.  Quit thinking, and just DO IT!"

Other Self:  "I think I am going to TRY to wait.  I am going to try to POSTPONE starting again."

Self:  "Damn fool."

Other Self:  "You may be right."

The basics of the above have percolated through my mind at least a dozen times during the last 24 hours.  It may sound foolish, but it is a lot harder now that Lent is finished.


Friday, March 30, 2018

What Will Happen?

Today is the 45th day of my pipe fast.  Technically, my Lenten vow will be complete at NOON on Saturday (my 46th day of fasting).  So, technically, I can begin smoking my pipe at NOON tomorrow. 

I believe this will start the time where I will really know what will happen in regards to my smoking a pipe.  Will I remain away, or will I bring the pipe back into my routine?  In reality, I do not know what will actually happen. 

One part of me does believe that I should simply quit, and never return to smoking a pipe.  This part of me would like this outcome because it is better for my long-term health.  It is also perhaps a way for me to show myself that I have fortitude to NOT do something that I admit I like to do.   The "negatives" are that I may likely continue to WANT to smoke my pipe and will have to continue to put forth effort to not do so in this effort.

One part of me would simply enjoy going back to the way it was.... where I was smoking my pipe, and doing so as a "matter of course" as a part of my day-to-day life.  It is a behavior/habit/hobby I am long accustomed to, so choosing this route would be easy enough to do.  The "negatives" in this path would be the potential harm to health that may arise, and the antagonism from society at large.

A final part of me would like to become an "occasional" pipe smoker.  This is a harder concept to define, and is probably full of challenges not ascribable to either of the other two potential paths.  But, if I WOULD do it, I would think that smoking one or two bowls of pipe tobacco a week would be relatively low risk health wise, would receive minimal antagonism from society, would in some partial way keep me in the pipe smoking "club" so-to-speak, and would in some small fashion speak to a degree about "fortitude" a trait I admire and wish to foster.   But, in a realistic view.... I do not know if I could successfully adopt this path and keep my pipe consumption realistically to this level.

+ + + + +

So, the above three ideas are what I am contemplating.  I am thinking about them, but I am not sure how my feelings will end up being shaped by the conclusion of Lent.  Will my resolve stay the same as it has been during Lent (suggesting the first idea could be continued)?  Will my resolve evaporate immediately after the end of Lent (suggesting the second idea)?

I *think* I should be able to continue to refrain for at least some time following the conclusion of Lent, but I think the pressures of my desire for a pipe are likely to intensify when Lent is finished, and I am not sure if my resolve will be as strong without the obligation of Lent for me.

 + + + + +

I realize a lot of my writing is just so many words and folks likely grow tired of my pitiful efforts.   I do know in the greater scheme of things I am only a minor character in a minor journey and nothing of which I write or think about or do has much if any real impact.  But, it is where my mind is at currently, and it is what I *do* think about.

We shall see what happens.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Dream

Last night was another one of those nights where I slept and had very vivid dreams.  I do not often have dreams that I readily recall, but occasionally I do.  Perhaps not surprisingly, my dream involved pipes.  Since I have been refraining (today is day 43), I have thought I would have many such dreams, but this is only the third dream that I actually recall having:

In my dream, I was the same person who I am currently.... age, appearance, general demeanor, etc.  But, while I was a "professor", I was not working in that capacity, but instead was working at a tobacco shop. 

What was perhaps rather unique about this dream was not so much the venue itself, but my "job" per say in this shop.  I was not involved in any appreciable sense with sales or stocking or any of the typical tasks part and parcel of a salesman type job.  Instead, I was there for what apparently amounted to being a greeter or a friend of the shop.  I literally spent my work day milling around the store, smoking my pipe, sampling a huge array of different pipe tobacco blends, and chatting with folks about virtually anything that came to mind.  And, while in real-world life, I tend to be a somewhat quiet sort of fellow, in my job in this dream, I was very talkative and told jokes and stories and basically was "hanging out" even though I was working. 

The whole experience of the dream was, as you can imagine, very relaxing and enjoyable.  And, of course, I found the ample pipe smoking I did in the dream to be wonderful as well.  The majority of the dream too place in the shop itself, but then the ending too, turned out a bit odd (for me).  As the end of my work day, I walked out of the shop, saying good evening to all the friends and customers, and walked over to a bike rack, and unlocked and rode "home" on a simple, pedestrian looking bicycle.  I was in the midst of some city that I remember was in New Mexico (I recall seeing the New Mexico license plates on the vehicles).  I rode through the city for a few blocks, and came to a small home in the city where I parked my bike and was going inside when.... my alarm went off and I awoke. 

So, for me the dream was very interesting on several levels.  I have never been in New Mexico ( and have never traveled all that much in the southern US).  The job and the mode of trasport I had were quite different from my own.   Smoking my pipes in the dream seems the most understandable part of the dream for me.  But, even that was "different".  I am not sure how to describe the "difference" of that part.  But, it was carefree and perhaps even inconsequential (not sure if that is the best word I could use, but for now it seems the best I can come up with).  What I mean, is that smoking my pipe was thoroughly wonderful and enjoyable, and I did so with relish in my dream.  But it was also without judgement or without qualifiers... it was just something I was "doing". And that was very nice.  It felt in a way like it did all those decades ago when I was young, but I was myself in the present day. 

Perhaps it is nothing much to ponder, this dream I had.  But the events that unfolded and the feelings of tranquility it produced in me have been on my mind much of the day.  The dream felt wholly tangible.... until the damn alarm clock broke the spell.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 41

It has been 41 days now since I have last smoked my pipe.  Yesterday (Sunday) I technically could still follow my Lenten vow and still smoke my pipe.  I considered it.  And, I actually even filled a bowl with some vanilla tinctured burley leaf.  But, in the end, I did not smoke yesterday as it did not feel like I should, even though technically it would not count against my Lenten vow.   There is only one week now until Easter.  Without my vow, will I continue to abstain from my pipe?  I wish I knew, but I do not.

My wife and I and a bunch of the family decided to go see the film, "Paul, The Last Apostle" yesterday.  It was a wonderfully done film, and it gave me a lot of food-for-thought about life.  It was not "schmaltzy" in any way..... like some religious films can be.... for which I was very relieved.  Instead this film was a much more deeply philosophical film about how to live life.  For me, it helped me to realize again some of what I know, deep in my heart, but that I lose sight of so very often....

I believe it is best for me to try to the very best of my ability to live a life of service.  By service, I mean I must try to live in such a way that I will help others.  I must do this with as much energy as I can muster.

I also believe it is important for me to focus very deeply on my own failures.  I need to be aware of how I can be selfish and short-sighted.  I need to keep aware of how easy it is for me to be unkind and angry.  I need to keep aware of how easy it is for me to focus only on my needs and not those of others around me.  I need to keep this focus, for without understanding how often I DO fail, I cannot begin to try to be the better person I do wish I was and the better person I want to become.  

I need to work harder.  I need to work much harder... to do exactly this... to live a life of service and to be the kinder person I should be.