From the Miscellaneous Journal, 1963:

Bob N. taught me how to study. He never knew that before, but now it is out. I
made it through the first eight grades without really knowing gow to pound information
down between my ears and make it stick there. Bob taught me this invaluable lesson in
the Audio / Visual equipment room, located under the stairs to the girls' locker room at
Breezy Springs High School.

Being Audio / Visual geeks had its advantages: it got us out of several study halls every
week; it let us play with the complex and wonderful movie projectors; we got to see
nearly all the movies shown in the school.

The only movies we weren't allowed to watch were the ones shown to the girls' gym
classes. For those, we set up the projection screen, threaded the film, and showed the
coach which switches to throw. Then our instructions were to "Get out, stay out, and
don't let me catch you standing near the door." It was as if we were some not-quite-
sufficiently housebroken animals whose presence in the school was merely tolerated for
the sake of making the equipment work. I never had any real hankerin' to know what
those flicks were about, and I sure as hell don't want to know now.

The day I learned how to study, Bob and I walked into the AV room and thumped our
chemistry books down on the desk. We had no movies or filmstrips to show that day, so
we could spend our time doing homework, or skylarking, or trying to figure out how to
plant a mirror at the base of those steps without getting caught.

Bob said, "Wow! That is gonna be one tough assignment to finish by Friday!"

"Huh? What assignment is that?" I asked.

"The one Mr. Leiby gave us. We have to memorize the first twenty elements on the
periodic table in order of atomic number."

"Oh, he didn't really mean that," I said. "That is just crazy."

Bob said, "Aaaaaah . . . hydrogen . . . helium . . . what's next?"

"It's lithium - lithium for the rocks in a chemistry teacher's head. You're not actually
gonna memorize all that are you?"

"That helps. Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, . . . aaah, jeeeze! What's the next

"It's boron! Rhymes with moron, which is what our chemistry teacher aspires to be. It's in
the borax that the Twenty Mule Team schleps out of Death Valley.

"|Good one," Bob said, "Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron. Hey we got five of
'em allready! We're a quarter of the way there!"

"We? Did you say 'We'? Include me out. I am not into this cockamaimy project.
Chemists don't memorize the periodic table; there's one hanging from the wall of every
lab in the world. All you gotta do is look up and see the thing."

"Well, look up and see what comes after boron."

"What comes after boron is hemorrhoidium! It is better known as carbon. (Jeeze, da
noive of some people) Carbon, like in the charcoal you make black powder with, which is
almost as black as the soul of a chemistry teacher."

And so it went. When the deadline came, Bob had the list pretty solid. Me? I could just
barely get it right if I was having a good day.

This was the first time I had ever seen anybody sit down and just grind something into
his brain. I am grateful for the lesson, although I have always tried to use it as sparingly
as possible.

Abstractor of the Quintessence
Order of the Digital Grail