Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Chem Professor

He actually makes chem interesting. I’ll miss him. Every few lectures, he would have a “Tidbit” about something real-world related to the chemical reaction we were studying. He’s discussed Viagra, fake sugar packages, chemicals bees give off, the chemicals plants give off, how coal causes cancer, how ultraviolet light causes cancer, why it’s not a good idea to eat the chemicals you make when you’re a grad student. He often ends his Tidbits with—Well, there you have it. If you can find the answer to [whatever chemical problem is puzzling chemists], then I assure you that you wouldn’t have to worry about another paycheck ever again. You would be so filthy rich. And you know what? You can find the answer with everything you’ve been learning in this class. Think about it! Someone among you is going to someday find the answer. And you will do it all with what you learned here in sophomore chemistry. Let me tell you, if I figured out this chemical reaction, I would not be coming back tomorrow. Sometime, he talks about the chemical reactions that plants or animals can perform in their bodies that we can’t figure out in our labs. For example, the bees—These stupid little bees can do this reaction in a few seconds. They can do it without thinking. And chemical laboratories with machines and money at their disposal, they can’t do it. They can’t figure it out. It’s impossible! We’re so smart, and no matter what we do, we can’t do what the stupid bees can do.

He is quite hilarious. He puts me on the edge of hilarity quite a few times. He has deep grey eyes, grey hair streaked with white, but he is not old. His language and manners of expression are youthful. When I go to chem lectures, I often feel like an old hag—chemistry makes me feel tired, like I have to lug around the weight of all the chemicals and reactions I have to memorize.

I wish I could feel as excited and enthusiastic about chem as he does. He often wears colored T-shirts tucked into a pair of jeans. He walks with his belly slightly leading him. Or his chest puffed out. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. You get used to his manner of striding around. He doesn’t have a beer belly, just a slight bulge that lets me know he enjoys eating, fun nights out, etc. When he lectures, he writes on the chalkboard, and he uses a HUGE piece of yellow chalk. That piece of chalk is half the size of my wrist! His own words—I love chalk! I will probably die with a piece of chalk in my hand. I’ll probably be buried with a piece of chalk. His hand must be really strong and flexible if he can write so quickly with that huge piece of chalk. And he writes fast. It’s incredible how fast he writes. He also talks really fast. He’s always misplacing the blackboard eraser, and he would stride back and forth quickly looking for one of them. Then after he has found an eraser and erased the board, he glances over at his other hand and says—I’ve been holding the eraser in my hand all this time! I give up! When he makes a mistake on the board, and a student points it out, and he doesn’t see the mistake, and the student points out the mistake, and he still doesn’t see the mistake, and more students keep pointing out the mistake, and he finally sees the mistake, he turns to us, throws his eraser in the air really high (not at us) and says—I give up!

He’s got a lot of self-confidence when he stands up there. He also has a lot of restless energy. He’s a cool geek, the kind of geek that makes you say to yourself—Gosh darn, if I have to be a geek, that’s the kind of geek I wanna be.

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