Tag Archives: Oregon State University

How My Dreams Were Dashed By Evil Translucent Fish

My daughter attends my alma mater, Oregon State University.  My most recent visit to OSU found me wandering past a building and a particularly disturbing memory popped into my head.  When I attended OSU, this building’s basement contained something you would expect to find at an esteemed institution of higher education — classrooms, faculty offices, and, of course, a “chamber of horrors.”

Let me explain.

It’s the spring of 1982, and a friend tells me about an extremely lucrative job opportunity.  “Lucrative” in the sense that it paid at least ten cents over minimum wage.  I wasn’t just “dirt poor” then.  Don’t be crazy — I couldn’t afford dirt.  But this job not only paid well, it INCLUDED room and board.  I had struck gold!  Dollar signs floated in my head.

The job title was Fishing Vessel Observer.  The US government was hiring people to live on foreign fishing boats to make sure they weren’t taking the wrong kinds of fish.  This was the perfect job for me!  Mind you, I had never lived on a boat, never been on the “high seas,” nor could I speak any language other than the Alsea Public School version of English.  Nevertheless, I was overflowing with confidence.  What an adventure!  What stories to tell!

This is when I learned something that created an inkling of concern — my dream job, the one that would pay so much cash and offer such adventure — required passing a test.

This test, it turned out, involved correctly identifying different North Pacific fish species.  How hard could it be?  Only time, and a deep desire to suppress the physiological pain, have dulled my memory, but suffice it to say, here is how this ugly chapter came to a heart wrenching end.

I went to the designated building on OSU’s campus and walked down the steps to the basement.  I had a pencil and the test sheet which contained a list of fish species.  Names of fish I never knew existed.  Reams of different fish.  Fish with unpronounceable, incomprehensible, scientific names.  Maybe they were Greek fish.  Many sounded Greek, that, or maybe Klingon.

Awaiting me in that dank fluorescent basement were row upon row of jars.  Each jar contained a fish floating in fish embalming fluid.  They looked like they had been floating in those jars for a while, say, since the 1850’s. Long enough that they had lost any color and become translucent.  Their skeleton’s shined through them like X-rays.  AND, to my great shock and gut-wrenching disappointment, EVERY fish looked EXACTLY alike.

I took a slow lap around the room, and paused to reflect on the gravity of my situation.  Then I set my test sheet down and quietly made my escape, never again to visit this “chamber of horrors.”

And now, I thought as strolled by, I bet they’re all still down there — floating.


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Plight of the Oregon Platypus

By Jack Edwards

Last night the University of Oregon Ducks played the Oregon State University Beavers in a “Civil War” basketball game.  All of these civil war games are deeply meaningful to Oregonians.  This is because fans associated with each school feel strongly, to their very core, to the center of the marrow of their thigh bones, about one thing:  Their school’s players from California are better than the other school’s players from California.  And they are darn serious about it.  If you come across any of them discussing this topic, back away slowly.  If necessary, curl up on the ground and play dead, like wildlife experts tell you to do when confronting a grizzly bear.

I feel pride in the talent of these young men from California too, but sadly, each civil war puts a knot in my stomach.  I am a graduate of each school.  I am a beaver and a duck.  Some say that makes me a platypus.  This, of course, is absurd.  I will share with you this real quote from Yahoo! Answers on the subject of whether a platypus is the offspring of a duck and a beaver:

“There is no possible way a bird and a beaver could interbreed – one’s a bird and one’s mammal.  It’d be like you having a baby with a crow.”

Not so fast, Yahoo! Answer.  What is your Yahoo! Answer to, ‘How do you explain North Korea’s Kim Jong Un?’  Yeah.  I thought so.

The UO ducks refer to themselves as “The Fighting Ducks.”  The OSU beavers lack a formal adjective.  Some people refer to them as “Those Damn Beavers,” but these people are usually members of opposing teams.  As for OSU, they take a more international approach to self-aggrandizement.  They refer to themselves as “Beaver Nation.”  So, an Oregon civil war, in essence, is a contest between a band of warrior ducks and a nation-state of walking incisors.  It’s a real sight.  Nothing you want to miss, that’s for sure.  And I didn’t.

In the end, it was a freakish blowout.  The California Fighting Ducks lambasted the California Beaver Nation 85-43.  So now when I run into any of my duck friends who know I have torn loyalties, there is only one thing for me to do –

curl up on the ground and play dead.

Rose Bowl Bound

Football Final

By Jack Edwards

I dream that one day technology will advance to the point where I will not be forced to travel long distances, expend thousands of dollars and trudge through throngs of intoxicated sports enthusiasts to enjoy watching a college bowl game. Call me a crazy optimist, but I believe that, one day, perhaps a day in the not too distance future, we will be able to view sporting events from the convenience and comfort of our own living rooms. Yes, this will likely mean that I will not get to experience the pleasure of marching with my fellow football fans toward the stadium’s entry as I tiptoe around fresh puddles of vomit left by the truly dedicated “students of the game.” Or spend quality time with that crack squad of security professionals as they rummage through my knapsack searching for dangerous contraband, like water bottles.

This year, during Oregon’s Civil War football game, I cheered enthusiastically for Oregon State, not because I cared deeply, but because my family members are rabid University of Oregon Duck fans, and I knew I was in great peril of being coerced to fund an all-inclusive trip to the Rose Bowl if the Ducks won. Alas, fate was not on my side. In pro wrestling terms, the Ducks pulled one of those moves where they jumped down into the crowd, picked up a folding chair, crawled up onto the ropes and then came down on the Oregon State Beavers like the Angel of Death.

The good news is that I managed to pay top dollar for marginal quality game tickets. Being an idiot, I ordered my tickets through the U of O’s athletic department. This assured me of paying the full face value. Meanwhile, apparently because scores of other boneheads did the same thing and then, realizing that if Oregon beat Florida State, it would play for the national championship in Texas twelve days later, and they couldn’t afford to attend both games, decided to flood the market with Rose Bowl tickets. The last I looked, Rose Bowl tickets were going for a buck ninety-five, and they were throwing in a voucher for a free medium drink and souvenir seat cushion.

Fortunately, this trip will allow me to do research for my next career. It turns out that the highest paid public employee in every state and the U.S. Territory of Guam is being a head college football coach. So I’ve been watching these guys with an eagle eye all season.

Here’s my resume:

1. I’m balding. No, I’m not sporting the classic three-quarter bald top with a spiffy comb-over, but I’m working on it. And if this turns out to be a deal breaker with the athletic director, I can always pick up a can of Nair.

2. I’m average height. (The height of every bank robber since the beginning of time.)

3. I have an innate ability to look indignant and stomp around when I get upset. (My wife will write me a character letter attesting to this quality.)


4. Most importantly, and perhaps making up for my lack of practical “on field” experience, I have a very noticeable “paunch.” Few men currently coaching at the NCAA Division 1 level can compete with me. I look like I’m entering my second trimester.

To those of you who won’t be able to enjoy spending half of your retirement savings attending the Rose Bowl this year, don’t worry, while we wait for the technology to advance to the point where you too can enjoy watching back home, I’ll take plenty of photographs to share with you when I return.