One Day. Back to Gym. And since the monitors were offering nothing worthwhile about the massacre in Las Vegas, I settled in to listen to my usual, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” podcast. This episode was a mid-season special about their fiftieth anniversary.
This led me to reflect on where and what I was fifty years ago. I was a sophomore at the Campus of the Black Warrior. Still lived in the Nerd Dorm aka Hammer (Mallet) Hall. No cafeteria. Moldy and sagging with age. The only thing new was that telephones (wired, of course) had been installed in every room and the U sent you a bill every month for the callage. I seldom got a bill because I never called anyone.
The most noteworthy thing that semester was that I finally made Dean’s List. My first semester I almost flunked out and the second missed the Dean’s List by a fraction of a point. Summer didn’t count.
It was also the first semester I took a maximum course load. I had figured out that the fewer courses I took the lower my grades. Lots of ideas why but what counted was not being offered a scholarship to study in Vietnam. Survival, that is.
The big courses that semester were third semester calculus and first semester Sophomore Classical Mechanics. Both were characterized by interesting content and not very good teachers. The calculus teacher was a grad student. I had gotten spoilt the first two semesters with Barbara Chambers who was a great teacher. If It hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have been able to learn third semester calculus on my own, proving Chicken Man’s (Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s) claim that ‘good student succeed in spite of bad teachers.’
The physics teacher was a perfesser but he seemed indignant that he had to teach sophomores. Happily, sophomore mechanics is a problem solving course and all I had to do to learn was work problems.
The long course was organic chemistry. Most courses were three or four semester hours credit; organic was five. Three hours of lecture and two two hour labs a week. We made lots of smells so my efforts to regain weight took a nose dive again. The perfesser was a recently mustered out Vietnam veteran who acted like he begrudged the time wasted in ‘Nam and was noted for having congress in his office with coeds who needed a grade upgrade. This course was a two semester series that was (supposedly) a make/break for PreMed students. Less than a “B: and no Med Schule. So some of the coeds did extra credit work. Supposedly.
The bad course was first semester English Literature. This was the third of four mandatory “English” courses for arts and science college students. The teacher was a grad student who fancied himself a thespian so he read a lot aloud in class. The problem was that the material was not only boring but unengaging. And this guy though science fiction was porn.
The weird course was New World Archaeology. The professor was (the) David DeJarnette. Nice guy, made it all interesting, and kept trying to convince me to switch from Physics/Chemistry/Maths to Archaeology. He kept setting me special problems like how to date the fire enlarged caves in the Yucatan.
This was also the last semester I took a maximum load until my last semester. Hereafter I always took an overload. Only way I could get a triple major before being sent to Vietnam.
Gad I had a lot of phun in those days. Even with the football pornography feeding cancerous on the environment – fall term and all that. And I learned a lot. Especially about molecular quantum mechanics. And I had to learn to read french and german and russian that term (and the next,) so I could read journal article for organic chemistry lab.
And the first 0.5mm mechanical pencil came out.
Life was GOOD.