Greetings students and returning faculty!

How was your summer? Fine, I hope. Mine? Oh, it was terrific. Lots of gardening, reading novels, and spending time with my wife Carla and the twins, Eli and Whitby. And though I cherish those long summer days of rest and relaxation, I also find myself looking forward to fall, when I can once again travel down the endlessly fascinating road called "education."

As a teacher for over 30 years, one may suspect I'd grow tired of once again walking into a classroom filled with young, innocent faces—but nothing could be further from the truth. Because in each face, I see new and exciting possibilities. These students want to learn. They desire the experience only I can give them. And they crave the severe discipline it sometimes takes to travel the path of knowledge. Just the thought of whipping a fresh, nubile mind into submission engorges my body with warm, pulsing titillation. But here's the funny part: For every student that ultimately bends to my will, I find myself bending over to accept the knowledge they can offer. Life is funny that way.

Are YOU ready for hot, gushing knowledge to shoot into you? And the searing, but exquisite pain that often accompanies it? I think you are. And though this moment may be a frightening one, the Mercury newspaper is here to help. This year's "Back-to-School Guide" is entitled "PDX 101" and is especially constructed to teach the new student everything they need to know about the city in which they reside. Join our staff experts and guest lecturers as they lead you through Portland's darkest nooks and crannies—from where to buy cheap clothes and food, to strippers and drugs for your next party.

So welcome back, students. And as you embark on your journey of learning, always remember: While the Mercury may be free, there is a price to pay for knowledge—and sometimes that price can be very, very severe.