Biology Memories

I’m not as young as I look. Or act. Or claim to be in chatrooms. The truth is, I’m actually going to attend my ten-year high school reunion this summer. As a tribute to the Ellensburg High School Class of ’96, I thought I would share a variety of high school experiences… starting with some memories from sophomore year Biology…

In a row we sat, The Captive Lion, Solo, and myself. Lecturing in front of us, a dispassionate biology teacher. I think you can imagine how the year went.

Keep in mind, we weren’t the type to throw spitballs. No, our form of rebellion was uninvited commentary throughout each lesson. Our teacher soon learned that he couldn’t just start a video and leave the room without some sarcastic praise of his teaching ability. And we made sure that homework wasn’t assigned, it was negotiated. Thankfully, our teacher really had no objection to his authority being undermined. As you can imagine, all of this made for a very memorable year…

Dissection:
Before there was Fear Factor, there was biology class.

First off, where do they find the grasshoppers for biology class dissection? These things were the size of a Thanksgiving turkey, smothered in formaldehyde gravy. Seriously, is there a real-life Land of the Lost that I’m not aware of?

Anyway, it was the Class of ’96 that proudly created the need to warn future classes about the dangers of eating your dissection project. We actually had a classmate bite the head off of a gigantic grasshopper as part of a bet. In his defense, grasshoppers are an excellent source of protein.

The Fetus:
There’s not much to this story, other than the fact that we had an actual fetus, in a Mason jar, stored in a display case in the back of the classroom. He was our unofficial mascot.

Extra-Credit Assignments:
As you might expect, extra-credit was very hard to come by, as that would generate more work for our teacher to grade. However, if you made a profound advancement in the field of science, he was usually willing to throw a few extra points your way.

Here are two actual suggestions he seriously pitched to us in class, neither of which were actually attempted by anyone:

Train your cat to pull a small wagon. In the beginning, it will border on animal cruelty. Over time though, your cat will theoretically learn to use that wagon to accomplish a variety of amazing tasks. Or, more likely, your cat will suffer a horrible wagon-related death.

Here’s another: Build a miniature microscope from items around the house. That’s right, he wanted unmotivated high school sophomores to build a homemade microscope. He stood before us, telling us how easily this could be done. First, you melt some glass. Then, you shape it into a perfect hyperbola. Or maybe it was a perfect parabola. Either way, there were 8,000 additional steps that followed. As you might have guessed, things that the Professor did in an episode of Gilligan’s Island were the inspiration for most of our extra-credit assignments.

The Biology Field Trip Death March:
First, I’ll answer the obvious question on your mind: No, the fetus didn’t get to come along on the field trip.

Everyone else got in a bus, and drove two hours into the Channeled Scablands. That’s right, The Scablands. Not only is “Scablands” the geographically correct term, but it also perfectly conveys the godforsaken nature of this Eastern Washington desert.

Have you ever noticed that while Disneyland has a Tomorrow Land, a Fantasy Land, and an Adventure Land it does not have an amusement area called Scabland? As such, you are correct to infer that the Scablands is not the happiest place on earth.

But yet, here we were, on a field trip to observe nature in its natural state. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to learn about ecosystems in the most uninhabitable place on earth. In the entire day, I think we saw one breed of plant: tumbleweed, and one breed of animal: rattlesnake.

Scratch that. We also saw vultures… lots and lots of vultures. They spent most of the afternoon circling above us as we trekked through the Scablands for seven hours on a sweltering day. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful. Oh, wait, I saw my ancestors too. That actually might have been a hallucination though. Somewhere along the way, the outing kind of morphed from a simple field trip into a vision quest.

The Insect Collection:
We were assigned to collect a diverse sample of insects. I got an “A” on my project, which was actually very difficult to do. Normally, you pretty much needed to go on an African safari and return with trophy-sized insects to ace it.

For the most part, my collection was unspectacular. I had a modest collection of bees, houseflies, ants, moths, and ladybugs. Basically, I pinned anything that could be picked off the front of your grill or windowsill onto a piece of cardboard and turned it in.

So how did I pull off such a high grade? I found a spider with the legspan of a CD on my parents’ porch. Naturally, I pinned it to the center of my collection. Of course, spiders technically aren’t insects, they’re arachnids. Apparently it was close enough, as my grade reflects. I sometimes wonder if I would have gotten a similar grade had I pinned a hummingbird or salamander to the center of my insect collection instead.

