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Art Chenoweth

The Declaration of Independence declared that some truths are self-evident. All men are created equal and have some inalienable rights, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the course of human events, specifically one lifetime, it becomes evident to me that other truths become self-evident. Many of these have good outcomes, others bad, a few idiotic. Some of my newly found truths apply specifically to Portland State University.

-I learned early, at the beginning of any term, at the second session of any class, attendance drops by 50 percent from the first class. This holds true except for First Year Spanish, where the second session grows by 20 percent. The new people got kicked out of overcrowded other sections, and they’ll probably get kicked out of this one.

-Those university evaluation questionnaires we fill out near the end of every term have a box to check where you declare how many classes you missed during the term. However, there is no box to check when you missed no classes. The minimum the form allows you to miss is one. This can present a dilemma of procedure to me, because I often go through a course without missing a single class.

-Just because the PSU library says a book is in doesn’t mean you will actually find it. When you don’t find it on the proper shelf, you often get referred to the sorting shelves, where you also don’t find it.

-Meetings never start at the time announced, even when the meeting start time is compulsory and non-negotiable.

-Rock groups who play in the Parkway Commons room always play loud enough to threaten you with eventual deafness. The more banal their style, the louder they play.

-We never will reach the end of new organizations being formed and asking for funding from the student fee committee. A former student body president, Tim Young, once said student government is committed to accommodating every student interest. Some day we will have a tiddly-winks club, with its own computer and six paid positions.

-The student fee will continue to rise in perpetuity.

-Every computer terminal in the entire university is configured differently. You figure it out, if you can.

-The only people who read poetry are the people who write poetry.

-Students owning a cell phone will always use it, even when standing right next to a free phone. It’s so cool to be seen cell phoning. Mere pagers are so last year.

-Skateboarders will never give up trying to invade the Urban Center Plaza. Those brick steps are just too tempting to ignore.

-You don’t have to be a student to be a perpetual student politician. Bar Johnston, former PSU student body president, blithely continued her campus political career as a member of the student senate, despite not being a student.

Portland State aside, I experience certain truths that apply to the world at large.

-If your income goes down, the cost of food and rent will inevitably go up.

-There’s always too much month at the end of the money. I once knew a woman who planned to survive by eating nothing but popcorn for at least three days prior to payday.

-No matter what time you schedule dinner, the telemarketer will call while you’re eating.

-Your lottery ticket falls one number short of winning. Nothing is so good it doesn’t get worse.

-If you’re making a lot of money as a salesman, the company will cut the commission rate or divide your territory. If you’ve got the perfect job, you’ll get downsized. If you’ve got the perfect boss, she’ll get fired and be replaced by an ogre.

-If you stand around with your mouth always hanging open, people will think you’re a dimwit. And you probably are.

-There is no possible question so stupid that somebody won’t ask it. I had an example of this last Saturday. A man frantically waved down a number six bus I was riding. The driver stopped and popped open the door. The man did not get on. Instead, he said, “Is the streetcar running today?” The questioner was standing next to a kiosk which had a printed streetcar schedule on the wall. The driver shook his head in disbelief, closed the door and moved on.

-If you’re a politician, sickness is better than health. Every time Vice President Dick Cheney’s heart flutters, his doctors announce he came out of it in better shape than before. Janet Reno, candidate for governor of Florida, fainted in public last week. It developed she suffered a similar fainting spell in public twice before. Yet her doctors say she came out of it in great shape in spite of having Parkinson’s disease.

-Speaking of politicians, if you’re a politician from the South you pronounced “nuclear” as “nu-cu-lear,” especially if you’re the President of the United States. If you’re Homer Simpson, you simplify it to “nu-cu-lar.”

-Racial profiling will never disappear worldwide. The warlords in Afghanistan are giving us our latest lesson in this.

On the really cosmic level, I like this one, offered by some unknown comedian. When an asteroid hits the earth and smashes everything, only two things will survive. Roaches and Cher.