The Crotchety Old Man

Sep 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured

A Long, Hot Summer

Most years I complain about summer being too short. Not this year. Instead of June 21, my summer started when classes ended in early May. Though only psychological — I didn’t take off any more than usual — the difference was very much appreciated. Long, hot summers are the norm in Athens. Highs have bee mostly in the 90s. Fortunately, we avoided triple digits this year — so far. Record-breaking highs in the past week have come close. Rain has been in short supply too. I quit watering months ago. Survivors include zinnias, Gerber daisies and an astounding variety of weeds. Now is the time to start planting my winter garden, but first it needs to cool down quite a …

Aug 14, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Third Time is the Charm

School starts back at UGA today. My class meets for the first time tomorrow. Having taught the same course twice before, I’m ready. My first time teaching the class was a hot mess. My biggest mistake was to follow the textbook, chapter and verse. Some of the content I hadn’t seen since my own college days. Creating tests was a challenge too — questions that looked straightforward to me were confusing to students. Lessons were learned. Things went much better the second time. I devoted an extra class session for some topics, combined others into one session, and added a few new topics. Test questions were less confusing too. Student evaluations of my teaching were very positive. My biggest shortcoming …

Aug 08, 2019
By Michael Rupured

My New Fitness Regimen

Sharing about backsliding on my diet and exercise program a few weeks ago prompted me to act. Changing up my exercise program was easier than dealing with my diet, so I started there. Baby steps, right? Some who read my Backsliding post suggested a personal trainer. Being accountable to someone helps, for sure. Direction about what to do on my own would be helpful too. Finding a good trainer, however, is a challenge. My experience with trainers available from the gym has been mixed. One of four I’ve worked with was great and worth the cost. Knowing the quality ahead of time is nearly impossible. As changing trainers requires an act of Congress, I’ll pass. It’s 2019. There’s an app …

Aug 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Climate Change & My Garden

More than thirty days with little rain and highs above 90 degrees have taken a toll on my little garden. After much deliberation, debate, and a water bill three times the usual amount, I decided to withhold life support. Since pulling the plug, we’ve had some rain — not much, but enough to keep things alive a little longer. How long remains to be seen. Hot, dry conditions will likely persist into October. Keeping my summer garden alive is not a new struggle. Heat, drought, and an abundance of deer have long conspired against me. Though I grow tomatoes every year, ripe fruit are nearly as rare as snow in summer. By comparison, my first winter garden was a nearly …

Jul 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Backsliding

Eleven years ago, I got a wake up call about my health. The message: change my habits or die. I joined Weight Watchers, started exercising, and vowed to change my lifestyle. I counted WW points, hired a personal trainer, and started running. In time, I managed to lose nearly fifty pounds — enough to drop from “obese” to “overweight” on the Body Mass Index scale. My doctor took me off several medications. I felt great and had never been in better shape. Proper nutrition was the first casualty. Snacks between meals and before I go to bed are the problem. My ice cream addiction is serious. Donuts continue to be a problem, and don’t get me started on baked goods …

Jul 03, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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LGBTQ History: Missing Pieces?

June 2019 was the best LGBTQ Pride Month ever. The level of media coverage was unprecedented, and several excellent shows were aired. All in all, I was blown away and thrilled for our history to be so widely shared. Coming out in 1979 sparked a life-long interest in gay history. I realized while doing the research for No Good Deed and Happy Independence Day that the history I’d gleaned from magazines, books, and the grapevine was more than a little incomplete. Documentaries aired during Pride Month filled in even more blanks. The Lavender Scare (PBS) is an excellent overview of gay history in the United States. Homosexuals have been around forever, but didn’t emerge as a social group until early …

Jun 27, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Staycationing

I’m fortunate to have a job with paid sick leave and vacation days. We can accumulate unlimited sick leave, but vacation time has to be used within a given period. Some coworkers lose days every year. Not me. Forfeiting paid days off is against my religion. Nobody does my job when I’m out, so long breaks often make me sorry I took off. Using vacation days throughout the year around weekends and holidays works better. Teaching duties limited my ability to take off as much as usual, resulting in vacation days I need to use. Campus is practically deserted this time of year. The last week of June and the first week of July are a good time to take …

Jun 20, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on The Birth of Gay Liberation

The Birth of Gay Liberation

In 1969, a group of New York’s most disenfranchised citizens fought with police during a late June raid of the Stonewall Inn. John Lindsay was mayor and running for reelection. The raid was part of his campaign to clean up the city. State regulations in New York prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages to homosexuals. Any establishment that did was deemed a disorderly house and lost its liquor license. Gay establishments all over New York had stopped serving alcohol or closed. On paper, the Stonewall Inn was a private bottle club. In practice, it was a sleazy bar, owned and operated by the Mafia. Watered-down drinks were expensive and, due to a lack of running water behind the bar, the …

