Candid and honest with his students, who are entertained by tales of motorcycle crashes, rock climbing in the tropics, and Pineapple the Cat, Dr. Robert Boller, or “Dr. B.,” as his students know him, is one of the University’s most beloved communication studies professors. A USF alumnus who now teaches rhetoric at USF, Boller has a background in performance and acting, which enriches his teaching of public speaking. He cites equanimity, or calmness, as a driving factor for the five things he absolutely cannot live without.
- Playing Pickleball. I would walk my dog Maggie in the park near where I grew up in Alameda, and I noticed that people were playing pickleball on the tennis courts, so my wife and I picked up a couple of inexpensive paddles and balls just to try something different. My wife is super athletic and we compete on everything, especially if it’s sports related. It’s an awesome game. I thought it was set up as a geriatric thing for people that are older and doing it on cruise ships but there is actually a big contingent of younger people who play. It’s a really cool community where you get solid exercise and if you have any kind of background in paddle sports that’s a bonus but you don’t need to. One of the coolest things about it is you can have multiple generations in the same game. You can have a 15-year-old kid with a middle aged dude, with a woman in her 70s. My wife and I got pretty obsessed with it and played it a ton. We’ve played in two tournaments. We won silver in one and bronze in the other.
- Aeropress Coffee. I’m a coffee snob, I’ll put it that way. I’ll be elitist about my java. I worked in a cafe in grad school, and I just love really good coffee. When I was in college, I drank almost anything but now I’m very nuanced. I’ve worked multiple jobs, and I worked in corporate America, and I was one of those five-cups-a-day people. But returning to equanimity, I want one, maybe two cups of coffee a day now. I have to stop at noon. So, my perfect cup in the morning is Peet’s Dark Roast through an Aeropress. Unless you’re going to get a super high-end espresso, it’s the best cup of coffee.
- Stock trading App (TD Ameritrade). Finance always separated my father and I. He’s this shrewd German immigrant with an engineering background, a business owner, and he retired at 50. His jam for the last 30 years has been equities, the stock market, and trading. He and I have gone down pretty divergent paths. I’m an educator and outgoing, he’s a more linear thinker. That’s one thing about him that always intimidated me. He’s a master of finance and stocks. I don’t know anyone who spends more time on stocks, even though it wasn’t his profession. I finally had some extra money, so during the pandemic, I decided to try messing around with stocks. In the last two years, I got kind of obsessed. I read tons of books and dabbled in everything from day trading to swing trading to options trading to long positions, short positions, and various industries. I just immersed myself in it, and I got to a point where my father and I actually have in-depth conversations about it now, and he’s actually taken some of my stock picks. It goes back to equanimity. If you’re an emotional trader, you are almost certain to lose money. You have to be able to stay calm when you’re winning and when you’re losing.
- Maggie the Border Collie. I never had a dog. I love pets, but my family are cat people, so I do have a cat. She’s from Hawaii, and her name is Pineapple because she looks like a calico pineapple. She’s fierce. My wife is a dog person, and she wanted a dog for years. If we got a dog, I wanted a frisbee dog, so we decided on either an Australian shepherd or a border collie. We didn’t want to go the breeder route for all the standard ethical reasons and then finding a border collie was nearly impossible. Two or three days into the lockdown, we checked Craigslist, and there was a litter of border collies. We drove down to Bakersfield the next day, and it was a total sappy puppy story. We were meant to take one and another one just latched onto us, so we took the other one home. That’s our border collie, Maggie, and she’s unbelievably amazing and I can’t believe I never had a dog in my life. I have a highlight reel of her greatest frisbee catches.
5. EDM artist Luttrell. I’m against fanaticism as a general principle. So I try to be agnostic about everything from religion to political ideologies. It goes back to being balanced. I think that’s my greatest struggle, but music is the closest I would call myself to a fanatic of anything in my life. I got obsessed with electronica in particular in my 20s, with clubs and raves. I even became a DJ, but I still like lots of other genres. EDM (electronic dance music) is something that creates a really visceral reaction in people, but most people roll their eyes at it. In my generation, it was a much smaller production than it is today, mostly underground house parties. Long story short, there’s a thriving scene because during the pandemic, a lot of artists spent a lot of time on their computers at home, and they weren’t able to perform. So there was some really cool music that came out, inspired by the dark times. Lutrell is local to San Francisco, and he’s someone I’ve been fairly obsessed with over the last two years. I’m blown away by almost everything he produces. Also, it’s accessible, even if you don’t like house music or EDM. He’s put out three albums this year, called “Music for My Memories” 1, 2, and 3 (Part I, II, and III). I’d recommend his album “Into Clouds” for anyone looking to get into his music. He has a really funky mustache.