helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

All or nothing? Me?!

Things that have made me laugh like a drain this evening:

1) Finding the official letter from College confirming that I was qualified to enter the third year of my degree course, with the grades I achieved.
Organic Chemistry IIA - A (First - 70-100%)
Organic Chemistry IIB - G ("bad" fail - 0-24%)

The actual reason this happened was that my organic chemistry was in a terrible state, owing to my having had awful tutors in both my first & second years. My first year organic tutor was probably an alcoholic, and he would often turn up for tutorials late & reeking of spirits. Twice he didn't turn up at all. On one occasion he eventually arrived at 9.55am, then asked what we were all doing outside his office, and accused us of making up that we were supposed to be having a tutorial. (Yeah, all 8 of us - it was some sort of student prank, I guess *rolleyes*). He was sacked at the end of the year, but that didn't help me much. My second year organic tutor was a very intelligent postdoc who was always on time and very organised, but he was Portuguese, and had a VERY strong accent & not good English for explaining things - he preferred to draw a load of molecules on the board with skeletal formulae & arrow-pushing to "explain" things, which didn't work for me at that time.

So at the end of my second year, knowing that I'd already failed Organic Chemistry I, IIA and IIB, I went in tears to the only female member of the organic department, begging for extra tuition so I could pass my degree. She couldn't help me herself, but she recommended one of her students, who I paid £15 an hour for the best tuition I've ever had. My work as a tutor now is based at least in part on the lessons I had with him. He managed to get me to pass Organic I & IIA with flying colours (85% and 75%, iirc), but there just wasn't enough time to teach me all of Organic IIB as well. I didn't actually need the course unit from Organic IIB to finish my degree, so I chalked that one up as a loss.

2) Finding the original handouts from lab courses covered in Some Unknown Chemical. Many of them are stained with interesting shades of brown, but one features a brilliant purple compound! Anyone else remember my EvilPinkStuff? :D

3) Going through my Thermodynamics notes and finding horrible differential equations with "WHERE did this come from?" and "God only knows where this came from!" written alongside them. Also, random comments from my friends at the time, and doodles which I can't easily describe in words. Some of these may get scanned.

4) The course on NMR Methods in Inorganic Chemistry, which according to my notes, was taught by "P--- L------ and his jumpers". (Actual name of lecturer removed due to this being a public entry.)

5) Finding copies of notes written to meeping about various disasters in lab.

6) Two pages of lecture notes written entirely with my left hand, from the time I managed to dislocate my shoulder in my sleep. They deserve scanning & putting online.

7) BRENT YOUNG IS DRESSED LIKE A KITKAT TODAY! Actual quote from a lecture I attended in my third year. The lecturer, Brent Young, turned up in his habitual state of scruffy & undercaffeinated, clutching a large polystyrene cup of coffee and a Mint KitKat (a new thing in 1996), and said "I've just been told by someone in the lift that I'm dressed like my Kitkat today". (He was wearing a red jumper, green trousers and brown shoes, iirc.)
Tags: chemistry, life history, project x

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