The Final Exam:
Most teachers don’t look at the final exam as a mere formality. Of course, I use the term “teacher” loosely, as ours was really more of a projectionist anyway. Fittingly, our final exam was thrown together from a sample of questions and multiple-choice answers that were written by students. Needless to say, it takes a really apathetic teacher to give a Final Exam in this manner. And as expected, the test was a total debacle. For instance, here’s one classic example:

Our galaxy is:
A. The Milky Way
B. Punkville
C. Mabton
D. B and C.

For the record, this question was proudly submitted by Solo.

Bonus Story: (Epilogue)
This same biology teacher happens to moonlight as a photographer. Last summer, we ran into him taking pictures at a friend’s wedding. He went to extraordinary lengths to insure that the Captive Lion and I were not included in any shot at the wedding. Of course, we picked up on this early on, and naturally we went to our own extraordinary lengths to get into every wedding shot possible.

Ultimately, we won. The Captive Lion’s elbow can clearly be seen in a shot of the couple going through the buffet line.

24 thoughts on “Biology Memories”

  1. By the way, I went on the scablands deathmarch my sophmore year, and then voluteered to be a leader my junior and senior years. I thought it was great, of course, I also just took an 80 mile hike through the cascade mountain range last summer, so I guess that my idea of fun might be a little different than most peoples’. Do you remember the story that this same biology teacher told about surviving in the wilderness by flexing his bicep constantly throughout the night to keep warm? His theory was that energy created by flexing this muscle would keep him warm enough to survive the night, since he said it was a cold night and he didn’t have a sleeping bag. I don’t know about you, but I would rather keep walking than sit there and flex my bicep all night long, might make for kind of a boring night. But then again, this guy wasn’t the most interesting fellow. I wonder if he does that sometimes at home, sitting in his living room, just for fun….

  2. I like that we are keeping “this guy” anonymous? Is that out of courtesy or because he was so boring that everyone forgot his name.

    For the record, I’ll contribute my best Biology story. Basically, there’s only one and it goes something like: I went to class, took a seat, turned around and talked to Axtman and Drew for the entire class, every day for the entire year. I think I still got a B+.

    Speaking of eating stuff, my brother ate a lamb’s eye in the same Biology class several years before we got there. I think we stopped dissecting lamb’s eyes after that. Who the hell dissects lamb’s eyes anyway?

  3. However, I think it should be pointed out that I did go on to study zoology in college partially based on my Biology and Biology II classes, so he must have done something right in class…

  4. I do so enjoy a trip down memory lane…

    The biology trek through the potholes of Quincy was only memorable for the rattlesnake sitings (which some of you boys had every 5 seconds) and for most of us only being able to identify Larkspur when any vegetation was pointed out.

    As for the photography, there are way too many similarities between what his hobby consists of and what to look for in a child predator.

    examples:
    1. you had to travel to his single-wide out in the country for your session, preferably without your parents.
    2. his studio was actually another separate trailer with some random back-drops (carpets)to pose in front of.
    3. your changing room was the bathroom and i’m almost positive that wall mirror was a two-way and there was a hole in the wall for his viewing pleasure.

    and the kicker…

    4. His living room walls were covered, floor to ceiling, in blown-up portraits of his favorite shots and every one of them was of a girl wearing a bikini on the dunes.

    glad to know he’s still a practicing artist.

  5. I actually never had this anonymous teacher. I was lucky enough to be sitting a few doors down in another biology teachers class signing along with him about whiskey and ducks. I did appreciate the fact that we had no biology hike to go on.

    I to received an A on my insect collection. This was my only A on any high school project. The award winning piece in my collection was a gigantic moth that I actually removed from my uncles real collection. I spent about fifteen minutes on the whole project. That is of course about twice as long as my teacher spent grading it. Biology class was fantastic as I spent a good deal of that class at 7-11 getting slurpees. My hat off to the strict science educators of EHS.

  6. Yeah, I wish that I would have had the whiskey drunk W****. I actually went to his class a few times to hang out and listen to him ramble on incoherently, just for the hell of it. Science teachers are always the entertaining ones.

  7. Krusty… curse your lack of short-term or long-term memory.

    You went on the biology field trip. In fact, I’m pretty sure you were in my group.

