I had something like the 20th
highest lab grade in my electronics class. This was in a class of a couple hundred students. So I wasn't too anxious about the final. I worked for the Mechanical Engineering department. Professor Wang's office was in the basement. At 7:00 a.m. I was the first person to see the final grades posted on his door. My grade was an "F". I was in shock. I waited until about 7:30 a.m. for him to arrive. As he put his stuff away I explained that I couldn't figure out how I had flunked his class. He gave me a stern lecture about what it takes to become an engineer. Well screw you buddy, I already have one engineering degree, but I didn't tell him that.

He handed me my test and got out the key. It was ten problems each worth twenty points. I flipped to the middle of the exam to a page with no marks on it. I showed it to him. He got very defensive - only he and two grad students were available to grade several hundred exams: mistakes were bound to happen. He compared my answers to the key and I got something like eighteen points. While he calculated my new grade, I continued to look through the test. Just as he announced, "You have a "D", I found another mistake. My answer columns were named "B bar" and "A", the key listed them in reverse order. I had just listed them in different order than the key listed them. He checked down the columns and I got more points. Now I had a "C". Grateful not to have flunked, I left. What the else did this guy and his mind-numbed assistants miss on my test? I should have kept looking until I got an "A".

Professor Wang told me to check outside his door after noon to make sure my grade change was posted correctly. At noon I came back to find my grade changed to a "C". There was also a note from the Professor to all his students: "NO ONE MAY SEE THE FINAL EXAM".

When I first started at the University I approached my chemical thermodynamics teacher, a Professor Mead, after taking the final. I was bummed out because I was sure I had flunked. He told me to make sure to check my final grade. Of course I did. I got 18 out of 100 and a "C" for the course. It was always like that. Mostly incomprehensible theoretical bullshit where 20-40 out of 100 on your bluebook was good. Hey, plenty of pretty smart folks got zero's. I had a few of those. To this day, after getting arguably the two hardest engineering degrees from the University of Minnesota, I have what amounts to combat fatigue. I would crack up if I had to take a test. I am not kidding. Yes, I do get that dream every once in a while where you have to take a final exam but never went to class all quarter. "I can't believe I didn't go to class even once!" I dream to myself.

Todd was a pretty smart guy in our dorm. The first quarter of school he had blown off his calculus class. He was failing going into the final. He studied really hard, took the final, but when he went to check his grade for the quarter his was not posted. On the grade sheet was an ominous note that the teaching assistants wanted to see him. They asked him how his quarter in calculus had gone. Todd admitted he had partied too much and skipped lots of class and missed assignments and tests, but said he studied like he never had before to pass the final. Did he pass? Yup - his PERFECT final gave him a final grade of "C". But, the T.A.'s told him, they were giving him an "A" for the quarter, and he better not ever fall so far behind in a class again. I don't think he did.

This professor Mead from the Chemistry department taught several more classes I took. He taught one in the Space Science lecture building (God, is that the right name?). There were two sinks in either end of a large flat top bench that ran the entire length of a four or five panel blackboard. There were maybe 250 people in this large sunken lecture hall. During lecture, he would walk slowly to one end of the bench, tighten the faucet handles, swing the long neck of the spigot, walk down to the other end, tighten the faucet handles, swing the spigot, etc. One day, he started lecture and put his hands on a faucet. He immediately put his hands at his sides - and kept them there for the whole lecture. Immediately one person seated in the last row next to the doors began to lose his composure. The volume of suppressed laughter increased as he made his way through the swinging doors at the top of the lecture hall - I saw him crawl out the doors on his hands and knees. Outside the doors he could contain himself no more and his hysterical laughter made everyone turn and look up toward the doors. This guy put Vaseline on the faucet knowing Mead would grasp them and get it all over his hands- what a genius!

My friend Dave and I had professor Mead for another class. The class was televised to points outside the University. We sat in front of a television console with a monitor in it. We saw the same TV picture the remote site saw. Professor Mead was balding. We would turn the contrast way down, and then turn adjust the vertical hold until the screen flipped up very fast. The head movements of our instructor back and forth while writing on the board, combined with our monitor settings, made it look like a U.F.O. was flying dipping and turning across our screen. We pointed this important information out to others.


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