Jun 05, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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No More Garage Sales

Late last year, I set a goal to have a garage sale in April or May — before it got too hot. Setting the goal lit a fire under my butt to finish organizing closets, cabinets, and drawers, but the garage sale ain’t happening. In fact, I may never have another garage sale again. I do a mean garage sale. Lots of signs and ads attract a big crowd. It’s not about getting the best price or what things are worth. The value to me is zero or it wouldn’t be there. Getting rid of stuff is the objective. Any proceeds are icing on the cake. “Keep, sell, donate or toss” was my mantra as I slowly worked my way …

May 30, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Time on My Hands

Teaching has kept me busy since before Andy passed last year. I’ve grieved plenty, but drowning in sorrow wasn’t an option. Between teaching, my regular day job duties, and taking care of myself and Toodles, I’ve had too much to do. I’m grateful, and not just for the distraction. Teaching a basic consumer course, while all-consuming, is incredibly gratifying. Many students say the class should be required. I bring my own flavor, of course, but the feedback is the same, no matter who the instructor is. No more working nights and weekends to stay on top of my class. School’s out until the middle of August. Having taught the class twice, I’m mostly ready — far more so than the …

May 17, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Summer Vacation

Every year I complain about summer coming to an end too quickly. Teaching highlighted the cause of my angst. Relying on the solstice was the problem. Summer starts when the spring semester ends. Before I started teaching, my involvement with students has been limited to the occasional guest lecture. Whether classes were in session or not, my job was the same. Other than days the university closed for business, the academic calendar had no impact on my life. Preparing to teach a real class for the first time since graduate school more than thirty years ago kept me busy last summer. After classes started, teaching my one little class was like running a marathon. The pace was grueling. Toward the …

Apr 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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My Journalig Habit

Journaling satisfies my compulsion to write and keeps me sane. The first of 24 volumes dates back to 1979. It’s not exhaustive — I’ve sometimes gone weeks and even months without adding a word. Since Andy died, I’ve been writing at least two or three times a week. I’m not trying to document my life for posterity. Leaving behind a record for whoever might be interested is not the point. In fact, finding a way to make every volume vanish when I die (Mission Impossible style) tops my bucket list. Over the years, preferences have evolved into idiosyncracies. The journals themselves have to be the right size. Lined pages are required. The last ten or so volumes had black leather …

Mar 25, 2019
By Michael Rupured

I Love Annual Flowers

Fear of commitment has kept me from planting anything permanent in my garden. I have too many favorites and too little space. Before this year’s winter garden, nothing planted in the past seven years was suppoed to survive a hard freeze. Sticking to tender plants means starting over every year. Mostly. Some selections turned out to be hardier than expected. A few varieties return from seed every year too. Everything else is a carefully selected impulse purhcases from nearby garden centers made over several months early in the season. This time of year, I pop in every few days in search of new additions. Stock at popular garden centers turns over fast. I picked up some gorgeous red cyclamens a …

Mar 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on A Sad Anniversary

A Sad Anniversary

Hard to believe a year has passed since we lost Andy. My ex, the best friend I ever had, and the love of my life died a year ago today. Adjusting to a world without him has been quite a challenge. To know Andy was to love him. He was kind, generous, thoughtful, and always considerate of others. The students, faculty, and staff he worked with in our college adored him. Being the partner of such a nice guy boosted my image around the college. He was the center of my universe for seventeen years (18 now). Since his death, I’ve thought and thought about our time together — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Could I have done …

Mar 11, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Countdown to Retirement

Last week I celebrated my 61st birthday. Had to call 9-1-1 after my house filled up with smoke. Birthday candles were not involved. Somehow, I accidnetally closed thechimney flue when adding another log to the fire. Fortunately, the only damage was the lingering smell of smoke. Next year, retirement becomes an option. Barely. I’ll be 62 — old enough to collect Social Security. The longer I work, of course, the bigger that check will be. Social Security won’t be my only source of income. I’ll also get a small pension from a former employer. Most of my retirement income, however, will come from tax-deferred accounts. As long as I keep working, me and my employer will continue to contribute to …

Mar 04, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Spam-tastic?

