Elemental Farce


Mateo Burtch

Cartoon by Mateo Burtch ’82

Ava Gadro and Iodine were dining in Cerium’s the other night when she remarked, “Manganese, oh manganese, will you look over there at that silicon gallium?” Iodine glanced across the fluorine at this gallium; she was slightly hydrogen, and talking to her was this cadmium who tried to cesium her. 

Ava said, “That would beryllium more than Iodine could barium. Water boron! Should we call a copper and prevent a scandium?”

“No,” said Iodine, “let her sulfur. She brought it on erbiumself. Uranium too tender. And besides, if we call the coppers, they’ll radium the place.”

But Ava is a Good Samarium, so she took matters into her own hands. She stepped up to the cadmium and said, ”Listen, you big oxygen, uranium leave that gallium alone!”

With that, the cadmium turned quite palladium and replied, “Why don’t you mind your own bismuth?”

Without another word, Ava krypton him on the chin, and down went the cadmium to the fluorine… out gold! Ava, you know, is quite strontium. Then Ava said, “Stannup, you big gypsum!”

Need Iodine tellurium that we got out of there in a hurry and called our carbon. We rhodium around for a while. Finally, Ava said, “Just a mineral. When that cadmium fell on his acetylene, he must have bit his tungsten....” But Iodine was gadolinium that the whole phosphorus was over, sodium Iodine counted tin and then said, “Erg,” and that was the end of it.

—Michael Lamm ’58

Editor's Note: Mike reports that he flunked out of Reed in 1957, partly because he wasted time on riffs like this. A lifelong car nut, he became managing editor of Motor Trend and, in 1978, started his own automotive publishing company. Mike and his family live in Northern California.

Learning from Each Other


It was nice to read in the September 2014 issue of Reed that Reed ranked #1 for best professors in the nation. The recent President Diver, the new President Kroger, the faculty themselves, and many others, have done a fine job.  

In the late 1960s, when I earned a degree in Physics, it was a little different. The environment was sink-or-swim, unfortunately matched with some dull profs. In the big freshman Math lectures, half the class simply stopped showing up after a few weeks. My personal worst moment was when I made the mistake of knocking on a Math prof’s door, and was then barked at for 3 minutes and dismissed. The guy was around for about forty more years. Yikes. Is tenure is over-rated?

But, there are certainly great professors at Reed now. Prof. Dan Reisberg [psych 1986–] lectured at the Alumni School in 2005, regarding how memory works in the human brain. He was really something. On a brief look-in, even the Physics Department looked like it had risen from the dead.

There was a good article in the New York Times on Dec. 26, 2014: “Colleges Reinvent Classes to Keep More Students in Science.” It describes an interactive way of teaching, and is well worth a read.

For me, the best part about Reed was the students, who were, mostly, fascinating and remarkable: in academics, in the art of life, and in being true to themselves. There was not a general fixation on the pursuit of wealth, fame or glory, but there was one on excellence. It was important to find a rewarding and interesting path in life, maybe an unconventional one. Finally, that Honor Principle was the bedrock of an intellectual honesty that I have done my best to live up to ever since. 

—Will Darken ’70

Edwards, Colorado

Remembering David Mason ’58


I was surprised to read about the passing of David Mason ’58. Many years before entering Reed, I began my college education at Western Washington State College, now Western Washington University, in 1966. (FYI: Tuition was $75 a quarter!)  That was a very good year for many things, but not for the beginning of my post-high school education in responsibility.  I went in as an honors student, which created many opportunities to pursue adventures outside of my curriculum.  

One of them was hanging out at the house of a popular hippie biology prof. The house was located at the end of a dirt road off Chuckanut Drive, across from a secluded beach on Bellingham Bay, many miles south of town. The owner was associated with the fledgling environmental programs at Western, known as Fairhaven from the fact that they were first located in the Fairhaven women’s dorm on campus.  As environmental awareness was very important to many of the young students, Dr Mason’s house was very popular, for both its intellectual and recreational opportunities. While others were pulling all-nighters in their rooms, his parties were raging into the sunrise almost every Friday night.

I went back many years later, about 1992, in a fit of nostalgia for those days because I lived and worked in the nearby San Juan islands, and all I could find was a huge pile of blackberry brambles in what I think was the same location. I briefly doubted that those days ever happened, seeing as how far off center I was back then.

—Bob Querry ’88

Nipomo, California