    As the day wore on, and my survival was in doubt, I distinctly remember thinking that if the vultures were busy feasting on your carcass, that might buy me enough time to make it safely back to the bus.

    And yes, I am ashamed to admit now that I stole your water as a means to hasten your demise. Anyway, you proved to be more resilient than I expected. Fortunately, we both made it out alive and can laugh about it now.

  8. Good plan, Krusty’s carcass could keep them busy for a long time. First they’d have to get through his skin, which I swear is about 10 times thicker than a normal human’s. I have seen his body take so much punishment and not even get a scratch…

  9. Thanks Bailes for understanding that I am near indestructible. I stand by my statement that I did not attend the Biology Field trip. I remeber having a substitute teacher that day and having a great time. They had combined the leftovers from both classes into one classroom. There I was with the dreds of EHS society. I read a book and took a nap it was great. I can’t believe you would challenge my memory. I have shown time after time that my mind is a vault of knowledge.

  10. Krusty,
    I hate to do this, but since you so emphatically deny attending the biology field trip, I present Exhibit A:

    Last night, I created a new post in the archives, simply titled “Proving Krusty Wrong.” You can access it here.

    Enjoy. And I rest my case.

  11. I appreciate you proving Krusty wrong and at the same time providing everyone an example that I can write something besides a sports story.

  12. not that the Alutant isn’t proof enough, but i am now remembering Kyle on the bus there AND back trying to mooch food off of everyone and anyone. he may have just eaten whatever was on the bus floor in the end.

    plus, i got whipped in the legs by stinging nettles going over the creek because someone busted right on through and didn’t hold them for me…not naming names.

  13. I love it! Never before have I seen a quote in a “newspaper” that follows someone’s comments with “exaggerated Kyle” there should be more news reporting like this. Wouldn’t that be great. “…lied President Bush” “…fabricated Connie Chung” or “…grossly overestimated Walker Texas Ranger.”

  14. Wow, Krusty, not only did he prove you wrong but he has evidence to back it. Peewee, your pack-rattish qualities have paid off once again. I remember hearing about the stinging nettle patch… oh wait, that might have been any other hike that Krusty has been on.

  15. Of course you know that in no way does that picture jog my memory. the qoute is obviuosly a fabrication. Anyone that knows me could have predicted that as a statement I would make. the picture looks to me like it was put in there in tribute of me not being there. Once again as Bailes pointed out the stories and picture of me on this hike could be from any number of field trips or camping trips.

    I fear that proving Krusty wrong is going to be a short section considering that I am nearly always right. Now a column titled proving the captive lion wrong has a nice ring to it. There is some serious material there.

    On a side note I do appreciate this large of a comment section focusing on me. It feeds my pride and I always want that. In closing I say to all of you that I stand by my rock solid mental image of not going on this field trip. I refuse to listen to any arguments but my own. Peace Out.

  16. This has been a wonderful trip through your memory lane, and I appreciate the lengths the Centaur has gone to in order to prove Krusty wrong. I can see why you got an A based on your efforts. What intrigues me more, however, is that fabulous steal of a coupon for free socks at The Yellow Rose. Please tell me they’re still around. I may be able to negotiate around the expiration date…

  17. I, like Krusty, have made a very deliberate effort to forget these days. He has tried to block them out with alcohol, filandering and other exciting life experiences. He has dived to the bottom of Carey Lake without an oxygen tank and survived seeing the dead cow carcass. That is a story he can tell you. I’ve used a more conventional method, dementia. I coup myself up all day and bang my head against the wall in order to forget. I went to the Apple Store and other nerdy jackassery. Those are the stories I can tell you.

    Centaur, on the other hand, has a room full of EHS pennants, stacks of Alutants, closets full of EHS sportswear, cupboards full of EHS mugs, and shelves lined with EHS memorobilia. (And a finger ringed with Josten’s.) His autographed Trevor Stanley senior picture is framed and on display above the mantle. He wakes up and paints EHS on his chest every day so that later that night when he comes home and watches old EHS basketball footage on tape, he can rip off his shirt at a moments notice, glance at himself in the mirror, and cheer feverishly as Micah Sullivan gets fouled hard and goes to the line. I will not tell you that he sleeps with his letterman’s jacket on. That would be a lie. That is, if you believe lies to be the beacons of solid truth.

