What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

That reminds me...

The following is a transcript of the first seven minutes of my upper-division economic theory and research course taught by Professor Dennis O. Doherty (above), a faculty member who has been at the university 35 years. His knowledge about the topic and acumen to discuss economics are unquestioned. His brevity and succinctness are not.

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: I love teaching in this room. The first time I taught a course in this room was in the fall semester of '84. They had just built this building five or so years before after a substantial struggle with the administration to secure funds. The former Department Chair -- actually the chair before him; the one two chairs ago -- felt we should direct our money toward sports -- football specifically. He was a big fan. He thought it would help recruiting. Ironically, after this classroom building was constructed the school did away with the football program, making this the only Division 1A NCAA institution to get rid of a football program in the last century. A real shame, if you ask me.

[DOHERTY PAUSES AND LOOKS AT THE WALL FOR A SECOND, COLLECTING HIS THOUGHTS.]

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: Actually, it would have been the spring of 1984. I remember because they were putting in the East lawn. Looking out this window, it used to be a mess of shrubbery that the science students would burn back with freshly mixed experimental weed killer. It was all very impromptu. The brass opted for aesthetics over academics and installed the sod. Their work was a major interruption. Every class period, it seemed, we'd be bothered by the sound of their travails. I like that word, travails, did you know it's borrowed from the French? Sometimes I think we ought to return it.

[PAUSE]

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: I had cold cereal for breakfast this morning. For years I had a regular breakfast of two eggs and toast. It was the perfect combination, I thought, of carbs and protein and it stuck with me pretty well. I never had any pre-lunch collapse. But my doctor is worried about my dietary cholesterol. Any biology students here? No? Well, the cholesterol you consume in your diet isn't nearly as bad for you as the saturated fat you put in your system. In fact, you can eat a lot of cholesterol and not have a problem as long as the saturated fat is kept to a minimum. But for some reason my doctor is worried about the cholesterol. He wants to put me on a statin drug -- some kind of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor -- to reduce my risk of heart disease. But I'm concerned about the liver damage. My dad was an alcoholic and died of liver poisoning. Or whatever it's called.

[ANOTHER PAUSE]

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: Take care of your diet. Take care of your health. Life advice...
[ANOTHER PAUSE]

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: Oddly enough, they would use a drywall knife to cut the sod and they had to be careful how they placed it because the irrigation system was pre-installed. This was in the early days of low-evaporation sprinklers, when environmental consciousness was just starting to emerge as a dominant consideration. Nowadays it isn't nearly as much of an operation, but back then it was perceived as very innovative. A drywall knife. How many of you guys have seen a drywall knife? It looks like an oversized putty knife with blades that are almost too dull to justify the name "knife." I wonder why they never developed a tool explicitely for cutting sod. I have a buddy who works in the landscaping business -- he actually does design for upscale and bids out installation projects to subcontractors -- I ought to give him a call and ask about that. He's got a couple of kids, wonder how they're doing...

[PAUSE AS A STUDENT ENTERS AND SHEEPISHLY TAKES A SEAT BY THE DOOR]

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: Miss, you are late. You are fortunate I am so lenient on tardy students. When I was a graduate student at the University of Utah -- that's where all the backslidden Mormons go -- I was tardy for the first day of my statistics methods class. I didn't miss a day all semester and was never again late, but he really drilled me for it in his seminar review. Eugene Billington. That was his name. He specialized in regression analysis of demographics -- a field which is really quite large now, but was just emerging in the 70s. He gave me an A- in his class. I don't think I've ever worked so hard for an A-. I mean, I had classes at the undergraduate level that I just surfed through -- never did the readings, missed class, glossed over the homework -- but not in Billington's statistics methods course. He would grill you for that.

DENNIS O. DOHERTY: So, here's the syllabus...

3 comments:

hanagrace said...

Wow, that's quite the rabbit-trailing... CRAZY!

Allison said...

Wow, that TOTALLY sounds like my English teacher this semester. As she's talking in class about rock-climbing or facebook or something, her son's friend (who's not even in the class but whom she lets sit up by the lecture podium, presumably just so he can distract her more easily), interrupts her to draw this diagram on the whiteboard:
"Professor Barry: here's point A." (Makes a dot)
"Here's point B." (Another dot about an inch away)
"Here's how most teachers get from one to the other." (Draws a straight line between the two points)
"And here's you." (Takes the marker and draws a HUGE squiggly arc around the edge of the board)

I couldn't have agreed more.

Anonymous said...

that looks mysteriously like dr. ritenour...