Tuesday, August 21, 2007
You used that to do what?
Artifact of growing older I suppose one of the dubious "fun" parts (one of the few!) is if you are a semi-pack rat, you have "artifacts" from your growing up years. Artifacts that can sometimes bring a pretty penny on ebay. Show one of these babies to anyone under a certain age and they will say: "what the heck is that?"
When I was in high school, we were the last generation of students to learn how to use a slide rule. Four function calculators had just come out. Geeks would ask for them as their main Christmas present, to complement their plastic pocket protector and black glasses which were repaired with adhesive tape. Calculators cost more than the average pony did. So most of us, opting for LPs (those round vinyl things that had one groove a side and music on them) as our gifts, stuck with the slide rules.
I was taught in chemistry class by the venerable "Commander" Kullek - a well-aged (even then) retired Naval officer. I don't remember zip about chemistry, somehow in those heady days of the early 70s we all thought we could learn some nuts and bolts should we decide to take up the Yippy cause and take over the faculty lounge for our very own. When I learned we would be "balancing moles" etc. I was crushed, but realized I still needed the class. One of the few I had in high school to mess up my GPA besides Algebra I. Okay, so I graduated Magna instead of Summa. Mea culpa.
Commander, he was NEVER called anything else, was a true eccentric. You won't see his like around now either. Too Un-PC. He had a riveting way of keeping students awake in class... especially if you had a 7:00 am double lab that day. He had a nifty habit of performing a simple lab experiment with bunsen burner, chemicals, glass do-dads and what not in a reasonably straight forward way...it's what he did EXTRA that fascinated us. Occasionally, he'd smoke a ciggie. In class. During the experiment. At the edge of the lab table, he'd balance the lit ciggie and take the odd drag. Or two. Or three. His "safety net" was an empty metal trash can beneath the ciggie and next to the lab table.
Never blew anything up. Never once did the ciggie fall into the can. We waited. All year. Never happened. Before a test, he'd laugh and stay. "Study hard. Or else you'll get a zero. A DOUBLE zero, if I think you're extra stupid. Ha-ah...those are HOUSE numbers." Unforgettable.
(This blog was inspired by two other blogs: mulier-fortis's post re: the "ology video"
and Fr. Ray Blake's post re: his halcyon Trotskyite days. Both well worth a look!)