    So forgive me if I don’t remember everything in the story I shall recount of biology. There is no missing, invisible, or otherwise unaccounted for Krusty in this one, however, but I reserve the right to insert one later if I deem it necessary. They seem to be quite the trump card. A real crowd-pleaser.

    My story is two-sided.

    Side A.

    Lights are dimmed. Heads are down. Sleep sounds are coming from the back of the room. I think to myself, “Is the fetus snoring?” It’s the third video being shown for the entire period this week. Granted, it’s not a bad video. All about how insects are becoming immune to the pesticides we are using creating super bugs that will eventually wipe out our crops. A tad dystopian, perhaps. But the time of day, the level of light in the room, the pavlovian instinct children develop to sleep when videos are shown, were all working against us here. There were only a handful of us students still awake and we were either not paying attention or fading quickly into slumber. So then one kid makes a slight disturbance (a very Krusty-like looking fellow) and the teacher suddenly flips the lights on and goes over to the video cart to stop the NOVA episode. Literally and without premeditated thought, I let out the biggest sigh of relief and exclaim “FINALLY” as the teacher pushes stop on the VCR. He takes that as a negative remark about his teaching style and rebukes me. I follow up with a remark about being a little sick of videos. Then, he asks the class, very democratically, if they want him to teach or to continue watching the video. Everyone chooses video but me. The teacher, of course, doesn’t see this as a negative remark about his teaching style. He dims the lights and pushes “play.”

    Side B.

    Despite everything that happened in this class, I was never as nervous as the day I had to point to places on the dissected grasshopper and name them. It was a big portion of our grade and we had to perform the test, one by one, with the teacher at the front of the class. My hands turned to water. My fingers turned into Sonicaire toothbrushes, vibrating at the tips so I could get no accuracy with my pointer. I thank god all this information we were being taught turned out to be completely useless because I could not wrap my head around grasshopper internal organ terminology back then! After a few unsuccessful attempts to point to a part or two, with my hands shaking and the obvious tension in my voice, this same teacher just asked me if I “knew” the material. I replied, “Yes. Of course.” And he took my word and I passed. To this day, I can’t decide if he was being considerate or impatient. But like I said, it didn’t really matter either way.

  18. alright, due to popular demand (mainly mcsex), i’ll drop 2 shorties.

    the way we sat facing the front was in the second row, solo, centaur, and lion. who sat to my left i can’t remember. we were sittin right next to each other. except the tables were grouped in 2. i had my own, and both centaur and lion shared. one day, centaur decides that he’s gonna build hypothetical palisade between each desk. he thought i was too distracting and was interupting his “learning.” somehow it occurred to me that i really didn’t like centaur or lion laughing at me, so i slammed the palisades down with my desk. keep in mind, it was very loud, and it was in the middle of a “lecture.”

    so part 2 goes like this. i’m drinking a mountain dew and finish. again, boring lecture, and somehow in my head i thought i could crush the can with my right hand, and smash it on the desk. i lift my arm up high and come plunging down on the table. wack! nothing happened, except now everybody was looking at me, including the teacher. i decided nobody cared so i kept wacking the can against the table creating a loud annoying clanking sound. somehow i got away with this s*&t. then the teacher looked at me and in a calm voice said, “this looks like a good day to break a 3 doller ruler.” he grabs the meter stick, and smashes it in front me. it broke in half. i think i finally tested his limit. oh btw, you guys all got A’s, i got a C -.

  19. I watched the same super insect takes over the world video on the day I didn’t go on the field trip. I thought it was very insightful.

  20. Having been at The Centaur’s house last weekend, I can verify everything in the second paragraph of the Lion’s post to be true.

  21. You all have no idea what it is like growing up with “The Centaur”- everytime I tried to walk by, he would block me out and quote, “and now for Ellensburg, a six foot two senior center…” Do you all remember his little “manchild” hand gesture? I recall being at the school dances and seeing my brother smiling and dancing with his right hand in the air with his finger and pinky sticking up. The gesture is similar to Spiderman’s hand as he sends his webbing out of his wrist. The only difference is to bring in the thumb and raise the hand in the air.
    Matt: I know you have pictures of yourself doing this so maybe you could post them so everyone can view the manchild for themselves.

  22. you can’t bring up the manchild if you’re not going to talk about the patented handshake. it only took me 49 times to get it right. the other 48 had some awkward wrist poking and jammed fingers involved. but it was worth the effort in the end to not look like a complete ass when presented with “the manchild”…

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