Cooking for one without dying of boredom is a challenge. I get tired of fixing the same old stuff — a universal problem for anyone who cooks much. I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. Last week, I picked up a can of Spam. Not just any Spam, mind you. This was pepper Spam. Fancy. A dim memory of fried Spam on white bread slathered with mayo sparked my decision to drop Pepper Spam into my cart. I mentioned the purchase to mother, who retched a bit and then declared she’d hated Span since childhood. No way she ever fixed it for us. I must be thinking of the fried bologna sandwiches she fixed from time to …

Feb 19, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Winter Garden Update

Winter Garden Update

Mild weather has been the norm in Athens this winter. My garden experiment has turned out better than expected. We’ve had a few cold spells with below-freezing temperatures, but the polar vortex stayed well north of here. The coldest weather is behind us. Lows two or three degrees below freezing won’t hurt anything I planted. Locating the garden between a heat-retaining dry-streambed and the shelter of an eight-foot privacy fence offered aditional protection. I was prepared for colder temps, but never had to cover things up. A winter harvest was unlikely. Cool season crops need to be in the ground in August or September when it’s too hot here for the plants to survive. Planting before late October is a …

Feb 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Accidental Orchids

About this time last year, I decided to reclaim my kitchen table, home to the orchid collection I’ve nurtured since 2012. None of my orchids showed any sign of blooming. Some haven’t bloomed for years. Several didn’t look very healthy, and a couple appeared to have crossed to the other side. I wanted to throw the entire collection in the trash. They’d lived longer and bloomed more than I ever expected. Time to move on. I couldn’t do it. Except for a couple too far gone to rescue, I put them outside under a magnolia tree and more or less forgot about them. Thanks to the wettest summer on record here in Athens and contrary to my expectations, they survived. …

Feb 12, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Teaching: Take Two

Teaching the consumer class again is a different exprience. A much better understanding of the purpose of the course and the shortcomings of the textbook led me to make quite a few changes. Students this semester are getting a new and improved version of the course. The class is smaller this semester. Instead of 48 students, I only have 26. Fewer students makes a huge difference. With four assignments, four exams, and a final, grading takes about 90 minutes per student over the course of the semester. Last semester, I devoted a full lecture to every chapter in the text and covered every term and concept. Focusing on the most important stuff this year has cut so much content in …

Feb 04, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Worth Watching?

I’ve been recording my favorite television shows to watch on my schedule for a long time. The ability to fastforward through commercials and boring parts of reality shows made DVR a much better option than OnDemand. Then I got Netflix. No commercials or waiting a week to find out what happens next. I still DVR a few favorites (mostly reality shows), but increasingly, my favorites are on Netflix. Because of all the options, finding things to watch on Netflix can be a challenge. I watch whatever catches my eye on the “home” screen and shows I’ve heard about elsehwere. I’m especially keen on documentaries, biographies, and historical fiction. Here’s a sampling of my favorites. Grace and Frankie. Lifelong frenemies and …

Jan 21, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Forced Procrastination

Procrastination has never been my thing. Waiting until the last minute freaks me out. Being on time or early is a lot less stressful. I’ve been behind since a three-week bout with the flu last January. Losing Andy in March put me furher behind. Doing things at the last minute is my new normal. Most evenings and the biggest part of my weekends for the past year have been devoted to work. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get caught up. Every time I get close, something else falls on my plate. A three-week break over the holidays was my time to catch up and work ahead. That didn’t happen. For three glorious weeks, “I’ll work on it …

Jan 07, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Winter Garden Update

Winter Garden Update

Last fall, the weather folks forecast a milder-than-average winter for North Georgia. Compared to Kentucky where I grew up, even tbe worst winters here in Athens are mild. I decided to take my chances on a winter garden. The results, so far, have exceeded my expectations. In previous years, I planted pansies and violas in the fall and nothing else until February or later. Emboldened by the forecast, I set out collards, cauliflower, and broccoli plants. I also sewed seed for turnips and peas. I like turnips, and they are easy to grow. Fresh peas are vastly superior to canned or frozen. Snapdragons are another experiment in my winter garden. Snapdragons, petnuias and diantus and other half-hardy annuals can surive …

Jan 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Down Time

Time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day is standard operating procedure at the day job. I add vacation days to either end to extend the break as long as possible. This year, I took off three full weeks. I brought home a ton of work. January is crazy busy. Class starts the 9th, a billion reports are due the 15th, and I have a big presention on the 20th. Thinking about all I need to do makes me anxious — and there’s no end in sight. I didn’t leave the house the first few days except to walk Toodles, get the mail, or take out the trash. The work stuff could wait. Netflix required my full attention. After several …

Dec 31, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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A New Holiday Tradition

I had no plans for Christmas this year. Vision issues and my diabetic puppy make travel difficult. Dinner with Andy has been the extent of my holiday celebrations for more than a decade. This year would be different. I decided to cook rib roast for my Christmas dinner. It’s not the kind of thing one cooks for a solo meal. I called my great friends T & J and invited them to dinner on whatever day best suited them and was pleasanlty suprised when they suggested Christmas Day. The table I never use in my eat-in kitchen theoretically seats six. It’s barely visible beneath potted plants, piles of stuff for class, and visual reminders of things I need to do. …