So I got the courage to visit my professor in office hours. And interrupted a conversation between him and a colleague, to which the colleague looked agitated. Then I asked my question. Then the professor started to explain, and asked if I remembered the combustion equation of oxygen and methane from my thermodynamics. I admitted it was a bit fuzzy. He looked at me squinty eyed. Later he re-iterated the part he had helped me with was only the first part and that I sitll had the majority of this to tackle.
Thanks, I didn't feel retarded enough on my own. Yes of course I have memorized all applicable chemical equations in my head. Yes I know I still have most of this problem to do and I'm sure I'll meet your expectations by not doing spectacularly. I'll remember next time not to visit your office hours unless I want some patronizing and very little help. I'll go back to teaching myself the material since you'd rather not today.
On another, less bitter, note, Dr. Crazy was kind enough to respond to one of my comments as part of a greater argument over tenure versus renewable contracts. I'll reiterate here, that despite my bitterness towards my OWN professor today, I do believe tenure is the only thing that will keep researchers motivated to work for 10 years of their life for very little pay and lots of stress. And it has to be there as a protection so that academics can feel free to express their ideas and research topics that maybe wouldn't be "popular" with the powers that be. I just think the "flexible" (yes I said it again, I'm ready for the blowback) schedule that academics CAN achieve should not be undervalued as part and parcel with the carrot of tenure.